Intern Highlight: Hannah Boehlert

Hannah Boehlert is an intern with the Education Abroad team at the International Studies Office here at UVA. Last spring semester, she studied on the UVA in Valencia program to finish our her 2nd year, on which she has shared a brief reflection!

From my study abroad experience, I really learned a lot about myself. This sounds extremely cliché, but this is one of the first times of my life where after a certain experience, I can pinpoint specific things that I really developed, or things that I discovered about myself that I never knew. For example, I love spending time with friends, but study abroad really taught me how much I value and need alone time. I like being pushed out of my comfort zone, but I usually won’t do it myself, so I value having friends who are a bit more adventurous than me! I’m more of a night owl than a morning person, I’m more of a leader than a follower, and I’m not at all go-with-the-flow. These may seem like minor discoveries, but they have already begun to shape how I’m living my last two years at UVA. I’ve been inspired to meet friends, take the lead on projects, and join new clubs — all of which I know wouldn’t have happened without my four months in Valencia.

I really didn’t feel too sad during my first few weeks back in the U.S. I had missed my friends and family a lot, so I was enjoying my time with them and the freedom/relaxed nature of summer. It wasn’t until the summer students arrived in Valencia that I started to feel sentimental and sad. I typed up a huge list of advice and recommendations for two friends studying there, and I went through my photos of the whole semester, and then my nostalgia set in. I’m still happy to be home with my family and friends, but I am now able to realize how much my study abroad experience meant to me. I still get a bit wistful whenever I see photos of the students who are now in Valencia, but I’ve overcome these feelings by interning in the ISO. It’s really been great to encourage students to have the same incredible experiences that I did! I love putting my passion about Valencia by answering questions from prospective students and helping them along their study abroad journey.


Intern Highlight: Alicia Zheng

Alicia Zheng is an intern with the Education Abroad team at the International Studies Office here at UVA. Last spring semester, she studied with DIS Copenhagen in Denmark. Read some of her thoughts below on what she learned while abroad and what it was like for her after she returned to the states and UVA.

One of the best things about returning from studying abroad was seeing how my new habits from living in Copenhagen fit into my life at UVa and at home. I picked up some healthier habits, like eating the right food to fuel my renewed love for exercise. I also think that the culture encouraged me to be more honest and self-reflective. What are my personal goals, regardless of what people around me are striving to achieve? What do I think will help me achieve happiness, despite what others are expecting of me? Overall, I’m deeply grateful for the experience I had and can’t wait to visit Copenhagen again.

It wasn’t too bad coming back from Denmark to the US. I’ve done quite a bit of travelling with my family before, so reverse culture shock isn’t a new experience to me. However, since I studied abroad in the spring, coming back to UVa after 8 months away was pretty difficult to adjust back to. My host country felt much more reserved and relaxed compared to the hectic, stressful environment at UVa. It was strange to constantly have to be around a lot of different people again. My free time was lessened by a tenfold. I was exhausted by just having to interact with so many people for the first few weeks. I found that, even now, taking a day or two completely to myself is absolutely necessary for my own benefit. It’s okay to take a little time to recharge every once in a while – personally, it keeps me sane.

Exploring Amsterdam

Anh-Thu Vo is a 4th year Global Security & Justice and African & African American Studies double major. She studied last fall semester at the University of Amsterdam and learned a lot about its culture and history during her time there. Take a look at some of the photos she has shared!

This is a street in Haarlem located very close to the Haarlem train station. This walk way is quite unique because of the colors. Typically, Dutch sidewalks are made of cobble stone and various shades of brown and red. In this case the side walk is painted the colors of the rainbow bring color even on the rainiest of days.

This is a photo of Gouda cheese in a cheese shop in Amsterdam. Gouda cheese is the most popular cheese within the Netherlands. Although the name of the cheese is Gouda, the cheese is actually not produced in this city but in the surrounding area. It is called Gouda because this cheese was traditionally sold in the market in Gouda.

This photo is taken in the Johan Cruijff ArenA. Johan Cruijff ArenA is home to AFC Ajax, Amsterdam’s soccer team. This is the largest stadium in the Netherlands. Not only is it home to AFC Ajax, this arena is also home to the Dutch national soccer team. Furthermore, this arena is transformed during the off season into a concert venue where many artist have performed.

Within Zaandam [a city right by Amsterdam], you can find Zaanse Schans which looks like a 18th and 19th century Dutch town. There are historic windmills here.

This is a photo of raw herring (right) and smoked eel (left). One of the most famous Dutch dishes is raw herring. Dutch often complement the raw herring with pickles and onions. Smoked eel is a specialty in Volendam, which is where this photo was taken.

This is a photo of Muiden Castle in Muiderslot, which is a 15 minute drive from Amsterdam. This castle was built in the 13th century by Count Floris V and was along the trade route between Utrecht and Amsterdam. One of the most notable owners of Muiden was P.C. Hooft, one of the most important Dutch scholars.

This is a photo of the front of Oudemanhuispoort, which is the old law faculty at the University of Amsterdam. In the center of the courtyard is the bust of Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, law, and justice.

This is a photo of the metro in Amsterdam. In the Netherlands, all Dutch students can travel by public transit for free while they are in school. Despite this fact, many students that live within biking distance still travel by bike.

This is a photo of my bike in Amsterdam. Biking is the primary mode of transit in Amsterdam. There are more bikes in the city than people.

This is a night photo of a canal near Negen Straatjes, which is a boutique shopping area in Western Amsterdam.


Food Customs in Italy

Ariana Piacquadio is a 3rd year Italian and Global Environment and Sustainability double major. This spring 2019 semester, she is studying in Italy on the UVA in Italy: Siena program. Now that she has settled into her life in Italy, read what she has noticed and learned about food culture there.

A view of Siena, Italy from the top of the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo

There’s a reason Italy is famous for its food. Granted, it’s a bit of a stereotype to say that all Italians know how to cook and that all Italian food is amazing. However, I think I’ve eaten better food here in the past three weeks than I’ve had in my life, so maybe there’s something to it.

The standard Italian breakfast varies slightly depending on the region you live in. Here in Tuscany, most of my friends and I have experienced small and sweet breakfasts. Generally, you won’t be eating eggs or avocado toast to start your day in Italy. Most mornings, my lovely host mom leaves me cereal, Nutella, these toasted bread crackers that are kind of like big, unflavored croutons, and of course espresso. When I walk to school, I see crowded bars full of people eating pastries and coffee on their way to work. Apparently, it’s not entirely out of place order a glass of white wine with breakfast, as I witnessed someone do this just the other day.

Lunch is harder for me to pin down because I usually have to grab something quick between classes. I’m still not sure exactly what is customary. For me, I either eat focaccia from the Panificio close by, or a mix of cooked vegetables and bread from a local grocery store our group has nicknamed “fake whole foods”. If you go to a restaurant, most don’t serve lunch until 12:30 at the earliest.

My meal of trofie con pesto at Caposantachiara Ristorante in Genova, Italy

Finally, there’s dinner, which usually begins around 8:00 p.m. here. Back in the states, I’m used to a single, large meal, but Italians do this differently. The dinner begins with aperitivo, an appetizer. When I eat with my host family, we always skip this part of the meal, but I’ve noticed in restaurants that they’re very common. Next follows i primi piatti, which in my experience is almost always pasta or soup. My host mom waits until I finish this to bring out the next part of the meal, i secondi piatti. This is usually some kind of meat, but my host family is vegetarian like me so most nights we have a vegetable dish. The meal ends with dolci e caffe when I eat in a restaurant, but at home we eat fruit. Also at the restaurants, it’s very common to order a liter or two of red wine (unless you’re eating fish, in that case you drink white wine). Wine is a huge staple of the meal and living in the Chianti region makes it very easy for me to get on board with this custom.

Good food is one of the first things people associate with Italy and while there are so many layers to this place, it’s true that food is a huge part of the culture. I’m still learning the many nuances of the customs here and how they vary in every region. I feel lucky to live with a host family, where it’s easier for me to see how daily Tuscan families eat and live.

First Month in Valencia

Sarah Wartel is a 2nd year pre-Commerce student studying on the UVA in Valencia: Business program this semester. Though she has only been there for a little more than a month, she has already taken several intriguing photos in order to share what she has been seeing and learning on her education abroad experience so far.

This photo was taken Calle Colón in the commercial center of the city. Many orange trees line the streets of Valencia. The city is famous for producing oranges. (However, I would not recommend eating them directly from the tree as they are nearly inedible.)

This photo was taken in la Playa Malvarrosa. This beach is a 15-minute bus ride from the city center and is located in a fairly urban area. Many locals come to the beach to relax or exercise on the weekends. Valencia has a fairly mild climate, averaging around 60 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. The people call it La Ciudad de Calor or “the City of Heat.”

This is a picture of the lobby of the apartment building of my host family. Almost everyone who lives in the city of Valencia, live in apartments like these. The buildings are narrow and tall and most people, even families, live in fairly small apartments. Very few have a large terrace.

The picture is of a butcher’s shop near the city center. Ham is one of, if not the most, popular foods in Spain. The country is famous around the world for its Iberian hams. It is very normal for people to buy the entire hams at grocery stores and local butcher stores. Sliced ham is on almost every food, especially “bocadillos” which are sandwiches with usually with thick bread and sliced meat.

The Mercado del Colon is a market located near the city center with many small cafés located on the upper level and restaurants below. Many people come to cafés before lunch for an “almuerzo” and after lunch for a “merienda.” Because there is so much time between meals, Spanish people often have a coffee or a pastry at a café to suppress their appetite until mealtime. Also, these “snacks” are a means of socializing and people will spend hours talking over coffee.

This photo was taken in my room in my host family’s apartment. Above my bed is a religious depiction of the Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus. Spain is predominately Catholic dating back to Roman Catholicism and the Spanish Inquisition. Many of the people are still devout Catholics.

This photo, taken in a former church in the town of Xàtiva, depicts giant statues of Spanish historical figures. These figures, including a Moor and Isabella and Ferdinand, are put on stilts and people carry them in a parade during festivals in Xàtiva.

Taken on Calle Colón, near the city center, this photo features the Plaza de Toros de Valencia, a bullring. It was built between 1850 and 1859 and is inspired by Roman architecture. Bullfighting is a somewhat controversial tradition in Spain that still takes place today.

The above photo was taken in an area a little outside the center of the city. The areas surrounding the center are much less picturesque. Street art is very popular in these areas as depicted in this colorful skate park.

Barcelona: Pre-Departure Thoughts

Julia Hohenstein is a 3rd year in the Commerce School with a double major in statistics. This semester, she is studying on the UVA Commerce: Third Year Core: ESADE Barcelona program. Read her thoughts on starting her semester abroad and some of her goals so far!

My name is Julia Hohenstein, and I am a third year in McIntire studying IT within the McIntire school and statistics within the College. I am from a small beach town, Brielle, New Jersey about an hour south of New York City. At UVA, I am heavily involved with community service through Madison House and have also attended two Alternative Spring Break trips (one in Portland, Oregon and one in Death Valley, California). I love hiking, trying new restaurants, and going to concerts. I’m hoping to do all of the above and more in the coming semester, when I am lucky enough to study abroad in Barcelona, Spain.

Through the Comm school, I will be an exchange student at ESADE Business School. There are only three of us from UVA in the Comm program, so it is going to be interesting moving to a new city hardly knowing anyone. I have visited Europe a few times before (France and Ireland), but have never been to Spain, so I don’t know too much about what to expect. Everyone keeps warning me that Barcelona is infamous for pickpocketing, but they balance out this negative with raving reviews of the food, culture, and beauty in the city.

I have wanted to study abroad in Spain ever since I was in high school, so getting accepted into the program really was a dream come true. I studied Spanish up until college, and while I would not consider myself fluent I am pretty confident in my abilities. I think I will be able to get around and speak minimally, which will make the transition so much easier. I am really looking forward to improving my comprehension and speaking skills.

The opportunity to in study and live in another country like this offers so much more than just language comprehension. Of course, I am excited to travel. The ease of travel between major European cities is still baffling to me, and I plan to take full advantage of it. However, I am also so excited to immerse myself in the Spanish and Catalan culture. I will be living in Barcelona at such an interesting time in history given the Catalonian independence movement of the last year and a half. Though I cannot speak Catalan, I hope to pick up on cultural practices and even some vocabulary.

I am really excited for the food and the energy of the city. I have heard nothing but great things about paella, and I love the idea of tapas (small plates meant to share). I’m fully ready to spend way too much money trying loads them. I am curious what the night life is going to be like, and if it will really be as late as people say. Spaniards eat dinner super late compared to the States and often stay out at bars or clubs until daylight. I am not used to this at all, so it will be an adjustment to start eating dinner around 10pm despite having classes early the next day. But for now, just going to take it one step at a time. And that first involves successfully navigating the airport, finding the AirBnB we booked, and getting over jet lag. One step at a time.