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By makenadingwell

As the final two weeks wind down, I make my return to my favorite businesses around Madrid to spend my last euros.

  1. Café de la Luz – After wandering around the city, I usually take every visiting friend to this little café hidden in the Malasaña neighborhood to recharge and sip a café con leche. Filled with cozy couches, quirky tables, strange artwork, and quiet music, its great for catching up on work or taking a break from zigzagging through crowds. I’ve heard almost every European language in this café and only recently found out that there is an incense-filled basement floor with dim lighting and beanbags. Café de la Luz is the kind of place Zooey Deschanel would own.
  2. Irish Rover – At least once a week, I meet up with a friend or two here to watch a football match. Always full of Spaniards and foreigners, this restaurant and pub hosts language cafes, business groups, and passionate fans, especially since Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabéu stadium is around the corner. Although we previously went to the outdoor café to watch the games, the Irish Rover and its rustic, woodland décor and warm nachos prove best in the cold weather. Leaving this restaurant is like leaving a game as the masses cloaked in team scarfs and beanies descend from the stadium.
  3. Mercado de San Miguel – A friend and I started chatting with a couple Finnish tourists on the metro the other day, and they asked about a good place to get Tapas. They told us they had already tried, but ended up not getting what they wanted. So I suggested Mercado San Miguel, an old and bustling indoor market with little beautiful little booths selling all types of tapas, mostly for one euro. They also sell paella, pizza, churros, Turkish delights, gelato, and a whole lot more. It's the quintessential place to see and try everything. The almonds covered in wasabi are my favorite to snack on and trick people into eating.
  4. Tiger – This shop is fundamentally random and originally Danish. I first went here with my hostmom’s daughter and granddaughter and was perplexed by the selection of art supplies, spices, notebooks, candles, toys, office products, light fixtures, party supplies, and much more, all for ridiculously low prices. I always walk out with a couple things and a very confused facial expression.
  5. Círculo de Bellas Artes (rooftop) – There are panoramic views of the most iconic parts of Madrid, including the Plaza de Cíbeles and the Edificio Metrópolis, as well as the faraway Sierra de Guadarram peaks and the entire city skyline. In the late summer, the bar/restaurant/café is the best place to relax on the lounge chairs or fake grass and sip a latté or mojito.

By clairemac93

Having lived in two locations abroad for a year each, one time in high school (Germany) and the other in college (South Africa), I can’t help but think of what I would change or tweak if I could do them over again. Though I would never regret anything I’ve done, most of the advice that I would give my younger self, or anyone studying abroad, are things TO do, rather than NOT TO do.

As such, I’ve compiled a list of tips or suggestions as to how to get the most out of your study abroad experience!

  1. Try all of the nomz. I’m a firm believer that food tells you a lot about a culture, and also gains you respect with locals who see you branching out. Though some cringe at my having eaten a sheep’s face in South Africa, it can’t be any grosser than a hotdog from the United States or McNuggets at McDonalds, of which I have no idea what the origins of the food are. At least with the sheep’s face I knew it came from a real animal as I was looking at its face, and I shook hands with the man who cooked it in front of me. Just take a deep breath, remember this may be the only time you can try this, and eat it. As a caveat to this- do not, under any circumstance, reject food from someone. If someone is making the effort and spending the time and money to cook a meal for you, they are trying to show they care. So please, if I can eat chunky sour apple and carrot purée to show my respect for someone’s mom trying to feed me, you can eat the unfamiliar food too.
  2. Do a homestay, or create a homestay. I know, I know, some friend of yours told you some story about her sister’s boyfriend’s uncle who had a weird host family who locked him in a closet or something. However, 99.99% of actual host families are volunteers and nice, welcoming people who are eager to learn about your culture as well as share theirs. Homestays mean home-cooked meals and an intimate look at the everyday lives of locals. You can be a cultural authority on everything from a traditional family holiday meal to what type of toothpaste locals buy. If you can’t stay the entire time with a host family, ask a friend if you could go home with them for a weekend. Then do it with another friend. This will help you to gain a more representative picture of the culture and also potentially free food and a comfortable bed for a weekend.
  3. Put your camera/Smartphone down. Now, this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and I don’t mean you shouldn’t take any photos. But a lot of times I find that people are so focused on capturing the moment that they end up missing it. Forgetting a memory is not the most horrible thing to ever happen- and the events that most moved you will remain in your memory, whether they have a picture of them or not.
  4. Make a concerted effort to stay away from your countrymen. I hate to say it, but it’s a comfort blanket. I couldn’t tell you how many students abroad I’ve seen whose pictures from their entire stay are not only just with other Americans, but only with Americans from their home university. But I totally get it- a lot of programs house everyone from the program together, sometimes you don’t speak the local language, and it takes some time to make local friends. But whether it be joining a rec soccer team, a choir, getting a job as a waitress or bartender, or just hitting up a study buddy for a drink—make sure that when you look back at your week, you can pinpoint times when you put yourself out of your comfort zone and reached out to locals [As a side note to this: traveling in large groups of Americans is a surefire way of preventing locals from talking to you. Big groups are unapproachable and scary. Try going to a café on your own or going to a bar with just one other person]
  5. Make your own opportunity. This is a new one for me, but one I’m hoping to bring home in full-force. I’m used to being the person who waits anxiously until another person asks me to do something with them, and sometimes, that means I never become friends with that person because they never ask. So instead, you create your own event. For example, hosting a dinner. You can cook the first time and ask people to bring refreshments or snacks, and then to continue it, you can ask if someone’s willing to host it the next time. This way, at least the first time it gets people to come over, incentivized by the free meal, and hopefully by the end they’ll think you’re awesome. Or host a movie night with hot chocolate. My French friend hosted a wine and cheese event in her room. I suggest these things as someone (and I know I’m not rare) who has been very comfortable in their friend group back home that I’d forgotten how to make new friends and had to relearn. So stop waiting, and create the opportunity!
  6. Don’t accept it’s the end, until it is the end. I’ll explain this, as I’m guilty of it myself. You get to the last month or two of your program, and you can see the end in sight, but you still have a fair amount of time left. Instead of spending it like your first month when you bounced around doing everything, you get wrapped up in the idea that you don’t have the time for things, or become sad over leaving. But there’s no reason to be sad until you are actually leaving, or back in your country. You’ll end up regretting time spent not making new friends or having new experiences or being sad about something that hadn’t even happened yet.
  7. Take your lessons home. Again, this is something new for me but one of my biggest take-aways from South Africa. I often did things, such as stay in a township or try new restaurants or go exploring an area that I wasn’t yet acquainted with, and I caught myself wondering why I didn’t do these things at home. Additionally, when meeting new people in South Africa or their families, I found myself asking them about their parents, grandparents, where they grew up, what their house growing up was like, etc. Then I returned home and realized I’d never even asked my Dad what his grandparents were like. Why am I so curious abroad and yet so complacent in the familiar back home? So as a challenge to yourself, try to explore your home town like you did the town you studied abroad in. Haven’t eaten at that restaurant? Go eat there. Haven’t ever been down that street? Go there. Pretend you are an exchange student in your own town and see what you can find.

And my last piece of advice, is just to have no regrets. Accepting that not every part of your study abroad experience is going to be positive is part of the deal. You never know when you’ll get to travel like this again. So when things start to suck, which is as common to happen abroad as in 6 months months back home, reach out and get out of it as fast as you can. You are so lucky to live abroad- an opportunity that many don’t get. So have fun, do equal amounts of smart and less smart things, branch out, and enjoy!

By clairemac93

The Gods Must Be Crazy. Though an appreciation for British humor was genetically lost on me, this film is worth a view in other ways. It takes place in Botswana, supposedly, but shows the experience of a Khoisan man, or “bushmen”. Khoisan, as written about previously, are the oldest “people” or ethnic group in the world and we can all draw our ancestry to them. I have been to the Khoisan reservation in South Africa three separate times, and each time have learned something new about their way of life, and especially how this group is adapting to ever-encroaching development. When visiting they showed me things like how to find medicine from basic bush plants (including delicious wild mint you can chew on), how keeping the camp area clean is a way of seeing if a snake is in the area by the disturbance of sand, and mating rituals within the tribe.

Aside from the Khoisan, this film is a nice display of, whether they meant to or not, varying viewpoints on who is the outsider in this world. So many look at tribes like the Khoisan and believe them to be underdeveloped or uneducated- as if they are at a disadvantage living their lifestyle, and that their natural progression should be towards a life more like the West. However, they may, and probably do, look at you as the dumb or weird one. I mean, from a personal perspective, I can’t even sew on a button let alone start a fire, and if dropped into the wilderness I would probably be running around trying to catch rabbits with my hands (in fact, as a child my cousins and I used to lie on the deck and dunk our heads in the water to try to catch fish with our bare hands, and were continually disappointed by our lack of success. There was literally no learning curve) In the end, does it make you smarter to be able to use technology and read a book or to be able to provide basic human needs for yourself? Whether it be tribes like the Khoisan, or low-income individuals all over the world, there is a high probability that they know how to do a lot more practical tasks than an “educated” person from the city or the western world, because they’ve had to learn how to do that.

By makenadingwell

My birthday always falls during finals week. Usually by the time the day comes, some friends have gone home and some have locked themselves away in a library, fighting off Facebook and other temptations. However here I face a different set of obstacles. Everyone is still in Madrid, but it’s the beginning of our last week, finals are just beginning, and I’m turning 21 abroad.

However, this day can be filed under ‘why homestays are the best.’ I woke up early and received messages from caffeinated friends in the U.S., still awake and studying in Gelman library. Shortly after breakfast my host mom woke up and greeted me with a little gift. “¡Feliz cumple!” It was simple silver and leather wrap bracelet and was such a lovely surprise.

For lunch, my host mom cooked her famous paella, accompanied by morcilla, toast with tomatoes, and delicious sangria for two of my friends and me. The night before I went to dinner with a group which encompassed a magnitude of mojitos and tapas and dim lighting. Despite being so far away, my birthday this year was probably the coziest I’ve had in years. Later in the afternoon I went on a walk, despite the cold and drizzly weather, with a cappuccino in one hand, and an umbrella in the other. After drifting in and out of a couple stores, most notably a Real Madrid store, I bartered with a family of florists to buy a bouquet of flowers to bring back to my host mom.

Even though the directors forgot about my birthday, this weekend highlights the benefits of a homestay and the kindness of the family you have abroad. Whenever my friends and I spend time together, we always chat about our host families and their antics. I know all about the architect dad and his rambunctious sons, the mom and her cool CD and teapot collections, the host brother and his nameless band, and the housekeeper with her teething toddler. At the end of the day, we all go back home to our families, chatting away in Spanish, about our friends and our city adventures. I’ve learned Spanish words for clumsy, cheesy, and such, all because of my friends and their host families and I wouldn’t have it, or my birthday, any other way.

By kfarishta

After another month of travel, I have finally arrived in Nepal—my last stop. Before arriving in Kathmandu, we had a very impactful experience in Jordan. I am still left with many unanswerable questions and a yearning to do more.

Upon arriving to Amman, our country coordinators told us to “put on our refugee caps.” This was their metaphoric way of saying: Jordan is a country of refugees. You cannot understand the political, economic, and social factors if you do not understand and recognize the refugee situation. Within the first few weeks of the program, we visited Al-Baqaah Camp (the largest and oldest UNRWA Palestinian Refugee Camp), Al-Za’atari Camp (the second largest refugee camp in the world and the largest Syria exodus settlement), and the Al-Hashimi Al-Shamali region (the largest urban settlement of newly arriving Iraqi refugees in Amman).

Visiting Za’atari gave me a critical perspective of the refugee camp conditions and provided meaningful insight on how family structures affected support, security and stability. Food supply coupons were provided based on a formula constructed on age, gender, and necessity. If a family member was missing, the entire family bore the burden of limited resources that could help sustain the entire family. As a result, family structures, which were divided within the camp system or separated between the Syrian and Jordanian border, required their children to engage in labor to generate supplemental income for the family’s day-to-day living expenses. In particular, we met with a mother, her son (13 years old) and daughter (11 years old). They came from the Dara rural area of Syria where the Syrian crisis had started. The husband was a government soldier in Syria, but during the conflict when he retracted his allegiance to Bashar’s regime, he was deserted and sent back to Syria. Consequently, without him as a father figure who primarily earned the income in the family, the son was forced into labor. He pushed carts for 1 Jordanian Dinar for over two kilometers, bearing 50 kilograms of weight. This prevented his access to education because he was burdened with providing for his family. The daughter, when asked about her father cried and could not answer. The mother said, although the daughter has the chance go to school, without money to pay for a uniform she is unable to go. The mother noted that without her husband the family could not survive in the camp much longer.

We also met with Palestinians who escaped in the exoduses of 1948 and 1967. The conditions had marginally improved over the decades and the right to return home was a distant illusion. Food stipends were halved. A single mother we met was struggling to make ends meet for her disabled son and herself. In the Iraqi settlement, the survivors fled the atrocious and inhumane torture from ISIS. One woman accounted that her brother was executed with a nail drilled through his chest. Escape was the only way out of violence.

What is happening in the Middle Eastern region is a huge burden for host nations and conflict nations alike. There is painstakingly clear evidence of genocide, crimes against humanity, etc. There is immense injustice and immeasurable human suffering. Such human rights violations will be tumultuous for progress to occur. How can the international community practice its ‘responsibility to protect’ to stop genocide?

Thank you for reading. I hope all of us can open our minds and comprehend this grave human rights condition and also keep these resilient people in our hearts.

Genocide cannot continue.

By Hannah Radner

After living in London for three months and looking forward to another six, I have learned some very valuable things about money and saving. In preparation for this year, over the last few years I have done my best to be frugal so as to save enough to have a good time abroad. I quickly found out my methods would fall short; I couldn't simply save up and assume I would have enough. I have to make a budget.

It is nearly impossible to stick to a budget in the first few weeks, as you are finding out just how much things cost. I didn't really know how much I would be spending on food until I started to go grocery shopping in my second week here. I now know that I spend, on average, about seventeen pounds a week on groceries, and then some extra when I eat out. It was harder still in the beginning because I didn't have a UK debit card set up yet; being here on a long-term program, I knew it would be useful to set up a bank account, so eventually I did. Before, I would just take cash out of Barclays (Bank of America has a partnership with Barclays so that when you use your B of A card at a Barclays ATM there is no transaction fee) and carry some around with me. In a way that is worse than carrying a debit card, because you see how much cash you have in your wallet and you think, "look at all this cash I have! I have plenty! So I can spend it!" Not true. As we all know, money does not grow on trees, and cash does in fact run out when you spend it. Shocker! Now that I have a debit card, I put a certain amount in my account every time I top up, and I simply aim to use it as little as possible (this is not always easy, but it is a policy that has worked in general so far). My spending has definitely slowed down from the beginning of the year, as I looked at my American bank account and remembered the existence of the exchange rate, which tends to hover around $1.60-$1.70 per pound.

Realising I cannot spend as much as I thought was a wake-up call; it will benefit me because it forces me to reconsider my priorities in the way of entertainment. I don't want to spend money on things I don't want to do because that is a waste; my experience will not be muddled with memories of bad films, bland cuisine and underwhelming travel destinations. Kind of like the word limit we have on essays here, it forces me to keep only what's really important and leave out the fluff. Keeping my priorities in order, I am beginning to think about my budget for 2015; How much will I spend on dining out? Entertainment like plays, movies, and museums? Travel? Where do I really want to go? What is the cheapest way to do it?

Living abroad is forcing me to examine my finances more closely than ever before, which I think is going to prepare me quite well for adulthood. Sure, DC may seem dirt cheap to me compared to here when I return, but that doesn't mean my habits will go away. After nine months of fierce budgeting, I will continue to consider my priorities and save as much as I can. The time for me to start paying off student loans feels like it's approaching faster than it was two years ago in some sort of scary temporal doppler effect, and I anticipate being glad I was able to hone my personal budgeting skills sooner rather than later.

By rbhargava

Continuing from my last post….after a full day and two nights at Port Shepstone, we drove 2 hours north to Durban in the morning. As typical of our entire trip thus far, the weather was cloudy and a bit chilly…so the beautiful beaches of Durban were a bit underwhelming. We spent the day walking up the main coastline in the city from our backpackers in the south of the city center to the Moses Mabida stadium (where several World Cup games were held) on the north side of the city center. Ever since seeing the stadium during World Cup games in 2010, I’ve always wanted to see the Mabida stadium up close…so I insisted we all take a tour of it in the afternoon. Following the tour we returned back to our backpackers, rested up for a bit, and then headed to a popular restaurant that served Durban’s most famous Indian dish – Bunny Chow…which is hollowed out bread filled with curry. I had been looking forward to eating Indian food in Durban since arriving in South Africa, but unfortunately the food was a disappointment. South Africa is said to have the largest diaspora of Indians in the world, and Durban is at the epicenter of that. More so than the Western Cape, Durban really represents South Africa’s reputation as the “rainbow nation.”

On our second day in Durban, we visited the famous Victoria Street Market. This indoor market caters specifically to tourists and reminded me much of what many markets I have seen in India look like. After wandering around the market for a bit, we drove to the King Shaka airport to return our two rental cars and drop of Jonas at the airport as he had a flight back to Stellenbosch (he still had exams to take!). When we returned to Durban the remaining five of us decided to take an city bus tour…which also was more of a disappointment than anything else. At the end of the day, Durban was a very interesting city that we all enjoyed…but I came to appreciate what everyone back in Stellenbosch kept telling me – besides beautiful beaches – there’s not much to do or see in Durban. As the next morning, our group was splitting for good…we enjoyed a nice homemade meal at our backpackers and reminisced about our great trip.

In the morning, Rita and I left Maren, Clara, and Daniela for a full day bus ride from Durban to Johannesburg…to meet up with two other friends – Hunter and Jannis. It was only fitting that it rained the entire day as I was quite sad that the first leg of my journey had come to an end. Not only that, although I was to see Maren and Jonas again in Stellenbosch before heading home…this was my final goodbye to Clara and Daniela! By far the most amazing part of my study abroad experience was the friends I was able to make, so I was very sad to say goodbye to two of my closest that morning. I’m keeping my fingers crossed I’ll be able to visit both of them in Germany soon though!

Luckily though, having learned from our mistake the first time, Rita and I booked a comfortable Greyhound bus for our journey to Joburg, and were able to relax before beginning another epic trip the next day.

When we arrived at our backpackers in Joburg, we were happily greeted by Jannis…who had been in Joburg for a few days waiting for our arrival. Having just said goodbye to two of my favorite Germans in the morning…it was great to be able to say hi to another after a long bus ride in the evening. As we shared our travel stories, we patiently waited for Hunter to arrive. He had been traveling with his parents and sister…but with no cell phone…we were worried we might never be able to find him. But no worries…he arrived later in the night and we all got ready to leave early in the morning the next day. Funny enough, this was the second of four times I would be in Joburg (although the other three were just in the airport) during my time abroad…but I would see none of the city…besides the drive back and forth from the bus terminal to our backpackers. Although I wish I had time to spend in the country’s largest city – since arriving in July I had been bombarded and brainwashed by students at Stellies about the fact that there was nothing to do there. I’m sure I would have enjoyed the city, but in the words of many of my South African friends…”Why would you ever want to go to Joburg? The only thing to do there is go to the mall. They have lots of malls.”

Anyway, our plans for the next few days would take us north to Polokwane, south to the beautiful Blyde River Canyon, back north to Polokwane again, further north into Zimbabwe, and then up to our final destination (or at least where Hunter and I would leave to return back to Stellies from) – the majestic Victoria Falls. We were in for quite an adventure!

By bevvy2212

This week's topic is on music.

Before coming to France, I was somewhat aware of how big electro/ house music is in Europe. I myself am not a big fan of the dubstep and mindless head-nodding to the beats, so I was quite dubious about European club music when I first came to France. To me, the beats all sound monotonous and I often get tired of it very soon and end up sulking in a corner. So I asked my French friends why they like the dubstep so much and their answer was quite, unconventional. I'm not sure if this is all-inclusive for the general feelings toward dubstep  but they told me that since school is generally very stressful these days, the monotonous dubstep beats somewhat numb the mind after a while and it's kind of relaxing, to just let loose and nod along. I found this explanation so fascinating because I always thought of dubstep as noises, not music. But this actually brought me new perspective on viewing dubstep, which segways into the next topic that I'm going to discuss.

One of the most popular musicians in France is Stromae. (He is actually from Belgium, but most people automatically assume he's French.) His song "Alors on danse" (which translates to "so one dances")became a huge hit in the US and from first glance, I, like many other americans, thought this was just a normal dance song and since it's in French and I didn't pay much attention to the lyrics. But one time I actually paid attention to the lyrics and it's actually quite dark and pessimistic. I read more into Stromae and his songs are in general quite representative of the current generation of European youth. "When we say money we say spending. When we say forever, it means divorce. When we say family, we say grief, because misfortune never comes alone. So we go out and forget our problems. So we dance." Referring back to what my French friends were saying about numbing themselves with dubstep, the current European generation is facing a slumping economy so they are under a lot of stress. The youth unemployment rate in France is roughly 24% and in countries such as Spain where the economies were really hard hit by the crisis in 2012, youth unemployment rate reached to almost 50%, which is a ghastly prospect. Stomae's songs, albeit catchy, all have deeper meanings underneath, which I found fascinating because most songs these days have mindless lyrics talking about unrequitted love and insignificant things but having songs that have meaningful lyrics and catchy at the same time.

It's interesting to see how music across the world varies. When I was in Peru this past summer, they played a lot of latin/bachata/cha cha music (which I absolutely loved but couldn't really dance to). I loved how everyone there can dance, not just girls. The guys actually got really good moves and every time when I ask the boys at the school that I taught at if they like to dance, they always responded with "oh yeah I love dancing" and then start busting out moves on the play ground. Whereas guys dancing in the US is kind of perceived as feminine, it's very normal and popular there in Latin America, which I really liked.

By Jess Yacovelle

I'm closing in on my last month studying abroad, so I have a pretty good grasp on both London and King's College. Therefore, I thought I'd share the five weirdest things that I've seen in Europe, as told from the point of view of an American.

1) There are plaques everywhere. And I do mean everywhere: on the side of buildings, on benches, even in the middle of the sidewalk. These plaques proclaim certain areas to have historical significance. King's College, for example, has a few located around campus in honor of Virgina Woolf. Various plaques exist in the Green Park area in regards to past monarchs. Where this gets a little weird, however, is when these plaques start to get really, really specific. I understand, for example having a plaque at the home of where the queen used to live, but do we really need one at the hotel in Canterbury where she used to put up her guests for the night? Yes, plaques honoring famous writers are great (especially for me, the English major), but must we put up plaques telling us where these writers used to eat breakfast? London is an incredibly historical city, but sometimes it can be a little too historical.

2) Elevators. Elevators are so weird in the United Kingdom. In the US, you hit either the up or the down bottom, and an elevator going in that direction stops at your floor and picks you up. Simple, right? In London, there is one button for you to press, and the elevator comes to get you in the order that people have called for it. Which means, that if someone in the basement pushes the button before someone on the ground floor, the elevator will bypass the ground floor, go down to the basement, and then come back up to the ground floor. Now, this is simply irritating and only a little strange... Until class lets out and everyone hits the button at the exact same time. I've literally stood on the ground floor for five straight minutes, watching as the elevator passes me down to the basement, up to the third floor, down to the second basement, back up to the fifth floor... How much more inconvenient can you be?

3) Trains. I'm not going to lie, I've lived in London for over two months now, and I still can't figure out the train ticketing system. For trains in London, you can pay with your Oyster card (aka the underground card)... sometimes. It's supposedly cheaper to do so than to buy a physical ticket, but it's never very clear when you're allowed to and when you're not. Obviously, if you're leaving London you can't pay with a London underground card, but what if you're taking a train to the London Gatwick airport? Nope, you need a ticket. But why? No one knows.

4) Cheerleaders at a hockey game. No, I'm not making this up; how could I? It's so bizarre and unheard of from an American standpoint. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I went to a hockey game whilst on a long-weekend in Prague, and I was absolutely stunned to find a platform in the corner of the stands where home-team cheerleaders performed. What were they doing there? Cheerleaders don't belong at a hockey game! Hockey is a sport characterized by speed, skill, and intensity, not pom-poms and frowny faces when the opposing team scores. And oh yes, I didn't make that up; the cheerleaders literally crossed their arms over their chest and frowned when the away team scored. I can think of literally nothing less characteristic of ice hockey as a sport than that display.

5) Abandoned underground stations. I know these exist in the United States too, but it's even stranger to pass by them in London because of the aforementioned history of the city. These stations haven't all been demolished or bricked over. For example, the Strand underground station - which is right next to King's College - is abandoned, but the building that leads down into the station still exists. A sign proclaiming the existence of the Strand Station hangs above the entrance, and only a metal gate separates the brick interior from the rest of the world. These stations don't appear on any maps, but they are everywhere. It almost makes you wonder how many abandoned tunnels are beneath London's surface.

By sreyavaidya

This past year, I have slept on many things in many places. Trains, planes, and cars. Often, we stayed in the shadiest hostels weaved into the dimly lit alleyways of Kasbahs (Islamic citadel) all over Morocco. When I think bank on these unglamorous times with the dusty furniture, lumpy mattresses, and foreboding journeys to get to them, I’m reminded not of the tiredness I felt from lack of sleep, or the ache in every bone in my body. Instead, I remember the unimaginable experiences and sites they have lead me to discover: The sprawling and vibrant Fes Medina, the largest in the world; The blue streets of Chefchouen; The secluded beaches of Tangier where the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean finally meet, but, to name a few.


Chefchouen Tangiers






...continue reading "18 Hours in the Rif Mountains"