Recipes from Abroad Series

Bring the world to your kitchen!

Do you ever find yourself wandering down the international food aisle in the grocery store wishing you knew how to incorporate these ingredients into your cooking? Have you been abroad and miss the excitement of trying new dishes? Do you just love to cook and try new foods? If you answered yes to any of the above, this blog series is right up your alley!

For the remainder of this semester, we will be featuring a new international recipe on our blog every week. Follow along with us as we bring the international food aisle home!

5/2/2016: Recipe #3 is from Kristen, one of our awesome Peer Advisors!


Kristen’s Irish Soda Bread


  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and baking soda. Blend egg and buttermilk together, and add all at once to the flour mixture. Mix just until moistened. Stir in butter. Pour into prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 65 to 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the bread comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Wrap in foil for several hours, or overnight, for best flavor.

Fun Fact: The cross on the soda bread has several explanations. Legend has it that folks did it to “let the devil out” while it’s baking for good luck, and others say that it made it easy to divide into 4 pieces. It was also a symbol for a cross during Christian holidays.

Interested in study abroad opportunities in Ireland? Check out the link below for more info!

4/18/2016: Recipe #2 comes from one of our Study Abroad Advisors, Jen!


Jen’s Spanish Tortilla


  • 6 large potatoes, diced
  • 7 eggs
  • 2 small onions, chopped finely
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
  • Lots of oil!! probably about 1.5-2 cups (enough to fry the potatoes)


Peel potatoes and dice into small square pieces. Fry the potatoes on medium heat, stirring occasionally. Chop onion(s) finely and add to the potatoes, spreading them throughout. Once the potatoes are golden brown and tender, drain potatoes and onion in a strainer to get rid of excess oil. Add all 6 eggs to the potato mixture, and stir all ingredients so they are thoughtfully mixed. Pour mixture back into round pan, make sure the edge of the tortilla is rounded. Once the egg has cooked through on the bottom, place a large plate over your pan and carefully flip the tortilla (This is the tricky part- it takes a bit of practice. Having a second person sometimes helps!). The egg should look cooked through on the top now, but you’ll still have to let it cook through to the bottom. Carefully slip the tortilla back from the plate into the pan and use the spatula again to make sure the edges are clean and round. Add salt to taste. Cut like a pie or in small squares and serve with a baguette. Enjoy your authentic Spanish tortilla with cafe con leche and you’ll feel like you’re taking a short siesta in a cafe in Spain!

Fun Fact: Tapas, or appetizers, are a staple in Spanish cuisine, and the Spanish Tortilla is considered one of the most classic tapas. 

Interested in study abroad opportunities in Spain? Check out the link below for more info!

4/11/2016: We’d like to start off with a recipe from the Director of the Study Abroad Office:


Liz’s Quick and Easy Coronation Chicken 


  • Shredded chicken (4-6 cups or one medium sized rotisserie chicken)
  • 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise
  • Mild curry powder (approx. 2 – 4 teaspoons)
  • Pineapple chunks or tidbits in natural juice (20oz can)
  • Cashew nut halves and pieces (8oz can)
  • Salt
  • Black pepper


Strain the pineapple chunks saving 2 tablespoons of the juice. Mix the mayonnaise, curry powder, and pineapple juice together until smooth. Add to the shredded chicken, pineapple chunks, and cashew pieces.  Salt and black pepper to taste. Serve with chips, crackers, lettuce wraps, or in sandwiches.

Fun Fact: The original recipe was created in honor of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.

Interested in study abroad opportunities in the UK? Check out the link below for more info!

Stay tuned for yummy recipes from India, Spain, Chile, and more…


How a Recipe Led to a Conversation about WWII

This post is the fifth installment in a semester-long series of posts from Towson senior Allie Woodfin. Allie is studying this Fall 2014 semester at the University of Avignon. You can also follow along on her tumblr at:

People who travel often tell me that there are some foods that hold major significance for them—a tureen of soup in Hungary, soba noodles in Okinawa, brigadeiro in Brazil. These foods are unique enough that it’s hard to associate them with any other period in life—I’ll always have a deeply rooted memory of the smell of the chestnut cream that my host family eats on their pain au lait at breakfast. However, I think people cherish these tasty memories because they were also learning experiences.


In my case, I’ve eaten more endive here than I’ve eaten in the past 20 years of my life, and I suspect that endive will be one of the things I remember most about this experience. It’s quite tasty, so I’m definitely not complaining. Endive is a leaf vegetable that belongs to the daisy family, according to Wikipedia. It looks like a cross between a large white tulip and a head of lettuce. My host family does a few things with it, my favorites being a salad of chopped raw endive with a mustard vinaigrette, walnuts, apples, and bleu cheese; and steamed, buttery endive wrapped tightly in ham slices, smothered in Bechamel cheese sauce.


The first time we had endive, I looked at it with the same curiosity as I’d looked at the cheeses they brought in from town—something I was familiar with, but didn’t often eat in the U.S. for whatever reason. They explained that endive was popular in French cooking, but not for the previous generation (their parents, my grandparents)—during World War II, as it was one of the few foods available to eat.

A poster encouraging citizens to use bread rations carefully. Taken from

A poster encouraging citizens to use bread rations carefully. Taken from


Many French adults who lived through that period outright refuse to eat endive today (although I saw my host mom’s parents happily eating both of my favorite recipes when they came to visit). I shared that my paternal grandfather now can’t bear canned fruit cocktail—the slippery diced chunks and the sugary, metallic aroma are a powerful memory of rationed food that he ate all too often as a child.


Throughout this conversation, my mind kept going to the line in The Diary of Anne Frank where Anne talks about eating “endive with sand, endive without sand” in the cramped Annex where she spent years before being captured. Conditions were unpleasant and unluxurious in the United States—bad roads, making do with pre-war goods, saving bacon grease and silk stockings for shells and parachutes. Conditions in Europe, however, were a matter of life or death. If I understood my host mom correctly, many trapped in France died of starvation during the war.


There was no awkward silence after this exchange, no comparison between the hardships of life in America and life in France during the deuxième guerre mondiale. Instead, there was a brief pause of realization.  Everyone sent their boys to war, civilians everywhere feared for their lives, and everyone went without. There was nothing inherently political or significant about our dinner, but the last pieces of endive resting in the bowl were a reminder of the common ground we shared then, and share now.

Student Blog: NomNom.Com

Stein Switzerland

Skydiving in Switzerland!

Follow Lindsay through the Czech Republic as she experiences the cities through food and adventure! We love her Instagram feed, too .. but be forewarned, it will make you oh so hungry!

Lindsay Stein

CEA: Liberal Arts & Social Sciences, Angl-AMerican University in Prague

Spring 2014

Q&A Spotlight: Arielle Silverman

Name: Arielle Silverman
Major: Family and Human Services
Hometown: Westfield, New Jersey
Destination: London, England
Institution: GlobaLinks Learning Abroad, Kingston University.

Q1: FOOD, your favorite subject & ours. Best dish? Worst dish? New recipe you picked up?

Honestly, this is a tough question to answer. I am a food ADDICT, so eating was one of my favorite activities while I was abroad. By the way, I studied in England. Did everyone’s mouths just drop all the way to their keyboards after reading how much I enjoyed eating in the UK? Before I left, everyone I encountered warned me about how awful the food in England was, so the days leading up to my trip I was convinced that I was going to starve to death. Contrary to popular belief, England does have some noteworthy foods (at least in my opinion).

Alright, best dish. HOW CAN I PICK?! I’ll narrow it down to four things: Indian food, kebabs, Nando’s, and chips (fries). I’d go into excessive detail explaining each and every one, but I think people would rather not read three pages of my food obsession…(maybe I’ll expand on my own blog).

Now for the worst- I don’t know if I can pick one, mostly because there are so many English foods that are just repulsive looking and are probably what you’d think of when you hear someone mention England.

Q2: What was your favorite spot in your home away from home? Why?

London is so wonderful that I can think of hundreds of favorite spots, but I do have a couple that will always stick out in my mind. I went to a university in a town called Kingston Upon Thames, which is 20 minutes outside of central London by train. The town was absolutely adorable. There were stores, restaurants, and pubs, and it was the type of town that had sections of just pedestrian walkways, which usually meant there were always a lot of different street performers or people playing music or singing. To top it off, there was a market in one part of town that was set up every day, and walking by you could always hear vendors yelling things like, “Get your strawberries!” or “Fresh avocados for only a pound!” I always felt like I was in a movie or something, strolling down those streets and taking it all in: the sights, the people, the voices, and the smells. I didn’t want to forget any of it.

Besides the town in general being one of my favorite places, there was another spot that to this day, will always have a place in my mind. It was a pub in Kingston called The Kings Tun. I was only in Kingston for a day before my friends and I found it, thanks to our waitress at TGI Fridays. My friends and I spent many hours there over the course of our time abroad. It was a place where we all got to know each other, met other people, bonded, danced, and made memories. And as corny as it is, it’s definitely one of my favorite places.

Q4: Are there things you don’t miss from your destination? What? Why?

PIGEONS. Pigeons, pigeons, pigeons. When I decided upon living near London, I had no idea that I was signing up for being swarmed with those evil little creatures on a daily basis. The thing about pigeons is that they’re scared of nothing. Sure, they’ll run away if you chase them, but they are not above flying straight into your face if you happen to be in their path of flight. They’re horrible and I despise them.

I guess another thing I don’t really miss about London was the complete lack of etiquette while walking. I didn’t experience this anywhere else, but I’ll try to explain it like this: you know when you’re walking down the street, and you’re walking towards someone coming from the opposite direction, and the two of you don’t really know who’s going to go which way, so you do that awkward little dance thing before you finally maneuver around each other and go on your merry ways? Yeah, London folks don’t do that. Instead, they assume that you will move clear out of their way. If you don’t, they do not care. You’ll be rammed into as if you just hit a brick wall. It happened to me way too many times to count.

Oh, and I also don’t miss the rain. It rains a lot. But not the way you would expect it, no. If it’s not pouring, it’s drizzling, and if it’s not drizzling, it’s misting. And it happens when you least expect it, so the key is to always have an umbrella handy. Always.

Q5: What do you miss about England?

The amount of things I’m homesick for from abroad is unhealthy. I’ll just make a list.

1. GOOD tea. We just don’t make it like they do over there.

2. Primark. Primark is a godsend. Imagine Forever 21 x100 and you’ll get Primark. The clothes are cheap (and when I say cheap I mean quality and price), cute, and did I say cheap?

3. Cadbury. Cadbury is everything. I miss those little dairy milks.

4. Pub atmosphere. This is something that American culture does not have. It’s not about drinking. It’s about going to the pub and meeting your friends after class. It’s about spending time with people you care about and forming friendships you’ll never forget.

5. Free museums. As far as I know, almost all of the museums in London are free. This made traveling easier, as I was able to go in and out of museum after museum whenever I wanted.

6. Markets. There are so many markets in London. Camden Town is probably one of the most popular markets (at least it was in my friend group), but there are loads all over and they are just so much fun to explore.

Q6: What new vocabulary have you added to your repertoire after study abroad?

Cheeky. I can’t really explain what this means, but if someone were being sarcastic or playfully teasing, you’d call them cheeky.

Dodgy. When something is sketchy.

Chips. Fries.

Cheers, mate.” Us Americans would probably say something like, “thanks, dude!”

“You alright?” The first time someone ever said this to me, I looked at them with a blank stare on my face. I thought to myself, “Do I look upset? I feel fine, why is he asking me if I’m okay?” Clearly, it does not mean what we usually take it to mean. Instead, this saying is sometimes used in place of, “how are you?”

Lovely. Okay, so it’s not really new, but Brits use the word lovely so much. It’s just lovely.

Fit. This is another way of saying you think someone is hot (as in attractive).

Bird. This refers to a girl. Similar to the word “chick.”

Smart. If someone looked smart, they’d most likely be pretty dressed up and looking super fancy. In the words of Drake, “Oh you fancy huh?”

Fancy-dress. Refers to a costume, like you’d wear on Halloween or to a themed party.

Boot. The trunk of a car.

Hob. Stove

Lift. Most people know this one, but in case you don’t, it’s another word for elevator.

Trolley. It’s what you would use if you were going shopping at Target. (It’s a cart).

Uni. Short for university. They don’t say college, unless they’re actually in college, which is a whole different thing than uni, but that’s irrelevant.

Q8: Where did you go on your breaks? How did you choose? Was it difficult to plan?

Well, my experience was a little different than the way most people travel when they are abroad. I didn’t make too many weekend trips. I actually only went on two, if you don’t include Spring Break. The first place my friends and I went to was Dublin, Ireland. I’m not really sure how we chose this one, but if I remember correctly, I’m pretty positive one of my friends said, “I want to go to Ireland. Let’s go.” So we picked a weekend and booked the flight that day.  The second trip my other friend and I went on was to Barcelona. We had been talking about going since the beginning of the semester. May was quickly approaching, but I had been doing some research, so we finally booked our flight a couple of weeks ahead, booked a hostel our friends told us about and went for four days. It was wonderful.

Spring break worked out in a similar manner. My parents actually came to see me during my spring break and we traveled around Britain. When they left, I took the Eurostar and ended my break in Paris.

Now, there’s a reason I say my experience was a little different. Before I went abroad, my mom and I were talking about the places I wanted to travel while I was over there. She told me that after her semester, she traveled around Europe for a couple of weeks before going back home. One day she asked me, “So when you go, you’re going to stay a couple more weeks and travel right?” I hadn’t even thought about it, but she was offering, and I wasn’t saying no. I didn’t have a clue who I would travel with, and at first I was hoping to just meet someone while I was abroad that would want to do the same thing. Eventually, it was decided that my best friend from home would fly to London at the end of my semester and we would embark on a Eurotrip together. We did just that, but with the added company of our close friend from home. The three of us flew to Rome and then traveled by train to Pisa, Florence, Venice, Munich, Paris, and Amsterdam before journeying back to London.

Planning the trip was a lot of fun for me. I had wanted to plan my Eurotrip ever since I could remember, so I enjoyed every second. I had a guidebook, which definitely helped, but there is a ton of information out there on the Internet (Trip Advisor and Hostelworld everyone!). That being said, planning a trip is time consuming. You need to know where you want to go, what route you’re going to take, how long you want to stay, what trains you can and cannot take, etc. It’s a lot of work, but in the end it’s absolutely worth it. I found some amazing hostels for my friends and I to stay in, where we ended up meeting some amazing people (who we still keep in touch with), and my friend’s dad even got us a couple of free nights in two different Hilton’s in Italy!

Q9: TOUGHEST DAY , everyone has one. What challenged you while you were abroad? Why?

My biggest challenge when I was abroad was the day of my “medical emergency.” It was two nights before I was leaving for Barcelona, which also happened to be two nights before my final exam. Earlier that day the left side of my mouth was killing me. I didn’t understand why. I tried to ignore it, but the pain kept getting progressively worse. That night I called my parents. I told them that I noticed it was swelling, and I wasn’t sure what to do. After much freaking out, they decided I would need to contact someone and go to a doctor. I was not happy about this. I refused many times, telling them that I needed to pack and study for my exam all day. They were persistent.

After a lot of work, they helped me find a walk-in-clinic in Central London. But I was still concerned about my exam. Running all over the place in Central London all day meant I wasn’t going to get any studying done. Not to mention I was absolutely terrified because I had no idea what was wrong with me. Nevertheless, the next day I set off by myself, swollen mouth and all. Long story short, the doctor I saw told me it was dental, and that I would have to see a dentist. Luckily, there was a dentist who could see me that day, and he was only located around the corner. Still terrified, I walked to the dentist where I was greeted by very friendly staff. It turns out that I had some sort of infection, which could sometimes happen after wisdom teeth surgery, but was rare. He prescribed me antibiotics, told me I’d be fine by my flight, and wished me luck. I also ended up getting out of having to take my final exam, and everything worked out in my favor. It was still one of the scariest experiences I had abroad, but I’m glad I was able to overcome it.  

Q10: PARTING WORDS. What would you say to students afraid of studying abroad?

Two words: DON’T BE! Listen, I get it. It’s totally normal to be worried or scared of going abroad. As excited as I was about going to London, the weeks and days before my trip, I began freaking out. I shut down, and anytime the topic was brought up, I smiled uneasily and answered any questions politely. My closest friends and family were the only ones able to see the intense anxiety I was feeling. I knew absolutely nobody in my program. The thought that I was going to be completely alone and independent kept running through my mind, and I was sure I would fail. Was I going to make friends? Was I going to be homesick? Would all those lovely Brits like me? I was in constant fear. One of the things I was most nervous about was leaving home and missing out on all the experiences my friends would have. As selfish as it sounds, I didn’t want them to meet new people and have too much fun without me. A horrible case of FOMO, am I right? Really though, all these feelings are completely normal. The key is to not let any of these feelings influence your decision to go abroad.

Going abroad was one of the best experiences I will ever have in my entire life. It allowed me to open my mind, immerse myself in other cultures, and see history many people don’t have the opportunity of ever seeing. It showed me how beautiful the world is. I’ve come back and now all I want to do is travel. I’ve come back and I’ve grown in ways I never could have imagined. I am so thankful for my experience, and if I could, I would do it all over again.

Cheers, Arielle!

Q&A Spotlight: Jamie Lee

Name: Jamie Lee
Major: Health Care Management
Destination: Italy, Spring 2014
Institution: Lorenzo de’Medici University, Tuscania

Q1: FOOD, your favorite subject & ours. Best dish? Worst dish? New recipe you picked up?

I studied abroad in a small town in Italy, so food was a HUGE part of my experience! One of my favorite dishes was a spicy pasta dish in a red sauce! Cayenne pepper is the best! As far as the worst dish… I would have to say fried calamari! That rubbery texture is a lot to take in! I I learned a lot about food, the most important being that it’s so easy to make a delicious dish! An easy recipe I learned was penne pasta tossed with olives and canned tuna! It’s so simple yet so delicious!

Q2: PLACES, talk about your favorite spot in your home away from home. Where? Why?

In the town I’m studying in (Tuscania, Italy), we have this great park! It overlooks the whole town and the typical Italian scenery they show in the movies!

Q3: TOP SECRET, did a local point you to a market, pub, or park you didn’t know about? Pass it on.

As I said, Tuscania is a very small town so there isn’t much that is kept secret! However, there is an outdoor fruit market that people don’t go to often, which I just don’t understand! They have so many fruits and veggies for SO CHEAP! My advice on food shopping would be to find that one place that people don’t often go to… It’s often the cheapest!

Q4: NOPE, are there things you don’t miss from your destination? What? Why?

I am currently home for the holidays, and I can honestly say there isn’t a thing I don’t miss! Everything about it I just love… The people, food, language! It’s my happy place!

Q5: YEP, you’re actually homesick for something from abroad. What? Why?

Being home for a month before I go abroad again, I’ve realized what I miss most is the people! Another piece of advice I can offer is to study in a small town if you can! You’ll see the same people over and over and build relationships with all of them! Whether it be the old man that owns the butcher shop down the street or the kid you see in the park every day!

Q6: SPEAKING OF, what new vocabulary have you added to your repertoire after study abroad?

Well, most of my new vocabulary is in Italian! One of the strangest things I learned is that Italians use the word “meow” to describe a cat sound, but they spell it “miao”!

Q7: SHOCKING, you could hardly believe your eyes when you saw … What? Why?

One thing that was very hard for me to get used to was male dominance. In many European countries, women are still the ones that cook, clean, and raise kids. Coming from America, that was very shocking. I was used to being told that I need to build a career and put that before any man. In Italy, it’s the opposite! Many of the women in Tuscania have never had a job in their lives.

Q8: WEEKENDS, full of travel. Where did you go? How did you choose? Was it difficult to plan?

Weekends seem to always be busy for students who are studying abroad. When you first get to your destination, you’ll want to travel right away and most likely you will every weekend. As wonderful as that is, write up a budget for yourself! It’s always more expensive than you thought it was. I went to Paris for five days one weekend, and I ended up spending about $450. I estimated I would spend no more that $200. As well, I traveled around England. I went to London and Liverpool. London was a bit overwhelming, but it is a must that everyone should see! Liverpool was wonderful! I’m a huge Beatles fan, so that was a dream come true! My first semester abroad I really wanted to get all the touristy places out of the way. This semester, I plan on going to more low-key places like Krakow, Poland and maybe Albania! Trips aren’t hard to plan, but you have to be on top of everything! Think of every possible scenerio, because chances are you’ll miss your plan, bus, or train at some point!

Q9: TOUGHEST DAY, everyone has one. What challenged you while you were abroad? Why?

I lived with a host family who (at the beginning) spoke close to no English, and I spoke NO Italian! I had many times in the beginning where each meal felt like a struggle because we couldn’t say anything to each other. Overall, staying with a host family was the best decision! I was able to learn twice as much Italian as my fellow students who lived in apartments. As well, I really got to absorb the culture! Despite the initial frustration, it was totally worth it!

Q10: PARTING WORDS. What would you say to students worried / concerned / afraid of studying abroad?

The number one thing I would say would be to face your fears and do it! This experience has – and continues – to change my life! All my best friends and boyfriend are living in Tuscania, and it will forever be apart of my life! It sounds cheesy, but you really learn so much about yourself!

Q&A Spotlight: Ceanne West

Name: Ceanne West
Major: Computer Science
Hometown: Millersville, MD
Destination: Italy, Summer 2013
Institution: Lorenzo de’ Medici, The Italian International Institute

Q1: Let’s talk about food – the good & the bad.

The best dish I had was probably the Florentine Steak on the last night; it was so tender and juicy. All the pizza was amazing too, so it was very hard to come back to Pizza Hut and Domino’s. The worst dishes were the pre-made sandwiches. I took a cooking class so I learned a lot of new recipes. My favorite ones were the balsamic chicken and nutella croissants.

Q2: Your favorite spot in your home away from home?

My favorite spot in Florence is Basilica di San Miniato al Monte during sunset. You’re able to see the entire city. It’s right next to Piazza Michelangelo, so you get the same view, but there’s a lot less people.

Q3: A local favorite?

Pino’s on Via Giuseppe Verdi, they have the best paninis ever. I went there nearly every day on the way back from class and got “The Best,” with roast beef, smoked cheese, cooked spinach, peppers, eggplant and Pino’s special hot sauce on focaccia bread.

Q4: Anything you DON’T miss from Italy?

I definitely don’t miss the swarms of both tourists & birds.

Q5: Homesick for anything from Italy?

I think I missed bread with salt in it & free tap water.

Q6: Pick up any new vocabulary while abroad?

I continued to say “scusa” instead of “excuse me” for a few weeks after I came back.

Q7: You could hardly believe your eyes when you saw …

Toilets in Moneglia, Italy are a whole new experience!

Toilets in Moneglia, Italy are a whole new experience!

When we went to Moneglia, the toilets near one of the train stations were practically holes in the ground. It was disgusting.

Q8: How did you manage your weekends?

I took a train to Moneglia the first weekend with a few other girls on my trip. Then I took the train to Pisa for a day. The weekend after, I went on one of the trips planned by our abroad school to Monaco & Monte Carlo then St. Paul de Vince and Cannes. On the last weekend, I took another trip planned by the school to Rome & Cannes. I definitely recommend going on the school trips rather than planning your own. It’s a little more expensive, but it’s much less stressful than trying to plan it yourself while you’re there. Plus, I was able to meet students who were also studying at my Italian school but were from different colleges in the states.

Q9: What challenged you while you were abroad?

My worst day was the third day in when the money for the weekend trips was due. The ATM wouldn’t give me cash, the girls with me left because it was getting too close to the deadline, I got lost trying to get to the office, and it was closed when I did. Make sure to tell your bank you’re going abroad before you do.

Q10: Parting words?

I feel like a lot of students say they want to study abroad, but never make the moves to do it. Hit up the study abroad office and get some information. It’s an amazing experience. If you’re afraid of being away from home for a whole semester, consider going during one of the breaks.

Grazie, Ceanne!

Q&A Spotlight: Nate Moran

This post is the first in our new Q&A Spotlight Series on returning students.You can find this story and all future spotlights by searching in the category “Q&A Spotlight.” Enjoy!

Name: Nate Moran
Major: Business Administration, ‘13
Hometown: Middletown, DE
Destination: New Zealand, Spring 2013
Institution: Auckland University of Technology

Be sure to check out Nate’s YouTube video from his experience here.

Q1: Let’s talk about food – the good & the bad.

Actually, the best dish I had while in New Zealand was from a Brazilian place.  The restaurant was Brazilian but the steak was New Zealand beef…which was fantastic.  The chicken, beef, and lamb are all great in New Zealand.  The Kiwis are well-known for these meats, especially because everything is free-range.  We took part in traditional Maori (New Zealand’s indigenous culture) feast, called a “Hāngi”; this is a Polynesian-style cooking in a pit under the ground.  All sorts of meats, vegetables, potatoes, and kumara (the Maori sweet potato) are slow-cooked throughout the entire day under the ground.

Q2: Your favorite spot in your home away from home?

Talk about a hard question.  New Zealand is well known for so much beautiful terrain wherever you go, North or South Island.  Although I have many favorite spots, I’d say that the Bay of Islands (in the Northland Region) was the coolest place I’ve ever been to.  We took a rental boat and hopped around uninhabited islands all day long.  We were able to experience great hikes and beautiful waters.

Q3: A local favorite?

My ‘claim to fame’ is the Happy Hour spot I was told about early on in Auckland City—Spitting Feathers.  It was definitely a hard-to-find local place with a lot of young professionals.  The deals were great and we filled our stomachs with a lot of pizza and beer.  However, I have to say that Ponsonby Central was the best place that we were recommended.  This place was full of locals and such a great atmosphere.  The marketplace is filled with great restaurants, bakeries, shops, art galleries, and more.  Ponsonby was my favorite place in the city.

Q4: Anything you DON’T miss from NZ?

Not one thing.  Life was good and everyone in New Zealand was so laid back.  If I was ever presented the opportunity, I could definitely see myself living there.  For a backpacker, this place is the most ideal spot you can be in the world—snowy mountains, pristine beaches, and a bit of urban culture.

Q5: Homesick for anything from NZ?

The entire experience in itself.  As I sit down to write this after a full week of work, I realize that we had no limits being abroad.  I took my classes serious there, but also had so much time to explore other parts of the world and different cultures.  Being able to pick up and go to the mountains or the beach on the weekends is dearly missed.  Regardless of taking classes, we had so much free time to explore every street in Auckland, attend any big event, and go tramping (New Zealand’s word for hiking/exploring) on the weekends.

Q6: Pick up any new vocabulary while abroad?

“Kia-ora, bro.  Are you keen to go tramping with me this weekend?—That would be sweet bro, but I have a rugby game.”  The dialect of a New Zealander is kind of like that of an Australian, but with a relaxed vibe.  I learned quit e a few slang words while attempting to blend in as a kiwi.  I also learned various Maori words in my Maori Leadership course.  Kia ora is an informal “hi”, but literally means “be well/healthy.”

Q7: You could hardly believe your eyes when you saw …

I was real shocked when I went to a New Zealand rugby match against France.  Considering this was a World Cup rematch, the game at Eden Park stadium (Auckland, NZ) was a huge deal.  Although this is by far the number one sport in New Zealand, the fans act very different than what I expected.   The stadium was quiet and fans paid attention to every detail of the game.  Cheering typically happens right after a team scores, and that’s it—nothing in between.  It is not like American football where people are constantly cheering.

Q8: How did you manage your weekends?

We tried to take advantage of every weekend.  Packing our backpacks and heading to the dairy (supermarket) to stock up on food was something I looked forward to.  We traveled all over New Zealand on our weekends.  Hiking/Camping in the Coromandel Peninsula, touring vineyards in Hawkes Bay, taking the ferry to Waiheke Island, tramping around the volcano from the Lord of the Rings, and many more activities were completed during our weekends.  We chose ones that looked exciting and just went for it.  We didn’t get to do everything, but I still feel very accomplished.

Q9: What challenged you while you were abroad?

I’d say the toughest day I had in New Zealand was the day of my finals, because it was very stressful for me.  The three classes I took in Auckland were actually the last three courses for the completion of my degree.  I needed to perform well in my classes abroad in order to graduate.  I ended up doing well in my classes, so all is well.  I think the toughest part of studying abroad is coming home and realizing that your semester abroad is completed.

Q10: Parting words?

I highly recommend visiting New Zealand because it was an amazing place.  You also might be able to experience other places such as Australia and Fiji.  Overall, go to a place that will let you break free from the norm.  Meeting new people and trying to adapt to new cultures is a fun obstacle to take on, and can be very beneficial in the long run.  This was no doubt the best experience I’ve ever had.  Any step you take, it will always be a step forward in a particular direction.  Get out and explore!

Thanks, Nate!