¡Hola! and Goals – API Blog

March 6, 2019
Toledo, Spain

¡Hola from Sevilla, Spain!

Maddie Topliff

My name is Maddie Topliff, and I am one of API’s student bloggers for Spring 2019! I am currently a sophomore at Drake University in Des Moines, IA studying Public Relations, Spanish, and Leadership. In my free time, I enjoy listening to music, writing, and making people laugh.

I just arrived in Sevilla, but the past few days have been very busy with excursions. A little less than a week of traveling means a lot of time on the bus to reflect and to brainstorm some personal goals I wish to fulfill before departing from Spain in May. With each blog post/vlog, I hope to update you all on progress I’ve made in order to be both transparent and accountable for my actions.

1. My most obvious goal going into this semester is to speak Spanish as much as possible.

Expanding my language skills is the primary reason I chose to study in Spain, besides the fact that it helps to fulfill my minor at school. So far, ordering in restaurants and paying for items in stores (like much-needed snacks) has not been very difficult, especially if I point to what I want 🙂 Living with my host family with surely help as well.

Palabra del día (Word of the Day): tiritas mean band aids. I found this out when I went to la farmacia asking for bandages, which is los vendajes, but she brought out the kind that you wrap around a large wound. The pharmacist was very nice and helpful, though. Why did I need band aids, you ask? I may or may not have taken a tumble off of my bike…whoops!

Toledo, Spain

Toledo, Spain

2. This goal is pretty optimistic, so it may require some adjustment. But I really want to spend around 30 minutes each day chatting with my host mother.

Not only will it help with my Spanish and is the least I can do to repay her kindness, but family is incredibly important to me. I have especially come to appreciate my family a lot more since starting college due to our time all under one roof becoming more limited.

3. Including more spontaneity into my routine (an oxymoron, perhaps?) may be the most difficult goal to achieve.

I have the tendency to plan my life down to the minute, and while that has been great for academia, my personal life has not made as many strides forward. Being more spontaneous can look like a lot of things. It can be as simple as me ordering something off of a menu without second-guessing or more complicated: traveling to a city I didn’t plan on. I hope being spontaneous helps me to come close to being as relaxed as the natives.

Orange trees in Córdoba

Orange trees in Córdoba

4. Finally, top it all off, I am all about being more present this semester.

Planning ahead usually means I am thinking ahead, and at critical times, I forget to live in the moment. Yes, living in the moment is a cliché, but it’s vital, especially when traveling. My photos aren’t going to be able to capture how I felt in the moment if I don’t allow myself to feel. I want to devote most, if not all of my mental energy into whichever experience is most relevant at the time. The memories I’m about to make here in Europe may very well be once-in-a-lifetime, and I need to treat them as such.

Well, that’s all for now, folks. Like I said above, I’ll be including some traveling photos for you to enjoy. It was nice to meet you, and I will see you soon.


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