Part 3: Brazil

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So here I am, back home for the first time in seven months looking out my window onto a grey British sky wondering how my year abroad has finally come to an end. Along with the denial and reverse culture shock (trust me, it’s a thing!) comes my final blog post on my favourite country of my travels, Brazil. We had just under three weeks to see as much as we could before our flight home and as this map shows we didn’t get very far given the sheer size of the country.

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Part 2: Argentina 

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Land of steak, wine and a £135 ‘illegal immigrant’ fine…

Salta

We finally arrived in Argentina after a nine-hour train, a 40-minute walk across the Bolivian border (more on that drama later), a six-hour bus and four days’ worth of dirt accumulated from not showering in the Uyuni Salt Flats. We were excited to be back in a larger and more modern town, to be warm and mainly to shower! Salta is a perfect place to relax as it is really picturesque and laid-back, especially around the main square, which was our favourite spot. The bus journey through the north of Argentina is also stunning as you drive past different rock formations such as the Quebrada de Humahuaca, pictured below.

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Salta la linda

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Part 1: Bolivia

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La Paz

After showing my home-town bestie Alice around the city I’ve called home for the last five months, and a heavy-hearted final goodbye to Santiago, our true backpacking adventure began in La Paz. Due to extensive research on all the horror stories and scams that tourists get tricked into (fake policemans and tourist officials, street violence, kidnappings and the phlegm scam to name a few), it’s fair to say that we arrived in Bolivia’s chaotic capital with our money belts securely fastened and a distrusting attitude. To overcompensate, we stayed in the Wild Rover, the city’s self-proclaimed (and indeed well-deserving) party hostel for gringos. As soon as you set foot into the building, it feels more like a Durham college on the night of a big social or formal rather than cheap accommodation in the heart of La Paz. Whilst it’s far from an authentic Bolivian experience, it’s great fun to meet fellow llama-jumper-clad backpackers and make the most of the affordable British pub-grub served in its bar (I had long been craving a cottage pie!)

Sky high

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Guest Post: If you don’t speak Castellano you won’t truly understand Spain

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Jessica is a third year Modern Languages student coming to the end of her year abroad in Spain. This guest post considers the Spanish language and its relationship with Spanish national identity and culture…

It’s safe to say that my Spanish has undergone a profound transformation in the last 8 months. From my first day arriving in Madrid when I quite confidently thanked the taxi driver in impeccable Thai, ‘khob Khun kaa’, for taking us to the train station, I knew I had a long road ahead of me. After five weeks in Thailand I had unconsciously memorized a few local phrases, and I wondered how living in Spain would do the same on a much larger scale. Living in a foreign country is vital to truly surround yourself in the language, perfect the pronunciation of words, and obtain a variety of idiomatic expressions and fantastic swear words from first hand sources. But as you start to notice
the subtle nuances a language holds, you notice the hidden linguistic messages through which the Spaniards individually and collectively project their culture and identity. There are some things that just can’t be translated. Continue reading

21 Things to Do in Santiago (Before My 21st)

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In honour of my birthday month, I’ve set myself a bucket list of things to do in Santiago before I turn 21 and leave this deceivingly underrated capital city. It’s easy to take it for granted when everyone’s so keen to escape the urban bubble to travel around the rest of Chile, but Santiago itself is a top tourist destination and has many hidden treasures, some of which I have yet to discover…

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Ce n’est qu’un au revoir, Paris

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Beautiful background for an ‘au revoir‘.

My time in Paris is coming to an end. The year has passed very quickly and it feels weird to leave this beautiful city now.
In order to have a proper good bye I crammed lots of things I wanted to do but never have into the last few weeks as if this was my once-in-a-lifetime chance to do so. I am certain though, that a return won’t wait for long. Ce n’est qu’un au revoir, Paris [It is only a so long, Paris].

Of course, I came to Paris to study, so towards the end of the semester I had the usual bulk of essays and exams to get through. At least this semester I was a lot better organised and managed to squeeze the presentations into the first few weeks so they were out of the way. Still, it was a lot of work as I had some highly demanding professors this week that didn’t quite realise that exchange students are not that prepared to invest loads into extensive research papers.

However, let me concentrate on the nice things that filled my last month here. Continue reading

The Sam’s Tailor Experience – Bespoke Suits in Hong Kong

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Ask any of the businessmen nursing pints in the frenetic party district of Lang Kwai Fong what their priority is when visiting Hong Kong and you’re sure to hear about Sam’s Tailor. Crossing the harbour the next day, to the Kowloon side, take Exit B1 from Tsim Sha Tsui MTR Station and prepare to be greeted by a barrage of men on street corners trying to poach your custom before you can get to Sam’s. Continue reading

Where and how to live on your year abroad

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Hey, finally I’ve managed to get around to posting again. Please excuse my long silence, but there has been a lot of work for me recently and so many other things were going on as well. I also now feel like you know my life in Paris pretty well, so it becomes harder to write about things that are (hopefully) interesting to you. Therefore I have decided to today write about living situations at years abroad. And in order to be of as much use for you as possible I will not only speak of my own experience. Continue reading

Joining a Sorority

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Hi guys!

So as I was thinking through what a great next blog post could be, I realised my joining of a sorority would be perfect. If you do not know, a sorority is an organisation on campus which consists of around 100 girls from each sorority (800 in total at UBC) who come together to undertake philanthropy, hold leadership roles and have lots of fun. There is a male equivalent called a fraternity (“frat”) which is broadly similar, although they regularly hold parties both only with the sororities and in general on campus.

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