Wine Tour in Tuscany

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On Friday we climbed the bell tower of the Duomo, climbed the Duomo, crossed the Ponte Vecchio to get Gusta Pizza, then went to meet our bus for our wine tour in Chianti. Chianti is a region in Tuscany, and the wineries we went to were located in between Florence and Siena. We tasted wines from two wineries, the first was a popular winery, sells commercially, and the second, a family winery. We were living a dream! 



Firenze

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I am in Italy for the week, visiting my boyfriend. He has been studying in Florence since January, and this week he is on spring break. Ian and I have been having a great time. He has shown me some spots in Florence, then we were off to Pisa, Venice, and next, Rome!





“Tips to Stay Safe and Healthy When Traveling the World” by KC Owens

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Tips to Stay Safe and Healthy When Traveling the World

Nothing is more exciting and thought provoking than world travel. You get to experience other cultures firsthand and see sites that you have only read about or saw on TV. You should definitely make it a point to do some traveling when you get the chance; at the same time, you should be aware that plans can go wrong when you’re in unfamiliar places. Serious mishaps are rare, but it’s still best to be prepared.

Secure Your Money
According to Credit Card Insider (http://www.creditcardinsider.com/credit-cards/prepaid-secured/), one of the safest ways to handle money when traveling abroad is to have a prepaid card. Naturally, you will want to carry some cash and perhaps traveler’s checks as well; however, a prepaid card can be a good place to keep the bulk of your money. This is much safer than a credit card, which may have a high spending limit that thieves can run up if they gain possession of it. With a prepaid debit card, you can place just the amount of money you need on it and refuel the card when necessary. The best kinds are ones that don’t have your name or other personal information listed. That way, if the card is lost or stolen no one can use it to go online and make purchases.

The Buddy System
Muggings are not that common in most cities, but they do occur. You can greatly reduce the chances of this happening to you by taking a few simple precautions. Traveling in groups rather than alone will make you a lot safer. Muggers can tell if you’re a tourist who is not familiar with the city, trust me, it’s very easy to spot someone who isn’t a local. Most people who pickpocket travelers watch them in local markets and see if they pull out a huge wad of cash and see if they slip it back into their pockets. To make yourself less of a target, travel in groups and keep your money safe (http://www.amazon.com/SE-Zippered-Durable-Lightweight-Travel/dp/B001MTUJRM/ref=sr_1_1?s=apparel&ie=UTF8&qid=1374068066&sr=1-1&keywords=travelers+money+belt). Always keep your money tucked away in a safe spot where people cannot access it without having a great deal of trouble. If you go out with other people, however, they are unlikely to target you. Even if you are traveling alone, you can meet people at hostels or on trains and make arrangements to do things together at night. Meeting new people is fun and it also keeps you safer.

Stay Healthy
The last thing you want when traveling is to get sick. One of the most common causes of sickness for travelers is drinking contaminated water. Since you aren’t used to the water, your immune system isn’t able to fight off parasites that locals may be able to tolerate. That’s why you should stick to bottled water if you’re in an area where the water is of questionable purity. It’s a little more expensive to purchase bottled water all the time, but it’s well worth it if it prevents you from catching a nasty bug! If you do happen to catch something from the water, contact the nearest hospital as soon as you can! To be knowledgeable ahead of time, do some research to find out which countries have safe water (http://www.traveldoctor.co.uk/swit.htm) and which ones do not.

KC Owens has written and submitted this article. KC is a college student who loves traveling, college life, fitness and a good survival kit. He enjoys studying different cultures, meeting new people and leaving his footprint somewhere most people only read about.

Paris, Je t’aime

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So the day has come….In under an hour I will be heading to the airport for a day of travel back to the United States. I can’t express how grateful I am to have had this experience, my many thanks to my generous parents, my “formidable” French family, my new friends and old friends, Saint A’s for taking my credits (hopefully), and to you Paris.
Looking back on my experience, I truly didn’t have one bad day. Sure, there were those days I was sick of the weather, tired of people breathing over me on the metro, frustrated with my French, overly complaining about the exchange rate, but at the end of these four months I don’t remember those things defining my stay in Europe.
I will remember eating with my French family laughing over “n’importe quoi”, seeing the Eiffel Tower sparkle, seeing the gargoyles up close at Notre Dame, admiring the gorgeous flowers at the Luxembourg gardens, the first time I had a macaroon, and meeting the wide variety of friends from all around the world. I’m not sure if I even realize how lucky I am to have lived in Paris for four months, but for what it is worth: Paris, je t’aime.

Mass at Notre Dame

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Ever since I came to Paris, I’ve been wanting to go to mass at Notre Dame, on my last day in Paris, I did just that.  After saying goodbye to Mari, I went to mass, admired the beautiful cathedral one last time, and occasionally understood what the priest was saying. It was nice to reflect on how grateful I am to have spent these past four months with such a welcoming family, great new friends, and a beautiful city.

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Memorable Moments with Mari Chez Nous

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Memorable Moments with Mari Chez Nous

Today is my last day à Paris. It is very bittersweet to be leaving, I can’t believe my four months here are nearly over! Mari left about an hour ago to head to the airport. We have become great friends over the course of four months. Spending time lounging on each other’s beds, eating dinner with our host family, going out for “une verre” near our house, Pretuesdays, weekend dinners out, and experiencing Paris together. Here are some long lost photos…

When Mari and I are home alone and make dinner:

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Mari loves her Trésor cereal and grapes! Dressed American style, “loungewear”

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Most Tuesdays, we would go to Pret à Manger before class. A great café that originates in London, but there are some in the United States. These were our Pretuesdays.

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selfies at Pret

Remember when we first went to the Centre Pompidou together? Feels like ages ago…

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Celebrating our final days at the Champs Elysées Christmas Markets

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Champs Elysées Christmas Markets

On our last train ride last night, we took a “selfie” by our stop, Bibliothèque Francois Mitterand. We are going to miss (even) the little things!

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Mari had a nice wake up from Ana (my host sister) and I this morning. Ana wanted to pour water on her, but then just yelled “Coookooo” at Mari instead. She was very confused as to why we were in her room at 6:30 a.m., but at least she was up in time to say goodbye to our host family! Mari, miss you already “sis”!