Let Your Mouth Be Your Tour Guide!

Foods to try while studying abroad in France or Spain


For most of the world, food is tantamount to culture. What people eat is unique to where the live, their history, their lives. As Americans, we hear stories of the bizarre and strange food that people in other countries eat – bugs and spiders in parts of Asia or haggis in Scotland. Experiencing the different foods that people eat can help you gain a new perspective on their culture and their lives. The foods listed in this blog are but a few of the many, many interesting foods you might encounter on your journey abroad. I encourage you to give them a try and decide for yourself.
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How Study Abroad Will Help You Get Into Harvard

Living with a host family in a different country during a summer study abroad program has many benefits to your higher education

Study abroad strengthens your college application

In the ultra competitive realm of applying and getting accepted into a top tier university, your application needs to make you stand out among the other hundreds, if not thousands, of applicants. Spending 3-4 weeks studying abroad in France or Spain as a high school student will give you many unique experiences you can write about in your college application essays. It might be the factor that helps you get accepted into your first choice school.
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Memories from Winter Study Abroad

The ECI team’s ghosts of Christmases past

Here at ECI we are usually very firmly focused on the road ahead, in the direction of Summer Study Abroad. But as we’re gearing up for the holidays, let’s allow ourselves a quick detour via ‘Winter Study Abroad’.

So many of our team have traveled widely, and along the way have celebrated Christmas in countries far from home. Here, Christie recalls her Celtic holiday experience in Scotland and Ireland. Christie’s recollections perfectly illustrate how ‘Study Abroad’ can create enduring and treasured memories:

Study abroad in Oxford, the best year of my life

‘I’ve said it once and I’ll say it a thousand more times: my year studying abroad at Oxford in England was the best year of my life. One of the highlights of that year was the time I got to spend traveling in between school quarters. The first quarter ended at the beginning of December, so I traveled to Scotland and Ireland.

Traveling by train to St. Andrews, Scotland

My trip started on an evening train, which was heaven. I arrived in St. Andrews, Scotland and fell in love with the people immediately. I found the Scots to be very much like the landscape: untamed. The small town of St Andrews had a surprising array of activities. I remember cozy afternoon tea in a lantern lit, leather couch-filled cafe overlooking the original golf course, a fried candy bar I bought off a street cart (a “delicacy”, I assure you), and the random wonder of a bubble party. I only wish I had time to explore more of that crazy country.

Christmas in Dublin: the main event!

But the main event was Dublin. Entering the downtown, I was like a kid at Christmas, nose pressed to the cab window just taking it all in. Dublin had been transformed into a quaint winter wonderland. Those lovely decorated streets with lights hung like a canopy overhead and the constant tinkle of holiday music everywhere you went. George Micheal’s 'Last Christmas' was a particular repeating favorite that year.

Life-long memories from my time in Ireland

During my time there, I awed over the Book of Kells at Trinity College, took the obligatory tour of the Guinness factory, and walked over a blustery coastal trail to a neighboring village. Evenings filled with Irish folk music in the Temple Bar district were pure bliss. Those cozy winter streets, that feeling of Dublin at Christmas, created memories that I return to every time December rolls around.

Even now, I am so grateful for the time I spent overseas.
– Christie Corcoran

Paris Through the Back Door

Some cool things to see in Paris if you’ve already been there

Paris has something for everyone!

I first visited Paris as a college student and will never forget my initial glimpse of the Eiffel Tower, walking along the Champs Elysées or seeing the Mona Lisa at the Louvre. Since then I have chaperoned 6 ECI groups in France. Although ECI’s Paris itinerary is a great snapshot of the City of Light’s highlights, I really enjoy helping students who have already visited Paris discover new treasures and see some famous destinations from a new perspective.

I visited the Louvre with my parents, do I have to go again?

Yes, is the answer I tell my students. Even if you’ve already “been there, done that,” this museum has much to offer besides its well-known masterpieces. There are over 35,000 works of art in the Louvre so even if you’ve been I can guarantee there will be something new to see.

But it’s so crowded near the Mona Lisa where else should I go?

Most don’t know that the Louvre is the former royal palace of the French monarchy before Versailles was built in the 17th century.

  • Go underground at the Louvre and see its original 12th century fortress walls. Get a glimpse of life in the Middle Ages.
  • Go back even further in time to 1750 BC when the Code of Hammurabi was carved into stone in Babylonia (present day Iraq). The Code is known as the first written record of many laws still enforced today such as do not steal or use violence against your neighbor.
  • Jump back more centuries to 4000 BC and admire numerous Roman and Greek Antiquities.

Rest assured, there is plenty to see and discover at the Louvre besides our pal Mona Lisa.

I’ve seen all of the Paris excursions on the itinerary, can I just spend the day shopping?

Don’t worry, there will be plenty of time for shopping while in Paris. Our groups have time to explore the Latin Quarter where there are many shops to pick up some souvenirs or even a scarf. Around Sacre Coeur you will have the opportunity to visit La Place du Tertre where you can even have someone sketch your portrait. And of course, we can spend time on the Champs Elysées where you’ll recognize some popular American stores as well as major French chains.

What’s the name of that famous cemetery in Paris?

Bonne question, it’s called Père Lachaise and it’s Paris’ oldest cemetery. Probably the most famous American buried here is Jim Morrison, former lead singer of the Doors. I’ve taken students here before who really wanted to see his grave. Once we find his grave site, we also visit the final resting place for some famous French, such as Marcel Proust (author), Eugene Delacroix (painter), Édith Piaf (singer) to name a few. It’s also interesting to visit any cemetery while in France since their graves are usually above ground, making for some beautiful and unique architecture to honor their loved ones.

Getting to know San Francisco

Photos from the students time abroad in California

On Monday we went on a guided bus tour of San Francisco, where we went to the beach and the Golden Gate Bridge. On Tuesday we played Baseball and some of us turned out to be really good at it. In the afternoon and evening we went to Santa Cruz. On Wednesday we went to the Oakland A’s Baseball Game.

The students visited a professional dance studio in SF to learn a hiphop/jazz dance routine. Byron was a great instructor, and the kids did well! Everyone gave it a try and had a full routine by the end of the hour and a half lesson.

We also had free time in Union Square for shopping and photos. A few students walked on to the ferry plaza building to visit the farmer’s market and grab lunch.

Learning about Native American history

Native American history, as taught by Dino, became a very interactive lesson for our group. First we learned about how they hunted deer (as demonstrated by Arsene), then we twisted hemp to simulate how they created string to use in rope and decorative jewelry. Then we made beads from sanding the shells and boring a hole in pinon nuts. Finally we tried to start a fire with a stick and a board with slots/holes cut in it. Two teams were successful in making smoke and starting fires, but I think all had a fun time learning and trying new things.

Hiking up to Coit tower

We enjoyed the views from Coit tower today, and the beautiful gardens and mansions on the Filbert steps on our way down. Ferdinand and I enjoyed a rest after the hike up to Coit tower. Christopher Columbus is the figure of the statue behind us. Unfortunately, no view of the Golden Gate today as the famous San Francisco fog was in residence.

Here is a photo showing Diego Rivera had a sense of humor…of all the frescos he painted on the interior walls of Coit tower, his painting of the SF Chronicle announcing the completion of his paintings in April 1934.

– Beth Burdick, Local Leader