Margaret Waterman, Staff Writer
Between learning to pour the perfect pint of Guinness, embarking on a hilarious journey with new Irish friends and having a spiritual encounter with a particularly delicious burrito, I had a fantastic time exploring Dublin and Galway this week.
When my professor canceled my Thursday class, my roommate and I decided to change our Dublin flights to arrange for a Wednesday night arrival. We took the tube to Heathrow for a quick flight over to Ireland’s capital.
The first night, we explored the Temple Bar area of Dublin — a slice of the city known for its nightlife — that sits just south of the River Liffey. That part of town is comprised of narrow, cobble-stoned streets in their original medieval layout. My roommate and I had a late start and ended up splitting our time between two pubs near each other, one of which had live authentic Irish music.
The third night we were there, we met up with more friends from the BU London program who also decided to visit Ireland this week. We went to one of the same pubs from the night before and then made our way over to one of Dublin’s most popular clubs, which was a blast. We ran into more American friends, coincidentally, and also met some locals in the “queue” to get inside and once we were in.
Much later that night, as we were leaving, we met up with a friend at a nearby late-night Mexican restaurant and had what we described as a “life-changing burrito.” It gave some of our friends the strength to return home to their hostel — they had boldly chosen to bunk in a 16-bed mixed dormitory just north of the river. (We were lucky enough to be able to stay at my roommate’s cousin’s house after just one night in a private hostel room.)
We met new people every night we were out, in places ranging from hole-in-the-wall pubs to the busiest clubs on the street, which was awesome. My new Irish friends, who had known each other forever, took my roommate and I to their favorite spots around town on Saturday night. Against the Grain— a “gastropub” that is known for its varied selection of craft beers — was really fun and was absolutely packed with locals enjoying pints and each other’s company. The Garage Bar, a club in Temple Bar and our next stop after Against the Grain, had a floor covered in sawdust, played mostly punk music and drew a totally different crowd but was just as fun.
Galway, a relatively short bus ride away, was a fun day trip as well, even though it poured rain the entire day. We had the opportunity to see Ireland’s gorgeous countryside as well which was nice in comparison to the urban landscape of Dublin.
The last touristy thing we did was tour the Guinness factory, a must for any American in Dublin. We are now certified Guinness pourers and as such retain the right to judge any bartender who doesn’t follow Guinness’ recommended instructions.
All in all, it was an amazing four days and I would highly recommend both Dublin and Galway to anyone visiting Ireland. You’ll never run out of things to do or people to meet.
Margaret Waterman, Staff Writer
A week into my semester abroad, I still feel like it’s not really real yet.
I’ve been to Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace, Big Ben, Parliament, pubs (so many pubs) and clubs. I took a boat cruise down the Thames and even visited “Platform Nine and ¾.” Everything is gorgeous and so old and historical. It has been so fun sightseeing; we’re off to the Tower of London today. Still, though, it feels like I’m on vacation with a bunch of friends — except, on a budget.
One of the hardest things to adjust to — besides learning to look the “wrong” way when crossing the street — has been living completely on my own. Last semester, I had an apartment, but I was always at The Daily Free Press or my restaurant job and rarely had time to cook real meals for myself. Here, though, it’s been all home-cooked, all the time. We really can’t afford anything else with the exchange rate (which sits at almost two dollars for every one pound) and with our estimated travel budget. So, it’s been chicken and veggies pretty much every night for dinner.
My roommate and I have pooled our spending and split everything from trips to the grocery store, to cooking and dishes. It’s been a great system but definitely has been a big adjustment, along with sharing a kitchen with 14 other girls, all of whom live in my flat.
Before I got here, I decided one of my main goals would be to travel. I’ve been looking forward to seeing all parts of Europe since I can remember and realize this is the perfect opportunity. We’re going to Dublin next weekend, where luckily enough I have a friend there we can stay with for free. We’ve got a bunch more trips planned, too — all around the U.K., Ireland and the Netherlands, for now, with our bigger trips still up in the air.
I think what has struck me most about London is how massive and how international it is as a city. Every place we’ve been, we’ve met people from all over the globe. Other Americans, a ton of French people, Lithuanians and — my personal favorite — two businessmen from Copenhagen we met on a pub-crawl. It’s been much harder to meet Brits than I figured it would be, but I think that’s because of the neighborhood we live in (South Kensington). It’s very expensive and not home to too many locals. I’ve set another goal for myself this week to meet more people from in and around London. There are a bunch of local universities around that we might go check out.
All and all, it’s been an amazing first week and I couldn’t be happier with my choice to study abroad in London. As far as classes go, I’m taking a British media and culture class and a class focused on foreign corresponding. I can’t wait for those to begin next week!
By Lauren Dezenski, Staff Writer
Paris, the first leg of our most recent and last trip abroad, was one for the books. Rima and I spent five days in the City of Light (by far our longest stay anywhere other than London) and did our best to transform into the French ladies that lie within.
Pro tip: for you kids studying abroad in an EU country, you can get free admission into basically every museum in Paris, along with some hefty student discounts pretty much everywhere else. This turned out to be particularly helpful when we had 45 minutes before the Louvre closed–you feel so much less guilt when you just go to take a couple selfies with Mona Lisa and then spend most of your time taking pictures with the pyramid outside. Not that I’m speaking from personal experience or anything…
Speaking of spending time outside of the Louvre, this goes out to all the illegal street vendors who harassed us there and at the Eiffel Tour. Rima figured out how to say “what you’re doing is illegal” in French, which then just made them awkwardly mock her.
I did the best I could behind my significant language barrier and proved to be no help when Rima was called Lady Gaga not once but twice by two different people. I think her leopard print coat definitely had something to do with it. Très, très bon.
I still can’t decide which night was better: our last night in Paris or that one night in Geneva.
The last night in Paris, we met up with some friends on the BU program who were also in Paris and ended up in this tiny fondue place in Montmartre that serves wine in baby bottles.
It sounds weirder than it actually was, though that was certainly helped by the hour spent beforehand at the neighboring bar that had glasses of wine for €3.
There were also issues with some sort of reservation, but Rima was the French knight in knitted leopard print, arguing with the restaurant owner. So, we not only got seated, but got free drinks and enough charcuterie to make your head spin. I somehow managed to spill wine on myself despite the baby bottle situation (I did take off the top because it was still weird), but the drinks, company, and cheese were top-notch.
Then there was our one night in Geneva. We stayed with my aunt who lives there and who took us to this big Christmas party that was being held in some swanky hotel. Apparently last year’s fête had been a blast, so we put our best dresses on and cabbed it over. The performer for this year’s party was a Lady Gaga impersonator, but it was awkward because she actually just looked like my friend Emily wearing a kimono, sunglasses and red lipstick. Go figure.
The people watching was also top-notch. There’s a sizable ex-pat population in Geneva, many of whom are from Eastern Europe and really go all-out with their feathers, sequins, skin-tight dresses and gold lamé. Good stuff.
So folks, this is the end. There’s still five days left of my abroad experience, but most of it will be spent packing, “studying” and crying into the nearest pint of cider.
It’s hard to explain what exactly I’ll be crying about. Sure, London is awesome, but it’s been far from my favorite city that I’ve visited this semester. The first half of the abroad program sucked, for the record, and it took a long time to get over my initial culture shock and subsequent FOMO.
I think the thing I’ll miss most about my abroad experience will be the opportunity to travel. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit eight different countries (not counting layovers) and have some truly incredible experiences. Though I have to say I never did get to ride on the back of a Parisian boy’s motorcycle through the streets of Paris a la Lauren Conrad on “The Hills.”
By Lauren Dezenski, Staff Writer
I’d just like to give a shout out to the guy in the seat behind me snoring like his life depends on it. His olfactorial noises are truly a delight.
Other delights I’ve experienced this weekend: the beautiful city of Prague. My friend Rima and I went for roughly 36 hours because a baby’s gotta do what a baby’s gotta do and these babies had a small amount of time to see Prague but gosh darn it we were going to see it. All of this was shocking to the especially chatty man at the Swiss Air Heathrow check-in desk. “What do you mean you’re only going for a day?”
Continuing with the things that made this weekend delightful: not flying Ryanair. Though I did read somewhere that now Ryanair is allowing two pieces of carry-on luggage which is amazing.
The flight attendant also just spoke to me in German which is a wonderful feeling because this usually means I don’t look like an American. Personal victories!
When our Swiss Air flight landed in Prague, the lady sitting behind me started clapping like they do on Ryanair flights but there was nothing novel about her clapping since I wasn’t expecting to die on this flight like I have every time I’ve flown Ryanair.
Anyway, Prague was exceptional. In a weird way, it was everything I expected to see somewhere like Rome–beautiful cobblestone streets, colorful and ornate buildings, all chock full of historical significance. Prague was all of that with only a fraction of the touristy nonsense that you’d get in Rome. Of course there’s vendors all over the place selling the same 15 prints of watercolor paintings, but you’re not nearly as worried about pickpockets.
We decided to visit Prague this weekend to see the famous Christmas markets and they did not disappoint. We knew of two markets but only found one, which was fine because after a while markets can all blend together. The market was in the same square as the astronomical clock that happens to be freakishly old.
No one told us that the clock was located at essentially eye-level, so we were wandering around the perimeter of the square, looking up at all the buildings and this big clock tower, thinking that we misread the map or something. That was also partially influenced by the large quantity of hot wine and mead we consumed at the market, though we did our best to off-set it with langos, fresh potato chips, sausage, and lots of pastries.
One thing we never did figure out was where Prague Castle is located. Apparently our hotel was right at the steps of the castle, but we just never found it. We don’t really know how that happened. But it was still awesome.
Additional shout out to Europe’s apparent obsession with funiculars. Prague is now the third city I’ve visited this semester to have one of those rail cars that slide up and down a steep hill with what I imagine to be an epic lever and pulley system. I’ve taken to calling them “up machines.”
The Prague up machine didn’t disappoint and was our last stop before heading to the airport. This one took us up to this 60 meters tall replica of the Eiffel Tower. No joke. It’s hilarious. It’s visible from all over the city and the views from the top are absolutely breathtaking. I highly recommend it.
I suppose the replica Eiffel Tower visit is the best way to prepare Rima and I for our next trip. We’ve got 36 hours in London before our next destination: Paris.
By Lauren Dezenski, Staff Writer
I’ll be home in less than a month.
Just as this city has started to really get in under my skin in the best ways, it’s going to be over. It’s made even worse by the realization that I’ve only got one weekend left in London.
I suppose it’s for the best that I’m falling in love with the city as I prepare to leave it.
This all just feels like I’ve had two pints of cider at the pub and upon standing I realize I’m a little more drunk than anticipated…but not too far gone for another pint.
One of my favorite buildings in all of London is St. Paul’s Cathedral. Look back on most of my Instagrams of any sort of London skyline, if it’s not featuring Big Ben or the London Eye (or some combination of me trying to break into a palace or join the Royal Family). St. Paul’s Cathedral is there, sometimes in the foreground, sometimes in the background, sometimes featured in a glass of wine.
I’ve never actually been inside of St.Paul’s, mind you. It’s on my (dwindling) list of places to go, and my friend convinced me to wait to go until next weekend. Ending my London tourist-ings on a high note, right?
It’s hard to explain my infatuation with this building. William and Kate weren’t even married there (though William’s mother and father were). In a city filled to the brim with old buildings, it’s one of the most noteworthy, sure, but there’s just something about the way it rises above most of the other buildings in that majestic way tall things are tall. It’s a crude description but bear with me.
Whether I’m 50 feet or 5,000 meters away, something about that white dome just catches my eye and holds my attention. A friend and I walked around the cathedral on Saturday evening and I couldn’t help but just stare skyward at the beautifully carved exterior, marveling.
Something about St. Paul’s makes me feel centered. I’m by no means a religious person, but the curve of the dome and the beauty that was wrought by Christopher Wren just makes things feel right.
I feel small, but not in a bad way. You get close to the building and look up, until you remember to look where you’re going because another tourist almost bumped into you. You remember your feet are still on the ground and you’ve got another place to go.
Maybe it’s strange to have a semi-religious experience thanks to a building’s exterior architecture and maybe I’m just mostly typing nonsense, but I think it all goes hand in hand with my time in London.
No matter what, I’ll always look toward London. It’ll have a place in my heart, for better or for worse, and now I’ll understand a little better what this city actually is.
Just like getting close to the cathedral, I’ve felt small in London. I’ve felt really small. Never before have I felt so outside my comfort zone in so many situations—but it’s also a beautiful reminder of what life brings.
In no way shape or form should I remain in my comfort zone at all times, and I think I best grow when put outside of my native environment.
I think because of all of this, it’s given me a greater understanding of myself. Sure I’ve bumped into a number of tourists (both physically and allegorically), but it’s all made me realize what’s going on around me—and just how awesome it’s been to be here.
By Lauren Dezenski, Staff Writer
Another weekend, another country visited. This weekend’s destination was Barcelona, where I’ve been hoping to travel since I started taking Spanish in seventh grade.
Armed with a laundry list of recommendations and fewer than 36 hours, my friend Rima and I set out on our glorious Ryanair flight to Barcelona. For the record (and to my dismay) no one clapped once we landed.
It’s important to know good places to visit when you’re going to a new city, but sometimes too many recommendations can cause problems. Maybe it’s just because we weren’t in Barcelona for very long (and some would argue not enough), but we had a huge list of places to visit but not enough time to see them.
It’s also worth mentioning that international travel is kind of a drag on three hours of sleep and a chesty cough (the pharmacist’s words, not mine).
Once we made it to the hostel and I used conversational Spanish for the first time in years, we did as the locals did: siesta-ed. Hard. For those unfamiliar, the Spanish basically take a break every afternoon to eat and nap and it’s called a siesta.
Post-siesta, we took the train towards Sagrada Familia and Park Güell. Both of these are pieces of architecture designed by Gaudi — his artwork is all over the city of Barcelona (which I learned in my Spanish class senior year of high school. At least I paid attention in class at some point in my life).
On the way to these landmarks, we decided to stop at this highly recommended paella place in a relatively quiet, residential neighborhood. It was a gorgeous walk, especially since there wasn’t a tour bus or fanny pack in sight, but it was out of the way of most everything we wanted to see. Plus, it turned out the restaurant didn’t start serving their paella until 8 p.m., so we detoured even further by getting tapas and sangria elsewhere.
Despite Barcelona’s size — its population is only 1.6M, the city’s got remarkably good infrastructure, including a transit system that puts the MBTA to shame. We used the train to get most everywhere in the city, though we did cab it back to the hostel after we didn’t leave our paella dinner until midnight.
We figured it would save us time to get ready to go out to Barcelona’s famed clubs (as every single person and their mother who has ever visited the city will tell you), but that wasn’t the case. We laid down for a siesta round two because everyone knows they don’t go out in Barcelona until 2 a.m… but then we forgot to wake up. We did actually wake up at 3:30 a.m. and realize what happened, but it was too late (so to speak).
This morning, we were determined to make up for lost time, going from Park Güell to Las Ramblas and La Boqueria, this food market that is my friend’s favorite place in the entire world (and she’s been a lot of places in this world, so I really trust her judgement).
We were absolutely GUTTED to realize that La Boqueria is CLOSED on Sundays. Strike two. We got over it as best we could with Kinder Bueno gelato and headed up the glorified ski lift to Montjuïc castle before popping down to the sea-side area called “Barceloneta.” A few pictures of the sunset later and back to London we went.
While I experienced so many other aspects of Barcelona and saw a city with much more depth and culture than I ever could have imagined, I can’t help but feel like something’s missing. But I guess that’s travel. You really have to take advantage of the time you have somewhere and carpe every diem, even if that means you’ll need a couple double espressos to do it.
By Lauren Dezenski, Staff Writer
If Webster was a college-aged COM major, he’d describe FOMO in the following ways:
By Lauren Dezenski, Staff Writer
Greetings from the Scottish countryside (or right outside of Edinburgh). The east coast of Great Britain? Who really knows? What I do know is that my friend Rima and I went to Edinburgh (pronounced “Edinboro,” fun fact) on a whim and it couldn’t have been a better decision.
That wasn’t always the case with this trip, though. We booked the train tickets just after midnight Thursday morning and managed to get them at a reasonable price for a trip beginning fewer than 72 hours later.
After booking the train tickets, we perused Hostelworld.com only to realize that there was nowhere in Edinburgh we could stay for less than £90 a night per person (ridiculous when you’re only staying one night, and that’s even before you convert the price over to US dollars).
I did some creative Google searching, ending up at some random site with an available room in a “guest house” for £30 a night. Finding it a better alternative than sleeping in the train station, we booked the room.
The next day, I was GChatting with a friend and told her about my latest accomplishment: booking this trip. When I got to the part about the train, she reminded me of her worst experience while abroad, which was the train ride back from Edinburgh.
Turns out she booked the exact same train tickets we did. The reason why the tickets were so cheap was that the train companies basically sell tickets that are valid for the entire day, making it a great way to travel flexibly, but also not technically guaranteeing seats on a certain train with tickets sold at our price point. Essentially, we had just purchased standing room-only tickets for a five-hour train ride (oh, did I forget to mention that part about how long the train ride is?).
I broke the news to Rima, who took it much better than I did. We resolved to try to fix it, and if not, make sure we were standing near a widow, because the ride up the coast was, by all accounts, supposed to be incredible. The next day I marched over to Kings Cross in search of a customer service kiosk for answers, which is hilarious because customer service in this country is basically non-existent.
We were up before the sun on Saturday morning, headed to Kings Cross with as much excitement as we could muster for a seatless train ride at 7 a.m. Picking up our tickets, I asked the kind man (using that term loosely, for the record) at the kiosk about the seat situation on the train, saying there was no mention of seats, or lack thereof, on the website — even the fine print in terms and conditions. He chuckled and replied, “You know, you can’t always trust what you read on the Internet.” And then pointed out a typo on the Transport for London website.
Knowing it was a battle we couldn’t win, we set out for the departure boards to wait for the train platform to appear. Once platform 7 flashed on the screen, we booked it through the station and onto the train, finding seats that weren’t reserved, therefore fair game for us as third class (or so it felt) passengers. We even got a table! Take that, condescending man at the kiosk.
After we found our seats, the rest of the trip went swimmingly. Way better than we could have imagined, to be honest. The guest house was basically a hotel-hostel hybrid with private rooms, shared bathrooms and no real concierge. Plus, it was a street over from Arthur’s Seat, a dormant volcano in the middle of Edinburgh and a stone’s throw from the city center.
We climbed Arthur’s Seat despite definitely not being in the correct attire, but the photos are absolutely worth it. We also got caught in a rain storm at the top — but that only added to the experience, in my opinion. Plus, I don’t think we got pneumonia, either, so take THAT Mother Nature. We spent the evening warming up at a cozy gastropub and ended up in bed by midnight. The next day, we started the day with a cheap and delicious Scottish breakfast, complete with black pudding (also known as blood sausage. Holla!) followed by a trip up to Edinburgh Castle and shopping on the Royal Mile. We bought enough tartan and cashmere to last the winter, not to mention the (probably) overpriced tin of Walkers shortbread cookies commemorating the birth of Prince George.
We capped the sightseeing with afternoon tea at the Missoni Hotel (who knew they had a hotel in Scotland of all places?) which was made even better by the attractive men in Missoni kilts working the valet. And to top it all off, we not only made the 5:30 train back to London. We got seats.
By Lauren Dezenski, Staff Writer
Is it bad that I want to preface every single blog post with the statement “I HAVE SURVIVED”? Like it’s a somewhat novel idea that I’ve made it yet another week in this strange little island country that has like…10 different names.
Okay that’s not true, it’s only four or so (The United Kingdom, England, Britain, Great Britain—see what I mean?).
Pro tip: British and English are two very different things. You can be British but not English (the Irish and Welsh, for example. This basically applies to countries that are members of Great Britain but separate from England itself). Isn’t learning fun?
Getting back on topic…noon on Tuesday will exactly mark the halfway point of my semester in London.
It’s been quite the ride thus far, as I’m sure you’ve read. But getting comfortable with your new surroundings takes way more time than any of your friends will ever let on (though I’ll be totally honest because sometimes I’m too blunt).
From what I’ve ascertained in conversations with other friends on the program, it’s hard not to walk off that plane at Heathrow with the expectation that this semester will change your life. But it’s not like taking the Tube is a religious experience that lets you feel close to God the moment you mind the gap and alight to Paddington.
The good stuff takes time and I think in a lot of cases, it’s not until it’s gone that you realize what you actually had.
What I’m trying to say is that I love London but I’m not “in-love“ with London. At least not yet. It’s still really scary trying to cross the street and I still second-guess which side of the sidewalk I should be walking on.
I’m self-conscious about my accent when ordering my skinny Americano from Pret. Sometimes that’s reason enough to just stay inside and binge on episodes of Bad Education on the BBC iPlayer (watch that show, it’s hilarious).
But there is hope. This week, I started my internship with a technology media company (the UK’s largest) called IDG UK. I’m by no means a tech nerd (though I can spit some mad game if you ask me about the latest Apple keynote) but like one of my professors told me, tech reporting is just like any other beat.
Thus far, it’s been awesome. Maybe it’s the workload or the diversity of things I get to do or the fact that I’m not taking classes and the office is in a cool part of town and has a ton of windows, but it’s been a great deal of fun.
I’ve even learned some new British slang, realized the value of Google when understanding British idioms and got to cover an event that brought me to the top of The Shard (the tallest building in Western Europe).
It’s also forced me to get out and see a new part of London, which is extremely refreshing. Don’t get me wrong, I love South Ken and the hordes of children in their school uniforms zipping past me on their scooters, but dodging their mothers’ Prada bags and fathers’ Maserati or Range Rover or Bugatti when I’m just trying to run off last night’s Burger King gets old and fast.
I’d much rather be run down by other young professionals just trying to get to that place off Oxford Street that only sells hot dogs and champagne.
I’ve always had better luck with the second halves of experiences. Chalk it up to growing pains, if you must. Getting adjusted to new things can be absolutely crappy, but let’s be real: once you get your sea legs, you learn just how awesome boating can be. Or in this case, living in London.
By Lauren Dezenski, Staff Writer
It seems only fair that I’m spending my last night of fall break holed up in a makeshift blanket-cocoon in my room with all the lights off, felled by a migraine. The last five days have been a total whirlwind (I hate that that’s such a cliché but it’s perfect way to put it) in what has become the total study abroad rite of passage: Fall break. Or spring break for those in the spring semester. Basically a chunk of time that you are given off so you can use it to do the most magical thing in Europe: travel. And travel we did.
First: Flying Ryanair to Budapest was largely uneventful—with one exception. Drinking a pint of cider over dinner before our flight certainly helped us get settled into our flight on the low-cost airline. Ryanair is infamous for selling seats at dirt-cheap prices and then charging you like crazy for things like multiple pieces of luggage or not being able to fit all of your belongings into the smallest suitcase known to man. But you do it because it’s all about the benjamins saved that are better used on boat tours or pub crawls. Duh. So the Ryanair flight to Budapest. Totally normal, run-of-the-mill. The plane descends, touches down and makes a successful landing. Suddenly the entire airplane erupts with applause. And then the first call bugle song that they play at the Kentucky Derby (you know the one) plays over the speakers and a recording comes on saying Ryainair has the most on-time flights in Europe. And then everyone claps again. I’m not sure if we clapped because the flight was cheap or that we all survived the cheapest flights of our lives. For all I know, we could have been clapping for the fact that we were simply not dead.
Once we landed, we navigated the bus/metro system from the airport to our hostel in the center of the city. The highlight of all of our hostel stays on this trip had to be the first man we met in our hostel in Budapest, Zoltan. My friend Tyler, who I traveled with, gave a really solid summary of our encounter with Zoltan (since it only really happened once) on his blog and it’s definitely worth a read.
But back to why fall break travel is a rite of passage. Unless you’re keen on staying in the UK, most students (at least that I know of on the BU abroad program) use this time to visit places they’ve never been before. More often than not, these places are in different countries. And chances are, there’s a language barrier.
Studying abroad in London offers the unique chance to experience a different culture without having to get over a serious language barrier. Unless, of course, you’re me. But we’ll get to that later. For Tyler and I, we knew we wanted to travel to Budapest and Stockholm, so we booked the flights and hostels and went on our merry way. Emerging from customs in a foreign country is such a weird experience. You shuffle off the plane, hand over your documents and then you’re just spit out into this new place. The country is your oyster. It’s exhilarating and a little terrifying, especially when you’re looking for signs with English because neither you nor your travel partner speak Hungarian or Swedish. But you figure it out. Because you have to. At no point can you just throw up your hands and say “I’m done with this country I’m outta here.” Well, you could, but logistically it’d be quite difficult. You learn to truly roll with the punches and the ultimate value in asking for help. Plus a new-found appreciation for the fact that so many people in Europe are fluent in English.
Funny story about speaking English…My only serious issues with language barriers actually came from trying (and completely failing) to understand English-speakers. The best example is from our first night in Stockholm, when Tyler and I were chatting with this Australian guy also staying in the hostel. He was telling us about he had been traveling around Europe for the last couple months and I asked about his favorite place to visit. He responded “Ireland” but with his accent, I heard “island.” So I tried to clarify: “What island?” to which he replied, “Ireland.” Tyler had to put me out of misery before I brought us further shame by not understanding our own language.