Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

I see the light.

Time January 3rd, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Hello!

So I am officially getting ready to leave Europe. I have been here 3 months and 8 days…It has been quite the journey.

During this vacation I have seen some of the most beautiful parts of Europe. Munich was great, very laid back, and there is a Texan there that makes the best burrito’s at and good conversation haha (so go to Pure Burrito you wont regret it)! Paris was well…Paris. Paris and I have a love hate relationship. It is a little dirty and smells kind of funny, but it does have some beautiful parts to it as well though I’ve seen it 3 times now. Christmas just did not feel like Christmas there. And out of all the places and trips I have taken never have I walked so much in my life as I did in those 2 weeks.

Back to England!! Liverpool was so cool. It reminded me of Manchester which is another English city to add to my love list. Albert Dock is really pretty and the nightlife was some of the best I been in. Only downfall was my hotel mix up…that cost me $200…not a fan of Hampton by Hilton…just so expensive!!

I am currently in London. I spent New Years at the London Eye! The fireworks were epic and I will never forget that moment as the clock struck 12 in London…I never though I would get to be there and if I knew the aftermath I probably never would have went out. Too many crazy people!!

I do have a good feeling about this year though. No resolutions because I do not think those ever come true but I feel like this is going to be my year just because of how these last couple of days have played out. I met Daley today!! For those of you who do not know who that is hers a British R&B singer and I was devastated that I could not see his show in London in November. This morning I was having breakfast in SoHo with my friends and he walked in and I swear my heart stopped. My friend got his autograph for me because I was star struck but I eventually got a picture…talk about the start to a good year! Well I hope everyone’s holiday season was as good as mine! I will let you know how it feels to be back in the states in a couple of days!!

See you soon America!!

Dominique

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adventures during semana santa

Time May 7th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

This post is way long over due, but better something than nothing! 😀

During Semana Santa (March 30th-April 7th), some friends and I headed to Chile, where I had one of the most enjoyable and relaxing vacations of my life! I was obviously excited for the trip, but I had no idea how much fun I would have in Chile.  I learned so much from the culture, met incredible people, indulged in delicious food (seafood and sushi, YUM), and loved every minute of it. Everyone studying abroad in Argentina should head on over to Chile! Luckily for us in Mendoza, it’s only a 5-6 hour bus ride with some amazing views 😉

so many curves while crossing the andes

view from the bus ride

We spent two days in Santiago, trekking through the metro (and getting shoved in the process, there were a lot more people that weekend particularly because of the music festival), frequently treating ourselves to delicious gelato after long walks in Santa Lucia, trying pancho con palta + mote (national drink of Chile with peaches and rice, very sweet!), constantly buying water (urgh, that was annoying) and admiring the street art and architecture. The style of the buildings was something I noticed immediately. First off, it was very different from Mendoza, and second, the architecture reminded me of….Spain. I couldn’t really place a finger on it. The vibe of the city was also hard to characterize. There were many, many tourists and it was a relatively busy city, yet, the palm trees, artists casually sketching the scenery, and the local people sauntering by just gave Santiago a chill, sleepy vibe.

pancho con palta

architecture in the square

santiago

central administration

horses and police were everywhere!

so much color compared to mendoza

street art!

indulging in some delicious helado!

pretending we were at lolla

at the top of santa lucia

view from santa lucia

busy church for easter

After Santiago, we took a two hour bus to Vina del Mar. I was so taken back by the scenery during the ride! But then again, I don’t think I’ll ever stop talking about/get sick of the scenery here. Everything is just too beautiful :)

For the rest of the week, we walked around Vina then took a metro to Valparaiso (the transportation was so convenient!).  I was absolutely in love with these two cities…..we took the elevator to go up the steep hill so we could explore the fun, colorful houses that were stacked up on the hills. And of course, once we were at the top, the view was amazing. I could see the ships near the port, some people lounging by the ocean, and the stray dogs aimlessly sauntering in the streets…..I particularly liked the view from Pablo Neruda’s house. He could see everything from his room!

beach at vina

reloj de flores

elevator

houses along the beach

steep neighborhood

a sunny day in vina

The street art is another story. Calling it “graffiti” simply doesn’t do justice to the talent of the work. Walking around in Valparaiso was like receiving tickets to a free art exhibition.

Although I was in Chile for only a week, I feel like I got an authentic essence of the three cities I visited. Vina and Valpo, in particular, were two places that didn’t seem to be engineered toward tourists and so, I felt like I was exploring the true culture and dynamic of the city. I loved being able to talk to the people on the streets, striking up a conversation about various Chileans wines with a friendly man at the supermercado, and learning about the ascensors (elevators) from a nice woman while we we were waiting to go up to the cerros (hills). Needless to say, it was hard for us to leave.

favorite street art

piano stairs

colorful houses in valpo

valpo, the port city

another fave!

steep ride up

I was particularly drawn to Valparaiso. It felt like the people in Valpo really knew how to utilize every inch of space given to them! Every wall was adorned intricately and each building had its own character. The houses are all neatly  stacked on the mountains, with each cerro (hill) having a different reputation. Nothing was uniform in terms of design, but in the sense of aesthetic appeal, the buildings provided the eye with a homogenous pattern of colorful splashes of beauty. It was similar to Vina….yet I loved Valpo more. I felt as if I was walking into someone’s home, exploring their lifestyle and trying to adopt their habits as my own and make myself familiar with their ways. Everything was set in its original, functioning place and nothing was altered for the benefit of tourists. It was ridiculously convenient to hop on the metro from Vina to arrive in Valpo within minutes. I loved the transformation from a cool, unique port city into a crazy wild scene at night. Oh, Valpo.

I loved striking conversations with vendors, having people approach me out of genuine curiosity while I was waiting for a friend at the plaza, befriend other travelers, and walk up and down the long, steep hills (and award myself with delicious gelato after). The people here get their exercise (RIDICULOUSLY long stairs with many steps)!!! We took a free walking tour (I believe it was called Tours for Tips, there is also one in Santiago as well!) and we learned so much about the city! As we walked up and down the hills, I couldn’t help feeling sorry for the tourists “touring” the city on a bus; walking is the only way to get a real feel for the city! We passed by so many beautiful artwork (free exhibition!), got to talk to locals and eat some delicious cookies and swig some pisco sours. Not to mention, we met awesome Europeans on the tour, and we all went for DELICIOUS (and cheap) sushi afterward. Ahh. I’d missed sushi. In Mendoza, sushi/seafood is expensive, not THAT delicious, and I had to pay for chopsticks! Grr. The delicious and cheap seafood is something I’ll miss! It is truly a unique port city tucked away, and I could feel the immigrants’ presence from years before.

orgasmic sushi

Before we left, my friend and I deemed the one cent peso (un peso) cute, and thought it’d be a cute idea to give them away as souvenirs. (Maybe punch a hole in it to make a bracelet or keychain?) But since it is of so little value and rarely in use, we had a hard time finding a store that had those pesos. Strangely enough, a male cashier in a lingerie store ended up being able to trade 10 pesos for the ones we wanted. He thought our idea was funny.

slanted :)

so much valpo pride

color splashes

pablo neruda's house

Things we did not anticipate: the unreliability of buses. As it was getting closer for us to leave, I realized that I wanted to stay a little bit longer. But since we bought all of our tickets in advance (Vina–>Santiago–>Mendoza), I decided to just go along with the original plan. This was mistake #1. To my future self: make hostel reservations in advance, but if possible, buy tickets at the terminal of the destination once I have a better idea of dates/how much longer I want to stay. Because in reality, you meet friends and encounter places you want to spend more time exploring. Mistake #2 happened when the bus was 40-60 minutes late. Hence, we missed our bus from Santiago to Mendoza, and had to spend the night in Santiago. We also had to buy another set of tickets because the offices weren’t open early enough, and we didn’t want to risk waiting any longer. Luckily, the tickets were cheap, but this mistake could have been avoided. To my future self: don’t buy bus tickets in advance; be flexible with travel plans!!

On our way to Chile, we traveled at night, so I was comfortably asleep for most of the ride and the entry process was very efficient and quick, as there weren’t too many travelers. But since we were returning to Argentina during the weekend, amidst the peak traveling time, we ended up waiting at the border for three hours. I mean…..it didn’t feel that long, though. We made friends with the people (only four of us on the bus, haha) and was asked the popular question, “do you like Chile, or Argentina, better?”  😀 We waited a long time because the entry process consists of a bus driver registering every passenger on his bus. Lots of buses=lots of people=long time. But eventually, we got through and it wasn’t too bad, like I said. The mountains were breathtaking and we mostly sat around and relaxed.

vina, night time

I couldn’t  help but feel jealous of the many European students we met along the way, who were traveling the continent by themselves.  The freedom! The adventure! But then again, it’s wonderful to be back in Mendoza, and I’ll be going to Peru in two weeks!

sunset



 

 

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Becoming a World Traveler: From London to Italia

Time April 18th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

I always think that when I am out of classes I’ll have more time, but somehow I still manage to lose track of time. April has certainly been keeping me busy that’s for sure. I just got back from my trip to Italy, I have 4 essays due in the beginning of May, and my family arrives tomorrow for a week of London fun. I think part of the problem is that I am definitely still in vacation mode. But I am determined to get back on track, so here goes the catch up blog.

Italy was fantastic fun; I’m still smiling about it. It was exhausting, but I managed to conquer Rome, Venice, and Florence all in about a week (8 days).  Not alone of course, I was joined in this venture by a friend from home who is currently studying in Edinburgh.  She came down to London for a long weekend and we hit a bunch of touristy places along with my aunt who happened to also be in London at the same time. It was very busy, but a lot of fun and it was nice seeing some familiar faces. I even finally made it down to the Globe to see what it looked like. Next step—seeing Shakespeare performed there.

After our long weekend in London, my friend and I took a plane to Rome for a couple days and then a train to Venice and after a couple nights we took another train to Florence where we spent the remainder of our trip together. It was a lot of traveling, but it was definitely worth it. There were beautiful things to see everywhere in Italy and the weather was fantastic (though I was forced to spend 11 euros on sunblock, but such is the peril of fair skin in a sunny country). Although everywhere we went was beautiful and fun, Venice was probably my favorite place. Partly this was because I knew it was somewhere my boyfriend at home really wanted to visit, but mostly it was because it was just beautiful and calm there. Even though it was a busy city, the lack of vehicles combined with the water everywhere gave it a great atmosphere. We visited a couple of the islands while we were there and Burano was breathtaking. I wanted to spend the rest of my trip there. Alas, my train and hostel to and in Florence were already booked. But it was worth leaving for the view from the Campanile in the center of Florence and the wonderful scenery in Tuscany that I saw on a tour we took outside the city one day.  I definitely could have stayed in Italy much much longer, but knowing I was going back to London wasn’t too bad a feeling. I did miss it here. Although, I miss some of the food in Italy (We found a fantastic pizza place in Venice and the best pasta dishes in Florence. Let me know if you want recommendations). I’ve been eating school food and pasta since I got back (trying to salvage my budget lol).

The past week I’ve been slowly doing work on my essays (very very slowly), nothing really exciting there. I’m looking forward to the upcoming week with my parents, but I know that I’ll end up having to do some work because of my lack of progress this past week. Oh well. C’est la vie. I’m practicing my French for my family’s visit to Paris next weekend. So excited!

 

Cheers

Alyssa

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The Globe

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