Halfway through week two in Guatemala we had midterms for our two classes we have been taking while abroad. Our classes are Politics of Developing Nations and Politics of Latin American Countries. While studying for midterms me and a couple of my classmates were studying on the terrace and we felt a small earthquake shake the building for a couple minutes. Because we knew it was no major threat it was actually kind of cool to experience that for the first time. After we finished midterms me and some of my classmates decided to explore the city on our own in the evening, and it ended up being one of my favorite and most fun days abroad!
The day after midterms we had an excursion to the beach on the west coast of Guatemala. We travelled 3 hours by bus to a beach town called Monterrico where we stayed at an absolutely amazing resort and had the chance to relax after the stress we were all under for midterms. We got to see the black sand beaches that were caused by volcanic ash and it was absolutely breathtaking. This was my first time seeing the Pacific Ocean and it was amazing to be able to do that in Guatemala. We were not able to get in the ocean due to the tide and waves on the coast, but we still had fun at the resort pool.
Pacaya Volcano Hike
After a peaceful weekend at Monterrico we woke up at 6 o’clock in the morning to hike Pacaya, a volcano located right outside Antigua. The hike lasted about 2 hours completely uphill, but it was 100% worth it for the experience and the views at the top. Because we were hiking with our whole study abroad group we were accompanied by horses that were available to us as well. Of course I had to get on the horse because when else would I be able to say I rode a horse up the side of a volcano! The views from this hike were absolutely astonishing, and this experience is once in a lifetime and something I will definitely never forget!
St. James Day
St. James is the patron saint of the city of Antigua, Guatemala. On July 25th, everyone in the city comes together and celebrates the day of their patron saint with a huge festival, fair, and concert that shuts the roads around the whole town! I did not really know what to expect from St. James Day because everyone was so excited for it, but I definitely understand why now. It is filled with so much joy, patriotism, celebration, and culture. We watched parts of the parade because it lasted all day and ended the night at the concert and enjoyed the music in the Central Square!
Finals and Farewell
The day before we left we took our final exams and it was a bitter sweet day. We were all anxious about our final exam and all of the things we wanted to do before leaving. We all ended up doing very well on our final and were treated to making our own pizza from scratch as the farewell dinner. Making the pizza was very fun and something I had never done before. It took us a little longer than expected because we only had one oven to make 15 pizzas, but it was worth it in the end because the pizza was so good! The next morning the airport shuttle picked us up at 5am for our 10am flight out of Guatemala City. There were five other students on my flight so it was a bittersweet moment when we all had to go our separate ways after our first flights. Overall, I had such an amazing time studying in Guatemala and the experiences I had on this trip are moments I will carry with me for a lifetime!