Traveling on My Week Off

Half way through the semester Kingston has what is called Enrichment Week also known as Reading Week. This week is supposed to be where you get ahead on the work for the next half of the semester, but no one does that obviously. It is like spring break at New Paltz. People are supposed to do work during it, but that barely happens (unless you have a paper or test right when you get back). Since they barely give work here most kids either go home or go on trips. As a study abroad student, I obviously made plans to go somewhere during this break.

My first stop was to see my friend who is studying abroad for the full year in Munich. She was kind enough to let my friend and I stay in her apartment the few days we were there. She was a huge help in showing us around and the fact that she understood the language really helped. She was a great tour guide and showed us everything we wanted to while we were there. We even were luck enough to see a Russian opera in Munich. It was so nice to catch up with her and talk about everything and anything with her. Munich is such a pretty city and I highly recommend it to anyone who is thinking about going.

My next excursion—after a day or two of rest and exploring London—I was headed to Amsterdam with a tour group. We didn’t have much time in the city itself, but it was still a lot of fun. We had two nights there and the days were either traveling or seeing some of the cities around Amsterdam. We saw Edam and Volendam, which were both beautiful and worth the visit. I also got to go to Anne Frank’s house. That is definitely something you want on top of your list when you go to Amsterdam. You do need to get tickets ahead of time, but it is worth it. You walk through their hiding space and walk in the same space they lived in for two years. It is a moving experience and is definitely a must see.

I had a great time seeing different countries during my week off. I wish I had more time to explore more countries, but that just means I need to return to Europe in order to see more countries that I wanted to see. The week was a lot of fun and made me want to travel more. I highly recommend traveling to as many countries as you can while you study abroad because it is so easy to get around—as well as is very cheap to travel.

Art, Culture… and Airports

This past weekend I traveled outside of Spain for the first time since I arrived here on my study abroad trip, making stops in both Brussels and Amsterdam. Being in Spain for so long I was almost unaccustomed to speaking English when talking to other people, but it was most certainly refreshing. Both cities were absolutely beautiful and shared many similarities.

In Brussels, the beer and chocolate were as good as advertised. I couldn’t walk more than 1 block without seeing a chocolate shop or waffle house, but I wasn’t complaining. Being able to see the European Parliament was a surreal experience, knowing that it is in essence the de facto capital of the European Union. The buildings and architecture all around were stunning and the people were all very warm and friendly.

Amsterdam as a whole was a surreal experience, at certain points I almost felt like I was in a movie. However, despite what most people know about Amsterdam, the best part was easily the museums. The Rijksmuesum had some of the greatest artwork I have ever seen and due to its size you could easily spend the entire day in there and still not see it all. My favorite painting had to be the The Night Watch, Rembrandt van Rijn’s most famous painting in the museum. The Van Gogh museum was incredible as well and I’d have to say my favorite painting by him was The Potato Eaters.

But what really hit home for me was going to see the Anne Frank Haus, where Anne Frank infamously wrote her journal while hiding from the Nazis. With my father being Jewish, I felt it was important for me to go and I knew it would make him happy. I thought I wouldn’t be able to at first because the line was hours long everyday, but I stuck it out on the last day to see it and it was definitely worth it.

In regards to the airport, I experienced an abundance of emotions. In the image above you will see a plaque in memory of the victims of the terrorist attacks that took place in Brussels Airport on 3/22/16. I remember how much it meant to me being from NYC to see the 9/11 memorial for the first time and while this is attack was on a much smaller scale, I knew it still meant a lot to the people of Brussels.

However, this feeling would not last long. My friend and I were going to make our flight just in time, but we got stopped by security for having cologne… This delay resulted in us missing our flight and ended up costing me over $200. Once again I hope those of you reading this will learn from my mistakes, I’ve made plenty of them so far and I’m sure there will be more to come!

Battle with Customs

Before I get into the title of this post, I wanted to discuss something not quite as depressing… In the image above, you will get a mild glimpse of the raucous crowd outside of Vicente Calderon Stadium, home of the beloved La Liga football club, Atletico Madrid. The stakes were very high in this matchup, for it was a Champions League game against one of the premiere football clubs in all of Germany, if not the entire world, Bayern Munich. Now I’ve been to my fair share of sporting events in the United States, from playoff games at Yankee Stadium, to star-studded battles at Madison Square Garden.

However, I can easily say I have never been to any sporting event quite like this one. People were dancing and singing in the streets with reckless abandon prior to the game and the police couldn’t seem to care less. Inside the stadium was even more surreal. In sporting stadiums in the United States they constantly are playing music, trying to start chants, having performances between every little break in the action. From the second the referee blew the whistle every fan in the stadium was locked in, no stoppage in play, no music, just the well synchronized songs and chants of the crowd. It felt so much more cultural, so much more embedded into the fabric of their society, and it was truly amazing to be a part of.

Now to the depressing part I was talking about. Never and I repeat never send medication from the United States to Spain. Ever. I don’t know if this is how they do it in the rest of Europe, but it is truly a nightmare. My parents tried sending me some medication about a month ago and customs seized it without us knowing. Eventually I got a letter from them outlining what I had to do, which ended up being a very bureaucratic and tedious process that no one wants to deal with. After completing these steps and submitting the required documents I received an email from them saying that in order to acquire my medication I would need a Spanish citizen to go to the airport for me, pay the customs tax for me, and sign off on it for me. The worst part was they told me I would need to submit a photocopy of this Spanish citizens ID with their signature on it within 72 hours of the email. After frantically going to the international office at my school, speaking with the US embassy in Madrid, and making a variety of other calls, they all agreed with me that this was a bizarre request and alas I was not able to make the deadline, losing the battle and my medication to customs.

The two biggest takeaways one should take after reading this post: 1. If you’re in Spain, try to go to as many soccer games as you can. 2. Make sure before you come to Spain that you have enough medication to last you for the duration of your stay.

PS: The beaches in Valencia and Barcelona are beautiful, but be careful with your phone if you go to Barcelona! (I got my phone stolen on my second night there, another hassle not worth getting into).

Next stop: Halloween weekend in Amsterdam!

Checking In

Buonanotte tutti! Or, I suppose it’s still the afternoon for my friends and family back home. The past two weeks have been filled with so much exploration and adventure and I am not complaining.

Last weekend I went on one of the most amazing trips of my life to Amsterdam. This city is so perfectly picturesque and even though all 165 canals look generally the same, I snapped a picture of every single one we passed. Despite the chilly weather, I immediately fell in love with Amsterdam. Every bridge and side street is filled with tons of bikes, as they are one of the most popular forms of transportation there. The people there were also extremely friendly and were always looking to lend a helping hand to a seemingly lost group of American girls. Though we were only there for a few days, we were able to see so many things. We visited the Van Gogh Museum and the infamous “I (Am)sterdam” sign because we obviously had to take the cheesy pictures in front of it. Afterwards, we took a tour of the Anne Frank house which left us feeling a bit emotional and uneasy, but it was an unbelievable place to see. We traveled about the city via tram and absorbed all of the beauty before us and tried to explore as much as we could in just a single weekend.

Today I returned from an equally as beautiful city, Firenze. Florence has been at the top of my list of places to travel to for a very long time and it did not disappoint me in any way. Unfortunately, the first night we arrived it rained. Hard. The entire night. After getting settled in our apartment and purchasing some umbrellas, we decided to make the best of it and braved the storm. We ended up at a great little bar/restaurant for most of the night recommended by my friend Erica who studied abroad in Florence last semester. It was a perfect place to spend a rainy night. The next day we signed up for an all day tour of Siena, Tuscany, San Gimignano, and Pisa! This was honestly a wonderful tour and I would highly recommend it to anyone who happens to be in the area(Best of Tuscany Walkabout Tour). We took a coach bus to all of these places and were given time to explore each area after the tour. The tour also included a delicious lunch and wine tasting at the Chianti Wine Vineyards(pictured) which is an organic farm that makes wine, olive oil, and other Tuscan treasures. Before leaving for Milan this morning, I stopped at the Central Market and purchased a few of Florence’s finest genuine leather goods, which was a perfect end to my trip.

Until next time….arrivederci!

#tbt: Amsterdam

I can’t believe it’s been a month since I visited Amsterdam. It was my last trip until I headed home to New York. I’ve always wanted to visit Amsterdam. I remember my aunt going all the time and bringing me back souvenirs. It was great to finally have the opportunity to see it for myself.

In order to explore Amsterdam we used transportation and walking. However, we soon realize that walking was the best way to get around. I realize the bus pass we got for the four days we were there was not worth it. Lesson learned!

Tip #1: Research! If you don’t need transportation, don’t be pressure to buy a weekly pass or etc. 

Also it’s very important to pay attention. Not only are you look both ways for cars, but bikes make up most of the transportation around Amsterdam. I had to constantly look back and forth just in case.


The highlight of my trip was visiting the Anne Frank House. I’ve heard about this place for such a long time. I grew up learning about Anne Frank and the holocaust that I had to check it out. The whole time I couldn’t believe I was there and learning about new things I didn’t know. I left that place feeling inspired and grateful for the life that I live.

I also learned that you have to be patience because you have to wait about two hours to get inside. That didn’t stop me from wanting to see the museum. I’ve waited for concerts longer than that!

Tip #2: Be patience and arrive to places early. 


Another highlight was visiting the Van Gogh Museum. Gogh was another person I grew up learning about. It was great to be surrounded by his art and other artists that were inspired by him or that he was inspired by. It was great to see his famous work and learning more about his life.


It was also the beautiful scenery that Amsterdam has to offer. There was beautiful canals, flowers, and weather all around me. It was a great time to go to Amsterdam. Although I didn’t get to go on a canal, I was able to experience riding a bike around Amsterdam. It was very nerve wracking at first, but then I got the hang of it. I would definitely ride a bike again in Amsterdam if I have the chance.


I got visit the famous I Amsterdam. I watched people climb the letters with so much ease and I wish I had the strength. Maybe next time!

I miss all the travel places I got to visit. I can’t wait to experience it again one day.

Meine erste Woche! (And a trip to Amsterdam)

It’s really difficult to keep up with blogging about a month ago when new things happen every day. Sorry about that!

If you’re reading this because you’re interested in studying abroad, that’s awesome! You should do it! One thing I will say though is this: they tell you that you’re going to get homesick, and that it’s inevitable. If you’re anything like me you won’t believe them because you’ve been on trips without family before or you’re independent, or any other reasons. No matter how much you tell yourself that, there’s going to be culture shock (especially if you’re somewhere with a different language), you’re going to get freaked out by things that are so totally different (like being so stressed out in a supermarket because you don’t know what any of the food is called and you just want a jar of peanut butter), but after the first couple of days the culture shock will (sort-of) subside and turn into wonder. You’re going to get homesick, and it’s gonna suck a little bit, but you’ll get over it, so don’t stress too much over it.

IMG_3946Completely unrelated to this entire post IMG_3969but my family has the most adorable bunnies here. Freddie and Filou are super fluffy and they make me smile every day (even when they try to steal my breakfast while I’m eating). Tell me those aren’t just the cutest little faces you’ve ever seen.

IMG_4007 IMG_4054

The way the Kapito Sprachschule system is run is really strange to me. The classes don’t just start with new students, they keep going and then new students join the pre-existing courses.

So my first day, I had a placement exam, and then got placed at the B1 level (the level I wanted to be at), which was great, but then the second day was super stressful. I went into class expecting to be starting from the beginning of the course, but on my first day, we had a test on chapters (I think) 4 and 5 (I’m not sure because I wasn’t there for the chapters). I ended up with a 49 on the test when I got it back the week after because I hadn’t been there for any of the learning, so I didn’t know most of the answers. After the test, I was thrown right into chapter 8, which was definitely ahead of where I should’ve been, but I stuck with it and it worked out pretty okay (though I still think the class is a little too hard for me). I don’t quite understand the system of why they just add people to classes that are already almost done with the course, but oh well.

There are programs almost every day in the afternoon or evening, which is really nice. Within the first week, there was a casual get-together at a local bar, a Münster city tour, a trip to Amsterdam, and the Hafenfest.

The city tour was really cool, it was done in English because the only people that chose to go were me and a group of students from a beginner class, but I got to learn a lot about the history of the city. We learned about how the Promenade came to be (the Promenade is a tree-lined walking and bike path that surrounds the Altstadt (old city)/city center), because it was where the old city wall was. When the city no longer needed a wall to defend it, and needed more space to expand, the wall was taken down and the architect in charge decided that rather than just becoming a part of the city, it should remain as a green space where the old wall was. The Promenade is my walk to school every morning, which is super great because it’s lovely (it was awful for allergies until my body got used to it though). One of the other things on the city tour was learning about the history of the buildings, which I love. There’s a long history of religious fighting in the city, which is actually why there are three cages hanging from the top of St. Lamberti Kirche. In the middle ages, the city was taken over, and then when it was reclaimed, the Bishop hung the bodies of the three most important figures in the other regime from the top of the tallest building in the city as a warning against others who may want to attack. There’s a really interesting (and violent) history to the city, so it was cool to learn about it. The city also served as a regional Nazi headquarters during WWII, so a lot of the buildings were destroyed during the second World War. All along the Prinzipalmarkt (the main street in the Altstadt), you can see where buildings have been re-built. Most of the buildings have two dates: one that shows when the building was originally built, and the second is when it was rebuilt after the war.

The first weekend I was in Münster was Hafenfest, an annual festival held at the Hafen (the Harbor). It wasn’t as exciting as people had made it out to be, but I got to hang out with some new friends and get to see the local culture a little bit more. There were lots of shop-stands, as well as games, activities, and live performances. It was pretty fun, and it was great to see how beautiful the harbor in Münster is (even if it did get me very sun-burnt).

Other than just doing things with the school, I did a lot of exploring, especially in my first week. I spent a couple hours walking around the entire Aasee (the lake that’s connected the the river Aa), because it’s pretty close to my house. It was absolutely beautiful (everything here is), but walking roughly 3.5 miles in 90+ degree heat (in Fahrenheit, I still don’t fully understand Centigrade, even though it’s used everywhere but the US) probably wasn’t my smartest decision. I ended up stopping at a restaurant on the opposite side of the lake, and it was lovely.

It wasn’t all fun and rainbows the first week though. Finding out that your computer charger doesn’t fit into your adapter will stress anyone out. On the bright side, I was able to find a store that sells Apple products, so I bought just the plug part of my computer charger that works in a German outlet. After buying a new adapter, I was able to wander around the city and go exploring. The sun sets extremely late here, it’s usually still light until 10:30 or so, and so being out in the evenings is nice because you can stay out until 9 or 10 without having to worry about it getting dark. I wandered around the city quite a bit my first week, because I wanted to see what was around, and I knew how to get home from der Dom, one of the most prominent landmarks in the city. That made it easy to explore, because if I did get lost (I never did), then I’d be able to easily find my way home by asking how to get to der Dom. I learned that it’s a really lovely city, with a lot of really interesting shops, though they have weird hours, so I didn’t get to go into all of the shops that I would have liked to.


~~~~~~~~~~Trip to Amsterdam!~~~~~~~~~~

The Thursday of my first week was a Catholic Holiday (Corpus Christi in English), and since Münster is a really Catholic city, it’s a public holiday so everything is closed. Most stores are closed, and more importantly, there was no school. Because it was a public holiday, Kapito organized a trip to Amsterdam for the day, which I was lucky enough to be able to go on.

Amsterdam was a beautiful city: at the time we worded it as “Like New York City but older and with canals.” In Amsterdam we went on a short city-tour, where we GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAgot the chance to walk around and see the city. We saw the Red Light District, which is famous for prostitutes and marijuana. It was really interesting to see it. In the Red Light District, many of the buildings have windows with closed curtains, and then at night, in the windows there will be a prostitute sitting in a chair, waiting for potential customers (it’s illegal to photograph them though, so on the right is a photo of some of the windows during the daytime). There are coffee-shops on every street corner, and most of the souvenirs in the region are either related to marijuana or shaped like genitals. Any other souvenirs are either windmills or Dutch wooden shoes.

For me, the most interesting part was the Anne Frank House Museum. I have no photos from it, because you can’t take photos inside, but it was a really interesting museum. It was a little bit surreal to see the house in which the famous little girl lived. It made it a lot more real to me, seeing the photos of the famous people idolized pasted on her wall. It humanized her, and I think that that’s a really cool thing. It was an interesting museum, filled with fascinating history (and a lot of stairs), and if you’re ever in Amsterdam I’d highly recommend it.

All in all, Amsterdam was a beautiful city, but probably not somewhere I would visit again. Other than the fascination of seeing a culture is so wildly different from what we’re used to in America (or even in Germany), it was just another city. I’m not really one for weed and hookers, so it’s not on my list of places that I necessarily need to revisit (though I’m always up for more travel).


I AMsterdam

I AMsterdam

Hello all!

I have returned from my most recent adventure, Amsterdam, or as I have been referring to it as: TAMsterdam.  Amsterdam was very pretty, I must say that.  There was a ton of water, there are canals everywhere.  Our tour guide assured us that it was the Venice away from Venice.  There were also a ton of bikes.  Our tour guide told us that there are more bikes than people in Amsterdam.  Although this fact sounds crazy, I must believe it to be true.  There were bikes everywhere!  You had to make sure not to get struck by one, while crossing the busy streets.  Amsterdam is relatively small as well.  You can take busses, or trams around, but walking is just as simple.  Plus with walking, you really can take in all of the sights!


11208675_10153329129773921_6733189024393518330_nWe arrived late Thursday night, and just hung out.  But we awoke extra early Friday morning in order to visit Anne Frank House.  I tried to book tickets in advanced online, however the first available tickets were for July 4th!!  Needless to say that would’t work.  I will be back in the US then!  Luckily for me, my friends are troopers.  So Friday morning Heidi, MK, and I headed off to the long line that would await us.  We rose early enough though, so the line really wasn’t too bad!  I was very pleased that we got to the museum, and still had plenty of the day left to explore Amsterdam.

Patatje Oorlog with Heidi & MK

Patatje Oorlog with Heidi & MK

Ok I know I always go on and on about food in my blogs.  But hey can you blame me?  Food is a big part of travel!  Amsterdam was no exception.  I found it similar to London, in the sense that it had such a mixed bag culinarily, something I did not expect.  First off we had to have the fries.  Why oh why must sauce cost extra?  Of course I am going to buy sauce, because what are fries without it?  So why must I be charged extra for this necessity?  I must say I prefer Belgian fries from Brussels to Amsterdam fries (mostly because the ones I had in Amsterdam were frozen), but the sauce is better in Amsterdam.  It may sound weird but the Patatje Oorlog is a must try!  This concoction consists of peanut sauce, mayonnaise, and onions.  It is super unique and super yummy!

Red Velvet cake twinning with MK

Red Velvet cake twinning with MK

Beyond fries, one must have Stroopwafel, cheese, Indonesian food, and Poffertjes.  Stroopwafel is incredible, not only do we need it in the United States, I am also kicking myself for not bringing some back to Milan.  We bought a package of these thin wafer like waffles, sandwiched with caramel in the middle.  The bag was surprisingly heavy!  They are sweet, but not too sweet, and just an overall satisfying snack.  Indonesian food is very popular in Amsterdam.  Although I spent more on it then I would have preferred, it truly was one of the best meals I have had abroad.  We all shared a bunch of small dishes, with a big bowl of rice.  This is one of my favorite ways to eat, so you can try everything.  As for the Poffertjes, they are tiny dutch pancakes.  We dipped them in butter and mugs of hot chocolate.  There were other culinary gems, including my fave RED VELVET CAKE.  But that is not as exotic.

Van Gogh Museum

Van Gogh Museum

We ventured to the I amsterdam sign to take some touristy pictures, and then we were off to the Van Gogh museum.  These tickets we had booked online in advanced, so we got them for less money, which is always a good thing!  The museum was actually really big.  I was quite tired, so I felt I could not take it in, to the best of my ability.  But I powered through as best I could.  Not being a huge art, or museum fan, I liked how interactive the museum was.

Skinny Bridge with MK & Heidi

Skinny Bridge with MK & Heidi

The next day we decided to sleep in, and walk around.  We went to the Skinny bride, because I had heard a lot about it.  Amsterdam was one of the places where I really just compiled tips from everywhere.  We got some food tips from Buzzfeed, some tips from Kara (who visited during spring break), as well as some tips from a guy named Alex we met at a club in Milan a few weeks prior.  Fun fact, Alex too is a SUNY student, a Binghamton Bearcat studying abroad in Amsterdam.  The world is a tiny place!

The big flaw I must point out has to be the amount I spent on bathrooms.  I should not have to pay to pee.  But Amsterdam was after my pockets, more so than any other destination.  So make sure to carry extra change with you!

We embarked on a lengthy but entertaining walking tour.  Our night ended shortly after dinner.  And we woke up the next day to head back to Milan.  Lucky for me, our bus was running behind schedule so I could get my touristy I amsterdam photo, alone.  This was the greatest pro of flying so early in the morning.  Although after how early we flew from Dublin to Milan, any flight after 8pm seems like a piece of cake, mmmmm like that red velvet cake I had in Amsterdam 😉  Till next time readers!