Ciao everyone! Welcome to the first edition of my Study Aboard, brought to you by USF Education Aboard. My name is Jessica Viqueira and I am going into my senior year at the University of South Florida. A relentless pursuit of knowledge involving international relations is what has led me to study aboard in London for this summer. In case you didn’t guess what my major is by that last line, it is International Studies. I have also recently tacked on Communication as a double major and I should be done by the Spring of 2018. So excited to spend my last summer as an undergraduate in a different country, studying my field of interest up close and personal. USF in London has provided me with this opportunity seeing as the location is a big hub of history and politics; the professor leading both my INR and POS class is a knowledgeable man, not just by books but by experience as well (yes I have had him before for a different course); then finally, the excursions and London Pass included in the price of the trip make it abundantly clear that USF wants students to experience all London has to offer, which truly shows how much they care for their students.
However, my experiences began way before I made my way towards London; they actually began about a month ago. Within a months time, I would explore Italy, Spain, the Basque country, and France. All such beautiful places with their own culture, language, mannerisms, schedules, the list goes on. Despite being on vacation, I was learning new things with every location I visited. For example, Italians talk with their hands and I don’t just mean crazily waving them around; Italians actually use a type of sign language to emphasize their point. It might be hard to explain but if you can imagine putting one finger to your cheek and twisting it on your cheek, you have just learned how to say “the food was good” or motioning your arm back and forth from your side means “I’m hungry.” Italians are such talkative people and with the hand motions to keep one from another culture entertained, the conversation could last for hours! So don’t fret if you see one do these abnormally placed gestures, that’s just how they talk.
Spain was a bit easier for me since I speak Spanish fluently but I still learned new things regardless. I experienced their late lunches. Spaniards typically don’t eat lunch until 3 PM and some restaurants won’t open until at least 1 or 2 PM. Dinner is just as late, typically being around 9 or 10 PM. It was quite a cultural shock the first day there considering how hungry I was getting off my 11 AM flight from Italy!
The Basque country was quite different from the two previous destinations. In the tiny town of St. Jean-de-Luz, the people pride themselves on the beautiful beach, wonderful original style macaroons, and having their own identity. Although St. Jean-de-Luz is on the French side of the Basque country, it is quite clear that they are brought up learning Basque and then maybe French. St. Jean-de-Luz is truly a beautiful town as it is nestled right on the beach and surrounded by mountains on the other sides. The houses and hotels are extravagant as they are uni-formally white with red or blue roof tiles; it looks like something right out of a famous person’s paintings.
Finally, the last stop was Paris. A favorite pass time for the people of Paris is creating a picnic of wine, salami, and cheese right along the banks of the river at night. When it is hot in Paris, you can also spot the people of Paris swimming at your local fountain. Yes you read that right, a public fountain such as the one behind the Eiffel Tower going towards the Arc de Triomphe. I also ate escargot for the first time ever, which was exciting! Tasted like oysters but chewier and just and fyi, I LOVE oysters! Also as a side note, Paris is currently in contention against Los Angeles for hosting the 2024 Summer Olympics.
All of the countries along the south western coast of Europe (except Portugal) done in a month before my study aboard program. That is 4 different cultures I was able to study and learn about. Along with the usual museums and national landmarks, I feel as though I have gained valuable knowledge for my future endeavors in my field of study. My expectation for USF in London is to continue the course. Gain knowledge useful for my bachelors and for my own personal observation in order to become the best future diplomat I can be!
À la prochaine!