Peru | Must-See Museums in Lima


During my time abroad, I was very interested in learning more about the history and culture of Peru. I found that Lima has many incredible museums that gave me valuable insight into the past and present culture of Peru. Here’s a description of some of my favorite museums in Lima.

Church and Covent of San Francisco; Central Lima

The Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco, is located in central Lima near many other historical and religious sights. Incredible colonial architecture and religious art line the interior of this impressive monument. Under this church are also expansive catacombs which date back to the 1600’s and are open to the public. Guided tours in both Spanish and English are offered for a small price and are very informative.


Cathedral of Lima; Central Lima

The Catedral de Lima is another very impressive monument located in central Lima. Guided tours are offered in Spanish and English and also include a tour of the connected art museum that displays religious paintings and sculptures.

The Place of Memory, Tolerance and Social Inclusion; Miraflores

 This beautifully designed museum was made to address the recent internal violence and terrorism experienced in Peru during the 1980’s to 1990’s. Located in Miraflores this museum was created to tell the history of these events and to remember the victims impacted by this violent time. It is important to mention that the descriptions for this museum are all in Spanish with no English translation.

MATE Mario Testino Photography Museum; Barranco

Mario Testino is a very successful and influential Peruvian photographer that has photographed surplus of celebrities such as Princess Diana, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, and countless others. This museum includes many of his most famous photos along with an exhibit of his photographs in Cusco which highlight the traditional clothing and culture of the indigenous Andeas communities. Be sure to bring a University ID for the student discount.


Museo Pedro de Osma; Barranco

This museum is located in a large historic mansion near the center of the Barranco neighborhood. The halls of this beautiful house are full of historic paintings, sculptures, and silverwork from post-colonial Peru. This center also emphasizes restoration and education about historical pieces.


Museo Larco; Pueblo Libre

This incredible museum includes pre-Colombian art from all across Peru. The rooms are filled with ancient pottery, sculptures, textiles, and jewelry that predates the Incas. Guided tours are offered in Spanish and English and give important historical and religious background for this collection. The Museum also has a restaurant which has pricey but delicious food. This museum was also included in the excursions for my program although I later returned on my own because I loved it so much.


Mika Nagamoto studied abroad in Lima and Iquitos, Peru, in summer 2018:

Peru | Food Suggestions in Lima


My friends and I had an amazing time exploring the surplus of delicious restaurants in Lima. I may say it over and over again but there is no denying that the food in Peru is delicious. Here’s a list of some of my favorite restaurants that we visited.

Punto Azul: Miraflores

Type of Food: Delicious seafood restaurant with an assortment of Peruvian dishes. This was my favorite place for cebiche in Peru and I would highly recommend the Criolla Cebiche. Other delicious dishes that my friends and I tried were the squid ink fettuccine with fresh shrimp and scallops and the chaufa-style fried rice with shrimp and fish. Every dish was fresh and rich with flavor.

Ambiance: Casual, modern, upbeat with enough charm to make you feel comfortable while enjoying a top of the notch meal

Price: $$ Entrees range from around 30-40 soles


Panchita: Miraflores

Type of Food: Large portions of home-style traditional Peruvian dishes. This restaurant has all of the classic dishes of Peru all cooked with bold flavors, tender meats, and rich textures. Panchita is the best place in Lima to experience the Peruvian style home made food. My favorite meal was the Adobo Don Pancho, a pork dish with some of the most tender and flavorful meat I’ve ever tasted. Other great dishes Tacu Saltado, Chaufa don Pancho, and the Lomo Saltado.

Ambiance: Comfort food served in a high-end restaurant. A great place for a nice dinner (be sure to make reservations ahead of time to avoid the long lines during peak season).

Price: $$ Entrees range from around 50-70 soles


Chifa Chung Yion/Chifa Union: Barranco

Type of Food: This hole in the wall restaurant is a great place to try out the Peruvian style Chinese food called Chifa. The portions here are gigantic and the menu has a huge assortment of different types of noodles, rice, meat entrees, and soups. My favorite dish was the pollo naranja (orange chicken) however this orange chicken is nothing like you’ll find in the United States but is made with fresh orange flavors and tempura fried chicken.

Ambiance: Casual, family-friendly, a local restaurant for big parties and hungry customers.

Price: $ Entrees range from 20-30 soles but can be shared between 2-4 people


Burrito Bar: Barranco

Type of Food: I craved these amazing burritos constantly during my time in Lima. With your choice of steak, chicken, pork, or veggie burritos, tacos, and salads, this small restaurant has freshly made food for lunch and dinner. The tortillas here are to die for and all of the meats are flavorful and delicious.

Ambience: Trendy, casual, but simple. This small restaurant is a popular place for the local surfers around Barranco

Price: $


La Lucha: Miraflores and Lima Airport

Type of food: The best fast food sandwiches you’ll ever try. This Peruvian style sandwich and juice place makes incredible food with crispy fresh-made bread, tender meats, and tons of flavorful sauces. My favorite meal was the Pollo con Piña (chicken and pineapple) with an order of the classic fries and a chicha morada for the drink.

Ambiance: Casual, fast-food with extremely friendly staff

Price: $

Coffee Shops

Ágora café y Arte: Conveniently located in Kennedy Park, this cafe is a great place to sit and work on a computer while enjoying an empanada and a cappuccino

Puku Puku: Really great coffee with limited seating but very friendly staff. A great place to grab coffee before starting your day

El Pan De La Chola: A trendy cafe with incredible sandwiches and pastries. Great place to do some work early in the morning or late after dinner.

Mika Nagamoto studied abroad in Lima and Iquitos, Peru, in summer 2018:

Peru | Excursions in Lima


Lima is an incredible city full of art, history, and culture. During our four weeks living there, my friends and I had a hard time deciding what to do because there were simply too many exciting things to try out. Here’s a list of the things that you shouldn’t miss while in Lima.

Go to the beach…

I visited Lima during the Winter so going to the beach was not anything like my experiences in LA, however, the ocean views, and rocky shores were my favorite place to read and hang out. It’s also very popular to take surf lessons. You can walk down to the beach closest to Miraflores where local surf instructors have gear for you to rent out for a low price. Another popular spot by the ocean is the Pier 242 in Miraflores which has very nice restaurants and boutiques for souvenirs. The Larcomar Shopping Center is a very nice outdoor mall that overlooks the ocean and beach. This is a good place to find restaurants and clothing shops although the prices are definitely higher than the rest of Lima.

Get coffee at the cat park…

Parque Kennedy is a popular outdoor park which is also a haven for cats. The cats here are very friendly and well taken care of by locals who feed and look after the stray cats. Surrounding the flower gardens are many restaurants and coffee shops that attract tourists. Street vendors also sell delicious desserts such as arroz con leche (sweet rice pudding) and picarón (fried pumpkin and sweet potatoes in the shape of donuts). Artists can also be found selling their paintings along the streets.

See the largest fountain show in the world…

For less than a dollar you can see the Magic Water Circuit (Circuito Mágico del Agua). This 19 acre park has 13 impressive fountains illuminated by colorful lights. My friends and I came here one night and had such a fun time viewing the light shows. Be sure to look up when the light shows are before going so you don’t miss the impressive laser lights.Website

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Buy alpaca sweaters, silver jewelry, textiles, and other souvenirs…

There are tons of places to buy souvenirs for really great prices. The Inca Market and the Indian Market are both located in Miraflores right next to Parque Kennedy and have rows and rows of shops filled with souvenirs of all kinds. These markets have generally the best deals but be aware that they aren’t the best quality. The Feria Barranco is much less touristy and has cool bohemian shops with local art, clothing, and music. This fair is only open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Here is the link for the fair’s Facebook page including the address and information.

Visit ancient ruins….

The Huaca Pucllana Ruins in Miraflores are an exceptional piece of history that are currently being excavated. Tours for these pre-incan ruins are available in Spanish and English. There is also an incredible restaurant located next to the ruins. I was lucky enough to visit these ruins and dine at this restaurant through my abroad program.

Mika Nagamoto studied abroad in Lima and Iquitos, Peru, in summer 2018:

Peru | An Unexpectedly Valuable Group Project


I must admit, I am usually not a very big fan of group projects. It somehow always seems as though the work is unevenly distributed or our group decides on a topic that I have trouble finding interesting. However, the group project that I completed for my course abroad was far different than any I have done in past classes.

Our assignment was to choose a public health topic that we found important. We were then instructed to investigate this health issue on a global scale and within Peru. The purpose of this project was to connect research with what we saw firsthand during our travels throughout Peru. After 4 weeks of visiting health centers, research centers, and NGOs, I was brimming with excitement to learn more about the health issues we saw throughout Peru.

For our project, my group decided on researching acute respiratory infections. I never thought that I would be so eager to research the burden of disease for the common cold but seeing the effects of pollution and limited access to healthcare in Peru gave me a strong fascination about this seemingly mundane issue. The more we researched acute respiratory infections, the more I learned about how the environmental factors in Peru play into this health issue. For example, when we visited Iquitos, I noticed that the main form of cooking was with wood-burning stoves. I discovered through research that in just one year, 2.1 million deaths due to acute respiratory infections in children were associated with using a wood-burning stove. I began to see how the facts and numbers came to life in the people and issues surrounding us. I now had my own observations and experiences to reference and inspire my research.

This class was specifically designed to acknowledge the ways in which diversities and disparities between populations can have unequal impacts on which populations experience health issues. An example of a diversity and disparity associated with negative health impacts can be seen through the effects of wood-burning stoves. For the local people in Iquitos, using a wood-burning stove is the cheapest option and has been the traditional form of cooking for generations. However, those who can only afford a wood-burning stove are unequally affected by acute respiratory infections. Furthermore, women and children are also the populations that are the most exposed to wood burning stoves in Iquitos. So even more specifically, women and children in families that can only afford wood-burning stoves experience the highest rates of acute respiratory infections. Suddenly, the term “acute respiratory infections” was no longer simply a scientific-sounding phrase but a term for an important health issue that I now understood the meaning and impact of. I thought of the women and children we met and how there was no simple solution for protecting them against acute respiratory diseases. I found that this project gave me the opportunity to make connections and tie together everything I had learned in the classroom with my experiences throughout Peru.

Global health initiatives are designed to address the disparities that unequally effect vulnerable populations. Having these examples from my time abroad has given me a new respect for the field and an understanding of why it is so important to work on health issues such as acute respiratory infections.

This group project also gave me an opportunity to get to know the students in my class and see their strengths and creative problem-solving skills. We all spent many hours researching together in our favorite study spots throughout Lima. We found countless cozy cafes with excellent coffee and delicious pastries. We stayed up helping each other find documents or translate Peruvian sources written in Spanish. It gave us all an opportunity to share our interests and perspectives from varying majors. The nursing major in our group explained to us all of the medical terms we needed to know while the sociology major in our class shared articles with us that explained the societal factors that effect disease. It was a truly collaborative project that brought together all of our strengths and varying fields of study.

Mika Nagamoto studied abroad in Lima and Iquitos, Peru, in summer 2018:

Peru | Machu Picchu: Exploring the Seventh Wonder of the World


It is difficult to describe the amount of excitement I felt when I found out I had the opportunity to visit one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Machu Picchu is one of those places I had heard about and seen pictures of but never did I imagine getting to explore it for myself. When visiting Peru, it’s nearly impossible to pass up the opportunity of visiting Machu Picchu. After traveling around Cusco and the Sacred Valley, I was ready for my adventure to Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu

Our trip began in the town of Ollantaytambo where we took a Peru Rail train to the trailhead of our hike to Machu Picchu. While there are tons of great routes to Machu Picchu, we decided to take the Short Inca Trail route (sometimes called the Kilometer 104 hike). To do this route it is very important to book far in advance. A limited amount of tourists are allowed on the trail and hiking passes sell out very quickly. Most groups need to book about 6 months in advance. If all the passes are sold out, it is also possible to book through different tour companies but these tours also tend to fill-up quickly. We decided to use the Sam Travel tour company for our trip that included transportation, accommodation, and several meals. To start the Short Inca Trail, we took the train from Ollantaytambo to the stop for Kilometer 104. From here we began the 8-mile hike towards Machu Picchu.

The Inca Trail was my absolute favorite part of our travels in Peru. This route is the same trail that the Inca used to access Machu Picchu from neighboring towns and the Inca capital, Cusco. We hiked up ancient, carved-stone steps formed centuries ago by travelers with the same destination as us. We gazed across incredible views of valleys and mountains as we hiked along jagged trails weaving through steep peaks. Along the way we passed through Wina Wayna, a smaller yet extraordinary archeological site made up of steep terraces leading up to a sacred temple. The final stop before reaching Machu Picchu is the Sun Gate (Inti punku). As we climbed up Inca stairs using both our hands and feet, my eyes fixated on the view of the valley ahead of us. Standing in these ruins was where I caught my first glance of the seventh wonder of the world.

We walked the remainder of the trail with a full view of Machu Picchu ahead of us. Instead of entering Machu Picchu on the same day that we hiked the Inca trail, we took the bus down to Aguas Calientes for only $12. Aguas Calientes is the central town for tourists traveling to Machu Picchu. Alternative routes include train rides to Aguas Calientes rather than hiking along the Inca Trail. We stayed the night in a cozy hotel called El Santuario in Aguas Calientes and made sure we got good rest before our early wake-up the next day.

The next morning we took the first bus to Machu Picchu. During peak season it’s definitely necessary to get in line as early as possible. It was a rainy day when we visited Machu Picchu but there were still plenty of crowds and over an hour-long line for the bus. After a short bus ride to the entrance of the ruins, we began our tour of Machu Picchu. Exploring this impressive, ancient architecture and learning about the sophisticated culture of the Inca gave me an immense appreciation for the historic civilization that ruled this region in the 15th century.

My group also decided to take the hike to Wayna Picchu, the neighboring mountain to Machu Picchu. This hike was much less busy than Machu Picchu and was certainly memorable. It was only a two-mile hike to the summit of the mountain but it is a very steep climb up high steps carved by the Inca. Those who are afraid of heights may not like this hike very much but the views at the top are undoubtedly worth it. To hike Wayna Picchu you have to buy separate passes far in advance and spots are very limited. Our group took our time to explore the ruins located at the top of the mountain but we started the hike at 10:30am and got back to the buses by 2:00pm.

After an amazing day of touring Machu Picchu, petting llamas roaming amongst the ruins, and climbing ancient steps to the top of a mountain, we took a bus back to Aguas Calientes where we reminisced about the incredible adventures we had and the many memories that would last a life-time.

Mika Nagamoto studied abroad in Lima and Iquitos, Peru, in summer 2018:

France | What Art Can I Photograph?


I enjoy falling into paintings from the past to enter a different world or to understand my feelings more deeply. But if you photograph artistically, museums can be a boring place to take creative shots. Taking a photograph of a museum-lit painting is boring and unimaginative. We can feel like copiers of great art, and that’s all. But their are beautiful things that we can shoot in museums that creates a new art and can challenge our creativity.


A man in stone at the Louvre, Paris

A reposing woman inside the Louvre, Paris

Sculptures, like humans, are 3D constructions that can be captured in beautiful, new and imaginative angles with different lighting and positioning.

Whenever I enter a museum with my camera, I am drawn to the statues, challenging myself to find unique ways to capture the art. Sculptures are the pieces of art that we can manipulate in unique ways without using the use of a live human. We can take a piece of art and create a new piece of art, a unique way of looking at the sculpture. Unlike a flat painting (which can be creatively shot but not the extent of a sculpture) which as no angles to be of use to the photographer.

The backside of the Venus de Milo in marble

The soft figure of a woman at Musée d’Orsay, Paris

The sun shining through an open window illuminates an “important” man at the Louvre, Paris

The Pain

Women bitten by a snake lies beautifully, but writhing in pain

These photographs are only scratching the surface of the immense possibilities that exist in using sculptures in photography to create art. I hope that these photographs inspire you to become more creative at museums, challenging yourself to look at art differently and using your eye to capture something unique to you and your experiences observing the art. By challenging yourself to look for new angles, you may discover something new and exciting about a sculpture.

Sarah Brandenburg studied abroad in Paris, France in summer 2018:

Spain | Unique Inside Access to Bomb Shelters from the Spanish Civil War


This was the most touching and real walking tour for me in this class.

I didn’t really know anything about Franco or the Spanish Civil War prior to this trip. It was one thing to read about it in our assigned book or even discuss it in lecture, but it’s a completely different story when you see the remains of bomb hits and the places where people fled to protect themselves and their families.

Thanks to the connections provided by our professor, our class was able to take a tour inside the bomb shelters used during the Spanish Civil War which took place from 1936-1939 and was between the Republic (which is the democracy here) and the Fascists. It ended with the victory of the Fascist and a dictatorship by Francisco Franco until his death in 1975.

My mom was born in 1975. That was my first thought when I was first learning about all this. This dictatorship wasn’t far too long ago. This put things into perspective as we entered the underground tunnels of Montjuic that were used as bomb shelters to hold up to 1500 people per shelter.

Rafael Lemkin tried to explain the war in one word: urbicide.

To him, this meant that the war was not only killing cities, but relationships among people, not just merely buildings. This was the first time planes bombed cities. 400,000 Spaniards fled to France as refugees.

After Franco’s victory, no one could talk about it for the entire time of his dictatorship. Our tour guide explained how many Spaniards today are not even aware of the bomb shelters. Although Spain was not officially apart of World World II, Franco did assist Hitler.

Life within the shelters had to have some rules. They were written in Catalan and Spanish on the walls. People were not allowed to talk about politics or religion, for obvious reasons of trying to keep a calm environment. It’s important to note that these shelters were for ALL people, no matter what side you were on. Everyone had to pay their debts by either working or payments to use the shelter to make it fair.

The tunnels were cold and damp. They were constructed in narrow curved forms to withstand the impact of the bombs. The tour guide told us a sad story about how the one room that was not built in this form was the children’s playroom. It had a wider ceiling and was larger in size. Unfortunately, there were two boys playing in this small room when a bomb struck and the walls in this area could not withstand the strike. The ceiling came crashing down, killing the two young children. We saw the room and the destruction; I can’t describe it. I just know that it shattered my heart, thinking about them and the way the families in here were real people, parents, and kids.

There was also another room for the sick so they could be contained in one area. If you were a doctor, you most likely worked here to pay your dues of using the tunnel. The tour guide explained about pregnant woman would also be giving birth in the bomb shelters sometimes. My friends and I just imagined the unsanitary and sad conditions to bring life into this world. It was a lot to take in, but definitely brought everything to life.

After the Spanish Civil War was over, the soldiers kept building and adding to these shelters just in case there was a chance Spain would be apart of WWII. A poor family apparently used the shelter as a home for 10 years without anyone knowing from 1949-1959.

Because Barcelona wanted good branding for the Olympic Games of 1992, the shack towns that once existed in Montjuic up to this point and in Barceloneta were removed and renovated. Only 2 of the bomb shelters are preserved.

As I said time and time again, this was the saddest but most eye-opening learning experience that I’m grateful I had the chance to experience. I hope you do too!

Paulina Hernandez studied abroad in Barcelona, Spain in summer 2018:

Spain | Breathe in the MUSIC the City Makes


The musical stylings from The Cheetah Girls 2 may or may not have been downloaded on my Spotify prior to coming to Barcelona. Hey! You never know when you might lose service or data and need to listen to Strut” on the train ride.

But the music in the city sure is something. Though I wish I did come across more random people playing the Spanish guitar in the streets, I was mesmerized by my trip the Palau de la Música, which is a concert hall. It is one of the modernism buildings we could visit for one of our assignments. We had heard great things about it from our other classmates so we decided to check it out.

How to Get There

Though you can take a bus, my friends and I decided to walk there because it is only about a 16-minute walk, which you will learn is not bad at all. It was beautiful scenery all the time, and we decided to grab lunch before so it ended up working out!

*Pro tip: Trip Advisor is used more in Spain/Europe than Yelp if you’re looking for the best restaurants and ratings in general* In our experience, we wouldn’t take the metro or bus (even more complicated) if we could walk there in 25 minutes or less. Walking is a more popular way to get somewhere, I would say, in Barcelona than in Los Angeles. It’s funny because I would keep thinking about how I used to Uber from apartment side back to my sorority house because I thought THAT was too far of a walk. 

However, you can take the bus. You can follow the following directions from the Arc of Triomf via bus by click here (it is about the same in time).


When we got the Palau de la Música, we learned there are different ticket choices depending on what you want to do. We did the Guided Tour that costs 20 Euros (because that’s what we needed for our assignment). Remember to ask for a student discount by showing your UPF student ID! We enjoyed this one because half of it was learning about the building itself and the beautiful architecture and art, and the other half was a mini concert. There are other tour options

However, you can buy actual concert tickets for different shows and performances going on. They host all kinds of concerts, so for more information, I would check out the website here and plan accordingly.

My Experience

Modernism is a type of architecture style I got too familiar with being in Barcelona for a month. Antoni Gaudi designed many of the famous modernism buildings known today such as La Sagrada Familia. Anyway, this building was beautiful in every sense of the word.

Make sure to use the bathroom before and to not be late! We had to run around the first 5-10 minutes of the tour because we lost our group. This place is not that big so it was funny going up and down the stairs trying to find them. After another tour guide helped us and we reconnected with our group, we sat on the upper level and learned about the meanings behind the giant sun in the ceiling, flowers that were found all around the concert hall, and some of the art and glass work. My mind was truly blown by the amount of detail.

Finally at the end, we sat in the first couple rows and listened to a talented organ player who made me feeling like I was walking the streets of Main Street at Disneyland or walking down the aisle of my own wedding. I probably wouldn’t have gone to the museum if it wasn’t assigned, and I know I definitely would’ve missed out. So, I hope you get a chance to check it out even if it’s just for the tour and love it as much as I did!

Paulina Hernandez studied abroad in Barcelona, Spain in summer 2018:

Spain | How in the World Do You Juggle Class + Traveling?!


Everyone who has studied abroad has had this struggle. Everyone who is thinking about studying abroad wonders about it. But it makes sense because your mind wants to be on vacation 100% of the time of you being in a different city, country, or continent — and you should let yourself enjoy the trip!! Just remember that these programs do cost money and you don’t want to go wasting that by missing your classes. But trust me when I say there’s a balance, and it may be hard at first but you can and WILL find it!

It’s different for everybody and also depends on the classes your taking. This program had me enrolled in 2 upper division Spanish courses that counted towards my minor. There was also an option to add a 3rd upper division class for an extra charge. If there’s anything my professor told us that I remember, it’s that although we were there to experience the city for ourselves, we were still enrolled in 8 units and the work would feel like it. Figuring out how to balance was up to us.

For this program in particular, we had class every day of the week Monday through Friday (minus one free Friday) for the 3 weeks we were enrolled. However, not every one of these days had the same format:

Two of the days of the week, we would have a four-hour lecture at the university. Sometimes there were guest lecturers, and we always had at least a 20 minute break. I would always go to the cafe and get a cafe con leche and donut.

Two of the other days of the week, we would have walking tours, which were my favorite because it meant we were learning about the city in a hands-on way. The professor would give us a location somewhere in Barcelona to meet at 10AM on the dot. Sometimes it was in the Gothic Quarter, sometimes it was in a plaza. Either way, we had to make sure we were there whether that meant taking the metro, a taxi, or walking. We would walk around via tour guides or just with the professor explaining what we’ve learned in lecture and see the buildings and city for ourselves. There’s definitely a difference from reading about these places in a textbook and actually visiting them!

Finally on Fridays, we usually would take a field trip somewhere outside of Barcelona, like Gràcia or Montserrat. This would usually be an all day thing and we wouldn’t get back until about 7PM or 8PM. This meant that if we wanted to travel outside the city on the weekends, we had to book our transportation at least past 10PM. It was definitely doable, however.

Anyways, it may seem like class takes up all your time, but it really is only 4 hours of lecture 4 days of the week plus field trips on Fridays (that are fun anyways). The assignments were things like visiting a museum and writing about your experience, presenting on assigned areas we had to explore, or quizzes based on the readings. It’s all dependent of your work ethic, but if you time managed appropriately, you could get your work done just in time to enjoy the rest of the city. Trust me, it IS doable if you want it do be; you just have to be willing to put the time in to make the most of your time! 🙂

Paulina Hernandez studied abroad in Barcelona, Spain in summer 2018:

France | La Tour Eiffel


It’s simple to find a photograph of the Eiffel Tower online. In fact, it often feels futile to take the same photograph that has come many times before you. I decided to try something different.

In this collection of photographs, I attempted to take one of the world’s most photographed monuments and tried to create something unique. I challenged myself to find new angles and ways of looking at the famous structure.

Here are some photographs taken in my attempt to create something unique.

Sarah Brandenburg studied abroad in Paris, France in summer 2018: