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Posted in: Home / Archives for October 2008

Incroyable! Wunderbar!

They say that French is one of the richest and most beautiful languages in the world, but if you ask me one thing it does lack is an appropriate superlative to describe Montreal. “Incroyable” is probably the closest but it still feels insufficient. Wunderbar, on the other hand, best captures my feelings about Montreal. I came to this conclusion near the end of my stay. I had just seen two amazing free shows in Old Montreal; coupled with a trip to ‘Tam Tams’, Montreal’s weekly drum circle and cultural festival.

I realized that I had just had an entire days’ worth of entertainment without spending a dime! I walked along the St. Lawrence River in the Old Port satisfied with the fact that there are very few places in the world where you can do that. Certainly, not in Berlin that’s for sure!

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Chile today …Argentina next!

I have been at the Santiago school for five weeks now, and I absolutely love it! I know that my spanish has improved tremendously and I have so many opportunities to practice it. Immediately after arriving, I felt very welcomed by the teachers and staff. Everyone is so friendly here!!

I was a little nervous as to what my host family would be like, but I absolutely love them. I live with a woman and her 4 year old daughter. Everyday I can practice my spanish by talking with them. They live about 10 minutes walk to school which is perfect for me.

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A Taste of Italy!

I am sitting on a terrace watching the sun set over the hills above Sorrento. What could be more splendid? Well, the fact is that I am doing this after spending a fabulous day discovering how to prepare and cook delicious Mediterranean dishes and after tasting and enjoying the fruits of my labour. The word labour does not quite conjure up the delights of such a wonderful day!

How did I end up here, sitting on a terrace, overlooking the Mediterranean….? You may ask! Well I am studying Italian language at an Italian language school in Sorrento. Not only do we study the language but the school has realized that in order for the language to come alive for its students, they need to touch, taste, feel, hear and see Italy outside of the classroom. This gastronomic experience is just one of the tours that the school organises for their students and if you ever come here – Don’t miss it!

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My two months in Lima….

Thinking back on my two months in Lima, I’m having a difficult time classifying my time here, and I think that says a lot in itself about the Peru that I’ve gotten to know! There’s so much diversity here that you can’t place much in categories, generalize and get away with it – there’s far too much here for that. From the three climate zones – la costa (the coast), la sierra (the mountains), and la selva (the rainforest) – to the people that inhabit those regions, to the obviously vast differences in the socio-economic makeup of the country; there is just too much variety to say any one thing about Peru.

That variety provides students with great opportunities to see some amazing places. Being situated in Lima, you are in the perfect place to travel throughout the country. As one-third of the Peruvian population lives in Lima, everything runs through the city. You can take flights to take weeklong tours of the jungle or to spend time hiking up to Machu Picchu or take a bus for a weekend to the Nazca Lines or to a northern beach town. And with the school, you can adjust your schedule around these trips. Take a week off to travel and come back for more time improving you comprehension.

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Retail Therapy in Montreal!

One word and one word only comes to mind when I think of Montreal: SHOPPING! As your average red-blooded American girl, I already had my share of shopping experience under my oh so fashionable belt when I arrived in Montreal, BUT even I was soon exhausted from going from boutique to fabulous boutique in this amazing city!

Of course, I’d come here to learn French, and that’s what I did – not only in my classes every morning in the school – but also every afternoon, out exploring the city and its wonderful shops!

There simply isn’t enough time in the day to see every store in Canada’s fashion capital and thanks to their expansive underground, you don’t even have to go outside the city centre if you don’t want to. Sure, they have big name chains but what makes Montreal shopping particularly special is the little shops you can’t find anywhere else. What’s best about these tiny boutiques is that you know no one back home is going to be wearing what you’re wearing.

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My (second) trip to Cologne!

I got my first taste of Cologne in 2006, when I travelled there with a few friends during the Football World Cup and camped out with thousands of other fans on the meadows by the Rhine. So when it came to deciding on a location for my German course, I can’t say that I took a long time to think about it!

The memories of welcoming, friendly locals, the spirit of fun and excitement and all the sights and places that I hadn’t gone to on my first visit, immediately convinced me – I definitely wanted to go back to Cologne!.

So, I travelled to Cologne to start my German course. The school was great, located right in the centre of the city, with great teachers and a great mixture of students from all over the world!

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Valencia – Fiesta de Disfraces!

I’m doing a Spanish course in Valencia and really loving it! One of the great things about the course is that, as well as the lessons, the school organizes lots of lots of activities – excursions, guided walks, dance lessons and LOADS more! They really help you settle in and make friends.

Last weekend the school organized a “Fiesta de Disfraces” (“Costume Party”) in a bar near our school.

The theme was ‘the seventies’. As announced on the notice boards in school, all the students had a free entry and received a free drink if they wore a costume. Thanks to that strategy, there were LOTS of students in costumes, creating a really great atmosphere of ‘the seventies’ in the bar.

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It’s so different from Sweden!

I loved my time in Lisbon! The most interesting thing when staying in a capital of a country is the variety of things that you can do, see and experience. Well Lisbon exceeded my expectations! Lisbon, also called the “7 Hill City” or “Lx” is a perfect mix of modern buildings and traditional architecture. Even if you walk 24 hours a day you will always find something to see and do in this never-sleeping city!

One thing that you will notice right away as you set foot in the city is the seafaring influence. It is found everywhere, from the architecture of the buildings to the monuments and the set up of the streets. In fact, being a coastal city makes of it a wonderful tourist place with several fantastic beaches. The beaches are AMAZING, with golden sand and greenish-blue sea and perfect conditions to practice most water sports. I went to a well-known beach called “Costa da Caparica” and I must say that I loved it. The friendly environment, animated people, hot weather and warm water provided the perfect conditions for an enjoyable time and I actually got a great suntan too!

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Christmas Markets in Berlin – Accept no substitute!

I’m from the UK and nowadays it seems like every town here has a visiting Christmas market at some point over the Christmas/New Year period, complete with wooden toys, scented candles, woolly gloves and dodgy sausages!

Christmas/New Year in your own country can be fun, but there are alternatives!

The Christmas/New Year period is such a wonderful time to get away and really enjoy these holiday days abroad – seeing how other cultures celebrate Christmas/New Year and joining in the fun!

Last year, I travelled to Berlin with my girlfriend and in my opinion Germany – and in particular Berlin – is one of the best places to go if you want to enjoy Christmas/New Year abroad, with all you could hope for, including amazing Christmas markets!

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