lunes, 29 de abril de 2013


Almost all of what I knew before about Amsterdam was what I had learned from the movie "Eurotrip".  Not exactly the most educational film, it taught me that the city was a chaotic mess of prostitutes and drugs.  However, I found that more than anything, there were nice old families, canals, bikes and fry stores.  Lots of fry stores.

And I had to stop at every one

The city is all-around beautiful, with its winding canals and houses.  There were quite a few houseboats as well, that would float alongside the bike-paths.  There were hardly any cars and bikes replaced them as the main form of transportation.  During the day Amsterdam is a very quiet, peaceful place.   

The people of Amsterdam are actually very relaxed and it was mostly only the tourists that caused any problems.  If there was one city I visited this Spring Break that I could imagine myself living in, it would be Amsterdam. 

martes, 23 de abril de 2013


We were in Dresden for only one day, but it was still nice to experience part of Eastern Germany.  After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Eastern Germany has been adjusting itself to fit the Western German lifestyle.  While not yet as prosperous as much of the West, it has been adapting to the change in culture.  Dresden is located only two hours from Prague, not far from the border between Germany and the Czech republic.  

Dresden was bombed during WWII, resulting in much reconstruction.  However, there are still plenty of historical buildings that have been preserved throughout the years:

Photos by Ariana Rosenthal            

This building is one of the churches inside of The Old City.  As its name suggests, this area is made up of buildings that have been around for quite awhile and were not nearly as affected by the 1945 bombing.     


Dresden was definitely the coldest place we went; the streets were like wind-tunnels and there was no place to hide from the cold.  At night this forced us to go into every bar we could see, the most interesting being 1940's themed and one called "Lebowski".  Amazingly, or at least obsessively, this bar is filled with "The Big Lebowski" memorabilia and original art and has the movie playing on repeat the entire night.

Dresden is kind of a strange city and has a surprisingly large nightlife, and its definitely worth taking a look at if you will be in Prague anyway.

martes, 16 de abril de 2013


Prague was one of my favorite cities.  If I could see myself living in any of the places that I had visited, I could most easily picture myself there.  

The Main Square

Prague is an old city with a rich history.  Although the Czech Republic was once a part of the Soviet Union during its time as Czechoslovakia, it retains a very Western style.  There are numerous churches and Christian influences on the city, as Prague was once the capital of the Holy Roman Empire, but it does not stop it from possessing its own unique feel.   

The Charles Bridge in Prague, lined with Religious figures
Photo by Ariana Rosenthal

The center square of Prague has a notable Astronomical Clock that was implemented in 1410, where throngs of loud-mouthed tourists now flock around.  Because of this, large amounts of pickpocketers hang-around the area, waiting to take what could have been well-used trdelnik money.

The Trdelnik in all its glory.

Prague is also home to an interesting art culture that was not limited to only galleries.  The Lennon wall carries the graffiti of many generations of artists (and sorority girls, judging by the endless Delta Gamma shout-outs).  The wall has been painted over many times, leaving different art there every year.  Overall though, the predominate theme is, of course, John Lennon and his lyrics.

Every piece of architecture in Prague is a work of art in its own right.  The city has the feel of a city with history but still continues to grow in its modernity.  I would go back to Prague in an instant and would not mind spending more time there in the future.

Finals and Honors

This semester I was lucky enough to have just one honors class, leaving me with a single end of the semester honors project.  Unluckily for me though, I did not start the project until the weekend before it was due.  Twenty pages, a PowerPoint and a complete loss of a weekend later, I was completely done.

As much of a hassle as it can be at times, I realized that my honors track was worth it when I was able to sign up for classes earlier than the other students.  This allowed me to have Fridays off with no class before 10 am, letting me continue the lazy lifestyle I've grown accustomed to.  I would recommend trying out honors in Madrid, even though the style is different than Suffolk Boston.  There aren't specialized honors classes but honorizing a class just means that you have additional work on top of the standard workload.

Its nice to be done with my work but it would have been even better if I had spread it out over a longer period of time.  It just shows that I still have a lot to learn before I'm done with college.

domingo, 7 de abril de 2013


The first destination on our list was Budapest.   To get to Hungary, we first needed to travel through the Charleroi airport in Brussels.  We found ourselves there with a nine hour layover and decided to take the bus into the city.  Often with Ryanair, the airport is on the outskirts of the city and a bus is necessary to get anywhere worth seeing.  

Brussels is the hub of the European Union, where many of the institutions meet and discuss European politics.  While there I made sure to try the chocolate, waffles and also the fries, which are very popular in both Belgium and Amsterdam.  Brussels was a short trip, worth seeing but I was satisfied with the amount of time I spent there.

Budapest was unlike any other country that I've been to.  It was the first time I went to an Eastern European country, and the differences were evident.  Budapest is a relatively recent addition to the EU and some of the Soviet culture can still be seen.  It is not an unfriendly place, but you are hard pressed to find people walking around smiling.  They often keep to themselves, but its not to say they aren't kind- they just are less likely to show it.  

We landed in Budapest around 10pm and quickly realized we were out of our element.  We went to the ATM to get some monopoly-looking forints and hoped we would make it to our hostel. 

These belong with a board game

We were stopped by the metro police on our way because we never found the ticket vending machine.  There was a significant difference between the Hungarian metro security and the Spanish.  Namely, the Hungarians were more monster than human, being 6 foot 6 and built like a linebacker, if that linebacker happened to eat another linebacker.  Luckily, the metro system in Budapest runs less on electricity than it does on corruption and we were able to pay off the security for the equivalent of $5 each.

We eventually made it to the hostel, a homey-feeling place with a squad of hippies as staff members.  They were all very accommodating and helped us any chance they could.

Notice the staff bed in the top right, so even while asleep, someone's behind the desk

The first day in Budapest was rainy but tolerable.  We decided to go to a huge market that had floors of produce, restaurants and souvenirs.  We had fresh squeezed orange juice (although none can compare with Spain's) and goulash.  Goulash is a hearty beef soup and the key to the Hungarian's size, I assume.  We also picked up fresh ingredients so that the better cooks of the group could treat us to a hostel-cooked meal.

Photo by Ariana Rosenthal

We took a bus around the city and were able to see the most significant sights, such as Heroes' Square, a huge plaza in Budapest that honors the seven leaders that founded Hungary:

Photo by Ariana Rosenthal

The Basilica:

Fisherman's Bastion, a Disney-looking Castle:

Photo from

The view from the Bastion

And the parliament building, which we tried unsuccessfully to get inside:

Photo from destination360

Budapest was probably the most unique destination on our list, but it was only the start to a great spring break.

domingo, 31 de marzo de 2013

Spring Break

Having just returned from Spring Break, I'm exhausted and ready for the solidarity of Madrid.  After moving through five hostels and several airport floors, I'm ready to return to my familiar twin bed.  I spent ten days in   five different countries and know that this Spring Break will never be repeated in the rest of my college years.  I made sure to take advantage of the opportunity that studying in Europe granted me, and made sure to spend my vacation all over Europe.  However, all the traveling exhausted me and a nap seems necessary.  I'll make sure to write about all the countries after my coma.  Happy Easter, world.

miércoles, 20 de marzo de 2013


This weekend my visiting friends and I decided we needed a break from Madrid and the long nights that are all too common here.  Saturday we took a bus to Segovia, a city in the mountains not even an hour and a half outside Madrid.  I did not know what to expect, other than a famous aqueduct and delicious pig dishes.

I slept through most of the bus ride, until I woke up to the bus screeching to a halt.  After scraping my head off the window, I realized we were in the middle of the snowstorm.  This was the first time I saw a significant amount of snow since leaving New England.  Everyone else on the bus was pointing and getting very excited at frozen water falling from the sky.  Perhaps it was the frequency we get it back home, or maybe the concussion that I assumed I must have then received from the window, but I went back to sleep and woke only when I made it to the destination.

The aqueduct was amazing, as it was built almost 2000 years ago without mortar and still stood.  I couldn't fathom how people could make it without machines, when I can't write a paper before complaining about it for weeks.

Almost as elaborate as one of my essays.

All I could think about on the way to the city was the eventual pork meal that was supposed to be fantastic. And I wasn't disappointed.  It was one of the best meals that I've had in the country and the waiter was kind enough to inform me more about the origin of my lunch.  He told me that the pig was only 21 days old, freshly removed from his mother.  It was easily the most innocent baby that I have ever shoved in my mouth.

Normally, infanticide is not part of my balanced diet, but I made the exception just this once.  And if a baby pig ever graces my plate again, I'm not sure I could refuse.

The other notable structure in Segovia is the castle.  It stands at the edge of town, a moat surrounding it as it looks toward the mountains.  The inside is covered in artifacts from the era and other pieces of history.

Photo by Arianna Nava

Segovia is much different than Madrid, and is a nice day trip from the city.  It was much calmer and a great escape from the hustle of daily city life in Madrid.