Daan Forest Park

May 21st, 2016 by under Taiwan. No Comments.

Daan Forest Park (大安森林公園) is located within walking distance of National Taiwan University, next to the Daan Forest Park MRT station, and is filled with beautiful sights and views. Within Daan Forest Park there is a pond, the ecological pond, an amphitheater, playground, and many pavilions and paths to take. There is a wide variety of trees and plants as well as multiple species of birds, squirrels, and turtles. The park isn’t very big since I was able to finish walking through it within two hours, but there are many different attractions to see around the park. This is also a great place for photos.

Entrance No. 8 to Daan Forest Park

Entrance No. 8 to Daan Forest Park

9 - Arch9 - Tunnel

Daan Forest Park's Amphitheater

Daan Forest Park’s Amphitheater

A small pond located in Daan Forest Park

A small pond located in Daan Forest Park

Ecological Pond - most of the birds and turtles can be seen here

Ecological Pond – most of the birds and turtles can be seen here

Egret seen flying across the Ecological Pond

Egret seen flying across the Ecological Pond

This is a great, short trip to take filled with fascinating sights.

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Paris & Musee d’Orsay

May 18th, 2016 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

Paris was a beautiful place. The Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, and the Louvre. However, my favorite place was the Musee d’Orsay.

Growing up loving art, I learned about many artists and artistic movements. One of my favorites being impressionism. Van Gogh, Monet, Degas. This museum had it all! It was amazing seeing paintings I have only read about.

At first the museum seems extremely daunting and large…because it is. There is a main hallway with smaller rooms attached and 5 floors. My plan of attack was to get an audio guide to make sure I saw the highlights of the museum in one afternoon. The 5th floor is where the main impressionist work was. Featuring Monet “Poppy Field”, “Haystacks”, and “Cathedral” series. Degas “Little Dancer”. A Van Gogh self portrait, a version of start night, and many others. My favorite was Monet’s series of the Cathedral where he painted 5 canvases of the same cathedral at different times of the day. This series was meant to symbolize the passage of time, which was extremely touching to see on my last trip of being abroad.

A version of Van Gogh's starry night.

A version of Van Gogh’s starry night.

Van Gogh, Self Portrait

Van Gogh, Self Portrait

Degas, Little Dancer

Degas, Little Dancer

Monet, Cathedral Series

Monet, Cathedral Series

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Moroccan Around

May 18th, 2016 by under Italy, Semester. No Comments.

I decided it was time to leave Europe in search of a more exotic place. Where did I end up? Morocco, and what a contrast it was to Europe.

I met my friend Courtney there and we decided to book the trip through Bus2Alps (very highly recommend this if you go). They had a bunch of activities set up for us so we could explore Moroccan culture.

My favorite….obviously the camel ride. However, not only did I get to ride a camel, but I met a little old man named Hossain. He was one of the many berber men trying to sell us jewelry and bags. They are very aggressive people and will try to sell you a bag for way over the actual price. But I saw a soft side in Hossain when he came over to me and asked me to take a Polaroid of him and his shop (which was out of the back of his car). His pride and joy was his shop and I couldn’t say no. But of course he got me to buy something, but I bartered with him using the Polaroid to get a good deal. Bartering is the “main sport of Morocco” and I think I did it pretty well getting him from 600 dirham (60euro) down to 100 dirham(10 euro).

Indigenous Berber tribe making "Moroccan whiskey" a.k.a. mint tea

Indigenous Berber tribe making “Moroccan whiskey” a.k.a. mint tea

Me and a camel!

Me and a camel!

Me and Hossain taking a picture with his shop.

Me and Hossain taking a picture with his shop.

Me and Courtney throwing the AOII sign!

Me and Courtney throwing the AOII sign!

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Roming Around

May 10th, 2016 by under Italy, Uncategorized. No Comments.

During the last week of my study abroad experience, I decided to become a tourist in my own city. Over the course of the week, I went out to explore the major landmarks in the city of Rome, as well as circle back to my favorite spots.

On the first Sunday of each month, all Roman attractions are free. I took advantage of this deal by going to the Roman Forum for the first time and walking around the ancient ruins of the old Roman city.

Throughout the week, I went to the Catacombs (burial tunnels from the 3rd century), Vatican City, and Villa Borghese. I shopped at markets such as the Testaccio, Campo and Trastevere, and revisited my favorite restaurants which included Da Enzo, Roscioli, and Fortunata.

To symbolize the end of an amazing semester, my friends and I walked around the city wearing “I <3 Roma” shirts and took pictures in front of major landmarks. We visited the Colosseum, Altare della Patria, Roman Forum, and the Trevi Fountain and enjoyed our fair share of stares.

I used my abroad experience to see as many cities and countries I could throughout Europe, however it was nice being able to take the time to enjoy the city I was lucky enough to call home.

Colosseum

Colosseum

Vatican City

Vatican City

Roman Forum

Roman Forum

Altare della Patria

Altare della Patria

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Hsinchu

May 7th, 2016 by under Taiwan, Uncategorized. No Comments.

During my trip to Hsinchu (新竹), I visited Buono Bella and National Chiao Tung University (國立交通大學). Hsinchu is located in the northwestern part of Taiwan and is about a two hour train ride from Taipei.

First Stop: Buono Bella

Buono Bella is a small, elegant Italian restaurant that appeared in the Taiwanese drama Pleasantly Surprised (喜歡一個人) as Figaro Cuisine. It is located in a small alleyway but is surrounded by beautiful scenery.

8 - Buono Bella

Buono Bella

8 - Buono Bella interior

Inside of Buono Bella

8 - Buono Bella food

Linguine with Seasonal Vegetables and Lemon Flavor Oil

 

Next Stop: National Chiao Tung University

National Chiao Tung University is one of the leading public research universities in Taiwan. It is located next to National Tsing Hua University. In walking to NCTU I took the Bao Shan Lu trail and passed by a path that led to Eighteen Peaks Mountain and Hsinchu Botanical Garden. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to visit these two beautiful sights. NCTU as a beautiful campus filled with sculptures, trees, gardens, and lakes/ponds.

8 - Park skybridge

Bridge on the Bao Shan Road leading to Hsinchu Botanical Garden

National Chiao Tung University Entrance

National Chiao Tung University Entrance

Mini Waterfall located inside NCTU

Mini Waterfall located inside NCTU

Beautiful Pond located inside NCTU

Beautiful Pond located inside NCTU

8 - NCTU Bamboo Lake

Hsinchu Bamboo Lake located at the border of NCTU

Even though Hsinchu is not a placed filled with well-known tourist attractions but it is still a beautiful place to visit.

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How the Heck Did I End Up In Croatia?

May 5th, 2016 by under Italy. No Comments.

If you had told me a year ago I would have spent a weekend in Split, Croatia I would have told you that you were out of your mind! What even is in Croatia? However, last weekend I found myself landing in the Split airport, excited for what was ahead. That’s the most wonderful thing about going abroad – you never know what lays ahead in the days to come.

The city of Split was absolutely stunning – a small city, full of history, right on crystal-blue beaches. Although the weather wasn’t spectacular, we spent our weekend eating great food, hiking through the Marjan Hill, and scootering around. At one point we were standing along the beach, looking out into the vast ocean and it really hit home the amazing opportunity I have had as a study abroad student.

I returned to Rome gloomy from the airport knowing that the next time I was there I would be heading back to the United States. I was and still currently am determined to make use of every moment we have here left in this beautiful city, but more on that to come!13055534_10209171911805333_1967453857439903692_n 13076962_10209171909485275_5578685656606828460_n 13094167_10209171913765382_3105617763485755024_n 13100693_10209171914365397_4618841851268813165_n

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A Taste of History

May 3rd, 2016 by under Italy. No Comments.

Before I came abroad, I knew that I wanted to go to a concentration camp to learn more about the Jewish history in Europe. I decided to do this in Munich, Germany because Dachau was a 20-minute travel away.

Before going to Munich, my friend told me about a tour she found very beneficial, so I decided to take her suggestion and do the tour. My friend Emily and I went on a tour with 6 other people. We met the tour guide at the Munich Central Station and the tour included transportation to Dachau.

On the tour, we learned about the evolution of Dachau and the effects on the community around the camp. We traveled through the barracks, and learned about the prisoners of Dachau and the reign of the Nazi party. We also learned about the liberation of Dachau and it’s satellite camps as well as the history of Dachau after World War II. It was a cold (sometimes snowy) day at the end of April, and I couldn’t help but think of all the prisoners who only had one layer of clothing to wear throughout all of winter.

After the tour, I realized how beneficial it was to go to the concentration camp with a guide. I learned so much more about the history of Dachau due to the tour guide and the ability to ask him questions, instead of reading all the signs around the camp. I would highly recommend going to Dachau if you want to learn more about European history.

 

The outside of Dachau's Crematorium

The outside of Dachau’s Crematorium

 

The inside of the separate isolated barrack where the SS kept high profile prisoners secluded from the others.

The inside of the separate isolated barrack where the SS kept high profile prisoners secluded from the others.

 

Behind the barracks still standing are sections in the ground where the old barracks used to be.

Behind the barracks still standing are sections in the ground where the old barracks used to be.

 

A reconstruction of the sleeping arrangements for prisoners in 1944.

A reconstruction of the sleeping arrangements for prisoners in 1944.

 

The entrance to Dachau.

The entrance to Dachau.

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Cinque Terre – 5 Towns

May 1st, 2016 by under Italy, Semester. No Comments.

For this weekend three of my roommates and I went to the recently popular town, Cinque Terre. The name is Italian for five towns. All 5 towns are centrally located on the coast of Italy are close enough together to hike from one to the next. We learned a valuable lesson on this trip that will never be forgotten.

The lesson: follow the markers on your hiking path

One of the more popular activities to do in Cinque Terre is to hike between towns along the ocean. Being adventurous, we decided we wanted to try the hikes from town five to four that was in the mountain and a little more difficult than the normal tourist trail. Everything started out well, we made it to the path with only minimal difficulty and started following the white and red marks that were leading us the correct way. Then, we hit a very steep incline that we all barely would climb up. From here it leveled out, but now according to the map we had to take a turn somewhere. This is where out little adventure took a turn, literally, for the worst. This turn led us off the normal path that we were supposed to be taking, which leads me to the lesson… There were no markers on the train anymore and the four of us were lost in the Cinque Terre wilderness. We eventually saw other humans after around two hours into our hike. These were four older women who seemed like they knew the area. We asked them how to get to the fourth town and they led us to the path again! They were Italian women who were collecting wild asparagus in the forest. We thanked them a million times, since they had saved us from wandering for hours on end and finally made our way to the correct path. After 3 hours we made it to the fourth town, Vernaza!

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The fourth town, Vernazza! Also my roommates and I.

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The first town, Riomaggiore. This is the town we stayed in!

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Fried calamari. Since the towns are on the ocean, they are known for their seafood.

 

The 3rd town, Mararola. This is the view from a boat tour we did on our last day there!

The 3rd town, Mararola. This is the view from a boat tour we did on our last day there!

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Last Final Exam Abroad

April 27th, 2016 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

It’s hard to believe that today was my last final, and therefore my last day of classes abroad. My friends and I are all getting upset about things coming to a close and cannot believe that this semester is over. Most people are leaving in just 3 days! When my family and friends back in the US ask me if I feel like I’ve been abroad for long, I always say no. This semester has flown by faster than any before and I think the main reason for that is that it’s all been so surreal and therefore having a concept of time is somewhat hard to do.

13087890_10207875718624534_8575836119588704448_n               My family keeps reminding me to not be upset because I can always come back to Europe. However, it will be a completely different experience. What makes abroad such an incredible experience is partly the people that you share it with and meet along the way. We will never be able to have another 4 months back studying in one of the most amazing cities in the world together. It’s been an absolute dream being able to share the experiences with people our age.

13083308_10207875718464530_4412000608176399023_n            Many of my friends have told me that they’re okay with not going abroad because they’ve either been to Europe before or have done a short-term program. While those programs and experiences are amazing for getting to see cities in a short period of time, an entire semester abroad becomes far more than just sightseeing. While I’m absolutely dreading leaving this amazing city I’ve been so fortunate to call home for the past 4 months, I’m looking forward to experiencing College Park in a somewhat different way next year.

Wh13062181_10207875718384528_500760160143676051_n en I came to Barcelona with over 100 other UMD students I was nervous about branching out. However, something that was great for me was that I only knew a small han13095765_10204674186373322_7464873078682340937_ndful of these students. Throughout our semester here, I’ve made countless new friends and I think that my senior year will be great because I’ll have new friends, and old, to return to in College Park.

I’m extending my stay in Europe a little over 2 weeks to spend a bit more time traveling and then to see Italy and Barcelona with my family. I’m looking forward to showing them around Barcelona but also nervous for when they see how amazing my 4-month vacation has been and how easy and natural it’s all felt.

This past weekend we went to Tibadabo wh13062141_10207875720704586_765857839140306384_nich is an amusement park overlooking all of Barcelona. From the rest of Barcelona, you can see it perched on top of a hill from most parts of the city. We were surrounded by young children and families and couldn’t help but think13102673_10207875717984518_221165884551854948_n about how crazy it was that we were spending the day at an amusement park on top of our favorite city. With time running out here, we are trying to make sure we’ve seen all the sights we want to see before returning home!

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Hiking Cinque Terre

April 26th, 2016 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

We set off on a train at six in the morning to Cinque Terre to embark on one of the world’s most famous hikes. Some push themselves to the limits and hike all five towns in one day, anywhere between nine to eleven miles depending on the paths you chose, however we were planning on a more leisurely pace. We checked into our hotel in Riomaggiare, the first of five towns and put down our light luggage. We made a quick turnaround, grabbed something light to eat and grabbed the next train to the furthest town of Monterosso.

With a light rain and cloudy overcast, it was perfect weather for a hike. After months of pasta and gelato, it felt good to get a serious work out in. Over the course of the weekend we climbed up more steps than I could possibly count, saw views that pictures can’t even do justice, and experienced the five wonderful towns of Cinque Terre. One of the many great things about studying abroad in Rome is all of the wonderful places Italy has to visit on your weekends off.

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