Things to see in Milan

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A bucket list must have.

My heart has never left Italy since that Rome trip. And it has definitely not been cured by the most recent one to Milan. I might just ramble on about how amazing its buildings, dishes and lifestyle are, but I will let the old saying “one picture means a thousand words” prove  my point.

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Duomo Cathedral

Now, I will just state, as I did in my Vienna post, that you need to book ahead if you want to avoid the queues. By the way, right near it is Royal Palace of Milan which holds various exhibitions.

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Castelo Sforzesco

I am a history lover and I ain’t gonna lie! But let’s be real for a second, who doesn’t love roman battles and intrigues?! Sforza family was one of the most influential ones back in the days and this magnificent building is a clear proof for it.

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Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II 

Even if Prada was never in your budget, a glance through this amazing establishment is a must.

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P.S: just try everything!

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What to do in Vienna

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Wien.

I believe that writing about the Viennese schnitzel  or the delicious pastry filled with apples, Apfelstrudel, won’t be any news for anyone so I will get straight to the point.

It is fairly simple to realize that I have a thing for architecture and I tend to write on and on about how much I appreciate it. But this Austrian city couldn’t be spared of my appreciation as it has all the baroque styles one must see.

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I will start by saying that the hotel I stayed at, Terminus, was right in the center and when I crossed the street I stopped and stared with my mouth open for a few minutes at Karlskirche. Embarrassing, I know. But Karlskirche, or St Charles Church, it can only be described as the definition of what baroque architecture was trying to be.

I mean… judge for yourself.

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If you’re a regular listener of classic music, or just think that Mozart is “cool”, might as well bring some fancy clothes and book tickets in advance (trust me!) for one amazing night at the opera house.
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Also, don’t forget to take a stroll through Belvedere’s amazing garden and enjoy for a moment or two the stunning view.

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Schonbrunn is again a place for a walk in its beautiful gardens that are so well kept. But at the same time you can buy tickets to visit the palace. The tickets are sold for some areas in particular, if one’s only interested in seeing just Sisi’s rooms, as well as for the whole palace. Inside there’s a Disney like world. It kind of reminded me of Beauty and the Beast’s final dance.

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Stephansplatz is made for the spenders. It has that Victor Emanuel galleria vibe, but in an open place, for the little shopaholic that hides inside of us. And if you’re feeling guilty, you can pray for your soul at the St. Stephen’s Church. Another baroque wonder.

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In the last couple of days the cloud gathered around for a noisy party, a great opportunity for the visitors to act like children and go to Prater park. Some sweet guilty pleasures have to be indulge, after all what we eat in abroad doesn’t count, right? 😀

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And as if that wasn’t enough, the fun ended with an amazing view over Danube.

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A trip to Prague

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A hidden gem.

Prague is one of those cities that one does not think of adding it on the top of the travel list. But it should be right there!

The former capital of Bohemia is by all means the perfect city. Not to mention that everything it was less cheaper that I expected. Which you know, is an important aspect when travelling.

I stayed at Tyl Hotel, which is quite close to the center and that I booked with only a month ahead. In many cases this will be a naughty thing to do, but not for Prague, apparently. Yet there are so many other reasons to just go for it.

First, the architecture lets you speechless.

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And is like that everywhere in the city.

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Second, there’s the old town, that is filled with people even on the week days. But even so I would still advice to avoid the weekends at all costs.

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Is definitely the place to be and daydream while drinking a glass of wine at one of the many restaurants available in the area.

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Third, while you’re in town, have a beer. Prague is famous for this alcoholic beverage and it doesn’t lack in the various types of beer. At the same time, it doesn’t lack in making you crave something sweet.

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Don’t worry about the calories, if you’re really into that. They can be easily burn while admiring the baroque architecture of Charles Bridge, that connects the Old Town and the Castle.

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Stop every now and again and enjoy the music, the painting of the street artists as well as the history of it.

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Last but not least, in case of major emergency during the summer, you can take a boat trip on Vltava.

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Love from Praha!

 

A walk through Rome

 

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The Eternal City.

Needless to say that it is worth a visit, regardless if you are a tourist or a traveler as it will leave a deep mark.

I love history, especially the roman one, and for me it was probably a good imagination exercise to think about different centuries and that my favorite characters have walked the same path and all those scandalous events that happened in that exact same spot I was.

But even if you couldn’t care less about the history, Rome has a lot more to offer. Here are for instance a few places that are worth seeing.

Trevi Fountain

Throw a coin if you want to go back.

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Centro Storico

The old town.

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Colosseum

The world’s most known arena.

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Trastevere

If you want a true Italian vibe, this is the place to be.

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Castel Sant Angelo

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Vittorio Emmanuel II

Right in the center, can’t miss it.

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Vatican Museum

If you love Dan Brown’s books, or even if not really, it is overwhelming.

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How an Erasmus experience increases the urge to travel

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Open-minded.

As said in my previous post, the Erasmus experienced is over, however, not entirely. Because, as any other experience, leaves an amazing aftertaste and many stories to be told.

Now I am going to focus more on something that an ‘abroad’ study marks people with. That is the desire to travel, to know more, to live new adventures. Some do it only to not be faced with the realization that the fun is over, myself included, and just live in another context what they left behind.

This is because once you are an international student, most certainty you are not the only one, therefore, you meet people from all over the world. And from what I know, in the first month or so everyone deals with home sickness, which makes us describe the beauty of our countries, the history it has and all the fun stuff that it offers. Which makes others put it on their bucket list, if it wasn’t there already.

That’s one way to begin, the other one is sharing the travel stories than some have lived in countries in which you’ve never been before. And so the adventures start. Either you travel with the friends you have made, maybe is their home country, or with the so missed family and old friends, you have the urge to do it.

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I found myself in both situations and went to Rome because I have some friends that spoke about it so nice, even though I have others that told me there are so many other cities in Italy that deserve way more attention. Well, I went there first and put the others on my bucket list.

The second situation had me save money for a ticket to Prague. Yes, I let myself influenced by so many stories a Polish friend of mine told me that I could not ignore it.

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That is exactly what a study abroad experience does to you, it opens your mind, makes you love the memories others share so much that you want to make your own. And then telling them further on in hopes that some one will listen/ read and see how beautiful the world is on their own.

The stories are soon to be told! What’s yours?

Life after Erasmus

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Sat down in my old chair.

Been back home for a while now. Actually, been home then left again. I am sure that many people whom have experienced a study abroad program or even an internship away from home, have then felt such a urge to travel and discover more. That’s “hunger for travel”.

However, just wanted to write here, as it is supposed to be a documentation of my year abroad life yet missed writing a part of it, how my after Erasmus life went/goes.

My story begins a week before the actual departure starts. When we had our final party and everyone, more in the dizziness of the mojitos, was crying and hugging one another in the hopes that we will get to see each other in this life time apart from the Skype calls. And that last week was like a speed play of everything we planned to do in our year and thought we still had time. We didn’t.

Nonetheless, in just one week we managed to meet, have picnics and share our opinions about all that happened. And in that right moment we thought we will be indivisible, the crew is going to stand straight through all. One week after I left, another friend received an internship in Japan, some others have returned to the so missed friends and families, and others like me have planned to travel more. (Soon to be up)

And so, in my first week home I refused to go out and meet my friends, as I have myself read all over the internet that the “after life” is nice and dandy in the beginning but you get bored after and start comparing with the old one. Trying  to avoid that, even if I have missed them so much, I focused on my travels and the places where I was going.

But as I was starting to lose my hope, a friend of ours that lives in Britain payed a visit and I was so thrilled to take the turn in showing him places in my own town and being me the one that teaches him little secrets about my country.

By that I understood that it takes time, just like everything else, and the real friendships made were indeed a blessing and are going to last, it just not going to happen immediately.That we all are trying to move on and grow, but that doesn’t mean that in time we are not going to meet and now, speaking for myself, I was lucky enough to not know the people from my on country that were there with me, which means extra friends back home, with the same Erasmus memories as myself.

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The many places of Thames

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All sides of the river in different towns.

I have mentioned it in previous articles, but never spoke about it entirely and somehow I fell like I took it for granted, neglect it. I am lucky enough to have the rive on almost half an hour walk, and been lucky enough to see it in London, Windsor and obviously Reading.

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By spotting the differences between these places is noticeable that it doesn’t get much attention in every single one of them. However, the history lover comes out of me and aims to salute this wonderful old river who’s been a staple of England, enduring awful climates and giving people infections and death. Savage!

On a more joyful note, it is more than lovely to have a picnic by the river side in one of the not so common sunny days. A walk near it can be more than relaxing, especially when exams are knocking, hitting, throwing books at my door.

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Didn’t quite realized  that I have seen so many “places” of Thames, but I am glad I did.

Windsor on a sunny day

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In Windsor you look posh, you feel posh.

Been thinking lately that there are almost two months remained from my experience abroad. Looking back I wonder where it has gone?! Yesterday it was September and I was wondering London’s streets…

And so, I was thinking that my lack of participation on this blog, that is supposed to be more than a travel journal, a sort of back up memory of my experience, should be compensated by a steady up to date description of how my last two months and a half materialize. But I got lost in the thought that it will be full of me studying and crying…

Nonetheless, I do have some activities that are worth writing about for my older self.

(and after a long introduction) Windsor! On a Monday morning, called a friend, went straight to the train station and bought tickets to see this small, yet full of history town.

What I loved the most about Windsor was the way in which the modern building could still not be spotted or differentiated by the old ones. It has kept the old buildings where people celebrated queens after king’s birthdays, coronations or decapitations. To be honest, humans are barbarians.

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And even if the fairly new establishments appeared, they are designed in such a manner that one could tell it is the queen’s town. Long field till the castle, people with long boots Burberry scarves and huge Italian greyhounds walking tight and stiff so you could realize that they are above a peasant and that they have probably had tea with one of the royalties.

People know Windsor is a touristic magnet, so don’t be surprised be the assault of shops with post cards, tees, stuffed animals and cardboard cut outs with the queen’s face. The riverside train station is right near the castles so there is no chance for a anyone to miss it. For 18 pounds you could visit it and come once again another time, who knows, maybe you’ll need it.

Also, if you have a neat physical condition you could walk through the Great Park… a life time, I am obviously not in a good shape… and see the statue of King George III as well as adorable deer whom you’ll be kindly asked at the park’s entrance to not get too close.

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Another beautiful view is given by the wonderful Thames filled with boats and swans, and while you’re there, cross the river and visit Elton college, especially if you are a fan of Prince Harry. It could be the closest path you both have ever walked in this life time.

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Speaking of paths, no worries if you are more of a queen’s admire, they took care of marking her way.

 

 

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Here is a very descriptive photo. Enjoy! 🙂

International food

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Best food comes from the insiders.

I am a strong believer in the fact that we don’t truly know a culture if we never interact with its people. This statement went a bit further for me and it moved to a more advance type of love that I have, food.

Now, we all love food, and if you live in a town or city is most likely you have been to at least one that had “foreign” food. However, there is nothing like the original.

Coming back to the previous post I wrote, here is another good thing that an exchange experience bring, food cooked by locals. And by that, I mean students who are excited to show their cooking skill, which makes it twice as fun to put everything together as friends. There is a special something in the sushi a Japanese or in a chocolate cake made by a French girl.Even food that I have never though I’ll come in contact while in England,  the Singaporean one for instance.

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Some might actually resemble a ton to yours, but with a different name or ingredients.

My point is: food is a part of the culture, and there is no better knowledge of it than the source directly. If you really want to know a place, find a person who lived there and it will give you a better insight than any touristic place. After all, those are made to look good and attract people.

Hope you are having a happy Easter! 

Valuable lessons whilst studying abroad

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I could probably write tons of list on top of other list about it, but instead I’m posting just a few.

Let us first begging by becoming a bit personal shall we? And by ‘personal’, I mean going back to a fourteen year old me who has just started high-school and was already thinking of going to Uni in the UK. Loved everything about it… or at least the idea of it. However, reality hits the eighteen year old one, who realizes the sacrifices that not only her, but everyone she depends on, has to make. But the desire and ambition stayed and two year later I have applied for a scholarship. I admit that I was scared to not have my dreams crushed again, so England was my second option. But…fate, or luck, or karma, or whatever and whomever, aligned everything in such a way for me to make it. And I did, and I felt more accomplished  than ever.

But enough about that, or maybe… Now that I think about it, ever since I have never excluded the idea of impossible and went for everything that I wanted even if it seemed unlikely. So here’s a bonus lesson that I’ve learned.

Recently I was asked by one of my friends at home to help him with some advises and opinions about how it is/feel to study abroad. And whilst writing him a response, I have discovered some things that have changed at the twenty one years old me thanks to this.

  1. It gives you more courage to socialize. Here me out, even if you are the most extroverted person, in the beginning the culture will hit you, and if you are a non native speaker as I am, the impact of the language. I’m not going to pass again through how much the English I have learnt and the one from here marked me, but you can find it here. (smooth!)  All jokes aside, I was, still am but not that much, a combination between an extrovert and introvert. As I grew older I became more extroverted is true. However, here I forced myself to know people, to learn about them, after all I have dreamed for five years to have this. And it was way easier than I thought, because everyone else wants to find out more about you and where you’re coming from.
  2. It gives you independence. As a lonely child, I know what a brat, I could get almost every time what I wanted. Then I was brought into thinking that because I am on my own I have to solve things by myself. There was no big brother that could protect me, nor a little sister whom I could blame. Therefore, I had to handle it in my own manner. But I was never the one who every time (get ready for it): did the groceries, the washing up, the laundry, the cooking, the cleaning, the… everything else that prepared me for moving on my own. And I love it! The satisfaction of having done thing all by yourself is…after all the crises done during the chores…amazing.
  3. Lean more that you think you would. As an international student you are told this since the very first day. That you will not only study subjects from a different point of view, but learn about a different culture at the same time. You will learn about more than one. You will not be the only international student, chances are that the university you’re applying for offers opportunities around the world. So prepare yourself to travel while being in the same place, by listening to all the nationalities, telling about yours, celebrating their customs and eating a large variety of food.
  4. Somehow you are the ambassador of your country. I believe that there is no other way of truly knowing a culture, without  knowing its people. Media and internet may give a wrong idea sometimes (let us think about all the unfortunate events that are happening in Europe) so by only talking to people you will learn the true. No pressure on you know, but the way you behave, the way you treat others say a lot about the way you were raised and you’re a sample of your country. I love when people from countries that are shown in the media as ones that dislike each other, are here friends and over those stereotypes. It all about the humans!

That is all for me now. Apologies for the long post, but if you’re reading this at one point in life that it is similar in any type, shape or form, I am more that happy to read about it.

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Cheers! 😉