France | An Idiot Abroad: Hola, Barcelona!



This past week of class has been fairly steady and non-exciting. Our French classes continue as normal as I struggle to learn the imparfait and differences between qui and que. Recently we received a new group of Japanese students in our French class. Straight from Tokyo and Meiji, our Japanese friends are very much in the same boat I am in. Seven out of the eight of them have no previous French experience and are just as lost as I am in the class. Our professor, Christophe, seems to be struggling a bit with the discrepancy in French levels as he must now accommodate students on a much wider spectrum. Though it is kind of nice having some people in the class who are just as clueless as I am. Our European Imperialism class is going very well and Professor Porter has introduced us many new and interesting insights on British overtures in China during the 19th and 20th century. Having learned broadly about the Opium Wars, Boxer Rebellion, and the spheres of influence established by western powers in China, it was very nice to get a more primary source centric lecture that dove more in depth into personal accounts; this really helped me get a much through understanding of the era. An animated man with a lively presence, Professor Porter never creates a dull moment. One can really see that his enthusiasm is genuine. This week was our class for Political Islam, Professor Addi ended the class on an interesting note talking about various terms in Arabic and discussing their historical and religious roots. I have always wanted to understand Islam, better but never took the time or opportunity to learn about it. This Political Islam class gave me a deeper understanding on how Islam affects matters of the state and the many nuances of the religion. While I wish the course would have had a more formal structure, it was nonetheless a great experience that broadened my perspectives. Professor Addi was a very nice teacher and even gave us three options for our final. One, take an in class essay exam. Two, do an at home essay on one of the books he provided in his syllabus. Three, do both and have the better score count. These are more options than they have at a French buffet! I have never heard of anything like this in the states and probably never will. Our last class, Justice and Democracy, is also about to wrap up and we will soon begin presenting our topic (overpopulation) as part of the final. Professor Sophie gave us interesting perspectives on the injustices that result from environmental pollution. She introduced various environmental theories and approached the matter of global warming from philosophical lenses. While I do enjoy Professor Sophie’s class, I sometimes feel that the theories she presents are just very common sense observations wrapped in pretentious vocabulary. Though I do not think that this is so much her as it is the philosophers she is teaching us about. We have another class beginning next Monday; it is weird that then commencing class will only last a month as that is only about a third of a standard UCLA quarter.


After all of our classes on Thursday, my girlfriend and I hopped on a plane to Barcelona (we do not have class on Fridays). The most simplistic method to get the Lyon airport is via a tramline called the Rhone Express. This is also the method of transportation suggested to us by UCEAP when we first arrived in Lyon. While the Rhone Express is incredibly easy to ride and convenient, it is not the cheapest. A few years ago Lyon’s public transport could take you to the airport. From Part-Dieu (the main train station in Lyon) one could simply take Tramway 3 towards Meyzieu Zone Industrial and then take a bus which stops at the airport.

All this would have only costed 1.80 euros (Lyon’s public transport tickets work for 60 minutes upon first validation so you can use it as much as you want on all the methods of transport within the hour). The bus has since been scrubbed so now the Rhone Express remains the only option besides driving. However, we recently discovered a car service that essentially has taken over the role of the bus. For 7 euros (student price) a shuttle service will pick you up at the Meyzieu Zone Industrial tram stop and drop you off at the airport. Even with the tramway ticket factored in, the total only comes out to 8.5 euros which is still

almost 5 euros cheaper than the student Rhone Express ticket. The Rhone Express, for a lack of a better word, is really just there to make more money off both tourists and local Lyonnais. There is absolutely no reason why a train or tramway line can not run to the airport, especially given the fact that there is literally a new train station inside the airport. These sentiments are also shared by Lyonnais locals. After speaking with my host family and a old French couple on the shuttle service, it was quite clear that no one is very pleased with the Rhone Express.

Anyways, after a tramway, shuttle service, flight, my girlfriend and I arrived at Barcelona. Our weekend trip was incredibly fun and I got to see sights that I never thought I would actually get an opportunity to see. We walked by the economics university in Barcelona, which was actually my first choice for study abroad, but I did not get my application in on time. In hindsight though, I am very glad I chose Lyon. Barcelona is too big of a city and there is just too much going on. After a very exciting weekend filled with much sightseeing, and sangria, we were both excited to return to our home in Lyon.

Barry Yang studied abroad in Lyon, France, in Spring 2017:

Spain | First Things First


September 4, 2017

Over my first few days in Madrid, I quickly identified some first week essentials to help me settle into a new country.

  1. Phone Plans
  2. FOOD
  3. Toiletries / Electronics
  4. More shopping areas

Phone Plans

I purchased a phone plan from a European provider primarily so I could use Google Maps to navigate the streets J. However, I have friends who opted to bypass the phone plan and rely primarily on Wi-Fi and asking for directions, which has worked out pretty well for them thus far…so it’s up to you what route you want to take!

If you do decide to get a phone plan, ACCENT staff typically recommend heading to The Phone House to purchase a SIM card if your phone is unlocked since they typically have a wide variety of options. They have multiple locations around Madrid, but I went to the one nearest to my homestay in Sol (address: Calle de Preciados, 19, 28013 Madrid) to check out the different plans.

At the time, the Phone House only had plans from Orange, but I had heard from friends that Vodafone and República Mobil were also popular options and wanted to look around a bit more. Across the street at El Corte Inglés, you can find every cellular provider on one floor of the store!


For 20 euro, you get 7 GB of data and 80 minutes of call time. Roaming is also included, meaning that the SIM card should work in other countries in the EU. While there are options to get 5 GB and some minutes for 15 euro and 3 GB and less minutes for 10 euro, the first time you purchase a card they require that you buy the “biggest option” for 20 euro. At the beginning of every month, you can reload with either the same or a smaller plan online, in store, or over the phone.

I also recently found out that the aforementioned plans are only good for the first month! After that, the plans reduce by half to become 3.5 GB for 20 euro, 2.5 GB for 15 euro, etc. You can always change providers after a month if you decide to though!

For 20 or 22 euros a month, you get 7 GB data and 60 minutes of calling. I’ve heard that Vodafone is similar to Orange in terms of Roaming plans for other countries in the EU!

With República Móvil, you benefit from 15 GB & 100 min calling for 20 euro a month! From a friend’s experience, the plan did not immediately activate outside of Spain (roaming) but after calling customer service she made it work outside of the country. I didn’t opt for this plan because I thought 15 GB was excessive and was worried about the possibility of it not working outside of Spain.

Regardless of which phone plan you choose, all of them should activate immediately after you enter in a PIN and configure your phone again. The entire process took less than an hour and so far, I’ve only used 2.5GB for 3 weeks…so needless to say 7 GB is a little much for me for the month, but it’s always good to figure out how much you typically use and then update the plan accordingly.

Food 🙂

My homestay family gives me breakfast (around 9 AM) and dinner (around 9 PM)…but that means I’m mostly on my own for lunch around 2 – 5 PM (not necessarily a bad thing! Spanish food is yummy!)

The first few days I was on the hunt for delicious, authentic Spanish cuisine and stumbled across The. Best. Thing. Ever. Menú del día. Typically, the menu of the day lets you select two dishes from a preset menu and includes a drink, bread, and dessert on top of the two entrees. So far, I’ve seen menus that are as cheap as 7 euro and as expensive as 15 euro, depending on how touristy the area is. The meal is also more expensive in some places if you opt to sit outside instead of at the bar.

For my first full meal in Spain, I found a place off a side street near Plaza del España with a 10.50 euro menu (13.50 when sitting outside) and decided to splurge.

First course, bread, and drink with the menu! They also brought me a tapa (small plate) with my drink of a piece of bread with tomato spread…but I ate it before taking the picture 

Secondary course of Menú del Día: chicken and potatoes

Dessert included…flan!

The menu is definitely the way to go if you’re really hungry and want to sample a large variety of foods while getting the most bang for your buck. You will leave happy and full (maybe too full), I promise you! Also take note that at any sit-down establishment in Madrid (and Spain in general), they do not bring you the receipt until you ask for it. This means you can sit and relax for hours after your meal if you want, and they likely will not ask you to leave unless they’re closing soon. J

While eating out is delicious, it gets a bit pricy to eat out every day. To save some money, I typically only splurge on a full meal a couple days a week and head to the other alternatives for grab-and-go around town other days.

At a supermarket like Mercadona or Express, they have pastries, prepackaged salads, bread, fruits and veggies, yogurts and more for a quick bite! My typical lunch consists of a grab-and-go salad or wrap, a peach, and yogurt, all for around 3-4 euro, sometimes less! There are also options for tapas for around the same price (I recommend 500 Monteditos…they have a lot of inexpensive and tasty options, and there are a ton of locations around Madrid!)

4 Euro meal at 500 Monteditos: Nachos to share, 2 sandwiches, and a drink!

Definitely make sure to save a day or two to try all the menus places have to offer – hot food and good conversation can’t be beat!

Misc. Toiletries / Electronics

I grabbed some power adapters for my electronics (laptop, phone) when I got here, since Europe doesn’t agree with the style of US plugs J Luckily, these are available at the nearest Bazar (Spanish equivalent to a dollar store with a random compilation of snacks, toiletries, school supplies, and more!) for 2-3 euros each. I would recommend buying more than one adaptor initially since one of mine somehow broke after 3 uses…good thing they’re inexpensive!

For shampoos, conditioners, and other toiletries, a Bazaar has some options, but a supermarket often has a greater variety. There are so many options in terms of general stores so I found what I needed close by! In times when my search proved to be futile, ACCENT staff were extremely helpful with recommendations J

More Shopping Areas

(yay wallet! $$$)

Along Calle del Preciados in Sol

Sol is the center of Madrid and has an overwhelming number of places to buy clothes, shoes, electronics, household items, and more! Gran Vía, the center of shopping near me, is just a 5-10 minute walk from Puerta del Sol and has all the large Macy-esque multilevel shops that your heart desires. If you’re looking for smaller shops, there’s a strip of stores and restaurants off of Tribunal metro station as well.

Puerta del Sol: beginning of shopping areas past the plaza

Luckily, the end of August into the middle of September marks rebajas season (read: MID-SEASON SALES!!!) Lots of things are 10-70% off…so treat yourself to something nice. You’re in Spain and that means dressing like the Spaniards do (which is more business-casual business-chic than we usually dress in the United States)!

Those are the four categories I found I wanted more info on within the first few days of arrival to Spain…so hopefully that helps orient you! Don’t worry, everything is within reach. 🙂

Hasta la próxima,


Nina Chikanov studied abroad in Madrid, Spain in fall 2017:

France | The Program Curriculum and Professor


Writing this post from my hometown Starbucks feels completely surreal. Just last week I was traveling in Taipei, Taiwan. A few days ago I attended my first Travel Study real-time online class. Yesterday, I was in downtown LA attending a business leadership conference.

The length and structure of the Travel Study International Business Law and Taxation program (2 weeks at UCLA/online and 3 weeks abroad) truly allows you to create the summer you want. In addition to the flexibility, the program is taught by an amazing professor and consists of an engaging curriculum.


Gonzalo Freixes

Adjunct Professor of Accounting, Associate Dean of the Fully Employed MBA program. “A native Cuban, Freixes and his parents immigrated to the U.S. in the early 1960s as refugees of the communist regime in that country…”


(1) Management 109: International Business Law

(2) Management 127C: International Taxation

(3) Optional research

Directly from the UCLA Accounting Minor Program courses page:

Management 127C: International Taxation (4 units) Only offered through the Travel Study Program

Recommended requisite: course 127A. Study of two principle areas of international taxation from U.S. regulatory perspective: taxation of American citizens and companies conducting business in international arena (outbound transactions) and taxation of foreign nationals and companies who invest or conduct business in the U.S. (inbound transactions).  

Management 109:  International Business Law (4) Only offered through the Travel Study Program

Recommended requisite: course 108. Study of international business legal environment, including general overview of international laws and organizations and comprehensive review of U.S. regulations of international business transactions. Special emphasis on international litigation, commercial transactions, regulation of investments, multinational corporations, and international banking.


While it is recommended for students to have taken Management 127A and 108 before participating in the program, it is not required. Professor Frexies provides an overview to U.S. individual taxation and U.S. corporate taxation in the first Management 127C lecture. He breaks down the basics in a simple yet comprehensive manner—it requires no previous knowledge to understand.


Professor Freixes provides PowerPoints and note outlines on UCLA’s CCLE website. You truly have everything you need to succeed in the course provided you study before and during the program. Professor Freixes highly, HIGHLY recommends reading the textbooks ahead of time. After all, who wants their nose buried in books and head swimming with tax codes when they could be exploring the sprawl of Paris?


There are midterms and finals for both classes. The exams are take-home AND open-note (just not open-friends). The first midterm will be distributed on the first day of class in Paris, two weeks after the first official class at UCLA… so we will see how that goes. I will be sure to reflect on the pace of the course and how to best manage your time abroad following the program.

Underneath the city lies the catacombs of Paris


As for the curriculum, it is complimented by day trips and walking tours in Paris, Normandy, and Strasbourg. Not only will you be learning international business law and taxation, you will be learning about French culture, history, and its ties to Europe’s own development. There will be trips to places like chateaus, the Catacombs, and museums (less related to the course, but there is still much to learn) and the European Parliament (more related to the course). So in addition to learning about international organizations, you will have a chance to see them in person!

The integration of classes, culture, and site visits will be an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience…so, take the leap and study abroad with UCLA Summer Travel Study!

Until next time,


Sherry Wang studied abroad in Paris and Strasbourg, France, in summer 2017: 

England | Tube and Transportation


The tube, also known as the London underground, is the essential rapid transit system within London. The tube is fast and speedy, allowing you to get from point A to point B throughout your day. The tube is very easy and simple to use, you just need a few tips to help you get started!

  1. Buy yourself an oyster card! You can think of an oyster card as a bruin card. You load money onto the card, which allows you to tap and go on transportation systems throughout London. You can purchase oyster cards at tube stations as well as stores all throughout London. Once you buy your oyster card, you load money onto your card. Once you are about to run out of money you “top off”, which means you simply load more money onto your oyster card. Majority of the time when you tap into the tube or bus station, the amount remaining on your card will show on the screen, so you will always know what your balance is. Taking the tube costs £2.40, while the buses cost £1.50. If you ever need to “top off” your card, there are always stations within the underground that allow to do so.

2. Navigating a tube station is the next step! At first it might seem intimidating and overwhelming, but at the end of the trip you will be a true London commuter. When I first started navigating both buses and the tube, I never knew which station to go to, which line to take, or which direction to go. Luckily there is an app called City Mapper where you enter your starting location and end destination and it gives you the cheapest and fastest tube or bus routes to take. Not only that, but City Mapper will explain which bus or tube to take, what direction, and what stop you need to get off at. Throughout our journey our study abroad program group always travelled together, so you are never really alone. There is an alternative to using City Mapper as well, you can always find your way around by asking the workers or daily commuters.

3. Platform signs and directional signs are your best friend! Throughout the station there are multiple signs that explain what line you are taking, what direction you’re going, and what platform your tube will arrive at. Also on that same sign, there will be a line with dots marking each stop that you make.

4. Don’t worry if you miss your tube because there are multiple tubes that will take you to your destination within approximately 3 to 5 minutes. This is good to keep in mind if you are travelling with a bigger group. It is safer to wait for a tube instead of running on and leaving people behind.

5. When you enter the tube make sure to sit down or hold on to the nearest handrail because the tube will take off with sudden force. The seats can be very comfortable after a long day of walking so make sure you don’t fall asleep and miss your stop!

6.  Last but not least, MIND THE GAP!

Savannah Shapiro studied abroad in London, England in summer 2017:

Switzerland | Logistics


More logistics. While I know that logistics aren’t the most fun to read about, there’s been a lot I’ve had to figure out in my first two weeks in Switzerland. In retrospect most of this stuff was actually super easy, but it was pretty hard to figure out on my own. My hope is that this info will make it easier for anyone who comes later!

Health Insurance

I know that I talked about this in my last post, and it might seem kind of boring, but figuring out Swiss health insurance was my #1 source of stress during my first week in Geneva – so here is everything I learned so hopefully it’ll be easier for you!

How do I know which company to pick? During our orientation on our first day in Geneva UNIGE had worked with various insurance companies to come to the university and to give us information about their student rates. Health insurance in Switzerland is compulsory and, like pretty much everything else in Geneva, expensive. Since there is no getting around purchasing health insurance it was nice that UNIGE had 3 or 4 companies with much cheaper premiums come so that we had some idea where to begin. Obviously you can choose whichever company you think will work best, but after looking into all of them Advisor seemed to make the most sense. With a CHF 100 deductible, the monthly premium for Advisor is CHF 86. Although this might sound like a lot, it’s within a few Swiss Francs of the other companies and nowhere near as expensive as the monthly premium that normal Swiss residents pay. The main reason that Advisor seemed like the best choice was that I didn’t have to open a Swiss bank account. I’m definitely bummed I won’t be able to say that I have a Swiss bank account in my name, but it turns out that being an American college student makes it pretty difficult to open one.

How do I sign up? Advisor has an easy online application system that you can do in French or English (this was key). Even though it was in English I still spent countless hours trying to figure it out. It turns out you can leave the bank information section blank (which I did) if you don’t have a Swiss bank account. What confused me the most was on the final page it told me I would be insured for a year. While some other people on the program were able to change their dates, I couldn’t and got increasingly worried that I would have to pay for insurance past my stay in Geneva. As it turns out, they emailed me as soon as I submitted the application to ask how long I would be staying and told me that I wouldn’t have to pay once I left- such a relief knowing it was so easy!

How do I pay? After all the stress and confusion surrounding applying for insurance I didn’t know it would be hard to figure out how to pay as well. Advisor sent me an envelope with a piece of paper for each month I would be in Geneva with a detachable potion at the bottom. I wasn’t really sure what to do with it, but later found out that if you bring it to the post office, along with money, they’ll pay your insurance for you. Honestly so simple now that I know! Now the only challenge will be remembering to pay it every month.

A post office near the lake. The building was so pretty I didn’t even realize what it was!


Nothing has made me more appreciative of my phone than only being able to use it on wifi in an unfamiliar place where I don’t speak the language. I didn’t have a Swiss SIM card for my first couple days in Switzerland and I felt so dependent on the people around me who already had working Swiss plans. Sure it’s nice to be able to Snapchat friends about what you’re doing or scroll through Instagram on the bus, but I really felt the inability to text and use Google Maps. I didn’t feel comfortable venturing out on my own knowing that I would have to rely solely on a screenshot of Google Maps to know where I was going and wouldn’t be able to text anyone or look anything up if I got lost.  As silly as it sounds, I really felt that having a working phone gave me the confidence to go out and explore the city on my own – which is something that I couldn’t recommend more!

There are two main phone companies in Geneva that offer good prepaid plans—Salt and Sunrise. The main difference is that with Salt you pay $2/day for unlimited data and then a certain amount per text and call. In contrast, with Sunrise you pay a certain amount every month depending on which plan you want. This felt more like what I was used to at home so I ended up going with Sunrise. I got a plan that gave me unlimited 4G data within Switzerland as well as unlimited texts and calls (to the US too!!) and a small amount of international data for weekend trips. One thing that I learned the hard way – make sure you know how to turn on/ off roaming. Since Geneva is so close to France my phone automatically connected to a French tower the first day I had it and I used up a chunk of my roaming data without even knowing it.

Housing Deposit

Ok so this one is still a little up in the air…. When you check into the Cite when you arrive one of the first things you do is give them a security deposit. Ideally they want you to open a certain kind of bank account called a depository account where your deposit stays during your stay. But, like I said before, I’m trying to avoid opening a bank account at all costs. The man at the front desk assured me that it would most likely be fine for me to just put my deposit on my American Visa, but I guess we’ll find out at the end of this when I try and get my CHF 400 back!

Scotland | Joining a Society


Upon arriving, University of Edinburgh had a ‘Give it a Go’ week. This week was dedicated to introducing  the variety of functions and societies that the university has to offer and encouraging students to partake in free samples. But what exactly are societies? Societies are the equivalent of the clubs we have on campus. Most societies require that you purchase a membership, which varies depending on what society it is and what they offer their members with or without additional costs. Below are some of the popular ones I’ve heard about and my own preferences:

Baking Society

I went to the Baking Society’s Give it a Go event and had a blast! Recipes and ingredients were provided. If you like baking and eating baked goods, this society might be the perfect fit! For weekly meetings, everyone brings along baked goods and just enjoy the deliciousness and good company. Every month or so there are themed baking events, where everyone bakes a specialized treat at a central location. A membership for this society is £5 and certain event’s cost for ingredients.

Unfortunately, I didn’t join because I have no idea how to work the oven at my house. It’s just mug cakes for me this semester…

Murder Mystery Society

The Murder Mystery Society is one of the best societies on campus. It has the most lovely people and also it’s loads of fun! Every month we do a murder mystery that has been written by one of the members. What exactly is a murder mystery? Well, basically, you sign up for a character and, when the murder mystery draws near, you receive a character sheet. This character sheet says who you are,  what your secrets and motives are, and what kind of actions you can perform. It’s role play but also very strategic. Even though the ideas are written, it never necessarily has the same outcome. Alliances are made. Trust is broken. And murder everywhere!

Also, they have this going away weekend in Spring semester to the Highlands, where we play a plethora of board games and, of course, a murder mystery. This is by far my favorite society. Definitely worth a look!

Membership to this society is £3. After that, going to most society events are free! If you’re unsure of joining, each murder mystery is £1 for non-members.

Pole Dancing Society

I joined the Pole Dancing Society because I always loved how majestic pole dancers look when doing their dances. It truly is a form of art, graceful and beautiful. That’s definitely not how I looked during my first class, but a girl can dream, right?

The Pole Dancing Society provides classes for beginners, intermediate, and advanced levels. They provide poles and loads of advice on how to learn the basics of pole dancing. They also offer flexibility workshops and ‘sexy’ workshops throughout the semester. Everyone is super sweet and the instructors are very skilled and patient. If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to pole dance or even just want to find a new form of exercise, check out this society! It’s way cheaper than any pole dancing classes you’ll find in LA!

A membership for this society is £6, with most classes being £3 each. Classes go online every Thursday at 6pm. Set an alarm because beginner classes fill up within the first 10 minutes!

FAQ: Card and Board Games Society

If you like playing board games, this society is for you! They meet almost every Tuesday at a pub to play board games for hours on end. They have a plethora of board games and everyone encourages a friendly, competitive environment. They’ll occasionally have bowling nights or join with the Murder Mystery society for some nights. I LOVE board games so going to board game nights on a Tuesday night is a fun way to stress relieve after a long day of school. A membership for this society is £3.

Caitlyn Pickard studied abroad in Edinbugh, Scotland, in Spring 2018: 

France | An Idiot Abroad: Super Mario Go, Coin!



This past week Professor Porter took us to a very famous Lyonnais museum (Musee de Beaux Arts, which literally translates to “museum of beautiful arts”). He wanted to do our last lecture outside of the classroom and have us experience more of Lyon. The museum is an architectural master piece and composed of beautiful gardens, reliefs, and lots of marble. A former nunnery, the Museum came to be after locals raided the it during the French Revolution. The nunnery was known to have housed many artifacts and deemed too extravagant by locals for a place of God. The state eventually took control of the nunnery and overtime a museum was established. Not only are the artifacts housed in the museum a part priceless history, but so is the building and location itself. In fact, in the Hotel de Ville – Louis Pradel plaza right outside the museum, over ninety people were executed by guillotine during the revolution.

The reason why Professor Porter took us to the museum was to show us a Matisse painting that he had been researching about for the last three months. The painting depicted an art dealer with a very particular beard. Professor Porter spent two hours in front of the exhibit telling us a very convoluted, but extremely interesting, timeline of the paintings imperialist history and his theories on some of the imperialist symbology depicted in the painting. The passion Professor Porter had during this lecture was immense; it was incredibly clear that he was teaching and talking about a subject matter he genuinely cared about. His research on the Matisse painting was not commissioned by the school or an organization, but done simply out of his own interest and curiosity. Professor Porter has been one of the most enjoyable professors I had during this study abroad experience. Many of the other UC students also enjoyed Professor Porter’s class. I feel very lucky to have been taught by someone who so genuinely cares about his subject matter and I hope to meet more professors like Professor Porter in the future. As an end of the term celebration, Professor Porter has invited all of us to see a mime in a traditional Lyonnaise theater and enjoy some beers with him and the theater troupe afterwards. Honestly, what a cool guy (he literally wears a suit everyday but rides around on a scooter).


This study abroad experience has truly been holistic. Not only have I hung out and enjoyed drinks with local Lyonnais and French individuals, but I have also had the opportunity to make friends with people from all over the world. I have had the opportunity to learn about life in Germany, Turkey, Finland, Japan, Ireland, Scotland, London, and many other countries. The stories I have heard and the friendships I have made on this experience will be something that I take with me for the rest of my life and look back on with extreme fondness and nostalgia.

This past weekend the Japanese students in our French class invited us all to their apartment for a party. When we arrived we were greeted with plates of traditional family style dishes. One of the Japanese student’s mother was in Lyon visiting for a few days and she was in the kitchen Gordon Ramsey-ing it up for everyone. There was a lot of camaraderie and shared responsibility amongst all the Japanese students as everyone was doing something to help set up the party. Some were preparing drinks and others were helping in the kitchen. There was not an idle hand and everyone took part in something. We must have had 9 or 10 different dishes that night. The mother even brought some ingredients in straight from Japan. There was a seafood soup that was incredibly savory and nutritious. They prepared a kind of hash brown pancake, but it was topped with dried fish. It would take me too long to describe all the food, but needless to say it was all very delicious. My knowledge of Japanese cuisine expanded greatly after this experience as now I know more than just ramen and sushi. We played some traditional Japanese drinking games as well and it was incredibly fun seeing people from America, Finland, Germany, Turkey, and Japan all bond over food and games. One of the drinking games our Japanese friends taught us was literally called “Super Mario Go, Coin.” Essentially everyone would be in a circle and take turns saying one syllable of the phrase “Super Mario, Super Mario, Super Mario, Coin!”

The “coin” would increase after every time the phrase is said. After the first completion it would be one “coin,” second completion would be two “coin,” and so on and so forth. If someone messed up on what he or she is suppose to say then he or she would drink. These games were really fun because they seem to be designed with the intent of getting people to know each other and create bonds rather than just to get people drunk. We all had a really good time at the party and I got to learn a lot about Japanese traditions and cuisine. It is moments like these that make me really enjoy studying abroad; being able to bond with a diverse group of people over simple foods and finding that common link that bridges all cultures and divides is part of what made, and what continues to make, this study abroad experience so fun and eye opening. There are so many hidden gems within every culture, but it is not until you can embed in the culture and have authentic experiences with locals that these gems become discoverable.

Barry Yang studied abroad in Lyon, France, in Spring 2017:

Spain | ¡Buen viaje!


September 2, 2017 – September 3, 2017

¡Hola compañeros! My name is Nina, and I’m here to guide you through all the nuances and memories of my study abroad experience with UCEAP’s Contemporary Spain Program at the UC Center in Madrid. 🙂

Bright and early on September 2, my parents drove me to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, where my journey begins. With a final destination of Madrid, Spain, my itinerary also included stops in Boston and in Lisbon with some layovers in between. Needless to say, I had a long journey ahead of me, but I was excited nonetheless. After months of telling friends and family that I would be spending a semester abroad in Spain, the time had finally come to make the trek.

I tried really hard to fit all my clothes and shoes into a carry-on sized backpacking bag. I mean I really, really tried. But after consolidating articles of clothing and trying to pack for a month of heat (all of September) as well as three months of cold (October – December), my mom and I decided to fit the backpacking bag into a larger suitcase and check the bag instead for less hassle. Even though I would probably need to get rid of some clothes and the suitcase before my planned European backpacking trip after the end of the program, that was a problem I was willing to deal with in December.

The first thing I had to do was check into my departing flight from Seattle to Boston. I flew with JetBlue and for some reason I had not been able to check-in online the night before. They told me that, since I was travelling with an American passport and did not purchase a round-trip ticket, they needed some verification that I would depart from Spain before they checked me in. Apparently, a plane, train, or ticket for any other form of transportation showing my exit date from Spain would work, but travelling with an American passport requires that you have proof that you will not stay in the country forever.

Thankfully, I had made plans to leave Spain for Fall Break (you get one week of break!!) and showed them my plane ticket that would take me out of Madrid. I’m not sure if this is a common experience for everyone, since many of my friends had no problem checking in. However, in order to avoid the hassle, I would suggest either booking a round-trip flight or buying a ticket to leave the country prior to leaving the United States.

The flight from Seattle to Boston was around 6 hours long and was otherwise uninteresting. I had a layover of about 2 hours in Boston, which gave me enough time to grab a bite to eat before my next flight to Lisbon with TAP Portugal. Before boarding the connecting flight, an attendant checked my passport one last time and verified my final destination. Then, I was off! One flight down, two more to go!

This airplane was bigger than the domestic one, by virtue of international travel. However, there wasn’t that much space underneath the seats so I threw my school-bag in an overhead bin and was very glad that I had checked my bags for the journey. This flight also took around 6.5 hours, for a total time of 12-13 hours in the air since I left Seattle. Since this was a night flight, they fed us dinner on the plane 🙂

When I stepped off the plane in Lisbon, I had one more connection to catch straight to Madrid. However, the layover in Portugal was very short and left me with thirty minutes to go through customs before boarding started. Yes, you have to go through customs after your flight from the United States into Europe. This is the only time they check your student visa and put you through a border check. If you fly straight into Madrid, it’ll most likely happen there, but if you have a connecting flight somewhere else in Europe beforehand, be prepared for a long line to enter the country.

So…ready for a plot twist? I missed my flight from Lisbon to Madrid because of the long customs lines and short layover (nooooooooo). Even though I asked the workers at customs to let me go in an expedited line, they prioritized other flights over mine while reassuring me that there was no way I would miss the plane. By the time I passed through customs and another round of security, the gate for my flight was already closed and there was nothing they could do to get me on the original flight. When booking your flight, try to ensure at least 2 hours of layover, especially if connecting straight from the United States to Europe.

The next direct flight from Lisbon to Madrid left at night and would arrive at 9 PM instead of the 9 AM original time. Since I had plans to meet Raquel at the UC Center (also called the ACCENT Madrid Study Abroad Center) for orientation before classes, I wanted to get to Madrid as soon as possible. So, as a workaround I was rebooked for a flight with Iberia Airlines to Milan that connected straight to Madrid by 6 PM. In the meantime, they reassured me that my checked luggage would be sent straight to Madrid and I was given a 6-euro voucher to get breakfast before my next flight.

After 4 separate flights and unnecessary layovers, I landed in Madrid in one piece! Whew! When we landed, I went straight to baggage claim to look for my luggage. Surprise, surprise, it had not arrived to Madrid yet. I filed a missing baggage report with the Iberian Airlines help-desk where I gave them the address of the ACCENT Center and my e-mail address to contact me. They said that once my baggage was found, it would take 2-3 days to send it to the address I provided.

Make sure to ask what kind of policy the airline has for lost baggage. I later found out that Iberian Airlines will reimburse up to 50 euros a day for any clothes, toiletries, or other necessities you need to buy while the luggage is missing. (Update: they delivered my bag 10 days later…still waiting on the reimbursements J)

Additionally, pack an extra outfit (including underwear and socks) along with travel toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, contact solution, contacts, glasses, etc.) in your carry-on in case your luggage disappears for a little bit. While you can buy what you need in Spain, it’s better to have a base set of necessities with you. Even better, try to fit everything into a carry-on bag if at all possible, especially if you have multiple layovers before your final destination. That way, you’ll be sure to have what you need as soon as you arrive.

To get to the ACCENT center, I took a taxi with a flat 30-euro rate from the airport to anywhere in Madrid. Since I arrived a week later than everyone else, Raquel and I took care of all the logistics in one go instead of over the course of two days. I also missed the walking tour of the area, but since then have done plenty of exploring on my own to get situated J

Armed with tons of pamphlets with information about homestay customs, how to save money during study abroad, a language “quick guide” with handy Spanish phrases, a map of the city, important dates, and more, I made my way to my homestay location with the metro. UCEAP provides everyone on the program with an all-expenses-paid transport card that works for metro, train, and bus within Madrid – a true lifesaver!

Naturally, with no cellular data and no sense of direction, I started walking in the completely wrong direction as soon as I exited the Metro…but 30 minutes later I was greeted with open arms by my host-mom, Pura, and fed a delicious Spanish dinner of chicken and potatoes J I guess the good thing about traveling for over 24 hours is that I completely missed jetlag and got accustomed to the 9-hour time difference between Spain and California right away!

Hopefully you gain some vital travel insights from my struggles…I know I’m definitely more prepared for next time I travel!

More stories to come soon 🙂

Hasta luego,


Nina Chikanov studied abroad in Madrid, Spain in fall 2017:

France | Taking the Leap With This Program


Welcome to my first blog post! I hope you have had a chance to read the “About the Author” page and gotten a glimpse of who I am and what I hope to accomplish with this blog. For my first post, I would like to give everyone a bit of insight as to why I chose this study abroad program (and why you absolutely should take the leap if you are considering it!). Without further ado…


(1) If you’re minoring in Accounting or interested in tax and international business law. 

The courses Management 109 and 127C are both upper division electives and applicable to the UCLA Accounting minor. Additionally, the course units go towards your education requirements for CPA licensure.

From an open-top boat on the Seine River.

(2) Live in PARIS! And another city of Professor Friexes’ choice—this year it’s Strasbourg.

This one is huge. Who wouldn’t want to live in such a romantic, dynamic, and culturally diverse city?

It can be as immersive (or not) as you want it to be. Extend your visit an extra week or six. Go where you want. In your free time, explore different lands, peoples, and cultures.

(3) It is shorter than a quarter with 2 weeks at home and 3 weeks abroad.

No space in your schedule during the school year to study abroad? Go during the summer!

(4) It is FLEXIBLE.

The structure of the program allows you to “do it all!” You can study abroad, and if you choose, still attend UCLA’s Summer Session A, take on a job, and/or travel with family and friends before and afterwards. The program is relatively easy to fit into your schedule when compared to semester long study abroad program.

For the two weeks at home, there is the option to attend class in-person at UCLA, in real-time online, or online at any time with an additional assignment.

To those recruiting for public accounting summer leadership programs (SLPs), this program does not create a time-conflict. The SLPs end before the Travel Study program. (I personally was able to travel with family, attend the SLPs, and relax at home!)

Omaha Beach in Normandy, the landing area used by the Allied forces during the WWII D-Day invasion.

(5) Taught by UCLA faculty.

UCLA’s Travel Study programs are taught by UCLA faculty rather than by foreign professors.

Professor Friexes is a fantastic professor who strives to integrate the curriculum with the travel aspect of the program. Not only will he prepare his students to leave France with an understanding of international business law and taxation, he encourages students to learn through exploration of our destination. For this program, he’s planned walking tours and day-trips to immerse students in the history and culture of France.

These are just a few of the reasons why the UCLA Travel Study program for international business law and taxation is a must-experience opportunity. Stay tuned for more informational posts!

Our class at the last destination of our last walking tour in France, Sainte Sulpice Church.

Until next time,


Sherry Wang studied abroad in Paris and Strasbourg, France, in summer 2017: 

England | Weekend Trip to Ireland


Ireland became our little home for the weekend. Our three days that we spent traveling to Ireland was spontaneous and it was the first time in my life where I can now say that I understand what the word traveling means. There are few times in life where you can say you went to Ireland for a weekend, and I’m still in a sense of shock to say that I can now say that.

After class on Friday, three of us went to Euston station to catch a train to Chester. From Chester, we transferred trains and took our last train to Holyhead. Our final connection was from Holyhead to Dublin on a ferry which was more like a cruise ship.  Over the course of a weekend, we spent 19 hours traveling. We took a bus, two trains and a ferry but managed to get Ireland

We arrived in Ireland at 12:30AM and got to the place we were staying which was in Seapoint, a cute little suburban town that is nestled next to the coast.

On Saturday morning, we attempted to do as much as we possibly could do in our one full day. We went to the beach in the morning which was right down the street from where we stayed.

After the beach, we learned how to take Ireland’s public transportation called The Dart. We took The Dart, which is just a train, across the coast to a town called Bray. There was a large street fair and a big green cliff looking out toward the ocean. We hiked up the hill and I was able to live my dream of standing on a cliff in Ireland. I dropped half of my caprese sandwich on the way, so the view made up for the tragedy.

We went to the center of the city in Dublin to go see Dublin Castle. The castle was fun, but it was hard to hold a flame next to Windsor. Windsor still takes the cake and is my favorite. To get into Dublin Castle, it is around €6.00 with a student ID card.

We made our way down to the Guinness Storehouse that everyone recommended us to go to. We learned how the craft Guinness beer and the process of brewing beer. The Storehouse was like a museum and they turned beer making into an art. For students, the tour cost is €18.00.

We ended the night in a pub and restaurant called O’Neills. What made my trip so special was this pub. We are at the Carvery which serves you an entire chicken if you wish that’s garnished with a sprig of rosemary smack dab in the breast. The restaurant is similar to buffet style in a way, but I was struggling. I must have looked confused and because an Irish woman nearby asked me if figured it out how to order. I said no not really and she said me either actually. She told me that you just have to get people’s attention here and tell them what you want. It was nice to finally have help and it was the first time that someone explained that there’s never really a system or line to a restaurant.

We stayed at O’Neills to watch the Irish band and River dancers perform which easily became my favorite moment of our trip. We were crammed in a little pub and I couldn’t believe where I was. Irish Dancing is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen and I may or may not have cried in the pub. It was such a small moment in a small little pub, but it made everything about our long weekend of traveling worth it.

On Sunday morning, we got up early to go see the Trinity College Library which was one of the prettiest libraries I’ve been to! It was €10.00 to get into the library but it also included the Book of Kells.

We ended our short but sweet trip in Stephens Green a park located right in the heart of Dublin. We sat on a bench and laughed thinking about our journey that we took and how great it was. It seemed crazy, but there’s not one moment where we regret our tiny little getaway to Ireland. We wished we had more time to soak up everything that Ireland has to offer, but we left satisfied with what we did.

Traveling Tips

Find yourself a sister who makes you an Ireland playlist!

Pack light! Put on a backpack and grab some headphones, you’ll be good to go!

They are on the euro in Ireland don’t forget!

Euston to Chester / Chester to Holyhead / Holyhead to Dublin

Dublin to Holyhead / Holyhead to Crewe / crewe to Euston

Savannah Shapiro studied abroad in London, England in summer 2017: