Five Things I love about Nantes, France

Five Things I love about Nantes, France  

 

  1. Lunch

There are many things I love about lunch in France. First, you have an hour and a half to eat which is really nice. You can actually enjoy your food. Second, French baguettes are simple but delicious and you can get them fresh from the bakery each day. French pastries top off a good lunch, they are second to none. My favorite is pain au chocolat which is basically a chocolate filled croissant.

  1. City center shopping

In the city center of Nantes, there are all sorts of boutiques in the midst of historic old buildings and fountains. Designer brands on every corner give you a feel for how important fashion is in France. They love their skinny jeans, jean jackets and Levi’s t-shirts.

  1. River time

In Nantes, there is a little river that runs through the city. In the evening, the French meet their friends and enjoy time together by the river along with great French beer and wine. It is a simple habit that makes for a peaceful lifestyle.

  1. Crepes

I mentioned pastries but crepes are on a different level. My favorite is Nutella but there are so many options. If you are ever in France, you must get a crepe. Creperies are on every corner so they are easy to find!

  1. Gardens

The Japanese Gardens and Jardin des Plantes are amazing places to visit in Nantes! The Japanese gardens neighbors the river so it is a nice place to see little water falls and picnic with friends. Jardin des Plantes has a goat petting zoo, birds, ducks, ponds and beautiful walking trails. The goats are so cute!

4 Tips for Weekend Travel Abroad

Ciao! It’s Savannah from Rome again. This is my final week abroad and I am so excited to come home but also so sad to leave. Since this is the end, I have finally been on all my bonus weekend trips: Madrid, Paris, Florence, and London! All of that travel was exhausting, but I saw so much beauty and learned lots of knowledge. So here are my four tips for traveling on weekends while abroad:

1) Book in advance: The earlier you book, the better you will be. This goes for not just availability but also price. When I booked my Madrid trip, we waited until the Monday before to book anything. As soon as the clock changed from 11:59 to noon, our original morning flight doubled in price! We had to change to fly out awkwardly in the middle of the afternoon to save money, so we lost a half day. You will also make sure you get on the flight or in the hotel you want. Book as soon as you decide to go and don’t wait!

2) Plan to be delayed: Disclaimer: I am not condoning getting to the airport late. PLEASE always get to the airport in enough time to check your bag and get through security. However, once on the other side of security, plan to see you flight delayed once you look at a departures board. I flew on six flights while abroad (not including my flights here and back home), and only one of them was not delayed. My flights To Madrid were delayed 30 minutes there and two hours back, my Paris flight was delayed an hour there and 30 minutes back, and my London flight was delayed 45 minutes there. My only on time flight was my flight home from London. The main thing to take away from this: do not plan any timed events the day you arrive, because you may miss them.

*** Small bonus tip: print your boarding pass at home. You will have to wait in the checked bag line to print you boarding pass and it could cost you over 40 euros! Just print your pass at home and have it on your phone, because it will save you time and money.

3) Prepare for different standards: Europe and America are two completely different places, with two completely different set of normal happenings and standards. Since you won’t need a full checked bag for a weekend away (trust me, you won’t), you can go straight to security. Security (in Rome at least) requires you to take out your liquid bag and laptops, but that’s it. The longest I ever waited for security from beginning to end was four minutes. So that’s security, but now onto the reason you’r at the airport: flying. Your planes will be smaller in all aspects. Your food and drink (including water) will not be free. You will probably experience more turbulence. Your ticket is much cheaper than home, so you get what you pay for.

4) Sleep is for the weak: I want to preface this with I always plan to sleep at least eight hours a night. Sometimes, however, you have to make sacrifices for the greater good of yourself. You can sleep when you get back to America. Plan that early flight there and late flight back, and wake up early to sight-see and get back late to enjoy your dinner. You may be exhausted on that flight home, but those memories will last a lifetime. We’re young, we can survive on four hours of sleep. THAT BEING SAID: Sleep and rest up before your class, because the main goal of study abroad is to learn and study.

*** Bonus tip #2: Always drink water when you can! You will be walking a lot, and being dehydrated is the easiest and fastest way to slow yourself down. I got so dehydrated in London we had to skip our after-dinner plans because I was so sick. Drink water and it will save you physically and mentally.

Thanks for reading!

 

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.