Alyssa Goes to Denmark

ACES Animal Science Research Internship @ Aarhus University 

I’m Alyssa. I am from Chicago, yes the city! I am going into my senior year, which is both exciting and terrifying because I’m not ready to grow up just yet! I’m an animal science major, which makes sense because this is an animal research internship… However, I am actually pre-vet. I chose this program because I was interested in learning about swine and gaining any experience I could. Veterinary medicine is leaning toward the research aspect and without research there is no medicine. I have already obtained experience in medicine so I thought having research experience would also be beneficial.

This is my first time being so far away from home for such a long period of time. Luckily I am not alone; Erin, a fellow animal science student from UIUC traveled with me which eased my nerves about traveling 16hrs to Denmark. We had a night flight to try and lessen the impact of a 7hr time difference. We had a layover in London, which was interesting, to say the least. Spending 6hrs in an airport is not very fun. However, LHR Airport is more of a mall than an airport so we were able to window shop (London is extremely expensive so we didn’t actually buy anything)

We are staying in Viborg, Denmark for approximately 6 weeks and will be working on swine nutrition research at Aarhus University. Friday was the first day at Foulum Research Centre. I have my own desk! We got to meet many of the other students and researchers in the swine research unit, learn of the research we will be participating in and we got to go down to the barns. Seeing the barns was my favorite part, there’s a lot of experiments and trials occurring. I will be working on how nutrition affects the growth of sows pre-partum and helping Erin work on her experiments analyzing the nutrient composition of colostrum. (Colostrum is the pre-milk which contains nutrients necessary for proper development of piglets)

I am excited to see what Europe has to offer me! I can’t wait for weekends to other countries and to dive into research!


Belgium Study Abroad Continued-Griffin Abel

Since my last post, I have traveled to many unique destinations with several different people. My two week long spring break was jam packed with trips to Italy, Mallorca, Portugal, and Spain. To kick the break off, I flew into Venice where I spent one night at a hostel that kind of resembled a trailer park camp site. In Venice I had the opportunity to see the glass factory in Murano, where the factory workers put on a demonstration on how all the glass there is made. From Venice, I took a high speed train to Florence, where I spent three nights. During one of the days in Florence, we took a day trip to Cinque Terre, where I was able to see the amazing Italian Coast. Thankfully we were blessed with perfect sunny weather which made the water appear a vivid blue color. After the three days in Florence, I was off to Rome.

Rome really blew my expectations. I had expected Rome to be a dirty, touristy city with a few ancient ruins but I was completely wrong. The city was BEAUTIFUL! There was also so much to do in the city that there was never a dull moment. I also had some of the best pasta and pizza I have ever had in my entire life in the city. After Rome, I took the train to Naples for a quick one-night stay. I really liked my visit to Naples because it was a lot less touristy than the three aforementioned cities, so I was able to gain a deeper cut into the Italian culture. Having Donald, my Italian-speaking friend, traveling with us also helped a lot.

From Naples we took an early flight to Palma de Mallorca. For those who don’t know, Mallorca is an island off the coast of Spain. This was the first leg of the trip where I was actually able to relax on a beach without feeling guilty about not sightseeing. The island has about 250 small beaches, so it is definitely a hot vacation spot for many Europeans. After spending three relaxing days in Palma, I was off to Lisbon for two nights.

Lisbon was my favorite city I have been to so far! The hostel we stayed at was one of my favorites too. It was more like a surfing beach house than a hostel. And yes, I partook in the surfing. The water sport is definitely harder than it looks, but I was able to stand up a couple times. I really wish I were able to spend more time in Lisbon because there is so much to do in the area and the city itself is very scenic. It kind of reminded me of San Francisco with how hilly it was, and they even had a bridge that was practically identical to the golden gate bridge.

From Lisbon I flew to Barcelona for the last five days of the spring break. Barcelona was another one of my favorite cities, and there is a great amount of things to do. Barcelona had a good mix of sightseeing, beach, and nightlife. Not to mention the tapas there were delicious. This was probably one of my favorite trips so far, because we had around 13 Illini students along for the ride, which made the dinners and clubs a blast!

With around a month left, I will be trying to enjoy the rest of my time in Leuven. Day trips throughout Belgium are also on the agenda. It won’t be long until finals role around and I begin studying.


Griffin Abel



My Belgium Adventures Continued – Jake Shulman

I last left off, about my experience is Paris, France. The following weekend was Spring break, and I can honestly say I had one of the best times of my life.

I started my Spring Break off with a trip to Florence, Italy. I have a friend studying abroad there, and I have only heard good things about the city. While in Florence, I had some of the best gnocchi I have ever had as well as amazing pasta and pizza. What made this gnocchi so incredible was that it was made with truffle oil, and I have never had anything made with truffle oil before. While in Italy, I also went on a day trip to Venice. Venice was a beautiful city, and I found it very interesting that city was built on water. Overall, I had an amazing time in Italy, and it is definitely a country that I would like to visit when I am older.

My next destination on Spring Break was Barcelona. I had a couple of friends studying in Barcelona, which also was another incentive for visiting the city. Barcelona was an absolutely amazing city. The weather, the people, and the food were all amazing. One of my favorite parts of Barcelona were the markets on the streets. I loved the fact that the food was cheap and very tasty. I also went to an FC Barcelona game during my stay in Barcelona. It was one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had. The atmosphere in the stadium was indescribable, and the fact that FC Barcelona is one of the best soccer teams in the world made the experience that much better. Barcelona has been my favorite city in Europe, and I definitely see myself going back to the city when I am older.

The next place I went to was Ibiza, which is an island off the coast of Spain. Ibiza is known for its clubs and throwing amazing parties. I went through a travel service, which was definitely the smart thing if you were trying to go to Ibiza. I only stayed in Ibiza for the weekend, but I had an amazing time with all of my friends. Ibiza is definitely the place to be in the summer time!

The last place I went to in Spain was Madrid. I was very satisfied after my trip to Madrid. Madrid was a beautiful city and definitely more laid back than Barcelona and Ibiza. Madrid also had the best food in Spain! Some of my best meals were in Madrid, and I wish I could eat that food everyday! I had an amazing time in all of the cities in Spain, and it is definitely a place to visit if you planned on traveling Europe.

My next and final trip of Spring Break was to Vienna, Austria, where I also had some friends studying abroad there. I did not think I would have enjoyed the city as much as I did before going, but I was very satisfied after staying in the city for five days. The city was a very beautiful city, and I could tell a lot of history has been made there. I had the best sausage i’ve ever eaten there, as well as a fast food fish restaurant that I think would make a killing in the United States. Also, during my stay in Austria, I went to the Mauthausen Concentration Camp, which was a very moving experience. I am very happy with my decision to visit the Concentration Camp.

All in all, I had an amazing Spring Break, and I could not have been happier to choose the places that I chose to travel during that time period.

The following weekend I went to London for a friends birthday party. This was a great time because I reunited with a lot of my friends from high school. While in London, I did ll the touristy things such as the Big Ben, the London Eye, and the Imperial Museum. The Imperial Museum was one of the best museum’s I have been too, and there was a section dedicated to the Holocaust which I found very informative and moving. My trip to London was by far one of my favorite trips of Study abroad, and it was the city that reminded me most of a big American city.

April had flown right before my eyes, and I became even more excited because my parents came the first weekend of May. When my parents were in town, we stayed in a hotel in Brussels, but went to Leuven (where I am studying), Brussels, and Bruges. My parents loved Belgium, and were very happy when they came to visit. Unfortunately, I only had a couple days with them, but I will soon be seeing them again.

Today, I happened to have gone on a day trip to Luxembourg. Luxembourg was extremely small, but very beautiful. while in Luxembourg, my friends and I climbed through the tunnels that were built for the wars, and just gazed out into the distance looking at the city’s beauty. There was not much to do in Luxembourg, but I am extremely happy that I was able to visit the country.

Within the next month, I plan on taking day trips to Ghent, Belgium and Cologne, Germany. I may even have time to take a tour of the Stella Factory and visit Fort Breendonk which is a concentration camp in Belgium.

In conclusion, I plan on this being my last post because I am leaving Belgium for Chicago later this month. I have had an incredible time while studying abroad, and I have learned so much about myself that will benefit me for the rest of my life. I want to thank all of the people I have met and befriended during my stay in Leuven, and I wanted to thank the ACES study abroad team for giving me the opportunity to study abroad. This has been such a memorable experience, and I hope other people will be able to have the same experience I have had.

Signing out,

Jake Shulman



Adventures Continued – BZ

The adventures have continued through Europe. I have already mentioned countless pros about studying abroad, but if those have not incentivized you enough consider the two-week spring break that is offered. For my break I decided to separate from the group because my older brother was coming in for the 2-week period. He arrived in Leuven at about 8 P.M. and we decided to go get a couple beers before heading back to my dorm. We had to go after two beers because we had to wake up at 4 A.M. for our flight to Florence. We arrived in Florence at about noon, where my parents went to pick us up from the airport. Unfortunately, for them they only had about three days left in their European vacation. Nonetheless, it was their anniversary, so it was nice being able to celebrate that with them abroad. The dinner in Florence was by far my favorite; the waiter was constantly bringing out appetizers of the freshest cheese and meat. After visiting my relatives in Bavaria and Austria, I did not think that I would try any better food. Well that was not the case after going to Florence. The food was out of this world and I would go back to that city just for that. We ended up going to church the following day for Easter mass, which was insane. The celebration they had there was unreal and I was very glad we were able to witness that. After mass we were on the road to go to Rome. First thing we did, was go to The Vatican City. It was beautiful and once again was very glad I got to witness the miraculous structures that were built there. My parents had to leave the following morning, so we went out for another phenomenal dinner and went in after. The next day, it was just my brother and I getting ready to take on Rome. We took the first shuttle from our hotel into the city and just started taking in the sights. The amount of tourists in the city was a little obnoxious, but still was not enough to bother us from looking at some of the most historic buildings in Europe. Being able to go inside and look at the Coliseum was amazing. Just trying to imagine people actually sitting in it was one of the coolest things to think about in my opinion. After this we went to Vienna for a night and a day, we were pretty tired so we just walked around the city at night and went into sleep after. The next day, up until our flight we just walked around and got food again. I wish that we would have had one more day there because it seemed like a city that actually had a lot going on. Not just that, but the amount of nice architecture throughout the city was amazing as well. The next trip was Berlin, which we were both really excited for. Unfortunately, the first night I started getting sick and that lasted about two days. By Saturday I was finally starting to feel better, then my brother got sick. His was much worse and lasted the rest of spring break, so I’ll save the boring stories because that was a major buzz kill on our trip. Now fast forward to this past weekend.

We had been talking about taking a group trip to a city called Wesvleteren in Belgium. This city is home to one of the best, if not the best beer. About twelve of us took the two hour journey to get there. When we arrived at the café that was distributing this beer we each bought the best beer immediately. Now was this the best beer? Well that’s for the individual to decide that is drinking it. To me this was fantastic, but would not necessarily say it was one of the best. Either way, the beer that I am referring to is called Westvleteren 12. This is what you would call a trappist beer, meaning that it is brewed my monks in a monastery. Another criteria my friend spoke of was that it cannot be sold for profit, all money made is treated as donations. The café was out in the middle of nowhere basically and down some back-country roads. Just across the road was a farm and cows just doing their own thing. That was very cool to see and being able to say that I have had the best beer in the world is something I will treasure for years to come. I look forward to sending out my next months blog right before finals start. #acesabroad


Dane Hasselbring: Traveling around Ireland

Glendalough 1

So far my experience in Ireland has been great! I am very grateful that the College of ACES provided me with this opportunity to spend the semester at University College Dublin. Even though I have been kept busy with classwork, I have had a fair amount of time to travel around Ireland these past four months. The second weekend we were here a group of us decided to go to Glendalough in the Wicklow Mountains. Even though it was January, we felt that we needed to see the country a little before classes got too far underway. I was excited to go, but I had no idea what was waiting for us there. I have to say, the scenery there was breathtaking.

Glendalough 2

The trails took you up into the mountains, where you could overlook the two lakes and the town that are nestled in the valley below. Since it was January, there was some ice still on the trails at the top of the mountain. We pushed on, even though there were a few slips and falls.  Once we had followed the trail up alongside a waterfall, we truly got a great view.  Glendalough has to be one of my favorite places so far in Ireland, but I have been all over. I have been able to visit Galway, the Aran Islands, Belfast, and the Giants Causeway on trips with a student organization I joined called the Erasmus Student Network. On these weekend trips I also had the opportunity to meet more international students from all over the world! Along with the ESN trips, I also went a few places with my new friends. A fellow University of Illinois Student, Josh Warren, has traveled with me to several places. We have been on bus trips to the Cliffs of Mohr, Limerick, Killarney, and the Dingle Peninsula. I can now say I have been to the westernmost point in Europe! We also traveled to the town of Waterford in southern Ireland for a weekend trip. Waterford is the oldest city in Ireland and was originally founded by Vikings. It was really cool to see the old city walls next to modern buildings. It really gave you a sense of how cities change over time. I also got to go on a trip to Blarney Castle when my mother and her friends visited me. It was a great day trip, and we even got to kiss the Blarney stone. Supposedly you receive the gift of eloquence after kissing it, but it’s hard to tell if I’ve changed at all! These are just some of the places I’ve traveled to during my time in Ireland. I can’t wait to share all my stories when I get home! I would have never been able to go to all these places if it weren’t for the study abroad opportunities with the College of ACES!

-Dane Hasselbring