You Have Three Days in These Cities, Here’s What to Do

Originally posted on The Girl Abroad

Whether you are a backpacker or a jet setter, seeing a city in its entirety is nearly impossible when you are crunched for time. Here are a few major European hot spots and the highlighted places to go and things to do while you take the fast route.

Paris, France
-The Eiffel Tower (if you don’t see the Eiffel Tower in Paris, did you really even go?)
*Not afraid of heights? Adventurous? Have time to plan? Call two weeks in advance to 58 Tour Eiffel. Located 58 meters off the ground, the restaurant sits in the most famous landmark in the City of Lights. Get your wallet out because it certainly isn’t cheap, but well worth the view.
-Laduree
* Macaron lovers rejoice! Any macaron you have ever had will immediately fade into oblivion after experiencing the real deal at this iconic Parisian destination. But beware: a macroon is a coconut cookie your grandmother makes, while a macaron is Parisian culinary masterpiece. Make sure to know the difference!
-Arch de Triomphe
*Just like the Eiffel Tower, if you go to Paris and don’t see the Arc de Triomphe did you really even go? Opt for a stroll by or pay a few euros to climb to the top of the symbol of Parisian victory and take in the view!
-Louvre
*With over a million works of art, rushing through the Louvre is impossible. Crunched for time? Do what I like to call the “Louvre Lite” tour and see the major highlights: Venus de Milo, Winged Victory, and of course the Mona Lisa.
-Jardin des Tuileries
*Many people all over the world visit these public gardens for the name thinking it has to do with the tulips that bloom there. Well, I hate to break it to you but the name does not translate into tulip garden… rather that tuileries translated into english means tiles! This once was a clay tile quarry until Catherine de Medici swooped in and turned it into a Florentinian style garden. A must see before your next destination.

Florence, Italy
-Il Duomo di Firenze
*More commonly known as just “the Duomo,” this is hard to miss. Located in the heart of Florence, you can see this massive Gothic-style cathedral from just about any part of the city. Get up close and personal to the dome and hike (yes, hike) to the top or take in the view from the other side of the river at Piazzale Michelangelo.
-Piazzale Michelangelo
* The view is so beautiful, it has brought tears to my eyes before. Go during the day for limited tourist interaction or bring a bottle of wine an hour before sunset, sit on the famous steps, and watch the sun fall behind the tuscan hills. Breath taking.
David
*If there was a piece of artwork that makes Florence famous, it would be the David. Located in the Accademia dell’Arte, this is the main attraction. You must see this iconic masterpiece before leaving Florence.
-Uffizi Gallery
*This is the Florence version of the Louvre and home to Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus.” This museum is overflowing with Da Vincis, Botticellis, Raphaels, Titians, Caraviaggios, and so many other Italian masters.
-Santa Croce
*Walking into Santa Croce feels overwhelmingly inspiring and influential…probably has something to do with the fact that Italian legends such as Galileo, Machiavelli, and Michelangelo are all laid to rest here. If you plan on entering the church, make sure your knees and shoulders are covered!
-Scuola del Cuoio
* The leather market in Florence is great for cheaper finds, but head back to Santa Croce and see what the pros are doing. Located in the back of the famous basilica, is a world renowned leather school. Watch the masters make bracelets, books, wallets, leather jackets, shoes and so much more in every kind of leather from ostrich to white snake skin.

Seville, Spain
-Plaza de Espana
* This place truly looks like a fairy tale. With horse drawn carriages, a moat, and a giant fountain in the middle, this should be your very first spot in Seville. It definitely was mine! Make sure to take the time to walk all the way around the plaza and study the tiles. There are detailed pictures painted on every single one representing a different region of Spain.
-Alcazar
*A truly remarkable testimony to architecture and design, this palace turned landmark spills Seville’s Moorish heritage. A wonderful mix of Islamic flare with an understated European glamour, the grounds are so easy to get lost on and I promise you won’t mind it. If you’re lucky, you will see the resident peacock roaming the grounds!
-La Isla
* I promised myself I wouldn’t post restaurants but this is the exception. I was abroad in Europe for two months, traveled to six different countries over that time and still to this day this is the best meal I had. Take a quick walk through the historic centre of Seville and find your way to the local street Calle Arfe and find this sweet restaurant. Not known for its decor, but for its paella, you will want to eat here every night! Go for the tapas, fall in love with the sol filet, stay for the sangria. Truly Sevilla at its core.
-Turkish baths
*This should be your last stop before heading on to your next destination. Relax and unwind in the different spas. There are many different places in Seville that offer Turkish bathes, but my personal favorite is Aire Banos Arabes. Ice baths, steam baths, salt baths, jacuzzi, massages, hot tea, and much more is offered. Best part? Surprisingly not a major tourist destination; locals and experienced travelers know about the destination and plan to keep it under wraps.

Amsterdam, The Netherlands
-Anne Frank Haus
*Wondering what to do first? This should definitely be an option. Get in line before it opens to make sure you get uninterrupted time in the hauntingly beautiful memorial. Climb up the steep stairs and through the house, walk through Anne’s room, see the Frank family’s height marked on the wall, posters, and of course- Anne’s diary. Don’t miss the opportunity to read through and sign the guest book. There are some truly inspiring words in there.
-Take a bike tour
*A good traveler always says, “Do as the locals do.” Well in Amsterdam, you ride a bike! There are great tours available almost everyday but if group tours aren’t your thing, hire a private guide to show you the city on bike. Feeling adventurous? Rent a bike for yourself and take on the city solo.
– I AMsterdam sign
*If you don’t care about feeling touristy, take on the I AMsterdam sign. Climb to the top of one of the letters and have your friends take a picture.
-Coffee shops
*Whether or not you want to take part in what makes Amsterdam famous, visiting a coffee shop is interesting and eye opening.

As always,

Happy travels

What Your Favorite Gelato Flavor Says About You

You know what they say, a gelato a day keeps the doctor away.

…. That is what they say, right?

Anyway, it’s clear that gelato is an imperative part of the italian diet.  It’s not hard to choose to go get it, however, it is hard to choose which flavor to order. Flavor options are plentiful, let me tell you. It takes careful deliberation, a few shameful samples, and  sometimes 5 minutes of silent mental calculations to settle on YOUR flavor. So after all of this crucial decision making, what is your favorite gelato flavor saying about you?  

grom gelato

Pistachio – You’re not afraid to eat something green. You’re particular about what you like but also adventurous…. and maybe just a bit nutty. ;)

gelato coffee

Caffe – You’re a triple shot at Starbucks kind of girl. Caffeine in your gelato? Hell ya.

nutella gelato

Nutella – #basic. But hey, if being basic tastes like nutella gelato, I’m in.

dark chocolate gelato

Dark chocolate – You’re not the girl who samples 6 flavors, researches the most popular choices on TripAdvisor, calls a friend for advice and then settles (guilty…). You’re confident, sophisticated and know what you want. You can probably also order an Italian panini without completely overdoing it with toppings (the American way.) Keep doing your thing dark chocolate.

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Stracciatella – Pretty much as close as you can get to cookies and cream. You probably also eat Lucky Charms for breakfast, enjoy an occasional juice box, and would choose Spongebob shaped mac&cheese over most other options…you’re forever young and the life of the party.

vanillagelato

Vanilla – If it’s not broken why fix it? Vanilla was good, is good and will always be good. You find delight in the simple things in life and keep it classy. You also stain your pants much less with gelato.

mintchip gelato

Mint chip – You’re a bundle of energy! In animal world you’re the dog chasing its tail and running around in circles

Spring 2015 Abroad Bucket List

A complete list of things you can’t miss out on during your semester abroad!

20. Go wine tasting in Tuscany

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19. Take the sound of music tour in Salzburg, Austria

sound of music

18. Take a canal cruise in Amsterdam

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17. Graffiti the John Lennon Wall in Prague lennonwall

 

16. Visit a concentration camp

concentration

15. Go whitewater rafting in Croatia

rafting

14. Visit the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland

jutreiblecliffs

13. Take a ride on the London Eye

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12. Add a lock to the Love Lock bridge in Paris

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11. Visit the thermal baths in Budapest, Hungary

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10. Watch the sunset in Santorini, Greece

santorini

9. Prost at Springfest in Munich, Germany

springfest

8. Ride a camel in Morocco

camels

7. Climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower

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6. Go surfing in Portugal

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5. Attend Carnevale in Venice

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4. Swim in the Blue Grotto in Capri, Italy

grotto

3. Stay up all night clubbing in Barcelona

barca

2. Spend St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland

dublin

1. Skydive over the Swiss Alps

skydive

 

Surviving as a Gluten Free Eater in Italy

Written by Endsley Eggert

Maintaining a gluten free diet is not an easy lifestyle. But keeping up with it while living in Italy? Not as impossible as it might sound.

I started my gluten free lifestyle about 4 years ago after finding out I had an intolerance. While I am not Celiac, I get extremely nauseous if I consume gluten so it’s easier just to avoid it. When I studied abroad in Florence Fall 2012, I decided not to deprive myself of all the pizza and pasta that Italy has to offer. It was delicious while it lasted but resulted in a year and a half of horrible repercussions and sickness. Not worth it. So this time around, I have been sticking to my gluten free lifestyle and am happier and most definitely healthier. And it has turned out to be much easier than you would expect.

 

What can I eat?

Risotto will become your best friend, especially when you are on a college budget. Risotto is available at almost every restaurant that you go to and is considered a Primi Piatti. It will be a lot cheaper than the Secondi Piatti meat and vegetable options.

Corn Flakes are usually served at hostel breakfasts and you can grab them at the Italian markets. While not the most delicious thing in the world, they are better than nothing when the only other option is bread or croissants.

Thankfully Italians are starting to hop on the Cider train. It is not yet at the markets but can be found at the pubs around town. Cider is a good alternative to beer and is always my go to drink when I want something other than wine.

Of course you can always eat all your normal gluten free items such as meats, veggies, fruits, nuts, rice, potatoes, etc.

 

What should I avoid?

Gnocchi is made from potatoes and technically gluten free but but the way they make it is not. In order for the gnocchi to keep its shape, it is rolled in lots and lots of flour. Depending on your intolerance level, it could be an option but I know it makes me nauseous.

You also need to be careful of soups and sauces. Over the past four months, I have only had two run-ins with gluten and they were both caused by sauces on meat. Sauces and soup are sometimes thickened with flour. There is not a definitive answer on whether you can eat it or not because I’ve had some sauces/soups that are okay and some that definitely have flour in it. It will just have to be a judgement call!

 

Where can I find GF products?

When I first got to Italy in August, I spent hours at the market scanning ingredient lists and jumped for joy when I saw “Senza Glutine” marked on a package of crackers called Zero Graino. At the time, that was the only option. Over the past couple of months, the markets, Conad and Meta, have acquired whole GF sections where you can find bread, crackers, bars, cookies and more!  You can also find GF products at the pharmacies (Farmacia).

 

What restaurants can I go to that are GF?

This section is geared towards people in Florence because that’s where I live and have experience.

OK Bar (Via de Servi 97/r) is the only place that I’ve gone to in Florence with actual GF options other than risotto. They serve GF pasta and pizza. The pasta is delicious and I have yet to try the pizza but I’m sure it’s great too.

Ristorante Quinoa (Piazza di Santa Maria Maggiore, 1) guarantees that all their dishes are GF. They have several different kinds of pasta, ravioli, bread, and as the name suggests, quinoa.

Just walking around Florence, I’ve seen several restaurants that have either “Gluten Free” or “Senza Glutine” clearly marked but just haven’t tried them yet.

Salumeria Verdi, better known as Pino’s (Via Giuseppe Verdi 36/r) is a panini place. They do not carry GF bread but Pino will make you a sandwich if you bring in your own.

Mesopotamia (Piazza Salvemini 14) is a kebab place that will become your drunk food spot. Kebabs are not GF because of the wrap but Mesopotamia offers Donner Boxes where you can get it all the goodness of a kebab minus the wrap. You can even add French Fries to it, which I always do.

Right outside of Florence is a little town called Fiesole. There is a restaurant there with the BEST gluten free pizza I have ever had in my entire life. The restaurant is called Le Lance and located at Via Giuseppe Mantellini 2. It still remains my favorite meal that I’ve had in Italy thus far.

 

Is there a website where I can learn more?

Of course! The Italian Celiac Association (AiC) website can give you more information about surviving GF in Italy as well as some restaurant recommendations. I even just found out that my favorite gelato flavor at Grom (Crema di Grom) was just made GF with the elimination of wheat flour. You go AiC!!!

http://www.celiachia.it/home/HomePage.aspx

glutenfree

Post Traumatic Study Abroad

Originally posted on Memoirs of a Cliche

I am a strange mix of being heart broken and overly indulged and far too attached to the fleeting life I lived this summer. I am bored here in the US. Meals were an event, wine was rich yet so much sweeter, colors shone more brightly and I think I have convinced myself the sun is hotter and the moon shines at a higher volume while I was abroad. I have what most people go through after coming home from the fast-paced and whirl wind romance  that is separating yourself from the US: Post Traumatic Study Abroad.
“Are you okay?”, “Let’s go out!” “Pizza sounds good, doesn’t it?” my friends say to me as they try to lure me out of the dark cave that has Under The Tuscan Sun playing on a loop which has become my room. To answer your questions, yes I know I am a bore to be around now and frankly, no I am not okay. But how could I be after swimming in Capri, seeing original Van Goghs in Amsterdam, and going to music festivals in Croatia? As for going out, well… give me Irish pubs and Italian clubs or it is just not the same. Pizza? No ma’am. One cannot eat pizza from Italy and then go and eat Papa John’s and expect to feel the same way. It just isn’t possible.

Yeah, yeah I know… I am such a whiner. But you would be to if you made a home, a support system, and a group of friends only to have the timer go off and all you are left with is luggage, some pictures, and the tail end of a roundtrip ticket. It is hard. It is rough. And it will continue to hurt. But now I am equipped with the best medicine out there: a lot of good memories and the hunger to travel again.

Studying abroad gave me the best gift I could ask for. I saw this world, I love it, and it loves me right back. I may be experiencing an unimaginable heart ache, but a fire has been lit inside of me that I cannot ignore. The world is calling my name again, and I just have to take a peek at what it is offering.

Italian Phrases to Know Before Going Abroad

By Adam King

One of the biggest challenges for study abroad students can be learning a new language altogether.  Fear not as most Europeans will speak some English to a degree to help you out, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t learn the native language.  It will help you meet more locals, get a more authentic experience, and help your experience out as a whole.  There are a number of apps to help you learn these languages (Duolingo, Babbel, and more), but here are some basic phrases to know before you head across the Atlantic.

Hello: Buongiorno (bwon-jor-no)

We’ll start of very basic with a simple phrase, “Hello” in Italian.  At least knowing how to begin a conversation will show Italians that you are trying to learn their language and become more culturally aligned; you don’t want to look like Brad Pitt in Inglorious Bastards.

inglorious basterds

 

Thank you: Grazie (gra-tyse)

Please: Per favore (per fa-vo-re)

amy poehler gif

These two are pretty basic phrases as well, but just as in America, being polite can go a long way.  A simple please and thank you can make all the difference from having a pleasant waiter or an unpleasant one.

Where are the toilets? Dove sono I gabinetti? (do-ve so-no ee ga-bee-ne-tee)

boo gif

We’ve all been there.  When you’re out drinking with friends and you realize that you broke the seal too early and need to go to the bathroom NOW, the last thing you want to do is have to look up how to ask where the bathrooms are or have an awkward hand gesture dance with someone.

I am sorry, I don’t speak Italian: Mi dispiace, non parlo italiano  (mee dees-pya-che, non par-lo ay-tal-lee-on-o)

jpyti

This line can be a lifesaver for those of you who are realizing that you are heading to Italy in a little over a month and know little to no Italian.  This phrase will allow Italians to know that you don’t speak Italian and they can start speaking in English or find someone else that can communicate with you.  Don’t just use this line the whole time, take the time to learn the language or most conversations you will be like:

Excuse me: Mi scusi (Me -Scoo-see) or Permesso (pair-meh-so)

Making your way down the impossibly narrow streets of Florence is no easy task.  When you are in a rush to get to class or grab lunch with friends and you are stuck behind a hunched Italian woman who is in no rush, uttering one of these simple phrases will help you avoid the rude American stereotype.  Saying Mi scusi doesn’t excuse you to be like the creepy guy from Eurotrip though.

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I’d like the wine list: Vorrei la lista del vini (vo-ray la lee-sta day vee-nee

The best part about studying abroad is being able to surround yourself in a culture completely different from back home.  The Italian culture includes traditions, beliefs, tendencies, food, and of course wine.  In ancient times Italy was referred as enortia, or “land of the wine.”  Italian tradition is so closely grafted to the vine that the good cheer and easy attitudes associated with wine culture are mirrored in the nation’s temperament.  So take advantage of embracing the culture and enjoy some of the best damn wine you’ll have in your life.

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Do you have a menu in English? Avete un menu in inglese?

Is there a greater joy in life than eating?  If there is, I’ve yet to find it and I don’t want anything to get in the way of me and my heaven.  So when you head to a restaurant in the country of some of the greatest food in the world, you want to know what you are ordering.  This simple phrase will make sure that you order the correct item and that you are mere minutes into entering some of the best food comas of your life.

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These are just a few simple phrases to help you out before you start your adventure abroad.  Taking the time to learn the language will improve your study abroad experience tenfold.  It will allow you to meet new people abroad with a new perspective than yours and ultimately meet new friends!

stepbrothers-did-we-just-become-best-friends

10 Things You’ll Learn While Studying Abroad

(the obvious and the not so much)

10. Don’t knock it ‘til you try it

Whether you’re studying in Italy or Australia, you’re in for a big lifestyle change and culture shock like you’ve never experienced. The best way to experience life abroad is to try and assimilate into the different customs and practices of your surroundings. “You mean this tiny cup of espresso is supposed to be a substitute for my regular 16 ounces of iced caffeine?” Cue:

oprah

Before you totally write their customs off, stand at the bar and drink your espresso and stop scouring the city for any place that will serve you American coffee.

9. The Buddy System is a very real, essential thing

“DOES EVERYONE HAVE A BUDDY?” We’ve been pestered with this question since kindergarten and now that you’re 18+ it probably falls on deaf ears. Let me just tell you, this is so vital. I love to believe that people are inherently good and I do believe that most are. However, you’ve seen Taken right? Let that be your motivation to listen. You want to leave the bar early but your friends want to stay? Bribe someone into leaving with you by paying for their kebab on the way home. Boom, done.

buddy system

8. Guard your iPhone with your life and maybe an electric force field

stolen iphone

Coming from a girl who had two iPhones stolen in the span of a month in two different European countries, giving up a night of blurry, probably embarrassing pictures at the bar is  lot easier to come to terms with then explaining to Mom & Dad why you need a new iPhone 5 express shipped over seas. People are ruthless and will reach into your purse and snatch your precious lifeline to society before you’re able to order your first drink. It can happen anywhere however, so make sure you always know where it is and possibly cut out a hole in your purse lining and sew in a zipper to secure safety. I realize this is dramatic but so are the phone calls I had with my parents begging them to send me my second replacement iPhone less than a month after they sent the first. Think about it.

7. The Importance of Planning Ahead

joker

#TBT to the night I landed at the Girona airport at 9 PM with my roommate not understanding that it was actually an hour train ride outside of Barcelona and wondering how we were to actually get to our hostel. Traveling on your own can be an awesome experience but when you forget how many steps are required to get from point A to point B you can find yourself in one of those situations you say “well one day we’ll look back and laugh” –  a great experience to have but avoid it by looking into how you’re going to get to the airport and then from the airport to your destination. Failing to plan the little details can turn out to be a really big “woooops”..

6. Slowing down can make all the difference

As an American, we’re hard wired to be constantly going and working leaving little time to enjoy ourselves. There’s a stark contrast to the “can’t stop won’t stop” distinctly American attitude and the way Europeans live their day-to-day lives. It’s a much more go with the flow lifestyle; so shops close when they please, people run late or don’t show at all, and not everything gets done when it’s supposed to. At first this may make you want to throw a tantrum but take a page from the European playbook and don’t take it all so seriously, you’ll find you may just enjoy yourself.

agnes

 

5. Breaking free of the study abroad bubble can be worth it

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Don’t get me wrong the bubble rocks and also gives you the opportunity to meet some awesome people but you didn’t fly halfway across the world to spend all of your time with just Americans. Chances are your study abroad city will have a few bars known for being a meeting spot for students and they’re usually a blast. Once in a while though, check out a new spot around town. Ask a professor or program director a great spot to meet locals because half of your abroad experience will be made up of the people you meet and not just the places you travel. Make friends all around the world so you’ll always have a reason to come back :)

4. Spend your money on experiences, not things

I can’t say I didn’t shop because I would be lying through my teeth plus I still have mini souvenir bottles of Chianti Classico patiently waiting to be drunk in my closet (don’t they say red wine gets better with age?). However, if I could return all the cheap leather bracelets, mini bottles of limoncello and other things I bought, I probably could have afforded that trip to Amsterdam or sky diving in the Alps. The worst part is I also spent money on things that weren’t even exclusively European… I was all “I need this very rare scarf that I found at the H&M in London and life won’t be complete if I don’t buy this incredibly overpriced sweater from Top Shop”. Well guess what? Your profile pic of you skydiving in the Swiss Alps will get a lot more likes than the one of you in that Top Shop sweater. All jokes aside, make the money you spend worth it and don’t be hasty in your material purchases. For most people, studying abroad only happens once! Make it count.

money

3. Hostels are nothing like the horror movie

Although your Facebook album “Semester Abroad” depicts a very glamorous lifestyle that your friends back home will undoubtedly comment with jealousy “OMG can I be you?” – you’ll soon realize that while you’re visiting some of the most beautiful places in the world, your digs may not measure up. Before you’re first hostel experience, chances are you’ll look like this:

hostel

But fear not. Hostel life will teach you a lot about yourself like, are you completely high maintenance? and how outgoing are you really? You may have booked a 12 person dorm with a shared bathroom and half of the guests may be a rowdy bunch of Australians. You also may be eating stale bread with an unidentifiable flavor or jam and instant coffee for breakfast but at the end of the day you have a safe place to rest your head

 

2. You’re much more independent than you think

I’ll be honest I used to make a huge deal about traveling by myself when I was in the states. And when I say traveling I mean like, doing errands and driving back to my college campus after break. I think there were a few times I had to GPS my doctor’s appointment – it’s not something I’m proud of but I’ve come a long way. Now when you’re abroad, these experiences where you suddenly realize this newfound independence usually won’t be voluntary. Chances are actually, you could be near tears in a German train station wondering where your train leaves from in 5 minutes and why god WHY are you here by yourself and if you could just call your mom you might be able to ask her to google translate “where is my platform?” into German for you. Safe to say I had a few of these exhilarating learning moments abroad. When you only have you to depend on, it becomes pretty clear what you’re capable of. You learn to read maps, ask questions, fumble foreign phrases and figure it out as you go. All of a sudden you’re a new person and you wonder why you ever doubted yourself in the first place. chrish bale

 

  1. Nothing compares to home

It’s not a secret that the home of the free and the brave is full of ample opportunity, convenience, and most obviously, familiarity. Before I came abroad, I had it in my head that Europe was 100% better than the states in every category. It didn’t take me long to realize how much I missed everything about my life back in the states. It takes an experience like leaving home for three and a half months to make you truly appreciate where you come from. As much as Florence will always be my second home, it took leaving the familiarity and comfort of the good old US of A to realize just how much I was truly thankful for everything that I had at home. That said, there are a few European policies I would love to see the US government adopt but that is a different topic entirely…

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