Doors leading to Europe

Venezia, Italia
Venezia, Italia
Marrakech, Morocco
(Africa) Marrakech, Morocco
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Stockholm, Sweden
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague, Czech Republic
Paris, France
Paris, France
Cortona, Italia
Cortona, Italia
Futog, Serbia
Futog, Serbia
Venezia, Italia
Venezia, Italia
Córdoba, España,
Córdoba, España
Roma, Italia
Roma, Italia
Morocco [Sammi]
(Africa) Marrakech, Morocco [Sammi]
Espana
Ronda, España
Rastina, Serbia
Rastina, Serbia
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Budapest, Hungary
Capri, Italia
Capri, Italia
Sevilla, Espana
Sevilla, Espana [with Tamara]
Futog, Serbia
Futog, Serbia
Perugia, Italia
Perugia, Italia

A door can symbolize openness–an opportunity and freedom to explore for those curious enough.

I was fixated on distinguishing the variations of doors while I was traveling. There was just something about admiring them that spoke to me about what it means to discover a culture. Was the door open? Who was leaving and where were they off to? What color stood out the most? How tarnished did it appear?

I was smitten by discovering the stories behind these doors.

Months before I left for Europe, I was anxiously applying for scholarships to study abroad and was reminded of this quote: “when one door closes, another one opens”. This rang true when I did not receive the travel scholarship I so desperately wanted. Fortunately, I had the incredible opportunity and honor to become a global ambassador. I wanted to inspire students just like myself to travel with me, even if was just through a computer screen. If I could leave you with any advice, hear this: stop making excuses–do yourself a favor and just buy the ticket already. It doesn’t have to be just a dream.

More about me as a Abroad 101 Global Ambassador here .

P.S. Do you gravitate towards something in particular too when you travel?

The Heart of Perugia, Italia

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My apartment building felt like it was out of some vintage Italian film. [Via Bartolo]
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Some of the best afternoons were spent exploring with my camera.
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I fell in love with the details of Perugia, especially the flower pots from the balconies.

I’ve been meaning to write some love about my beautiful city for a while now. When I mean a while, I mean for months. I’ve put it off because I don’t really know how to give this city justice…but I sure as hell can try.

I believe each city has its own personality; Perugia really makes you fall in love so effortlessly. I love how the city feeds off of the energy of the people. It’s not just a beautiful city. It’s medieval history is vividly shown through this epic ‘underground world’ that reminds me of something out of Harry Potter. The heart–or the core of Perugia is in it’s authenticity. Its found everywhere– in every restaurant, the always tempting goodies at pasticceria Sandri on display while walking Corso Vanucci, and freshly made cannolis that always run out before lunch time from that cafe that I still don’t know the actual name of. Because food is such an essential part of culture and travel, I had to share a few of my favorites in Perugia.

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This photo was taken as the last (for now) time at my favorite spot
when my family came to visit after my backpacking trip.
Taken during our first week, roommate out for lunch at Pizza Med for our first time
Taken during our first week, roommates out for lunch at Pizza Med for our first time.
They are the best.

Pizza Mediterranea  Better Neaopolitain pizza than I had in Napoli. These brick-oven crafted personal pizzas will raise your standards for pizza, forever. Just trust me. My friends made fun of me because I literally ALWAYS wanted to go here. I have no shame because it’s the best. We even had an accidental tradition of getting Pizza Mediterranea after weekends of traveling because it was a comfort of coming back home to Perugia. On warm days, you’ll see locals taking their pizza to-go and enjoying it on the steps near Fontana Maggiore.  Best for causal lunch/dinner date [Piazza Piccinino 11/12 Da Antonio]

This nook pizzeria is perfect for a quick slice of pizza.

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La Taverna Try the truffle ravioli, a house specialty and Umbrian dish that made me not only like, but love truffles. Each table is treated with complementary champagne, a veggie appetizer, and their homemade chocolate liquor.  I can’t recommend this restaurant enough–it’s a true Perugian experience. Best for impressing your family and your hot date. [Via delle Streghe]

Caffe Morlacchi This coffee shop is usually filled with Italian university students quickly taking their 1/7 espresso by the bar. My roommate Sammi discovered this place the first week or so and it easily became my go-to space to study or meet up place for a pastry and espresso macchiato. The prices are student-budget friendly and they have live music every week.[Piazza Morlacchi 6/8]

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No need for any excuses to sit, relax, laugh, eat, and drink on the steps–
it’s just what you do in Perugia.

Internationally, Perugia is known for Umbria Jazz, a festival held in July in the center of the city (just near my old apartment) and Eurochocolate, the chocolate festival held in the fall. Baci is Perugia’s most iconic hazelnut chocolate that is hard to miss while traveling throughout Italy. I even spotted it in “Little Italy” in San Francisco and instantly felt that Perugian love. The best part is that Perugian chocolate isn’t the sweetest part of the city…it’s the insanely beautiful views from the hilltop city that make it unforgettable.

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I was so blessed to have my favorite view of Perugia just up the stairs from my old apartment.
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A view of Via Appia, one of the most photographed parts of Perugia.
A vintage postcard I found in CA a year before I came to Perugia. Took this photo the last day I left as a reminder of how far I've come to get to where I am today.
A vintage postcard I found in CA a year before I came to Perugia.
Took this photo the last day I left as a reminder of how far I’ve come to get to where I am today.

Huge thanks to the talented Stephen Doyle for creating this video, gives me goosebumps every time.

I make a little appearance presenting research from my semester internship!

For more about my program, check out the Umbra Institute website or feel free to leave me a comment!

“The Little Blue” is a blog created by two awesome friends/staff members all on Perugia. Early in the semester, I started collaborating with them by updating photos.

Travel lust: Where I’m headed

“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” – Cesare Pavese

One of my favorite parts of studying abroad is how I have the freedom and luxury in creating my own experience. It’s this unique opportunity where fantasies can spark into your reality. Most people don’t realize this though because they believe it’s too expensive/unrealistic, and the truth is that there’s definitely a strategy in booking flights, where to stay, and how to save your money. Living on a student budget has taught me that I need very little in my daily life (I can thank my trip to Honduras in high school for that as well). You need to be open for trading comfort sometimes in order to ultimately do what you want. Plus, better stories come from the times I’ve felt unsure of my personal comfort (my first hostel experience) and making mistakes along the way (my first solo-traveling experience in Cortona).  I’ve learned to get creative so that I can make the most out of my time abroad. Most weekend trips in Italia are spontaneous (mainly depending on the weather), because the Italian train system is so easy and relatively affordable.

With only a month left of my study abroad program (scary how quickly time passes), I am narrowing down my priorities, and trying to figure out how to spend the 13 days– between my program ending and having to leave my apartment, before meeting up with my family mid-May.

If you had 13 days to go anywhere in Europe, where would you go?

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Well, here’s my travel plans, including a few at the bottom that have not been officially booked yet. Let’s see where life takes me.

Where I’m Headed:

Sevilla, Spain

Prague, Czech Republic

Naples, Sorrento, Pompeii, the Amalfi Coast, Capri, Italia

Istanbul, Turkey

Porto, Portugal

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Venice, Italia

The Cinque Terre, Italia

Belgrade, Serbia

Split, Croatia

Santorini, Greece

Where I’ve Been:

Perugia, Italia

Budapest, Hungary

Gubbio, Italia

Roma, Italia

Firenze, Italia

Siena, Italia

Paris, France

Barcelona, Spain

Marrakech, Morocco

Bologna, Italia

Cortona, Italia

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I have no idea where I’ll be a year from now, let alone 2 months from now, but I find beauty in not knowing who I’ll meet, where I’ll be sleeping, or what I’ll be eating. Let the adventures continue…

Perspective and studying abroad

“In wisdom gathered over time I have found that every experience is a form of exploration.”– Ansel Adams

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Lessons I want to remember, and welcome to the street of my apartment in Perugia!

I came across a post about “the reality of studying abroad”, and how a student believed that people intentionally try to glamorize their experiences on social networks, when in reality it’s just a façade and isn’t that special. I couldn’t help but think that studying abroad isn’t going to be what you want, if you don’t make it what you want. Always wanted to ______? Then go do it.

It’s an incredible opportunity— right in front of you.

An opportunity for you to decide how you’re going to spend your time and your money, depending on what you value and your priorities. I have no reason to judge anyones agendas for going abroad– hey, even if I didn’t know you, I’d probably think you’re awesome simply because you’re abroad. It shocked my friends when I said I’m 1 out of only 15 students that are abroad this semester from my college. A short conversation with a travel guide in Morocco resonated with me in particular. When I asked her if working for a student travel company, doing the same routes, to the same locations, ruined her passion for traveling, this is what she said:

“To be honest, no. I definitely need to take time for myself and travel on my own, but after coming home from studying abroad years ago, I realized that there’s still so much to see. And that’s what’s amazing.”

My professor in my cultural psychology internship is working on research about students changing after going abroad, and I don’t think it’s by accident that this happens.

Once we experience something exhilarating, something different, and we adapt to a culture, we learn how to embrace life in an entirely new way. 

I don’t believe we ever stop learning–searching for something that sparks our minds and warms our heart. That’s why I travel.