Student Blog - Recent Posts
It’s hard to pinpoint Paris’ allure since this dramatic city appeals to different people for different reasons; vacationers come to see the sights, students come to absorb the culture and couples come to fan the flames of romance. Nonetheless, there’s no denying that Paris has a way of enchanting visitors so thoroughly they grow determined to find a place in the City of Lights to claim as their “home away from home.” Here are some of the more irresistible reasons that visitors to Paris want to dig in and never leave…which one most appeals to you?
For those who crave glamour, Paris’ fashion scene possesses a certain je ne sais quoi, that intangible quality that makes one stand out in a...
- MegaBus Travel
My travel partner and I arrived in Dusseldorf, Germany, via the MegaBus connection from London to Dusseldorf. The transportation cost a bit more than 50 pounds, which, when considering the “roof” that it provides for the night, sounds reasonable. Flights from London to Amsterdam and Dusseldorf were available for 80 pounds, but we’re travelers, and we can’t deny what we think is a “deal.”
We sat on the bus as the bus waited for a ferry, we sat on the bus as the bus waited for other buses’ passengers to go through customs, we sat on the bus as “passport police” boarded us, questioned us, and left, and we sat on the bus as it sat parked at each of its many stops along the way. My first seat was behind a fellow who smelled, my second seat was in front of a fellow who watched Anime cartoons with the volume too loud, and my last seat was in front of a hobo who snored.
Our driver, an Eastern European who smoked cigarettes and personally promised me that he wouldn’t leave me at any of our snack breaks, seemed to drive safely and conduct his business professionally. Otherwise, overnight MegaBus travel proved to be only for those with the lowest standards and accounts.
Dusseldorf proved to be far too practical. Just as the Germans have seemed to weather a global economic crisis by will and discipline, so too is Dusseldorf a city of will and discipline. Crosswalks are not crossed until the little green man allows it, first names are not used until permission is given, and relational loyalty is paramount. Our host explained these principles to us, pointed them out as they manifested before us, and offered her thoughts on the pro’s and con’s of her city:
Seafood is delicious. Go to El Pescador . The fresh catches of the day will be in an ice display, and you’ll choose your dish by pointing.
Stay in Cologne, and visit Dusseldorf. One day in Dusseldorf is enough for a tourist, and the transit between the two cities is at least 24 Euros, so a less expensive lodging option in Dusseldorf may not be the most frugal choice.
The downtown area is pedestrian and shopper friendly until late, but then becomes a somewhat “uncomfortable” place to be a woman or child. The culture is not as staunchly “German,” as it is “economical.”
Maybe, just skip Dusseldorf.
Just so you know, “Cologne”, is not always spelled the way that I just did. I tell you because I have “heard” of people who searched the kiosks at the train station for a place called “Cologne,” over and over again. And I have “heard” of people who eventually bought a ticket to the end of a rail line on accident, because they mistook it for the place called “Cologne.” When reading signs or text, Cologne, the home of the Cologne Cathedral, The Chocolate Museum, and the Fruh Brewery, is spelled “Koln.”
Construction of the Cologne Cathedral began shortly after the year 1200. So there is a bit of restoration and construction taking place. The scaffolding and tarps do not, however, diminish the booming awe of the cathedral. Mounted a few steps from the exit of the train station, this aesthetic goliath is detailed and jagged on the outside, but solid and calm on the inside. Walk amongst the hushed voices, know that you are in an ancient miracle, and then talk about it over beers across the street at the Fruh Brewery.
The stoicism of the cathedral is parodied by the frenzy of patrons and waiters at the brewery’s pub. Local dishes are available, but this place is about the brews. Small glasses, thin and tall, whirl around waiters and stand on tables before their predecessors are consumed. They don’t charge tourist prices at Fruh, but be careful, even though the waiter may act like you’re old friends, he will in fact charge you for all of the beers that he’s slid before you.
If you’re cultured and short on time, the Roman History Exhibition is being shown just across from Fruh. I didn’t do that. I went to the Chocolate Museum . Some may say that this museum is about information and history, but some people are wrong. All of that is just as annoying as a wrapper in greasy hands. Go there. Eat chocolate.
- MegaBus Travel
- Lodging that Lives
KEX Hostel, in Reykjavik, Iceland, is one of the few travel lodgings which may be suitable for all travelers. The unique hostel is socially motivated, practically efficient, and organically decorated. Laundry machines, kitchens, a tourist information desk, a clean shave or haircut, and local food and drink are all available. The staff is not only warm and multi-lingual, but also familiar with the desires of their travelers and eager to help them find the attraction that suits them the best. Each room sleeps anywhere from 2 to 16, and both private and public bathrooms are available. It feels and sounds like an ad, but after having stayed in many spotty hostels that boasted more than they provided, KEX made an impression upon me. And I’m not the only one.
- Lodging that Lives
Travelling, while travelling, is the art of the study-abroad-student. Whether stationed for study in Madrid, Rome, Paris, London, or somewhere else, we students convert long weekends and short funds into invaluable experiences. If you’re new to the travelling cult, or if you’ve failed to gain a return on your investment of time and money in the past, here’s how we students of culture hopping do what we do:
If you’re travelling to France soon and want to avoid paying sky-high rates for hotel rooms, consider an alternative: staying in hostels. Enjoying the same central city locations as hotels, the best hostels will offer you clean rooms and great facilities for a lower cost.
Why choose a hostel?
Hostels are nearly always cheaper than hotels and offer perks like free Wi-Fi and breakfasts included. Staff are likely to be locals or travellers themselves, and will be able to recommend things to do in the city your guidebook might not cover. You don’t have to opt to stay in a dorm room, either: private rooms are available for couples, solo travellers or families.
The best hostels in France
Based on cu...
If you are lucky enough to be going to study in France, whether to learn to speak French better or some other subject, there are a number of phrases that will let you hit the ground running. There are some classroom phrases that are essential, but the most important thing for making the most of your time in the country is to speak to people as much as possible. Phrases that stimulate conversation are great for this, and even if you don’t understand everything that is said to you, the exposure to the language that the right phrases can spark off will be invaluable for your language learning. You’ll also need some basic phrases for survival for living in the country to make sure you can hold your own!