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.

Pre-Departure London 2k15

Hello again!

Sorry about posting twice in a row! I think that the culture in England will be fairly similar to that of the United States, but with English accents and funny-sounding words for things. I think the difference I will be most aware of will be the use of public transportation, as I rarely ride it at home and know it is huge in London.

I hope that the culture shock will be minimal and that I will be able to easily integrate myself into life in London. With that being said, I am incredibly nervous. This will be the first time I have flown alone and the first time ever leaving the United States. This trip is way outside of my comfort zone, but I think I am ready for it.

Ta ta for now

Mackenzie Koll


RainyLodon phonebooth LondonEye


Hello! I am Mackenzie. I should have posted this a while bag but I was not aware that I was able to post on here yet. Anyway, I am a Math major with a minor in Psychology. I am studying at the University of Roehampton, right outside of central London, for fall term. I chose this program because it was an exchange program and I liked the idea of still being connected to WOU. I also wanted to go to a country that spoke English and where I would be able to travel around often and easily. I am working on my minor while abroad and am very excited to get started.

Week 5: Abby Goes to Peru!


This past week has been crazy busy for me! Apparently quiz week is a thing here. I’m used to my classes not lining up very much back home. Usually some classes have two midterms, some have one and two tests, some have weekly quizzes, and assignments and quizzes generally seem to be spread out enough that I’m not completely swamped. However, here it’s not the same here. I don’t know if it is Peru in general or just USIL. There is a set finals week, but also a set midterms week. In addition, it seems as though there are unofficial quiz weeks as well. I think there is a general course schedule that most, if not all, professors follow. I don’t like this as much because it is stressful to have a lot of things scheduled for one day. For example, last Thursday I had a speech, two quizzes, six workbook pages, and an online quiz. It was a lot for one day and I was pretty stressed. But as per usual, my worrying was completely unnecessary. I ended up doing great on all of those things and my day went smoothly. My classes are all going well. They are boring because they are too easy, but I enjoy spending time with the people in my classes.

The same day that I had all of my quizzes and such I happened to wander back into the music room. I hadn’t heard from my professor about when we would be rehearsing, so I was starting to get nervous. I happened to drop by at the perfect time because I found out that I had rehearsal right then! It was a great first rehearsal. It turns out there aren’t enough musicians to form a full band, so we are going to be an a cappella group! I am excited because I was planning on trying to form an a cappella group anyways! There are four voices and one drummer. We chose our music and I am very happy with our selections. My solo is Like I’m Gonna Lose You by Meghan Trainor. It is my favorite song right now and I was very happy that the rest of the group approved it for our set list. There are two guys and two girls in our group. The guys don’t speak any English and they are also very quiet, so I didn’t really get to know them. The other girl and I bonded a lot though. We have very similar tastes in music and I think our voices sound really good together. We spent a pretty good amount of time “jamming” before rehearsal officially started. By jamming I mean that we picked a song that we both know and like and we sang together and made up harmonies and such. It was a blast! By the end of rehearsal I was on cloud nine. I am SO happy to be doing music again. I go through phases of not making time for music and being very addicted to music. Lately I have been in the addicted to music phase. Between this music class, playing my host family’s piano, and playing/singing along with my housemate’s guitar, I have found that most of my day is spent either thinking about music, listening to it, or making it. I love it.

I’m going to skip over the other happenings of the week. I think I covered the most important ones. Instead, I have a few things to share that I’ve noticed and jotted down here and there. One big thing I’ve noticed is the difference in the interactions between students and professors at the university. It is almost like being in high school again, but maybe worse. Often times the students call the professor “teacher” and I’ve heard a lot of students complain about homework and beg for less. It is so odd for me because I am used to using formal names with most of my professors and doing the work the professor assigns. A similarity I’ve noticed was when I went to get my ID card. Some of the students in line in front of me looked at their pictures and started giggling in embarrassment. It made me smile because I have had the same experience and I thought it was amusing to see it in another country. After thinking about it, I suppose it is probably a universal reaction, but in the moment it took me a little by surprise because I wasn’t expecting it.

And finally, an interesting piece of general cultural information that I learned this week. I asked a friend what parents’ expectations for their children are. He told me that the primary goal is to go to university. Side note – kids start university at 16 or 17 years old, I was astonished by that because I can’t imagine starting college at 16. Anyways, university is only an option for families who have money. Economic status greatly affects the type of life your family will have. If a family doesn’t have money their child doesn’t get to go to university and they must begin working immediately. The next step is marriage. It is very important to Peruvian parents that their children get married. However, waiting until after college is preferred here too. The children generally live with their parents until they get married, with the exception of their time away at university.

That’s all I have for you this week. I am leaving for a long weekend trip to the mountain tonight, so I will have plenty to write about next week.



Here is a picture of some of my music friends before our first performance.


This is a picture of the main academic building on the newer of the two campuses.


Here’s a bonus picture. This was taken in the southernmost district of Lima, called Chorillos on the top of one of Lima’s many dirt mountains.

Tomorrow I’m London Bound

Tomorrow I leave for fall term at Roehampton, in London, England. I think I am still in denial that I’m actually leaving. It feels like yesterday when my countdown on my phone said I still had over 100 days to wait. Around that same time I decided to stop calling my study abroad period a “trip” but instead, an “experience.” I really want to travel to as many countries as I can while I’m abroad. That is one of the most important things to me. I’ve never been away from my parents or out of the country so these next three months will be very eye-opening. I feel like I’m leaving for college for the first time.

La Pura Vida..

The first week of my Costa Rican adventure is coming to a close and I can safely say that I have survived. Being away from friends and family is proving to be harder than I expected, but my Tico family is anything but welcoming and helpful while I try to adjust. Its been a week filled with orientations, meeting new people, and getting to know San Jose, Costa Rica. This city has a lot to offer, from incredible street art to amazing french pastry shops. There’s still much more to learn about this country and I cannot wait to discover it all.

Pura Vida!

Experiencing Italy

The last two days have been a whirlwind. Orientation began with an introductory seminar and a tour, followed by a tour of our neighborhood, and finished with two seminars, one of which we got lost on the way to! Later that day CIS Abroad treated us to a wonderful four course three hour Italian meal. Needless to say I left the apartment at 8 am that morning and didn’t return until 11 pm! There was just so much to see! Yesterday after a full day of exploring the city and running errands to get settled into my new home, FUA hosted a welcome reception with a buffet and desserts. Today is the first day to take a breath, relax, and prepare for the start of classes on Monday! At this point, any initial assumptions I in initially had coming into this experience have been changed. The main thing I have noticed is that there is a huge difference between the tourist parts and the local parts of Florence ; especially when it comes to the restaurants. In the tourist-heavy parts of Florence, there are extra charges in restaurants for tourists called a cuperto. This is charged per person and can range from 1 to 4+ Euro, many tourists are unaware of this. The service is good enough, but usually gets worse if they find you will not be tipping (tipping is uncommon in Italy, as the employees make a living wage, but many servers have come to expect it from Americans).Servers will sometimes say this to Americans, regardless of if a service charge and/or cuperto was already charged, in an effort to guilt them into tipping. At a local establishment, there is rarely a cuperto, and if there is, it is often very low. The staff are friendly, though rarely speak much English. They encourage American guests to practice their Italian and provide excellent friendly service. I will attach a picture below of a note our server made for us when we were inquiring about various Italian phrases. I have also learned a lot about what is and is not socially acceptable here, there are many things we do with out thinking in America that would shock or disgust the locals in Italy. Some examples are: asking for food to go after not quite finishing a meal at a restaurant, eating while walking in general (food is meant for the table), coffee sitting down or to go, asking to change something about the menu while ordering (this is very rude to the chef), and various others. I will try to update these as I find out more!





Since I came a few days early with my grandparents, my initial post is occurring from within Italy after my arrival and recovery from the extreme jet lag. I do have a few pictures from the ride to the airport I will attach as well. My initial thoughts before arriving were that this place seemed almost imaginary. People were constantly telling me how wonderful it was and how it was a great experience and that I would have a wonderful time, but all I had seen of Italy was out of a book or movie. I honestly didn’t know what to expect, all I could picture were these fairytale images! I expected the language barrier to be difficult, since I do not yet speak Italian, and was told the people were friendly and welcoming but that they, and the city did not always smell the best. These were my first thoughts heading into this adventure. Orientation is tomorrow and I will follow up afterwards about my reaction to actual Italian life as well as how my orientation went!