Not Quite a Yellow School Bus

Author: Caylyn Moglia

Program: Costa Rica Study Center

Here I am, safe and sound in Costa Rica, all set to write about my week long trip to Nicaragua when it hits me. I have only written about excursions. So, if you happen to be interested in reading about yet another trip, I will direct you to my personal blog because today I’m going to write about the thing that scared me the most about studying abroad: public transportation.caylyn-moglia-bus-2-fall-2016

Wednesday, September 14, 2016, marked my first time making it to class all by myself. Each Tuesday and Wednesday, I leave home between 2:40 and 2:45 to take the 3 o’clock bus into San José. My bus is the one that is pink and says either “Santa Rosa/San José” or Santo Domingo/San José,” Ruta 20. I get off at the last stop,  right next to the Panadería Colombiana (bread and baked goods shop) at 3:46, and I walk 2 blocks past the Panadería Colombiana, turn onto the street with the surf shop that has a big blue wave, and walk another 3 or 4 blocks before I reach the bus to Cedros, which leaves around 3:55. I get off at the 5th stop after the stop at the Universidad Latina and walk a bit to the front gate of the UBL, arriving around 4:30 for my 5:30 class. Sounds simple, right?


Wrong! For those who don’t know me, I am severely directionally challenged, and I often feel unsure of my surroundings. I worried that I would need help getting to class for a month (or 2), but as it turns out, I figured it out in 2 weeks. I arrived late to my first two days of class because I took the 4:00 train from Santa Rosa (where I live) to San José, and then a bus to the UBL. I am so glad that I no longer use the train because it is much more complicated to get from the train station to the bus stop (and I’m early when I take the bus). Being able to confidently navigate 2 buses in a big city has given me an amazing sense of accomplishment, and I am so glad that I challenged myself to learn the routes as quickly as possible.

So how did this directionally challenged individual manage to learn her way around 2 bus stops? LANDMARKS. Landmarks have been a lifesaver for me as I navigate the city. I know that I have to turn left in front of a green store front, and that once I turn, I’ll see the surf shop and a painted cow. I know that I have arrived at my bus stop because there is a red Claro (phone company) store kitty corner to my stop.

My next project is learning how to get to and around Heredia.


Student Spotlight: Jacquelyn Delorto

Author: Jacquelyn Delorto

Program: Semester in Granada, Spain

Hola from Granada, Spain! I’ve finally arrived, and I am so excited to be living in Granada. The city is beautiful, and there’s so much to do. Every day I discover something new in the city, and I’m learning so much about the people and culture of Spain.

I wanted to share one of my favorite parts of my trip so far: my first night in Granada. Upon arriving, I decided to dive in head first and participate in the activities that people here love. What better way to begin a trip to Spain than ordering Tapas and Sangria?

We ate at a restaurant called Taberna La Garrocha, and the food was great! But it didn’t end there. Turns out, the nightlife in Spain is much different than in the United States. To give you a tasted of it, check out the video above. This was recorded from the same location, on the same street, just three hours later!

Welcome to the nightlife in Granada (virtually)! Stay tuned for more!

-Jacquelyn Delorto


Check out Jacquelyn’s blogs to keep up with her adventures abroad:



With a Little Help from My Friends

Author: Caroline Dienes

Program:  Cambridge, England – Study Center

My Name is Caroline. I Like The Beatles.


Cambridge, Caroline Dienes

It’s obvious to say that a big reason I chose to study abroad in England was because of The Beatles. If you know me, or have just looked at me, you may have come to the conclusion that The Beatles are a big part of my life. My parents met because of them so, if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t exist. Literally. I have a lot to thank them for. Suffice it to say, I felt like it was my responsibility in the Cambridge cohort to become the unofficial Beatles tour guide while in London. And, of course, the number one destination on the list was Abbey Road. If you have never heard The Beatles’ music in your life, I’ll fill you in on what Abbey Road is. Abbey Road is the street that’s home to a very famous music studio that The Beatles and many other bands have worked in and created unforgettable music, Abbey Road Studios. Now, the thing you must do while at Abbey Road is recreate the worldwide known Beatles album cover.

Here are a few tips for your very own recreation:

  1. Walk like a normal human being. Don’t freeze in mid-walk and fling your arms in the air. Nobody anywhere walks like that.
  2.  Be assertive when it comes to traffic. Surprisingly, nobody is going to stop traffic while you’re waiting for someone to take your picture. Who do you think you are? The Beatles? The people in cars know what you’re trying to do, so wait for an opening in traffic, make your move, and don’t speed up if a car is coming. Don’t let a stranger ruin one of your only chances to be like The Beatles for the day!
  3. Make a new friend and offer to take their picture, but only if they take your picture in return. They’re all Beatles fans like you. They’re fab.

After Abbey Road, Liverpool was the next stop – the birthplace of The Beatles. Clearly there are hundreds of Beatles sites to hit in Liverpool, but I believe that what a few members of the group and I did was more personal and meaningful. We saw the new Beatles documentary, “Eight Days A Week.” In Liverpool…where it all started. It was unreal.


Cambridge, Caroline Dienes

Before the film even started, a video of Ron Howard (the director), Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr played in which they personally thanked everyone viewing the picture in Liverpool. Even while sitting in the theatre listening to them, I couldn’t believe it. I was in that large pool of audience members that they were thanking. After the film, we kept the Beatles theme going and went to the Cavern Club, where The Beatles first played as a group. I kept thinking to myself, “How is any of this real?”. But, in the words of The Beatles, “Nothing is real.” So, I just have to accept the fact that I’m going to be experiencing many more unreal situations with my time here. My other cohort friends continually asked me, “Why would you just go see a movie with your time in a brand new place?” Seeing that movie was the only thing I wanted to do in Liverpool. I don’t think I have ever smiled that much or had never-ending goosebumps in any other movie.


Cambridge, Caroline Dienes

Hello. My name is Caroline Dienes and, if you haven’t figured it out yet, I like The Beatles. A few Beatles wishes have come true in this first month of being abroad. These wishes also came true in the presence of friends, which is all that I could ask for! Being a lone Beatles fan can make you feel like a nowhere man sometimes. But with a little help from my friends, The Beatles have gotten an even stronger hold on me since I’ve began my journey abroad.

All You Need Is Love,

-Caroline Dienes

Weekend Away in La Cabaña

Author: Caylyn Moglia

Program:  San José, Costa Rica – Study Center

¡Hola todos!

This past weekend was my first free weekend, so my family took me up to la cabaña (the cabin), and it was amazing. Mamá inherited the cabin from her mom, and it is one of her favorite places to be. I really can’t blame her.  The cabin is made of wood and corrugated tin. It is a wonderful place to relax and listen to nature.


Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the outside, but I did remember to at least take a picture from the doorway before we left.


The cabin was amazing and very simple. All of the water was stored in a big tank, and the “spouts” were pipes. The coolest part was that everything was cooked on a wood stove.


In order to reach the cabin, we had to do a lot of off road driving through a cow pasture. The property was fenced off in the middle of the pasture, so there were cows practically in the front yard. According to Tío, one of the cows is pregnant.


Soon after we arrived, it started to rain, but once it stopped, I went on a hike with Mamá, Papá, Abuelo, and Santiago. We were able to stop at a waterfall! Papá used a machete to clear the path of overgrown weeds as well as a fallen tree. Santiago carried a thin stick that he used like a machete.


After our hike, Santi and I searched for worms and found a ton of them! Look at that leaf!


During dinner Saturday night, we were visited by Lobo (wolf), a local dog who knows that Mamá will feed him. Lobo got a couple of the soup bones as well as the meat from our bowls.

Saturday night, I learned that it gets really dark really fast in the mountains. It was pitch black by 6:30 pm, and we ate dinner with the small amount of light provided by the flashlight to see by. After dinner, we had a campfire and roasted marshmallows. However, we didn’t make s’mores. I just might have to buy some graham crackers and chocolate next time we go to the cabin.


When I woke up Sunday morning, I quickly realized that I had forgotten to put bug spray on my hands before going to bed.  My right hand wasn’t as bad since I used it to rub the bug spray in, but it still got eaten up.  At least I put bug spray on my legs, arms, and neck!


Sunday was very rainy, but we were visited by a rooster named Gallina (chicken) who ended up coming home with us.



We also had a blue morpho butterfly visit us! This was the first time I’ve seen one outside of a butterfly garden!


Shortly before we left, Ashley returned from a walk with a friend.

Sunday afternoon, I had a very new experience, I caught a chicken. This was really big for me because I don’t particularly like live chickens. Originally, I was just going to watch Ashley and her friend Allison catch Gallina, but they were having a hard time, and neither particularly wanted to touch it. So I grabbed the bag he would eventually be put in and used it like a giant glove to catch him. I managed to grab him and then carried him inside, where Abuelo picked him up while I opened the bag. We brought Gallina home with us, and Mamá gave him to her sister. Having a chicken in the car was interesting, especially when he tried to escape. It was an amazing weekend, and I can’t wait to go back on my next free weekend!

-Caylyn Anne

Solo Rosas

Author: Caylyn Moglia

Program:  San José, Costa Rica – Study Center

¡Hola todos!

I have now been in Costa Rica for a week, and I am loving it! I am living with a host family in Santa Rosa, which is in between San José and Heredia. My family consists of my mother and father, my brothers, Kendall (18) and Santiago (5), and my sister, Ashley (15). Every Tuesday and Wednesday, I go to the Universidad Bíblica Latinoamericano to take theology classes in the evening.

After the first few days, our program director, Heidi, took a group of us to Solo Rosas. The journey there turned into an adventure in itself, since we accidentally missed a turn and went way too far up the mountain. I have learned two very useful things from this experience: first, it is totally acceptable to ask a stranger for directions, because everybody is so helpful. Second, you should probably ask multiple people to make sure you have the right directions, because ticans, known as locals, will try to help even if they aren’t completely sure how to get to where you need to go.

One of our stops to ask for directions resulted in a delicious lunch. I had arroz con carne (rice with meat), which turned out to be pork. My meal was so huge that I couldn’t even finish all of it, so I got a box to go. While we were eating, the manager asked to take our picture for Facebook, and we agreed, so at some point, my picture will show up on Flores & Café’s Facebook page.


San José, Caylyn Moglia

Once we finished lunch, we made our way to Solo Rosas to see the rose garden, and it was AMAZING! The sign at the beginning told us that the garden boasts 50,000 plants with over 300 varieties of roses, some of which were created in Costa Rica.

I really wish I was able to capture a picture of the cows and a couple goats tied to trees to graze by the side of the road. Seeing these animals so close to a busy road surprised me, but it seemed to be completely normal for them, not a single animal looked at us as we passed.


-Caylyn Moglia

Life is Knackig


Reutlingen, Ian Olive

Author: Ian Olive

Program: Reutlingen, Germany – Study Center

I stepped out the door and immediately my body was immersed in the early morning magic.  The air was cool and slightly damp; a slight westward breeze blew the faint smell of fresh bread past my nostrils. The sun had just begun to peek its head over the low rolling hills of the university campus, casting a warm glow on the surrounding buildings. As I walked toward the bus all I could think of was the word crisp, which is knackig in Deutsch. It was a morning feeling that can’t be replicated by any other country on earth.

As my friends and family might point out, I’m not exactly what you’d call a morning person. Just last semester, I scheduled my earliest class to be at 1:30 p.m. so I could sleep in as long as I pleased. I’m not exactly sure what led me to being wide awake at 5 a.m., but here I was wide awake. After enjoying the crisp German morning, I hopped on the bus and made my way to downtown Reutlingen.


Reutlingen, Ian Olive

I ended up spending most of my day downtown. It was refreshing to be able to explore a new city without any of the burdens of responsibilities or schedules. I meandered my way up and down the narrow side streets and ordered a trio of fruity pastries from a street vendor while continuing to marvel at the architecture and colors of the streets. I kept my eye open for old-timer classic cars while smiling and attempting to converse with all the elderly German people doing their morning shopping.

The day continued with a trip to an open air market in the town’s central plaza. Swabia farmers sold a variety of goods from sausages and fresh bread to fruits and vegetables I had never seen before. The Germans tend to do most of their shopping on a daily basis and choose not to go to a large supermarket and stock up for a few weeks. This custom keeps the food fresh and helps out the local vendors.


Reutlingen, Ian Olive

After the market, I met up with the tidy group of eight students from the Valpo cohort and took a quick tour of the neighboring town, Tübingen, with one of our German professors, Herr Springer. The man is a legend among the Reutlingen Study Center and he knows every bit of interesting info about beautiful Tübingen. He invited us all to dinner at the charming Neckarmüller restaurant on the river. I ordered Braumeisterpfännle with Spätz and Zwiebel which was a delicious blend of three different steaks and creamy pasta with mushrooms.

As the temperature began to drop, and the sun began to fade behind the clouds, a band across the river was playing a Johnny Cash song. I took the last sip of my drink and all I could think was life is good, life is knackig.



Off to a Great Start (Sarcastic or Literal Tone)

Author: Caroline Dienes

Program: Cambridge, England

Let’s face it, layovers can be a drag for many reasons. First off, they can be nine hours long. Second, you have to trudge around the airport with your multiple carry on bags. Third, the thought of boarding another plane is simply annoying and stressful. Fourth, you can misplace some very important documents you need for that next flight. And lastly, the layover can be in a strange place that you’ve never been before, like Iceland.

Layovers can be a drag, but in my case, it was a tiny trip before I actually arrived at my study abroad location. Three other students in the Cambridge program and I landed in Keflavik, Iceland at 6:30 in the morning and, almost immediately, things decided to go off the rails. My passport and boarding pass somehow vanished from my purse, and I instantly went into panic mode. I frantically ran to the service desk, told an employee my predicament, and they made a phone call to see if I could get back on the plane to search for my vital pieces of paper. While they were on the phone, I began rummaging through my backpack to see if I accidentally placed them in there. And guess what…they were both there. Crisis averted.

Viking World

Pictured: Shannon O’Keefe, Becky Valek, Alec Chase.

After we finally got out of the airport, the four of us started our nine hour adventure in Iceland. We decided to go to Viking World in Keflavik, because, you know, why not. It was a petite museum that told the history of the Vikings and included a complimentary breakfast of croissants, oatmeal, and fruit. There were also plenty of rocks outside for us to climb and walk on, thus confusing the other museum goers inside because apparently no one else found the rocks interesting. Granted, we got there the moment the museum opened, it was a perfect place to spend four hours. I highly recommend it to be a layover/stopover/actual destination in someone’s near future.

After the Icelandic journey came to an end, I eventually got to my final destination – Cambridge, England. Now, I am here until December, but I can’t help but think that I am going to miss Iceland. So many rocks. So much Viking trivia. So little ice, yet so much land. Good thing the four of us have another layover in Iceland when we fly back to the States, but this time…it will be 17 hours.

Stay Fresh,


Creating Your Own Story: Predeparture

Author: Maia Moore

Program: Hangzhou, China

Old World Architecture - China

Old World Architecture, Matt Smok

August 25th.

237th day of the year.

A date 117 days away.

The day I arrive in China.

My 20th birthday.

To say that I’m experiencing a feeling somewhere between excitement and nervousness would be an understatement. Honestly, I’m not even sure what I’m feeling right now. I don’t think the realization that I will be spending a semester on the other side of the world has hit me just yet. I’m still in the “calm before the storm” phase. The storm probably won’t hit until August 24th, when I’m in O’Hare airport trying to convince my mom not to board the plane with me.

Oddly enough, we’re arriving in Hangzhou on my 20th birthday. While I don’t relish the idea of spending the day on a 13 hour flight, at least I can look back and say that I was doing something completely different for my birthday, Last year, all I did was attend class and eat pizza from the cafe. However, this will be the first birthday I spend without my family and friends. This is also the birthday that I officially leave my “teenage” years behind. Although this birthday will be an emotional and significant one, I’ve been planning to study abroad for a long time and won’t turn back now.

I suppose my path for study abroad began long ago. I’ve always loved traveling and so has my family. My dad has been to over 30 different countries. Whenever he returned home from his travels, with him, he would bring a gift and a story. Dining in India, exploring the Outback of Australia, joining an impromptu street band in Spain, these are just some of the enchanting stories he would tell.  I would listen vehemently, imagining myself in his place. At the end of his tales, he would always say to me, “One day, you will have your own stories to tell.” So it seems that the time has come for me to create my own stories. I don’t know how this particular story will end, but  I look forward to writing it.



Meet our Fall 2016 Bloggers!


Blogger: Ian Olive

Location: Reutlingen, Germany

Ian is a senior digital media student from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Born in South Korea and having lived in dozens of states as well as Australia, travel is an integral part of his life. He first visited Germany in the 9th grade with an international youth orchestra and has fallen in love since. From enjoying famous composers Haydn and Mozart to his classic Mercedes Benz and his Leica camera, Ian has caught the German bug.  Ian has a strong passion for photography, film, architecture, music and automobiles. He hopes that his photographs and blog posts will inspire students with the beauty of travel, culture, and new experiences. Ian is extensively involved in the Torch student newspaper, Valparaiso IMC marketing department, Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, and is the president of the Photography club. He graduates in the spring of 2017 and hopes to pursue either a photojournalism career or a  media position in the armed forces.

CarolineBlogger: Caroline Dienes 

Location: Cambridge, England

Caroline is a Junior Communications major and is headed off to Cambridge, England! She is equally nervous and excited! The nerves are setting in, because she hasn’t been out of the country without her parents for a time longer than two weeks. She is also very interested in how she is going to be able to pack all of her sweaters and shoes. It’s certainly going to be a challenge. Caroline is most  looking forward to introducing her Cambridge cohort to, obviously, Beatles-related sites; i.e walking across Abbey Road and hanging out at the Cavern Club! She is also excited to find a nice, little, local coffee shop to relax, socialize, write papers, and just be.


Blogger: Caylyn Anne Moglia

Location: San Jose, Costa Rica

Caylyn Anne Moglia is from Ada, Michigan. She is a sophomore at Valparaiso University and double majoring in Theology and Spanish. After graduation, she plans on attending seminary and becoming a pastor in the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America). This fall, she will be studying abroad in Costa Rica! Although she is nervous about going, she knows she will have the experience of a lifetime.  She has been studying Spanish for the last 14 years and is anxious to improve her language skills as well as learn more about Costa Rican culture. She hopes to learn as much as possible during her semester away. The two aspects she is most excited about: living with a host family and taking a Spanish theology course! She will also be able to revisit her old neighbors who now live in Costa Rica!

TiffanyBlogger: Tiffany Luehrs 

Location: Hangzhou, China

Tiffany Luehrs is a rising junior at Valparaiso University studying International Business and Chinese. This fall she will be studying at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China. Tiffany can’t believe that she will soon be 7,526 miles from home.  The distance doesn’t scare her though, and she is beyond excited for the adventures and opportunities that await her arrival in Hangzhou.  The last time she was in the capital of Zhejiang province was just a little over a year ago when she studied and interned in Hangzhou through Valparaiso’s summer study abroad program.  Five weeks was definitely not enough, and she can’t believe how blessed she is to have this opportunity to return, revisit the old, embrace the new, and truly integrate herself into Chinese culture during the next few months. She is excited to expand her Chinese vocabulary and understanding through Zhejiang’s intensive Chinese courses and embrace the profound cultural immersion that comes from living in a host country for more than a few weeks.  She is most looking forward to running along the beautiful West Lake, shopping on Hefang street, exploring the botanical gardens, and adding a few more to her list of bizarre foods she’s tasted!  It’s likely going to be an exhilarating semester a few thousand miles away in Asia and she looks forward to sharing her experiences with you! 🙂


Blogger: Maia Moore

Location: Hangzhou, China

Maia Moore is a junior IECA and CJS double major. She is originally from Tuscaloosa, Alabama and will be studying abroad in Hangzhou, China for the fall semester! She is a tad nervous for this upcoming trip but mostly excited, especially since she will be arriving in China on her birthday! She is most excited to practice her Chinese skills and of course, for the food! She hopes to gain a better understanding of Chinese culture and become more fluent in Mandarin.



2016 Photo Contest Winners!

Grand Prize: Bubbles in Bath

Photographer: Regan Weber
Location: England
Description: Through the streets of Roman history, children discover bubbles.

GRAND PRIZE - Bubbles in Bath - England - Weber

Crossing Cultures:

          First Place: The Other Victims

Photographer: Breanna Struss
Location: Hungary
Description: A protest that stands in front of a memorial monument representing the German occupation in Hungary during World War II. The “real” memorial in the picture is a “Living Memorial of Remembrance” fighting the erected monument that falsifies the innocence of Hungary during the war. The monument is still protested every day for one hour. Survivors and their descendants brought these haunting images, such as: worn shoes, clothes, suitcases, and books. There were a lot of victims during World War II; some have been forgotten like the stuffed animal in this picture. This memorial strives to remember all those who were victims in the war.

FIRST - The Other Victims - Hungary - Struss

          Second Place: Social Day in Florence

Photographer: Micah Topel
Location: Italy
Description: On our way from Venice to Switzerland, Mackenzie, Jordan, and I stopped in Florence for the day. We were relaxing in the park for a few hours when an old man approached us and started speaking Italian. He was very kind and tried showing us where we should go, and we did our best to communicate with him regardless of Spanish being the closest language we knew to Italian!

SECOND - Social Day in Florence - Italy - Topel

          Honorable Mention: Cliffside Church

Photographer: Grace Nelson
Location: Italy
Description: Watching the candle lighters.

Cliffside - Resized


          First Place: Spirit of the City

Photographer: Breanna Struss
Location: Morocco
Description: A Moroccan man dancing and playing a drum outside the entrance to an old city in ruins. Islamic architecture is evident in the archway of the building, and the man is wearing traditional Moroccan attire. His authenticity and spirit made the old city come alive.

FIRST - Spirit of the City - Morocco - Struss

          Second Place: Gone Fishin’

Photographer: Matthew Smok
Location: China
Description: Spending the day with a Buddhist nun.

SECOND - Gone Fishin' - China - Smok

          Honorable Mention: Your Move

Photographer: Matthew Smok
Location: China
Description: Observing the older generation at play in the park.

HONORABLE MENTION - Your Move - China - Smok

Sense of Place:

          First Place: The Hills of England

Photographer: Regan Weber
Location: England
Description: A story of untainted land and wandering wrapped into a photo.

FIRST - The Hills of England - England - Weber

          Second Place: The Perfect Angle

Photographer: Kylie Schreiber
Location: Italy
Description: Captured after a hike in Cinque Terre

SECOND - The Perfect Angle - Italy - Schreiber

          Honorable Mention: The Duomo Trio

Photographer: Jessica Sunblade
Location: Italy
Description: Beautiful music played just outside the Duomo of Florence

HONORABLE MENTION - The Duomo Trio - Italy - Sunblade

Unforgettable Moment:

          First Place: No Huns Here!

Photographer: Matthew Smok
Location: China
Description: Walking on the Great Wall, one of the seven wonders of the world!

FIRST - No Huns Here! - China - Smok

          Second Place: Chanting at the Academy

Photographer: Matthew Smok
Location: China
Description: Chanting with Buddhist monks and nuns at the Buddhist Academy.

SECOND - Chanting at the Academy - China - Smok

          Honorable Mention: Climbing New Heights

Photographer: Alesha Dempsey
Location: Ireland
Description: Taking in the views and history of the Giant’s Causeway.

HONORABLE MENTION - Climbing New Heights - Ireland - Dempsey

Valpo, Near and Far:

          First Place: Reaching Untersberg

Photographer: Regan Weber
Location: Austria
Description: Alex flying the flag on top of one of the Alps Peaks.

FIRST - Reaching Untersberg - Gerrmany - Weber

          Second Place: Valpo Takes on Tubingen

Photographer: Micah Topel
Location: Germany
Description: Reid (pictured) stayed in touch with a student who studied abroad in Valpo a year or two ago. He was able to arrange a punting boat ride for use on the river in Tübingen one night. We each got to try our hand at “punting” and although some were more successful than  others, we all had a fantastic time!

SECOND - Valpo Takes on Tubingen - Germany - Topel

          Honorable Mention: Valpo in Shimmering Lights

Photographer: Micah Topel
Location: France
Description: This was one of the moments that contributed to Paris being one of my favorite cities. The Eiffel Tower was beautiful at night when lit up and flickering. What better time to capture a photo of it with the Valpo pin in front?

HONORABLE MENTION - Valpo in Shimmering Lights - France - Topel

« Older posts

© 2016 Valpo Voyager

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑