luggage stuffing

Packing for Europe 101

By Tiernan Cutler

Packing Guide_FbPINNED

1. Rainboots/Jacket
Fall is the rainy season, and there’s no better way to stomp through puddles as you explore Europe!

2. Peanut Butter
Bring all things peanut butter–it exists in Europe, but in the smallest, most expensive form.

3. Football
Looking to toss one around on the beach? Well, you won’t be able to find a football over here. While soccer balls are abundant, your classic football is a little harder to find.

4. Adapters
You can never have too many of these. Skip the big converters and just stock up on the simple adapters.

5. Tobasco
For those who love to spice up their food, you’ll be hard-pressed to find your trusty Tobasco bottle on this side of the Atlantic.

6. Pocket External Charger
While you’re busy making your friends back home jealous with your constant stream of Instagrams and Snapchats, we can guarantee your phone will be dying quickly. Don’t let that happen.

7. Tide-to-Go Pen
We’re in the land of 3 hour dinners, spaghetti on the reg, and flowing red wine. Aka, the land of spillage.

8. Salad Dressing
Bottom line: salad dressing doesn’t exist here.

9. Wedges
The Italian women might be able to strut in stillettos, but cobblestones are trickier than they look. Save yourself the embarrassment of the faceplant and pack wedges.

10. Mac n’Cheese
You’ll be exposed to the best cheese in the world, but after 1 month you’ll get that itch for a taste of home.

11. Personal Makeup
Make sure to stock up on your favorite beauty products, otherwise you’ll get stuck buying everything for exorbitant prices.

12. Deodorant
If you have a favorite brand of deodorant, good luck finding it over here, especially you boys.

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The Best Cell Phone Apps for Your Study Abroad Semester

By Endsley Eggert

We’re all on our phones anyway, so might as well use them to aid in our travel experience. Below are some of the travel apps that I have found and used over the years. From flights, to packing, to city maps and even first aid, these smartphone apps will ensure you are well prepared to enjoy your trip(s) to the fullest.


GateGuru: Have a long layover and need to find some way to kill the time? GateGuru will become your best friend. Input your itinerary and let GateGuru do the rest. You’ll receive information about your check-in terminal, weather at the airport, terminal and gate arrival/departure information, flight status, estimated TSA security wait times, airport food and amenity information (did you know that San Francisco International Airport has a yoga room?), and airport maps and tips to help you navigate an unfamiliar airport. Free on Android, iOS, and Windows Phone.


easyJet: We all love to fly this cheap airline, well maybe not love but we do love the prices! And they just made it easier. You can search, book and manage your flights all in the palm of your hand. Free on iOS.


Ryanair: Search cheap flights right on your iPhone and manage your bookings. You’re able to check-in for your flights and get your mobile boarding pass direct to your phone so you don’t have to worry about finding a printer! Free on iOS.


Skyscanner: Skyscanner helps you find cheap flights with just a couple of clicks! They help you compare millions of flights and hundreds of airlines in seconds. When you’ve found your perfect flight, they will link you to the airline so you can buy directly and get the best deal. Free on Android and iOS.


Sleep Sounds HQ: If you’re like me, you absolutely cannot sleep in silence. Maybe your years of urban living have made you accustomed to fall sleep to the sound of honking cars, or you have been conditioned to sleep with a Sound Machine from Hammacher Schlemmer (thats me). Sleep Sounds HQ to the rescue! There are more than 600 natural and city sounds for travelers who need more than a bed to get to sleep. Search sounds from their 19 categories including ocean, cricket & insects, fire, public places and household. I am all about the White Noise. $1.99 on iOS.

sleep sound

Jetlag Genie: This app is here to help you battle jet lag! Input travel dates, destinations, and usual sleeping times and it will generate a personalized alarm clock to help you get settled in your new time zone. $2.99 on iOS.

jetlag genie

Entrain: Entrain is another alarm clock for jet-lagged travelers. It was developed by researchers from University of Michigan and includes a lighting schedule to recommend some darkness during the day or some hours of bright light to help you overcome jet lag. Free on iOS.


SafeTrek: If you find yourself in a potentially unsafe situation, the SafeTrek button could be your lifeline. Feeling uncomfortable walking home from the bar? Hold the SafeTrek button until you feel safe. If nothing unexpected happens, input your unique 4-digit pin. If a situation takes a turn for the worse, simply let go of the safe button and the police will be immediately notified. Free on Android and iOS.


Hopstop: Hopstop provides public transport information covering more than 68 of the world’s biggest metropolitan hubs. You are only a few taps away from a stop-by-stop itinerary. Free on Android, iOS, and Windows Phone.



PackPoint: PackPoint will help you never forget anything again! This intelligent packing list will build your perfect list based on length of stay, weather of your destination, and any activities planned during your trip. Free on Android and iOS.


Sunscreen: I think this app was made for me, the pasty white girl who only gets burned… Input your skin type and the SPF of your sunscreen and this app will set a countdown timer on when you’re due to put on a second coat. It even takes the UVI rating of your current location into account. Free on iOS.


Onavo: I’m not exactly sure how this app works but all I know is that it does and I’m not complaining! Once installed, Onavo will reduce the amount of data required to post your perfect picture of pizza to Instagram or share your thoughts on Facebook. It will also keep your parents happy when the next phone bill comes in the mail. Free on Android and iOS.


TravelSafe Pro: A database of all emergency service numbers for almost every country you visit. Embassy details, access to police, ambulances and more. $0.99 on Android and iOS.

travel safe pro

SitOrSquat: Yes, this app is exactly what it sounds like. With a list of almost 95,000 bathrooms worldwide, this app tells you whether a toilet is open or closed and if they have hand dryers, stalls, or single rooms. When you got to go, you got to go! Free on BlackBerry and iOS.


WeatherPro: Up-to-date weather reports so you can make sure you’re never caught without an umbrella. $2.99 on Android, iOS and Windows Phone.


Wi-Fi Finder: Don’t want to use data to upload your perfect picture of pizza? Fire up this app and follow the directions to your nearest wifi source. The offline mode allows you to download maps before you go so you don’t have to worry about a massive cell phone bill and angry parents. Free on Android and iOS.

wifi finder

Pocket First Aid & CPR from the American Heart Association: While you will hopefully never have to use this app, it could come in handy in case of an emergency. Pocket First Aid guides you through tough medical situations with images and videos. From allergic reactions to snake bites to electrical burns, you will be prepared for any situation. You can even customize a profile with your emergency contacts, medications, and any other important information. $3.99 on Android and iOS.

pocket first aid


Converter+ by TranCreative: There are many converter apps out there but this is the one I use. Not only does Converter+ help me with currency or weight conversions to make sure my luggage isn’t overweight, it also comes with many calculators like mortgage, loan, tip, or fuel consumption. Free on Android and iOS.


Venmo: Splitting the bill can get tricky so have one person pay and venmo your owed portion with a click of a button. Venmo links to your bank account and you can send money back and forth between other users. I use it almost daily to give my roommate rent money or pay my boyfriend back for groceries. The money you receive goes into your Venmo credit that you can then use to pay someone else. Or “Cash Out” to have the money go right back into your bank account.  Free on Android and iOS.


Xe Currency: This app not only provides an accurate currency conversion but also provides the historic rates for the currency. This app can be used offline. Free on Android and iOS.

xe currency

Tipulator: Tipulator doesn’t just help the mathematically challenged figure out how much to tip, but also takes in account the acceptable tipping etiquette of your location. Free on iOS.


Mint: Mint will help you keep to your budget while you’re traveling. You can access your bank accounts, credit cards, investments, and other financial data all in one place so you can keep track of your spending. Free on Android and iOS.




Discrepancies: Italy vs. the U.S.

  1. While most adult Americans wake up at the crack of dawn, go for a morning jog, read the paper, read their emails, eat breakfast and do whatever else in the time span of 5:30am-8:30am before leaving for work and starting their day at 9:00, Italians do not. Many places of business in Italy open later than they do in the U.S, giving the day a later start. The working/corporate world of Italy is incredibly chill to say the least.
  2. Since the day starts later, and people move through life at a more relaxed pace in Italia, it definitely goes without saying that everything else is timed later in Italy than in the U.S and everything else moves slower in Italy than in the U.S. Exhibit A: Italians eat dinner around 9:00 sometimes later, while we Americans eat at times ranging from 6:00-8:00.
  3. Italians, and most other Europeans, know about the politics of other countries and the countries surrounding them. Many Americans barely know about their own politics.
  4. Number one thing I wondered the entire time I was in Europe: what is the European fascination with Pringles. They’re arguably one of the worst American snack foods (sorry everyone, but we have some much better prospects). It’s so bizarre to me, but it’s also incredibly embarrassing that Italians and Europeans seem to think that Pringles are God’s gift to Earth, when most of the Americans I know do not. The same goes for fast food restaurants.
  5. A main issue that the U.S has that Italy does not is the one of overindulging in pretty much everything. Booze, food, caffeine, material items, you name it. It’s a lot of the reason they dislike Americans so much, aside from the next discrepancy.
  6. Americans are so ridiculously loud. Traveling in Europe, it was never difficult to identify a stereotypical American because not only were they probably wearing shorts and sandals, but they were also speaking ten notches above a normal level.
  7. Americans wear shorts and sandals, Italians do not.
  8. The first thing I want when I wake up in the morning is a Venti coffee. First thing I think about. You can’t find that in Italy. Italians definitely judge Americans for their caffeine intake as well as the invention of iced coffee, which is few and far between in Italy. When you do find it, it’s usually pretty gross.
  9. Italians eat croissants for breakfast; Americans eat deliciously satisfying egg sandwiches.
  10. Italians are die-hard soccer fans, baseball the second slowest sport to golf, is the American pastime.

10 Reasons Why You Should Pick Up and Move to Greece

1. Gyros: If heaven in a pita isn’t enough reason to pack your bags and head to Greece, then I don’t know what is.  For prices lower than the dollar menu at your local fast food joint, you can get a hot pita filled with shaved meat, tomatoes, onions, french fries, and of course a healthy dollop of tzatziki sauce. The only question is, why stop at one when you can have two?


2. Toga parties: A trip to Greece is a perfect excuse to finally recycle your sheets and dress like the Greek Gods for a night. Just make sure to Youtube some toga tying techniques beforehand, because shockingly, it’s not as easy as it looks.  


3. Original Marathon: Marathons have been growing in popularity and come in all shapes and forms these days; you can end up covered in paint, face all sorts of muddy obstacles, and even adorn yourself with glow sticks for a night version of these runs. So why not go to the place where it all started and give thanks for the opportunity to dedicate months of sweat and tears for the unbeatable adrenaline rush that comes along with running a marathon.


4. Feta: “The feta is better.” Though you kind of have to say this with an accent for it to actually rhyme, the statement could not be more true. Whether you eat it on a greek salad or simply on its own, this crumbly cheese is lifechanging.


5. Jewelry:  Greece has some really phenomenal jewelry; what with evil eyes adorning everything from rings to bracelets and beautiful lava rock necklaces in Santorini, you really can’t go wrong.  So head to Greece, get that credit card out, and ice yourselves


6. Blue water: You know those pictures that come as a standard desktop on just about every computer since their invention in the 1800s- the ones showing unbelievably blue water you never thought actually existed? Well, in Greece it actually does. Without Instagram filters.


7. Santorini:  Whose Facebook cover photo couldn’t use a little revamping? Become a model for a day with Santorini as your backdrop. Here, beautiful white houses line the cliff sides with an occasional blue roof or splatter of vibrant  color brightening up the horizon.


8. Greek People: If the landscape and the food aren’t haven’t convinced you yet, the people of Greece are enough of a reason to come visit this country. The people are friendly, happy, and enjoy a leisurely lifestyle that makes this country even more welcoming. Who knows, maybe you’ll find your very own Kostos.



9. History: Remember when you had to read the Odyssey in middle school? Well, that’s just part of the extensive history of Greece. Here you can learn all about the tales of Zeus, Athena, Poseidon, and all the other Greek Gods you grew up learning about. Not to mention the remains of old architecture, like the Acropolis, parts of the original Olympic stadiums, and the Parthenon.


10. Island Hopping: There is no better place to try out that new bathing suit and go island hopping than Greece. There are dozens of islands to choose from including Ios, Mykonos, Corfu, and Milos; each one only getting more beautiful than the last. The only question is, why aren’t you already on a boat sailing around?


11. But honestly, 10 reasons don’t even begin to cover it…all of Greece is amazing!






Vino 101: Parte Uno

When in Rome, drink as the Romans do. And that means trying a lot of fantastic Italian wine. But unless you’re A) someone who was born and raised on a vineyard in Italy or B) someone who drinks wine for a living, navigating the world of Italian wine can be more than a little intimidating.

But never fear! In this multi-part series on Italian wine, you’ll learn everything you need to know to release your inner-sommelier (or at least pick out a bottle of wine in the grocery store for a reason other than its cool label).

Today we’re starting with one of the most easily spotted things on a wine bottle: its classification. On all (good) bottles of Italian wine, there are phrases and/or acronyms that signify the quality of the wine based on Italy’s standard method of categorization. Some are written on the label, some are placed on a sticker around the neck of the bottle, and some are stamped in a seal over the cork, but if you know what letters you’re looking for, you can learn a lot about a wine by its classification. These are the categories of quality:

Vino da Tavola (VdT): When you simply order “vino” at a trattoria, this is what you’re getting. “Vino da Tavola” translates to “table wine,” and it’s at the very bottom of the Italian wine totem pole. Made from an inexpensive mix of wines produced in different regions and possibly different years, VdT wines are essentially the Jungle Juice of the wine world.

Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT): As a slightly more refined Italian wine, IGT wines are a step up from VdT wines. In order to achieve IGT status, producers have to adhere to a general set of rules regarding the geographical origin of the wine. Still, IGT wines are often blends of several different kinds of grapes. If “How to Be a Great Wine” were a class, IGT wines would be taking it pass/fail.

Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC): The DOC status is where things start to get intense. As opposed to the loosely defined rules of IGT, DOC wines have some serious standards to live up to. The grapes in the wine must all be from a small and specific region in Italy in order to qualify. Taking the requirements even further, each region has its own set of DOC production rules designed to preserve the area’s wine-making traditions. If you’re looking for a quality wine, a DOC definitely won’t disappoint.

Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG): If a wine has achieved DOCG classification, it’s won the wine world equivalent of an Oscar. DOC requirements look wimpy next to those of DOCG. Not only do DOCG wines have to follow even more of the extremely specific regulations set by their region, they also have to be approved by a professional taste-testing panel and produced in very limited quantities. If you’re an aspiring wine snob, go straight for the DOCG wines.



Can’t-Miss Fall Concerts in Europe

If you’re like me, you can appreciate a good concert with great friends in your hometown. However, with the opportunity to study abroad in Europe comes the opportunity to see your favorite artists with your best friends in places like Paris, Amsterdam, Ibiza, London, and Prague… which really changes the game.


A couple can’t-miss concerts this Fall are pretty epic. Let’s start with the biggest and baddest one of all, Beyoncé and Jay-Z. With divorce rumors running wild throughout Hollywood, this could be your last opportunity to see them together live! Not to mention, the concert is in this tiny, strange city called… PARIS! So get your friends together and grab tickets to their last stop on the “On the Run Tour” in Paris, France.


Next on our list: None other than Lady Gaga. She’s currently touring all of Europe so you have multiple chances to see her! From Amsterdam to Prague, to London or Paris, she will be in Europe the entire time you are! Let’s cheers to running into her at a club somewhere, hopefully while she’s wearing a dress made entirely of raw meat.


Are you an EDM fan? How high does Hardwell rank on your list for DJs? For me, pretty high. If we’re on the same page, you absolutely cannot miss Hardwell in Amsterdam on October 16th.  Talk about a crazy time: not only are you experiencing the insane city of Amsterdam, you’re seeing one the biggest DJs of our time perform live. Oh and guess what, tickets are around €39. Done and done. While we’re on the topic of Amsterdam, another can’t miss concert is the Amsterdam Music Festival in October! The most incredible EDM festival in this city hands down.


Now lets talk about a place that’s been on everyone’s mind since J.Biebs “hit” Orlando Bloom: Ibiza. Whether you pronounce it “Ibiza” or “Ibitha” we can all agree that this place is unbelievable. With upcoming concerts like Ellie Goulding, Snoop Dog (Snoop Lion?), incredible DJ’s, and the opening and closing parties, this is the place to be this Fall. Check out some of the concerts here.


And finally, a tribute to my favorite city in the world: Barcelona. This is home to the greatest clubbing in Europe: Opium, Catwalk, Razzmatazz; I could go on forever. Along with these amazing clubs come awesome DJs gracing us with their music, pretty much every day of the week. (If you want to rage on a Monday, this is your city).

No matter where you go this Fall, if you’re a fan of music, make sure to see at least one of these concerts. This is just a tiny sampling, so make sure you do some research so you don’t miss any opportunities to see your favorite artists while living abroad!


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