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By rlubitz

Will everything even work?

Starting about two days ago, I realized that “oh, all of my technology can’t work in the UK” and thus ensued a mini panic attack because I prepare for nothing until the last minute. I know everything will be fine and I’ll be able to plug in with an adapter and I know they’re like $10 but that doesn’t stop me from imagining my laptop bursting into flames.

Just a few weeks ago my mom sent me an adapter contraption from the 1970s. Last time she used it was legitimately thirty years ago. If I had, indeed, plugged my phone in using those adapters, it would have burst into flames and my face would have been scalded off as a result of those flames and then I wouldn’t have been in any of my friend’s STUDY ABROAD YOLO 2012 Facebook albums because I would have looked like Darth Vader sans helmet.

Do you see how my mind advances on things like this?

But I WILL be getting an adapter this week and calling 19 different people while I’m in the store because that’s just how I work.

As a Gen Y-er, I expect a full meltdown for myself while trying to set up wifi that won’t work when I get there or forgetting to pack a charger.

Will people hate me because I like Coldplay?

...continue reading "In Which I Freak Out About Technology and Taco Bell A Week Before Arrival"

By jfbarszcz

logorrhea, n. An excessive and often uncontrollable flow of words.

Wow. Where to even begin?

So I've been in Prague for about a week now, and I feel like I already have enough to write about for an entire semester. I've been so busy all week meeting people, seeing the sights and generally immersing myself in the local culture (or attempting to as best I can, at least) that the question is less what to write about than it is what not to write about. I guess the least I can do is an overview of what I've done each day. So, let's get started.

...continue reading "Week 1: Logorrhea"

By asthaa

El RetiroThis week, on a free Wednesday afternoon some of us GW students decided to spend the afternoon and evening in El Retiro, what I think of as the Spanish version of Central Park. As I walked to the park, I expected to finish some homework and perhaps get acquainted with my neighborhood some more. But enjoying relaxing on the grass was not enough for us; we made the spontaneous decision to go boating in the lake in El Retiro. I quickly realized how terrible I am at rowing. Coincidentally, the three vegetarian girls on the trip happened to be in the same boat (both literally and figuratively) and if it wasn’t for my friend Sarah we may have never left the dock and then been able to return. Rowing in El Retiro was beautiful and produced many laughs but it was quite the challenge for me as well.

...continue reading "Language and Learning"

By oncptime

I made it into Florence from Rome around 7PM. I was quite pleased with myself. I’d managed to navigate my way through the Italian countryside and end up smack dab in the middle of Florence, my home for the next four months. Sloughing my two bags from the ever-heady platforms of the train station, I bee-lined for the nearest payphone. I was going to call my Italian contact, get the keys to my new flat, move into said flat and begin living the good life.

“I’m sorry,” Petra’s pleasant recorded message intoned. “The Florence & Abroad office is closed for the week. Our normal business hours are Monday through Friday from 8AM to 5PM. Have a nice day.”

I was floored.

...continue reading "Ostello Ambienti Or “Hostel Environments” pt. 1"

By squeakyrobot

Warsaw Airport

It’s always difficult to leave a good place. You’re cozy there, like when you wake up on a snowy morning enveloped by the warmth, softness, and familiarity of your own bed. It’s always hard to leave the bed for something cold or unknown.

I’ve been hopping around Europe for the past month and a half. It’s been an unplanned trip, as many of my trips are, but the one theme that has strung each chaotic day to the next is this: freedom. Freedom to do as I please as soon as I please it. Freedom to eat that weird thing or change destinations on a split-second whim or hang-out with that eccentric person who I met at the hostel. It’s been a month and a half of adventure, seeing friends and family, and completing bucket-list items. A month and a half of doing what I want.

And this freedom holds me captive. As such, I haven’t had time or need to prepare for my upcoming stint in cold, dark St. Petersburg. Okay, I’ve done some preparing, but this has mostly consisted of day-dreaming about a life in Russia and listening to Russian rap. It also meant dying my hair platinum blonde and buying heels to wear day-to-day. It seems that I fit in already. Russian society will see me and regard me as one of their own.

...continue reading "On Moving On"

By asthaa

Palace in MadridIt’s nearly 11 pm and six American college juniors sit in silence staring at the Palacio Real (The Royal Palace of Madrid). Nobody moves for a couple of minutes. As the gold and cream building glitters in the night, we soak in the crowd and scene while our new Spanish friends chat on the steps facing the palace. If someone asked me to pick a favorite image in the past three days, I would choose this one. After an overwhelming two days, on our second night it hit me – here I am in Madrid enjoying myself with a group of extraordinary students from my university, experiencing something completely new yet so familiar. This night reminded me of ones spent on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial or an afternoon walking around the Taj Mahal. As a student in D.C. with family in India, it was humbling to see the Palacio and feel how similar these cultures were despite our differences. ...continue reading "¡Bienvenidos a Madrid!"

By jfbarszcz

Greetings to you, Dear Reader. Unfortunately, I don't really have much to say this week about Prague, because I'm not there yet! (Hence the "Week 0" title.) However, it turns out that there's a good deal to say about NOT being abroad, because of how absurdly involved getting ready to leave is.

Obviously, there's a lot to do to prepare for spending a semester a continent away from home. First of all, there's all the paperwork, most notably my Czech visa. While the Czech Republic is part of the European Union and the Schengen Area, as an American I still need a visa for an extended stay in the country. Of course, the process of acquiring a visa, no matter what country, is only slightly more pleasant than waiting at the DMV. Actually, it might be even worse, because of all the time you need to spend on prep. I had to compile, let's see... ...continue reading "Prague: Week 0"

By rlubitz

I haven’t even stepped on the plane for London yet. In fact, I’m exactly two weeks from leaving but I still wake up every night thinking that I should have gotten a visa even though a student visa is only necessary, that my computer isn’t going to work there because my adapter is going to spontaneously combust and most of all, they’re just not going to let me into their country because I’m gonna be a hot, nervous mess upon arrival. I know none of that is true but really though, I have anxiety about everything.

...continue reading "I Have Anxiety about Everything: The Study Abroad Edition"

By oncptime

Once in a blue moon, I’ll become a planner. Without notice, my attention to prepatory detail will skyrocket. I’ll memorize dates, addresses, routes of travel, alternate routes of travel, weather plans—you name it. I glide through my planned journeys with a Gabby Douglas-like deftness. That said, the moon is rarely blue and it’s even rarer still that I actually slip into planer-mode. More often than naught, I tend to just…go with the flow.

“Buy your plane ticket a few months in advance!” My study abroad advisor warned. I put it off until about a month before I was to show up in Florence.  “Be sure to learn a few key Italian phrases before you go!” My friends suggested. I snapped a few photos from my traveller’s companion as I disembarked from my plane in Rome. “Have a plan!” My mentor urged me. I didn’t. Not really.

You see I tend to err on the side of “pfft, it’ll be fine!” because generally speaking, it’s always fine. Trekking through New York to Jersey to get to Newark International was a joy. I met/fell in love with/considered proposing to a gorgeous customs officer during breezed through my layover in Montreal. Sure, I’d bought my tickets and glanced at them in passing a few weeks before I set out to travel. But I definitely hadn’t poured over and memorized them the way a true planner would have. “This,” I thought. “Is going to be a piece of cake.” And it was.

Until I got to Rome.

...continue reading "Lost in Camaraderie"

By oncptime

I’m less than a day away from leaving the U.S. and I find myself in a bit of an odd position. I’m writing this laying on the hardwood floor of a friend’s apartment in northern Jersey. Now you might be thinking to yourself “Why’s he laying on a wooden floor? That can’t be comfortable.” And you know, you’re right. It really isn’t. I’m down here, you see, to take inventory of the hoarding extravaganza that is my suitcase.

Months ago, when Italy shifted from a “maybe” to a “definitely”, I began to fantasize about the nomadic lifestyle I’d live while abroad. I’d trek across the globe armed with nothing but a simple rucksack and a hunger for worldly adventure. I’d befriend chic gypsies and schmooze my way into state-sponsored soirees with the consulate. I’d throw myself to the wind and like a leaf I’d dance and glide my way across Europe with whimsy and grace. In short, I was going to be amazing.

Thing is though? All of that amazingness is pretty damn difficult to pull off when you’re lugging 100+ pounds of crap on your back.

...continue reading "True Life: I Overpacked for Study Abroad"