Italy | Giolitti

By Andrea Zachrich


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

Where is this place??

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

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

What should I order?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Italy | Forum Boarium Temples

By Andrea Zachrich

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Me testing the Hand of Truth!

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

Italy | Eating in Bars (aka Cafes)

By Andrea Zachrich

What are bars in Italy?

First thing to know, cafes are called bars in Italy. They also sell alcoholic drinks, and might change into more of a traditional bar in the evening, but during the day its where you would go to get a coffee or a pastry or sometimes gelato if they have it. I remember first landing in Milan and telling my friend Mike something along the lines of “Wow, Italians must drink a lot because I see at least one bar per street block”, but they’re not (entirely) there for serving alcohol. I’m not sure why the meaning of bar is so different in Italy and America, but these are the places to go for coffee and snacks during the day.

Second important thing to know: there are different places in the bar where you eat depending on how you order. If you sit down at a table in a bar, they will bring you menus and usually charge you a service fee of 1 to 2 euros. If you walk up and order at the counter, they expect you to stand at the bar and eat/drink your food while standing there, and do not charge you the service fee. I kind of felt like I was in the way while standing at the bar, but you’re not and they expect you to do it. Some bars will allow you to sit down at the table after you order, especially if they’re not busy, but most don’t want you to because they charge people a little extra to do so.

Bar near our daily meeting place at Piazza Belli


In addition, coffee is served a little differently here. If you order a “caffe”, they give you an espresso (usually a fairly small one), but it should only cost around 1-2 euros. I haven’t found anywhere that will serve me a large cup of coffee like you could get at a coffee shop in America. You can, of course, ask for cappuccinos and items like that made using a standard espresso machine. If you’re lactose intolerant, you might be out of luck because many bars don’t have milk substitutes (although I have noticed the most common one is soy, so I would try to ask for that). Also, there’s usually not a menu for coffee, but if you see an espresso machine behind the counter, they should be able to make all the standard drinks.

Also, iced coffee is not really a thing here, BUT there is something called “crema di caffe” and it is my favorite Italian food item thus far. I’ve gotten one everyday since we’ve been here. It’s essentially a creamy icy espresso slushie with a touch of sweetness.  It’s delicious and I would for sure recommend it while you’re here. It’s often so thick that they usually serve it with a spoon instead of a straw. They keep it in one of those machines that constantly stirs it, so look for that behind that counter. Sometimes they call it “cold coffee” as well.

One last thing: to-go coffee (or “take away” as I’ve commonly heard it called here) is not very common. A lot of places will do it, but most expect you to take the 4-5 minutes to stand at the counter and drink your coffee, and you should! It’s fun to stand there and people watch the other people in the bar. If it’s not too busy, the people working there can be fun to talk, help you with your Italian, to or give recommendations if you ask and they’re in a good mood.

Eating in bars was something that really confused me until our professor explained it, so I thought I would save you the embarrassment of being the clueless American who has no idea what’s going on.

Crema di Caffe (take away, I know, I broke my rule but I was late)

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!

Peru | How I Ended Up in Peru


On the morning of our first day of class, everyone in our program met in the dining area of our hotel to enjoy breakfast together. I sat down to a breakfast of fresh fruit, mango juice, scrambled eggs, french toast, grilled sausage with vegetables, and a large cup of coffee. Our teaching assistants for the class met us in the lobby to show us the direction of the university. Brisk morning dew coated the streets as we made our 15-minute journey to the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, our new campus for the summer.

Our professors greeted us at the doors of the university before giving us an overview of the goals of their courses and the schedule for the next four weeks. Our first course would begin with an introduction to global health concepts, important themes of global health, a brief history of global health, and current strategies and actors in the field. The purpose of this course was to give us the context and language that would allow for a critical analysis of the global health interventions we would be seeing first-hand in Peru. The second course for the summer would focus on how diversity and disparities impact health in a global context. To create an in-depth and meaningful understanding of these topics, our group would also take visits to clinics in Lima and Iquitos. These excursions would allow us to apply what we learned in the classroom to the specific cases of health interventions in Peru.

While my professors explained their intentions for the class, I felt my excitement grow as I began to see how truly unique the opportunity before me was. I chose this program because I felt a need to see exactly what global health meant in action. Before my study abroad experience, I found that reading textbooks and learning about interventions in far-away places never satisfied my curiosity. I couldn’t ignore my desire to experience and see what I was learning about come to life in the real world. When I came across the Summer Travel Study Global Health Program, I immediately saw that this was my opportunity to gain unique and meaningful experiences in the field of global health. This was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down.

Upon my arrival in Lima, I found that Peru far exceeded my expectations. Lima is rich with color, art, music, dancing, incredible food, and extensive opportunities to learn about the history and culture of this incredible country. I realized that this program was much more than just learning about global health. I was learning about a new culture, discovering new perspectives, and experiencing sights unique to the neighborhoods I was surrounded by. All of this gave breath and depth to the academic terms and themes I was learning about. Global health began to take on a new meaning for me as I conceptualized what it means to bring healthcare to individuals on a global scale.

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

France | En Route to Paris


It’s 6:54AM in New York City where my plane is currently stationed, which means it’s 3:54AM in California. My flight crew decided to let off a disruptive passenger mid-flight, so my non-stop flight from Los Angeles to Paris was delayed with a pit stop in New York. They said one hour, but it’s been about three already, so I figured I’d take this time document all the little things I love about flying besides the thrill of the take-off and landing.

The greatest thing about flying is that it’s different each time—the food, the seat, the entertainment. New strangers with their own stories, a crew with a different dynamic. During this flight, the crew has been incredibly attentive and fun (a few of them are currently singing and dancing to Party in the USA in their plaid blazers and Norwegian accents).

One of the best things to do while traveling is to strike up a conversation with strangers. There’s a lot to be learned through another person’s perspective. Currently sitting next to me is the sweetest old lady who’s originally from Paris and now living in Orange County, California. She’s flying back to visit family and friends. In the row in front of me sits the most adorable, energetic French father-daughter pair.

During the flight thus far, I’ve learned that the lady sitting next to me studied chemical engineering at a graduate institution in Paris and recently retired from a multinational conglomerate. She’s lived in Canada and France as well as California, but she still prefers the Golden State and would not likely return to living in France. One of the main reasons was simple, France’s technology was just not as up to date as California’s, and it was catching up too slowly. The situation made living in France inconvenient. In regards to my trip, she advised me to focus on the food and the sights of France, not the shopping like many tourists do.

Even with random, unexpected delays, I can’t be upset. It’s always possible to fill the time with something enjoyable or productive, and in the end, it’s all a part of the flying experience.

So here I am, stationed and delayed in New York City, feeling grateful for this experience and not at all feeling like I’m going to be in Paris in ~7 hours (7 hours!!). The fact that I’m studying abroad STILL hasn’t hit me, and I suppose it won’t until I’m sitting in class tomorrow morning, a bright and early 9 a.m.

Until next time,


P.S. While passing through French customs—which is a quick process unlike in the U.S.—I met some other students in my program. I also met a street photographer with an older model of the camera I recently bought for the trip, and he taught me some new camera tricks. How cool is talking to strangers?

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

France | Attending Class Online


LA’s traffic is notorious—going east to west or vice versa can take an hour. Since my hometown is roughly three hours away from UCLA in morning traffic, I wasn’t exactly eager to drive there for the first two weeks of class.

Lucky for me, the International Business Law & Taxation program offers an online real-time class option for the first two weeks of the program. Last Tuesday, I found myself rolling out of bed at 8 a.m. to attend the first class right at home. With participation counting as 30% of the overall grade, students joining the lecture online are expected to contribute as much as the students in the classroom.

Students who are unable to attend the real-time options – online or in the classroom – can watch a recording of the lecture on their own time. In that case, students must complete an additional assignment to demonstrate their class participation. Given the options, the first two weeks of the program allow you to attend in class no matter where you are in the world!

Like most other video chat technology, the one Professor Freixes uses allows students at home to see and hear him, his powerpoint, and all the other students online. Professor Freixes and the students in the classroom can see and hear everyone online. This way, it is easy for everyone to participate.

I found myself more engaged in this online style of learning than in learning in a live classroom. Furthermore, the Professor often discussed current events and encouraged students to look up information on their own laptops/phones in class.

Like with most 3-hour summer classes, our class got a 15-minute break, during which I turned off my laptop camera and wandered into my kitchen to grab a drink and snack. Super cool and convenient. Of course, if you live close to UCLA or are on campus, attending the class at UCLA has its own advantages. For example, it serves as an opportunity to meet other students and the professor.

I encourage those who decide to enroll in the program to reach out to the students on the Facebook group prior to the start of the program. It’s a great way to meet students to travel with, study with, or even share books with. Understanding what others are doing in terms of travel, packing, and textbooks can be extremely helpful for your own preparations.

A few months prior to the program, I reached out to some fellow travelers, met up at a dining hall, and started getting excited for all the adventures we were about the have abroad. Later on, I found another student to share textbooks with (ebooks are the way to go!). I couldn’t be more pumped for the abroad portion of Travel Study.

Stay tuned!


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

England | Differences From the United States


Europe is different than the United States. Very different. There were so many things that I was unaccustomed to that I decided to make a list of what was different here in London as opposed to the United States.


Enjoy your nice cheeseburger and side of ranch dressing because this is something that is hard to come by here in London. And if you do by chance find a cheeseburger here, it’s just not the same. I ordered a salad one night at Montague Pyke, a restaurant near the Soho area, and that was the first time I realized food here was very different. The ranch dressing isn’t our creamy deliciousness but instead it is watered down. It’s more acidic and has a tang at the end that I don’t find appetizing. Cafes line the streets and there are cute bakeries everywhere it’s just a matter of finding the one that’s for you. We have stuck to a diet of pizza and I think that’s the way to go! I’m still on the hunt for my go to restaurant.


There is no AC anywhere here. It can get unbearably hot and humid here in London and all you want to do is sit in a place that has air conditioning, but that is very difficult when restaurants, dorm rooms, stores and transportation systems lack AC. Staying hydrated is key especially in the tube where everyone is packed in like sardines in an underground tunnel!


Unfortunately, London is short on ice, especially when it’s hot outside. Most restaurants here are accustomed to serving room temperature beverages, making you appreciate the nice cold soda you can get from the U.S. Once we started asking for ice, we were finally able to get the cold drinks we were searching for. I found it really helpful to freeze a bottle of water before our walking tours and long day of class.

Trash Cans

Surprisingly, there are few trashcans that line the street like we are used to. In London, they don’t call trashcans trashcans, but rather they call it litter. If you go to a Starbucks or any other café for that matter, don’t be surprised if there isn’t a trashcan. You can simply leave your trash where you are siting and the staff will clean and remove the trash for you.


In the U.S. there are designated smoking areas, but as for the U.K. there are not. Many people smoke cigarettes in the street which I found to be an interesting difference from the United States.

Traffic and Transportation

Double decker buses are so cool here! I loved hoping onto a bus and going up to the second floor. The view is very nice from up there, and taking a ride on the bus is very helpful for understanding the streets of London. A double decker bus is the epitome of London. I didn’t think that the buses could get you from point A to point B, and that they were just tourist attractions, but they are very helpful and get you to your destination very quickly. The buses are also cheaper than the tube.

How to pay at a restaurant

It is a little different here than the U.S. If you use an American debit or credit card, which most people in the program did, the waiter/waitress brings out the ATM pin pad and inserts your chipped card to pay the bill. You pay the bill directly at the table, and are not obligated to pay tip. If you eat with a large group then you may see a service fee added to your bill, which is just the same as gratuity in the U.S. If you want to leave a tip you always can, but it is not mandatory nor do the workers expect it. Also after paying, you must sign the receipt in which they check your license or the back of your card to make sure your signature is the same.


Drving and crossing the street

I’m still trying to understand how the rules on the road work here in London.

Cars are on the opposite side of the street, drivers drive on the opposite side of the car, and when you cross a cross a crosswalk you look left, right, left. Cars usually do not stop because it is not pedestrians right of way like how it is in the U.S. Also, stop lights work a little differently. The light changes from red to yellow, which allows the stopped cars to slowly take off. It is important to make sure you clear the crosswalk in time, before the cars start to take off. Because crossing the street can be a little intimidating at first, make sure to find zebra crosswalks which are indicated by the black and white striped poles that have a large yellow bulb at the top. These crosswalks function as our stop signs which allows the pedestrian the right of way. Cars stop for you, but make sure to look both ways before crossing at all times!  


Believe it or not there are two lanes to an escalator! Although it’s a normal escalator the crowd divides into two sides: the right side is used for standing, while the left is used for walking. Because there are a lot of commuters who are rushing to get to their destination, it is important to move to the right side if you want to stand. If you are in a rush to catch a train or the tube, it would be best for you to use the left side and walk down or up the escalators with the rest of the rushing commuters!

Gas Stations

You would think that in a packed city with many cars there would be multiple gas stations, but we found it very interesting when we could barely find any. There is a gas station called BP within the city, and the only one we’ve seen by far. Good thing we take those buses!


In the U.S. you can use public restrooms practically anywhere you’d like. However, in London, not everywhere restaurant or store has a restroom to use. Some public places that do have toilets require you to pay to get in. I suggest to ask a restaurant kindly if they have a restroom, which they actually refer to as toilets, and they will more often than not allow you to use their restroom.

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