Things to do in Edinburgh

If you are considering studying abroad, I would definitely recommend Edinburgh, Scotland.  I knew it would be nice being in Scotland, but I did not expect to fall in love with the city like I have.  Everywhere you turn, there is a view so beautiful it seems like it could be a post card.  The buildings are so old and different from anything I have seen in the US, I like to just look at them sometimes.  The city is made up of the Old Town and the New Town.  The Old Town has the castle, the University, and many really awesome old buildings.  Even though the New Town is newer, the buildings are still about 200 years old.  Edinburgh is full of many different things to do.

The castle is probably the main tourist attraction.  It is at the top of a hill that is actually an old volcano.  It has been destroyed throughout the years, but the oldest standing building (Saint Margaret’s Chapel) is from the 1100s. The castle has Royal Apartments, where royals like Mary Queen of Scots lived.  Since it is one of the highest points in the city, you can get some amazing views of Edinburgh from the castle.

My personal favorite thing to do in Edinburgh is to walk up Calton Hill.  It is a hill with a few buildings and structures at the top.  It has an old observatory and the Nelson monument which is a tower you can climb up into.  It also has an acropolis, which was built in the 1800s and intended to be a recreation of the Parthenon.  However, only the façade was built because they ran out of money for construction.  It is very cool to look at, and you can climb onto it for a nice photo.

I love Calton Hill so much because the panoramic views are so beautiful. It is also very easily accessible.  You just walk up some stairs and you are at the top.  It is somewhere I like to go for a walk.  There are always some people at Calton Hill, but it is never packed or too crowded.  There are usually just a handful of people around.  One side of the hill looks out over Princes Street, one of the main roads and shopping areas of Edinburgh.  You can get a beautiful view of the castle and the Old Town.  Another part of Calton Hill overlooks Holyrood Palace, the Queen’s official residence when she comes to Scotland.  You can tour the Palace when there are no royals visiting.  There are also great views of Arthur’s Seat from the top of Calton Hill.  The other side of the hill looks over the town of Leith.  This town is really nice and has a river called the Waters of Leith running through it.

Arthur’s Seat is a mountain that is on an old volcano.  You can walk to the top in about 30 minutes.  There are several different paths you can take to get to the top, with varying difficulty.  It is very popular because of its great panoramic views.  It is right next to Holyrood Place and Holyrood Park.  This park is pretty large.  It is one of the places I like to go for a walk or run.Another great attraction is the National Museum of Scotland.  It really has something for everyone.  It has a huge section for Scottish history, world cultures, animals, art and fashion, as well as space and technology.  There is a huge room filled with stuffed animals and skeletons.  It is really cool to see how big some animals actually are.  In the science and technology section, they have Dolly the Sheep on display.  She was the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell.  She was actually cloned by the University of Edinburgh.  I have been to this museum several times, but still have not seen everything.  It is free to get in, which is always nice.  It is a really pretty building on the inside, and has so many different things in it that it is almost overwhelming.  If you have enough time, I think it is good to go for a couple hours and then come back another day so that you can really be focused and get the most out of everything that is there.

Edinburgh is a wonderful city that is full of great things to do.  It is extremely beautiful and filled with friendly and welcoming people.  If you have the opportunity to go to Edinburgh, I would definitely recommend it!

Italian Views

For the past 5 weeks I have had the experience of a lifetime. Italy has been nothing short of amazing in every way, and I am definitely not ready to say goodbye. The people are welcoming, the food is WOW (coming from the 10lbs of pasta I have consumed), and the view here is unreal.

I am studying business at the Università degli Studi di Torino, or simply The University of Torino in Torino, Italy. There has not been one moment I have regretted my decision to come to Italy, which was mostly based on the whole “food” factor, SHOUT OUT TO GELATO!

I knew the Italian cuisine would not disappoint but I was not prepared for what I was going to see here. I’ve been to places you only see pictures of on Google or Pinterest (heavy Pinterest user right here), and now I am the one standing right in front of it and taking the picture. Although my program ends in less than a week (finals Monday ew) I am going to continue to travel around Italy for 2 weeks and take in everything, I am not ready to leave just yet!

Portofino, Italy

Vernazza, Cinque Terre

Manarola, Cinque Terre

Nice, France (not actually Italy but go cards)

Ciao dudes,

Shanghai Recommendations!

Hello, my Name is Nicole Miro and I have been in Shanghai for almost 5 weeks.  I’m currently studying at Shanghai University. First of all, my overall experience here has been wonderful. I got a Chinese roommate who speaks english and mandarin fluently, so she has been helping me a lot. Further, having a Chinese roommate have given me the opportunity to learn a little more from their culture, language, places to visit, clubs and restaurants.

If you are in Shanghai or you are planning to visit it, here are some recommendations that can make enhance your experience.

Places to visit:

  • The Bund: is the famous waterfront that is regarded as the symbol of the city. From there, you can see all the main and iconic buildings of Shanghai. The best time to visit it is between 6:00 pm and 10:00 pm, when all the lights of the city create the perfect environment for a picture. If you don’t get a picture there at night, then your trip to Shanghai doesn’t count. Also, at this place you can find “the Bund Valentine Wall”, a wall covered with flowers which makes it a perfect spot for pictures.  
  • Oriental Pearl Tower: is a 468 meters high television tower consider one of the tallest buildings in Asia. Unlike any other building, the most important attraction of this tower is not really it’s high but instead it’s unique architectural design. Besides this, it offers different activities and tourist attractions in its inside: from restaurants, a virtual reality roller coaster to an incredible view of Shanghai. It is IMPOSIBLE TO MISS.
  • Shanghai Ocean Aquarium: this aquarium is really small compare those ones in USA. However, Its exhibitions are really unique and different from any other. I LOVED IT.
  • Fake Market: if you come to China, you need to go this kind of market. There you can find everything you ever imagine, from luxurious brands to technology products for a cheap price. Don’t pay more than 600 CNY pear each thing. Try always to bargain and get the lowest price as possible. BTW: it is located inside the metro station at the Shanghai Science & Technology Museum station in Line 2.
  • Yuyuan Garden: is one of the most famous garden of the Republic of China designed in the years of the Ming Dynasty. The park occupies about five acres and contains the basics of Chinese gardening.


Food and Restaurants: this area have been a little difficult for me because I’m allergic to sea food and I can’t eat spicy. So, in my efforts to find good places to eat, I have found several and these are a few of them:

  • 1001 Nights Restaurant: it is a good place is you like Arabic food and hookah! They have different salads, meats and dishes to share if you go with a group of people. It is located in Hengshan Rd., Line 1. (Accept VISA and MasterCard)
  • Bodeguita del Medio: A Cuban restaurant in Hengshan Rd., Line 1. The food is just amazing and if you are Latino or love Latin/Caribbean food as me, this can be your perfect option. I recommend you to order ropa vieja and rice with beans. Oh! don’t forget the piña colada.
  • Pizza Express: located in K11 Art Mall, has the best pizzas of Shanghai. The best of this place is that its menu includes different flavors and styles that fits different tastes. It is really cheap, around 60 CNY per person! (Accept international Cards)








Hope everyone is having a great experience, if you want to know more about mine follow my personal blog on Instagram @piccolomondoblog . SEE YOU THEN!

China- An underrated gem.

Ni Hao! Hello! I am Santiago Salazar and I am studying at East China Normal University in Shanghai, China. This will be the first of a three series posts I will share. Hope you enjoy! 🙂

Breathtaking pilar like, floating like mountains formed more than 1,800 years ago. Detailed to the millimeter ancient architecture wonders. Hundreds of different flavors in your palate and an extensive, strongly shaped for more than 5,000 years rich culture and history that makes it all happen. I would love to share with you, my experiences in China. I want you to be able to have the feeling and visual representation of what I have lived and someday for you to first hand enjoy it.

So, without further due, I would like to first ask you. Have you seen the movie Avatar? Regardless, let me take you there! Imagine you are walking up steep wooden steps in the side of a mountain. Going up, you can only see trees, greenery, and nature side by side. You can only hear the birds chirping and the wind crashing against the leaves. You are reaching the top of the mountain when you take a deep breath of fresh natural air. You now get to the top and set your eyes forward to one of the most majestic landscapes you have ever seen. From side to side in full panorama, you see a series of single mountains of different shapes and sizes, they look like pillars and they seem to be reaching out of the clouds and sky to individually seem like they are floating. In short, this was my experience in the breathtaking Zhangjiajie, the first national park of China, one of the most surreal places to visit on earth and the film site of the movie “Avatar.”……

Breathtaking Avatar mountains at Zhangjiajie, China.

Ni hao from Shanghai!

I have been in Shanghai for a little over a week, and I have already been positively surprised in many ways. The city is bigger, cleaner, and more organized than I ever imagined.

Shanghai is the most populated city in the world with a population of more than 25 million. The city is located on the East Coast of China, and is today a global financial center and transportation hub. Even though Shanghai is an extremely big city, it has the largest underground system in the world, which makes it easy to get to different places. I will admit that coming to China without knowing the language has at times been challenging, but it has improved my acting skills and quickly made me learn some important words and phrases.

The food here is incredible and very different from Chinese food in the United States. Shanghai is known for having sweet food, but there are several restaurants that serve food from all over the country. The ingredients are usually very fresh and natural, and cooked with many different types of oil. Another thing that is fresh, is the juice. I love all the different types of fresh juice you can get, orange, watermelon, pineapple, and mango juice are just some of them. Two of my favorite types of foods are Hot Pot and Dim Sum. Hot Pot is a very social form of eating. The table shares different types of boiling broth, where you cook many types of meat, vegetables, and noddle’s. Dim Sum on the other hand are different bite-size portions served in small steamer baskets. Dumplings are probably the most known type of Dim Sum internationally. I did not know how to eat a dumpling properly until my Shanghainese friends told me that you are first supposed to bite a small hole and drink the soup before eating the whole dumpling. Attached are some pictures from my first days in Shanghai.


4 (Easy) Day Trips from Paris


Since Versailles is only 30 minutes away from Paris by the RER, it is an accessible sight to visit right outside of the city.  Versailles is most famously known for the beautiful palace and the extravagant gardens.  My favorite part was just walking around the gardens and finding hidden treasures in the vastness of the beauty.  Versailles can easily take you the entire day with its great size, so make sure you bring your comfortable walking shoes, water and your camera, of course!

Loire Valley Region

Loire Valley is known for many things.  Their weather, the wine, but most importantly the chateaus.  There are over 300 different chateaus in the Loire Valley, which makes for a great day trip or a long weekend.  All chateaus are within a 2-hour range, making them easily accessible based on your route.  Personally, the chateaus I got to visit were Amboise, Chateau de Chambord, Chateau de Chenonceau.  The trip was split up in between two days, and I was able to explore and spend the night in Tours for pretty inexpensive.  Tours is a great little town which encompasses the culture of Loire Valley and could also make for its own great day trip.

Nice, France

Although I was in Nice for a weekend, it was still an easy excursion to take when visiting Paris.  For the cheapest option, you can take the train round-trip for about 120 euro easily.  The trip by train is a little over 5 hours, or you can take the night train (like me), if you want an even cheaper option.  While train is usually the fastest way around Europe, Nice does have the second largest airport in France, so there are flights from Paris to Nice daily.

Once there, you can easily embrace the beauty and tranquility of French Rivera.  Most of my time was spent enjoying the beach (since there are none in Paris!) and relaxing.  With warning, the beach is all rock instead of sand, so make sure you invest appropriately! While the coast is very alluring, I also recommend wandering the streets of Nice.  Exploring this quaint town will reveal the colorful French style buildings, a café on every corner, and gelato to die for.  Overall, the trip was a great experience to reveal what typical European coastal city life is like.


If you’re looking for a quick way to escape France for a bit, Brussels is the perfect way to explore a new culture.  Since it is only an hour and a half away by train, it’s the ideal day trip.  If you don’t know already, Brussels is famous for waffles, chocolate and beer, and luckily you can find one of those three on every street.  I have never seen such extravagant waffles and so many chocolate shops in my life! Majority of the day was spent walking around the Grand Place are admiring the beautiful architecture and roaming the streets of the city.  It was a lot of walking, but it definitely came along with a lot of fun and memories!