About Me

Hi my name is Jesse. I'm an International Business major at New Mexico State University. First off, let me tell you a little bit about myself. I am from El Paso, TX. Originally I'm from South Los Angeles but I have been living in El Paso for quite a while now. I was given the opportunity to study abroad in Seville, Spain my Spring 2014 semester. I'mt the first-generation Mexican-American member in my family to go ever go to college so I haven't really had many big opportunities like this throughout my life. I haven't done much traveling either except to Mexico. I would have never thought that one day I could be on a plane to Europe. I am truly blessed to have experienced living in a another country. Traveling on your own, not knowing a single soul, and throwing yourself in an unknown environment has got to be one of the insane things someone can do. But you know what, I loved every minute of it. Because of this, I appreciate everything I have now more than ever. Who knows when I will get to do something like this again.

So that's a little about me, now, the purpose of this blog is to encourage others to study abroad as well. I know, it does sound a bit cliche but studying abroad really changes you. Those few months I spent there flew by so quickly but felt like an eternity at the same time. I felt like I grew so much as a person that when I came back home, my view of the world and my surroundings really changed. I learned to really live on my own, without my parents' help. Studying abroad gave me a lot more confidence, made me appreciate the little things, motivated me to push harder, but overall I think it gave me peace of mind that if life doesn't turn out the way you imagined/planned, it's ok, things will sort themselves out eventually.

So, I would like to use this as a medium to share my photos with you all (which don't do it justice!), tell you about my first few days in Europe, my experience living with a host family, other amazing things I got to do, and even my struggles.

Whether you're a stranger or a friend, feel free to share my blog for others to read. Thanks!

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Gilman Scholarship

So, one of the reasons why it was even possible for me to study abroad was because of the Benjamin A. Gilman scholarship. It is a pretty prestigious award and for those who would want to study abroad in the future, I encourage you to apply! I'm honestly so grateful to have received this scholarship because without it, I wouldn't have afforded to live in Spain for as long as I did. It paid my tuition entirely and the extra cash I had from my loans I used for travel! So take advantage and do well on the essay. I posted a link to the official website on the down-right corner of this homepage if you want more information.

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First Week in Seville

The first few days in Seville, my roommate and I did so much walking. Walking through those narrow streets and having no personal space whatsoever was one of those 'culture shock' moments. But the city and every corner looked so lively; filled with people socializing, eating, street performances, and orange trees everywhere. I don't think I've ever seen a city or town that was full of color. And the architecture was also so incredible!

One of my favorite places I visited was la Plaza de Espana. It looked like something you see from a postcard. I don't know but those first few weeks felt so surreal.

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Living with a Host Family

I decided to stay and live with a host family while I was in Spain. A few reasons why I went with that option was because I really wanted to practice my Spanish. Although I am Hispanic and know a lot of Spanish, I began to forget most of it throughout the years. The other reason was because I didn't really know how to cook that much, and I was very unfamiliar with Spanish cuisine, so I figured it would be best if I stayed with a family that would teach me a lot about their food and culture.

To be honest, at first I was having a hard time adjusting. There is no such thing as open space in Europe! Literally every room was really small, especially the bathroom. I also had to share a room with my roommate and it at times it was troublesome because we would get in each other's way. After a while I got used to it and the food as well. (That's another story though)

My host family, however, was really nice and caring. I had a host mom, dad, and two sisters. My host sisters were much older than I was. I'd say late 20's early 30's and one of them has two daughters still in elementary school. In Spain, it's typical to say they are attending "el colegio," which is primary school over there; for a while I was confused because in English it's direct translation means "college." Both were really hyper all the time and always calling us "Chico, chicos!" haha

We would always have dinner at 9:30, which is typical in Spain, and watch tv right afterwards. They were all really nice and very helpful. My host mom even took me to the doctor twice when I was really sick. Thank god she went with me because I don't know if I would've been able to describe my symptoms and understand the medical terminology.

Towards the end I was getting really attached and didn't want to think about leaving them, especially my host mom. Both of my host parents even took me to their hometown, El Coronil, which was a province outside Seville. We really grew pretty close and I'm not going to lie, the day I left I was really emotional. Although at times it was a struggle, I'm really glad I went with the homestay program!

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Vamos al Centro! (Downtown)

What made me fall in love with this city right away was el centro (downtown). It's where everyone goes and everything's at. You see many shops, restaurants, horse carriages, starbucks in every corner, the big cathedral, and a lot of natives and tourists as well!

What I really loved about going downtown was that there was always some type of street performance going on. It was mostly gypsies trying to make a buck (my host mom told me to be careful around them because they rob people all the time), but you would also see locals singing, dancing, or expressing some form of art which was pretty cool.


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Visiting the Cathedral

I cannot express how amazing it was see so many cathedrals throughout Europe. These aren't regular churches; they're massive! When I stepped foot into Seville's Cathedral, it was literally jaw-dropping. I just couldn't believe the details on the walls and the high ceiling.

It took awhile to walk around the whole church but what took even longer was walking up La Giralda. It was insane! Once we climbed to the top, we could see a view of the entire city.

The best part of all was when I was able to see Christopher Columbus' tomb!


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Food & Tapas!

To be honest, at the very beginning I couldn't get used to the food in Spain. It was completely different than what you see in America. Eventually I did get used to it, but what I found interesting was that there wasn't much variety every time I ordered food from a restaurant.

I really did enjoy their tapas though!vOne of my favorite cuisines however were el jamon iberico, tortilla de patatas, chorizo, pisto, and salmorejo! There's nothing like iberian jam (which is cured ham); it's the most amazing thing I've ever tasted! I also got to try queso de cabra (goat cheese), which I didn't like at first but got accustomed to it later.

Jamon Iberico & Chicken Fingers


Because of my mexican background, I have always known what chorizo was but I never knew it would be so different in another country. The chorizo in Spain, oh my god! That's all I need to say about that.

Every now and then I would get homesick for my mexican food. I have lived in the Southwest my entire life so I was very used to real spicy food. it's almost impossible to find hot sauces in Spain. Luckily, we found this mexican restaurant downtown, although it didn't compare, it was still pretty delicious!

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The Mexican dishes shown above looked different but were still pretty tasty. Oh, and the chips and salsa were mouthwatering!
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Visiting the Alcazar and Parasol

The Alcazar of Seville, or perhaps known as the royal palace, is the official home of the Spanish royal family when they visit Sevilla. An Alcazar is another spanish term for a castle built for a king and queen. Tt is one of the most beautiful and incredible places I have ever seen. The amount of detail that goes into every inch of every wall and ceiling is unreal!

The Royal Palace

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The Alcazar also had a very large jardin (garden), which was very nice to see as well.


Visiting the Parasol (aka the Mushroom) was a really cool experience. It is a completely wooden structure with four different levels you can walk across. The top level has a great view of the city and it also has a restaurant! The bottom floor also has a museum of ancient roman remains, too!




On top of the Parasol!
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