Q&A: Calella Beach with FN alumni Nick

Q: There are so many interesting and beautiful places to choose in Spain. What made you decide to visit Calella?

The decision to visit Calella was influenced by a couple of different things. I knew that I wanted to take a day trip to the beach at some point while in Spain. Also, I knew that I didn’t  necessarily want to deal with the overpopulated local beaches in Barcelona because I do not enjoy being confined to small areas at the beach. The idea to go to Calella actually came from Forum-Nexus professor Peter Resch. He said that when he studied in Barcelona he would frequently visit Calella for the beach and the nightlife in the small city. His description of the beach town and insightful recommendations convinced quite a few students to visit Calella over the weekend in Barcelona.


Q: Describe your day in Calella. What was it like? What types of things did you do/see?

Well once we arrived at the train station we kind of immediately set out to find a place on the beach and a restaurant/bar that would accommodate all of our wants and needs. We walked for a bit through the streets of the city but nothing seemed to be open at the time due to siesta. We then walked along the beach until we found a general area that we would set up in and we chose one of the beachside bars in the area that was open and serving food. After eating we made our way over to the beach area and set up our spot. Some of the group set up towels and soaked up some sun while some of us threw a frisbee around and swam in the ocean. The beach was not very populated at all and it was very relaxing. We explored farther down the beach before we headed back to the train station to go back to our hotel in Barcelona.


Q: Would you recommend this weekend excursion spot to future students?

If so, why? I would definitely recommend Calella as a weekend excursion. It is especially appealing to those who would rather go to the beach to relax and hangout with a smaller group of people. There are still plenty of shops, restaurants, and bars within the city as well, so there is a lot to do.


Q: What items would you suggest bringing for a day trip to Calella? How much money?

Well of course bring your general beach items like a towel, sunscreen, sunglasses, maybe a frisbee or a soccer ball, lots of water, and swimming gear. One thing that I regret not bringing with me on to Calella is my skateboard. If you happen to bring a skateboard or longboard on your trip, or if you are able to rent one, Calella would be a very fun place to use it. There are a lot of winding roads and paths that would be very fun to explore on a board. As for how much money to bring with you, it is generally the same as going out in Barcelona. Dinner and drinks are around €15, and the round-trip train ticket was about the same. After those expenses, factor in how much money you plan spending on souvenirs and such.

Q: If you could go back again, would you do anything differently? Try out different parts of the beach? Restaurants? Attractions?

If I ever go back to Calella in the future, I will be sure to arrive there earlier and give myself more time to explore the entire area. Also, I would bring a small bluetooth speaker to listen to music on the beach. I would also like to find and eat at a more authentic Spanish restaurant, since the beachside bar/restaurant was kind of touristy and generic.


An afternoon at the OECD

It’s hard to choose a favorite professional visit from my time with Forum-Nexus because they were all amazing and I learned a lot from each visits. I found them all to be extremely useful to my education. However since I can only choose one I will say that the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) visits was my favorite due to the fact that I am a business major and I am interested in politics.


The OECD taught me a lot about how the European Union (EU) government policies are implemented. I learned that the OECD plays a big role in the EU, ensuring that governments do not pass policies or rules that can potentially be harmful to the citizens of their  nations. I learned that the OECD receives its funding through the members of the EU, and that they contribute according to their country’s GDP. I also learned that the OECD has placed mechanisms throughout the European Union that monitor behavior of government officials to ensure that the amount of corruption is reduced significantly or is absent. At the OECD visit we listened to multiple representatives give us their input on the current EU situation. I learned from them that Germany has a big influence on the EU commission because they are the largest contributors to them monetarily. I also learned that the United States of America has a big influence on the international monetary fund also known as the IMF. The OECD works with both the IMF and the EU commission to implement healthy government policies in the European Union countries.

Before coming to this professional visit to the OECD I knew nothing about it nor had I ever heard of it before. I think this is largely due to the fact that I am from the United States and we don’t really focus on what is happening in the EU because there is a lot happening in the states; however I am so glad that I was given this opportunity to learn about it because now I am able to understand government policy and economics on a global scale.


My visit to the OECD relates to my major in that all of the knowledge I have gained from this professional visit along with all of the other visits can be applied to my global business thinking. I would recommend any business major to take this opportunity to study abroad with Forum-Nexus due to the fact that they take you to professional visits that are extremely good for developing a global business mindset. After visiting the OECD I am motivated to do more research on this organization and understand more about the European Union.

By: John Kassab, 2015 Forum-Nexus alumni

John Kassab

Take the Leap

Take the leap–study abroad!

Insight from a seasoned study abroad-er on why international education is an invaluable life experience.


Twenty two or not, if you’re young, you should be actively seeking opportunities to travel and explore our world. College students, I’m talking to you!

There are many benefits of travel and/or studying abroad. If you’ve ever personally met someone who has taken the leap, it’s probably hard to get them to stop talking about their time abroad (guilty). Here are a few reasons why traveling is wildly beneficial to young adults.

Traveling offers the most enriching form of education

Plain and simple: Would you rather sit inside the same classroom for an entire semester or explore an entirely different continent/country/city/culture for weeks on end? Hard decision.

Let’s face it, education is the core of any study abroad trip–hence the word study. There is no better way to understand a foreign place than to immerse yourself into the education system of the host country. It’s a great way to authentically experience and understand the people, traditions, and culture.

Traveling of any sort always elicits a learning experience; combining travel with higher education takes it to the next level. Studying abroad not only exposes you to different styles of education, but it also gives you the chance to see a side of your major that may not be taught back home.

Traveling is the gateway to self discovery

As young adults, we are constantly searching for defining moments in our life whether we realize it or not; for example: When will I accomplish ___? How long will it take me to do ___? Where will I find ___?

Personally, I’ve found the times I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone to be the most impactful and meaningful to my life. Traveling sits at the top of this list. In these new situations I faced challenges, moments of growth, exploration, and joy. Traveling is one of those rare experiences that can make you realize your potential, then give you the confidence to chase after whatever it is you want to achieve.

Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 2.24.29 AM

Experience the power of networking

Networking has never been more prominent or essential in 2016. In this day and age, you can’t put a price tag on a well-balanced, wide network of colleagues and connections. From the study abroad perspective, consider the personal/social networking and professional networking opportunities.


You never know who you’ll meet or who you’ll connect with on a personal level. Isn’t that kind of the beauty of it? Along with life, our social circles are constantly evolving.

I first went abroad in 2014, then in 2015, and will be back for more in 2016. And each year, I meet more and more amazing people. And guess what? I still keep in touch with many of them. It’s great to have a supportive network of individuals outside of day to day life. These are the people who constantly remind me to see the best in the world as well as keep my appetite for travel alive; future meetups and reunions are our favorite topic of discussion.

It’s hard to articulate why study abroad friends are so special, but they just are. In some senses, they feel more like family than friends. I wish every young adult the opportunity to make travel friends whose bond spans longer than any semester abroad.


Balancing the network scale are professors, business owners, and leaders of organizations who all classify as professional network connections. One of my favorite aspects of the Forum-Nexus program were all of the opportunities to connect with leading professionals from all over Europe. Every week students are able to see first-hand many successful Euro businesses and organizations at professional visits. While each experience is different from the other, the professional benefits are constant.

You never know, perhaps a visit to an international business/organization could refocus your career path? The possibilities are abundant. Networking is key.

Traveling breeds inspiration

One look at *insert the bucket list destination of your choice*  and you’ll know what I mean.

It is impossible to not be inspired in some way, shape, or form after being immersed in a totally unique setting of rich culture. Traveling pulls off the blinders that naturally fall upon us when we are rooted in one place. Whether it’s re-directed career goals, a newfound love for learning, passion for people, or a different approach on life– inspiration is lurking, and it’s yours for the taking. There’s always more to see, achieve, and work for. Why live life uninspired?

Clearly, there are several pros to going abroad. If you don’t make the time or plans to go now, when will you? Besides, doesn’t it make sense to travel when you’re still young? It’s probably one of the easiest times in your life to do so. If you need more convincing, expert travel blogger Jeff Goins makes a great case in his post here.

Whatever you choose to do, don’t be afraid to take the leap. Your life will be better for it.

By: Alyssa Fronk, 2014 Forum-Nexus alumna



Dreaming of Santorini

 Santorini, Greece. I dreamt about this place since I was 10 years old when I watched a movie about a pair of pants… and as lame as that sounds, it was worth the build up.  The place with white houses that resemble clouds, with roofs as blue as the Aegean Sea.  The place with an assortment of black, red and white sand beaches.  The place where the seafood melts in your mouth and the jewelry shops twinkle and sparkle in the Mediterranean sunlight. This place was heaven.


When I first arrived to my hotel in Kamari, Santorini, which is home to the most famous black sand beach on the island, I was blown away by the stunning view that would await me from my room. My hotel was up on a hill and had the most incredible view of the town of Kamari and the Sea looking straight out, the famous cities Fira and Oia to my left, and the Volcano to my right. I was in heaven. Right away I went out on my balcony to Facetime my parents and share my excitement. After assuring them I had arrived safely, and bragging about my awesome setup, I was off to explore the capital of Santorini, Fira.

Fira is located on the top of a hill in the center of the island, and has all of the best restaurants and jewelry, souvenir, and clothing shops. I got lost exploring the town, weaving in and out of the small cobblestone paths. But I didn’t care. I didn’t care if I would stay lostin this place forever. It honestly felt like I was wondering through the clouds and I couldn’t get over how blue the sky and the sea were. Eventually, after a few purchases and the most delicious Greek salad, I found my way back to the bus stop to take off for my next destination, Oia for the sunset.


If you’ve ever had the pleasure of watching “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” (best movie, ever), then Oia is the place you picture when you think of Santorini. This is the classic depiction of the island, with the breathtaking view of the whitewashed homes and blue roofs overlooking the sea. This also happens to be the best place on the island for the sunset. Once again, when I arrived to Oia I got lost exploring through the paths to try and find the best spot to sit back and enjoy the view. I found a place at one of the highest points in the city in the ruins of the old Oia Castle. The view, yet again, was amazing.


The next day I spent the morning laying out and swimming at the black sand beach. I decided to spend the afternoon in Oia again to do some more exploring. I ate a delicious gyro, bought some beautiful gifts for my family, and wandered down the hill to find another slice of heaven. I stumbled upon the port that is known as the fisherman’s port, filled with colorful little boats and small seafood restaurants sitting literally right on the edge of the sea. This place just kept amazing me. I took a walk around the port and found the perfect spot to go for a swim. The water was cool, and the view was… you get it. I ate the best calamari that I’ve ever had in my life at one of the small restaurants right on the edge of the water. Then I had the opportunity to check something off my bucket list that I’ve always wanted to do – I rode a donkey back up to Oia. Life was so good.


My trip to Santorini was without a doubt the best weekend I’ve ever had, and I can’t wait to return to this island. This piece of heaven.

 By: Sylvia Moulthrop, 2015 Forum-Nexus alumna



CERN: Particle Physics Galore

Few people ever have the pleasure of seeing the largest particle physics laboratory in the entire world with their own eyes, but I’m happy to say that I’m now one of those lucky people. CERN,  the European Organization for Nuclear Research, with its thousands of dedicated staff members and miles upon miles of gigantic circular particle accelerators running underneath the surface of Geneva, Switzerland, is undeniably a scientific wonder of the world. Visiting it in person felt like peeking into a huge, mystical corner of the particle physics community, and I absolutely loved it.


Our tour guide was a passionate young scientist who explained CERN in an eloquently simple way, making it easy for us all to understand at least the basic idea of how the whole thing works. It was exhilarating to be in the same room as giant machines that have played such a huge role in the advancement of science and technology. We weren’t able to visit the Large Hadron Collider due to the radiation it was emitting, but knowing that we were so close to it was thrilling enough in itself. And even without having the privilege of descending to the famous Collider, it was fascinating to see the other equipment that is used in the facility.


One of the most interesting parts of this visit, though, was getting to see the first particle collider ever created, which was introduced to us with a flashy high-tech video. The history behind CERN and the exciting evolution of particle physics was effectively and concisely explained at the same time. It really brought to life the rich background of the laboratory, and of the entire field of particle physics, in an engaging and thought-provoking way.

Not only was this visit a chance to see a famous laboratory with famous equipment, it was also highly scientifically educational. Because our tour guide was so good at talking to us on our level, I feel like I gained a nice, basic understanding of how particle physics works. I’m still not quite on the level of a professional scientist (close, though, of course), but I do know at least a smidge more about this scientific field and the history of it than I did before having the chance to visit the glory that is CERN.

By: Molly Kaup,  2015 Forum-Nexus alumna

Molly Kaup 1


Village Hopping in Cinque Terre

Before I left to study abroad with Forum-Nexus, I knew that I wanted to visit Cinque Terre.  A couple of years ago, I visited northern Italy with my family and didn’t make it to Cinque Terre because we ran out of time. Rome was my favorite by far and I was counting down the days to get back. When I saw that I would be going back to Italy with Forum-Nexus, I was so excited.  Before Rome, we stopped in Milan for a short weekend visit and saw the perfect opportunity to visit Cinque Terre on the Sunday before we left Milan.


Me and one of my friends, Gianna, went to Cinque Terre together and the journey there was quite an experience.  We wanted to be in Cinque Terre for most of the day, so we booked the 6:10 am train that would arrive in Cinque Terre around 9. (Note to future students: there aren’t too many departure options, so the sooner the better!). After the 3 hour train ride, we arrived to Monterosso, the beach town out of the five small villages  that make up Cinque Terre.   The beach was so beautiful and it was very very hot. We hung out at the beach for about an hour then moved to the next villages.  The next stop was Vernazza. It had a bunch of colorful buildings and an area to swim.  We hiked up the mountain and took some beautiful pictures.  We grabbed some lunch and then we were on our way to Manarola.  This was also such a cute small town. We grabbed a souvenir and then took more pictures and relaxed by the water. Each city was different and unique in its own way and I felt like I could have stayed there forever. After that we went to Riomaggiore.  This city had such a cool place to swim around and we debated on going cliff diving, but we did not have enough time.  We grabbed some gelato and then hopped back on the train that transferred us to each city.  It was very easy to get around Cinque Terre quickly, which was nice considering that we were not going to be there for a long time.  We left Cinque Terre from La Spezia, the last of the five villages.


Cinque Terre was such an amazing place and I am so glad I finally got to see it!  I would recommend it to anyone and I wish I could have stayed longer.  I hope to return again some day, so that I can go cliff-diving and hike from city to city.

By: Kim Brinati, 2015 Forum-Nexus alumna

Kimberly Brinati 2


How visiting the FAO of Rome re-inspired my career goals

The FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) branch in Rome was my favorite professional visit with Forum-Nexus because I think that working there would be a dream come true. I really admire the goals and objectives the UN has and how it promotes cooperation between countries to solve problems. Their motto is to, “Achieve food security for all… to make sure people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives.” The Food and Agriculture department of the UN is extremely important because it is combating world hunger, which is a huge controversial issue. Any individual who works at FAO knows that they are making a difference in the world and that their job has a real purpose.


Just the FAO campus itself was extremely impressive. The amount of large conference rooms was unlike anything I’ve ever seen.  I really enjoyed learning about how each country gets to design its own office and make it unique to its culture. Cooperation was clearly represented throughout the campus through the presentation of multiple flags all over conference rooms and multiple interpreters speaking 6 different languages, symbolizing that language is a barrier that will not keep nations apart.

During the visit I learned a lot about how the UN works together with large corporations to try to end world hunger. Prior to the visit, I assumed that the UN would fight against big food companies due to their poor nutrition content, use of GMO’s, and greedy reputations. I was definitely surprised by what I learned, but it made sense that it is better for individuals to have low-quality food than no food at all. Due to the amount of money and power these large corporations have, the UN needs to work together with them if they have any hope of solving this world hunger issue. I also learned how much influence money has over the food industry. Subsidies in the U.S affect the industry immensely. Honestly, I was unaware that the UN had a Food and Agricultural branch before participating in Forum-Nexus. I actually knew very little about the UN in general. After these two visits (the human rights branch in Geneva and the Food and Agriculture branch in Rome) I feel much more knowledgeable on how our world works together to combat huge issues. As Hugo, the director of Forum-Nexus, would say, my “International IQ” has increased significantly thanks to these visits!

This professional visit is extremely applicable to my area of study because business is all about cooperation and having meetings to solve issues and get work done. The UN Food and Agriculture branch functions just as a business does to solve issues. When running a business, the goal is always to be as efficient as possible. The Food and Agriculture Organization is always brainstorming to find faster and better ways to provide healthy food to more people, just as a business is always coming up with new ways to make their product better and cheaper. FAO also stresses the importance of cooperation with different countries and cultures. In my business career, I will most likely at some point have to work together with people of different backgrounds to solve problems. I would love to work for a corporation like the United Nations and fight for world issues that I’m passionate about so much so that I am going to look into their intern program for next summer. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations truly left a lasting impression on me and has motivated me to have a career in which I am helping people and making this world a better place, for us and for generations to come.

By: Liz Hawkins, 2015 Forum-Nexus alumna

Elizabeth Hawkins (LIZ) 2