Lyon Week 2

This week was packed full of sightseeing in Lyon. We explored almost the whole city by foot. We had a guided tour of Vieux Lyon. Which has the Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière, the ancient Roman ruins (2000 years old) and many old churches and buildings. It is really fascinating how the French take pride in their architecture. They will do everything possible to restore old buildings instead of just knocking them down like we do back in the states.

New construction here is built around existing building and this juxtaposition of the old and new brings a lot of charm to the city. I believe the French do this because they truly believe France is the best place on earth and what has been made here should never be destroyed but merely enhanced when necessary.

Below are some pictures I took of Vieux Lyon while exploring the city:

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Another part of the city that we explored is called La Confluence. This part of town is completely different from Vieux Lyon. La Confluence is the newest part of the city. In a way it reminds me of the United States with all its new buildings and modern architecture. However, the main difference is as I previously stated is that art in the French culture is very important. As modern as La Confluence is, it is not boring in any way. It is as visually pleasing as the Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière which is much older. For the most part, in France they don’t build building just to build them, but to enhance their cities.

Below are some pictures I took of La Confluence:

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Another aspect of the French culture that is well known all over the world is their love of food. I have always known that the French eat very well. I knew they had some of the best restaurants and cuisine in the world. But, what has shocked me the most is how even when they prepare their own meals at home how much effort they put into their food. Meal times are almost sacred here. I thought this would be different with younger French people, but it’s not.

I live with 4 other French students and each of them has a passion for great food. They will easily spend one hour every night making their dinners and lunch is no different. They cherish their meals here. This is completely contrary to our American culture of popping  a TV dinner in the microwave and calling it good. The way they treat food here is something I will easily get accustomed to!

C’est tout pour le moment!

Au revoir

Arriving in France



The Charles de Gaulle airport was surprisingly quiet when I arrived late Tuesday night. I was expecting the airport to be full of people hectically trying to catch their flights. But to the contrary it was  peaceful and calm. After stepping off the plane and seeing all the boulangeries and patisseries in every corner of the airport it finally hit me that I was finally in France. I honestly wasn’t very excited to be in Paris. This is probably because I hadn’t slept in over 24 hours and jet lagged had most definitely kicked in. Also I was really nervous about getting my checked bags (before leaving I read online that the airline had a bad record of losing luggage). Thankfully everything made it across the Atlantic just fine.

The most interesting aspect of Paris was how many people spoke English and how well they spoke the language. Almost everyone that worked in customer service spoke English, all the servers, cashiers and information desk employees spoke English. A few times I actually forgot I was in France! On top of this, the amount of advertisement in English all over Paris was surprising. The majority of the ads were in English with French translations at the bottom. Really shows how important and international English is.

Oh, and the French LOVE The Weeknd, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a song in one day as much as I heard “I can’t feel my face”.

Another huge stereotype that was broken shortly after I arrived in Paris was that the Parisians are stuck up and rude. This was most definitely not my  experience. On my way to the hostel I got lost through the cobble stone street of Paris for about 30 minutes until a kind older women walked me all the way to the hostel. It took about 25 minutes to walk all the way there, without her help I would have been wondering the street all night long.

For now that is all!

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Week 3 in Florence!

This post is coming a day late, though I must confess that since I have been sick all week with a horrible cold and a severe lack of familiar medications so I spent more time resting than exploring. The highlights of my week included the usual classes, many trips to the store for more tissues, a few much needed gelato runs, and a trip to IKEA on the free Sunday IKEA bus. I probably should have stayed home for the IKEA outing, since I really wasn’t feeling well enough to go, but it was an interesting experience seeing how a store that I am so familiar with in America can still feel similar and yet very different. At first glance, it looks very much the same. Similar furniture styles and prices, modern kitchens and bathrooms (though I haven’t seen many since I’ve been here), and the same Swedish meatballs IKEA has become so famous for. Upon closer inspection though it is possible to notice the subtle differences such as the bidets in the bathrooms, slightly different kitchen supplies, the fact that everything is in euros, and of course, the language barrier encountered when ordering the Swedish meatballs. Along with my IKEA pictures I included some gelato I had this week as well as some street art commonly seen on the streets of Florence. There are several of these chalk pictures and they are cleaned up at the end of every day and recreated every day for the tourists benefit. I was also able to take a short bus ride with my study abroad program, CIS abroad, to the town of Fiesole. The view was spectacular, but due to the lack of light (it was an evening trip) I wasn’t able to adequately capture it on camera. I did, however, try some delicious and weird chips that I plan to buy later (barbecue and mint flavor!) and ate a yummy chocolate thing from a small market on the way back from the trip. Hopefully I will have some more interesting pictures next week after I go to Octoberfest on Saturday!

Ciao for now!




Ireland Bound

Hi everyone!

My name is Shannen Brouner and I’ll be quite honest about my first post, I am technically behind in my blogging and am writing this first introductory and “pre-departure” post from my room in Dublin, but using my personal journal entries and memory as reference.

So, I’m Shannen, a fifth year and transfer student at WOU. I started my first two years at Central Oregon Community College near my small hometown of Prineville, and am now attending Western, soon to graduate with a BA in Communications. I enjoy reading (primarily fantasy), watching movies and television (Parks & Rec and The X-files are two of my favorite shows right now), geocaching, watching theatre, crafting, taking photos, eating, and sleeping, among other things. I’m characteristically studious, shy and quiet, I never learned how to ride a bike, I was on PLUS team last year, and I’ve never traveled to another country (and only a bit around this one).

I’m sojourning in Dublin, Ireland with my partner of over three years, Nathaniel. Just like him, I’ve wanted to travel to Ireland for a very long time. I know embarrassingly little of the country’s history and culture, but, like many, am drawn to it’s stunning beauty and (what I hear of its) charming and friendly people. I’ve got Irish blood in me somewhere and am a bit of a sentimental heritage traveler because of it. I’d like to go to the river Shannon which I’m (obviously) not even named after and find some link in either region, pub, or person to my mother’s maiden name Mahoney, we’ll see how it goes. I’d really like to get the experience of traveling across the world (and an English speaking country seemed a good place to start), make new friends from all over, learn about the country from the country, photograph Ireland, enjoy a pint, have fun, explore, learn something about myself, and go on an adventure.


Week 1 London 2k15

Hi guys! I hope you are all having fun on your adventures!

Freshers’ Week has finally come to an end and it is safe to say Freshers’ flu has got me in its clutches. This past week has been full of adventures, parties, and meeting new people. Now I am stuck in bed watching Netflix, but it was worth it. Being here has made me an expert at public transportation. Everyone here uses it. Most of the English students didn’t even bring their cars with them to school because they don’t really need them. It is so interesting how different the views on public transportation are over here compared to in the U.S. Personally, I like the public transportation. I find it less stressful.

Over the past week I have made quite a few observations. The first is that everyone smokes all the time. It is a huge part of the social life here. People go out for a smoke in groups, hang out, chat, and meet new people. At any time of day I can walk outside my building and there will be anywhere from 3-10 people out there smoking.

Another thing I have noticed is that people here are just as fascinated by my American accent as I am by their English one. This makes total sense, but was still surprising at first. I have met countless people who think it is incredibly funny to try and speak like me. They watch a lot of American t.v. so many people are actually quite good at it. Others tend to go for either the Southern or “valley girl” way of speaking. I find it quite amusing.

Lastly, no one knows where Oregon is. If they do it is because they are studying geography. I cannot count how many times I have said this phrase in the past week- “Do you know where California is? It is the one right above that”. I have also had a lot of people ask me what is cool about Oregon or what there is for tourists to do there. Many of the people here want to visit the United States someday. Obviously, I always mention the beautiful scenery, but I have been unable to come up with much more. Any suggestions?

Classes start this week. Wish me luck!


My group for a photo frenzy thing we did on the “Harry Potter” bridge.



Greenwich (the first trip of the Social Programme)

Week 4 Queretaro

I can’t believe that my trip is almost over! This past weekend we visited a town called Tequisquipan and it was awesome. We were able to visit a winery and tour it and wine taste and then after go to a big water park. We had so much fun – felt like vacation to be able to swim and be in the sun. I noticed a strong cultural difference at the water park here than in  the United States, there were no lifeguards or anyone watching out at the big slides. But no one was hurt and everything went smoothly, it kind of made me wonder if we go a little too overboard in the United States.

Week 3 Queretaro

My 3rd week here and I am becoming more and more comfortable here. My host family is very kind and super helpful whenever I need to figure out directions or something of the like. It’s crazy how busy school makes me! Having an extra night class 3 days a week makes me feel like I am at school all day long. Sometimes I wish I had more time to explore. This weekend was awesome though, it was really cool to stay in Queretaro and look around more. It is insane how frequent and intense the storms are here. Thunder, lightning, and rain appear out of nowhere and the streets flood very fast. I thought we saw bad rain in Oregon but it doesn’t compare at all to the storms here. I would say my only complaint is that the food here does not agree with my stomach as much as I love it! Hopefully it will get better soon!

First Week of Classes!


This last week was my first official week of classes. I will usually post on Tuesdays because I will likely not be traveling (as could be the case on the weekends) and Mondays are very busy days for me! This last week began with my Italian language class on Monday and ended with ethics on Friday. I was able to go to the market on Tuesday and truly experience shopping in Italy. Nobody at this outdoor market spoke English, so this was one of the very first times I experienced the struggle of trying to explain what I want and understand what they were telling me. I was able to practice a few of the Italian phrases I have learned, though was frequently corrected by the locals in terms of pronunciation and context. I feel like these encounters actually strengthen my use of the language and it is nice to find people that care enough to help me practice my language skills correctly! Sunday I went on a day trip throughout Tuscany, including Pisa and Sienna, where it rained on us very heavily. We also did laundry here for the first time! We took some things to the laundromat to have the use of a dryer for our towels, but it was slightly more expensive than we anticipated so we will probably hang things to dry in the future. I also went with a roommate and a friend to hike to the top of piazza Michelangelo, I will attach pictures of that spectacular view as well. I currently have a slight cold, which I expect is a direct result of that experience combined with the lack of sleep I still seem to be getting (the time change is still messing up my sleep schedule!). It seems to be a mild cold, however, and luckily I am well stocked with cold medicine from home (though I heard the “farmacias” here are very helpful). I am hoping to feel better soon so I can pick up the pace again and continue exploring! Here are some pictures from the week:




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Arrival! London 2k15

Hello again,

When I arrived at the airport I was feeling awful. I had gotten sick on the plane shortly before landing and still did not feel well when we touched down. I had to make my way to another terminal too meet the Roehampton abroad team. It was not too difficult to find but it took me a while because I kept stopping for breaks. When I arrived at the correct terminal and found the team they were all very excited to see me. I told them I was not feeling well and they gave me some tips and took very good care of me. I ended up getting sick a few more times, which made the day pretty miserable. The staff was SO nice though and that really made me feel a little bit better. I was shocked at how many people were at the airport and how large it was. When arriving on campus I found out I was living in the college that is not on main campus, which was quite nerve racking. I spent most of the day laying in bed trying to feel better. I felt better the next morning and haven’t had any issues since. Thankfully!

Well, I think that is all for now.



Back Home

It is weird to be back home. It is weird to have all my stuff back in my room and be able to return to a normal life again. Although it is strange it feels good to be back home. The flight was long and took almost a full day of traveling. Waking up the next morning was the weirdest part. I have not been in that room for over a month. At first i did not know where I was until my eye focused more. It was nice to be able to get up and have food in the house instead of having to go somewhere to buy food. The first day back I transplanted the sunflowers into the ground and did yard work after that. It was nice to have a home cooked meal but I do miss Europe a lot. I will miss the food, the public transportation, the culture, and the people. I do not worry because I will be back in Europe soon enough. I am so happy I did the program and put up with the nonsense in between. I feel like I can take on more stressful situations and my problem solving skills are better. It was an experience I will never forget.