Discovery in a City So Old

This is an excerpt of Scot’s journal, which he kept throughout his Summer abroad in Seville. He shares with us a peek into the Moroccan trip that is part of the Summer in Seville program.

Written by Scot Lycan
Seville, Spain
Summer 2013

Fez is a city founded in the twelfth century, nestled into a lush agricultural valley in the northern interior of the country. It is home to the first medina, a self-contained city within its own walls. After entering its narrow corridors you might mistake it for a market, but it is a working self-contained village with donkey coaches bustling through the winding streets in the shadows of tall buildings from the ninth century. It is also home to the world’s oldest university and the first tannery as well. As we were being told of all of this, one of the girls got sick right in one of the streets, and the steep, winding cobblestone streets were taking their toll on my rebuilt leg. This was all interesting, but we were toured out at this point.

What interested me more was that in a poor country such as this, I sensed that there was money here in Fez. I don’t know what gave me that inclination, it was just a feeling. It could have been the amount of French residents or simply the business owners that I spoke with. Achemlal Rachid runs a successful fast food place known as the Chicken Spot, right on one of the main drags in the heart of the bustling city, Avenue Hassan II. The fact that it is successful isn’t so amazing, it is who he is. He can speak four languages, lets his employees practice third languages with tourists when given the chance, and in my entire conversation with him, I never once noticed that he was in a wheelchair until I went to shake his hand, which was rather limp, as he had some sort of ailment. Even the two of us spoke in Spanish and English. A true businessman at heart.

It turns out that I was right. Upon further research, I found that there are three clans that control this city, Morocco’s first capital. The Fassi, who have money, control the politics of the metropolis. On the other hand, it is the Jewish merchants who control the money, and the Berbers who control the farming and agricultural aspect of feeding the city. What many Westerners fail to recognize is that just because this is a Muslim country, it is not an Arab country. It in fact welcomes not only Jews and Christians, but caters to many foreign tourists. It is stable and was not touched by the raucous Arab Spring. It is a constitutional monarchy. There has been no overthrow or military junta. A little known fact is that in 1779, the first United States embassy to be established on foreign soil was in Tangier; this was the first country to recognize the United States of America as a sovereign entity.

That wasn’t the discovery that really gripped me, however. Morocco has two official languages, French and Arabic. Everyone must learn those. At a certain point in their primary education, it is compulsory for them to learn a third language of their choice. English and Spanish are quite common because of how widespread they are and how near they are to this county. Because I don’t know French, my way of communicating would start out, “Hablas español o, do you speak English?” For some odd reason, more people knew English…Spain after all, controlled northern and southern sectors of the country at one time and Moroccans still make use of the siesta. While this was easy for me, it was a letdown. When someone would answer, “Yo conozco poco español,” I went for it. For two people from two different countries who have never met, to bridge the gulf between each other by both speaking in a tongue other than their own, was pure magic.

Posted in Fun Stuff, Travel Tips | Tagged , , , | Comments closed

5 Quick Tips to Surviving Florence

Are you studying abroad (or planning to) and feeling a wee bit nervous? Fall 2013 Study Abroad alumna Kiyana has very kindly shared some insights and tips with anybody planning to study abroad in Florence. However, the other practical tips apply to pretty much any location, really, so read on and be excited/motivated!

Written by Kiyana Higa
Florence, Italy
Fall 2013
  1. Definitely don’t be afraid to get lost and roam around. You stumble across the greatest things and when it doubt look up for the Duomo peeking out at the tops of the buildings and use that as your central point. You know how they say all roads lead to Rome? Well in Florence, all roads lead to the Duomo. Find that and you’ll never really be lost.
  2. Budget wisely but don’t be afraid to dish out on the things that matter the most to you. Food is something I will never regret purchasing, as long as it’s something I want and crave. Ask for student discounts too. Many shops and restaurants around the city and near your school will offer student discounts so take advantage of that! You’ll get to talk to the shop owners and practice your Italian.
  3. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Routines are great but now and then push yourself and do something different for the hell of it. You’re in Italy baby, live it up.
  4. Do something you never thought you’d ever do. Singing at a jazz club? Dancing on a table? Running a marathon? Striking up conversation with strangers only in Italian? DO IT. It’ll be those memories that make looking back at your time so great.
  5. Enjoy it. Seems simple enough but sometimes you’ll catch yourself just doing things and not really taking it all in. All of us agree that a semester was not nearly enough time to spend and soak up Italy. When you get there 4 months seems like forever but the days will start slipping away and the next thing you know you’ve blinked and 2 months have come and gone. Make a list of the things you absolutely must do before leaving so you have a starting point. From there fill in your days and time with things you hear about, read about, and are invited to. And if things don’t work out, don’t fret and dwell on it. The best things happen organically so while one plan might have fallen through move on because there is always something else to take its place.

Kiyana has also compiled her friends’ advice on living in Florence on her blog Kiyana Goes to Italy. Read on, and apply to Study Abroad if you have not already done so!

Posted in Travel Tips | Tagged , | Comments closed

Four Places to Eat in London

Post written by Kelsey Robinson
London, England
Fall 2012-Spring 2013

So I just finished reading this blog called 18 Life Lessons I Learned from Traveling the World by Matthew Kepnes before writing this first post. Okay, if I’m honest, I was sitting in my English class trying to follow along with the discussion. But, that doesn’t matter. What matters is what point number 18 was: This is your trip. No one else’s. Everyone’s journey is their own. Do what you want, when you want, and for how long you want. With that said, I’m going to give you a list of some restaurants that I think are worth going to. But whether you go is up to you, since this is your trip, make sure you do what you want to do, only that.

Nando’s– you will hear a lot of people talk about Nando’s. At first, I was like, what is Nando’s, and now I understand everyone’s obsession. Everything they have is amazing and you get to choose how spicy you want your chicken to be. I personally go with Medium; not too hot, not too mild. Also, for an extra kick, ask for peri salt on your chips (fries). It makes it a little more hot when you eat your chicken, but it is completely worth the heat. My flatmates and I became slightly addicted, which I passed on to my other friends from Hawai’i who came in the Spring term. All of us miss it, and when it comes to pricing theirs is pretty good for the amount of food that you get, especially when you can spend about the same amount at Burger King and not get food anywhere near as good.

Gourmet Burger Kitchen -If you want American food, or are in need of a good burger, this is the place to go. They have amazing chips (fries). I like both their chunky ones and the skinny ones. Their milkshakes are to die for. Plus there’s the added bonus that their burgers are amazing.

Pubs – Honestly any pub is a good place to go. Each one has their own unique name that is only enhanced by the character of the pub itself. They all feature the same pub fare, though sometimes they do differ. They especially differ on what desserts they offer, but I highly recommend always trying one. My favorite was STP, also known as Sticky Toffee Pudding. It’s amazing and there isn’t any actual pudding involved.

Wahaca – If you’re like me and like Mexican food, then this is the place to go. They have authentic Mexican food that makes you wish you were in Mexico, on the beach, soaking up the sun while having some amazing tacos. Fair warning though, their drinks are very strong, so limit yourself!

What are your favorite places to eat at in London? Share your recommendations on our Facebook page!

Posted in Fun Stuff, Reviews | Tagged , | Comments closed

Packing for your Study Abroad Program

“What to take” or “what not to take” on a trip can become a major dilemma. Often one may become quite overwhelmed by the desire to pack everything, believing that it may be needed sometime in the future. The fact of the matter is usually people tend to over-pack, only to discover later that half of the items were never used during the trip. It is extremely inconvenient to carry and transport heavy luggage. Listed below are some tips that might help you pack in a more efficient manner.

  • Pack your bags at least two weeks prior to your departure. This way you will be less inclined to forget items and will have time to purchase those last minute necessities.
  • Make a list of essential items and clothing that you might need.
  • Sort the various items you intend to bring into different piles. By doing this you can more easily judge how much you are bringing and also how best to pack.
  • Bring clothes and items that may be easily replaced. Leave expensive jewelry and family heirlooms at home.
  • Take clothes that you can wear at least twice without having to wash them.
  • Five sets of clothes should be enough for any length of time – be sure that these clothes “mix and match.”
  • Take footwear (dress shoes, walking/tennis shoes, slippers) that are comfortable; the shoes should go with all of your clothes.
  • If you are packing for cold weather, carry or wear your heavy coat and sweater onto the airplane. They take too much space in your suitcase.
  • Inevitably, when you pack your suitcase there will be some gaps in between your clothes. Roll your T-shirts, jeans and undergarments and stuff them into this space.
  • This will prevent your outer clothes from shifting and you will get the most use from the least amount of space.
  • Any breakable items should be placed in plastic bags and set between layers of clothing.
  • When you have packed your suitcase(s), carry it (them) around the block once. When you have circled the block, if you feel that your arms are tired or sore, this should tell you that you have packed too much in your suitcase. This is the time you should reconsider what you “really” need to bring. Reduce what you have packed by at least a third. You will have to carry your own baggage so make sure you can carry what you bring. Remember you can always buy necessary items abroad.

Read up on these 24 helpful tips and suggestions on packing for more inspiration!


  • Pack your own luggage.
  • Check with the airlines regarding size and weight limits.
  • Do not leave your luggage unattended at any time.
  • Do not transport luggage or packages for anyone.
  • The Transportation Security Administration has guidelines listing which items can and cannot be taken in air travel.
Posted in Travel Tips | Comments closed

How to Prevent Jet Lag

What is Jet Lag?

In layman’s terms, jet lag is the disruption of your internal clock, the one that tells you when it’s time for bed and when it’s time for dinner. Flying across time zones can mess it up big time, giving you symptoms like exhaustion, headache, disorientation and indigestion just to name a few. It’s no fun suffering from jet lag! So if you want to learn how to prevent jet lag, read on!


  1. First and foremost, plenty of rest and sleep for 2 nights before your flight helps to minimize symptoms. It may be difficult, what with farewell parties and last minute packing and all, but try. I know some people whose technique is to stay up all night prior to departure so they’ll be super tired and sleep on the plane. I used to do that too, but I almost always end up watching those in-flight movies, which then keep me awake even more!
  2. Allow yourself plenty of time to get to the airport, through check-in and security screening. Reducing stress also helps minimize symptoms, plus it’ll set the tone for the rest of your journey. Pack wisely for quicker security screening – be familiar with the 4-1-1 rule, use a TSA-approved bag for your laptop, remove shoes etc.
  3. Set your watch and your mind to the local time at your destination prior to your departure. Use the travel time to help you adjust to the schedule. For instance, if your boarding time is 4pm but it is midnight at your destination, try to sleep as soon as you can even if you feel you should be eating dinner.
  4. The same applies to mealtimes, although this is usually more challenging on the plane. Some experts suggest bringing food with you, while some others suggest fasting. I try to eat small meals (plane food) or snacks so that I don’t feel too hungry (and binge!) or too full when it’s the proper time to eat.



  1. Rest or sleep as much as you can on the plane! Do whatever you need to do – if you have a bedtime routine, use it (discreetly). Bring a noise-cancelling headphone, an eye mask, a blanket, a travel pillow, etc. I tried Melatonin before on a red-eye flight to the East Coast, and it helped me sleep on the flight, which was great, but I felt some side effects because I had less than 8 hours of sleep. With that being said, each person reacts differently to “supplements” so check with your doctor prior to trying any supplement or “jet lag pill”.
  2. Wear comfortable clothing and bring thick socks if you’re inclined to take your shoes off while you nap. (For the sake of your fellow passengers, and yourself, make sure your shoes don’t stink…)
  3. Stay hydrated. That means drink lots of water, or juice. Avoid alcohol and caffeine! Sure, you might be thinking “but wine helps me sleep!” Alcohol dehydrates you, and you can be sure that you’ll be sorry you had that free glass. If you’re leery of the water quality on the plane, buy a bottle after you’ve cleared security and bring it on board with you.
  4. Get up, stretch and walk around frequently to get your blood circulating. After all that water you’ll probably need to use the restroom often anyway. I like the aisle seat, because it’s convenient to get in and out.



And finally… after 19 hours of traveling, you’re pooped and ready to go to sleep. If it’s night time when you arrive, by all means, go to sleep! But if you arrive in the morning, what should you do? To nap or not to nap? It’s best to stay awake and sleep at night so your body adjusts to your new timezone and schedule.

Another helpful way to prevent jet lag is to go outside and get some sun! Your brain registers the exposure to sunlight and helps your body adjust your internal clock to the local time (even if you don’t realize it!)

Take it easy on the first day you arrive at your destination, and when you wake up the next day, you won’t feel like you’ve just crossed 7 (or 10) time zones!

Former Study Abroad participants, feel free to share your tips on how to prevent jet lag!

Posted in Travel Tips | Comments closed