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Mouthwatering Must-Try European Drinks

Studying abroad is all about stepping outside of your comfort zone and immersing yourself in new cultures…so why bother trying to deny that a signature cocktail is a vital part of any foreign culture? While in Europe, give up the usual rum and coke or vodka soda and try some of the delicious, creative drinks on the European menu! Live it up while you can because once you’re back in America all you will receive is a confused look when you try to order your new go-to beverage.

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1. Spritz
It’s spritz o’clock! No doubt you’ve already spotted this bright orange drink while out and about in Italy. The orange color comes from Aperol, adding a slightly bitter but addicting taste to the drink!

Ingredients:

  • 2 to 3 ounces Prosecco or any sparkling wine
  • 1 1/2 ounces Aperol*
  • Splash of soda water, sparkling water, mineral water, or Club Soda
  • Orange wedge or slice

2. Caipiroska & Caipirinha
These lime/sugar based drinks are traditionally Brazilian but are also extremely popular in Europe. If you have a sweet tooth, this drink packs a sugar/alcohol combo punch! Look for variations that feature strawberries, peaches, mangos, or any other kind of fruit.

How to make:

Cut up a lime into 8 wedges. Muddle the wedges in a rocks glass with sugar. Add vodka for caipiroska or cachaca (distilled Brazilian rum made of sugarcane juice) and top with ice. Stir and serve. Add different varieties of fruits for new flavors!

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3. Iced tea drinks
These creative and colorful twists on the Long Island Ice tea are a must try while in Europe–there is a different one for just about everyone out there!

Varieties:

Japanese tea, Passion tea, Alaskan tea, Miami tea

4. Dragoons
When in Florence, make sure to stop by Kikuya Pub in the central Piazza Santa Croce. The Dragoon Strong Ale is extremely popular and as the name suggests, very strong! You won’t find this beer anywhere else in town. Make sure to ask for a lollipop to dip in it!

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5. Negroni
This strong, bitter aperitif was invented in Florence back when Count Negroni asked the bartender to make his Americano stronger by adding Gin instead of soda water. Cheers to you if you can handle its extremely bitter taste!

Ingredients:

  • 1 ounce gin
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 1 ounce Campari
  • Slice of orange

6. Absinthe
The taboo on the “Green Fairy” in the U.S. has students running to sample this infamous spirit while in Europe! Science has proven the myth that absinthe makes consumers hallucinate to be untrue…maybe it’s just the extremely high concentration of alcohol (up to 95% in some kinds) that make absinthe drinkers get weird.

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7. Grappa
For the full Italian drinking experience, put on a brave face, ignore your screaming taste buds, and take a shot of Grappa! Made with distilled grape skins, this Italian brandy is most definitely an acquired taste.

8. Pimm’s No. 1 Cup
When in England, this fruit-and-spice-filled drink is a must try. The official drink of Wimbledon was invented in the 1800s in England. This drink is centered around Pimm’s liquor and can be served with or without gin. If you’re digging Pimm’s, make sure to try Pimm’s Cups 2-7 too!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2-inch thick English cucumber wheel
  • 1/2-inch thick lemon wheel
  • 2 ounces Pimm’s No. 1
  • 4 ounces 7UP, lemon-lime soda, or ginger ale
  • lemon twist

Summer Shandy

9. Shandy
Continuing with the UK theme, this drink places a British twist on beer. The Brits love a sweet taste with their beer and prefer to add either carbonated lemonade or sprite to it. Order a shandy in the U.S. and you might be met with a strange look.

10. Grapefruit and lemon beer
Is it beer or is it candy? The Croatians have mastered beer for those with a sweet tooth! Looking to rage? This might not be your best choice. This beer is more like a soda, with only 2% alcohol content.

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11. Sgroppino
This Italian cocktail is perfect for a summer day. Originally created in Venice, this dessert drink combines only the best ingredients: sorbet and champagne! Make sure to serve it immediately–otherwise it’ll melt!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chilled Prosecco (Italian sparkling white wine)
  • 2 tablespoons chilled vodka
  • 1/3 cup frozen lemon sorbet
  • 1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh mint leaves
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Off the Beaten Path in Prague

Prague is my favorite city in Europe; I spent a year living and working in this magnificent melting pot that is truly a fairy tale land of adventure. Each alleyway leads you to a stunning view or architectural masterpiece. Prague is the standard I use to compare other European cities and it still reigns as the champion of Europe. Great nightlife, affordable, rich history, beautiful architecture, friendly Czechs and great expat community makes Prague my favorite city in Europe.

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(Taken from my favorite terrace restaurant called Hotel Prince)

When most people visit Prague they normally marvel at Old Town Square, Astronomical Clock, Prague Castle, or take a stroll across the Charles Bridge. All these are the top places to see and I highly recommend going to them. But there are a few places you might of missed if you only had a few days. Below is a list of 6 places off the beaten path in Prague.

1.)  The John Lennon Wall

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This wall is famous for displaying free speech during communist time when the right to speak your mind wasn’t allowed. Currently, the wall displays some beautiful legal graffiti art. Make sure to bring a marker to sign your name or to leave a message. Although, this is still a semi popular spot for tourists, I think many pass it up accidentally since it is a tad hidden, but it is actually really close to the Charles Bridge. The John Lennon wall will always be a special place for me since it is where I created my Mother’s Memorial. Click here for the location.

2.)  Modern Art: Pissing Statue and Big Baby

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The art community is thriving in Prague and there is a lot of cool modern art to look at. If you head to the Lennon Wall there is a pretty nice modern art center nearby. If you want to see the pissing statues you can go here or head here for the BIG Babies. Both of these modern art pieces were made by a famous Czech artist, David Cerny. The black crawling babies are also found on Prague’s TV tower.

3.)  Underground Catacombs

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Prague was actually raised up one story due to flooding, so it is still possible to explore underneath the Old Town Square. You can take a short informative tour of the catacombs; just ask the information desk inside the Astronomical Clock building for the tour times. You can also find a great view of the city at the top of the Astronomical Clock Building.

4.)  Bone Church

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A church made completely out of human bones is located just 1 hour trip outside of Prague in Kutna Hora. The place is called Sedlec Ossuary and it is possible to take the train and see the church in a half-day. Honestly, there is not much else to see next to the bone church, but it is worth the trip to see this eerie chapel. Check out this blog for more information and for a few other activities in Kutna Hora.

5.)  Letna Park

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Czechs consume the most beer per person in the world. There are plenty of great spots to sit down, relax and enjoy a few pivos. One of my favorites is Letna Park which provides a stunning view of the city. For directions to Letna Park click here.

6.) Cross Club

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This place is crazy. The entire club, bar, café was designed from reused car parts and other crazy items. It is by far the trippiest place I have ever been to. You can go here during the day to enjoy food and coffee or come at night to rave out to some Drum and Bass or EDM. Here is the cross club website.

More stories and travel tips can be found on the SwigMeetsWorld travel site.

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Eleven handbag essentials for frolicking through Europe

When galavanting through Europe, it’s best to pack light. Even though dealing with the unexpected (both good and bad) is part of what makes traveling to new lands so exciting, you won’t want to wander the old continent without these 11 save-the-day items in your handbag. Most will help you avoid some sticky — some more literal than others — situations.

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1. Travel-sized tissue packs come in handy in more ways than one when traveling. Of course they’re great for a runny nose, but a lot of times bathrooms in Europe won’t have toilet paper, so these will be your on-the-go TP.

2. An empty (and durable) water bottle is essential if you want to stay hydrated and energized while you’re blissfully getting lost in new cities. Most restaurants in Europe will automatically bring you the bottled (and pricy) stuff when you ask for water, so it’s smart to keep an empty bottle on you and fill up in bathrooms or at fountains. If all else fails, you can ask a fast food joint to fill up your bottle from the tap, and most will oblige. This will save you a few pennies that can go towards that evening cocktail (or two) later.

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3. A scarf is not only oh-so European, but it has many practical purposes for travel, too. It can be used to layer up when the fickle European weather (especially in the UK and Ireland) decides to change from summer to autumn in a flash, and it can be used as a shawl to cover up in places requiring a bit more modesty (a prime example of this is the Vatican in Rome where your knees and shoulders have to be covered). If you’re going from a daytime jaunt to a night on the town and you don’t have much time to change, the right scarf can quickly dress up your outfit. It can also be used as a makeshift pillow on those long train journeys — just scrunch it up a bit and, as the French say … voilà!

4. Sunscreen, chapstick, and hand lotion are an essential trio you want to have on your side when traveling. When walking around outside all day (whether it’s sunny, cloudy, or even snowy), most people are bound to get a little pink, or maybe even crispy (for those fair-skinned wanderers out there). There’s nothing like a bad sunburn (or windburn) to zap all the energy out of you. Be proactive about it by not only applying sunblock before you head out, but by keeping it on you (just a small travel-sized bottle will do) to re-apply every so often. Chapstick and lotion, meanwhile, aren’t only other ways to keep your skin healthy when on the go, but you’d be surprised at how refreshing they are after a long day outside (especially in the wintertime).

5. A small combination lock is a great way to give yourself peace of mind, especially when leaving your bag at a hostel (or in a train station locker) while out exploring. Most hostels and hotels will allow you to leave your bag with them after checkout while you enjoy the final hours at your destination, but you never know who else has access to the storage area.

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6. A Tide to Go pen could be the difference between having those three or four outfits you carefully crafted using just a few pieces of clothing and being left with just one. Mixing and matching pieces to create new outfits is the best way to do it when traveling. So one stain (with all that mouthwatering pasta and pizza you’ll be eating in Italy, you’re bound to have a small spill!) can not only knock out one day’s outfit, but it could erase your whole wardrobe for the trip. A Tide to Go pen will get the stain out quickly, plus it’s easy to carry.

7. Cash and spare change are essential when frolicking through Europe, because a lot of places still don’t accept credit card (especially in Central and Eastern Europe). The change is for the public bathrooms, which usually charge a small fee (typically around 50 cents).

8. Face wipes, gum, and deodorant are one of those other trios you will want on your side. If you end up staying out and about later in the day and don’t have enough time to go back to your hostel or hotel before exploring the nightlife scene, these items are a quick and easy way to freshen up. What’s more, if you have them with your oh-so fashionable scarf, you’ll be ready to take the town by storm in a matter of 15 minutes!

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9. A bun maker is another one of those items that will help you shift easily from daytime casual to nighttime couture in a matter of minutes. And again, it’s light to carry. If you want to get fancy with your bun maker, try this.

10. Band-aids aren’t just for those unexpected boo boos, but they’re a great protector against those once comfortable shoes that all too often turn into torture devices when put to the traveler’s test. If you feel a blister coming on, stick a band-aid on the spot and it will at least slow down the process until you can slip into a more comfortable pair of shoes.

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11. A student ID card (or your old one if you’re no longer a student) is a great way to score on discounts that many European cities (especially Paris) offer to those under 26. A lot of times, places will accept any official ID proving you’re under 26 (not even necessarily a student), and then you’re all set for the discounted (or occasionally free) entry.

Have other essential handbag items for frolicking through Europe? Share them with us!

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What She Wore: Toga Edition

The Pink Palace in Corfu, Greece is known for its insane Pink Toga Parties. The togas didn’t only bring out the inner party animal in everyone, they brought out the inner fashionista, as well. Here are some of our favorites:

toga1Hannah Young, Maggie Blackmer, Chantal Roberts, Delaney Dillon, Katimae Bosscher, Janelle McLaughlin (The Sassy Six)
University: Central Michigan University
Outfit Inspiration: “We were inspired by Lily Pulitzer. Life is a party, dress like it. We wore pink to make the boys wink.”


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Devin Ehrlich
Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
University: Temple University
Outfit Inspiration: “Basically I tied mine as a strapless top just to make it different than everybody else’s and try something new. Pretty much channeled my high school prom dress.”

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Kara Cahill
Hometown: Tampa, Florida
University: University of South Florida
Outfit Inspiration: A new twist on the classic toga. I added the belt to give it shape.”

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How to Be Financially Prepared During Your Travels

You’ve finally arrived in the study abroad destination you’ve been planning for months. The last thing on your mind is finance and budgeting. You’ll make it up as you go along, how hard is it to use a currency exchange calculator anyway…right? I promise, it’s tougher than you think.

Luckily, preparing yourself for financial challenges you may encounter along the way will prevent huge, catastrophic problems from occurring at the most inconvenient time. As in, the first day of your Fall break when you realize you solely have Euros and you’re staying in London for three days. Fail. Here are a few tips that will best prepare you for the financial aspect of studying abroad.

1. Know the value of the local currency and budget accordingly!
Let’s say you want to budget $500 for your trip to Italy. With the current exchange rate providing .73 Euros for 1 US Dollar, the $500 only gives you €367. That could be the difference in your accommodation for multiple nights! On the other hand, you might find a roundtrip flight from Florence to Barcelona for only €180 and think it’s a great deal. When really, that is almost $250! It’s a good idea to do an exchange rate calculation before you enter a flight, hostel, tour, etc. into your budget.

2. Keep track of spending in a way that best suits your habits!
So, keeping track of everything you buy might become a little depressing. But let’s be honest – you wouldn’t want to bet your last dollar or euro on your mental math abilities. If you’re an old-fashioned pen and paper guy/girl, write down what you purchase and how much it costs! If you’re mobile all the way, use the notes app on your phone or a money tracking app (Travel Pocket, Trail Wallet, Mint, DailyCost). You can use this as a budgeting technique as well. Seeing how much you spend on your paper or screen makes it seem a lot more real. Having a record of your spending can also be useful if you spot friends money during your travels. You can point directly to the item or activity and how much it cost to avoid any discrepancies.

3. Be prepared for the possibility of fraud and theft!
Part of taking care of your finances is making sure you have the tools to prevent fraud and theft. Although major credit cards provide 0% fraud liability for credit card transactions, this offer only applies to true credit transactions. You should check your debit card balance routinely and communicate with your credit card issuer every time you visit a new country. Another preventative measure is getting a travel credit card with a chip for security. Chip technology makes theft more difficult because it eliminates some of the ways data is stolen and the way magnetic strips are replicated. Credit card issuers may freeze or cancel your card if they suspect fraudulent activity. You don’t want to receive a new credit card back in the U.S. in the middle of your trip to Italy. You will then be the one borrowing money from your friends – talk about embarrassing.

You can’t prevent getting your credit card stolen or the exchange rate spiking, but why not be financially prepared for the things you can prevent? You don’t want to forget that euros aren’t dollars and end up calling home for extra cash. So take a few tips to make sure that you get the best abroad experience with the least financial hassle!

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What’s in the bag?: Croatia Ultra Music Festival

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Right in the heart of Split, Croatia, comes one of the world’s biggest music festivals: Ultra Europe. Are you ready for the most epic weekend in the most beautiful city? Blast some of these tunes and read up on our fanny pack musts for the festival.

1. Fanny Pack – Fanny packs are a must-have at music festivals. You need only the essentials, so why bring a purse or a backpack? Also, it keeps you pretty safe from pick-pocketers.
2. Chapstick – I mean, never leave home without it. Opt for some with SPF for some extra protection.
3. Body Glitter - 0o0o0ohhhh shinnnyyyyyyy :D
4. Sunscreen – Sunburns are never cool…neither is skin cancer. Protect yourself all day with some SPF love.
5. Granola Bar – When you work up an appetite dancing around all day, you’ll need something to snack on. Also, you won’t have to leave your awesome spot by the stage with your friends to grab some grub.
6. Headband – Channel your inner free spirit with a floral headband. Super functional when you need your hair out of your face!
7. Sunglasses – Make sure to bring some cheap sunglasses you can wear during the day, then ditch at night.
8. Mini Fan – Croatia gets HOT in the Summer. Add hundreds of sweaty people dancing to EDM music and you’ve got yourself a serious situation. Avoid all of that by bringing your own mini fan.
9. External Charger – There’s nothing worse than losing your friends (or wanting to take an epic Instagram picture) and having a dead phone. Make sure you keep your external charger with you all day for emergencies!
10. Lollipops – A music festival necessity.
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Following Game of Thrones Through Europe

By Tierney Smith

Do you dream of going to Westoros and trying your luck in claiming the Iron Throne? Do you think about climbing “the wall” like Jon Snow? Do you wish to ride dragons with Khalessi as she makes her way to King’s Landing? Well, you may not be able to ride dragons, but you can now visit many of the locations featured on the show. Hop on a flight and jet around the world to see the lands of the Lannisters, Starks, Baratheon, Targaryen and more!

Northern Ireland

Travelling to Northern Ireland brings you to not only the studio in which many scenes are filmed but also to some of the most notable locations. The Queen of England even snuck a peek recently!

Hedges in County Antrim aka The King’s Road
King's Road

When you go to the County Antrim you can walk along the infamous King’s Road that weaves throughout Westeros. You can stroll through the Dark Hedges of Armoy in County Antrim and follow along the path to the capital of King’s Landing.

Castle Ward in County Down aka Winterfell
Winterfell

This medieval castle is the main shooting location for Winterfell. It is featured in some of the first scenes of the series as Robert Baratheon’s entourage is greeted by the Starks. It is surrounded by haunting forests, many of which are used to film Bran’s other-worldly visions.

Ballintoy Harbour aka the Iron Islands
Iron Islands

Does this look familiar? I will give you a hint, think Greyjoy! Yes, this is the setting of the Iron Islands. Think back to when Theon returns to his homeland and meets his sister for the first time.

Croatia

Croatia aka King’s Landing
King's Landing

The first season boasted Mdina, Malta as the capital but officials claimed the protected habitats were damaged during filming so King’s Landing moved! Starting from season two onwards, Dubrovnik, Croatia became the backdrop for the city of the throne.

Minceta Tower, Dubrovnik, Croatia aka The House of the Undying
House of the Undying

Also, the Minceta Tower that stands on the Dalmatian Coast in Croatia can be recognized as the House of The Undying from the season two finale where Daneyr’s dragons were held hostage!

Iceland

Iceland aka North Of The Wall
North of the Wall

Take a look at this and you will instantly think North of the Wall. The producers and directors prefer filming the scenes here instead of computer generated backgrounds. Who knows, if you visit here you may run into the Knight’s Watch or a Wildling!

Is your mind blown? So was ours. The real question is, how far will you travel to see Throne’s locations in real life?

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