A Week in the Life of a Holy Cross Student in A Coruña, Spain


I try to get a head start on the week by going to the gym in the morning. The gym is a 15 minute walk from my apartment, but you have to walk along the water to get there, so it’s worth it.

Later, I have one of the two Spanish classes that are just for Holy Cross students. Sometimes we ride the bus to school together, which is fun because the ride is extremely hilly (especially once you get on campus- it can feel pretty dangerous).

Gave and Mé (what our Spanish professor calls them them) on the bus ride to school
Autumn trees on campus

After class, I babysit two adorable little girls, Elena and Lucia. Their mom wants me to speak English with them, so I try to think of creative games to play that make it fun for them to practice the language. I occasionally speak Spanish with them, which is a lot less intimidating than speaking to Spanish adults, even though Lucia hysterically laughs whenever I make a mistake ;).

Elena (7) and Lucia (5)
Elena wearing a bear hat before she goes to English class
Elena making un collar de castañas (a chestnut necklace) for All Saints Day
Lucia has the most crazy and energetic personality

At at 10 or 10:30 PM, we eat dinner! Often my entire host family is at dinner, which is a lot of fun.


On Tuesday mornings, I have my History of Radio, Television, and Multimedia class. The content is interesting and I like the professor, but I am the only international student in my class, which has definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone!

Tuesday is the only day when I eat lunch with my host family, because I have class all of the other days. I usually eat with my host mom and one or two of my three host sisters. My host mom always makes comida muy rica!

I live in the Plaza de Vigo, really central and beautiful!
The walk back to my apartment from the bus stop:)

After lunch, I give English classes to Blanca and Inés, who are 12 and 10 and really fun. I help them with their English homework and prepare lessons for them, usually involving American music, TV shows, and games.

I tutor Inés (pictured) and her sister Blanca


Wednesday is my busiest school day: I have the practicum for Radio, Television, and Multimedia (We have to give presentations every week!) In the afternoon, I have the two Holy Cross Spanish classes. One is a culture class and the other helps us improve our grammar and writing and conversational skills.

On Wednesday nights, I have choir rehearsal! Even though it is technically the university choir, there are members of all ages and we sing a wide range of songs- in Spanish, English, German, Latin, and Galician/Gallego. Whenever we sing a song in English, Mary Kate (the other student from Holy Cross in the choir) and I have to read the lyrics out loud to help with pronunciation.

Choir rehearsal with the most diverse and fun group of people ever


I usually start my Thursdays by going to a cafe- my favorite is a bakery called Pandelino, where you’ll always find other Holy Cross students. It has great food and GREAT music.

Alex and MK in Pandelino
Decorated for Christmas
Our favorite bakery, Pandelino
Frappes in Pandelino

I have one of the Spanish classes and my Philosophy & Literature class. Learning philosophy in Spanish is challenging, but I like the professor a lot. After class, I tutor Blanca and Inés again.

We don’t have classes on Fridays, so it’s now the weekend!! I like to explore Coruña and visit new places–like Marineda City, a huge shopping mall (fourth largest in Europe!) where there a lot of stores, restaurants, and fun things to do.

Marineda City, Coruña’s mall

We usually go out for a late dinner (11pm-midnight) and get a bunch of tapas for the table. Our favorite restaurant is still Osampaio. We’ve become friends with one of the waiters, Sisto, who always gives us free food/drinks.

pretty sunset in the Plaza de María Pita (also during the climate protest)
Sangria time at Osampaio!
The Ayuntamiento during a nighttime stroll
Pulpo, an A Coruña essential!!!

After dinner, it’s off to the discotecas!! Happy weekend!!!

With the Leon girls
Me and MK on the terrace



At the beginning of November, Alex, Kelly, MK, Maeve and I took a weekend trip to Oporto, Portugal. We were only there from Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon, but we had a lot of fun.

(Side note: Over the course of the weekend, we learned that knowing Spanish barely helps in Portugal. We would order taxis in Spanish because they could understand us, but they responded in Portuguese, and we were helpless.)


On Friday, we checked into our Airbnb, which was right on the water. By that time, it was already almost dark, but we went for a walk and stopped into a few artisan jewelry and clothing stores. It took us really long to find a place to eat dinner because it was a holiday.* After about a half hour of searching the entire vicinity, we finally found a tiny, quaint restaurant only feet from our Airbnb. We were a little uneasy at first, because the restaurant was empty and the waiters were realllyy excited to welcome us in (“5 people!!!”). Our apprehension disappeared quickly, though, because we had such an amazing dinner. We had white wine, pasta carbonara/pasta with bolognese (Maeve had great octopus), and we shared a chocolate cake for dessert.


The next morning, we went to a breakfast place on the water, where we enjoyed coffee and crepes. We then went to the Porto Marathon Expo (explanation to follow) and ate a very traditional Portuguese lunch- I ordered the Francesinha, a sandwich with thick bread, cured ham, and sausage covered with melted cheese and a thick tomato and beer sauce. It looked different than I had expected, but it was really good! And, of course, we had a bottle of the famous Port wine.

In the afternoon, we did a boat tour along the Douro River. It was windy and rainy, but it was cool to learn about the history of the river and its economic impact on the city. It was very pretty, despite the weather.

We just had to get McFlurries at Porto’s McDonald’s, which is supposed to be the most luxurious McDonald’s in the world. With its fancy chandeliers and stained glass windows, it definitely lived up to the hype.

Finally, we headed back to our Airbnb, where Maeve made us ABC pasta for dinner. We had a little too much fun spelling our names with the pasta and taking pictures–I think we spent more time laughing than eating or talking!

ABC pasta!!


Sunday was a big day. Alex, Kelly and I “ran” the 6k, MK ran the 9k, and Maeve ran the marathon!!! I had never seen a marathon in person before, and it was so fun to watch the runners (who came from countries all over the world) and cheer them on.

Marathon Sunday!! (It actually looked like autumn in Portugal)

Alex, Kelly and I had to take an earlier bus home than MK and Maeve. Luckily for us, the timing worked out and we were able to use the marathon app to track Maeve and figure out that she’d be running right past our Airbnb within minutes.

For me, seeing Maeve run was the best moment of the weekend. We started screaming as soon as we saw her, and even though she was on Mile 24, she had so much energy and even did a little dance as she ran by. Her energy was so contagious, and hours later, we were still talking about how special it was to watch.

*We got to Portugal on All Saints Day, which is why almost everything was closed. We also heard a lot of people speaking Spanish over the weekend. My host mom explained that holidays like All Saints Day are sometimes called “Puentes” (or bridges) because they bring people together.

It was a really great weekend!

Sevilla and Granada (and thoughts on tourism…)

At the beginning of October, the entire Holy Cross group flew to Andalusía, on the Southern coast of Spain, stopping in Sevilla and Granada.

While in Sevilla, we toured the Cathedral de Sevilla, the (alleged) site of Christopher Columbus’ tomb and a bell tower called the Giralda, at the top of which there is a view of the entire city. We spent time in the Plaza de España and the Alcazar, the royal palace built for King Peter of Castilla. We also went to a rooftop bar, saw a flamenco show, and spent a night at the International Fair, where there were huge tents serving food and drinks from many different countries (very overwhelming and fun!).

In Granada, we spent a lot of time roaming the street markets, where we were able to see the Moorish influence on the designs of the beautiful handmade colored lamps, scarves, and jewelry that were being sold in almost every store. We also did a 3 hour long walking tour of La Alhambra (all of the palaces, the gardens, and the fort) and the Generalife, the leisure patio to which the Nasrid rulers escaped when they wanted to get away from the palace. Our tour guide made sure that we noticed how different the Generalife is from the rest of La Alhambra–instead of the totally enclosed gardens surrounding the large ponds (the Moorish ideal garden) that characterize all of the other patios, the Generalife is more open and contains a single, much smaller fountain.

My favorite part of our trip to Granada was our tour of Sacromonte, Granada’s gypsy community. It is located in the very hilly countryside and it takes a decent amount of walking to find it. The gypsies are thought to have settled in Granada after the expulsion of the Moors by Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492. Gypsy families lived in caves, alongside the livestock that they used to make a living. There is still a sizable gypsy community there, and even though the gypsies don’t live extremely far from the center of the city, they have a way of life and sense of community that is very separate from Granada (our tour guide quipped that they also have an independent government system/follow their own set of laws). However, when I asked our tour guide if the gypsies dislike that tourists are constantly coming in and out of their barrio, he said that they don’t mind it because they make their money off of tourism (I guess there is a delicate balance between their independent lifestyle and their level of interaction with outsiders).

Our tour guide took us to a bar run by a man from the gypsy community, who has become our tour guide’s friend over the years. The bar is located inside of a cave, but the view from the patio was amazing.

There were SO many tourists in both cities, especially in Sevilla. Southern Spain is obviously a lot warmer than northern Spain, but I still find it interesting that historical, culturally distinct regions like Galicia don’t get more tourists each year. I think that a lot of tourists have a fixed, narrow idea of what Spain is, and places like Sevilla and Granada are the cities that best fit within that narrative.

I know that my rambling about the number of tourists in Spain is ironic. But traveling to these more touristy regions showed me how lucky I am to be studying in a region that, to me, feels like a hidden gem. Coruña has beautiful ocean views and is a busy and vivacious city where there is always something happening–but you never see tourists or hear English being spoken.

I am already more than half-way into first semester (time has flown by!!), and I feel so grateful for the authentic, fully immersive cultural learning experience I have had thus far.

I am able to authentically explore all that Coruña and Galician culture have to offer because I attend a Spanish university, have some Spanish friends, and live in the center of the city with my host parents and three host sisters. It’s not likely that I will ever have another opportunity to visit another country and be as immersed in a different language and culture as I am right now.

I love when experiences provide broader perspectives. 🙂