Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Visit Portugal on your way to or from Europe!

Hi Everyone,

I want to share a great deal you can get that allows you to visit an awesome country, plus get an awesome price on flights between Europe and the US!

Coming from Hawaii, most of you will be transiting through the US mainland if you are flying to Europe. The national airline of Portugal, called TAP Portugal, has a program that will get you almost anywhere in Europe for a great price- plus a short stay in Lisbon! They fly from Newark, JFK, and Boston (possibly more) to the capital city of Lisbon. Then, you can take a connecting flight to literally almost anywhere on the continent.

The best part is their new program which allows you to stay in Lisbon for up to 3 days at no extra charge. That means your connecting flight to your destination country can be up to 3 days after you land in Lisbon. And the best part is that this airline is usually one of the cheapest options anyway!

Here is a photo of the plane- we flew from Nice (France) to Lisbon, and then to JFK. TAP Portugal has free food, FREE MOVIES on your personal seat TV, and comfortable seating, all in Economy.

We only got to spend 24 hours in Portugal, because we wanted to make it back to America for Christmas. But it was easy to see Lisbon even in that time. They have a good public transportation system that is cheap and will take you everywhere, and the weather was beautiful even in December.

Two photos taken right there in the city near the airport.

Portugal has a ton of awesome restaurants, including larger-than-normal breakfast choices by European standards, so make sure you come hungry.

We saw the Praça do Comércio (main city square), Belém Tower (where Christopher Colombus set off), and much more. There's also a hilltop castle that is fun to visit, but make sure you get to the suburb of Belém to see most of the historic sites.

If you plan on just staying in Lisbon for your time there like we did, there is a hotel called the Radisson Blu Lisbon right there by the airport. They even have a free airport shuttle, are across the street from a metro stop, have a fantastic Portuguese restaurant, and clean comfy rooms.

If you are going to do this deal during the summer, then I definitely recommend planning a beach day. Portugal has some of the best beaches in Europe and again, some are right there near the city! For that I would recommend renting a car.

To book, just go to, and you can also see the deals they currently have to popular places like London, Paris, Rome, etc. from the US. You will also see their deal for up to 3 days in Portugal, do it on your way there or back and you will not be disappointed! I am definitely going to use this deal again next time.

Have fun,
Woodrow Matthews
France, Fall 2016

Sunday, February 12, 2017


Disfruta! or Enjoy!
     The culture of Spain, specifically in Granada, is not one too different from that of other Western countries. The people here work, sleep, eat, and play. Keeping that in mind, I see that the largest difference is that these facets of the society, unlike the United States, are done with a sense of balance.
     Coming from a culture of excess, it is only slightly refreshing to see certain aspects of this society elevated, while others are muted. For example, the food. Each meal I have eaten so far has consisted in excess of the "dreaded" carbohydrates and veggies with significantly less meat. While I prefer excess spice and heat in my food, here seasoning is used lightly.
     In US culture, it seems most people are surviving on some hours of sleep, since work is a high priority. In Granada, rest is crucial as is evident by the four-hour lunch break had by most each day.
Even in the night life, at midnight, I see people of all ages out on the streets eating dinner and going to tapas and bars; while in the US, kids better be in bed by 8:30pm. College students here can hold their liquor, while my American peers seek to indulge themselves most nights.
     Last night was telling at how stereotyped American students are in this part of Europe. For example, on Saturday night my roommate and I were resting, waiting on dinner which starts super late here (normal dinner time is around 9:30 pm). My Senora gets home around 9:15pm to start preparing dinner and asks us, "Chicas, are you going out tonight? You're young and beautiful, you should go out! See Spain!"
*Disclaimer: I am sedentary by default, introverted, and prefer to "see Spain" during lit hours with a few people. I'll maybe go out twice a month for a couple of hours. I do not go wild, and anyone who knows me well, knows this. 
In response to her, I explained my predisposition. Then, she told us about Americans who lived with her in the past, how they went out every weekend and took shots, etc. Of course, she assumes this of college students in general, but especially in that of American students. My roommate and I found it comical that this was the culture we stepped into, where your Spanish mom is telling you to go out and get a little reckless. After dinner that night, I complied to go to tapas with my roommate since we had been home most of the day. Our favorite place for tapas so far is this place called "La Bella y La Bestia." I'll say this, it was nice. We talked about ourselves and had good conversation. She opened up and so did I. We even had the same waiter who remembered us because I was "the-one-who-ordered-a-Coke-without-rum" and she was "the-one-who-got-the-wine-he-recommended".
     In my exploring Spain (during the day) I have met some peculiar people in shops and I have even attended a couple of churches, where I feel I have had the most success in meeting Spanish people (I will write a separate blog post about people who have stood out to me and why). In those simple conversations and positive experiences, I have come to appreciate this culture more.
     I enjoy the company, the moderation, and the slow-paced lifestyle. In those things, I have realized the things I do in excess that may need to change. For example, my desire to stay home all the time or eat a lot of spicy food or even wallowing; all are things that I see do not need to be my default. I can enjoy the things around me. In my personal devotional time with God, I have been reminded even more that all my joy and pleasure is in and from Him. All that is good, is from Him. So I take in the good that this experience has to offer, and I thank God for revealing aspects of His goodness in this precious little city.

"You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is [fullness] of joy; at your right hand are [pleasures] forevermore." Psalm 16:11

Fruta en todos lados

La Bella y La Bestia

My hood for the next few months

Getting Settled the German Way!

Getting Settled at the University of Mannheim

1. Housing

a. Housing at the University of Mannheim is filled EXTREMELY FAST so you must be actively looking for the email that opens up the opportunity to select where you stay. Within 4 hours of the housing window opening, all 6 student residences were full.

b. Upon arrival, there is a time schedule that delegates when you get the room keys from the hall manager. For example, if you arrive later than 2:30 in the afternoon you must pay 35 euros for a personal meeting.

c. Each room is provided with a modem to connect one device to the internet. This is rather frustrating since most people enjoy using wifi on their phones more commonly. I will have to go buy a router to get access to this.

2. Class Registration

a. Classes at UM are a bit of a gamble. About 2 months before the semester starts, you are sent a template to fill in with your primary course choices and secondary. It is not guaranteed you will get into any of the classes until confirmed one week before school starts. It is kind of unpredictable which makes it inconvenient to get classes approved for credit from HPU.

b. The language and culture classes fill up INCREDIBLY FAST. I signed on about 2 hours after the window opened and all classes were full and I was put on a waiting list. I was not made aware of how popular these were. I was advised to attend the first language course just in case someone who is enrolled does not show up.
c. Despite the issues I have with UM, the staff and international team seem to be very helpful. I have not enrolled yet, so I cannot elaborate on this till after next week.

3. Social Media

a. Getting access to the University’s Facebook pages seems really user friendly to meet new people. I do not really hang out with the house mates I live with as there is not much of a click. But using blogs like VISUM and Friends 2017, it was super easy to meet people and explore. For example, yesterday was my second day here and myself and 9 other exchange students met up and travelled to Heidelberg for the day. It was a lot of fun. But that is what study abroad is about right? Not so much the bureaucratic crap that you have to deal with from the University, but the experience and friends you make along the way.

4. Nifty Things I discovered

a. FOOD IS INCREDIBLY CHEAP. I bought a pack for water for 1 euro which I can recycle once empty for .25 cents a bottle. One-euro package of bacon, .98 cent bottle of wine.

b. Transportation is really effective, on time, easy to use once you figure where you are going.

c. The language barrier is essentially non-existent as most speak English, but it is always good to try and practice along your travels.                                            

Saturday, February 11, 2017

You WILL get there

You can only edit blog posts that were created in the Wix app.
You WILL get there.

Let me start off by telling you that I am reporting live from my bed, in my wonderful host family's home, in MADRID, ESPANA. 
Now, let me also tell you this. It. was. Hell. And. A. Half. to get here. 
My advice to you:

-Keep some sort of faith that all will work out...even when shit hits the fan. It's going to hit the fan...accept it now. 
-Keep in touch with your Study Abroad advisor. Because you will forget that thing that you weren't supposed to forget. 
-Make lists. Make so many to do lists. 
-One more time for the homies in the back, DO NOT GIVE UP. 
-Have a folder on your phone of the place you want to go, make it your back ground, give yourself a reminder of what you are working towards. 
There are going to be so many things go wrong. But it is going to be worth it I promise you. 

I don't even know how to open this can of worms. But here goes....
First, you pick a country, then you pick the school, fall in love with the school, fantasize about eating Crepes outside your first period classroom, hype your mom up about how perfect the school is, and then find out that not all 5/5 classes will work. Back to the drawing board. Rinse. Repeat. 
Don't worry. My drawing board went from Melbourne, Australia, to Ecuador, to Costa Rica, to Granada Spain, to Madrid Spain. 
If you are working at trying to fit this puzzle piece in where it just does not fit, its probably because that is not the right piece in the first place. Let me tell you, I tried for 6 months to get Deakin to work out for me, and you know what, it just was because that is not where I was supposed to go. And now here I am. In Europe for goodness sakes. Not that it was easy to get here, but it just wasn't a new struggle every day, ya know.  If it is not working out, and I mean REALLY NOT WORKING...then try something new, don't give up, but just try something new. 

Most recently, I, Michelle Anne Manganello, did not have a confirmed place to live until January 2nd. I left on the 4th. The company I was going through took their sweet time on the email game, let me tell you. IM TALKING ABOUT YOU ADRIAN. I had to wake up at 4 am to talk to this company to have a misely 5 minute Skype call that had NO useful information whatsoever. Everything that was covered in this Skype call at that ungodly hour, was the same bologna information that I knew way back in October (now being the beginning of January). I did not get any word from this company until January 2nd. TWO DAYS BEFORE I LEAVE. Do you understand the stress of having to answer all of your relatives' questions, NO AUNTIE I DO NOT KNOW WHERE IM LIVING YET, YEAH STILL DON'T HAVE MY VISA YET EITHER OKAY COOL EVERYTHING'S FINE EVERYTHING IS GOOD. Things were not good. Lol I digress. Thank the Lord...... my friend found a homestay that I could go in on with her. 

Back to the fun stress. 
There was this really fun point in time where the Consulate General of Los Angeles (I live on Oahu, and fun fact, the closest Spanish Consulate General is in Los Angles, California.) WELL. The CG of LA thought they could play a real fun joke on the poor study abroad kids. It goes like this: If you are a STUDENT of Hawaii, you need to report to the Hawaiian district of Consulates. ($800 trip to San Fransisco) BUT San Fransisco wants to play that "we don't have any appointments for two months, and it takes a month to process" game. 
Love it. 
I am from Connecticut, so even though I live in Hawaii, and should report to the SanFran Consulate, there was a CHANCE that I could just try the New York one. BUT these consulates need IN PERSON appointments. So if you are like me, and live in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and cannot afford a $1,500 weekend trip to the Big Apple, then here we are, in THE BIGGEST PICKLE I'VE EVER BEEN IN *read in Brian Dobson's voice* {for those who lived under a rock in the 90's, Brian Dobson narrated The Sandlot.} ANYWHO 
So here is what you do. 
Here is the number of the New York Spanish Consulate. +1 212-355-4080 
You are going to need to call them about 77,646,309,326 times within these next few months. I would memorize it now, folks. 
You may need to whip up a few tears. I'm sure it won't be too hard because at this point it is probably mid term week and you have had it up to here with the issues that have come up in trying to get abroad. 
Now, just explain the situation. And BAM! They are cool with you sending all of the paper work to them via MAIL. AND if you send a prepaid self addressed envelope, then you can just have them mail it back to you. 
Can we just have a really quick round of applause for The Spanish Consulate General of New York (THE REAL MVPs LET ME TELL YOU). *

Your mom is going to worry. Or maybe your dad, who ever your primary designated worrier is. They will freak out. At least once. Mostly because until you are actually in the country of choice, calling them saying you arrived to a stable place to live, and the school part of Studying Abroad is all worked out......... until then basically something will be up in the air.
And you will want them to tell you that it's going to be fine, and they will. If not, find someone who will, hell, I will tell you that it will be fine. 
                                                        IT WILL BE FINE. 

*There is a really great anecdote about my trip to New York to get the Visa, but it is most definitely not anything I want to blog about. But if you would love to know, feel free to message me for the inside scoop. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Traveling throughout Europe

                I’ve been back home in Hawaii for a few weeks now and I must say, it really does feel good to be back. I missed the Pacific Ocean, the warm air and, of course, the food. However, a large part of me really misses being able to travel around Europe and living in France. The longer I lived in France, the more it felt like home. Every time I would return to Nice after a trip to a different country, it always felt like I was coming home, not like I was just going back to France. The scenery is definitely different from Hawaii, but just as beautiful. But the thing about living in the South of France and in Europe in general is the ease of travel to different countries and cities.
Cote d'Azur, France
                The school I attended in France was much different than a typical university you would find in the United States. For one, although I am in my final year of my undergraduate studies, I was put in the Grand Ecole program in France, which is a five year program to attain a Masters degree. My host university also had other campuses throughout France, the United States, China and Brazil, so the professors would actually travel between the six campuses. This meant that our course schedule had to coincide with our professors’ travel schedules. So a typical schedule for a student would be to have the same class from 8-5 everyday for three days and then not have that class for another three weeks. I decided to put my free time (which I had a lot of) to good use by traveling to other countries and throughout France as well.

              In the four months I studied abroad in France, I was able to travel to 17 different countries. There were three main reasons as to why traveling was so easy in Europe. First, probably the most obvious, is the fact that European countries are so close to each other. Second, are the price of airline and train tickets and the availability of low-cost airlines. And third, is the Schengen zone, which I will explain later.
Disneyland Paris, France
                It takes about 40 minutes to fly from O’ahu to the Big Island. It also takes around the same amount of time to fly from Nice, France to Milan, Italy. I’ve also taken the train from Nice, France to Monte Carlo, Monaco that only took about 30 minutes. It’s so amazing that you can take a short nap on the train or the plane and end up in a totally different country. The longest flight I took in Europe was from Dublin, Ireland to Nice, France, which took about two and a half hours. And when you think about it, that’s not very long at all considering that it takes over five hours to fly from Hawaii to the nearest state in the United States. Shorter flights means there’s more time to explore and no time for any sort of jet-lag to set in. This makes day and weekend trips super worthwhile because you aren’t wasting so much time sitting on a plane or a train and instead are able to explore as much as you’d like. During the month of November, my boyfriend, who was also studying abroad in France, and I were traveling so much that we joked that we only came back to France to do our laundry.
                With all the traveling my boyfriend and I did throughout Europe, you’d think we were millionaires or something. However, that is definitely not the case. We once had a flight from Athens to Rome that cost a whopping 8 euros, roughly $8.50. Crazy, right?! Yeah, we thought so too. That is the beauty of the low-cost airline market in Europe. Airlines like Ryanair and Easyjet offer super-low fares throughout all of Europe. However, these low fares do come with a catch. These airlines have very strict baggage guidelines and may even charge for things like printing your boarding pass for you. Their planes are also not the most comfy or
Danube River, Budapest, Hungary
luxurious, but they’ll get you from Point A to Point B. I was on a 25 euro Wizz Air flight to Budapest where you were only allowed to bring a small backpack for free, anything else would be an extra fee. As we were boarding, I saw a man who got stopped because his backpack was just a little bigger than the dimensions that were allowed. The ticket agents demanded he pay a 50 euro fee or else he would not be allowed on the plane. So ridiculous. But that’s the price you have to pay for a cheap ticket. So no, you don’t have to be rich to travel through Europe, it can definitely be done on a college budget as long as you’re willing to give up a little comfort.
London, England, United Kingdom
                So, onto the Schengen Zone. The Schengen Zone is made up of several EU and Non-EU countries throughout Europe that have no border control at their mutual borders. This means that once your flight lands, you are free to proceed to baggage claim without having to stand through the torturous line that is passport control, as long as you are flying between two member countries. There are several EU countries that are not part of the Schengen Zone, such as Bulgaria, Croatia and United Kingdom (pre-Brexit). I swear when we flew into London we had to wait in the passport control line for at least an hour and a half, and once you get to the border patrol officer, they grill you with questions about where you’re going, where you came from, how long you will be visiting even to personal things like how much money you have in your bank account. It did make me feel safe to know they really were being thorough, but it was a pain to sit through a line that was longer than my flight.
                All in all, I believe all the traveling, exploring and experiences were totally worth it. Every country brought new experiences and a new place to grow fond of. I’m so glad studying abroad gave me the opportunity to travel throughout such a beautiful continent, I don’t think I can ever mimic the experience I had otherwise. Lastly, here are some photos from some of my favorite places I visited throughout this semester. Enjoy!
Santorini, Greece

Cliffs of Moher, Clare, Ireland

Monte Carlo Hotel and Casino, Monte Carlo, Monaco

La Señora

    unsure if the language barrier
  bothers you,
you've done this many times before.
From the Sierra Nevadas, 
      to the Albaicin barrio,
          to Las Recogidas, 
                                 alrededor a Granada,
I wish to learn and speak
and understand--you.

    My first week in Granada is nearing it's end and I'm keen to share with you all about my experience. I have titled this post "La Señora" because out of all the shock, awe, nervousness, and excitement; my señora and her family are the most interesting of all I've seen and heard in Granada so far. 
     For those who do not know, I am living with a homestay family. In Spain, this "family" is usually a widow, soltera o con sus hijos (alone or with kids), and we call her "señora" as a sign of respect--much like "aunties and uncles" in Hawaii. 
     The biggest and most present challenge of living in Spain, is living with a women, her daughter and her son who are todos Españoles. La Señora Pepa does not speak any English, y sus hijos, María y Juan, only speak some. I have come here to improve my Spanish, but outside of the house, I am tempted to speak only English. This is because I am often surrounded by the American AIFS students in a tour or an outing. I get a pass while I'm exploring with them, but once I'm home, Spanish is the key communicator.
     While it has proven to be challenge for me, especially when I've been tired, I realize that immersion in any country requires patience, effort, and respect for ones' culture. This culture in Granada, in Andalucia, is one that most definitely consists of food and dance and tapas and history, but the root of any civilization's culture is their language. On a day like today, when I had no desire to speak Spanish and butchered the grammar when I did, it is humbling to remind myself that I must build relationships while I'm here. I must get outside of my comfort zone and not only play tourist, but be invested in the people I encounter as well. La Señora Pepa and her family reminds me of that. I am an outsider entering their beloved city and country. The best thing I could share with them is my attention and effort to know who they are. 
Proverbs 16:24 "Gracious words are like honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body."

View of Granada from Albaicin lookout point

AIFS American Students in front of La Alhambra

Paella Mexicana

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Arrivederci and a Hui Hou Italia

Ciao Everyone!
                It has been several weeks since my semester abroad has been officially over and although I am happy to be back in the islands, it feels as if I have never left. Although at the time I was extremely homesick for the first month, now I wish I was still abroad enjoying every new experience I could. My time abroad was the greatest highlight of 2016 and now I refer to 2016 as my golden year. I was extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to study in a different country and gain a new perspective on how life half way around the world is. I can’t wait to take a trip back to Europe to revisit some of my favorite cities such as Zadar, Zurich, Brussels, Nice and to explore places I was unable to see while I was abroad. If I had another opportunity to study abroad again, I would not hesitate to say yes. Like I said it was the best four months of 2016 but in all honesty, it was the best four months of my life!
Shout out to Italy and all the European countries for being a part of my amazing time abroad!
If anyone would like to see additional pictures from all my trips and blog post I wrote while abroad, you can visit my website at