Camping Under the Stars by Shannon Connor

     Australia- the epitome of paradise - a worry-free laid back lifestyle that has forever impacted my life. Since being back (from Fall 2014), I have thought about my favorite, most memorable experiences. Although canyoning in New Zealand and scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef mark some of the best moments of my life; my single favorite moment would have to be camping on the beach.

     I say “camping,” in loose terms because sleeping on blankets in the sand with plentiful amounts of food may be viewed poorly upon by an experienced camper.  A group of 15 of us, (from Bentley, High Point University, and our local friends) went to Salt Beach in King’s Cliff just near Coolangata. Our friend Jarrad showed us this spot because he grew up in this area and always used to go here in high school.

     When we arrived, the guys started making the fire while all the girls relaxed.  The sun set around 5:30PM and the stars became apparent around 7PM.  This view of the Australian night included the best sight of stars I have ever laid my eyes on. (A picture didn’t do it justice- trust me I tried) I was able to see two shooting stars and we all thought about how lucky we were and how good life was at that particular moment.

     During this time, we made S’mores in between Tim Tams and sat around the campfire while one of our Aussie friends Johnny played his guitar. This was so simple and so perfect. When we got up to wander, the sand lit up and it were as if sparks were coming from our feet.  We were completely amused and absorbed in this simple activity, why doesn’t the US have sand like this?

     We barely slept that night and made sure we stayed up for sunrise. It was the most beautiful sunrise I have ever laid my eyes on. This simple experience really made me so happy to be abroad and meet the people that are currently in my life today. I don’t think any other “camping trip” will ever compare. 

Find the local hangouts! - Brandi Segala

One of the best things, all though there are almost too many best things, about being abroad was finding the local hangouts of the places I visited, specifically in my home, Sevilla (after you live there, you no longer call it Seville, it is Sevilla). There are so many local hang outs, that I found myself finding some of the best right before having to leave to return to the US. My ultimate favorite though was the first place that I ever ate at in Sevilla.

I spent the first 2 weeks of my experience in Sevilla living in a hostel…I know interesting…long story and beside the point. Anyway my roommate, Gabby, and I were both spending the semester in Sevilla although we were in different programs. So Gab and I asked the guys who run the hostel, probably the coolest guys I have met, where the best local place to eat was since we would be there for the next 4 months and we wanted to avoid any touristy things.

So off we went, to the recommendedBar Alfalfa, a small quaint bar and tapas place with huge ham legs hung from the ceiling. The place had about 6 tiny tables for 2 and stools lined across the bar. There was also a bunch of old wine bottles stored in the walls behind the bar. It was a place for locals, and now Gabby and I.  All of the employees are extremely friendly and the kitchen is so tiny you can see it when you are sitting in the restaurant. The food, and of course the Sangria, don’t get me started on that, was all fantastic. The best you could ask for. It became our new place to hang out and we definitely developed our favorites. We would always say that we would try a new group of tapas but somehow the melted provolone and bread would always sneak its way back into the mix. It was just so good there was no way not to order it. When we hadn’t seen each other in a while, we wouldn’t even have to ask where we would want to meet. It would be Bar Alfalfa even if we had just recently eaten there. It was the place we recommended to everyone that would visit and a place we felt we had to share. The craziest part is that it took us over half the semester to realize what is printed on every receipt of theirs. Each receipt that Bar Alfalfa prints reads, You Are Beautiful No Matter What They Say. AND it is written in ENGLISH which is somewhat strange for a local place in Sevilla. That was just the icing on the cake for our favorite spot!

For the sake of me going off on a rant and possibly boring people, I have listed a few of my other favorite local hangouts in Sevilla below! If you’re headed over to Sevilla take a look at these places and see if you want to check them out!

  1. Puracepa
  2. Plaza Alfalfa
  3. Calle Betis
  4. Mercado de Triana
  5. Velouté
  6. Ruk y Roll
  7. Plaza de España
  8. Bilindo
  9. Carbonería
  10. Plaza del Salvador

Don’t forget, there are sooo many more! Get out there when you travel, no matter where you are and find your favorite local hang outs!

Flea Markets

I was told by past study abroad students that Budapest is one of the most underrated cities they have ever been to. While I had that notion in the back of my head upon arrival, I did not realize just how true it was until I explored the city myself. At first glance, it looks like many other European cities—cobblestone streets, intricate architecture, and more pastry shops than there are stars in the sky. But then I began to pick up on the nuances of Hungarian culture and came to appreciate its uniqueness.

This uniqueness was most prevalent at the local flea markets. A local Hungarian student told me that these markets were a must-see, and so we made our way over early on a Sunday morning (you have to go early to get all the good stuff). Since this was not a tourist spot, we were forced to communicate with hand gestures and the little Hungarian we knew. Fun fact - apparently Hungarian is used as the alien language in Star Wars. The flea market was amazing. Not only did they have plenty of vintage jewelry and other trinkets, but they also had a lot of remnants of World War II. I saw several Nazi badges, knives, and military wear for sale. I was surprised to see how much of it was still there. The sale of these items was not, I don’t think, a way to promote Nazi ideals, but was just a reminder of the magnitude of the impact the war had on this part of the world. In fact, many Hungarians still consider the war a tough subject to speak about. The experience was humbling, to say the least. 

Aside from the initially shrilling effect of seeing Nazi memorabilia so largely available, I was able to find a lot of cool stuff there. I now have some awesome vintage jewelry, currency from the 50s and some really beautiful old post cards.  

By: Rhadika Bansil 

Exchange Partners

Meeting exchange partners (or intercambios” as they say in Spain) was one of the most memorable experiences abroad. There was a program with my university that would help connect me to locals in the area who wanted to practice their English and I would practice Spanish with them.  I emailed the university noting my interest in the program and they put me in contact with two really cool individuals, one guy and one girl.

They were a few years older than me and they lived only a few blocks away from where I lived. Around once a week we would meet up and go either to a café, a restaurant, or just simply walk around different spots in the city and converse and help each other learn new words and phrases. We regularly keep in touch on Facebook and one of them actually had the opportunity of visiting me this past year in Boston! Exchange partners are excellent resources to have. You can learn so much from them in little time and they can end up becoming friends for life!

By: Isaac Potvin