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Europe

Blending in with the Milanese Students
Buonasera! It’s been my second month here in Milan. I’ve adjusted to the lifestyle and the movement of the city life here. I have improved on my Italian and can successfully order in a cafe and ask the basic questions. The student life here and the student culture of Italian college students is fairly different than at Concordia.

Classroom Etiquette:

Classroom etiquette is not something one takes into consideration on a daily basis because you have already assimilated knowledge about how to act in college from advice from teachers or first hand experience. Back at Concordia, it is assumed class starts on time according to what the schedule says. In Milan, teachers are usually a couple minutes late and spent the first 10-15 minutes to set up for class. Back in Minnesota, as soon as you walk in, the professor is usually ready to go or does not take too long to set up.  Another thing is leaving the class for a bathroom break or to take an important call. In the States, if one has to use the bathroom, you just get up and go.  In Italy, it is frowned upon. One can do it, but it is considered rude and it is more common to use the bathroom before or after class, but never during. Once class begins its session, the rules are more strict and formal.

Academic Relationships:

In Italy, the relationship with professors are much more formal. With the Italian language, similar to French or Spanish, there is an informal way of speech and formal way of speaking. It is a silent golden rule for students to address their professors on a professional level. I asked one of the Italian students I met here if they ever addressed their professors by only their name at times. She looked at me like I was crazy! It would be unspeakable and disrespectful to address them so casually.

College Fashion:

Being in one of the fashion capitals in the world, it was no surprise to see students dress nicely to class. Back in the States, it is no problem to show up to class in sweats or whatever you want. If  one wears sweats here in Milan, one must be prepared to be stared at the entire time. Even if you have an 8 am class, you have to put some effort into coordinating your outfit for the day. Also, college gear does not exist here. It is seemed as tacky and inelegant. In the bookstores, you will not find a huge variety of sweatshirts, jackets or etc, with the university’s logo or name. Milan has been amazing so far. I am learning how to dress to the Italian style and understanding the beauty standards here. I hope to see more of Italy as well as I continue my semester here! Ciao, Katrina

Como <3

Bellagio

Sunset at Bellagio

Spaghetti all’amatriciana

Can never get enough espresso!



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Tours, Tours, Tours
In the past two months studying abroad in Cambridge I have probably been on more guided tours than the rest of my life put together. Touring often goes hand-in-hand with visiting new places, especially when traveling in groups of people. In my first two weeks in Cambridge I think our group did three or four walking tours only of Cambridge, not including tours of various churches and London. However, these tours have been some of best learning experiences of my time abroad so far. It is so fun to learn from locals, especially when they are passionate and add their own personality and funny comments into the tour. Another great plus is there are lots of free walking tours or audio tours that are covered in the price of admission. I spent the last weekend in February in Edinburgh with a group of students from my study abroad program. I instantly fell in love with Edinburgh and went on the two best tours of my time abroad so far! On Friday our group did the free Potter Trails Harry Potter walking tour of Edinburgh. Our guide was so knowledgeable not only about Harry Potter, but also about J.K. Rowling’s life and the history of Edinburgh. She also gave us all wands, kept us entertained with spells and Harry Potter trivia along the way, and gave us some advice for other great places to visit in Edinburgh! On Sunday I was hoping to do a tour of the Scottish Highlands but discouraged by the prices of all the tours I was finding. Somehow, I stumbled across a free tour given by Hairy Coo Tours, a wordplay on the traditional Scottish Hairy Cows. I got some friends to sign up for the tour for me just to be safe and read many reviews online to verify this free tour was not a scam. The tour turned out to be such a fun experience and we learned so much about the Highlands and Scottish history along the way. It was such a fun way to experience the beautiful scenery of the Highlands and definitely fit my student budget! For anyone traveling or studying abroad I would highly recommend looking at tours in the areas you are visiting. While tours are not everyone’s favorite thing, in my experience so far it has been a great way to see the highlights of a city while learning about its history and quirks from a local. Do some research in advance (TripAdvisor and Pinterest are my most visited websites at this point) and be open-minded to some unique experiences! You will learn a lot along the way and hopefully create some fun memories!

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Barcelona, Spain
My birthday: I had a great birthday. I rested during the day and only had one class, International Finance. In the evening, my host mum had made me dinner like normal but usually I clear the table when I’m done but she told me to stay seated. All of a sudden, she was singing happy birthday to me in English, she knows very little English. She had bought me cake with candles and Champaign for my birthday. After dinner, me and the other home stay girls when out to celebrate. Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, food and indoor My host mum and I on my birthday Vienna: After my friend and I arrived, we first found a coffee shop where we had Sachertorte cake and then we found a pizza place for dinner. On Saturday, we saw St. Stephan’s cathedral, museums, Hofburg imperial palace, Belvedere palace, Stadtpark, and the Kiss painting. One of my family friends who lives in Budapest stopped by on Saturday and he became our tour guide for those couple of hours. On Sunday, before we left, we took a quick tour of the Schonbrunn palace, which is the royal palace. Copenhagen: I had been ill the week leading up to Copenhagen and when I got off the plane, I felt even worse. Arriving at the airport, I met up with my friend for a pre-birthday celebration trip. We have the same birthday and have known each other since the day we were born so it was nice after all the years of living in another country to her being able to celebrate our birthday together like we use too. On Saturday we took a walking tour by ourselves with a map provided by our hostel. We walked around outside even though it was cold and rainy. Some of the things we saw were the design museum, little mermaid statue, Rosenberg palace, Tivoli, Christiansburg Palace, and Amalienborg place. While on the walking tour we kept getting lost, so the tour took the whole day instead of 2 hours. But we took our time and stopped for lunch, dinner and coffee breaks as well. Clarissa and I at the Nyhavn colorful houses Cambridge: A last minute decision, I decided to go visit Bethany in Cambridge. When I first got there, we walked around the center and then that night we went out with some of her friends and had sausage and mash. On Saturday Bethany had class so I worked on some homework and walked around the area. There are a lot of universities in Cambridge including one which my Godfather went and the one that Bethany attends is also the same one my Great Aunt studied abroad at. That night we went out for crepes and then went back and made scones by scratch (they were delicious). One of my really good friends from my childhood messaged me and told me she actually goes to one of the universities too and on Sunday we met up with her at church, Holy Trinity, and stayed after for a youth lunch. Emilia and I at Holy Trinity church after not seeing each other for almost 3 years Bethany: I was so excited for Bethany to come visit and show her my city. Arriving on Thursday night, we spent the whole day Friday seeing as much as we could. We woke up early got some breakfast at a cafe and then we walked to the beach. My program was taking us to Sagrada Familia so Bethany was able to tag along with our group. We also saw the Citadel Park, Arc de Triomf, the Olympic stadium, Park Guell, and Carmel Bunkers to watch the sunset. In total we walked 15 miles that day. On Saturday we went to La Rambla where we had churros and patatas bravas before heading to the airport. Bethany and I outside Sagrada Familia Seville: After midterms week, our program took us Seville. We took a plane there and then the train back. Arriving on Friday, we ate lunch and then went to see Seville Cathedral and the Giralda bell tower, then had free time for the rest of the night where my friends and I walked around the city. During the weekend we also saw, Alcazar, Peacocks, Plaza Espana, Real Maestranza Bullring, park Maria Luisa, Golden Tower, Flamenco show, and Plaza Alfaro which has the balcony that Romeo and Juliet was based on. Seville is also a filming location for Game of Thrones and Star Wars. Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing, sky, tree and outdoor Game of Thrones palace of Dorne Image may contain: shoes and outdoor Star Wars Attack of the Clones on planet Naboo Cagliari: My friend and I were struggling to decide where to go when she mentioned Cagliari Italy. Cagliari, for those of you who don’t know, and I didn’t know till after I purchased my plane ticket, is a city on the Italian Island of Sardinia. Apart from being super windy, it was a gorgeous place. Our hotel we stayed at had its own beach, Calamosca beach. We were far away from the city center, but we were able to walk and take the bus or taxi to get around. On Saturday we sat on the beach for a bit and then we went to the center where we ate pizza and then did a walking tour by ourselves of the city. We got to see the town hall, the royal palace, a cathedral, and the roman amphitheater.

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Weekend Trips in Europe

I have officially been in Europe for a little over a month now! My classes have been going well and have had way less work attached to them than I am used to. This has given me time to take weekend trips almost every weekend!

One of our program trips was to Bath, England where we got to explore the Roman baths and see the cute town’s architecture. We also went to Stonehenge which I was excited about and surprised to learn that it is literally in the middle of nowhere. Just rocks in the middle of a lot of land.. why did they put them there? I think it functioned as a clock, but all I know is that it was pretty cute.

Roman baths.

 

Stonehenge.

We also went to Wales where I fell in love with Welsh cakes! They are kind of like scones, but not quite a scone. They are, however, very good. Wales had the most amount of sheep I have ever seen and also gave me two rainbows in one day! How perfect!

My friends and I at Caerphilly Castle in South Wales.

 

Me at Tintern Abbey in Wales.

My friend and I took a weekend trip to Paris and it was so much fun! I have still not stopped thinking about their croissants which were the best I have ever had. We also went to the Louvre and seeing the Mona Lisa in real life was amazing, but I honestly thought she would be a little bigger. We visited Versailles while we were there and I do have to say that Louis XIV really went off on the palace design, especially the garden. When we went back to Paris and climbed to the top of the Arc de Triomphe (I’m still not sure if the view was worth the 1 million steps) we were blessed with the most incredible view! Paris at sunset with the Eiffel Tower in full view. It was honestly breathtaking and I still cannot believe that I saw such an insane view with my own eyes! Wild!

Me in front of the Mona Lisa.

 

Me in front of the Eiffel Tower.

Amazing view at the top of the Arc de Triomphe.

I have also been exploring London since we have been having really great weather. My friends and I were even able to have a picnic in Kensington Gardens yesterday!

Our spread at our Kensington Gardens picnic.



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Milano: Expecting the Unexpected
 

Milan Cathedral <3

Salve! My first week in Milan has been quite the adjustment. New sounds, sights and people! I never realized the depth of difference between the lifestyle in the Twin Cities to Milan.

Transportation:

I’m working on getting used to walking around everywhere and using public transportation. Back home, I drove everywhere with my car, but my second day in Milan, I walked thirty-seven minutes to go to a gelato shop!  The apartment I’m staying at by a supermarket just minutes away, so it’s extremely convenient to be able to walk down two blocks to grocery shop. I applaud Italians for their endurance and strength because my feet hurt just after one day! I hope to get used to this healthier alternative of walking everywhere. I knew Italians relied on public transportation and walking, but I never understood to what extent.

Shop Norms:

On a note separate from the adjustments, one thing I have noticed is in many shops (coffee bars, boutiques, bakeries), people don’t have exchange money hand-to-hand. For example, in the United States, when the cashier gives you change, they put it in your hand. Americans find it a bit rude and annoying when you pay or give change by putting your payment on the counter so the other person can pick it up. It’s the complete opposite in Milan! It’s quite common and more respectful to do so. Many places actually have a plate or small tray specifically for cash payment right next to or in front of the register.

Absorbing the New Language :

The other adjustment is the language barrier. I expected everyone to mainly speak Italian, but it was little quirks that made a huge difference. I never thought about how I was going to read signs or labels. For example, I went to the supermarket to pick up some items. When I was going down the aisles looking for things, it was when I realized I couldn’t read the labels on food or etc! I was so caught up in thinking about communicating with people, I never thought about how I would understand their food labels! Let’s just say my Italian is extremely minimum and I’ve been getting on by critical thinking by my high school French skills since the languages had some similar words. Even though my Italian is terrible, the people I have encountered have been kind. Trying to speak some Italian is appreciated by everyone. It’s the small greetings like “grazie” or “non parlo Italiano” that show the Italians you are trying. Everywhere I’ve gone, I always greeted them first with “buongiorno” or etc, and ask them (Parla inglese?). It gives a more positive impression rather than automatically speaking English at first encounter. I love the city so far! I came a couple weeks earlier to take the pre-intensive Italian course before the main international curriculum begins. I saw it as a chance to learn some Italian to help me get by.  I hope to learn as much as I can and continue to teach myself more as my semester continues. A presto, Katrina

The coffee gelato was worth the 30+ minute walk

 

Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore Main Entrance

 

Still getting used to the idea I’m going to school here

 

Cute, compact kitchen in apartment!

   

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London, England
Hey everyone! I have been in London for almost two weeks now, and it has been really cool. I used the first week as a get my life together week and ended up buying a lot of stuff for my room/bathroom like cleaning supplies and a thicker duvet since it was a lot colder than I anticipated, as well as things for our kitchen. I actually got very overwhelmed while grocery shopping and came back with only pasta and an apple. Needless to say, I had to make another trip. I also met up with a fellow Gilman Scholar and we went to the British Museum (all museums are free! How cool!) which was very interesting. We also had a few orientations and meetings for school, however, I mostly tried to adjust to the time difference. This week was the start of my classes, and I have been very shocked! Their classes are about the same as ours, however, the students speak a lot freer and do as they wish during class. I have mostly noticed this with my smaller classes and our professors just roll with it, so I am assuming that is the norm. They do have considerably less assignments though, as all bar one of my classes is wholly graded off a single assignment. This weekend we are going to Stonehenge and Bath, so I am super excited for that! Below are some pictures of my time in London so far. Mumina Mohamud

The view from the top of the London Eye! Big Ben is the closest tall building, however it is covered in scaffolding as it is currently under construction.

 

Franklin D. Roosevelt memorial in Grosvenor Square, where I had lunch.

 

Shopping at the aptly named Oxford Circus.

 

The Shard, which is just outside my housing! Photo by Yasmine Taviot, my flatmate.



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5 Differences Between Concordia and Cambridge
I have been studying at Westfield House in Cambridge, England for almost one month now! Unlike most of the other Concordia students studying abroad this semester I do not have a language barrier in England (most of the time!), but I have noticed some major differences between my days here in Cambridge and my normal routine at Concordia. In typical click-bait fashion, here are five differences I have noticed between Concordia and Cambridge.
  1. Classes: Concordia is a small university and tries to keep class sizes to smaller than twenty students. I may have thought I would not be in a class smaller than those at Concordia, but I was wrong. Westfield is a very small school; all my classes have less than ten people in them, and my average class size is four people. Many people warned me the learning style in the UK is different than in the US, but honestly, I have not noticed much a difference. The classes are taught similarly to my classes at home where there is a lot of reading during the semester and final paper summarizing our thoughts.

    Westfield House students Spring 2019

  2. Food: This is one difference I did not expect to encounter living in England. Obviously British people have their own food and preferences, but I did not realize how different their food was. The first time I went grocery shopping I was so confused! Many of their foods have slightly different names than I was used to, meaning I had to look a little harder and longer on my first grocery trip. Due to different health regulations, many foods also taste slightly differently than in the US. One other major difference is British food tends to be healthier. This has been a really nice change except for when I am craving something sweet; British chocolate just isn’t quite the same!
  3. Travel: After having a car on campus, I hardly ever walked to Target to do my grocery shopping; driving in just so much more convenient. Obviously I will not be driving in the UK, but driving is much less common. Walking around Cambridge in the morning, it is normal to see people biking all over town in business clothes. Gas is ridiculously expensive here, but walking is a part of their culture. The train station is a two mile walk from Westfield House, which is considered quite doable by most British people (and honestly it was not that bad).

    the River Cam which I cross to get into the center of Cambridge

  4. Weekends: Most of my weekends at Concordia were spent hanging out with friends and doing homework. As I am not going to waste my opportunity to explore and travel while in the UK, each weekend I have gone a different adventure. Since most of my homework is reading it is easy to take a book on the train or bus with me. I have visited so many beautiful and historic buildings, museums, and towns. It is so fun to be surrounded by so much history and I looking forward to even more adventures on future weekends!
  5. Tea time: This is maybe the one stereotype about British people that is entirely true. They love their tea over here. Tea is a normal thing to offer at pretty much anytime of day. Cambridge is a university town, so obviously there are a plethora of coffee shops and cafes, but tea is a much larger part of the menus than in coffee shops in the US. There is nothing better than being offered a warm mug of tea wherever you go!
As I continue to settle into life in Cambridge, I am excited to continue exploring and learning more about British and European culture and history. Sending love and hugs to everyone from the UK! -Bethany

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Fall Break and other Travels
I’ve officially been here in Florence for two months and my program is over halfway over. This is crazy to think about. Time has been going so fast. My weeks typically consist of going to class, running around getting things done and exploring Florence, while my weekends are sometimes still adventuring in Florence or traveling around Europe. Fall break just finished and we go back to class on Monday. Italy/Florence:
  • Cafes: Cafe Rosano and La Milkeria
  • Uffizi Gallery – One of the most popular museums in Florence
  • Piazzle Michelangelo – Panoramic  view of Florence
  • Day trip to Pisa – Leaning Tower of Pisa

My roommates Julianne, Emily and myself at the Leaning Tower in Pisa

 

Leaning Tower of Pisa

Weekend Trips: During the weekend, I’m usually either traveling or exploring things in Florence. There are several travel agencies in Florence where you can book trips with them and they will take care all of the details and are still cheap for students. This way, all you really have to do is show up. This is how I’ve done most of my trips because it’s so convenient. My trips to the Amalfi Coast and Croatia, I was able to book with them. Amalfi Coast Highlights
  • Boat Tour around Capri
  • Positano
  • Downtown Sorrento
  • Tour of Pompei

Positano

 

Capri

Croatia Highlihgts
  • Krka National Park
  • White Water Rafting
  • Downtown Split
  • Croatia Island Cruise

Krka National Park

Fall Break: From October 19th through the 28th was our fall break and we didn’t have classes. I was lucky enough for my parents to come visit and to be able to spend the week with them. We traveled to a few different parts of Europe. I met them in Barcelona, then Lugano, Switzerland, and finally Venice before we went our separate ways. We visited three totally different cities. Barcelona Highlights
  • Sagrada Familia
  • Park Guel
  • Tibidabo
  • Catalonia Square
  • Tapas
  • Beach

Sagrada Familia

Tibidabo

Lugano, Switzerland Highlights
  • Olive Trail
  • Mounte San Salvatore
  • Swiss Chocolate
  • Water front on Lake Lugano

Walking the Olive Trail

Mounte San Salvatore

My parents and myself up on Mounte San Salvatore

Venice Highlights
  • Walking Tour of St. Mark’s Square and Doge’s Palace
  • Gondola Ride
  • Parents trying gelato

Walking Tour

Gondola with my parents

My parents trying gelato for the first time

My favorite place was Lugano, Switzerland. It is a small town that is surrounded by lakes and mountains and is right on Lake Lugano. When walking around, everywhere you went was gorgeous. However, the best part of Fall Break was just being able to experience traveling with my parents. Fall break was the best week that I’ve had! Overall: This experience has been so incredible so far! I can’t believe it’s already halfway over. I’m excited to see what the next month and a half will be like.  I was also able to celebrate my birthday earlier this month. I celebrated with friends and gelato. It is cool to be abroad on your birthday because it seems much longer than one day.

Celebrating my birthday with gelato and friends

I’ve learned so much about the culture, some of the language and myself. Tourist season is finally starting to die down, so this next month and a half should be easier to explore more of Florence. Ciao, Kacie

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Salamanca, Spain
The Start:  It has been almost a full month since I have now arrived in Spain and what a journey it has already been. My program started off with a 4 day orientation in Madrid. Madrid, I believe is a wonderful place to start off and understand what the Spanish culture is like. Being the capital of the country it is always packed with people so there is always things to do. We had a few tours to get our bounds around the city. The API program really provided for us, with a nice hotel, and a few meals included in our orientation. They gave us information on how the semester would go on to be, certain rules, regulations, that whole gist. Madrid was perfect because it established relationships with faces we will keep seeing until December. Language: Qué Lo Qué? A semester in Spain has begun. The beauty of Spain is how different places in Spain can be, I’ve previously visited Barcelona before I even thought about studying abroad in Spain. I figured it would be similar but there are so many aspects that differ. The most apparent one is the language. Yes, it is known that Spanish has many different tones and slight changes depending on what country the native Spanish speaker is from. However, the biggest difference in Spain is from the land of Catuluna and the Basque country to basically anywhere else in the country. I have a decent understanding of Spanish but everyday I learn a new slang word or phrase that is used in everyday chats. Many Spaniards do not speak English which is oddly refreshing and at the same time frustrating for many people. It forces you out of a comfort zone that you will never get out of unless you put yourself out there. Salamanca:  The place that will be considered my home for the next 3 months or so. It is a small city with many different things to do since it is highly populated with students from across the world. We meet knew people almost everyday if we have made it out of the house. There are so many pubs, bars, coffee shops, and other places to just sit down and have a drink with someone to chat. The architecture around here is incredible, the school itself is one of the oldest universities in all of Europe but it is well kept. There is a friendly environment that makes it easy to have a good time, most of the people on the street are experiencing the same sort of adventure in one way or another. Whether it be locals meeting people from other countries or vice versa. The nice part about being here is that you get to be as interactive as you want to be. There is no pressure to go out and do things, if you want to stay in bed all day and take a magical siesta that the Spanish do so well you can do so. Spain so far has been an absolute blast meeting new people and travelling to places that we all want to go and experiencing the culture together.

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Firenze
I arrived in Florence, Italy on Tuesday, August 28th. I was nervous, excited and filled with all sorts of emotions, but it was so incredible to start taking everything in. Going into this journey, I felt like I somewhat knew what to expect but at the same time I felt like I wasn’t really all that prepared for everything. The culture shock, hasn’t really been that huge for me. Although, the main language here in Italy is Italian, most people can speak English. I try to speak as much as I can in Italian, but I don’t know much yet. The language difference has been the biggest “culture shock” that I’ve noticed. Other than that I really haven’t had much culture shock moments. I’ve now been here just over a month and everything I have done has been so incredible. Of course, there has been ups and downs throughout this first month, especially with homesickness and being away from friends and family but it’s a lot better now. I’m much more adjusted and know what to expect on a day to day basis. I’m studying abroad with a program called ASA (Academic Studies Abroad). We all attend Florence University of the Arts (FUA) and the program has 3 excursions, 2 overnights and 1 day trip included in the total cost. We have already had both of the overnights and ended up going to Cinque Terre and Rome. The very first weekend I was here (so Labor Day weekend) our program went to Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre translates to 5 towns or villages. We ended up staying in Monterosso when we were there. One of the activities we did was a hike along a few of the towns. We took a train back to Corniglia and hiked our way to Vernazza and then back to Monterosso. The hike was extremely hard but had incredible views that were so worth it. We then ended up staying at the beach for the afternoon and then next day.

Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre

I started classes at FUA on Monday (labor day). Not all classes, but a lot of the classes through FUA are much longer than I am used to. All of my classes only meet once a week but they are 2.5 hour long. This has been an adjustment to be able to sit still and have an attention span for that long. It’s something that I’ve had to adjust to and is different. Another difference between school with FUA and CSP is that the classrooms at FUA aren’t necessarily classrooms. Some of them have sofas for you instead of chairs and most of the classrooms don’t have desks. I only have one class that actually has a desk but it’s a very small desk. Nothing like CSP with the big tables. It’s just different. One last difference is that FUA doesn’t really have what you would say on-campus buildings. The buildings are spread throughout the city of Florence. The closest one to me is probably around a 5-minute walk and the furthest is around a 20-25-minute walk. ASA puts us all in shared apartments with other students in ASA within walking distance of the school. I’m living in a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom with a living/kitchen area. It’s a somewhat nice apartment that has some character. It is actually a lot bigger than I anticipated. Our second overnight excursion with ASA was to Rome. This was also a really cool excursion. We did all the basic touristy items in Rome such as, the Vatican City and museums, the water fountains, the Roman forum and the Colosseum. It was really interesting and cool to see so many of the famous landmarks that you see in movies.

All members of our program including our site director Chiara!

After Rome, I have a much greater appreciation for Florence. Rome is a big city and is very populated and has lots of tourists. In Florence, it feels like home. I enjoy, that I don’t have to rely on public transportation and that I can walk everywhere. I enjoy that although there are tourists, it’s not as many and it will die down. I am so happy I decided to study in Florence. Florence feels like my home away from home!

Home away from home

  That’s all I have for now. Until next time. -Kacie :)

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Barcelona, Spain
My birthday: I had a great birthday. I rested during the day and only had one class, International Finance. In the evening, my host mum had made me dinner like normal but usually I clear the table when I’m done but she told me to stay seated. All of a sudden, she was singing happy birthday to me in English, she knows very little English. She had bought me cake with candles and Champaign for my birthday. After dinner, me and the other home stay girls when out to celebrate. Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, food and indoor My host mum and I on my birthday Vienna: After my friend and I arrived, we first found a coffee shop where we had Sachertorte cake and then we found a pizza place for dinner. On Saturday, we saw St. Stephan’s cathedral, museums, Hofburg imperial palace, Belvedere palace, Stadtpark, and the Kiss painting. One of my family friends who lives in Budapest stopped by on Saturday and he became our tour guide for those couple of hours. On Sunday, before we left, we took a quick tour of the Schonbrunn palace, which is the royal palace. Copenhagen: I had been ill the week leading up to Copenhagen and when I got off the plane, I felt even worse. Arriving at the airport, I met up with my friend for a pre-birthday celebration trip. We have the same birthday and have known each other since the day we were born so it was nice after all the years of living in another country to her being able to celebrate our birthday together like we use too. On Saturday we took a walking tour by ourselves with a map provided by our hostel. We walked around outside even though it was cold and rainy. Some of the things we saw were the design museum, little mermaid statue, Rosenberg palace, Tivoli, Christiansburg Palace, and Amalienborg place. While on the walking tour we kept getting lost, so the tour took the whole day instead of 2 hours. But we took our time and stopped for lunch, dinner and coffee breaks as well. Clarissa and I at the Nyhavn colorful houses Cambridge: A last minute decision, I decided to go visit Bethany in Cambridge. When I first got there, we walked around the center and then that night we went out with some of her friends and had sausage and mash. On Saturday Bethany had class so I worked on some homework and walked around the area. There are a lot of universities in Cambridge including one which my Godfather went and the one that Bethany attends is also the same one my Great Aunt studied abroad at. That night we went out for crepes and then went back and made scones by scratch (they were delicious). One of my really good friends from my childhood messaged me and told me she actually goes to one of the universities too and on Sunday we met up with her at church, Holy Trinity, and stayed after for a youth lunch. Emilia and I at Holy Trinity church after not seeing each other for almost 3 years Bethany: I was so excited for Bethany to come visit and show her my city. Arriving on Thursday night, we spent the whole day Friday seeing as much as we could. We woke up early got some breakfast at a cafe and then we walked to the beach. My program was taking us to Sagrada Familia so Bethany was able to tag along with our group. We also saw the Citadel Park, Arc de Triomf, the Olympic stadium, Park Guell, and Carmel Bunkers to watch the sunset. In total we walked 15 miles that day. On Saturday we went to La Rambla where we had churros and patatas bravas before heading to the airport. Bethany and I outside Sagrada Familia Seville: After midterms week, our program took us Seville. We took a plane there and then the train back. Arriving on Friday, we ate lunch and then went to see Seville Cathedral and the Giralda bell tower, then had free time for the rest of the night where my friends and I walked around the city. During the weekend we also saw, Alcazar, Peacocks, Plaza Espana, Real Maestranza Bullring, park Maria Luisa, Golden Tower, Flamenco show, and Plaza Alfaro which has the balcony that Romeo and Juliet was based on. Seville is also a filming location for Game of Thrones and Star Wars. Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing, sky, tree and outdoor Game of Thrones palace of Dorne Image may contain: shoes and outdoor Star Wars Attack of the Clones on planet Naboo Cagliari: My friend and I were struggling to decide where to go when she mentioned Cagliari Italy. Cagliari, for those of you who don’t know, and I didn’t know till after I purchased my plane ticket, is a city on the Italian Island of Sardinia. Apart from being super windy, it was a gorgeous place. Our hotel we stayed at had its own beach, Calamosca beach. We were far away from the city center, but we were able to walk and take the bus or taxi to get around. On Saturday we sat on the beach for a bit and then we went to the center where we ate pizza and then did a walking tour by ourselves of the city. We got to see the town hall, the royal palace, a cathedral, and the roman amphitheater.

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Milano: Expecting the Unexpected
 

Milan Cathedral <3

Salve! My first week in Milan has been quite the adjustment. New sounds, sights and people! I never realized the depth of difference between the lifestyle in the Twin Cities to Milan.

Transportation:

I’m working on getting used to walking around everywhere and using public transportation. Back home, I drove everywhere with my car, but my second day in Milan, I walked thirty-seven minutes to go to a gelato shop!  The apartment I’m staying at by a supermarket just minutes away, so it’s extremely convenient to be able to walk down two blocks to grocery shop. I applaud Italians for their endurance and strength because my feet hurt just after one day! I hope to get used to this healthier alternative of walking everywhere. I knew Italians relied on public transportation and walking, but I never understood to what extent.

Shop Norms:

On a note separate from the adjustments, one thing I have noticed is in many shops (coffee bars, boutiques, bakeries), people don’t have exchange money hand-to-hand. For example, in the United States, when the cashier gives you change, they put it in your hand. Americans find it a bit rude and annoying when you pay or give change by putting your payment on the counter so the other person can pick it up. It’s the complete opposite in Milan! It’s quite common and more respectful to do so. Many places actually have a plate or small tray specifically for cash payment right next to or in front of the register.

Absorbing the New Language :

The other adjustment is the language barrier. I expected everyone to mainly speak Italian, but it was little quirks that made a huge difference. I never thought about how I was going to read signs or labels. For example, I went to the supermarket to pick up some items. When I was going down the aisles looking for things, it was when I realized I couldn’t read the labels on food or etc! I was so caught up in thinking about communicating with people, I never thought about how I would understand their food labels! Let’s just say my Italian is extremely minimum and I’ve been getting on by critical thinking by my high school French skills since the languages had some similar words. Even though my Italian is terrible, the people I have encountered have been kind. Trying to speak some Italian is appreciated by everyone. It’s the small greetings like “grazie” or “non parlo Italiano” that show the Italians you are trying. Everywhere I’ve gone, I always greeted them first with “buongiorno” or etc, and ask them (Parla inglese?). It gives a more positive impression rather than automatically speaking English at first encounter. I love the city so far! I came a couple weeks earlier to take the pre-intensive Italian course before the main international curriculum begins. I saw it as a chance to learn some Italian to help me get by.  I hope to learn as much as I can and continue to teach myself more as my semester continues. A presto, Katrina

The coffee gelato was worth the 30+ minute walk

 

Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore Main Entrance

 

Still getting used to the idea I’m going to school here

 

Cute, compact kitchen in apartment!

   

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Fall Break and other Travels
I’ve officially been here in Florence for two months and my program is over halfway over. This is crazy to think about. Time has been going so fast. My weeks typically consist of going to class, running around getting things done and exploring Florence, while my weekends are sometimes still adventuring in Florence or traveling around Europe. Fall break just finished and we go back to class on Monday. Italy/Florence:
  • Cafes: Cafe Rosano and La Milkeria
  • Uffizi Gallery – One of the most popular museums in Florence
  • Piazzle Michelangelo – Panoramic  view of Florence
  • Day trip to Pisa – Leaning Tower of Pisa

My roommates Julianne, Emily and myself at the Leaning Tower in Pisa

 

Leaning Tower of Pisa

Weekend Trips: During the weekend, I’m usually either traveling or exploring things in Florence. There are several travel agencies in Florence where you can book trips with them and they will take care all of the details and are still cheap for students. This way, all you really have to do is show up. This is how I’ve done most of my trips because it’s so convenient. My trips to the Amalfi Coast and Croatia, I was able to book with them. Amalfi Coast Highlights
  • Boat Tour around Capri
  • Positano
  • Downtown Sorrento
  • Tour of Pompei

Positano

 

Capri

Croatia Highlihgts
  • Krka National Park
  • White Water Rafting
  • Downtown Split
  • Croatia Island Cruise

Krka National Park

Fall Break: From October 19th through the 28th was our fall break and we didn’t have classes. I was lucky enough for my parents to come visit and to be able to spend the week with them. We traveled to a few different parts of Europe. I met them in Barcelona, then Lugano, Switzerland, and finally Venice before we went our separate ways. We visited three totally different cities. Barcelona Highlights
  • Sagrada Familia
  • Park Guel
  • Tibidabo
  • Catalonia Square
  • Tapas
  • Beach

Sagrada Familia

Tibidabo

Lugano, Switzerland Highlights
  • Olive Trail
  • Mounte San Salvatore
  • Swiss Chocolate
  • Water front on Lake Lugano

Walking the Olive Trail

Mounte San Salvatore

My parents and myself up on Mounte San Salvatore

Venice Highlights
  • Walking Tour of St. Mark’s Square and Doge’s Palace
  • Gondola Ride
  • Parents trying gelato

Walking Tour

Gondola with my parents

My parents trying gelato for the first time

My favorite place was Lugano, Switzerland. It is a small town that is surrounded by lakes and mountains and is right on Lake Lugano. When walking around, everywhere you went was gorgeous. However, the best part of Fall Break was just being able to experience traveling with my parents. Fall break was the best week that I’ve had! Overall: This experience has been so incredible so far! I can’t believe it’s already halfway over. I’m excited to see what the next month and a half will be like.  I was also able to celebrate my birthday earlier this month. I celebrated with friends and gelato. It is cool to be abroad on your birthday because it seems much longer than one day.

Celebrating my birthday with gelato and friends

I’ve learned so much about the culture, some of the language and myself. Tourist season is finally starting to die down, so this next month and a half should be easier to explore more of Florence. Ciao, Kacie

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Salamanca, Spain
The Start:  It has been almost a full month since I have now arrived in Spain and what a journey it has already been. My program started off with a 4 day orientation in Madrid. Madrid, I believe is a wonderful place to start off and understand what the Spanish culture is like. Being the capital of the country it is always packed with people so there is always things to do. We had a few tours to get our bounds around the city. The API program really provided for us, with a nice hotel, and a few meals included in our orientation. They gave us information on how the semester would go on to be, certain rules, regulations, that whole gist. Madrid was perfect because it established relationships with faces we will keep seeing until December. Language: Qué Lo Qué? A semester in Spain has begun. The beauty of Spain is how different places in Spain can be, I’ve previously visited Barcelona before I even thought about studying abroad in Spain. I figured it would be similar but there are so many aspects that differ. The most apparent one is the language. Yes, it is known that Spanish has many different tones and slight changes depending on what country the native Spanish speaker is from. However, the biggest difference in Spain is from the land of Catuluna and the Basque country to basically anywhere else in the country. I have a decent understanding of Spanish but everyday I learn a new slang word or phrase that is used in everyday chats. Many Spaniards do not speak English which is oddly refreshing and at the same time frustrating for many people. It forces you out of a comfort zone that you will never get out of unless you put yourself out there. Salamanca:  The place that will be considered my home for the next 3 months or so. It is a small city with many different things to do since it is highly populated with students from across the world. We meet knew people almost everyday if we have made it out of the house. There are so many pubs, bars, coffee shops, and other places to just sit down and have a drink with someone to chat. The architecture around here is incredible, the school itself is one of the oldest universities in all of Europe but it is well kept. There is a friendly environment that makes it easy to have a good time, most of the people on the street are experiencing the same sort of adventure in one way or another. Whether it be locals meeting people from other countries or vice versa. The nice part about being here is that you get to be as interactive as you want to be. There is no pressure to go out and do things, if you want to stay in bed all day and take a magical siesta that the Spanish do so well you can do so. Spain so far has been an absolute blast meeting new people and travelling to places that we all want to go and experiencing the culture together.

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Firenze
I arrived in Florence, Italy on Tuesday, August 28th. I was nervous, excited and filled with all sorts of emotions, but it was so incredible to start taking everything in. Going into this journey, I felt like I somewhat knew what to expect but at the same time I felt like I wasn’t really all that prepared for everything. The culture shock, hasn’t really been that huge for me. Although, the main language here in Italy is Italian, most people can speak English. I try to speak as much as I can in Italian, but I don’t know much yet. The language difference has been the biggest “culture shock” that I’ve noticed. Other than that I really haven’t had much culture shock moments. I’ve now been here just over a month and everything I have done has been so incredible. Of course, there has been ups and downs throughout this first month, especially with homesickness and being away from friends and family but it’s a lot better now. I’m much more adjusted and know what to expect on a day to day basis. I’m studying abroad with a program called ASA (Academic Studies Abroad). We all attend Florence University of the Arts (FUA) and the program has 3 excursions, 2 overnights and 1 day trip included in the total cost. We have already had both of the overnights and ended up going to Cinque Terre and Rome. The very first weekend I was here (so Labor Day weekend) our program went to Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre translates to 5 towns or villages. We ended up staying in Monterosso when we were there. One of the activities we did was a hike along a few of the towns. We took a train back to Corniglia and hiked our way to Vernazza and then back to Monterosso. The hike was extremely hard but had incredible views that were so worth it. We then ended up staying at the beach for the afternoon and then next day.

Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre

I started classes at FUA on Monday (labor day). Not all classes, but a lot of the classes through FUA are much longer than I am used to. All of my classes only meet once a week but they are 2.5 hour long. This has been an adjustment to be able to sit still and have an attention span for that long. It’s something that I’ve had to adjust to and is different. Another difference between school with FUA and CSP is that the classrooms at FUA aren’t necessarily classrooms. Some of them have sofas for you instead of chairs and most of the classrooms don’t have desks. I only have one class that actually has a desk but it’s a very small desk. Nothing like CSP with the big tables. It’s just different. One last difference is that FUA doesn’t really have what you would say on-campus buildings. The buildings are spread throughout the city of Florence. The closest one to me is probably around a 5-minute walk and the furthest is around a 20-25-minute walk. ASA puts us all in shared apartments with other students in ASA within walking distance of the school. I’m living in a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom with a living/kitchen area. It’s a somewhat nice apartment that has some character. It is actually a lot bigger than I anticipated. Our second overnight excursion with ASA was to Rome. This was also a really cool excursion. We did all the basic touristy items in Rome such as, the Vatican City and museums, the water fountains, the Roman forum and the Colosseum. It was really interesting and cool to see so many of the famous landmarks that you see in movies.

All members of our program including our site director Chiara!

After Rome, I have a much greater appreciation for Florence. Rome is a big city and is very populated and has lots of tourists. In Florence, it feels like home. I enjoy, that I don’t have to rely on public transportation and that I can walk everywhere. I enjoy that although there are tourists, it’s not as many and it will die down. I am so happy I decided to study in Florence. Florence feels like my home away from home!

Home away from home

  That’s all I have for now. Until next time. -Kacie :)

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