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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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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!

The Perfect Week: First Week in Florence

By Hannah Hardin and Ashleigh Farrar

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Monday: After a weekend of traveling, nothing feels better than going to a bar that makes you feel like home. With bartenders that know your name and an atmosphere reminiscent of your favorite college bar, you can’t beat a Lion’s Fountain Monday.
Our favorite drink: Magner’s cider. Don’t forget your wristband (1€) so you get that free shot with every drink.

Tuesday: If there is one thing that will get you out of bed after a wild Monday at Lion’s, it’s Astor breakfast.  That moment when the waiter asks you for your pick of three breakfast items is almost as glorious as finding out it’s only 7 euro. Can’t stomach a full breakfast? Check out their amazing American iced coffee.
What to order: Scrambled eggs, pancakes, and sausage.

Wednesday: For that mid-week pick me up, we suggest running along the Arno. Mainly because of the breathtaking views and lack of cobblestones. Not to mention, it’s hard to get lost when your following the river. #fit #blessed
Best time to go:  8:00 AM, the only time you won’t have to dodge tourists.

Thursday: If we’re spending any significant amount of money, it’s at Brandy Melville. The clothes you want to (and will always) wear.  Once you find that piece that you’re completely obsessed with, you can rest easy knowing that it comes in at least three different colors/patterns.
Our picks: Vintage flannels and one-size-fits-all ruffle shorts (Still unsure as to how the sizing works, but it just does. Trust the process.)

Friday: If you’re living in Florence and you haven’t experienced the Gusta Pizza food coma, you’re doing it wrong. The softest dough, the homemade sauce and DAT CHEESE DOE…dead, dying, dead. Just a heads up, don’t share (it’s weird). The best way to work off that food baby is to mosey on up to Piazzale Michelangelo (aka the best panoramic view of Florence).  Bring a bottle of wine to sweeten the view.
Hannah’s fave: Gustapizza (Arugula, Mozzarella, Parmesan, Fresh Tomatoes)
Ashleigh’s fave: Margherita (Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella, and Basil with a side of spicy oil)

Saturday: Let’s go to the beach, beach (let’s go get away)! Optimize your study abroad weekends by checking five towns off in one day. Cinque Terre (five lands) boasts the most beautiful views of the most colorful houses in Italy.  It’s just a quick train or bus ride from Florence until you’re catching rays and sipping margaritas.
Must eat: Pesto and focaccia
Must do: Hike from Vernazza to Monterosso (4th to 5th town)

Sunday: Finish off the perfect week by sipping on a spritz along the banks of the Arno. Catch the sunset beneath lantern-lit trees with your gal pals and reminisce on what an epic week you had.
Must do: Aperitivo (buy a drink for free access to a buffet of free food)

Most overrated tourist attractions in the world

Today I am compiling a list of the most overrated tourist attractions in the world. A lot of times we get this image of perfection from movies, TV, and books, but often times they don’t live up to our high expectations. Some tourist attractions leave you really disappointed while others truly blow you away. These are the attractions that left me disappointed along with a short explanation on what you should see and do instead. (Disclaimer: these are completely based on my personal experiences/preferences; everyone has different tastes and likes).

#1 The Mona Lisa (Paris, France)

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Everyone who has been to the Louvre in Paris has mixed opinions. Over my five visits to Paris I went to the Louvre a few times and this opinion never changed. You wait in a massive line (unless you have the Paris Pass) and then follow the rushing crowds to see the iconic Mona Lisa or are just too overwhelmed with art to know what to do with yourself. The Mona Lisa is tiny (H: 77 cm; L: 53 cm) and they don’t let you get really that close to it, which is understandable.  My other gripe with the Louvre is that every caption is in French, so to read about the painting you need to purchase an audio guide. Shouldn’t the Italian painters at least have their mother language there to describe their masterpieces? I don’t think everything should cater to be in English, but there should be some better alternatives.

I must admit, I enjoy art…but I can only spend so much time looking at it. In my opinion the Museum Orsay and Pompidou art galleries are a lot more interesting compared to the Louvre. So if you have to choose I would check out one of these as well, but please make sure to check out Saint Chappelle. This is one of the most beautiful interior churches and the 360-degree stained glass just blew me away. Paris can be overwhelming since there is so much to do and see, don’t try and rush it though. Enjoy and savior the beauty that is Paris.

#2 Mannequin Pis (Brussels, Belgium)

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This little guy wasn’t that disappointing since it was free to see him taking a piss, literally. Don’t get your hopes up and instead of rushing over to find this little guy head to the Delirium bar, which has hundreds of beers on tap and is a great place to have a few drinks and get delirious.

#3 Hollywood Sign (Los Angeles, California)

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I have seen the Hollywood Sign so many times in movies and just expected to see it from the streets near the Chinese Theater and the surrounding area. To see the actual sign you need to drive to a look out and even then it is still pretty far away. There are better places to go though. You can take a hike to get a lot closer and see a better view, which I would recommend.

#4 Astronomical Clock SHOW (Prague, Czech Republic)

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The Astronomical clock is one of my favorite attractions in Prague. It is magnificent, but the show every hour is a big letdown. Hundreds of people line up every hour to watch these 600-year-old puppets perform a very short and disappointing show.  This show would have been epic 600 years ago, but now we are just too spoiled. Stay for the show and see for yourself, or head to the top of the tower for a stunning view of the city.

#5 Canal Tour (Venice, Italy)

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I have mixed feelings about this tour; it was expensive and short, but it is just one of those things you do in Venice. The first big letdown was the construction and advertisements in the canals. This was disappointing since I was expecting The Italian Job first action scene I guess. We grabbed some wine and hopped aboard the boat, the tour was over fairly quickly, and I think all of us were a bit unimpressed. Venice is a beautiful city, but that Euro could of gone to a lot better use. I don’t regret doing this since I am not sure what else we would have done during the short visit to Venice (probably drank more wine).

#6 London Eye (London, England)

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This was the biggest waste of money ever.  Trust me the view is not that great and getting a good photo with YOU in it is impossible with the glare/glass. Still go see the London Eye as it is a cool attraction, but I recommend avoiding the ride.

Instead of riding the London Eye go visit one of London’s FREE museums like my favorite The British Museum (famous things like the Original Rosetta Stone are here)

Although there is a few thousand of people who will disagree with me about the London Eye on Tripadvisior, if you really want to ride it then I would recommend going at night. I still can’t justify riding a glorified ferris wheel for $33.

What are you most disappointing attractions? Leave a comment below. Check out SwigMeetsWorld for more travel tips and stories!

How do I make abroad feel like home? Gioco a calcetto!

Moving to a new city, country and continent is a huge change that would scare anyone. So it’s no surprise that culture shock is one of the most common fears for soon-to-be study abroad students.

Not knowing the language and the customs was one of the hardest parts for me when I arrived in Italy. It’s usually the little things that make you miss home. For instance, I still can not figure out which side of the sidewalk to walk on. Also, I still have trouble deciphering between the detergent and the fabric softener in the grocery store. It’s the little quirks like this that frustrate you and make you wish you were back home where everyone walks on the right side and Tide pods are a plenty.

Now the big question is- how do you connect yourself to your new home? For me, it was joining my school’s soccer team.

Spending time with my teammates both on and off the field helped me make new friends from Italy, Germany and all over the US. Not only do we play twice a week, but we also do cooking lessons, aperitivo and chocolate shots!

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I also picked up a few Italian words like my position- portiere (goalie) and bocca lupo (good game). Additionally, playing against native Italians is a cool experience that I would have never gotten back in the US. Not to mention, I get a little exercise in every week to work off all my pasta I’ve been enjoying.

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So, for all the students at home anxious to go abroad my recommendation is this- join a club, go on the free trips and take advantage of the opportunities around you. It’s difficult to connect to your new home right away. But getting involved will speed up the process.

10 myths about Italians that you probably believed

10. Italians have crazy tempers
It takes patience to be surrounded by American tourists constantly.
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9. They never work
Sure, there might be a few espresso breaks or a strike but Italians are hard workers too!
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8. It’s all spaghetti and pepperoni pizzas
There’s more to eat here than pizza and pasta and cuisines vary greatly by region. Oh, and ordering pepperoni will get you a vegetable.
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7. All prices are negotiable
Not true. You wouldn’t try to bargain with the clerk at Target, so don’t try it here. You’ll make it weird.
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6. They’re a bunch of mafiosos
How many people have actually made an offer you couldn’t refuse?
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5. Food is significantly healthier here
I’ve had my share of sketchy truck stop snacks in this country. Something tells me those off-brand paprika Pringles weren’t organic.
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4. All men are Italian stallions
Kiss-y noises aren’t exactly overwhelming the ladies.
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3. Italians are total winos
A lot of people think all Italians are lushes constantly taking advantage of cheap wine. Not the case. In fact, some of the most embarrassing drunkards in Italy are American.
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2. A nation of mama’s boys
More likely, living at home is a strategy to save money rather than a Bates-like obsession with Mom.
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1. Everyone talks like Mario and Luigi
Where are your overalls? Why aren’t you trying to defeat Bowser? Oh, this isn’t a children’s video game?
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10 things that wouldn’t fly in America

By Tierney Smith and Sara Wiseman

10. Constant striking
Strikes are part of the routine here. Why is no one irrationally angry when today’s train got cancelled?
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9. Decent wine that costs less than water
Wine this cheap in America was likely made under an inmate’s cot.
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8. Moving and working at a sloth’s pace
There is never a situation that can’t be halted for an espresso or a panino. Adjust your schedule accordingly.
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7. Tipping is optional
Although, maybe the waitresses at Denny’s would act appropriately if we only tipped when we wanted to.
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6. Dogs in places of business, often sans a leash
“Lady and the Tramp” was sweet and all but there’s something unsettling about a schnuzer watching me eat my spaghetti.
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5. Eating this much bread and pasta
You can only pray that your metabolism will forgive you for late night pasta binge with a side of an entire baguette covered in Nutella. These are confusing times.
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4. Non-existent personal space
There is no more room on this bus.
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3. Two-year-olds riding bikes
Often at 3 a.m.
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2. Not being able to buy a week’s worth of groceries
Probably because your new fridge is the size of a Nintendo 64.
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1. Fire exits do not exist
Especially in crowded, underground clubs. It adds more excitement to the night. I smell danger.
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