Travel Log 4: “Studying Abroad…It’s More Than Just a Walk in the Park” by Samantha Prevot. Notting Hill, London, England

London is a big city, but it also feels so small at the same time. Despite the city’s expansive public transportation system, many Londoners prefer to walk and my fellow study abroad students and I were encouraged by our program leaders to walk as much as possible and take buses instead of the Tube. From my first day in Notting Hill, I have gone out of my house and walked around the busy main street in order to shop, go grocery shopping, go out to dinner with friends, or just to go for a walk. So when we were given the activity from Becoming World Wise, I was actually excited.

Slimbach says, “Our actual entrance into the community requires that we venture out to observe every day life, interact with strangers, and slowly absorb an alternative reality…Space changes utterly when we experience it on foot. We can stop at a place, focus attention on a particular person or object, wander, and ask questions to discover clues about something we desire to know or understand.” Walking is a learning experience while abroad, and in this “walk-able” city, I have learned so much. Even just walking up to the main road of Notting Hill Gate and exploring the different stores, restaurants, and parks has shown me so much and has helped me feel more connected and truly at home.

For this activity, I tried to pay extra attention to my surroundings as opposed to the passive way in which I sometimes view my surroundings while commuting to my university or running to the nearby Tesco Metro to grab some groceries. The streets are always busy here, meaning there is always noise; buses, cars and motorcycles out on the roads seemingly 24/7, police and ambulance sirens, people walking and talking, dogs barking, construction noise, all of the sounds of a big city. Although our area is more residential than other parts of London, living near a major road always leads to noise, and with 8 million people living in this city noise is pretty much inescapable. The smells you come across vary as you walk down the streets. For example, my housemates and I have come to learn that our corner usually has a particularly foul odor, which may be in part due to the fact that there is a sewer nearby. For the most part, the smells consist of a variety of foods that are being made in restaurants ranging from small, probably family own places to chain restaurants like KFC and the ever-so-popular Nandos. But what really captivates me most about my neighborhood are the sights.

London is an extremely diverse city and, although I may not be too familiar with my neighbors specifically, especially my neighbors like Stella McCartney, I’m always seeing people from various ethnicities, ages, economic status, etc. coming in and out of the Tube station that is on my corner, getting off of those famous red double-decker buses, or just walking by me on the street. My hometown of New York City is also very diverse, so being around so many different kinds of people makes me feel right at home. In addition to the people, my surroundings never cease to amaze me. I’m surrounded by row after row of beautiful Victorian houses, and even though most of them remain residences, some of them have turned into schools or hotels, and you never know what to expect as you walk by. Just down the road from our house is Hyde Park and Kensington Palace, and I am always astonished at how close in proximity we live from royalty. The way the old and new seem to effortlessly blend together in this harmonious way is something that I will always love about London, and it is what I think makes it such a unique place.

As I finished my walking activity, and as I continue to find my way around my new neighborhood, I feel more and more connected to this place. The stores and restaurants are becoming familiar to me. I’m beginning to memorize the Tube lines that go to my street and where they make their stops. I’m beginning to see familiar faces at grocery stores and on public transportation. I’m feeling more and more at ease every time I venture out of my door. I know that with every step I take, London becomes more a part of me than it did before. I can see why Slimbach says walking is a teacher, because I have learned so much and I am becoming absorbed into my new culture.

The travelogue I chose to read was My Love Affair with England by Susan Allen Toth. Her memoir depicts decades of travel in England, which began when she studied abroad at the age of 20. Although she is much older than me and everything she writes about takes place between 1960 and the early 1990s, I could still very much relate to Toth and her thoughts and feelings about traveling in London and falling in love with the city. Toth has traveled to England as a student, on her honeymoon, as an escape after getting divorced, on various trips with her second husband, and with friends. She says that although she has been to other countries in Europe and they have so many things to offer, she never feels the desire to go to those countries like she feels the desire to go to England.

The chapter about her summer abroad was one that I most related to and therefore liked the most. In it, she talks about the image of London and England that she had formed before going there and how her fantasies about the country and the city impacted her greatly. Toth says, “But I remind myself, this is what the city looked like in 1960 – or perhaps more accurately, this is how I saw it. The London I had come to explore did not include factories, working-class neighborhoods, or most places outside the range of a standard guidebook…I will never really know how much of what I absorbed that first summer in London was influenced by what I expected to see. From the beginning, my relationship with England was an inextricable tangle of imagination and reality.”

Looking at that section of the book through the lens of a Rite of Passage made me think about liminality and how in order to successfully go through that stage we must push aside our preconceived notions about a place and be open to finding a new perspective. We must learn as much as we can about the culture we are entering to truly become a part of the community and successfully move through the liminal stage. I, like Toth, had built somewhat of a fantastical image of London and England from books, television, movies, and my past trip here. But now that I am here for study abroad, I know that this isn’t the city or country of my fantasies. I am learning about all of the issues that Americans aren’t usually aware of and I am making my way towards becoming a part of this community. Over time, Toth seems to do this as well, forming new perspectives on England and London during her decades of travel. This was why I felt so connected to her and some of her stories throughout her memoir, and other anecdotes just made me want to visit some of the places she described and try some of the things that sounded interesting to me. I learned a lot from Toth and I am going to take that knowledge with me moving forward.

This is a photo of a row of houses on Portobello Road, which is not far from where I live. The houses seem to stand out even more since they are so brightly colored against the dull, grey skies of a typical London day. It’s little places like these that remind me that there are always hidden gems to be found and that even in a seemingly dark, dull place there is always a source of joy and brightness. Some people may think of the usual tourist spots when they think of London like Big Ben, St. Paul’s Cathedral, etc. but now that I have been here for three weeks I am beginning to define London not by the tourist attractions, but by cute narrow streets and eccentric places like these houses and areas of town like Camden and Shoreditch. As time goes by I hope to find more and more places like this to truly make London my own.IMG_9556.jpg


Works Cited:

Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub. LLC., 2010. Print.

Toth, Susan Allen. My Love Affair with England. New York: Ballantine, 1992. Print.


Travel Log 4 “Studying Abroad…It’s More Than Just a Walk in the Park,” By Abby Spooner. Dunedin, New Zealand

Travel Log 4 “Studying Abroad…It’s More Than Just a Walk in the Park,”

By Abby Spooner. Dunedin, New Zealand

              The past two weeks have been a whirlwind. Although New Zealand speaks English, has some historical European roots, and appears to be similar to the US it is actually quite different. The drastic social and societal differences between the US and New Zealand are well defined. For example the slang, food, coffee, lack of footwear, and heating practices are considerably different. As a luminod these social differences were quite apparent to me as I was in a constant state and mindset of comparing the two cultures. However, I have recently begun to enjoy these differences, a phenomenon Slimbach describes in Chapter 7 when discussing the process of settling in. He later stresses this idea again by asking us to recognizing the do’s and don’ts of society in order to get oriented. Instead of highlighting what I have seen as different or wrong I have begun to see them as natural part of life here. This process has slowly propelled me further into the liminal phase. I have gradually noticed aspects of Kiwi culture appear in my everyday behaviors. For example I have started to include Kiwi expressions such as cheers and right on into my everyday vocabulary, I can now strategically warm my flat as the Kiwis do, and have finally figured out how to order a cup of coffee! (Kiwis think that the US common filtered coffee is insulting and as a result it is almost never served). Every day I am able to immerse myself in the culture in different but important ways.This is this kind of authentic cultural emersion that drove me to study abroad in the first place. However, the moment that truly change my perspective and started making New Zealand feel less foreign and more like home was during one of my many walks around the city.

View of Dunedin from Mount Cargill!

View of Dunedin from Mount Cargill!

Last week we were given the ultimate task of immersion, walking through town. At the end of January, many of the students who were already abroad recently posted this blog. I read through a few and many highlighted their newfound appreciation for walking through town alone. At the time it was a difficult concept for me to really grasp. However, during my time here in Dunedin I have found myself in a very similar situation. Walking alone may appear to be a solitary experience, but it is actually one of the best ways to complete an authentic cultural emersion. Simply observing the way the locals interact with each other on the street offers tremendous insight to the basic happenings of a society at its core.

Map of Dunedin: The Octagon is located in the middle of the yellow lines on the right.

I began my walk at the heart of Dunedin- The Octagon. The Octagon is home to shops, cafes, restaurants, and live entertainment. I began by walking up and down the surrounding streets. Everyone clearly had a destination they were trying to get to since it was a weekday and many had work. However, unlike many large American cities such as Boston or New York, there was no sense of haste in their body language or stride. Everyone seemed to really take in his or her walk to work, despite walking the same path every day. Even a driver’s commute is relaxed and lacks the constant honking often heard on American city streets. This atmosphere gives the city a greater sense of safety and small town feel. No one is rushing, people stop and smile at you, and when talking to Kiwis they are as interested in you and you are in them. As a result petty crimes such as pickpocketing and shoplifting are not nearly as common.


After walking around for a bit and talking with a few shop owners about their business, I found a bench on a street corner for a bit of a rest. This was one of the most important moments during my orientation exercise. Slimbach describes my state of mind in that moment perfectly on pg 161when he says, “…we need to step back and think about the actual conditions triggering our mental and emotional disorientation, and our physical response to it.” By stopping for a break I was able to appreciate all the transitions I have successful completed over the past month. I noted feeling a sense of liberation from the world I had left a month ago. I am no longer my old self, and as a result of my international experience physical and emotional changes have already occurred. In this moment my emotions caught up with my physical separation. The feeling can be best described through the course concept of the reflective process. During the workshop we talked about how the reflective process “acts as a catalyst for change [where we] consider why this process is especially important [during a rite of passage].” Taking a walk through town alone required me to consider the differences between the US and New Zealand and this made me realize just how many changes I had made unconsciously. By reflecting on these differences I was able to not only recognize them but also appreciate and put value to them.

Having a scheduled time to reflect on my experience has truly brought a sense of purpose to my experience. Jeff Johnson captured this idea perfectly when he said, “the best journeys answer questions that in the beginning you didn’t even think to ask.” It is in these moments of reflection answers are found and more questions ask, and I can’t wait to keep discovering more.


IMG_6704An additional moment of reflection occurred when reading my travelogue, “The Long White Cloud” by Kristen Faber. The pages reflect on Fibers experience moving her family of five to New Zealand for a year. While reading the beginning chapters it was astonishing how similar our transitions to New Zealand were. Faber describes her initial reaction to the beauty and people of New Zealand, and I could not have put if better myself. She says, “ Mixed with the people is a sense of peacefulness. It’s hard to live in such a serene place and not be affected…I felt it in the people around me. The whole country gave me a home-towny safe feeling that wiped away the little bit of tension that I never knew I had” (Faber, 15). Although the rest of the book describes the challenges and triumphs the family encountered, I was able to connect to these words best because they seamlessly describe my feelings at this point in my transition. Laughing along with Fibers and her family was an enjoyable way to get to know New Zealand in a unconventional but effective way. The concluding pages of the book describe the rite of separation the family encountered when leaving at the conclusion of their yearlong stay. Although it was challenging to relate to their experience now, I am egger to re read this section upon my own reincorporation back to the US and once again compare the similarities and differences of our experience.


To me, this week was all about reflection and further transition. The picture I have chosen to describe this is from my kayaking trip down Doubtful Sound this past weekend. The peacefulness of the sound was perfect for individual reflection. However, moving through the sound also included many transitions that metaphorically represent the changes I have gone through during my time here. From brutal winds, to calm waters; from blinding sun, to chilly shade; and from quiet forests, to roaring waterfalls; from old status to liminod to feeling more and more at home. Each transition was unique yet significant and I think this picture represents the feeling of change, reflection, and transition well.IMG_6739

Travel Log 4: “Studying Abroad…It’s More than Just a Walk in the Park” By: Stephen Sharo, Dunedin, New Zealand

My walk through Dunedin was spectacular. Since Dunedin is a smaller city walking around is the preferred way to get around. Since my arrival my friends and I have explored the city in order to get situated. I started from my house which is located on one of the busier streets in Dunedin. Within a couple of minutes however I was walking through the botanical gardens. I was told that each of the flowers were supposed to have a unique scent to them but they all smelled the same to me.

As I continued my stroll through the city I ended up on the outskirts of the town where the hiking trails and mountains are located. The fresh air is really calming and relaxing, although when a truck carrying sheep passes by you’d better hold your nose because that stench lingers forever. The hiking trails of Dunedin provide some of the best views that overlook the city.

One of the big things I noticed about the people when walking around is that no one seemed to be a large rush. When I go to visit New York City everyone is in such a rush to get to their destination whereas in Dunedin it seems as though everyone is taking a leisurely stroll. The few days I spent in Auckland seemed to have the same walking speed. The way the Kiwis walk fits in with their general lifestyle of laid back and relaxed.

As I was reading the Slimbach article, there was one section he mentioned which really resonated with me. In chapter 7 Slimbach mentions “Faster than walking and slower than riding a bus, the bicycle sets us slightly higher than passersby and offers us a combination of self-powered freedom and flexibility unmatched by any other form of transportation,” ( The day before reading the chapter from Slimbach I was talking to my flatmate about his hobbies which include cycling. Ironically we talked about how great it must be to be able to bike around the city and country.)

The travelogue I read has been very different from my experiences in New Zealand so far. Initially the author of the travelogue, Greg Hung, actually visited New Zealand and decided to make a second journey to the island. Hung is from Canada so his flight time was much similar to mine. The first time he traveled he visited with his sister and they primarily explored the North Island in areas like Rotura. Similar to my experience in the marae he also stayed in a Maori village took in some traditional Maori culture. Greg soon ventured down to the South Island where he visited a lot of the places I want to visit including Christchurch, Queenstown, and the Milford Sound.

Later in 2013 Greg took another small trip to New Zealand. This time he traveled without his sister. He faced some struggles along the way including trouble with his airlines, dead phones. He spent a few days in Auckland and then visited Waiheke Island which my study abroad group also traveled while in Auckland. Although his second trip was much shorter than his first he claims that Auckland, “It is a world-class city with an international makeup, yet it does feel noticeably smaller compared to a city like Sydney,” and I couldn’t have agreed with him more (Hung, Kindle 364-365).

Greg and I have already had many similarities between our two trips. We both experienced the communitas of the Maori people and we’ve both faced many tricksters while traveling. Although both of our experiences are greatly different (how long we are staying and where we are staying) we both can relate to the Rites of Passage model and learn greatly from our experiences

Hung, Greg (2014-09-18). NEW ZEALAND – Travel Adventures – 23 days on the North & South Islands (Kindle Locations 364-365). Greg Hung. Kindle Edition.

Slimbach, Richard (2012-03-12). Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning (Kindle Locations 3381-3382). Stylus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

This picture is from my walk through the botanical gardens

This picture is from my walk through the botanical gardens

Travel Log 4: “Studying Abroad…It’s More Than Just a Walk in the Park” by Brandon Lyons – Florence, Italy

In Italian there is a phrase, “fare una passeggiata,” that is frequently used among Italians. Literally translated it means to go for a walk, however the phrase has a much deeper cultural significance. Here in Italy it is very common for locals to go for a late night walk after dinner, whether it be to a local piazza to enjoy the lively atmosphere or to a gelateria to indulge after dinner. That is why last week’s walking exercise made me feel a little bit more like a real Italian. I started out in Piazza della Republica, one of the main city centers in Florence, and went from there, exploring neighborhoods that I had not previously encountered and engaging with locals who were kind enough to help me better understand the city.Ponte Vecchio

Pictured to the right is a photo of the Ponte Vecchio, a bridge that has been around in Florence since ancient Roman times. I took this photo while
crossing an adjacent bridge to the other side of Florence, a part of Florence that I have
not yet experienced. I personally like this picture so much because of both its beauty and the fact that it represents a journey to an unfamiliar place.

There were so many things that I was able to take away from this walk. First and foremost I learned how to navigate the city streets with a new sense of familiarity. I am finally getting to the point where I can find things on my own without the help of a map or GPS, which is definitely a great feeling. I was also able to work on my knowledge of the Italian language through asking for directions and speaking with locals. One of the places I discovered was il Mercato Centrale, or the Central Market, a place where you can buy any fresh produce you can imagine. The environment was unlike anything I have experience in America. For lunch I stopped at a local café/restaurant where I was able to experience the Italian social etiquette food culture firsthand, all on my own. In Becoming World Wise Slimbach writes “as you begin to walk and talk, don’t worry too much about getting lost.” This actually reminded me of one of the quotes we looked at during our seminar back at Quinnipiac that says “not all those who wander are lost.” That phrase was constantly in my mind during this walking exercise, an experience that I will certainly remember when looking back on my time abroad.

“Not all those who wander are lost” – J.R.R.Tolkein

The travelogue I purchased is entitled Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy. Author Frances Mayes (most famous for her novel Under the Tuscan Sun) gives a detailed description of her own personal Tuscan experience “written in precise and passionate language of near poetic density” (Newsday). One thing that I found very exciting about this travelogue is that she describes the beauty of places in the Tuscan countryside that I have already visited. To hear a place that I have visited be described with such poetic beauty was very exciting because I was able to identify with the emotions of the author. At one point she writes, “the silence of the country sounds loud,” which sounds strange but is something that I can totally identify with. To hear her describe the food of Italy and the unique way in which it is prepared is also great to read about because my experiences with food in Italy so far are almost indescribable. Finally, one thing I really enjoyed about the travelogue is that it describes her trips to places outside of Tuscany, such as Venice and Sicily. This is definitely something that I will use as a guide when planning the rest of my stay in Italy.

Travel Log 4 “Studying Abroad… It’s More Than Just a Walk in the Park” Athena Rine, Seville Spain

Lately I have noticed that I am enjoying walking around by myself more and more. During the hustle and bustle of everyday activity, we tend to fall into routines. Getting up at the same time each day, getting a morning coffee from the same store, traveling to work or school on the same streets, meeting up with the same people, passing the same scenery, etc. When did we become so robotic? I can’t even remember the last time I explored a new area near Hamden, Connecticut or even in the surrounding towns in my home state! Being taken out of my daily routine has made me realize that during my time here, I don’t want a daily routine. I want to see new places and faces each day. I want to shop in new stores and try different restaurants and be in new areas at different times to see how the atmosphere changes. I have found that being alone helps me to do this because I am not obligated to hold a conversation or walk a certain pace or take into consideration where another person wants to go. When I walk alone I have to opportunity to watch other people, look at how they dress, what they say, how they act, and how the surrounding environment has shaped the community it holds. Not having constant Wi-Fi is also a huge help because I don’t walk down the street with my face in my phone and I’m not preoccupied with emails, texts, or social media notifications. Normally I would be ready to respond at the first sense of a vibration, but now that my phone is away I am distraction-free and I can allow my feet and senses to take me where they may.

One of the things that really grabs my attention, not only on my walking adventures but every day, is social etiquette. There are a ton of differences between the United States and Spain on this subject, and I am finding them a bit difficult to adjust to simply because I do not want to come off rude or disrespectful while doing what I have been taught is polite. For example, everyone, even people who have just met, is greeted with a kiss on each cheek. A handshake or a hug will absolutely not suffice. When you want to order food or get the check at a restaurant, you need to call the waiter over. They will not come to the table unless asked. Or when you make plans to meet up with someone, it is considered perfectly normal to arrive about 10 to 15 minutes late. Arriving early or being impatient with someone who is running late is unacceptable. It is also unacceptable to eat on the go or take home doggy bags. Everyone sits down for every meal. Nobody walks around with coffee or granola bars, or even bottles of water. When at a café or restaurant, you never pick up your trash. It is always left on the table to be cleaned by the staff, even if it can be thrown directly into the garbage. Eye contact is another big distinction. If a woman makes eye contact with a man for even a few seconds, it is a signal that she is interested in him. I have learned to be extremely careful with where I let my eyes roam, because men here will come right up to you or yell to you from across a room. People here are generally more aggressive and blunt than in the U.S. If you see something or someone that you like or don’t like, you just say it. It is okay to call someone ugly or fat because it’s simply a “true statement,” not to be taken as an insult. These are just a few examples of the dissimilarities I have picked up on. I think it’s interesting to notice how different something so “normal” can be in another part of the world. I am doing my best to learn the appropriate things to say and do to blend and adapt to the Spanish culture to the best of my ability.

I thought of the travelogue I read as a communitas I could carry around with me. I absolutely loved reading it because it made me feel like I wasn’t alone in the mistakes I have been making or the observations I have made about differences between the United States and Spain. Being that the book was written by a collection of authors, it further reassured me that there are many more Americans like myself in this country trying to live their lives here while learning from the challenges they are forced to face in a new environment. It kind of reminded me of an international version of the “Traumarama” section in the back of Seventeen Magazine, where people share their embarrassing stories with other readers likely experiencing similar situations. There were a few stories in particular that I found extremely relatable that mentioned topics such as language barriers that make even the simplest of tasks extremely difficult, and navigating the curvy, selectively labeled streets of the maze I call Sevilla. (Side note: I tried to order a pizza over the phone last week and it took 20 minutes to communicate my address and how the delivery man would get to me. On the bright side, I chose to make the call myself rather than asking someone else to do it, and the pizza did make it there exactly how I wanted it!)

One quote from my travelogue that really stood out to me was that of a young woman who considered turning back on plans she had made because she was nervous. She wrote, “I reminded myself that I was in Spain on an adventure, and that I needed to take advantage of every experience, especially if it ripped me out of my comfort zone and stomped on my pride.” (Spain From A Backpack, 191) This is something I am constantly doing, as I want to reach my goal of trying and experiencing new things, regardless of how nervous, anxious, or uncomfortable they may make me. For example, this past weekend I went to Cadiz for the annual Carnival. I had no idea what to expect, but my program coordinator and even my host father told me that it was a crazy experience. After seeing it with my own two eyes, I would describe it as a Halloween party on steroids. There were thousands and thousands of people dressed in costumes, roaming the streets of Cadiz, holding as many bottles of alcohol as they could manage to carry. I was hesitant to go in the first place due to fear of the unknown as well as the fact that the bus arrived at 10:00pm and would not leave until 5:00am, and I felt uncomfortable at times being approached by intoxicated men in costumes who didn’t speak my language. As the night went on, the city became more and more filthy due to a lack of trashcans and bathrooms. (I’ll spare you all the details.) Aside from the nasty negatives, I did have a fun time with my new roommates and even met some other American students as well as some nice locals who were happy to practice their English on me. Overall I was very happy I went because it was a very new cultural experience for me. I also found it very funny how well I blended in with the Spaniards that night while wearing a face mask, neon green tights, and a bright blue tutu, when on normal days I get stared at for wearing leggings and converse.

This is a picture I took from the top of the Cathedral of Sevilla. Clearly, it’s very overwhelming and there is a ton to see. Not to mention that this is only the view from one side of the tower. Even though I explored new streets and saw new sights during my walk, there is so much more out there to be discovered and learned about. I am so happy that I still have over three months to make my way around here and I cant wait for what else is in store as I stray farther and farther off the paths I have already taken.IMG_1809

Spain From A Backpack- Edited by Mark Pearson & Martin Westerman

Travel Log 4: “Studying Abroad…It’s More Than Just a Walk in the Park” By: Erin Foley, Paris, France

Nearly every day I trek to the metro station nearest my apartment to hop on line four towards Porte Clignancourt. What better opportunity than at that moment to take in surrounding sights, smells, and sounds of the fourteenth arrondissement? Complete with its own characters, like the man who plays violin daily outside the local middle school, this district has a distinct feel. As soon as I step foot outside my gate, the quiet calmness envelopes me. This is much unlike the din of say, the Latin Quarter that is full of boisterous and eager students. In Paris, I think it may even be French law to have at least one bakery per street, or at least it seems that way! Luckily, I pass by two on my morning strolls, the aroma of fresh baguette and flaky pastry wafting around me and making my mouth water. While everything sounds wonderful, and most is, one sobering lesson was the way in which the French communicate, or lack thereof, on the street. They walk by, emotionless, as they make their commutes. Smiling at strangers or prolonged, unnecessary eye contact is frowned upon and can even be taken as an invitation to flirt. My first day at orientation, we were advised to “use our smiles wisely.” Even more, the French dress code matches that of their attitude: dark and somber. Whether I am walking down the street or sitting on the Métro, I cannot help but notice that the most popular colors are gray, brown and black. Bright colors are rarely worn and could even set one apart from French counterparts if one is not careful. Although my mother always poked fun at my wardrobe of uniquely navy blue and black clothes, I actually have the last laugh. As Slimbach suggests, simply observing the culture while on a walk makes for a great “teacher,” allowing you to analyze the foreign culture, in order to better adapt.

For my travelogue, I have chosen The Sweet Life in Paris by pastry chef, David Lebovitz. He details his move and difficult transition from San Francisco to Paris. Between each monologue, Lebovitz includes personal recipes, some with Parisian influences. As a fellow American and food lover, I cannot think of a better way to explore Francophone life through someone else’s experiences, gastronomic or otherwise. I find myself nodding in validation as Lebovitz explains the idiosyncrasies of French culture. These run the gamut from hanging your laundry to dry all over your apartment (unmentionables included) to never putting down your knife at the table after you have made the decision to use it. (This is most definitely a rule in French etiquette…I watch my host mother use her knife to precariously pile mouthfuls of food on her fork, as opposed to stabbing the piece of food and eating it that way). Not only does your couteau cut meat, it is also essential in actually moving the food from plate to mouth. This rule also applies to pizza…do not even think about picking it up to eat with your hands.

One particular section that I found most inspiring was Lebovitz’s utilization of his communitas. After living in Paris for only a short time, he decided to broaden his horizons (and face his fears) by asking the local fish market if they would employ him. He says, “I believe in taking advantage of my decision to live in a foreign country by making myself open to new adventures whenever the opportunity arises” (96). This quote struck an emotional cord in me; I am only living in this beautiful city for four months and if I do not take advantage of adventures when they arise, I will deeply regret it. Keeping this quote in mind, I have a fresh outlook on my study abroad experience. I will not decline any experience, within the realm of monetary and safety means, of course. To summarize thitravel log 4s mindset in a picture, I have included the photograph I took from the top of L’Arc de Triomphe. This monument is located on the Place Charles de Gaulle Étoile, quite appropriately named, as all the streets extend outward like a star. All the streets represent the many opportunities that will present themselves during my study abroad experience, and I am waiting patiently, but excitedly, for that very moment.

Travel Log 4: “Studying Abroad…It’s More Than Just a Walk in the Park” Kathleen Flynn. Florence, Italy

“We need a slow mode of transport to truly absorb our surroundings. Space changes utterly when we experience it on foot “ (Slimbach, 182). This quote from our reading fits perfectly for not only the past assignment, but also for my experience thus far in Florence. The city is small enough that I can get to almost any point in under half an hour, but because of this I am constantly on foot. Of course it was quite an adjustment to make walking under one mile some days back home and then an average of six miles here, yet one month in and I feel like I’ve truly absorbed my surroundings. On days when I have the chance to walk around by myself I notice the smallest details from the trendy coats and shoes the locals wear, to the street cleaners who work every day scrubbing graffiti off the walls and sweeping cigarettes off the sidewalk. I have also found that almost every other person walks around with their small lap dogs who are always outfitted in a jacket that is as trendy as their owner’s. These dogs also leave behind a mess on the streets and I’ve begun noticing that large puddles along the building are not water. Texting and walking is not easy around here because not only am I dodging the dogs’ messes, but also the bikes, Vespa’s, and small two seat cars that whip around with no regard for pedestrians. There are no speed limits within this city.

Florence is very lively even now in the off-season of tourists. During the day the cafes, salumerias (delis), and trattorias (restaurants) are filled with people. The locals make use of every structure, such as the stone benches along the old palazzos (palaces) or the wall along the river, to sit, converse and eat a quick snack. Italian couples are extremely public with their affection as they lay together on blankets in the public gardens or kiss beneath the beautiful buildings here. Beggars are not as common here as they are probably in Rome, but street vendors stand along every corner and popular street. I’ve learned that as soon as you make eye contact or answer a question they are relentless in trying to sell you their umbrellas, selfie sticks, or scarves. It’s best to ignore them altogether and it isn’t considered rude.

When going into any shop or restaurant it’s very polite to address the owner or employee by saying “Ciao!” or “Buongiorno!” Most Italians appreciate the attempt to speak the language when ordering or shopping, however most know English and are very helpful. Another important lesson is that there is no need to tip for any type of service here unless you feel like it is necessary. In place of this, most places charge an extra “coperto” for sitting down to eat which is usually only about two euros. I’ve also learned that the culture here encourages slowly enjoying your meal and so there is never any rush. Because of this, I have waited almost half an hour for the waiter to bring my check, unknowing that the customer must specifically ask for it when ready.

During my long walks I’ve soaked up almost every aspect of the surrounding Italian culture here. Being able to take the road slowly on foot without my head in my phone has definitely been a sort of ‘teacher’ to me. I am constantly observing the street signs and the shops along the way in a way I never have when I am home. If needed I could direct a person to any popular spot giving them the names of streets rather than just telling them the general direction. At this point in my abroad experience I have become so comfortable with the surrounding area that other tourists have stopped to ask me for directions. I guess I’m beginning to look less like a lost American and more like a student of Florence! All of these learning experiences and walks have made me feel a sort of closeness and possessiveness to the city. I’m even becoming more upset by the increase of tourists visiting as if the city is mine.

Over the past few weeks I’ve also been reading my travelogue and I’ve found it so interesting reading through the lens of the author, Susan Kelley, even though she took a much different walk in Florence then I currently am. Kelley is in her fifties and came here to get away with her husband who is an artist. While their experiences here are less centered around working and studying, and more on visiting the most glamorous sights and restaurants, her initial feelings upon arriving to Florence were very similar to mine. Kelley wrote, “I felt chic, comfortable, and deliriously happy with my cross body purse and my rubber soled walking shoes as we embarked on this journey” (Kelley). I thought it was funny that she noted her new cross body purse and shoes, which I also invested in before coming here. Also, many people describe being “deliriously happy,” but I think “chic” is another great word especially coming to such a trendy European city like Florence.

I have chosen this picture to describe the walk I took, because this picture was taken the first day I arrived and it is of the street I’m living on this semester. When I first got to Florence this one-way street seemed so narrow and boring to me. Now, it is my favorite way to end my walk home because it is a very popular spot for antique shops, small boutiques, and design studios. There is always something new to look at when I walk down this street and I love window-shopping on my way back. Today, the street no longer feels so small and empty, but large and full of opportunity.



Travel Log 4: “Studying Abroad… It’s More Than Just a Walk in the Park” by Chelsea Campbell. Barcelona, Spain

Walking has become one of my favorite things here in Barcelona. The city is filled with things to see, especially considering it is the graffiti capital of the world and home of one of the best architects of all time, Gaudi. My street alone here in Barcelona where I live is filled with some of the most beautiful architecture, including two of Gaudi’s famous houses. The hustle and bustle of the main street is lovely, however, where I decided to take my walk was the back streets of my neighborhood where all the locals are. The back neighborhood is much narrower streets and has history to it. My neighborhood Gracia use to be its own town before Barcelona was allowed to expand and then connected to Gracia through an expansion called “Eixample” (which means expansion in Catalan the other official language here besides Spanish). It wasn’t necessarily one walk I took, I take many walks through this area because it is so peaceful and beautiful. Just as Slimbach said, “the walk-story is a journey unto itself that you can recall forever after with gladness, longing, and a humble pride. You own a piece of the world, and ownership gives strength” (Slimbach 182). Walking through my neighborhood makes me feel more at home. I know the area, it is forever in my memory, and it is a place I own in this world, a place where a part of my heart belongs.

The main walk I took for the purpose of this orientation activity was around 8 at night for the purpose of seeing the night life of the locals and the thriving of people in the street on their way home from work or people hanging out in the local “placas” (plazas or squares). It was beautiful. The lights on the street and the people riding by on their bicycles and people eating outside of small cafes and restaurants with friends. The food smelt amazing as I walked past, it was easily smelt since people eat outside. The street became my new favorite place to venture around and gave me a new love for my city. The walk truly was my “teacher”. It taught me not only about the area but about the locals. They love to be outside and hang around with their friends. Seating outside is available almost everywhere and that is typically where you will find the people eating there, not inside.

What really stood out to me was how every place I passed was locally owned, there were no chains in the area. The small boutiques I walked into (some new found favorites) were so unique with particular styles in each, especially one of a small surf clothing shop that is all clothes made and designed by local artists. The shop owner was incredibly kind to me. He talked to me (in Spanish which really helped me practice) and explained his entire business to me, what he does, and just about the area. It was nice how everywhere is family run or small businesses so it is easy to walk in and be warmly welcomed.

The walk was also a teacher to me in the terms of art you see Barcelona. There is a law prohibiting graffiti on walls… it doesn’t say anything about doors. Because of this, graffiti can be found all over the doors of Barcelona that are pulled down to cover the fronts of shops and stores. Artists use to be commissioned to paint and graffiti on the front of doors for stores or to construct public sculpture to make areas appealing or more interesting. On my walk I found graffiti that stood out and even made me think what the underlying meaning was. It is nice because they even add color to every where I go.IMG_7836 IMG_7837

The pictures I attached demonstrate the color I experience going for my walks through my neighborhood. I chose to upload the graffiti because it shows how the graffiti is a type that really does make you think. Did the artist choose pop culture and American entertainment for a reason? Is it extra colorful for this reason? I wouldn’t know, and most likely never will, simply because I am not the artist and will never know him to ask. However, his work will always stick with me and make me wonder. I see art like this, a lot even better than these, constantly. It was overwhelming at first but they never get old to look at no matter how many times I walk past them. I am constantly thinking and soaking in my environment.

The travelogue I read, Spain in Mind, was like hearing, seeing, and experiencing Barcelona through more than just one person. The book was a compilation of several authors and artists telling their stories from different perspectives and even through poems. They ranged from the times of the famous bullfighting to more modern day experiences. If I had to quote what I loved most or what resonated with me significantly, I would be quoting the entire book. I did, however, find a quote by one of the writers, Lucia Graves, that stuck with me because I found entire truth in her reasoning. She was born in England and studied in Spain. She had said, “Spanish became associated in my mind with the return to my home… it became the language of a lively life under the sun, of happy childhood memories and of holiday time- it held in its sounds and images a whole series of feelings for which I found no parallel in English” (Spain in Mind 66). I read this after arriving back home from Switzerland and it stuck out because she is right, I was so incredibly happy to walk into my daily coffee shop and speak Spanish with the lady working again. It came to me easily, compared to German in Switzerland which I did not understand at all, and reminded me of my new life here of independence, one I am making completely of my own under the warm Barcelona sun. The travelogue only helped me fall even deeper in love with Barcelona and Spain.

Travel Log 4: Study Abroad…Its More Than Just A Walk in The Park” By Marcquan Parris- Barcelona, Spain

I must say my three weeks in Barcelona have been way more than a walk in the park. They have been an experience that I will never forget. The spanish word for when someone strolls through a park or a surrounding “placa” (this is catalonian for something similar to the community square) is paseo.

My daily walk to the Joanic metro is met with strolls along two local placas near my apartment. I love to see the local people of the Gracias area interacting as I walk to and from the metro. I notice that people here actually take time to experience the moments spent with one another. For example, as I come home from class I will see people sitting on the corner of the Placa de la Vila de Gracia sharing food with a good friend of theirs while talking about their day. I find this very different to American’s because most of the time we just grab our food or coffee to go and tell our friends “see you later.” I love the fact that people here take time out of their days to spend time with one another and really take in what they have around them.

IMG_4153As I decided to take a walk through the neighborhood and explore the restaurants and little boutiques I decided to take my time just like the Spaniards in order to rally take in everything around me. Usually I am a fast walker because in New York City there are no time for quiet strolls there is always a hustle and bustle of weaving through the crowds to get to my destination. I really took to heart Slimbach quote, “we need a slow motion mode of transportation to truly absorb our surroundings (p.182).” What may have been a slow mode of transportation for him was my fast mode of transportation so I made a mental note to myself to really slow down and experience this paseo and become one with the Gracias area.

I walked by one of my favorite empanada shops which is right by Placa de Joanic which is a very popular place for people to meet up and bring their kids, or just sit down and watch a ping pong match. I stopped and walked through the Placa and watched a ping pong match while listening to the sound of 20 kids playing  and screaming, “corre corre” while laughing. This was cool to see that not all kids are glued to the television and learn to experience life from an early age. As I walked towards my house I see the local people getting their fresh bread from their favorite bakery, or stopping in to their favorite cafe to sit there and grab a coffee. I noticed quickly that grabbing coffee here is not a five minute process, this one thing can take upwards for 30-45 minutes. Why? I am not too sure but I think they are used to people making time to take a break and just relax with their cup of coffee instead of getting it “para llevar (to go)” and  running down the street. I turned down a random corner and decided to get lost, but I stumbled upon a row of amazing restaurants, gelato places and an amazing crepe spot. This was one of the best things I could have done since I love food and trying new restaurants. After wandering for a bit I made my way back home and walked through the Placa of the Gracias and saw it full of life and social activity.

This 45 minute walk taught me so much about my area and made me comfortable with it as well. I wholeheartedly agree with Slimbach when he said, “Our actual entrance into the community requires that we venture out to observe everyday life, interact with strangers and slowly absorb an alternative reality (pg. 182).”I got more from this walk than where my favorite crepe spot is, but I also learned that it is very key to enjoy life, the people you have allowed in it and truly take in everything around you.

The Travelogue I chose to read, Travelers’ Tales: Spain really paints a beautiful picture of this country. I was able to read about people who have traveled to different parts of Spain such as Madrid and Seville and their experiences there. I specifically referenced those two places because those are two place my program will be taking me. In fact I am going to Madrid on Thursday night and I am beyond excited to see if my experience will be as great as the one in my travelogue.


Travel Log 4:… It’s More Than Just a Walk in the Park” By Zelia Pantani, Antibes, France

Typically, when you hear the phrase “a walk in the park” you assume the feasibility of whatever course of action you are taking is extremely high. As many of the activities that Slimbach suggest we do, I realized I do on a daily basis just through my creative nature. However, there were some things that weren’t such a “walk in the park”. Walking is certainly a great teacher as it’s taught me some central locations such as Place General de Gaulle (where the bus picks me up for school), Gares d’Antibes (the train station that takes me to the airport and other locations in France or to the first few towns in Italy), the bus 200 stop either for the direction of Cannes or Nice (there is two different stops per direction) and so forth. These discoveries came from walking around, getting lost and asking questions—all a spectacular way to learn very quickly where everything is. Depending on the day and my level of exhaustion, it was fun to get lost and discover my surroundings and find my way back home. Other discoveries made were subtler, dealing with the food commonly found in restaurants or cafes. In almost any bakery, store or restaurant, baguettes and wine are sold or available. Greater than that through conversations with my new communitas I was able to discover which market is cheapest and which has a greater selection. However, other discoveries took time and practice to grasp such as the local do’s and don’ts. Upon my arrival the CEA program orientation quickly briefed us upon some general customs such as saying Bonjour when walking into a store since not even trying to speak the language is considered ruder and the general hours that all stores are closed for lunch. But throughout my own experiences I’ve learned to speak softly on the streets and while I’m out to a meal, that walking slowly is customary as no one ever seems to be in a rush and that whatever you do… DO NOT take a taxi as you will likely be spending your entire week’s food money. Through Slimbach’s exercises it has only reinforced the view that adapting is not a quick process and it does take time, to walk, stroll and allow yourself to pay attention to the details of my new surroundings.

When having to deliberate on which travelogue I was going to allow help me through my journey, I picked the one full of paradoxes, so I could get the full French feel, rather than all the “good” information—I want the full story. For this reason, the travelogue I chose was called “France: A Nation on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” filled with all sorts of information ranging from politicians who think they can advance their careers despite various sex scandals, to learning that many French people will delocalize themselves just in order to find work and to learning that 14 % of French people admit to working “off the books”. It’s set up more like a dictionary than a novel, meaning the author, Jonathan Miller, has organized it in alphabetical order based upon the French word, with the English meaning directly underneath. When choosing to come to France, I knew not speaking the language might be a little difficult, and I’ve realized in my location I can very easily communicate in my natural language, but what kind of study abroad student would I be if I didn’t at least try? For that reason, I’m extremely happy with my travelogue choice as it helps me to better my French vocabulary and be enlightened to some new facts. One of my favorite facts reads under the heading “Paysan” meaning “Peasant”. Miller writes “In France, to be a paysan is an honorable calling, and paysans are seen as an authentic expression of the soul of rural France” (207 Miller). Typically in our daily language Americans assume the work peasant to have a negative connotation for those that are among the lower class. It was certainly interesting coming across the same word with a complete opposite meaning. Throughout the rest of my reading I discovered that France shares many hobbies and companies with England such as the sport Rugby, ranging all the way to the British airline “EasyJet”. Personally, I’ve already booked trips using that airline and I can attest that there are frequent and cheap flights, leading me to believe they have a strong relationship with French Aéroports (Airports in French!).

The Travelogue helped prove to me that there is a separation from my home country and people and I am exposing myself to new and great adventures where I am bound to learn so many new things. In this stage of my rites of passage, it gives me a greater appreciation to know the new facts and compare them to my communitas back home. I think out of this, I not only know my American communitas as home, but I’m beginning to know my French communitas as a second home as well. This picture only reinforces the idea that there are so many directions in my new home and new places to go, things to see and knowledge to absorb that I’ve only just begun.