All photos credited to Danny dePasquale.
You’ve recently arrived in a foreign city and the idea that it will ever feel like home might seem pretty far-fetched as you spend your first few days walking in circles and passing out at 8 p.m. from jet lag. But don’t worry, this unfamiliar new place will swiftly turn into one of your most beloved locales, and a few simple steps will help you find your way sooner than later.
Walk, then walk some more: Get really comfortable with walking. You might have sore feet for a few days, but it’s a small price to pay for getting to soak in your new environment while mapping out your most-used routes. Spend some times on the streets figuring out your favorite path to your classrooms, apartment, grocery store and other most-visited spots. Having a map with you will also help to avoid making aimless circles–while a traditional map is great, if you don’t want to look like a complete tourist with your nose stuck in the pages, City Maps 2Go is a great app for your smartphone to reference without using data or WiFi.
Explore every eatery: Stopping in the cafes and restaurants that catch your eye while out and about serves a dual purpose–not only will you get to immerse yourself in the city’s culture the best way possible (through food, obviously), finding your favorite haunts lets you get to know the people who work there. Which brings us to…
Talk to locals: There’s no better guide to a city than someone who was born and bred there. Ask for directions when you feel like you’re spinning in circles, ask your waiter where he likes to go out after work and chat with a friendly shop-owner about her favorite restaurants. You’ll discover hidden gems with the ultimate stamp of approval.
Get to know metro maps: As helpful as walking is for getting acquainted with your city, familiarizing yourself with the public transportation of your town is a good idea for getting to farther-flung spots around the city. Spend a little time studying the bus and metro routes and you’ll feel a lot more confident about heading out to find your way to Fiesole from Florence, or the Louvre in Paris.
Take pictures: Snap photos of places you want to revisit while you’re out and about, whether it’s an adorable cafe, a margarita bar or a curious museum. It’s easy to forget about that awesome restaurant you spotted on your way to class, so making photo memories helps you not only recall names but also provides great Instagram material. Win-win.
Chances are your program provides plenty of walking tours, maps and various materials intended to help you find your way around, but the most rewarding discoveries you make about your city will be those you find on your own.
Time to take a stroll down Memory Lane with our top 10 songs from your 2013 semester abroad. Whether these songs bring you back to that club in Prague, that awesome bar in Berlin or even your walk past il Duomo every morning, hopefully this playlist gets your blood flowing in loving memory of your time in Europe.
The weather is getting a bit chillier and the yearning to gut a pumpkin lingers in the air. It’s obviously time to dress as something scary or scandalous and eat a ton of sugar. Students studying abroad may be nervous that their Halloween traditions may be in danger. Fear not, the Celtic holiday is in full force in abroad cities with large American student populations. Because why would we sit this one out? Halloween is dope. Here’s what you have to look forward to.
The best part of any holiday is the food and Halloween is particularly fun to dress up your drinks and snacks. So, get in the spookiest mood possible by making yourself a Bloody Rum Punch or a Corpse Survivor!
You’re gonna have to roll up your sleeves and DIY your costume this year so use the God-given gift of Google to lend a helping hand. There won’t be a plethora of discount costume stores like in America. You’re going to have to really want to be a hot zombie or a scantly clad school girl this year. These will be exciting times and can show just how creative your new friends can be.
Although Halloween isn’t an Italian holiday, let’s face it, you’re surrounded by Americans and you won’t look like a freak if you go out to the bar in a costume that night. If you’ll be traveling during Halloween, make sure to dress in theme like a Greek god for a Greece Long Weekend.
- Walking tours
Get creeped out by your abroad city. It’ll be awesome to sign up for a haunted tour of Florence to explore ancient prisons, ghost stories and spooky allies in your home abroad.ancient prisons, medieval ghosts. Or how about hearing of the less romantic side of Roma? Less amore and accordion playing and and more-so sinister executions.
And so, your Halloween celebration won’t necessarily be handed to you like candy this year. It’s all about having fun with fellow spooky fans and make your own fun. Have a DIY costume contest with your friends and brew some dangerously delicious concoctions. Whatever you do, don’t be a quitter, have a blast!
Midterms have ended. Let that small sentence reverberate in your skull for a little bit, it carries a lot of weight. It means you spent a lot of time studying, writing, practicing and wishing that it would all just come to a screeching halt. Well, it finally has. And you’ve finally hopped aboard with Bus2alps to have the best 10 days of your life on fall break!
It is an amazing trip ahead of us. But it all started with a flight or a 15 or 12 hour drive from Rome or Florence, respectively. We readjusted neck pillows and popped off our shoes for a trek that took us to Bohemia, the Czech Republic that is. Our first stop for the Northern Loop fall break trip is the freshly revolutionized city of Prague.
We checked into the Czech Inn (tehehe) and headed out for a city tour with New Europe, a professional walking tour company. The local tour guides showed us around the city and gave us a history lesson in the country’s complicated past of political loyalties and its recent Velvet Revolution.
The Old Town Square took our breath away.
And so did the Clock Tower Pub Crawl we hopped on that night. It took us to some of the coolest bars in the city. Like Propaganda, a hip cave-style bar dripping in Banksy inspired art pieces and sarcastic communism themed portraits.
Oh, and the beer was pretty cool too. Beer is cheaper than water in Prague, you know. And the Czech Republic has the highest rate of beer consumption per capita.
With our Bus2alps walking tour the following day took us to one of the greatest works of Gothic architecture, the Prague Castle.
And then to the John Lennon Wall a graffitied, breathing symbol of the youth’s revolt against political oppression.
We then walked across the famous Charles Bridge to a traditional Czech meal. Czech food is heavy and usually consists of potatoes, meats, cheeses and beer in some variety.
After a day of exploring the Bohemian city center and a dancing the night away at Lucerna (an ’80s and ’90s club), we departed for Berlin for the next leg of our Northern Loop trip!
All of the pictures from the Northern Loop trip will be posted on the Bus2alps Facebook after it’s over. However, we will be posting some pictures on this blog to keep you in the loop!