The End of an Eternal Summer

It’s just the beginning of December, but for me, this semester in Brisbane, Australia has come to an end. Looking over my journal on the 25 hour trip home, I had one of the most amazing semesters of my life. I took trips all across Australia and New Zealand, swam with sharks on the Great Barrier Reef, sailed through the Whitsunday Islands, hiked through the outback, toured Sydney, hiked through national forests and visited plenty of beaches. The trips have been amazing, but I’ve also been lucky enough to make some of the best friends I’ve ever met over the past four months. This semester has been easier academically than most and when you add that to the endless sunshine of Australia, I had tons of time to hang out with my new friends. I was lucky enough to live in International House, which is sort of like a fraternity for students from Korea, South Africa, the US, England, China, Australia and many more! When I left to go abroad to Australia, I thought the culture would be almost identical to my experiences in the US (or at least California). Instead, I was surprised by the debates and differences I had with my new friends. Saying goodbye was definitely hard, but I’m happy to know some amazing people who live all around the world. So back to America I go! Time and time again this semester, I found myself saying, “This is amazing, but I can’t wait for _______.” For each trip I went on, I had another one waiting just around the corner. I had a semester of continual adventures, and now I’m off to another one! This time I’ll exchange my tan and sand-filled backpack for a winter coat and Christmas decorations. Compared to the other students abroad this semester, I have a relatively long winter break, and so I’ve planned even more trips to keep me going! Off to ski with my family and visit friends back in Boston, my semester of eternal summer has finally ended. It was amazing, but I can’t wait for the next adventure just around the corner. Cheers mate!

Alyssa Florack

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Where is the boat?

I cannot believe I have already been in Venice for over two months! I have adjusted to the six hour time difference, being away from my family and asking for the boat instead of the bus. I honestly have surprised myself with how well I have adjusted to the abroad life. The first week was hard but I threw myself into researching what classes to take, meeting new friends and planning trips. So far I have been to five countries other than Italy (Switzerland, France, Germany, Spain and England). Everyone told me how easy it was to travel within Europe, but I never realized it would be this easy!

 

The classes I decided to take line up perfectly with my desire to travel. I’m taking Great Works of Art Revisited and have never found art so interesting. Did you know the Mona Lisa was stolen? Or that doctors thought she smiled that way because she only had half a brain? I had the opportunity to learn about the Mona Lisa in class and then the next week I was in Paris actually looking at her “in person”.

 

One thing different then BC (other than the fact that I take a boat to school) is that we have a fall break. During the fall break I was fortunate enough to have my parents, aunt and uncle come over and visit me. We went to a small town four hours from Venice called Cigliano and we met my (very distant) Italian family! I was able to see where my great-grandmother was born and grew up. The family treated us to a traditional eight course Italian meal. The food kept coming! I am proud to say I tried every dish including cow brain. It was an incredible experience to meet these family members and learn more about where I came from. It has definitely been one of my favorite abroad moments so far.

 

While being abroad I feel like I have also seen history up close. During my trip to Germany, my train got rerouted due to closed borders because of the refugee crisis. I saw refugees at the border being turned away. It broke my heart to see a family turned away with nowhere to go. Experiencing the crisis in that moment resonated with me more than any textbook readings ever could have. Another moment where I experienced history was in Rome at the Vatican. I was fortunate enough to hear the pope speak, and just as importantly got a “selfie” with him! He was extremely gracious and traveled around the audience first and stopped to kiss every baby.

 

While there are moments (like Halloween and the Red Bandana football game) where I wish I was at BC, I know I have made one of the greatest decisions of my life. In these two months I have already seen myself grow and become a more independent person. I’ve seen more places then I could have ever imagined and I still have more trips planned!

italian family.jpg

Me with my Italian family in Cigliano

Is it normal to eat this much pasta?

Ciao from Firenze!!

I have been here for about a month and a half and I feel like I am finally getting adjusted. The city of Florence is not too big, so we walk EVERYWHERE. My main food groups in Florence include pasta, pizza, gelato, panini, and the occasional healthy salad, so I hope all the walking cancels this out.

I live in an apartment with two of my friends from BC, and two girls from Providence College. We’re on the fourth floor of a building that has a very sketchy elevator, so yeah, I prefer to walk up the 85 stairs. I now feel prepared to stop avoiding the Million Dollar Staircase when I return back to BC. I am studying at Florence University of the Arts, which mainly consists of American students from other schools such as Fairfield, Saint Joseph’s, University of San Diego, and Loyola Maryland. Since I have classes four days a week here, it’s nice to have a long weekend to travel. Italy is in a pretty central location of Europe, so I have been traveling to tons of places on the weekends like the Amalfi Coast, Munich, Madrid, Paris, and Dublin. After a week of midterms this past week, we have a weeklong fall break to do more traveling to London, Lisbon, and Barcelona.

Although I have taken an Italian language class for seven years of my life, everyone knows I’m still American and will talk back in English even when I think I blend in so well. Even though a lot of people speak English here, it definitely helps knowing some Italian so can I ask for directions or translate menus for my friends.

There are also so many American college students here so I haven’t really felt homesick. I get a serious case of fomo every time I watch Snapchat stories from BC tailgates or see #gassongrams on Instagram, but I know I am having a truly incomparable experience abroad and it is going to be so worth it!

Arrivaderci
~ Lauren D’Alessandro

A picture from the first day in Florence!

A picture from the first day in Florence in front of Santa Croce!

Lost track of how many Margherita pizzas I've eaten

Lost track of how many Margherita pizzas I’ve eaten

Livin’ the London Life

Hello hello! Or “cheers” as they say here in London! This is Alicia McCormick, checking in after my first couple of weeks here at Queen Mary University of London. I am loving it so far! Plus, it is a great school because it is the only university in London with an enclosed campus and it’s a bit outside of central London, just like BC!

Settling in here was a lot easier than packing was. I told myself I would not over-pack, but alas, I did. Yet, I still have plenty of room for all my clothes, with the giant dresser in my room! I also enjoy the luxury of having my own bedroom and bathroom, so it will certainly be an adjustment going back to BC’s dorms next semester. The flat I am in is shared with 9 people total; myself and two other Americans, as well as 4 British girls, and 2 boys from Korea and Romania. The diversity of my flat extends to the university as a whole as well. I have met people from so many different places here, including Brazil, Italy, El Salvador, France, Bulgaria, Canada, China, and of course our lovely city of Boston :).

What is great about the university system in the UK is that there is Fresher’s Week, meaning we have an entire week on campus before classes even start! Granted, this week is intended for the freshmen, it allowed us study abroad students to have plenty of fun as well! I got to explore all over London and beyond, including taking a boat cruise on the River Thames, going to Greenwich (and taking a pic on the Prime Meridian!), seeing the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, and visiting Stonehenge! This is such a beautiful country with so much history. I’ll also add that for the most part the weather has been absolutely beautiful here, but I don’t want to jinx it! I think I brought over the summer sun from Boston :P.

Now that classes have started I am getting into a bit more of a routine, but it is still so different than home since most classes only meet once a week. My schedule worked out so that I only have classes on Monday and Tuesday (plenty of time for traveling and exploring London!). I already have a trip planned to Sweden and I am working on getting flights to Rome, as well as a few other places! My semester abroad has kicked off to a great start and I cannot wait to see what the next few months have in store!

-Alicia 🙂

Tower Bridge on the River Thames

Tower Bridge on the River Thames

The Prime Meridian in Greenwich

The Prime Meridian in Greenwich

Changing of the Guard

Changing of the Guard

The Beautiful Buckingham Palace

The Beautiful Buckingham Palace

Gassongram 2.0 aka Westminster Abbey

Gassongram 2.0 aka Westminster Abbey

Big Ben

Big Ben

classic London

classic London

Stonehenge!

Stonehenge!

你好 from Hong Kong!

HELLO! 

Will Hennessy here from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology studying, you guessed it. Business. Despite their name they have one of the top business schools in Asia . I am originally from New Canaan, CT and I am studying Computer Science in the Carroll School of Management. 

The school itself is much like BC. It is located a few kilometers away from the city, easily accessible through public transportation (MTR), and is on its own self-contained campus…and (like Chestnut Hill) IS GORGEOUS– surrounded by trees, mountains and sits right on the water. 

My campus!

My campus!

I’m living in a traditional double just like I did freshman year in Duchesne (Go Newton!) and my roommate is another exchange student from Germany studying Mechanical Engineering.

I’m taking a full course load including a classical music class (Arts Core), a Biology and Physics class (Natural Science Core), Organizational Behavior (CSOM Core), and a negotiations class (just for fun!). All of my professors are awesome, and all classes are taught in English not Cantonese (the official language of Hong Kong). 

Since the school is publicly funded 70% of the students are local from Hong Kong, and then out of remaining 30% half of them are from Mainland China, and the other half are international students from all over the world. Just in my dorm alone there are students from 29 countries and 6 continents and speak over 10 different languages.

One of the most interesting things thus far is their club fair. If you thought BC took their clubs seriously, just wait until you HKUST. They fair lasts 2 weeks and they made the most beautiful art pieces to show off their club. If I was talented enough, I would want to join the Dragon Boat team—they seem like the coolest team on campus. 

Club Fair

Though I miss game days at school, I’m having an incredible time. I’m in awe of everything around me. Can’t wait to see what surprises me next! 

Will Hennessy

The first two weeks!

Hola hola hola!

Friday marked the end of my second week in Barcelona, and my goodness has it been an incredible, beautiful, exhausting time. We are up and walking all day and then dancing all night. You can check my fitbit, when I wake up in the morning I’ve already reached my 10,000 steps. No lies.

Since our program got us here a while before classes, we’ve had plenty of time to explore and learn about Barcelona. I can’t really summarize all of the amazing tourist sites I’ve seen or the delicious food I’ve eaten, but I’ll succinctly give you the highlights in bullet form:

  • Patatas Bravas, Tortilla Española, and pan tomate are my lifeblood.
  • Wine is cheaper than water.
  • It’s so beautiful and I keep tearing up because I’ll be looking at some old building and remember that I’m here in Barcelona living my lifelong dream!
  • The streets are super clean! And they do a great job recycling and composting. A+
  • I could walk for hours and hours in Ciutat Vella (which is the oldest part of Barcelona with all the windy streets that you’ve probably seen pictures of).
  • Did I mention how much I love the food?
  • Gaudí was a genius!
  • The city is as busy in the middle of the day as it is in the middle of the night.
  • So many cute dogs!
  • The weather is PERFECT.
  • Catalan is not easy to pick up.

Though the lifestyle is extremely different from anything I’ve ever experienced, it hasn’t been too hard to catch on to siestas or eating 5 times a day. Since day 1 we have been running around nonstop and I can’t get enough. I am stoked beyond belief to see what the next 3 months have to offer!

Here’s a random selection of some of the pictures I have on my computer:

Christina

The Start of a Venice Adventure

Buongiorno!

My name is Jordan Panza and I am studying abroad in Venice Italy for three and a half months. I am originally from the Boston area so I never had to be concerned with how much stuff I brought to school, so packing for three and a half months in 1 big suitcase and a carry on suitcase was a new experience for me. It was very difficult to decide what pair of shoes were practical yet cute. It was also difficult to pack for such a wide range of temperatures! In September, Venice can be 80 degrees but by the time I leave it could be as low as 25!

After arriving and settling in I have realized packing was the easy part! The difficult part is getting adjusted to a new country, new friends and being away from my family. I was so exhausted when I was on the plane that it did not hit me until I arrived that this was it, I was going to be away from my comfort zone for three and a half months. I missed my boat to get to my apartment so I had to wait an extra 30 minutes or so. Then when I was finally on the boat, it was crowded and everyone was speaking a different language. After the boat ride I had a ten minute walk up and down stairs to get to my apartment. As I said earlier I had two suitcases. When I saw the stairs on the first bridge I think I almost cried. I just thought of how easy every other move in day at BC was. My parents had been with me, I had a car to bring my stuff right outside my dorm and then elevators to get everything up. All I was thinking is why did I pick the challenge? As I was have a mini breakdown on the famous Rilato Bridge, a father of two young children came up to me, picked up my suitcase and carried it up the flight of stairs. I was so overwhelmed with the kindness of this one man that I was shocked when a different guy did this at next set of stairs. The kindness that these people showed me was incredible. The rest of the journey to my apartment was much easier!

Unpacking had its own set of struggles as there is only one small dresser and small closest to share between my roommate and myself! Currently, I am half living out of my suitcase and the other half of my stuff is unpacked. After my unpacking, I made a huge mistake. I called my mom. Mixing extreme exhaustion with homesickness led to a tear filled phone call of asking my mom “What was I thinking with going abroad?” After my mom reassured me, I took a nap to try to get my head straight.

After my tear session, I met my two other roommates. I have three roommates in total. My direct roommate is a girl from Japan. I also have a guy from Germany and another guy from North Carolina. Our first meeting included lots of questions that started with “In your country is…” It is so awesome learning about all these different cultures and countries.

I am still in orientation week and trying to learn where everything is in the city. I have quickly learned that I will still most likely get lost everyday but I am up for that adventure! I cannot wait for classes to start (Never thought I would say that!) so that I can started getting a rhythm down. I do have to mention that I am lucky, I do not have to get adjusted to the food at all. I have always been a big fan of Italian food so the food transition has been great!

I can already tell I am falling in love with this beautiful city!

Well that is all for now!

Ciao!!!

Down Under (well just barely)

My name is Carson Truesdell and I am studying abroad in Quito, Ecuador at la Universidad de San Francisco (with fellow SAPer MaryEllen Kray and 13 other Eagles). Before coming to Quito, many people asked me why Ecuador? And at that time I did not have a great answer; however I quickly realized what makes this country, this program and this university special. From the beautiful panorama of the mountains and volcanoes (one of which is currently erupting) I have from my bedroom window, to my caring and inclusive family that is patiently teaching me Spanish, Ecuador lives up to much more than its size.

Ecuador is just different. Where else can you stand in two hemispheres at once? Where else can you be in the rain forest, on the beach, or on top of a mountain all in one day? Where else do you have to carry around a mask in case the nearby volcano erupts? Where else can you have a different juice every day for breakfast (so far in my two weeks there have been no repeats… let’s see how long the streak can go)? Where else can you experience four seasons in one day, but not have four seasons in a year? Everything in Ecuador is a little new, and at times can be a little uncomfortable. Adapt, adjust, repeat. There are a lot of things that have been hard to understand, but with more experiences everything will make sense.

Where else would rather be right now?

This time the answer is pretty easy: Ecuador!