Transportation in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Unlike out beloved Louisville, Buenos Aires has a bus system that does not require one to wait long in the blistering heat or freezing cold. Truthfully, the city has three options for transportation – buses, train, and subway. The trains and buses bring people into the city from parts of the provencia – think, Bullit County – while the subway or subte has much more concentrated lines of transport limited to the certain parts of the city. Recently the city has created a new system of paying for the buses, so now it is easy to pass a card over the monitor to pay for the subte or bus. Before, it was necessary to have a few coins or monedas to get on the bus and aren’t always easy to find. A ticket for the bus costs between $1.10  and 1.25 argentine pesos, depending on how far you’re traveling. So, it is very cheap, but there are also no discounts for students. Nor do students ride free like we do with our UofL ID cards. Also, there are no transfer tickets, so you are required to pay again if you need to change buses. Perhaps this is why people here walk so much. In any case, the bus transport system is extremely good and much more efficient than our system. Buses can travel far into the provencia for just $1.25, they come just about every fifteen minutes or less, and there are about 50 different bus lines. But, the city here is a really big place and can be really confusing at times it’s necessary to carry around a Guía T that is a guide to all the buses, including maps of where they go. The maps are so good that I sometimes use them to just walk around the city when I’m in neighborhoods I don’t usually visit.

Meanwhile, there are still plenty of cars on the streets. Of course the buses, trains, and subtes are filled with people during rush-hour, but there are also plenty of cars on the street during this same time. My host family tells me that the streets weren’t always so filled with people like they are now, but with the economic crisis that has continued since the turn of the century and now created a crisis of inflation here, there are many more people traveling into the city for work. It is important to understand that many of these people do not travel by car, but by bus or train, and also that they sometimes travel for a couple hours to get to their jobs. Meanwhile, since the public transportation has become more crowded, it has become more common for people who live in the city to use their cars. In any case, whether car or bus, it’s really important to be careful when crossing the street here. There aren’t many traffic rules that people follow here. Really, it’s like watching some movie depicting typical Italian driving.

Bienvenida a Barcelona

I arrived in Spain a little over a week ago w/ ISA. We started off in Madrid, where we only spent 2 days. 2 Days is absolutely not long enough to see Madrid. It’s such a beautiful city that seems to be torn between the renaissance and modern day. Despite the renaissance age art & architecture, Madrid is a relatively modern city. From it’s version of Central Park, “El Retiro” to the Prado Museum, it is an absolute must see.
From Madrid, we traveled to the medieval, former capital of Spain, Toledo. Even though little to no people actually live in Toledo anymore and it’s been entirely taken over by tourism, the city itself with it self remains completely unchanged since medieval times. It’s a beautiful walled in city with some of the most incredible “vistas” you will ever see.
After an entire day on a bus, we finally arrived in Barcelona. How do you even explain this beautiful, eclectic city with its proud natives? Barcelona is one of the most diverse, fascinating cities you will ever see in your lifetime. None of its several neighborhoods even closely resemble each other. From the beach to the gothic neighborhood, to Gaudi’s modern architecture, you will never see a plain sight in this city. It’s absolutely gorgeous. As the capital of Catalunya, the majority of the natives speak Catalan, a language with similarities to French and Spanish, but do not mistake it for either. It is its own independent language and the Catalunyan people are extremely proud of it. Although the Catalunyans prefer to speak their native Catalan, nearly all of them speak regular spanish, or Castellano, as they call it in Spain. Though most of the natives speak both of these languages, hardly anyone in Barcelona speaks English. Needless to say, I should achieve fluency by the time I return home.
Though Barcelona is known as the pickpocket capital of the world, if you are safe and protect yourself from pickpockets, you will soon realize that despite this, Barcelona is one of the safest largescale cities in the world. I feel very safe walking around on my own. I walk everywhere here, whether it’s to class, to the gym, to eat, shop, whatever.
Unfortunately I do not have a metro stop near to me, nor is my homestay apartment situated anywhere near any of my friends in the program. The homestay is definitely something to get used to. I personally do not reccomend it. Aside from the obvious practice of the spanish language that I get daily, due to the fact that hardly any of the host families speak english, it is hardly an ideal situation. Several of my friends have had decent situations as far as homestay families go, with the homestay “mother” being very flexible. Mine, though nice, is not very flexible and is a very busy woman.
The Catalunyan style of living is very difficult to get used to. As Americans we take so much for granted. Water is an actual luxury here, as they often have shortages.
So far, I have had the opportunity to go to the beach, travel to the Cava Winery, and Sitges, a little beach town south of Spain.. The Cava Winery is absolutely incredible. Cava is the spanish term for Champagne. We got the opportunity to go underground and see the miles of fermenting bottles of Cava. It was a very neat experience.
Overall, my experience so far has been very eye opening and enjoyable.
Now it’s time to see what else Barcelona has to offer me!

10 Things to know in the Hague

Hello all. I’m almost done here in The Hague and it has been the greatest experience of my life. If you ever have the slightest inclination to study abroad you should go. It will be the greatest experience of your life I guarantee it. You may know what life is like somewhere. But, I’m here to tell you you’re wrong. You will only figure this out by living there. Now, if you are going to study in The Hague, which I highly recommend, there are 10 things you need to know: 1) Get a bike. It will be the greatest investment you will ever make here. You can get them for like 40 euro 2) Stay in Stamkartplein. It’s like 50 yards from the school and a two minute walk from the train and tram station. It’s really close to the megastore which is where you buy everything. It’s also full of exchange students from around the world. 3) Bring warm clothes- It’s very windy. 4) Get a higher one account. It’s the cheapest way to do everything. It’s only $2.50 to withdrawal any amount. (No one swipes in the Netherlands except in the school.) 5) Travel as much as you can. The Netherlands is centrally located so it’s really easy and cheap to travel anywhere. Some sites you need to use are: easyjet and skyscanner for flights. 6) Your schedule will change just about every week. It takes a little bit of getting used to but once you get the hang of it it’s fine. 7) The school caters to exchange students. They try to help you out as much as possible. They also have organizations set up to help you meet other students. 8) Meet as many people as you can. There are people here from all over the world. 9) You don’t have to know the language. Everyone in the Netherlands speaks English fairly well. But, I would highly recommend learning a few Dutch words before you go so when you go to the store you know what you’re buying. 10) Go out. Have a good time. You only have six months to hang out with them and it goes by faster than you think.


I’ve almost been in Torino for two week, and it already feels like a lifetime. I’ve easily grown accustomed to the habits of the local people and I’m proud to say I can get almost anywhere (by walking mind you- people generally don’t use cars or anything here unless they are going to the complete other side of town because everything you need is so close) without having to look at the map. It’s sad to think that I only have about 9 more weeks left here… but enough of that.

I spent last weekend in Florence, and it truly made me appreciate the city I chose to study abroad in. Yes, Florence is absolutely beautiful and there are so many things to see but it is such a touristy town. I didn’t feel like I really got to interact with any of the locals and when I tried to speak in the little Italian I know from taking my class here all the people would just talk back to me in English. Torino is so different, it’s like a really authentic experience, many people know English, but many do not and unless you know basic Italian and some of their customs it’s hard to interact.

We visited the Academia Gallery, which among other things holds the Statue of David. He is absolutely breath taking; I literally stared in awe for about 5 minutes. We also walked up the Duomo- I think it is the hardest bit of exercise I had to do in my life… imagine walking up these stairs for literally twenty minutes straight with no break and the closer to the top you got the steeper they got.

I had my first cooking class today, and it’s objective for us is every lesson to learn to create a full Italian meal and learn what wines to pair with the food we eat. We made 4 antipasto’s, 2 pasta dishes, 1 dessert, and got to taste two different kinds of wine. It was absolutely amazing, but I literally ate as much as I normally eat in like three days. The recipes for everything we made were so fresh and simple(I don’t think any had more than 5 or 6 ingredients) and yet they tasted better than anything I’ve ever had in America.

This weekend I’m visiting the Italian Riviera (Genoa, Portofino, and Santa Margherita) as well as Cinque Terre, which I’m super excited about- I can’t wait to try the see food! I’ll make sure to post something about my experiences there.

My trinidad & tobago experience

After I returned home from my glorious Trinidad and Tobago experience I realized a few things.

  • Importance of relationship building
  • Importance of culture
  • The impact we are able to leave on people
  • Learning experiences we can gain from interacting with people across cultures

I was bummed out returning home from beautiful Trinidad and Tobago, but I was happy with the relationships I brought back with me. After making new friends and getting valuable new world experiences, I feel like I have became a better person. Thank you to everyone who made this possible and to the friends that I will never forget.


I would strongly urge anyone thinking of participating in the ISLP program to do so. If nothing at all at least gather information about it because it was truly one of the best experiences i had at UofL


-James Parrott

Bride of the Sea: Day Trip to Venice

Today was a big one for me. I woke up at 7:30 and got prepared to head out to Santa Maria Novella where I effectively navigated the Rail System by myself. I was able to figure out everything I needed to conservatively travel to and from Venice for under €70. The ride to Venice wasn’t bad and I got there by noon as planned and once I left the train station I couldn’t believe it. I walked out onto a plaza of the epitomized views of the Venetian waterways that I grew up picturing. I am glad that I have had a major fascination with this city and believe that it was one of my favorite place to visit this entire trip. What was better was that I was doing it on my own for once. Kind of a rite of passage in the world of independence.

I quickly realized the intricacies of the city as there are two types of traveling. Extensive water travelling or navigating the narrow and dead-end alleys that maze their way through the city. After getting my ass kicked by my lack of natural direction in Venice I succumbed and bought the overpriced €3 Mappa di Venezia. Really though, it didn’t help much I still got lost and ended up on the south end of the city which opens up to the gaping and dramatic Adriatic Sea. I couldn’t believe it. I can still think back to when I was a kid and I used to dream about this city and the gondolas and a giant Vaporetto buzzing down the aquatic streets. I made friends with a British couple on their honey moon and ran into Salute (the stature of the boy holding the frog) It’s insanity that I have seen that image many times only to stumble upon it while seeking Saint Mark’s Square. Everything next to the water was exactly as majestic as I was hoping for. There was a lack of hustle and bustle and I had forgotten that Venice is the largest city in the world without cars.

After finally finding a Vaporetto station on the north side of the peninsula I ventured my way to find tickets and couldn’t! In a nervous moment I just hopped on the Vaporetto to cross the Grand Canal. It was notably one of the coolest things that I have been wishing to do. From there I was left off at Saint Mark’s square and luckily no one checked my ticket for the ride.

Plazza San Marco had a sullen and rustic façade due to the grey overcast skies that hung lowly above indicating the rain we would get. I swiftly made my way into Saint Mark’s Basilica before the rain and loved every minute of it. The pale golden ceilings faintly glimmered with the rustic stories of the centuries past and I got that feeling again. The one where I feel God’s hand on my shoulder. That’s what I am exploring is on sentiment and that I should be investigating the causal roots of my faith. From there I made my way to St. Mark’s tomb and felt an overwhelming sense of appreciation for my Catholic roots. I took the time in the pews to really lay my heart out there and Lit a Prayer Candle at Saint Mark’s for grandma.

Finally in the pouring rain I went to go under an overhang and it turned out to be the Doge’s Palace which sat so serenely against the Venetian canal. The marble encrusting the ornate fixtures was impressive and the best part of the whole square was the traditional modeled lightposts speckled throughout. After exploring the castle for 50 minutes the rain made it evident that it was not clearing up and that I would be forced to brave its fury. Upon crossing Ponte Academia I randomly stumbled upon the Bridge of Sighs to reflect. It was quite possibly the most important 20 minutes of the day. I realized that I am not better than the people I am around. There is a grand and giant world out there that needs me and I am always going care. It is what I am good at doing.

Bienvenido a España!

I left the US on May 23 and arrived in Madrid, Spain on May 24. The plane ride was okay but really long and really uncomfortable I couldn’t really sleep well at all. Madrid was cool, we were there for a couple of days. There was a lot of people and I started feeling culture shock while there because of the time difference and internet issues I had there. I couldn’t really get in touch with my family like I wanted to so I was kind of bummed out. We toured around the city and saw some awesome architecture! El palacio real is absolutely beautiful! That is the royal palace in Madrid. It was interesting to see American restaurants there too like McDonalds and Burger King. They were right by our hotel. We looked at the menu and it was interesting to see the menu items which were different from home.

Once we left Madrid we went to Toledo and I absolutely fell in love with the city!! It is beautiful and Toledo is the image that comes to your mind when you think of Old World Europe! The people were so friendly there which was unlike Madrid. Madrid reminds me of a  large busy city like New York and Toledo is much smaller, friendlier, as well as prettier! I loved it! Unfortunately we were only there for one day, I wish we had been able to spend more time there. I plan to go back one day, maybe not during my study abroad but definitely one day I will visit Toledo again.

After Toledo we were on our way to Sevilla which is where I am studying. We arrived and my room mate Cortney and I met our house mother Marie. She is so sweet and I absolutely love her! She has lived in Sevilla her entire life and has a beautiful home! She has three grown children and three grandchildren (one on the way due in July). My room mate and I were surprised when we arrived to her house to see how big it was. We were already prepared to have a small amount of space during our stay and we assumed we would be sharing a room. We actually have our own rooms and we have a lot of space! She lives in an apartment but to me this is more like a condo. She has so much space! She’s really awesome and she has embraced Cortney and myself as her Spanish daughters. She doesn’t speak much Spanish and sometimes we misunderstand each other but we are learning. She has had many students here with her before so she is very patient with us. We are experiencing all of the differences in culture compared to back at home. There is a difference in the eating schedule because the largest meal is lunch which is around 2 PM and then we don’t eat again until around 9 or 10 PM and dinner is usually a light meal as is breakfast. I am still getting adjusted to that because sometimes I get hungry in between that time. They don’t really snack here and that is also something I’m not used to. Also the home is not used as a hang out  spot like back at home. My room mate asked our house mom if she was okay with some of our friends coming over and she didn’t want that to happen. You hang out with your friends outside of the home. There’s many other things that we are learning but like I said our house mom is very patient with us.

The weather is Spain is beautiful except it gets REALLY hot some days. The other day we were walking around and it literally felt like we were walking in an oven! It was miserable! The plants and flowers over here are very beautiful however. Classes are going well, I am taking International Finance and Marketing to finish my International Business minor. My professors are pretty laid back and I know this time will fly by in no time!

I discover new things everyday and that makes it so exciting! I am so thankful and blessed to have this opportunity and I am cherishing my time here because I know that it will be over before I know it! We are traveling to Morocco this coming Thursday so once we get back I’ll have to post about my experience there. Until then hasta luego!

week 1

Ok so the first week is completed! During the first summer session I am currently taking international finance and beginning Spanish 1&2. The international finance class seems to be smooth sailing but however my Spanish class is going to test my abilities. In the very beginning when I had to sign up for my classes that I wanted to take while studying abroad, and one thing that I made sure to do was to choose the Spanish classes that were taught in English. Come to find out that the ISA study abroad program here in Sevilla does not have any Spanish classes taught in English. Now I don’t quite understand how someone who came to Spain with no ability to speak Spanish (me), to learn to speak Spanish is supposed to do so when they don’t know what the teacher is trying to teach?? But oo well. I guess the coordinators just want the students to concentrate harder and pay closer attention to the Spanish culture and piece words together, because frankly it’s a head ache. Overall day by day I learn a little and a little more. By the end of the 2nd summer session the goal is to be able to fully speak Spanish. And besides that being my only complaint, Sevilla is AWESOME and if anyone has the opportunity to do so should then you shouldn’t hesitate. I have been here for 8 nights and I love it!!!

Hi all,

I’ve only been in Torino, Italy for a few days now so this post won’t be too long but I wanted to share some of the things that I have experienced or noticed about Italy so far- and they are mostly random.

People don’t really smile. In America you might walk down the street and smile at someone passing you bye or say hi to a random person to be nice, here that is not the case.

Also the “personal bubble” most Americans are used to having doesn’t exist here. Since there are so many people it is common to literally be standing up on someone that you don’t even know (especially on the bus).

The food doesn’t contain preservatives so most Italians buy small amounts of food every few days- either at a supermarket or an open market in many of the cities piazzas. In the case of the open market, it is okay to just look at fruit and inspect it, but here you must where gloves to touch any of the produce or the owner will yell at you. They also don’t refrigerate eggs in stores, I had a hard time with this at first and refused to eat the eggs one of my roommates cooked but I finally gave in this morning at ate some. The gelato is amazing. I’ve only had two kinds so far- chocolate and straciatalle, but both were delicious. Surprisingly, chocolate is my favorite so far, and I hate chocolate ice cream from home.

Bars in Italy are also referred to as Cafés- so they have both alcohol and coffee type of drinks. People here take eating and drinking coffee very seriously because it is when they socialize. Meals may last for hours and the waiter will really only come to you when ask for them, and in most places you must ask for the check yourself. A kind of plus is that you do not have to tip as it is included in the price of the food.

That’s really all I can think of right now about Italian culture and it’s people. Torino is beautiful and located right next to the Po river (Fiume Po in Italian) and I’m already falling in love with it and the Italian lifestyle- although I don’t understand how Italians are not exhausted all the time because of all the walking they do around the town/how late they stay out every night of the week. My roommates and I take short naps everyday to maintain our energy. If New York is the city that never sleeps, I think Italy should be the country that never sleeps.

I’m going to Florence this coming weekend so I may post sometime next week about that! There was an earthquake that affected an area in between here and Florence though, so hopefully it doesn’t mess up my travel plans. Until Next time… Caio!