Posts Tagged 'Study Abroad'

Study Abroad in Scandinavia!

Looking to study abroad but want to try somewhere different? How about Scandinavia?  From glaciers and volcanoes, to snowmobiles and the arctic waters- there is something for everyone to enjoy.  Visit any of the region’s five countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden.

These are a few ways to indulge in Nordic culture and history.

Alesund, Norway

Scandinavia Offers Impressive Views

Scandinavia Offers Impressive Views

Ever heard of Alesund, Norway? Maybe it’s time you discover this port town on Norway’s west-central coast. Destroyed by fire in 1904, the town was rebuilt in an Art Nouveau style of spires, turrets, and medieval romantic facades with gargoyles overlooking the town. Adventure seekers can explore nearby islands and peninsulas, including Runde and its 100,000 pairs of migrating puffins.  Be sure to check out Aksla, a scenic sanctuary offering a view of the fjord landscape.

Ride a Trolley through Sweden

Head to central Sweden for a 37-mile ride on the country’s historic Inlandsbana, or Inland Railway.  You can rent an old pedal-powered railway inspection trolley in Vansbro, and take it north on a 37 mile stretch of unused rail. The track—an 800-mile line- was built at the turn of the last century in an effort to open up the Swedish interior. The journey will take you past tranquil lakes,  pine forests, deer, black grouse, and capercaillie. It’s a once in a lifetime scenic adventure.

Catch the Northern Lights

Light Show in Norway

Light Show in Norway

Witness one of the world’s most amazing light spectacles.  The Northern Lights—characterized by Aristotle as resembling the flames of burning gas—can be witnessed only in the world’s polar regions.  So, head to Tromsv for the real deal. This picturesque Norwegian town is the best place in Scandinavia to watch the phenomenon.  What exactly are the Northern Lights? The eerie effect is caused by particles from the solar wind getting trapped in the Earth’s magnetic field. The lights “turn on” when particles collide with the top layer of the atmosphere, creating the effect of glowing red, green, and blue neon flames that wave back and forth like a curtain in the sky. Pretty cool.

These are a just a few ideas. Go out and discover what Scandinavia has to offer!

The Sweetest Views of Switzerland

Whether you’re living, studying, or just swinging through Switzerland, how do you capture the beauty of this amazing country? Yes, you can hike through the Alps, but there’s an easier- and for some- more relaxing choice.  Whoever said the most beautiful way to see a country is by train…was right. Switzerland is no exception.

The GoldenPass: Interlaken to Montreux

GoldenPass is Your Ticket to Happiness

GoldenPass is Your Ticket to Happiness

The GoldenPass Line is Switzerland’s most coveted ticket. The route is up to you. My journey brought me from the northern mountain town of Interlaken to the southwestern coastal town of Montreux. Although you can use the train ride to catch up on lost sleep, this is one ride you don’t want to miss. Imagine seeing the Swiss Alps from every angle (except aerial); cows grazing in green pastures; snow covering small mountain towns; or the moment the mountain ranges open up to the sea. It’s truly an unforgettable experience.

The Swiss rail network’s GoldenPass line stretches nearly 150 miles from Lucerne to Lake Geneva. Unlike normal trains, the GoldenPass is designed for panoramic views with large windows and some of the most comfortable seats you’ll ever experience. Even better news… this exclusive view of Switzerland won’t cost you an extra penny if you have a Eurail Pass!

Other Routes to Consider

The Chocolate Train: Discover the real flavor of Switzerland.  This panoramic route takes you from Montreux on the Swiss Riviera to Gruyeres, home of the famous Gruyeres cheese and Nestle chocolate factory. There is nothing better than great views and Swiss chocolate! You’ll want to check ahead, though, because trains operate on certain days depending on the time of year.

The Swiss Alps Provide Unforgettable Views

The Swiss Alps Provide Unforgettable Views

Bernina Express: Catch the most beautiful views of the Alpines! The north-south Alpine crossing from Chur to Lugano offers breathtaking views as the express travels over viaducts, through winding tunnels, and past ice-age glaciers. So you catch everything, this express has large windows extending to the top of the train. Wow.

Glacier Express: A bigger dose of the Alps. This trip goes from St. Moritz or Chur to Zermatt through the Alpine heartland of Switzerland. Zermatt, of course, is home to the famous Matterhorn (not the one in Disneyland). The journey lasts seven and a half hours, passing through 91 tunnels, crossing 291 bridges and the 2033m high Oberalp (Over-alps).

Whether it’s snow capped mountains or luscious green countrysides, Switzerland offers some of the most beautiful views in the world. I couldn’t peel my eyes away from my window during my trip from Interlaken to Montreux. For a few hours I felt like royalty. Now it’s your turn! Let Gulliver take you there!

Protecting Your Favorite Travel Destinations

What do the Temples in Agrigento, Sicily, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, and Yosemite National Park in California all have in common? Any takers? They are all World Heritage sites. Odds are if you’ve traveled anywhere in the world or are planning a study abroad trip, you’ll visit at least one World Heritage site. What is a World Heritage site and why should you care? Well, if you want any of those beautiful locales to disappear, stop reading.

WHC Protects Temples Like This One in Agrigento, Sicilia

WHC Protects Temples Like This One in Agrigento, Sicilia

Traveling is not just about jotting things off your to do list. It’s about learning new cultures as well as our own past. In an effort to preserve important locations and habitat around the world, The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) developed the World Heritage Centre (WHC).  Centuries of habitation, exploration, and tourism have led to the deterioration of antique palaces, monuments,  marine reserves, and national parks. The World Heritage Centre nominates these places to its “World Heritage List,” to raise awareness and preserve the site’s legacy through additional government involvement.

Developed by an American in 1972 and modeled after the National Parks system, the World Heritage List recognizes sites that are natural or cultural or mixed and demonstrate a “universal value to humanity.” They represent remarkable architecture or technology, or ecological or biological importance.

Each year the World Heritage Committee nominates vulnerable areas of cultural and historical significance. This past week the Committee added to the list: the Stoclet House in Brussels, Belgium, The Tower of Hercules (an ancient lighthouse) in La Coruña, Spain, and the Swiss watch-manufacturing towns of La Chaux-de-Fonds / Le Locle. The Committee will conclude its nominating process in Sevilla, Spain on Tuesday, June 30th. Next year the U.S. government hopes to nominate Mount Vernon in Virginia and Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in Hawaii to this prestigious list.

Which World Heritage Sites have you visited? Check out this list. Some might surprise you. On a recent trip to Loreto, Mexico in Baja California Sur I went kayaking, clam diving, and snorkeling in the Sea of Cortez. Guess what? The islands and protected areas of the Gulf of California (aka, Sea of Cortez) are on the World Heritage List. An interesting fact: the UNESCO site in the Sea of Cortez is home to 695 plant species and 891 species of fish, more than any other marine or island property on the World Heritage List. Cool, huh?

Take a Stroll Down Andrássy Avenue in Budapest, Hungary

Take a Stroll Down Andrássy Avenue in Budapest, Hungary

Other recognizable locations include: the historic centres of Florence, Napoli, and Siena, Italy; Taj Mahal in India; the city of Budapest in Hungary; the Loire Valley in France; the Galápagos Islands in Ecuador; and Machu Picchu in Peru. I’ve been to five of the above mentioned sites…how about you?

You’ll notice most sites on the World Heritage List are famous. With fame comes challenges in preservation. The World Heritage Centre encourages visitors to be aware and travel responsibly. If you’re interested in learning more about how you can share and preserve World Heritage sites check out the Friends of World Heritage website. You can also donate to support communities around the sites. For every $1 donated, both Expedia and the United Nations Foundation will match your donation. Don’t forget to let Gulliver help you plan your next big adventure!

Loreto, Mexico – A Hidden Oasis

Going abroad? We at Gulliver recommend taking that road less traveled.  If you’re planning to study or take a trip to say, Mexico- which you should- skip the parties in Tijuana, the hustle and bustle of Mexico City, or spring break in Puerto Vallarta. After a significant hiatus from traveling overseas, my best friend invited me to meet her in Mexico.  Next stop? Not Los Cabos or Acapulco, but the small, sport fishing town of Loreto.

A Beautiful Start to the Day

A Beautiful Start to the Day

Loreto?  That’s exactly what I thought. A New York Times article said travelers visit this area of Baja California Sur for the “beach and the charming village.”  Others describe Loreto as “paradise.” The town sits 700 miles south of the US/Mexico border, on the Sea of Cortez.  It’s surrounded by mountains and the ocean and is known for fishing, whale watching, dolphins, and kayaking. The Islands and Protected Areas of the Sea of Cortez have also been declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The people of Loreto are extremely outgoing.  From restaurant chefs, to multimillionaires, local tour guides, and hotel owners, they all know each other. The town is pretty quiet right now, due to the economic recession and the off-season. Even our outdoor adventures were pretty secluded. It was a welcomed change.

Our travel guide, Antonio, turned into a good friend. Antonio, a Loreto native, works with Paddling South a Baja Adventures Tour Company. Our first adventure found us hiking through canyons en route to Misión San Javier– the second oldest mission in the Californias. The oldest mission, Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto Conchó, built in 1697, sits in the historic center of Loreto. Our next trip, sea kayaking and snorkeling on Isla Danzante, introduced us to dozens of starfish, exotic fish, an octopus, and a turtle. Both locales lie just south of Loreto.

Sea of Cortez, Baja Coast

Sea of Cortez, Baja Coast

Our fascination with the sea… and hunger for seafood enticed us to go clam diving. Antonio voluntarily took my friend and me to Los Conditos and taught us how to dive. I don’t know what proved more rewarding, catching the clams… or eating them! Antonio couldn’t join us for lunch, but his boss, Trudi, took us to Loreto Islas, where the head chef Francisco (Antonio’s Uncle) served up our clams.  Simply stated, the cuisine in Loreto is delicious!

In less than one week I went from knowing nothing about this coastal town of Loreto to befriending many of the locals and expats.  My friend works for the United Nations Foundation and visited Los Cabos, La Paz, and Loreto as part of the World Heritage Alliance conference. The mission: to protect historical sites, marine preserves, and promote sustainable tourism around the world.  If you are looking for a unique experience overseas, Loreto is the perfect place to watch the sunrise, meet the locals, walk along the Malecon (boardwalk), swim with the dolphins, or people-watch while sipping a strawberry margarita.

Woohoo! The House Approves the Simon Study Abroad Bill

This has been a long time coming.  Gulliver has blogged about the Simon Study Abroad Bill before and we were super excited when it was introduced earlier in the year.  Today, the US House of Representatives approved the Bill as part of the Foreign Relations Act and will soon make its way to the Senate.  The Bill aims to send over 1 million US college students abroad in the next 10 years.  To accomplish that, it will create a separate entity to administer $80 million in grants to students, universities, and NGOs that send students overseas.  Here at Gulliver we have one thing to say: it’s about time!

Vote Yay!

Vote Yay!

With current economic woes taking their toll on schools across the nation (Reed College is a prime example) students are having to fight for all the economic aid they can find.  This doesn’t translate well for study abroad students, who are also having a tough time finding scholarships and grants to pay for their trips abroad.  If the Bill passes with full funding, the money will go a long way to helping students go abroad.  We wished for this sort of Bill when we were going abroad and are all too happy that it’s prospects look good.

But don’t start applauding and hollering just yet.  The Bill still has to be approved by the Senate before being confirmed, and last year it narrowly missed approval.  Keep your fingers crossed.  We certainly will.

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Day Trips Around Florence, Italy

Studying abroad in Florence? Lucky You! Honestly, there’s no real need to venture outside the city. If you do feel adventurous, however, you will find several beautiful towns an hour bus or train ride away. A few come to mind: Fiesole, Siena, and Lucca. Of course, you can also visit the tower of Pisa or the Torture Museum in San Gimignano.


Built into the hills above Florence, Fiesole is a great escape from the summer heat and offers beautiful views overlooking Florence. Feel like walking around? Fiesole has an archeology park with a Roman amphitheater and Roman, Etruscan, and Longabard ruins.

A Real Taste of Italy

A Real Taste of Italy

A great day trip includes a wine tasting-bike tour. Tuscany Bike Tours offers daily trips from March to November. The day starts with a shuttle pick-up near the Ponte Vecchio in Florence. The tour includes a castle visit, a bike ride through Tuscany, wine tasting, oil tasting, and a grand lunch feast with pastas and a little more wine. It’s hard to tell what’s more inviting, the scenery or the Tuscan cuisine.


This medieval hill town is one of the most popular in Tuscany. During the summer Siena’s large fan-shaped Piazza del Campo turns into a track for the famous Il Palio horse race. Siena is also home to a beautiful cathedral, pedestrian streets with shops, and the second highest medieval bell tower in Italy (it’s a good 505 step hike to the top).  The top of the tower offers amazing views of the city.  Piazza del Duomo is another beautiful square and home to Siena’s Duomo. Siena’s art museum, Pinacoteca Nazionale, also houses some of Italy’s greatest paintings from the 13th and 14th centuries.


Lucca is Well Known for Puccini and Pinocchio

Lucca is Known for Puccini and Pinocchio

Lucca remains one of the best-preserved Italian walled cities. The wall itself has walking and bike paths and gardens, which surround the historic city center. A climb to the top of Guinigi Tower provides fabulous views of the city.  Lucca is less touristy than most cities and has several “pedestrian only” streets. For history geeks, Lucca was the birthplace of the famous Italian operatic composer, Giacomo Puccini. His music often fills the air in the town’s main square. If you like art, visit the city’s Duomo, which houses paintings by Ghirlandaio, Tintoretto, Zuccari and Fra’ Bartolomeo, as well as Iacopo della Quercia’s most famous work, the tomb of Ilaria del Carretto.

Lucca is also a great place to find Italian pottery and ceramics (great gifts to bring home)!

If you need help planning your dream trip to Italy, check out Gulliver’s “Prepare to Go” section. You’ll find information on housing, cell phones, funding, and insurance.  The more you accomplish before you leave, the better your trip will be!

What Makes Studying Abroad Worth Your Time?

You just landed in a new country. You take a deep breath. You’re studying abroad. Once the excitement dissipates you realize you have no clue where you are, you don’t know the language, and you don’t recognize anything (save a few chains like McDonald’s or Starbucks). You ask yourself, “Why am I here?”

Of course you want to discover new territory, meet new people, and sample tasty native cuisine, but any traveler could do that. Why did you decide to study abroad?  Escaping the normality of everyday life is one reason, but as an article for the INSE at the University of Oslo explains, there are a few key benefits.

Experience a New Country

Living abroad is the best way to adapt to a culture. You’ll discover the customs that make a culture tick on a daily basis.

Some Customs Can't Be Explained

Some Customs Can't Be Explained

Learning the language helps you appreciate this different way of life. You won’t become fluent in a semester but you will learn more than you ever imagined. If you stay for a year- you may never want to leave. When you’re not exploring take some time to soak in the sights and sounds. There’s a big world out there just waiting to be conquered. It’s best to do a little research before leaving. Check out Gulliver’s “Prepare to Go” section to brush up on everything you’ll need to know.

Personal Growth

The moment you decide to study abroad you become a different person. You step out of your comfort zone and into a strange environment.  When you have no friends or family to rely on, you become stronger and more independent. You grow as a person and are able to handle any situation or crisis that comes your way.  Some might find it hard to build relationships overseas; others will find it easy. Don’t force yourself to do anything that is uncomfortable, but do push yourself to take risks. Bring a positive attitude. It will keep you upbeat and focused on your education and experience rather than what you miss back home.

Career Opportunities

Studying abroad gives you access to a larger and more diverse job market. The trip could push you ahead in your current career or create a new direction.  When applying to jobs, be sure to include your abroad experience as well as any languages you attained. This shows you can adapt to most situations and want to advance your skills in the real world.

Apply Your New Knowledge Back Home

While abroad, you’ll gain insight into the lifestyle of your adopted home.  Put this knowledge to good use when you return stateside. Maybe this experience will inspire you to seek change back home, or get involved in volunteer or charity work. The opportunities are endless. One thing’s for sure, you will return home transformed.

Need help getting ready?

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Gulliver helps students Study Abroad. Our blog covers: current issues in Study Abroad; featured posts by Study Abroad students; and Gulliver updates, news, and behind-the-scenes peaks. Thanks for reading!