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 fight 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 you’re 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 first went there 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! 😉

 

A day at the beach- Brighton

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I have always had a thing for beaches.

As a person who was born in the summer, who is in her element during the summer, it  is almost impossible to not love the sea side. I am for sure one of those people who distresses while listening to the sound of waves. Mainly because in my mind associates it with peace, love, friends and ice cream. And who doesn’t loves ice cream? Now, I don’t claim to not love the mountains equally, as a matter of fact I have made plans regarding them, but my old friend the sea and I share a lot of memories.

That is why when I got to Brighton, not too long ago, I got out of the car  and just sat there for a while, just starring. It was not much to see, to be quite honest, that because it was 10 in the morning and England was foggy. Nonetheless, that did not stopped me. I took my backpack, my friends and all my emotions and landed on the rocks. It marked my first time on a beach that was not a classic one. Meaning, I was not on my usually sand beach and so, I could wear my shoes without a problem.

For a moment everything and everyone went off. My friend’s voice was replace by the sound of weaves and all my thought were drown (get it?!) in old memories at the sea side, the laugh of a little version of what I am today and lots and lots of smiles.

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I had to come back and embrace the now sunny and warm Brighton. Laid down on the rocks simply because I wanted to have that feeling with me, then went to the Pier. If you’re in Brighton, you have obviously spent time to the Pier. Is one amazing place with fun and entertaining games, food and as not most places are, it has thing for all ages. The Pier itself looks like is comes from a pin up era.

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On another note,  the Pavilion is the place to be during lunch time. Especially if the sun shows up, a blanket and a book will make your day. And of course, I will not deny that the lanes and the shopping centre will attract each one of us, and … spend a little.

But at the end of the day, in my case the next morning, we realize that it was perfect, and that we most certainly needed vitamin sea.

 

Town of bridges

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I thought I could wipe the dust over this blog with a fairly old trip.

Cambridge.

Now, this town is a small one, especially for a girl that comes from a city. However, I am proud to celebrate six months of living in Reading. And it is a town, slightly bigger than Cambridge, but still a big deal for me.

If you want to enjoy a trip down the river, just make sure is not a proper British weather as this may ruin your day. If you’re lucky enough, come during the summer. If not, make sure you check the forecast. From different sources.

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Even so, you can have fun and take great pictures by walking to town and discover amazing architecture, take picture of as many bridges as you can and buy some sweets from the local shop.

Cambridge, just as Oxford, knows that is loved by tourists, so prepare yourself to kindly and politely deny the “amazing” offers you come across and not sped that much money on souvenirs.

It is a small town, but it is worth visiting. Just buy a coffee (the local Costa has an amazing one) and prepare to walk trough all the colleges, the university yards, the bridges and tiny old streets.

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For me it looked like I was  having a role in “The Tudors” (hopefully none of the king’s wises)  and I was just drinking my afternoon tea in the royal garden. Or that I belonged to a Victorian era and I was about to have a meeting with a mysterious stranger on a grey alley.

 

Feel free to make your own movie.

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A day in Oxford

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I love one day trips. Obviously, if you live in that country or if the circumstances allow you to have one day trips.

My most recent one was in Oxford. And it took me about five minutes to realize that is by far my favorite town in England. And quoting my friend:”everyone looks smarter here”.

Everywhere I go, on every street I can feel the history, the influence and the importance. I dare you to find a building that dates in out modern era. Which is a bit confusing in the beginning because every building seems to look alike. Give it a couple of minutes.

As I have already mentioned, I sang in one of the most majestic and impressive churches, University church of Saint Mary the Virgin. And got lost on its wonderful streets.
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Now, I admit that it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Some people prefer exotic locations or more modern one. I on the other hand, am an old soul, literally. I love the old era in which history was made and this type of streets were a normal and regular expressions of the society’s believes.
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However, the modern part of my soul, specifically the modern child in me, was thrilled to see the spot where Harry Potter was filmed. But Christ Church has more to offer than Harry Potter and Alice in wonderland. It is a place where I could feel the envy that got to me and disliked for a moment the fact that I wasn’t born a few centuries ago wearing a heavy long dress and corsets and I wasn’t wandering in this place the whole day.
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Loved everything in Oxford, the Uni, the streets, the architecture, the company and the museum. I will most definitely go back and let my 16th century soul have a blast.
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