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Friday, March 30, 2012

Bath and Stonehenge

Awesome jazz band near the baths, in Bath. 
by Mary Evans


The last few weeks have been great! I have been doing a bit of traveling and getting ready for spring break which is exciting! I can’t believe how fast the time is going here. I feel like it was just yesterday that I was getting off of a plane in London when in fact I have already been here almost 2 months!


We (GSE) took a trip to Bath and Stonehenge recently and it was amazing! We went to Stonehenge first and spent about an hour there. Then we went to Bath for 3 to 4 hours.

Stonehenge!
Stonehenge was beautiful and it is so interesting to learn the history behind the mystery (no rhyme intended). There are so many different aspects about the site that I never knew and it was really fascinating to learn what went into the building of Stonehenge. I had a little extra time to spare after doing the tour so Lisa and I decided to run into the sheep field next to the site so that she could get some pictures. She loves sheep so I knew this was extremely important to her. We ended up almost missing the bus because of those sheep but I would say that if you have a chance to run in a field of sheep, do it. It is definitely an interesting experience.


The Roman Baths!

Anyway, back to the real sightseeing. We moved on to Bath after that and it was equally wonderful. The city is beautiful and the history behind it is extremely interesting. We went into the Roman Baths and it was gorgeous. We got to see what life was life was like for the Romans and I learned so many new things about the culture that I had never known before. It was a great experience.


Sally Lunn's!
After that Lisa and I went to Sally Lunn’s for lunch. Sally Lunn’s is the oldest building in the city and it has a small museum downstairs and a restaurant upstairs. We ate some of Sally’s famous Bath Bun and a pot of tea which was great! Although, I think I may have eaten a little too much clotted cream with my bun because I felt a little nauseated on the ride back home. Note to self: limit my clotted cream intake. Aside from that though, the trip was fantastic!


The whole day was a wonderful experience and I can’t wait to see what is next on the agenda for the GSE group!


Until next time,
Mary Evans


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GSE Spring 2012 - London, England
London Metropolitan University

Live with Q&A: Learn About GSE Study Abroad Opportunities in London, England




GSE London Interest Webinar


Join us for a Webinar on March 30

Thinking about studying abroad in London?

As one of the world's leading economic and cultural centers, London provides countless opportunities for exciting and diverse experiences. Enjoy the spectacular art collections at the National Gallery or the Tate Modern. Take in a Shakespearean play the way the Elizabethans did at the rebuilt Globe Theater.  See the city's iconic landmarks such as Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, St. Paul's Cathedral, or the Tower Bridge first hand.  GSE programs provide the opportunity to experience these unique London sites while immersing oneself in British culture.

In addition to this, students on our GSE London program experience cultural events and excursions to such places as Bath, Edinburgh, Salisbury & Stonehenge, and Brighton.
Title: GSE London Interest Webinar
Date: Friday, March 30, 2012
Time: 12:00 PM - 12:30 PM PDT
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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Springtime (finally!) in Paris

The Sacre Coeur on the top of Montmartre
by Anna Simmons


Breaking news, everybody: spring has come to Paris at last. After the coldest winter Paris (and the rest of Europe) has experienced in years, we’re finally starting to see sunny days in the mid 60s (Fahrenheit, of course) and green shoots of leaves on several trees around town. It’s such a nice change! Not being one for winter myself, especially not winters that get colder than the mostly mild Southern ones I’m used, spring is always a breath of fresh air. I’m so happy I get to experience it in Paris this year!

Warmer weather also means more incentive to explore the city, because it’s awfully hard to find motivation to leave home when it’s freezing and gray out.


The infamous Moulin Rouge.
The movie named after it is one of my favorites!
At the top of my list of places to go when the sun came out was Montmartre. For those of you who don’t know, Montmartre is a really artsy/Bohemian kind of place, located on a hill kind of in the north part of town. Its notable features include the Sacre Coeur and the Moulin Rouge. Megan and I visited there last Saturday and had a great time feeling like tourists again! We of course went to the beautiful Sacre Coeur chapel that sits on the top of the hill and provides a great view of Paris, followed by the artists’ square nearby. Then we took some back roads, got mildly lost, and finally found our way to la Pigalle where we met up with Kharissa. Continuing our tourist streak, we took plenty of pictures in front of the Moulin Rouge before heading home to grab dinner.
This is one of my favorite places on Montmartre,
but also one of the least known about.
It's the Wall of Love, and it says "I love you"
over and over again in about a hundred languages.

That night we went to the Eiffel Tower with Rianne and Jeff and sat on the Champ de Mars just talking and admiring the Eiffel Tower all lit up. I honestly cannot think of a better way to spend an evening.


This is my perma-smile.
Can you blame me?
The Eiffel Tower has a way of making me just giddy; whenever I’m around it I get what the GSE kids have started calling my “perma-smile—” a permanent smile that does not go away until we leave the tower’s vicinity. But like I’ve said in previous blogs, the Eiffel Tower is hands down my favorite Parisian landmark. I mean, you try being sad when it sparkles! But, I digress.


This past Friday, Paris experienced the most beautiful weather so far this year. A high around 75o, the sun was out all day and the sky was blue and after class Kharissa and I all but ran to the Luxembourg Gardens to enjoy it. We got to lie on the grass, read, and nap in the sun all afternoon. It was glorious!


Other than those few jaunts around town, for the most part March has been pretty low-key. Class is still going well, albeit a little more challenging and requiring sufficient effort from me if I really want to accomplish my goal of (near) fluency this semester. Granted, I know few foreigners can ever be fully fluent in French, I’m not even sure if the French are fully fluent in French. But I’d like to get as close as I can. So, with almost half the semester already over, I look forward to the next half and fully intend on making the most out of every minute!


A bientôt!
Anna Simmons


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GSE Spring 2012 - Paris, France
University of Paris Sorbonne

Learn about Studying Abroad and Transferring Credit


GSE Transferring Credit from Abroad Webinar


Join us for a Webinar on March 29

Are you considering studying abroad to fulfill part of your degree requirements?

By living in a foreign country, you will constantly challenge yourself and gain a level of independence you never knew you had.  Studying abroad will expose you to diverse people and viewpoints.  While immersed in the language, culture, and people of your host country, you will get to experience life as a resident, not as a mere tourist.  All these things can be achieved while also earning credit towards your current degree. 

Credit transfer can be a lengthy process, but GSE is here to help. Join us for a webinar covering all the details of credit transfer from start to finish. There are numerous options abroad for a variety of majors. Planning early can ensure that receiving course credit and fulfilling degree requirements do not become obstacles to your study abroad experience.

Join us and experience life beyond your borders!
Title: GSE Transferring Credit from Abroad Webinar
Date: Thursday, March 29, 2012
Time: 11:00 AM - 11:30 AM PDT
After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

System Requirements

PC-based attendees
Required: Windows® 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server
Macintosh®-based attendees
Required: Mac OS® X 10.5 or newer

Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:
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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sunday in San Telmo: The Sunday Antiques Market

Street Vendors
by Lisa Goodman


Last Sunday was certainly a great adventure. We visited the famous antiques market in San Telmo. It was truly a sight to behold. Booths upon booths are filled with any antique that you could possible imagine, and all of it is displayed beautifully. It definitely takes a lot of will power to go to this market, since there are so many things to buy!


The market is very accessible, you just take the Subte (what the subway is called here in Buenos Aires) and use Line C to arrive at the Independencia Station. After, you only need to walk straight for about five blocks, and you will encounter the largest antiques fair that you have probably ever seen in your life. The fair covers many streets, so many in fact that it takes more than one Sunday to see it all. It is definitely a place that you can go time and time again, and you will still see new and different goods.


Live Music
Part of the market consists of vendors selling their goods on the road, either the antiques are placed on a blanket on the street or they are hanging from a rack. The market does not only consist of vendors selling their goods, but the street is also full of music and, sometimes, dancing. I had the pleasure of hearing a very talented guitarist play. The music was wonderful, and added to the already amazing atmosphere.


After following one street, we were led to the core of the market, which is located in the central plaza. Here, vendors sell their goods in booths, instead of displaying them on the road. The higher quality goods are usually sold in these booths. The booths are quite colorful, and can have an array of antiques displayed. Each booth is extremely unique. One of my favorites was a booth that displayed colorful glass bottles on the top shelf, and antique jewelry on the main table. It was beautiful to see how the sun struck the glass. It was personally my favorite booth at the market.


Antique Booth

Delicious Lunch
After looking around for a while, our group decided to rest and get something to eat. There are many restaurants on the streets where the market is held, and we chose a nice restaurant that bordered the main plaza. The lunch was truly delicious. We ordered a large plate of different types of cheeses, olives, and meats. Our program director told me that it was a true Argentinean lunch. It was wonderful because it was an extremely hot day, and this type of dish is perfect because it is satisfying, but it does not weigh you down.


I only explored a small part of the fair, and I will surely return there soon. I highly recommend the Sunday fair in San Telmo; it is an experience that you will not forget.


Until my next adventure,
Lisa

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GSE Spring 2012 - Buenos Aires, Argentina
University of Belgrano

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Night of Tango

by Kara Bijesse


Thursday night, Alfredo treated the other GSE students and I to a fun night of dancing, food and good conversation at La Virtua in Palermo. When I arrived I walked into a building that looked like a community or cultural center and was at first a bit confused. I was directed downstairs into the basement of the building and as I came down the stairs, I entered a dark room with low lighting, music, a dance floor, and a bar.


The GSE group... all five of us plus Alfedo.
People all around were eating, drinking, dancing and socializing. We sat down at a table that Alfredo had reserved for us and took in the lively atmosphere over some delicious pizza. The pizza here is different from the pizza in the States. It is very thick, cheesy, and filling but equally as delicious.

Delicious Pizza

La Virtua!
La Virtua was a hidden gem among the mass amounts of touristy bars and clubs in the Palermo area. It was a place for locals to mingle and dance the night away and also gave those who did not know how to do the tango or salsa a chance to learn. Classes of all types of dancing including Salsa, Swing, and of course, the Tango, were taught throughout the night with the guidance of professional dancers. Even the locals were nice enough to take time out of their night to come over and help us out with the steps. There was also time for free dancing so people could show off the new moves they had perfected in the dance classes.


Lisa Learning the Salsa.
For me, the best part of the night was watching the professionals dance. The way they moved to the music was so sensual and graceful. Their movements were so in sync, making them appear as one person flowing in harmony to the music. Watching them made me wish I was born with even a little bit of rhythm. My dancing looks mildly like I have an itch that I can’t reach. So I left it to the professionals.


The professionals show us how it's really done!
Overall it was a wonderful night and a great opportunity for us to stray away from the typical night of an American tourist in Buenos Aires. La Virtua gave me my first glimpse into the “real” Buenos Aires, as the local Argentine people see and experience it.


Hasta luego!
-Kara Bijesse


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GSE Spring 2012 - Buenos Aires, Argentina
University of Belgrano

Learn the Basics of Study Abroad, Fast!

GSE Study Abroad General Interest Webinar


Join us for a Webinar on March 27

Have you ever thought about studying abroad? 

By living in a foreign country, you will constantly challenge yourself and gain a level of independence you never knew you had.  Studying abroad will expose you to diverse people and viewpoints.  While immersed in the language, culture, and people of your host country, you will get to experience life as a resident, not as a mere tourist.  All these things can be achieved while also earning credit towards your current degree. 

Join GSE as we help you find a study abroad program best catered to your academic goals and personal needs.  We will walk you through everything from picking a location and narrowing down classes to using financial aid and transferring credits to your home university. 

Join us and experience life beyond your borders!
Title: GSE Study Abroad General Interest Webinar
Date: Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Time: 4:00 PM - 4:45 PM PDT
After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Take Another Little Piece of My Heart

by Delaney Kennedy


I just got back yesterday from what I can confidently say was the best Spring Break of my life. Part One was a self-planned trip with one of my roommates to Amsterdam, Salzburg and Vienna and Part Two was a Euroadventures trip to the Amalfi Coast of Italy – it was planned as my absolutely ideal Spring Break and it did not disappoint. It is one of the best feelings ever to continuously be completely enamored by places and somehow, just when I think I have a favorite, another city steals my heart.

Admiring the canals during our walking tour
of Amsterdam (naturally a bike is in the picture too)

The first was Amsterdam, it was gorgeous and one of the best surprises ever. I went into the trip with the typical stereotypes of Amsterdam, but came out with such a great appreciation for the city. We went on a free three-hour guided walking tour of the city, which was a wonderful over-view of all of Amsterdam’s history and culture…and it was free. 



In front of the Sound of Music House in Salzburg
 My roommate had been in contact with a few people via a couch-surfing website, so we met up with one of them to have her show us around to her favorite parts of the city. Couch-surfing-meet-ups were some of the highlights of our trip because they allowed us to talk with people living in the cities we visited and get more of an insider’s view of things to do/see during our stay. It was also a great way to just be social and meet new people along our journey. Our couch-surfer, also a college student studying abroad, took us later that night to meet up with a group of her friends for St. Patrick’s Day. It was such a great time getting to know a new group of people and the night got even better when we rode on the backs of her friends’ bikes (bicycles are the preferred mode of transportation in Amsterdam) to a really funky bar with a live band – I felt like that night was a perfect, authentic Amsterdam experience.


The next day we went to visit the Anne Frank house, which was an intriguing, inspiring and sobering visit before hopping our train to Salzburg. We were only in Salzburg for 12 hours, just enough time for a Sound of Music Tour – really why else do people go to Salzburg? We took all the typical touristy pictures in front of the house, on the Do Re Me steps, and at the gazebo where “16 going on 17” was shot. We also stopped for some amazing apple strudel during the tour, which was the cherry on top of our brief zip through Salzburg.
My roommate and I loved the graffiti along the river in Vienna

One more train ride that night got us to Vienna, Austria for the final leg of “Part One” of Spring Break. To be completely honest, I wanted to go to Vienna primarily because I love the Billy Joel song and had no idea of what we’d do there, but thank goodness for the couch-surfers! One guy walked us around the city center, taking us through an amazing fresh-market, through the museum district, and to a few architectural monuments of WWII. The next day we met up with another couch-surfer and just hung out and listened to all his amazing travel adventures, which was a really interesting experience – I love hearing people’s stories!

After swimming in the Blue Grotto,
we hiked to the top of Capri for some of
the most amazing views of the coast
The gorgeous beaches of
Positano on the Amalfi Coast

After two full days in Vienna, I came home to Florence for 12 hours – just enough time to nap, eat and re-pack before heading on my trip to the Amalfi Coast with EuroAdventures. I didn’t know anyone on the trip, but there were a huge group of students who all knew each other from school and they were very welcoming and made me laugh the entire trip with their sarcasm and stories. 


We went swimming in the Blue Grotto of Capri, ate Margherita pizza in Naples, sampled Limoncello in Sorrento, toured Pompeii, and Sunbathed in Positano. Heaven, I’ve decided will look a lot like the Amalfi Coast. It was perfection. I will be buying a vacation home there, retiring there, everything, it’s been decided.


My goal of Spring Break was to challenge myself to be more outgoing and adventurous and to learn to go with the flow, and I must say mission accomplished. Minor crises were not met with a meltdown, new experiences were met with excitement rather than fear (even though diving off a cliff into the waters of Capri took a little bit of encouragement), new friends were made, and most of all, several more places of the world captured a bit of my heart.


Ciao,
Delaney Kennedy


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GSE Spring 2012 - Florence, Italy
Lorenzo de' Medici - Florence

Nice was nice!

Alex, Rianne, Jeff, and Christina at the beach overlook
by Anna Simmons


Last weekend we went on our first GSE weekend excursion! We spent two beautiful days in Nice, in the south of France on the French Riviera. It was incredible! I am fortunate enough to have had the chance to visit many beautiful places in my lifetime, and Nice ranks very close to the top of them, hands down. That being said, I’ve included a lot of detail, and I apologize if this blog is absurdly long. We did a lot and I loved all of it and I tend to talk about fun trips the same way I pack for them: excessively.


After an almost-too-long train ride that actually wasn’t that bad since we could all sit, talk, and goof around together the whole time, we got into Nice around 10:30 Friday. Being night owls, the late hour wasn’t a problem and we walked around until we found ourselves at the beach-overlook. Even at night it was beautiful! We didn’t stay out too much longer though, as we had a semi-early morning the next day in preparation for our walking tour, so we walked around a little more and then found our way back to the hotel.


Saturday, albeit long and exhausting, was fantastic. We started the morning off with a guided walking tour of Nice, which as it turns out is even prettier in the daylight, and got to see a lot of quintessentially French beach town things. For example, ranking top among things Nice has that Paris doesn’t: colorful buildings. So many of the building façades in Nice were orange, yellow, red, and happy fun colors like that. In Paris things are mostly tan-ish colored, which is of course lovely in its own right, but as everyone can understand sometimes it’s just nice to have a change.


Beautiful coast of Nice!
My favorite part of the walking tour, however, was the flower market down near the main square. Since spring hasn’t hit Paris yet, it was just so incredibly nice to see flowers upon flowers upon flowers opening up their blooms in the sun. After the flower section there was produce, spices, soaps, and other handmade wares for sale in the various booths. We all got a carton of strawberries for a mid-morning snack to tide us over until lunch—they were delicious!


And then we went to the beach. Oh my goodness, it was gorgeous, and blue, and sparkly. But I can’t even begin to do it justice with words, so be sure to check out the picture. Our tour continued, though, and we went up to the hill that overlooks the city to get an even better view of the coast and the harbor with the yachts, and even a far off glimpse of Elton John’s house!


Me and Megan in front of the harbor full of yachts in Nice!
After lunch, we got to see more yachts! We took a train to Monaco and encountered some of the most fabulous boats I’ve ever seen, nestled in some of the bluest water I’ve ever seen, surrounded by one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever been in. So in case you couldn’t tell, I thought Monaco was beautiful. We did some more walking and touring around Monaco City and saw palaces and churches and breathtaking views (no big deal though, right?), and then got to traipse over to Monte Carlo and see a lot of fancy cars and the infamous Monte Carlo casino (we couldn’t go inside, just the lobby, but even that was a glimpse enough of its luxury).
Kharissa in front of Monaco Bay
Some of the crazy floats used during Carnivale
Then we napped on the train back to Nice so we could be well rested for Carnivale that night! Carnivale is a festival that occurs in the winter all throughout Europe. In Nice, they celebrate with a giant parade, lots of costumes, and a super fun Ferris wheel.


Sunday we slept in and lazed around on the beach and in the flower market all afternoon before it was time to begin the long train ride back to Paris. As much as we all adore Paris, it was sad leaving Nice, because we had so much fun and especially because we all kind of miss springtime and sunshine. Those things will hit Paris soon enough, and then I’ll get to blog about how lovely it is here! I can’t wait!


If you’re still reading, thanks for sticking it out to the very end!


A bientôt!
Anna Simmons


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GSE Spring 2012 - Paris, France
University of Paris Sorbonne

Friday, March 23, 2012

Excursion to Nice & Monaco

Beach in Nice
by Jeff Charbonneau


Wow. It is already March and my time in France has been flying by. Thus far, I have thought Paris was the most beautiful part of France, however, that was before I visited the French Riviera. Last week the GSE crew and I made our way down to Nice and Monaco.


The six-hour TGV (high-speed) train ride from Paris to Nice was relatively painless due to the gorgeous French countryside and the company of our good-humored group. As we approached the coast, it became increasingly clear that we were crossing into a part of France which displayed both warmer weather and a culture much different from Paris. My first reaction to Nice was that it reminded me a lot of home (Los Angeles). The sight of palm trees was a welcomed sight after the grey and chilly weather in Paris.


We arrived in the French Riviera Friday evening, giving the group and me plenty of time to take a night out on the town. We walked around the city, had a late dinner and checked out places we were interested in visiting the following day.


Me with a view of the harbor in Nice, France.
On Saturday morning we woke to a group breakfast that was held in the hotel restaurant. We ate fresh croissants and drank espresso before gathering for our guided tour of the Riviera. Our tour guide, who has been living in Nice for more than 30 years, was the perfect person to show us the area. She was extremely knowledgeable of the area and explained to us about the Italian Royal influence of the architecture and traditions of the region.


My favorite part of the Nice tour was the beautiful rock beaches and palm tree-lined boardwalks. The weather was warm and sunny, the beach was moderately crowded and the water was bright blue. I enjoyed the change in climate very much.


At lunch in Nice.
There were also many stunning views in Nice, particularly the one of the harbor. From the same hill that we viewed the harbor, we also saw the Roman ruins that first sprouted the city of Nice, centuries ago.


After our city tour we had a great lunch in the square near the outdoor markets. We dined on veal, fish, chocolate mousse and ice-cream before departing on the short train to Monaco.


View of Monaco from Prince Albert's castle.
Once in Monaco we toured the harbor, Monaco City and Prince Albert’s castle, and the Monte Carlo casino. The country was the smallest I have ever seen but perhaps also the wealthiest. I was blown away by the beauty of the architecture, the stunning views, and the parade of cars driving down the windy streets.


Carnival at night in Nice.
After our afternoon in Monaco we returned to Nice to celebrate Carnival. I had already experienced the Carnival in Venice, Italy, so I had some expectations. The two carnivals, however, were very different from each other. The one in Venice was more of an all day celebration, whereas the one in Nice was purely a night celebration. The group and I dressed up in our costumes and masks and headed out for the night. We took part in the parade, toured the pubs, and went on the Ferris wheel.


The group dressed up for Carnival in Nice.
The following morning many of us went to the beach. After this we had a short lunch before departing on the train back to Paris. The weekend was an excellent and unforgettable experience. I can’t wait for the next weekend-long excursion with the group.


Until next time,
Jeff


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GSE Spring 2012 - Paris, France
American Business School Paris

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Start of My Adventure

The front door to our complex
by Lisa Goodman


I have not even been in Argentina for a week and I am falling in love with the country! The food, the people, and the culture are wonderful – I am so happy to be here!


My arrival to the country was smooth. I easily got to the University of Belgrano, where our program director was waiting for all of us to arrive so he could send us to our apartments or homestays. I met my roommate Carly, and we both took a taxi to our new home. We became friends instantly, and I am lucky to have such a great roommate! Later, my other roommates (who occupy the room next to us) arrived. Max and Rob are great guys that are respectful and have a great sense of humor: all four of us get along very well and have fun together.


Our balcony
The apartment is amazing; it is located in Palermo, which is one of the “hippest” areas in Buenos Aires. It is near boutiques and restaurants, not to mention a wonderful park. I actually took a run in the park yesterday and I loved how green and open it was. The apartment is very lovely inside, and I especially like the view from our balcony. Another great thing is that our landlords are very nice; they showed us where everything was in the apartment and how to work all of the appliances.


Once the weekend ended, all the international students met at the university for an orientation. It was extremely informative and helpful. The director of the university, along with other faculty members, spoke to us about a variety of subjects – such as how to choose and enroll in our courses. What was most interesting to me were the sports offered through the university: I am planning on joining the running team.


The door to our home
I am also excited for April 20th because it is the university’s international culture night, where students from different countries have booths that represent their country. I am looking forward to the music and dancing that night. It will also be a great way to interact with other students.


Carly and peanut butter.
She is so happy!
I have started exploring the city with my roommates and other friends that I have made. We have explored parts of Belgrano, Recoleta, and Palermo.


A memorable moment with my friends was that we encountered peanut butter! This is very rare in Argentina, so my roommate Carly was ecstatic when she found some because she loves it.


There is still so much to see, and I am so glad that we have months to explore Buenos Aires. There is a city tour organized by the university this Friday, and after that I think I will feel even more oriented.


Until my next adventure,
Lisa

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GSE Spring 2012 - Buenos Aires, Argentina
University of Belgrano