Study Abroad = Sweet

When you think of Europe, what comes to mind?

Maybe you picture some of the historic, beautiful cities like Paris and Rome.
Maybe you think of all the different cultures and languages overlapping in such a small area.
Maybe you even think of some of the famous dishes such as Italian Pizza or Spanish Tapas.

If you would have asked me this question before I moved to The Netherlands, I probably would have given you answers quite similar to these. But after only a couple of months, I am pleased to say that one of the top things that now comes to my mind when I tell other people about Europe is chocolate. Yes, chocolate.

The chocolate over here is SO DELICIOUS!

The grocery stores are lined with decadent assortments of chocolate – all so pure and tasty! Best of all, it isn’t even that expensive! I have tried so many different types of chocolate in Europe; here is a list just to name a few.

1. Kinder
2. Neuhaus
3. 85% cocoa
4. Milka S’mores
5. Mauxion Dark Chocolate
6. Milka Oreo
7. Milka White Chocolate
8. Cote D’Or Bon Bon Bloc Praline Wit
9. Bros Luchtige Pure Chocolate
10. Cote D’or Gout-Smaak Advocaat
11. Jumbo Chocolade Puur
12. Jumbo Wit Chocolade Tablet
13. Sprungli
14. Arthur Tuytel
15. Chocolate Amatller Blanco
16. Chocolate Amatller Con Leche
17. Droste Holland Pastilles Dark chocolate
18. Hands off My Chocolate Friendly Dark
19. Milka Carmel
20. Milka Collage

At this point you’re probably wondering how my clothes still fit, but no need to worry! As I am clearly an avid eater of chocolate, I am also an avid runner!

I bolded two of the chocolates on my list: Neuhaus and Sprungli. Neuhaus is from Belgium and Sprungli is from Switzerland. If you remember one thing from this post let it be that the countries know for their chocolate are WELL WORTH THE HYPE (Belgian chocolate and Swiss chocolate)! I tried Neuhaus my first weekend abroad and I ate all of the chocolate on my train ride back from Brussels. In the Zurich airport, I practically did the same thing and ate all of my chocolates waiting to board my flight. These two chocolates are must-tries for anyone coming to Europe!

I sincerely hope you get the opportunity to travel the world and taste many different chocolates on your journey! My trip has been fabulous so far, meeting a lot of awesome people and seeing a lot of amazing places. The chocolate has just made this experience a little sweeter!

Happy travels!

Anna Ochs
Chocolate Extraordinaire
“A chocolate bar a day, keeps the doctor away.”

The Strength of the Siesta

Living in Sevilla, Spain for the past two months has taught me one important life lesson: the power of a nap. Spain is known for their “siesta” times everyday after a heavy lunch with family and/or friends. Lunch typically begins at 2pm and siesta time goes until around 5-6pm. People in the southern parts of Spain live their days around siesta time more so than other regions because the intense heat in the middle of the day makes it uncomfortable and almost unbearable to be out and about. The rest of Spain follow siesta time in their personal, daily lives, but businesses still operate during siesta time.

Besides checking the clock, here are 5 ways to know it’s siesta time.

1. The streets become less crowded

2. Noise is concentrated in areas of restaurants and residences

3. The noise you do hear consists of the faint sound of kids playing, TVs playing, and people chattering. The loudest noise is the sound of utensils and cooking supplies at work.

4. After 3pm, it becomes more quiet as people are actually taking their naps or resting by enjoying quiet reading time or watching TV.

5. You can’t do anything besides go to the pharmacy or grocery shop (maybe) because everything else is closed.

Most stores will open back up after siesta time is over. At around 6pm, the streets become busy. The world gets going again and people are louder than before because they are well fed and freshly rested. Shops and cafes become full of people hanging out or trying to be productive. Tapas bars are common hangout places during this time too, because people are not quite ready for dinner but are hungry enough for light food and drinks.

It’s amazing how a culture revolved can be revolved around a resting period and still function. The people are happier and life seems much more easy-going and manageable. Those of us studying abroad here have adjusted quickly to planning a siesta into our day. You can stay up as late as you want without worrying about getting little sleep because the next day you have a period cut out for a nap! It also splits up the day nicely. There are certain things you have to get done before siesta hours and other things that can wait until after. It helps you prioritize what you need to do in your day and ensure you get the rest your body needs. I have become an avid siesta-taker and hope to continue this glorious practice when I get back home.

Happy Siesta!


Halfway Point in The Hague

Hey everyone! This is my first post to the COB website and it is now over halfway through my study abroad experience. The Hague has been AMAZING. The places that I’ve been while in Europe are only outdone by the people that I have met. Though I do miss some things about home (Chick-fil-A, Jimmy Johns, Highland Morning), I’m not quite sure what it will be like leaving in 6 weeks.
Being immersed in a truly international environment is indescribable. I’ve learned so much about myself over these past few months and have been exposed to tons of different people who have many things to offer. Within the past week, my Korean friend helped us prepare rice the proper way, my French friends taught me basic phrases for my trip to Paris, and my Canadian friend exposed me to Aero bars. The Americans came together to expose our international friends to Yum-Yum sauce.

On a different note, here are some quotes from the UofL students’ first few months in Holland:

“It’s like the same as home… but different.”

“Things are so Dutch here.”

“It’s so weird. We can’t understand them, but they call all understand us.”

“I don’t want the Italian people to watch me cook pasta.”

“They said it was like America, but in Europe.” “Last time I checked all of the signs in America aren’t in Dutch.”

“Are there vampires here, guys? I just want to know.”

Here’s to 85 cent Albert Heijn chocolate crossiants, learning a little bit of every language, and nearly injuring myself trying to pop a wheelie on my bike this month. The Hague is awesome and I’m not sure that I’m ready to leave.

But on the same hand, I’m also excited to be home. I’m just going to not think about it.



(Also please ignore that the majority of this post was about food. I’m really hungry right now because the grocery store closes at 8pm and I forgot to go today)

Next Stop: Sanctuary

Cinque Terre, otherwise known as The Five Lands, is situated along the coast of the Italian Riviera; a group of 5 villages, separated by alluring hillsides, sandy coasts, turquoise waters, and only reachable by train, plane, or boat. I’ve been to quite a few beaches in my lifetime; plenty of them satisfied my undeveloped idea of what a beach should be. Calling Cinque Terre a beach does not even begin to tap into the oasis that it truly is. If I were to write everything that I desire to say about Cinque Terre, I’d be doing it, and you, a disfavor. Go, discover, and be thrown back. After all, who’s stopping you?

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Once you get passed the fact that Cinque Terre is a beacon for EXTREME tourism (even on a Sunday, you will find yourself in a whirlwind of non-locals), you then begin to appreciate what you’re strolling through. The multi-colored homes, resembling a toned down pride flag, are piled atop one another in a nonsensical fashion; however, stunning. For me, it was almost an abstract work of art that just happened to be displayed amongst views of the most inconceivable hillsides and waterfronts that I’ve ever gazed upon. Don’t be afraid to hike or get lost; there’s no “wrong way” here.

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Aside from the landscapes, remember to satisfy your hunger! The seafood here is fresh, some of the best, and the area is renowned for its pesto…try it on focaccia (a specialty, local bread – chewy, thick, and almost sweet) with some melted mozzarella. If that hits your carb-conscious bone a bit too much, perhaps a seafood cone is more up your alley. Succulent, sweet, and hinting of the waters; all sorts of poor little critters fried until their demise screams heaven to you. Squeeze some fresh lemon over the top and I guarantee that you won’t speak a word until it’s done. This is not your average fare from the Eastern coasts of home; this is true, uncensored seafood.IMG_1059

As difficult as it might be, I would recommend not spending your entire day lazily slouched under an umbrella on the sand. Although I do love a refreshing cocktail, people watching, and tanning (*queue laughter*) as much as the rest, you will be doing a disservice to yourself. Go get lost! A large regret is that I only spent a single day here, resulting in much of the area to be undiscovered. As cliché and exhaustive as it may be to type this, Cinque Terre is what you’d refer to as a hidden gem. If you ever find yourself in Italy, do not be hesitant to venture outside of the typical travel grounds. Who knows, you may uncover your own little oasis, whether it be waterside or in a town square.

Next stop, Croatia! Will be in touch.