Czech Republic: “Ahoj” (Hi!) from Abroad

Submitted by Esha Shah on the 2021 fall semester program in Prague, Czech Republic…

Uncertainty is the best word to describe the emotions of most students awaiting their opportunity to study abroad in the fall 2021 semester. Personally, I didn’t think traveling abroad was going to happen. As a World Scholar, I signed up for the experience of studying abroad twice for a semester during my time at the University of Delaware (UD). My first study abroad, I lived in Rome, Italy in Fall 2019 and since then I have had the pleasure of studying abroad in Prague, Czech Republic, located in Eastern Europe; a region I’d never truly discovered until recently.

One of the very first weeks a number of study abroad students went to “Bohemian Switzerland” for a hike. The name comes from the fact that Switzerland has some of the best mountain ranges and the region of Prague is considered Bohemia, so it was Prague’s version of the Swiss mountain ranges. As many of the hikes I’ve done seem to show me, the amount of strength and energy it takes to climb up, is all worth it when you reach the top and take in the views. Bohemian Switzerland was nothing short of astonishing and continues to remind me of the beauty of nature that a city like Prague has to offer.

A couple of times a month, CEA sponsors excursions. Some of these included visiting Karlštejn Castle , and watching an opera at the National Theatre. The Czech Republic has no shortage of castles and palaces, in fact the university we study at,, is a refurbished palace itself. The opera was an experience I had never had, but students did not pass up the opportunity to dress up formally to attend The Bartered Bride in Czech with English subtitles. Since then, we have visited and toured underground salt mines in Kutna Hora and plan to explore the history of the Czech Republic during World War II and the former concentration camps in the area.

I have to say that Prague is one of the very few places where the views from any corner are absolutely breathtaking, especially during the fall season, whether it’s from Prague Castle, the Petrin Tower (a look-alike version of the Eiffel Tower), or the Old Town Square Tower, with the famous astronomical clock.

I feel that I may have taken for granted the opportunity to study abroad, but especially after the pandemic, I have taken every opportunity to experience as much as I possibly can, given that the precursor to this whole experience was covered in uncertainty. Sometimes I can’t believe I’m abroad, let alone the fact that I only have a month left till I return. I continue to be grateful for the opportunity the Center for Global Programs and Services has offered me through my time as an undergraduate at UD.

Denmark: Going Beyond the City

Submitted by Katharine Hamelin on the 2021 fall semester DIS program in Copenhagen, Denmark…

The DIS Copenhagen study abroad program is unique for many reasons. One reason that many students choose this program is because they offer many opportunities to go outside of the classroom and learn things within your field. Firstly, there are no scheduled lectures on Wednesdays because those are reserved for field studies. Field studies allow us to go with each of our classes to visit different places in Copenhagen and see the things we are learning in action. There are also 2 separate weeks that you spend with your core course outside of the classroom traveling and learning more about your field. The first week is the short study tour. This involves going with your core course outside of Copenhagen, but staying within Denmark.

The second week is the long study tour in which you leave Denmark with your core class, and go to a nearby country for the week. On both the short study tour and the long study tour, DIS tries to incorporate a mix of both cultural learning experiences and academic learning experiences.

Recently we had our short study tour week, and my core class went to 3 other cities in Denmark. The first city that my class went to is called Vejle. This city was just a cultural learning experience for my class, so we spent the day tree climbing. Honestly, I did not know what to expect when my teacher said we were going tree climbing, but it was basically just a ropes course and zip lining. It was really exciting and definitely pushed me outside of my comfort zone being so high up in the trees! The second city that my core course went to was Horsens. There we had a few academic visits with a wellness center and general practitioner, and a cultural visit to Horsens Prison Museum. There we got to see the old state’s penitentiary and learn about the prison life and escape stories on a guided tour. The last city we went to was Aarhus. Aarhus is the second largest city in Denmark, and there I also got to experience both academic and cultural visits. The cultural visit in Aarhus was probably my favorite part of the short study tour. We had free time to explore the city that night, and some classmates and I decided to go to ARoS Modern Art Museum. The museum had beautiful exhibits, but the highlight was definitely the rainbow panorama part at the top of the museum. By the time I was there the sun was setting and I got to see some amazing views in each color of the rainbow. Overall, I really enjoyed this opportunity to get outside of the classroom and explore more of Denmark, and I am looking forward to my long study tour trip where my class will head to Finland for a week.

Tree Climbing in Vejle
Wellness Center in Horsens
Horsens Prison Museum
Rainbow Panarama

England: The “World” in “World Scholar”

Submitted by Rachel Spruill on the 2021 fall semester program in London, England…

It’s easy to think that students choose to study abroad to feel like they’re on vacation, where all they think of is where to go and what to do next. In reality, though, when you study abroad, academic rigor follows you. As a seasoned World Scholar, I knew this when I chose to be in London this fall. It’s extremely easy for me to get “tunnel vision” and have all of my time consumed with work, and while I’m glad to be disciplined, it’s also important that I make efforts to ensure the global engagement piece of study abroad is fulfilled.

Last weekend, my flat-mates and I took a day trip to the White Cliffs of Dover. We brought some picnic essentials—lunch, some snacks, a blanket—and spent the whole day on the cliffs enjoying the last bit of warmth in England. After a fast-paced week of work, a day of relaxation was exactly what we needed to alleviate our stress. At the cliffs, life slowed down; for hours, we watched the clouds, shared food, and admired the incredible view (we could see France on the other side of the water!). I wouldn’t say that picnics are common at the cliffs, so naturally, we attracted the attention of some passersby, and this led to new connections with locals who were hiking. We talked to new people, pet their dogs, and learned a lot about the area we were visiting. To finish off the day, I hiked down to the water to watch the sunset.

That day reminded us of why we chose to study abroad. We did not come all the way to London to have a traditional college experience or to merely “bounce” between our flat and school; we came here to see things, make meaningful connections, and make memories. That day, my flat-mates and I made an agreement to not let “tunnel vision” get in the way of the purpose of study abroad. As a World Scholar, I have to make sure I give the “World” part as much value as the “Scholar”.

Czech Republic: Being a Vegetarian in Prague

Submitted by Esha Shah on the 2021 fall semester program in Prague, Czech Republic…

Coming to Prague, so many people had warned me that I would have trouble finding food that would fit my dietary needs as a vegetarian. Since arriving, I’ve realized that on Czech cuisine menus themselves, an observation that I had was the number of meat options, namely beef, which is meat that is not as typical in the United States. So far, I’ve had the fried cheese with tartar sauce and boiled potatoes on the side. I’ve also tried fried cauliflower with tartar sauce which is similar to the fried cauliflower dishes I’ve had in the United States. Although, I have noticed in my time in the Czech Republic that the cuisine itself does not offer many vegetarian options, the country is progressive enough to offer options for various diets. There have happened to be far more options than I imagined first coming to Prague including plenty of single-standing vegetarian/vegan restaurants.

Personally, in terms of access to milk alternatives, I’ve been able to access them through online delivery and the Anglo-American University campus where they have options to add to your coffee. Speaking of milk though, there is something to be wary of while grocery shopping in Prague. Milk that you may be used to back home will not look the same in terms of packaging. For example, when I attempted to buy milk, I ended up buying a more sour, chunkier milk that is actually sold for cooking purposes, but in the same package as the normal milk. Trial and error are all part of the study abroad process, so don’t be afraid to make those mistakes. It has helped that both my roommate and I are both vegetarian, so we’ve been able to discover vegetarian options both at the grocery store and at restaurants. I’ll be honest, at times I feel like I have more options for delicious vegetarian/vegan restaurants than I do back home in Newark, which has definitely come as a cultural shock. There seems to be a variety of cuisines offered here that may not be widely available in Newark, for example Vietnamese, Mediterranean, and Indian restaurants. I hope this helps all those that may be apprehensive about traveling to a country like the Czech Republic and not having many options for food. Whether you are vegan or vegetarian, prefer meatless options, or are simply looking for something new to try, you can rest assured that Prague will have options for you!

Picture of my meal at the Restaurant Lokal which is considered a Czech cuisine restaurant. On the plate can be seen fried cheese, tartar sauce, and boiled potatoes.
Picture of my meal at a restaurant in Bohemian Switzerland which is considered more of a tourist stop. On the plate can be seen fried cauliflower, tartar sauce, and French fries.

France: Learning French at the Movies

Submitted by Taryn Wood on the 2021 fall semester program in Paris, France…

Studying abroad is everything you could ever imagine. It’s all amazing, beautiful, and intimidating at once. In Paris, France I am having a wonderful time meeting new people and trying new things, however studying in Paris with no French experience can be extremely tough at times. Starting my French class at CEA has helped immensely with learning the language and in just two weeks, I can now have simple conversations with the French people I encounter and read the menu for dinner quite easily.

One way I have tried helping my French has been by seeing movies in French with some of my friends from the program. The theaters are always near beautiful monuments such as the famous Bastille Square or the Gare de Lyon which makes the experience even more magical. Learning a new language can always be difficult, but so far I am having a wonderful time doing it in the magnificent city of Paris.

Bastille Square Paris
Gare de Lyon
My friend Hannah and I eating popcorn in the theater

Denmark: From Foreign to Familiar

Submitted by Katharine Hamelin on the 2021 fall semester DIS program in Copenhagen, Denmark…

Going abroad for a whole semester can be very intimidating. This is my second study abroad experience and even for someone who has studied abroad in the past, leaving all that you know both culturally and academically is scary. This time I was not travelling with a group of people that I knew prior to the program. So while I’m going into my junior year of college, I felt like a first semester freshman at a new university in a new town where you don’t know a single person on campus. While everyone here is quite fluent in English, Danish is the official language, so navigating Copenhagen was a scary thought originally. However, I was lucky enough to get the housing opportunity to live in a flat with other non-American students for my semester. Besides me and my American roommate, there are 5 other people that make up our diverse flat. We have 2 flat-mates from Denmark, 1 from Austria, 1 from Germany, and the last from Norway. While we are all studying different things at different Universities here in Copenhagen, it is so nice that we were able to meet each other through our housing. Before I came to Denmark most of my flat-mates had already been living and studying here, so they were super helpful to have from day one to answer all of my questions. They helped me and my new American roommate get to know the area, the grocery store, and the public transportation. Since then we’ve had weekly common dinners together, and frequently make plans to do things as a flat.

One of my favorite things we have done together was a GoBoat around the harbour here in Copenhagen. The GoBoat is a boat that you can take into the harbour at your own pace with a group of friends. The boats have a built-in table so you can bring snacks to enjoy with friends while you navigate around Copenhagen and sightsee. This was a great experience for us all to hang out and bond a little more while also seeing the beauty of Copenhagen from the harbour. As I am writing this, I have officially been in Copenhagen for one month, and while this experience was originally foreign and scary, my flat-mates have definitely helped make Copenhagen feel familiar and like a second home to me.

England: Gluten Free in London

Submitted by Rachel Spruill on the 2021 fall semester program in London, England…

Here in London, I’m having meaningful experiences with both locals and my flatmates; in particular, there is one recent experience I’d like to highlight. I have a gluten allergy, and traveling abroad is normally a challenge for me until I track down a few places with gluten free options. A little ways away from my flat, there is a restaurant called Niche Gluten Free Dining, where everything on the menu accommodates my allergy. My roommates are sympathetic to my situation, and to my surprise, they cleared their schedules to take me to Niche. I was incredibly moved! They matched my excitement about going to an allergy-conscious restaurant and made the experience that much more enjoyable. From gnocchi to burgers to tiramisu, we taste-tested a large amount of the menu, and it’s safe to say that I had leftovers for the following days.

While this anecdote may seem trivial to someone who doesn’t suffer from an allergy, I learned that night that when a group of students are placed in a foreign country together, they will look out for one another despite having just met. By having one another’s backs in navigating an unfamiliar setting, I feel that friendships are formed much faster and deeper in a study abroad environment than at home.

Additionally, this outing allowed me to meaningfully interact with a local. Our waitress quickly noticed that we were a group of American students, and she asked us where we were all from. I was surprised when she told me she’s heard of Delaware, and as it turns out, she lived in New York for a time! She talked about her experience living in the States, and she gave us good recommendations with regards to the neighborhood where our flat is located. She and I also had a short conversation about how different cultures approach food allergies, which I thought was very interesting! With gluten allergies often being misunderstood or frankly overlooked, it was refreshing to feel heard and validated.

I may be thousands of miles from home, but that night made this vast world feel astonishingly small. Not only am I living and bonding with flatmates who come from all over the United States, but I am finding unlikely connections with Londoners as well. Keep in mind, in order for you to find common threads with locals when studying abroad, you have to be open to conversation!

Spain: Gaudi’s Genius

Submitted by Garrett Mobley on the 2021 fall semester program in Barcelona, Spain…

As I conclude my first week of classes, I wanted to share my experience at La Sagrada Familia. As I walked through the tour, I often found myself standing in awe of the genius of Gaudi. For those who are unfamiliar, Gaudi is a famous architect from Barcelona and he is known for his unique sui generis style. The thing that fascinated me the most was his dedication and determination. Gaudi had been working on La Sagrada Familia for 43 years and ultimately dedicated his last 12 years to the Basilica. To this day, it remains a work in progress hundreds of years later. Every part of the Basilica is unique and interesting. I am very glad I had an opportunity to visit this wonder and hope my pictures have captured some of its beauty.

Spain: Faith that Binds

Submitted by Charlotte Swafford on the 2018 World Scholars fall semester program in Spain…

WHOOSH! I leaned back into my seat as the airplane bounced down the runway. Throat tight and fists clenched, I held tight to the armrests beside me as the wheels left the ground. What on earth was I doing? I, Charlotte Swafford, was on my way to spend my entire first semester of college in Spain. There in a crowded airplane full of hundreds of unfamiliar faces, I could feel the panic begin to rise — Great, I thought to myself. Just two hours in and I’m already contemplating if I could jump out and still make it safely to the ground. Knowing that wasn’t a productive train of thought, I forced myself to take deep breaths, and began to pray. Lord, I believe this is where I am supposed to be, and I know that I can trust you to take care of me. Help me on this new adventure.

Fast forward to our first weekend in Madrid, and I am full of conflicting emotions: elated but anxious, thrilled but terrified, happy and a little bit homesick. Through these confusing emotions, though, I know one thing for sure: I need to find a church. My faith has been an integral part of my life for as long as I can remember, and the new independence of traveling abroad has me holding tighter to it.

So there I stood, alone and more than a little bit nervous, trying to muster the courage to enter Libre Acesso. But the moment I walked through those doors I felt connected. The church, whose name means Free Access in English, gave me a sense of familiarity and comfort that I had taken for granted at home. Even though this church body represented at least 4 countries different from my own—Spain, Peru, Brazil, and Iran — I always felt welcomed and accepted into their family. Homesickness faded in the community I found there, a conglomeration of personalities, cultures, and languages connected by a common faith. In just four short months, Libre Acesso taught me just how tightly faith can bind us together, across cultures, across languages, and even across oceans.

Spain: Reflections

Submitted by Daniel Bailey on the 2019 fall semester study abroad program in Granada, Spain…

The past four months have really flown by. I remember before I came to Spain, I was so nervous about being away from home for so long, but now I am sad to go back! I have really found a new family here with the 20 other students in my program, and I will always be thankful for all of the ways they helped me become a better version of myself. Now that it is nearly time for me to leave, I am able to do a lot of reflecting about the life changing experience I have just had. I got to travel all around Europe with my new best friends, I got to learn so much about the Spanish culture and lifestyle, and I got so much better at speaking Spanish, too! I know that I will be able to take all of the lessons I’ve learned here in Spain and apply them back in my life in the United States. I’ll miss my Spanish life and I’ll never forget all of the incredible memories I made here!

Me, my roommate Justin, and our host mom Maria Jose out to lunch one last time