Hola! Barcelona!

I want to study abroad during my time in college, but like many students, I am scared of missing out on football games (hook ’em), parties and activities with my friends. I am scared that if I leave during the fall or spring semester, I will miss out on inside jokes with friends and will be unfamiliar with Tri Delta’s new pledge class. That is why when I study abroad, I want to do it in the summer!

Fellow Tri Delta sophomore Emily Stephens had the same idea as me and spent summer 2013 studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain. She was able to escape the brutal Texas heat by flying to Europe, where she experienced a new country full of culture, food and beautiful sights.

“I always wanted to study abroad because growing up it was on my bucket list,” Stephens said. “I decided to go to Spain because another thing I have always wanted to do was be bilingual with Spanish.”

While in Barcelona, Stephens studied through IES abroad and lived with a Spanish woman. It was this home-stay experience that gave Stephens the most practice in speaking Spanish and understanding the culture.

Emily and fellow Tri Delta Alexandra Vandiver at Barcelona's Parque de la Ciudadela in July 2013.

Emily and fellow Tri Delta Alexandra Vandiver at Barcelona’s Parc de la Ciutadella in July 2013. This park includes walking trails and a zoo. (Photo: Emily Stephens)

“We would eat dinner together every night,” Stephens said. “And in Spain dinners are like an hour and a half, and you talk about everything and anything. By the time I left, I was legitimately said to leave her.”

One of the differences Stephens noticed between Spain and the US is how much more relaxed the people in Spain are. Stephens noticed that people in Spain are never in a rush, which is a far cry from the busy and hectic lifestyle most Americans live. (In fact, you are probably rapidly skimming this right now because you have a million more tasks on your agenda for the day!)

“[In Spain], there is no concept of urgency,” Stephens said. “Originally I was frustrated, but after a while, it was liberating. They just look at life so differently, and I like that.”

Not only did Stephens experience the sights and culture of Barcelona, but she also traveled to other spots in Spain including the Costa Brava and the Andalucia area. Also, Stephens traveled to Paris, London and Rome.

Map of Spain.

Map of Spain. (Photo: Google Images)

“My favorite [city] was probably Paris,” Stephens said. “We did a night cruise on the Seine and everything was lit up. It was beautiful. And the weekend we went, it was Fete de la Musique (Festival of Music). Everywhere you went, you heard music.”

While in Paris, Stephens got to witness a couple contributing to the "Love Lock" bridge on their wedding day.

While in Paris, Stephens got to witness a couple contributing to the “Love Lock” bridge on their wedding day. How beautiful! (Photo: Emily Stephens)

From her adventures abroad, Stephens believes she was able to grow more as a person and gain new perspectives on life.

“It expands your world view so much,” Stephens said. “You just look at things differently. [Traveling abroad] teaches you to be more independent.”

Stephens also visited the famous Park Guell, a garden designed by architect Antoni Gaudi.

Stephens visited the famous Park Guell in Barcelona, a garden designed by architect Antoni Gaudi. (Photo: Emily Stephens)

Emily and brother Ben take in a FC Barcelona futbol game - a favorite activity for many Spaniards.

Emily and brother Ben take in a FC Barcelona futbol game – a favorite activity for many Spaniards. (Photo: Emily Stephens)

Stephens makes a wish while throwing a penny into the Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy.

Stephens makes a wish while throwing a penny into the Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy. (Photo: Emily Stephens)

Stephens and Vandiver make a Tri Delta triangle in front of the Tower Bridge in London, England. The bridge suspends over the Thames River.

Stephens and Vandiver make a Tri Delta triangle in front of the Tower Bridge in London, England. The bridge suspends over the Thames River. (Photo: Emily Stephens)

Are you planning on traveling abroad, too? If so, whip that iPhone or iPad out and download these apps from an article listing “26 Travel Apps That Will Change Your Life.”

Also, want to learn “25 Ways to Travel Cheap”? Read this article to find out how!

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I see London, I see France, I see Everywhere!

Imagine a semester where instead of sitting in the Perry Castaneda Library reading your history textbook, you are actually walking on the ancient ruins of the Colosseum in Rome, Italy.

Now imagine that instead of climbing up Mt. Bonnell in Austin, Texas, you are hiking up Arthur’s Seat Hill in Edinburgh, Scotland. And last, think that instead of going to your typical bars on 6th street to go to another fraternity bar tab, you are attending a Bastille concert at the O2 Academy in London, England.

Sounds pretty spectacular, right?

Junior Tri Delta Lizzie Spence thinks so too as she reminisces on her semester abroad in London, England during Fall 2013. Spence was enrolled in the University College, London with her friend and Tri Delta sister, Haley Senske.

UCL was founded in 1826 and is ranked fourth in the world's top ten universities by the QS World University Rankings (2013).

UCL was founded in 1826 and is ranked fourth in the world’s top ten universities by the QS World University Rankings 2013. (Photo: Google Images)

During their time abroad, Spence and Senske not only got to explore the historic city of London, but they also spent weekends traveling to Edinburgh, Scotland; Dublin, Ireland; the Netherlands; Paris, France; Rome and Florence, Italy; Barcelona, Spain; Stockholm, Sweden; and Marrakech, Morocco.

Where to even begin on relaying their adventures? Let’s start with the city they spent the most time in – London. When talking about London, Spence highlighted the large size of the city, and how she believes it would be impossible to see and do everything even if you lived there. To solve this problem, Spence and Senske came up with their own plan to explore the English capital – by pure chance!

“Sometimes we would just pick a random neighborhood and just take the tube there and walk around,” Spence said. “It was really cool because anywhere you get out it’s so cute and pretty and we would just walk around and find stuff.”

Also, Spence commented on the London people, the accents, and of course, the fashion. She described how it seemed as if everyone walking down the streets wore the newest trends. Now, if this isn’t different from the over-sized T-shirts and Nike shorts in Austin, I don’t know what is.

London is up-to-date on all things fashion, so it makes since that they hold the annual London Fashion Week. http://www.londonfashionweek.co.uk

London is up-to-date on all things fashion, so it makes sense that they hold the annual London Fashion Week. (Photo: Google Images)

Link to London’s Fashion Week Website

Besides London, Spence’s favorite city that she traveled to was Marrakech, Morocco. Marrakech is the fourth-largest city in this African nation and boasts a unique culture and lifestyle. Spence got to explore ancient palaces and even rode a camel.

“Marrakech was unlike any place I had ever been, which made everything that much more magical,” said Spence on her travel blog documenting her experiences. “I don’t think I would ever be able to pick a favorite [activity] because it was all so amazing.”

 

Spence riding a camel in Marrakech, Morocco.

Spence riding a camel in Marrakech, Morocco in Fall 2013. (Photo: Lizzie Spence)

Spence and friends experiencing the eclectic culture in Morocco.

Spence and friends getting artsy while experiencing the eclectic culture in Morocco. (Photo: Lizzie Spence)

Even though Spence was far away from Austin, her family and her friends, she insists that she didn’t feel like she missed out. Well, not entirely. She did say she wished she could have seen Texas beat Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl. But, hey, there’s always next year!

Obviously, Spence’s experience studying abroad was a positive one. Not only did she get to live in a new city and experience the people, the culture and the landscape, she also got to travel to other destinations for weekend excursions. Also, Spence realized a new path she wants to pursue in the future – travel journalism!

“Before I studied abroad, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do,” Spence said. “But now I have been really focused on any internships with travel agencies, travel websites or travel magazines. I’m an English major, so I figure I will be doing writing of some sort.”

Spence and friends on Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Spence and friends on Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo: Lizzie Spence)

Spence on Arthur’s Seat: “It was one of the most breath-taking views I’ve ever seen!”

Spence and friends in front of Buckingham Palace. Any sight of Prince William and Kate?!

Spence and friends in front of Buckingham Palace. Any sight of Prince William and Kate?! (Photo: Lizzie Spence)

Spence visited the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, Ireland.

Spence visited the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo: Lizzie Spence)

For more information on Spence’s adventures, check out her own blog, Walking in Wellies, documenting her experiences.

Also, here is a link for 101 FREE activities to do in Great Britain.

Have you ever been to London? Comment below on any restaurants, activities or landmarks you experienced!

 

The Best of Both Worlds

My first feature blog post is about the queen of travel herself – Katharina Kreke. Kreke, a fellow UT  Tri Delta sister (who also happens to be my best friend!), is an expert when it comes to traveling abroad. Not only is she a dual-citizen of Germany and the U.S., but she has visited a total of 20 countries and 4 continents and speaks three languages including English, German and French.

“[I love traveling] and learning about the culture and meeting new and different people,” Kreke said.

Kreke was born and raised in Germany, and left at age 16 to attend boarding school in Massachusetts. Her father is from Germany, while her mother is from Dallas, Texas. Through fate, her parents met at the University of Texas at Austin, and have passed on their love of travel to their children.

Kreke has seen her fair share of exotic cities and admits there are still many more she would like to experience. However, her favorite city to visit so far has been Stockholm, Sweden.

“I really liked Stockholm because it is very clean and touristy, but still not as touristy as other capitals in Europe are,” Kreke said. “And I was there with one of my best friends, so I guess that could have had an impact on it, too.”

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Kreke and friend Johanna explore the city of Stockholm, Sweden in July 2013. (Photo: Katharina Kreke)

Another destination that Kreke speaks highly of is Dubai, an emirate in the United Arab Emirates located south of the Persian Gulf. She insists that her favorite part of the trip was seeing the Burj Al Arab, one of the most luxurious hotels in the world that was built to resemble the sail of a ship.

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The Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai. (Photo: Google Images)

Link to Burj Al Arab Hotel

United_Arab_Emirates

Map of the United Arab Emirates (Photo: UNdata)

While Dubai is a large city with numerous skyscrapers, Kreke also enjoys going to more remote destinations that emphasize nature.

“Thailand was just beautiful [and] very green,” Kreke said. “And the cool thing there is it rains at the same time every day. So from 4 p.m. – 5 p.m. you wouldn’t be at the beach anymore because there would be thunderstorms. It was a nice break.”

Not only does Kreke travel for pleasure, but she also travels for mission trips and internships. During the summer of 2011, she interned in Berlin, Germany and last summer she went on a mission trip to Hawaii. In the future, Kreke plans on studying abroad in Paris and traveling to Africa for Christmas break. (Of course, I already offered to go with her on her next adventure!)

“I feel like I grow as a person [when I travel] because I am taking so much culture in that it helps me learn to see what is important in other people’s lives,” Kreke said. “This helps me learn what is really important in my life, too.”

Stockholm, Sweden (Photo: Pinterest)

Stockholm, Sweden (Photo: Pinterest)

Link for article on the “6 Ways to Experience Stockholm”

The Wat Chalong, a Buddhist Temple, in Phuket, Thailand. (Photo: Pinterest)

The Wat Chalong, a Buddhist Temple, in Phuket, Thailand. (Photo: Pinterest)

Blog on “What to Do in Phuket, Thailand”

Berlin, Germany (Photo: Pinterest)

Berlin, Germany (Photo: Pinterest)

Blog on “What To Do in Berlin”

Here are pictures from more of Kreke’s trips including Paris, South Africa, and the Maldives. Enjoy!

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Kreke posing in front of the Louvre in Paris during summer 2013. (Photo: Katharina Kreke)

Link to the Louvre Museum

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Kreke attempting to pet a meerkat in South Africa during the summer of 2010. (Photo: Katharina Kreke)

Kreke and sister Katie take in the summer sun in the Maldives, an island nation in the Indian Ocean. (Photo: Katharina Kreke)

Map of the Maldives (Photo: World Atlas)

Link to more photographs of the Maldives

For ideas for Kreke’s next adventure, here is a Buzzfeed post entitled “8 Places You Need to Immediately Add to your Bucket List

What is your favorite place you have traveled to? And where do you still wish to visit?! Comment below!

let the journey begin!

Being a college student is exciting. It is a time in our lives where we form new relationships, explore a different city and learn more about our educational passions. Most importantly though, college is a time where we grow more fully into the person we are meant to be. Our values and beliefs are tested against the backdrop of reality and independence.

Through my own college experience, I have found that the Tri Delta sorority has created a supportive environment that pushes me to be the best that I can be. My sisters help me grow by encouraging me to be a strong, confident woman who makes a difference.

I strongly believe that the single most important aspect of Tri Delta is the women who make up the chapter. We all have our own passions and experiences. However, it is the sharing of these opportunities and the stories we tell one another that help open our minds to the wonders of the world. We are young, we are strong, we are confident. We can be anything and anyone we want to be. We can work at prestigious internships in Austin, we can raise money for our national philanthropy, we can create life-long relationships and we can travel. We can experience the world and the people it has to offer.

At the time of this writing, numerous Tri Delta women have gone off for a semester or a summer, and have traveled. They have immersed themselves in a new culture and have learned more about themselves in the process.

In this diary, I hope to capture this growth that the women of Tri Delta have experienced through their travels. I hope to gain insight into all the adventures, cultures, and landmarks that have opened up these women’s eyes to all that the world holds, and all that they can become.

But before I go into these stories, I first want to take my first post to briefly summarize my own travel experiences.

The summer before my freshman year, my sister and I took a two-week European adventure complete with stops to Barcelona, Rome, Florence and Paris. While in Barcelona, I got to experience the laid-back culture by sipping on Sangria with my sister in a small, local seafood restaurant. In Rome, I got to travel back in time to the period when crowds watched the fighting of brave and heroic gladiators. I also got to view my faith in a new light when I walked through the halls of the Vatican and saw antique paintings of Christ and his apostles. In Paris, I climbed to the top of the Eiffel Tower, where I got to conquer my fear of heights while viewing a beautiful and historical city from 906 feet above the ground. In all of these cities, I got to experience new opportunities, view new sites, eat new foods, and live a different culture.

My hope is that at some point during my college experience, I can once again travel to a different country. I want to have fun, meet new people and enjoy life. I want to take the lessons and virtues I have learned in Tri Delta and experience the world.

Jordan, Jolie and I showing our UT pride at the Colosseum in Rome, Italy in July 2012. (Photo: Paige Carter)

My twin sister, Jordan, and I at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France in July 2012. (Photo: Paige Carter)

Where do you want to travel to? Here is an article listing the “Top 100 Places to Visit Before You Die”. Ahh… I want to go everywhere!

Interested in study abroad yourself? Here is a Link to the UT Study Abroad website! Your dream trip awaits!

Some of my favorite travel quotes:

(Photo: Pinterest)

(Photo: Pinterest)

(Photo: Pinterest)

(Photo: Pinterest)