UI Study Abroad Blogger

On "castle rock" in the Bay of Biscay, as I bit into a sort of hand-held omelet, I wondered: who invented this ingenious snack? I mean, who in history was the one to discover that you could even eat an egg, not to mention fry it with potatoes and onions into a graspable food item. The true genius of it struck me because Josu, my hiking companion, had prepared this himself and though I had eaten this same thing in nearly every restaurant in my neighborhood, there was something notable about this one.

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One of the most significant aspects of studying abroad is seeing everything you possibly can, while learning and growing every step of the way. After getting settled into my new life at the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia, I was quickly ready to get out there and begin seeing all the things I had spent months pinning on Pinterest. After all, my parents were beginning to wonder what exactly I was getting out of spending day after day at the beach.

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In a swell of glinting green canals and cobblestoned curving streets, Venice is a natural attraction. For decades, this small northern city has been a place for travel for many Italians as well as tourists from all over the world. As if for fear of a disappearing city, an estimated 47.7 million people venture to Venice a year—about 200,000 in a summer day.

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A city is a work of art. With layers upon layers of history and meaning, a city can be unraveled at the seams and exposed. No matter the age, architecture and art will unfold around you as you turn corner after corner—taking in what it has to offer.

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As of March 1st, I have been in Thessaloniki, Greece, for one month. The time has flown by and I couldn't be happier with my new home. The people, the city, and the cuisine surprise me every single day. My classes are interesting and in full swing. I live a five minute walk from the sea. Can I repeat – I LIVE BY THE SEA. For a girl that has spent her whole life in Iowa with the Cedar and Iowa Rivers being the most exciting bodies of water nearby, to say that I live by the sea is a thrill in itself.

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In Morocco, they take it easy. As soon as my plane lands in Rabat, I can feel the change. The other passengers do not push against each other to stand in the aisle. They take their time gathering backpacks and briefcases from the overhead compartments. My flight is late, but that’s no problem. IES Abroad’s driver is just arriving to take me to the Center, where the other students are. I don’t know much Darija (the local dialect) yet, and he doesn’t know English. We smile at each other. It’s not uncomfortable.

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I have been at the University of Newcastle, in New South Wales, Australia for nearly three weeks already, and yet I continue to wake up most mornings in awe that this is actually my life. I prepared for this journey for quite some time; making and saving money, meeting deadlines for paperwork, and doing lots of research. To finally be here, literally on the other side of the world, can at times be hard to grasp.

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On my third day in Spain, I learned about the expert pickpockets of Madrid. It wasn’t simply through Ibon’s sound advice to get a money belt or to sling packs in front of our bodies where we could see them. No, I had to learn the hard way. I’m blaming it on the fact that I’m from a town where we don’t even lock our bikes. I implicitly trust everybody. However, belief rarely lines up with reality and in less than a week abroad I found myself wallet-free. Still, I’m optimistic that not every lesson that day was lost on me. Before I was so swiftly and silently robbed, I absorbed some stories about Spain’s long and complicated history, which, on more than one occasion, involved miracles.

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I spent the entirety of last weekend in Bath. The journey commenced around noon on Friday when my friend Juliette and I left the Norwich train station for London Liverpool Street. We originally intended to leave around 10:30 a.m., but complications arose and we missed our train. This incited a brief period of anxiety, but after a few minutes I was able to remind myself that the journey wasn't ruined or cancelled because of one small complication. To travel frequently means you have to be ready for anything to happen, because unfortunately not everything will run smoothly.

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Three months ago to this exact date was the day I accepted to spend the spring semester in Thessaloniki, Greece. After sending the acceptance e-mail, I remember calling my mom, my boyfriend, my friends – anyone who would listen – and then wondering how in the world I could ever wait three months to leave for Greece.

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