Slideshow of My Experience Abroad!

Congrats to me! I’m officially home safe and sound. I can’t believe quite how exciting my time abroad was, and I’d like to try and share my experience. Here’s a slideshow video, just for you.


Time Well Spent: Barcelona, Spain

Monserrat, Sarah Harris

I first knew my relationship had changed with Barcelona when I was flying back from Rome. It had been a three-day, scorching trip and I had loved every second of it. My roommate and I fell asleep in the nearest McDonalds (and then got yelled at in Italian) before our flight back. When we got to the terminal, we were both exhausted because we walked around 39 miles the whole trip in the heat. Our flight got delayed twice and as a knee-jerk reaction I said, “I just want to go home.” This is such a pivotal statement because I wasn’t talking about Tucson, Arizona, my actual hometown, I was talking about Barcelona.

Though I did get to know Rome fairly well in my short time there, spending all my time here in Barcelona has practically forced me to love it. I’ve grown accustomed to the language, the traditions and culture, the atmosphere, and the certain lack of customer service. I had never taken a metro before the start of my session abroad, but I now feel quite confidant in my metro navigational skills. It feels actually very regular to get water from a random fountain here, and I’ve noticed that I’ve started saying “Gracias!” with a lisp.

I’ve learned numerous invaluable things, not only just about Barcelona or studying abroad, but about life as a whole. I feel that after realizing that I can somehow ask how much something is in Prague even though I don’t speak Russian or Czech or that I can acclimate to a work environment very dissimilar from my own, tackling the real world back home doesn’t seem quite as frightening. And, as I reach the end of my stay, I can say very certainly that I will definitely be back to visit my second home of Barcelona.

Learning How to Fake That I Know What People are Saying in Barcelona

So here I am in Barcelona, Spain, and I barely know enough conversational English to realize that I accidentally asked a man how much he cost—instead of how much some water cost. This lack of fluency has left me feeling confused and, occasionally, lost. Though it’s very hard to deal with lacking a skill in something that’s so essential to life in this city, it has made me strong and less

Most of the time it’s exceptionally easy, as my roommate is fluent in Spanish and we practically go everywhere together. When we go into stores she tries to negotiate prices, but if they realize we are from the U.S., they may not reduce prices as much. So I don’t regularly speak. I’m very used to acting like I’m from Canada, or, once, from Mexico (I think she said my parents were from Finland or something…because I’m VERY fair-skinned.) I’ve gotten fairly good at acting like I know what they are saying and, when I’m asked a question, when to act “timido”.

Though that’s only while we’re shopping. When I’m at my work or when I want to practice my Spanish, I have to force myself out of my little comfortable box and try my hardest with the possibility of complete failure. I always try to interact with people in Spanish, and I’ve figured out how to communicate when I don’t know the words to describe what I want.

And it’s hard. Because I’m trying to talk to them and they’re trying to understand and it’s extremely possible for both of us to feel inadequate. I’ll be thinking to myself, “How can I possibly explain what I’m trying to say?” and, as I’ve been on the other side of this situation as well, I think, “Why aren’t I understanding them?”. This feeling can disrupt the possibility of having a perfectly wonderful conversation as well as prevent a relationship from forming. Though, once this feeling of inadequacy is breached, eventually creating a relationship with those people will help you see the world through a different culture and, in turn, broaden your perspective.

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Barcelona! A magical place far away from my home town where they sleep in the middle of the day and the sun sets at 9:00pm. This is where I will be spending the first two months of my summer this year, starting in June. Once of the reasons I chose this place was because of the thriving entrepreneurial spirit and tech industry currently present in Barcelona. I plan on being a Data Analyst and Barcelona is a perfect place to get some work experience in one of the business accelerators. I got my wish, and now I am working in a Big Data Accelerator just fifteen minutes away from the beach. Since I’ve gotten my internship assignment and my plane ticket, I am now planning on what sort of things I will be doing in Barcelona.

The main thing I want to do is go sightseeing. I expect to be exploring everywhere in Barcelona every change I get. I love to see architecture, and all around Barcelona are beautiful, architectural pieces that I am dying to see. From the Gothic Quarter to la Sagrada Família, I plan to take a lot of my lunch periods to see these magnificent feats of human nature. Not only will I be exploring Barcelona for beauty in architecture, but I hope to spend time at sites around my internship location as well. As I said before, the sea is jst a fifteen minute walk from my work. Also near my internship is the Parc de la Ciutadella, which, from my research, is a gorgeous park which I will be very enthusiastic to explore (Oh yeah, it’s also a zoo).

Another wonderful surprise about Barcelona is that it is actually a huge rock climbing hub. I have only been rock climbing for about a year and a half, but I was extremely excited to learn of the multiple and difficult rock climbing sites around Barcelona. I may not be skilled enough yet to tackle these areas, but there are many rock climbing gyms (salas de escalada) around Barcelona that I could visit. There is one gym, Climbat, that is right near my internship location and is mostly bouldering (without rope climbing) that I plan to visit often and maybe even take classes there. Another thing that is possible is to hire a guide to take me around the different rock climbing sites near Barcelona. I don’t know the exact criteria for this expedition, but I will be looking into it and hopefully experiencing an amazing climbing opportunity.

I cannot wait for my adventure to start!

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Winnie the Pup

Winnie, this adorable little doggy, has been in my life for almost a year now. Weighing a measly 8 lbs, her personality makes up for her tiny size. She is a crazy, happy weirdo (just like me). She loves to go for long walks, ferociously growl while playing with anybody, and snuggle right up close to people that she loves.



I decided I wanted a dog immediately after I had finished my second year of college. I was going to be living in a house that allowed pets, and the sooner I could find my dream baby, the better. I started looking through dog listings as a way to ease the stress during finals. Before my finals even ended I was planning on going to look at dogs. My mom told me to calm down, STOP telling her to go look at dogs for me, and to focus on my finals.

I needed non-shedding dog since I’m semi-allergic to dog hair and I wanted a medium sized dog. This is where, as you can see, I strayed from my plan with Winnie. See, I had a mental image of all the small dogs I had ever met: I did not want a small, scared dog who would need to be babied their whole lives.


After finals, I met with a lot of non-shedding dogs, and I just did not connect with a single one of them. “Is this what having a dog will be like?” I wondered, as I was sitting at the park, petting a dog who didn’t even look at me.

I wanted a dog who would be my love and my best friend. A dog who was confident in her weirdness and was not afraid to lick the inside of someone’s lip to show her love. I felt like giving up at one point; I didn’t feel like I was ever going to find that one dog who was perfect for me in her imperfectness.

I met my little dog, then named Diogie ( pronounced D-O-G… I hated the name. it was basically like calling her “dog”) one afternoon. It was the day after I had met with this dog who, though quite nearly perfect in every way, also shed. I was quite distraught at the time, and I felt like giving up.

The woman’s house where Winnie had started her life was filled with animals. I remember there being four dogs, a cat, and a bird just walking around on the floor. She told us why she was getting rid of then-Diogie. A family member of the woman had wanted a dog, so the woman bred her dog, a mutt of a bunch of non-shedding dogs, with a yorkie to produce the cutest of cutes: Winnie! The family member, once the woman’s dog had given birth, didn’t want the dog anymore. So Winnie’s past owner continued to try and get rid of Winnie for a year… until I showed up.

Winnie, a complete fluff ball at the time, seemed a little nervous, which I was also little nervous about. She was also only 8 lbs, which contradicted my medium-sized dog rule. Winnie was pestering her mother and her past owner for attention, which wasn’t really given to her. I felt Winnie’s desperation for having a companion and I related to her… I knew she was going to be a good dog. I really don’t know how I knew, but I could tell that she was a strong dog… and exactly what I needed.

We took her home, and she got less nervous and more confidant. She showed her weird side and I loved it. Together she and I have been through a lot, and I am so very glad that I was able to choose her (and she chose me) to be apart of each other’s lives.

The value of doing nothing

lazy day on a messy bed Today Winnie and I had a nice relaxing nap and Netflix.

Nothing was planned, started, or completed.
lazy day on a messy bed2  A lazy nap on a messy bed while doing nothing in particular is quite possibly a perfect success story for this day.

Take time every day to do nothing whatsoever just to cherish the seconds passing by you.

It may just put any problem in perspective.

Winnie: the tiny dog.

IMG_6628IMG_6545Last May I had the opportunity to experience a whole new perspective: being a mom… of a tiny dog. That’s right! I now have a dog that will support me for as long as she will be alive.

She is my soulmate. Let me tell you why: (A) she is super happy all the time, (B) she is an adventurous little thing, and (C) she is the weirdest dog I have ever met on the face of the planet. She does this thing where she drags herself across the floor, making crazy noises and nodding her head up and down. She’s pretty much my soul animal. Everyone loves her and she loves everyone… but be careful! She will french kiss you if you don’t look out.

Imagine by John Lennon (Sarah and Carly)

Carly and I put together a rendition of “Imagine” by John Lennon. This song is exceptionally meaningful to me as it was one of the first songs i chose when I started playing piano. It grew with me as I grew as a musician as well as a person. I’ve always related very strongly with John Lennon’s voice as well, so I do wish I had taken it a little easier vocally, but I was a bit in the moment and added more emotion than I had planned.

You can hear Carly playing a duet part on the piano as well as her beautiful voice singing the harmony. Since this song was so important to me, I took the lead. Carly had a bunch of vital ideas to contribute and it was more of a team effort than a dictatorship. We were both very happy with how it turned out.