Denmark | Danish Culture

By Chloe Zgorzelski

The University of Copenhagen is the oldest university and research institution in Denmark. Founded in 1479, it is the second oldest institution for higher education in all of Scandinavia. Today, it boasts a student population of over 38,481.

The university is spread throughout the city across four different campuses, making its presence tangible in every corner of the city. It sponsors ten different museums and research gardens, has given Denmark nine Nobel Laureates, and is comprised of six diverse faculties. Every day I go to class, I pinch myself a little bit because I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to study abroad at a university so distinguished and world-renowned.

One thing that I particularly love about the University of Copenhagen are the courses they offer specifically for exchange students on various topics relating to Danish Culture. These ‘Danish Culture Courses’, as they are lovingly referred to by the university, offer students coursework that combine lectures and excursions together to provide a more wholistic understanding of issues relating to Denmark. While the course topics vary every semester, some of the most frequent subjects include Danish Cinema, Søren Kierkegaard, Nordic Mythology and Danish Architecture. The courses are at BA-level and open to all international students regardless of their field of study.

This semester, I enrolled in the Danish Culture Course entitled “Danish Architecture and Urban Design” with Professor Lars Gemzøe. The course gives an overview of Danish architecture, urban design and planning over the last 100 years, with a focus and emphasis on the human perspective of architecture.

Let me tell you: I love this class. Seriously, I look forward to it each and every week because I can genuinely say that after every lecture I am able to see the city of Copenhagen from a different perspective. I’ve learned that architecture is a major component of the Danish identity, as it is seen as a much wider practice than merely the art of making buildings. Our professor, Lars, is a Danish architect himself. Every week, he spoils us with his years of wisdom relating to the field and he teaches us about the Nordic approach to planning and design of the physical landscape. Because of him, I am beginning to understand why culture, climate, and scale are important elements in the way that architecture as a profession and Nordic welfare states have been dealing with international trends.

My favorite part about this class is that I have the opportunity to go on guided excursions around Denmark with my classmates and my professor. As a student in this course, I am also required to complete various self-guided field trips in order to see and experience the architecture and planning that we discuss in our lectures first hand. This Fall, we took two class trips: the first to the Copenhagen Harbor and Malmö, Sweden and the second to Louisiana, Museum of Modern Art.

Excursion #1 – “Housing & Planning – The Copenhagen Harbor and Malmō, Sweden”
This excursion began with a boat trip through the Copenhagen Harbor, which allowed us to see some of the important buildings like the Opera, the Playhouse and new housing developments along the waterfront. After an hour or so on the water, the boat trip concluded near a new housing district in the North Harbor. My class and I disembarked and followed our Professor on a walking tour of the neighborhood where we were able to take a closer look at the variation in building designs. He showed us this adorable and hidden rooftop park/gym that I am dying to return to. Not only was there an amazing view of the harbor from up here, but there were also trampolines!
We then boarded a private charter bus that escorted us from the North Harbor to Sluseholmen, a new housing development in the outskirts of Copenhagen. Here we were able to see and discuss newer housing and city building. The trip then continued to Sweden where we saw one of the most interesting and newest urban developments in Scandinavia, Bo01, on the Western Harbour in Malmö.  Our professor explained to us how this new city district has a lot to offer on how to deal with climate and sustainability as well as on variation in building design and open spaces. Our excursion concluded with a visit to Jakriborg, a controversial new housing development in Sweden, which looks like it was made in the 17th Century.
Excursion #2 – “Museums & Urban Development: Louisiana, Museum of Modern Art”
Our second excursion took place at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark, which is about an hour away from Copenhagen. The museum is a fantastic example of architecture from the 1960s with numerous additions over the years. I love the way that it blends in with the landscape and takes full advantage of the views of the surroundings. The museum features panoramic views of Sweden and presents six to ten special exhibitions annually. It also contains a distinguished art collection with over 3,500 works.

I had the opportunity to see all of the museums current exhibitions including: The Moon, Elemental, Color Form Texture, & Men and Masculinity. My favorite of the current exhibits was the one called ‘The Moon’. This exhibition is Louisiana’s way of commemorating the upcoming 50th anniversary of man’s first steps on the moon. Through the presentation of more than 200 works and objects – including Galileo’s moon map and Norman Foster’s plans for 3D-printed moon bases – this exhibition paints a vibrant and diverse portrait of our closet celestial neighbor.

If you are studying abroad at the University of Copenhagen and are considering enrolling in a Danish Culture Course, I would highly recommend it. At UCLA, I am a Psychology and Communications major, so when I first enrolled in the class I assumed that this would just be an interesting course to take to fulfill a GE requirement. However, this course has helped me form a new interest and recognize my passion for architecture and design. Through our lectures and with some guidance from my professor, I am realizing new ways in which psychology and architecture are intertwined and mutually influence one another.

Chloe Zgorzelski studied in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2018:

Italy | La Salumeria

By Andrea Zachrich

La Salumeria Sandwich Shop

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

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

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

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

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

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

Italy | Class Requirements

By Andrea Zachrich

If you’re a future Exploring Rome student and reading this blog, you might have some questions on details regarding how the program works while you’re actually in Rome. I know the Study Abroad office gives students a ton of pre-departure information (so make sure you go to those meetings), but it’s hard to imagine what the classes are like until you actually get there. I thought I would break down some of the things I had the most questions on about the class, like tests and other big assignments, so that you have a little more of an idea of what you’re getting into. Keep in mind, these could obviously change for your year, but I only have my own experience to base it off of, so I’m going to talk about that. Side note: don’t worry if you’re a non-Classics or a nonHistory major. I’m not going to say that those majors didn’t have a bit of an advantage (mostly because they knew a lot of the history behind the sites we visited), but a lot of people on my program were from other majors and they did just fine. Everything you need to know will be covered in lecture, so, if you pay attention, no prior knowledge is required.

Day to Day Schedule

All of the weekdays look more or less the same (with some exceptions for field trips which I talk about in other posts). Basically, we met every morning at 8:30 at Piazza Belli – which is right next to the Tiber river. For our year, getting to this Piazza was kind of a mob – about a 20 minute walk or 8 minute tram ride. But, do not fear, I know other years have stayed closer to the meeting location. Sometimes, we would meet later or earlier, but the professor will always tell you the day before if that’s the case.

At 8:30, we would head off to whatever activity we were doing that morning. It could be a museum or a site like the Roman Forum or the Coliseum. Our lectures were almost always on-site or, if the site was particularly busy, near to or just outside of the site. The class followed the syllabus very well, so I would keep a copy or a screenshot of that handy.

At anywhere from 11:30-1 we would be let loose to go and enjoy lunch and take a quick break before meeting back up again in the evening. I usually would go and get lunch (originally, I tried to cook my own food but I couldn’t resist the Italian restaurants ugh). After lunch, I would usually go back to the apartment and nap and/or work on some homework. A few times, I met up with friends and wandered around the city in between, which was fun but very tiring. My biggest piece of advice I could give you is to find some air conditioning during this break, whether it’s in the restaurant you have lunch in or back at the apartment you’re staying at. It’s really hard to stay out a full day in the Roman heat if you’re not used to it.

At anywhere from 3:30 to 5 we would meet back up again and go to another site. Again, this could be a museum or a church or a tomb or anything. We would then be done for class anywhere from 6 to 8 pm and would be let loose to go eat dinner, watch the world cup games, or whatever else we wanted to do. None of us tended to stay up too late during the week because we did have to be up so early every day, and the days were pretty tiring.

The syllabus was very accurate (with a few changes) while I was there, and the professor will always tell you if it’s going to be different. Being out and about during lectures was an awesome way to learn and I found that I retained a ton of the information simply because I was there, and it’s a lot harder to forget something when you’ve actually visited something.

Class Requirements and Assignments


The midterm and the final were the only two times during this program that we were ever in a classroom, which was awesome. We took the tests at the Accent Center – UCLA’s headquarters for study abroad students in Rome. As with most of Professor Gurval’s tests, the midterm was very fair. He gave us about 50 monuments, all of which we had visited, and asked us to know basic facts about them such as the date, location, and some simple history. There were 10 on the midterm (plus an extra credit that wasn’t included on the list of 50 but was a place we had visited) and we had a little less than 10 minutes to answer each one. The test lasted about an hour and a half. As you can imagine, it was straight forward and we knew exactly what was expected of us going into the test.


The final was a lot more creative during the midterm, and I even had some fun with it. As with the midterm, we got the final essay questions in advance. We had two essays to write in about 90 minutes: one was about what each architect from different imperial eras would give you for advice if you were a Renaissance architect tasked with rebuilding Rome and what buildings they would use to support their advice, and the other required you to pick a type of person from Roman society and build a tomb for that person using elements from other tombs we saw and what this shows or reveals about ancient Roman society. In the tomb essay, for example, I decided that I was going to be a freed slave who became wealthy through running a shipbuilding company by master passed down to me after he died. My tomb, which was based quite strongly on the Baker’s Tomb and the Mausoleum of Hadrian in Rome with elements taken from tombs in Pompeii and other places, was going to be a cylinder with a statue of a boat on top. I really appreciated that we were able to showcase our knowledge of the places we’ve been and what we learned about Roman society in a really creative (and almost fun) way.


During the second week of class, you will be asked to give a group presentation with 1-2 other people about a monument. It’s really not very stressful and doesn’t take a whole ton of time. You have to talk about the main person associated with the monument, it’s architecture, and its history up to today. Our professor gave us individual readings based on what monument we were presenting on, and we got to split up the information so no one had to talk very long. You get to pick where you want to present and how you want to present the information as a group. It can be cool to learn from your classmates, and people were usually really interested in most of the presentations. The best advice I can give is to take all the information you have, and cut out at least half of it. The main problem people had in my class is that they went over time.

Journals & Sketchpads

Another project for the class requires you to keep an almost daily journal and sketchpad. I actually really enjoyed doing both. It gets so crazy with all the running around Rome that it’s nice to take a couple of minutes and chill and reflect on your day and sketch something out. The journals were mainly focused on your own thoughts and opinions rather than facts we learned (they’re not your notes) and I’m glad I have it to look back on. The sketchpad could be anything we’ve seen. The only requirements for that was that you actually spend some time on it and you try to have a variation in the items you draw (architecture, statues, paintings, mosaics, etc.). You’ll get feedback on both about halfway through the class so you have an idea of how you’re doing and what you could improve on.


Another part of your grade will come from participation on site visits. This is not hard. Just pay attention to lecture, ask questions if you have them, participate in group discussions, and don’t lose the group on the bus. The class is pretty engaging, so I think participating came fairly natural to most people.

Final Project

The final project was actually really fun (or well, as fun as something that you’re getting graded on can be). During our first week in Rome, we were asked to pick a theme that we would collect pictures of throughout the class. Some examples of themes were grapes (that’s me!), wings, Venus (the goddess not the planet), lions, rear ends, and river gods. There are a ton of themes to choose from. Most of the items were expected to be from antiquity, but not all of them had to be. When you get home, you’ll be asked to pick 10 of these items and pretend that you are a curator putting on a themed art exhibit using the art. You’ll have to make a PowerPoint with pictures of the items and some basic information (age, location, history, etc.) and write a 5-7 page paper about the theme and what it can tell us about Roman society. Research is not required but I found it to be useful in examining my theme. It’s due a little over a month after you get back. Even after traveling for three weeks around Europe after the program and backpacking for 5 days in Sequoia, I still managed to have more than enough time to complete the project, so you will be fine too.

Overall, this class is awesome, and I would recommend it to anyone with any major (unless they hate learning cool things idk?) It offers you the opportunity to learn things in an incredibly unique way by being on-site and the assignments were fair. Rome is also an awesome city. I’ve been to quite a few places in Europe, and it’s definitely my favorite city I’ve visited. A lot of organized chaos going on there. Plus, what better place could you go to study ancient Rome besides Rome?

Italy | Casa Manco

By Andrea Zachrich

Looking for some amazing Pizza?

Casa Manco has some of the best pizza in Rome.

This pizza tastes how all pizzas should taste. The dough is light and fluffy and thick and not overcooked. They have a variety of toppings (in fact, it changes everyday). It’s not very expensive. And its amazing.

Tell me this pizza doesn’t look amazing

Casa Manco is located in Testacchio New Market near the Jewish Ghetto in Rome in Box 22 of the market. It’s a little stand where you walk up and order your pizza, and then either walk around eating your pizza or go sit at the tables in the food area of the market. It’s made fresh regularly, and you can often see pizzas being made in front of you as you order. The people who work there are also very nice, and they take credit cards (a rarity for smaller places in Italy). You pay by the weight of the pizza you order, so you can get just as much as you need or want for lunch, and save some money by not having any waste. The prices are very reasonable too. When I went for the first time, I got a TON of pizza for just under 10 euros and took half of it home for dinner that evening.

When we went the first time, I got a sample of 4 kinds of pizza: plain cheese, salami, tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella, and gorgonzola and pear. They were all delicious. You can’t go wrong with a plain cheese pizza when the dough and ingredients are exceptional as they are at this pizza stand. The salami was also very good mostly because the salami on the top of the pizza was amazing. It’s a little spicy, but full of flavor. This one was my favorite of the four I tried. The tomato and mozzarella had the least amount of flavor, but don’t let that stop you from getting it because it also tastes very good. The gorgonzola and pear was, while it seems like an interesting comment, was delicious. I don’t even like gorgonzola that much, and I really enjoyed this pizza. The friends I went with to Casa Manco also got a variety of pizzas, including “grice” pizza (pecorino cheese and black pepper), eggplant and spicy provolone pizza, and onion pizza, and everyone really liked whatever they got. I have since tried many of the pizzas there, and you really can’t go wrong with any of them. If you happen to be in this part of town, I would definitely stop by, and even if you’re not in this part of town, you should also make a trip over because this pizza is delicious.

The market its in is also interesting to walk around it. They sell fresh fish, meat, fruits, and veggies, and much of it is beautifully displayed in the stands in the market. If you’re looking to save some money and cook dinner while in Rome, this market has all you need at reasonable prices, and its very fresh.

One important thing to note about the market (including this pizza place), is that it closes for the day in the afternoon, so you can only go to Casa Manco for lunch (or breakfast). We tried to go once for dinner without paying attention to the hours, and we were severely disappointed because we missed out on some great pizza that evening.

So far in Italy, I have only had better pizza in Florence. So, if you’re in the mood for pizza and its not after 3pm, you should make the walk over to Testacchio Market and enjoy some Casa Manco.

We found it!

Italy | 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!

Rome | Ara Pacis

by Andrea Zachrich

The Ara Pacis, also sometimes called the Altar of Augustan Peace, is one of my favorite monuments from ancient Rome. It’s a cunning piece of propaganda by Emperor Augustus, and its excavation story is pretty awesome. Being particularly well-preserved, it can tell modern scholars a lot about the imperial imagery and symbols. It’s also very pleasant to visit because the altar is kept inside of an air-conditioned building next to the Tiber River.

Ancient History

The Ara Pacis was dedicated in 13 BC by Augustus and the senate after his return from three years abroad and completed in 9 BC. Originally, it was in the Campus Martius just outside the official city walls of ancient Rome and on an axis with Augustus’ Mausoleum. The altar was dedicated to the goddess Pax, the Roman goddess of peace. It is made entirely of Italian marble, and it would have been painted in antiquity (the museum had a rendering of what it might have looked like painted). I would suggest googling mock-ups of the paint because it’s gorgeous and there are a bunch of different ones online.

Side note: Almost of the marble reliefs or sculptures from antiquity would have been painted. They look so pristine and white because all the paint has faded off because they’re 2000 years old. Not painting a sculpture is a modern Renaissance concept that attempted to copy artists from antiquity, but these more modern artists failed to realize that these statues were painted, they just don’t have their paint any more. Occasionally, scholars can tell what color something would have been based on microscopic residue of different kinds of materials that would have made different paint colors.


The altar is a pretty basic, open air altar surrounded on 4 sides by walls to protect it. The outside of the walls is where Augustus put his most aggressive propaganda because these would have been the areas that the normal citizens would have been able to see (only the elite and those who ran the cult could go inside). The four sides all have different representations of fictional and real people and items that were intended to make the people view Augustus as the savior and peace bringer of Rome.

The front side, which includes the entrance to the altar, includes depictions of Aeneas or Numa and what scholars believe depicts a scene where the shepherd who raised Romulus and Remus finds them. I say that “scholars believe” that this is what was depicted there because most of the panel has been lost. The depiction of Aeneas/Numa shows the main male figure sacrificing a pig. We are unsure which of the figures it is, but I think it’s more convincing that the figure is King Numa – the second king of Rome who is legendary in ancient Rome for bring peace to the city while he was ruler. Aeneas, although an ancestor to the founder of Rome, has no obvious associations with peace. Already on the front of the structure, Augustus has managed to associate himself with powerful men from Rome’s past.

The sides of the Ara Pacis depict real people, although scholars have yet to agree on exactly who is who. Both sides show what is believed to be the dedication procession for the altar. We even have a depiction of Augustus (well, just of his head because the body has been lost). All the figures are wearing Roman togas. There are priests leading the procession, then Augustus, them Marcus Agrippa (Augustus’ best friend and right hand man), and then his family (including women and children). It’s hard to tell exactly who is who beyond Agrippa, but it’s likely that Augustus’s beloved wife, his grandsons, and his sister are included in the line up.

Similar to the front, the back of the monument features two reliefs. The one on the left is of a seated female deity surrounded by symbols of fertility and wealth such as babies and fruit on her lap, sacrificial animals, and other female figures riding a dragon and a bird. The deity could be many goddesses: Pax, Aphrodite, Demeter, or Roma, and the babies could be many babies: Romulus and Remus or maybe Augustus’ two grandsons (whom he was counting on to succeed him before they both died as teenagers). Similar to the front, the other relief is poorly preserved. Many scholars think that it is a seated Roma, sitting on weapons taken from the enemy. This interpretation is based on coins that show a similar image.

Close up of the sides

All around the bottom of the monument is a frieze that depicts acanthus leaves and bunches of grapes. Acanthus leaves in ancient Rome were symbolic of long life or immortality. Grapes were symbolic of fertility and prosperity. Perhaps, by using these plants, Augustus was trying to say that he had brought long-lasting peace to Rome and has made the empire prosperous and wealthy. Also, hidden among the acanthus leaves and grapes, are small depictions of animals. The most famous is a chick escaping from a nest being attacked by a snake, which many scholars believe represent Aeneas escaping from the Trojan war.

The Inside

You can actually walk around inside of the monument, which is very cool. The inside features carved garlands connected by cow skulls. Garlands were used as decorations during celebrations and also symbolize wealth and prosperity. The cow skulls were most likely symbolic of the animal sacrifices the ancient Romans performed as a way to appease their gods. The altar inside is fairly simple, and shows scenes of sacrifice.

Modern History

The first fragments of sculpture from the monument were discovered in the 1600’s and shipped all over Italy, but archeologists did not realize what it was until the late 1800’s when a scholar identified the pieces using information from Augustus’ memoirs. In the early 1900’s, they attempted to excavate it, but it was underneath a Renaissance Piazza and a famous theater, and the excavations were compromising these buildings, so they stopped. Then, for the 2000 year anniversary of the birth of Augustus in 1938, Mussolini decided he wanted to excavate it. The excavation was an extraordinary feat of engineering that involved freezing the ground water to support the buildings above while the Ara Pacis was dug out piece by piece. It was then reassembled where it is now. Originally, Mussolini commissioned a building to be put up around the altar, but by the early 2000’s, it was in poor shape. The American architect Richard Meier (the same guy who designed the Getty Museum in Los Angeles) won the project to rebuild the building. This created some controversy both because he was American and because the building is very modern and does not match with most of the buildings in Rome. The building by Richard Meier is the Ara Pacis’s current home.

You can get a bit of a sense of the building design and altar size in this picture!

Tips for Visiting

Our class went on a Friday evening, and we were the only ones in the museum. When I walked past it a few other times to show friends and my brother the structure, I also saw very few people inside, so I think it’s a safe bet to go whenever you like. It might even be nice to go right in the middle of the day before or after lunch as a way to get out of the sun for a little while. If you don’t want to pay for the ticket, you can see most of the structure through the windows from the outside, and this is how I showed the monument to my brother and my friends who came to visit Rome while I was there. Personally, I would go inside, but I’m also a bit biased because I study the ancient Romans. The Ara Pacis is a fascinating monument with an interesting ancient AND modern history.

Class picture in front of the monument! We got yelled at for standing on the stairs.

Rome | Another Couple of Running Routes in Rome

By Andrea Zachrich

So, as you can tell by the maps below, I definitely attempted to run while I was in Rome for the summer (attempted being the key word in that sentence. I started the month working out 5-6 times a week and ended it 2-3 times a week. You win some and you lose some). I think I have mentioned this in every post so far, but Rome is hot during the summer. Like walk outside and feel like you’re melting like the Wicked Witch of the West HOT.

Additionally, the free time we had during the day away from class was smack in the middle of the day. We usually went from 8:30 until lunchtime, and then took a break from class until 4 or 5 pm when we met back up again. As such, I was working out during the hottest part of the day in one of the hottest cities in Europe (I know some of you are going to say “Just go in the morning” to which I respond “no, just no.” But if you like mornings, then by all means go for it). As such, much of my route planning was focused on finding routes that alleviated some of the pain of the heat, which meant trying to run in parks and by water instead of on concrete of cobble stone that really absorbs the heat and throws it back at you. Here’s a couple of ideas for runs in places near Trastevere that aren’t ludicrously hot.

Run #1

As mentioned before, running near a body of water usually means that the air is cooler. Luckily, Rome has a large river, the Tiber, running right smack dab in the middle of it. I tried to plan this run so that I just ran alongside it as much as possible. The run looks kind of haphazard because I sort of made it up as I went along.

Pros of this run:

  1. Running near the water makes it much cooler, especially in the evening
  2. The Tiber can be really pretty in certain places
  3. There is a running path in places along the river

Cons of this run:

  1. There can be a lot of people at certain parts along the river such as one section near the heart of Trastevere where there’s a bunch of shops and restaurants
  2. No water fountains (nasoni) along the river itself, you’d have to pop back up to ground level if you got thirsty.
  3. It’s not the most scenic route – you’re just running next to the river the whole time.

Even with all the cons, I would still recommend the run. It’s easy enough to walk up a set of stairs if you’re dying for water, and if you time it right (i.e. don’t go at dinner time or during a World Cup game oops) then people won’t be a problem. There is a separate path for walkers/runners along the shop area that’s usually pretty free unless it’s a busy time for whatever reason.

Run #2

Again, I tried to find a run where at least a part of it would be off the streets for the sake of keeping cool. The closest park to our apartment, according to google maps, is called Villa Doria Pamphii. It’s the giant green thing you see on the map. I headed off one day to go and check it out on a run, and I was pleasantly surprised.

Some quick background on the park because I was curious after I ran through it:

This park is the largest landscaped public park in Rome (who knew?) It was owned by the Pamphii family until their family line died out in the 17th century and was then passed down to Prince Doria (hence, the double name of the park). The Pamphii’s were very wealthy, and one was even a pope! (Innocent X). The park was purchased by the city of Rome in the 1960’s, and the villa on the property was turned into a museum housing much of the work that was in the collection of these wealthy families (I didn’t end up running by this).

Pros of this run:

  1. The park is beautiful – there’s lots of water and trees and grass and pretty buildings interspaced among the nature and it’s just generally a really nice park.
  2. There’s nasoni all over the park. Being able to do a quick stop (or four) for water during a run in the summer makes the run much easier.
  3. Some of the paths in the park aren’t paved – I guess some people wouldn’t like this, but I trail run a lot at home and I prefer the dirt paths.

Cons of this run:

  1. It’s a mob to get back to Trastevere. On my way home, I encountered the largest outdoor staircase in terms of height I have ever seen (and, mind you, I hunt out large staircases to do workouts on). Even though I love stair workouts, I don’t tend to love them towards the end of a 5 mile run.
  2. You have to run through city streets to get there – not a deal breaker, but the park isn’t THAT close.

Again, I would recommend this run. I really enjoyed the park a lot, and it’s a really convenient place to run due to all the nasoni. Yes, it is rough to get home, but I just told myself I got an extra scoop of gelato that night as a reward for running up that massive staircase. About half the run is inside the park, and the other half isn’t too bad because you’re running through not particularly busy side streets most of the way to get there. If you like running through nice parks, and you’re staying in Trastevere, you should consider giving Villa Doria Pamphii a visit.

Overall, I think running in Rome is actually a really cool thing to do. It gives you a much better sense of the layout of the city, and you’re running through and by history every time you step out the door. During any given mile, you could run past a 2000 year old structure (like the Coliseum), a 17th century villa (like Villa Doria Pamphii park), next to a river that helped build an empire (like the Tiber), or across a bridge adorned with statues designed by the famous Baroque sculture Bernini (like the Pont Sant Angelo). It’s not always comfortable, given the heat and the cobblestones, but I was often so distracted by the fact that I just passed something incredible that it was easy to lessen the discomfort. If you’re a runner, and you have a chance to run while you’re in Rome, do it! I will always have fond memories of my runs in Rome.

Italy | Alla Fratte

By Andrea Zachrich

What is it?

Alla Fratte is a delicious Italian restaurant in the Trastevere neighborhood of Rome. It has incredibly fair prices for the food they serve, has a nice atmosphere, and great service (a rarity in Italy!) We found it by chance one day when we searched something along the lines of “good, cheap restaurants in Trastevere” and this place popped up.

Where is it?

It’s in the Trastevere neighborhood of Rome fairly close to the main church (Santa Maria in Trastevere). If you want to learn more about Trastevere, peep at my post here! I included a screenshot of a google map below so you know exactly where it is.

Here’s the exterior. I swooped this photo off their website, by the way.

It’s the big red dot in the center!

What should you order?

Everything. I did not have one thing there that disappointed in the four times we went, and neither did any of my friends. I especially liked the appetizers – they have great bruschetta and prosciutto and cheeses (check out the picture below). You also can’t go wrong with any of the pizzas. I really enjoyed the gnocchi as well! If you go as a group, they also do group specials. We went as a group of six one time, and started with a pizza as an appetizer, then some pasta, and then a cooked meat platter (it was amazing!) I wish I had pictures of that meal. The group meal was a little more expensive, but the individual items are super reasonable – especially for Rome. I put a couple of photos of the menu below to give you a little bit of idea about prices.

Why should you go there?

As talked about earlier, it’s got amazing food. I also really enjoyed the atmosphere. The outside of the building is covered with ivy, and the inside walls are covered with murals of famous Roman landmarks such as the Spanish steps. It’s got an old school vibe with table cloths on the tables and a tiled floor.

The interior! (I also swooped this off their website).

The service is also very good. They spoke English quite well. We also had a very funny moment with a server there involving one of the friends in my group. The first time we went there for lunch, my friend (for whatever reason) decides to try and speak in Spanish to the server, but he does so in the most gringo accent I’ve ever heard. The server started laughing, and actually starts to mimic my friend’s American accent in Spanish, and had the whole table cracking up. I can definitely appreciate a place that has a good sense of humor (especially when dealing with us silly Americans).

For some reason, this is the only picture I have of the food we ate there. We usually ate it with so much gusto that I would forget to grab a photo until it was mostly eaten.

Prosciutto e mozzarella we split as a table!

The only bummer about this place is that it’s not air conditioned, but don’t hold it against the place. If you go for dinner, and not for lunch, the temperature inside is not too warm because it’s quite a large restaurant.

So, if you have a decent sized group, or are just looking for some good Italian food while you’re in Trastevere, this is a great option! I hope you enjoy!

Denmark | Kronborg Castle

By Chloe Zgorzelski

“To be, or not to be: that is the question” 

  • Hamlet: Act III, Scene I 

These are also the infamous words that prompted my weekend excursion to Kronborg Castle, the location that inspired William Shakespeare’s infamous tragedy Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.  

Kronberg Castle

For those that need a little refresher, Hamlet is the story of the Danish prince Hamlet and his tragic fate. The play opens with Hamlet being summoned home to Denmark and away from his studies in Germany to attend his father’s funeral. Upon his return, he is shocked to learn that his mother, Gertrude, has already remarried to his uncle Claudius, the dead king’s brother. As you can imagine, drama and antics abound throughout the five-act play. Ghosts, Poison, Revenge, Murder, Duels, Quarrels, Love, Loss, Death, and more ensue, yet by the end all of the main characters face their eventual death.  


The Castle Courtyard 

Shakespeare’s inspiration for the tragedy was the Danish legendary hero Amled and the majestic castle of Kronborg, which Shakespeare lovingly renames ‘Elsinore’ in the play. It remains a mystery whether or not Shakespeare himself actually visited the castle, but it is doubtless that he heard many stories about the famous castle from his actors who performed here while touring Europe. These actors would be able to relay the gossip and stories of the castle’s decadent court life. Today, Kronborg Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it receives approx. 250,000 visitors annually.  

One of my first weekends in Copenhagen, a group of my fellow UCEAP classmates and I made the trip up to Helsingør to see and explore the castle that served as the inspiration for the Shakespearian play many of us were required to read at some point during our high school careers.  


Some of my UCEAP Classmates & I on the Roof of the Castle 

 The castle was beautiful and majestic, just as I expected it to be. It was complete with a giant moatRenaissance architecture, and a picturesque view of Southern Sweden located just across the water. During the summer months, the castle has actors roaming throughout the castle portraying the characters from Hamlet and reenacting the play’s most infamous scenes. We are so lucky to have had the opportunity to quite literally see the scenes from Hamlet that we learned about in our classes in real life in Hamlet’s ‘home’. To me it was a dream come true to see the infamous “To be or not to be” scene performed right in front of my eyes in the Kronborg Castle Ballroom. 



To be or not to be? 

We were able to explore the inside and the surrounding grounds of the castleclimb the 199 steps to the roof and witness the amazing views of Sweden’s coastline, explore the casemates (dark, cold, and gloomy passages located under the castle), and find the hidden, underground Holger Danske statue.   

Apart from being home to Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Kronborg castle also served as the headquarters for the collection of the Sound Dues (a toll that constituted up to two thirds of Denmark’ state income in the 16th and 17th centuries) for over 400 years. During its heyday in the 1500s, the castle was home to a lavish court life that prospered until a major fire struck the castle in 1629 with which most of the castle’s fortunes faded.  


Overall, I had a great time with my classmates at the castle. It was an experience that brought learning to life and many a fond memory from my high school AP Literature Class to mind. This day excursion is definitely worth your time and a must-do when studying abroad in Denmark. It will leave you mesmerized by its beauty and engulfed in the story of the play that’s set here.  


Chloe Zgorzelski studied in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2018:

Denmark | Puppets, Pastries, and Pools

By Chloe Zgorzelski

Eleven hours of travel and one piece of missing luggage later, I finally touched down in Copenhagen, Denmark on the evening of August 2nd. My first week in this cobblestone city was filled with welcome dinners and first encounters with my new peers, city walks and sightseeing adventures, & afternoons spent exploring my new home away from home.

One of the first things I set out to explore was Kongens Have, the park right across the street from my dorm. While soaking up the warm Scandinavian summer sun and enjoying a picnic lunch, I heard soft, fairytale- like music coming from the opposite corner of the park. Walking over to investigate, I discovered that the noise was coming from most adorable marionet puppet show! Every summer a theatre group called Marionet Teatret puts on free, daily puppet shows in the Kings Garden of Kongens Have for people of all ages and nationalities. The half-hour show I stumbled upon was called “Venner I En Nøddskal” which translates in English to “In a Nutshell”. It featured a squirrel and other woodland creatures and emphasized the necessity of both bravery and boldness in the pursuit of friendship. I really enjoyed this little show, and I appreciated that everyone who stopped to watch was able to understand it and enjoy, despite differences in age, culture, and language.

I also had the opportunity to try a variety of Danish pastries during my first week in Copenhagen. Pizzasnegles, onsdagssnegle, chokoladesnegles, and pølsehorn were just a few that I got to try. My all-time favorite so far has to be the “onsdagssnegle” that I tried from Sankt Peders Bageri, a family-owned pastry shop located in Copenhagen’s Latin Quarter. “Onsdagssnegle” directly translates in English to “Wednesday snail”. It is named this because Sankt Peders, Copenhagen’s oldest bakery, only bakes and serves them on Wednesday mornings. While the name may seem complicated, the pastry is basically just a cinnamon roll covered in either cinnamon sugar or frosting. However, I would argue that this cinnamon roll in particular is the most delicious one I have ever tasted. So, if you need me on a Wednesday morning, you’ll know where to find me.

Also – It is interesting to note that while some pastries in the U.S.A. are commonly referred to as “danishes”, these pastries in Denmark are not called “Danishes” they are simply just pastries.

After walking around the city for a few days, I noticed this really cool shop near my dorm named Posterland and I was excited to go inside and check it out. This store did not disappoint. It is set up similarly to a vinyl record store, but instead of selling music’s greatest hits, the store specializes in one of a kind posters and graphic art. You can find everything here from posters depicting Hans Christian Anderson’s infamous fairytales to giant wall posters of the latest and greatest Danish boy band. This store made me smile, and I really enjoyed sifting through the posters – old and new – and learning a little bit more about Danish culture in this unique way.

Another highlight of my first week was swimming in Copenhagen’s infamous canals. Yes – the same canals and waterways that all of the harbor ships and ferries also share. To my surprise, I found out from some local Danish friends that the water in the canals are actually clean enough and safe enough for people to swim in! During the summer months, this is an extremely common practice for the Danes, as most buildings are not air conditioned (it isn’t necessary due to Denmark’s long, cold winters). When I went, I saw a ton of people laying out on the docks, sunbathing, and enjoying lunch by the waterfront. As long as you watch out for the boats that share the waterways, the canals are a fun way to escape the summer heat and enjoy the afternoon after a long morning of class.

Even though it had only been a week, I was beginning to feel myself fall in love with this city a little bit more and more every day. I love wandering around its cobblestone corridors and next to its dreamy waterways. I feel so instantly at home. The people here are so friendly. I’m loving my classes, the people I am meeting, and the relaxed overall pace of Denmark. I can’t wait to see what’s in store the next few months.

vi ses næste indlæg! xo Chloe

Chloe Zgorzelski studied in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2018: