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By bienvenidosasantiago

Last week I wrote about my top three restaurant recommendations when in Santiago, but this week is a little bit different! Especially after just feasting with my host-family for mother's day. This about the great food you'll be getting in your home-stay.

Let's start with the obvious and most simple: palta, AKA avocado. Chile is the pioneer, champion, and all-around winner for quality of avocado. Just like the States, throw that on some toast for breakfast (my current tip is adding merken, a special spice in Chile made from dried and ground peppers from the campo). Or, add it to a salad with tomato and lemon and olive oil! Put it on a sandwich! Whatever you can think of- you can do it with the best avocado in the world! Mostly, you'll be served avocado on toast, but the sky is the limit.

...continue reading "Where to eat in Santiago: At Home"

By bienvenidosasantiago

Now, this is going to be completely completely subjective and based off of my own personal preference for foods, but I've consulted with most people in my program and here's a brief list of three great-must-try restaurants of Santiago when you study abroad.

Let's start easy and cheap but still delicious! Pan y Oliva! A friend of mine that lives in Providencia actually recommended this place to me as a late night eat after we went to the gym one day and were totally starved afterward. Let me tell you, this place has insane sandwiches! If Santiago does anything really well- it's probably avocado and sandwiches. That night I order a quinoa burger on pita pan with avocado and this thing was so big I had to ask for a knife and fork to eat it because 1.) my food was falling out all over the place 2.) I felt like I looked ridiculous because of said food falling out all over the place and all over my face.

...continue reading "Best Eats of Santiago"

By abbymarco

It is hard to believe that I only have one week left of my program here in Morocco. It seems like just yesterday that I was walking through the crazy medina for the first time, overwhelmed and nervous for the next four months. Despite all of the challenges about studying abroad here, I look back on all that I have done with such fond memories and truly appreciate all that I have learned here.

That being said, I am definitely looking forward to returning home to Philadelphia soon. I guess it’s true what they say- distance really does make the heart grow fonder. Before I left for this amazing adventure, I was so excited to leave GW and my home for a while; I desperately needed a change. After being away for so long, I have now realized all of the things I have taken for granted at home over the years.

...continue reading "Goodbye Morocco, Hello USA"

By abbymarco

This weekend, I spent four days camping with Berber nomads in the High Atlas Mountains. These people do not speak any Arabic, but instead use a spoken language called Tamazight. They live in tiny huts with their tribes made of wood and tarp, and they move three times throughout the year depending on the weather. They do not use the Moroccan currency at all; instead, they trade sheep and other animals and homemade products for the goods they need. Before leaving for the trip, I was a little nervous about being able to communicate with my nomad hosts and was unsure of what to expect in terms of their lifestyle. However, the trip ended up being truly the most amazing experience I have ever had in my life. I think a huge part of what made the trip so amazing boiled down to one thing: Moroccan hospitality.

...continue reading "Moroccan Hospitality"

By abbymarco

Studying abroad anywhere is certainly a challenging experience; adapting to a new culture, environment, and language is never easy. For me, the most difficult adjustment has been living with my host family, which, despite its many challenges, has also been my favorite experiencing. Coming into my semester abroad, I found myself completely unable to communicate. I had been relying on my few semesters of French in high school to help me get by in Morocco. However, where I live in the old Medina, few people speak French. My host family made up of my mom, dad, and thirty-year old host brother, speak only Darija, which is the Moroccan dialect of Arabic.

Unfortunately, not only did I not speak any Darija upon my arrival in Morocco, I did not know any Modern Standard Arabic, either. Since arriving here, I’ve been taking an intensive Modern Standard Arabic course where I spend two hours a day in class, Monday through Friday. While this has helped my communication skills immensely in my daily life here, communicating at home is still challenging. My host family does not know very much Modern Standard Arabic, and I only know as much Darija as I can pick up in the streets, so a lot gets lost in translation. However, I have come so far with my language abilities since first getting to Rabat, and each day, communicating gets easier and easier.

...continue reading "Living with a Host Family Abroad"

By abbymarco

My Moroccan life is anything but boring; being immersed in such a new culture means that every day brings a new adventure. Even on the "boring" school days, I always have exciting, weird, or new experiences simply because everything is so unlike home. Here are some of my favorite things to do in Rabat, Morocco:

1) I couldn't begin this post with anything other than the medina. The medina is the oldest part of the city that is encircled by huge walls. In fact, it was all there was of Rabat before the French came in 1912. The medina is lined with hundreds of vendors selling all sorts of food and fun little things. There are lots of Moroccan craft shops that contain a variety of items, like the well-known Moroccan carpets and embroidered fabrics, copper items, lamps, jewelry, antiques, wooden items, and lots of other unique gifts. The medina is always jam-packed with people bustling about buying their daily groceries, heading to the mosque, or meeting friends. As much fun as it is to aimlessly meander through the medina and get lost (which is easy to do, trust me), it is a difficult place to maneuver multiple times a day. I live right in the center of the medina, which is an amazing experience, but it also means it is always noisy and I'm constantly forced to navigate the crowds to get anywhere. Still, is it an amazing place to shop and wander, and the amazing smells of food stands make it simply irresistible.

...continue reading "My Favorite Things to do in Rabat"

By janellekranz

Dear Janelle,

I know this week has been somewhat of a rough week. After listening to Portuguese and speaking English for a week in Brasil, coming back to Argentina and speaking and understanding Spanish was pretty difficult. It’s hard to believe that just one week away can make so much of a difference.

I’ve never realized the truth to the phrase “Use it or lose it” until now. At least now I know that my Spanish must be constant; in order to have any hope of being good, I have to use the language every single day. Even when I return to the US, I need to find ways to keep speaking and listening each day – and that starts here, while I’m in Buenos Aires.

...continue reading "Dear Janelle,"

By bienvenidosasantiago

One of the best parts of study abroad is the options for traveling to other places. When you're already in another country it seems relatively easy to travel to whichever country is next door. Contrary to studying abroad in other countries, in Chile the best place to travel is...throughout Chile. Not only does it have Patagonia in the south with amazing hiking and some of the most gorgeous landscapes to grace the world, but you also have the driest desert in the North that boasts of the oldest mummies, salt planes and hiking. This past weekend, we all went on our GW-sponsored trip to San Pedro de Atacama and I've never been so in love in my life.

When people think of Chile, a lot of the time it's in reference to the insane landscapes that are out of this world, like Vale de la Luna. We've been in San Pedro for around four days now and every morning and afternoon was filled with the among the craziest things I've ever experienced. Just in the first day, we toured copper mines, an abandoned mining town, and visited a human rights memorial. The following morning was our chance to choose whatever excursion we wanted to pursue and everyone in the group decided to go sandboarding in the Valle de la Muerte (it sounds a little intense, but it was actually named 'Valle de la Martian' because it looks like Mars, but through miscommunications it became known otherwise). I don't think I've ever been happier than sitting on the top of a sand dune looking out across the Valle while music plays from the van below.

For a long time whenever we'd be driving through San Pedro everyone would comment 'I've never seen anything like this! I've never been anywhere like this,' and it took me a little bit to realize that no one comes to San Pedro having visited a place like San Pedro. Regardless of your experience with traveling, expert or novice, San Pedro is otherworldly. A gorgeous gift to the people that are lucky enough to visit. That afternoon we hiked Valle de la Luna, and watched the sunset with snacks before dinner. The next morning we woke up early (around 5 in the morning) to go to geysers, where we had breakfast and went swimming, in the afternoon we visited 3 different lakes. One salt lake that we couldn't swim in, one fresh water pit that we could jump into and lastly a salt lake we could float in. I've always seen photos of people at the Dead Sea and honestly just thought they were treading water- but it's so real! you could stand and sit and lay in the water without ever submerging your head.

It was so cool to experience so many different types of water and swimming, all of which were relatively closely located. That's one of the coolest parts of San Pedro is that all the things your doing are pretty much right next to each other. We were actually supposed to go star gazing that night, but it was too cloudy for us to go. But honestly, we had woken up so early and done so much that I was ready to crash. This morning we went on a biking tour and visited old Atacama ruins with our guide Manuel (coolest guide ever). I am so insanely happy to have had the opportunity to go to San Pedro and do all of these things. I've walked away from this experience feeling like I understand more of Chile and truly have been taking advantage of time abroad.

By janellekranz

Dear Buenos Aires,

I like to say that I’ve always been a pretty self-sufficient kid, researching decisions before I made them and working since I was 14 years old. But traveling and being abroad alone gives “self-sufficiency” a whole new meaning, and it is oftentimes uncomfortable.

When I first arrived here, I had to stay in a hostel the night before meeting up with my SIT group. I had booked everything in advance online, including a shuttle that would take me from the airport to my hostel – or so I thought. Everything was going relatively well after my marathon trip from NYC to BA, and the shuttle even came to the airport relatively on-time. However, when I got into the shuttle van, I realized I couldn’t talk to the driver.

...continue reading "Dear Buenos Aires"

By bienvenidosasantiago

The greatest fear we all share is the unknown and it can manifest itself in countless ways. It's the preoccupation with possibilities that keep us up at night; that supersede the inevitable realities we ignore in a fog of uncertainty. It was the same for college. It'll be the same when we all graduate from college. It's this metaphysical and omnipresent cliff beckoning us forward through the properties of 'call of the void'. The desire to move forward, but the resistance to change. To change the comfortable.

I think the scariest part of studying abroad and your worst moments are the shared moments of uncertainty. For someone like me who clings to routine, especially when you balance work and school, without me realizing it, the unknown made me anxious. It took me SO long to remember the hours at HellWell change on Sundays and it opens super late, how am I supposed to get in the same habits here? Are university gym's even a thing in Santiago? What's the food going to be like? What if I hate everything that my host-mom makes me? What if I adjust but hate it?

...continue reading "Fears Not-Actualized"