14 Oct Ah, nothing like Autumn in Prague

“I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” --L.M. Montgomery [caption id="attachment_2125" align="aligncenter" width="225"] My favorite season, Autumn, in one of my favorite cities, Prague. -- Photo by Carly Peil[/caption] I got into the great routine of running everyday while I was in Prague. I knew I wanted to spend as much time outside experiencing the city as I could, so I incorporated running into my everyday adventures--and oh what a difference it made. I was in Prague from the end of August to the beginning of December. So, I got to experience my very favorite season amidst castles and cobblestone streets. If there is one thing I know, it's that fall looks great on Prague. During the week, I would normally run after school. I would venture off to my favorite park--Letna. Since Letna was situated on the top of a hill, I would usually run through the city to the closest tram that would take me up the hill. From there I would run a loop that took me through tunnels of trees, past dog clubs and slack liners, amidst skaters and bikers, past the bum who lived under the tree, next to the beer garden, on top of one of the greatest views of the city, and back to my tram stop. It was the perfect little run--not too short or too long, and I could always extend or shorten it if I wanted. Somedays I...

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05 Oct How traveling taught me to listen: {stop. look. listen.}

[caption id="attachment_2175" align="aligncenter" width="200"] Appreciate quite moments in unfamiliar places.[/caption] So you’re sitting in a busy coffee shop on a Sunday afternoon, chatting with a friend who is just across the table from you. Although there are at least 20 other people in this small space all having their own conversations, it is no problem for you to tune out the other conversations around you and engage in your own. Think of all the words, sayings, inflections, laughs, exclamations, et cetera that are happening in this little shop, and yet your brain has no problem focusing on only the words involved in your conversation. When broken down like this, it may seem like some sort of feat that we all do this everyday when really it is like a second nature now. That all changes when you’re tossed into an entirely new culture and language, however… I remember my first few moments in Prague: it was like all of my senses were heightened and sharpened. I could hear everything, smell everything, and see everything so clearly—talk about overwhelming ( in the best way! ). I especially remember my ears being entirely alert because of the new language surrounding me. New sounds, new words, new accents—and although I couldn’t understand any of it yet, I was entirely intrigued and loved listening. Listening: something I came back from Europe much better at. Of course it’s important to be aware of your surroundings, always. It’s especially...

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15 Sep Basic Study Abroad Questions: Answered!

[caption id="attachment_2180" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Have questions about study abroad? Here are some answers![/caption] After and during my study abroad last year, I was bombarded with questions--and I loved it! If helping people understand why and how they can study abroad will help them do it, by all means ask me questions for days. Here are some of your common questions, answered. 1. Why study abroad? Personally, I always knew I wanted to study abroad--it simply seemed appealing to me. Studying abroad allows you as a student to take advantage of being a student! Many things involving travel are cheaper as a student, and there are many, many scholarships exclusively for study abroad! You're also pretty free at this age, you know? Yeah, you have a family and friends and relationships and all that...

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10 Sep Unwinding While Traveling

[caption id="attachment_2183" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Take some time to unwind.[/caption] While many people travel for relaxation, the act of traveling can sometimes get stressful. Catching flights, buses, trains, boats, etc. Trying your best not to forget to pack something. Getting homesick. Getting lost. There are a handful of things that could go wrong...

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23 Jul “Be Where Your Feet Are”

  [gallery ids="2214,2215,2216,2217,2218,2219,2220,2222,2223,2224,2225,2226"] The saying that started it all, for me. If you follow me on Instagram (@chucklesponcho), you may have noticed that in many of my photos the prominent subject is my feet. I take a lot of “from where I stand” style photos. Although I am chastised and teased by a few people for it (“are you taking a picture of your feet again…?”), here’s why I do it: A month or so before my Fall 2014 study abroad semester, I stumbled across the saying “be where your feet are” on Instagram. It intrigued me immediately—the simplicity and ease of saying it and knowing it held so much more than the literal meaning. I latched on to it, to say the least—and it stayed with me. As I prepared for my trip—a big step for me, having not been out of the country or done anything like this before—I held on to my little nugget of encouragement. When I found myself worried about my trip or money or being homesick or the plane ride or any other details, I said to myself : “Hey, you’re not even there yet! Worrying will do you no good. Be where your feet are—here! Enjoy the people and moments around you because things will be very different soon.” I found myself repeating “be where your feet are” over and over almost as a little mantra of encouragement for myself. I said it as I packed, on...

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14 Jul Safe, not sorry—Top 5 Travel Safety Tips

[caption id="attachment_2232" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Safety when traveling is important! Always be aware of your surroundings.[/caption] Safety when traveling should be of utmost importance to all travelers—especially those of you who may be embarking on your first trip or study abroad in the near future. These basic safety tips will help ensure that you have the best time possible while traveling: Know your stuff—read up on where you’ll be traveling to. It is wise to familiarize yourself with the better and not so great areas of town, customs, festivals, food facts, and more. This way, you are less likely to catch yourself in a cultural “oops”—an embarrassment and sometimes big trouble. Write it down—arm yourself with a journal or notebook specifically for writing down addresses of where you’ll be staying, phone numbers, emails, restaurants, etc. It is important to physically write these things somewhere instead of just storing them in a phone or tablet—although having this information in two places is never a bad idea, either. Be aware of your surroundings—my high school health teacher always used to bark this at us during our self defense unit freshman year…and while I found it annoying and unnecessary then, it is so important! Always, always, always be aware of your surroundings. Often times, your intuition is a great sense of danger. This is key in keeping yourself safe on traffic jammed streets, in airports or train stations, and especially when traveling alone. Even if you’re trying to...

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07 Jul Falling in Love with The Fear

[caption id="attachment_2242" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Get out there; conquer your fears; step out of that comfort zone![/caption] As exhilarating as traveling is, even well experienced travelers know that it can be frightening sometimes. Yes, you may know where you are going and you may have everything planned out down to the last detail—yet there is still so much unknown, even if you have traveled to your destination before. What to pack, am I forgetting something, how much money do I need, will I have travel difficulties, will something bad happen—there could be a lot to worry about if you choose to. If you’ll be gone for a while there is always the question and worry about relationships and friendships falling through or missing your family or feeling homesick—the list may go on and on, again, if you let it. When you get on that plane, so many feelings will most likely be rumbling in your brain and heart. Excitement, anticipation, fear, anxiety, ahhhhh! Here is my biggest piece of advice regarding those feelings: FEEL them. Let them be and let them happen and be in that moment. Those moments are growing moments—when you know you are scared and you know you feel a little worried, but you feel it and grow and BE in that moment. Instead of pushing those “negative” feelings aside, indulge in them—they are happening for a reason. You may even find that you fall in love with that fear; you...

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06 Apr Path Less Traveled

Avoiding the Beaten Path in Prague Prague is best described as an eclectic mix of old and new, where history can be seen and felt no matter where you are. Whether you are dancing the night away in a modern club housed in a two hundred year old building or eating traditional Czech food in a centuries-old restaurant along a winding, cobbled street, you will feel the past merging fluidly with the present. In the last few years people have begun to recognize Prague as a melting pot of culture, entertainment and beauty, which has increased the tourist traffic dramatically. For those of us who want to experience all that Prague has to offer while avoiding the crowds of people flocking to the most well-known venues, here 4 alternative experiences that can only be found in Prague.   Vyšehrad (High Castle) Though much less well-known than the Prague Castle, Vyšehrad is a favorite spot for locals because of the amazing view of the city, the popular beer garden located on the grounds, and the castle cemetery which is full of famous Czech people. At Vyšehrad you can drink like a local while looking at the graves of the more permanent locals.   Františkánská zahrada (Franciscan Garden)   Experience a peaceful oasis just off the famous (and famously busy) Wenceslas Square. The Františkánská zahrada is a small garden that was established in 1348 and which offers an ideal escape from the crowds without being completely removed from the energy of...

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12 Oct Castles and ales, a fine Saturday in Czechy land

[caption id="attachment_2294" align="alignnone" width="660"] Such a nice little weekend castle.[/caption] Built and enjoyed by King Charles IV of Bohemia from 1348 A.D. until his death in 1378, the Karlstejn Castle was only known by men. Men and men only were invited by the King to the weekend lodge of sorts to hunt fox, drink beer, and talk dirty. Think of it as his Man Cave, but a gargantuan one with secret passageways and guards, spreading many acres. King Charles made the castle pilgrimage from his usual castle in Prague (one can’t have too many castles) to bring his revered crown jewels—en tow by dozens of nobles on horseback and carriage—to Karlstejn for safe keeping. Picture a cross between the pomp and circumstance of the palm waving Queen Elizabeth in limousine, and the hooting and hollering of a circus entering town. That was the summer trip from Prague to Karlstejn that King Charles made. You’ll take it too, but on train and with locals. The train chugs along and drops you, your Panrimo coordinator and fellow Panroamers off a little less than a mile from the castle entrance. What simplistic joy and connectivity to nature the mile walk to the castle elicits. I’ll leave visualization of the gargantuan rooms and the stunning crown jewels’ display to your own Internet searching. But trust me, this is a must see. --- “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy,” Ben Franklin is known to...

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