Entschuldigung. Ich sprechen kein deutsch.

(Sorry. I speak no German.) — An American Abroad

They said Germans are cold and robotic. I wasn’t feeling it. We were talking about music and weather and cities and trains. Although, he did inform me that, had I been German, this conversation would not be taking place.

I was on a train to Hamburg for a day trip from Berlin, where I had been doing the Humanities and Engineering summer study abroad for the past month.

The program consisted of two and half courses: Electrical Engineering I and lab (EE) and a humanities course focused on memory and memorialization. EE was conducted at the Embry-Riddle Worldwide campus near Nollendorfplatz station and taught by Dr. Ilteris Demirkiran, while the humanities course, taught by Dr. Rachel Silverman, met up all around Berlin and, in the second week of class, took a trip to Paris to contrast memorialization in Paris to that in Berlin.

In total, we were twelve students: five girls, seven boys. Here, the whole group and Dr. Silverman are reflected in the panels of the central reflector in the Reichstag Dome.

In total, we were twelve students: five girls, seven boys. Here, the whole group and Dr. Silverman are reflected in the panels of the central mirror in the Reichstag Dome. The mirror illuminates the building below, where the Bundestag, the German Parliament, meets.


EE met Monday through Thursday in the afternoon. Dr. D front-loaded the EE classes so that the last week of the semester he could end class in an hour or two and take us to see some of the beautiful sights in Berlin. That did mean, however, that classes at first ran for four to five hours, though they were thankfully (and rather wonderfully) punctuated by Dr. D’s humorous, and occasionally life-lesson-y, anecdotes.


Dr. Ilteris Demirkiran, our EE professor. Classes met in the afternoons Monday through Thursday and often ran for several hours since we were covering a semester’s worth of material in one month.

The humanities course, Memory and Memorialization, met mornings Monday through Thursday and consisted of touring through memorials, monuments, and sometimes museums (mostly of the Holocaust). Classes were preceded by related articles and readings and followed by assignments requiring us to formulate a question about memory, memorialization, the memorial of the day, and the related reading.

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, constructed by the German government, was initially controversial because people were concerned it would mean an end to the conversation of how to properly remember past atrocities.

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, constructed by the German government, was initially controversial because people were concerned it would mean an end to the conversation of how to properly remember past atrocities.

The Vel d’Hiv  memorial in Paris commemorated the Jews the mass deportation of the Jews from Paris in July 1942.

The Vel d’Hiv memorial in Paris commemorated the Jews the mass deportation of the Jews from Paris in July 1942.

The courses were good, and getting them done over the summer saves you some time to graduation. However, the  best part of study abroad is, of course, being abroad: seeing new cities, understanding other cultures, meeting new people, getting a little lost, and finding your way again. I found that Paris was very much the elegant, charming place I expected it to be, whereas Berlin was grittier, graffiti-covered and captivating in a risen-from-the-ashes sort of way.

Me with the glorious Eiffel Tower.

Me with the glorious Eiffel Tower.

The corner store on Mittenwalder Strasse, the street on which we lived for the month.

The corner store on Mittenwalder Strasse, the street on which we lived for the month.

Many chose to take the opportunity to see some of the other major European cities, such as Amsterdam, Prague, and London. Me? I wanted to get as full a sense of the local culture as I could, so I chose to immerse myself in Berlin and spent two weekends in the city. And then, I went to Hamburg.

As fields and towns and a massive wind turbine farm sped past, I chatted with my fellow Hamburg-bound train traveler. The Berliner listened to Macklemore and Lana del Rey along with other artists of whom I had never even heard. He did not own a car (and did not plan on owning one) because the bus and regional train system in Germany made getting to places outside Berlin without a car manageable. I explained how getting a car in the States was not only a matter of necessity if you wanted to go anywhere outside a major city but also a sort of cultural rite of passage. When a smattering of clouds threatened the sunlight, he warned me that “the clouds came with the city” of Hamburg. I felt grateful for the little umbrella sitting snugly in my backpack.

Hamburg was beautiful. Very different from Berlin, the river port city had several canals running straight through its center and was constantly under or about to be under a rainstorm (the umbrella came in very handy). Massive tankers and freight ships floated on the far side of the River Elbe, flanked by rows of cranes. I enjoyed every second of my Hanseatic adventure.

A canal near the Town Hall (Rathaus) cuts straight through the city.

A canal near the Town Hall (Rathaus) cuts straight through the city.

Studying abroad in Berlin is one of the best experiences I have ever had. I love travel and learning, meeting new people and pushing myself to live adventurously. Is studying abroad for you? Honey, only you know that. I woke up one morning and just decided I wanted to go, so I went. If you find that same absurd urge take hold, listen to it. Even if you don’t, trust me, seeing the world is worth your time, even if you see it in small chunks.

(Want to know more about Berlin/Paris? Check out my next post for more.)

Kia Ora!

Summer vacation has finally started for me. Gladly, I am here to tell you all about my travel plans this summer. Currently, I am traveling all over New Zealand and I can not wait to share my experiences with you. So without further ado, pack your bags and follow me to this amazing trip! Kia Ora!!! (A traditional Maori language in New Zealand).

Auckland is the biggest city in New Zealand with the population of 1.4 million, the city comes to life. Surprisingly, Auckland is very diverse. There are many students from places like India, China, Europe, as well as South Africa. These students are actually a part of the three biggest universities in Auckland; which are, Auckland University, Auckland University of Technology, as well as, Embry-Riddle’s New Zealand partner, Massey University. Auckland is very rich on history, food, and art. There are many museums and world class dining experience around the city.

The first place that I want to take you guys is called Viaduct Harbor. Viaduct Harbor is very famous in Auckland because it is known to be the best spot to see the Auckland skyline. Below is a photograph that I took while I was strolling down the harbor. This is perhaps the best view to see the Sky Tower.

Sky Tower Auckland, New Zealand

Sky Tower Auckland, New Zealand

You can see the that the atmosphere around the harbor is very relaxed. Around the harbor there are many bars and restaurants. Surprisingly, during day time, there are many people reading books and many joggers. In my opinion, Viaduct Harbor is an amazing place to destress.

Auckland is also known to be called The City of Sail. Why? Well, in Viaduct Harbor, there are precisely 2,500 boats. There are many Catamarans and other small vessels. There are many people who are practicing for the America’s Cup in Viaduct Harbor. America’s Cup is a competition that is held every year and it is basically a race of two yachts. Around the harbor, there are private companies who owns and operate a similar yachts that are being used in the America’s Cup and with a sum of fee you can experience the difficulty of the America’s Cup.

Earlier I mentioned about Sky Tower. Sky Tower is the pride and glory of Auckland, it rises from ground to 1,076 feet tall, making it the tallest building in Auckland. Inside the Sky Tower there are two restaurants; Sugar Club and Orbit 360. Fortunately, I had the chance to dine at Sugar Club Fine Dining Experience. I was shocked at the quality of the food. It was an unforgettable experience. There are a lot of varieties of food on their menu; such as, Asian cuisine, French cuisine, as well as, Italian. For myself, I chose a 5 course meal. My favorite dish was the Pan Seared Tuna. I can tell you that the combinations of flavor truly set the bar high for this restaurant. Here are some pictures that I’d like to share with you.

Hoisen Duck Breast, Sky Tower.

Hoisen Duck Breast, Sky Tower.

Pan Seared Tuna, Sky Tower

Pan Seared Tuna, Sky Tower


During my time in Auckland, I stayed in Sofitel Hotel. Sofitel in Auckland is known for many things. However, the location and the view is unbeatable. Sofitel is located in the heart of downtown. There are many restaurants and bars nearby. My favorite would be Restaurant 88. Restaurant 88 is a Vietnamese restaurant that specializes in modernization of traditional Vietnamese cuisine. Below are some dishes that I ordered. I have to say, the tossed beef was a bowl of explosive spices and flavors.

Tossed beef with papaya salad.

Tossed beef with papaya salad

Viaduct Harbor, A view from our hotel room.

Viaduct Harbor, A view from our hotel room.

View from Sofitel Hotel

View from Sofitel Hotel


Jamaican Cobbler & Bedford Summer Cup

Jamaican Cobbler & Bedford Summer Cu






Since Auckland is a culinary hub. I’d like to take you to a place a little bit outside Downtown Auckland. Outside of Downtown Auckland there are many restaurants, particularly, Ponsenby Center. Ponsenby Center is a small town that has all the restaurants and bars in one street. There are shops like The Chocolate Botique, Argentinian BBQ (El Sizzling Chorizo), and last but not least, Bedford Soda & Liquor. Ponsenby Center is designed like food court in the U.S. However, it is outdoor seating. Ponsenby Center is decorated with many trees and flowers, making it very relaxing to dine and drink there. My girlfriend and I tried a few drinks from Bedford Soda & Liquor. Though it was a bit pricy for a few drinks, we walked away with satisfaction. We ordered the Bedford Summer Cup and The Jamaican Cobbler. Both drinks are full of flavor; a mixture of mints, lime, lemon, peach, and pineapple. Again, what an unforgettable experience.

Finally, for the final chapter of this blog, I want to take you a historical place in Auckland called One Tree Hill. Yes, it is similar to the TV series. One Tree Hill is a monument that was built because in the past there were arguments between the Maori people and the British. Maori people is the native New Zealander. Apparently, before the monument was established, there was one big sacred tree that stood up on the summit of the hill. It was worshiped by Maori people at that time, but the unfortunately, one night the one white settler cut that tree and the Maori people were very upset which caused a war. However, today, it is widely known as a tourist destination. Below are some photos on the summit of the hill. Standing on the summit really gives you the bigger picture of Auckland’s sky line. On the top you can see all 360 degrees view of Auckland.

Eden Park (Stadium for All Black, A Rugby Stadium) A view from One Tree Hill Summit.

Eden Park (Stadium for All Black, A Rugby Stadium) A view from One Tree Hill Summit.


One Tree Hill Monument

One Tree Hill Monument

Well, that was it for my first blog. I hope you enjoyed our journey through Auckland city and its surrounding. Stick around for more blogs from me as I head down south to Queenstown and the famous Hobbiton! Until next time lads!


First sunrise in the world! A view from Hilton, Auckland! Until next time!!

First sunrise in the world! A view from Hilton, Auckland! Until next time!!

See you next time!

See you next time! KIA ORA!

Up Up and Away!

Hello All!

It’s crazy how fast time goes by now a days! It feels like just yesterday that I first came to Embry-Riddle and visited the campus for the first time. It has been almost four years, two different changes of major, and countless life lessons since that day. But lets not get ahead of ourselves… Here’s a quick run down:

My names Kealey Cela and I grew up a Navy Brat; living all over the world and moving more than 13 times! I lived in places like Hawaii, Japan, Virginia, and California. Finally my family settled down in a small town in New Hampshire where I went to high school. I’m not the biggest fan of snow which is why going to school in Florida was such a nice change of pace!

I started my college career at a school in Northern Virginia, and then transferred to Embry Riddle for my sophomore year. Over the last three years of college I have learned just as much about my degree as I have about life.

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like. -Lao Tzu

One of the most challenging life lessons that I learned during my time in college has been change. Change can present itself in many different ways. For example: The transition from home life to dorm life is a huge change, changing your mind about your major, changing clubs, or even changing your order at Starbucks. The hardest lesson that I have had to learn is overcoming change. Almost every college student at some point will question their major or their career path.

I came to Embry-Riddle with the mindset that I was going to be an Aerospace Engineer, and that I was going to work for a big company like Raytheon or Boeing one day. But it turns out that it just wasn’t for me. I thought about what I wanted to do with my life and after taking some different courses I ended up on Operational Meteorology, which I have more passion for now than I ever did with Engineering. The best advice I can give based on my experience  is to ultimately do what makes you happy in life even if its something you never saw yourself doing originally. If something truly is not making you happy anymore, don’t do it! Once I realized this I felt like I was able to navigate the seas of college life much easier!

Something else that has made me very happy in life has been everything that I have gotten involved in here on campus!

This summer I was fortunate enough to study abroad in Siena, Italy. I received 3 upper level and 3 lower level humanities credits while I was abroad! I would highly suggest getting involved in the study abroad program, it gave me memories and friendships to last a life time, and its the same price as staying on campus and taking classes over the summer!

Representing the U.S. on a bridge in Venice

Representing the U.S. on a bridge in Venice


The Pisa tower really does lean!

The Pisa tower really does lean!


Enjoying our last weekend in Italy in Rome at the Colosseum

Enjoying our last weekend in Italy in Rome at the Colosseum

Sigma Sigma Sigma 

During the Spring semester I joined Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority here on campus, and it was certainly one of the best decisions I have made while being at school. Sigma has helped keep me more involved in my studies as well as around campus and in the community!



Hope For Hayley 5K with my sisters!

Hope For Hayley 5K with my sisters!

Sigma Sigma Sigma

Sigma Sigma Sigma

I am also an Ambassador for the Women’s Ambassador Program here on campus, which is something that I am very proud of. We work with the admissions department to raise the female population here on campus! We also do lots of events to support women around our campus and in our community!

Ambassadors for the Women's Ambassador Program

Ambassadors for the Women’s Ambassador Program at our Waiz Welcome Dinner

College is all about embracing changes and going with the flow. Try not to get too stressed about anything, its honestly not worth it! Worry about things that you can change, and then change them. And lastly always do what makes you happy in life even if its a little unexpected! If you can do your best to live by these principles you’ll be Up Up and Away before you know it!

007 Study Abroad Continued.


After Swindon, we took a two hour bus ride to London where we stayed for five days. I was excited to revisit the city and see how things had changed. Actually, nothing had really changed at all! Last time I was in London was during the summer as well, so the weather wasn’t too different. This Southern California girl definitely couldn’t handle the cold weather at night.

We did the touristy things like see Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London. We also went on a few “Spy Walks” around the city where we learned about the history of espionage through British lens’.


The next day we visited the Churchill War Museum, where we got to visit Churchill’s underground war rooms, which were kept exactly in tact since the war. It was definitely neat to be a part of history.

Afterward, we got a VIP tour of the US Embassy in London (thanks Jose!) where we got to hear great advice from a speaker in the Embassy and receive a tour of the facility. It is the largest American embassy in Western Europe and it used to be the headquarters of the General Dwight D. Eisenhower.


The last day, the group got a tour of Buckingham Palace. The trip was complete with a plane ride from Heathrow to Dublin, a 10 hour layover in Dublin and a plane ride back to New York and onto Florida. I really enjoyed my time abroad.

A little advice: if you are considering going abroad, please do it! However, make sure you plan well. It’s not like going on a trip with your family where you’re more comfortable. You and only you are responsible for yourself, and no place is like the United States, so be prepared before you go. Also, stay hydrated and sleep! To be honest, the most sleep I got was 4 hours a night. I never adjusted to the time change because I wasn’t motivated enough. Sometimes when you’re so excited about the travel, you forget to rest. From that, you become dehydrated and sick. I learned from my lessons, but it was still so worth it. I’m not a very good influence on that part, haha.


In addition, pack light and bring proper clothing. All I brought was 1 check-in bag and a backpack, and that may have been too much. Of course, you have some room for luxury, but a 50 pound bag isn’t fun to lug up four heights of hostel stairs.

Overall, keep an open mind and be willing to learn- even about yourself. Travel makes you learn a lot more than you thought you could and gives you a great perspective on things so if you have the opportunity, seize it. You’ll regret it if you don’t. 


If you have any questions about studying abroad through Embry-Riddle, please email me at giannotw@my.erau.edu.

007 Study Abroad Continued.

10154897_10203209384772142_272986979081192414_nC-130s over Normandy! Kid in a candy store moment. It was so neat seeing 5 of them or so casually flying over at extremely low altitudes. All of Normandy was filled with great patriotism; we were all a part of something bigger in remembering those who had fought for our soil and freedom.


In the streets of Normandy, France, squandering for crepes

After Normandy, we took a ferry and headed back to England. Here, we first went to Swindon to check out the German Enigma machine at Bletchley Park. If you don’t know much about the machine, the British used it to decode messages that the Germans were sending to one another during WWII. The whole place used to be a huge intelligence base.

The next day, we went to the Culture in Conflict conference at the Defense Academy of the UK. It was a three day conference consisting of various speakers from all over the world- people from the military, government agencies, companies like Lockheed Martin, civilian contractors, and intelligence companies to the Israeli Air Force.


Cranfield University/Defense Academy of the UK

It’s things like this that confirm my passions. Hearing these people speak from all over the world was very eye opening. Most of them had spent time in Middle Eastern regions like Beirut or places in Afghanistan doing research. I was intimidated, but I was inspired. I couldn’t take many pictures here…sorry, guys! But the memory of this conference will remain ingrained in my mind forever.


Bath, UK

We had a free day in Swindon, so a few of us decided to visit Bath. Bath is a place that is exactly as it sounds; it’s famous for its ancient Roman Baths.


Somehow, I managed to come across this quote while I was abroad:

black background

It definitely struck me. This trip had opened my heart up to many possibilities in terms of where I could take my career. I never knew how many petals this rose of the intelligence field could have. And wow, am I amazed. Studying abroad is such a great idea if you’re thirsting for more knowledge. I went only knowing so few things and came back so much richer than before. Let travel change you. You learn a lot about yourself, too.. which is probably the most important thing you could understand, especially when you’re trying to find out, well, what you want to “do.” Make your passion so big that you can’t fully grasp it even if you travel the world. You can never know enough about your passion.. I guess that’s what makes it what it is. That’s what makes you discover brand new petals of the flower over and over again.

We’re in London next. I’m excited to visit again.

More coming!

Giant’s Causeway & Normandy, France.


On Wednesday we went to Giant’s Causeway up in Northern Ireland – an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns (mostly hexagonally shaped). These uniquely shaped columns along the ocean are the result of an ancient volcanic eruption on the Northern Ireland coast. It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.





We arrived in Lisieux, France on Thursday night for the 70th Anniversary of D-Day on Friday, June 6. The celebration was incredible. A bunch of important people, from Obama and Queen Elizabeth to the US Secretary of the Army, to name a few, were there. We started by going to a museum to see a 1,000 year old script written on William the Conqueror, followed by a stop for crepes. I had never seen so much busy-ness in a foreign country. The gendarmerie (French military force) were on every street corner asking every car where they were going and who was in the car. The security was very serious. We headed to Arromache beach first for the celebration; the beach was completely covered with D-Day re-enactors, military tanks and vehicles.



After that, we headed to Omaha beach, one of the beaches where the US fought on. We also visited the American cemetery above Omaha, where Obama had previously spoken a few hours before. That night we headed back to town and had a great talk about D-Day over dinner. Needless to say, we were all speechless.


I loved France. It was a perfect time to put my French to the test and I don’t think I spoke English once except to the students with me. I want to go back already! Please mom…


On Saturday, the D-Day festivities continued. We went to Utah beach (another US beach) and a few museums. We also went to a neat festival in the town and grabbed a couple eclairs and jambon et fromage baguettes. We also got to meet the Secretary of the US Army and some secret service. That was definitely neat. It was also nice to see a lot of American military present at the celebration, they had already been there for about a week beforehand.

DCIM100GOPROView from my room in France

Today, we decided to go to Juno beach where the Canadians fought. These beaches were very solemn but had freedom written all over them. Some of the German bunkers were still intact and we got to walk inside of them. There aren’t many times where you can say you’re just hanging out on top of an old World War German bunker at the beach, especially on the D-Day 70th Anniversary. These past 3 days were a blessing.


We took the bus back onto the ferry to England and drove to Swindon, where we will be staying until Friday when we head to London. Tomorrow we’ll be going to Bletchley Park, where we’ll get to see the German Enigma Code Breaker. Very excited!

007 Study Abroad: Belfast, Ireland.

IMG_84702.5 Week Study Abroad in Ireland, France, Great Britain


Greetings from Ireland! Location: Belfast Peace Walls

Official Day 2 has just ended and it’s 10pm in Belfast right now, but feels like it’s 5pm! Most of us arrived in Belfast on Sunday. After a 6 hour flight, sleep deprived, hungry, and after having an interesting encounter with customs, we were ready to go to bed. Of course, with the time change, we couldn’t until later that night. So, that day we walked around the streets of Belfast gathering up Belgium chocolates, last minute essentials, and a crazy amount of shepherds pie. Our hostel, the Vagabonds, is extremely nice and is filled with various free souls (mostly students) from all over the world. Every hall is decorated with historical pieces of Belfast and sprinkled memories. It’s cozy and quaint. I couldn’t complain.


IMG_8394Inside the hostel

BpHN3uXIEAAxXrVDowntown Belfast

IMG_8425For the beginning portion of Summer A, us students took two main courses: HS 405, Emerging Topics In Homeland Security and HS 325, Terrorism: Ideologies, Origins, and Goals. We mostly discussed the time of the Troubles here in Belfast, the time of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and their experiences with the British Government.

saSigning the Peace Wall
(this peace wall was intended to separate the Catholics from the Protestants during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The city people do not plan on taking the wall down anytime soon.)

Yesterday, we had two political tours around the city of Belfast; one tour from an ex member of the IRA and the other from an ex member of the UUP. To say the least, it was a very interesting experience because we got to hear both sides of the story during the times of the Troubles.DCIM100GOPRO

sa5sa6Oldest pub in Belfast

Today, we went to Queen’s University for a lecture. The University was beautiful! We listened to two professors from the Institute of Conflict Transformation and Social Justice; they mostly spoke about the time of the Troubles here in Northern Ireland. We certainly gained a few gems of wisdom on the conflict.

10367162_10203175519045520_1323439026141113012_nDCIM100GOPRODCIM100GOPRODCIM100GOPROCity Hall

DCIM100GOPROTomorrow, we’ll be hopping over to Giant’s Causeway for a tour of a great volcanic plateau on the ocean and experience old Irish castles and whiskey tasting. Thursday, we head to Normandy, France for the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

If you are interested in studying somewhere outside the US, definitely consider it for the future. You will gain a completely different perspective on not only social aspects, but also academics as well. And take the risk of going to somewhere foreign to you! The leap is totally worth it, after all.

Here’s a great quote on growth: “It is not that we love to be alone, but that we love to soar, and when we do soar, the company grows thinner and thinner until there is none at all. …We are not the less to aim at the summits though the multitude does not ascend them.”- Henry David Thoreau

Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and get uncomfortable. Safety does not always lie in security, which is why we grow when we are in unfamiliar situations. Allow yourself the chance for that growth.
Keep you posted.

Test taking, volleyball and turning 21

Hey Everyone,

I apologize for this entry being a bit late. I have been pretty busy. The past few weeks have been filled with tests and studying. Exams at EPF are more like national standardized tests rather than an exam at Embry-Riddle. Probably one of the largest differences is that there are many more rules, besides the obvious no cheating and only being allowed to use certain types of calculators. To begin with, there is a seating chart, which is posted on a bulletin about 15 minutes before the exam is scheduled to start. Students have to find their names and their corresponding seat, which can be in one of the two amphitheaters or even in one of the other classrooms. This is because at EPF tests are given to an entire year of students, about 180 individuals, at a time. There is an empty place between each of the seats and all coats and backpacks are placed around the edges of the room. Notes are not allowed, and neither are calculators from home. Students must use TI-83s provided by the school. Each of the exams has at least two versions in order to deter cheating, much like the SATs or ACTs. In addition, the proctors also pass around a sign in sheet with each student’s name and their seating assignment. This allows them to see which students were seated together in case there appears that some tests are too similar. When comparing exams at EPF to ones at ERAU, it seems that tests at Embry-Riddle are more relaxed.

To begin with, there is no special seating chart with at least a spare desk between each student. This is probably due to the fact that when tests are given at ERAU, they are for a class of about 25-35 students, which usually fill the majority of chairs available so that there are not enough spare seats to evenly space students. In addition, there is not usually a sign in sheet. However, some professors at ERAU do require that their students place their belongings against the wall, like at EPF, in order to limit access to hidden notes, phones, and calculators. While some tests only allow non-graphing calculators to be used, most professors allow students to being calculators from home. I think ERAU uses this policy, instead the one at EPF, simply because there are too many students in too many different classes to organize which professors need which calculators at which times. In addition, calculators can be expensive. EPF can afford to give each student a calculator during an exam because the university only needs at most 200 calculators, accounting for broken ones and ones with dead batteries, at any given time. There easily 5 times more freshmen at ERAU than at EPF.

In the past two weeks, there haven’t been too many other notable events. The girls’ volleyball team that I am on experienced its first victory. Right now we have currently won one out of five games. Last Saturday, I celebrated my 21st birthday. I kept things pretty small. I went out of lunch with friends and then I spent the rest of the day going absolutely crazy by watching television shows and not doing any homework. In France, teens are legally allowed to drink and buy alcohol and other liquors at age 18, so turning 21 isn’t really that important. Hopefully, I will have more exciting things to report back to you in the next entry, including pictures. Until then, try not to study too much and get some sleep. There are only a few weeks left in the semester and then it is Christmas break.
Thanks for reading,

Chocolate airplane

Greetings to Everyone from an ERAU Student Abroad,

It has come to my attention that just last week, the staff at the Study Abroad Office held an informational meeting that showcased summer programs. I took a look at their website, located here, and this summer there will be opportunities to study in various European countries such as Italy, France, Germany, Spain, England, the Netherlands, Belgium, and even Luxembourg. In addition, this Spring Break you could be in Greece. Having studied abroad last summer in Siena, Italy, I must say that is a pretty sweet deal. I was able to enjoy exploring a foreign country while earning credits toward my degree. If you would like more information about my travels, just look through some of my older entries. In addition, if you are interested in any of the other programs the Study Abroad Office offers, feel free to visit them or contact them using the information located near the bottom of the page in the attached link. They are always very friendly and are more than happy to answer each and every one of your questions about their programs.

Study Abroad poster, found at on their Facebook page, located at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Eagles-Abroad/258444774215495

So to be honest, there is not much about school in the rest of this entry, because I had an entire week off for vacation. It was pretty awesome, kind of like having Spring Break only in the fall. (Note: this vacation was not in place of Spring Break. We still have two other week long breaks, one in January to ski in the Alps and one in the spring.) Some of my friends were able to travel west to the coast of Bretagne while others were able to visit other countries such as England or the Netherlands. Personally, I ended up spending my break in Paris. I visited a few friends’ houses and we made some delicious banana bread. In addition, we also were able to go to the cinéma and watch Thor: The Dark World. I really liked the movie and highly recommend it.

One of the more exciting events of my break was the Salon du Chocolat. It was essentially 20,000 m2 dedicated to the worship of chocolate. The event contained information concerning the harvest, production, and tasting of chocolate and various other sweets, such as macarons, nougats, and even chocolate alcoholic beverages. I didn’t taste any, but I heard that the chocolate Baileys was absolutely divine. The Salon du Chocolat was wonderful. There were famous chocolatiers from all over France that joyfully offered free samples of their creations. We tasted chocolates from all over the world from exotic places, such as Africa or certain parts of Asia. There were milk and dark chocolates, ones with fruit, and ones with mint or other flower flavors. There were hard bars of chocolates with nuts and dried fruit and soft truffles with ganache in the middle. In addition, my friends and I were also able to see how hard candies were made. We must have spent close to 30 minutes watching an artisanal family create sweets from molten sugar. We learned how they added flavor and color and we watched them craft beautiful ribbon candies and even a shimmering, translucent flower.
The Salon du Chocolat was also an opportunity for chocolatiers to show off various creations made from chocolate. The largest one there was a chocolate airplane, which clocked in at about 20 ft. long.

The 20ft. long airplane made entirely of chocolate, taken in October of 2013.

I am convinced that this is the perfect gift, granted a much smaller version, for any girl who attends ERAU. I mean, it is chocolate and an airplane, what could possibly be better? Guys attending Riddle, take note.

We also saw creations from fashion designers. Apparently, each year the event is started with a chocolate fashion show. There were so many beautiful dresses, but here are some of my favorites.

This Japanese kimono was made from both white and dark chocolate, taken in October of 2013.

Chocolate fashion is for both women and men, taken in October of 2013.

A tower of tasty macarons, taken in October of 2013.

A tower of tasty macarons, taken in October of 2013.

Here are some candied fruits, such as dates, ginger, orange slices, and even tiny, sweet clementines, taken in October of 2013.

The other major highlight of my weeklong break was seeing Imagine Dragons, one of my favorite bands, in concert. I immediately bought a ticket this summer when I saw that they would be playing in Paris during October. I saw them last year in concert when they came to Orlando and this show, even after a year of constant touring, was at least as good, if not better. My favorite part about their performance was the sheer amount of energy that they brought to stage. While watching them lunge about while playing massive drums, I could feel their passion for their music. In addition, they played their instruments well and even tried to speak a bit of French, saying things like, “We love you!” (Nous t’aimons!) Even though they didn’t speak French correctly, it is actually something along the lines of, “On vous aime”, the crowd still loved them. At one point during their performance there were giant balloons floating about that popped in a shower of rainbow confetti.

The large neon sign outside of the Olympia venue, taken in October of 2013.

Well, that is all for this week, I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday surrounded by friends and family. As always, thank you for reading.

Paris heat wave, street art by Seth and a new bunch of friends moves in

Greetings Everybody,
As I was taking a look back through some of my older entries, I realized that I have been in Paris for almost a month and half. Holy cow where has the time gone?

Last weekend, my classmates and I said good bye to the Spanish students. They were part of the program for a month. The night before they had to leave, we all went out to a nice restaurant in the Latin Quarter near Notre Dame. The food was very good and pretty reasonably priced, considering that we were in the heart of the city. I had a ham and cheese crêpe for an appetizer, rotisserie chicken and fries for a main course, and ice cream for dessert for about 14 Euros. It was very good.

This is a picture of my table with three Spanish students and a Brazilian student. Taken by Matheus Wisniewski in July of 2013.

The girl next to me in the picture is Mercedes. She is one of the four original students in my language class and is very funny and sweet. On the other side of me is Matheus. He’s from Brazil and is a lot of fun. The couple across the table is Paula and Nacho. Even though they were in a higher level of French than me, they were very patient as I tried to speak French during the entire meal.

Even though none of us are fluent, we still try to communicate as much as possible in French for practice. Sometimes it is pretty funny trying to explain certain words. One time in class, I did not know the name for a child’s toy stuffed animal and ended up telling my teacher about a faux animal. She was very confused until I told her it was like a teddy bear. She then laughed and told he the right word: une peluche. It was pretty humorous. Just last week, one of my fellow students did not know the name for a hot dog and ended up saying un chien chaud, which literally translates to a dog that is hot. It turns out that the French word for a hot dog is hot dog but with a French accent.

Around the same time that the Spanish left, there was a huge influx of new Brazilian and Chinese students with a few Russians sprinkled here and there. The residence where I live is now almost completely full. This means that there are a lot of students in a very small space. While we each have our own room, we all have to share a single hall bathroom. Essentially, for every 36 or so students, there are two toilets and a shower. I don’t mean to sound snobby or elitist, but this set up makes me wish that I still lived in Adams Hall at Embry-Riddle because then there would be a toilet and shower for every 4 students. I didn’t realize what a luxury it was to live in Adams.

I didn’t really do too much these past two weeks due to the extremely hot weather and I had my first actual French language test. In total, the test took about 2 hours to complete and had four different sections: oral comprehension, written comprehension, grammar, and written expressions. For the oral comprehension, we listened to voice recordings and tried to complete a work sheet that was missing information. Written comprehension is essentially reading comprehension. We read a few passages and then answered questions pertaining to the different articles. Written expression consisted of writing two different letters to a friend using different verb tenses and various vocabulary words to talk about the weather, meals, and activities done. Grammar was pretty difficult.

There are a lot of nuances in the French language that English doesn’t really have. For example, in English we use, “I ate ham,” to say that we consumed a few slices of ham for dinner. In French there is a difference between J’ai mange le jambon and J’ai mange du jambon. The first sentence translates to I ate the ham which means that you ate the entire pig, meat, hooves, tail, all of it. The second sentence translates roughly to I ate of the ham, meaning that you only ate some ham, just the meat. In other cases you can say J’aime les croissants, I love croissants because you can love all croissants in existence ever and in general. However, you cannot say Je mange les croissants, I ate the croissants, because you cannot eat all of the croissants in the world. Instead you need to use Je mange des croissants, I ate some croissants. Sometimes French can be pretty tricky. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time studying.

During this week and last week, Paris experienced a bit of a heat wave with temperatures rising to about 34-35 degrees Celsius, which is 93-95 degrees Fahrenheit. Remember France does not have a lot of air conditioning. We were all pretty miserable. No one wanted to go anywhere in Paris. After class each day, I spent my time lounging about in running shorts and reading. Other students just slept or took multiple hot showers. It was not a lot of fun.

However, yesterday, we finally got a break from the extreme heat and went into the center of Paris and explored the 5th Arrondissement. This ward of the city is known as the Latin quarter because it houses one of the first universities in Paris where they only taught classes in Latin way back when. Nowadays, this area is home of the Gardens of Luxembourg, the Pantheon, the Cluny Museum of the Middle Ages, and some of my favorite street art.

Paris is one of the main cities in Europe where street artists display their works. Everywhere I go in Paris, I see buildings and streets decorated with murals, paintings, and tiles. The purpose of street art is to provide social commentary accessible to the general public that is also aesthetic. Some people consider street art as a form of graffiti and street artists have been known to be actively pursued by local authorities. However, most people appreciate the additions to their walls and see the works has beautiful and providing a much needed form of individual expression. The most well-known artist in Paris is probably Space Invader. This artist uses mosaics to create pixelated images like the ones from the old 1970s arcade game Space Invader. His work has spread from Paris to all over the world, therefore “spreading” his invasion.

The aliens seen in this picture are characteristic of Space Invader. In addition, the Rubik’s Cubes seen in the background are another common medium of the street artist.

This is a picture of Space Invader’s work known as Modern Trinity located in the 6th Arrondissement of Paris. Created in July of 2013

Space Invader’s invasion map of Paris. Each of the little red aliens marks a place where he has placed his art.

See more of this map here.

My personal favorite street artist in Paris is known as Seth. I first saw his works in the 5th Arrondissement near the Pantheon. They usually consist of a stylized child wearing stripes and with their face hidden. I like Seth because the art contains a youthfulness and innocence not usually found in street art.

This mural created by Seth is located in the 13th Arrondissement of Paris.

This mural created by Seth is located in the 13th Arrondissement of Paris.

The piece seen in the 5th Arrondissement is very characteristic of Seth. The child’s face is hidden to the wall and he is wearing a striped hoodie.

This work is my favorite piece by Seth that I have seen in Paris.

That’s all for this week. Thank you for reading.