2 Days in Vienna

This past weekend I traveled to Vienna, Austria. It is my favorite European city I have seen so far!

The city is on the opposite end of Austria from where I am studying in Bregenz. The train ride there was broken up by a quick stop in Innsbruck, Austria, but neither ride to Vienna felt too long.

I stayed in an Airbnb, right next to a metro stop. The metro was very easy to navigate with Google Maps and made exploring as much of the city as we could possible!

The first morning, I ate at Café Central, where many intellectuals and authors used to gather. I had Viennese square noodles for lunch and tried some authentic apple strudel. I definitely recommend the restaurant, although it was a little pricy.

Apple strudel at Café Central

I then saw Freud’s home and a statue that was just unveiled of him at a local university.

Volksgarten in the city center near museums

Following this, I explored as much of the city and its center as I could! I stumbled upon a beautiful church and then on a small park. While wandering, I also discovered the city’s museum center that had multiple beautiful gardens surrounding it.

That night, I ate at Mozart’s Restaurant. There were many local options there for a cheap price!

Mozart’s restaurant

 

 

 

The next day, I saw Schönbrunn Palace, where Franz Joseph once lived. The palace, its gardens, and the land surrounding it was beautiful. If I return to Vienna, I would likely want to go back!

View from the gardens toward the back of Schönbrunn Palace

Front of Schönbrunn Palace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I later checked out a local market and then happened to find a large amusement park with a ferris wheel that featured a city view.

Amusement park in Vienna

There was a lot more I could have done in Vienna, such as the Belvedere or the Albertina. I recommend spending time there though to anyone who is able to do so!

Thanks for reading! -Peggy S.

5 Study Abroad Apps You Must Have

Hello! It’s Savannah again – I am still in Rome. While here, I have downloaded some apps on my phone that I feel have helped me in some cases, and saved my experience in others! Here, in no order, are my favorite study abroad apps:

1) Units Converter FREE by Alan Mrvica -This converter app is not just for currency (which saved me form overpaying for so many things my first week here!), but also for length, speed, temperature, and volume. This is helpful because so many things are different here in Europe like liters and millimeters, so being able to easily figure out what everything exactly is gives me a peace of mind I did not think I needed.

2) Hostelworld by Web Reservations International – If you are planning weekend travel , you will probably be staying in a Hostel. The SAFEST way to find a hostel is through Hostelworld; they have ratings for not just safety but also location, cleanliness, facilities, and value for money. If you want to safe lots of money but also stay somewhere not sketchy, book your hostel through Hostelworld.

3) Citymapper by Citymapper Limited – This might be the most important app on my phone. This app is like google maps with so many extra features. Not only does it tell you how to walk and drive places, but it also tells you how to get to your destination using public transportation such as train, bus, tram, or metro. When trying to save money and not get a taxi everywhere, this app is one of the best ways to figure out public transport in a new city. If you only downaload one app on this list, download this one.

4) Google Translate by Google – There is some controversy with this app as sometimes it does not translate correctly, but the offline part is a lifesaver. When you’re international, phone data is sacred. By using this app in offline mode, you never have to worry about not being able to get somewhere or find necessities.

5) mytaxi by Intelligent Apps GmbH – This is a Rome / Italy exclusive, but a MUST if you study abroad here. Uber is illegal (yah, crazy right?), and if you get caught in an uber you could get a fine or worst of all, you could possible go to jail. There is an easy solution: use mytaxi instead! It is just like Uber, but for taxis. You can pre-book taxis for multiple days in advance, and are usually early rather than late. You can also chose to pay with Euros or your card, so you don’t have to worry about having exact change if you don’t have it. Plus if you’re eco-friendly as I am, you can chose to order a taxi that is electric rather than gas! It’s a cool app to use that won’t get you arrested, which is hopefully something you’re trying to avoid.

 

Intro to Bregenz!

Opera stage floating on the lake – used for annual opera festival in Bregenz

Last Friday, I arrived in Bregenz, Austria! Bregenz is a small town near both the German and Swiss borders and on Lake Constance. The city only has around 30,000 people! I have been surprised by how many speak English here. This has been very helpful for me though, as I do not speak German!

Lake Constance

The day after my arrival, we headed to Feldkirch, Austria to kick off our travel. Since then, I have been getting to know Bregenz, which I will call home for a month total! I recommend spending time by the lake and especially the historic buildings and churches if you ever visit.

Watching the sunset by the lake

 

 

Posing with Bregenz City Hall, as I hope to work in public service!

Bregenz has a lot of hills, but its location near the Alps and its hills provide for beautiful views. I am staying with a host family, and every day, I see the Alps on my walks to school. Our school is near the lake and many of the businesses that sit at the heart of the town.

 

Mountain view I pass daily!

 

While I have barely begun my study abroad experience, I would recommend a smaller town for students looking to feel at home where they are studying. The people here have been very friendly, and the town has been easy to learn! I anticipate that Bregenz will also help me understand elements of Austrian culture more than a larger, more touristy city may have.

One of many historic Catholic churches

I am taking an international business course focused on sustainability and an international management course in Bregenz. On the weekends, I will be travelling around as much as I can. For my courses, I will be looking for internationalized brands and for sustainable business practices to compare and contrast these throughout the area. I am excited for these real-world lessons and to see what all I learn in and out of the classroom!

Thanks for reading! -Peggy S.

Exploring historic areas of Bregenz

 

3 things you should know before taking classes abroad

Hello cardinals! It’s Savannah again. I am still in Rome studying at the beautiful John Cabot University. As the most important part of study abroad is the STUDY part, here are three things to know about taking classes abroad:

1) Not too soon, not too late!

Back home, I definitely opt to have classes later in the day so that I can sleep in. I assume most college kids feel the same way: sleep is a gift! While studying abroad, however, I took the earliest class possible. This is only 9am here, but being done at 10:50am and having an almost three hour lunch break is such a gift! I also get done around 3:30, so I still have time after class if I want to go see some sights before dinner. Plan your classes (if you can) to have free time during the day at some point. You will want to spend time in your beautiful city, you chose it! I have friends that don’t start class till 3:30 and get done at around 5, so they go before hand. Just make sure you have a plan to get to class on time if you decide to have later classes.

2) Do your homework

Do just like you would back home: do research about your classes before committing. If you are lucky like me and have options you can do this, but if you are taking a required class, you may be out of luck. Check the teachers: are they lecture heavy? Test heavy? Just because you are abroad doesn’t mean all classes will be to your liking. Also make sure you are actually interested int he topic! I love my classes, but there are some people in my program who dread going to class every day because they didn’t do their research.

3) Don’t expect everything to be the same

While some things will be the same, classes abroad are not 100 percent like back home. You will need to study and do your homework just like back home, but depending on your teacher your class may be run differently. As for me, my classes have a ten minute break in the middle to rest. I never get a break back home. But not everything could be positive like that. Just mentally prepare that your teacher is not a Louisville professor; respect them and know that they know what theyr’e doing. Another thing that won’t be the same is the speed at which material goes: my program is only five weeks! Learning the same amount of material you learn in fifteen weeks in a third of the time means material will go much faster. Just be prepared, and if you need more help your professor should be glad to help.

Thanks for reading! I hope you learned something new about study abroad!

-Savannah T, Class of 2020

Introduction to Rome

Hey there cardinals! My name is Savannah and I am currently studying abroad in Rome, Italy at John Cabot University. My major is marketing and my minors are computer information systems and international marketing. A fun fact about me is that I also cheer for the university on the all-girl squad!

Here are some facts about my program and why I chose JCU in Rome. First, I wanted to go somewhere that had lots to do and see since I would be there the most in my study abroad but wasn’t extremely touristy like Paris or London. I felt that Rome was a perfect combination between beautiful locations and tourism. Second, I wanted to go to a place that had many English speakers, and thankfully Rome has many English speakers. Next, I wanted to go to an accredited school that would be welcoming to Americans, and John Cabot University was perfect: it’s an American Liberal Arts college based in Rome. Finally, I needed to pick a program that fit the dates I needed: with tryouts for the cheer team being on May 12th and the first week of practices being planned for the last week of June, I needed to find a program that fit between those dates. Luckily, JCU in Rome fit all these requirements perfectly!

How did I get to JCU? I went through SAI study abroad programs. They were more expensive than directly applying to the university, but I wanted to go with a program for a few of the benefits offered. First, it is my first time coming to Europe, so I wanted to have a program that would check in with me every few days to make sure I am safe. Second, programs have multiple services that you may not think of that they include in their price: airport transportation, cell phone service, health insurance, 24-hour emergency service, and my personal favorite: included excursions. While abroad, I wanted to be able to do things I wouldn’t be able to do if I just came on vacation. I of course was taking classes here, but I also am able to go on adventures unavailable to tourists through SAI. Next, An unanticipated benefit of coming in a program that I did not think of until I got here was that there are a group of people you can fall back on and become closer with. All of the SAI students that are here in Rome have become my friends, and even outside of SAI sponsored events we are hanging out and going on adventures. It’s nice to already have friends who worry about your safety on the first day here!

I have only been here for a few days and do not start class until tomorrow morning, but I already have learned so much about Rome! First, carry enough currency with you throughout the day. Many places here in Rome, more than I expected, do not allow cards and only accept Euros. There have been multiple times already where we have had to pass up restaurants or shops because multiple people in the group only have cards and do not carry cash. Do not be that person! Second, walking is essential here in Rome. In three days, I walked a combine total of 33 miles! I knew to pack my nice walking shoes and shoe inserts, but even with those my feet hurt so bad at the end of the day. Get heavy duty shoe inserts at best, and at worst do not plan to walk everywhere in sandals! Every single one of my friends wore sandals the first day, and have blisters so bad that now they can’t even wear shoes without it hurting!

I wanted to just give a brief summary about me for this first post. Thank you for reading, and come back next week to hear about my first week of classes in Rome!

-Savannah T, Class of 2020

Never Bored in Bordeaux

This Spring semester, I studied in Bordeaux, France. It’s in southwest France and is the hub of the wine-growing region in that area. Coming over to Bordeaux one of my luggage didn’t make a connecting flight. Even though, it took a while to receive I had to look at it as if, “it can only get better from here.” The next day at orientation I met some great, friendly Canadians, some nice Finnish girls, and some intelligent German girls; we had our newcomers friend group set.

Kedge Business School located in Talence, France was a very interesting and unique school that I attended. Semesters there are split into 5 or 6 cycles, and each cycle is a month. Each month you can take either 0 or up to 3 classes. For the month of March there are classes offered weekly instead of for the whole month. I took 2 classes in January, two classes in February, and classes the first 2 weeks of March; I was done with school for the semester by St. Patrick’s Day. I already had my return flight set for May 1st, so I could be back for Derby weekend. Since I was done with classes by mid-March, that gave me 6 weeks to just travel the world and try to see as much as possible.

The European (16 y/o-26 y/o) lifestyle is wild. They do not sleep. They survive and somehow thrive off of alcohol, tobacco, and red bull. I knew they like to drink over there, but I was not prepared for how late that stay out and that they can continue to just drink and drink. But I was also kind of envious of the majority European mindset. They live in the “Now”, and they’re not as stressed as us, Americans. They enjoy the time they have and they’re not afraid to learn from their past.

Being able to study abroad as a Senior was a great close to my collegiate career. I got to meet so many wonderful people, hear different sides to history, learn history I had no idea about, see things that just make you say “wow!”, a new appreciation for Nature and the Earth, and so much more.

A Semester in Spain

This past semester in Spain has brought me the most amazing experiences and adventures. I have met so many new friends I will forever remember, and all the countless trips taken throughout Europe have been wonderful.

Madrid is completely different from Louisville so the adjustment was real! Living in a small flat with 6 other roommates sharing a small kitchen and having to air dry your clothes because there is no such thing as a washing machine was definitely unusual, but after some time it becomes natural. I really enjoyed the fact that I was able to just walk everywhere rather than rely solely on driving from place to place. The metro is also just about the greatest thing you need when you’re too lazy to walk. This semester abroad really tested my cooking skills as well, which I had not seriously mastered yet.

The commute to university was much different than I was used to as well. Everyday I would walk 15 minutes to the train station, take a 15 minute train ride, and then walk another 10 minutes to campus. This maybe was the biggest adjustment I had to make early on. But what once seemed so unusual, became an everyday routine and a part of my normal life here in Madrid.

The opportunity to be able to travel almost every single weekend I was able to was incredible. I have always had a passion for traveling and this was a dream come true for me. Going to new places with new friends and staying in hostel after hostel is something I will never forget. A few missed trains and a flight add to the struggles but what previously seemed like the end of the world at the time, I now look back and laugh at the stress such little things can cause, especially being in another country. All the wonderful places I was able to see has created memories that will last me a lifetime and all the pictures taken along the way are great reminders of the fun times I was able to have.

I had the wonderful opportunity to become very close with people all around the world and even some great new friends from the US as well. The instant connections I formed with everybody was amazing and all my new friends will be missed so much, but I do hope one day later on I have the great fortune of seeing some of my new friends again. Countless trips to Retiro Park with friends and going to eat tapas and hang out at bars also become very routine when I was not occupied with school. These little memories will be the ones that I miss the most because of how normal they became to me and how much fun was spent just doing the little things with each other.

I was blessed with a fantastic opportunity to live out my dreams and I have to thank my parents more than anything for this. I also thank the University of Louisville for presenting me with the opportunity to achieve this dream of mine. This whole semester abroad has taught me more about myself than I never thought before. I am grateful for the things that I learned about myself and life in general while studying abroad. While I did study abroad for the purpose of school, this was much more than just that, everything learned during this journey was worth every moment.

Six month life as an exchange student

I think this semester is meaningful and special for me. At the first day of the Welcome meeting in the McEwan Hall, there are more than 1000 students to participate, it represents this semester the university have thousands of exchange students came from different countries around the world to choose University of Edinburgh as place to continue their further education. The number of students made me surprised. After all, University of Edinburgh is a one of the famous university in the world. And I also joined the welcome party from business school, and I met some friends from different countries. When studying in the University of Edinburgh, the style of learning is not same as the United States. For instance, the demand for consciousness is higher here, professor don’t care about your attendance. The lecture no more than 50 students. Also, the assessment information are consists of one group project and only one exam across one semester. Student only can choose three classes to take each semester. In the University of Louisville, we probably have four exams and some quiz as the usual time, but mainly are multiple choices. In addition, most of students only have one class for each course within one week. Therefore, I spent most of the rest time traveling around Europe. When had a group project, most of members spends a lot of efforts to their job. I have to mention that it’s difficult for me to understand thick Scottish accent. Edinburgh as the capital city of Scotland, compare to Louisville, will more lively in city centre and evening. It’s so distinctive to the lifestyle in the Louisville. Besides, most of Edinburgh’s housing and building were built since hundreds year ago, it makes city look historical and cultural. But I need to mention that Edinburgh not well, at least I don’t like it. Windy, rainy and still cold even on May. The winter almost from October to April.

At first, I went to London, a big and bustle city similar to New York City. Others country such as France, the Czech Republic and Brussel. They don’t have too many skyscrapers, instead, lots of tradition decoration buildings with European atmosphere. Quite uniquely different city structure to the US. My favourite country is Switzerland, a beautiful and peaceful place. The snow mountain is particularly beautiful around city. The train never miss the time it shows on the schedule lists. When you living in one of Europe countries, it’s so convenience for you to go to any Europe country. Going to different countries in Europe as we go to every states. When I went to Belgium for four days trip, I also went to Luxembourg, three hours train from Brussel. Train are convenient and main transportation for Europe people as their travel method. That’s why I love Europe, public transportation is developed and convenient. Not like the US, mostly travel by aircraft or self- drive, developed public transportation only in some big cities. Compare to the US, the price will little higher such as food, transportation. But relatively cheap when travel by air. Most of people would love to choose low cost flight such as EasyJet, Ryanair. When I flied from Edinburgh to Copenhagen, it costs me no more than $50. It’s a cheap way for student to travel. Furthermore, I also went to Morocco, North Africa in the spring break (20 days learning day before final exam). If I studied in the Louisville, it’s hard for me to have chance to go to Africa, and it will cost a lot when taking plane and spend more time. I only spend no more than $300 fly from Manchester to Casablanca (more than $1000 to set off in Louisville).

Last but not least, you can always find some new thing everywhere in Europe. I prefer to the Europe’s lifestyle, relaxed and cautious about the thing to do.

After living in the UK and traveling around the Europe, allows me to learn more culture and show me a totally different world.

Host families

The Value of having a host family:

I had a very positive experience with my host family. I originally wanted to have an apartment with other kids in my program, but changed my mind at the last minute. My study abroad program (ISA) did a great job of paring me with another student who I got along great with, despite not knowing each other at all. ISA also did a great job of pairing you with a host family with similar language abilities as you. For example, if you speak great Spanish, your host family may not speak much English, and it would not be a huge barrier. Alternatively, if you only speak English, your host family would most likely be close to fluent in English. The students in the same household are usually partially selected on the same basis; my roommate Sam and I had a similar speaking ability as one another. We were both intermediate Spanish speakers, so we had somewhat of a tandem effort to communicate with our host mom most days.

 

Meals:

A very nice advantage to living in a homestay is the family meal time every night. Our host mom would cook for Sam and I every night (except for days we were traveling). She was an incredible cook, every night would be a new dish that seemed to get better and better each and every time we sat down to eat. The best part of the home cooked meals was that this part of the home stay was included in the program cost, so we paid the same price for the entire program as others in apartments but our living arrangement came with two meals per day. This is a huge reason I chose to live in a home stay, it allowed me to spend money on extra travel and other experiences. Also, if you do not know how to cook or you are interested in trying new authentic Spanish dishes, this is definitely the route for you. Another cool thing our host mom did was a group dinner with other kids in our program. She was friends with another woman who was a host mom for our same program, so we all got together and had a dinner party one night.

 

Laundry:

Our host mom did our laundry on a weekly basis, which was very nice since I did not bring many clothes, and since it was summer, my clothes were always sweaty and smelly. This is so convenient when you are always on the go, or traveling a few days a week. Not having to do any chores really opens up your day and lets you spend it how you want.

 

Supervision/Support:

Being on your own is always nice, but having someone to give you advice and be concerned with your well-being is very nice, especially in a foreign country. Our host mom was very caring and made sure we were doing well at all times. Most host parents take their job seriously, and want to do well in order to keep it. Our host mom really took pride in being our “mom” for the summer and went to great lengths to make sure we had everything we needed to do well in school, in travel, and in the new community. She even dragged me out of bed to get to school most mornings!

 

All in all, I would recommend living with a host family to everyone.

Travel

Packing:

This past summer in Spain, I took multiple weekend trips with a group of my friends from my school program. A great way to save money and energy while traveling is to travel LIGHT. Most trips were only about 3 days each, and I was able to fit everything I needed into one backpack. I never had to lug around multiple bags or suitcases, and I saved at least 20-30 euros on each flight by not checking a bag (it is not fun dealing with lost baggage in a foreign country). Most airlines have bag size requirements for carry-ons, but a modest sized backpack is usually within those limits.

Granted my trip was in the summer and required less/smaller clothing, but in winter months I would recommend wearing outerwear on the flight to save bag space (the cabins are normally chilly anyway). And when I would bring multiple pairs of shoes, I would tie the second pair together by the laces and string them through the loop on my backpack to save space.

Travel light: save money, space, and energy.

 

Hostels:

During the summer, I stayed in hostels almost every time I traveled. Most hostels have single, double, and group rooms for very reasonable prices, I would recommend booking a few weeks in advance to price shop as well as make sure your whole group is accommodated. The rooms with more privacy and access to bathrooms will typically be the most expensive, but still beat hotel prices most times. I would also recommend purchasing a lock, as most hostels have lockers for personal items (very convenient, nice to have peace of mind). I did not have many problems with hostels, and typically the other travelers were in my age range. The most useful service for finding hostels was Hostel World, you can view information and reviews and even book/pay for your stay. Their website and customer service are both great. I had a positive experience with hostels and recommend them, especially for groups.

 

Public transit:

In every country I visited, I used public transportation to get around in metro areas in a quick and convenient way. In Barcelona, rode the metro (subway) to save time and money. There are texis but the metro is much cheaper. You can get into the metro for about a dollar each time, and ride to any point in the entire city. You can literally ride the metro all day if you want to, once you are in then you are in. Usually, I would walk to my destination if it was within a few blocks or if I was not in a rush, the weather was great most days. The nice thing about the metro is that you can buy the passes in bulk, and you can also buy an unlimited pass for a month or multiple months. ALSO remember to keep your receipts for your passes if it is a large amount. If you lose your physical card you can have the staff print you a new one for free. The transit staff is typically very helpful and understanding, many people lose the small card that is used for getting on the metro.