5 Annoying Habits of Tube Passengers in London

Ashley Moon is CAPA’s Official Vlogger for Spring 2014, sharing her story in weekly CAPA World videos. A Howard Payne University student, she is studying abroad in London this semester.

In this week’s video, Ashley shows that she’s truly settled into London life by picking up on some of the annoying behaviors of people riding the tube – a few habits that tourists rarely notice, but Londoners always do. It’s one thing she’ll be happy to leave behind as her semester abroad draws to a close.

Ashley’s journey continues next week… stay tuned! 

If you’re interested in becoming CAPA’s Official Vlogger for Summer 2014, fill in an application before April 24.

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CAPA Study Abroad Alum Interview: Rob Clarkson

During Spring semester 2013, Rob Clarkson embarked on a journey that would open his eyes to the wider world and provide him with many memorable interactions and experiences. He studied abroad with CAPA International Education in Sydney during his junior year at the University of Massachusetts Amherst where he also  completed an internship with a professional team in the National Rugby League. Below, Rob talks about how his internship will impact his future career, tells the story of an encounter with a certified scuba diver and describes the very specific taste of kangaroo.

CAPA WORLD: Tell us a bit about yourself.
ROBERT CLARKSON: My name is Rob Clarkson. I’m a senior Marketing and Communications Major from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. I love exploring, meeting new people, and experiencing the unfamiliar. Last spring, during my junior year, I studied abroad on the CAPA program in Sydney, Australia. It was an experience I am very grateful for, and I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to study abroad.

When I’m not working, I love practicing guitar, playing tennis, hanging out with some good friends and taking photos. Making videos has become a hobby of mine and I take pride in creating great visuals for everyone to enjoy. My goal after graduation is to combine work and travel, to continue discovering new things and to keep educating myself further.

CW: Tell us a story of a memorable interaction you had with a local and why it left an impression on you. 
RC: I took a weekend trip to Cairns the week before the program was going to end. The intention of the trip was to go scuba diving for the first time in my life, on the Great Barrier Reef. Other than that activity, I really didn’t have any plans. So when my flight landed just around 9am, I decided I would explore the town a little bit and check into my hostel. When I opened the door to my room, I was greeted immediately by one of my roommates – Tobi. He walked up to me, reached out, shook my hand, and introduced himself as well as everyone else who was staying in the room. It turns out they were all German which was really cool, and after some conversation, he invited me to go rock climbing with him this same day.

I didn’t have anything to do, so I gladly accepted. What better way to begin my Cairns adventure? Another roommate of ours, Florian, joined Tobi and I as we embarked to go rock climbing. On our walk to the rock climbing place, we ran into this old couple that had a giant goose for a pet, and we all stopped to start talking to them and admire how big their pet goose was. It turned out, through our conversation, they owned a boat, and have led Reef tours in the past. The guy was a certified scuba diver with over 5,000 scuba dives to his name, and he and his wife were looking for a crew. Unbelievably, they offered us a job – to be their crew members for a week, maybe more, live on the boat, eat only what we catch, and the guy would teach us how to dive and take us to all of the best spots on the reef.

I didn’t take this offer. You may be thinking I’m crazy, and you’re right. But the timing just couldn’t have worked. I still needed to go to school, complete my internship, and I didn’t want to miss out being with everyone on the last week on the program. Whenever I think about this interaction, I always wonder, what if? If it wasn’t for the internship, the schoolwork, and my obligation to the program, I would have done it. I really would have. Part of me wonders if it was worth it to miss and if I made the right decision – after all I did have a flight back to the States I didn’t want to miss if this boat trip lasted more than a week. Imagine having to explain that to my parents. Tobi checked out of our hostel the next day and left with them.

What I learned from this interaction, and from that day, is that people are inherently nice, and you never know what a day will bring. The couple gave me their card and told me if I was ever in the area again to let them know. This is an offer I intend to take next time around.

CW: Which MyEducation event was most memorable for you and why? How did your participation in this event change your understanding of the city?
RC: The MyEducation event that was most memorable for me was TropFest. TropFest is the largest short-film festival in the world, and as someone who loves making movies and watching films, I was extremely excited to hear that TropFest was a MyEducation event. The timing just worked out perfectly; it was the last year the event was going to be held in February, and I chose to go abroad in the Spring, thus being able to attend.

What made the event most memorable for me was the excitement. It was a communal event and nearly a hundred thousand people turned out all for the love of creating and sharing art. My friends and I just found a spot among the masses and laid down on some blankets to enjoy the atmosphere, eat some snacks, and watch some good films. If the event changed anything about my opinion of the city, its that Sydney is an immense community, and its diversity is only out shined by the support everyone has for each other.

CW: When you think of your host city, what first comes to mind when you hear the following:
Sight: The Opera House
Sound: The Ocean
Smell: Fresh potato wedges (with sour cream and sweet chili sauce)
Taste: Kangaroo. It’s a very sweet, very lean meat, distinctive from other meats I’ve tried.
Texture: The broad-leaved paperbark tree. The bark is extremely soft, and instantly identifiable.

CW: What were your first impressions of your host city? How did these change over the course of the semester?
RC: Upon arriving in Sydney, it just felt different. I got a sense of the culture very early on and my impressions of the city developed along with my fascination for it. Cars were driven on the opposite side of the road, McDonald’s and Burger King each had different names (Macca’s and Hungry Jacks respectively), there was a greater emphasis on using coins and not bills, sports betting was legal and encouraged, and everything was very, very expensive. My impressions didn’t change too much over the course of my time abroad, and I still describe the city the same way.

CW: What changes have you seen in yourself since you began your study abroad program? What has your experience taught you about yourself and the world around you?
RC: I can’t begin to describe everything that I learned about myself during my time abroad. My abroad experience has taught me that I can do anything that I put my mind to. It has helped me gain invaluable cultural awareness and experience, and the knowledge that I can successfully live on my own. I am more freely able to step out of my comfort zone, and be the person I want to be. I’ve seen the positive changes in my personality, well-being and mentality as a result.

If I’ve learned anything about the world around me, it’s that the world is a massive landscape that is begging to be explored. Don’t be afraid to meet new people, as everyone is inherently nice and is willing to help you out. Furthermore, you and only you determine your day – so how will you spend it?

CW: Tell us a bit about your internship that you completed while studying abroad, your duties and accomplishments. How will this experience help you in your future career?
RC: My internship abroad was with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, a professional Rugby team in the National Rugby League. I worked in the Membership Department, and my responsibilities consisted of managing the entire clientele database, selling individual and season ticket packages, as well as being the primary contact for all customer inquiries. I felt very privileged to be given the latter responsibility, as they trusted me to perform this enormous task.

The internship experience undoubtedly has helped me in my career. For one, it confirmed to me what I do and what I don’t want to do with my career, and for that I’m grateful for the path I’ve taken since then. Secondly, I absolutely love how I can say I have international work experience – it definitely sets me apart from others in the workforce. I learned an immense amount about the role culture plays in the work environment, how the employees, and the business as a whole, conduct themselves, and how to effectively run a business of my own.

CW: What were the biggest challenges you faced in adapting to your host country? Most rewarding moment?
RC: The biggest challenge I faced when adapting to the Australian culture was just the freedom and independence I had. It was up to me to learn and figure out how to immerse myself in the culture. The most rewarding moment to me in this regard was on the very first night in Sydney. One of my roommates, whom I just met that day, and I, decided to walk the hour back to our apartment from our location in the center of the city. It was a liberating feeling knowing that after only a day, we were able to navigate ourselves home through the city.

CW: Describe an area of the city that surprised you and tell us what it was about it that you didn’t expect. How did this change your perceptions of the city as a whole?
RC: North Sydney is probably the area that surprised me the most. One aspect of this part of the city that is very noticeable is that there are no trash cans. Trash cans were banned in North Sydney in the 80’s and contrary to what one may think, the place is absolutely spotless. The mayor at the time, Ted Mack, believed citizens would find other methods to get rid of litter if trash cans weren’t present, and he was right. When I was first told this, I was surprised, but I fell in love with the idea. This fact made me realize the city was very environmentally friendly and proactive with sustainability efforts. Sydney, and especially North Sydney, is the cleanest city I’ve ever been to in my life.

CW: How do you imagine that your experience abroad will change the way you approach your environment now that you are back home? How do you think it will change the way you approach your studies?
RC: My experience abroad has changed the way I view my environment at home simply because the broad perspective I’ve gained through my travels has allowed me to view my surroundings differently. I’m no longer just “home”, but I’m in the United States, and I feel excited and privileged to have the opportunity to both be where I am currently and to visit new places around me. What I’ve come to realize, is that everywhere I go is a different stop on my journey, no matter how close or how far away from home I am.

My approach to educating myself, not just my studies, has changed. The opportunity to learn is limitless and I won’t hold myself to just what is taught in the classroom. I find myself more eager to take on challenges and more focused in my studies. Among my new interests is learning a new language and I hope to begin learning one soon.

Thanks Rob!

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10 Architecture Sites to See When You Study Abroad in Dublin

Architecture can reveal key stories about a city’s past or hold a vision of its future. Some of the most architecturally interesting structures are obvious, but other times they are easy to miss.Today, we take a journey through Dublin, one of CAPA’s global cities, to check out some of the architecture you should be sure to see when you study abroad.

1. THE FOUR COURTS. The Four Courts is the site of the main courts of Ireland including the Supreme Court, the High Court and the Dublin Circuit Court which are all located here. The design process started with architect Thomas Cooley whose untimely death at the age of 44 meant the project was passed on to James Gandon. It took 20 years to complete. The architecture is a mix of Palladian and Neoclassical styles and it’s best viewed from the Liffey Quays. The building was bombarded and bombed in 1922 during the Civil Was and you can still see bullet holes in the façade.

Photo: Four Courts, Dublin by Jim Nix

2. CHRIST CHURCH CATHEDRAL. Christ Church Cathedral is the oldest of two medieval cathedrals in Dublin (St. Patrick’s is the other one). There’s a mix of Norman and Early English Gothic influences seen in the structure as it took many years to complete, beginning in 1172 and finishing well into the 13th Century. Outside the Cathedral, you can also see the sunken ruins of an ancient chapter house. Thick stone walls, rounded arches and windows show off the Romanesque architecture with touches of Gothic that included pointed arches, turrets, a rose window and spires.

Photo: Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin by James Castle

3. KIOSK, ADELAIDE ROAD. A lesser known piece of architecture you might want to visit in Dublin is the small brick kiosk on a traffic island where Adelaide Road meets Leeson Street. Designed originally by architect Michael Moynihan as a water pressure station with public toilets and a kiosk, it’s now the site of a little cafe frequented by local workers. The parapet at the top displays Dublin’s coat of arms and the bricks were decoratively placed in chevron patterns on certain parts of the building. Stop in for a coffee or sit outdoors on a sunny day.

Photo: The Kiosk via Archiseek

4. NATIONAL BIBLE SOCIETY OF IRELAND. Many times, some of the true architectural gems of a city are not in the huge buildings that are on every tourist’s to do list, but a bit more hidden. This is the case with the National Bible Society of Ireland’s bookshop called Bestseller. It’s one of the city’s most fascinating shopfronts and can be found at 41 Dawson Street. There is a a recessed entrance made of two inward curving window panes and a welcome mosaic in front of the door with a monogram for the society. Above the door, the words ‘Bible House’ are carved out and there’s also Art Nouveau influenced stained glass panels along the top of the main display windows.

Photo: National Bible Society of Ireland via Rate My Area 

5. CUSTOM HOUSE. Like The Four Courts (number 1 above), the Custom House is a project first appointed to architect Thomas Cooley but was then passed on to James Gandon who finished the building. Gandon loved domes and incorporated them into both of these architectural designs. Custom House is a Neoclassical 18th Century design and often considered one of the most important pieces of architecture in Dublin. Inside is the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. The building was burnt in a a 1921 attack during the Irish War of Independence and the dome collapsed but was then reconstructed, which you can see in the building’s exterior today.

Photo: Custom House by Andrew Bowden

6. GENERAL POST OFFICE. An example of Greek Revival and Neoclassical architecture, the General Post Office on what is now O’Connell Street for just £50,000 and in only three years. Like other buildings on this list, it was at one point destroyed, in this case by a fire during the Easter Rising of 1916. All that remains of the original is the cascade. Six ionic columns line the front of the building and there are three statues at the top by John Smyth. It’s one of the most recognized buildings in Dublin.

Photo: General Post office by Swire

7. GRAND CANAL SQUARE AND THEATER. Nestled into the heart of Dublin’s newest business community with neighbors like Facebook, Google, O2, HSBC and PWC is the Grand Canal Square. This lively development in the Docklands was designed by architect Daniel Libeskind in partnership with landscape architects from Martha Schwartz Partners. It contains bars, restaurants, apartments and offices as well as Ireland’s biggest theater which took six years to complete. It’s a contemporary and eco-friendly space that focuses on sustainability and bring in splashes of bright color.

Photo: Grand Canal Square by William Murphy

8. SAMUEL BECKETT BRIDGE. Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava is known for his innovative designs like the roof of the Athens Olympic stadium, Puente de la Mujer in the CAPA city of Buenos Aires and has many other notable works around the world. The Samuel Beckett Bridge is one of his projects, opened in 2009 and meant to resemble a harp lying on its side. 31 cable stays support the structure from a tapered spar. There are two pedestrian lanes and four to allow traffic to cross the river. To allow ships to pass through, the bridge can open to an angle of 90 degrees. Calatrava also designed Dublin’s James Joyce Bridge a bit further up the river.

Photo: Samel Beckett Bridge, Dublin by photodesk.at

9. MULLIGANS PUB. A traditional Irish pub with frosted windows and a date of establishment (1782) marked above the door, Mulligans was a popular haunt among journalists and writers when it opened. You’ll find this gem of a shopfront on Poolbeg Street not far from O’Connell Street. Rumor has it that The Society for the Preservation of the Dublin Accent meets here. It was also featured in The Dubliners by James Joyce, a must read if you’re studying abroad in this city of literature.

Photo: Mulligan’s Pub by William Murphy

10. DUBLIN CASTLE. When you visit the Dublin Castle, you’ll notice a mishmash of architectural styles. For example, the main court is Georgian, St. Patrick’s Hall is Gothic Revival and the tower is NeoRomanesque. Various architects have been involved over the years and it is a good example of the evolution of Irish architecture. The Victorian Chapel Royal is decorated with Tullamore limestone carvings. The Norman Record Tower has 5m-thick walls. Then there is the Revenue Commissioners Building from 1960. Plenty to explore. Historic areas of the castle that have suffered damage over the years have all been restored and this is now a huge government complex as well as a tourist attraction.

Dublin Castle Spring
Photo: Dublin Castle by Michael Foley

Do you have a favorite piece of architecture in your own city or abroad? Tell us about it in a comment! 

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Interview: CAPA Florence Instructor Jamie Morris with Official CAPA Blogger Anna Gale

Anna Gale is CAPA’s Official Blogger for Spring 2014, sharing her story in weekly CAPA World posts. A University of Colorado at Boulder student, she is studying abroad in Florence this semester.

For her post this week, Anna reached out to one of her favorite instructors from her program and decided to conduct an interview. Meet Jamie Morris, who teaches art classes at the CAPA Florence center. Read on for Jamie’s take on life in Florence and teaching CAPA students.

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Having been in Florence for over 20 years, Jaime is CAPA’s very own Michelangelo.  Teaching oil painting, drawing and watercolor classes, Jaime adds vibrancy, sass and a whole lot of creativity to her students’ classes through her desire to have everyone find their own creative outlets.

ANNA GALE:  What made you choose CAPA as the place you wanted to teach art?
JAMIE MORRIS: CAPA’s amazing. They allow me to develop the programs and create my own syllabi that I think would be good for the students. They’re also a great bunch of people who are incredibly personable and fun to work with.

AG:  What is your favorite form of art and why?
JM: That’s a hard one, but painting is definitely my favorite. Color to me is fascinating alongside the manipulation of space and creation of illusions. But basically I love all forms of creativity.

AG: If you were stranded on an abandoned Greek island and given three things to take with you, what would they be and why?
JM: Paper, paints (water colors) and maybe some good company.

Photo: Art in Florence by TuscanyArts

AG: What prompted you to move from the states to Italy? And more specifically Florence?
JM: It wasn’t planned at all. I came here and something really pulled me to stay. I didn’t know how long I was going to be here, but something was fascinating about being in the place you studied for so long, having it all right there in front of you. One thing led to another and next thing I knew was I was here to stay!

AG: What advice would you give a CAPA student before they come here?
JM: Arm yourself with patience and resistance and don’t forget to be adaptable!

AG: What do you miss most about back home?
JM: Family and friends are definitely high on the list. Unfortunately the reality of moving away is that although you can stay in contact, it’s not the same as face to face.

AG: What is your favorite aspect of Florence that you can’t find back in the states?
JM: There’s a lot of art here. To be surrounded by the renaissance is something unreal.  Florence in particular has an aesthetic and the beauty of the renaissance is in the Florentine blood.

Photo: CAPA Florence students at work

AG: Do you listen to Italian music?
JM: I’ve grown to appreciate Italian opera music over the years, but overall I stick with the American classics at the end of the day.

AG: Where is your favorite restaurant in Florence?
JM: Il Vegetariano on Via de la Ruote! They make homemade desserts everyday that are out of this world.

AG: What is one thing that every study abroad student in Florence should do before they head home?
JM: Get up early in the morning when it’s quiet and take a walk to any piazza. It’s an amazing thing to have the city to yourself before the day begins.

Thanks Anna and Jamie! 

Anna’s journey continues next week… stay tuned! 

Interested in becoming CAPA’s Official Blogger for Summer 2014? Fill out an application.

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Culture and Diversity in London Neighborhoods by CAPA Study Abroad Alumna Briana Ragler

Words by Briana Ragler who studied abroad in London with CAPA International Education during Spring semester 2013.

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During my semester studying abroad in London, I spent most of it exploring the city. This was largely due to a class that I was taking with CAPA International Education. The class was called Writing the City: London. It pushed students to look at London in a different light. In taking this class, I grew hungrier for knowledge about how London thrives as a diverse, multicultural city and what this means for its communities. I wanted to know why each borough was considered in such a specific way. For example, why was Camden considered the alternative place? And why was Kensington considered the royal borough?

Living in Camden prompted me to explore that borough more. Not only did I check out the touristy Camden Town Market, I went further into the borough. The borough itself is like a melting pot of different personalities, cultures and identities. I found myself loving the way in which the members of the community interacted with each other. No one was judging anyone or looking their noses down at one another. It was like seeing a huge support system with which I was unfamiliar.

Photo: Camden life by Magalie A.

I soon branched out from Camden and started to explore other neighborhoods. I found myself in a neighborhood called Brixton. Brixton reminded me of my hometown Baltimore City and how it has undergone so much change and such constant renovation yet through all of that, it has still manages to stand.

The next neighborhood that caught my attention was the area around Brick Lane. Being an artist and a huge supporter of the creative community, this area was the best, from the street art that was created on the walls to the huge number of vintage shops. In doing a little bit of research, I found out that Brick Lane has changed so much in the last few decades. It is not only the home of artists, but home to many different ethnic groups. It sort of resembles Camden Town, but also differs in various ways. One way was that their markets were not as big as the Stables market in Camden. Brick Lane has a unique identity all its own. It seems set apart from the rest of London, and that is one of the reasons why I like it.

Photo: Around Brick Lane by James Guppy

From my perspective, London is a city where everyone is divided by economic status. I did not see them as divided by social status whatsoever. There seems to be a collective support system amongst the people of this city. It seems to me that everyone who lives in this city cherishes it. London has seen so much turmoil, change, friction and demise, but none of that has stopped the diversity that flourishes here. Being in London, I have taken back a small fraction of mentality this to my home city. London is truly full of life, culture, and uniqueness. And that only comes from their citizens who live and thrive in it.

Thanks Briana!

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Thousand Word Thursdays: Marble Statues in Sydney

Each Thursday we will post a photo worth a thousand words from one of CAPA International Education’s global cities and let the image speak for itself. 

Photo: Body painting Marble Statues in Sydney by Eva Rinaldi


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Music in CAPA Global Cities – What’s on your Playlist?

Wander any of CAPA’s global cities and you’re likely to spot quite a few people with headphones, lost in their own world of music.

A couple of years ago, a man called Ty Cullen walked around the streets of New York City with a sign: “Hey you! What song are you listening to?” Many people stopped to tell him and he compiled a video of responses with a snippet of each song playing in the background.

The video went viral and the trend picked up in cities around the world. While the playlists of people in CAPA cities Beijing, Florence and Shanghai have not yet been explored, the rest have been featured in a similar video.


Video:Hey Buenos Aires! What song are you listening to?” by agusnor


Video:Hey Dublin! What song are you listening to?” by djbanging


Video:Hey Istanbul! What song are you listening to?” by WeAreShow


Video:Hey London! What song are you listening to?” by Dan Maas


Video:Hey Sydney! What song are you listening to?” by dealfetch

Which city would you choose to study abroad in based solely on the music in these videos? What would you put on your study abroad playlist? Leave us a comment and let us know!

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Adventures and Misadventures in Brighton by CAPA’s Official Vlogger Ashley Moon

Ashley Moon is CAPA’s Official Vlogger for Spring 2014, sharing her story in weekly CAPA World videos. A Howard Payne University student, she is studying abroad in London this semester.

In this week’s video, Ashley and her friend Joanna head to the south coast of England for a day trip to Brighton. Less than an hour from London and close to the sea, it’s a popular getaway. Follow them on their journey as they explore their new surroundings, overcome a minor mishap and sample the local fish and chips.

Ashley’s journey continues next week… stay tuned! 

If you’re interested in becoming CAPA’s Official Vlogger for Summer 2014, fill in an application before April 24.

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CAPA Study Abroad Alumna Interview: Lauren McElhaney

Coming from a small town in the States to study abroad in a global city like London can be a bit intimidating at first. Once Lauren adjusted to the basics of public transportation, she really enjoyed the hustle and bustle in which she’d spent four months with CAPA International Education during Fall semester 2013. Read on to find out about what she learned about her new environment during her marketing class, how she struck up a memorable conversation with a local at a bus stop and a fun British tradition she experienced during a CAPA MyEducation event that left a lasting impression.

CAPA WORLD: Tell us a bit about yourself.
LAUREN MCELHANEY: My name is Lauren McElhaney and I’m a junior at Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania, which is in the middle of Amish country. I’m a public relations major and am working on a minor in environmental studies. I love watching movies, reading and hanging out with my friends. I’m also a huge crafter and love when I get to work on a new project!

CW: Which MyEducation event was most memorable for you and why? How did your participation in this event change your understanding of the city?
LM: The most memorable MyEducation event that I attended was the Panto performance of Puss-in-Boots. I had never heard of Panto theater before I studied in London, but I soon learned that these performances are a huge part of British culture. Panto performances take place during the Christmas season and are known for audience involvement. It was so awesome to be able to participate in something that so many British families do as a yearly tradition.

CW: Give three examples of ways in which you were able to tie the knowledge you’ve gained in your CAPA classes into the way you understand your host city.
LM: I took a marketing class and it was awesome in so many ways. First, we learned about differences between British and American advertising. I had never really thought of how culture influenced marketing and advertising. It was so neat to learn about the culture through the country’s marketing practices. Second, we would watch multiple adverts to see examples of key concepts. When I would return to my homestay and watch the news with my family, I was able to pick out these concepts and talk about them with my host family. Often it would open doors to their cultural practices and I learned so much! And finally, I learned about British products and companies that I would otherwise know nothing about. Several times there would be adverts in the tube station or on a bus that I would not have given a second thought but because we had discussed them in class, I knew what the ads were for and could give more thought to them.

CW: Tell us a story of a memorable interaction you had with a local and why it left an impression on you.
LM: One day I was at my neighborhood bus stop and was joined by an older gentleman that lived down the street. We started talking about how the late the bus was and our conversation gradually progressed. He talked about growing up in London; he told me stories about the neighborhood and recommended places to go and things to do. He asked me what I was studying at home and things like that. He actually ended up giving me a lot of advice about London and about growing up and figuring out a career. It was a conversation that was truly memorable.

CW: What were your first impressions of your host city? How did these change over the course of the semester?
LM: It was so big! I come from a small town and go to school in an even smaller town. Arriving in London was overwhelming and I was blown away by the number of people and how everyone just bustled along. I quickly adjusted to the size of the city and actually came to love it. There was a sense of anonymity that I had never experienced before and I found it to be very peaceful. I loved all the hustle and bustle and that I interacted with hundreds and hundreds of people every day without knowing who they were. I felt like I was a part of something great.

CW: What changes have you seen in yourself since you began your study abroad program? What has your experience taught you about yourself and the world around you?
LM: Being in London taught me to be more independent. Prior to studying abroad I never did anything by myself. I usually always had my parents, my sister or my friends with me. I didn’t have to think about going to the grocery store or budgeting my money. I had never taken public transportation or had to think about bus routes and the Underground. When I had to be by myself and figure things out alone, it was a little disconcerting at first. I learned so much from time abroad but I really learned how to be by myself and be comfortable with that and know that I would be okay in the world.

CW: How do you imagine that your experience abroad will change the way you approach your environment now that you are back home? How do you think it will change the way you approach your studies?
LM: I learned so much from my time in London, but not just from my classes. Just by exploring London and other European cities I learned about different cultures, political issues and structures, public transportation, etc. The list is endless. I learned that while school and traditional education is important and worthwhile, there are important lessons that you can only learn by experience. Now that I’m back home, I still take my studies seriously, but I know that my grades aren’t the only important part of education. My experience abroad is worth so much more than a 4.0 for the semester.

It’s really impossible to describe how I’ve changed since studying abroad. It’s also pretty impossible to describe how they experience changed how I look at my hometown environment. I have a more global perspective on issues and care about what is going on in my local area as well as what’s going on around the world. I can draw connections between my hometown and European cities. It’s really amazing.

CW: When you think of your host city, what first comes to mind when you hear the following:
Sight: Double-decker buses
Sound: The tube and activity in the tube stations
Smell: Roasting chestnuts
Taste: Tea
Texture: Fabric of the tube seats

CW: What were the biggest challenges you faced in adapting to your host country? Most rewarding moment?
LM: Like I said before, I come from a small town. It’s a fairly rural community and prior to going to London, I had never really taken public transportation. I had to learn how to hail a bus, learn the bus routes and learn how to understand the tube map. I was completely out of my element and at first which was very challenging. London is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world and it was difficult to just adjust from my small town way of life to such a large city.

Once I got settled in London, I experienced a ton of rewarding moments, though I think the most rewarding was the first time someone asked me for directions and I was able to help them. It might seem kind of silly to say that was one of my most rewarding moments, but it’s the truth. It showed me how much I had adapted to my environment and how I truly had become a part of London. I actually knew where things were and how to direct people on the tube, on the buses, and just walking on the street. It was also nice to think that people thought I looked knowledgeable enough to answer their questions.

CW: Describe an area of the city that surprised you and tell us what it was about it that you didn’t expect. How did this change your perceptions of the city as a whole?
LM: One day, my friend and I went to Stratford in East London to see the Olympic Park. I didn’t know much about the area before I went. It was not what I was expecting. It’s a town that is in the process of transitioning from a place of heavy industry to a commercial and cultural center. I guess I thought that Stratford would be this glamorous place because the Olympics had been held there when in reality it was just a small town that was very industrial. It was a side of London that I hadn’t seen yet, but I’m glad that I did. Stratford is a town that is in transition; a transition brought on by the Olympics, and it is revitalizing itself. It was so cool to see how the Olympics had changed the area and is helping it develop and modernize.

Thanks Lauren! 

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10 Architecture Sites to See When You Study Abroad in Buenos Aires

Architecture can reveal key stories about a city’s past or hold a vision of its future. Some of the most architecturally interesting structures are obvious, but other times they are easy to miss. Today, we take a journey through Buenos Aires, one of CAPA’s global cities, to check out some of the architecture you should be sure to see when you study abroad.

1. THE PROURGAN TOWER. One of the most emblematic structures in the early 1980s because of its distinctive cylindrical shape, the Prourgan Tower is located in the neighborhood of Retiro. In Buenos Aires, Porteños called it the “Rulero” which means “hair curler”. It is 100 meters tall and 30 meters wide. Fun fact: In 1986, it had the tallest billboard in the whole city.

Photo: Prourban Tower by María Pía Lastra

2. FLORALIS GENERICA. Everyone who walks through the Plaza of Nations, located in the neighborhood of Palermo, will find the amazing Floralis Generica. It is a giant metallic flower, which reaches 23 meters and weighs 18 tons. What is most striking about this beautiful work of art is the fact that it actually opens and closes depending on the time of day, as if it were a real flower built on a monumental scale. The sculpture was a gift that the Argentine architect Eduardo Catalano gave to the city. It was inaugurated on April 13, 2002.

Photo: Floralis Generica by María Pía Lastra

3. EL CEMENTARIO DE LA RECOLETA. Located in the beautiful and affluent neighborhood of La Recoleta, the cemetery of La Recoleta is one of the world’s most famous – not only for its permanent residents, but also for its beauty. Each of the tombs located in the cemetery is above ground, and ornately decorated as well as uniquely designed. This photo captures the neo-classically designed entrance of the cemetery. The tomb of Eva Peron is of particular interest to locals and visitors alike, and has become a popular point of visitation within the cemetery.

Photo: The cemetery of La Recoleta by María Pía Lastra

4. LA BOCA. These colorful houses found on the famous “Caminito” street are synonymous with the renowned neighborhood of La Boca. Located on the harbor of Buenos Aires, La Boca is also considered the “Little Italy” of Buenos Aires for its high concentration of Italian immigrants in the past. Now, the area is the home of many artists and is quite bohemian in its nature. La Boca is also considered to be where tango originated, so it is not uncommon for the colorful houses of Caminito to provide a backdrop to this dramatic dance.

Photo: La Boca by Delonte Egwuatu

5. EL OBELISCO DE BUENOS AIRES. The Obelisk is located in the Plaza de la Republica of Buenos Aires. It was erected to honor the 400 year anniversary of the foundation of the city. Built by a German company, the Obelisk was completed on May 23, 1936 after only a month of construction. Throughout the years, steps have been taken to prevent vandalism upon the Obelisk for its popularly as a target. The government has started a project around the Obelisk to create a zone of international recognition through signs and lighting – not unlike Piccadilly Circus in London and Times Square in New York, due to its association with nightlife in Buenos Aires.

Photo: The Obelisk by Delonte Egwuatu

6. NUESTRA SEÑORA DEL PILAR. The church, Nuestra Señora del Pilar, is located in the heart of the neighborhood of Recoleta. It is the second oldest church in the Buenos Aires, inaugurated in the year 1734 as a part of the Franciscan convent “Franciscanos Recoletos”. It is one of the most beautiful works of colonial architecture that preserves its original Baroque style. In 1740, the church was the first building to have an exterior clock in Buenos Aires.

Photo: Nuestra Señora del Pilar by María Pía Lastra

7. THE FACULTY OF LAW. The Faculty of Law is one of the thirteen schools that form part of the University of Buenos Aires. This majestic building was inaugurated in 1949 by the Argentinean President Juan Domingo Perón in commemoration of the Student Day. Surrounded by beautiful gardens, this building represents one of the most renowned styles in Argentinean architecture called Monumentalismo.

Photo: The Faculty of Law by María Pía Lastra

8. LA CASA ROSADA. The Pink house or la Casa Rosada is one of the most interesting buildings in Buenos Aires. It is located in front of the historical Plaza de Mayo. It was built in 1580 as a fortress but following several changes, in 1894, it was official inaugurated as the Argentinean Presidential Palace. It is said that the color pink was chosen due to the color of the walls of the fortress, which were painted with the blood of oxen in order to prevent dampness of the city. Its exquisite ornaments and magnificent salons made the Pink Palace a building you can’t miss when you are studying abroad in Buenos Aires. It became an Historical National Monument since 1942.

Photo: La Casa Rosada by María Pía Lastra

9. COLÓN THEATER. Considered one of the five best opera theaters in the world because of its magnificent acoustics and architecture, Colón Theater was inaugurated in 1908 and today it is 107 years old. It was built with an eclectic style combining Neorrenacentismo Italian and French Baroque architecture. At 32 meters wide, its main room is one of the largest halls in the world. The building is divided into seven levels and it can host 2,487 seated spectators. It is richly dressed in gold and scarlet.

Photo: Colón Theater by María Pía Lastra

10. CATEDRAL MATROPOLITANA. Although the building was originally founded in the 16th century, it has changed greatly over the years with the current structure dating predominantly back to the mid 18th century. The cathedral is a combination of architectural styles, including Neoclassical and Roccoco. The cathedral is located on the block facing into the main square, as specifically chosen by Juan de Garay during his foundation of the city. Today, the cathedral also enjoy the status of having provided temporary home to the current pope – a point of pride for many Argentines.

Photo: Catedral Matropolitana by María Pía Lastra

Do you have a favorite piece of architecture in your own city or abroad? Tell us about it in a comment! 

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