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Nothing but goodness

If anyone ever has the concern that moving abroad is a challenge, don't sweat it!! This is now my second time moving to Spain and the second time where I have gotten everything essential, finding a place (for a 150!!!!), setting up a phone, locking down all necessary documents, all in the first three days! Stressing about a situation before you even get into the situation is probably the worst thing you can do, your not there yet and you don't know the circumstances yet so worrying about the situation (thats unknown!) before you even get there is so detrimental! 

Im so excited to be back in Spain and living right in my town I will be teaching in, El Boalo. I am four minutes walking from my school, living with three Spanish brothers, fully furnished flat, paying only 150 a month everything included and live right at the base of the Sierras! 

Thats what I wanted my situation to be, TO THE T! And because I didn't worry and I was highly optimistic, everything worked out exactly how it should have. 


In the words of Bobby McFerrin, Don't worry, be Happy!

La Latina: New Barrio, Who Dis?

I have three brothers, two of them own a Go Pro Hero Plus. I somehow managed to convince the younger of the two to loan me the device for a year. I guess this confirms they love me.  

The Go Pro has always intimidated me. It's not a touch screen which slightly blows my mind. No touch screen generally means, "I am ancient. I was invented alongside the Light Bulb." 

I got over this fear. I whipped that thing into shape within a matter of minutes, 4:56 was the exact length of the YouTube video. Now I'm an expert. 

This excites me. For the longest time I've been hashtagging my Instagram posts with "#GoPro," when it was really just a disposable, or a photo from my cool roommates camera roll. 

I took the G.P Hero out for a spin in my new barrio: La Latina. Take a peek! These photos were taken around sunset, giving the old neighborhood a little spice. The cute streets, colorful brick walls, and dancing spaces made me smile, and I think you will too. 





Remember Chicos y Chicas, Live Large Y Sparkle!




Why Spain... again??

    Wednesday I leave the U.S. yet again to move to Spain for a year. Again? Yes, six years ago I made the same trek across the ocean to teach English. Last time, however, I had just graduated from college, wasn't sure what I was going to do with my degree, and was also single. That year was an amazing experience, although not without the normal share of difficulties and culture shock that come with moving to another country. (If you are curious about my previous experience there, you can search past CIEE blogs for Rebekah Horney or click on this link.)

    In the five years since returning to the states, I have finished a master's degree in international education, gotten married, moved from Nashville to Chicago, been a nanny, substitute teacher, research assistant, local coordinator for a high school exchange program, and a center director for a tutoring company. A lot has happened in that time, but my love for Spain and international education has never wavered. Being unfulfilled in for-profit test prep, I was eager to get back into international education and knew that teaching English in Spain to public school students was one way to do that. 

    I've studied abroad and taught abroad in Spain with CIEE before, so even though I knew there were other options to teach English in Spain, they were my preferred route to go. I love the application, pre-departure and orientation information they provide and this time around I also completed their TEFL course, which I very much wish I would have done last time. The application process is fairly easy with them and thanks to all of their information on the visa process, I was able to submit everything on the first try and got my visa back in only three weeks. CIEE also put together a Facebook group for all of us going to teach there with them this year, so I've already met up with some of the girls in my city and booked an airbnb with them to stay in after orientation and while we look for apartments. 

    Madrid will be a new city for me, and I am so excited to be heading there. I studied abroad in Palma de Mallorca, lived and taught in Huelva, travelled to Valencia and Sevilla, but have only been through the airport and train station in Madrid. Not only does it look like a beautiful city, it is also easy to travel to other locations in Spain and Europe from there! I can't wait! Plenty of pictures to follow upon arrival. Hasta luego! 


Helpful hints to anyone interested in participating in this program in the future:

    1. Apply for everything early. If something winds up being incorrect or missing, such as a background check, you will be glad you have the extra time to try again (that was me last time around- thankfully I learned my lesson). 

    2. Read through all of the information you are sent carefully. Print out the information and highlight key points and add your own notes. Put dates into your calendar so that you don't forget something. Make a specific folder for all this information so nothing gets lots. 

    3. Do your research. Ask around for the best places to book flights, find apartments, etc. Speaking of which, don't put any money down on an apartment before you see it in person. There is plenty of time in between arriving in Spain and when you have to start teaching to find a place. You don't want to fall victim to scam artists. 

    4. Plan financially. You will be given some good information about how much to bring, but you will want to keep in mind that you need to have enough to rent a new apartment, last through a month before your first paycheck, and have some extra to do the fun stuff. Have a back up plan in case you have the unfortunate event that I did last time around of having my paycheck delayed. Call your bank and talk to them about your intended move. I found out this time around that my bank has a partner bank in Spain which means no ATM fees! That's a lifesaver. 

    5. Pack light. This is harder for me the second time around, but I'm slowly downsizing. Styles are a little different in Spain and you will want to do some shopping while you are there. Plus, it's never fun having to lug several suitcases through airports, train stations, etc. 

    6. Don't stress. Everything will get figured out. Spain is a more relaxed country, so some things take a little longer to get done, but CIEE is there to help, along with the other program participants. Spain is also a developed country, so if you forgot to bring something, they have plenty of stores to chose from.


IZZY: Cultura Semana 1


My involvement with CIEE has brought me to Spain for the first time. Whenever I am in a new country, I find myself picking up little bits of useful information that seem so exciting as a foreigner but so normal to the locals. To give you all an insight into what I'm finding new and interesting, I'm going to write a small post every Monday about Spanish culture. Here's week one.

The search for an apartment continues! I'm seeing two places tonight and waiting to hear back from a landlord on a spot that I love. At least for me, 99% of my communication in the US was done over text message or iMessage. Here in Spain, the most prevalent form of communication is through Whatsapp, a messaging service that works through wifi or data. What's great is that it allows me to stay in contact with people here and back in the US without having a texting plan. 

What's terrible about it is that you can only send Whatsapp messages to contacts that you have saved in your phone. So, here's what my phone currently looks like:



And that's just the half of it! I can't wait to nail down my place and delete all of this clutter.


xx and xx,


IZZY: Comfort Food

Tapas are fantastic but eating something that tastes like home will give any food a run for it's money. Headed out last night with a big group of CIEE Auxiliars to Gino's on Arenal to get some Italian food. It wasn't Domani's in Hillsdale, NJ, but it was about as close as I've gotten here in Spain. Good food, good wine, good company? No complaints.

Linguine marina with fresh mozzarella.

This restaurant is bigger than it looks; they have a whole downstairs dining room so don't be afraid to walk in with a group.

Morgan (back, far left), Jolie (front, second from left), and Andriy (back, far right) are friends from my orientation table. The rest of the group are our separate friends that we brought together. Love this mixing of social groups!

Spending this quiet Sunday putting in work on the apartment hunt! Everyone cross your fingers for me.

Know a good comfort food spot in Madrid? Let me know in the comments.

xx and xx,

IZZY: Highs and Lows of Week One

Hola de Espana! I'm Izzy, a 24-year-old from the tristate area with a serious case of wanderlust and the steady desire to be a traveller instead of a tourist. This is me relaxing in the courtyard at Rafael Hoteles Atocha, CIEE's very excellent choice of accommodation for those of us that have just arrived to Madrid for orientation:


I've been in Madrid now for exactly one week and it has been jam packed with orientation, apartment hunting, making new friends, and diving in head first to the Spanish culture. I'll get more into details later, but for now here are the top three highs and lows of it:


  1. Jetlag: Luckily, I was flying from NYC, which meant about 7 hours of air time. Still, it's hard to get your body to stay awake when it so badly wants to be asleep. I always combat jetlag by making sure I'm totally hydrated, getting to sleep early on the first night, and never (never, never, never) napping during the first week in a new time zone.

  2. Anxiety: Do you know how it feels to be a young woman walking around a new city with enough documentation for someone to completely steal your identity in your purse? I do. I can't wait to get settled in my own place so I have a home base for all of the very important things travel deems necessary (read: passport, copies of passport, copies of visa, cash).

  3. Apartment Hunting: The time is ticking my friends! I have three more days in a hotel before I need another plan. I have been using idealista.com to try to lock down a place and there are tons of options right now, which is great. There are also tons of students and auxiliars returning to Madrid and actively looking. Apartment hunting is my 9-5 job right now.


  1. Apartment Hunting: Yes, it has to go on both lists because while it is definitely a difficult thing to get checked off of my to do list it also means I am out and about in Madrid every day. I am taking the metro out to places I wouldn't go otherwise and walking down new streets every day. In my experience, there is no better way to learn the ins and outs of a new city than to book your agenda with apartment viewings. Here's a photo I took off of the 5th floor balcony of an apartment I saw in Plaza Mayor just this morning:


  2. New Friends: What's a new city without new friends to explore it with. CIEE orientation brought together a really unique group of individuals that I am so happy to have been a part of. All of the program participants have such interesting background stories that have led them here to Spain and it has been a great time hearing them during long conversations with new friends (I'm talking to you guys, Andriy and Brandon). Additionally, meeting local Madrillenos seems pretty priceless since I'm so new to the city. I have made great friends with the concierge of a local hotel and with a realtor who said he wanted to practice his English after I told him I need to practice my Spanish. I can't wait to meet all of the people that this experience will bring into my life.

  3. Tapas: Okay, if you're the type of person who never knows what to order on the menu because five different things look delicious, please drop everything you're doing and move to Spain. Tapas are small plates that give a little bite sized taste of a dish but comprise a whole meal. So, for example, if you're eating alone 1 to 3 tapas might be your full dinner. With a friend, you might get to try 4 to 6. I've had tapas stateside, but--of course--there's nothing better than the real thing. Here are some olives I had at el Mercado de San Miguel:


I'm sure these lists will only grow longer, but I have this excited feeling that the highs will greatly outweigh the lows. They already are! I can't wait to share more of them with you.

What do you want to hear more about? Been to Spain and have suggestions on what to do? Let me know in the comments.

xx and xx,

The Problem with Vintage

I moved in to my new apartment on September ninth, right on schedule. As relieved as I am that the apartment search is over, I can't say its been easy. 

The majority of my daily routine revolves around a 2011 MacBook Pro. Turns out I haven't updated its software since 2013, which could have lead to this current crash and burn. How do I know this? Because the Genius Bar told me after That '70s Show wouldn't load on Netflix. 

 It was a devastating process. I only knew of one Apple store in the center of Sol, Madrid's version of NYC Times Square. I arrived at 9:30 a.m. My name got put down for an 11:30 a.m. appointment. I went home, came back; turns out I was accidentally scheduled for 11:00  a.m. and since I "missed it," my appointment was canceled. I pouted in the corner for about another hour and half waiting for my painfully rescheduled time slot. The only perk was this hottie of an Apple Genius helping the customers at my table (wish he spoke English, wish I spoke Spanish). 

My computer got wiped clean. I have no pictures, no Microsoft, no music. Now my mouse does that weird thing when you scroll down but the webpage moves upward. The "exit" buttons on all the tabs are on the left and not the right. The desktop has this vague ocean picture that looks like a knock-off National Geographic Instagram pic. 

The pictures I could not post today are what I will be making up for in the next couple days. I'm taking out the big guns: Go Pro. And remember: Always Time Machine. Lesson learned. 

Live Large and Sparkle,




Happy to be here

During my time as a Trinity University soccer player, I was dubbed "Most Likely To Be 'Pumped' About Everything." Perhaps this was simply a hint that I should try to expand my vocabulary when expressing excitement, but I think my teammates actually hit the nail on the head. Although there are certainly some things that I'm not so pumped about, I'm almost always enthusiastic to make new friends, taste exotic foods, try unfamiliar sports, and venture to faraway places.

I feel *extra* pumped to be writing this blog post from Madrid, as I've been daydreaming about returning to this lovely city ever since I studied abroad here during the summer of 2013. Just a few days into my 7-week program, I knew I would want to come back sometime soon, and for a much longer stay. 

Private patio at our Airbnb, affectionately maintained by the hosts, Leo and Silvia

CIEE Teach Abroad provided the ideal opportunity to merge my desires to live in Madrid long-term, to expand upon previous experience in the educational world, and to pursue an unconventional lifestyle. The way I look at it, the chance to teach in Spain, part-time, for 10 months represents so much more than an English teaching opportunity.

4 awesome side effects of teaching abroad:

1. True immersion

When I studied abroad in Madrid, and also in Nicaragua, everything was programmed perfectly and curated lovingly by my professors. My classmates and I were set up with host families, internships, daily activities, weekend outings, etc. Now, I'm being thrown into life in Madrid with a bit of guidance, but very little hand-holding, which totally fits the bill for my current goals.

2. A break from the traditional 9-5

Don't get me wrong: I adored my position - and the amazing team - at my previous job (shout-out to Codeup!). That said, I didn't want to look back on my early twenties and feel that I'd settled for a more conventional path instead of pushing myself to achieve one of my lifelong dreams. So, after nearly 2 years of working in San Antonio, Texas, I said bittersweet goodbyes to my wonderful friends and coworkers, packed up my cozy apartment, and headed to Europe with my boyfriend, Tim.

3. Removal from the infamous comfort zone

New country, new language, new job, new schedule. As I gain a deeper knowledge of this distinct social, political, and cultural climate, I'll need to focus on remaining open-minded, asking many questions, speaking as much Spanish as possible, and absorbing information and ideas like a sponge. I can be fairly harsh on myself when my Spanish sentences don't come out perfectly, so this will also be a great time to practice cutting myself some slack and celebrating mistakes as a crucial part of the learning process.

4. Loads of free time

This makes me giddy! My journal is full of notes and doodles detailing various projects I'd like to tackle, as well as activities I want to participate in. So, I'm incredibly excited to explore the city and find ways to get involved in the community (most likely through dance, soccer, work, and entrepreneurship, among other things).

I'll be sharing bits and pieces of my journey in Madrid throughout the next 10 months, and I'd love to hear your feedback, as well as any questions you might have about the CIEE program, working as an auxiliar de conversación, my previous time abroad, or anything else!



As I prepare for my half marathon in Valencia these at a few of my views in Retiro Park to keep me motivated! It's an absolutely breathtaking location and I love all the (in)activity that takes place here. To each their own! : D


Views from Montserrat!


Arc de Triomf en Barcelona proximo Parc Ciutadella!