Traveling to Other Cities While Studying Abroad.

While studying abroad one of the things you should think about is to travel to the surrounding cities or towns near your location. In my stay in Shanghai, I have had the opportunity to visit some of the beautiful cities around it, as well as Beijing and Hong Kong.

  • Xitang Water Village, Jiaxing City: cobbled streets, old buildings, bridges arching over canals, rowing boats lingering on the river and locals singing folks songs or selling traditional food are some of the features and charms of this place. Besides entering into a deep part of the Chinese culture, here you can try exotic foods as well as experience a gondola ride. It is only about one and half hour from Shanghai and there are busses leaving for Xitang Bus Station from 7:20 a.m. to 6:30 p.m every day.

Xitang Water Village

  • Hangzhou, Zhejiang: as the southern terminus of the Grand Canal, the city is located on the lower reaches of the Qiantang River in southeast China, a superior position in the Yangtze Delta and only three hours far from Shanghai by bus. Some of the touristic attractions that I visited in this city are: Lingyin Temple, which is one of the largest and most important Buddhist Temples of China; “Fei Lai Feng” or “The Flying Peak, a 209 meters’ tall limestone mountain that shelters about 330 Buddha stone statues; and Leifeng Padoga, the oldest colorful bronze pagoda in China that allow tourists to appreciate the nearby Lingyin Temple, enjoy the landscapes of West Lake, and even see the city of Hangzhou from a distance.                                                  Lingyin Temple
  • Anji, Zhejiang: It is an eco-tourism destination which is about 4 to 5 hours from Shanghai city, and about 1½ hours from Hangzhou by bus. This town is an impressive Bamboo Forest which gives tourist the opportunity to hike and interact with nature. Nowadays, the forest is called “Anji’s Grand National Bamboo Forest”. Another attraction is the tea gardens where you can see all the process of making tea and at the same time buy some at reasonable prices.

Anji’s Grand National Bamboo Forest

  • Beijing: s the capital of the People’s Republic of China and the world’s third most populous city proper. This city resumes all the history, traditions and politics of China, so it has many important places to visit: The Great Wall, Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven, Ming Tombs and other. Visiting this city is not really expensive, but be prepare for the weather, the pollution can make the temperature worst.

The Great Wall

  • Hong Kong: one of the world’s leading financial, banking and trading centers. It is made up of four parts: Hong Kong Island, Kowloon Peninsula, the New Territories and the Outlying Islands. The prosperous island is the center of economy, politics, entertainment and shopping with its southern part noted for sea shores and bays. Kowloon is another flourishing part where Tsim Sha Tsui, Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok are the most popular destinations. The New Territories and Outlying Islands are ideal places to experience a peaceful and natural holiday. I made a weekend trip to this city from Thursday to Sunday and I had the opportunity to visit some touristic places: Hong Kong Observation Desk: Sky100, Hong Kong Disneyland Park, Avenue of Stars, South Bay Beach and some streets in the center of Yau Ma Tei Island. It was a really cool trip and I wish I could have stay longer but it’s important to consider that Hong Kong is really expensive compare to the rest of China.

South Bay Beach

I hope this information will help when planning future trips to china. See you in my next and last post!











Top 5 Cultural Differences: France vs. US

Air Conditioning

This first difference can be seen all over Europe, but was especially noticeable when it hit 100 degrees one week when I was in Paris.  Majority of stores and residences do not have air conditioning because of the concern for the environment.  While it can be easy for people to go on about their day without AC, for those who are accustomed to it (like Americans), it can be a bit more challenging.  To survive, keep finding constant ways to be cool and keep hydrated.  The worst of it was not being prepared of being unable to escape the heat!

Speaking the Language

France has the stereotype of being stuck up and rude when it comes to interacting with Americans.  From what I have found, this is only because the French take such pride in their language and want to keep it pure with in their country.  Since I knew some French, I always started out with speaking the language rather than English.  There was a world of difference in the service I got when I spoke English verse when I spoke French.  Even if it is only a few words, they appreciate the fact that you are trying to learn their culture while you are in their country.

Store Hours

In France, it is custom for a business not to be open one day of the week to give workers a day off.  This goes for everything- grocery stores, cafés, even the Louvre, so you can imagine how confused I was when I arrived in Paris on a Sunday and was unable to buy groceries.  I learned this lesson quickly and from then on always checked the store hours of a business before I went to shop there.

Public Bathrooms

Rarely will you find a pubic bathroom any place in Paris, and if you do- it probably won’t be free.  Located on streets near bigger attractions like the Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame you can find public restrooms that cost usually no more than 1 euro.  But make sure you are ready to wait in line because each time a person uses the bathroom, the toilet does a 20 second self-cleaning process before the next person can use it.My strategy to solving this problem?  Use the bathroom whenever you get the chance- even if you don’t have to go.  Before I ever left a restaurant or my dorm I made sure to go to avoid any emergencies!


After using the Paris metro for 6 weeks, I can say that I will miss it.  Some parts more than others but the quickness and easy use of the metro gave me the ability to get to anywhere I wanted to in Paris.  Everyone uses the metro and bus system in Paris (no one owns cars!!) because of its effortless use and vast majority with in the city.  The metro was built so that there would be a stop with in walking five minutes from each other.  So, if you ever get lost in Paris, just start walking in any direction and eventually you will find a metro stop with a map of where you a

Trains, in general are a very popular in France.  There are probably at least 5 large trains stations within Paris that will take you anywhere you want to go in Europe.  They are very easy to use and navigate and you can hop right on literally five minutes before the train leaves.  The agility and simple use of transportation not just in France but in Europe overall, makes in very easy to travel to new places.


Down and Dirty!!!

As the first week in Maynooth, Ireland ended, I became fully adjusted to the beautiful scenery. I was nervous that I would be experiencing everything alone, but I quickly became so close to everyone in my program. At Maynooth University, we have a north and south campus; the north campus being more modern. However, our South campus is deemed to have been part of the oldest University in Ireland, and has so much history, and interesting haunted stories. Fun Fact: Harry Potter’s famous Hogwarts Dinning hall is based off a dining hall in this University!

On our first weekend, however, we got down and dirty in Causey Irish Farm. Starting our day making delicious Irish Soda Bread, and watching a Shepard Dog heard sheep amazed me, and I even had the chance to milk a cow! I can finally check that off the bucket list! Learning a traditional Irish dance: Cèili, I learned so much about authentic Irish Culture. It was so much fun that we ended up dancing a traditional dance later that day in a small pub, and locals joined in! I loved immersing myself into their fun culture.

But what was the best part? Of course it was getting down and dirty! We jumped in a bog! For a little background, I will tell you what a bog is and how it is formed! A long time ago, these areas of land use to be ice glaciers, and as they melted over time, they turned into large areas of thick muddy ground used for turf. Apparently this area is as cold as 36 degrees Fahrenheit. I know what you’re thinking. That does not sound fun. I thought that too, but you will never know unless you try! It was amazing, and really allowed me to bond with all the great people in my program.

Embracing the farming culture of Ireland has taught me two things. Farming practices are not all that different around the world, besides the fact that we all harvest different crops, and cultivate and grow different things! It also taught me the world also differs in many ways through aspects as simple as bread making and dance! Trying different things can be scary or uncomfortable, but once you let yourself get into the culture you will be so glad you did!

The best part about my experience in Ireland is learning unique lingo and seeing all the pretty scenery! It is breathtaking! There is so much history, and I love learning about events and discoveries that I was never exposed to back home! The Irish are truly a friendly people, and they are more than happy to help you out as far as directions, and nice restaurants to go to! My next stop is Galway off the coast, and I am sure to see some beautiful views from the beach to the Cliffs of Moher! Stay tuned for more to come!




First weeks in Barcelona

For the past four weeks I have done so much has been hard to get myself to write a blog post because it feels like we are never sitting down and we are always out exploring this great city. Over the course of my trip so far I have been to not only all around Barcelona, but to multiple other places in Spain and even into the south of France. Since I have visited so many places I figure that I will recap each place and show pictures of the many places that I have been. The first picture is the view from my apartment. We live by Parc Joan Miro and Plaza Catalunya, and this really cool shopping center that was once a bull fighting arena. This is a really cool area with good food and even an awesome art museum to visit.

A few days after we arrived I went to La Sagrada Familia, the church designed by Gaudi. This was an incredible experience. The pictures don’t do justice on how big this actually is. We learned about the history of the church as well as all the symbolism and attention to detail that was put into every aspect of the design. They are not even finished with La Sagrada Familia yet, but they have plans to be done by 2026, celebrating 100 years after Gaudi’s death.

Next me and my roommates decided to explore the Labyrinth Park of Horta which was an interesting experience. The Labyrinth wasn’t as large as we expected it to be, but we still ended up getting lost a few times and taking the wrong way a lot. We ended up making it through and it was a pretty cool little place to visit sort of away from the city.

The next big thing that I did, and it is probably one of my favorite things is visit Park Guell and Bunker. Park Guell is a great place to see the city of Barcelona, and get a great picture on a bench designed by Gaudi. Although we didn’t pay to get the picture on the bench we still got a good view of the city, but then we continued over to Bunker, which was an even better view of the entire city. Bunker is just an old bunker on top of hill at the edge of the city where you can get a great view of the whole city, and we stayed up there for an hour just taking in the views. The first picture is one of Park Guell and the second one is a picture of Bunker.

My next activity will be a trip to the South of France I will end my blog here and write about my explorations outside of Barcelona in my next post!

Orte gereist, Part 1

This first blog post is a recount of the travels I have embarked upon whilst apart of the 2017 KIIS Austria program. The first group excursion was in a small town about 30 minutes or so south from our base city of Bregenz in western Austria. The day consisted of mainly sight-seeing the town and the churches present. A day or two later this was followed by another excursion to Lindau, Germay, which is at the southernmost point of Germany on Lake Constance, roughly 15 minutes from Bregenz. The trip again consisted of mainly the same things as Feldkirch, both towns were very picturesque, as is most of Europe. But the first travel weekend is where it really gets interesting.

Image may contain: sky and outdoor

Outside a famous church in Lindau, Germany

We took another excursion to Dacchau, a few minutes east of Munich to tour the concentration camp located there. The camp itself was depressing but not as much as I was expecting. The rest of the weekend I spent in Munich going to places such as the Hofbräus, the old Rathaus, the National Museum, and sight-seeing along Karlsplatz and Marienplatz.

Image may contain: 1 person, standing, sky, cloud and outdoor

The Old Rathaus, Munich, Germany

Before the next travel weekend began we took another group excursion to Innsbruck, Austria. The city was incredibly photogenic due to there being huge alps surrounding the city.

Image may contain: one or more people, mountain, sky, outdoor and nature

Innsbruck, Austria

The next travel weekend in the program I traveled to 3 cities in Italy over 3 days. Verona, Venice, and Milan. Verona wasn’t all too memorable but it was still a good visit. Venice had the best pasta and was beautiful. The only downside to Venice was how touristy it was. Milan was pretty cool; the Duomo church was incredible to marvel at along with the best gelato I’ve ever eaten. The weekend was then wrapped up by an incredible stunning train ride through the Swiss Alps to Zürich, Switzerland for a connecting train back to Bregenz.

Image may contain: sky, cloud, house, outdoor and water

Venice, Italy

Keeping up with the locals

If there’s anything I have learned while studying abroad in Oaxaca, Mexico, it is that “street Spanish” can be very different from what is taught in universities. For example, your Spanish professors in the U.S. aren’t going to teach you cuss words or colloquial phrases in the classroom, but knowing these words is very important if you are studying abroad. You don’t want to accidentally offend someone, and also it is important to be aware of the differences in connotation that some words have in other parts of the world. The colloquial phrases that I have learned here are my favorite, and most useful, things to use when speaking with my new friends. Here, I will include my top 4 favorite and most useful phrases:

  1. Para todo mal, Mezcal. Para todo bien, también.

Literal translation: For everything good, Mezcal. For everything bad, also.

  • This is hands-down my favorite phrase that I have learned here. This phrase is super popular here in Oaxaca because this is the birthplace of Mezcal tequila. It is jokingly said that Mezcal is the solution to any problem you could possibly have, whether it be sickness or heartache. At the same time, it is the thing that you use to celebrate the joys of life. Essentially, this phrase says that Mezcal will be by your side through the good and the bad.
  1. Tranquila, Viejo!

Literal translation: Calm down, old man!

  • This phrase essentially means “chill out!”. You can say it when your friend is acting crazy or getting out of hand in a joking manner. Don’t actually say this to an old person, though, because the term “Viejo” has sort of an offensive connotation here- similar to how calling someone old in the U.S. can be taken offensively.
  1. Guera

Literal translation: white girl

  • This word has a simple translation, but it is definitely something that I needed to know coming here. Guera isn’t an offensive term whatsoever, but it is important to know if someone is trying to catch your attention, or talking about you to someone else.
  1. Fondo, fondo!

Literal translation: chug, chug!

  • This one is pretty self-explanatory, but it is definitely something you need to know if you plan on going out with friends. If you are out drinking with friends and someone starts this chant, you are “obligated” to finish your drink.

I have only been here for 3 weeks and already have a list of 90 new words and phrases I’ve learned! I am excited to keep learning about the colloquial terms of Oaxaca!