Peru | Packing for Summer Abroad

BY MIKA NAGAMOTO

Helpful Tips:

  • Roll all of your clothing so that it fits neatly into your luggage or buy packing cubes for good organization
  • Put all of your liquids into plastic bags
  • Pack light (most students brought one larger suitcase that they checked and one carryon backpack)
    • Note: for our program we went to Iquitos for a week. It’s helpful to have one smaller duffle bag or suitcase that can be used to pack your things for a week. Bringing a large suitcase or checking a bag is a bit of a hassle for shorter trips.
  • Bring a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, and a hairbrush on the plane (it’s a long flight and especially if you’re on a red-eye these items are much appreciated)
  • Don’t forget to download music onto your phone (if you use Spotify this is especially helpful to remember before you leave Wifi)
  • Keep all of your valuables and an extra pair of clothing in your carry-on (incase you loose your luggage)

Fully Disclosed Packing List: (note that I decided to stay for the entire summer in Peru instead of just the length of the program so this list is for 3 months of luggage)

  1. Clothing
    • 3 pairs of jeans
    • 3 pairs of comfortable leggings
    • 1 pair of warm sweatpants
    • 7 long sleeve shirts/light sweaters
    • Several layers of warm jackets: a fleece or light down jacket are the most common layers that students brought
    • 4 t-shirts
    • Hiking pants
    • 2 hiking/workout material tank-tops
    • 1 good layer to keep mosquitos away: a thick flannel or light jean jacket is helpful
    • 1 rain jacket
    • 1 pair of jean shorts
    • Clothing for Iquitos (includes many of the items mentioned above)

I was fortunate enough to spend one week in the Amazon area of Iquitos. During July it is summer in Iquitos which is very hot and humid. Having light linen clothes helps the most with the heat but it’s also important to try to completely cover your skin as much as possible to protect from mosquitos. Most students wore leggings or linen pants, and a long sleeve shirt or flannel when we went into the Amazon. Hats, sunglasses, and a small day-bag for excursions were also very helpful.

  1. Shoes
    • Good walking shoes with traction; the streets in Lima are all polished cement and the morning rain makes the pavement slippery (sounds a little ridiculous but I fall an average of about twice every 4 blocks)
    • Comfortable boots; for going to nicer dinners and cultural events
    • Hiking boots (there are several great hikes nearby Lima and this is especially necessary for Machu Picchu)
  2. Toiletries (a lot of these items can be bought at the stores in Lima in case you forget)
    • Mosquito repellent
    • Anti-itch cream
    • Sunscreen
    • Toothbrush
    • Toothpaste
    • Shampoo/conditioner (the hotel has free shampoo and body soap)
    • Deodorant
    • Body/face wash
    • Medications (remember to bring enough to last the entire trip)
    • Pepto-bismol
    • Lotion
    • GermX
    • Contacts/glasses
    • Electronics
    • A small camera for videos and pictures
    • An adapter for outlets; most outlets work with phone chargers or regular two-prong plugs

When packing for me study abroad trip, I tried my best to make sure I was thinking of all possible scenarios I would be in and all of the different types of places I would need clothes for. Lima also has many shopping malls around Miraflores so if anyone forgot anything it was very easy to buy it in a nearby store. Around Parque Kennedy are several clothing and department stores that had many options for a relatively good price.

Mika Nagamoto studied abroad in Lima and Iquitos, Peru, in summer 2018: https://ieo.ucla.edu/travelstudy/GlobalHealth-Lima/

Italy | Some handy Italian (and Rome) Tips

By Andrea Zachrich

I thought it might be useful to make a guidebook of things I learned in Italy and differences between the culture there and in the U.S. so that you don’t look like an idiot tourist like I did. Not all of these are super strict guidelines, and some only apply to Rome, but I hope they can help you in your future travels!

  1. You almost always pay after you eat (or drink, if its coffee), regardless of if you eat in a more traditional sit down restaurant, or a walk-up to the counter and order kind of place. Basically, they just trust you to pay after you finish eating. Trying to pay before usually leads to a lot crazy looks and most places will just tell you to wait.
  2. That being said, however, if you’re ordering something quick like a gelato or a drink, they often ask you to pay before you eat it, and then you walk up with your receipt to get your order. Giolitti’s, my favorite gelato place in Rome, functions like this. I would default to the first way of paying unless you see a register near the front of the store or notice someone else paying first.
  3. Grazie – this is the word for thank you. You will use it a lot. For the love of all that is holy, it is not pronounced “gra-zi”, but rather “gra-zi-aye”. I realize that sometimes it will sound like the first pronunciation because Italians often talk rather quickly, but they make fun of Americans who pronounce it the first way.
  4. Italians don’t really have a concept of lines or right of way, so often times if you’re tying to order something you have to be a little assertive and make sure you are heard. I don’t think its them being rude, but rather they assume that everyone behaves like that. Same goes with crossing the street. Drivers won’t stop for you unless you’re already in the street. True Italians just make eye contact with the driver while stepping in the street in front of traffic and assume the cars will stop.
  5. People in Italy eat pizza with a knife and a fork. This took a little getting used to, but I think it makes it better because you can get a better bite of pizza. I also saw my Sicilian relatives cut up parts of the pizza with a knife and fork, and then eat it in pieces with their hands, but I wouldn’t do that unless you see other people doing it (that could have been a more casual way to eat because we were with family too).
  6. For some reason, Google maps worked a lot better for me than Apple maps while I was in Rome. Apple maps would often take me to the wrong address, while Google maps was much more accurate. I’m not really sure why this is, but to save yourself the hassle of going to the wrong place, I would just start with Google maps. You can also use Google maps to figure out which public transportation line to take if you tap on the symbol that looks like a train (super useful!)
  7. If you’re in Rome, I would start with an English “hello” when you walk into a store or restaurant and not a “ciao” even though this goes against everything I stand for in terms of not looking like a tourist. The reason is that if you start with ciao, and you look Italian (as I do because my grandparents are from there), people will start rapid fire speaking to you Italian, and then have to repeat themselves in English after they realize you don’t speak their language when you blankly stare at them, and that’s frustrating for everyone involved. If you start with a hello, they know to start in English, and then if you’re trying to work on your Italian you can always tell them that and ask for some tips.
  8. Download the Italian language dictionary of google translate onto your phone so that you don’t have to use your data. Many museums won’t translate the placards by the art, so the app is useful to have to know what you’re looking at. Ditto for restaurant menus so you know what you’re ordering (at least at first until you get the hang of it).
  9. Watch your stuff , especially on public transportation, because there are a lot of pickpockets. (The amount of times I had an older Italian lady on the tram motion at me to close my bag was absurd. When I was in Catania, Sicily, an old couple even stopped their car in the middle of a busy street to tell me to close my bag, so clearly pickpocketing is an issue in Italy).
  10. Meal times are different there. Lunch is around normal time (usually 12 or 12:30 to 2:00), but dinner is later at around 8:30. If you can’t wait until then, you can head out and grab aperitivo, which is pre-dinner drinks and snacks. It usually starts at around 7:00 (honestly, its a great concept). Breakfast is usually something very simple such as a coffee with a small pastry.
  11. It’s hot in the summer. Like really hot, with humidity on top of it. Visiting sites in the morning and the late afternoon, with an A/C break and nap mid-day, is the way to go. You might feel like you’re missing out, but trying to move around in the middle of the day is miserable and makes you feel terrible.
  12. Get an Italian SIM card for your phone if you’re going to be there any substantial amount of time. It’s the easiest and most stress-free way to communicate. Yes, you do get a different phone number, but your friends and family can use Whatsapp with your old phone number to get in contact with you. Also, Vodafone offers amazing deals on internet usage I got 8GB of data for 10 euros (essentially unlimited data at that amount)! That’s unheard of in the US.
  13. Bring a reusable water fountain to fill up at the nasoni fountains that are all around town and save yourself some money!
  14. Always have cash on you. Many smaller gelato and coffee places only take cash, and even some bigger places act like its a huge inconvenience when you try to use your card. You can get cash at ATMs. Look for one that has a flat fee to pull out money. Make sure not to keep all your cash with you in case it get stolen. Also, get a travel credit card. Bank of America offers an awesome one that covers all international transaction fees.
  15. If you know Spanish, it will really help you in Italy. There was one person in our study abroad group who would just speak Spanish to waiters and servers, and they almost always knew what he meant. I’m not sure they appreciated him speaking Spanish, but it was an effective way to communicate. Most places in Rome have at least one person working there who speaks English, but Spanish may be better to start with if you’re fluent.
  16. Some useful words and phrases:
    1. “Ciao!” is hello and goodbye. I like this word a lot.
    2. “Prego” is translated into “you’re welcome”, but it’s used in more ways than that (although its still used as you’re welcome frequently). Often times, it could be better translated into the word “please” or “go ahead”. When servers are ready for you to order or a hostess takes you to your table, they will often say “prego” to let you know that they are ready for you to speak or that this is where you’re sitting.
  • To order: “per me, ________”, which means “for me, _______ and then whatever you want to order.
  1. The bill is “il conto”. Servers in Italy don’t get tipped for their service, so they generally care less than servers in the US. Don’t be surprised if you have to ask a couple times for the bill. You’re also kind of expected to sit and chill after you eat, so often times they won’t think to bring the bill right away if you don’t ask.
  2. How to say excuse me: this one is particularly useful. There are three phrases in Italian for the one English phrase of “excuse me” and I was a little confused about the usage of the different phrases at first…
    1. “con permesso”: excuse me when you are walking past people (very helpful on public transportation)
    2. “mi scusi”: excuse me when you are trying to get ones attention (such as in a restaurant)
    3. “scusa”: sorry to apologize for something (usually used by my clumsy self when I bumped into someone)
  3. “Dove il bagno?”: where’s the bathroom. You can also just ask “il bagno?” and they’ll usually point you in the right direction.
  • “caldo” and “freddo” are hot and cold, respectively, which is useful for when you’re trying to order coffee.
  • “andiamo” is let’s go! Professor Gurval used this often while trying to get our class places in Rome.
  1. And lastly “allora”. This is one of my favorite words in Italian. It’s basically a placeholder word, and functions as “um” or “well” does in English. If you hear someone say this, they’re probably thinking about what to say.

That’s all I can think of for now. Rome is a pretty easy city to figure out, between Google maps, the internet, and the fact that many people there speak English, you will be a-ok. Good luck on your travels!

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: http://eap.ucop.edu/OurPrograms/denmark/Pages/univ_of_copenhagen.aspx

Rome | Best Otaleg in Trastevere

By Andrea Zachrich

Otaleg is what word backwards? I’ll just give you a minute…

GELATO!! Otaleg is easily one of my favorite gelato places in Rome, and certainly my favorite in Trastevere. What I look for in a gelato place are:

The Flavors

Are they unique flavors? Do they have the classics and some new, more creative flavors?

This place has it all! They have more interesting flavors such as mango with chocolate (which was delicious by the way) and classics such as stratiacella (chocolate chip) and fondente (dark chocolate). They would also occasionally change out their more creative flavors, so there was usually something new to try when I went in.

The Price

Is it cheap? Does the gelato place scoop a decent amount for what you pay? (Giolitti, for example, is a little on the high side at 2.80 euros for a small with two flavors, but the scoops they give you are huge and they don’t charge extra for the panna (whip cream)).

Side note: try panna if you get the chance! It’s essentially whip cream without the pressurized air (so like it’s literally whipped cream). It’s delicious and almost like you get another scoop of ice cream on top of your gelato

This place is simple: they charge a euro for a scoop. So two flavors is 2 euro, and 3 flavors is 3 euro, etc. All the scoops are the same size, because they use a little ice cream scooper (which is a little unconventional for a gelato place, but at least it’s standardized). It’s also really tasty, so I think that it’s worth the price!

The Presentation

Is the inside cute? Do they have all the flavors displayed nicely?

I know this is nit-picky, but when you get gelato nearly every day for a month, you have to have some way to distinguish between the places! This place has a modern look, which is different from many of the places in Rome. The flavors are displayed in front of you, and the flavor names are written in Italian and English. While the English is unnecessary (you will learn food names in Italian quickly, trust me), it does make ordering easier because you don’t have to ask (or guess) what all the flavors are.

Cool, modern interior of the gelato shop!

How to get there

This place is very centrally located in Trastevere, and is right by the main church of Santa Maria de Trastevere on Via d. San Cosimato. Here’s a map to help you find it!

Notice how close it is to the main square and the river!

Giolitti will always have my heart, but this place was much closer to our apartments, so it was a good subsitute when my love of Giolitti’s wasn’t strong enough to walk all the way across the city in the summer heat. If you happen to find yourself in Trastevere, and want some gelato, I would definitely recommend this place!

Japan | Fruits & Fast-Food

By Deran Chan

I’ve been in Tokyo now for about 2 weeks. I moved into my dorm at International Christian University (ICU), started my classes, and played tennis indoors for the first time. This is my study abroad experience. Once I got to Japan, I needed to stock up on snacks (priorities) so I started at the local markets. If you didn’t already know, fruits and vegetables in Japan are SO EXPENSIVE. This mango peach costs 600 yen at the supermarket (roughly equivalent to $6 in the U.S.) and this is because Japan gets a lot of their fresh produce imported from around the world.

After my Japanese produce haul, I ventured into the world of fast-food. Just a 10 minute bus ride away from campus, Musashi-Sakai Station offers a wide range of restaurants and shops. So where did I go?

McDonald’s. Yep, that’s right. I travelled to the other side of the world to eat the most “American” restaurant known to man. In my defense, the menu is completely different, but more importantly it’s way better. The McNuggets taste like actual chicken and the whole experience feels like anything but fast-food. I also tried their grape float since their ice cream machine was actually working <shocker> and I was pretty satisfied overall.

A few days later, I went to a chain called “MOS Burger.” The burger was really flavorful and I could tell that MOS Burger was the In-n-Out of Japan. Unlike the United States, a lot of Japanese restaurants will have a second story for additional seating. When you’re done eating, make sure you put your dishes and trash in the appropriate area. In Japan, you are required to sort your trash into different categories: combustibles, non-combustibles, bottles, plastics, etc.

Australia | Orientation Week

BY MONICA MARTINEZ

The first week here in Brisbane, Australia can only be described in one word: brutal. The spirits of Brisbane surely wanted to provide me with the warmest welcome, hence the 90F weather the week I arrived. One would have guessed I would have adapted well to the weather, but nope – I ended up getting heat stroke the second day here (absolutely amazing and possibly record breaking, I know). Anyway, here is a little insight into UQ’s O-Week.

Orientation

Prior to arriving in Australia, I received an email from the UQ International Student Office with information on the compulsory Incoming Study Abroad and Exchange Orientation. The session would take place on Tuesday, February 21 at 8am in Building 50. The day before orientation, a plethora of questions ran through my mind:

             “How many students would attend?”

            “Would I be one of the only Americans/Californians there?”

            “Would I feel intimidated, welcomed, or a mixture of both?”

The next morning, I arrived early to the lecture hall to secure a seat in the first row. When I arrived, the total number of students in the room did not exceed 20. But each passing minute introduced a new wave of eager, diverse, and nervous group of students. By the start of the first presentation, the lecture hall was overfilled with more than 300 students. The director of the office kicked off the session by asking students to cheer for their respective region/country. After cheers for Asia, Europe, South America, and Canada, the biggest roar erupted when she said “America.” More than half of the room erupted into a massive and load “WOOOO” and it was truly extraordinary (and a little painful).

After a general introduction informing us about the academic, career, and health services available on campus, a professor from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Department led us in a traditional Australian chant. Performing the chant with hundreds of students from all over the world was one of the greatest experiences and to hear the words “Welcome to UQ, this is your new home” was the ultimate cherry on top. At the conclusion of the orientation session, student ambassadors from the center divided students into little clusters for a campus wide tour. I remembered viewing the campus from the airplane, looking at how the Brisbane River provided the perfect border. I did not, however, anticipate the size – a campus filled with over 89 buildings, nine libraries (five are open 24/7 hours and are fully equipped with sleeping pods, showers, a kitchenette, and vending machines with packages meals), nine playing fields, and a lake. To say it differed from UCLA would be a major understatement. I also got to get my University of Queensland student ID, making the exchange tangibly real.

Following the tour, the Queensland University Exchange Student society (QUEST) hosted a Welcome Sausage Sizzle to end orientation day. Other than hearing the phrase “Shrimp on the barbie” in reference to Australian food, I had absolutely no idea of what an authentic meal would be. After patiently waiting in line for 15 minutes, I received a sausage placed diagonally on a single slice of white bread (yes, you read that right) topped with caramelized onions and ketchup. I initially concluded that given the size of the group, the club ran out of hotdog buns, but nope – this was it. I tasted the sausage sandwich and it was fantastic. Also, the greatest part (by far) about the Sausage Sizzle was the mini farm featuring llamas and baby pigs. SO CUTE!

Market Day

The day following the International and Exchange Student Orientation, an event known as Market Day consumed the Great Court. Market Day transformed UQ into a festival filled with stalls, giveaways, and performances. All of the clubs and societies at UQ had a booth set up and eagerly tried to encourage students to become a member of their organization. From the UQ Sci-Fi and Fantasy Society to the UQ Surfers, the range of clubs extended every social, departmental, cultural, and sporting interest. As I walked toward the Great Court, I felt overwhelmed by the hundreds of clubs and thousands of students there. I surveyed the major tents at the center of the Great Court because of the giveaways available. UQ Union, the largest student organization on campus, provided students with welcome totes containing school supplies, a planner, and information pamphlets outlining the host of student support services. Before moving on to the clubs, I picked up a reusable water bottle from the UQ Sustainability department and a free University of Queensland t-shirt from UQConnect.

After circling the Great Court and talking to representatives from clubs I felt interested in, I officially became a member of UQ Volunteers, the UQ Latin American Student Association (LASA), the Queensland University Exchange Student Society (QUEST), and Law Society. Here lies a major distinction between joining a club at UCLA versus joining a club at UQ. While at UCLA’s Enormous Activities Fair, a student can simply fill out an information sheet to be added to the club’s mailing list, a student at UQ must pay for their membership in a club. The price varies depending on the resources/benefits the club promises to provide to members and its overall popularity. To gain membership into the clubs listed above, I paid a total of $15 (which is equivalent to $11.50 USD). Although the idea of paying to join a club/society seemed strange, the cost ultimately is returned through club activities throughout the semester.

UQ Union’s Ignition Party

O-Week finished off on Friday night during UQ Union’s Ignition Neon Party. Held on the Forgan Smith Lawn, the party featured live acts, lots of neon paint, and free food. Tickets for the party sold for $10 and students were encouraged to purchase neon paint. Comparable to UCLA’s Bruin Bash, the festival was an equally massive success. To paint the picture for you (pun intended), you are alongside hundreds of students on a large lawn on campus, dancing to the music of up and coming artists, while getting drenched in neon paint. The paint gets everywhere– (hair, shoes, mouth, eye, etc.) and no place is safe.

Reflecting on orientation week, I can genuinely say UQ does its best at ensuring every single student feels welcomed and supported. Although I am more than seven thousand miles from UCLA, I truly feel at home here at UQ.

Monica Martinez studied abroad in Brisbane, Australia in Spring 2017: http://eap.ucop.edu/OurPrograms/australia/Pages/host_Queensland_AustraliaImmersion.aspx

South Africa | Arrival and Getting Settled in Cape Town

BY KELLI HAMILTON

The day had finally come. I was off to South Africa. After arriving late to the airport due to the daunting Los Angeles traffic, I was in line at Qatar Airways waiting to receive a ticket, an hour being take-off.  To my surprise and delight, however, the plane had been delayed. Once I got my ticket, I said goodbye to my mom and went through security. After a 16-hour flight, I was in Doha. After I snapped out of the daze that the stunning Doha Airport put me in, I headed to the Transit Accommodation Desk. Qatar Airways has a deal that if you have a layover that is longer than eight hours, they will put you in a hotel room, free of charge. The hotel room was lovely and featured two showers. I decided to explore the country with the free time I had so I headed to Souq Waqif, a popular square in Qatar. It was 100 degrees outside but the architecture was what took my breath away. After a few hours, I headed back to the airport to board a plane to my final destination of Cape Town, South Africa.

Qatar during layover

After another 11-hour flight, I had finally reached Cape Town, a city I had been dreaming about studying in for over a year. I joked with the immigration officer that he needed to endorse my visa and passport correctly so he didn’t have to see me again and I was off to my home in the Southern Suburbs, where I was to reside for the next four months. I was the first one to the house so I got to choose my room and of course I chose the master bedroom with a fireplace in it. The house was so cute, clean, and homey, so I was ecstatic! I met my three other housemates, one girl from UCSB, a guy from Boston College, and another guy from UC Davis, and we all gelled. I knew it was going to be a great few months in Cape Town.

Home for the next 4 months!

My Cape Town room!

That same evening, we decided to take a tour of our university before sunset. The University of Cape Town, a ten-minute walk from our house, was STUNNING. We got to see the sun set over Table Mountain, which is conveniently right behind the school, as Capetonians played rugby. I could hardly contain my excitement for orientation the following day. At the orientation, student leaders performed dances and got the international students.The highlight of the orientation was the drumming lesson! We had local South Africans play drums for us and then they distributed drums to every single student to play along. It was the best orientation I ever attended. The subsequent days we enrolled in classes. The process of getting pre-approved for courses was a bit challenging, and something everyone should look into during study abroad, but ultimately everything worked out. I was ready to immerse myself in Cape Town academic and cultural life, and I knew this was just the beginning of my wonderful South African journey.

University of Cape Town Stunning Campus

Kelli Hamilton studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa, in fall 2018: http://eap.ucop.edu/OurPrograms/south_africa/Pages/univ_of_cape_town.aspx

Scotland | Airport Woes and Getting to Scotland

BY CAITLYN PICKARD

Having traveled internationally more than once and having had my share of interesting experiences while travelling, the beginning of my travels to Scotland began a bit rocky and challenged my travel experience. I decided to depart approximately a week before the program start date in order to insure that I’d arrive in Scotland on time. My mom, who has never left the country, and I decided to travel to Europe for the holidays. My flight was cancelled/delayed for about 5 hours. That was okay because I found out about it before leaving for the airport; unfortunately, the new route had a layover of 23 hours in Russia. I’ve done long layovers before but I really didn’t want to do that; especially because the 23-hour layover would be on Christmas day. Airports are not a conventional Christmas destination and also not particularly fun. Go figure. Upon arriving at the airport, I asked about our airline rerouting us onto the quickest flight to my destination, or at least something that didn’t have me stranded at an airport. Luckily, they found something that would have a short layover and have us arriving on Christmas day. We arrive at the airport to check in with our rerouted airline… who then tells us they do not have a ticket under our names. Of course, I begin to panic because the original cancelled flight had departed hours before. Neither our original airline or our new airline knew who we were supposed to fly with. Thankfully, everything was eventually situated, although we are still not quite sure what happened. All that mattered was that it was fixed.

After the holidays, I flew to Scotland and arrived at 1am, exhausted from travelling. The flight attendants began passing around visa forms that needed to be filled out before arriving at the visa stations. After exiting the plane, I rushed to the front of the line. My nice, warm hotel bed was calling my name. I got to the passport control officer, handed all the documents to him. He then asked, “Where’s your acceptance letter from the university?”. I pointed to the document I printed out and he said, “No, that isn’t acceptable. It doesn’t have the start and end dates of your semester program.” I then apologized because I didn’t realize it had to have the dates. He proceeded to tell me that all the other documents I had brought to him didn’t matter. I was thoroughly confused and starting to worry; what happens when you fly to a country and they don’t let you in?? Luckily, I didn’t have to find out. He let me through with a warning and my visa for Scotland perfectly stamped into my passport. I have been preparing for this trip for months. Prior to Scotland, I was studying abroad in Senegal. I thought I knew what to expect and all the things I needed for a smooth arrival. But, even in my plethora of lists, I still wasn’t fully prepared. Travelling is a finicky trickster, and it’s necessary to be flexible throughout the journey. Eventually, everything works out.

Traveling can be a scary thing, but it can also create the most interesting stories that tests your patience and flexibility. This may be a stretch, but the traveling to point A to B really adds to your character and teaches you a lot about yourself and interactions with other people. Although going to the airport and flying internationally can be stressful, I always look back at the downside and find that all the stress and worry I possessed at that moment turned out okay, sometimes even wonderfully.

Caitlyn Pickard studied abroad in Edinbugh, Scotland, in Spring 2018: http://eap.ucop.edu/OurPrograms/United_Kingdom_Scotland/Pages/host_EdinburghUKImmersion.aspx 

France | An Idiot Abroad: C’est Bon

BY BARRY YANG

“C’est bon” (it’s good). No two words could better encapsulated and de- scribe my first week in France. This is because these two words are the ones I use the most from my arsenal of flowery French vocabulary: filled to the brim with all its 10 words and elementary sophistication.

I have never taken French before. I have never been to Europe. I have never been so excited.

Coming to a foreign country and not understanding anything may seem scary, but at the end of the day it all comes down to perspective. When I first moved to the US at age 8, I was dropped straight into 2nd grade not speaking a word of English. At that age I was too naive to under- stand embarrassment or comprehend the fact that the teacher did not speak Chinese (I completed all my assignments and gave presentations in Chinese and never thought about the difficulties Mrs. Turner would have). Now, at 21, I am still very much possess that adolescent naiveté and could not be more thankful and happy that I never truly matured in this area. It is this youthful ignorance and complete blindness to bar- riers that has made my time in France, thus far, “très très bien” (very very great). I could not be happier that I never learned as a child to not talk to strangers.

Without any previous experience in French, I dove head first into this beautiful land. Armed with one phrase and one phrase only, “parlez- vous anglais” (do you speak English?), I landed in Lyon on New Year’s Eve at 10:17PM. Completely clueless and shocked by the freezing cold, I managed to get myself to my hostel after 1 train, 2 trams, and a lot of directions from Frenchmen that I couldn’t understand. I arrived at my Hostel exactly at 12:00AM and was greeted by a huge group of people with “bonne année” and other trendy French New Year sayings that I did not understand. It was at this moment that I realized that the hos- tel I had so last minute booked on Expedia was also a bar…The night continued with random conversations with a group of locals who in- vited me for drinks and made sure that I did not have to spend the first moments of 2017 alone. Everything that I had heard about the French hating Americans and being extremely unfriendly were all proven to be complete and utter BS at this moment. Thank you Mohammed, John- Phillip, and all the others with really French names that I do not have the proper education to pronounce.

(Six hour layover in Amsterdam before arriving in Lyon, France)

1) Lyon Airport. 2) Closing in on New Years. 3) Rhone Express to Lyon city center. 4) Friends I made on New Year’s Eve

I spent the next 2 days at the hostel and got really close with the baris- tas and other travelers who shared with me some special local spots and their incredible stories. One gentleman from Australia was espe- cially memorable. Jonathan had been an engineer in Australia and at the age of 48 decided to quit his job and travel the world. On the date that I met him, he had been traveling for almost 2 years. We talked late into the night, and his experiences and stories inspired and made a last- ing impact on me. He didn’t have a lot of money nor many luxuries, but one could feel the appreciation he had for life and the vitality he pos- sessed. Thank you Jonathan, Leslie, Judith, Clara, Sharif, Andre, and Jean for such a great first hostel experience in France.

On the 3rd day my host family picked me up from the Hostel and helped me move into my home for the next 6 months. When I met them, I could not believe how much my life was beginning to resemble a movie. My host-dad Yvan, is one of the most charming and funny people I have ever met and everything I imaged a Frenchman to be. We’ve had great conversations about how to strategize bargains with people on Lyon’s version of Craigslist (Leboncoin) and his favorite French musicians that I have grown to like. My host-mom Caroline, is very sweet and extremely caring. Her square glasses, French accent, and warm expressos just conjures up flashes of every French movie I have ever seen. Their children Paul-Eliot and Lison are also some of the nicest and most entertaining people I have ever met (child or adult). I could not have been more blessed to be placed in such a wonderful family. Even though we don’t always 100% understand each other, there is never a lack of conversation, great food, aromatic cheese, and terrific wine. Thank you guys for opening your home to me and wel- coming me as a member of the family.

Besides roaming the streets and talking to random people like a 7 year old, I’ve also dabbled in the realm of education. After all, academics first right? Classes have not officially began yet, but as a part of the pro- gram we have to enroll in a 2 week intensive French language and cul- ture seminar. The classes in this seminar are all in French. I’m not talking 1 or 2 words in French, a sentence in French, or even half an hour in French. I’m talking 6 hours a day of non-stop French. We’re not talking about elementary level French either. This is some next level, Les Misérable, Amélie, drowning in French type of level. I understand completely nothing in any of the classes. I live for moments when there are words spoken that sound similar to English and short breaks when I can converse with other students in a language that I actually know. Despite my efforts to transfer to a elementary school that I believe would actually be more conducive for my French learning, the powers that be have yet to honor this request.

This past week in the classrooms have been very reminiscent of my first months in 2nd grade when I didn’t speak a word of English and could not understand anyone. Similar to those months 13 years ago, I am still proceeding with a blissful lack of concern and regard for the language barrier and childishly engaging in the ways I can and to the best of my ability. Despite me being eons behind everyone else, these classes have proved to be overall great experiences and I don’t hesitate for a second on whether I should go to class tomorrow. After all, decisions are not made by everyone who understands, but can only be made by those who show up.

(A field trip organized by the University as part of the language program. We got to spend a day in Montpellier, which could have literally been the setting for every single Hollywood romantic film.)

I’ve made friends with the staff and professors who have come to refer me as the class’ collective “baby” and also graciously made accommoda- tions to make things a little easier for me. Although I still understand nothing, I have come to learn through this past week that it is not so much how much you can understand, but rather how much you try to understand that really matters.

I have made some great friends from all over the world in these classes. They are some of the most kind and fun people to be around. It’s amaz- ing how close we all have grown in such a short amount of time and I can not thank them enough for their help and friendship. Thank you: Jonathan, Daniel, Claire, Stasi, Cian, Ollie, Tammy, Elishka, Flevie, and Madam Santos for being the A1’s and all the great times. Looking for- ward to all the possibilities in the 6 months.

Some wonderful instructors who made things very fun even though I understood nothing they said 100% of the time.

(Some extremely fun times shared with some great people. Could not have asked for better compadres on this journey through a foreign land.)

In the words of Hannah Montana: “life’s what you make it, so let’s make it rock.”

Barry Yang studied abroad in Lyon, France, in Spring 2017: http://eap.ucop.edu/OurPrograms/france/Pages/default.aspx

England | Why Study Abroad?

By SAVANNAH SHAPIRO

Studying Abroad is an experience of a lifetime. Traveling across the country with students from UCLA and learning the ins-and-outs of London is something that very few people can say they have ever done.  During my freshmen year at UCLA, I knew that I wanted to study abroad. I remember specifically walking through the multiple rows of Ackerman Grand Ballroom where The International Education Office had lines of tables showing all the various trips they offered throughout the summer. The tables had over 20 countries that students were visiting. I remember how excited I felt at the idea of going abroad and studying in a new location. All my life, my mom has always told me to be a sponge and soak up everything I possible could. Studying abroad in Europe seemed like an opportunity that I wanted to soak in. The opportunity felt even more special because I thought it would be my only chance to be able to experience a country as an undergraduate student at UCLA. After talking to previous students who went on study abroad trips and seeing the enthusiasm and excitement that they all shared from their own experiences,  it gave me the encouragement and excitement to pursue a study abroad program with UCLA.

After I decided that I was going to travel abroad my freshmen year, it was just a matter of deciding what program I wanted to go on and where I specifically wanted to go. It was a dream of mine to go to London. My sister and I always used to talk about traveling to the United Kingdom and  was at the top of our list. It wasn’t until my sophomore year when I decided to study specifically in London in the Romanticism Program with Professor Makdisi. Ever since I took English 119 in Winter Quarter at UCLA with Professor Makdisi, I knew that I wanted to explore and build upon what I learned about the city of London in his class. As my sophomore London class sat in Haines and learned about the city of London, I remember something that Professor Makdisi said as he was showing us a first person perspective as if you were on an Omnibus. He explained that although he could show us what London looked like on screen, it is a completely different experience in person. The streets, the city, the nightlife were all things about London that were indescribable and needed to be experienced. And he was right. Everything was different. From the streets, the cars, the city life, and atmosphere, it was completely different than the United States. Something that you couldn’t teach out of a textbook, but rather something that you had to explore in person. I thought what better way to explore an unknown city with people from UCLA. An experience like this is indescribable and is something that I encourage anyone to take advantage of!

Savannah Shapiro studied abroad in London, England in Summer 2017: https://ieo.ucla.edu/travelstudy/English-London/