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By kennatim

As our study abroad experience winds down before we can even blink, my friends and I have already been discussing how much we will miss this sights, sounds, places, foods, and basically everything except school. This is much in part due to how fortunate I have been to travel a few weekends, the family I have met in Ireland, my great group of friends, but mostly due to how amazing my adopted city of Dublin truly is. Dublin has everything: a walkable inner city, a lovely coastline, beautiful suburbs, one of Europe’s largest inner city parks, and awesome attractions like the Guinness Storehouse, Christ Church Cathedral, and Kilmainham Jail. And with easy transportation to every corner of Ireland, and cheap flights going across Europe each day, it is really the place to be.

One of my favorite parts of the city has been the restaurants and pubs. Dublin is nothing without its good food and famous nightlife. The Irish often spend hours at a restaurant and even longer at the pub. There are three spots in particular that I really enjoyed.

  • Brasserie Sixty6 is a restaurant in the City Centre with outstanding food and a great atmosphere. It was something my cousin’s wife recommended for us while my parents were in town. While it was not a spot where I would come for an average meal with my friends, it was a great place to share with family. My two course meal ended with a huge burger and fries (or “chips,” a classic Irish accompaniment to just about every meal). But what really made this place one of my favorites was my first course: duck confit. The meat fell off the bone and the taste rivaled that of the same dish that I had in Paris, when my friend nudged me to try it and I was hooked. I think what really set this meal apart was that I was able to spend it with my family: my cousin and my Irish family, and my parents who came and visited for the week! And the icing on the cake (no pun intended) was that it was my mom’s birthday, and the staff wrote a message in chocolate on a plate with a dessert for her!
  • Skinflint was a tiny restaurant in an alley in the City Centre that I was dragged to by my foodie friends. I am really glad they brought me along. In the small, trendy dining room, with mason jars full of lemonade and personal pizzas all around, I was treated to a goat cheese pizza with red grape and pork meatballs in béchamel sauce. It is probably still my favorite meal in Dublin. It was so good that on the very first night my parents were in Dublin, I brought them there. As they say don’t fix what ain’t broke. I ordered the exact same meal. Luckily, it was buy one pizza, get one free Mondays, so on top of all that, I got to try something new and got a doggie bag to take home for the next day’s lunch!
  • No list of Dublin establishments would be complete without mention of a pub. The Palace Bar is my favorite. If you are looking for that authentic Dublin pub experience, avoid the tourists in Temple Bar because this is it. It has been operating since the early 1800s and the interior largely has remained unchanged.

I am excited to hopefully add to this list as I see what my final two weeks in Ireland have in store!

By kaandle

This weekend has been refreshingly warm so don't mind my emphasis on lazy outdoor activities where lounging on the grass and soaking in the sun is finally do-able without the addition of a heavy down jacket.

1. Mauerpark

The translation is literally wall-park.  The large grassy area is overlooked by a graffiti-filled wall that stands at the top of a hill.  Every Sunday, rain or shine, regardless of holidays, a large flee market opens and holds everything you could possibly desire.  From bags to jewelry to furniture or bratwurst, you can easily spend your entire day here.  Now that the weather is finally getting warmer, the grass lawn and hill just outside the market come to life on Sunday's as well.  There are large ampiltheaters built into the side of the hill where karaoke takes place with an enthusiastic crowd.  Musicians, artists and singers set up all around, performing mini concerts and competing for audiences.  There is definitely a 90s music festival feel to this place and you'll never leave feeling like you've wasted your Sunday.

2. A Drink by the Spree

The Spree is the river that runs through Berlin and creates a small island filled with impressive buildings - both due to their external architecture and their inner contents. This area is revered to as "Museum Isel".  On the other side of the Spree, overlooking one of the most notable museums, the Bode, a casual and relaxing area for pedestrians has been created. There are a few restaraunts and bars along the back that all put out folding chairs and provide blankets incase the weather turns.  If you don't want to perchase anything there is plenty of green and wall space to sit, lounge and make a day or afternoon of hanging with friends.  With all of Berlins alternative and more edgy space, this is an unusual spot where you can momentarily remember Berlin's old anddefinitely European history.

3. Tempelhof

This is another space that has a bit of a retro feel to it.  Built as an airport in 1923, the original layout of Tempelhof, including tar mats, transport roads and terminal structures still remain.  When the site was shut down in 2008, Berliners protested for the area to be open to the public rather than sold to private investers and they succeeded.  Today Tempelhof is a public park, but there have been no structural changes to the property.  With so much free space - both green and black - the activities that go on here are endless.  Walking from one end to the other (a poor decision on my part as I was trying to meet up with people and did it factor in the massive size of an airport landing strip) I passed people riding bikes, skateboards, wind boards and segways, rolling on skates, jogging, lounging, barbecuing and picnicking.  Kites were flying and everywhere you looked there were large amounts of people, yet you never felt like you were running out of room.  Absolutely a wonderful place to spend a beautiful day.

4. People Watch

Personally, I think coffee shops are the best place to people watch.  There's a continuous flow of people and on top of being entertained there is a constant supply of food and coffee.  There are such eclectic people to be found in Berlin.  Sometimes it's just absolutely necessary to sit back and observe the awesomely individual spirit of Berlin.  You see people's personalities through heir demeanor, clothes and hairstyle.  Middle aged women with colorful (and by that I mean colors of the rainbow) hair and innovative fashion grabbing their coffee with a briefcase in their hand that you later realize is for their job as a lawyer or teacher is a very cool dichotomy we don't have the pleasure of seeing very often in the U.S.

5. Museum Hunt

On top of Museum Isel, mentioned above, almost every street has some kind of museum - whether that's one room or an extensive exhibit it to be determined, but my point is museums are everywhere.  For the classics Museum Isel has the ancient and impressive collections.  Nephertiti's famous bust, for example, is on perminant display at the Neues Museum.  Additinally, there are museums for all aspects of Berlin's history - some bring you through the entirety of Berlin's history since the 13th century while others are specifically highlighting the histories of East and West Berlin before German reunification in 1990.  Moreover, apart from historical and archeological museums there are more contemporary hideaways and art galleries sprinkled all around the city.  The Smithsonian museums in D.C. Have definitely spoiled me with free admission, but it's worth the small bill to experience the museums Berlin has to offer.  But if you don't feel like spending a few bucks, just walking around Berlin is an art galery in itself. 


By glaveym

  1. BIKE. Biking in The Netherlands is as commonplace to Dutch culture as our reliance on cars in the U.S. It is not only the main mode of transportation, it a social phenomenon for university-age students. As a GW student might walk to class, split a cab, or rent a zip-car, with a friend, biking is always better when done with your friends. It has a special novelty here in Maastricht, as the border with Belgium is a brisk ten minutes by bike. The Netherlands is a country with bike paths that equal in length to freeways, and a country with a population of over 16 million, but over 18 million bikes.
  2. VISIT THE REPURPOSED CHURCHES. Dutch culture, throughout its long history, has always placed a particular emphasis on religion. However, in more modern times, the country has increasingly moved more and more towards a society of complete secularism. Not a people to waste, the Dutch, and citizens of Maastricht, have done a wonderful job of repurposing no longer used churches to fit a variety of purposes. Boekhandel Dominican, an over 1000 year-old church in the center of town, now functions as a book-store, with modernist architecture and thousands of titles for any variation of book-enthusiast. Even more impressive is the Kruisherenhotel Maastricht, a design hotel that just happens to find itself in a church dating from the 15th Not only is its architecture regal, it has been known to house the Dutch Royal Family on their many visits to Maastricht.
  3. GO TO SCHOOL. University College Maastricht has been a truly pivotal part of my study abroad experience. A small community of liberal arts students, coming from all over the world to study or study abroad, it truly feels like an oasis in the hustle and bustle of exchange life. The classes are formatted to be twenty students or less, and the range of class offerings offer a truly multi-disciplinary academic experience. Being involved enough was a concern of mine coming into my study abroad experience, but UCM has facilitated my transition nicely, and the countless extra-curricular offerings and nightly events quench my thirst for learning outside the classroom.
  4. STUDY ON THE WALL. UCM is located just along the old Roman city wall of Maastricht, which foundations were laid when Maastricht was established as one of the oldest towns in The Netherlands, in approximately 500 BC. The wall, although dauntingly tall, provides a wide enough ledge to sit on and look over the city, and on especially sunny, clear days, a place to study, listen to music, or enjoy the company of friends.
  5. EAT DELCIOUS DUTCH TREATS. Although The Netherlands may be known for its tulips, water, and cheese, an often-overlooked aspect of Dutch living is the delicious food. As I live in the very south of the country, in a province known as Limburg, my experience comes with a whole host of delicious delicacies unique to Limburg. One of my personal favorites has to be vlaai, a crossover between a pie and a tart, served with a variety of different fresh fruits and fillings. It is always freshly made daily across the city, and if you’re lucky enough, you can catch a smell as you bike by the bakkerij, or bakery.

By kaandle

German food is a difficult thing to define. Some will argue that since Germany officially became a state in 1851 and its history prior to that consisted of tribal territories and was included in various empires' borders, food unique to Germany does not actually exist.  Add to that the buzzing metropolis that is Berlin and suddenly finding traditional german food is a difficult task.

That being said, here are five of my favorite eats as of yet:


This is essentially a round, grilled piece of beef that falls somewhere between a hamburger and a meatball. It's deliciousness has yet to fail me - ranging from specialty flee market food trucks to prepared sandwich sections in grocery stores (yes, it comes in sandwich form too), frikadeller is always top notch.


Imagine mac&cheese made with gnocchi pasta.  Clearly a match made in heaven. If you find yourself in Berlin and craving some spätzel, go to Clärchens Ballhaus.  Not only does your cheesy dish come with apple sauce and fried onions (sounds weird - just go with it) but you can also get a style-specific dance lesson with your meal.

Bavarian Mac&Cheese 

You're probably thinking this will be redundant since I just described spätzel as mac&cheese-like, but that would be incorrect. Markethalle Neun, essentially a warehouse packed with awesome food stands, sells a Bavarian Mac&cheese that will make you never want to eat anything else ever again.  I have not been to Bavaria, but this dish in itself is close to convincing me to take the five hour bus ride just to eat it in its natural habitat.


Here we have a non-German food item making the list.  Berlin has a large Turkish population and as a result large amounts of döner.  I'm pretty confident in guesstimating that every other street has at least one döner stand.  And it's a good, cheap, filling eat.  Personally, I opt for the falafel döner over more traditional veal or chicken.  Fair warning: your breath will smell strongly of garlic and onions once you're done.


Basically a higher quality hotdog.  What are Germans known for? 1. Meet 2. Beer 3. Cars (a bit irrelevant, but still very true)  Put your faith in their meet expertise and buy the inexplicably cheap bratwurst off the street and enjoy.


By practiceyogadistrict

A friend from home asked me last week what my favorite thing that happened to me was that week. Here is how I answered her:

At 10:30pm I returned home from dinner out with friends at a restaurant in downtown Khon Kaen. A few minutes after I had stepped through the door, my roommate Kim strolls into the room. She had just returned from a ceremony where the first years in her faculty received their special faculty belt buckles for their uniforms. She immediately started changing out of her very formal uniform into her usual jeans and T-shirt, then asked me if I wanted to go get milk with her and her friends. First I was confused by what she meant by going to get ‘milk’ thinking maybe it was slang for beer or something. It’s not. She meant milk. Though it had been an extremely long day and I was neuwai maak (very tired), I decided to go.

I hopped on the back of her moto-sci (motorcycle), and we drove through the humid night to a very hipster café. It met all of my standards of what necessitates a cool café—raw brick walls, spiral staircase up to the second floor/loft, a comfy couch, random art, and a guitar. Turns out, asking someone to go to milk with you is the same as asking someone to go to coffee, except in Thailand many of the drinks that you order at a café are some form of sweet milk. Kim’s friend arrived shortly after we did. We had ordered one of the best Thai desserts, a crepe cake (layers of crepe and cream, ours had banana in it too). Kim proudly introduced me as her American roommate, and forced me to speak Thai to her friend, and forced her friend to speak English to me. I discovered halfway through our conversation that I was the first farrang (foreigner) he had ever spoken English with besides his farrang professors. What a separate world this is.

Around midnight as Kim and I were on our way home singing Beatles at the top of our lungs, Kim declared we were going to Karaoke. I thought maybe she meant we should go to Karaoke another night, but she meant right then. We pulled up to a building that looked a bit like a renovated motel with a bright sign that declared that we were at the karaoke ‘place’. I say place because I naturally was expecting a karaoke bar, the logical place to sing karaoke. But this was Thai-style karaoke. Any group of people, small or large, that wants to sing karaoke rents a room for an hour, equipped with the appropriate number of microphones, a large speaker, and a flat screen TV for the lyrics and background music video. There I was with my roommate, one room, two microphones, too much Adam Levine, a bit of Adele, for one full hour. It’s these sorts of small, slightly strange experiences that I hope to not forget when I return to the states.

By kennatim

Yes, Belgium. Although I am studying in Dublin, this weekend I visited my cousin and awesome tour guide Megan who lives in Brussels. I have loved every second of my Irish experience, but Brussels has exceeded my expectations outright. Here are my top five spots in Brussels.

Honorable Mention: Maison Antoine is steps away from my cousin's apartment. French fries originated in Belgium and no one does them better. This place is to Belgium as Pat's Cheesesteaks is to Philadelphia.

5. The view from the Military Museum-our first stop in Brussels after the airport was this giant structure in a park that looked interesting. Turned out part of the building was a very interesting military museum. For the extra curious, there was a corner door that lead to some stairs. At the top was one of the most amazing views I have seen of our new city we were set to explore. It also helped that we had a beautiful sunny afternoon, which in Ireland happens as frequently as finding a leprechaun.

4. Musical Instrument Museum- a very interesting musical audio tour exploring the world of instruments. Only two euro for students for an extensive museum! The view at the cafe at the top is also grand. A nice Belgian beer with a view goes quite well with a day full of music!

3. Grand Place- the city square full of tourists with selfie sticks. Very neat to walk around, but what was even better was the walkable streets surrounding this area, the same area you might have seen on postcards from Brussels.

2. Delirium- right at the end of the alleyway near Grand Place is a bar that once set a Guiness World Record for over 2,000 beers offered. With 3 floors and a large Belgian beer selection, the best part of one of Europe's most popular bars is the wide variety of clientele: from older Belgians to international students and everything in between.

1. Random yellow waffle truck- I've heard good things about Belgian waffles. But I never expected an authentic Belgian waffle to be this good. My cousin instructed me to find a truck, as trucks make them fresh, and eat it plain like a true Belgian would. With a gooey inside and crispy outside, consuming the waffle was an otherworldly experience. I don't think I will ever be able to eat an Eggo again.

By kaandle

One of my favorite things to do in Berlin is dance.  The best part about this statement is that it has so much diverse potential.  For instance, this past Thursday I ended up in one of the last standing dance halls from the 20s, Clärchens Ballhaus, which keeps its original decoration, serves delicious food, and has an hour before the floor opens to everyone where participants can learn the dance style of the night.  It was truly a unique spot and I've already made a mental note to go back and give tango or salsa a try.

Simultaneously, you can walk down any street, duck into a cellar bar or club and see people bobbing around to whatever DJ/live band/solo act is performing that night.  And while the style and location of your dancing may change, the really wonderful thing about the people dancing in Berlin, the thing I would love to see in the US when my time here is done, is people dancing entirely for themselves.  No one is hindered by what the people around them might think or if what they do is "sexy".  Dancing is mostly a solitary act.  Think of how you dance when you're alone in your room blasting music or when you catch yourself mindlessly moving along to a beat - it's what wants to come out - how your body naturally wants to move.  This is how Berliners dance and it's awesome.  Going to a dance venue is just as fun for dancing as it is for people watching.

Now let's quickly talk about clothing.  I am a person that loves to be comfortable.  Seriously - ask anyone.  I have a Stitch (as in Lilo and...) onesie that can best be described as a blanket that never falls off and I would wear that thing out every night if my housemates would let me.  (Don't worry, it's made its way into public regardless).  But since that's not usually an option, I really love a night where I can wear jeans with a big ol' sweater for a night in the town.  In DC that may not fly everywhere you go, but here in Berlin I've yet to enter an establishment and feel underdressed.  Like dance for yourself, it's dress for yourself.  Maybe this can find its way to the States, but if not I fully intend on doing it anyway.

By mcbitter

It's pretty much a crime to live in Paris and not love their food, right? Good thing I am all about the French cuisine! Here are a few of my favorite things to eat in Paris.

  • Pain au chocolat. This little treat is flakey like a croissant but has little bits of chocolate inside. It's usually for breakfast, though it makes a good snack, too. I am a huge chocolate lover, so I'm glad that no one can judge me here for having chocolate for breakfast!
  • Baguette sandwiches. On campus, there are a few dining areas with student prices for lunch. They offer an array of different sandwiches, and the majority of them are on baguettes (obviously!). The Parisienne is the simplest, with just ham and butter; they also have poulet crudites (chicken pieces and veggies), jambon crudites (ham and veggies or salad), a caprese, and then a few veggie-only options.
  • Mousse au chocolat. Back to the chocolate! This is probably my favorite dessert of all time, not just in France, so it's good that I'm in the place that makes it best! Mousse au chocolat is very rich so you can't have it all the time, but when you do, it's a perfect way to end a meal. I had a friend visiting Paris last weekend, and we got mousse at the restaurant we went to for dinner.

I'm currently on break and am visiting Prague with some other students from my program, so we've been enjoying a lot of traditional Czech dishes too - sausage, roast beef, goulash, bread dumplings - but I'm looking forward to getting back to my French food soon!

By marisalgado94

Happy Brazilian Independence Day!

Although, funny enough most Brazilians are sad that the holiday falls on a Sunday… they love holidays during the week because then, they have work off!

Anyways, I have arrived in Salvador, Brazil and the past 7 days have been an absolute whirlwind.  From missing a plane in São Paulo and almost losing my luggage, to arriving at a hostel run by nuns and meeting the 20 other students on my program, and finally, to moving in with my host family in the neighborhood of Alto de Ondina, I have had ups and downs.

One of the biggest challenges I have faced so far is that I do not speak any Portuguese.  I grew up learning Spanish and that has helped me to understand a lot of what people are saying.  When it comes to trying to respond, however, every sentence is a struggle that sometimes I win and sometimes I don’t.  The best part is that most people are very understanding and willing to listen to my Spanliguese (Spanish, English, and Portuguese).  I have gotten very good at saying thank you, “obridaga” and please speak more slowly, “por favor fala mais devaghar”!

One of the best experiences I have had so far was when we were sent out in groups of 4, told to take the bus to a certain location, and conduct interviews with locals.  At first, the thought of using a public transportation system that we didn’t know and having to communicate with people when we didn’t speak the language made everyone a bit nervous.  After having the opportunity to explore the Rio Vermelho, our drop off site, we all became much more comfortable navigating the city and practicing our Portuguese.

This first week in Salvador has been full of adventure and I couldn’t be happier.  Isn’t that one of the reasons to travel abroad? To immerse yourself completely in a new culture and learn and experience all the country has to teach you?  This semester won’t be easy, but I know that in the end, it will all be worth it.  I cannot wait to continue learning Portuguese, start digging into my research project (topic to be decided!) and continue to get to know my host family.  Here’s to 15 more weeks in Bahia!




By anuhyabobba

The size of Buenos Aires is hard to fully grasp, but here is what I like to do the most in this enormous town:

1) Cafes on cafes - The coffee culture here is incomparable, and that is something I truly love about Buenos Aires. The lack of to-go coffee places makes for some amazing cafes where you can sit down and have a nice cup of espresso with an assortment of pastries. Havanna is a cafe chain here that I enjoy, and their coffee and alfajores are on point.

2) Weekend fairs - There are numerous fairs that happen throughout the city on Saturday and Sunday: Recoleta, San Telmo, Palermo, and La Boca to name a few. Booths are set up selling artwork, jewelry, and more. I make a day out of it, especially if I am moving past my own neighborhood of Recoleta. The street food sold amidst the fair is delicious, and you can find beautiful items for cheap prices if you take the time to.

3) Sunsets on parks and plazas - Buenos Aires has many parks and plazas. Grabbing a blanket and sipping on some mate as the sun sets in Plaza San Martin brings so much peace to me. During the weekends, everyone does the same. You can see teenagers strumming on their guitars or old couples walking by you hand in hand. It is the perfect way to relax after a hectic day or week.

4) Restaurant searching - More often than not, my friends and I here set a time for dinner on the weekends. That is usually how far the planning goes, because we walk into the first restaurant that looks promising. This definitely could go poorly, but it actually has made for some fun adventures. It acts as a way of us getting to know our surroundings that much more, and we have found some amazing places to eat that we now return to when time permits. For example, we once ran into this cheap taco place called La Fábrica del Taco. Their 30 peso tacos were delicious, and it was so lively in there -- making for a perfect night.

5) Ice cream - I cannot even begin to describe how delicious the ice cream is here. Late night or evening walks to ice cream shops like Freddo or Volta is by far one of my most favorite things to do. Indulging in the best dulce de leche ice cream is a solid cure for homesickness or to just finish off a lovely day. The McFlurrys here are also heavenly. The Milka McFlurry is essentially dulce de leche ice cream with Milka chocolate chunks and chocolate syrup drizzled on. Exploring the many ice cream places Buenos Aires has to offer is an activity on its own.