Emily Cox – Spain, France, Italy, Portugal (2011) †

I want to see the world. I want to relate to people in different cultures, countries and communities. I want to understand people on a level that many college students and professionals do not. I am so open and understanding of the similarities and differences that I share with strangers and my own family. Because I want to go into social work in my community I must step outside my bubble and soak in the cultures of the world. I will be able to travel to beautiful countries on a beautiful continent, train rides away from cities on top of ruins and under water. When will I ever be able to do this again?

I was raised by a single mother. From a very early age she instilled in me a love for other cultures. With her last dollar she sent me to Italy when I was sixteen. It changed my life. Before my trip I was a high school drop out, the black sheep within my family. I found no importance in education and never thought about my future. Traveling to another country changed my life. I felt so small, my problems so trivial, outside of my own world. The streets were art, the cathedrals painted gold, and the museums were treasure. I enjoyed the folklore about the river and found myself writing stories of lovers in my notebook. When I returned to Los Angeles I was a different person. I enrolled in the winter semester at my local community college, I had a goal, a dream. My goals have changed drastically since then, it’s been four years and they’re still changing. However, I do know this, education is no longer inconsequential, it is of the highest importance. I pride myself in my grades, in my accomplishments and in my knowledge. I love to learn, and I want to learn as much as possible before I am set free into the world to use that knowledge.

I will never be able to do this again. I talk to family and professors and strangers about it all the time, if they went away in college it changed their lives, if they didn’t it was the one thing they wished they had done. I have to see the world, I have to enjoy these opportunities while I can, before I have my loans to pay off and a mortgage and a family. I hope to build such strong relationships within my community in Spain that I can come back and relive it with my children someday. I want to write articles for my college newspaper as the editor from Spain. I want to encourage all of my fellow Mount students to sign up for a study abroad program with AIFS. I know that this trip will not only be life changing for me, but it will also bring my fellow students face to face with another country and culture. I just want to be studying in Spain!

I am destined to start at the University of Granada, Spain, in the Fall. I hope to leave on August 28, 2011 for a three day excursion in London before arriving in Spain on August 31. During my almost four months in Europe (I will not be returning until December 21) I hope to take advantage of my close proximity to many beautiful and interesting countries. On top of the scheduled trips with AIFS, I hope to venture out into France and Italy. I want to stay in hostels in Florence and eat French chocolate in Paris. I want to stop by Bologna and eat real baloney. The Globetrotter Grant would allow me to fully experience Europe, as I would otherwise not be able to. I have a single mother who has already begun to take on more jobs then she can handle in order to give me this opportunity. As it is my academic scholarships and state loans are not enough to cover the cost of my trip, and it will be a struggle for my mom to send me enough money to live in Spain for those four months.

First I can get a “Eurail Select Pass” through Rail Europe for $486 that will allow me to travel into four countries, with 10 days of travel on the train. That means I could visit all five of the different cities I want to see with round trip paid for. With this pass I could visit Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, Florence and Lisbon, Portugal. I have a week worth of traveling by train in Europe. With this money I could travel every weekend to a different city in Spain, or country in Europe for two months of my trip. I would be able to soak in so many cultures and experiences that I could write about for the Mount Newspaper.

For housing during my trips to foreign lands, I would love to stay in hostels. I think that hostels are the true way to experience Europe as a college student. I would start my trip in Spain where the average hostel is about $30 per night, so if I spend four nights (two in Madrid and two in Barcelona) it would be about $120. Moving my trip northeast to France, hostels are also about $30 per night, and two nights would cost me another $60. Another country on my list is Italy, where in Florence (my dream city) a hostel is a bit cheaper, averaging $20 a night, and with two nights it will be another $40. The last stop on my journey will be Portugal where in the capital city of Lisbon a hostel goes for about $20 a night, and for a total of $40. All together to stay in hostels in four countries, five cities, my grand total will be about $260.

There is no way I can sit at a cafe in France or Italy and enjoy less than two cafe lattes a day. Each cafe latte is about $5 and at two a day for ten days (two in Italy, two in France, two in Portugal and four in Spain) I need $100 for a tasty piece of European culture. While I’m traveling I will also need to feed myself once the caffeine wears off, so eating as reasonable as possible it will cost me at least $40 a day to eat, and for 10 days abroad the total will be at least $400.

Museums are a necessary part of anyone’s trip to Europe. These countries have so much to offer. They have produced the greatest thinkers and artists in history. When I’m in Madrid and Barcelona I want to visit their cultural museums to better understand the country I am visiting. While in Madrid I want to see the Prado Museum, which is free at night. When I’m in Barcelona I want to visit the Museu Picasso, where Picasso himself lived for five years, and the Palau de la Música Catalana, with walls of gold. Each of these museums is around $6 for entry. When I travel to Paris I want to visit The Louvre Museum, one of the most famous museums in the world, where for about $18 I can have access to both the permanent exhibitions and the rotational exhibitions in the Musée Eugène Delacroix. Another Museum I have to visit while I’m in Paris is the Musee d’Orsay which is about $11. While I’m in Italy I have to visit three of the world famous museums that are in Florence: Accademia Gallery, Uffizi Gallery and the Museo Galileo. The Accademia Gallery, were the David stands is priced at 20 euros during September, about $24. The Uffizi Gallery charges 9.75 euros for entry, about $12. At the Museo Galileo a ticket is 6 euros, which is about $8. On museums in Europe, which are famously cheap, I will spend about $80.

I have a last wish for my trip, in all my plans I want to leave Lisbon, Portugal for last. My reasoning is simple, in all of my research for pricing and places to stay for my travels I stumbled upon a small group tour in Lisbon for $124. This tour includes eight hours of guidance on a bus into the southern city of Sesimbra for wine tasting in a winery above the white washed shore of the Atlantic Ocean. After wine tasting they take you to a fresh fish restaurant in the city for lunch and then to a bird sanctuary nearby. They end the day at a local small church were people from all over Portugal still come to sing odes to Our Lady. This to me is culture. This is traveling and experiencing Europe to me. This is what being 21 and educating myself is about. After all of these expenses $145 remains. This money is perfect for tipping and emergency money for taxi-cabs, pay phones, currency fluctuation, and small memorabilia.

I hope you consider me for this grant because I know I will make Mount St. Mary’s proud from the other side of the world. I plan on sharing my trip with my school every day. As an editor of the “Oracle” (The Mount online newspaper) I want to post all my travels immediately online with pictures and diary-like entries that my fellow Athenians can enjoy. I hope to inspire other college students to travel the world and preach acceptance of cultures. Unfortunately, without this grant I will not be able to afford any trips outside of the scheduled adventures with AIFS. Thank you for reviewing my application and proposed plan to conquer Europe in four months.

(February 2011)

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