Posts Tagged ‘shopping’


Whitney: Lesson learned

November 18, 2011

So in Berlin, you have to deposit a one euro coin in order to use a shopping cart at the grocery store (because apparently otherwise people steal them…), so I usually just use a basket instead. It’s more common to get groceries every few days here than to stock up for a few weeks the way I always did in Minneapolis, so I generally only buy a bag’s worth of groceries each trip. Today I decided to broaden my horizons and try out a grocery cart, and I don’t think I’ll ever make that mistake again. I bought twice as much as I normally do because I wasn’t limited to only buying what could fit in a basket, and carrying it the half-mile and 72 stair-steps to my apartment was not a fun task to complete. 


Chiyo: The Good Life

September 6, 2011

Finally. A day where I got to sleep in. The girls in the triple slept in until 10:30, and took our sweet time getting ready for the travel fair at CAPA. A group of us went together and entered raffles, learned about all the various side trips we can go on, and I was really close to booking a trip to Amsterdam/Bruge but we all decided to wait and figure out our schedules. Allie and I really wanted to go shopping to find outfits for London’s Fashion Night Out this Thursday, so we split off from the group who were going to the museums, and went in search of fabulous outfits. 

High Street Kensington is one of the main areas for shopping, and not too far from where we take class, so that was where we headed off to. After going into shops like Topshop and Zara, we stumbled upon several vintage shops where we struck gold. I ended up purchasing a dress for only 3 pounds, and Allie got a dress that could be seen in Mad Men for 10 pounds. Both of our dresses are our outfits of choice for our event on Thursday night, and we couldn’t be any happier. I’m so glad I have a roommate who is just as fashion obsessed as me! The rain started to come down really hard, so we ran into a Starbucks that was nearby, and I was disappointed to see how small their selection of drinks was! The rain had stopped, and somehow through all the walking we did, we ended up in Notting Hill, which was quite the trek from where we started. 

Now we’re all back at the flat, and Allie and I are having our “spa night” to unwind from our very fun day. I love how on our days off we spend the entire day exploring the city. I find something new and exciting every single day. One Republic’s “Good Life” definitely describes my life right now…

Here’s my 3 pound dress I got at the vintage shop!:


Lindsey: To market

May 30, 2011

We’ve heard that the markets here are just amazing, so yesterday we decided to visit one. We were planning on going to the famous Camden Market, but one of my friend’s bosses told us to skip that one (because of all the other tourists) and to go to Old Spitalfields Market instead.

On our way there, we stopped by a few other street markets that were absolutely crazy. And not good crazy. There were people everywhere and the vendors were all pretty creepy. This was about enough for us to turn around and skip Old Spitalfields, but we decided to stick it out!

When we finally found Old Spitalfields, it was amazing! It is held in a huge open-air building with vendors everywhere selling things from clothes, jewelry, art, and food. Everything is made locally by the vendors in London, so there is no way you could by these things anywhere else! We spent around 3 hours just looking at everything. If the exchange rate wasn’t so bad, I would have had to buy some more things! Here’s a picture of the market right when we walked in:

We felt like we were some of the only tourists there, which was awesome. Everyone was from London enjoying the bank holiday weekend! For lunch, we decided to try something new and try some Caribbean/jamaican wraps. They were delicious! Here’s a picture of their food stand:
Looks so good, right? Afterwards, since we were in central London, we thought it would be fun to go see the Tower of London which is the castle where many kings and queens were beheaded and where they keep the crown jewels. We were all exhausted, but decided to do it anyways. After finding our way there, we discovered it was 20 pounds for a ticket! No way. That’s like $40. Our feet hurt really bad and we were all pretty hungry, so we just decided to go home and get some much needed rest! For good measure, here’s a picture of the Tower of London (the little slits in the side of the castle walls that look like t’s is were where the guards would shoot their arrows out of if you were not welcome):

Lindsey: Tea Time

May 20, 2011

Alright, day three. It seems like I’ve been here for a week already! Today we had a safety orientation from a London police officer. He was a funny guy, but wow am I tired of orientations! Today was more of a low key day. After the orientation we were starving like usual and discovered our new favorite restaurant! It’s called Paul and is a french-style cafe-but super cute! If this doesn’t make you want to eat there I don’t know what would:

After lunch we rode around the tube to find our internship locations so we don’t get lost by ourselves. So no worries, I won’t get lost now on my way to my interview. Then it was time for our welcome reception with some afternoon tea! I definitely felt like a true brit at this point, without the accent:

Later we went to Primark, our new favorite store! Everything is super cheap and really cute! Like sundresses for 5 pounds (about 10 US dollars) and sunglasses for 1 pound. The clothes reminds me of an H&M or Forever 21. Definitely need to stay away from that store or I will buy too much. But I only bought a 3 pound bag and an awesome pair of sunglasses!

One thing we take advantage of in the US is that stores are open past 6:00. Here, they are all closed by then! Talk about inconvenient. This just shows the American work ethic vs. Europe’s. You can also tell in restaurants. Not much customer service or friendly salespeople! They need to start working on that.


Anna: La Vita e Meravigliosa!

January 28, 2011

This week I had my first Italian quiz, hence the “la vita e mervigliosa” which means “it’s a wonderful life.” I am trying to speak as much Italian as I can! Very different than Spanish I must say but it isn’t too horrible. Some people in my class have awful pronunciation from the East Coast so I don’t sound too bad. This is a short post but I thought I would mention a few fun things I did this week!

First, my art history professor took us to Santa Croce church which was beautiful. Michelangelo and Galileo are both buried there. We are learning about frescos, which are layers of paint that even though many have been chipped and distressed over the years you can still see how much work went into them. They remind me of textural wall murals—very pretty. I am excited to get out into the city for this class! The class is 3 hours long and my professor can talk the whole time and can still hold our attention.

We ate at restaurant called Il gatto e la volpe which means the cat and the fox. It is from the story of Pinocchio, which was written by an Italian author. When reading that back in the day I definitely didn’t connect the dots to that one. Anyways, it was delicious! The balsamic was chunky, different than usual but sooo good. I order the Spaghetti Nonna Rosa which is made with green tomatoes, a bit of cream, spicy, and little pieces of ham. It was so delicious. Anyone who visits me I am taking you there! Besides, the waiter was soo nice and looked like Ray Romano which I loved. He even gave us a 10 percent discount card! I also tried white chocolate gelato with nutella in it, so delish!

I finally met up with a friend from high school, Elizabeth Mountain. We got lunch, well I ate she watched because she is fed at her school and it was great to catch up. I got margherita pizza and the lady was not liking me because I asked for tap water and if I could pay with a credit card. If you want something to drink here, you have to pay for a huge thing of water or order something else. So everyone savor your free water! And basically everywhere you go you need cash, definitely going to take some getting used to. Elizabeth and I are planning a trip to Prague at the end of March. I have heard only great things about it! If you have any suggestions please let me know. Can’t wait!

I haven’t bought anything yet except for a sweater which involves a long story, but I was in need of one. And it was cheap! Coin is a great place to shop, cheap and a department store. Plus sale season is ending soon so if I want anything I need to buy anything in stores I need to do it soon. I have a very limited wardrobe being one of the very few people who brought only 1 suitcase. But I am still resisting the temptation and have not bought anything yet! Still need to make it to San Lorenzo market to barter.

I am going to Rome this weekend! Hopefully I will be able to meet up with both friends and family. I am in contact with my dad’s cousin named Fernando. His wife speaks a little English but I am mainly going to try to speak to his daughter in law who is Canadian and will help me communicate. I heard Fernando has a fever so hopefully he will feel well enough to give me a tour or get a bite to eat. Looking forward to this crazy city. It will be interesting to compare it to Florence since I contemplated going there earlier…but I think I will be happy with my decision anyways!

Lately everyone has been stressing and talking about traveling. I too have been struggling with trying to decide where to travel outside of Italy! I have ruled out Paris recently because it’s difficult to fly there cheaply and will be pricey once I am there. I also ruled out London even though I’d love to go but again, its a lot for a weekend trip.

Here is my list so far: Spain, Prague, Switzerland (maybe next weekend), Greece for Spring Break, and possibly the French Riviera. And my main focus is traveling ALL over Italy! My roommates and I want to do Cinque Terre for my birthday and French Riviera at the very end in April!

p.s. people don’t pick the dog poop up on the cobblestone streets ever. and italians do not know how to drive! I will post a picture explaining the driving next time because again, the internet won’t let me!
In the meantime enjoy this link my cross cultural psych teacher gave me.


Connie: 100 Yen

October 10, 2010

It’s hard to keep up with that when I don’t have internet in my own room. Hopefully I can make up for my recent lack of posts by talking about my 百円(hyaku en), or one dollar, finds.

When students enter into my program they’re assigned a tutor who helps them with all of the basic things that might be hard for a foreigner to do on their own. A lot of this involves finding your way around, shopping for the basics, and doing paperwork. (Japanese word of the day: めんどくさい (mendokusai), which means something like troublesome, or perhaps better described as an adjective used for things you don’t want to do.  While doing paperwork, the word mendokusai comes up a lot.)

Being a Saturday, both my tutor and I had nothing but free time. The morning was spent resizing pictures that needed to be pasted onto several pieces of paperwork and searching for campus wifi. That was how my day started out. Facebook and paperwork.

After arriving at the library we looked around to discover that several other international students were there with us. Eventually we gathered together and the two tutors with us decided to take us somewhere. We ended up in a department store near Saijo Eki.

At first I was looking for Murakami Ryu’s 「五分後の世界」 (The World After Five Minutes), but neither my tutor nor I had any luck. That was when one of the other exchange students and I moved onto the music section. Let me tell you, the music section in a Japanese store is typically painful as CDs cost about twice as much as they do in America.  Your typical Japanese album will be 3000 yen, which is roughly $30.  Probably more since the dollar is so worthless right now. You can get as excited as you want when you see a SID album, but when you pick it up your heart is going to break a little.

That was when I noticed the 100 yen bin in the middle of the store calling to me like a beacon. My tutor showed up and glanced through, telling me they were all old CDs.  True enough – they were mostly from the early-to-mid 1990’s.  That was when I thought maybe – just maybe – I might be able to find some access.

And find I did.  I picked up access’ “Misty Heartbreak Re-sync Style”, Hiroyuki Takami’s “Wall”, Penicillin’s “Into the Valley of Dolls” and Shazna’s “Promise Eve”. 400 yen for these isn’t bad. They would probably be out of my price range on the internet. Not that the majority of you will recognize these names.  My Japanese tutor didn’t either.  Just know that I’m greatly pleased.

Spending the day getting to know the people who came along with me was nice. I got to know my tutor better. I got to practice lots of conversational Japanese. There was also lots of comparing between Japanese and other cultures going on. Sometimes I love the way the world seems to get smaller.

I’ll post about the Yoshiura Autumn Festival soon, which was about an hour away from here. I’m also looking forward to the Sake Festival next week. Did you know Higashi Hiroshima is famous for its sake?


Eric: Late night shopping with my host brother

July 19, 2010

Tomorrow, I will be going onto a ALIF-sponsored excursion to the Sahara Desert. We had our orientation on Tuesday, in which the program director mentioned a couple of things that it’s best to have but I don’t have. So my roommate and I decided to go to the medina for what we needed. We also took one of our host-brothers with us, who turned out to be very very helpful. Even though he’s only 12, he knows how much things should cost. It was kind of funny to see the vendor’s reaction when he first offered a price, and our host-brother would tell us what he thought the price should be. Some of them looked at our host-brother first before offering a price.

For the desert trip, we were directed to wear sandals with straps (no flip-flops, as they are more than likely going to make walking on the sand difficult or just get lost in the sand), a headscarf, jeans (we will be riding camels, and they have long, rough, dirty hairs), and bring along swimsuit as both hotels we are staying at will have swimming pools.

It’s really interesting to observe the vendors’ behavior. They can obviously tell that we are not locals and by that standard should pay a higher price (as much as they tell us that they give the locals and tourists the same price). Not all of them speak English, but they all know how to say “I will give you a good price” in various broken forms (“I give you good price”, “good price, eh?”, to females: “you are a pretty flower, I have good price for you”). They also try very hard to get people’s attention, and when it comes to Asians, they yell out any Asian countries (or what they think is an Asian country). I have gotten so many “Japan? Japan?” it’s not even funny anymore.

My favorite quotes of the day, coming from the vendor I bought my Moroccan shirt from: “you don’t buy fish from the beach” in an attempt to explain that he is selling real cloth made in the Sahara. After I put on the shirt to see if it fit (I was wearing a collar shirt inside), he proceeded to tell me that I will look like a “Mohammed couscous” if I wear the shirt without my own shirt inside. I guess that’s a compliment (?). After some bargaining, I got the shirt for 90Dh. Just when we were about done with our purchases with the cloth seller, our host-dad walked by. A shop owner himself, I was pretty sure that he was thinking we were being ripped off. He later bargained a pair of sandals for me (or at least I think he did, as he had this conversation in Moroccan Arabic with the vendor, and both of them were kind of yelling at each other).


Christina: Shopping in France

April 1, 2010

In any city, the French woman will walk with a shrewd sense of purpose until her eye happens to chance upon an enticing window display. Immediately, she will stop and all thoughts of arriving on time to her destination will dissolve. She will clasp her hands behind her back, her stilettoed feet will be perched together, and she will bend her back at a 90 degree angle, defying the stringent constraints of her woolen pencil skirt. Her nose will graze the glass as she leisurely moves her face from one end of the window to the other. The world might pass her by, but she’s engrossed in an activity that’s almost more valuable than the clothes themselves.

There are tenuous silk scarves that become translucent in warm spring sunlight, light cotton skirts that will sprout wings on a windy day, beautiful shoes with impractical heels, delicate broaches and earrings that whisper of elegance rather than trend. Life-size mannequins pose in the windows, wearing dresses that look like possibility: outfits that make the French woman believe anything could happen if she was wearing these clothes.

In French the term for “window shopping” is “lèche vitrine,” which literally translates to “window licking.” A casual stroll in the centre ville of any city reveals how well-suited the term is: shopping in France is an undertaking that requires nearly as much vigilance as a thoughtfully and tactfully executed five-course meal.

In Toulouse, a warm and friendly city two hours west of Montpellier by train, there is an impressive open-air market in the centre ville most days of the week. We arrived at the market on a balmy Saturday morning in March, and our first moments were spent in reverent silence as we took in the sights of all things strange and wonderful.

Before us was a bread stall stacked high with round, dusty loaves; oily croissants containing more butter than flour; and sticky sweet rolls still quivering with heat from the oven. The tired gray circles under the baker’s eyes were a tell-tale sign of authenticity: this bread had been baked in those indefinable hours that hover between night and morning, in a stone oven not far from where we now stood. I bought a baguette, knowing that what I held in my hands had only last night been the separate and seemingly unrelated entities of flour, salt, butter, and water.

My favorite food stalls in France are those that expose the most opulent of desserts without shame or apology. These are stalls that flaunt warm pastries rolled in spirals and dowsed in sugar; chocolate muffins that explode with Nutella after the third mouthful; thin, delicate pastry crusts topped with fresh strawberries, caramelized sugar, and shaved pistachios; croissants dripping with chocolate darker than obsidian; and petits macaroons that sting with the fragrant bite of molasses and ginger.

Inevitably, there will be a new dessert that I haven’t seen in France yet, so I will have to ask the vendor to describe it. In Toulouse, instead of an explanation I was offered a taste: “mademoiselle, goûtez…” One thing the French know well: words can only go so far in describing the intricate and varied pleasures of gastronomy. After I’d tasted everything, the vendor said with a wink, “mademoiselle, je vous écoute…” And like clockwork I walked away with a slice of gateau au chocolat, so dense I could feel the added weight of it in my purse.

Past the stand boasting quality wine from the backyards of Toulouse at five euros a bottle, we found a tiny stall run by two rotund ladies selling homemade jam. With a conspiratory grin, one of the women offered me a taste of her most curious jam: a mélange of sugar, water, and rose petals. Never in my life had I imagined something as frivolous or unnecessary as eating roses, but one whiff of the light, cheerful liquid, and I realized that the French had found a way to make even my humble breakfast of jam and bread feel romantic.

At three euros, the jam was a bargain, and after the jar was safely wrapped in plastic and tucked in my purse next to the weighty chocolate cake, the women continued to chat with us in their southern French accents, offering unsolicited advice about the best places to drink and eat in Toulouse.

And really, there is no better means for making new friends in France than over a shared discussion about the joys of food.


Emma: Lovely

February 26, 2010

Today marks the end of what has been the best vacation of my life haha… Uni starts tomorrow and even though the fun will continue I am sure things are going to begin to calm down a little. Surprise surprise I don’t have class on Mondays or Fridays so I am going to continue to live the dream with a four day weekend!

This past week my friends and I did some more sight seeing events around Sydney. On Wednesday we walked a good 8 miles round trip to The Botanical Gardens and Opera House. SO beautiful with so many exotic plants and trees. At one point in the park there were bats EVERYWHERE! Sooo disgusting and you all know about my fear of rodent type things so I was so creeped out. But hey the good thing is that they do not have squirrels here.

I finally felt like I was really in Sydney once I saw the Opera House. I have decided that by the time I leave here I will have eaten dinner at the restaurant there. I don’t care what it takes.

On our walk back we found a store called Cotton On, and I am not kidding when I say none of us could stop smiling the whole time we were there. It is like the Forever 21 of Australia so all the clothes were super cheap. It felt so good to finally see something I could actually afford.

The next day called for another afternoon at the beach! I went to Coogee with Joey and Bernie my friends from MN. This time was a little more relaxing and it was an absolutely gorgeous day! That night the director of SUV (Sydney University Village) had a Spanish Fiesta party. We got free pizza, Coronas, and sangria! After the party a bunch of us went to Kelly’s Irish Pub for Karaoke..interesting to say the least!

I am now fully stocked with fresh fruits and veggies. Yesterday we went to Paddy’s Markets and I got SOO many fruits and veggies for only $8 it was amazing but a little overwhelming at first. We are going to make this a weekly event to buy fresh food!

Yesterday we layed out at a friends pool and I had my first meat pie. Delicious, but hard to eat. We have been told we cannot leave the country until we are able to eat a meat pie without any utensils. The challenge is on.

My new food of the week is 100’s and 1000’s they are like sprinkles and you are supposed to put them on toast with lots of butter. I am actually going to go and try now. yummm

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