Posted by: claire.mangine | April 20, 2013

Last. Post. (for my capstone at least)

Oh, would you look at this. My last entry for this capstone project. Where has the time gone? This has been pretty fun, actually! I’ve interviewed some friends, some friends of friends, and other people who I became friends with after interviewing them.
This blog has really opened my eyes to the experiences other people had while studying abroad, whether or not they were in Italy like I was. I can’t lie that I was jealous while speaking with a few people because their semesters just seemed so incredible. But then again, so was mine! Just in its own way of incredible 🙂
I end the title of this blog with “at least” because for all I know, I’ll want to come back to it and add more!

I don’t just want to end this blog with a GOOD BYE. I’ll instead take this time to interview myself 🙂 I’ve been home for almost a year now (as of 4/27/12) and take any advantage to talk about being abroad. Well here’s a good one–my own study abroad blog!!

Study Abroad Destination: Perugia, Italy
When Traveled: Fall Semester of junior year (Sept.-Dec. 2012)
Program Traveled with: The Franciscan Heritage Program
Program Rating out of 10: 8
University Attended while Abroad: The Umbra Institute
Home University: St. Bonaventure University


me climbing down the Leaning Tower of Pisa!

Claire: How many people came from your university or were in your program total? Were they all American?
Claire: There were six of us total from Bonas. About 90-100 students total. There were four Italian students who also attended the school. They would take all their classes in English, but have office hours to help us with our Italian homework.

ImageHere’s all of us while on a trip to La Verna. L to R:
Carrie, Gabby, Sara, Alex, Abby, ME!

CM: What was your living arrangement? Were you in a dorm or with a family? What was the family like?
Me: I was in an apartment building in a home with two other Bonnies (above Carrie and Abby). Our apartment was tiny, but not even a 5 minute walk to our school (of course uphill). Abby and I shared a room. Carrie’s was clearly a small dining room with a bed thrown in there! Our neighbors were all Italian, including our neighbor across the hall who constantly sang or played opera music at all times of the day.

ImageThe room that Abby and I shared

CM: What other countries and cities did you travel to while in Italy?
Me: I traveled as far north as La Verna, Italy and all the way down to Sicily and everywhere in between. I also went to Ireland. England, France and Spain.

CM: What was your favorite country/city and why? What was your least favorite country/city and why?
Me: I loved loved loved Paris, as everyone knows. I also loved Galway, Ireland; Florence, Naples, and Pisa! I didn’t really dislike any cities, I just wish we had better weather when we went to Rome because it rained the whole time and really put a damper on our weekend (literally).

ImageMe under the twinkling Eiffel Tower. Casual.

CM: If you could give advice to a prospective study abroad student, what would you tell them?
Me: You need to go. When are you ever going to have the time to spend 4 months just traveling around another continent? Take advantage of your parents too…as they’re probably willing to help you with money while you’re in college. When will that happen again? This is the experience of a life time.

CM: What was your least favorite, and most difficult part of the experience? How did you over come these difficulties?
Me: One thing I dreaded was the language barrier in Italy. It aggravated me to a level I never knew I had. Yeah sure it did get better with time, but in situations when doing the most simple thing, like heading out to dinner, were stressful because we couldn’t read the menu, I would get so frustrated. I also hated grocery shopping. Walking with heavy bags all the way down to the tiny grocery store was my least favorite thing about my daily life. There was no real way to overcome this difficulty, I just had to accept it. However, finding a store closer to our apartment during the last two months was helpful, too. I missed Wegmans like WOAH.

CM:  How would you rate the program that brought you to Italy, and the University that you attended while you were there, out of 10? Consider the application process, the professors and staff being helpful, if they spoke English, were there interesting classes and field trips…
Me: I gave my program an 8 out of 10 because I didn’t really like my abroad school. I wish I was somewhere with way more people! Being in that small one-hallway school seeing the same people every day got old fast. However, our director, Dr. Chiariello and his wife brought us over and did all our paperwork for us before hand. The application process was very easy. The staff at Umbra were mostly Americans so they were a huge help when trying to plan a trip or helping us fix the (many) power outages in our apartment.

ImageMy roommates and I holding up that ever-leaning Tower of Pisa. That day was hilarious

So, this is where we part for now. I’m so happy with how this blog turned out and I accomplished everything in it that I wanted to. I talked to some great people and got to hear about some great experiences. Thank you, followers and likers for keeping me motivated to write weekly! I appreciate all your support.

Good bye for now, and I hope this blog has inspired you to TRAVEL WHILE YOU’RE YOUNG.


Posted by: claire.mangine | April 12, 2013

Post Ten: Interview with Liz

It’s Friday!!! It’s the 25 days until graduation celebration! It’s a good day 🙂

Two week ago, I asked two people, Mairead and Liz, if they would agree to an interview about their abroad city size. I thought I might have needed a back up for some reason? Luckily, they both got back to me! Instead of choosing just one story to share with you, I of course wanted to share both since they both so nicely agreed.

Please meet Liz, a friend of a friend who lived in Genoa, Italy- or as it is in Italian, Genova–  for a semester one year ago:


Home University: RIT
Abroad University: RIT in conjunction with A Door to Italy – Scuola di Italiano
When you traveled: May-July
Rate your study abroad program out of 10: 8
City you stayed in: Genoa

If you’re not familiar with where Genoa is, please see map below, found from this site:

I asked Liz the same questions as Mairead and Brittany, just so I could learn all the same information. Genoa’s population is actually larger than both Perugia and Lisbon, with a total of 608,154 as of 2011. Now, on to Liz:

Claire:  Before you got to your host city, what did you expect it to be like?
Liz: I couldn’t even tell you, I think I expected to feel more out of place than I did… I prepared myself by reading about the culture, and I brought clothes that were appropriate and wouldn’t scream “American.”

C: When you got there, was it what you expected? What was different/the same as what you imagined/were told?
L: It was better than I could have imagined, I felt like I was in a fairy tale with all the old historic architecture, the friendly sociable people, the atmosphere….I didn’t necessarily have expectations other than the desire to have an open mind and enjoy the culture through a unbiased perspective.


C: Would you consider your host city to be rural/small/medium-ish/large/booming..? What were the signs that showed off it’s size?
L: Definitely large, the city was over crowded. I think what really made me realize the size was when I climbed these beautiful stairs that led to an overlook, and I was able to see the entire city panorama- you could practically leap from rooftop to rooftop.

C: What did you see as the pros/cons of the size of your host city?
L: The only thing that actually bothered with was the fact that they didn’t have any regulations on animals. In Genova, more people had pets than children- so we’d walk down to the port and there’d be packs of dogs playing together, which was nice. But no one would pick up after their dogs… so the major con was the lack of cleanliness.

Pros was the fact that you could walk everywhere! I miss that here.

C: When you traveled to a smaller/larger city, did you find yourself appreciating your city more, or disliking it?
Each city was a unique experience, and I appreciated each as that. But Genova felt like home more than anywhere else.

C: If you could go back again, would you pick the same size city, or a larger/smaller one? Why?
L: If I were to ever go back, I’d like to move to city in Tuscany, or a smaller village the Alps. I definitely missed being near nature when I was in Genova.


C: Do you think it’s important to travel while you’re young? Why?
L: Most definitely. My thought process was, it’s now or never.

I’ll end this week’s blog with Liz’s quote: IT’S NOW OR NEVER! Thank you to Liz for being a part of my blog and for all these great pictures! Have a great weekend everyone 🙂

All photo credits to Liz Purcell

Posted by: claire.mangine | April 9, 2013

Post Nine: Interview with Mairead

Okay I’m a little bit confused. My last blog (about apologizing for my week of absence and a preview to what’s being posted this week… did you forget already???) got the most likes EVER. In fact, people are still liking it as I write this blog…

Is this because you missed me orrrrrrrr should I take a week off more often? Too bad, because I can’t. This IS for a grade, you know. So thanks, everyone (I think). 🙂

As promised, today I would like you to meet Mairead who studied abroad in Lisbon for her second semester of her junior year. 

Home University: Siena College
Abroad University: The New University of Lisbon
Rate your program out of 10: 15!!!!
City you stayed in: Lisbon


As mentioned, Mairead is here to compare/contrast what it’s like to live in a larger foreign city as opposed to a smaller one. Here’s what she had to say:

Claire: Before you got to your host city, what did you expect it to be like?
Mairead: I truly had no idea. I searched through hundreds of pictures on the internet, but I couldn’t get a grasp of what daily life would be like. All I found were monuments and castles, so I had no way of knowing what the streets were like, how the city operated or what it really looked like. I suppose in some ways I expected to see a metropolis like New York City because that’s where I grew up.             

                     Wow. Where was I for that common sense little tid-bit to GOOGLE IMAGE the city Iwas set to live in for almost 4 months? That NEVER came to mind for me. I just looked at the little post cards that our Program Director gave us from Perugia. I didn’t research it or anything. What was I thinking?? Then again..not thinking?

Don’t follow my lead, prospective students, research your city before getting there, then you won’t be 100% clueless upon arrival. Back to Mairead.

C: When you got there, was it what you expected? What was different/the same as what you imagined/were told?
M: It was nothing like I had expected. Lisbon is one of the hilliest cities in the world and the streets and pavements are made of cobblestone. If I had known that, I definitely would have left behind my bag of high heels (lol). I was told it was beautiful. And that’s what I expected to see. When I first got there I remember feeling so culture-shocked that I couldn’t see the beauty in anything. I looked at the old tavernas, mosaic-tiled walls, narrow cobblestone streets and thought, “I’m living in the slums of Portugal.” But I was just so homesick nothing could be pretty. I was almost hostile to the whole environment for the first few days. But once I calmed down and got acclimated, I fell head-over-heels in love with it. Everyday was an adventure and I lived the dream. 
But to answer your question, no I could never expect to live in a modern city that has such an ancient character. People live and die, technology changes, but Lisbon remains. That’s what the city feels like.


C: Would you consider your host city to be rural/small/medium-ish/large/booming..? What were the signs that showed off it’s size?
M: I felt that Lisbon was so small. The heart of the city was called Baixa-Chiado (Bay-shu Chi-ah-do) and it was about 4 metro stops from my dorm. I could get anywhere I wanted in a matter of minutes. And if I chose to walk, that was okay too. After four months I knew that city off the back of my hand. I can’t say the same about Manhattan.

C: What did you see as the pros/cons of the size of your host city?
M: I loved the relaxed atmosphere, the aesthetic beauty and the history to be the most appealing aspect of the city. I suppose the cons would bet that their police did not seem to admonish beggars the way we do in America. If you were not smart, you could easily be accosted by a beggar. So sometimes that was scary. And pick-pocketing was rampant. So I would say their lax attitude about petty crime was the most negative thing I could say, but being that I grew up in the Bronx I handled my own and no one stole a thing from me.

C: When you traveled to a smaller/larger city, did you find yourself appreciating your city more, or disliking it?
M: I traveled throughout Portugal and truly loved every city I encountered. But when I went to Barcelona and Alicante, I just felt like my city was better. Barcelona is so enormous and flooded with tourists, while Alicante just seemed so discombobulated to me. So yes, I definitely grew biased towards the city I lived in.

ImageC: If you could go back again, would you pick the same size city, or a larger/smaller one?

M: If I could go back again I would live there for a year. Heck, maybe I’d even spend all four years of college there!

C: Do you think it’s important to travel while you’re young? Why?
I suppose I have a rather existential view when it comes to traveling. I just feel that life is so short and you are only young and free of responsibility for a few short years in your youth. The best thing a person could do is travel and see the world. Even if it’s somewhere in your own state, or not too far away. There are many ways of life and different kind of people that you can encounter that can change your outlook. When I studied abroad I felt like I found my voice. I was doing something amazing and living my dream. To this day, I’ve never felt so alive, so carefree and so happy as I was when I lived in Lisbon. You can be whoever you want. Go wherever you want and spend time somewhere celebrating your life– No one elses.

C: Anything else you care to share about Lisbon?!
M: I met one of my best friends in Lisbon that I would never otherwise have met. That’s one of the best things to come from my trip. Friendships and memories.

ImageWow! What a great prospective!! A big thank you to Mairead to agreeing to this interview and for providing all above pictures. If you want to read more about Mairead’s first encounter with her host mom, Anna, follow this link to her blog. Fair warning: it’s hilarious.

Posted by: claire.mangine | April 8, 2013

Oops. I’m back!

With my constant job searching/interviewing/emailing/online networking, along with the end of the semester approaching (meaning lots of school work being thrown in) I’m sorry to admit that I have fallen behind with this little blog of mine. I’ve been doing big posts on Fridays and little posts on Wednesdays, but realized that I missed this whole past week completely.

Oooops, sorry! I’m back!

I hope everyone enjoyed my last blog featuring Brittany who traveled to Perugia, Italy for the second semester of her sophomore year. I wanted to interview Brittany to share her opinion of staying in a smaller city compared to a major city such as… Lisbon, Portugal… the location I’ll feature in my next big blog post!
After some research. I learned that Perugia’s population is 168,066 as of 2010. Lisbon’s population is 547, 631 as of 2011. Therefore, I can refer to Perugia as “tiny” in comparison, am I right? 
So, for Wednesday, I’ll introduce you to Mairead who lived in Portugal for a semester and you can read her opinion of living in a larger city, compared to Brittany’s perspective of living in a smaller one. 

Keep your eyes out for that! Have an enjoyable last few hours of the weekend 🙂 In the mean time, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite pictures I took of the city center in Perugia. Lovely!


xo/ claire

Posted by: claire.mangine | March 30, 2013

Post Eight- Interview with Brittany

New post, new post! And it’s Friday. And I’m on break. And my mom took me shopping today 🙂 Look at me I’m on a roll today.

I wanted to switch things up again and have a different theme for this blog, not just your average tell-me-about-your-trip interview. Also…it was about time I talked to someone who went to my host city, Perugia <3. I talked to someone I’ve known since my first day at Bonaventure: my across-the-hall-freshman-year-neighbor, Brittany!! She to Perugia a year before me, so she was able to hook me up with inside information of throwing yourself into Europe. She even answered my last minute desperate questions just days before leaving; i.e.: “how many sweaters, EXACTLY, do I need???”
I talked to her about the size of Perugia for this blog, which is really kind of tiny (in my opinion). Some people are completely content with that (Brittany) others were left wanting a little more (moi). Here’s her thoughts on the topic:

wait. where are my manors. let’s do some introductions, shall we?

Home University: St. Bonaventure University
Abroad University: The Umbra Institute
When you traveled: January 2011-May 2011. Second semester sophomore year
Rate your program out of 10: 9/10
City you stayed in: Perugia, Italy


I love this picture 🙂 She screams Italy!!

Claire: Before you got to your host city, what did you expect it to be like?
BrittanyI had a very cosmopolitan image in my head of what living in Italy would be like. I expected everyone to walk around in heels and pretty much thought everywhere in Italy looked like Milan or Rome. I also (this is so “American” of me) thought everyone would speak English and that I wouldn’t need to learn a lot of Italian.

C: When you got to Perugia, was it what you expected? What was different/the same as what you imagined/were told?                                                                                                                                                                                                                             B: When I arrived, the first thing I noticed was a lot of areas were very picturesque, like I expected. Because Perugia is in a Tuscan region the landscape looked very Italian to me. However, I also noticed some immediate differences. Many people, especially the elderly, in Perugia do not speak English. I remember the first night we went out to eat, my friends and I had to literally go into the kitchen at one point and show the cook what we wanted. Also, I was so wrong about Italian fashion. A lot of teenagers and young adults in Perugia were into a weird mix of skater/hip-hop fashions. And everyone wore sneakers, especially really colorful basketball sneakers. Traveling was also something I didn’t expect, especially the ease of it. It was completely normal to decide on Thursday night that my friends and I should totally go to Rome or Florence or even Berlin for the weekend, so we’d buy tickets and leave the next morning.


C: Would you consider Perugia to be rural/small/medium-ish/large/booming..? What were the signs that showed off it’s size?
B: The thing about Perugia is that it’s hard to give it a size. When you compare it to Rome or Florence it’s small. But it’s location, in Umbria (which is so rural) makes it seem much larger. It’s a university city, so there were a ton of people the same age as me (I think there are seven universities in Perugia.) There were also a lot of bars, and clubs and places to eat. It was small enough that I could get around anywhere by walking (if I really wanted to) but large enough that I was always discovering a new place to eat or club or bar. It was also on a massive hill, so the bottom of Perugia was very modern, the train station was there, as well as  McDonald’s and the major supermarket and a ton of traffic. The top, which is the historic area and where The Umbra Institute is located, is like stepping into a different century. Everything is cobblestone and no cars are allowed in certain areas. There’s also a lot of specified stores and piazzas. These two completely different aspects of Perugia made it seem larger as well. There was also the MiniMetro, which was like a monorail that connected the top of Perugia with the bottom and allowed for different stops. Most cities in America don’t even have that so that also added to the feel of it’s size.

Unaware of what the “MiniMetro” is? Of course you are. It’s a monorail system that spans Perugia in about 15 minutes flat. Pay 1.50 Euro, scan your ticket, and hop on! You get off at your destination and another rail car will be there in about two minutes for the next group of people! I always would say it’s like the monorail in Disney, but no one ever found that funny for some reason? Ouch. Here’s one of my pics of the inside going
though a tunnel: 


C: What did you see as the pros/cons of the size of Perugia?                                                                                                              B: Pros: I had to learn the Italian language to speak with native Perugians. While it was hard at times, I love being able to tell people I speak it now. I became a regular at certain bars/pubs/cafes. With Perugia being smaller, I was able to make friends with a lot of shop owners. This is turn allowed me a lot of free food and drinks 🙂
Cons:  I didn’t know ANY Italian, beyond “ciao,” when I came to Italy so the first few days were tough. At one point I was seriously considering going home because I didn’t know how to talk to anyone and I felt like a moron. BUT I will stress that it got easier and now I’m so glad I stayed.The WiFi was very finicky. The school had a pretty weak internet connection so I’d sometimes go to internet cafes. They were okay, but keeping in contact with my family and friends was a little tough, so sometimes I felt disconnected. Getting to Perugia from major cities and other countries could be a bit of a hassle. If I was coming from Rome, it was a two hour train ride, which wasn’t too bad.
But, for example, when I came back from Dublin one weekend. I had to fly into Pisa, then wait three hours for a train, then get a connecting one in Foligno, so I wouldn’t get home until very later and the MiniMetro stopped running at 9pm, which meant I’d either need to get a taxi or call an Italian friend who had a car to get me.

ImageC: When you traveled to a smaller/larger city, did you find yourself appreciating Perugia more, or disliking it?                                                               B: I definitely appreciated Perugia more after traveling to larger cities. The first time I went to Rome, I became totally overwhelmed by everything and became lost every ten minutes. Also, larger cities in Italy are very Americanized. If you try to speak Italian to waiters or shop owners, they will totally shut you down and just speak English. In Perugia, if you tried to speak Italian (even if you were really, REALLY bad at it, they appreciated the effort and helped you with whatever you needed.I only traveled to a few cities smaller than Perugia, like Cortona or Assissi. They both seemed a little boring in comparison to Perugia, so again I was glad I had picked the city I had.

Brittany, I had so much fun reading your answers to my questions 🙂 and creeping though your Facebook pics. AHH THE MEMORIES! Thank you for your help!!

All photo credit to Brittany Gasper
With exception of Minimetro picture…that beauty’s all mine

Posted by: claire.mangine | March 22, 2013

Post Seven- Interview with Brian

We meet again. Happy Friday. Have I been doing this blog for a while now or is it just me? As I’ve been mentioning, we’ve been on a Spain kick for our second week now. Brian, another Bonnie, will help me finish this theme out strong!

hi brian!!

I’ve been excited to feature Brian on my blog because he’s one of the only people I know that studied abroad TWICE. How lucky! I’ve asked him questions on both experiences. Read below to find out what he had to say!

First study abroad experience: Spain
When: Mid May – June 30th 2011
Traveled with: SBU 6 week Spanish study abroad program with Alva Cellini
Rating of Program : 10/10
University/School: Colegio de Espana, Salamanca, Spain

Claire: How many people came from your home university and how many were in your program total? Were they all America

Brian: I went with 13 St. Bonaventure students and two professors…Alva Cellini and Fr. Allen Weber. Everyone in the group was American.

C: What was your living arrangement? Were you in a dorm or with a family? What was the family like, if you lived with one?

B: Living arrangements were very fun. I roomed with another St. Bonaventure student in an apartment that was designed for international students to come and stay. Our house mother was very inviting, fun, and willing to help. We had house mates from all over the world stay with us.

C: How would you rate the program that brought you to this city, and the University that you attended while you were there, out of 10? Like was the application process easy, were the professors and staff there helpful, did they speak English, were there interesting classes and field trips…

B: I would rate the program a 10/10 and the school an 11/10. We were given the opportunity to travel all over the country and see many important sites, churches, landmarks, and castles. After we settled in Salamanca, Spain we went to school for a month and the teachers and staff there were some of the nicest people I have ever met in my life. Every single one of them were very friendly and always tried to make you happy. They didn’t speak English but understood enough of it. They were also very good at explaining themselves in Spanish so you could understand what they were saying. They felt it was necessary to not only study Spanish but to get out and see the city and see Spain so they offered field trips around the city and even day trips to surrounding cities.

brian in spain!C: When did you decide that you just HAD to go back for a full semester? What did your parents/friends say!?

B: I came back home July 1st still on a high from being in Spain for six weeks. Once the new semester began at Bonas I felt like…I have to get back there. In October I made it official that I wanted to do the following spring semester in Salamanca, Spain. My parents were hesitant because I had never traveled by myself before and I wouldn’t be with a group like I was with Bonas. I had never been away by myself for more than a few weeks so going away for 5 months kind of scared them a bit. Half of my friends didn’t(don’t) understand why I wanted/want to go back but the other half was very supportive.

                             The second time I went abroad
Where: Salamanca, Spain Jan 28th – June 30th 2012
Program: Baruch College in NYC
Rating of Program: 10/10
University/School: Colegio de Espana

C: How was this experience different than your first one?

B: The time I spent there for 5 months was completely different from the 6 week program the summer before. Because we were in a group we usually just stuck together and were hesitant to meet other international people. Also, speaking Spanish was another big difference. Before, since we were in a group we always spoke English. We were never put in any real position to have to speak the language like if you were by yourself and you needed to buy something or ask for directions for example. We did it sometimes…but it was never really too necessary. Because it was during the semester I was forced to break out of any comfort zone I had ever known. I was forced to do things I had never done before, meet people, eat different foods, and basically fend for myself. I loved doing the semester more than the 6 week program because after 5 months you felt like a local. I had the opportunity to meet people from literally all over the world. I met people from Italy, Spain, Ireland, Belgium, France, Poland, Holland, Greece, Austria, Switzerland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Saudi Arabia, China, Taiwan, Panama, Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Japan, Germany, Scotland, Morocco, Denmark, Russia, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Portugal…just to name a few. There was nothing negative about either trip. The 6 week program was always go, go, go, and understandably so. Our professors wanted to show us all they could in a short amount of time whereas…being there for 5 months you given the opportunity to take it a little easier.

brian with friends

C: What advice would you give to prospective study abroad students?

B: Advice I would give to anybody interested in studying abroad…DO IT. It’s such an amazing and unique experience. Also, don’t be shy or afraid to go out and meet people and get involved with what’s going on. I regret sometimes not trying harder to meet more international people. It’s such a fun experience and one that you will talk about for the rest of your lives…and you will talk about it with the friends that you meet from all around the world. Don’t let one doubt stop you from doing it because you will regret it.

C: Do you think it’s important to travel while you’re young? Why?

B: Absolutely. I never thought even for a second that I would ever leave New York State for any extended period of time…never thought I would ever need to know Spanish. The reality of it is that you do need to get out and see and do what you can while you’re young. Any part of the world that you’re interested in seeing and visiting…do it. Once you graduate and have to get a real job your opportunities to travel for any extended period of time will be few and far between. Anywhere you go there will be people your age doing the same things you are doing who are there for the same reasons you are…to learn, have fun, and meet people from all over the world. Like I said before, never let the fear of the unknown be a reason you choose not to study abroad…welcome new and different experiences and travel as much as you can while you’re young. You’re going to regret it later in life if you don’t.

Brian, thank you SO much for your help with this blog. Your answers were so great to read.
Have a good weekend, everyone!

Xo/ crm

Posted by: claire.mangine | March 22, 2013

I’m nominated for The Liebster Award! *blushing*

What a pleasant surprise! Today I got the notification that AshleyPaige from For the Love of Wanderlust nominated me for the Liebster Award. THANK YOU SO MUCH!! But, what’s that, you ask? I don’t know. But if it’s an award I’d be happy to oblige and follow the little rules:

-if you’re nominated give 11 facts about yourself

-answer the questions that the person who nominated you asked

– ask 11 questions and then nominate 11 other blogs with 200 followers or less


My 11 Facts:
1. I am a pink girl. I loove pink everything.
2. I am not an animal lover..unless it’s a tiny puppy that I can (just) pet. Don’t hate me! It’s hard to explain, animals are just not for me. 
3. I’m addicted to trashy reality shows, like The Bachelor/Bachelorette, Teen Mom, Rock of Love, I Love New York, Flavor of Love,
4. I’m dying to move away after school to Washington, DC. HIRE ME.
5. I’m a “quality not quantity” person when it comes to my circle of friends
6. I’m obsessed with my family. I want them to be proud of me! If it wasn’t for my parents, I would be no one/ nothing
7. I listen to rap music and one day think I’ll marry Drake. My friends don’t understand this about me…
8. I think someone who is clean and organized is someone to be respected.
9.  ^^^ maybe this is because I’m a neat freak…
10. I wasn’t supposed to be born and live in New York State. I just know it. I am made for warm weather. This is a fact. I live for sun.
11. Studying abroad in Italy changed MANY things about me and my whole life. I don’t regret any of that. I’m still paying for it, financially and physically, even though I came back a year ago, but was I supposed to pass up an opportunity like that??

My Answers: 

1) What inspires you to travel most?

Opportunity. If I have the means, the option and the time, I’m off. I like seeing new places and how others live their daily life. I compare it to the way I live, sometimes it makes me more thankful, other times it leaves me wanting another life!

2) What made you decide to start a blog?

I didn’t really willingly decide to start this. This blog is my senior capstone. I could have chosen a different writing outlet, but blogs are easy, clean looking and can be personalized. Perfect!

3) What is your favorite food?

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: my happy place is at a table with friends eating Mexican food and drinking frozen margaritas. That is what I’ll be doing in Heaven. Let’s also not forget that I’ll never ever pass up a plate of pasta 🙂 

4) What destination was your favorite?

Paris and Florence were my favorites when I went abroad. My first sight of the Eiffel Tour- immediately cried. Walking into the Longchamp store- crying. Waking around on the top of the Arc de Triomphe- more crying. I was so happy. 
Florence was beautiful. The museums I walked though/statues I saw were unforgettable. The fact that there were many Americans made it more relaxed and didn’t have me on edge trying to spit out my awful Italian. 

5) What is the coolest museum you’ve visited?

The Louvre! The Mona Lisa was in there! THE MONA LISA! Incredible.

6) What’s something you feel like you spend too much time doing?

Ummm probably checking social media sites. Pinterest, Faceboook, Twitter… but I mean, who doesn’t.

7) What is your favorite holiday and why?

The 4th of July and Easter. They’re both happy! I like spring (Easter) because it means SUMMER (my life). 

8) Why do you travel?

Because the opportunity is given to me! Please see question one…

9) What is your favorite book?

I like historical fiction. I found myself really obsessed with The Other Boleyn Girl and the other following books by Philippa Gregory. 

10) What is your favorite work of art?

I went to Madrid right around this time a year ago. I went to the Museo Nacional Del Prado and fell in love with this painting. It’s huge and even if you stare at it for an hour, you probably won’t catch everything in the picture. I couldn’t take my eyes off it.

ImageEnjoy: Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights

11) Have you ever couchsurfed?  If yes, did you like it?

Never have! Phewf…

My Questions:
1) If you had to pick 3 words to describe you, what would they be?
2) Who motivates you to be the best you can be?
3) What’s your favorite song and why?
4) Describe your most embarrassing moment
5) Share your favorite quote. How does it relate to you?
6) If you could meet one celebrity (dead or alive) who would it be?
7) Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
8) What is one thing you want to do before you die?
9) What are you most proud of yourself for doing in life?
10) If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be and why?
11) If you could have one re-do in life, what would it be?
^^^^^^^^^ very deep and personal, I know. But easy for everyone to answer!

And my nominees are……

Flux and Flow,  Four Months without Instant Watch , The Happy Project , Keep Calm and Carry On , A Lucky Galway Girl RLintz B-Log: From Cali to København, Fabulous 50’s , Gen Y Girl, From the North Country to the South Island, My World in Prose , Ryan in Leeds 
Your turn, guys!!!! Can’t wait to see your answers!

xo/ Claire

Posted by: claire.mangine | March 21, 2013

Wednesday! St. Patrick’s Day Continues!

Let’s continue this past weekend’s celebration of St. Patrick’s day!!!

I’m not in the least bit Irish, (but I pretend to be once a year) and I wanted to share some pictures from my trip to Ireland during spring break last year. Take a look!

Hope you’re having a great week, everyone. This Friday, look for an interview with Brian about his two semesters abroad in Spain…

Imageme kissing the Blarney Stone!!!

ImageGalway was GORGEOUS



Look at me! I poured “the perfect pint” at the Guinness Factory



St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. On our last day in Ireland 😦

Posted by: claire.mangine | March 15, 2013

Post Six- Interview with Colleen

It’s Friday! Happy St. Patrick’s Day weekend! As I said on Wednesday, the next two entries will feature students who have studied abroad in Spain. This week, a fellow Bonnie: Colleen

ImageStudy Abroad Destination: Seville, Spain
When Traveled: Fall Semester of junior year (Sept.-Dec. 2011)
Program Traveled with: CCIS
Program Rating out of 10: 9
University Attended while Abroad: CCIS and Universidad de Sevilla
Home University: St. Bonaventure University

Claire M: How many people came from your university or were in your program total? Were they all American?
Colleen H: None from Bonaventure, All were American in my program, there were about 20 of us.

CM: What was your living arrangement? Were you in a dorm or with a family? What was the family like?
CH: I lived with a family. A single, divorced mother in her late 30s and 2 young girls, one was 5 and one was 7.


CM: What other countries and cities did you travel to while in Spain?
CH: I traveled to Barcelona, Madrid, Cadiz, Jerez de la Frontera, all over Sevilla, and Paris, France.

CM: What was your favorite country/city and why? What was your least favorite country/city and why?
CH: I liked Sevilla the best because I spent the most time there (obviously) and got to know all about it and everything it had to offer. I also thought it was the most beautiful.

I least liked Paris because of the boring tourist things I did while I was there. I would have much rather done more Parisian cultural activities.


Wasn’t I just saying that some people find Paris unenjoyable because it’s too touristy? But then others find it incredible? Why is that??? Must research…

CM: If you could give advice to a prospective study abroad student, what would you tell them?
CH: Get out of your house and meet the local people and explore your city as much as you can.

CM: What was your favorite part about the whole experience?                                                  CH: The people I met and the knowledge I gained.

CM: What was your least favorite, and most difficult part of the experience? How did you over come these difficulties?
CH: Knowing the language already really helped me, however the Sevillana people have thick accents so it took me a while to get used to. It was difficult to understand my professors for the first couple of weeks in my classes, however by not giving up or tuning out and starting to understand what certain phrases meant, I overcame that difficulty.

Below, watch a video taken by Colleen to see two people dancing the Sevillanas:

CM:  How would you rate the program that brought you to Spain, and the University that you attended while you were there, out of 10? Consider the application process, the professors and staff being helpful, if they spoke English, were there interesting classes and field trips…
CH: I would give it a 9. CCIS was very helpful about giving information or ideas on things to try/see. The classes were somewhat interesting. The CCIS class was very interesting.

Gracias to Colleen for participating in this interview and for your great video footage!
Have a good weekend everyone 🙂

Photo and video credit: Colleen Hawkins

Posted by: claire.mangine | March 14, 2013

This Week…SPAIN!

An update! This Friday you’ll get to read an interview from a good friend, Colleen. She studied abroad in Seville, Spain during her fall semester junior year. The week after that, I’ll share Brian’s story. He studied in Spain not once, but TWICE!

Now that I’ve shared the theme of the next two weeks, I get to share my experience of Spain! A year ago today, I was in the works of planning my own trip to Madrid. I was there from the weekend of March 16-18, 2012.
A close family friend, Mary Fran, was in Spain on business, and knowing I was already in Italy, invited me to join her for an incredibly fancy weekend!

This Madrid trip was the nicest weekend of my whole study abroad experience. Mary Fran hired a personal tour guide for a day, brought me to the highest rated restaurants in the city, and not to mention, we stayed in a stunningly beautiful hotel unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Nothing like the hostels I was used to (please see my previous London review).


Madrid was a city incredibly full of life. Usually I think that’s the corniest thing to say ever, but I will only use it to describe Madrid. It was bustling and moving and fast and talkative and beautiful! Madrid-ians (?) take their time with everything. They enjoy breakfast, they go to work, they have a nap in the afternoon and then go out for tapas (afternoon snacks!), they hang out again until dinner- which is after 10pm. They stay out til 4am. They live the life.


Although I was only there for a weekend, I found the locals of Madrid to be very friendly people. They spoke English to you if they knew it, they tried their hardest to direct you to places even if they could only tell you in Spanish. Right when I got off the metro and pulled my map out, an older woman asked (I think) where I was going and once I said the name, pointed in the direction I should be heading. How sweet! And such a kind encounter right when I arrived in the city.

Madrid was incredible. Definitely on the list of places I have to travel back to. Please check out my original travel blog about my weekend in Madrid to hear more of what I did there!

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