Category Archives: Student Life

Featured Writer | Abigail Eisner: An Italian Dream

By: Abigail Eisner
www.cestlaviebyabigailmarie.com

Ciao!

This past weekend was nothing short of a dream! On Thursday afternoon, Emily, Charlie, Chris and I hopped on a plane to Rome to meet up with around fifty of our classmates and head to a tropical getaway on the Amalfi Coast. Although we had just a few hours in Rome, we were determined to make the most of it! We ended up grabbing a bite to eat, and then visiting the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain to make a wish or two. On our way back to the train station we grabbed some gelato because when in Rome, am I right?

Then we met up with the rest of our Bus2Alps crew at Ciampino Airport and hopped on a bus to Sorrento! After arriving in the wee hours of the morning, we grabbed an hour or two of sleep at our hostel, Costa Alta, and started our day nice and early. I was so excited to be reunited with so many of my classmates! We took a boat to Capri, an island off the coast of Italy, and easily the most beautiful place I have ever been. The boat tour around the island was incredible! One of my favorite parts was floating by the Grotta Bianca (White Grotto) with a stalagmite that looks exactly like the Virgin Mary. The weirdest part is that it is totally natural! Although the weather was a bit too rough to visit the Blue Grotto as planned, the clear, aqua color of the water was astounding.

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After our boat tour and arriving in the Marina Grande, we had the option to walk up the mountain to Capri town or take a tram up. By this point it started to pour, so a bunch of us opted for the tram to try and stay dry (to no avail, we were all still soaked). When we got to the top there was a stand with Granitas, frozen alcoholic orange slushies, and we eagerly jumped in line. After snapping some pics and sipping our fruity drinks, we hopped on the bus to Anacapri, the town at the very top of the island. The path to the peak was so windy and close to the edge of the cliff I honestly give the bus drivers so much credit! (Not a ride for the faint of heart). In Anacapri, we split up to explore. My friend Taylor and I grabbed some pizza at Le Arcate with some friends. I had been craving Italian pizza since the second I left Italy last Spring! Let me tell you, it was worth the wait!

Next, a bunch of us took a chair lift up to the highest point on Anacapri, Monte Solaro. This was my favorite part of the day. We walked around the peak and were LITERALLY in the clouds. The view both on the ride up and at the top was breathtaking. Some of the girls I was with brought wine and pizza to enjoy up there as well! I stayed up there for over an hour just enjoying the view and spending time with everyone.

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I headed back down and shopped for some souvenirs. I’m a dork, and have a massive pin collection from all the places I have gone to since I was a kid. I’ve been trying to get a pin from everywhere I go here as well, so of course I needed one from Capri! After a while of shopping, and some much needed coffee, we all trekked down to Marina Grande to catch the ferry back to Sorrento. I have never walked down steeper stairs in my entire life, but the view was incredible. We were even lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a rainbow! (I swear I’m the luckiest girl in the world). After napping on the boat, we got ready at our hostel and headed out to dinner, and then out to English Inn, an awesome bar in Sorrento. I had one of the best nights of my life!

The next day we spent in Positano, relaxing on the beach and sipping bellinis. A bunch of us also decided to do a boat cruise. I got some great footage of it on my GoPro. We also took advantage of an amazing panini shop that the Bus2Alps staff introduced us to, Vini e Panini. Before the bus came to pick us up in the afternoon, we were able to fit some shopping in again. My favorite boutique that we stopped in was Antica Sartoria. Positano is famous for its lace products, specifically their gorgeous white dresses. Antica Sartoria had the best prices of all the shops we went in to, and a huge variety of products. I ended up getting an adorable beach cover up with pom-pom details. I only payed eight euros too, such a win!

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When we got back to the hostel, many of us picked up some delicious pizza from a little pizzeria across the street. It was my third pie of the weekend and I am not ashamed about it one bit. Then we decided to go out again in Sorrento. Three bars later, and what seemed like a blink of sleep, it was morning and we packed up and headed to Pompeii.

We toured the ruins with a hilarious guide, and learned all about the residents of Pompeii. It was really interesting to spend the morning seeing a natural wonder, that I had studied about in school, in person. A sad, but uniquely intriguing part of the ruins are the plaster molds of the residents that were found in the ashes of Pompeii, frozen in time forever. The one that stuck with me the most was a dog that had been tied somewhere when Mt. Vesuvius erupted, and was fighting to escape but was buried. We also learned that around 20,000 people lived in Pompeii, but at the time of the eruption only 2,000 were present.

This weekend was probably one of the best weekends I have ever had, I’m so glad I got to spend it with so many of my classmates! This weekend I am happily staying in Madrid, but my next trip is Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. I can’t wait!

Exploring Florence on a Budget

By: Matteo Fardella

Firenze, home of the Renaissance and the city of selfie stick salesmen. Aside from its incomparable beauty and bustling daily life, it can become fairly expensive if you have plans to explore all the city has to offer from cuisine to to museums and must-see’s.

With Florence being one of Italy’s slightly pricier cities, it is very easy to overindulge in your daily needs and wants, one gelato leads onto a meal which then leads on to drinks which then leads on to bars, pubs and clubs.. you get what I’m saying. Surely there has to be a cheaper way to take part in all the activities without having to call your parents back home because you spent your last few Euros on that extra slice of pizza that you just couldn’t resist?

For all you art and history junkies out there; on the first Sunday of every month, admission to museums, cultural sites and archaeological parks is free! You can save yourself ranging anywhere from €5 to €25 and includes places such as Uffizi Gallery and Palazzo Vecchio . The city is also covered in public art that has ancient stories backing them and can be found just walking distance away.

When it comes to eating out, steer clear of the €15+ meals that are sure to add up at the end of the evening, and consider the just-as-tasty plates at somewhere Gusta Pizza (Via Maggio, 46R) for under half the price. The amount of gelato that you are going to consume during your stay here might be considered ‘unhealthy’ but each and every scoop is easily worth it. The trick for gelato is to not pay more than €4 for 3 scoops and to not buy the brightly colored flavors that come in massive mountains as their ingredients are more artificial. Make sure to visit Gelateria Dei Neri (Via Dei Neri, 9/11), La Carraia (Piazza Nazario Sauro 25) and Edoardo il Gelato Biologico (Piazza Del Duomo 45/R).

Something is happening in Florence every night, whether it be calm pubs or wild clubs, it has it all. As Italy has an extremely high tax on drinks that are sold in restaurants and bars, grabbing a bottle of wine at the convenience store near you, to enjoy on a bridge or in a piazza beforehand, will save you a lot of dough later on. Different pubs have different specials for everyday of the week as they hold numerous events. Use this to your advantage and try not to pay that dreaded €5-8 for a single drink.

Finally, keep an eye and nostril open for little shops and bakeries lining the many streets as they tend to sell things at a cheaper cost. Try to avoid buying things in the touristy areas as the prices are hiked as tourists flood the main landmarks and attractions. Stay thrifty my friends.

7 Skills that are Better Learned Studying Abroad than at an Internship

By Leah Doerner

An internship is designed to help build skills that are desirable to your future employer and set you up for success in the workplace. While internships have the potential to be incredibly rewarding, they are not all created equal. Coffee runs may be a fun excuse to flirt with the cute barista, but your sights are set a little higher anyways. Stepping out of your comfort zone and crossing the Atlantic to discover a new city is a guaranteed way to become a more confident and independent individual and discover personal strengths that are easily applicable to the workplace. These seven skills are assets to any future career, and studying abroad creates the perfect environment to master them all.

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  1. Time Management: Between attending class, studying for exams, exploring your new home and jetting setting to exotic destinations on the weekends, you’ll learn to keep your schedule on lock. There’s not a moment to waste and you plan on taking full advantage of your time abroad. And just because you’re busy meandering art galleries and sipping vino doesn’t mean you’re going to let your GPA suffer. You’ll learn to handle it all gracefully at the envy of your friends stressing out back on campus.

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  1. Self-Discipline: Nothing says self-motivated like arriving to class promptly at 9am after dancing your heart out at the club until until 4am…on a Monday. You want to have a good time, but you also value your responsibilities. So you’ll stay out late to party, but come morning you know that reality calls. You’ll also learn that the tendency for Europeans to wear sunglasses inside is really working to your advantage on this one.

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  1. Problem Solving: There is no greater sense of accomplishment than successfully navigating public transportation in a foreign language. Bonus points if you catch the right train on your first try on your way home from the bars. Anything else is pretty much a cakewalk at that point. Bring it on, Excel.

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  1. Budgeting: Managing a budget will take on a whole new meaning. Sure, you’ve watched your spending and had to cut costs before, but this is different. When studying abroad, you will learn to stretch a dollar as far it will take you…literally. Seriously though, €9 flights to Paris? Yes please! Your new found financial savvy is sure to impress any manager.
  2. Communication: In the ever-growing global marketplace, even basic language skills practiced with the locals are a serious advantage. Making an effort is admirable and being understood is hitting a home run.

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  1. Managing Deadlines: Your first flight was delayed and now you’re crunched for time to make your connection? No worries, you’ll sprint your way to the gate, bags and all, still with enough time to spare to not be stuck with the middle seat. There’s nothing coming between you and island hopping in Greece.
  1. Independence: When you leave behind your family, friends and the comfort of your home campus, you are faced with the frightening but exhilarating feeling of being truly independent. With fewer responsibilities than being at home, you are able to make decisions that suit your needs. It may feel a bit selfish at times, but now is the time to take advantage of your freedom and discover new passions. Once you’re confident in yourself, you’ll have no problem approaching your boss and asking for that raise that you know you deserve.

You may not know where life will take you next, but a semester abroad will prepare you more than you can imagine. The memories you make and the people you meet will forever be a part of your college experience that helped to shape your future. And let’s be real, you’d rather spend a semester cruising the Mediterranean Sea and touring the French countryside than stuck in a cubicle anyway.

 

Where Should You Study Abroad Based On Your Home Town?

By Nikki Marsden

So you’ve decided to study abroad. Congratulations on the best decision of your life thus far. Yes, that’s a guarantee. The hardest part is over—telling your college friends that you will be gone for a whole semester. Now it’s time to decide on that special city that is going to forever pull on your heartstrings every time you see it, hear that one song, talk about it or even smell those oh-so-familiar pastries. Don’t stress out too much though, because you can’t go wrong. If you want a little extra guidance, take this quiz to find out where the best shot of finding your home away from home is! http://bzfd.it/1QBIgqI

9 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Went Abroad

By Allie Filmanowicz

1. Do not over pack.

It will be easy to fall into the “well, what if I need this?” mentality, causing you to be tempted to pack everything you own! Don’t go down that path. Instead, stick to the essentials. If it ends up you forgot something dire, you will be able to pick it up when you arrive. You don’t want to end up over packing and only wearing your favorite pair of black jeans every day anyway!

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2. Take a few minutes every day to write in a journal or in a note on your phone.

You know the saying “time flies when you’re having fun?” That could not be truer than during your time abroad! Before you know it, a month will have gone by, and if you don’t take the time to jot down a couple things a night, you might end up forgetting about some of the wonderful things you saw or experienced.

3. Take the time to meet and bond with your study abroad group right away. 

These are the people you will be spending a majority of your time exploring and getting to know your new home with. Dive into making friendships right away and don’t worry about being awkward! Everyone will be a little apprehensive about being so far from home that any friendliness will be welcomed with open arms.

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4. Keep a list of every restaurant you go to.

Everyone has had that experience of racking your brain for your favorite restaurant in a city you spent time visiting, thinking “oh… it was kind of Italian and was next to that really cool bar.” You never know when you will be visiting these cities again, or when you will have the opportunity to sound like the most knowledgeable world traveler to people who ask for suggestions on where to go. Keeping a list will not only be a great keepsake for you, but also an easy reference for friends or yourself when you return to that city.

5. Tell your bank everywhere you are going.

Banks are always watching your back to make sure your money isn’t getting stolen (thanks for having our backs, banks!) In efforts to do this, if they see charges that seem unusual (cue your trip to Amsterdam, then London, then back to Barcelona)… that will get flagged as suspicious behavior! To avoid having them freeze your card, leaving you stranded with no money, keep them updated on where you will be!

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6. Bring back souvenirs from the city you are living in.

A lot of people worry about getting souvenirs from all the places they visit and completely space on bringing home keepsakes from the city they actually lived in. The city you call home for your time abroad will be the most near and dear to your heart, so make sure you bring home a coaster from your favorite bar, or a t-shirt from the souvenir shop you always passed on the way to class. Those things will mean the most when you get back and are going through abroad withdrawals.

7. Make a plan of which places you want to see and book those trips early. 

It’s super easy to assume you are going to be able to see everything, and you absolutely can, but planning is key! If you plan out everywhere you want to see and book the trips right away, you are committing to doing it! Also, don’t be afraid to book a trip through a travel company alone if there is a place you really want to see. Even if your friends don’t want to join you, it’s a great way to meet new people and get the most out of your abroad experience.

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8. Bring an extra duffel for the things you accumulated while abroad. 

You will absolutely be buying things you forgot, didn’t know you needed, or just want while you are abroad. To avoid the extra cost of buying a bag while you are there, pack an extra duffel bag that you can fill with all the goodies you pick up during your time abroad.

9. This experience will be life changing.

Going abroad will, without a doubt, be a life changing experience. You will make friends from around the world, see places some only ever dream of, try exotic foods, and experience every emotion imaginable. Remember to soak in every moment and make the most of it! Also don’t worry about America and everything you miss about it… it will be right where you left it when you get back. 

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