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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A Day in Venice

April 25th, 2016 by under Italy. No Comments.

One of the first hurdles I faced abroad was missing my bus to Venice, Italy. I had booked a bus trip with the bus company Bus2Alps my first weekend in Rome, and unfortunately overslept the 6:00 AM wakeup call. But, last weekend I finally made it to Venice.

During the month of April, Trenitalia offers travelers a 2 for 1 deal, meaning two passengers only have to pay the price of one passenger for their journey. Therefore, my friend Bridget and I decided to take advantage of the deal and go to Venice for the day.

Venice is a group of small islands connected by bridges. We knew going into the day we wanted to walk around the city and take a gondola ride through the canals. The weather was perfect for walking around the city. While exploring, we went inside many glass shops because Venice is famous for the glasswork.

We got Dal Moro’s for lunch, which is to-go pasta served in containers that resemble those of Chinese take out. We ate lunch on a set of steps next to a canal and watched as gondolas filled with visitors passed by.

By the time we finished lunch we headed to the gondola. On the gondola ride, we traveled through canals and took in the silence and beauty of Venice. After the 30-minute ride, we walked around the city and made our way back to the train station.

While we didn’t do much in Venice, that day was one of my favorites abroad. I’ve found that the best trips are the ones with very little expectations and a go with the flow attitude.

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Taipei 101

April 23rd, 2016 by under Taiwan, Uncategorized. No Comments.

Taipei 101 (台北 101) is a well-known tourist attraction and was once the tallest building in the world, but is now the fourth tallest building in the world. Luckily, I was able to visit it this week, unfortunately, due to the rain, I wasn’t able to enjoy as splendid a view. Taipei 101 is in the Xinyi District and is located next to the Taipei City Hall. Visitors have the chance to go up to the 85th – 91st floor for a magnificent view of Taipei, unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to go up to the observatory.

7 - Taipei 101 angle

Taipei 101

7 - Taipei 101 entrance

Taipei 101 entrance

7 - Taipei 101

Taipei 101 next to the Taipei City Hall (located on the right)

It is also surrounded by multiple malls; furthermore, the second floors of the malls are connected by a bridge that leads from one mall to the next before reaching Taipei 101. Certain spots on the bridge offers a beautiful view of Taipei 101 and would be a great place for photos.

7 - Panorama

Panoramic view of the street next to Taipei 101, you can see the bridge that connects the two malls

7 - Taipei 101 line

View of Taipei 101 from Trine and Zen Skyline Park in the Breeze Center, can also see figures of Line characters

The area around Taipei 101 is a great place to go shopping, enjoy the breath-taking view of Taipei 101, and take stunning photos.

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Morocco

April 19th, 2016 by under Spain. No Comments.

This past weekend I went to Morocco with Sarah Gross (a fellow blogger) through Bus2Alps. I couldn’t be happier to have had an experience like the one I did in Morocco because it was completely different from all of my other trips I went on while abroad. First of all, since Sarah and I were traveling just the 2 of us we were able to meet a lot more people. Unlike previous Bus2Alps trips I had been on (Interlaken and Almafi Coast) at this trip everyone was traveling either alone or just with one other friend as opposed to a huge group. Consequently, everyone intermingled and we were able to make a lot of new friends. One of the most interesting people I met was a girl from Alaska who told me her family fished salmon for a living. I jokingly asked if she had seen Deadliest Catch (on Discovery Channel) and it turns out that she’s friends with a lot of the cast of the show and even went to high school with one of them. It was crazy to meet someone who lived such a different lifestyle than myself but also very interesting.

Another reason this trip was different was because it was more about the experience of being in Morocco as opposed to sightseeing like some of my other trips (Prague, Budapest). While in Morocco, we were able to go to a Berber tribe (the local tribe of Morocco) for mint tea. In Morocco, mint tea is their famous drink and they actually call it Moroccan whisky. It is made by double boiling mint leaves, gun powder and a lot of sugar. We had the treat of enjoying the tea with a local Berber family where we were also able to get henna tattoos done on our palms. The family was extremely hospitable and we quickly noticed that they led much simpler lives than ourselves-the toilet was just a hole in the ground for reference.

Another interesting part of the trip was noticing that the people in Morocco pray 5 times a day. We were watching the sunset from the roof of the Riad we stayed in and just as the sun goes down you can hear the prayers echoing throughout the city. The next morning, I had to depart at 5am for my flight home and once again, they were up bright and early for their first prayer of the day before the sun had even fully risen.

In addition to these experiences, we also learned that Morocco involves a lot of bartering. We had been told this before arriving but had no idea the extent of it. We would be offered shoes at a price comparable to about $25 and get it down to $10. The streets around the main square are lined with silver lanterns, shoes, scarves and lots of jewelry. I wondered how they were able to make a profit when they were dropping their prices so low and in addition, each shop had almost the same products as the one next door. Nevertheless, Sarah and I enjoyed ourselves bartering with the locals and getting gifts for our families. Sarah even got asked out to mint tea by a young Moroccan man who respected her bartering skills!

Not only was the trip itself great, but it was also a lot of fun to be able to spend the weekend with Sarah. Sarah’s studying in Rome and we are friends from back at UMD. In May, I’m looking forward to visiting her in Rome since her program ends later than mine!

mint tea

mint tea

the Berber tribe

the Berber tribe

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Sarah and I on a camel

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Global Fashion Marketing Class Trips

April 17th, 2016 by under Italy. No Comments.

I am currently enrolled in a Global Fashion Marketing class here in Rome, Italy where we learn about current fashion trends and how to successfully market in the fashion industry. The class encompasses lessons that our extremely valuable for what I want to do with my career, corporate marketing on an international level, therefore I have really enjoyed the course. These past two Fridays, we have taken company tours to five different companies – iGuzzini, Poltrona Fraud, a biodynamic farm, an outlet mall, and textile company. We bopped around on a bus from company to company, seeing the countryside of Italy as well.

Throughout these visits, we learned all about the different companies and how they set themselves apart from their competitors through high-quality products and effective marketing techniques. We got to tour their factories and offices. Overall, it was an engaging and beneficial experience for us as students.

 

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Taipei Metro Underground Mall

April 9th, 2016 by under Taiwan. No Comments.

Today, I want to explore the Taipei Metro Underground Mall (台北地下街) which is located at the Taipei Main Station. There are multiple parts of the mall that are located throughout the Taipei Main Station. Taipei Metro Underground Malls offer a variety of goods, from snacks and food to clothing and accessories, they even have arcades to play in. Furthermore, when purchasing something, one can always attempt to bargain with the vendor in hopes of getting a better price (success is not guaranteed).

 

The map shows the multiple different districts/sections of the Taipei Station Underground Mall. As seen in the map, there is a K Mall, Y Mall, Z Mall, and R Mall located in different areas of the Taipei Metro Underground Mall.

Can see the variety of shops located in the K Mall, and the crowd of people that shops here.

Can see the variety of shops located in the K Mall, and the crowd of people who shops here.

Hair Accessories Vendor

Hair Accessories Vendor

The variety of hair accessories the vendor offers

The variety of hair accessories the vendor offers

The pictures above show a hair accessories vendor, similar vendors are located throughout the Taipei Metro Underground Mall and can be found in almost all the different sections of the mall. Most of the accessories cost only 50 NT but some can reach prices of 100 NT, 150 NT, or higher. They offer a wide selection of beautiful hair pieces, from hair clips to hair sticks, they also sell pins and jewelry. However, given the cheap price, the quality is sometimes a bit questionable, however, if you’re looking for a cheap, beautiful accessory this is the place to go.

Clothing Vendor

Clothing Vendor

Clothing Vendor

Clothing Vendor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shoe Vendor

Shoe Vendor

Shoe Vendor

Shoe Vendor

 

Taipei Station Underground Mall is a great place to explore and shop in.

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A LOT of fries

April 6th, 2016 by under Italy, Semester. No Comments.

This weekend consisted of a lot of fries. From Dublin (known for their potatoes) and Brussels (they invented fries!!!) i had to consume a lot of potatoes. However, more importantly, I got to experience their culture, although not all from food. The people of Dublin are some of the nicest people you will ever meet in your entire life. Going their was right of the bat comforting, since they all speak English, so I could finally have a full conversation with a local. But more deeply, they were more than willing to help you find your way to the best restaurant or to your hotel. You usually didn’t even have to ask them for help, they asked you what you needed help with. Our first cab driver gave us great food recommendations and talked to us about what the best things to do in Dublin were. We were also coincidently there for St. Patrick’s day, so he have us helpful tips on what to avoid and how to take the public transportation. Other than being extremely nice, Dublin is also a wonderful city and Ireland as a whole is beautifl. We traveled to the cliffs of Moher which is the most breath taking view you could ever see. Then on our way back to Rome, we stopped in Brussels for a day trip! We had brunch at an all local brunch restaurant and toured ourselves around the city learning about their landmarks and cultural differences. We also found the coolest record store, that is a hidden gem of old records.\

Me at the Cliffs of Moher                                                             Me at the Cliffs of Moher

The streets of Dublin!

The streets of Dublin!

Brunch in Brussels at Les Filles!

Brunch in Brussels at Les Filles!

The main street of Brussels with all its decorations!

The main street of Brussels with all its decorations!

 

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Friends Visiting

April 4th, 2016 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

Sorry the lack of posts recently. It’s been an absolutely packed month of March filled with seeing all sorts of UMD friends! The first weekend was Abroadfest and some friends from UMD studying in Rome came to stay with me. This weekend was definitely my favorite in Barcelona. We spent the weekend exploring the city and also seeing a lot of other friends who were also studying abroad in other countries. For those who haven’t heard of it, Abroadfest is a 3-day concert in Barcelona which students from all over come to!

Things got hectic the next weekend when 15 girls who we’re friends with who aren’t studying abroad came for their spring break. As I learned earlier in my trip, traveling with a large group is not efficient. However, I didn’t have the pressure to sight see non-stop and for me this weekend was amazing. I got to see my roommates from sophomore year who are some of my best friends along with all of the girls in my sorority which I was missing the most. After a quick weekend, most of them headed to Rome and we later met up in Dublin for St.Patrick’s Day.

St.Patrick’s Day in Dublin was something else. The streets were packed with American study abroad students and everywhere we turned, we ran into someone else we knew. This year, a lot of UMD students who weren’t studying abroad came for their spring breaks and it was great to be reunited.

After they all left, it was the first time I had felt homesick for all of abroad. I didn’t realize genuinely how much I had missed the girls in Rome and the girls back in College Park. However, it made me excited to eventually get home despite feeling like I’m never going to be ready to leave. The homesick feeling didn’t last long as we headed Lisbon and Lagos for an incredible Spring Break!

Bridget and I at Abroadfest!

Bridget and I at Abroadfest!

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El Bunkers in Barcelona

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St.Patrick’s Day in Dublin

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Park de Cuitadella

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Easter Weekend in Rome

April 4th, 2016 by under Italy. 1 Comment.

Easter is one of, if not the most important days of the Roman Catholic Church, and where better to spend it then in the heart of it all? With big events come big crowds – the tourists filled the streets and trams of Rome. There was a two hour wait at the best restaurants. It was definitely something we all had to keep in mind, so we planned our weekend around that.

I started the weekend on Friday by avoiding the crowds and hiking my way to Villa Borghese, a beautiful park in the heart of Rome. We spent the day running around the city zoo and hanging with the monkeys. On the way back we avoided the hot spots like the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish steps. Instead, we got to see some hidden gems – new shops, gelato places, and more authentic Italian restaurants.

For dinner, we avoided the main areas of Trastevere and tried different restaurants that we may not have of tried if it wasn’t for the crowds. There was a placed under our building we kept meaning to go to. It was a weekend full of adventure and fun – enjoying the perks of Rome as a true Roman.

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Food recommendation: Rome, Da Fortunata

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