Saturday, August 31, 2013

One Last Goodbye

Today is literally the day I leave my study abroad trip in London and Dublin. It was one of the best experiences in my life, and I don’t regret anything. I’m glad I signed up for this opportunity. One question most people asked is would I live in the cities I’ve been to? I would love to live in Dublin, Ireland at one point of my life to work. In my studies I was able to understand the Irish economy, and I realized the major American brands have their headquarters in Ireland. The reason for that is because they have the lowest corporation tax out of the other European countries. But some companies like Facebook and Google found ways to not even pay any tax at all. When comparing London and Dublin, they are two different cities that honestly cannot be compared. London is 10 times bigger than Dublin. Both cities have their interesting and quaint things that make them different and appealing. This experience definitely broaden my view about working abroad because I have a better idea how each culture is. One day I will be back for either work or a vacation.
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The picture is a collection of all the post cards from every city I visited this summer. The pictures I took are always a great memory, but after packing and going through things the collage of post cards are nice to look at. I kept saying to myself, “wow I can’t believe I went there and saw this place.” But 10 weeks abroad was a nice change, but I think I’m ready to go back to reality.

Home Sweet Home

Since my program in Florence was 6 weeks long, that left me with 5 weeks to spend at home in Boston with my family.  I easily could've spent 10+ weeks in Italy, but I'm glad that I've had time to relax and collect myself before heading back to Drexel for senior year.  Boston is such a great city, and I've been having a lot of fun taking advantage of everything that the city has to offer.

As great as Boston is, I miss Florence and Italy everyday.  I miss the people, culture, art, and food, of course.  It is such a different lifestyle there - everyone is on their own time, life isn't rushed, and they really enjoy every moment with their family and friends.  I wish we could adapt a bit of that lifestyle, but I'll have to wait until I'm old and retired.  I can't wait to return to Italy, and I hope that I get the opportunity to do so very soon!  I'm going to try my best to keep up my Italian language in the meantime.

I wish everyone a wonderful few weeks before heading back to Drexel!


Pit Stop in Dublin - Almost Home!

As I've said before, I am really fortunate enough to have several friends also studying abroad in Europe this summer, which makes it very easy to travel around and visit new countries and cities.  When booking my flight home from Florence, I realized it made a lot of sense to stop in Dublin on my way and visit a couple friends there.  I have never been to Ireland or the UK before, so I was really excited to have a completely new experience.  I arrived in Dublin with no troubles, and took a cab to my friend's dorm.  I instantly found it disorienting to be speaking English and be surrounded by people speaking the same language as me.  The fact that I found this so odd, solidified that I really did call Florence home.

Upon arriving in Dublin, my friends showed me the neighborhood around their school and dorms and we went out to a few pubs that night.  I'm not a huge beer drinker, but was introduced to cidar and I absolutely love it.

Bulmers Cidar - Dublin, Ireland

Dublin, Ireland

Cidar looks like beer and has a similar consistency, but is a lot sweeter and more enjoyable for me.  We planned on spending the day Saturday going to Cliffs of Moher through Viator, a company that busses tourists from Dublin to the countryside and visit sites such as the Cliffs.  They stopped at several neighborhoods along the way and really gave me a sense of what the Irish countryside looks like.

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

Erin, Zac and I at Cliffs of Moher

We had a beautiful day for exploring the Cliffs, and I'm so glad I had this opportunity!  It wasn't so much of an "oh-my-gosh", breathtaking experience as I found the Amalfi Coast much more impressive, but it was wonderful and beautiful nonetheless.  We spent Saturday night at Copperface Jack's - a well-known Irish club and danced the night away on my last night in Europe!

Dublin was a really quick trip as I had a morning flight on Sunday back to Boston.  I'm so glad I had the chance to visit a new country and spend some time with friends I hadn't seen in weeks!  I definitely would love to return to Dublin, and I hope everyone that is studying there has a great rest of their time!


A Roman Holiday!

As a surprise when we got to Florence, our program directors told us about a weekend trip to Rome they had planned for all of us.  As excited as Julia and I were, we realized this happened to be the same weekend we had planned to go to Paris with our fellow Drexel friends in London.  Determined to find time to pack Rome in during our 6 weeks, we were able to find a weekend to sneak it in.  Neither of us could come home saying we hadn't been to Rome, so we were determined to make it happen!

Like a few of our day trips, we planned this weekend all on our own.  With the help of Trip Advisor, Rick Steves, and our best friend and D&M student Jessica Mattern, we were able to plan 48-hours of non-stop Roman fun!  I have seen plenty of pictures of the city and certainly studied key pieces of art and sites that inhabit Rome in art history classes, but seeing things first hand in Rome is truly an experience.  A quick two hour high-speed train ride from Florence, we were in Rome!

We checked into our hostel called Alessandro's Palace (highly recommended if anyone is looking for a hostel in Rome!) which is really close to the Termini train station.  From there, we grabbed a quick bite to eat at a local pizza shop and headed for the Colosseum.

Colosseum in Rome, Italy

The coolest thing about seeing the Colosseum in person, was realizing that we have nothing like this in America.  When I talked to locals in Italy, they had been to New York City and Orlando at most, and they define our country based on the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, and Disney World.  This was really upsetting as I explained to them that there's more to the United States then Mickey Mouse, but realized that ancient cities such as Rome hold so much rich history that our country doesn't have yet.  It's moments like these when I'm really thankful for my abroad experience!

From the Colosseum, we walked to the Spanish Steps, Pantheon, and Trevi Fountain.  The Trevi Fountain is one of my favorite places in Italy, minus the fact that it is always flooded with tourists.  We went twice, once in the afternoon and again at night to see the difference in how the statues looked and to see it lit up at night (and two wishes, of course!).

Tossing my wish into the Trevi Fountain!

We had done an incredible amount of walking in 95 degree heat, so we called it a night and walked back to our hostel.  We spent Saturday roaming around the busiest shopping streets of Rome, and spent the afternoon and evening in Trastevere - one of Rome's best kept secrets.  For two days I hadn't seen a single Italian in Rome due to the extremely high tourist traffic, and once we got to Trastevere, I was finally a minority as an American as I am in Florence.  Trastevere is a little neighborhood on the outskirts of Rome that has artists, incredible restaurants, boutiques, and winding cobble stone streets.

Trastevere, Italy

If anyone is planning on going to Rome, Trastevere is an absolute must!  It is by far the best food you can find in Rome and is a nice escape from the tourists.  Although it was a very lively city and I loved seeing the historical sites, I would definitely not return in the Summer or Fall months.  There are too many tourists that water down the Roman experience.  I'd love to return again in the Winter or Spring however, and enjoy returning to some of my favorite sites.


The Leaning Tower

I am so lucky that my program in Florence is scheduled to give the students plenty of travel time.  I have really been able to explore Italy as well as take weekend trips to other countries.  One of my "must-do" trips was a day in Pisa to visit the Leaning Tower.

Much to my surprise, this thing actually leans.  How it's still standing is incredible, and I was nervous the whole time I was there that it was going to come crashing down.  I'm not really sure what the architects were thinking when they made it, but it makes for a really cool and unique site at the very least.  I didn't climb the tower (I had enough climbing two domes and mountains in Cinque Terre!) but just looking at it and taking cliche photos of the tower was good enough for me.

Leaning Tower of Pisa - Pisa, Italy

Unfortunately most of my pictures are too close-up to see how much this structure is leaning toward the ground.  If you look at the base of the structure though, you can see how off it is.  There isn't much to the city of Pisa other than this tower - a lot of typical shops I've seen in other Italian cities and tourist type restaurants.  We combined Pisa and Lucca into one trip in an afternoon and it was the perfect amount of time.  A lot of fellow students had told me it wasn't worth my time going, but I think it certainly was just to say I've seen this tower!

Julia and I in Pisa, Italy

Of course we had to stop for quite a while and make sure we had the perfect tourist pictures!  These two are some of my favorites from the day.  The great thing about Florence besides the food, art, and culture, is it's central location within the country which provides easy ability to take day trips such as this one.  Pisa isn't a place I'd make the effort to return to, but I'm really glad I went.



A city built on the water, Venice is one of Italy's most unique cities.  Since the weather in Italy has been high 80s to mid-90s, the thought of a day trip being on the water was more than enticing.  Unlike a few of our previous trips, we decided to venture into Venice on our own and not with a tour group or company.  It was a bit more relaxed and we were able to travel around on our own schedule.

We spent most of our time at Piazza San Marco, and the winding cobble stone streets that surround it.  This is Venice's most famous spot due to the San Marco church.

St. Mark's Square, Venice

One of the biggest reasons to travel to venice is the famous Murano glass.  Jewelry, homeware, statues - you name it, and Venice has made it out of glass!  I was able to pick up a few souvenirs while I was there, including several pieces of jewelry and a wine stopper.  We got around the island via water taxi, and also took it to the island of Murano where many artists have their glass galleries and workshops.

Venice, Italy

Murano - Venice, Italy

It was a short and sweet day trip, but exciting as always!  We unfortunately didn't have time for a gondola ride, but instead watched them pass by while dipping our feet in the canal.  For anyone that needs an escape, Venice is a great choice!



Friday, August 30, 2013

Back to Reality

After a week living in hostels, I was excited to come back to the United States. Once the excitement of being home passed, I quickly missed being abroad and the jam packed days I had. I escaped to the beach for the first few days back which was a great (once I conquered the jet lag).

While traveling I learned several things. Here are a few things that I found most important..

Tricks of the Trade, or Travel.
  • It doesn't hurt to have a bunch of locks. Before leaving I bought suitcase locks and a normal lock which was super helpful while staying in hostels, you never know who you'll be living with.
  • Bring medicine. Everyone told me I'd get sick at least once while abroad and I didn't believe it, but I did. Vitamins were what really helped me throughout the trip. 
  • If you have an iPhone or iPad, bring it. Some people thought bringing a phone abroad was silly, but free wifi isn't hard to find and no one wants to be carrying a laptop around with them. 
  • Do research before you go. As a part of the Prague summer program, we were required to take a pre-trip class to learn about the Czech Republic's history and culture. It made the experience much more meaningful for all of us. 
Best of..
  • Architecture. Out of the 4 cities I went to while abroad I found Prague to have the greatest depth and mix of architecture. Prague is the only city to have cubist architecture, and has some of the greatest Art Noveau buildings. 
  • Shopping. London was one of the best places to shop, as expected. Whether you're looking for luxury shops or flea markets in Camden, it's all there. 
  • City Feel. I enjoyed Vienna's cosmopolitan nature the most. It doesn't feel as dense as NYC, but is still full of arts, culture, and various events that keep you busy.
  • Food. I couldn't get enough of Munich's beer gardens. Roasted chicken, potatoes of every kind, pretzels and then a liter of beer on top of it all, it doesn't get better than that. 

Not Goodbye, See You Later

Night time at Tower Bridge
So, this is it. I began my adventure in London ten weeks ago and in some respects it feels like just yesterday and in other it feels like lightyears ago. London has become a second home for me and I don't know how I am going to leave without leaving a piece of me here. My friend who studied here earlier this year, the same one who came and visited a few weeks ago told me when I first got here that someone told her, "Once you come to London, you never really leave." At the time when Michaela shared that with me, I had only been here for five days and so it did not really impact me but now that I think back about my time here, I know exactly what that woman meant when she told Michaela that. Although it was only ten weeks, I feel like I have grown exponentially in a way that I would not have been able to at home.

Being in London has opened my eyes to so many new things and new people. I have made lifelong friends who I would have never met otherwise. I have realized what is really important in life and by living so far away from my family and friends, I now know how valuable they are to me. Not only have I had the opportunity to immerse myself in London and British culture, but I have been fortunate enough to go to Barcelona, London and most recently Amsterdam. Having these countries within two hours traveling distance has really opened my eyes to the world and I feel so lucky to have had the chance to see so many beautiful things.
Hanging out at the IAmsterdam sign.
I went to Amsterdam last Thursday after class and to say that I was in awe would be an understatement. I have seen many pictures of the canals and I have always wanted to see them firsthand but what I actually saw was even better than I could have imagined. I have a friend who lives in Amsterdam so I was able to stay with her. Booking my flight on Monday and arriving on Thursday is one of the most spontaneous things I have ever done and I am so glad that I did! When I got there, we went for pancakes. They were not just breakfast pancakes though, they were for dinner! I ordered a chicken and cheese pancake and I was pleasantly surprised. We walked around for a while after and seeing the canals at night may have even been better than seeing them during the day. Lights illuminated the tunnels of the canals and my friend and I longed to be sitting on one of the house boats that are stationed there.
Canal from our paddle boat.
The next day we went to Vondelpark, and let me tell you it was like a scene from a movie. The grass was green, the flowers were vibrant and everything was peaceful. Rittenhouse Park is nice, but now that I've been to Vondelpark, I don't think I will ever feel the same about parks again. Right near the park is the Van Gogh Museum so we went there and got to see his work. To see things in person that I have only learned about was amazing and I am happy that I had the chance to appreciate his masterpieces. After the museum, we ate waffle cookies and went to see the "I Amsterdam" sign where people were climbing and taking pictures. We decided to try something different and went paddle boating and trust me, it looks a lot more fun than it actually is. The sun was shining and I was peddling my heart out, trying to avoid hitting other boats and the walls of the canal. Although it was a tiring experience, I worked up my appetite for the next part of our night which was a pizza cruise. At first when another group of girls from Drexel told me about it, I didn't think that it was something that I would want to do but it ended up being relaxing and I was able to see more of the canals and the city that I had not previously seen. To finish off our very packed day, we went to the Anne Frank Museum. Of course reading and learning about the Holocaust is very sad and unimaginable, but actually being in the place that the Frank family and others hid for two years was eye opening and a bit traumatic for me.
When I returned to London, I was faced with the realization that it would be my last week here and although I had finals to study for, I wanted to make the most of my time. Monday was a bank holiday here so we did not have class and I spent my day walking in beautiful Sloane Square. Wednesday night I went to a launch party for the clothing brand of one of the stars, Caggie Dunlop from in Made in Chelsea. I won access on Twitter and was able to spend the night feeling like a VIP. There, I made friends who live here and I felt as though I really belonged. My amazing night only made it all the more real that I am leaving soon and I can't even believe it. I'm going to keep the mentality of "It's not goodbye, it's see you later," because I know that I will be back at some point.
Made in Chelsea star, Caggie Dunlop and I at her brand, ISWAI's launch party.
Some of my new British friends and Proudlock from Made in Chelsea.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Final Reflection

 So it has been almost two weeks since I’ve been home and time here is flying by just as fast as it did abroad. I’m very lucky to get a little summer break before classes start up again, and I’m trying to use my time wisely. Being home, however, I’m noticing a few changes in my daily life that I need to adjust back to American ways. It’s funny because when you travel abroad you expect to encounter changes in daily life but after staying abroad for a while you don’t realize how routine these changes become. A big area that has cultural differences is when dinning out.

To start, when you walk into a restaurant in Prague, nine times out of ten you are expected to seat yourself. In the U.S. it is customary to wait to be seated. This is a small habit that I have to stop myself from following through on. Another difference is the normality of tap water here at home. We never think twice about asking for a glass of water, or even in some places having a glass ready for us, but in Europe, tap water is not so common. And with water comes ice, something that they rarely use. (This difference was a nice one for me because I do not like ice.)

Being abroad, I found myself often taking pictures of my food, anticipating the question from family and friends, “How was the food!?” Now that I’m home, I’ve found myself reaching for my camera a few times when a delicious looking meal is set down in front of me.

There are two dining differences that I miss the most. First being the rules for tipping. As we all know, here in the states most people tip 15-20%. Well, in Prague you just round up. This means you probably are leaving a small amount, somewhere in the range of ten cents to a dollar (USD). Their waiters and waitresses make a good wage so tips are not seen as completely necessary. The second difference that I miss is the tendency to get ice cream after a meal. I think it was more of a “We are sort of on vacation” justification as opposed to a cultural difference, but either way, I miss my daily serving of zmrzlina (ice cream).

Overall, I enjoyed my trip and I’m also happy to be home. I hope everyone had great experiences, as well. Thanks for following along! See you all this fall! :) 

Fun With Food in Florence


Since I am studying in Italy, it's only expected that I write a blog post on food.  The first thing that anyone asks me when wondering about my abroad experience, is always "So how is the food?" knowing that the answer has to be amazing.  I am in the birthplace of pasta, pizza, gelato, and wine - what's not to love?  I have been able to enjoy some of my favorites while exploring new dishes, and I am excited to share them with you.

Before coming to Italy, I was destined to find my perfect plate of gnocchi.  It is my favorite kind of pasta, and I love it with plenty of tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and oregano.  I've had it 4 or 5 times since I've been here and haven't been disappointed.  Ristorante Teatro, right behind my apartment, is one of the best and most authentic restaurants I've found in Florence.  The staff doesn't speak much English, every dish is homemade and it's affordable.  Pictured below is their gnocchi alla sorrentina, which is my go-to when eating at this restaurant.

Ristorante Teatro, Florence

In addition to pasta, Florence is home to the best pizza I've ever had in my life (and that's saying something!) Gusta Pizza is a tiny, little hole in the wall pizza place that has individual pies ranging from 5-8 euro each and are made fresh to order in their brick oven.  Gusta also owns a trattoria and a panini shop all on the same block in Santa Croce, Florence.  Julia and I have been to Gusta Pizza 3 times already, and plan on bringing our friends there next week when they visit.  My favorite is their Gusta pie, which has cherry tomatoes, arugula, and Parmesean cheese.

Gusta Pizza, Florence

Thanks to our program director here in Florence, I have a new found love Antipasto dishes.  My favorite one that she introduced me to is a Florentine specialty - fried pasta balls with Stracchino cheese and Prosciutto.  The pasta balls are of a fried, dough-y texture and pair nicely with the smooth and sweet Stracchino cheese.  I'm not a huge meat lover, so I leave most of the Prosciutto for Julia.

Ristorante Teatro, Florence

Last, but not least is gelato.  Julia and I have a favorite gelato place here in Florence that is conveniently down the street from our apartment called Vestri.  It is a gourmet chocolate shop that also specializes in gelato.  Their flavors are made with their specialty chocolate and fresh fruits and spices.  I've stuck to my usual Straciatella flavor (like a vanilla chocolate chip) and Lampone which is raspberry.  Vestri is only open during the day, so it has become our stop after lunch everyday.  In the evenings after dinner, we wander the city to find a new gelato place (you do the math, that's two gelato per day!).  Pictured below is a tri-cone of raspberry, fior di latte (milk's flower) and baccio (hazelnut and coffee).  

Gelato in Florence, Italy

I hope many of you can travel to Italy and enjoy the wonderful food and treats that this country has to offer!



Just above the Surface in Venice, Italy!

Since I had 5 day off from classes, which included the weekend I thought I would extend my Italy trip and go to another city! The other city I choose to go was Venice, Italy. Even though I wanted to go to Florence, I thought it was going to a unique experience. From Rome, I took an Italian Train to Venezia Santa Lucia station, which is similar to Amtrak. The station is drops you off in the center of Venice or near all the tourist destinations. It was a much cheaper and time saver alternative, compared to taking another plane. After getting off the train, I tried to find my hotel. It took me 2 hours to find my hotel. Since I don't have a phone plan to support my iPhone, I finally gave in a bought a tourist guide book with the maps and water bus schedule. Sadly enough the hotel was a 5 minute walk in the other direction of the train station. It was frustrating, but Hey when am I ever going backpackingaround Europe again.

During my 1 and half days in Venice, I went to multiple locations without feeling rushed. Since Venice is known for it theatre and glass, I choose to go to Murano Island to see how the glass is made. It was honestly a disappointment because the glass is only made very early in the morning. The island was quaint, and more relaxing than the Island of Venice. After the Island I took a ride on a gondola, which was a bit pricy (80 Euros) for 20 minutes on the Grand Canal. It was just as I expected, and enjoyed it very much. Lastly, I went to the Piazza San Marco. It was tourist trap! It is suppose to be one of the great urban squares in Europe. Crowds everywhere, and the Basilica was under construction. It wasn't worth spending my time there.
The greatest things about Venice is the shopping, food, and transportation.The water bus is bit bumping once you leave the Grand Canal, but an unique experience to travel from place to place. Since it isn't as chaotic as Rome, you are able find places to eat and unique shops. I bought the most souvenirs from this city compared to others. But I still say to myself, I don't know when I will be back so it is worth it!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Rome’ing around Italy

Since the program in London isn’t as restrictive as Dublin, I really wanted to make the best of my time in Europe, particularly in Italy! Over the bank holiday in UK, I went to Rome, Italy. The temperature was in the 80-90 degree range with some humidity, which honestly would be the temperature back home in Philadelphia. From the past two cities I’ve been living in the temperature has been moderate, and refreshing. But I shouldn’t be complaining, I was finally able to soak in some sun! During the 3 days I was there, I had planned to spend full days in certain parts of Rome. Conveniently, the hotel I was staying at was near the Trevi Fountain and Pantheon; therefore, the first night I was able to see those two landmarks while eating some gelato (of course!). I honestly had a Lizzie McGuire/Tourist moment once I got to the Trevi Fountain, which meant I was singing Hilary Duff songs and making my wish. Both the Trevi Fountain and Pantheon, I was expecting these places to be bigger and be part of a more open area, and not surrounded by buildings.
DSC_0486PANTHEONThe next tourist thing to do would be going to the Colosseum! It was amazing, and great to finally experience and see this landmark in person. Since, most of the time I see the Colosseum used in movies. It was actually in pretty good condition. While I was in that area, I realized I was near the Forums, which is a combination of big rock and monuments. I also went back at night, and the both the Colosseum and the Forums look like a crazy light show at night! I also ran into some Roman Soldiers.COLOSSEUMforums
Lastly, a trip to Rome wouldn’t be complete without visiting the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel! I would highly recommend to buy tickets online from the official website, and to skip the crazy lines find a tour on the site. I used Maya Tours, which included the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel, and Saint Peter’s Basilica. The experience was both breath taking, yet a bit creepy. In Saint Peter’s Basilica basement are the catacombs of previous Pope’s. It was interesting to observe, but I just felt out of place since I am not catholic. The only disappointment was not being able to take pictures in the Sistine Chapel! But the good thing was I was able to identify the Last Judgement and Last Supper (Good thing for ARTH 102!). Overall, I was able to cram the some of the most iconic and beautiful places in the world in 3 days, but the only thing I regret was shopping! I guess I will have to make another trip back to Rome one day! It myth about tossing the coin into the Trevi Fountain is a “safe return.”

A Weekend In Paris!

Going to Paris with four of my closest friends definitely felt like a dream.  I am so lucky to have several close friends abroad in Europe this summer, and I've made plans to see almost all of them throughout our travels.  Paris was a central location between Julia, Jess, and I in Italy and Amanda and Kelcie in London.  Not to mention, it was a huge "must visit" on all of our trips.

The last time I went to Paris I was 10 years old, and with my family.  I know we hit all the big sites, but I don't remember most of it other than thinking the croissants were beyond exceptional, and that the Eiffel Tower was a truly magnificent site.  I was eager to get back and re-explore the city as an adult.  Our group leader for the weekend, Kelcie, put a lot of time and effort into planning the weekend that would include all of our top "must visit" places packed into 72 hours.  Luckily, we had many of the same priorities which included the Lourve, Museum d'Orsay, Eiffel Tower, Siene River, and of course, eating a crepe and a croissant (or two...or five)

Jess and I enjoying a morning croissant!
Paris, France

Our first day, we hit the ground running at 9AM with breakfast, and navigated our way on the Paris metro to find our Paris Passes.  For anyone traveling to a major European city such as Paris, the Paris Pass (same as Rome Pass, etc. for major cities) allows a metro ticket, priority museum pass, and hop on hop off bus pass all to use unlimited for 2 days.  It's the most cost effective way to see a city in 48-72 hours, and is also the most time effective, as we didn't have to wait in any lines for museums or have to worry about breaking bills for the metro.  We were fortunate enough to have gorgeous weather, so we also did a considerable amount of walking.  

On Saturday, we packed in about half of the hop on, hop off bus tour, the Lourve, d'Orsay, and Siene River Cruise.  It was incredibly exhausting, but we wouldn't have had it any other way!

Myself, Julia and Jess at the Sienne River

Julia, Jess, Amanda and me at the Lourve

As a mix of D&M and Graphic Design majors, all of us loved and appreciated the art, museums, and architecture that surrounded us in Paris.  On Sunday, we spent time at the Eiffel Tower and Montmartre.  Montmartre is a wonderful, hidden gem in Paris that is quite a hike up steep streets from the Eiffel Tower.  It is a little neighborhood with small caffes, restaurants, boutiques, and sidewalk artists painting scenes of their beautiful city.  Montmartre is built on winding, narrow, cobblestone streets and filled with plenty of locals.  A must see for anyone visiting Paris!

Jess, Julia, Kelcie and I in Montmartre

Visiting Paris with my friends has definitely been one of my favorite weekends of this experience, and I hope a lot of you can find time to get there too!




As many of you have studied in Prague, Czech Republic. I finally found time to visit! It is honestly a gorgeous and historical city. Even though I was only there for 4 days, I still wanted to be there for a bit longer. I had a personal tour guide, which was a fellow D&M: Courtney Denton. From her studies she was able to show me particular places, for instance, the art deco building that says "Praha." The location I stayed with my friend was near Old Town Square, which was very convenient to everything! In the square there were street performers, street vendors, and the astronomical clock. We went to multiple areas that overlooked the city, which are Lena Park and Petrin. They peaceful areas to just relaxed and sit back to soak in the city. To the left is a picture of me trying to listen to the singing fountain in Queen Anne's Pleasure Palace.
                  IMG_4594 IMG_4640
Aside from the historical parts of city, there are awesome leisure places to visit, such as their verison of a beach, and biggest dance club in central Europe. Below are pictures of the beach, Courtney and I at the Ice Bar in the dance club. It was a nice balance of history and fun when visiting Prague! Honestly, I would go back, since I had an great memorable time. The city is cute, and quiet, when comparing to London. London still hasn't grown on me at all, and I will be leaving the program this weekend to go back home to the states!

The Charles Bridge

The time has finally come- this week marks my last few days in Prague! Our program officially ended about three weeks ago, but those weeks and even the past two months have absolutely flown by. I'm exceptionally grateful to have had to opportunity to travel beyond the borders of the Czech Republic to Rome, Budapest, Berlin, and Vienna just this past weekend. I've hosted several friends and been able to play tour guide, testing the knowledge I've obtained over my classes this summer. I think my architecture instructor would be proud of the way I can rattle off hallmarks of the Art Nouveau style as exhibited in Prague architecture. That being said, I'm ready to move on to my next adventure, one that will take me to Amsterdam, Paris, and London! Before I leave I'll have three days to show my friend, who I will be travelling with, highlights of the city, and our first stop will likely be the Charles Bridge.

The Charles Bridge is one of Prague's most iconic structures. The bridge was initiated by King Charles IV to replace a previous bridge that was destroyed when the Vltava River flooded. Crossing the bridge will take you from just outside of Old Town over the river to Mala Strana, or Lesser Town. The bridge was originally designed in the Gothic style, elements of which can be seen in the three towers that rise up at either end. The 30 statues that now decorate the sides of the bridge are all replicas that have replaced the damaged originals.

The bridge is a magnet for tourists and therefore a magnet for vendors. The artists and street performers you'll find there all have a document on display that serves as permits, and the Charles Bridge Artists Association is a "civic non-profit organization" that works to "preserve Charles Bridge's traditional atmosphere of an open-air gallery."

The bridge is crowded most hours of the day, and even if you visit the bridge in the early hours of the morning you'll find a choice few wandering across the stones. My favorite time to go, mostly for the sake of photographs, is just before the sunset. The crowds have usually dwindled and the light is stunning.

I won't miss the hoards of tourists who wander into my frames, bump into my shoulder, or stop abruptly to take pose-y vacation photos, but maybe once I'm gone those aspects will fall to wayside and I'll miss the historic atmosphere and old-world charm.