Understanding the National Day of Catalonia in Spain

Sep 20, 2018 10:30:00 AM / by Maya Crawford

Maya Crawford

Maya Crawford is an official CAPA blogger for fall 2018, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Business Administration major at  University of Massachusetts Lowell, she is studying abroad in Barcelona this semester.

In this week's post, Maya shares her experience from the National Day of Catalonia and what she learned about its local significance.

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My city for this semester is, of course, Barcelona, and in this blog post I will talk about an event that went way beyond my expectations. It is about the National Day of Catalonia, a day where people come together and peacefully protest for the independence of Catalonia. Our accommodation is very close to the center of Barcelona, which was perfect for us because we were located right at the beginning of the parade.

Experience the National Day of Catalonia with LocalsThe crowd cheering all at once and waving their flags for independence.

As soon as we left our apartment, we saw a sea of people covered in red and yellow clothing, flags, and face paint! Back home in Boston there have been protests, parades, celebrations, and more, but I have never seen anything quite like this. Aerial views of the gathering showed so many people, some said there was almost a million out in the streets—and I believe that wasn’t an exaggeration.

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Posted in: Cultural Insights, Barcelona, Spain

Arriving to a Royal Sighting in London

Sep 14, 2018 4:30:00 PM / by Christopher Halka

Christopher Halka

Christopher Halka is an official CAPA blogger for fall 2018, sharing his story in weekly posts on CAPA World. An Accounting major at Siena College, he is studying abroad in London this semester.

In this week's post, Christopher reveals his first impressions of London and how he stumbled upon the Duke and Duchess of Sussex during a casual stroll.

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I embarked for my semester-long journey on the evening of September 4th. Upon my arrival into Heathrow Airport the next day, I found myself enjoying a cup of tea at Costa Coffee when I was warmly greeted into the United Kingdom by the Heathrow Baggage Claims Staff. They performed a choreographed dance demonstrating proper airport etiquette to ABBA’s Dancing Queen. After enjoying a good laugh from the performance, I instantly started to feel more comfortable amongst my surroundings. I then took the lift down to the Underground platform.

By Tower Bridge

My first experience getting on the tube during the early morning commute felt a lot like I was a sardine stuck inside a tin can. However coming from New York City, I have dealt with this same scenario on many occasions. After getting off at Earl’s Court Station, I was then dealt with the next task of finding my way to my new flat. It was in this moment that I had my first experience of culture shock. 

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Posted in: London, England, Cultural Insights, First Thoughts

Understanding the Irish Way of Life, Culture, and Academic System

Sep 14, 2018 2:30:00 PM / by Jessica Kisluk

Jessica Kisluk

Jessica Kisluk is an official CAPA blogger for fall 2018, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Broadcasting and Mass Communication major at  SUNY Oswego, she is studying abroad in Dublin this semester.

In this week's post, Jessica learns about the culture in Ireland and experiences the new cultural insights and differences firsthand.

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The day of arrival was honestly one of the longest days of my life. I spent over 24 hours awake, as I did not sleep on the plane, and did not have a chance to take a short nap until after the long process. That night, I got a long 12 hours of sleep and I felt like a new person.

CAPA Dublin Orientation Landing PackReceived my Landing Pack with information for the week.

Tuesday included a lot of valuable information about classes, the university, and cultural norms. At our CAPA orientation, Dr. Darren Kelly explained to the group that grading in Ireland is a little bit different. The highest score you can get is a 70, and a 40 is a passing grade. We were also told that if a professor says that certain things are required, it is probably the bare minimum to pass the class, and not what is required to get an ‘A’ grade. Classes are not selected months before as it is done in the United States—they are selected within the first two weeks of the semester, which may cause some people to be anxious. This was important information that would help the American students from confusion over the course of the semester.

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Posted in: Dublin, Ireland, Cultural Insights, Orientation

On Meeting Locals, Blending In, and Stereotypes in Florence and Siena

Aug 23, 2018 1:30:00 PM / by Hannah Hardenbergh

Hannah Hardenbergh

Hannah Hardenbergh is an official CAPA blogger for summer 2018, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. An American History and Literature major at Harvard College, she is studying abroad in Florence this semester.

In this week's post, Hannah details her experiences with Florentines, representing Americans abroad, and attending the Palio di Siena race in Siena.

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As an American study abroad student, I was aware of how I would stick out in Florentine culture. During our CAPA orientation, we were warned that American students had unfortunately gained a negative reputation in Florence. For example, they are well-known for binge drinking at the bars at night and getting perhaps too out of control. We learned that Italians have a different approach about drinking, and it is a part of their culture to enjoy good wine and alcohol with food. My roommates and I were determined to be mindful as we represented ourselves abroad.

Hannah with a Neckerchief for Contrada della Oca in SienaI bought a neckerchief for the Contrada della Oca—the house of the Goose.
Siena's streets are divided by each neighborhood, or contrada, in different sections around Piazza del Campo.

Aside from this, I knew I would be representing Americans more generally abroad too, and I was therefore more conscious of how I acted compared to Italians, and to other American tourists visiting the city.

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Posted in: Florence, Italy, Cultural Insights, Activities Abroad

Observing Italian Norms: La Bella Figura

Aug 9, 2018 1:30:00 PM / by Allyson Barnes

Allyson Barnes

Allyson Barnes is an official CAPA blogger for summer 2018, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. An Anthropology, Evolutionary Biology and Ecology, and Studio Arts major at University of Colorado - Boulder, she is studying abroad in Florence this semester.

In this week's post, Allyson draws from her classes and observations of Italian dressing and explains the philosophy of La Bella Figura.

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An interesting thing about being abroad is you notice not just the big differences between your home and the new country you are in, but also the slight cultural differences such as clothing styles, eating preferences, and other social norms.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Florence_Summer2018_From Allyson Barnes - Looking Far into Florence

As an anthropology student, I have always loved analyzing the people around me, as strange as that may sound. I enjoy finding the little things that really make a person who they are. No matter what it may be, there are certain factors that define someone and I love getting to figure out what they are.

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Posted in: Florence, Italy, Cultural Insights, Cultural Differences

The Consumer and Bargaining Culture in China

Jul 11, 2018 10:30:00 AM / by Trisha Sanchez

Trisha Sanchez

Trisha is an official CAPA blogger for summer 2018, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. An International Business major at Champlain College, she is studying abroad in Shanghai this semester.

In this week's post, Trisha writes about the consumer culture in China and explores the mall and fake markets where she also experiences the bargaining culture in Shanghai.

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Something intriguing I’ve been observing since our arrival in Shanghai has been the wide spectrum of consumer culture in China. Upon my arrival, I was well aware of the traditional politics of the country’s communist state, but I had never seen it in practice. I was anticipating having to adjust to a strong contrast from the capitalist market I’d grown up with. However, this turned out to not exactly be the case.

At a Retail Mall

One visit to any mall here and you can see not only how many western brands have been integrated into the Chinese economy, but also just how heavily western marketing and capitalist ideals have begun to ingrain themselves within the Chinese culture. Walking through retail stores at the mall you’ll definitely find that familiar sense of attentiveness to the consumer, clean-cut displays, ostentatious sales discounts, and an assertive yet restrained desire for your business.

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Posted in: Shanghai, China, Cultural Insights, Shopping Abroad

Kindness and Spirituality Can Be Found All Around Buenos Aires

Apr 9, 2018 10:30:00 AM / by Irene Kanthan

CAPA_Claire Shrader_Buenos Aires_Headshot.jpgClaire Shrader is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2018, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Pre-Occupational Therapy major at Mississippi College, she is studying abroad in Buenos Aires this semester.

In this week's post, Claire talks about the Argentinian brand of kindness and what her experience attending church is like in Buenos Aires.

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When I say Buenos Aires is a city unlike any other, I hope you know it isn’t just me saying that because I love it, or because I don’t have much experience in other cities. The opposite is true—I’ve been in New York and Los Angeles and Dallas and Orlando and London and so many others…yet Buenos Aires has its own special flair. The architecture is amazing and so diverse. Today I took the bus from a relatively modern part of the city and within 20 minutes looked up in amazement at the buildings around me.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Buenos Aires_Spring2018_From Claire Shrader - ArchitectureThe amazing architecture in Buenos Aires.

Spanish is everywhere, but you’ll also hear Portuguese and English and Chinese often, and if your time here looks anything like my Easter Sunday, Russian, Polish, and Ukrainian, too. Buenos Aires is a massive city, and yet not once have I felt unsafe walking the streets alone or riding the bus or train. If you hit the streets anytime between 3:00-6:00 you’ll find most of the city seated at a café, enjoying coffee and a friend.

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Posted in: Buenos Aires, Argentina, Diversity Abroad, Cultural Insights

What My Daily Life is Like in Buenos Aires

Apr 2, 2018 10:30:00 AM / by Irene Kanthan

CAPA_Claire Shrader_Buenos Aires_Headshot.jpgClaire Shrader is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2018, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Pre-Occupational Therapy major at Mississippi College, she is studying abroad in Buenos Aires this semester.

In this week's post, Claire tells us what her daily life is like while she embraces new experiences and builds a routine.

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Hola! Today is my last day of classes for the week because it’s Semana Santa (Holy Week), so we get the rest of the week off. I’ve officially been in Buenos Aires for five-and-a-half weeks, which feels pretty unbelievable. It feels like just yesterday I had to ask for help with directions every five minutes, leaving 30 minutes earlier than necessary to leave a large margin for getting lost, arriving to class early and still getting lost on the way. 

CAPAStudyAbroad_Buenos Aires_Spring2018_From Claire Shrader - Wonderful MusicWonderful music!

Now I have the walk to school, the subte (subway), and my favorite bus stops all memorized. I’ve also learned that if I get to class 10 minutes early I’ll end up waiting for 20 mins. I’ve slowly started settling into normal. And then I’ll just end up pausing on my walk to my internship and remind myself—WHAT ON EARTH! YOU ARE IN ARGENTINA. It still feels unreal.

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Posted in: Buenos Aires, Argentina, Cultural Insights, Activities Abroad

Why You Should Spend St. Patrick's Day in Dublin (and Not Anywhere Else)

Mar 23, 2018 10:30:00 AM / by Irene Kanthan

CAPA_Brandon Mooney_Dublin

Brandon is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2018, sharing his story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Political Science major at Clark University, he is studying abroad in Dublin this semester.

In this week's post, Brandon witnesses St. Patrick's Day festivities in Dublin and shares some highlights from this cultural celebration.

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I am writing this blog from a hostel in Berlin. Next week I will be sure to talk about my spring break (or “assignment week” as it’s called in Ireland) travels, but for this week, I wanted to talk about St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin, Ireland.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Dublin_Spring2018_From Brandon Mooney - With Friends at St. Patrick's Day Parade.jpeg

What is St. Patrick's Day Like in Dublin?

The entire city becomes a Mecca for foreign tourists for the weekend. I have never seen the city so full of people. Walking around to get dinner on Friday night was incredible because the entirety of South Circular Road was bustling with people when it is typically frequented by a few locals and college students. You will meet so many different people from so many different walks of life, which was honestly the best part of the entire weekend. I met two men from the Isle of Man, one who works in software design and the other in stocks and bonds; a very friendly woman from Amsterdam who talked to me about what to do in the city; a group of people from the University of Dublin; and a woman from California in Dublin for spring break who also played ultimate Frisbee.

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Posted in: Dublin, Ireland, Cultural Insights, Holidays Abroad

Connecting Global Cities: Celebrations and Tribulations of Chinese New Year

Feb 15, 2018 10:30:00 AM / by Irene Kanthan

Connecting Global Cities” is a monthly column written by Colin Speakman, Resident Director for CAPA Shanghai.

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“Xīn Nián Kuài Lè” (Mandarin - Happy New Year) or “Kung Hei Fat Choy” (Cantonese - Happiness and Prosperity) were sayings echoing out around Asia and beyond, even as far as London’s Chinatown when the Chinese New Year celebrations got underway as a near global event from Friday, February 15 (New Year’s Eve and China National Holiday) ending by Thursday, February 22.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Spring2018_Shanghai_From Colin Speakman - Chinese New Year Parade in London 2018.pngPhoto: Chinese New Year Parade in London by Colin Speakman

Of course, these holidays are found in other parts of Asia and, in 2017, I celebrated in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) in the period of Vietnam’s Tet. This time I was in London and Western countries have no holidays for Chinese New Year (though China has National Holidays for January 1—three days this time). Thus, it was on Sunday February 18, a couple of days’ later, that London’s Chinatown held the famous parade and events in Trafalgar Square. I was there to celebrate the Year of the Dog even if with the help of a Snake (it was not the Year of the Frog!).

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Posted in: Shanghai, China, Global Cities, Cultural Insights

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