Tag Archives: europe

8 Reasons Everybody Knows You’re an American Studying Abroad in Italy

By Hilary Gaumer and Sara Hennings

…not that we blame you, but these 8 classic moves are sure-fire giveaways that you’re an American transplant to the Italian lifestyle.

1. You are the only people that take advantage of the 4 bottles of wine for 10€ deal at convenience stores.

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2. You try to rationalize eating bread, pizza, and pasta for every meal with the fact that you walk everywhere.

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3. When you order anything restaurants, you attempt to mumble the first word and then shamelessly point at the menu rather than try to speak Italian.

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4. You always take a picture of your meal before taking a bite #eatingfortheinsta

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5. You plan trips to other countries just so that you can go to Chipotle, Starbucks, and Pinkberry.

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6. Before you even look at the menu, you ask if the restaurant has wifi.

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7. You attempt to recreate the Lizzie McGuire movie while roaming the streets of Rome.

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8. The amount of likes on your Instagram makes you feel like a straight up celeb #blessed #doitfortheinsta #abroadlife

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Packing for Europe 101

By Tiernan Cutler

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1. Rainboots/Jacket
Fall is the rainy season, and there’s no better way to stomp through puddles as you explore Europe!

2. Peanut Butter
Bring all things peanut butter–it exists in Europe, but in the smallest, most expensive form.

3. Football
Looking to toss one around on the beach? Well, you won’t be able to find a football over here. While soccer balls are abundant, your classic football is a little harder to find.

4. Adapters
You can never have too many of these. Skip the big converters and just stock up on the simple adapters.

5. Tobasco
For those who love to spice up their food, you’ll be hard-pressed to find your trusty Tobasco bottle on this side of the Atlantic.

6. Pocket External Charger
While you’re busy making your friends back home jealous with your constant stream of Instagrams and Snapchats, we can guarantee your phone will be dying quickly. Don’t let that happen.

7. Tide-to-Go Pen
We’re in the land of 3 hour dinners, spaghetti on the reg, and flowing red wine. Aka, the land of spillage.

8. Salad Dressing
Bottom line: salad dressing doesn’t exist here.

9. Wedges
The Italian women might be able to strut in stillettos, but cobblestones are trickier than they look. Save yourself the embarrassment of the faceplant and pack wedges.

10. Mac n’Cheese
You’ll be exposed to the best cheese in the world, but after 1 month you’ll get that itch for a taste of home.

11. Personal Makeup
Make sure to stock up on your favorite beauty products, otherwise you’ll get stuck buying everything for exorbitant prices.

12. Deodorant
If you have a favorite brand of deodorant, good luck finding it over here, especially you boys.

Can’t-Miss Fall Concerts in Europe

If you’re like me, you can appreciate a good concert with great friends in your hometown. However, with the opportunity to study abroad in Europe comes the opportunity to see your favorite artists with your best friends in places like Paris, Amsterdam, Ibiza, London, and Prague… which really changes the game.

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A couple can’t-miss concerts this Fall are pretty epic. Let’s start with the biggest and baddest one of all, Beyoncé and Jay-Z. With divorce rumors running wild throughout Hollywood, this could be your last opportunity to see them together live! Not to mention, the concert is in this tiny, strange city called… PARIS! So get your friends together and grab tickets to their last stop on the “On the Run Tour” in Paris, France.

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Next on our list: None other than Lady Gaga. She’s currently touring all of Europe so you have multiple chances to see her! From Amsterdam to Prague, to London or Paris, she will be in Europe the entire time you are! Let’s cheers to running into her at a club somewhere, hopefully while she’s wearing a dress made entirely of raw meat.

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Are you an EDM fan? How high does Hardwell rank on your list for DJs? For me, pretty high. If we’re on the same page, you absolutely cannot miss Hardwell in Amsterdam on October 16th.  Talk about a crazy time: not only are you experiencing the insane city of Amsterdam, you’re seeing one the biggest DJs of our time perform live. Oh and guess what, tickets are around €39. Done and done. While we’re on the topic of Amsterdam, another can’t miss concert is the Amsterdam Music Festival in October! The most incredible EDM festival in this city hands down.

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Now lets talk about a place that’s been on everyone’s mind since J.Biebs “hit” Orlando Bloom: Ibiza. Whether you pronounce it “Ibiza” or “Ibitha” we can all agree that this place is unbelievable. With upcoming concerts like Ellie Goulding, Snoop Dog (Snoop Lion?), incredible DJ’s, and the opening and closing parties, this is the place to be this Fall. Check out some of the concerts here.

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And finally, a tribute to my favorite city in the world: Barcelona. This is home to the greatest clubbing in Europe: Opium, Catwalk, Razzmatazz; I could go on forever. Along with these amazing clubs come awesome DJs gracing us with their music, pretty much every day of the week. (If you want to rage on a Monday, this is your city).

No matter where you go this Fall, if you’re a fan of music, make sure to see at least one of these concerts. This is just a tiny sampling, so make sure you do some research so you don’t miss any opportunities to see your favorite artists while living abroad!

11 Reasons Interlaken is Heaven in Both Summer and Winter

11. The Jungfrau Mountain

Bernese Oberland tourism destinations

Whether you are skiing down its world class trails or simply ogling at it from town, the Jungfrau Mountain is sent from above.

10. Hike till ya drop

Harder Kulm

Get your lungs ready for the hike of a lifetime! About two hours uphill but, let me tell you, the view of the lakes, Interlaken, and the mountains is more than worth it. If you aren’t into that whole exercise thing, there is a funicular to cruise you right on up so you can still enjoy the views.

9. Hitting the slopes

Ski Trails

If you are the ultimate ski bunny or board rat, Interlaken in the winter is for you. It is the gateway to the Jungfrau mountain trails which give you hours and hours of intense skiing!

8. The sky is not only for clouds

Skydivers

Interlaken is the adventure capital of Europe, and looking up all year long will not only show you clear skies but people floating down. Let your adventure animal roar as you paraglide or skydive from the planes and peaks into the center of Interlaken.

7. Cheese, cheese, and more cheese

Swiss Cheese

If cheese is something you could never live without, get on a plane to Interlaken now! The Swiss cheese there is locally made, and after what seems like just one bite, before you know it, three pounds of this food of the gods has disappeared…

6. Rosti for every meal

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No matter if it is hot or cold out the best way to chow down in Switzerland is with a traditional Swiss Rosti. Who doesn’t love fried potatoes sometimes garnished with a nice egg on top?!

5. Gatorade blue lakes

Lake Brienz

Taking a leisurely walk through Interlaken will bring you to two different lakes, one of which is the most breathtaking lake you may ever see, known by Interlaken fanatics as Gatorade Blue Lake Brienz.

4. Swiss chocolate

Chocolat

I mean…enough said. A country known for its chocolate is someplace I want to be year round.

3. World class relaxation

Victoria Jungfrau

Interlaken is the home of The Grand Hotel Victoria Jungfrau. Stay at a world class hotel with world class food–and the best part: the Spa has won 5 stars and will take away any aches and pains after a day of adventuring.

2. Water sports for days

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While you may think Switzerland means snow and skiing, think again. Interlaken is also known for its white water rafting, canyoning, boating, and more. A basic summer night is turned into romance central when you are lounging by the lake watching the sunset.

1. Dream Land

Lake Thun Sunset

 

Walking through Interlaken is like walking through someplace you thought you could only dream of. With the snow capped mountains behind you and the gleaming lake in front of you, Interlaken will quickly become a place you never want to leave, and when you eventually have to, the spot you want to return to over and over again!

 

How to Enjoy Everything a City Has to Offer Without Overspending

Weekend travel within Europe is typically pretty simple. You can find cheap flights on sites such as SkyScanner, EasyJet, and Ryanair that will take you pretty much anywhere. Depending on your home base, country-to-country flights are about 2-3 hours. Again. 2-3 hours to go to a different country! Pretty great, right? Right. Well, kind of. The ease and accessibility of getting there is awesome. But once you arrive at your destination, you have to consider hostels, transportation, recreational activities, food, etc.

It’s exciting to be in a new country – you want to take advantage of everything the city has to offer. How do you reconcile a tight budget, only a few days to see an entire city, and wanting to eat every cultural dish in sight?

Plan…plan…plan…and then plan some more

TripAdvisor and Hostelworld are your best friends. Check out these sites to make sure the hostel you stay at:

  1. Is a safe and reputable place to stay for a few nights. You’re a student so you don’t need a 5-star hotel but it should be somewhere where you would show your parents. You don’t want to show up and realize your room has 25 strangers and bed bugs and then pay for another hostel. Keep in mind most places won’t offer refunds.
  2. Is in the city center. Metro passes can be expensive, let alone taxi rides across the city. If you find a hostel in the middle of everything, you may be able to skip public transportation and walk. Walking is a great money-saver because it’s a free activity and you get to wander and explore the city on your own terms.
  3. Offers at least a few amenities. Some hostels will offer free breakfast, dinner, or even drinks! Eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner out adds up quickly so welcome the free food! If you plan on showering during the weekend, check out the policy on towels. You don’t want to have to pay 2 euros for a semi-decent shower that will make you feel dirtier than you went in.

One of the best things about European cities is the food. Part of experiencing the culture is eating anything and everything. TripAdvisor will find amazing places for you to eat and you don’t have to use your museum money. Just choose how much $$ you want to spend and it will find the best places in your area to match your budget.

Learn before you go

Planning also means learning about the city beforehand. If you know a little about the culture and the history, it will be easier to decide what is most important to see while you’re there. Tourist sites can be pricey so you’ll want to pick and choose. Sometimes your hostel can get you free walking tours or point you to the best spots. Check with them before you embark on the day!

Use your status as a young person/student to your advantage

It may seem basic but using a student discount can save you big! It never hurts to ask if there’s a discount; the worst they can tell you is “no.” Now here’s your golden ticket: if you look young, capitalize on it! A good number of sites and attractions will offer free admission for those under the age of 16. I got into the Colosseum and a Roman Castle for free by using my preteen face to my advantage. True story.

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

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!