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Maddie, Lauren & Elyse’s Abroad Blog: Her Campus Gals Study Overseas

Some of our very own Her Campus ladies are studying overseas for Fall quarter! Although we miss them in Santa Barbara and on the HC-team, we are excited to hear about their incredible adventures. Madeline Stack, Lauren Daniels, and Elyse Greenblat are juniors who work as writers, photoblog contributers, and PR reps for Her Campus UCSB. Read up to be enlightened by their foreign affairs!

Life In Sweden, by Lauren Daniels
I’ll never forget that moment, three and a half months ago, when I stepped out of my plane halfway across the world. My mind was still numb, since it hadn’t hit me yet. I could not begin to process the fact that I would living abroad in a foreign country for the next six months, where I would learn a language I knew nothing about, study at a university over 300 years old, and hopefully make new friends. Although it seemed as if this journey would be a challenge, I was ready for anything that came my way! Hello Sweden!

Looking back on that day I arrived in Sweden (or “Sverige” as the Swedes say), reminds me of how clueless and curious I was as to how the next six months would play out. I am happy to say that everything (so far) has worked out better than I expected! After arriving in Lund, a historical college town covered in cobblestone, I quickly realized that this was exactly the location I desired to study abroad. Although many of my collegiettes embarked on their Euro adventures in most of the well-known, popular locations, I decided to follow a different route. Lund is situated in southern Skåne region of Sweden, surrounded by green, rolling fields and not too far from the coast. Not to mention, Copenhagen is basically right around the corner. Okay, it’s actually across a huge bridge that connects Sweden to Denmark, but still, very close!

Over summer I had the pleasure of studying Swedish for six weeks. Swedish is a language unlike anything I have ever heard of! Back home I was familiar with Spanish as well as French, and I could recognize German, but Swedish was so, so different. Luckily everyone in Sweden speaks flawless English, so I was never forced to struggle with my elementary Swedish when ordering food or asking directions. Nevertheless, six weeks of intensive language courses payed off! I can now recognize words and get around a lot more comfortably than before. I still need to find someone to speak Swedish too when I get back in Santa Barbara..

Coming to Sweden, I was determined to travel around Scandinavia, as well as explore as much as Europe as possible. Although I had been to Europe before, I feel like traveling with your parents is nothing like traveling with friends. The feeling of independence is unlike anything I have experienced as I hopped from one country to the next, meeting up with friends and relatives. I am so fortunate to have already crossed off 9 countries in Europe and will hopefully see a few more before my departure! Some of my most memorable travels include Spain and Amsterdam. Swimming in the warm ocean water at Barceloneta Beach after gazing at Gaudi architecture was a perfect way to spend a scorching August day while on break from classes. Amsterdam was also unforgettable, as I was able to gaze at the most adorable, narrow houses along the many canals while kicking back on a boat tour. A destination I never thought I would travel to was Gdansk, Poland. This hidden gem was a comfortable and cheap place to spend a spontaneous weekend away from home. I was also lucky enough to catch up with a previous exchange student in Berlin. The advantages of traveling with a local was incredibly relaxing, as she knew exactly where to navigate us. Anytime I don’t have to stress over metro or bus routes is a plus. Overall, traveling has been a large component of my abroad experience.

After many weekends of exploring different locations, it is nice to finally come home (home being Lund, of course) and get to work with real classes. Studying abroad actually involves studying?! Even though I only have 2 ½ months left in Sverige, I hope to enjoy it to the fullest! I have to say, the Swedish college culture is impressive. The people here definitely know how to party! Maybe UCSB has some competition?

It’s Still Only the Beginning in Florence, by Madeline Stack
After being in Italy for a little less than a month, I have begun adjusting to the Italian life style.  I am an Art History and Psychology double major studying in one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in the world.  I still cannot believe the historical areas around me in which I live and study.  The city is amazing and I love the Italian way of life.  It is so different from the hustle and bustle of life in the States, where a person is forced to rush from one thing to another with out a chance to think or relax.  In Italy, the Italians live their lives in a completely different way. 

To the Italians, life is not about rushing and finishing things. Life is about enjoying oneself, never working too hard, and appreciating the little things.  In most places, there is a break in the middle of the day where all the shops close for a few hours and the workers get a long break for meals or whatever they would like to do.  Meals here are also very interesting; they occupy a couple hours and the customer has to ask for the check, the waiting staff never gives it to you. Here in Florence, stress seems non-existent and one does not feel bad about just kicking back and relaxing. 

The phrase from Eat Pray Love: “Il bel fare niente”, which is the sweetness of doing nothing, is a way of life in Italy. 

Jerusalem: The Holy City, by Elyse Greenblat
Jerusalem is an amazing city, filled with strong religious beliefs and many interesting places waiting to be found. The old city is made up of 4 quarters, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Armenian. Each filled with many little shops. Here you can find many treasures, where half the fun is bargaining. Getting around and asking directions is a challenge in itself. If you ask local how to get somewhere they will give you directions that most certainly will result in you being lost. It is not really their fault, as the old city seems to be a maze, even to the locals. There is always an adventure and with luck you can find a new restaurant or store.

Sensation White in Copenhagen, by Lauren Daniels
Before arriving to Europe, I basically had no idea what this mystery event called “Sensation” was. Multiple people in my program mentioned this show to me, asking if I was thinking of going in October. Although I knew absolutely nothing about the DJs performing, I decided to jump on the bandwagon and splurge on an €80 ticket.

Before I continue, I have to say that this was the BEST 80 Euros I have ever spent while abroad! Basically Sensation is the combination of a concert and show put on in multiple locations around the world, everywhere from Serbia to Amsterdam. At Sensation, you are required to wear all white clothing, as this refers to the official name, “Sensation White.” At Sensation in Denmark, the one I attended, 6 DJs performed, including Hardwell and Martin Solveig. Although all of the DJs were amazing, it was the entire setup and atmosphere that made this event unforgettable. Over 100 light-up orbs danced from the ceiling as water spouted periodically from giant purple lotuses. Dancers even flew around in the air with fireworks connected on to their arms and the DJs rotated 360 degrees while performing, so everyone was able to have a good view. The entire show complemented the music perfectly and everything appeared so well put together. Although I am not an experienced concert or festival attendee, I have to say that I can’t imagine anything in California could compare to this event. I am not sure if this is a Scandinavian thing, but everyone respected your dance space. This meant that no creepers were suddenly holding your hips or that anyone was shoving you while jumping up and down. There was so much room to simply enjoy the music and scene. Overall, I recommend this event for anyone traveling abroad. Find the nearest concert and go!

Foreign Films in Israel, by Elyse Greenblat
Yesterday I went to this movie theater called Lav Smedar. It is located in the German colony, an area with amazing houses and fabulous restaurants. It is this charming theater that shows documentaries, located within a coffee shop. You can sit down for lunch or dinner and order delicious food and coffee, instead of the normal not-so-tasty theater food. I watched the documentary, Pina, about a German choreographer. Unfortunately for me the movie was for the most part in German and the subtitles were in Hebrew. With my limited knowledge of Hebrew, I was able to understand parts of it, but was still able to enjoy the dancing in the movie.

The Myth of the Italian Stallion: An American Girl’s View on Florentine Men, by Madeline Stack
Lets be real ladies, everyone has the fantasy of snagging their own “Italian Stallion”.  This fairytale is ingrained in us from the beginning: the perfect man is gorgeous, mutters sweet sweet nothings in our ears in a language that we can’t understand, and did I mention that he can cook? This is what I had imagined at least…

Instead I have found the male scene in Florence to be a bit different than what I expected. I have found men here to be a bit more aggressive than in the States.  There are different standards for sexuality especially for males.  If you have a guy with you, no matter if it is a friend or a boyfriend, no other man will speak to you.  However if you are with a group of girls, you get will stared at (more like eye fu****), whistled at, and commented on.  Don’t even think about making eye contact…it means that you are interested, or in love with them, as the Italian women say. 

At first I found this behavior revolting and I wondered if this technique ever worked. Now, being here for a couple months, I have become used to this part of the Italian culture. I make less eye contact and ignore the comments.  Now I just think of the men as a passionate bunch that are more forward than the males in the States. Hey, maybe the guys at home should take some notes…

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