Denmark | Why I Decided to Study Abroad

By Chloe Zgorzelski 

Two flights and one long travel day later, I have made it home to Los Angeles! I still can’t believe my time studying and living in Copenhagen has come to an end and winter quarter at UCLA begins in a little less than a week. 

Since I am often asked why I decided to study abroad, in particular, why I chose the city of Copenhagen, I decided it would only be fitting to wrap up my posts about my exchange adventure reflecting on my time across the pond. I chose to study abroad because I wanted to learn from, be exposed to, and gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for a culture that is different from my own. When I became a UCLA Bruin almost three years ago, I knew studying abroad was one of those unique university experiences that I had to take advantage of. Not only would this opportunity enrich my educational career, but I was confident it would diversify and broaden my worldview in ways I could not even fathom.  

I started planning during my freshman year, setting up meetings with the counselors in the UCLA IEO office and researching many different programs throughout Europe. For a long time, my heart was set on completing a program in either Spain or Italy. Yet, when I discovered UCEAP’s program at University of Copenhagen in Denmark, I knew it was the perfect fit for me.  

As a student who actively pursues opportunities that encourage personal growth, I was drawn to Denmark’s excellent educational system, emphasis on living sustainably, and unique blend of tradition and modernity in architecture, art, and culture. Denmark is consistently rated one of the happiest countries in the world, a fact that I felt was compatible with my optimistic outlook and positive demeanor. I also admired the Danes focus on utilizing education as a means to create innovative, real-world solutions, an emphasis I believed would satiate my desire to be challenged academically and collaborate with others. Moreover, I discovered the program would allow me to enroll in and complete upper division coursework through the University’s renowned Psychology Department. Not only would this supplement the strong educational foundations that UCLA has fostered in me, but it would also allow me to stay on track to graduating with a double major in 2020. 

As the first UCLA student to submit an application for this program way back in October 2017, there is no doubt that I had been looking forward to this experience for a long time. The time I spent and the experiences I had in Denmark prompted immense personal growth and allowed me to foster deeper global connections. Not only have I embraced an attitude of ‘hygge’, a Danish term that embodies warmth and coziness, but I also feel I have become more mindful. I am more intentional about taking the time to slow down and appreciate, enjoy, and experience the present, a skill that often gets lost in our increasingly fast paced world. My interactions with the Danes reinforced my belief that life should be lived with authenticity and intentionality. I also feel I have become more independent, self-reliant, and confident in myself as a result of my time in Copenhagen.  

It was always my desire to share what I have learned from my experiences abroad with others and to use my newfound knowledge and cross-cultural understanding to make a positive and tangible impact within my community. Here’s hoping that 2019 brings more opportunities to travel, live well, and learn abroad! 


xo Chloe 

Chloe Zgorzelski studied in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2018:

Denmark | Christmas Markets

By Chloe Zgorzelski 

If you have ever wanted to experience what it feels like to walk around in a snow globe, then you must visit Copenhagen during the Christmas season. Copenhagen is a genuine Christmas city. The festive decorations that adorn every windowsill and the twinkly lights that illuminate the city streets make it nearly impossible not to get into the holiday spirit. I love Christmas time in Copenhagen. It’s like stepping into a Hallmark movie, where hot cocoa sipping, crackling fire, and “hygge” rules all. While Gløgg and Æbleskiver, sporadic snowfalls, sunsets before 3:30 PM, and the time spent with friends and family are some of my favorite memories from this yuletide season, it’s the many Christmas Markets, Lucia i Kajak Event, and Christmas at Tivoli that made my December in Denmark one I’ll always remember.

Christmas Markets  

The best place to soak up the festive atmosphere is at one of Copenhagen’s Christmas markets. Starting in mid-November, cozy holiday marketplaces begin to pop up throughout the city. My favorite markets, like the Christmas market at Nyhavn harbor, the Visit Carlsberg Christmas Market, and the Christmas Market at Højbro Plads, exude old school Christmas charm. Each boasts a plethora of wooden market stalls decorated for the holiday season, offering a variety of traditional Scandinavian Christmas delicacies and distinctly Danish gifts. If you are looking for a more unconventional holiday fair, the Freetown Christiania Christmas Market features many unique, handcrafted items and is definitely worth a visit! During the first weekend of December, I also had the opportunity to visit the Hans Christian Andersen Christmas Market in the city of Odense, Denmark. Odense, the third largest city in Denmark, is the hometown of fairytale poet Hans Christian Andersen. Every year, the city constructs an old-fashioned Christmas market complete with traditional decorations, a farmer’s market, and lots of local entertainment inspired by the infamous author.  

Lucia i Kajak 

One of the most unique ways the Danes celebrate the holiday season is with their annual Santa Lucia Kayak Parade. Saint Lucy’s Day is a commonly celebrated holiday throughout Scandinavia. It’s all about commemorating and finding a way to bring light to their long, dark winters. While there are many events in Copenhagen that celebrate Saint Lucy, the Lucia i Kajak event is one of the most special. Every year, hundreds of people decorate kayaks and paddleboards with garland, fairy lights, Christmas trees, candles, elves, and reindeer, and travel throughout the canals of Copenhagen singing Christmas carols and spreading holiday cheer. I was able to follow the entire parade from the pier and it was truly one of the most beautiful and spectacular sights I had ever seen

Christmas at Tivoli 

Christmas at Tivoli is absolutely magical. The historic gardens boast their own Christmas Market full of decorated wooden houses, snow-covered trees, festive ornaments, and glittering Christmas lights. Visitors can watch candy makers create old-fashioned lollipops and decorate honningkagehjerter cookies among the Christmas elves or “nissen”. To everyone’s delight there is a large Christmas tree in the center of the park with miniature trains that run around it and through present boxes inspired by the architecture of some of Copenhagen’s most recognizable buildings. There is also a brand-new projection light show on the façade of the iconic Tivoli Concert Hall as well as a Nutcracker themed version of the Tivoli Illuminations water show. I visited the gardens multiple times throughout the holiday season, and I even spent Christmas day in the park with my family! We had a great time riding the rides, looking at all of the different products being sold at the market stalls, and watching the special Christmas fireworks spectacular. The absolute best part about spending Christmas in Copenhagen? Getting to see snow for the first time ever!!

vi ses næste indlæg… xo Chloe 

Chloe Zgorzelski studied in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2018:

Denmark | Academics

By Chloe Zgorzelski 

It’s the most wonderful month of the year – December! I’m so excited to experience all of the wonderful Danish Christmas Markets, experience the magic of Tivoli at Christmas, eat some delicious Æbleskiver, and celebrate the holidays with my family. But for students all around the world, including myself, the holiday season always goes hand in hand with the culmination of another academic semester and, of course, finals. So, in the spirit of finals season, I figured I would give you a quick peek into the world of academia at the University of Copenhagen, by highlighting three unique aspects that make university life in Denmark different than university life at home in California. 

#1 – Courses 

As an exchange student at the University of Copenhagen, you have the ability to enroll in a wide range of courses taught in English that span a variety of different disciplines and subjects. Some of the most popular disciplines at the university are environmental studies, health sciences, economics, and political science. While most of the courses offered are at the upper-division undergraduate level, students do have the ability to enroll in master’s level coursework. The university also offers a selection of Danish Culture Courses, which are classes highlighting various facets of Danish Culture, like Nordic Mythology or Danish Architecture, designed specifically with exchange students in mindClasses at the University of Copenhagen usually meet less times per week, for an extended period of time, rather than multiple times a week in shorter intervals, as is typical of the UC system. My social psychology course, for example, only meets once a week on Mondays from 3-6pm. My professor divides our class time into mini-sections and gives us one or two 10 minute “brain breaks in between, as is typical of most classes at the university. 


Courses here also carry an extremely high number of units. Even though I am only enrolled in two classes, I am considered a full-time student at the University of Copenhagen as both of my courses are each worth 15 ECTS points which is the equivalent to 24 UC Units. This has been adjustment for me, but this schedule has allowed me to use the rest of my week to travel, to volunteer at Studenterhuset, and enjoy all that Copenhagen has to offer! FUN FACT: All classes start exactly fifteen minutes after the official course start time, as per Danish tradition. Before cellphones and reliable watches, the Danes relied on the clocktowers around the city to indicate the time of day. Therefore, when the clock chimed at the hour, they understood that it was time for them to start making their way to class and they had about fifteen minutes to get there.  


#2 – Campus 

The University of Copenhagen is integrated into the city on four different campuses, each specializing in different disciplines: North Campus – Health & Medical Science, South Campus – Humanities, Law & Theology, City Campus – Social Sciences, and Fredericksburg Campus – Agriculture, Forestry & Veterinary. While I have been able to visit and see all four of the campuses during my time here, I have only had class on two out of the four. My psychology class meets at City Campus and both my Danish Language Course and Architecture courses met on South Campus.  

#3 – Assignments 

Students at the University of Copenhagen do not receive homework assignments, take midterm exams, or even typically complete papers throughout the semester. Rather, they complete a lot of reading throughout the semester, participate in group work, and are expected to spend a considerable amount of time outside of class processing and thinking critically about the class material in preparation for the lengthy final exam requirements. In both of the courses I was enrolled in this semester, I was required to complete an active participation assignment. This assignment is not graded, but is a prerequisite that, upon completion, makes you eligible to complete the final exam. For my Social Psychology class, my active participation consisted of a 20-30-minute group presentation, presented in front of the class, on one of the readings assigned to us. For Danish Architecture, I was required to write a 2-3-page synopsis introducing and outlining my final paper topic. My finals for both of these classes take the form of lengthy analytical papers. For the past couple of weeks, I have been working on a 15-20-page research paper on the relationship between health and architecture for my Danish Architecture Class. Next weekend, I will complete a 72-hour written exam for Social Psychology, which means I will be given a paper topic on Friday and I will have 72 hours to write, edit, and turn in my assignment.  

Looking forward to the successful completion another semester   

vi ses næste indlæg! xo Chloe 

Chloe Zgorzelski studied in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2018:

Denmark | Copenhagen Adventures

By Chloe Zgorzelski 

It’s hard to believe that as I write I only have a little over a month left in Copenhagen! As soon as I got back from Fall Break a few weeks ago, I knew that time would start to fly extremely quickly – so I sat down and made a little list of all the things I knew I wanted to accomplish before I leave Copenhagen at the end of December. I also made it a personal goal to do (at least) one Copenhagen thing a day – which can mean anything from taking a day to go hunting for “trolls” in the forests in the outskirts of Copenhagen to something as little as taking a study break to eat a Danish hot dog. During my little three-week break from traveling, I really made an effort to stick to this goal. Here are five of my favorite things I have done during the past three weeks…… 

# 1 – Troll Hunting: Looking for the Six Hidden Giants in the forests of Outer Copenhagen 

A few weeks ago, I finally checked off one of my must-do’s while in Copenhagen – troll hunting! Before I arrived in Copenhagen, I saw a video about an artist named Thomas Dambo who had created “six hidden giants” out of scrap wood, that currently live and hide in the forests outskirting Copenhagen. He created them in an effort to bring art out of the museum while simultaneously encouraging local Copenhageners to explore the beautiful and often overlooked nature spots in their own backyard. As soon as I decided I was studying abroad in Copenhagen, I knew I had to find some of these trolls. So, on a sunny, mid-October Wednesday, a few of my friends and I grabbed our bikes and embarked on a treasure hunt to find some of Copenhagen’s most unique and loveable open-air sculptures. To start we took the B line of the S train all the way to Høje Taastrup (the location of Teddy Friendly) and then rode our bikes through the pastures and open fields past fluffy cows, sheep, horses and other wildlife on our way to find the other trolls.  In the span of a few hours, we were able to find four out of the six giants: Teddy Friendly (#6), Thomas on the Mountain (#5) Little Tilde (#4), and Oscar Under the Bridge (#3). So far, this has been my favorite Copenhagen adventure.  

# 2 – A Visit to Botanisk have 

The University of Copenhagen’s Botanical Garden is only located about a fiveminute walk away from my dorm and it is beautiful – especially in the Fall, when the leaves are turning, and the air is a bit crisper. The garden serves research, educational, and recreational purposes, as it is a part of the Natural History Museum of Denmark and the University of Copenhagen Faculty of Science. During my visit, I got to explore their new exhibit: The Butterfly House, as well as the infamous Palm House. Each of the garden’s glasshouses featured a wide array of exotic plant life and mimicked the various climates in which these plants grow best. My favorite part of my visit was having the opportunity to climb up the staircase in the Palm House to the upper observatory deck, so I could see the plant’s (and an awesome view of Copenhagen) from a different perspective.   

# 3 Cherish Exhibition at the Marble Church 

My favorite church in all of Copenhagen, hands down, is the Marble Church. It is located in the middle of the Frederiksstaden area, complementing both Amalienborg Castle and The Opera. I love that as you walk around the city you can see its copper green dome peeking out from behind various city buildings from almost anywhere you stand. During the month of October and the first few weeks of November, the church featured a special art installation entitled “Cherish”, designed to start a conversation about climate change and the impact it has on our seasons. Over 15,000 paper flowers floated on the inside of the church’s dome and it was truly a spectacular sight to see.  

# 4 – Bike Riding to Two of Copenhagen’s Coolest Parks: Superkilen + Tårnlegepladsen in Fælledparken 

Ever since my architecture professor presented a lecture on landscape architecture and the various parks and green spaces in Copenhagen, I had been dying to go visit two of the parks he discussed: Superkilen and Tårnlegepladsen. Superkilen park is located in the neighborhood of Nørrebro, only about 10 minutes away from my dorm. Nørrebro is one of the most diverse areas of Copenhagen and the park reflects and embraces this diversity. Many of the neighborhood’s inhabitants were consulted during the park’s development regarding what kind of features they would like to see included. Therefore, it is divided into three main areas: The Red Square, The Black Market, and The Green Park. Each of these areas is filled with objects and park equipment that is representative and inspired by the countries around the world that the neighborhood’s inhabitants are from. Among many things found in the park, you can find an octopus slide sculpture from Japan, a fountain from Morocco, and an old doughnut shop sign from the United States. Tarnlegepladsen is perhaps the cutest park I have ever seen. All of the play equipment is modelled after famous Copenhagen Monuments, such as the Round Tower, City Hall, the Marble Church, and the Church of Our Saviour Spiral. I was lucky enough to have a few hours of free time one morning, so I seized the opportunity, grabbed my bike and was lucky enough to grab a couple of photos before all the little kids arrived.  

#5 – Watching the Changing of the Guard at Amelianborg Palace 

Amelianborg is Copenhagen’s Royal Palace. For a portion of the year, Denmark’s royal family actually lives and resides inside. The palace is famous for its Royal Guard, called Den Kongelige Livgarde. Every day you can experience the changing of the guards, as they march from the military barracks on Gothersgade, past Rosenborg Castle, through the streets of Copenhagen to Amalienborg, where the changing of the guard occurs daily at 12:00 noon. Throughout my time in Copenhagen, I had seen the royal guard pass through the streets on multiple occasions, as I am often studying at various café’s and libraries within city center but had never seen the procession all the way through. So, l took a moment to finally go and watch it in its entirety and it was really cool to see! Unlike the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, Denmark’s procession is very immersive. There is no gate blocking your view and there is no giant crowd. You really get to see it happen the way it was intended.   


Chloe Zgorzelski studied in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2018:

Denmark | Student Life at UCPH

By Chloe Zgorzelski 

Academics are an important component of university life, but an equally integral, and sometimes overlooked component of the college experience is student life. Student life at my home university, UCLA, usually revolves around my housing community, the various clubs I am involved in, and is often easily facilitated in part because of the way the campus is set-up.  At the University of Copenhagen (UCPH), student life is quite different. The university is spread across four separate campuses throughout the city, student housing is scattered in various neighborhoods, and most students only have class once or twice a week – meaning the amount of time they spend on campus is limited. While this may sound daunting, there are definitely still ways that any student on exchange in Copenhagen can become an actively involved participant in student life at the university. Here are three resources that I have utilized to help my adjustment and make Copenhagen feel a little bit more like home… 


Studenterhuset (pronounced “Stu-den-ter-hus-el”) is exactly what it sounds like, directly translating to “student house”. Located in the heart of central Copenhagen, right next to the iconic Rundetårn (or Round Tower), Studenterhuset is a place run by students, for students. Alongside a small group of paid staff, student volunteers from all across Copenhagen work together to keep the house and café running while creating an environment that promotes community and togetherness. Students from all subjects and faculties are encouraged to come together at Studenterhuset, and many do to meet up in study groups, hang out with friends, and join in on the various events that happen each and every day of the week. Some of my favorite Studenterhuset events have been Swing Dance Tuesdays, Quiz Night, Karaoke Fridays, Community Kitchen, and the annual Halloween Party! Fun Fact: all UCPH students are automatically members of the house, and are eligible to receive discounts on beverages, snacks, and entry fees on concert nights.  

At Studenterhuset, there are over 200 volunteers that work at the bar from approximately 40 nationalities – and I am one of them! I signed up to volunteer at the house at the end of August and had my first day of training in September. I volunteer at Studenterhuset three times a month (15 hours total) and I, like all other volunteers, get “paid” in vouchers that we can use in the café for free coffee, snacks, and meals at the community kitchen. Initially, I was really nervous about the prospect of volunteering here. I had no previous experience working in the food industry and no real understanding of all of the nuances of coffee – seriously, before this I was the girl who always had to ask her friends what to order every time I went to a coffee shop. But I am SO glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and became a volunteer here. Not only is this a great way to meet people, both behind and in front of the bar – but my volunteer experience here has made me feel a part of a larger community in Copenhagen and makes me feel like I am making a positive contribution to my campus community.  

UCPH Mentorship Program 

All international students who apply to the University of Copenhagen are encouraged by the university to sign up/request a mentor through the UCPH Mentor/Buddy Programme. The university has eleven different mentor/buddy programs spread across the six different faculties. The program was created to help create a social network for international students and UCPH students through different activities planned during the semester. As a participant in the program, you are matched with a UCPH student who shares your major as well as a group of UCPH students and other mentees. Your mentor will help you settle in during your exchange in Denmark and give you an introduction to student life in Copenhagen. 

My mentor’s name is Clara and she is awesome! She is a fourth-year psychology student at UCPH who just finished a semester abroad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – so she can definitely empathize with what it is like to be an exchange student in a foreign country.  Clara and I try to meet up at least once a month to catch up and discuss Copenhagen, whether that means grabbing chocolate banana pancakes at the café around the corner from city campus or going on an excursion to the Royal Theater to watch their morning ballet practice. Clara is just one of the amazing people I have met through my UCPH Psychology Mentor/Mentee Group. Throughout my time in Copenhagen, it has been really nice to be a part of a group like this that facilitates different excursions – like walking tours in Nørrebro and day trips to Christiansborg Palace – and helps you get to know fellow exchange students within my educational faculty.  

UCEAP Student-specific activities 

Our UCEAP Copenhagen-side Advisors Katrine and Julie, also work hard to make us UCEAP students feel at home in Denmark. Throughout the semester, they plan social events, like the all-UCEAP Welcome/Orientation Dinner, Walking Tour of Copenhagen, and Common Dinner at Absalon, that are really fun and help facilitate interaction between all of the UCEAP exchange students during our time here. 

Absalon is a beautiful church, turned community center in Copenhagen’s Vesterbro neighborhood that hosts dinners for the local community every night of the week. Fun Fact: it was started by the man who founded the Flying Tiger Stores! 

They also post regularly in the UCEAP Copenhagen Facebook page about different events that are happening locally, so I always have new ideas of fun things to do each week. If it weren’t for their posts, I would have never have known about La Glace – the oldest Conditori (and the best cake place!) in all of Copenhagen! See pictures below for proof. 

There are many more ways to get involved in student life at the University of Copenhagen, from KSI – the University’s Sports Association to their various cultural and social associations. I would encourage every student who comes to the University of Copenhagen on exchange to try something new and get connected with the vibrant campus community here.  

Chloe Zgorzelski studied in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2018:

Denmark | Tivoli Gardens

By Chloe Zgorzelski

If you know me, you know that I absolutely love Disneyland. I’ve been a proud annual passholder since I was three and some of my most cherished childhood and high school memories have occurred within the gates of that theme park. When I decided to study abroad a little over a year ago, I was honestly a little sad that I was going to have to go five months without a single visit to the “happiest place on earth”. But thankfully, Copenhagen provided a solution to my problem: Tivoli Gardens. 

Tivoli Gardens (a.k.a. Tivoli) is an amusement park or ‘pleasure garden,’ as the Europeans like to call it, located right smack in the middle of the city of Copenhagen. Tivoli opened 175 years ago on August 15th, 1843, making it the second-oldest operating theme park in the world. It is also the most visited theme park in all of Scandinavia.  


Recently, Tivoli Gardens was actually named one of Time magazine’s “best spots on the planet”. So knowing I would be living in Copenhagen for the rest of the year, I decided to purchase an annual entrance pass to Tivoli. The pass I bought only costs 350 DKK [approx. $53 USD] and gives me unlimited entrance into the park for a whole calendar year. With this pass, I have the opportunity to experience each of the park’s four distinct seasons [Summer, Halloween, Christmas, Winter] and go as often as I would like. As a student living in Copenhagen during the Fall, I think the pass is worth it, especially since I have and will get to experience three out of the four Tivoli seasons during my time here! 

#1 Celebrating Tivoli’s 175th Anniversary 

This summer, Tivoli celebrated their 175th birthday, which means it was an incredibly special time to visit the park. The Summer Concert Series, Tivoli Youth Guard Performances, and of course the special food offerings were fun to experience. Every Saturday, Tivoli had a firework show (which I could actually hear all the way from my dorm on nights I wasn’t able to go watch them in the park). They also debuted the Tivoli Illuminations water show and even had a special 175th anniversary parade – complete with a Walt Disney World it’s a small world float! 

#2 Meeting Rasmus Klump

Rasmus Klump is a Danish comic strip series for children created by Danish Couple, Carla and Vilhelm Hansen, in 1951. The series tells the story of a bear cub named Rasmus Klump and his friends as well as the many adventures they have around the world on board his ship, Mary. In short, Rasmus Klump is to Tivoli Gardens what Mickey Mouse is to Disneyland.  Every day he puts on various shows on the different stages located within the garden and it is so adorable to see all of the children gather around to watch him, smiling and giggling throughout the program. 

#3 Halloween Time! 

Nothing screams Halloween is here like haunted houses, scarecrows, pumpkin carving, caramel apples and glogg! Halloween isn’t a super big deal in Copenhagen, but Tivoli sure does know how to celebrate spooky season right. The park undergoes a three-week closure in preparation for the Halloween festivities and then reopens with a brand new Halloween-themed Rasmus Klump show, new rides, a pop-up Fall/Halloween market, a special horror-inspired Tivoli Illuminations and decorations throughout the park that are sure to put you in the Halloween spirit! 

So far, I’ve visited Tivoli about five or six times. Since my classes at the University of Copenhagen only meet once or twice a week, I have plenty of free time to go to the park and make the most of my pass. Sometimes I’ll go to walk around for a bit or go to grab some lunch/a quick snack. I’ve even gone and brought my homework along with me! It’s a nice change of scenery as well as a relaxing and magical place to get your homework done. I’m looking forward to experiencing the wonder and whimsy of Tivoli’s Christmas season in just a few short weeks! I’ll be sure to update this post with photos as soon as the gardens open back up again for the holiday season and Christmas Market.  


Chloe Zgorzelski studied in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2018:

Italy | La Salumeria

By Andrea Zachrich

La Salumeria Sandwich Shop

A little bit of background on this salumeria (Italian for butchery) shop: it’s about a block away from the education center where we went while in Rome for our orientation, midterm, and final. We discovered it after our orientation when we typed something along the lines of “close and cheap lunch” into google, and went back after our midterm and our final too.

This place is delicious. It’s everything a sandwich shop should be: tasty bread, wide selection of meats and cheese, inexpensive, and fast. Everything I tried there was delicious, from the meat platter I accidentally once thought would serve as an appetizer and then completely filled me up to all the different sandwiches. If you’re over near the Pont S’Angelo or the Pantheon, you should stop by for a fast and yummy lunch.

I snagged a couple of photos of their menu from the business’s website. As you can see, they translate everything into English which, while unnecessary, is always nice (especially after we took our midterm and final and our brains were fried). Side note: I’ve noticed that any other country where I spend a decent amount of time, I get really good at translating menus (mostly because I love to eat), and I’m sure you will too with Italian. Anyways, here’s La Salumeria’s menus:

A fan favorite among our group was the “Pork in Progress”. I really liked “Thanksgiving Day”, “Il Fico”, and “Williams” (clearly, I like fruit in my sandwiches). I also really enjoyed the chopping board “De Salumerie”. But, I feel like you really can’t go wrong with sandwiches or meat platters here. Below, I included some photos of some of our orders. On a side note: they have vegetarian items here but they have meat hanging from the ceiling right above your head when you order, so it’s not exactly the most vegetarian friendly place.

I also liked the inside of the shop a lot too. There’s meat hanging from the ceiling, bottles all along the walls, and fun decor on the walls. It’s also very casual. You walk in, order at the counter, grab a seat and a drink, and then they call your name when your food is ready and you go and pick it up. As with most places in Italy, you pay after you eat (they really trust people not to be idiots here).

If you’re in Rome, and you’re feeling a sandwich, this is the place for you.

Italy | Hostaria Antica Roma

By Andrea Zachrich

Hostaria Antica Roma is an awesome restaurant we went to as a group after we visited the Catacombs de Domitilla on the outskirts of Rome, and I have a lot of good things to say about it. All of the food was delicious and it was definitely the best service we had while in Rome (also, it has air conditioning). I would for sure go again the next time I’m in Rome.

The Location

The restaurant is actually in a very cool location. It’s right across the street from and in the shadow of the tomb of Cecelia Metella, which is a large cylindrical tomb along the Via Appia (one of the largest roads leading into and out of the city of ancient Rome). It was a tomb built by a wealthy woman for herself in the 1st century BC, probably during the time of Augustus. She was the daughter of a consul and married quaestor (both very high positions in the Roman government), but she built this tomb all for herself without her family. Some of the original decorations around the outside still survive. In the middle ages, the tomb was turned into a fort and used as a toll station by the family who owned it. Nowadays, it’s a museum and you can go inside of the tomb. Below I’ve included some pictures of the tomb.

The Food

The food here was absolutely amazing. We did a group lunch, so it came with appetizers and dessert. I cannot say enough good things about the appetizers. First off, there was a ton of food. There was a meat platter and grilled veggies and an amazing garlic cheese spread and bread and fish and olives – literally so much food. I was nearly full by the time our entrees came.

One of the appetizers – the meat platter

We got to pick from about 10 selections for our main dish. Personally, I was really excited because the food was based off of ancient recipes from a cook named Apicius. During the spring quarter right before this class, I had actually taken a class about ancient food and medicine and had made some recipes from the same cookbook as part of a final project. I immediately emailed my professor about it because I was stoked. I got a lasagna based on an Apicius recipe, and it was very unique because it did not have any red sauce. Even though tomatoes are a staple of Italian cooking now, the ancient Romans did not have them because they are a crop from the new world. As such, this lasagna was made of noodles, cheese, meat, and had some fennel in it. It was tasty.

The Lasagna! I know it’s kind of funky looking but it was delicious

For dessert, we also go to pick from a limited menu. Our table got tiramisu and chocolate mousse, and both were delicious. I would recommend either (or both if you’re feeling ambitious).


The Experience

A big part of the reason this was one of my favorite meals in Rome was because the waiter, Paulo, really did a great job. I’ve worked as a server, and I know how hard it can be to interact with tables. He told us all about the history of the restaurant (which is owned by his father) and knew a lot about the history of the tomb across the street. He was also very knowledgeable about the recipes from Apicius. He told a lot of cheesy jokes and put everyone in a good mood, which I can appreciate. Plus, the food came out incredibly fast. The entrees were ready for a table of around 20 almost immediately after we had finished our appetizers. This place is really a smoothly run restaurant with great service.

The only bad thing I could possibly say about this meal was that it was one of the more expensive I had in Rome, but I think it was worth it. If I remember correctly, it was just under 30 euros, which isn’t horrible considering the massive amounts of food we got. If you’re an adult with a real job and not a broke college student, the price would be super fine for a vacation lunch or dinner.

Overall, this place was amazing. It has unique entrees, good appetizers, great service, and is in a really cool location.

Italy | Giolitti

By Andrea Zachrich


This is hands down the best gelato I’ve gotten in Italy thus far, and I’ve been here for almost 2 weeks! They have a million flavors and it’s not very expensive.

Where is this place??

This place is near the Piazza Navona, which actually used to be a racetrack in antiquity (but more on this later when we talk about the Stadium of Domitian). Now, it’s an open public space with a lot of street performers and food places along the outside. When we were there on a Tuesday evening, there were singers and a man blowing giant bubbles using a homemade contraption. It was very entertaining. In the center of the Piazza is the famous “Fountain of the Four Rivers” topped with an Egyptian obelisk called “The Obelisk of Domitian”. The fountain (minus the obelisk) is by Bernini – a famous Baroque era artist. Each of the four men represent one of the four continents (Asia, Africa, Americas, and Europe). They’re not labeled, but they are identified by items they are holding and what clothes they are wearing. I’ll leave it up to you to identify which statue represents which continent (I had to google it). There’s also two more fountains in the Piazza that are interesting to wander around and look at.

This is where the place is! The Piazza Navona is the oblong rounded area in the middle of the map.

What should I order?

So back to the important information: THE GELATO. One important thing to know about this particular place is that you pay first and then you go and pick your flavors. I got a small (piccolo in Italian), which included 2 flavors for 3 euros. I believe the next sizes went up by a euro each, and it was the same price for a cone (cono in Italian) as it was for a cup, so I got a cone.

This place had an absurd amount of flavors. I was with 5 people and we each got 2 different flavors from one another and I don’t think we even tried 1/3 of the flavors there. If you’re lactose intolerant, this would be a great place to go because they have a ton of flavors without milk (latte in Italian) and they label them as such. They also have really interesting fruit flavors I haven’t seen anywhere such as blackberry, limoncello, and pink grapefruit. I really don’t think you can go wrong with any flavors here, but our group collectively decided that the limoncello flavor was the best. If you don’t know, limoncello is a popular after dinner liquor in Italy. I don’t think the gelato had any alcohol in it, but it still tasted similar to the drink.

I know, not a great photo. Even so, I still think it looks delicious.

Embarrassing story time: I walked up to the counter, and I was asking all what all of the flavors were (many of the names are in Italian, and I didn’t know what they meant). I ended up getting Giada, which is a chocolate-hazelnut flavor (would recommend if you like Nutella) and Stracciatella, which is chocolate chip gelato with a vanilla-y base. I went to order by pointing at the flavors, and the guy working the counter wouldn’t let me order until I had failed miserably at saying the flavors and then wouldn’t start scooping the gelato until I repeated the correct pronunciation after him (Giada is a surprisingly hard word to pronounce). Needless to say, I don’t think I’ll mess up those flavors again.

I would definitely go to this place if you find yourself over by the Piazza Navona. We got our conos and went over into the Piazza to people-watch, and it was a great way to spend an evening!

That’s me in front of the fountain that’s on the side closest to the Gelato shop!

Italy | Forum Boarium Temples

By Andrea Zachrich

The first Tuesday, which is the first full day of the program, we headed out to see the Forum Boarium. This used to be a bustling part of the city used for commerce (mainly trading of cattle), political speeches, and housed places of worship. Today, however, its a relatively quiet part of the city. We visited two temples, two arches, and two churches here. I thought the most interesting places were the temples because they are actually ancient structures, while the churches were built over ancient temples and altars, and its hard to see what’s left of them now.

The two temples are both related to the area they were found in. The round temple is called Hercules Olivarius (Hercules of Olives) or Hercules Victor. It would have been a very expensive temple to build because it is made of imported Greek marble. At the time it was built during the Republic in late 2nd century BC, marble had not yet been discovered in Italy. It is called Hercules of Olives because it was dedicated by a rich merchant who sold olives (according to an inscription found inside the temple). It survives in such good shape today because it was turned into a Christian church, and because it has been restored and cleaned. Ancient buildings that were used as churches often survive in much better condition than buildings that were left alone, used as housing, or stripped for building materials. During the middle ages and the Renaissance, people believed that it was a temple of Vesta, goddess of the hearth, because it was round and temples of Vesta were always round. However, when restoring the temple, an inscription stating who built the temple and its dedication to Hercules was found inside, confirming its identity. The wooden roof is a modern addition, but that’s what it would most likely have looked like in antiquity. Additionally, there are many other depictions and items dedicated to Hercules in the Forum Boarium because it is said to be the place in Rome where the hero stopped while completing his twelve trials.

The rectangular temple in the Forum Boarium is dedicated to the god Portunus, who is the god of ports. This is fitting, because the Forum Boarium is quite close to the Tiber river, and they would often trade goods in this area that had been shipped on the river. As with the round temple dedicated to Hercules, this temple was used as a church, and has been restored, and they have added a tile roof. It is also from the Republican era of the Roman empire. Unlike the round temple, this particular temple is made of travertine, which is a white stone used extensively in buildings Italy (including modern buildings). Most of the white stone you see in Rome is travertine. You can tell the difference between travertine and marble because travertine is much more porous than marble, and thus often gets dirtier much more quickly.

The temple is in a very typical Italic style. It has a raised porch that would have been used for political speeches and announcements. It has engaged columns built into the walls with free standing ones on the porch. It’s built in a rectangular shape with a pointed roof (although the roof is a restoration). In later times, the travertine was covered in reliefs sculpted out of stucco and painted in order to look like marble. None of these decorations survive today, but we can still get a pretty good idea of what the temple looked like.

There are also two arches that survive in the Forum Boarium, one of which we know a lot about and one which we know very little about. They are called the Arch of the Argentarii and the Arch of Janus/Constantine. The Arch of the Argentarii was built during the reign of Septimius Severus in the 3rd century AD as a tribute from the cattle merchants to the emperor. It survived essentially untouched (except by the elements) because it was incorporated into the side of a church. The main bit of damage done to the arch is actually contemporary with its building. After Caracalla killed his brother Geta (who was murdered while running to his mother and died in her arms), he erased Geta’s image and name from all of the monuments in Rome. The Roman Emperors were savage, but I suppose that’s part of what makes studying ancient Rome so fascinating.

The second arch, the Arch of Janus, is in much worse condition than the other one still standing in the Forum Boarium, although parts of it have been recently restored. The arch is called the arch of Janus because it is one of the few arches with four openings. It is also sometimes called the Arch of Constantine because it was built during the time period of his reign. It actually had the original top on the arch until the 18th century, when they removed it thinking it was a later addition. Modern scholars believe, however, that they unknowingly destroyed the original decoration. The Cloaca Maxima (the main sewer line of ancient Rome) runs directly down the center of the arch (underground of course). That may have significance, or it may be coincidental.

Also in the Forum Boarium are two churches that have ancient ruins under them, and one of them has the Hand of Truth (Roman Holiday anyone?), but you can only see the ancient ruins under one of the churches. Saint Nicola in Carcere is a church is built over three Roman temples, which are currently the foundations/crypt for the church. We got to go down there, and its creepy because they just casually have bones sitting in notch holes in the walls. You could reach out and touch them if you felt so inclined (but please don’t, obviously.) We didn’t get to see the ancient ruins under the other church, Santa Maria in Cosmedin, but it was a beautiful church. It’s one of the few medieval churches left in Rome (many were re-built during the Renaissance and Baroque period) and it has a beautiful floor made of small pieces of marble cut in a geometric pattern. This type of floor was made by the Cosmati brothers, and is popular for churches in Rome from the Medieval period. It is stunning.

Also, outside of this church is “The Hand of Truth” featured in the American movie Roman Holiday. This ancient Roman sewer cap, which depicts the face of the river god Oceanus, has a particularly interesting back story that has origins in the middle ages. Legend has it that if you tell the truth when you stick your hand in the mouth of Oceanus, then you get to keep your hand, but, if you lie, then you lose the hand. We didn’t want to risk losing a hand before we had to write our midterm, so we didn’t test if the myth was true while we there :).

Me testing the Hand of Truth!

The Forum Boarium is a great place to go for a lot of ancient Roman monuments fairly close together, and is one of the quieter places in Rome. It’s also right next to a very good pizza place in Testaccio Market called Casa Manco. It was a fun morning with a delicious lunch after!