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.

Terrorism Abroad

In light of the attacks in Brussels yesterday, I feel that blogging about terrorism abroad might be prevalent.

I’m happy to report that I as well as all my friends are fine. Nothing is happening in Besançon, it’s been just like every other day, which I am more than thankful for. But as I was saying to my housemate earlier, even these small, less know, less popular cities like Besançon are on high (maybe high-ish) alert all the time. Everyday when I’m walking down the street there are the “vigipirates,” the soldiers/police who drive down very slowly, très lentement, in their white vans, looking closely at average people like me walking down the street to make sure nothing suspicious is happening.

A few months ago before I even arrived here, I had received an immediate notification about the attacks in Paris. It was Nov. 13. I was in my office with my boyfriend Jack, getting ready to prepare the night’s newscast. I remember both of us got the notification simultaneously. My heart sank a little when I read my update from The New York Times. Jack got the same one but from The Associated Press and he asked me, “Are you sure you still wanna go to France?”

I took the question as a half-joke because 1) of course I was still going to go to France, and 2) I didn’t want to psyche myself out. But of course, I did anyway.

Because when you hear about the kinds of things that happened in Paris in November and what just happened in Brussels yesterday, you get nervous, you get scared, you start to think too much. You hope to God that something like that will never happen to you but you never really know, because it can happen anywhere. It can happen in Europe, it can happen in the Middle East, it can happen at home in the United States, especially somewhere like New York.

But even though this is the current state of the crazy world we live in and things can happen anywhere at any time… they usually don’t. More often than not, it’s a case of wrong place at the wrong time. And to me, these circumstances make these violent attacks all the more sick and tragic. Are these terrorists bombing innocent people just to prove a point? To show that they are capable of such threatening and violent acts?

An article from CNN reported that ISIS tweeted a statement saying “What will be coming is worse” after yesterday’s attacks in Belgium. Now, we are not at that point yet, so I’m not going to continue to dwell on it. And this goes without saying – BUT – life would just be so much easier if these kinds of things didn’t happen in the world and if there weren’t people who felt the need to act in such extreme, horrific ways.

Obviously as study abroad students we are inclined to be traveling a lot – it’s just a part of the experience being here. We want to do as much as we can while we’re here, because we won’t be staying for long, and who knows when we’ll have the chance to come back. So this obviously makes parents, friends, family members, professors and the like nervous, as it should. But traveling abroad is a lot simpler and a lot safer than some people make it out to be. And it is especially safer after events like these happen. That’s also why we have the vigipirates in Besançon.

Everyone is on high alert, everyone is looking out, everyone is well aware. My thoughts, prayers and love go out to those who may have lost someone yesterday in Brussels and I hope I never live to experience whatever they may be feeling. And as I’ve said, this is just the state of the world today. It certainly isn’t ideal, but the important thing is just to remain cautious, aware and vigilant. It’s also probably in everyone’s best interests to stay away from dangerous situations, ie. major cities, riots, large crowds, religious gatherings of any kind. I know that these attacks are scary and frightening above all else, but they just can’t and shouldn’t stop everyone from living their lives. If we start to live in fear, then the terrorists win, don’t they? And we can’t have that happen. It’s plain and simple.

Au Revoir, Brussels

Tonight is my last night in Brussels – I can’t believe it! This experience, as I’ve said so many times before, has been amazing. This past year was an extremely hard one for me, and I felt like things wouldn’t get better. After experiencing this new culture and exploring this beautiful country with the friends I’ve made here, I can proudly say that I feel the complete opposite way now. I’m so incredibly thankful I was given the opportunity to come here.

I just checked in for my flight and moved my seat so I could sit near some friends. I used the Delta App, which is extremely convenient! I’m hoping I can sleep on the plane; I didn’t on my last flight, which was not fun. It’s safe to say that I will sleep for two days straight once I get back to the States.

I’ll be heading out with the rest of the New Paltz crew for a final group dinner at around 7. It’s going to be bittersweet, I’m sure. My flight is pretty early tomorrow morning, so I sadly won’t be doing anything tonight other than sleeping, packing, and saying my final goodbyes.


I leave for the United States on the 16th. That’s two days from now! I absolutely cannot believe that this experience is coming to a close. While I’ve been here, I have had the chance to try new foods, explore new places, and meet new people. Another thing I’ve gotten the chance to do is visit some really interesting European institutions.

Since I am participating in the 3-credit Study Mission, I’ve attended briefings at the European Commission, the Belgian Parliament, the Flemish Parliament, and the Court of Justice in Luxembourg. After visiting all of these places, myself and the other students participating need to have a topic in mind that we would like to research and elaborate upon in an ~10 page research paper. I have finally decided on my topic for the assignment – Trademark laws in the European Union.

As I’ve said before, I am not a Poly Sci or IR student. I was a little worried about going to these sites and not having a clue as to what I would write my research paper about, but it ended up being the complete opposite. At every site we’ve visited so far, I have been able to come up with questions that would help me with my research. The Court of Justice in Luxembourg is where I became inspired to write about Trademark laws and its impact on the EU. This does pertain to business, but it also delves into the world of European Poly Sci, which I have grown fond of these past few days.

My favorite institution we visited had to be the Flemish Parliament. We had the opportunity to sit and chat with one of the members of the Parliament, as well as walking around the beautiful building. It was so modern, and futuristic! I can easily say that it was love at first sight.

I’ve attached some pictures from the Flemish Parliament and the Court of Justice! (I wasn’t able to get any at the other sites ☹). Go check them out!


American Feet on Belgian Streets

Bienvenue! Welcome to Belgium, the land of chocolate. If I had known how many chocolate shops we would have seen today, I would have started counting at the beginning of todays journey! And it’s only our second day in Brussels. Yesterday, we arrived in Belgium in the afternoon, we met our host mom, Judith (also known as Maman), and her daughter Angélique. Both are wonderful! Ema and I live together in Judith’s house with two other girls: Erica (of Washington) and Domenica (of Ecudor). This morning, we scouted out the grocery stores of our area: fresh fruit, muesli, and chocolate spreads galore! Later, after lunch, Becca (our third European adventurer whom is living with another host mom) found her way to our house and we “headed into town.” We set out around 2pm with the goals of finding our school campus (check), finding our internship locations (no check), and finding the city center — or what is actually known as Grand Place or Market Square (check). By the end of the day, we had found our specific campus building, learned how to use public transportation, and saw the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula and Market Square — so much beautiful architecture!


The above orange trees caught our eyes.


Tigger, the bicycle.


St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral, much larger than its luxurious front entrance.

market square

Not sure about this building yet, but it’s green! We will be given tours later this week.

market square 3

Another beautiful building, not sure again, but we will soon find out!

That’s all for now, there will be more to come from these already sore feet!


PS. Below are some photos of beautiful Ireland flying above:

FullSizeRender (18) IMG_2683


It’s my 6th day here in Belgium and I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone by. After going through with the SUNY Model EU simulation, which was awesome by the way, we all went on an excursion to Bruges.

A few people I know have been to this city before and have told me that it looks like it would be the setting for a fairy-tale; I didn’t believe them until I saw it for myself. There wasn’t a set agenda for the day, so everyone who went on the trip was free to do whatever they wanted. Myself and the New Paltz students stuck together, exploring the city and taking advantage of this amazing opportunity.

We went to a beautiful cathedral, climbed a bell tower, and rode bikes throughout the streets of Bruges. My favorite part of the trip had to be when we rode the bikes. I can honestly say that I am the world’s worst bike rider, since I almost killed myself and another student (I’m a bit clumsy) – but hey, we made it out alive.

Until next time!


The Journey Continues

Hey everybody! Bonsoir from Brussels, the place I’ve been calling home for the past few days. During this short period of time, I’ve traveled to some amazing places throughout this amazing city. Along with discovering some really cool places, I have also discovered some of the ins and outs of Belgium’s culture – I’ve picked up on some basic French, tried some of their renowned, delicious drinks, and I’ve seen waffles displayed in places that I never thought I would see them displayed.

The only language I am fluent in is English, and I have a basic understanding of Italian because I took it for years in both middle and high school. French is something I’ve never been exposed to and never learned about, until now. I’ve learned how to ask questions like ‘Where is the Metro?’ and I’ve learned how to simply say ‘thank you’ to someone. At first I was extremely confused, but once I started hearing other people use the language (along with using Google Translate) I was able to quickly catch on.

Another aspect of Belgium that interests me is the type of beers they have. After our first day of the Model EU Simulation, all of the participating students went to a Student Mixer that was held at a bar. We were given two free drink slips by the women from Vesalius College who coordinated the entire event, so we all tried some of the drinks that they had. It was so crazy to me that their popular flavors were far different from the ones from the United States. They had Pecheresse, which is peach flavored, and Chocolate!

My favorite thing that I’ve seen on this trip so far has to be the waffle vending machine. I kid you not, there is a vending machine that actually sells waffles! It only costs .90 euro, too!  The machine was at Vesalius College, where the simulation is taking place, and I can honestly say that it was the most beautiful part about the school. It’s great location in the city of Brussels definitely is a close second…


♥ The Waffle Vending Machine ♥


Welkom in België

The moment has finally come – I’ve finally reached Brussels! It took about seven hours to get here from JFK to Brussels Airport, which I didn’t think was too bad. As we were preparing to land, my excitement grew more and more. The man next to me seemed to be extremely nervous, and I think I was scaring him even more by recording our landing. When I got off of the plane, I honestly did not know what to expect from Brussels. So far, the city has not disappointed.

As I was riding on the train to get to our hotel, the Ibis St. Catherine, it was really starting to hit me that I wasn’t in the States anymore; I was in an entirely different continent and country. It may sound ridiculous, but that’s what was swimming through my head after a long and sleepless flight.

Due to the terror threats here in Europe back in November, our group had to relocate from a hostel to the St. Catherine hotel. The rooms aren’t very big, but they are not horrible. Once I checked into my room, I decided to break the rules and take a nap. In all honesty, I felt refreshed after getting some rest! I’m going to cross my fingers and hope that jetlag won’t hit me.

Once I was settled in, myself and other students from New Paltz participating in the program explored the area. We ate dinner at Amadeus, a restaurant that is popular for ribs (thankfully they had vegetarian options), and walked around Brussels for a little bit. Christmas lights still cover some of the cobbled roads and it was absolutely stunning to see.

The highlight of my night had to be when we found a waffle place. I personally am not a breakfast food fan and never eat waffles at home. But because literally everyone talks about how amazing the waffles are here in Belgium, I decided to give it a go. Needless to say, if I memorize exactly how to get to this place from my hotel, I will be there at least four times a day until I leave.

Countdown to Brussels


So I’ve never blogged before but I thought this was a great opportunity as I am only doing a short intersession study abroad. So let me introduce myself my name is Danielle I’m a Junior at Suny New Paltz, working on my Accounting BS. I am what is termed a non-traditional adult returning learner. This basically means I’m older than 24 and have previously been to school left but now I’m back again. Which also means I work a full time job so a full semester study abroad would have been a life changing ie. quit my job decision. This is why the offered two weeks three credits through Suny New Paltz is so nice I can just take vacation time from work and be able to have a mini study abroad experience.

Being a Business major you may ask why are you on a Poli Sci Study Abroad trip? Well I have a Poli Sci minor which this three credit study mission will take care of some of those required upper division credits, I love to travel and I find Politics and all the different version of government out there fascinating.

So my study abroad trip is for two weeks the first week being the Model European Union Simulation portion. We’ve been assigned alter egos, I am the Finance Minister for Belgium. We’ve been set agenda items to discuss and debate and hopefully come to some resolution that can be approved by all 28 member states.

I’m pretty much all packed and ready to go. That was an adventure in and of itself. Only going to be gone for two weeks but do to some issues abroad they moved our hostel to a hotel. Which is a nice upgrade in a lot of ways but one of the things I was counting on was being able to do laundry which I don’t know what the availability will be at the hotel and if it’s a costly service etc. Therefore I went from a small suitcase to a medium/large suitcase. Hopefully I’m under the 50lb limit and won’t have to reorganize at the airport.

Well that’s all for now early to rise tomorrow and I will be taking a flight at 6:15 out of JFK.

Pre-Departure to Belgium!

I honestly cannot believe that I will be on a plane to Brussels, Belgium at this time tomorrow! In High School, I went on a school trip to Italy and was absolutely amazed. Since then, I knew that I wanted to go abroad again. Who knew that three years later I would be embarking on another journey to Europe?!

I am an undergraduate student at SUNY New Paltz, studying both Finance and General Business Studies. This past summer I worked two jobs and saved the money I made so I could experience life abroad again. Even though it’s only for two weeks, I’m still as excited as ever!

When I started looking for Winter Intercession programs, I had no idea where to start. It is thanks to my many trips to the Study Abroad Office that I was able to discover this awesome program. The program I will be participating in is the SUNY Model European Union Simulation and the 3-credit Study Mission.

The Study Mission is political science related, which will be interesting to me since I’ve never really pursued any courses in that realm. I’ve always been interested international politics; however, since I am not a Poly Sci or IR student, I wasn’t sure if this program would be the one for me. After speaking to an advisor and getting more insight on the program from Professor Dowley, I knew that this was exactly what I wanted to do. I cannot wait to see what this trip has in store for all of us.

Au revoir, America! #npabroad