Erin Quinlevan '15




This trip was absolutely amazing.  My friends and I planned a trip to two cities in December, and it was spectacular.  We spent one night in Brussels, Belgium, where we sampled everything Belgium is known for: waffles, chocolate, beer.  All of it delicious.  I can definitely say that the waffle I had there was one of the best I’ve ever tasted.  The Grand Place (main plaza) was decorated with lights, a manger, and a giant tree for Christmas, with Christmas music blasting, making the atmosphere very inviting and Christmas-y.  One afternoon was more than enough time to explore this cozy city, and the next morning we took off for Paris.


In Paris, we stayed with another Holy Cross friend studying there’s place, James.  He had his own apartment and was extremely accommodating to us.  We got a tour of the city from a Parisian’s point of view, went to the French markets, window shopped the most luxurious stores, and lounged at the local bars.  Although we did do some touristy things, such as climbing the Arc de Triumph, seeing the Eiffel Tower, exploring the Lourve and Musée de Orsay, and taking a million pictures, I’m glad we got to see part of a Parisian’s life through James.

The city is breathtaking.  Every single building is beautiful, old architecture and low the the ground.  There are no skyscrapers like New York or Chicago.  The people inhabiting the city are incredible too.  You watch them walk by in awe.  They are beautiful, the clothes they wear even more beautiful, and the language they speak even more so.  Entering this city is like going to Disney World when you were a little kid, something magical takes place in Paris, and only when you are there can you feel it.


The only downside of our trip was the ending.  Not only because our vacation ended, but also because of the unexpected traveling problems we encountered.  We were flying out of the Ryanair airport in Charleroi, Belgium, meaning when we bought the plane tickets we thought we were flying out of the Brussels airport, Ryanair has a way of tricking you like that.  Anyways, we had to take a train from Paris to Charleroi, which is a random Belgian city an hour or so outside of Brussels.  Our train had a connection in a city I don’t remember the name of in Belgium.  Unfortunately for us, our connecting train was not marked at the train station, the information line was 25 people long, and our time to connect was only 6 minutes.  Needless to say, we missed that next train.  Luckily, the train that we missed was a commuter rail and ran every hour.  So we hopped on the next one hoping to make it in time for our flight.  This missed hour of travel time resulted in us running through the Charleroi train station, paying our cab to speed as fast as possible, begging the Ryanair people to check us in every though our flight was boarding when we arrived, cutting the mile-long security line, and sprinting through the airport.  We made it, sweaty and breathless, but we did.


Other than that extreme hassle, the trip was one I’ll never forget, and Paris is a city I will be returning to.

Palace in Brussels View from top of Arc de Triumph Mona Lisa in the Lourve The Lourve Catacombs of Paris Catacombs of Paris Catacombs of Paris Eiffel Tower selfie Arc de Triumph Paris Paris Paris Notre Dame Paris Paris street art Grand Place(main plaza) Brussels Belgian Waffle in Brussels Grand Place(main plaza) Brussels IMG_5104


After being in Spain for over 4 months now, I feel like I completely understand the University culture here in Spain, especially in Mallorca.  Public Universities are usually better than private, and kids commute to the nearest University, while living at home.  The typical “college life” that every American thinks of, with residence halls, off campus apartments, dining halls, and student centers does not exist here.  College is not a time to find new friends, join clubs, or become independent in this country, it is solely for learning and earning your degree.

Part of the reason the University life differs is because of the difference in culture.  In America, to find a job, you must sell yourself.  How can a company can profit from adding you to their staff, through your grades, experience, and achievements.  Finding a job in Spain however, is different; it depends only on the equivalent of a GPA you have received from the University.  Along with selling yourself in the United States, you can also chose to change career paths if you are unsatisfied.  In Spain, this is unheard of.  Here, once you chose a path, there is no option of turning back.  For example, before entering high school, I would have to decide whether I wanted to follow the science and math route or the humanities route.  If I chose humanities, I would have to chose a subject from this area to study at the University.  Say I chose Psychology, I would only be taking Psychology classes at the University.  You may not take classes outside of your major at the University.  After, you specialize further through your master or doctorate.  With these degrees under your belt, you only have a handful of options for a job.  If these positions are already filled, you’re out of work and out of luck.  This is part of the Spanish economic crisis.

Another difference in the culture that makes life more difficult for these young Spaniards is the transportation to the University, especially here in Mallorca.  There is one University on the island, situated 15 minutes outside of Palma, by car.  Coming and going from Palma to the University is not a problem, but from other areas of the island, it is.  From North to South as well as East to West on the island, it is about an hour drive.  But the students don’t have cars, and must take public transportation to the University.  Most have to take transportation into Palma, then the the University, which could take up to an hour and a half just one way.

Yesterday I talked to a girl who is forced to make the three hour transportation everyday to and from the University work.  She is a Psychology major, like me, hoping to eventually be a psychologist for children with Down’s syndrome.  Everyday she wakes up at 5 am to make it to class on time, and usually doesn’t go to bed until after midnight because of all her studies.  Her grades aren’t as great as they could be, I believe because she is so run down.  And these grades determine whether or not she will be able to continue with her goal of becoming a psychologist.  To continue on this career path, she will need money to pay for graduate school, so this weekend she will start work at a bar.  Friday and Saturday nights she will work from 11pm to 5am or 6am, taking even more away from her sleep.

After she told me all of this, I couldn’t help but say, “less than 5 hours of sleep a night?! I couldn’t do it!”  Her response was, if you were in my position and that was the only option, you would be able to.  There is no other option.  Which lead me to realize, how lucky I am with my Holy Cross education.

Coming from Holy Cross, I have found a large difference in the education here versus that of my liberal arts college.  I have come to appreciate that I can choose my classes, that I sleep a 10 minute walk away from my classrooms, and that when I graduate I have a thousand options or more options as a career.  Now, I appreciate and understand the American culture better.


This past week, he cumplido veintiuno años.. I turned 21!! Wow what a crazy thought that is. I’m old enough to drink legally in the US.  Turning 21 in Spain was a little anticlimactic because the drinking age here is already 18, and no one asks for IDs, ever.  I can’t complain though, I had a wonderful birth day and week.


My mom and grandma came to Spain for a little over a week to celebrate my birthday.  We spent a weekend in Madrid, the middle of the week in Palma and the next weekend in Barcelona.  Spending time with them was absolutely amazing.


Showing Palma and the island of Mallorca with my family was an experience I will never forget.  When you spend time with people you love in a place you love, it’s a magical feeling.  Honestly, I can’t describe with words how awesome this past week was.


Here are some pictures to better explain what happened.

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Here, in Palma, I have been blessed to be given such an amazing host mom.  Before coming, this aspect of the study abroad experience was probably what I was most worried about: living in someone else’s home and feeling comfortable living there for a year.  Two full months have passed, and I feel completely at home in my apartment with my host mom.  She has made my transition between countries smoother than I ever thought it could be.


As soon as I entered through her door the first night, I have been treated like family.  She cooks for me, cleans my room (including making my bed everyday), does my laundry, listens to my complaints, shares stories of her past, and helps me with the Spanish language, just to begin.  On the fourth day living in her house I told her I had blisters on my feet from walking so much.  Next thing I know, she has gone down to the pharmacy and bought me blister pads and disinfectant and insists she applies for me.


Magdalena is a one-of-a-kind person, the type of people you meet  and change your life for the better.  She has more patience than I have found in any other person in the world.  At 45 years old, she lost her husband before they ever had kids.  Instead of dwelling on his absence, she tries to be as happy as possible under the circumstances.  For 12 years she worked on a bus with children with special needs.  Although she has been retired for 5 years, whenever these children see her in the street, they run up to her and give her a giant hug.  Most of these children ask their parents when she will come back.  Her motto is to “disfrutar la vida” or enjoy life. She is kind to everyone she meets, never has a bad word to say about anyone, and is always genuine.  I thank God everyday for bringing her into my life, because I feel that already I have learned so much from her.


Just recently, I lost someone at home.  Being abroad proves tough in these situations.  I wanted a hug from my mom, a joke from my dad, and a kiss from my dog, but none of this was possible.  Magdalena sat at the dinner table and cried with me, the night I told her what had happened.  Without her, my experience here would not nearly be as great.



photo (2) photo (1) photo (3) photo (4) photo (5) photo (6)

As amazing as this experience has been thus far for me here in Palma, there has always been something on the back of my mind: I miss home.  Homesickness has not hindered me from having a great time here, but at times it has been very hard.  I miss Wisconsin, my family, my dog, my bed, American food and culture, and last but not least my school. I knew I would miss Holy Cross, but not this much.  So I’ve decided to make a list of a bunch of things I miss about it.

  • People watching in Kimball
  • The beauty of campus in the fall
  • Lobby shop breaks from Dinand
  • My friends
  • Scoop Your Own Ice Cream Night
  • Mahoney Wednesdays
  • Tailgating before football games
  • My boyfriend
  • The victory of getting a table in Rehm Library during finals week
  • Clark 1 and Clark 4
  • Cookies from Cool Beans
  • Hunter boots and North Face rain shells
  • Easy Street
  • “Who’s going out tonight?” … “Everyone.”
  • Hanging out on the Hoval when it’s nice out
  • Spring Weekend
  • Halloween for 5 nights straight
  • Moodle stalking or stalking
  • Pregames with my best friends
  • The hike up to Hart just to work out
  • Kimball holiday dinners
  • Holy Cross professors
  • Going up to Hogan 3 to use the good bathrooms
  • The painting and sculpture studios
  • Seeing that one person you really did not want to see at Kimball
  • Communal suffering in Dinand
  • Reliving weekends nights in pjs and blankets in K & J’s room
  • Clark Lawn
  • Freshmen dorm rivalry
  • Going to the Edge to get free pizza
  • Blackstone trips
  • Immersion trips and friends
  • Syllabus week
  • The constant landscaping
  • Sis
  • The Bank of America machine eating someone’s card way too often
  • The elevator key and avoiding stairs at all costs
  • That awful feeling knowing you have to walk up the Kimball stairs
  • Parking lot parties
  • St. Patrick’s Day
  • Hagrid’s Hut



Oktoberfest, otherwise known as the biggest beer drinking festival in the world, was an unforgettable experience for me.

Because every college student is on a budget and even more so when they’re abroad, my friends and I decided to stay at a campsite in Munich to save money.  This campsite and I had a love hate relationship, mostly hate though.  We crammed ten people into a teepee, used cheap pool toys as mattresses, shared two blankets between the ten of us, and didn’t shower for three straight days.  Our saving grace at this campsite was the friendly staff, open bar, and awesome international people we met there.

Besides this slight setback that weekend, it was so great to see so many familiar faces.  We met up with not only 11 people from Holy Cross, but I also saw a few friends from home as well.  It was nice to transition from the European lifestyle back to American for a few days.

Experiencing the German culture was phenomenal.  Many people in the tents were dressed in Lederhosen and Dirndls, the traditional German wear during the festival.  Inside the beer tents, the atmosphere was captivating; people would start singing a particular German song and within a few seconds the entire two-story tent had joined in raising the glasses to the melody. Once at a table, it was strongly encouraged that you buy a Stein (giant mug) of beer and a huge soft pretzel to accompany it.  The food and beer inside the tent was some of the best I’ve ever had.  The Hofbräuhaus tent and actual brewery completely made up for the lack of sleep, hygiene, and sanity I had earlier from the campsite.


mug james

inside tent house



Witnessing the Mallorcan protest to protect their language, and therefore a large part of their culture, was a blessing.  Usually, I hate crowds.  The massive amounts of people make me feel claustrophobic, overwhelmed, and panicked.  In this crowd, however, I felt a sense of gratitude and peace.  I wanted to scream out the Catalán cheers and wave a green flag in the air.  I believe photos and videos speak louder than words, so I have added many below.  All in all, I hope that the Mallorcan and Catalonian people receive the rights they deserve.


A parade of green (click for a video)





Spain, to an outsider, seems like a uniform country; everyone speaks Spanish, smokes cigarettes, and loves soccer. Through living here and listening to the people, I have found the exact opposite to be true, especially pertaining to the language. Different provinces in Spain speak the language of their province along with Spanish, most are bilingual.


For example, in Galicia, a Northwestern province of Spain near Portugal, they speak Gallego, which is a mixture of Castellaño (Spanish) and Portugese.  Furthermore, in the North of Spain, called Pais Vasco, a different language exists that uses our alphabet in a completely different way, called the Basque language.

[Gizon-emakume guztiak aske jaiotzen dira] <– example of the Basque language  

But most importantly in current events, is the language of Catalán.  Cataluña, a province in Northeastern Spain that speaks Catalán, is seeking independence from Spain.  They believe that all the tax money paid to the  government in Madrid is not  returned fairly and that Catalán should be a language taught in their schools.  Madrid wants to prevent this breaking off because Barcelona is located in Cataluña, which is an important of the Spanish economy.

Here is a link to the full story:    Catalán Protest

And how does this affect me?

Mallorca speaks both Spanish and Mallorquin, but Mallorquin is a dialect of Catalán, comparing to American English versus Australian English.  The Mallorcans are very active in this protest as well.  Everywhere I go I see people wearing the green independence t-shirts.  Some kids don’t have school because their teachers refuse to work to protest.  I experienced one of these protests at my University, and have included pictures below.



I plan on attending the next protest and biggest one yet on Sunday the 29th at the Plaza near my house, decked out in green. More details to come!



Everyone knows that fresh food is the best food.  And I have the best food in the world in my hands, literally, here in Mallorca.  Most of the fruits and vegetables sold in the markets are grown and picked here on the island.  Produce shipped in from other countries is produce that is out of season in Mallorca.

Unlike Mallorca, people in the US buy produce grown in other surrounding countries.  This food, however, is obviously not as fresh because you have to factor in the shipping and handling.

Plus, there is something so innately satisfying gained through eating food from the land in which you live.  In addition to the fresh fruits and vegetables, most of the other food comes from the island as well.  The meat, fish, wine, bread, and even ice cream are made here.

Needless to say, for those of you reading this at Holy Cross, Kimball and Crossroads will not be missed this year.

I have arrived! Palma, my final destination, is a dream.  Imagine that island paradise you’ve always wanted to visit, Palma is exactly that.  Not only is the island beautiful, the people are very welcoming and friendly.  From my observations of Pamplona and Palma thus far, I have found that the Spanish act according to their weather.  Pamplona, in the North of Spain, is known to be very cold, and their people are the same.  Short and unfriendly.  Palma, on the other hand, has a friendly, helpful population and a warm climate year-round.  For example, today during my run along the water, I fell and scraped my knees because it had rained earlier.  A boy, about my age, saw me and called me over.  He gave me band-aids to stop the bleeding.  After chatting for a while with him and his friends, he invited me and the rest of the Holy Cross students studying here in Palma out  a night this week, to show us the city nightlife from a native’s standpoint.  The Mallorquins have made my transition to this new city unbelievably easy, and I know my upcoming year here will be incredible.

This is my favorite beach so far in Mallorca.

Playa de Illetas