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7 Ways to Cure Homesickness

By Marlee Newman

So…you are studying abroad in a brand new city thousands of miles from home with a bunch of people you hardly know. Every interaction is a combination of butchered Italian pronunciations and over the top charades and perhaps the most difficult thing of all … there are no cheez-its available to you.

Studying abroad brings with it unbelievable experiences, unforgettable memories, and a LOT of carbs. However, sometimes between the long train rides and hostels with only one inconveniently placed outlet… you start to miss home. Next time you get that unsettled feeling or just start to crave pumpkin spice lattes, try out these tricks to prevent homesickness.

  1. Eat some gelato:

The natural solution to most issues, but especially while in Italy, have a big, heaping cone of gelato. Not in Italy? Anything sweet will do the trick. The point is to treat yourself and just take a break. I bet you’ve never witnessed someone eating an ice-cream cone and frown on their face, have you? It is proven that eating dessert releases endorphins which make you happy! So hey, go get that double scoop, and turn your frown upside down.

  1. Try new restaurant:

One of the best ways to really explore your city and make it feel like home is to discover new “hole in the wall” restaurants. Team up with your roommates and put all of the places you’d like to try in a hat. Once a week pick out a new restaurant and go try it. Not only does food taste great, but it also often brings with it new experiences and people. Get out there and explore.

  1. Cook a big American breakfast:

I don’t think anything says home like some bacon, eggs and mimosas. One of the biggest adjustments moving to Europe is the difference in breakfast! We weren’t raised on dainty croissants and espresso shots… we we’re brought up eating bagel sandwiches and IHOP choco-chip pancake stacks. Breakfast is a big deal in America, and of course we all miss it, so why not make your own? If you’re running out of bagel sandwich ideas (HA!) try these out.

  1. Exercise:

Ok so just looking at that bagel sandwich list I think I gained 5 pounds. Which brings us to our next coping mechanism… exercise! It’s proven that exercise is nearly as good for your head as for your body. Take a run around your city or do some yoga in the park. Not only do you get a great workout and release more endorphins but you also get to observe day to day life in your city. Take in that constant smell of fresh pastries and watch the little European dogs that look like their owners. Silently chuckle at the tourists with their fanny packs and oversized maps and watch the sun setting over that important looking building you still haven’t visited. You’ll look back years (or even months) from now and miss these little things.

  1. Write down your thoughts:

Next time you’re missing home or having an overwhelming day go outside, sit in your favorite park and just write down what you’re thinking. Don’t worry about what it sounds like or if you spelled “coliseum” right, just let your thoughts flow. This is a great way to reflect and sometimes seeing your thoughts on paper is all it takes to process them and feel less overwhelmed.

  1. Reach out to loved ones:

Sometimes no amount of gelato scoops or bacon will work and you just need to talk to mommy. There are so many great phone apps for keeping in touch with those back home, it’ll feel like they’re there with you! Here are some of the best apps out there for communicating back home.

Skype
Facetime
Postagram (send a picture straight from your phone to your family’s mailbox in postcard form)
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Whatsapp
Viber

  1. Meditate:

The purpose of mediation is to focus on the present moment. Sometimes we get so caught up thinking about the past or the future we don’t get to enjoy the moment were in which for most of us studying abroad is a pretty cool moment! Meditation gives us that big picture perspective we often need. Check out these iphone apps to guide your own mediation.

 

 

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Europe_Backpack

How to Pack for a Week in a Backpack

Fall break is fast approaching and you’re about to take Europe by storm in 10 days or less. 10 days, countless cities, and just one backpack to tote around with you for the entire trip. Before you insist it’s impossible, read on about how a single backpack can successfully supply you with a 10 day wardrobe and all of your essentials.

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First things first, find the perfect backpack. This is not the time to resurrect your purple L.L. Bean backpack from second grade that is monogrammed with your initials (side note: it’s okay to be guilty of owning one of these in the 90’s/early Millenium – all the cool kids did).

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A good North Face or EMS backpack with multiple pockets and compartments will keep you plenty organized and give you tons of space.

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Equally as critical as the right bag is making sure to do your research. Don’t even open your closet until you’ve checked the weather in each city you’re going to be traveling to. Once you’ve made a mental list of everything you think you might need, cut that in half. We realize you aren’t familiar with the term “packing light”, but contrary to what Kate Sanders says, you CAN be an outfit repeater.

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Here are a few critical pieces that will help you get by:

  1. One pair of jeans.
  2. Two pairs of leggings (one for touring, one to wear while you travel).
  3. A few shirts, and a couple warm sweaters.
  4. An extra sweater/sweatshirt for traveling days.
  5. Two neutral scarves.
  6. One additional pair of comfortable shoes.
  7. Shower shoes.

Wear as many heavy pieces of clothing as possible to avoid packing them. If you want to bring boots, wear those on your bus/train/flight along with your bulkiest sweater, jacket or vest.

Alternatively, if you’re headed somewhere warm like Greece, your job is even easier. Summer clothes and flip flops are going to suit you just fine and are a lot less bulky than traditional fall clothing. That said, you don’t need a different bathing suit for each day of the week.

  1. Two bathing suits will do just fine.
  2. One or two sundresses that can also be used as cover ups.
  3. A maxi dress.
  4. A couple pairs of shorts/skirts.
  5. Three or four shirts.
  6. An extra pair of sandals.
  7. A sweater just in case the temperature drops a bit at night.
  8. Something comfortable to travel in.
  9. A towel.

Most importantly, try and leave the “What if” outfits at home. As in, “What if I need my bandage dress and black pumps for the pub crawl one night?” Or, packing something because you “might need that shirt”. Hint: you won’t. Along the same lines, be strategic about things that you think are essential. Check whether or not your accommodations supplies things like towels and whether or not you need to waste space in your bag for that. When packing things like make-up and toiletries, be conscious of what you are actually going to need. Pick up small carry on bottles that you can put hair products, lotions, face wash etc. into – this is especially necessary if you will be flying in between destinations.

Lastly, make a list of everything you are bringing before you go so that you know what will be in your bag. When packing, make sure to roll your clothes instead of folding them in order to conserve space. It may seem like a daunting task, but if you follow the above guidelines, you can easily pull of a week’s worth of supplies in a single backpack and still look great for your abroad Instas and new profile pictures. Good luck & happy travels!

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30 Thoughts You Have During a Wine Tasting

By Julia Treible

  1. Am I going to get to stomp on grapes barefoot like in that “I Love Lucy” episode?
  2. I mean, the Kardashians got to do it… so I probably will too, right?
  3. Wait, maybe that’s a bad idea. What if I fall like that woman on Fox News?
  4. I’m going to be such a wine connoisseur after today.
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  5. My friends at home are going to be so impressed.
  6. Wow this vineyard is beautiful! And who knew there were so many different types of grapes?
  7. …Has he seriously been talking about grapes for 30 minutes now? Can I get a glass of wine already?!
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  8. Sniff the wine? …Okay, if you say so.
  9. I’m supposed to be smelling “hints of tar, blackberry, and chocolate?” …am I missing something?
  10. Why would you ever want me to spit out perfectly good wine?
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  11. Ew, I don’t like this one. Can we open bottle number 2?
  12. This literally tastes exactly the same as the last bottle.
  13. Do all of these people seriously notice a difference? There’s no way… they’re definitely lying.
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  14. Whatever, I’ll just pretend that I can tell the wine is “oaked and earthy”
  15. Oh my god, that boy in the apron is so cute.
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  16. I wonder if he’s an heir to the winery?
  17. Does he have a girlfriend? I definitely need to marry into this family.
  18. Oh my god is he looking at me?! I’ll just smile and act casual.
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  19. ….my teeth are stained red aren’t they?
  20. That was so embarrassing. I need another glass of wine.
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  21. Am I allowed to pour my own wine?
  22. Ugh I can’t remember… am I supposed to sniff then swish or swish then sniff?
  23. Is there a limit to how much wine we can have?
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  24. Not fair, that girl over there definitely had more than me. Maybe I’ll just have one more glass.
  25. Wine is made from grapes, and grapes are fruit, and fruit is good for you.
  26. Today I learned how to appreciate good wine. And how to drink and be classy at the same time.
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  27. That quote on Tumblr really is so true. “Life IS too short to drink bad wine”
  28. I’m definitely buying a bottle for myself. And one for my parents. And probably some for my friends at home.
  29. Wait this bottle costs how much?! I can get a liter of boxed wine for 1 euro at the market…
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  30. …Where can I get gelato?
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AmsterdamBlog

10 Things to Do in Amsterdam Besides Go to a Coffee Shop

After wrapping up my semester abroad back in 2012 I did a little bit of traveling with my sister. We were in Budapest when we met a couple of middle-aged European women. They were intrigued by my travels and asked me what my favorite and least favorite places I traveled to were. Favorite? Split, Croatia. Least favorite? Amsterdam. After a couple discomforting facial expressions from my new friends, they blurted out that they were from Amsterdam. Talk about awkward. After laughing it off, they asked what I did while I was there. Before I could respond they started to guess. “Coffee Shops?” they guessed. I nodded yes, and before I could validate my point they responded with “That’s not Amsterdam”.

This encounter always stuck with me. So when I moved back to Europe and found myself in Amsterdam again, I decided to try see Amsterdam with different eyes. Needless to say, Amsterdam is now hands down my favorite city in the world. Here are 10 things to do in Amsterdam besides go to a coffee shop:

1. Go Shopping: Whether you’re looking for quaint high end boutiques or second hand shops, Amsterdam has everything. From hipster one-of-a-kind t-shirt shops to street markets and bazaars, there is no doubt you’ll find plenty of treasures in Amsterdam.

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2. Take a canal tour: Did you know Amsterdam has more canals than Venice? Enjoy a unique perspective of the city by hopping on a canal tour. The row-house-lined blocks of the city will surely amaze you.

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3. Ride bikes through Vondelpark: Bike riding is a lifestyle in Amsterdam, however, you may be getting in over your head if you try and hop right into the public bike lane which can have more traffic than a typical road. Spend some time cruising through Vondelpark. Stress free and so beautiful!

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4. Take a Day trip to the Keukenhof Gardens: About 30 miles southwest of Amsterdam is the small village of Lisse, home to the Keukenhof Gardens. In March, you can find miles and miles of artfully planned tulip gardens, like something out of a fairytale.

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5. Explore the food scene: Maybe you’re studying in Italy, where you’re up to your eyeballs in pasta and pizza, or France where you consume baguettes and French onion soup daily. You’re probably ready for some variety in your diet. (Cue harps and holy music). Amsterdam has anything your heart desires. From the best falafel you’ll ever eat, giant sized pancakes, and even sushi!

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6. Grab a beer with a view.

Because, wow.

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7. Learn about the red light district: Sure, you may have heard that prostitution is legal in Amsterdam, but do you know why or how this came about? Educate yourself, and you may be surprised about how you feel afterwards.

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8. Go to a concert: Amsterdam has a surprisingly cultivating music scene. There’s always a big headliner performing in Amsterdam. Cough Cough….Beyonce and Jay-z.

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9. Visit Anne Frank’s House. If you didn’t already know, the house Anne Frank and her family spent years of hiding in, is located right in the center of Amsterdam. Relive a humbling part of world history by touring the four walls that birthed The Diary of Anne Frank.

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10. Check out the Van Gough Museum: Even if you know absolutely nothing about art, you’ll recognize something in the Van Gough Museum. Surprise your folks back home by doing something cultural in Amsterdam.

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Europe Through Movies: Italian Edition

By Endsley Eggert and Courtney Gallant

One way to explore Europe is through cinema. Our first stop? Italy! Let’s travel North from Southern Italy as we check out these movies to get a glimpse of the beautiful Tuscan countryside, canal-lined streets of Venice, the architecture of Rome and much, much more!

The Godfather (Sicily, Italy)

The aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty transfers control of his empire to his reluctant son. Discover the incredible Sicily with the most powerful family in the business in The Godfather.

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The Lizzie McGuire Movie (Rome, Italy)

It’s a dream come true to visit the ‘Eternal City’ of Rome but even more of a fairytale for Lizzie McGuire who bears a striking resemblance to Italian teen pop star, Isabella. Lizzie and her friends have a whirlwind adventure through the ancient churches and basilicas, grand Roman monuments, and graceful fountains because of Lizzie’s newfound fame. They bring a new meaning to “When in Rome…”

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Gladiator (Rome, Italy)

Visit Rome in the height of the Roman Empire: gladiators, emperors, and chariots galore. Russell Crowe takes us back in time as he seeks revenge on the betrayal of a Roman general, his murdered family, and the emperor’s corrupt son in Gladiator.

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Roman Holiday (Rome, Italy)

Joe Bradley, an American newspaper reporter stationed in Rome, finds a girl fast asleep on a public bench. He takes her back to his apartment, unaware that she is Princess Anne who has just escaped from her boring and sheltered life. Fall in love with Rome as Joe and Anne fall in love with each other in Roman Holiday.

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To Rome with Love (Rome, Italy)

Get to know the romantic city of Rome on a personal level through the intertwining stories of a worker, architect, young couple and opera director. Following the lives of visitors and residents of Rome through their romances, adventures, and predicaments will leave you feeling right at home in To Rome with Love.

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Angels & Demons (Vatican City, Italy)

The Holy City is under attack by the secret brotherhood, the Illuminati. Gain access to restricted areas of Vatican City when we follow Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) as he deciphers clues to a catastrophic conspiracy. Race through hidden passageways, read in the Vatican Secret Archives, and try to save the lives of the four preferitti in Angels & Demons.

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Eat Pray Love (Rome and Naples, Italy)

Elizabeth Gilbert, played by Julia Roberts,  travels to Italy, India, and Indonesia on a journey to find herself again in Eat, Pray, Love. Elizabeth spends the first 4 months of her trip regaining her love for food. And what better place to do that than in Italy? Not only will this movie make you want to take the next train to Rome or Naples, but it will have you salivating as well.

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Under the Tuscan Sun (Tuscany)

A struggling writer, Frances Mayes, decides to buy an old villa in Tuscany that matches her shambled life. Through restoring her new home, she eventually finds the fulfillment she was longing for. Take a journey through the beautiful Tuscan countryside in Under the Tuscan Sun. The charming low hills covered in olive groves, vineyards, and beautiful old villas will have you running to the nearest realtor so you can move into one yourself.

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The Tourist (Venice, Italy)

Venice is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful cities. Tourists flock from all over the world to take a gondola ride through the canals, visit the glass blower’s’ shop and relax in Piazza San Marco. Experience Venice as never before through this high-speed, action-filled movie of one tourist in the right place, at the wrong time. Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, and a band of Russian mobsters guarantee a heart stopping view of Venice in The Tourist.

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The Italian Job (Venice, Italy)

Did The Tourist leave you wanting more high-speed action in Venice? Never fear: Mark Wahlberg and Donald Sutherland are here! They’ve assembled a team for one last gold heist of $35 million in gold bars. Race through the canaled streets of Venice in The Italian Job.

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The Talented Mr. Ripley (Sanremo and Venice, Italy)

There are a couple things Mr. Tom Ripley is really good at; lying, impressions, and forgery. Travel to Venice and Sanremo in the 1950’s with Matt Damon, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Cate Blanchett in The Talented Mr. Ripley. The young underachiever, Tom Ripley, is sent to Italy to retrieve a rich and spoiled millionaire playboy named Dickie Greenleaf. Ripley’s errand fails and he must take extreme measures.

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Letters to Juliet (Verona, Italy)

Get a glimpse of the city that inspired William Shakespeare and the classic story of Romeo and Juliet through Letters to Juliet. Amanda Seyfried plays Sophie, a girl who dreams of being a writer. During her vacation to Verona, Sophie stumbles into the “Secretaries of Juliet” who take down love letters written underneath Juliet’s balcony and respond with advice and comfort. As we follow Sophie and the Secretaries through the Roman ruins, medieval vestiges, and antique palaces, squares and bridges, it will be love at first sight.

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How to Transition to Life in an Italian Apartment

Of all the glamorous things you’ll do and experience abroad, living in an Italian “flat” probably won’t be one of them. Unless you lucked out and were placed in the apartment that your program advertises on their website, read the following and you’ll be transitioning to your new life in no time. First and foremost, as a general rule, everything in your Italian apartment is probably going to be smaller than your home in America. It’s unclear whether Italians enjoy showering in a space equivalent to that of a sardine can, but it’s something that will definitely take some getting used to. You’ll quickly learn that your 20 minute showers are not only unnecessary, but not that relaxing when you start getting claustrophobic after minute 5. This applies to personal space as well. If you have an apartment with seven people, you are probably going to be squished into a room with four of them which means you and your new roomies will become BFFLS in no time! We know it’s a confusing lifestyle change, but we promise you’ll adjust. The contrast in size from your American kitchen to your Italian kitchen is also a major cultural difference. With the average kitchen being about the width of a small hallway, you will most likely be able to fit one, max two, human beings in there at the same time. Plan accordingly because overcrowding can result in broken plates, broken toes and pissed off roommates. Your Italian kitchen will also be much less equipped with conveniences you are used to in America such as a dishwasher, garbage disposal, self-lighting stove, and there usually isn’t a microwave. Cue: What does this mean? You’ll take out the trash a lot more often, usually have a stack of dishes taking up residency in your sink, and get used to cold leftovers. The plus side is it may just motivate you to clean your apartment more frequently….maybe. Doing laundry is another chore that Italians do a bit differently than Americans. Most apparent is that dryers are not commonplace in Italian apartments and they dry their clothes the old fashioned way, on a clothing line. You’ll probably have to get used to your clothes being a bit stiffer than usual and girls, if you rely on your dryer to make your jeans tighter once they stretch out, visit your local laundromat (although if you’re doing Italy right then you probably don’t want to shrink your jeans anymore…). Exhibit A: Your toughest struggle living in an Italian apartment? Wifi. Almost every apartment will have it, but that doesn’t mean it will be reliable. Italians do not seem to possess the same constant need for virtual connection and interaction that we as Americans have become somewhat addicted to. This means that within the first week, you’ve learned the exact corner of your apartment that you need to huddle into to talk to your parents on Viber, and the perfect position to hold your ipad in so that you can catch up on Game of Thrones, House of Cards and Scandal. It can be tricky, but we have faith in you that you will adjust to this life altering cultural difference. After all, we all know how this feels There is obviously a trade-off however, of “roughing it” and that is that you’re living it ITALY. You will rarely spend a long span of time in your apartment anyway. When you’re living in a country as beautiful as Italy with as much to offer, you should be going out and experiencing everything possible and not trying to figure out how to download a proxy server that allows you to watch Netflix. As long as you keep this in mind, you will learn to accept, and even come to love, your new little Italian home in no time!

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Bus2alps Make it Rain Sale

In Europe, the hint of crispness in the air and leaves changing colors signal more than a shift in seasons; it means new places to explore! Bus2alps wants to help you check off everywhere you want to go, so tonight, we’re making it rain. Don’t worry, no actual cloudy skies in sight–we’re just dropping discounts on our fall trips so you can save big and see it all!

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From 6 pm – 8 pm, tune into the Bus2alps Make it Rain Sale Facebook event for voucher code announcements to save you anywhere from 10€ to 300€. Every half hour, we’ll be releasing more discounts on trips everywhere from the French Riviera to Prague to Interlaken and more, not to mention Fall Breaks. You can see and book all our trips at www.bus2alps.com.

The vouchers are first come first serve and have limited uses, so be sure to check the event right away to snag the deals! Here’s when we’ll announce them:

Beach Trips (Rome & Florence Departures): 6 pm
Winter Trips (Rome, Florence, & Prague Departures): 6:30 pm
Fly-in Weekend Trips: 7 pm
Fall Breaks (All Departures): 7:30 pm

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These deals will be expire after Wednesday, so book fast to save big on your fall semester!

These voucher codes are valid in addition to staff discount codes for even more savings, so let us know if you need a discount code for an additional 5% off. 

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