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Europe

Last Month of Class!

May was a busy month for me! We only had class the first week before our school’s exam period started. During this period, we have no classes as they want you to use the time to study. I had three classes with papers for our final and only one with an exam. The exam environment was also so different to the one I’m used to! They have it in a big hall and assign you a desk to take it. They have multiple proctors during it, and make you place your student ID onto the desk for them to check and sign a registry! I had to use the washroom and instead of just being able to go, I had to be escorted by someone all the way into the washroom and she then stood outside the stall! I was shocked that they take their exams this way. It was very stressful because the papers account for 100% of my grade! I had one paper that needed a word count of 6,000- I have no ideas how I pulled that one off! May was also the month of Ramadan, so on top of all of this, I was fasting as well! The fasts here were pretty long and averaged about 18 hours! I tried to visit some family to get good home-cooked meals, but I was only able to go twice since my schedule was so hectic. I also had a friend fasting with me for a portion of the month, so that was nice of her and made me feel less alone. One of my friends from Concordia also came to visit me during this time! It was so nice to have someone from home around. She also really wanted to go to Italy while she was there so after much debating, I finally gave in and we booked flights for the next day! It was definitely my most spontaneous trip, but we had the best time! I even got to recreate one of my Mom’s pictures from when she lived there! 

My mom when she lived in Milan.

Me copying my mom’s photo!

Me in Milan!

I’m sad the semester is done, but also happy that I’m done with all the work I had to do! I’m in Morocco again right now and will back in London mid-june and stay for another month. I’m excited to be able to explore without the stress of school! 

 

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Spring Break Abroad!

April was very packed for me! I started the month in Bordeaux, France with my friend Sophia. It was a very cute city and where we were staying was very French, complete with a cute little balcony. We ate baguettes and cheese and walked around a lot! We also went to this really good restaurant that made me start to think of food as an experience. It was truly gastronomic and I keep thinking about their lemon tart… 

Street in Bordeaux.

Statue of Alexander the Great in Greece.

I then went to Thessaloniki, Greece for a Gilman Summit! It was run by the US State Department in collaboration with Fulbright. I got to meet so many amazing, genuine people and it was definitely an experience I will always be fond of. We toured the city as well as some businesses there and met with a lot of local government officials as well as the US Ambassador to Greece! We were able to talk about a wide array of topics from the Syrian refugee crisis and the Greek economy to how to become an Ambassador to a country like Greece (Hint: You either put in 20+ years of hard work and luck out by handling a big problem or you donate a lot of money to a presidential campaign). 

Gilman Scholars at the event in Thessaloniki.

Gilman Scholars with Geoffrey Pyatt, the US Ambassador to Greece.

I then went to Marrakech, Morocco where I met up with my good friend and flatmate, Yasmine! She is from there so we stayed with her and she showed me and my friend around. It is really a different life there since the culture is so different. Everyone drives really fast and the only way to get to where you’re going is by knowing in advance how to get to where you’re going! We were so lucky to have someone to be able to drive us around and do the talking for us so we didn’t get ripped off at places like the old market. It was also so hot there! It was hot in Greece as well, but we were near a body of water there so there was a nice breeze. In Marrakech, there is no body of water and when the sun is on you, it is ON you! I could literally feel every degree of heat and it was only in the 80s! 

Market in the Old City.

Majorelle Gardens.

Old City Market.

Exploring was fun, but now I need to get back to reality as all my coursework for all my classes are due and it’s exam season! I am looking forward to that being over! 

Until next time. 



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Dublin: Who knew right?!
The first few days in Dublin have been absolutely amazing! I flew out on Tuesday evening and arived on Wednesday around noon. The time difference has been a little weird but I am finally getting over my jet lag. We spent a few days doing orientation and getting used to the city. On Friday, we wen’t out on our own to find our internship sites. I got a little bit on my way but the people around the city were so helpful and I eventually found my way there. Yesterday, the group went on a guided tour of Northern Ireland. It was absolutely amazing! We went and saw the city of Belfast which is still in quite a lot of conflict with the Brexit situation. It was amazing to hear about the situation the city is still in even though the Peace wall has been up for 21 years. I would be terrified to live there but the people are so confident in themselves. Our tour guide was alive during the conflict and has actually received a few death threats just for doing his job. We also toured the Giant’s Causeway, I’ll let you decide what created the Causeway, the Giants or science ;),  and walked over the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. It is 30 meters high and, yes, I actually did go over it. I may have freaked out the entire way across, but I didn’t let my fear of heights get the best of me. Was quite proud of myself afterwards.

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Last Weekend in Milan
Buonjourno! I have less than a week before I’m back at home. It truly went by way too fast. It’s been a bittersweet week having friends leave back and having to acknowledge the semester is over. My roommates and I spent the week enjoying as much gelato, cappuccinos, and pasta as we could. Although I will miss Milan, I am excited to go home and see my family and friends again!

Advice for Future Study Abroad Students:

For future study abroad students, I would definitely want them to know the experience is what you make it. Don’t trust and believe in those idealized study abroad experiences you see in movies or on social media. One doesn’t need to mimic those “ideals” to have a memorable time. You won’t always have a perfect day, but you make the most with what you can. Find the fun and beauty in the things one normally wouldn’t expect. Another piece of advice I have is to try something new everyday! Try to avoid the homebody habits. It’ll be hard once you get homesick and all you want to do is stay in bed and call friends/family. You just have to remember it might be the last time you ever get the chance to travel in the city/country again. Travel as much as you can. Another thing I would want students to know is not everyone you meet will be your friend. I think when everyone is in the atmosphere, everything is new and people are so excited that they forget to be safe too. I know a couple of girls who went over to some guys’ apartment whom they just met. There was a popular saying with a lot of the international students from the various schools in Milan, “What happens in Milan, stays in Milan”. I understand we’re all young and trying new things, but just make sure you don’t do anything you regret. Your safety should always be a priority! The last thing I would want students to know is to have fun! Not everything has to be planned and on an itinerary.  Many of my favorite experiences happened in the spur of the moment. The Italians have a saying, “La gatta frettolosa ha fatto i gattini ciechi”, which translates to “the hasty cat gave birth to blind kittens”. Not that blind kittens are bad, bu it means doing something in a rush can result in less than perfect results. Don’t rush to the finishing point. Like Italians say about Americans, we’re always on the go and want things fast. We forget to slow down, relax and appreciate the things around us. It’s about the journey, not the destination.  

Gelatooo

Fondazione Prada

Park right in front of the castle in Milan



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The Trip of a Lifetime
As of April 30, 2019, I officially finished my semester abroad at Westfield House in Cambridge, England. Just typing that sentence is unbelievable because I never thought I would be able to study abroad. This semester has been such an incredible and life-changing experience. I am so thankful for all the people who made it possible for me. If I had to pick one word to describe this whole experience and semester I would choose “surreal.” Merriam-Webster defines surreal as “marked by the intense irrational reality of a dream” with synonyms such as “fantastic” and “unbelievable.” In many ways this semester has been a dream come true. I cannot recommend strongly enough what an incredible experience studying abroad has been. Obviously, I can only speak from my own experience, but if study abroad is even a slight possibility try as hard as possible to make it happen. I could write pages and pages about what I want other people to know about study abroad, but I doubt anyone would want to read all of that and this is just a short blog post so I will choose just a few. First, I think many shy away from study abroad because of the expense. Travel in the United States is very expensive. Honestly, my plane ticket to and from the U.S. was the most expensive part of my entire semester. Study abroad does not have to cause additional financial strain. There are more scholarships available for students studying abroad and this semester, even with all my travel and other expense, ended up being significantly less expensive than a normal semester at Concordia. The money that I did spend was not going toward tuition or room and board but to incredible trips across Europe that I will never forget. This aspect of study abroad depends heavily on what each person chooses to spend their money on, but with good planning and budgeting study abroad does not have to be an additional cost of college and might even save money! Second, also dependent on each person and program, I will never get another chance like this to travel. Westfield House does not have classes on Friday, so each weekend was a three-day weekend and a much lighter homework load gave me so much freedom to travel. Not so much in England but in other parts of Europe students can get a cheaper price on train or bus tickets and special discounts as museums. In Paris my friends and I got into Versailles, the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, and the Pantheon for free because we were students! Nowhere in the United States can you get a flight for $20 and just hop over to another country for the weekend or take a short train ride and end up at the Queen’s country estate. It is wild to watch movies or read books set in Europe and recognize all the places I have been in the last four months. There are so many things I could regret not getting to do but it would take multiple lifetimes to go to all the places I want to visit. Instead, reflecting on the semester, I almost cannot believe all the places I have been because they are places I never thought I would visit. Finally, studying abroad has given me a much broader perspective of myself and the world. The ability to travel and experience a taste of life in other countries is an eye-opening experience. There are some things that I am very excited to come back to in the U.S., but there are other things I will miss about Europe. England is a very orderly country and I have come to appreciate this so much. For example, riding an escalator everyone standing stays on the right side while people walking up or down can pass on the left side. So simple! Stepping out of American culture and the places I was familiar with, even just for such a short time, has been so good to reevaluate what I do and why. This, I think, is the most important reason to study abroad. While saving money and traveling the world are incredible, the personal changes and growth I have seen in myself is what I am most proud of. I am not coming back to the U.S. as the same person I was when I left. I cannot exactly explain what is different, and maybe others will not even notice, but there is a difference. I feel like I have rediscovered and uncovered new parts of myself. I do not yet know how this will translate back into American culture and how my new perspectives and thoughts will fit into my old spaces, but I am so excited to see what happens and for all the adventures I will have in the future!

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Springtime in Milan
Ciao! This is my third month in Milan, heading towards the end of my semester here. It truly has gone so fast! I can’t believe I’ll be back in Minnesota in about a month’s time. I do feel like I’ve been able to integrate into the culture. At first, I could easily be picked out as the American, but now I’m able to blend in with the general Italian population. I am going to try to attempt to keep up with my Italian dressing habits back home, but I do miss wearing sweatpants to class. Also, picking up a few Italian slang words has helped me blend in. If you ever find yourself in Italy, try a marocchino rather than the everyday cappuccino. I guarantee the barista will be impressed.

Catania: Sicily’s Home of Mount Etna

Outside of school, the greatest learning experience is compiled of so many, I couldn’t possibly just choose one! One of my favorites was during my spring break. My roommate and I went to Catania in Sicily, which is southern Italy. We stayed in a hostel owned by a man and his friends. It was one of the most amazing experiences I had! We were able to interact with them and talk to them and learn tons about their culture. The culture in Southern Italy is completely different than Northern Italy. Southern Italy is more poor than the north, which is why their daily fish and fruits/veggies market has an amazingly cheap price. You could get a fresh plate of oysters for only €3 (which contain about six oysters), whereas a dozen oysters is approximately $36 in the United States. Their atmosphere there as well is more relaxed and laid back, whereas Milan is a bustling city similar to New York City. The highlight of our Sicily trip was when we climbed Mount Etna, Catania’s active volcano! Never in my entire life would I think I’d ever be able to climb a volcano! I also found out afterwards that it recently erupted in December 2018. We had private guide who was also the brother of the hostel owner! He took us on off beat paths that tourists didn’t go on. It is something that I’ll always remember about my trip.

Mount Etna Climb! I didn’t miss the snow in MN after all.

Sicilian Brioche and Chocolate Gelato

The Siracusa Coast

     

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March in London
March was a fun month. I went to Sky Garden, which offers a nice view of the city for free! My friends and I also went to the Saint Patricks Day parade which was very cool! They had lots of good Irish music and dancing! The London Eye also turned green for the night. My friends and I took a day trip to Dover, Kent and hiked up the Cliffs of Dover. It was really beautiful and I love being next to an open body of water! Also, I swear I could see France on the other side. I have a friend interning at Parliament and she offered to give my friends and me a tour which we, of course, took her up on. It was very beautiful and we ate inside one of the nice restaurants inside which are cheap because the prices are subsidized by their government. It was also interesting to be in the gallery while the House of Commons were in session, but they were not voting on anything regarding Brexit so it was not as heated as I hope it would be. My classes ran through the first week of April before they let us off for our three week-long Easter break! I am excited to spend that time exploring the city and other places.

The view at Sky Garden.

The London Eye turned green for St. Patrick’s day.

Me and my friend in Dover, Kent.

Me in Dover, Kent.

Parliament.

Inside parliament.



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Barcelona, Spain
When we first arrived in Porto, we walked around the area and along the river running through the middle of Porto. That evening we sat and watched the sunset at the park overlooking the river and at the colorful buildings. In the morning we wanted to go on a walking tour but went to the wrong meeting spot but there was a lady giving a tour, so we tagged along with her group. I’m not exactly sure what we saw but they were beautiful buildings. For lunch we ate a Francesinha which is a traditional Porto dish. That afternoon we visited the Library that Harry Potter is based off of and then we walked around a market. The next day we took a tram car to the beach and I ate a crepe at the market near the beach. That night we found one of the many wineries that are in Porto and did a wine tour and tasting.   My friends and I in Porto On Friday the program took us to Montserrat, where we took a tram car up and then a funicular to the top and then hiked down. It was a beautiful day and from the top of the mountain we had the most beautiful views of Spain. Early Saturday morning I headed to Castellon, which is South of Barcelona, to stay with a friend of my dad’s. We drove through the mountains and he took me to see the ocean. That weekend they were having a festival called Magdalena and so we went both nights to the main street and watched the parade. The parades consisted of people dressing up in traditional clothes, floats decorated to a set theme, and a parade dedicated to each area creating a float of lights. It was sunny and hot during my time in Castellon so on Sunday we spent the day at the beach with his family and some of their friends. Me on Montserrat Mountain I thought the day would never come when my mom and sister came to visit. Not only was I excited to see them, but it also meant the ending of the semester. Our first day together we decided to take a day trip to Girona. In Girona we visited the Cathedral, Basilica, Museum, the wall surrounding Girona, and some Game of Thrones sites. Day two we walked to the Arc de Triomf and Citadel Park, and then we ate Paella and Tapas at a near by restaurant. In the afternoon, my sister and I got the chance to see a Barcelona football game. In the evening, my mom’s two friends arrived from England and that night I took them to the Magic Fountain, sadly we got the time wrong and missed the light show, but it was still beautiful seeing Barcelona at night. Day three we visited Park Guell and the Barcelona History Museum to see the Roman ruins. Day four we took the cable cars up to Montjuic and walked around the castle, and then day five we spent most of the day at the beach. The next few days I had to go to class, so my mom and sister went to Sagrada Familia, Picasso Museum, and walked down La Rambla. On Friday we went on an all-day tour that took us to Baga Spain, Ax Les Thermes France, and Andorra. The last day we went to Montserrat where we took the cable cars up and then walked the rest of the way to the top of the Mountain, and then afterwards we ate churros and chocolate. My sister and I at the Barcelona Football game My mom and I in Andorra As the semester comes to an end and I prepare to leave Spain, the place I have called home for the last three months, I am excited as I prepare for my next adventure. For 6 weeks I will be in England where I will be seeing friends and family, as well as traveling. This experience has allowed me to go on so many adventures, to see many new places, to try many new things, and to learn so much about myself. Advice I would like to give to others is have an idea for the places you want to travel to. Do research of those places such as check the transportation system, how to get to and from the airport, what they are famous for; sites, food, drink, people. Plan your trips at the beginning of the semester. Check the weather, events, and prices of traveling for where you want to go, this will help with your decision for knowing where to go and which weekend to go. Other things are making the most of every moment you have as time really does go fast. Don’t just say you are going to do something, just do it otherwise you run out of time. Purposefully get lost, meaning walk around without a map, see where the place takes you, and see what you happen to just run into. I am so thankful for my time here in Barcelona and for all the things that I got do to while I was studying abroad.  

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Adventure is Out There

Studying abroad, as the name implies, is an educational experience, but these three months in England so far have been filled with learning experiences both in and out of my classes. The different circumstances, opportunities, and experiences have allowed me to reflect on and grow in my personal life. It is crazy to think in less than a month I will be done with my classes in Cambridge and just a few weeks after that I will be returning to the United States. I have been on so many incredible adventures and I am so excited for my last few before the semester ends, but in the midst of these adventures I have also been taking time to reflect on this.

One of the biggest day-to-day changes in my life (other than being half-way across the world, of course!) is having free time. This has been a really lovely change because I have had time to spend time exploring, hanging out with friends, reading for fun (not just for classes!), and journaling and reflecting. Journaling and reflecting allows me to the see the ways I am changing this semester and how I have grown. One of the biggest areas I have grown in is my confidence and independence. I laugh thinking about how often I would be nervous or skip events on campus or in the Twin Cities because I did not want to go somewhere alone. Since being in Europe I have flown to Barcelona and Paris all by myself not counting all the smaller trips I have gone on by myself in England and Cambridge. When I come back to the United States I want to continue growing in this area and keep exploring new places and going to new things even if I have to go by myself. While I always recommend travelling with other people (it’s more fun and safer!) short solo trips are also always a fun little adventure.

Another area I have grown in is my planning and organization. I have always considered myself a pretty organized person but planning trips in new places travelling only by public transport and trying to coordinate buses and planes and trains and places to stay and sightseeing is a whole new level of planning and organization. When first coming to the Twin Cities I was intimidated by the Green Line and the bus system in the Cities and rarely ever used them for this reason. Here in England, I do not have an option and have become very familiar with public transport in England. It is time consuming the requires careful planning, but it is so worth the effort!

These changes have created a better sense of independence and adventure within me and I am excited to keep exploring after I return home. It continues to blow my mind that people live their everyday lives in these beautifully historic places I am visiting. This has given me a greater desire to explore the places I live. I might have to go alone and it might take some planning (although I can drive myself in the U.S.) but adventures do not have to happen only on special occasions. Each day is a new adventure and I want to continue appreciating the places God has put me in and learning and growing wherever the future takes me.



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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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Dublin: Who knew right?!
The first few days in Dublin have been absolutely amazing! I flew out on Tuesday evening and arived on Wednesday around noon. The time difference has been a little weird but I am finally getting over my jet lag. We spent a few days doing orientation and getting used to the city. On Friday, we wen’t out on our own to find our internship sites. I got a little bit on my way but the people around the city were so helpful and I eventually found my way there. Yesterday, the group went on a guided tour of Northern Ireland. It was absolutely amazing! We went and saw the city of Belfast which is still in quite a lot of conflict with the Brexit situation. It was amazing to hear about the situation the city is still in even though the Peace wall has been up for 21 years. I would be terrified to live there but the people are so confident in themselves. Our tour guide was alive during the conflict and has actually received a few death threats just for doing his job. We also toured the Giant’s Causeway, I’ll let you decide what created the Causeway, the Giants or science ;),  and walked over the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. It is 30 meters high and, yes, I actually did go over it. I may have freaked out the entire way across, but I didn’t let my fear of heights get the best of me. Was quite proud of myself afterwards.

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Last Weekend in Milan
Buonjourno! I have less than a week before I’m back at home. It truly went by way too fast. It’s been a bittersweet week having friends leave back and having to acknowledge the semester is over. My roommates and I spent the week enjoying as much gelato, cappuccinos, and pasta as we could. Although I will miss Milan, I am excited to go home and see my family and friends again!

Advice for Future Study Abroad Students:

For future study abroad students, I would definitely want them to know the experience is what you make it. Don’t trust and believe in those idealized study abroad experiences you see in movies or on social media. One doesn’t need to mimic those “ideals” to have a memorable time. You won’t always have a perfect day, but you make the most with what you can. Find the fun and beauty in the things one normally wouldn’t expect. Another piece of advice I have is to try something new everyday! Try to avoid the homebody habits. It’ll be hard once you get homesick and all you want to do is stay in bed and call friends/family. You just have to remember it might be the last time you ever get the chance to travel in the city/country again. Travel as much as you can. Another thing I would want students to know is not everyone you meet will be your friend. I think when everyone is in the atmosphere, everything is new and people are so excited that they forget to be safe too. I know a couple of girls who went over to some guys’ apartment whom they just met. There was a popular saying with a lot of the international students from the various schools in Milan, “What happens in Milan, stays in Milan”. I understand we’re all young and trying new things, but just make sure you don’t do anything you regret. Your safety should always be a priority! The last thing I would want students to know is to have fun! Not everything has to be planned and on an itinerary.  Many of my favorite experiences happened in the spur of the moment. The Italians have a saying, “La gatta frettolosa ha fatto i gattini ciechi”, which translates to “the hasty cat gave birth to blind kittens”. Not that blind kittens are bad, bu it means doing something in a rush can result in less than perfect results. Don’t rush to the finishing point. Like Italians say about Americans, we’re always on the go and want things fast. We forget to slow down, relax and appreciate the things around us. It’s about the journey, not the destination.  

Gelatooo

Fondazione Prada

Park right in front of the castle in Milan



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Springtime in Milan
Ciao! This is my third month in Milan, heading towards the end of my semester here. It truly has gone so fast! I can’t believe I’ll be back in Minnesota in about a month’s time. I do feel like I’ve been able to integrate into the culture. At first, I could easily be picked out as the American, but now I’m able to blend in with the general Italian population. I am going to try to attempt to keep up with my Italian dressing habits back home, but I do miss wearing sweatpants to class. Also, picking up a few Italian slang words has helped me blend in. If you ever find yourself in Italy, try a marocchino rather than the everyday cappuccino. I guarantee the barista will be impressed.

Catania: Sicily’s Home of Mount Etna

Outside of school, the greatest learning experience is compiled of so many, I couldn’t possibly just choose one! One of my favorites was during my spring break. My roommate and I went to Catania in Sicily, which is southern Italy. We stayed in a hostel owned by a man and his friends. It was one of the most amazing experiences I had! We were able to interact with them and talk to them and learn tons about their culture. The culture in Southern Italy is completely different than Northern Italy. Southern Italy is more poor than the north, which is why their daily fish and fruits/veggies market has an amazingly cheap price. You could get a fresh plate of oysters for only €3 (which contain about six oysters), whereas a dozen oysters is approximately $36 in the United States. Their atmosphere there as well is more relaxed and laid back, whereas Milan is a bustling city similar to New York City. The highlight of our Sicily trip was when we climbed Mount Etna, Catania’s active volcano! Never in my entire life would I think I’d ever be able to climb a volcano! I also found out afterwards that it recently erupted in December 2018. We had private guide who was also the brother of the hostel owner! He took us on off beat paths that tourists didn’t go on. It is something that I’ll always remember about my trip.

Mount Etna Climb! I didn’t miss the snow in MN after all.

Sicilian Brioche and Chocolate Gelato

The Siracusa Coast

     

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Barcelona, Spain
When we first arrived in Porto, we walked around the area and along the river running through the middle of Porto. That evening we sat and watched the sunset at the park overlooking the river and at the colorful buildings. In the morning we wanted to go on a walking tour but went to the wrong meeting spot but there was a lady giving a tour, so we tagged along with her group. I’m not exactly sure what we saw but they were beautiful buildings. For lunch we ate a Francesinha which is a traditional Porto dish. That afternoon we visited the Library that Harry Potter is based off of and then we walked around a market. The next day we took a tram car to the beach and I ate a crepe at the market near the beach. That night we found one of the many wineries that are in Porto and did a wine tour and tasting.   My friends and I in Porto On Friday the program took us to Montserrat, where we took a tram car up and then a funicular to the top and then hiked down. It was a beautiful day and from the top of the mountain we had the most beautiful views of Spain. Early Saturday morning I headed to Castellon, which is South of Barcelona, to stay with a friend of my dad’s. We drove through the mountains and he took me to see the ocean. That weekend they were having a festival called Magdalena and so we went both nights to the main street and watched the parade. The parades consisted of people dressing up in traditional clothes, floats decorated to a set theme, and a parade dedicated to each area creating a float of lights. It was sunny and hot during my time in Castellon so on Sunday we spent the day at the beach with his family and some of their friends. Me on Montserrat Mountain I thought the day would never come when my mom and sister came to visit. Not only was I excited to see them, but it also meant the ending of the semester. Our first day together we decided to take a day trip to Girona. In Girona we visited the Cathedral, Basilica, Museum, the wall surrounding Girona, and some Game of Thrones sites. Day two we walked to the Arc de Triomf and Citadel Park, and then we ate Paella and Tapas at a near by restaurant. In the afternoon, my sister and I got the chance to see a Barcelona football game. In the evening, my mom’s two friends arrived from England and that night I took them to the Magic Fountain, sadly we got the time wrong and missed the light show, but it was still beautiful seeing Barcelona at night. Day three we visited Park Guell and the Barcelona History Museum to see the Roman ruins. Day four we took the cable cars up to Montjuic and walked around the castle, and then day five we spent most of the day at the beach. The next few days I had to go to class, so my mom and sister went to Sagrada Familia, Picasso Museum, and walked down La Rambla. On Friday we went on an all-day tour that took us to Baga Spain, Ax Les Thermes France, and Andorra. The last day we went to Montserrat where we took the cable cars up and then walked the rest of the way to the top of the Mountain, and then afterwards we ate churros and chocolate. My sister and I at the Barcelona Football game My mom and I in Andorra As the semester comes to an end and I prepare to leave Spain, the place I have called home for the last three months, I am excited as I prepare for my next adventure. For 6 weeks I will be in England where I will be seeing friends and family, as well as traveling. This experience has allowed me to go on so many adventures, to see many new places, to try many new things, and to learn so much about myself. Advice I would like to give to others is have an idea for the places you want to travel to. Do research of those places such as check the transportation system, how to get to and from the airport, what they are famous for; sites, food, drink, people. Plan your trips at the beginning of the semester. Check the weather, events, and prices of traveling for where you want to go, this will help with your decision for knowing where to go and which weekend to go. Other things are making the most of every moment you have as time really does go fast. Don’t just say you are going to do something, just do it otherwise you run out of time. Purposefully get lost, meaning walk around without a map, see where the place takes you, and see what you happen to just run into. I am so thankful for my time here in Barcelona and for all the things that I got do to while I was studying abroad.  

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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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