The Milk Market

(Originally posted by Katie Virostek, a junior at CSU studying abroad at the University of Limerick in Ireland.  You can access her blog here:

This morning I had the pleasure of going to the Limerick Milk Market with my API group. It is located in the City Centre under this big white pointed tent, almost like a circus tent, and also in the streets surrounding the tent. It runs every Friday-Sunday, with Saturday being the busiest day. What an awesome place. If you are hungry, do NOT go there because you will buy everything you see and eat it right away. While I did not see any milk, there are TONS of other goods you can buy, including some non-food ones. Cheese, fruit, vegetables, fresh fish, coffee, tea, bread, any kind of dessert, candy, honey, chocolate, flowers, tools, clothes, jewelry, scarves, greeting cards, you name it, they probably have it (except milk).Images of the Milk Market milk-market1

For now I somehow managed to only buy croissants, a Lemon Meringue Tartlet, and baklava. Do not doubt that I will be making several trips here before I leave.

In one of the clothing shops I also ran into a Cincinnati Reds jacket. What country am I in?!

For lunch we went to a local bistro called Papaz. They are famous for their sandwiches, and let me tell you they did not disappoint. I got the meatball one…….yum. To be noted is that they aren’t served in bread, they are served in more of a pita or gyro pocket. To end the day we walked through a small local art museum and through the People’s Park. Limerick has a lot of cool things to do for not being a huge “city,” and I look forward to more weekend trips into the city.

That’s all for now, folks! If this post didn’t make you hungry, you are a strong soul.




And finally, I’m here!!!

Dakota Green is a sophomore at CSU majoring in Fashion Merchandising and minoring in Business Marketing. She is spending Spring 2014 studying abroad at Richmond University in Florence, Italy. You can find her blog directly at

[Originally posted January 21, 2014]

These first few days in Florence have been beyond busy. About 16 kids in the program lost their luggage between London and Florence (luckily I wasn’t one of them!), which delayed the process of getting in quite a bit. But once we got to our hotel we only had time to drop off our stuff before dinner. We took the long way to our restaurant in the middle of town so we could see some of the major sights at night. We then had dinner in an incredible building (some sort of castle or historic landmark) with huge gold chandeliers and teal blue walls with the most amazing art. Our meal was four courses long: pumpkin risotto, spicy penne pasta, stuffed turkey and veggies, and tiramisu. Our school also provides wine with dinner, which we thought was interesting, but we had a briefing on the Italian way of drinking. It’s actually illegal to be drunk in Italy (which is probably why American students are looked down upon so much), and they usually only have one drink, or they go to aprevito where they have a couple drinks and appetizers after work and all drinking stops at nine. Our cultures are so different, and I love it. After dinner a group of us girls picked up a bottle of wine on our way home (after our lecture about how to drink responsibly) and went back to the hotel. One of the rooms had a window that led to the roof so we went out and looked over the city then chatted for a little before bed.

We have a complementary breakfast at the hotel… And Italian breakfast is veryyyy different than what I’m used to. It consists mostly of meats and cheeses with herb tomatoes and espresso. Our second day we had a meeting to register with the police then we had a walking tour of the city after a quick lunch (real Italian pizza and gelato mmmm!). The walking tour took over 3 hours! We must have walked miles! Their intentions were good, they wanted to point out the major landmarks and bus stops and such, but honestly we were all too tired and turned around to comprehend any of it. The best part of the tour was the fact that we found our apartment! It’s is on the cutest corner right by the ponte vecchio, above a super market, and across the street from a wine bar. I absolutely can’t wait to move in! All of the apartments are spread throughout the city. Although it’ll be sad to be away from everyone in the program, it will be nice to not look like such tourists walking down the streets in a group of 100! After the tour we came back and had dinner at the hotel. We had salad, roasted chicken (I got caprese salad), gnocchi, and cake. Even though our feet were killing us and we were exhausted, Lexie and I wanted to see the broncos game so we decided to go out. We went to a bar called The Red Garter. It was kind of an American bar and it had football on in one room and karaoke in another. We only stayed till the 4th quarter because we desperately needed sleep but we’ll be cheering them on in the Super Bowl from 50,000 miles away!

On Monday we started Italian boot camp… We’re packing 45 hours and 3 credits into two weeks. It’s really intensive, but even after the first day we can communicate with the locals better… Thank goodness! Our school is about a 35 minute walk from the hotel, but luckily it will only be about a 2 minute walk from our apartment. The school is on a small street tucked away from the city. It has an adorable courtyard and the actual classrooms are all on the second story. The classrooms are small and the teachers are amazing. After school we grabbed a light lunch of bruschetta, then headed back to the hotel for more meetings (which almost all of us slept through). We had a nice dinner in town which consisted of more bruschetta, lasagne, chicken (I got caprese again), and chocolate cake. Once again even though we were EXHAUSTED we decided to go out (I forget what a full night of sleep feels like). We went to a bar called Lions Fountain. This is known as the study abroad bar and there were almost no locals there. There are signed college Tshirts hung up on the ceiling from past American students and there are different shots dedicated to popular colleges (we took the Richmond shot in honor of our first day of school at Richmond University Florence). They played American music the whole night and it was so fun to hang out with the people in our program.

Today we had boot camp again in the morning. We had a coffee break where we all did a shot of espresso and got a cappuccino to get us through the rest of the school day. We had more pizza and gelato for lunch then we headed back to the school to sign up for our excursions for the next month (wine tastings, soccer games, day trips, cooking classes, etc.) Now we’re back at the hotel resting before dinner. Dinner is in town again tonight and prosciutto, ravioli, Chianti beef, and Lemon Bavarian is on the menu. We are coming straight back to the hotel after we eat to pack up-we have to be out of our hotel rooms before we head to boot camp tomorrow because after school WE GET TO MOVE INTO OUR APARTMENTS! We have to order wifi for our apartment and set it up we our landlord so I probably won’t have internet for another week, but once I do I’ll make sure to upload all of my pictures!

Until then,


Dakota Green 1

Portugal: Food, Folklore, and Moorish Influence Galore!

Jessica Zaksek is a senior Psychology student at Colorado State University. She is currently partaking in a Semester at Sea and will visit ports in various countries such as Russia, Germany, Belgium, Portugal, Morocco and many more. Stay tuned to hear about all her adventures!

[Originally posted October 1, 2013]

I hope this entry finds you all healthy and happy! I am doing quite well! I had some free time and I thought I would write the entry for Portugal, instead of combining it with my experience in Spain. I only had two days in each country, so it was a whirlwind! I think that the time constraint also made me hyper-vigilant to my surroundings and experiences. Portugal was really amazing! I plan to go back very soon so I can see more of the country. I honestly had no idea what to expect, and I must admit that I found myself ignorant of the country’s history and culture. It made the entire experience so much more exciting and surprising. It may be small, with a population of around 10 million, but it has had a powerful influence on world history. You can find Portuguese culture and language in places such as Brazil, and even China!

During my stay in Portugal I traveled to Sintra and spent time in Lisbon, our port city, as well. In Portuguese, Lisbon is actually called Lisboa. Lisbon is the oldest city in Europe, which explains why it is such a cultural hub. The city has seven steep hills and trolleys. It reminds me a lot of San Francisco. They even have a replica of the Golden Gate Bridge! Most of the buildings were pretty old, and had fantastic iron work around the windows. The lamps were also a unique and fun feature of the streets in Lisbon. The sidewalk stones were shaped in a very distinctive manner, and I learned that they were created by pounding the stones into the ground with a wooden mallet. Apparently, this is a pretty laborious process! My favorite aspect of the city was the tile. On several buildings you could see walls filled with beautiful, old tile. Each building had it’s own unique tile design. It was unexpected because I did not know the Portuguese used tile. I loved how old the city looked. It gave it so much character and told such a rich story of times long past.

Strolling through the city, I realized quickly that the Lisbon itself as well as the surrounding areas were heavily influenced by the Moors. They brought their tile to the city and created city quarter names in Arabic.

Strolling through the city, I realized quickly that the Lisbon itself as well as the surrounding areas were heavily influenced by the Moors. They brought their tile to the city and created city quarter names in Arabic.

I was happy to discover that the food in Portugal is quite delectable and there is plenty to go around! Food has its own unique culture. I quickly learned that the Portuguese live to eat. Meals usually lasted several hours, which allowed for intimate conversation and enjoyment. I enjoyed getting to know some of my shipmates and eating delicious food. I had this amazing pastry during my cooking experience, which was covered in cinnamon sugar and filled with a tasty vanilla cream. The pastry dough was so flaky! The closest thing I can compare it to is a churro, but with filling. Another wonderful dessert item I enjoyed was a pastry filled with walnuts and apples. The outside of this pastry was coated in sugar and added just the right amount of sweetness.

The Portuguese also love their wine! Every meal I had was served with a glass of wine, specifically red. I learned that the Portuguese prefer red wine, because they feel it goes with everything. In restaurants we were often given bottles of wine and they were replenished throughout the meal. It made it very difficult to keep track of how much you had enjoyed already! Another great thing about Portuguese food was the cheese! It was so yummy! I had three different kinds of cheese. One was a hard cheese that consisted of a combination of goat and cow milk. The second was a softer cheese and the third was a goat cheese that was very spreadable. Bread was also served in abundance with every meal. I definitely enjoyed that!!

During the cooking experience I learned that the Portuguese pride themselves on food that is flavorful. When I tasted the olive oil I was pleasantly surprised by the volume of flavor it had compared to what I am used to. Dipping the bread in the olive oil created a fantastic culinary experience! The sausages I tried were also jam-packed with aggressive flavors. My palate was definitely pleased in Portugal!

At one of the last restaurants I dined in, they served kebabs(sliced meat grilled on a skewer), further reinforcing the Moorish influence on Portuguese cuisine. One funny aspect of this meal was the accompaniment of French Fries to the kebabs, which was definitely an interesting combination. I have noticed that a lot of meals in Europe are served with fries, no matter what the dish is.

At one of the last restaurants I dined in, they served kebabs(sliced meat grilled on a skewer), further reinforcing the Moorish influence on Portuguese cuisine. One funny aspect of this meal was the accompaniment of French Fries to the kebabs, which was definitely an interesting combination. I have noticed that a lot of meals in Europe are served with fries, no matter what the dish is.

In addition to the cuisine, I was also able to enjoy some traditional Portuguese dance known as Fado, which incorporates folklore into its music. It was my favorite cultural experience so far in regards to dancing/ singing. I had a minimal understanding of it from cultural pre-port on the ship, but it wasn’t enough. Our tour guide explained that the primary theme of this style is “saudade,” which does not have a direct translation into English. The closest translation would be nostalgia or an intense longing for the past, and better times. Fado is the national style of music. The saudade in the music can be directed towards a variety of different things. You could have saudade for your grandmother’s pie or for someone who has recently passed. In many songs, the longing is for the times when Portugal was a wealthy, influential and powerful country. The other primary object of saudade is unrequited love.

There are two styles of fado. The first originated among the poor classes and marginalized individuals in Lisbon. Marginalized individuals included prostitutes, sailors and coachmen. Lisbon fado is usually sung in a very raspy sort of way and focuses on a longing for better days and times. The elite, for obvious reasons, rejected this form of fado. The second style of fado originated at Coimbra University. Men usually sing in this style and wear black capes, traditional to the uniforms at the University. The primary theme of Coimbra fado is love, whether it be unrequited or reciprocated. It is also much more lyrical and light compared to the Lisbon form. Classic guitars and a special Portuguese guitar are used to accompany the singing. The Portuguese guitar is in the shape of a teardrop, which I believe is very appropriate.

During our meal we got to listen to both styles of fado.  It was very unique and unlike anything I have ever heard. Normally, music in America rhymes and flows but fado sounds more disjointed and seems to tell a story. Their costumes were true to the period and were very intricate and beautiful. One of my favorite dances was the one using the special noisemakers. The women were spinning so fast, their skirts were billowing, and they were a blur on stage.

During our meal we got to listen to both styles of fado. It was very unique and unlike anything I have ever heard. Normally, music in America rhymes and flows but fado sounds more disjointed and seems to tell a story. Their costumes were true to the period and were very intricate and beautiful. One of my favorite dances was the one using the special noisemakers. The women were spinning so fast, their skirts were billowing, and they were a blur on stage.

New Delhi: Everything I feared and hoped India would be

Jennie Maydew is a junior Art major and is spending one semester in Hyderabad, India.

[Originally posted August 23, 2013]

New Delhi is an area in the city of Delhi and the capital of India. With 22 million residents, Delhi is the fourth-largest city in the world and the largest in India in terms of area. It’s a modern metropolitan city with a punctual metro system and a bustling, busy population. Its architecture and city layout is heavily influenced by the British and the city as a whole differs from Hyderabad greatly. Ambitiously we chose our destinations, and in three days we did Delhi!

In sum, New Delhi was the manifestation of the image of India I had before coming here. It was everything I feared and hoped India would be. Tight and crowded streets lined with shops and homes above them, markets overflowing with people and goods, bicycle rickshaws whipping through the streets. Dirt and dust, color and texture, noise and odor. From spending a few days there the only conclusion that I could draw is that Delhi is a fascinating place.

We stayed four nights in Delhi on the topmost floor of a hotel tucked behind a series of alleyways. Travel publications accurately labeled the area around our hotel a ‘tourist ghetto.’ One of the strangest things about Delhi was to see tourists everywhere (Hyderabad isn’t frequented by many outsiders). Seeing another foreigner is like looking in a mirror, and it really puts my image in perspective. Because New Delhi is a popular destination for tourists, the locals are determined on pushing tourist scams. I’m proud to say never once did we fall for any, but these acts were much more apparent than they are in Hyderabad, and became irritating quickly.

Lotus Temple

Lotus Temple

Our first day in Delhi we arrived early in the afternoon and took the clean and efficient metro to the Baha’i House of Worship. Also called the Lotus Temple, this non-denominational place of worship offers a silent interior space for meditation or prayer, and was nestled around greenery and tranquil pools. Its architecture reminds me of the Sydney Opera House. Afterward we took the public bus to Dilli Haat, a crafts and cultural market. Bargaining at Dilli Haat is critical, especially because tourists are notorious for succumbing to bloated prices. We’ve learned a lot from bargaining at markets in Hyderabad, and regularly get items for less than half of the original offer. But because New Delhi’s markets have so many tourists, the vendors are reluctant to lower their prices, knowing another tourist will come along and pay the price the vendor wants. You never know how far your bargaining skills will get you, but there’s usually another shop down the way selling the exact same product if you don’t get the price you hoped for.

Dried fruits piled high in Khari Baoli; the numbers are the price per kilogram in rupees

Dried fruits piled high in Khari Baoli; the numbers are the price per kilogram in rupees

While in New Delhi we visited the Crafts Museum, a destination I couldn’t leave without visiting. The textiles there were stunning—ikat, brocade, bandhani (tie-and-dye), block prints, embroideries, and kalamkari tapestries that lined entire walls. It was all so beautiful that I took a hundred photos until the staff told me it wasn’t allowed. Oops! Although it was amazing to purely look, almost nothing in the museum was labeled, so it’s difficult to put into context most of what I saw. I’ll be researching Indian textiles for my independent study, so I hope to learn more about the pieces I saw in the museum.

One of the oldest markets in India, Chandni Chowk was a must-see for our Kate, Rhia, Romi, and I. This market has smaller, more specific markets within it that separate off into alleyways. Khari Baoli, the spice market within Chandni Chowk, is a fragrant and vibrant row of spices, herbs, teas, dried fruits, nuts, and specialty foods. It lends itself to some of the most picturesque images of abundant piles of herbs and spices. We rode in a cycle rickshaw around the marketplace to truly experience Chandni Chowk’s colorful and chaotic glory.

On our last full day in Delhi we visited Humayun’s Tomb, a major landmark of the city and one that Obama visited during his stay in New Delhi in 2010. I had difficulty seeing its grandeur, however. Compared to the well-preserved monuments of Agra, the monuments in Delhi appear in much worse condition. Though beautiful from a distance, Humayun’s Tomb was dirty and dilapidated, especially in the interior. There appeared to be some restoration project going on where laborers on scaffolding were casually repainting the building, which seemed sacrilegious and controversial to me. While in Delhi we also toured the Red Fort, which was in a similar state of decay. Some buildings in the complex appeared neglected and in the process of deteriorating, and there didn’t appear to be any plan to remedy this. The condition of these monuments was a sharp contrast to the protected and pristine conditions in which we view historical monuments and artifacts in America. Seeing Humayun’s Tomb and the Red Fort was an uncomfortable area for me to navigate knowing the amazing history behind these sorry structures.

Romi, Rhia, Kate, and me at Humayun’s Tomb

Romi, Rhia, Kate, and me at Humayun’s Tomb

In addition to the above places, we also visited a Tibetan area and a Muslim area situated within Delhi. It was interesting to see the mix of cultures in one city, and how these two places could differ so greatly. The Tibetan area was an oasis in the midst of the bustling city, with quiet shops and calm people. The Muslim area, also called Basti Hazrat Nizamuddin, was a series of narrow alleys winding among tall buildings. We toured this neighborhood with the Hope Project, a nonprofit that provides resources for families and individuals who live in this extreme poverty area.

Some things make more sense after visiting Delhi; I gained a lot of perspective, mostly about India but also about the world and the people in it. I gained a lot of questions, too. We’ll actually be returning to Delhi the first weekend in October with CIEE. There are a few places in Delhi I’d still like to see (like Qutb Minar) so I look forward to returning to this vibrant and intriguing city.

After fasting at Ramadan in Morocco, I am truly living

Brooke Lake is an International and Arabic studies major at Colorado State University, USA. Brooke works as an editorial columnist for the Rocky Mountain Collegian. She studied abroad in Meknes, Morocco and currently studies abroad in Jordan.

[Originally posted September 5, 2013]

While studying abroad in Meknes, Morocco this past summer my favorite Arabic word came to be ‘iftar.’ I can remember whispering this word to myself over and over again while squished in the backseat of a taxi in the sweltering African heat between three oversized Moroccan women.

After the thirteenth hour of absolutely no food and water, after taking a three hour advanced Arabic exam, after walking home in the intense summer heat and after having an entire table ridden with delicious Moroccan food stare me down as I walked in my front door, I inhaled slowly and exhaled the word, iftar.

As days turned into weeks in Morocco the word took on a multitude of meanings for me. Iftar is the traditional meal which breaks the daily fast for those participating in Islam’s most holy month of Ramadan. I started to associate all things wonderful and life-giving with iftar. As a non-Muslim American living in an Islamic country for the first time during the month of Ramadan, my entire sense of comfort, will-power and understanding dissolved into a brand new empathy for a group of people I love deeply (Muslims). Even more, I experienced a revolutionary emotional, spiritual and physical transformation during my fast.

Ramadan, celebrated by approximately 2 billion Muslims worldwide, is a month-long fast dedicated to spiritual and physical purification in hopes that Allah will forgive all previous sins. From before the dawn breaks until the sun sets, those following the fast will abstain from not only food and water but also sex, gossip and ill behavior towards others.

You may wonder why a non-Muslim would willingly participate in Ramadan. I can best answer that with a story or two.

I went into my fast with an unknowing of what to expect. I had fasted before but never in a foreign country and culture, and never to this extent. I thought it would consist mostly of quiet meaningful reflection and meditation alone.

On the contrary, when I conjure up memories of Ramadan I hear my Moroccan “mother” screaming, “kooli” (Arabic for ‘you eat’) at me with a wink and the warmest of smiles as I sipped on homemade juice. I can see the faces of friends laughing together as we exchanged stories and jokes in three, sometimes four different languages. When I recall my first Ramadan, I feel my mouth succumb to the utter delectation that is harira, a famous Moroccan soup that takes about two hours to prepare, during iftar.

While Ramadan was similar to hiking a Colorado fourteener in a physically demanding aspect, it was just as spiritually and emotionally challenging, yet rewarding. Regardless of my spiritual beliefs or nationality, an iftar never passed where a Muslim-Moroccan family or friend did not welcome me into their home with astonishing hospitality. I was always given more than I could eat at iftar and even more love than I could comprehend from even people I had only just met.

It did not matter if I was eating on the floor of a poor Berber family’s home in the Atlas mountains, at a fancy table decorated with delicate china and elaborate foods in the city of Meknes, or cramped around a table bursting with someone from every generation in the family home of my Arabic professor in Tangier; every iftar was spent with people who encouraged me to call them uncle, grandmother, sister and father.

Ramadan was a blur of emotions, food, heat, Arabic and thankfulness for me. In a country where I could so easily be isolated because of language, religion, race, beliefs and culture I was adopted into so many families who never questioned my worth or validity at their sacred breaking-of-fast meal.

I believe one of my journal entries during the third week of Ramadan sums up my experience most comprehensively:

When your past sorrow and anxiety about the future dissolve into a peaceful acceptance of what was, what is and what is to come. When all fear evades your mind and abounding joy mixed with absolute gratitude becomes your daily song. Where language is a matter of the heart and not of the tongue, and all homes and hearts have only but open doors. Where delectation comes from kindness and not matters of wealth or filling your belly. This is truly living. Brothers and sisters, I am truly living.

Brooke Lake 1