See you later New Zealand

Kia Ora,

My last couple of weeks in New Zealand can only be described as bittersweet. Dunedin had become a second home to me and when it was time to leave, I realized how comfortable I had become living there. I knew my way around the city well, I was closer than ever with my flatmates and I was full of desire to keep exploring the country. As sad as I was to leave, I’m so grateful for the opportunity to study abroad in New Zealand and I will always treasure my time and memories there.

The hardest goodbyes were to my flatmates. We had become super close through the semester playing card games every night and bantering all the time. Two of them left on the same day and the other is still there since he’s staying for the second semester. We’ve been trying to talk every day but it’s difficult with the time change. However, we have made plans to try and meet up again in the future.

Flatmates posing in their apartment in front of the windows.
My flatmates, Santi, Laurel and Sam, and I the night before they left in front of our flat

Two of my other friends and I also got in another road trip before leaving. We went to Lake Tekapo, the Blue Pools in Wanaka, and the Wanaka tree. Lake Tekapo was amazing since the wild lupins had begun to bloom. It was one of my favorite things I saw! We also got lucky with really nice weather so the mountains were clearly visible from the lake. The blue pools in our opinion weren’t worth it unless you were already in the area or doing one of the hikes it’s connected to. The water was just as blue as other lakes and rivers so while it was beautiful, we thought it wasn’t one of the top things to see in New Zealand. We ate at Red Star one more time and then went to get pictures of the Wanaka tree during sunset. The day was very long but totally worth it for one last road trip to see the countryside.

Wild purple lupins in a green field with Lake Tekapo and hills in the background with clear blue skies.
Lake Tekapo with wild lupins
Firle of pink lupins at Lake Tekapo
The pink lupins were my favorite!
3 students posing amid the wild lupins with Lake Tekapo in the background and lots of clear blur sky.
Tori, Madi and I at Lake Tekapo
The Wanaka Tree in the middle of the ocean with hills and blue sky behind, at sunset.
The Wanaka tree at sunset

My last day in Dunedin we took tourist pictures and went to Doctors Point beach. Doctors point ended up being beautiful and very tropical. We walked through tunnels to get there and as we walked out on the other side of the beach I felt like we were transported to the north island. I was disappointed when I didn’t get to see Cathedral Cove on the North Island, but Doctors Point almost had a similar look to it and the pictures looked similar. It was a perfect last beach day getting some sun and soaking in my last day in Dunedin. That night Santi, Madi I played games until we had to go to bed and say our goodbyes. I left the next morning at 6 am when my shuttle picked me up outside my flat, which I booked online for a student discount.

THe sand and ocean beach with blue sky above at Doctors Point
Doctors Point
Looking through caves out to the beach and ocean at Doctors Point
Caves leading to the beach
Author posing in front of the Dunedin city sign.
Posing in front of the Dunedin sign!
University of Otago entrance with the school's sign.
Posing in front of the University of Otago sign with my Linfield jacket on!

I was excited to go home and see my family but it was really hard to leave. I had a great time abroad and wasn’t ready to leave yet. I got lucky on the plane leaving Dunedin with great views of the peninsula one last time. My journey home was very long and I was grateful to see my parents when I landed in Spokane.

The next couple of weeks I spent trying to adjust back to my normal life. The time change was hard to get used to, especially since I felt no motivation to fix it. It was also much harder than I expected to adjust back to the right-hand side. For so long I was repeating “left-hand side” in my head that it became natural. In the San Francisco airport, I almost walked onto the wrong side of the moving walkway until I realized it was coming toward me! Also at the airport, I almost got into the driver’s side of the car instead of the passenger side. After that, I focused more on changing back to the right side but I still find myself walking on the left side sometimes. My brothers came home for Thanksgiving, also making it easier to adjust to being home.

I would recommend to anyone even thinking about it to study abroad in New Zealand! It was a breathtaking country with friendly people and a super safe environment. I made memories I will never forget and friends that I hope to keep forever. It was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity like everyone always says. I hope to help others wanting to study abroad there and I know I will be going back again someday as soon as I can!

Otago Peninsula looking through the airplane window.
My last view of the Otago Peninsula and my home away from home for the last 5 months. My flat was a little way off the peninsula by the Stadium.


Study Trip to Spain

Hey Linfield! The week of Thanksgiving, my class took a week long study trip to Spain. We found out where we were going a week before we left, and found out that we would be driving over in a bus and that they had made reservations for us at a hotel. If you are considering doing this program, you must be flexible and patient, it is the Portuguese way. After all of our speculations of hostels, we were delightfully surprised. It was a pleasant hotel in the city center of Zamora, with easy access for food and exploring the city!

The photo looks down into a courtyard where students are looking up to the camera and standing among plants.     A student stands with their back facing the camera looking at a wall with gold decorations

But one of the best parts… we had heaters! The first night there, we all stayed in and cranked the heaters up. It felt overly luxurious and the long hours in the bus slipped behind all our thoughts.

I won’t lie, my living situation right now is not the best… frankly, it has started to really suck. But, for the entire week, I shared a hotel room with a friend and didn’t really interact with my roommates at all. It was the perfect break and perfect Thanksgiving.  And now here I am, procrastinating studying for my finals that are in a week. But I wanted to share for future prospective students about the first study trip!

  A student stands with their back to the camera, looking at the front of a building, which is white stone decorated in an arch and with a large wooden door under the arch     A large, stone building with towers and windows viewed across a courtyard

What to bring:

The bus was of course not very comfortable, but I brought a neck pillow (BRING A NECKPILLOW!) it made it so much better. We drove up to around seven hours a day so headphones and a portable battery charger for your phone are essential unless you want to listen to Portuguese static. We had the same bus and same driver each day which made it easy and stress free. (I left my purse on the bus one night with my passport… not a good idea but it was still there in the morning.) SNACKS/lunch. We ate breakfast at the hotel each morning (much better than any American hotel I’ve been too) and then stopped at a restaurant for lunch each day, and then went out for dinner when we got back to the hotel. The first day, everybody was excited to eat out, but then everyone started packing lunches to bring on the bus. Portuguese and Spanish food is very heavy and the servings are HUGE. On the third day, over half the class had brought salads for lunch–ha!

I brought my passport because we were crossing borders and thought we might need it to check into the hotel, but I didn’t take it out once.

Students sitting on a bus and smiling at the camera

Because there is so much time spent driving, we typically did not arrive back into Zamora before sunset, and left just a little after sunrise. So, if you get a late start day (we got one) take advantage of it. I walked to the Puente de Piedra bridge with a friend from class to catch the sunrise. And if you’re not an early riser, it was worth it I promise, it was absolutely beautiful with the rising sun and the quiet city. Plus, we typically had an hour drive each morning to our first destination!

A river with a stone bridge across it with a sunrise in the background

And the wine, so much wine! We visited cellars that were built in the 1700’s and are still being used today, even with brick archways without cement in between. We visited a winery that was dug underground with pickaxes and shovels so largely, an entire city block was then built on top of it (I got the feeling the family sort of owned the town, everyone knew who the owner was when we walked down the street). We stood in fields of goblet trained vines with no other view in sight. We tasted wine everywhere we went, and learned even more. Now, I do not know if in future years if the school will go to the same places, but I have no doubt that no matter where you go, it will be memorable and worth every minute!

A wine cellar with stone/brick ceilings and arches, with many barrels of wine lining both edges of the walkway       A grapevine which has grown very tall, with no grapes on it, in a vineyard       Students standing in a wine cellar, with stone ceilings and arches and many barrels of wine on both sides of the walkway          A very large hill/pile of wine grapes in a building, with steam rising from the top    Many copper pipes, other pipes, vats, and other distilling equipment inside a building. The photo looks down and across the operation from a walkway.          A group of students standing around a wine grape vine in a vineyard

Emma Anderson

New Continent, New Experiences

As sad as it is, I have completed my last large travel while abroad. This past weekend I went to Fez, Morocco. I knew before coming to Aix that I wanted to travel to Morocco, I just did not know how excellent it was going to be. Being that Morocco is an Arabic speaking country with a very different culture from Europe overall, it was an experience unlike anything else. I feel very lucky to be able to experience so many different cultures and ways of life within a two-hour flight. The Moroccan people in Fez were nothing but welcoming. When my friends and I made it to our Airbnb, we were greeted with tea and great suggestions of what to do around Fez.

View of the city of Fez from my Airbnb  Painted wood work of circles and flowers in my AIrbnbPanoramic view of Fez









Day one, we walked through the maze of the old city of Medina. There are endless thin, busy streets with artisan shops and food. Every street had its unique twist. If you paid enough attention, you could find art on every street. From the mosaics of tile to the woodwork of balconies, there was always something to see and admire. Being here gave me a great opportunity to purchase nice souvenirs for others at a cheap price.

We also did a cooking class in someone’s home. We learned how to make couscous and vegetable Tajine. We ended up staying way past the end of our class to talk to our new friend Yassine and his mother Maria. We learned all about Moroccan culture and got to listen to Arabic music he and his mother enjoyed.  This was one of my favorite parts of the trip.

Donkeys going through the streets of Medina  Pottery shop with Tagines in the front; lots of decorative plates and blowls on the walls.Before we cooked the vegetable TagineMadrasa in Fez. Looking out over a balcony to balconies across the street.  Madrasa in Fez

Day two, we explored the outskirts and the new city. We were able to see the Jewish quarter, get beautiful panoramic views of the city, and learn more history of Morocco. We also ended up going back into the Medina to appreciate more of the architecture of the mosques, schools, and palaces. We visited the blue arc and a rainbow art street where there were more, unique artisans selling their products.

Men working in a pottery shope.  Man cutting beautiful painted tilesA large loom with right blue yarn.Rainbow street of art - paintings, rugs and many other types of artwork hanging on both sides of the street.  Looking out over the last place where they produce leather in medevial style

Studying in France has allowed me to take courses involving the culture and history of immigrants from the Maghrib (Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco) to France. By taking my courses in Muslim Presence in Europe, French Colonialism in North Africa, and my friend taking Islamic Art, we were able to get more than expected out of our trip. We were able to better appreciate the art and culture while teaching each other about what we were seeing and experiencing. We were able to learn and witness more of the religion of Muslims. We were also in the only city of Morocco where geometric art continued after the rule of the Ottoman Empire. This type of art can be seen from as old as the 14th century to the present day.

Out of all the places I have been in so far, this was the most culturally immersive. I was not only doing tourist things but also mingling with locals and furthering what I have learned in my courses. Fez was vibrant in culture, people, and art. I hope to come back to Morocco in the near future and explore more of what the country has to offer.

Student in the Al-Attarine Madrasa with a fountain in front.

Art in Al-Attarine Madrasa  The Blue Arc - surrounded by blue art work on the walls above and around it.



December in Aix

Hello from Aix!

It is finally December here in the south of France and I could not be happier. Don’t get me wrong, France is lovely. But at this point, I miss home so much that all I want to do is go back to Oregon and resume my normal life…

Town Square in the evening Christmas Tree

For this blog post, I want to give you an honest update of the past three months here and get some things off my chest that I have been holding back.

For those of you who don’t know, I came here to study wine. I enrolled in a Global Wine Studies Certificate program that was supposed to provide a unique wine-based education that I could not obtain at Linfield. I chose to take classes that I felt were closely aligned with my interests, namely the Food and Wine Paring for the Sommelier class, and the Wine Marketing and Analysis class. As a Wine Studies and Marketing double major, this seems like it would be a great fit, right?

I am so sad to say this, but I am very disappointed in this program. I don’t want to get into it too much, but needless to say, I feel frustrated that the program was marketed to me as one thing and hasn’t fulfilled those expectations at all. I’ve learned over the past month that the program experienced a substantial shift in structure right before the semester started, which left IAU scrambling to find a professor to fill the newfound void. The ramifications of this hastened hiring fell directly on the students, and unfortunately has resulted in a very dissatisfying semester.

I personally have been extremely discouraged with the situation and have wanted to say something but I feared I would come off as an “entitled American student that was just complaining.” I went back and forth trying to decide if saying something was the right thing to do, if the school would take me seriously or not, and whether or not I was the only student felt the way I did.

I finally decided that I couldn’t take it any longer, and I spoke up to the Administration. This turned out to be a good move that brought me an immense sense of accomplishment, satisfaction, and it lifted the weight off my shoulders that I had been carrying around since the middle of September. It feels great when you are able to speak up for yourself in a professional, articulate, and genuine way. However, I am very remorseful that I don’t have better things to say about this program. There are some redeeming aspects and I have learned plenty of new information. But I came all this way for a niche wine education and I do not feel like I have received that.

At the end of the day, I hope that the purpose of this study abroad experience reveals itself to me sooner rather than later. I feel like the challenges I have faced are not often talked about, and I would love to share the nitty-gritty of daily life with anyone who wants to listen… but I won’t bore my readers with that!

I hope the best for other study abroad students, both those who are currently overseas as well as those who are gearing up to go. There are always things to learn, but sometime things go wrong that are out of your control. My best advice for you if you find yourself in this situation is to take it day-by-day and remember that it is all temporary.

Homemade hot wine English Christmas Carols at the Cathedral in AixPicture of Cassidy sitting on a bench

Hope you are well,


Happy Thanksgiving from Aix!

Hello and Happy Thanksgiving from Aix!

This year I learned that Thanksgiving is huge in France! There is canned pumpkin, fresh cranberries, 20-pound turkeys and Stove Top box stuffing everywhere you turn!

Just kidding.

Thanksgiving is as big in France as Bastille Day is in America. This means that when your host family comes to you and wants to celebrate Thanksgiving just like an American, you have to be prepared to get crafty. This year, the actual holiday of Thanksgiving passed just like any other Thursday of the week. Which, if you know me at all, you know that I am a Thanksgiving fanatic! I love to cook, eat, and nap… it is the perfect day! I never imagined that I would live through the 4th Thursday in November without a heaping plate of turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, ect…

But alas, I got to celebrate the holiday after all! On the Saturday, November 30th, my host mom invited 13 of her friends over to our comfy little apartment and I showed them how to celebrate like an American. This may sound all well and good, but there is so much more to the story than the festivities of Saturday at 1:00pm.

It all began 2 weeks before the big day. I compiled a list of recipes for my host mom to look over, and we patch-worked a menu together that she felt her friends would enjoy. It wasn’t until much later that I realized she was deciding on recipes that she has never heard of! But luckily, when it comes to Thanksgiving food, it is hard to choose the “wrong” dish, right?

We meditated on that menu for a week, making changes almost every night until we ended up with the perfect line up. Meanwhile, I worked on decorations for the big day…

A menu for thanksgiving dinner a list of things to do each day before thanksgiving

My host mom went food shopping every day after work for the next week. Mind you, she was didn’t know what any of these recipes looked or tasted like! But after a few phone calls, translations, and Google searches, we finally ended up with everything we needed. The cooking commenced on Wednesday when I cut up the bread for the stuffing.

On Thursday, I decided to prepare the turkey… the biggest we could find was a 7-pounder from the local butcher. Now I don’t mean to be dramatic here, but this may have been one of the most disturbing things I have ever done. Why? Because when you are expecting a Butterball Turkey that has been de-feathered, cleaned, and trimmed, and you get a bird that, in short, “needs more attention,” it’s an emotional experience! I was so unprepared for the task at hand and was so queasy that I almost had to stop. I was plucking feathers from the legs with my fingers, cutting off excess pieces of the bird, and literally crying through the whole process from the realization of what I was doing.. And the smell. Don’t even get me started. I rubbed garlic butter under the skin seasoned the top of the bird with fresh herb salt and put it back in the fridge. WHEW!

Once I collected myself (lol) I started on the cranberry sauce, using only dried cranberries since fresh cranberries apparently DO NOT EXIST in France. The same can be said for pumpkin puree. I had to solicit Zach’s help in bringing out 2 cans when he visited me during Fall Break!

On Friday, I got home after class, rolled up my sleeves, and got to work! I started with homemade mushroom soup for the green bean casserole, then made stuffed mushrooms with sausage, white wine, and cream cheese, and then began working on the pies. I made a pumpkin, of course, and my momma’s apple pie! (I quickly realized that we were at a shortage of baking vessels for these pies. However, through a little Macgyvering, I made it work!) I finished the dessert menu with a batch of fresh chocolate chip cookies.

When my host mom came home, we finished up the dishes: creamed corn, marinade for the pork, maple-glazed carrots, and extra gravy. We then spent the remaining hours of the night putting up the decorations, rearranging the living room only to rearrange it all back to the way it was, and cleaning the apartment.

banner across the window that says Happy Thanksgiving Fall decorations on the wall to celebrate Thanksgiving

On Saturday, we woke up around 8:00, and tackled the most challenging task of all…Baking everything with the sometimes-working and unpredictable oven. This took some serious finessing, but we stayed calm and remained faithful. Guests started to arrive a little after 1, and by 1:45, all 13 of us were squeezed around the dining table with all of the food displayed as a buffet. It was all warm, the turkey was moist, and I was thrilled. Though there was a language barrier, I was happy to find that everyone loved the food and EVERYONE went back for seconds and thirds. I even got asked to share a few recipes!

side dishes for Thanksgiving dinner keeping warm on the kitchen stove desserts for Thanksgiving spread out on a table Marielle and i in the kitchen

For those of you who have cooked Thanksgiving dinner, you know that a direct byproduct of the delicious food is the mountain of dishes that lie in wait in the kitchen. Perhaps the best nightcap to this episode of “Thanksgiving in France: a Parody” is that the kitchen sink was clogged AND the dishwasher died. Every last dish ended up being washed in the bathtub…!

dirty dishes in the kitchen after making Thanksgiving dinnerdirty dishes being washed in the bath tub after Thanksgiving dinner.

Overall, this was one of the most rewarding, enjoyable, and fun experiences I have had in my time here… and of course it involves cooking. I was talking to my host mom after all of our guests left, and she told me that I changed her friends’ opinions of American cuisine. In retrospect, this is all I could have hoped to do!


Hope you are well,


October/November life stuff no. 1

Howdy folks, time to get this show on the road!

Let’s first start out with a “Merry Christmas!” now that Spooky Season is no longer upon us

This one will brief — I just wanted to talk about my trip to Saitama and Halloween.

SO, Halloween in Japan is really intense. As a country, Japan celebrates many holidays, and most of them are spent with family or if you ask college students, spent sleeping or working. Halloween and Christmas are the only two holidays that have been adapted into Japan and both aren’t usually family holidays, more so something that you spend with your friends. I haven’t experienced Christmas here yet, but I heard it’s when you go to karaoke with your friends all night for the entire break (wowza) or go clubbing (also a big “yikes”).

Halloween on the other hand is an entirely different beast. During the week up to Halloween, the night streets of Tokyo are flooded with people in costume and already busy parts of the city become unbearable. This year, drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco on the streets (something that’s usually legal) were banned in Shibuya. This was due to the danger that occurs when several million people come to Shibuya to celebrate Halloween. A few residents of Shibuya told me that the city of Tokyo spent over $250,000 on police reinforcements to prevent the rioting that usually occurs during the holiday.

When I first heard this I made up my mind to go and see the chaos for myself, but it was so busy the weekend before and I could barely move anywhere, so I didn’t see the point in going, and I was also deterred by the knowledge that last year people got really drunk and flipped a truck over and started vandalizing shops. A truck. a T R U C K. Overall, I stayed at my dorm during Halloween, watched a movie, and went to bed early (it was an overwhelmingly positive decision in my book).

There were a few Halloween parties that I went to, the one in my dorm was for a cupcake decorating competition, and all the kids in the neighborhood came to trick or treat with all of us. It was really fun, they auctioned off prizes and we played a massive game of infection (if you haven’t played before you’re missing out). That evening we had a Halloween gathering, where we had unlimited food and karaoke. It was really fun and I lost my voice but what else is new :))


My trip to Saitama was really fun, I went with a group of Aoyama students — it was sort of a field trip which was really fun for me (like I was back in elementary school). Saitama is a smaller town up towards the mountains. There I got to make my own stamp (carved it myself – yes I did – that was me), after which I picked some grapes. These grapes are extremely expensive and cost about three dollars for just a single one, so a bushel, (a bunch? a gaggle?) costs anywhere from thirty-five to fifty dollars. Since they were so expensive we all got the larger bushels thinking that we would get them for free — which is true, we did — we just didn’t know that we had to finish all of the grapes right then.  So, we proceeded to each eat about 20-30 grapes in one sitting under 15 minutes (I know it doesn’t sound too bad but these grapes are huge).

Note – ***fun fact*** we played chubby bunny with the grapes and I can fit nine in my mouth before I can’t breathe fully.  Hehe – (in positive news I won so yay!)

Anyway, we all thought we were going to die of grapes and many of the people there have sworn off grapes for the next several months haha!

It was a very long day (and a very fun one) and I hit my head on every door of every bathroom I went into so if you’re above average in height make sure you duck 🙂

Okay, that is it! I love you and have a love life with my beautiful people!


Weekend in Amsterdam and More!

The second half of the semester is getting crazy with projects and last-minute work. Balancing work and travel has been very difficult lately. Something that happened by chance but I am thankful for is that I had every other weekend in Aix. Although Europe is perfect for traveling at a low price, Aix is beautiful and has so much to offer.

Something I have learned while being here is that no matter what you do, even if it is staying in town, everything is great! After all, I am in France.  Staying in Aix is equally as enjoyable as discovering a new place. I wish I got to know the city I live in a little bit more as my time closes here. Do not feel pressured to travel every weekend if it is too tiring or you simply do not have the means, Aix has more to offer than you think!

A narrow street in Aix, France, with windows lined with greenery    A historic building in Aix, France, with statuary along the top

On a different topic, last weekend my travels took me to Amsterdam! This city was different from any other I have been to in Europe. The differences culturally, gastronomically, and linguistically were insane. Amsterdam is known for its obscure buildings, beautiful canals, bicyclists, and much more. This was one of my favorite destinations because of its uniqueness.

One must do in Amsterdam is renting bikes and riding through one of their beautiful parks. My friends and I rented bikes for an entire day for only eight euros! Although it can be stressful to ride through the center of the city, you get used to the chaos quickly and enjoy the beautiful scenery you stride past. A unique and quite delicious pastry is a stroopwafel. At the Albert Cuyp Market, there is a stand where they freshly make these pastries for only two euros.

Of course, the most famous thing to do here is to visit the Anne Frank house. I did not know that in order to get guaranteed tickets, they need to be purchased two months or more in advance. 20% of remaining tickets are open for purchase at 9 am day off, but are almost impossible to get. Long story short, plan/buy ahead if there is a popular attraction you NEED to see! Amsterdam had so many museums and unique free activities/shops. I would strongly recommend trying to plan a weekend here if you are looking for something unconventional and fun!

My friends and I on our rented bikes

Windmill in Amsterdam    Stroopwafel

Sunset over the canals    fountain in a park of Amsterdam

Typical buildings in Amsterdam on a canal lined with barges

Onto my current home of Aix. They recently have finished setting up the lights for the holiday season. They changed the usual clothes market to a Christmas market(although, the clothes market still goes on, just on a different street). They set up little white home-like shops with diverse, local products! The items being sold can be for Christmas gifts or just souvenirs in general. The shops are individual and fun. They also sell hot cider, beignets, and the French version of churros. It has been fun to buy hot cider with a pastry and watch the bustle of people go through the market. The lights are beautiful and I am so happy to be able to celebrate a portion of the season in Europe where they really do go all out.

On the topic of holidays, I spent my first holiday away from home here–Thanksgiving. I think everyone experienced a little bit of homesickness, but IAU tried to make it less intense. The school decorated the main hall and provided us with an, as close as it can get in France, Thanksgiving dinner. It was actually very nice to have a large free meal with the friends I have made and share our traditions at home. IAU and Aix has provided me with a great environment and community. I am thankful to be able to be here and be able to travel the way I have.

Thanksgiving dinner from IAU: potatoes, gravy, turkey, cranberry sauce, dressing and green beans    Lights shaped like trees on the Rotonde in Aix


Happy Holidays,