A one-day guide to Barcelona

Anyone reading this post should note that it does not provide the best one-day guide to Barcelona. If, however, you find yourself taking a day trip to Barcelona and have no other ideas of where to go or what to see, hopefully this post can provide some guidance.

My trip to Barcelona was unorganized, and the group I travelled with did not plan sufficiently before arriving in the city. We knew how we were getting there, where we were staying, and that we only had about 28 hours to enjoy one of the greatest cities in Europe. Everything else was determined off the cuff. Although this clearly isn’t the best way to travel if you want to enjoy your stay, I could not be happier that I had the chance to see Barcelona. Many cities are not worth visiting if you have to travel 16 hours round-trip, including an uncomfortable overnight bus ride, and especially if you will only have one day to enjoy your destination. Barcelona, though, is a special city that made all of the uncomfortable travel worth my while.

Because we only had one day in the city and had not planned well, we really did not even scratch the surface. The things we did get to see, though, were unforgettable.

The Gothic Quarter is an area of the city that combines some of its oldest architecture with other areas that were restored in the 19th and 20th centuries. This area includes the Barcelona Cathedral, which is somehow not the most notable religious sight in the city, as well as Museu Picasso. Picasso spent much of his time in Barcelona in the Gothic Quarter, which only adds to its allure. Free tours of this area are given daily, but it’s also a great area to explore on your own.

After the Gothic Quarter, we visited La Boqueria, a massive market in the center of the city. At the market you can buy fresh seafood, fresh meat, fruits and vegetables, and much more. It also has a wide assortment of restaurants, including the famous Bar Pinotxo. Right next to La Boqueria is La Casa Beethoven, which is a perfect place to buy gifts for music-lovers.

Later in the day, we visited Sagrada Familia. Everyone I was travelling with had heard how stunning a building this is, and we all knew we wanted to go. I took several pictures inside and outside of the church, but none of them do it justice. If you are in Barcelona, Sagrada Familia is absolutely a must-see. Of all the places I have seen in Spain, many of them unlike anything I have seen before, this one is the most spectacular. The building is still under construction, and I can only imagine what it will look like once it is finished. General admission tickets are 15 euros online, and getting into the church is a simple process.

The last major sight we visited was Park Güell, a large public park that showcases the tile work of Antoni Gaudí. The park also provides a great view of the city and a walking path that is shaded by beautiful flowers and trees. This is perhaps a lesser known attraction of the city, but well worth the visit, especially for those who are interested in art and the works of Gaudí. Entrance to the area of the park that shows Gaudí’s work costs around 7,50 euros, but there is free admittance to the rest of the park. For me, the free admittance was sufficient and still allowed me to take good pictures of the city and landscape.

If you are going to Barcelona, I would recommend staying for more than one day and having a good idea of what you’d like to do once you arrive in the city. There is so much more to see than the places I have mentioned here. But, for a spur of the moment day trip, you could do worse than seeing some of the sights I was able to see during my short time in the city. All in all, Barcelona seems to me a wonderful place, and it has probably been my favorite city in Spain. Anyone who has the chance to go should see the things I have listed here and so much more.

Sonnwendfest in Bregenz


Sadly, my study abroad is coming to an end this week. However, this weekend, I got to experience a little bit more of Bregenz, Austria, where I have now studied for over four weeks.

I attended the Sonnwendfest on Saturday 6/23. Sonnwendfest is an annual celebration on the Pfänder in Bregenz, Austria. The celebration is a festival with a bonfire, sausage, drinks, and fireworks on top of the local mountain. I hiked up to this festival with some of the individuals I have met while in Bregenz!

View from the festival

The bonfire is meant to honor an old pagan tradition and also is meant to recognize the fires that often occur on top of the mountains during summer.

The bonfire – created annually to celebrate the summer solstice and to honor an old tradition

The celebration concludes with fireworks above this bonfire.

Fireworks above the bonfire to end the celebration

I am extremely grateful for my experiences on my study abroad in Bregenz. I am fortunate to have been able to participate and to have met all of the great people I have met here!

Celebrating my last weekend abroad with people I have met during my KIIS program!

At the end of the night, we returned to back to town. I have enjoyed studying in Bregenz because I have gotten to see smaller, local traditions such as this festival. I would encourage anyone studying abroad to get to know local traditions in addition to traveling as much as possible and in addition to studying!

View on our hike back to town of Bregenz, Austria

Thanks for reading!

-Peggy S.

A word on the people of Spain

As I was getting mentally prepared to study abroad, one of the things I thought about most was meeting new people. Thinking about interacting with native Spaniards made me nervous because, although I am here to study the Spanish language, I began my trip thinking I would not have the abilities necessary to have meaningful conversations with native speakers. Within my first few hours in Spain, these fears diminished quickly.

Although every person will react differently to an American student/tourist speaking their native language badly, I have found the majority of native speakers to be extremely patient and helpful, as long as I put forth a concerted effort to speak and understand. This is important for two reasons. One is that being able to work my way through conversations, even if I struggle to speak perfectly or to fully understand what someone else is saying, is invaluable in helping me to improve my abilities. The other is that each time I have a positive experience with a native speaker, I gain more confidence to talk to more people, and the more Spaniards I meet, the more appreciation I gain for their culture and their country.

One example of this sort of interaction is a conversation I had with an elderly woman on a train between Sevilla and Málaga. I sat next to her for awhile thinking about how to properly engage her in conversation. I finally settled for asking her if she lived in Málaga, and the conversation never stopped after that. She told me all about her life and her family, the history of Spain, and the pride she has for her country. Although I did not even come close to understanding every word she said, and I did not get a chance to speak much myself, I thoroughly enjoyed this conversation. Getting to know a complete stranger in a different country and in a different language can be a profound experience, and I am fortunate to have had this opportunity during my trip.

My advice to anyone trying to meet new people in a different country is simple. Just try. Not all people will be as welcoming as some that I have met, and you should always be wary of people trying to take advantage of/rob you. It may also be the case that people in other countries are generally not as willing to talk to Americans as they seem to be in Spain. But if you are in a place where you feel comfortable, and especially if you have any ability to speak the native language of the country where you are staying, don’t be afraid to engage people in conversation. I am confident that some of my most memorable experiences from Spain will be the new people I have met and the conversations I have had with native speakers. If you want to truly experience the country where you are staying, the best way is to get to know the people who live there.

Little Luxembourg Getaway


After being in the sleepless diverse city of Brussels for over five weeks, I was anxious any excited to finally have an opportunity to explore a new country. Luxembourg is a small nation tucked between the valleys of Germany and Belgium, and the entire country is just slightly larger than the metro area of Louisville. I was very excited to get an extended weekend off work to explore the city on the weekend and attend meetings at the Luxembourg National Bank on Monday.

Being from a small town, the city of Luxembourg was a heavenly getaway. I didn’t mind that almost all the shops were closed on Sunday and I was excited to be back in a place where strangers smiled as they passed you on the streets. I was lucky to be able to travel here while the world cup was going on because they were having a small festival in the city center, much different from the drunken late night festivals that go on in Belgium. While I stayed away from the carnival rides, I tried my fair share of caramel crepes, churro ice cream cones, and Italian pan pizza.

Monday was when the real work started, and as I have had many amazing experiences with Fulbright this summer, I never expected to be able to have lunch with the CEO of the Luxembourg National Bank and the acting Ambassador to Luxembourg. Both of these accomplished women were so welcoming and friendly during our meeting, and it was an opportunity I will never forget.- That is I will never forget the amazing five course meal or the words of wisdom from these role models.

I feel as if I have just arrived in Belgium last week, but I know my two months here is quickly coming to an end. As I was nervous to take an internship abroad, I know this has been one of the most important experiences in my education thus far. The Fulbright Belgium Executive Director, Erica Lutes, told me when I first arrived to not underestimate any opportunity that arises, because in a moment’s notice you will go from grabbing coffee in the Midi-Station to chatting with members of the Flemish royal family at a reception without even knowing who they are (which really did happen!) The bustling city of Brussels truly never sleeps, but I was glad to be able to catch up on my sleep schedule by not working 60+ hours a week in the relaxed hidden nation of Luxembourg.

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.