The Scottish Parliament Building, located in Edinburgh, Scotland.

National Pride

It’s pouring rain. I’m dressed in green army-themed “fancy dress” (that’s British for costume, go figure) and military face paint is streaking down my face. I’m trudging up a hill through muddy puddles that my California-girl sandals are clearly not designed for. I have three companions. One is wearing a
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Desperately searching for a toilet, or "hiking," near the town of Saint-Étienne, France.

Feeling down in Lyon town

Believe it or not, this Francophile has the blues, or as the French would say, “J’ai le cafard” which literally translates to “I have the cockroach.” Yup, I’m finally in France and I’m feeling a little down. Although there are several contributing factors, such as the broken headphones and the
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The view from Edinburgh Castle, Scotland.

The world is flat (except in Scotland)

Anyone who lives in Berkeley knows well the kind of tolerance for hills you need if you’re a runner there. Actually you need a decent tolerance for them just to go to football games, or classes, if you’re an engineer. I spent most of my freshman year on the phone
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Trinity College. Dublin, Ireland.

Irish ad absurdum

The murder was announced early Monday and took place Thursday evening shortly after 8 o’clock. This being a widely anticipated event, the Green Room of the theater was packed to bursting. It was difficult to move an elbow, let alone shake a fist. Most people resorted to the incessant nodding
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In Scotland, everything is better with a few bottles of IRN BRU ...

My favorite Scottish ‘BRU’

Being legal to drink about a year early has certainly changed the focus of my trips to the grocery store. But after about a week here in Edinburgh, the excitement wore off and the jet lag was lingering, thanks to a few nights of alcohol-diluted sleep. I ventured to the
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A charming courtyard near the Université Lumière Lyon 2. Lyon, France.

Confessions of a Francophile

  I’ll admit it, I’m a total Francophile. I’m sure you all have at least one friend or acquaintance like me. Once I chose French as the language I wanted to (try to) learn, I totally dorked out on French culture. By French II, not only had I decided France
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A view of Princes Street, taken from North Bridge.

Foreign language immersion

“That’s so weird!” I mused, observing my surroundings on Princes Street, a popular tourist destination in Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital city. Exactly what I thought was weird, I can’t recall through my still-jet-lagged haze. Perhaps it was the statue of a lion covered in pennies (or pence as they’re called here), or
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Detour: Transformers: Home is Where the House Is

I spent my last week before leaving the U.S. at my parents’ homes. Nestled between the harried months preceding graduation and the summer abroad that lay ahead, that week was lost to the domestic doldrums. The great organ that was undergraduate life had just let go its death belch, and
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Detour: Tourbinism

Recently I was scanning through an Old World geography book, a lap-sized cardboard thing published for children in the early 1990s. The world was split not into continents or nations but mid-sized regions, apparently dependent on the richness of their tourist iconography. Each giant illustrated map was a combination of
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Detour: Pilsner and Prejudice

The Danish brewing company Carlsberg introduced earlier this year a new beer called “Copenhagen 56°N.” The beer is a German pilsner, with a light yellow hue and a taste like champagne from a rotting juice box. The beer has been marketed as relentlessly hip ― an alcoholic accessory to a
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