Category Archives: Travel

A Vegetarian’s Guide to Studying Abroad

So you’re studying abroad and everything is all figured out. You’ve picked your city, you’ve chosen between a homestay and an apartment, and you’ve packed your bags. Nothing can go wrong! Oh wait… there’s just this one little issue… You’re a vegetarian and have no idea what you’re going to do about eating. Whether you’re gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian or just really picky. Studying abroad can open up a pandora’s box of problems if you don’t prepare yourself. I myself have been a vegetarian for two years and a pescetarian for one, going abroad definitely has its challenges. Here are some ways to survive abroad as an herbivore.

Tell your host.

A lot of schools will ask you to fill out a questionnaire based on your dietary preferences before arriving abroad. This is intended to help prevent that awkward “oh I don’t eat that” exchange on your first night at the dinner table. Sometimes it doesn’t always work out that way. When I arrived abroad my host mom had no idea that I was a vegetarian and very quickly scrambled to make enough for me to eat on my first night. I had filled out a questionnaire but somehow that information never made it to my host mom. After that she was extremely accommodating to my dietary preference.

2. Don’t be afraid to make suggestions.

My host mom had no idea what to do with a vegetarian. I was studying in Spain where ham is the ultimate king. One day we sat down together and discussed all of the possible proteins I would eat. Lentils, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, etc. My host mom was very interested in learning new recipes, I even taught her how to make guacamole. Tofu and tomate frito became my favorite meal. You’ll be there for 4 months, don’t be scared to tell your host what you do and do not like.

3. Be open to trying something new.

Before I studied in Spain I had absolutely zero interest in eating fish. I became a vegetarian for health reasons and was just really never interested in eating my ocean friends. One day my host mom made an elaborate meal of cod and potatoes, she offered it to me and I couldn’t say no. Ever since then I have been a pescetarian.

4. Watch your protein and take your vitamins.

Traveling is the perfect time to lose track of your nutritional intake. Those of us who don’t eat meat are prone to iron and protein deficiencies. Protect yourself and make sure you’re taking B12 and Iron, you can find these vitamins at pharmacies all over the world. Coming from someone who has almost been hospitalized for low iron, take your vitamins, you’ll thank me later! For protein make sure you’re eating plenty of eggs and beans daily. Cheese alone does not provide sufficient protein. Carbs rule in countries like Spain and Italy so make sure you’re getting protein somewhere.

5. Bring your favorites with you.

When I studied abroad I packed tons of peanut butter and protein bars. These staples really helped me stay on track while I was traveling the weekends without my host mom’s maternal eye making sure I was getting the nutrition I needed.

6. Do your research.

Google vegan and vegetarian restaurants in the area of your study abroad city. Websites like trip advisor provide tons of info for cities as small as mine, Salamanca. Many of these places have tons of options for every eater. Sometimes it might take a little begging, but your friends will be glad they tried something new, and you’ll be excited to order something other than pasta.

Ways to Keep in Touch with Family/Friends While Abroad

By: Clarissa Casas

Studying and traveling abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity, that should not be missed. During your time abroad, it can be easy to forget to stay in contact with your family and friends back home. Luckily, there are a variety of [free] apps to help you stay in contact with your friends and family and share your impeccable adventures.

Whatsapp

Whatsapp is an awesome app, that allows you to send text messages, make phone calls, and video calls using data or wifi. You can download the app on your phone and your computer, and your friends and family will be able to do the same to keep in communication with you without racking up your phone bill.

Facetime

If you, your friends, or family have an iPhone, this may be the easiest way to stay in touch with friends and family back home. Facetime audio can be utilized as well so that you’re basically making a phone call using wifi/data with no risk of using minutes.

Skype

Skype is another way to make phone/video calls. You can download Skype on your computer and phone.

Social Media (Instagram/Facebook/Snapchat)

Social media is such an awesome way to share your travel adventures! Whether it be Instagram, Facebook, or Snapchat, everyone will love viewing your pictures and videos. Social media makes it easy for friends and family to see your life abroad on a daily basis. It has also become more and more popular to create separate travel social media pages, so you can upload an abundance of photos and videos without flooding everyone else’s feed. You can create a page and share it with everyone who wants to see your travels!

Marco Polo

Marco Polo is a fairly new app that allows you to take videos of yourself and show what you are doing. It is very similar to snapchat, but the videos do not expire. This app is a great way to share your experience at any time of the day.

iCloud Photo Sharing

Sharing pictures and videos via iCloud is such an awesome way to share your adventures abroad. If you have an iPhone, you can easily invite other iPhone users to view your photos via iCloud photo sharing. Friends and family can comment on pictures as well. You can upload pictures and videos as frequently as you want, and it will send notifications to your friends and family each time you upload new content.
Regardless of which way you choose to stay in contact with your family and friends, just make sure you keep them in the loop. Share your beautiful photos, and let them know you are having the time of your life. Video chat them while you’re in the airport on your way to Barcelona. Create a Marco Polo video of your travels in Italy. The options are endless and free!

Making Exercise Fun For Those with a Disability

If you think that, as a person with a disability, you’re limited to boring exercises to stay fit and healthy, it’s time to re-evaluate. As long as you get creative, know where to look, and utilize modern technology, you can add plenty of fun into your physical activity. We tend to lose focus and, eventually, all interest in staying active if those activities are limited. Finding new, enjoyable ways to get moving is paramount to maintaining physical health – especially for those with disabilities.

Take a swim

There are few better feelings than taking a dip in a pool. But did you know that for those with a physical disability, swimming can be among the safest, most comfortable, and most effective forms of exercise?

swimming-exercises-disabilities-physical-activities-tips“Water eliminates the effects of gravity on the body, pain and stress on muscles and joints are greatly reduced,” says WebMD. “While standing in a pool, [you] can also use the weight of water to help correct problems in gait and balance with less effort than on land. Aquatics are particularly recommended for people with MS because water is more efficient in drawing heat away from the body than is air. This helps keep the body from overheating, which often causes MS symptoms to worsen temporarily…Water has [also] been shown to help increase flexibility, decrease pain, relieve muscle spasms, and improve circulation.”

Let your exercise routine go to the dogs

dog-therapy-disabilities-physical-activities-tipsWhen it comes to exercise motivators, a dog is near the top of the list.
For someone with a physical disability, a dog can be a great tool to help them get up and moving. Dogs need exercise, which is an impetus on the owner that forces them to get up and get some exercise too. And in terms of fun, it doesn’t get much better than playing with a furry friend. If you don’t have a dog or aren’t looking for that much responsibility, check with your local animal shelter. Most will allow you to take the dogs out for walks, or at least play with them on the premises.

For those with visual or hearing impairments, service dogs can help to guide you through fun activities like hiking and backpacking.

Go extreme

Nobody says exercise has to be boring. And just because you hsurfing-extreme-activities-disabilities-physical-activities-tipsave a disability doesn’t mean that you don’t want to experience
some high-octane thrills.

Adaptive sports are a great way to experience a rush while getting in your physical activity.

For those in a wheelchair, recreational wheelchair basketball, volleyba
ll, handball, and tennis can be incredibly great options. If you’re looking for even more thrills, surfing, skiing, and sailing are all activities that now have the technology to accommodate those with disabilities.

If you really want to amp it up, look for ways to incorporate extreme sports into your travels. Who says you have to do keep it close to home?

Seek Adventure

You already know not to let your disability define you, so don’t let it hold you back from seeking out new and exciting places. Sure, travel can be leisurely, but it can also offer great ways to stay physically active. As accessibility becomes more readily available around the world, more people are able to enjoy all sorts of adventures. For example, there are a variety of tour groups that cater to people with disabilities. Want to see the Great Wall? You can! Want to go on safari? You can!  The possibilities really are endless if you have the right mindset and do your research.traveling-disabilities-physical-activities-tips

Get your exercise where you can

Many of your favorite activities give you more physical exercise than you might think. It’s important to work physical activity into your daily routine so that you don’t even have to think about it as “exercise.” Instead, you’re just in the routine of living an active lifestyle.

Some examples of this include using a handbike to get around your neighborhood or town, spending your Saturdays gardening, and fitting yoga into your day-to-day schedule.

traveling-disabilities-physical-activities-tips
As a person with a disability, you are not so much that you are limited in what you can do to maintain your physical fitness – it’s more that you have to take a creative approach. There are no rules to how you exercise, and in the end it all comes down to what your body can handle. Push yourself to achieve new exercise goals, but never take on more than you can handle. Speaking with a doctor before starting a new sport or activity is always recommended, as they provide both guidance and motivation – plus, telling someone you have a plan makes you more likely to stick with it. Regardless of your limitations, as long as you maintain a hunger for physical health and an inner drive fueled by creativity, the possibilities are endless.

The Key to Happiness Abroad

“It’s a lot easier to be lost than found. It’s the reason we’re always searching, and rarely discovered – so many locks, not enough keys” – Sarah Desse

Happiness is a funny thing. A concept which is completely relative; at times so tangible that you feel like you’re holding it in the palms of your hands, while at others, it’s like you’re grasping at words that don’t even exist. For some, happiness can be measured by the number of recent and easy to recall occurrences that provoked a laugh, smile, or brief feeling of upmost euphoria. Others define it as a long-term, all-encompassing satisfaction – an onset, perhaps, by a multitude of factors such as a successful job, loving relationships, or simply a lack of unfortunate events.key to finding happiness abroad; student traveler tips; living in the present abroad

Regardless of one’s perception, there is no denying that Happiness can present itself in countless ways. While some may enjoy the predictability of an organized day-to-day life accompanied by security and reassurance, others may opt, instead, for a less structured lifestyle in which a “comfort zone” is the less of a desired place to be than a goal in which to avoid.

To me, happiness can be found in both the bold, random decision to go sky diving from a plane, in the bliss of ending every workday, or in cuddling up in bed with tea and Netflix.

Whatever the qualifications you may have when it comes to attaining that certain sense of happiness, I think that, above all aspects of life, what we owe ourselves most is to pursue this happiness to the best of our ability – to passionately devote our lives to finding it – and to enjoy that happiness fully with all our hearts and with every aspect of our beings once we have it.

key to finding happiness abroad; student traveler tips; living in the present abroadFor happiness is a special, individualistic aspect unique to every person, and happiness deserves to be put first and foremost.

It is important to never restrict yourself to a limited way of life – that’s how people begin to feel as though they have settled. This does not mean that you have to travel the world or buy a sports car or do something completely insane once you finally begin to feel comfortable with where you are. It’s not about don’t insane things. It’s more than that.

I think society should take it upon themselves to, from time-to-time, push their own personal limits. Try escargot. Go cliff jumping. Get on stage and sing the most embarrassing karaoke song you have to offer. Fight for the person you love or better yet the person you have. Try one of those slightly overrated cleanses or run an extra mile every day. Evaluate what the current positives and negatives are in your life and change anything that less-than delights you. See the world however big or small you would like.

To those studying abroad, my challenge to you is to seize the next few months to their fullest potential, leaving no curious path unventured or stone unturned.

Bathe elephants in Indonesia, charm snakes in Morocco, sample wine you could never afford in the vineyards of Tuscany, experience fashion week in Paris, and fall asleep tipsy with your girlfriends on the beaches of Barcelona. Go ski the scenic Swiss Alps, soak in the Budapest baths until you are prune-ier than a raisin, drink authentic Guinness beer and eat more giant pretzels than humanly possible during Springfest in Munich. Capture the magnitude of the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland in a picture, attempt water rafting in Croatia, make your mark on the John Lennon wall in Prague, and die of happiness overlooking a sunset in Santorini.

key to finding happiness abroad; student traveler tips; living in the present abroadThis is the list of what I once thought to be impossible, the goals that I made for myself to accomplish when I first arrived overseas. I want to offer them as a customizable template to inspire anyone who is new to the incredible journey that is studying abroad. Although I am still making my own way through this list, I don’t treat each adventure as though they are simply an item on a checklist that, once completed, instantly becomes a past conquest as I set my sights onto the next “big thing”. Instead, I try to enjoy every second that they last experience held, and I revel in the spontaneous adventures and magical pauses that exist within the seams and transitions of each minute detail of my journey. You’ll be surprised at what happens if you do the same.

Living abroad you quickly learn what it truly means to live happily “in the now,” a state of being I like to perceive as an immersion in self, experience, and surroundings. In every moment you find yourself in, whether it be good or less than, make it your job to find the silver linings, draw them out for yourself in every possible color, pattern, and texture you can think of, and treat them as though they are all you need. For you already have all the tools necessary to build your next adventure and aid you on your journey to obtain that life-giving happiness we all crave.  A train of thought to be applied to journeys into the unknown, as well as a day in the life of the familiar.key to finding happiness abroad; student traveler tips; living in the present abroad

Happiness is not the key to life. It’s the doorway into life.

How to Start a Travel Blog

By: Jessica Lagomarsini

So, you’ve decided to study abroad. This will by far be the best semester you’ve ever experienced and an adventure of a lifetime! Exploring new places and being thrown in a whirlwind of new languages, foods, and customs all around Europe will contribute to a truly personal growing experience. All your friends and family back in the motherland will be eager to live vicariously through you, and, needless to say, it would be amazing to look back in 10 years from now and be reminded of all the cool things you did.

This leads me to the topic of this blog… Why not starting your own blog while abroad? Blogs are the modern day travel diary on steroids. Here are my suggested steps in creating the ultimate blog abroad:

  1. Narrow Your Scope: As we learned back in middle school, your writing needs a theme and a thesis to find a basis (ie: Traveling across Europe). This concept still applies to blogging and is the foundation for a successful blog.
  2. Select a Killer Name: To help get you started, list a bunch of travel related words on a piece of paper and then find their synonyms. From there, create. You could potentially do a combination of your name and a travel-related word. Otherwise, use your creativity. Think outside of the box. Be creative and catchy; would you read anything less? 
  3. Choose a Platform: To really have an efficient blog, you’ll want to host your blog and select the right platform. I strongly suggest looking into WordPress; the formatting is simple and easy to learn. Tip: When selecting plugins, remember that they aren’t Pokemon – you shouldn’t collect them all.
  4. Go the Extra Mile: For the serious blogger, you may consider buying the domain name. If you do this, you may also want to consider adding Google Analytics to your blog page to keep track of all your hits.
  5. Create a Following: Post to all your Social Media Platforms. Tip: Don’t forget to tag @bus2alps_travel on insta, follow us on Facebook: Bus2alps, and submit any content you’d like to get published on our travel blog Those Who Wander – we offer some pretty cool incentives for student writers. To learn more about writing for Bus2alps, email jacobs@bus2alps.com.
  6. Find Your Voice: Last, but certainly not least, create some amazing, unique content. Include lots of personable stories. For example, that one time you were hiking the mountains of the Cinque Terre and you ran into this crazy Italian man singing and selling limoncello (true story) OR that time you went to the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, and became friends with sheep herders.