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I think I got more sleep this weekend than I have since I got to Barcelona. But it wasn’t because I didn’t have anything to do – it was because Munich wore me out.

We arrived in Munich around 3 p.m. on Friday and immediately met up with our friends who are studying abroad in  Italy – Eric, who is in Rome, and Caroline, Tori, Kelsey, Kate and Olivia from Florence. Our first stop, naturally, was a beer garden. We all ordered beers bigger than our heads and spent a good hour or so catching up. When it got dark we moved indoors and made a stop at the world famous Hofbrauhaus for dinner and more beer. (Beer is actually considered a food in Germany!) Since I have the taste buds of a 5-year-old, I stuck to pretzels while everyone else tried brats and weinerschneitzels. At both the beer garden and the beer hall, I was amazed by all of the people wearing lederhosen and beer girl outfits. Apparently those aren’t only in the movies. We were all cashed by 10 p.m. and in bed by 11 – the earliest night I’ve had in the last four months.

Saturday morning we woke up early to meet up with the girls before our bike tour. We climbed to the top of the St. Peter’s bell tower for an amazing view of the city and watched the Glockenspiel go off at noon. Then we split so we could go on Lenny’s bike tour around the city. I got the sparkly blue and pink bike because it was the only one where I could touch the ground. We biked around for three hours, stopping at the Marienplatz, Munich Residenz, English Gardens and Chinese Tower, among other places.

We met back up with our friends Saturday night for the Starkbierfest at Löwenbräukeller. It was an experience to say the least. We got to the beer hall around 7, and everything was pretty tame. Most people were eating dinner, dressed in lederhosen. But by 9:30 the Germans were dancing on tables, so we followed suit. We met a ton of great people and even got to dance on stage with the band. Munich is definitely another underrated city that greatly exceeded my expectations.

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I came to Spain because I wanted to be fluent in Spanish. I’ve taken Spanish classes since I was 13 and was nowhere close to speaking fluently, so obviously Spanish classes in the States weren’t cutting it. So I looked into a couple cities – Barcelona, Madrid, and Sevilla – and settled on Barcelona. I can’t really even explain why I chose Barcelona. Spanish isn’t even the first language here, Catalan is. But everyone I talked to who went abroad in the past said Barca was their favorite city they visited, plus I knew a ton of IU kids that were planning on coming, so I figured why not.

I remember the very first day I was walking around with Brittany and we stopped in at Zara. When we arrived in January it was their huge after-holiday sale season, so of course it was jam-packed. We kept bumping into people, and “Oops, sorry!”or “Excuse me” immediately came out of our mouths. Then we got awkward because we didn’t know if we should be speaking in Spanish or not. After, we met up with some other girls from school for lunch. Ordering was a nightmare, not only because we were so jetlagged, but also because our brains couldn’t process what we wanted to say. It came out something like, “I want las patatas bravas con una Coca-Cola por favor. Thanks!” Umm, what? Talk about spanglish. And that’s how it went for the first couple weeks. I would try to speak Spanish, but quickly resorted to English when someone didn’t understand or I got frustrated. The only time I ever spoke confidently was with my taxi drivers at 4 a.m., for obvious reasons.

Making friends with Spaniards at Espit Taberna.

Three months later, things have changed. While I’m still guilty of speaking English almost all day, every day, I don’t freeze up when I go to the grocery store and the cashier asks me a question. I’ve had casual conversations on the metro, and I’ve had hour-long conversations in Spanish at the bars. I wouldn’t say I’m fluent by any means, but in a better place than I was when I got here. And I guess that’s all I can really ask for.

My friends from home booked their spring break flight to Barcelona in October. We had fairy tale fantasies about how absolutely amazing their week in Barca would be, and it was all we could talk about it. Now the week has come and gone, and it was amazing, but nothing ever goes quite according to plan.

Constancia, Laura, Sarah and McKenzie were supposed to get here on Friday, March 11, but flight delays and cancellations courtesy of American Airlines postponed their arrival until Sunday. Strike number 1. We surprised them at the airport, brought back their bags, and showed our jet-lagged friends around the city. We walked down Passeig de Gracia, through Placa Catalunya, on La Rambla and ended at the beach, where we stayed for most of the day. It was a great start, but it didn’t make up for the two days they missed.

We had big plans for the rest of the week, but the weather rained on our parade, literally. Strike number 2. It never rains in Barcelona. Before this week, it had rained five, maybe six days out of the more than 70 days we’ve been here. But this week it rained Monday, it rained Tuesday, it rained Wednesday AND it even rained a little bit on Thursday. We had fun, but it was hard to see a lot during the day when there was a monsoon outside.

Things turned around by Thursday afternoon, right as our friends from Florence arrived. We celebrated St. Patty’s Day, spent another day at the beach, saw the fountain light show and ate paella at La Fonda. Playing hostess to nine people was beyond stressful, but it was unreal to reunite with 17 of my best friends in Spain.

Can anyone be a journalist? With the recent explosion of “citizen journalism,” this question has been the center of many debates in my journalism classes at IU. Journalists defend journalism as a professional discipline, but the activity taking place in the blogosphere can’t be ignored.

Citizen journalism exploded with the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and has been propelled into the spotlight with events like the Hudson River plane crash. But are the people uploading this content really journalists?

CNN’s iReport is the closest these people have come to being “journalists.” iReport is a completely user-generated section of, and the stories are not edited, fact-checked or screened. But holding the title of “journalist” requires a certain credibility that citizen journalists can’t claim. They make a meaningful contribution to society, but they will never completely replace those who study to work in the field.

Seville, Spain is one of the most amazing places on earth. I left Barcelona on Friday morning with no expectations, but it’s been almost 12 hours since I got back in Barca and I still can’t stop talking about the weekend.

When we first arrived, we ate lunch at Robles Laredo in Plaza de San Francisco. While we were eating, my friend James who is studying in Sevilla randomly bumped into us. A little later, four more of our friends from Barca stumbled upon the place. Within an hour there were 15 of us, and our lunch turned into a three hour long event.

After, our friends were amazing hosts and showed us around the city. There isn’t a lot of “sight-seeing” in Sevilla, but the city itself is unreal. We wandered around the streets for awhile, ending at Plaza de Espana. Plaza de Espana is one of the coolest places I have ever been. The walls of the Plaza consist of beautiful tiled alcoves that represent each province in Spain. We all posted up in one of the alcoves and passed out for awhile – we’re probably sleeping in the background of a lot of tourists’ photos.

Friday night we went out for tapas. The six of us decided to each get two tapas to share. We ended up with 12 different tapas, including stuffed peppers, squid, eggplant cake and a potato omelette. I am the pickiest eater in the entire world, but I tried to make a point to try all of them. Except the squid – definitely would not be able to stomach that one. They were all so, so good, and it ended up being insanely cheap.

Saturday was another beautiful day. We started the day at Starbucks, a great cultural experience. With a little caffeine in our system, we went to Cien Montaditos for lunch. They NEED to bring this idea to the States. Basically, they have 100 different mini sandwiches for only 1 euro, and all the one’s we tried were amazing. Plus, you get una cerveza for only a euro when you get a sandwich. Best concept ever. Then we toured the Catedral de Sevilla, where Christopher Columbus’s remains are supposedly kept. We climbed to the top of the tower to get a beautiful view of the entire city.

That night, IU took over one of the local bars. It basically turned into Sevilla’s version of Kilroy’s On Kirkwood. A short two hours later, we were supposed to be headed back to the airport. But after our 5 a.m. return to the hostel, we slept through not one, but two alarms, and missed both the 6:15 and 7:15 buses to the airport. Frantic, we sprinted out of the hostel and piled into the first taxi we could find. We made it to the airport with plenty of time, but I guarantee I left something behind after that 5-minute pack job.

Sevilla was a great start to the weeks of traveling ahead of me. And if I can find a weekend in my incredibly hectic schedule, I would love to go back for round two.