Dec 09

Anonymous asked: What school and program did you go through? CEA/ Anglo american, or CIEE/ Charles uni?

I actually went through USAC (University Study Abroad Consortium) through the University of Nevada Reno and Charles University


So it’s kind of finally dawned on me that I’m leaving in less than 12 hours, and I’m not sad…not really. I’m ready to go home, to see my friends and family and to bask in the glorious humid paradise that is Louisville in the summertime. But it’s starting to sink in that I will miss Prague. I’ll miss running to catch the number 17 in the morning on my way to school. I’ll miss cold arid air, the people who don’t even look twice when it snows, the beautiful buildings, the castles the churches, my landlord who speaks absolutely no english, even the rude shop lady at the potraviny down the street. I’ll miss the entire concept of a potraviny!  

But most of all I’ll miss all the amazing people that I’ve met here, and that’s what’s hardest about saying goodbye. I tell myself I’ll see them all again, Rachel lives just a few hours away by car, and Michelle, Liz, and Jen all live in Chicago where I am at least once a year. Val lives is from Phoenixville, the one suburb of Philly that I’ve actually visited before, and Sarah and Bridgette live in NorCal, sure it’s the other side of the country, but it’s not the other side of the world. But there is no way of knowing if I’ll care for these people for the rest of my life or if we’ll just get these four perfect months on the other side of the world. Either way I wouldn’t change it. 


May 12

Edinburgh, London, & Cardiff! 

Last Europe Vlog…. : (


And now a much belated post about my romp around the UK. 
 On Friday April 22nd, I arrived in Edinburgh. It was not cold, but not quite warm. I set my stuff down in my hostel on the Grassmarket and headed straight for a pub, The Bow Bar, I’d been recommended by a guy I met in Prague. I hadn’t had a good ale in months. There I met some nice scots there and they bought me a beer and told me I found the best bar in town. 
 In the morning I took a free walking tour of the old town of Edinburgh. My tour guide, Kate, was awesome. She had some amazingly terrible jokes, and she told a great story. I took her Ghost Tour that night. Edinburgh considers itself one of the most haunted places in the world, and its got so many stories to back it up. We stood in an old mausoleum, and she told us stories of ghosts, and monsters, and people buried alive. 
 Though it rained most of that day it cleared up just in time for me to sit inside and watch the premiere of series six of Doctor Who. The next day it was flawless outside, sunny and just the right amount of warm. I walked the enirety of the Royal Mile twice. I visited the Castle, and had a guided tour from a man in a kilt. I walked back down to the other end and climbed to the top of Arthur’s Seat, which was definitely a feat. I also did a hokey tour of the old underground closes.
 The cheapest way to get from Edinburgh to london is on the Knight Bus, okay not the Knight Bus,  but the bus that runs at night. I left Edinburgh at 10:30 and arrived at Victoria bus station at 6:30 in the morning. Unable to check into my hostel and get any more sleep, I put my stuff in luggage storage and headed for Hyde Park Corner where i took a walking tour of Royal london. 
 My guide, an irishman named Thomas, was one of the funnier ones of the trip. I saw the main sites around Westminister before it got too crowded: Buckingham Palace, Downing Street, Trafalger Square, Westminister Abbey, and the Houses of Parlaiment. I walked around old London that afternoon and along the Thames. The next morning I headed to Olympia to got to the Doctor Who experience, which for any fan is a must. The actual ‘experience’ part was a bit hokey, but fun. The best part is the exhibition afterwards with many of the props and costumes from the series. 
 I did a Jack the Ripper tour that evening, the whole thing was fascinating. The idea that there are cold cases from that long ago, and that there is still no lead suspect. Just as I arrived back to my hostel in Kensington, Jennifer was arriving to St. Pancras. After catching up, and checking back into the hostel we realized that there wasn’t enough time for us to go out to eat, so we ended up getting some food at Tesco and chilling in the hostel. 
 We spent the next few days hopping on and off the tube seeing museums, and shops and parks. The highlight of thursday was most definitely the our traditional high tea at Tea and Tattle, a tea shop around the corner from the British Museum where we had the most amazing scones in the world. Seriously, if I could just eat one thing for the rest of my life, it would be those scones. That’s how good they were.
 We ended our time in London by catching a little bit of wedding fever. Thursday night we went down to Westminister and walked along the parade route, where all the hardcore Royal Wedding fans had set up their tents. Everyone was in such a great mood and the crowds were pleasant to be frolicking among, we decided that we would indulge the next day and go to Hyde Park to watch the wedding on the big screens they had set up there. Us and 150,000 other people. 
 Jen and I parted ways as we headed to separate train stations. I left Paddington station headed towards Cardiff. Cardiff was awesome. Not too much to do tourist wise, but it was beautiful there, and apparently its always beautiful there, it hardly rains. The castle in Cardiff was my favorite of the castles that I’ve seen, it also helped that it was 75, sunny, and not terribly crowded when I showed up. 
 In addition to seeing the castle, I also went on a Doctor Who locations tour. Soon the BBC is moving nearly all of their production to the Cardiff, but alot was already filmed there and alot of the most iconic sets are just places around Cardiff. 
I left Cardiff and took two buses to Oxford, where Allie played host to me for a day (I had my fourth Bacon Sandwich of the trip, bacon bread there’s nothing I don’t like about this meal). After my visit with Allie, I had to head back to Prague, but I absolutely loved all of the places I saw in the UK. I definitely want to go back. 
Look out for a video soon!

And now a much belated post about my romp around the UK. 

On Friday April 22nd, I arrived in Edinburgh. It was not cold, but not quite warm. I set my stuff down in my hostel on the Grassmarket and headed straight for a pub, The Bow Bar, I’d been recommended by a guy I met in Prague. I hadn’t had a good ale in months. There I met some nice scots there and they bought me a beer and told me I found the best bar in town. 

In the morning I took a free walking tour of the old town of Edinburgh. My tour guide, Kate, was awesome. She had some amazingly terrible jokes, and she told a great story. I took her Ghost Tour that night. Edinburgh considers itself one of the most haunted places in the world, and its got so many stories to back it up. We stood in an old mausoleum, and she told us stories of ghosts, and monsters, and people buried alive. 

Though it rained most of that day it cleared up just in time for me to sit inside and watch the premiere of series six of Doctor Who. The next day it was flawless outside, sunny and just the right amount of warm. I walked the enirety of the Royal Mile twice. I visited the Castle, and had a guided tour from a man in a kilt. I walked back down to the other end and climbed to the top of Arthur’s Seat, which was definitely a feat. I also did a hokey tour of the old underground closes.

The cheapest way to get from Edinburgh to london is on the Knight Bus, okay not the Knight Bus,  but the bus that runs at night. I left Edinburgh at 10:30 and arrived at Victoria bus station at 6:30 in the morning. Unable to check into my hostel and get any more sleep, I put my stuff in luggage storage and headed for Hyde Park Corner where i took a walking tour of Royal london. 

My guide, an irishman named Thomas, was one of the funnier ones of the trip. I saw the main sites around Westminister before it got too crowded: Buckingham Palace, Downing Street, Trafalger Square, Westminister Abbey, and the Houses of Parlaiment. I walked around old London that afternoon and along the Thames. The next morning I headed to Olympia to got to the Doctor Who experience, which for any fan is a must. The actual ‘experience’ part was a bit hokey, but fun. The best part is the exhibition afterwards with many of the props and costumes from the series. 

I did a Jack the Ripper tour that evening, the whole thing was fascinating. The idea that there are cold cases from that long ago, and that there is still no lead suspect. Just as I arrived back to my hostel in Kensington, Jennifer was arriving to St. Pancras. After catching up, and checking back into the hostel we realized that there wasn’t enough time for us to go out to eat, so we ended up getting some food at Tesco and chilling in the hostel. 

We spent the next few days hopping on and off the tube seeing museums, and shops and parks. The highlight of thursday was most definitely the our traditional high tea at Tea and Tattle, a tea shop around the corner from the British Museum where we had the most amazing scones in the world. Seriously, if I could just eat one thing for the rest of my life, it would be those scones. That’s how good they were.

We ended our time in London by catching a little bit of wedding fever. Thursday night we went down to Westminister and walked along the parade route, where all the hardcore Royal Wedding fans had set up their tents. Everyone was in such a great mood and the crowds were pleasant to be frolicking among, we decided that we would indulge the next day and go to Hyde Park to watch the wedding on the big screens they had set up there. Us and 150,000 other people. 

Jen and I parted ways as we headed to separate train stations. I left Paddington station headed towards Cardiff. Cardiff was awesome. Not too much to do tourist wise, but it was beautiful there, and apparently its always beautiful there, it hardly rains. The castle in Cardiff was my favorite of the castles that I’ve seen, it also helped that it was 75, sunny, and not terribly crowded when I showed up. 

In addition to seeing the castle, I also went on a Doctor Who locations tour. Soon the BBC is moving nearly all of their production to the Cardiff, but alot was already filmed there and alot of the most iconic sets are just places around Cardiff. 

I left Cardiff and took two buses to Oxford, where Allie played host to me for a day (I had my fourth Bacon Sandwich of the trip, bacon bread there’s nothing I don’t like about this meal). After my visit with Allie, I had to head back to Prague, but I absolutely loved all of the places I saw in the UK. I definitely want to go back. 

Look out for a video soon!


Apr 23
It rains 294 days out of the year in Edinburgh. Today was a normal day in Scotland. 

It rains 294 days out of the year in Edinburgh. Today was a normal day in Scotland. 


Apr 08

Italy Video! Finally!


1
Apr 06
My suppositions about Hungary were completely blown apart when my study abroad program took us on a five day field study through Central Europe. The tour included the small Czech town of Česky Krumlov, Vienna in Austria, Bratislava in Slovakia, and my personal favortie Budapest in Hungary.
Maybe it was the fact that we were there for what has been the two most beutiful days of our program thus far, or the fact that one of our program director’s was from Budapest so we got the sentimental tour, but what ever it was I had the best time. Our first day there, we spent the morning at the baths, fun in the sun and water, it was a great time. That after noon, we headed to the central market. A huge warehouse like building filled with stalls of fruit, vegetables, spices, wine, pastries, souvenirs, and anything you could ever want. 
We also saw our fair share of monuments and castles while we were there. I just loved the feeling of the whole place, it seemed really friendly and welcoming, and I would definitely go back there for a longer time.
Vienna was beautiful too, alot like Prague in its history and architecture, but Prague lacks green space, its not abundant with parks, but Vienna was never short on a lawn to lie down on and bake in the hot sun, and technically I spent more waking time in Vienna in any where else due to my diabolical need to stay up and watch the Final Four Games live, the reception at our hostel must have thought I was crazy. 
Moral of the story, Central Europe is kind of Amazing in the spring, overlooked and amazing if you have the chance to visit any of the states in what used to be the Austro-Hungarian empire, do it. 

My suppositions about Hungary were completely blown apart when my study abroad program took us on a five day field study through Central Europe. The tour included the small Czech town of Česky Krumlov, Vienna in Austria, Bratislava in Slovakia, and my personal favortie Budapest in Hungary.

Maybe it was the fact that we were there for what has been the two most beutiful days of our program thus far, or the fact that one of our program director’s was from Budapest so we got the sentimental tour, but what ever it was I had the best time. Our first day there, we spent the morning at the baths, fun in the sun and water, it was a great time. That after noon, we headed to the central market. A huge warehouse like building filled with stalls of fruit, vegetables, spices, wine, pastries, souvenirs, and anything you could ever want. 

We also saw our fair share of monuments and castles while we were there. I just loved the feeling of the whole place, it seemed really friendly and welcoming, and I would definitely go back there for a longer time.

Vienna was beautiful too, alot like Prague in its history and architecture, but Prague lacks green space, its not abundant with parks, but Vienna was never short on a lawn to lie down on and bake in the hot sun, and technically I spent more waking time in Vienna in any where else due to my diabolical need to stay up and watch the Final Four Games live, the reception at our hostel must have thought I was crazy. 

Moral of the story, Central Europe is kind of Amazing in the spring, overlooked and amazing if you have the chance to visit any of the states in what used to be the Austro-Hungarian empire, do it. 


Mar 29
 Here’s what bothers me about Florence. They have so much great stuff, and they know it. Multiple museum pass? Sorry not happening. Student discount? Not if you’re American. I arrived I. Florence with a bout of food poisoning I received on the train in, but I took a day to recover and was eventually fine. However due to my sickness, I didn’t eat that much while I was in Florence, (I didn’t even get gelato!) and that’s what people warned me would be expensive.  
 But that’s not what you’ll spend the most money on. Entry fees to the city’s many sites are what got me. The Uffizi? 15€ with a reservation. The Duomo dome? 8€, just to climb the dome. Santa Croce, San Lorenzo, Santa Maria Novella, the Barghello and the Medici Chapel? All between 5€ and 7€ each!  
 The Academia is a steal compared to the Uffizi at just 6.50€, but when you go in you’ll think you’ve been massively overcharged, because it’s basically the David and a few minor madonnas and early renaissance works (here seeing Michelangelo’s David up close and personal is worth the price).  
 I think what got to me most was the fact that I was a student, studying art history no less, didn’t seem to mean a thing. Everyone said Paris was the most expensive city I’ll want to visit. But the thing about Paris is, though food, housing, and those types of things are pricey, seeing the sites is relatively affordable for students under 26. You get into the Louvre and the Musee D’Orsay for free, and most other sites at a drastically reduced price.  
 In Florence, I tried and tried for a student discount, but failed, multiple times. Apparently being a European student, somehow privileges you to more things than being American student does.  
 Maybe it’s just for the money. I’ve seen more American tourists  and students in the small city of Florence than in any other place I’ve visited, and I suppose they could make more money by not offering discounts to Americans. If only I were actually good at languages and could blend in…Despite its costliness, I had a great time on Florence and saw all the aforementioned sites. But my two best days were spent out side the city in the nearby city of Siena and on a thirteen mile bike ride through Chianti, with a wine tasting included.
 I’m off to Rome now with Steph and Erin. Two jam packed days and then back to Prague sweet Prague.

Here’s what bothers me about Florence. They have so much great stuff, and they know it. Multiple museum pass? Sorry not happening. Student discount? Not if you’re American. I arrived I. Florence with a bout of food poisoning I received on the train in, but I took a day to recover and was eventually fine. However due to my sickness, I didn’t eat that much while I was in Florence, (I didn’t even get gelato!) and that’s what people warned me would be expensive. 

But that’s not what you’ll spend the most money on. Entry fees to the city’s many sites are what got me. The Uffizi? 15€ with a reservation. The Duomo dome? 8€, just to climb the dome. Santa Croce, San Lorenzo, Santa Maria Novella, the Barghello and the Medici Chapel? All between 5€ and 7€ each!

The Academia is a steal compared to the Uffizi at just 6.50€, but when you go in you’ll think you’ve been massively overcharged, because it’s basically the David and a few minor madonnas and early renaissance works (here seeing Michelangelo’s David up close and personal is worth the price). 

I think what got to me most was the fact that I was a student, studying art history no less, didn’t seem to mean a thing. Everyone said Paris was the most expensive city I’ll want to visit. But the thing about Paris is, though food, housing, and those types of things are pricey, seeing the sites is relatively affordable for students under 26. You get into the Louvre and the Musee D’Orsay for free, and most other sites at a drastically reduced price. 

In Florence, I tried and tried for a student discount, but failed, multiple times. Apparently being a European student, somehow privileges you to more things than being American student does. 

Maybe it’s just for the money. I’ve seen more American tourists  and students in the small city of Florence than in any other place I’ve visited, and I suppose they could make more money by not offering discounts to Americans. If only I were actually good at languages and could blend in…
Despite its costliness, I had a great time on Florence and saw all the aforementioned sites. But my two best days were spent out side the city in the nearby city of Siena and on a thirteen mile bike ride through Chianti, with a wine tasting included.

I’m off to Rome now with Steph and Erin. Two jam packed days and then back to Prague sweet Prague.


Mar 29
 If you’re going to be in Italy, take an afternoon to see Siena, I almost decided to skip out due to my encounter with some tainted blood orange juice on the train from Venice to Florence (which resulted in me spending the subsequent 24 hours with my head in the toilet), but I decided to go, an it was so worth it.
 I arrived around at about ten to ten, and hiked the 2 or so kilometers into the city center. Siena’s central city, that is, the city proper is entirely pedestrian, with only special allowances for taxis and buses. I met my friend Jackson on the Piazza del Campo for lunch (well I had lunch, he had a tiny italian coffee). He told me some of his thoughts on the city. How it’s kind of, he used some Italian phrase, but it meant, “a golden cage.”
 The city is beautiful, but it’s also isolated and steeped in nearly 1000 years of tradition. The city is very affluent, basically having forced the poor out of the city walls, and effectively keeping them out of the traditionally competitive nature of living in one of Siena’s different neighborhoods, all represented by different animals and culminating in a horse race around Piazza Del Campo in July and again in August.
 Maybe the people here aren’t as friendly as in Naples, a city still controlled by the mob, it’s basically a slum, but the people are warm and friendly, here they’re a bit more austere, but the city’s rich history more than makes up for it if your just visiting for the afternoon.
 I would recommend taking the bus in, I took the train and getting from the station to the city is a bit tricky, but a bus takes you into the city center. Have a coffee on the Piazza del Campo, and then go in the civic museum in Siena city hall, the regular price is 8 euro, but the student price is 4.50, an actual discount. I thought it was worth it just to see Lorenzetti’s Allegory of Good Government in the City and in the Countryside, but if your not into early renaissance frescos I wouldn’t recommend it.
 Don’t make the mistake I made and pay eight euro to climb to the top of the town hall bell tower, instead head over to the duomo and buy the all access ticket for 10 euro, it gets you in the duomo, the museum, the crypt, and the baptistry, and another church on the other side of town. It’s worth it, I promise.
 The Siena Duomo, has probably been my favorite church this far, not only is it ornate on the outside it’s richly decorated inside as well. Normally I’m not into all done up decoration, I’m not a huge fan on baroque architecture, but with the Italian gothic, the decoration is just enough, it fits, it’s not gaudy. Along with the standard frescoes and paintings that line the Walls and ceiling of the duomo, there are also lovely inlaid marble designs on the floor.
 The duomo museum is well worth the price, along with originals of much of the Duomo’s sculpture and stained glass, it also houses a number of illuminated manuscripts, and Duccio’s Maesta. In the Duccio room you can view the front, back, and predella of the altarpiece.
 While you’re in the museum you can climb up to the roof for a panoramic view of the city, you won’t need to climb the Duomo’s Campanile or the town hall tower after this. Be sure to get your money’s worth and at least pop into the other sites on your ticket, the baptistry is quite pretty.
 If your still in Siena for the night, wander around and get lost (be sure you have a good map first), the city still holds the same basic shape as it did medieval times, it makes for a good stroll (or a hike, depending on where you are). I say definitely visit Siena for a day, tickets from Florence are reasonable and you’ll be happy you came.

If you’re going to be in Italy, take an afternoon to see Siena, I almost decided to skip out due to my encounter with some tainted blood orange juice on the train from Venice to Florence (which resulted in me spending the subsequent 24 hours with my head in the toilet), but I decided to go, an it was so worth it.

I arrived around at about ten to ten, and hiked the 2 or so kilometers into the city center. Siena’s central city, that is, the city proper is entirely pedestrian, with only special allowances for taxis and buses. I met my friend Jackson on the Piazza del Campo for lunch (well I had lunch, he had a tiny italian coffee). He told me some of his thoughts on the city. How it’s kind of, he used some Italian phrase, but it meant, “a golden cage.”

The city is beautiful, but it’s also isolated and steeped in nearly 1000 years of tradition. The city is very affluent, basically having forced the poor out of the city walls, and effectively keeping them out of the traditionally competitive nature of living in one of Siena’s different neighborhoods, all represented by different animals and culminating in a horse race around Piazza Del Campo in July and again in August.

Maybe the people here aren’t as friendly as in Naples, a city still controlled by the mob, it’s basically a slum, but the people are warm and friendly, here they’re a bit more austere, but the city’s rich history more than makes up for it if your just visiting for the afternoon.

I would recommend taking the bus in, I took the train and getting from the station to the city is a bit tricky, but a bus takes you into the city center. Have a coffee on the Piazza del Campo, and then go in the civic museum in Siena city hall, the regular price is 8 euro, but the student price is 4.50, an actual discount. I thought it was worth it just to see Lorenzetti’s Allegory of Good Government in the City and in the Countryside, but if your not into early renaissance frescos I wouldn’t recommend it.

Don’t make the mistake I made and pay eight euro to climb to the top of the town hall bell tower, instead head over to the duomo and buy the all access ticket for 10 euro, it gets you in the duomo, the museum, the crypt, and the baptistry, and another church on the other side of town. It’s worth it, I promise.

The Siena Duomo, has probably been my favorite church this far, not only is it ornate on the outside it’s richly decorated inside as well. Normally I’m not into all done up decoration, I’m not a huge fan on baroque architecture, but with the Italian gothic, the decoration is just enough, it fits, it’s not gaudy. Along with the standard frescoes and paintings that line the Walls and ceiling of the duomo, there are also lovely inlaid marble designs on the floor.

The duomo museum is well worth the price, along with originals of much of the Duomo’s sculpture and stained glass, it also houses a number of illuminated manuscripts, and Duccio’s Maesta. In the Duccio room you can view the front, back, and predella of the altarpiece.

While you’re in the museum you can climb up to the roof for a panoramic view of the city, you won’t need to climb the Duomo’s Campanile or the town hall tower after this. Be sure to get your money’s worth and at least pop into the other sites on your ticket, the baptistry is quite pretty.

If your still in Siena for the night, wander around and get lost (be sure you have a good map first), the city still holds the same basic shape as it did medieval times, it makes for a good stroll (or a hike, depending on where you are). I say definitely visit Siena for a day, tickets from Florence are reasonable and you’ll be happy you came.


Mar 29
 Ahh Venice, from it’s renaissance prosperity to it’s eighteenth century decline, to today, Venice continues to send out a beacon to tourists of all types. The more I walked around the more I realised; Venice is a city of masks. And that this monochre held true, literally and figuratively.  Around Carnival time you’ll see everyone walking around in masks; and they are probably the must have souvenir for tourists (I bought three), in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries people wore masks in public to protect their anonymity. They came to Venice to do what they couldn’t do in Europes other cities. But the city itself wears a mask, from it’s glittering facades, literally masking plain brick buildings to it’s mask of tourism covering up a city in decline since the eighteenth century. Sure the tourist trade is booming, but what does that mean for real Venetian culture? Is there such a thing? What does the future hold for Venice? Is it sinking as some have often thought, as I wandered down back alleys and winding streets, I thought it would be a shame. A city so beautiful doesn’t deserve such a fate.

Ahh Venice, from it’s renaissance prosperity to it’s eighteenth century decline, to today, Venice continues to send out a beacon to tourists of all types. The more I walked around the more I realised; Venice is a city of masks. And that this monochre held true, literally and figuratively. 
Around Carnival time you’ll see everyone walking around in masks; and they are probably the must have souvenir for tourists (I bought three), in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries people wore masks in public to protect their anonymity. They came to Venice to do what they couldn’t do in Europes other cities. But the city itself wears a mask, from it’s glittering facades, literally masking plain brick buildings to it’s mask of tourism covering up a city in decline since the eighteenth century. Sure the tourist trade is booming, but what does that mean for real Venetian culture? Is there such a thing?
What does the future hold for Venice? Is it sinking as some have often thought, as I wandered down back alleys and winding streets, I thought it would be a shame. A city so beautiful doesn’t deserve such a fate.