A Month in Europe: The Plan

Planning, planning and more planning. It has consumed my life over the past few weeks. Some of it quick, easy, efficient. Most of it long and excruciating.

With the big five week break approaching in April (time UK universities give you after the end of classes, but before exams in May), my classmates and I have been tasked with figuring out what we should do with all of our free time. We have a month in Europe. A month in Europe with the luxury of not having to worry about missing school or work or any real responsibilities.

It’s an opportunity that some people dream of having.

Continue reading “A Month in Europe: The Plan”

My Trip to the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa

The weather has been pretty cold in Germany lately, but it was especially cold this week. The temperature dropped below 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit) for the whole week. Luckily for me I had a trip planned to visit Spain, Gibraltar and Morocco during the coldest part of this weekend, so I spent my time in 20 degree Celsius weather (68 degrees Fahrenheit) instead.

It was the first time since November that I did not have to wear a jacket to go outside, and man was that refreshing! Not only was the weather fantastic, but also the beaches were outstanding as well. Seeing the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea with beaches almost empty was so relaxing.

If only I brought swim trunks to go swimming in the water!

Continue reading “My Trip to the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa”

The Experience

I write this on Feb. 23. I’ve officially been here for more than a month. That’s more than a month of school, more than a month of being around the people, more than a month of getting used to the area.

It’s enough time to reflect on what I have been through since I arrived here in mid January. It’s enough time to really understand what it’s like to live here, to realize what I miss (and maybe don’t miss) from back home in California. The daily life, the night life, the food, whatever it is. I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on the whole experience right now. And I’m going to share that with you.

Continue reading “The Experience”

Supermarché 101

CLINK! I stare at the carts at the supermarché, or French supermarket, reusable bag in hand perplexed as to why the cart I’m grabbing won’t move. It’s only when a French man sidesteps me and grabs a rolling cart that I see the coin slot to unlock the American-sized chariot I’m used to. Following his lead, I take a rolling cart and marvel at the rows ahead, as I ready myself to experience the cultural feast.

While I can only speak to the French experience, I am sure that grocery shopping is the fastest way to find the art de vivre, or art of life, of your study abroad host city. For my first week, I went to our supermarché almost every day, each time learning more about the local customs and finding new tips I wish I would have had to start off. So, here are some cultural differences and tips for surviving the French supermarket.

Continue reading “Supermarché 101”

Saying Goodbye to Tübingen, Saying Hello to my New Home in Ulm

My time in Germany has just hit the halfway point and I have just completed my first semester abroad — oh how time flies by so fast!

My German has significantly improved since being in Germany; I was an A1 level speaker before leaving the U.S. and am now considered B1 level (that’s a massive jump in just one semester!). Not only that but as of today I have traveled to 15 different countries since leaving the U.S. That’s a great accomplish that I am very proud of!

Continue reading “Saying Goodbye to Tübingen, Saying Hello to my New Home in Ulm”

Slow Down, Look Around

“In for Amsterdam next weekend?”

Of course.

“Paris the weekend after?”

I’m in!

“Why not Berlin or Barcelona one of these weekends too, they’re really not even that far away, we can do it.”

So down.

And how could I not be? After being stuck (lol) in California for the majority of my life, with a bit of travel to a few different states, and only having once been out of the country to Mexico for a few days, I’m finally here. I’m young, I have money saved up from years of preparing, and I am in a destination hours away from some of the most desired tourist attractions in the world. As someone who has always had a passion for traveling and a strong interest in different cultures, the thought of being able to explore those places that you hear so much about has still yet to cease from engulfing my mind.

Continue reading “Slow Down, Look Around”

On Being Alone

At SciencesPo, my university here in France, we’ve just finished our orientation week; a week filled with non-stop socialization from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. After each long day, I’ve taken the elevator up to my floor and walked inside my room to find the deafening silence of my apartment.

The gentle hum of my mini fridge coupled with the rhythmic chugging of the fast train outside my window are the only sounds here. I live in an 18-square meter flat in a student residency about a minute’s walk from the central train station and a three minutes’ walk to the closet bar.

But surprisingly, human voices are few and far in between.

Continue reading “On Being Alone”

Mindfulness in Rome

I am sitting on a covered rooftop balcony in Rome, Italy reading “Search Inside Yourself” by Chade-Meng Tan, an exploration of the benefits of mindfulness and self-awareness. Tan explains the phenomenon he calls “Expensive Food Meditation,” where people tend to appreciate expensive food more and take their time. He argues that if we treated every meal as we treat expensive meals, we would be much more satisfied and happy.

When I reflected on this, I realized this is how people treat foreign countries versus their own countries. What we become familiar with, what we believe to be mundane and everyday, becomes gray in our minds. When places are new, fresh and expensive to get to, those are the places about which we appreciate every little detail.

I, myself, am guilty of this. Yet being abroad has made me realize how lucky I am to live in a place as great as San Diego.

Continue reading “Mindfulness in Rome”

Florence – A Box of Chocolates

As a recovering Yelp addict, I used to always want to know where the best spots were, what was trending, what people enjoyed. In San Diego, I visited new restaurants, museums, installations, photo spots. I compared my experiences to those I found on Instagram, Pinterest, Yelp, Facebook. Then I realized I always went in with higher expectations than I should. If the place lived up to the hype, I was happy, but not overjoyed. If it didn’t, I was annoyed at the business’s lack of what I considered follow-through.

We visited Florence with no previous research and (history buffs cover your ears) simply walked towards the tallest pointy things. Was our experience any less because we didn’t see the real David or climb the inside of the Duomo? In my opinion, no.

Continue reading “Florence – A Box of Chocolates”

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑