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Travel, Study, Work, Volunteering, and Living Abroad in Europe
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Have all your expenses covered and meet incredible people in Spain; all simply for being a native English-speaker

What have I done? I wondered when I realized that two of my three weeks in Spain was to be spent in a remote restored village four hours from Madrid…and that I wouldn’t even be allowed to speak Spanish (a language I’m eager to learn). What sort of cultural experience is that?! I berated myself.

In retrospect however, I realize this program was the perfect way to meet many different people from all over Spain (and the rest of the world). And I certainly couldn’t argue with the price of the program either; in fact, having all my expenses paid in exchange for conversational English seemed too good to be true... Read more...

Volunteer in Europe
Europe is the world's wealthiest continent and the need for international volunteers is quite different from the world's poorer regions such as Africa or Latin America. But despite well-developed welfare, education and health programs, there are communities all across Europe that are in need of volunteers, be it for teaching English, child care, summer camps, or preservation work. In addition, a volunteer vacation in Europe is not only a great way to help people and communities in need, but it is also a great opportunity to get to know Europeans and their cultures and experience Europe in a different way... Read more
Cheap Air Travel in Europe
A few years ago, following the surge of low cost carriers across Europe, train travel became almost redundant: prices were much higher than air fares on budget carriers and for the expat, the need to be frugal while traveling outweighed the opportunity to see the countryside roll by.
In recent times, however, rail operators have understood the need to compete directly with the likes of Ryanair and EasyJet and prices have not only been slashed, but train amenities and check-in procedures for international services have improved to match those offered at airports throughout the continent.
Some obvious questions arise here: what are the benefits of train travel? When do I take a train instead?'... Read more
Cheap Train Travel in Europe
A few years ago, following the surge of low cost carriers across Europe, train travel became almost redundant: prices were much higher than air fares on budget carriers and for the expat, the need to be frugal while traveling outweighed the opportunity to see the countryside roll by.
In recent times, however, rail operators have understood the need to compete directly with the likes of Ryanair and EasyJet and prices have not only been slashed, but train amenities and check-in procedures for international services have improved to match those offered at airports throughout the continent.
Some obvious questions arise here: what are the benefits of train travel? When do I take a train instead?'... Read more
Educational Travel in Spain
After four and a half years living in Barcelona, my advice to those wanting to learn the Castilian language is simple: don't come here. Barcelona is not the place to learn Spanish, because it has never been the mother tongue in this part of Spain. People here speak Catalan first, Spanish second, and English third. Plus, there are too many foreigners in Barcelona who speak English in cafes and at parties, making practicing your Castellano pretty impossible. Better to travel to the south of Spain if you are serious about learning to hablar Espanol.

There are many schools to choose from, but having been a Spanish student on and off for the last eight years, I like Giralda Center in old town Seville. The language academy has a lot of perks and offers many methods for students to grasp Castilian. The school also sets up host family stays, which makes practicing what you’ve learned each day in class a cinch... Read more
Study Spanish in Adalucia, Spain
For those interested in studying the Spanish language, Andalucía might seem like a long way to go. After all, in North America one can learn Spanish across the border in Mexico, in a host of other Latin American countries, and even right in our own cities in immersion programs. Why Spain? Andalucía, particularly, attracts an enthusiastic international student body, perhaps due not only to its natural beauty and cultural richness, but for many other reasons as well... Read more
Learn Spanish in Valenica
Want to really learn Spanish? If you are seeking to study in Spain and become one of the approximately 170,000 international students (the average is between 130,000 and 210,000 students annually), and you are only thinking about Madrid or Barcelona as locations for an entire semester, you may be missing the boat.

The Valencia region is host to several schools in an area which includes Valencia, Denia, Castellon, and Alicante—where you can learn the language, experience the local culture, and commit yourself to an education ranging from a few weeks to programs which run year-round... Read more
Markets and Cooking in Barcelona
So.I think Barcelonian food is best summed up by that fact that they work to live and love to eat. People here see eating as a way of sharing: "It was all right to love food in the society."... Read more
Markets and Cooking in Barcelona
Throughout history, summer solstice celebrations have been an important element of social, cultural, and religious life in many Spanish cities and towns, especially those close to the sea. Originally a pagan Celtic ritual on the shortest night of the year, the holiday was christianized during the 5th century by the deeply religious king Clovis and named "Saint John's Day" after Saint John the Baptist, who was born on the 24th of July... Read more
Undiscovered Tuscany
Instead of touring the much traveled hills of the Chianti or the crowded streets of Florence, Siena, and San Gimignano, direct your steps—and car—to the Tuscan coast. Here you will find a corner of Tuscany that is still little known to American tourists but is an essential part of this “mythic” province of Italy.
It is called the “Etruscan Coast.” You will find Etruscan tombs near beaches extending from Livorno to Piombino—the most extensive of which can be found on the Golfo di Baratti. It is a rocky coast punctuated by long sandy beaches and bordered by forests of umbrella pines, orchards, olive groves as well as vineyards... Read more
Off the Beaten Track in Florence by Senior Editor Joanna Hubbs
Florence
After centuries of tourists descending on the city, is it still possible for the traveler to find places free of crowds?

Though it's hard to believe, there are still many hidden treasures to be discovered.

Here are three among them... Read more
Living in Italy
It's difficult to really integrate in a new country. Having lost your mother tongue, income, status, resource network, and every friend you ever made, you may find yourself running low on confidence. To be fair, managing to fit into Italy and the Italian way of life is easier than attempting to do so in many other countries, such as Saudi Arabia or Iceland. Italians love to talk. Oh, they talk and talk, to anybody willing to talk back. Contrary to the common notion, the country shape on the map could be seen not so much as a boot, but as a ceaselessly wagging tongue. That said, after a spell of amicable chats with baristas and curious neighbors, you may feel a need for a deeper connection than "What's that going on down at the piazza?" So how do you really assimilate with Italians?... Read more
Venice Off-Season
...The sun is up, filtered through soft, low-lying clouds as through milk and molted pewter. I go back to my pension with its creaking bed, damp satin covers, and black, lugubrious furniture. Yesterday returning to my room after the maid had been in, I found that she had removed my nightgown from my suitcase and arranged in on the bed like a white shadow, ready to plunge into that activity this city is proverbially famous for: A Venezia si sogna. In Venice, you dream... Read more
Paris by Bike
On a recent visit to Paris I had a chance to experience first-hand the latest fad in this fashion-conscious city. But this time it was not haute couture-it was the city's new infatuation with bicycling. Watching the throngs of well-dressed cyclists pedaling up and down the streets, I had the impression that sporting chromed bicycle pedals was now almost as fashionable as wearing high heels... Read more
Affordable Paris by Senior Editor Joanna Hubbs
Affordable Paris
Even with the euro reaching unprecedented heights—before recent relief for the dollar—for the last year those Americans who can still afford to splurge for a special holiday can do so by finding the very best means for living comfortably and saving money and eating well.

For many years my husband and I spent a week or so in Paris, where I had lived in my youth, to catch up with friends, who unfortunately for us did not live in apartments big enough to put us up. Instead we stayed in inexpensive hotels and when not invited by our friends for dinner, ate all our meals in restaurants or smuggled prepared food from a local “traiteur” into our tiny cramped rooms. Not that we complained—but nonetheless our stay always ended up costing more than we had anticipated.

Perhaps it took this year of the “Great Recession,” for us to get smarter... Read more
Crete
For over twenty years, I returned again and again to spend my summer vacations there, sometimes alone, sometimes accompanied, then with the man I would later marry. Then for no special reason, in the nineties my husband and I spent our holidays elsewhere, and for fifteen long years, we did not return. But one morning we woke up knowing that we had to go back to taste again that unique atmosphere-basic, rough, and rustic... Read more
German Farm Stays
German farm vacations have undergone important changes in recent years. Most are no longer just a matter of a spare room in a farmhouse. The owners have become very professional and have made big investments-in everything from saunas to solariums-to attract the increasingly discriminating guests. Despite the improvements, though, farm vacations remain a real bargain compared to hotels... Read more
Croatia
Croatia is not exactly a hidden travel destination given its 12 million annual visitors, but for most North Americans the small Adriatic country remains off the beaten path and relatively unknown. Although popular with tourists from Central Europe in the summer, Croatia's magnificent coastline is fairly quiet in spring and fall, providing an affordable and enjoyable vacation spot without the crowds. Despite its small size, Croatia offers a great variety of natural, cultural and historic attractions, all on a rather narrow strip of land along the Adriatic sea. The country is blessed with towering mountain ranges, a magnificent coastline, beautiful island archipelagos, and many cultural gems from Europe's past... Read more
Teaching English in Poland by Katarzyna Radzka
Teach in Poland
Central Europe has not always been the destination of choice for holidays, let alone living and working. All that has changed since many of the Central European countries have entered the European Union. Poland, a member since 2004, offers vast opportunities for native TEFL teachers who want to work in their major cities. And finding a job is not that difficult. In fact, once you have your EU passport or a work visa, finding employment is a piece of cake... Read more
Affordable Scandinavia
Most visitors tend to flock to the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden during warm summer months to mill around strikingly beautiful cities such as Stockholm. They enjoy boat trips around archipelagos with thousands of islands, cruise through and hike around Norwegian fjords, and bask on beaches under hours of daylight with a barely setting sun.
During long winter months, these countries also record some of the coldest temperatures on earth with only 2-4 hours of sunlight in some regions, so visiting Scandinavia during off-season months normally isn’t an attractive option for travelers...
But to enjoy the “real” Scandinavia, winter is the best time to visit... Read more
Scotland
The first time I walked out of Edinburgh's Waverly Station I knew right away that the four days I had planned on staying were not going to be enough. Rising out of the station the first thing you see is the majestic Edinburgh Castle high atop an extinct volcano overlooking the city. The castle's imposing walls lead down into the medieval buildings of the Royal Mile that run down to the Palace at Holyroodhouse. Straight ahead and just below street level are the green fields of the Princes Street Gardens where both locals and tourists stroll beneath the castle in lush surroundings. Immediately to the right of the station's exit is the strange and hypnotic Scott Monument which appears as though it is about to launch into orbit. Edinburgh was love at first sight and before the visit was even over I was already making plans to return on a permanent basis... Read more
Dual Citizenship
There must be a good reason for having two passports. The three children of ex Prime Minister Terry Blair and his wife all have Irish passports as well as in addition to their passports from the U.K. This is thanks to Mr. Blair's Irish grandmother. Americans are increasingly applying for and getting passports from other countries.

Many U.S. citizens are under the false assumption that it is illegal to have passports. It is not... Read more
Ask the Expat Q&A
Living and Traveling in Europe With the Weak Dollar
Living Abroad Contributing Editor Volker Poelzl
Volker Poelzl
Europe remains among the most popular overseas destinations for Americans who wish to travel, study, work, and live. However, the continuing low exchange rate of the U.S. dollar against the Euro-even with the recent relief--has had a serious impact on the budgets of Americans traveling or living in Europe. The dollar's decline against the euro is not a recent phenomenon, but it has weakened so much in recent years that Europe is no longer an easily affordable travel destination for most Americans... Read More
Managing Your Money Abroad: Currency Conversion Rates
Professional Hobo Columnist Nora Dunn
Nora Dunn
Between debit cards, credit cards, traveler's checks, and other travel-centric financial products, you have a few options for carrying and spending your money while traveling abroad. And although most companies have (often obscene) relatively transparent fee structures, currency conversion rates are another story. In this article you will find much of the information you require to effectively manage your money abroad, and to maximize currency conversion rates in your favor ... Read More
Living Under the Volcano in Iceland
Independent Travel Columnist Lies Ouwerkerk
Lies Ouwerkerk
“Must be a thunderstorm” thought Hans-Martin Moser, one of the museum guides of the Skógar Folk Museum, when he was about to close shop on the evening of April 14, 2010 and looked out of a window. The enormous red sky and accompanying heavy rumbling sounds were nothing out of the ordinary, since for people living practically next door to the Eyjafjallajökull glacier, strong forces of nature had always been a mere fact of life, and glacial rumblings were, after all, the lullabies they had grown up with... Read More
Bicycle Touring in the Netherlands
Long-Term Traveler Columnist Friedel Rother
Friedel Rother

The Netherlands is the ideal starting point for exploring Europe on two wheels.

Will I have the apple cake with whipped cream or without? Should I cycle through the dunes and along the sea or past tulip fields and windmills? These are the dilemmas that await cyclists in the Netherlands—a country that is as crazy about bicycles as the stereotypes suggest... Read More

Slovenia's Lipica Horse Farm
Senior Travel Editor Alison Gardner
Alison Gardner
Tucked into the southwest corner of Slovenia close to both the Italian and Croatian borders, there is an internationally unknown 430-year-old rural estate that gave birth to some of the most recognizable horses on earth. For most of its existence, the Lipica Stud Farm was the private preserve of Austro-Hungarian dukes, emperors and their friends, and-of course- that most noble snowy quadruped, the Lipizzaner horse... Read More
Finding Your First Paid Job Overseas
Proven Strategies to Find International Employment

Volunteering Abroad Contributing Editor Zahara Heckscher
Zahara Heckscher
I understand the dilemma of the first time international job seeker: You can't get a job overseas unless you have experience. But how do you get experience if you can't get a job? I'll share five proven strategies to break out of this Catch-22.. Read More
Alice Griffin
...In modern life many of us forget that as parents we have the ability (and mostly, the right) to teach our own children, instead of merely sending them off to school without a thought that there might be another way. However, being a mother who loves to indulge in longer-term travel experiences, for all the family, home education-or rather, on-the-road education-has always been a seed in the back of my mind... Read More
Managing Finances Securely While Traveling
Professional Hobo Columnist Nora Dunn
Nora Dunn
...You need money to travel, and you've got to actively manage it while you're on the road. How do minimize security concerns while paying for expenses? Where do you keep your cash? What would you do if you needed money in an emergency situation? How do you manage online finances securely? And how do you put it all together?... Read More
The radiant, neon lights of New York City still flashing in my mind, I almost stood in awe of the tranquility of Lucerne. The serene Swiss town is my birthplace, and yet after four years at Columbia University, I had somewhat disconnected with Europe. It was thus that I decided to re-immerse myself in my heritage and take a travel course, "Switzerland + Beyond," offered by the Rhode Island School of Design... Read More
Short or Long-Term Study Abroad? Making the Decision
Student Advisor Columnist Isabel Eva Bohrer
You have made the first step: you decided to study abroad. As a conscientious student, you are now approaching the study abroad office for your first appointment. While an agenda of items to be considered will naturally differ for every student, there is one question that will come up for all: how long do you want to study abroad? Read More
Ask the Expat Q&A
Starting a Business in Europe Part 1:
Financial, Legal, and Visa Requirements for Setting Up a Business in Europe
Living Abroad Contributing Editor Volker Poelzl
Volker Poelzl
Under the current economic conditions in Europe (2009-2010), such as slow growth, government spending cuts, etc., this is not the best time to set up a business in Europe. But with most of Europe notorious for its slow growth even during good economic times, this might be as good a time as any to establish your business in Europe... Read More
Ask the Expat Q&A
Starting a Business in Europe Part 2:
Economic Conditions and the Business Environment in Europe: What Country and City Should You Choose?
Living Abroad Contributing Editor Volker Poelzl
Volker Poelzl
There are a number of surveys by large international organizations such as the World Bank that regularly evaluate the business-friendly economic environment of countries worldwide. The World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Index project provides objective measures of business regulations and their enforcement across 183 economies and selected cities around the world. The report includes several criteria important for doing business, such as starting a business, dealing with construction, employing workers, registering property, getting credit, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts, etc... Read More
Matt Gibson
Tony Eitnier and Thomas Arnold, authors of the Contemporary Nomad travel blog, are two of the most adventurous travel bloggers around. Eitnier, a former language and communications trainer, and Arnold, a former chemist, are drawn to less-traveled destinations—like Sudan. Their travels have resulted in an impressive, if not slightly unsettling, list of experiences... Read More
Book Reviews
Madrid Walking Guides
Historic Madrid Walking Guides
by Beebe Bahrami

Reviewed by Volker Poelzl
Exploring Madrid on foot is the best way to get to know this great city. It is the only way you can find out what Madrid tastes, smells, looks, and feels like. Spontaneous explorations of Madrid will no doubt lead to surprise discoveries for visitors, but if you want to take a more deliberate journey through the fascinating history of this city, I recommend taking the Historic Walking Guides-Madrid book with you on your next trip... Read more
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TAzine Editorial
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