24 Hrs In Miami

Spontaneous trips are 100% the best kinds of trips.

My friend, Chelsea, and I were feeling adventurous and decided to head to Miami for the weekend. This little 4 hr road trip was by far the best one I have ever been on!

Our first stop was West Palm Beach: City Place

City Place is in Downtown West Palm Beach and is a beautiful place to shop and dine.

Our next stop was Subculture Coffee, also downtown.IMG_3606

Subculture Coffee was the most adorable café I have ever been to! I got a delicious cappuccino with lavender syrup and almond milk. Chelsea got an iced coffee and zucchini bread. YUM!

After spending some time in West Palm Beach, we headed one hour south to… Miami!

West Palm Beach is a very beautiful area, but nothing beats Miami!

Our first stop was Wynwood Walls.

 

This a completely free thing to do in Miami and I highly recommend visiting the Walls if you enjoy photography and/or art!

 

They even have fun exhibitions where you can purchase the art!

After a while, we got hungry so we wandered down the street and came across The Wynwood Marketplace.

 

Chelsea and I were offered free Goya tacos and we just couldn’t resist. And I, of course, had to get a fresh agua de coco (coconut water)!

There are so many adorable boutiques and restaurants around the Wynwood area. We stumbled upon this super cute plant shop! It was perfect for an outdoorsy photo op!

 

After walking some more, we decided to get some doughnuts because why not! So we popped into The Salty Doughnut.

They have the most beautiful doughnuts I have ever seen. The line was out the door and wrapping around the building so we knew we had to get one. I had the Guava + Cheese doughnut. It was so good that I ate all of it and forgot to take a picture. LOL

 

The rest of the day was spent at South Beach.

It was definitely not as beautiful as the beaches near Tampa, but nothing beats the city atmosphere of Miami. I even got a nice tan.

 

Before it was time to leave, Chelsea and I stopped at the Design district to visit the famous AMAZONICA where we got a pineapple Oblea.

It is a traditional snack from Mexico, similar to a wafer with pineapple, condensed milk, and whipped cream! It was so good.

 

By the end of the day, we were stuffed and the 4-hour car ride was a struggle, but we made it home safe and sound. It was a weekend we will definitely not forget!

Welcome to Tampa, Florida

 

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The famous Tampa Theatre
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Beautiful downtown Tampa at sunset
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Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park
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The Tampa River Walk

Hello friends!

I recently moved to Tampa, Florida where I am studying International business and Marketing at the University of Tampa. I moved in just over 2 weeks ago and am loving every second of my time here. So much change has been happening! I am learning so many things, meeting new people, and exploring all of the opporunities that Tampa has to offer! I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to study on such a beautiful campus. Everyday I am in awe as I walk to class. I ‘m also really enjoying my classes! I am taking Spanish (which is a necessity living in Florida) and an Intro to Global Business course that I find so cool!

I have already explored so much of the Tampa area, from the Straz Center of the Performing Arts, to the bay, to Channelside, to the downtown Tampa area, and the Riverwalk. Tampa has so many fun things to offer its residents and tourists alike!  I also have to mention the new friends I made here!! I’ve only been on campus for 2 weeks and I already feel like I have known my friends for years! This year couldn’t get any better!… until the hurricane came.

By now, I’m sure many people are aware of hurricane Irma and the potential damage it may bring to the state of Florida. Luckily, I have evacuated from the Tampa area and am staying at a friend’s house in Jacksonville, FL. I was just starting to get into the groove of this “college lifestyle” and now a whole week of school is canceled due to the hurricane. Being from Ohio, I have never experienced a hurricane, therefore I have no idea what to expect. I’m just wating and hoping for the best becuase I want to get back to UT as soon as possible! But as they say, “life’s a journey,” so I’m just here for the ride!

I’m wishing the best for eveyone still in Florida, stay safe!

I’ll keep this post updated with news!

UPDATE:

The hurricane has passed and all is good! Actually, Jacksonville got hit a lot wore than Tampa, it was mostly lots of flooding and tornados. But the day after the storm passed was beautiful! Lots of sunshine, so we’re heading back to Tampa 🙂

Xoxo,

Amanda

Oi Brasil: Belo Horizonte, Brazil

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Pastel: a Brazilian fried cheese snack
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Belo Horizonte skyline at sunset
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Açaí bowls

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Fresh coconut water

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Bom dia / Hello!

I recently had the opportunity to travel to Brazil to visit my family. For anyone who doesn’t know, I am half-Brazilian, half-American. My mother was born and raised in Brazil and came to the US when she was 18 as a high school exchange student with Rotary International. I have been to Brazil several times to visit family and friends, but this time was different. I stayed in Minas Gerais for 10 days, visiting family and friends. Along this trip I learned a few things!

  1. South America is nothing like Europe

I had been to Brazil many, many times but it wasn’t until I went back recently and realized how different the lifestyle in Brazil is compared to France and the US! Brazil being a ‘developing country’ is working on economic advancement but currently has a lot of pollution, poverty, and corruption. After talking to my aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc they explained to me that the streets of many beautiful cities such as Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo are extremely dangerous. This is because of the favelas, or slums, where gangs fight against each other.

        2. The food is amazing

On a lighter note, Brazilian cuisine is AMAZING! A typical dish includes rice, black beans, a tomato and pepper salad, and meat. Brazilians absolutely love their meat. And desserts are even better! My personal favorite is Passion fruit mousse! And I can’t forget the açaí bowls- this delicious amazon berry smoothie is topped with granola, bananas, strawberries… whatever your heart desires!

        3. The people are friendly

Ok not everysingle person you meet in Brazil is friendly, just like anywhere else in the world however, Brazilians are very welcoming… and they’ll take any excuse to party. It seems like every time I go to Brazil, there’s a party or dinner to go to! It’s a part of Brazilian culture, they love to celebrate life! Most of the parties start very late, around 8pm or ever later and contiue all throughout the night!

I have been very fortunate to have been able to travel to many countries this year, but Brazil will always have a special place in my heart. I hope to spend a semester abroad in Florianopolis during my studies as a student at the University of Tampa.

Any questions about Brazilian culture or future travels to this beautiful country, feel free to leave a question below!

XOXO,

Amanda

Europe Tour

36 Rotary exchange students, 11 cities, 12 days… C’est parti!

Day 1:

We started day one of the Euro tour bus trip in Paris, France on Easter! Unfortunately we didn’t have a lot of time to visit all of the famous monuments but we did have time to stop at the Eiffel Tower! It was an Easter we’ll never forget!IMG_0759

Day 2:

Bienvenue à Strasbourg! Day 2 was a lovely, rainy day in the city of Strasbourg located right on the border of France & Germany. The word “Strasbourg” in German means “street city.” Strasbourg is less than a 30 min drive from the German border, therefore there is a lot of German influence in the architecture and food. One of my favorite foods we tried here was the “Bretzel,” a German-style soft pretzel.

Day 3:

Next stop: MÜNCHEN! This was my first time visiting Germany, so I was pretty excited. We arrived in the afternoon and had “Rotwurst” which is like a sausage served with French fries for lunch. En route to Munich, we got caught in traffic because of the snow storm that was going on, but that didn’t stop us from arriving in the beautiful city of Munich! We took a very nice tour where we learned that it is the wealthiest city in Germany and is known for football (soccer), beer, and cars. With that being said, we visited the BMW museum. BMW is one amongst 3 other companies that do the most hiring in Germany, roughly 36,000 people work for BMW. It is also a very popular University city, there are many university students in the city of Munich, where college is free!!

Day 4 & 5:

Czech this out!

The next 2 days were spent in Prague! We took a tour around the “Old Town” visiting a lot of the important buildings and cathedrals, and since it was Easter week, we even got to see the adorable outdoor Easter market. We also tried a Czech specialty food called “Trdelnik.” The best way to describe it is like bread dough rolled up around a hot iron rod where they roll it in sugar, bake it, and then spread caramel sauce/ Nutella/ whipped cream/ etc on the inside. It was delish! We then visited the john Lennon wall, a beautiful wall where you can find graffiti with drawings or quotes of world peace.

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Day 6:

We then drove to, in my opinion, probably one of the most beautiful cities in Europe… VIENNA! We took a nice walking tour around the city but we’re unable to visit the entire city by foot, so we hopped on the bus and saw the rest of the city. There were so many beautiful buildings with ‘Art Nouveau’ style architecture.

Day 7 & 8:

Next up on our tour is Venice, Italy! I had seen so many beautiful pictures of Venice in books/ social media/ etc, but when I saw this city in person, my jaw dropped. It is such a unique city built on water. We had to take a 20 minute ferry form the main land to get to Venice. First thing we did when we arrived was get Gelato! IMG_1040I got Stracciatella, which is vanilla with bits of chocolate, it was delicious! We then took a guided tour where we saw a good bit of Venice including the Byzantine cathedral and learned about Venice’s 15 day carnival and specially in Glass making. I bought a pair of beautiful glass earrings that are made on an island not far from Venice. We ended the day off right with a run along the beach at sun set and had pasta for dinner! Fun fact: pasta is considered as an appetizer in Italy, so we had one plate of pasta, then a plate of veal and potatoes, and then Panna Cotta for dessert.

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Day 9:

Ciao Milano!

Every day I spent in Italy I ended up loving more and more. The people are so friendly, the food is great, and I even got to practice my Italian! For breakfast we ate traditional Italian food: presunto, cheese, pannetone and café with latte (which means warm milk!). I was surprised to find that Italian is quite easy to understand. For lunch we stopped at a restaurant in Milan where they did not speak English, therefore we had to make an effort to speak in Italian. Luckily my knowledge of Portuguese, Spanish and French came into hand and we had no problems ordering our meal. I ate a delicious “gnocchi Verdi,” which is a potato based pasta with basil and garlic.

We then took a guided walking tour visiting all of the major monuments in Milano. We saw the beautiful Duomo cathedral and the Plazza Della Scala, which is a very high end shopping centre. I was completely starstruck by this city because my freshman year of high school, I did a project on Milan and its famous monuments, so I was in awe to actually get to visit Milan and see the city in person during my senior year of High School.

And since Milan is one of the fashion capitals of the world, i just had to go shopping. I found an adorable Italian hand bag store, from Naples, where I bought a beautiful summer-y purse. And we couldn’t leave Italy without trying the coffee, so I tried an espresso. Boy oh boy, those Italian espressos are about the size of 2 sips but it gave me so much energy!

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Day 10:

En route back to La France! Today we adventured to Mont Blanc, the tallest mountain in in Europe. We arrived in the afternoon, it was raining so we decided to eat a warm lunch. We found the cutest little Swedish restaurant in the centre ville of Chamonix where we ate Swedish meatballs, lingonberries, and mashed potatoes. We then caught a train to take to the top of mount blanc. It was such an awesome view! We then took a gondola to the bottom to check out the glaciers! It was incredible to get to see the inside of a glacier but alarming because of how fast it is melting. 

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Day 11: 

Guess who’s going to the UN in Geneva today?! ME!!!

Today we drove from Annecy, France to Geneva, Switzerland. We got to see an actual conference going on during the ‘eCommerce week’: Assessing eTrade readiness of the least developed countries. We also learned that there are 6 official languages of the United Nations: English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Russian, and Arabic.

We then stopped in downtown Geneva for lunch! I ate at a delicious Brazilian restaurant with all of the Brazilian exchange students. It was delicious!!!

Then we headed back to Annecy where we spent the rest of the day! We drank hot chocolate and saw some of the other exchange students who live in Annecy.

And to end the bus trip, we had a dance party in the hotel! This was a trip that I’ll never forget! Thanks to everyone who made it unforgettable!

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Bisous!

I went to the UK: Edinburgh, Scotland

I just spent a week in the U.K. with my fellow french classmate and it was such an awesome experience!
We started the trip leaving at midnight Saturday and drove all the way from Chambéry, france, passing through Luxembourg, Belgium and made our way to Amsterdam, Holland where we caught the ferry to take us to Newcastle, England where we would then drive to Edinburgh, Scotland.

Day 1
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Once we arrived in England, we drove a few hours to get to Hadrian’s Wall. It was the wall built during the Roman Empire, located just below the border of Scotland. Unfortunately it rained and we were walking in mud the whole time but it was a really cool thing to experience! I’m not a game of thrones fan but apparently this tree is famous because of the series.
We then drove to an ancient roman town that is more than 2000 years old called Viandola. This town has archeologists and volunteers who come to dig on the site to find things from the ancient times. We also go to see the museum where they had a collection of shoes from the romans that they found in display.
Later on that night, we met up with our Scottish host families in the suburbs of Edinburgh .One of my french friends and i were hosted by a very nice woman and man who also had kids but they were not home because they were visiting family in Wales. It was really strange for me to be speaking in English with people who’s native language is English since I have been in france for 8 months! I can’t imagine how weird it’s gonna feel when I actually go back home to the US! 

Day 2
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We woke up bright and early to rejoin with the group and head to Sterling, a city in Scotland that used to be the capital. We had a tour guided by a local Scott who wore a kilt! I learned that the unicorn is one of the national symbols of Scotland, the other is the thistle.
We got to see a monument call the National Wallace Monument. Scottish army defeats British forces in the late 1200s. It was a very tall tower with a total of 264 steps. It was actually quite scary to go up to the top because there is only 1 state case for everyone to use and it was not a very big one, since it is so old, so you had to take turns going up and down the steps because they weren’t big enough.
Fun fact: A veryyyyy long time ago, Scotland had glaciers that passed through pausing the land down, which caused all the large hills/ tiny mountains but now a days, the ground in Scotland rises just a little bit everyday while the ground in England sinks just a little bit.
Scotland also has volcanos, that’s why you can find many old, black building made from the volcanic rock.
Later on, we took a boat ride down one of Scotland’s deepest rivers! 



Day 3:

First thing, we were greeted with a “Goodmornin” (imagine it with a Scottish accent) and ate toast with butter and blackcurrant jam with tea and milk!
We then drove to the Edinburgh castle located on a cliff like hill with an amazing view of all of Edinburgh!
We spent the rest of the day walking along the ‘Royal mile’ Edinburgh’s Main Street for shopping and restaurants. Scotland is known for its cashmere and Whiskey, but I did not buy any of that. I went for the Scottish shortbread and fudge and took pictures at the red telephone booths, of course! It’s such a cute city with its double decker busses and cobble stone streets! We really got lucky, out of the 4 days that we were in the U.K., 3 of them were sunny!
And since it was the last night with our host families, I thought I’d be cool to ask them a few questions about their country…

1. What is a specialty dish & dessert from Scotland?: black pudding- blood sausage Heggis– served wi h turnips and potatos (sheeps somach- lining) cranachan– whipped cream & raspberries & whisky & granola

3. Number of sunny days per year?: only a handful, gets up to 19 degrees Celsius in the summer

4. Favorite thing to do in Scotland?: Lockness & golf, because Scotland is the home of golf



Day 4
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We said a final goodbye to our host family and stopped one last time in Edinburgh to go to the Edinburg dungeons! This was a really cool experience and I’d highly recommend it to anyone visiting. I think the best way to explain it is an interactive museum/ haunted house. It was based off of legitimate Scottish history but twisted a little to make it ‘scary’ and intriguing’ lol. I was accused as a “witch” during a court case.
We then drove back down to Newcastle, England where we took the ferry to Amsterdam and then drove all the way back home to Chambéry.


Next up is a bus trip around all Europe lasting 12 days!!! I’m gonna be exhausted after all this traveling! 😂

Snow Shoeing In the French Alps: Grenoble, France

I’ve officially been in France for 5 months…

And what better way to spend it than with people from around the world experiencing the same journey! This weekend 43 exchange students headed to the mountains to explore all the nature France has to offer. The weekend started Saturday afternoon, we met up at a chalet a then headed to the hills to luge a.k.a sledding.

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After sledding we ate a delicious French meal called Raclette. It’s cheese melted on a pan, then scrapped onto potatoes, and can also be eaten with a selection of cold cut meats. It’s a super delicious and super popular meal amongst the French.

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The next day we woke up bright and early to hit the mountains for some Raquette a.k.a snow shoeing for almost 4 hours!!! I had never done it before so it took a while to get used to, but it was super fun and we saw some awesome views from the top of the mountain!

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Joyeux Anniversaire: Chambéry, France

Happy 18th Birthday to me!

I have been so fortunate to spend my 18th birthday in France surrounded by my exchange friends, my 2 host families, and my Rotary club! I enjoyed great company and delicious food at the most beautiful chateau, I could’t have asked for a better way to celebrate my first year as an adult! It was truly a day to remember! Thank you to my legit family for giving me the opportunity to spend a year abroad, my host families for always being so patient and supportive, my exchange friends for teaching me a bit of their culture, and Rotary for making my exchange year possible!

But the celebrations didn’t stop there!! The day after my birthday, my best (French) friend surprised me by showing up at my house!! It was the best birthday surprise ever!! Her name is Estelle, she was an exchange student at Jackson High School 2 years ago and my family hosted her for 5 months, so you can imagine how happy I was to see her!! We spent the whole weekend in the city of Chambéry eating Nutella waffles, drinking hot chocolate, and shopping. She has also helped me tremendously with Français since it is her native language.

Estelle and I also went to a ‘Dia de los Muertos’ fiesta with some Latina exchange students in Chambéry, so I have been speaking a lot of Spanish, French, AND English this weekend! That’s one of my favorite aspects of study abroad because there are more ways than one to communicate with others. Overall, I will never forget the memories I made on my 18th Birthday thanks to my friends and family!

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