A Puente in Portugal

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As soon as my final papers and projects were handed in and done with at the start of December I was on a plane to Porto, Portugal for the long weekend (or puente).  As someone who has grown up living beside the ocean I was very excited to once again be near the water (oceans and rivers are two things Madrid does not have in abundance).

Porto did not disappoint – the city is extremely quaint and walkable with the feeling that every road leads to the river Douro.  The center of the city is easily accessible from the airport, as was our hostel, which was located about a ten-minute walk from one of the city’s central metro stations, Trindade.

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Twenty in Paris: A Checklist for Your First Week Abroad

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No trip would be complete without a checklist and studying abroad is no exception. Your first week abroad is a great time to cross many things off your study abroad check list before the start of classes. Let’s take a look at what you should have on your study abroad check list to be completed your first week abroad.

Find your closest Grocer and Laundromat

Locating the closest grocer (supermarket and/or market) and Laundromat will help to make the transition to daily living a little easier and quicker. Ask your host family and program director for local and city wide chains for both types of establishments. Then walk around your neighborhood and locate them. Go into one on your first day to become familiar with the layout and look of the place to help ease any nervousness about being in an unfamiliar location before actually using it. It’s a good idea to also put the names and addresses in your phone for reference. Read More

Dancing in Dublin- Finding The Pot of Gold

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Got a fever for finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow? Why not some leprechauns too? Well then, get yourself to Ireland! Though I can’t guarantee you’ll find a pot of gold when you visit Ireland, I can almost certainly guarantee you will find joy, good times, happiness, beautiful scenery, a charming culture, and a vibrant nightlife. After spending 10 days in the Dublin region of the beautiful country of Ireland and falling in love with everything the country has to offer… here’s why you should go and some ideas for when you visit! Read More

Twenty in Paris: 5 Quick, Affordable and Fun Day Trips Near Paris

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Studying abroad in Paris will afford you the opportunity to visit the sites, museums and beauty that makes Paris, well, Paris. But sometimes it’s good to take a break from visiting the City of Lights to explore the other culturally and historically rich areas right around Paris. Let’s take a look at 5 quick, affordable and fun day trips near Paris. Read More

Twenty in Paris: Parisian Apartments 101

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Living in Paris is a dream come true for many students. What’s not so dreamy is the typical Parisian apartment Americans students will stay in during their time abroad. It is important to understand that Paris is a very old city with very old buildings. Updating and modernizing these buildings while still preserving their historical attributes is not easy. Let’s take a look at what it’s like to live in a French apartment. Read More

Twenty in Paris: Conversion Cheat Sheet

Preparing to study abroad is busy enough that we can forget about minor things that are a major difference such as telling the time, expressing and understanding size, and knowing how to dress for the weather. You don’t have to master the metric system or military time to understand size or get to places on… Read More

Some Basic Packing Tips for Your Trip to Europe

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One thing to remember about traveling throughout Europe is that they have just about everything you could ever need available in stores open 5-6 days a week. Except peanut butter. Europeans still use hairdryers and tooth brushes. In fact, they have hair dryers with European double prong plugs! This gets rid of the headache of trying to remember where your adapter is. In addition to toiletries, remember that when both academic semesters start (Spring and Fall), they usually correspond to some great sale seasons throughout Europe (either post-Christmas or end of summer sales). Consider packing half the clothes you think you’ll need, and use that as an excuse to pick up some sweet European styles. I’ll list some guidelines below to get you off to a good start, but if you’re able to take a deep breath, and internalize that anything you forget can always be picked up later during your trip, packing for a semester abroad or long backpacking trip is a lot less stressful. Read More

City Bike Tours: Do Them!

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If you are half-decent at riding a bike and are not intimidated by traffic then definitely hop on a bike tour as a means of introducing yourself to a new city.  These tour guides have a way of making historical sightseeing interesting and a lot of fun!  They are also good at making you feel comfortable on your bike even if you are not the best cyclist in the world.  Remember you are riding around in a large group – the chances of getting hit by a car are very slim (particularly in Germany where the penalties for drivers are very high!).  A bike tour is a great way to get your bearings in a new city while also learning a bit about its history. Read More