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By Savita Potarazu

As a non-French speaker, I picked up on some interesting new phrases during my first few weeks here. Now that we only have 2 weeks left in the semester, I can safely say that I’ve adopted the following into my everyday vocabulary:

C’est chou! = It’s cute!

In beginner French, I learned that “chou” means cabbage. Before learning about this, I didn’t question it. Then I started to wonder why people were calling things “cabbage". I still don’t know the origin of it but I guess it’s just slang for “That’s cute!” or “S/he is so cute!” Now I say it all the time... but mostly as a joke because it still doesn’t make sense to me.

Cou cou = My dear

French is such a melodic language. The way people say Cou Cou actually sounds like a stereotypical cuckoo clock but it’s much cuter coming from a person. Usually elders say it to younger people, or, at least those are the contexts in which I’ve heard it said to me or to others. Just cute Swiss things…

Ouais = Yeah

Basically, Ouais is the english equivalent of “yeah” (oui is “yes”). After a while of me knowing what it meant I began to feel super formal saying oui. You could also say that I started saying it to sound cool but that’s up to you to decide… 🙂

By Rachel Blair

I just got back today to Paris from a long, but amazing weekend. As you all know, this weekend I went to Prague, Czech Republic and it was beautiful.

In mid-September one of my friends from school, Sydney, who is studying abroad in Florence, Italy asked me if I wanted to travel to Prague with her. Now me, not knowing anything about Prague but who wanted to explore said yes. One of the best decisions I made this entire semester.

Before I went to Prague, everyone told me that it was beautiful and had amazing architecture. All I knew about Prague was how pretty everyone claimed it was and Nicki Minaj’s “You b****** can’t even spell Prague.” So, I left the planning up to Syd, but was excited to mark this as my last trip.

However, I was the one that found us our Airbnb and let me tell you, it was the best Airbnb I have ever seen. We absolutely loved it. We loved it so much that every night we were excited to go back to it, and today we didn’t want to leave it.

But Prague is such a beautiful city, with so much to do, and easy ways of getting around. One thing that I was really fascinated with was that some of their subway trains were actually in the middle of the street. There would be cars driving next to you on both sides and sometimes even behind and in front of you at any given point while on those subways.

Also, the prices of everything in Prague were amazing! First of all, their currency is so much weaker than ours that $1 is about 20/25 of their money. So, buying things is very weird there because you would spend about 150 on a drink, which makes you feel like you’re a big baller, but in reality, you’re paying practically nothing. One night for dinner, I got a meal, alcoholic drink, side, and dessert and only paid $25. On top of those cheap prices, everything was actually really good. I would’ve been willing to pay more for everything I got.

I really enjoyed the amount of time I was able to spend there as well. Sydney and I for whatever reason decided to catch 7am flights that would get into Prague at 9am. In the end, I was very happy we did that because it gave us a full 3 days, but that Thursday morning when I had to get up at 3am I regretted that decision. Like I said, both of our flights arrived in Prague around 9am, and our Airbnb was only 45 minutes away by public transportation, so we started our day off around 10:30 and got to see Prague when there weren’t as many people around.

Sydney works for admissions and has been assigned the task of taking pictures with the GW banner. On Thursday, we went to this really nice bridge, but Syd forgot the banner, so we knew we had to go back at some point to take the picture she really wanted to get. We decided to go back Saturday. Wow, what a difference it made being there on Thursday compared to Saturday. As we were getting closer to the bridge on Saturday, the crowd of people just kept increasing and we knew we made the smart decision of actually seeing it on Thursday.

Without even meaning to, I believe that Sydney and I somehow managed to get all of the top tourist attractions done on Thursday and Friday, with very limited tourist, and then got to do cool adventures on Saturday, where we barely had to see tourists.

Prague is such a beautiful place and while there, it was amazing to think about how all of that was existing while I wasn’t there, and it will continue to exist while I’m gone. It’s amazing what little impact we have on the world, but it’s also amazing discovering new cultures and walks of life. While living our lives in the United States, we don’t think twice about the things going on in anywhere else in the world, especially someplace like Prague. But I think it’s important to acknowledge that people live their everyday lives in these places, and that they do exist, and we should take the time to get to know them. While we’re stuck in our ways in one country, a totally different life is happening in another.

I believe it is important to travel and to take in as much of the culture and experience as possible. No matter what you do, the cultures and lives in all of these other countries will still go on, so it’s better to appreciate and understand them than to avoid them.


By Stefania Tutra

Nine out of ten times that I walk out my door here in Barcelona, the first destination I go to is my local metro stop. I live close to two metro stops; the main one I use is called Marina on the L1 line and the other one is Bogatell on the L4. I live a quick five-minute walk from the Marina metro stop which in three stops (about 10 minutes) takes me to the center of Barcelona, which is also where the IES Abroad center is. The other stop, Bogatell, is also a five-minute walk and in just 10 minutes the metro can take me to the Barceloneta beach. The transportation system in Barcelona is very well designed and accessible, as there is a metro or bus stop close to anywhere I would like to go within the city. It is also very cheap, efficient, and safe.

The best purchase I made when I first came to Barcelona was a T-Joven card (pictured below). It was 100 euros which sounded a bit pricey to me when I first bought it, however it is incredibly worth it and I would recommend it to anyone studying abroad in Barcelona. It is a 3-month metro pass that comes with unlimited rides either on metro, bus, or even the TRAM. I think one of the biggest benefits of the T-Joven card is that it also allows you to take the metro to Barcelona El-Prat airport without any extra charges, which has saved me a great amount of money considering an uber ride to the airport is almost 40 euros. You can also use the card to get to the outskirts of Barcelona for free. Last weekend, my friends and I decided to go hiking at the beautiful Montserrat mountain range. It is about an hour away on the metro so we were shocked at the fact we did not have to pay anything and could just use our T-Joven cards to get there.

Navigating the transportation system in Barcelona is very easy and convenient. There are rarely any metro delays, which is something I am going to miss when I return to living in DC where I sometimes have to wait 15 minutes for the next train to come. In Barcelona, you almost never have to wait more than 5 minutes for the metro. I also appreciate that on Fridays the metro is open until 2am and on Saturdays it runs 24 hours (in DC it closes at midnight every night, which means I never take the metro on the weekends). Overall, I have taken an uber or taxi very few times in Europe because the public transportation systems here are a much more efficient and cheaper way to get around the city. America, you need to step up your public transportation game.

By Beatrice Mount

I am constantly surprised by how quiet it is here. That, on my walks to class or get groceries, all I hear sometimes is the sounds of the wind and the seagulls flocking near the boats. At first, it was odd--the absence of sound was foreign to me. After two years in D.C., I think I forgot what quiet sounded like. There's always an ambulance, a group of tourists, or politicians taking phone calls to interrupt the silence. D.C., while it can be peaceful, can never be quiet. It, like all American cities, has too much to say.

To some extent, the loud buzz of city buildings and Ubers jetting off to their next destination had become a type of comfort to me. Silence, especially in the dead of night, was ominous. It served as a kind of warning--that you were alone, so tread carefully. It was the absence of peace.

For women, this warning is extremely prevalent. It undercuts why my friends don't run after certain hours, or why we travel in groups from event to event, or why we'll hold keys in our hands if we do wind up alone in the dark. D.C. is less menacing than some cities--less chaotic and more friendly than Los Angeles or San Francisco--but that ominous warning is still present.

Safety is such a small concept, one those who are privileged to have it as a guarantee take for granted. When you have something is your "natural condition," It is difficult to see the unnatural nature it holds for others. It's easy to point out to my male friends, especially since at this point most people are aware of those tropes, but to actually let them experience what I and other women experience is impossible. How do you explain the fear you have in concrete terms? Will they really understand why you avoid certain hours? Why you travel in groups? Why you clutch your keys until your knuckles turn white? It all seems like an overreaction. After all, D.C. is safe. The likelihood something will happen to you is low. Those lived experiences are so easy to toss aside. But when they are ingrained into your skin, how do you toss them aside?

While I could argue that free health care, the obsession with mayo on fries, or the blunt, friendly attitude the Dutch have is the greatest difference between here and there, that would be a lie. The greatest difference is this--the existence of peace and quiet and its effect on my own freedom.

Here, I cut through pitch-black parks knowing that no one will hurt me. I don't feel as though I have to look over my shoulder when I walk back from the library late at night. The small amounts of bikes that do whirr past me don't necessitate intense focus and feelings of dread. As I look at the fishermen reeling in their nets after a late night session, I feel safe. Calm. Happy.

By Savita Potarazu

I think my favorite part about studying abroad here in Switzerland is the SwissPass that SIT gives us at the beginning of the semester. This beautiful red piece of plastic grants us students the privilege to hop on and off buses and trains with ease. It also gets us 50% off on some cable cars and ski lifts. Having this mobility has made this whole semester such a breeze and an incredible adventure. And while Swiss efficiency was just a rumor to me before I got here, I can personally confirm that it is real and it truly is a marvel. The SBB train has its own app and gives you directions on how to get to your desired destination. If for some reason there is a problem, it usually keeps up with delays and notifies users of construction sites that could be an issue. Quite frankly, I will probably miss this aspect of study abroad the most. I’m not sure I have readied myself to return to the organized chaos of DC traffic but I guess I should get on that...

My homestay is merely a 6 minute bus ride from centre ville, or central Nyon, where the train station is. From Nyon, there is a 15 minute train ride to Geneva and the airport or I could head east and go anywhere in Switzerland. Now that we are in our Independent Study Project (ISP) research period, we have a lot more flexibility with our schedules to go explore this picturesque country. The trains are also very well-maintained and equipped with water closets (WC), aka restrooms, restaurant cars, wifi (some), and outlets. It’s truly a luxury. Just this past weekend, my friends and I took a day trip to Lucern, a true gem, and we were able to get work done on the quiet car and still enjoy our day out. I guess we too are becoming Swiss efficient?

Although the cost of the SwissPass was factored into the tuition, I’m still very grateful that it exists and that SIT decided to provide it to its students because that was not the case merely three years ago. I cannot imagine how much of a hassle it would be to purchase a ticket every time we students wanted to go explore a new part of Switzerland. We are a really lucky bunch!

By Rachel Blair

As I write this, I currently have about two weeks left in Paris. That being said, I have one more last trip to Prague next weekend that I am very excited for. Since the last time I blogged, I had been traveling around and had a whole lot going on. This past week or two has been the total opposite. I’ve been taking it easy and trying to enjoy and take in Paris. I’ve had some wine nights with my friends, and some walks in new areas.

On Tuesday, we went to the Opera, as part of the program, to see a ballet and it was so beautiful. First of all, the Opera itself was a masterpiece, what a beautiful place. But then the ballet was lovely. It was titled “Hommage À Jerome Robbins” and it was broken up into 4 short ballets and all of them were beautiful. I particularly enjoyed the last one the most. The seats weren’t the best, but the ballet made up for it.

Through the program, today they took us to the Picasso Museum and took us to get falafel for lunch. I really enjoyed going to the Picasso Museum to see a lot of his work. I found it very interesting because he’s such a well-known artist, but I’ve only seen a few pieces, and getting to see a collection helped create my image of him. It’s different to actually see things than to hear them.

The falafel after was very good. I’ve never really had much falafel, but the one thing I don’t do is turn down free food, so I went. It was really good and authentic, and it was a new experience I was able to have here in Paris. However, it was very cold out today.

As you know, I’m from New York, so I’m used to the cold, but it’s been so much warmer here that I forgot what the cold is like. I haven’t worn my winter jacket yet since being here, but I’ve had a look at the weather and I think I’m going to have to start wearing it sadly.

Sadly, I’ve been doing some studying because I have two final exams on Tuesday, but then I’m done with assignments. I have my last finance class on Tuesday, which is one of the finals, and then I also have my French final. Wednesday, I have Econ class, but I have no more work in that class and the Ambassador of Spain is coming to speak to my class, so I’m very excited for that. Then the following Tuesday and Wednesday I have my last French & Econ classes, which will be so sad.

If you’re doing this program, I highly suggest the Econ class. I hate Econ and I’ll admit I’m actually terrible at Econ, but this one is not like a typical Econ class at GW. The professor is amazing and hilarious, and I really wish he worked at GW, so I could take another class with him. He doesn’t give tests, just case studies and a project (all group work), but without the tests, I feel like I can actually learn. He just sits down and talks for 3 hours, but we can lead the conversation and ask questions and he’s so intelligent and knows so much. He also gives very good movie recommendations. Since being in college, he is one of my favorite professors (after Professor Tara Scully if any of you have had her).

After my finals on Tuesday, I’m using whatever number of days left I have in this beautiful city to explore and find as many hidden gems as possible. I know that I will come back to Paris again, it has my heart. But, I’ve got to enjoy what I can, while I can. Waking up in the morning and not seeing the Eiffel Tower is something I’m really going to have to get use to when I get back home. I miss Paris already and I haven’t even left.

Above: The first picture I took at my metro stop this morning, and the second one I took inside the Picasso Museum (which is funny because you would think I would’ve posted a picture of his art).

Above: The Opera

Above: It was really foggy the other day, so you could barely see the Eiffel Tower, I thought it was cool.


By Stefania Tutra

This past weekend I had the opportunity to travel to one of the cities I have dreamed about for as long as I can remember – Paris, France! Paris was everything I imagined it would be and more.

I arrived in Paris at about 9 in the morning on Friday. We immediately went to our AirBnb which could not be in a more perfect location; it was in the Trocadero neighborhood, which is right across the Seine River in front of the Eiffel Tower. Because of our proximity to the Eiffel Tower, we could not wait to see it so it was our first stop. Walking towards the tower was an indescribable feeling – from seeing it in pictures and television from when I was young, to finally seeing it in person, right in front of me, felt unreal. Realizing we had yet to eat breakfast, we decided to stop at a romantic little Parisian restaurant across the street where we had the classic French breakfast filled with lots of croissants, baguettes, butter, fresh jam, coffee, and juice. The hype over the French croissants is so real. It was better than any croissant I had ever eaten – just the perfect amount of buttery and flaky.

After the Eiffel Tower, we walked to the Arc de Triomph which was only about 20 minutes away. Passing by the Arc de Triomf in Barcelona all the time, it was cool to see how the one in Paris compares to the one in Barcelona. Although the same structure, the color and design of each are so different and fit the vibe of the different cities. For example, putting Barcelona’s brown Arc de Triomf in Paris would look SO out of place, and vice versa.

Next to the Arc is the iconic Champs de Elysse street, lined with infinite shops and restaurants (kind of like Paris’s version of Barcelona’s Las Ramblas). We wandered around the stores, wishing we could afford that 6,000 euro watch from Cartier. Paris is for dreaming, right?!

After dinner and more croissants, we decided to explore Paris’ nightlife by checking out the Oberkampf and Bastille neighborhoods. The nightlife scene in these districts was a very unique, “underground” vibe. However, Parisians also LOVE their Spanish music, so we ended our night dancing at a club to the same songs we would hear in Barcelona.

On Saturday, we spent the majority of our day at the Louvre museum. Pro-tip: if you show a copy of your EU student visa, entry is free! We marveled at all different works of art, from the Ancient Greeks to Egyptians to the Mona Lisa (which is way smaller in person than I ever imagined it would be!). Afterwards, we took the metro to the Notre Dame Cathedral where we marveled at its beauty and French Gothic architecture, while munching on delicious warm Nutella-coconut crepes. Saturday night we went back to the Eiffel Tower, but this time we squeezed on a crowded elevator which brought us to the very top. Seeing Paris from the top of the tower at night felt like an absolute dream and the view was incredible.

Since our flight back to Barcelona was in the early afternoon on Sunday, we had just enough time to squeeze in one last tourist activity in Paris, so we decided to visit the Sacre Couer Basilica. The basilica sits at the top of Montmarte Hill which is the highest point in the city. We could have taken a funicular to the top, however being the cheap travelers we are, we decided to climb the stairs to the top. Although we were out of breath, the views at the top were fantastic and well worth the hike. Before making our way back to Orly airport, we explored the Montmarte neighborhood as we made our way down the hill, and picked up some macaroons while we were at it. It was a sweet ending to a dreamy trip in the city of love. Je t’aime Paris, until next time xoxo

By Megan Gardner

There’s always a moment when a new place starts to feel like home. It happens slowly and it’s often too difficult to notice until it’s done. Eventually, the sight of a coffee shop near your apartment starts to be comforting. The broken sidewalks feel familiar. The chipped paint on the outside of the building is inviting.

However, it’s not only the place that composes the home. The community creates a sense of belonging within that place. The people who surround you make the unfamiliar environment feel welcoming. Inevitably, there are moments when you’re abroad where you’re completely and utterly confused about everything, but it’s the people that help in these moments who become family. It’s moments like fighting off wild monkeys on a mountain peak in Zhangjiajie or bartering with merchants in the middle of the Sahara or being stranded and starving in an Italian airport for hours that help to build these relationships. Retrospectively, these moments are the most cherished.

The first home away from home that I found was in DC, but thanks to the Global Bachelor’s program, I feel like I have dozens of homes scattered across the world. Paris, Shanghai, Palermo, Sidi Bou Saïd, and Tunis are all my homes away from home. Each study abroad group has felt like a family that I can reach out to for help no matter where we are in the whole wide world. Initially, they help you sail confidently into the unknown until you’re able to navigate them yourself. Eventually, those unfamiliar waters become a home.

By Rachel Blair

A key point that I have learned here in France, is learning how to actually balance everything while you’re in a different country. Yes, you have to learn how to balance while you’re away at school, but this type of balance is different. At first I thought it was going to be really easy, because all I’m doing this semester is taking classes compared to working two jobs and being in a sorority on top of classes. But, I feel like finding a balance, especially in this program is harder.

To begin, you’re in a new country, so your motivation to do work has actually gone down. Then, you don’t realize that you’re takin a class every day, that assigns homework every day, so you actually have to get the work done when you get back from class. But then you want tot explore Paris, but you have to eat and it’s already later in the day. It’s about finding what work is most important to do first and not killing yourself over the work either because at the end of the day, you’re going to do fine no matter what.

But on top of that, I think the most important balance comes from actually exploring Paris. Because you’re in Europe, & it’s so much easier to travel, you use up most of your weekends going to different countries rather than visiting different parts of Paris, let alone France. Last weekend, my mother, sister, & aunt came to visit me and it was one of the best times here in Paris. I forgot what it was like to walk around Paris and just enjoy all that it has to offer. Paris is a beautiful place & I decided to study abroad here for a reason & I have to remember that. My goal for this last month of being here is going to be to do as much as I can inside Paris & enjoy all of the little things it has to offer.

To help balance, I advise going on all of the trips that are provided through the program. I will say it over & over again, but I feel like it really helps me get to know Paris & France as a whole.

But, you also must travel. I would feel so guilty if I spent a semester in France but didn’t travel to any other country. This weekend I went to Florence. I have a friend studying abroad there, but my boyfriend is currently with me & his family is from Italy, so we figured it’d be the perfect time to go see it. It was beautiful, but also not what I was expecting. We stayed in Florence & went to Rome for half of a day. I loved it, & know that I will be going back.

I just wish that there was more time in the program. When you start, you think you have all of the time in the world, but in reality, it goes by quicker than you think, & you’re going to leave with still of list of things you want to do, but that’s okay. I am enjoying as much as I can from this experience, but I’ve also accepted the fact that I’m not going to get to go everywhere, & that I am going to come back.

Moral of the story, enjoy Paris, but don’t be afraid to travel.

By Taylor Williams

Paris! This month has honestly been truly magical. Returning to Paris is something I’ve always dreamed of. The first time I went to Paris I was 14, and don’t think I was truly able to appreciate the magic that is the City of Love. This time was completely different. For one, it was an amazing trip I got to experience with my soror’s, Faith and Jessica. It was truly a dream, to imagine that one day I’ll be able to tell my kids that at 20 I traveled to Paris with my sorority sisters! The first thing we did when we arrived was set off to the Louvre, to be honest, I wasn’t all that excited to see it, as I’d already been there and seen the Mona Lisa, and had been underwhelmed the first time I saw her. This time, however, was completely different. I hadn’t been able to fully appreciate the magnitude of the Louvre and how much beauty lives within it. 

More than anything, however, this trip inspired me. I’m sad to say I was becoming a little disappointed in London and a little underwhelmed with the city as a whole. That is until my friend Nzinga, whom I visited during my travels in Paris told me about how wonderful her study abroad experience had been, and how she was hoping to extend her trip. When I asked her what made her love it so much, she told me that each day she sets out with the intention of experiencing something new about Paris, and so that's what I aspire to do with London, to see, do, and overall experience something new and different every day.  Until next time! xx