Bearcats on the Road

Understanding Belfast

Posted by Gina McKlveen on Sat, Apr 30, 2016 @ 10:00 AM


This weekend CIEE took us to Belfast in Northern Ireland. Our program director studied the conflicts in Belfast and shared as much information with us as he could before we left, but I still wasn’t prepared for the things I saw in Belfast. Just to give you some background, Belfast is an area in Northern Ireland that has been subjected to a lot of religious contention during the Irish conflicts. Roman Catholic and Protestant communities are separated to this day by peace walls, which are 40 meters high and strung with barbed wire. I was told about these things before I left, but seeing them in person was completely different.


Coming from a country where segregation is unheard of nowadays, I couldn’t wrap my mind around the idea of separating these two religious groups. Belfast was ugly and depressing, to put it bluntly. I was emotionally drained by the atmosphere. The streets with the walls looked like a concentration camp rather than a city and I hated it. After we landed and started walking around I wanted nothing more than to get on the first flight out of here. Anywhere was better than Belfast.



However, as the trip continued and I learned more about the conflict I gained a better appreciation for what these peace walls stood for and how the lives of people living in Belfast were impacted. I still wasn’t O.K. with the idea of separation, but it made a little more sense the more time I spent in Belfast.


The rest of the weekend we took trips to Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and Giant’s Causeway. It was a beautiful day to explore the coast, climb mountains and take in some more breathtaking views. Whether Northern Ireland is considered a part of Ireland or the UK, it is still one of the prettiest places I’ve been!

See more of my photos of my trip through Northern Ireland below!







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Topics: study abroad, Gina McKlveen, Northern Ireland, Giant's Causeway, Religion, Belfast, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

National Cereal Day At Cereal Killer Cafe

Posted by Gina McKlveen on Wed, Apr 27, 2016 @ 10:00 AM

Monday, March 7, 2016


National Cereal Day gives me an excuse to go to Cereal Killer Cafe again right?

Today is National Cereal Day, so what better way to spend the morning than grabbing a bowl of cereal from one of my favorite places in London. That’s right, Cereal Killer Cafe here I come … again. So, in case you haven’t noticed, I may have a slight obsession with cereal. I mean it’s the all-purpose meal. Cereal for breakfast? Sure! But cereal for lunch and dinner? Even better!






This morning I decided to check out the Cereal Killer Cafe in Camden. And to my delight, it was just as good as the one I went to on Brick Lane. I was feeling a little crazy, so I decided to mix it up from my usual bowl of Cheerios and try something off its specialty menu.


The Cereal Killer Cafe has a bunch of specialty cereal cocktails to choose from, but the “Sticky Monkey” caught my curiosity and it sounded amazing.


Clearly, I was not disappointed. But then again, Cereal Killer Cafe never disappoints! Definitely a must-try if you are in London!

Happy National Cereal Day!



Topics: study abroad, England, Gina McKlveen, The Cereal Killer Cafe, National Cereal Day, Camden

An ‘Eye’-Opening View

Posted by Gina McKlveen on Mon, Apr 25, 2016 @ 10:00 AM

Sunday, March 6, 2016


Today I took my first ride in the London Eye! As someone who is normally pretty terrified of heights, I think the view was a pretty good distraction from being trapped in a glass capsule several hundred feet above water. I planned my ride on the Eye right at sunset so I could see the incredible view of London in both the daylight and at nightfall. It was perfect timing and an incredible experience! Another thing to check off my London Bucket List!

Check out some of my favorite photos from my London Eye experience below:










Topics: study abroad, London, England, Gina McKlveen, London Eye, photography

So You Are An English Major Studying Abroad In London?

Posted by Gina McKlveen on Fri, Apr 22, 2016 @ 10:00 AM

Friday March 4, 2016


So you’re an English major and you’ve decided to study abroad in London?

Well first, let me calm your nerves because you made an awesome decision. London is by far one of the best cities to visit, let alone study in, if you happen to love literature. Perhaps I may be biased given that I am both an English major and I am studying in London, but I swear even if I weren’t, this city has such a deep literary history that it speaks for itself … literally.

In all seriousness, London is the perfect choice for someone who is interested in all things literature. Some of the greatest writers, poets and playwrights of all time lived and worked in London. Knowing you are potentially walking down the same streets as the classic writers like Dickens, Keats and Shakespeare is enough to amaze any bibliophile.


John Keats’ House

So what exactly makes being an English major in London so great anyway?

  1. Well, for starters, there are coffee shops on every corner.

Finding a good coffee shop is never a difficult task in London, it just depends on what you like.


(Source: Wikipedia Commons)

For those of you that like the mainstream coffee brands like Starbucks, never fear! Because there is one EVERYWHERE! If for some reason you aren’t in the mood for Starbucks, chances are there is a Pret A Manger (just Pret for short) right next door.


If you’re more into the quiet and quaint coffee shop experience, I strongly recommend stopping in at some place like Foxcroft & Ginger or Timberyard. Drink Shop Do (café by day, bar by night) is another great place to hang out, grab a drink and some tasty cake and just type away. 

  1. London has some of the greatest libraries in the world.


Lucky for me, British Library is right down the road, so I frequently find myself studying here. Now that it’s warming up with spring just around the corner, I hope I get to sit outside and study! (Note: if you want to study at a library in London, don’t assume you can just walk in. A lot of libraries in London require that you create an account or have a card.)

  1. And let’s not forget about the bookshops.



One of the greatest things about London is the emphasis they place on reading. Their newspapers are passed out for free, on the streets near bus stations and Tube stations, which encourages people to read and become educated on world events (It’s genius! Take notes, America!) Even the bookshops in London are historic!

For a fan girl experience, check out The Notting Hill Bookshop, and hope you fall in love with a boy as dreamy as Hugh Grant.


For a real classic London bookshop check out Hatchard’s in Piccadilly Circus. It’s been around since 1797!


For an American experience stop in one of the various Waterstones throughout the city. Waterstones=Barnes & Noble.

And finally, don’t be afraid to stop in a random bookshop you pass on the street — you never know what you’ll find.

  1. Lastly, every day you feel inspired to write about … well … everything.

Your walk to class becomes a social critique based on the number of homeless people who ask you for your spare change, you begin to notice how the seasons change and the air smells differently and yet still reminds you of home, walking down every street you can feel like the words of Dickens are coming to life right before your very eyes and you realize London is character in and of itself. The most important thing to do is: write. Write how you feel, what you think, what you see, what you did; don’t stop writing.

Over the next six weeks I will be taking a class on 19th-century British Literature. This course is offered at Saint Vincent, and other institutions throughout America, but there’s no better place to study British literature than the birthplace of British literature itself. In the coming weeks I will be reading and discussing the following books through my program:

  •  Emma by Jane Austen,
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë,
  • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens,
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde,
  • and The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle.

Included in this course are walking tours outside of the classroom. Personally, I think this is really where the learning experience comes from. Sure, you can read the book and have stimulating discussions and debates over topics like social status, gender and other pressing matters, but you could do that anywhere! Until you see the world — the world that these authors knew — you may never understand the true meaning of these texts. This was the part of studying abroad I was most excited about. Extending literature beyond the classroom and quite literally onto the streets. I hope after these six weeks I’ll be more enriched by the British culture and the quintessential London atmosphere that inspired these great thinkers!


Keep Calm and Read On!



Topics: study abroad, London, England, English, Gina McKlveen, coffee, library, bookstore, English major

Reconnecting with family in Turi

Posted by Emily Samara on Thu, Apr 14, 2016 @ 03:49 PM


Well, these past two days have been some of the greatest in my life and were also some of the most challenging. My parents and I departed Rome at 10 a.m. on Monday in our Volkswagon Passat station wagon and headed toward Bari. For this part of our trip we were going to meet our relatives that live in Turi, which is right outside of Bari. My great-grandfather Angelo Spinelli on my mom’s side was born in Turi in 1902 and came to America in 1921 to live and raise a family. He left behind his parents and two of his sisters to go to America to join his oldest sister. Once in America, WellAngelo had two children, my grandfather and great aunt. Although my grandpa Perry never met his aunts or cousins, they were in touch by writing letters and sending photos.

image1-4.jpgLast summer, my uncle and aunt came to Italy to try to find Angelo’s family and they were successful! Angelo Spinelli’s family is still in Turi, Italy. When I decided to study abroad in Rome, my parents and I got in contact with our family and planned a trip to go visit them. My grandfather Perry has two cousins in Turi, one of which had a son named Francesco. Francesco has two children named Angelica and Giuseppe. So we went to visit my grandfather’s cousins and their family.

We arrived Monday afternoon and were greeted by Francesco and his daughter Angelica, who took us to their home. When we walked in the door, my grandfather’s cousins were there waiting for us. Dominica (Kella) is 82 and Angelina (Lena) is 87. Keep in mind this is a very Italian family that doesn’t speak English, so we were going off of the little Italian I have learned and the translation that Angelica could provide for us (her English is really good). We all sat around the table while everyone was asking questions and sharing memories of my great grandfather. Thank goodness for Angelica; without her help, we would have had no way to communicate! After a tour of Turi we went back to Francesco’s house for an amazing dinner that Mina, his wife, prepared for us. 

image1-2-4.jpgThe next day we met Angelica and her brother Giuseppe and they took us to Polignana to show us the beach and take us to lunch. The water was so beautiful and blue, the rocks were amazing and the food was delicious. We spent all day with our personal tour guides who showed us everything we needed to see! When we got back to their house, Lena had a shopping bag with her, and Angelica told us that she and her sister Kella had owned a boutique in Turi and still had some of the outfits and dresses put away. Lena had brought me a dress that she once had in her store! She helped me put it on and made sure it fit and she gave it to me as a gift. Later on she brought out more dresses and gave a few to my mom as well; it was just the sweetest thing! Lena had also brought a few photos with her to show us of my grandfather when he was young that he had sent with his letters and she had photos of my great grandfather and of his sisters. After dinner we said goodbye to everyone and told them we would be seeing them again soon!  

I had such an amazing time meeting my family and learning more about my great grandfather’s home. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity and I cannot wait to share my experience with my grandfather. Hopefully one day my family can come visit us in America, but I do know for sure that I will be back in Turi and next time I will be able to speak Italian (hopefully).


Topics: study abroad, Italy, Emily Samara, family, Polignana, Turi

The best cannoli and pizza I ever ate

Posted by Emily Samara on Tue, Mar 22, 2016 @ 04:08 PM

nick.jpgThese past two weeks have been quite the adventure, from giving another Bearcat the grand tour of Rome, to traveling to Sicily for the weekend and celebrating my 21st birthday, I have never been so exhausted and excited at the same time. Like I have mentioned before, it is my goal to try to get to as many places in Italy as I can and Sicily was next on my list.

After a a few days of exploring Rome, Nick and I headed to Sicily; list of restaurants in hand, we boarded the plane and started a new journey! The first thing we had to try was an arancino, which is a ball of rice, cheese, and in my case prosciutto, then deep fried...(pictured below) probably the best thing I have ever eaten (sorry, mom, your cooking is great but this was fried rice and cheese).



The coolest part of the area of Sicily I was in (Catania) was that Mt. Etna was right there! An active volcano right in front of me while I was eating my fried rice ball. Next we had to try a cannoli, so the tourist in me went on TripAdvisor and found the number one pasticceria in Catania so I could get my favorite Italian dessert ... AMAZING. At the time, definitely the best cannoli I had ever had.

For dinner, we wanted to try a traditional Sicilian-style pizza called a pizzolo. This is a normal pizza but on top they added another layer of crust so basically a pizza sandwich. I can proudly say I have found my favorite pizza in Italy (so far); this was the best pizza I have ever eaten. It was a sandwich and a pizza, two of my favorite things.



Thinking that the pizzolo wouldn't be enough for the two of us, we got a normal pizza too, normal as in a close second place to the pizzolo and, guess what, we didn't finish it. The next day (my 21st birthday) we headed back to get more arancini and more cannoli. This was the cannoli, the one I had been searching for, the best cannoli I have ever had, and being from an Italian family I have had my share of cannoli.

pisa.jpgThis trip was definitely one of the best ones based mainly on the food I found and loved. When we got back to Rome, my roommates were all ready to celebrate my birthday! My roommates and I headed to Pisa, Italy, on Sunday to take our pictures with the famous leaning tower. 

I had the most amazing time being a tour guide, trying new foods and turning 21. It was a birthday week that will never be forgotten!

I'm off to Stockholm, Sweden, this weekend to meet up with a friend from home; I can't wait!



Topics: study abroad, Emily Samara, cannoli, pizza, Pisa, Sicily, Mt. Etna

SVC Study Abroad Photo Contest - Enter Today

Posted by Sara Hart on Mon, Mar 21, 2016 @ 10:59 AM

The SVC Office of Study Abroad is launching a photo contest to help you promote your excitement to study abroad this year! To enter the photo contest:

  • 12383553_480385098813651_1525487432_n.jpgUpload to Instagram a creative photo indicating where you will study abroad
  • In the caption, briefly state in your own words what you hope to learn from your experience abroad. 
  • Use the hashtag #SVCBearcatsAbroad to be entered into the contest and to share with your friends and Instagram followers. 

The student whose study abroad photo gets the most “likes” wins a scholarship to cover his/her passport application fees!  

The contest opens today, March 21, and will close at 4:30 p.m. April 8, 2016. Winner will be announced April 11.

Eligibility requirements: Entrants must be enrolled in a credit-bearing study abroad experience occurring during Summer or Fall 2016 to qualify. Entrants must have applied for a US passport on or after October 1, 2015, or must not yet have applied for passport. Contest winner must provide photocopy of receipt for passport application fees.

Uploading a photo to the SVC Study Abroad Photo Contest includes a complete release of Instagram by each entrant or participant. The SVC Office of Study Abroad and contest participants acknowledge that the contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Instagram.

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Topics: study abroad, Instagram, Photo Content, Sara Hart

One Block Down

Posted by Gina McKlveen on Sun, Mar 20, 2016 @ 10:00 AM


(Source: Google Maps)

Feb. 16, 2016

So it’s week six here in London, which means my first block of classes are coming to an end. Since this is the last week of class for Block I, final papers have been consuming most of my time. It’s weird thinking about finals after just six weeks. I have a 2,000-word paper due for my history course and a seven-page paper due for my communications class.

My history class has consisted of learning about the social dynamics of World War I. This included topics such as shell shock, women in the workforce and war memorials. For our excursions outside of the classroom our history lecturer, Kelly, took us to see the Imperial War Museum and on a walking tour of London’s World War I memorials. After each excursion we had to write and submit a reflection of our experiences for a grade. Our previous assignment was a source analysis. I chose to analyze a World War I painting by John Nash, which expressed the reality of war on the battlefields. While researching this paper, I came across the flat where John’s brother Paul Nash (who was also a WWI artist) lived — it is just down the street from where I go to school every day. For such a big city, London can sometimes have that small-world feel. For this last paper, I am currently researching how the gendering of poetry affected the literature produced during WWI. The English major in me loves every part of this assignment.

Communication is a little different story compared to history. I’ve never taken a communication class before, so this class really took me out of my comfort zone. The lectures consisted of discussing music genres and the political movements that inspired them. So far in this class I’ve written two short papers, designed a website for street musicians and given a presentation about a music venue called The Old Blue Last. We had one excursion for this class to Camden Town where we walked around to all the different venues that famous musicians played before they made it big in the music industry. Our tour guide gave us the inside scoop of Amy Winehouse’s favorite bar and her unbeatable pool skills. Personally, I don’t know a lot about music, so finding a topic for this paper has been really challenging for me. I have a few days until it’s due, so hopefully inspiration strikes soon!

Another good thing about London is that quality food is always right around the corner and study spots are easy to find. It just so happens one of London’s best pizza places is right down the street from my accommodation. Pizza Union is every college student’s dream study spot. They are open late and you can order an entire wood-fired pizza for just £4.50. Tonight, I needed a break from my room so I took my laptop and headed to Pizza Union for a late night snack. I ordered a Classico, which is a warm dough ring filled with Nutella, and sat at a table until 11 p.m. writing my paper and enjoying life. One block down, two to go. 

*          *          *

On Friday I’m headed to Venice, Italy to spend eight days … stuffing my face with pasta and pizza … I mean touring the beautiful country. Stay tuned for more adventures!



 Classico-743221-edited.png  PizzaUnion.png

(Source: Google Images)

Topics: study abroad, Gina McKlveen, Pizza Union, music, Amy Winehouse, pizza, World War I

A “Variety & Quality” Afternoon at Borough Market

Posted by Gina McKlveen on Thu, Mar 17, 2016 @ 04:00 PM


Feb. 13, 2016

This weekend, instead of jetting off to another country, I decided to stay in London and do a little exploring. There is so much to do in London, but there is nothing like spending a Saturday afternoon at the Borough Market. The market is a short train ride away from my accommodation and was easy to find. Booths and vendors are located inside a covered pavilion, so even the rainy London weather couldn’t put a damper on the market atmosphere.

It was packed with people and lots of good food. I swear they had any kind of food you could possibly need or want. Oh and samples galore! Bread, pasta, fish, fruit, vegetables, meat, game bird, oils and vinaigrette, cheese, ice cream, fresh squeezed juices — they have it all! Always come to the market with a big appetite because you are sure to find something to satisfy your craving. For me, I was craving the most American food I could possibly find — burgers and donuts — and Borough Market did not disappoint. The burger was cooked to perfection and the vendor even had Heinz ketchup to make it all the more American.

After the burger I was in the mood for something sweet and I spotted a bunch of people carrying around these cream-filled donuts. They looked amazing and I just had to have one! It was a fried-dough-and-raspberry-filled-slice-of-goodness that makes my mouth water just thinking about it. Once I was finished stuffing my face, I returned home with a satisfied stomach and a happy memory of Borough Market. It was definitely worth the trip!

 Borough_Market_jars.png  Borough_Market_Produce.png


How cheesy!

 Borough_Market_Fruits.png  Borough_Market_Roses.png

 Burger.png  Donut.png

Lunch and dessert … so good!


Topics: London, Food, Exploring, Gina McKlveen, Borough Market

Life in London

Posted by Logan Nawrocki on Tue, Mar 15, 2016 @ 04:00 PM

Life in London is going quite swell. I have adjusted well to the completely different lifestyle and the time change. As I said before, time moves a little bit faster across the pond. It is already March. Spring has started in the UK and the weather has started to heat up. The city is starting to become more alive as the days go by.

I have spent the last few weekends doing some traveling outside of the country. A few weeks ago, I spent the weekend in Brussels, Belgium. The city was filled with breathtaking architecture, incredible food and fantastic monuments and statues. Brussels had a totally different vibe compared to London. The city kept a historic persona with a personal touch. Unlike London that is made up of so many different cultures, Brussels was uniform in its composition. However, the relaxed vibe made for a good weekend with even better friends.

This past week, I spent six days in Ireland. There are absolutely no words to describe my experience. The scenery was like something from a picture book. I stayed with family in the small town of Kinsale in Southern Ireland, and they could not have been more hospitable. The weather was lovely and the nightlife scene, filled with music and laughs, was very lively. Ireland was by far the coolest place that I have been; I cannot wait to go back.

For now, I am back in London, and cherishing every minute. Exploring new parts of the city has become something that I do every single day. The Tube is still my favorite thing about London and the food is still delicious. Until next time, as the Brits say, Cheers!


Overlooking the Mont des Arts in Brussels

Topics: London, England, London Underground, Logan Nawrocki, Brussells, Belgium, Kinsale

About this Blog

In Bearcats on the Road, students chronicle their lives while studying abroad or completing internships away from campus.

Michael Orange


How can you study abroad?

Learn more about studying abroad at Saint Vincent College

About the Authors


Emily Samara
Major: Psychology
Year: Junior
Location: Rome, Italy
School: John Cabot University


Logan Nawrocki is currently a sophomore management major at Saint Vincent. Employed by Under Armour, Logan enjoys playing golf and tennis in his spare time. He covers the Pittsburgh Pirates for Logan is a member of Saint Vincent’s pre-law society and the school’s chapter of Alpha Lambda Delta, as well as serving as an Admissions Ambassador for the college. After graduation, he anticipates obtaining his Juris Doctor degree and pursuing a career as a sports attorney. Logan is excited to spend the spring of 2016 in London and share his adventures with the rest of the Saint Vincent community.

Abby Bryant

Abby Bryant graduated from Saint Vincent College with degrees in Marketing and International Business in 2013. That June, she joined the Peace Corps to work as an Agri-business Volunteer in Panama, teaching business practices to local farmers. 


Gina McKlveen is a sophomore English and Studio Art double major at Saint Vincent College. She also intends on completing a Literature and Politics concentration. This spring semester she will be spending nineteen weeks in London, England, studying on a Literature and Culture track offered through the CIEE Global Institute in London. On campus, Gina is a member of the Benedictine Leadership Studies Program, a Culture and Entertainment writer for Saint Vincent’s student-run newspaper, The Review and is also involved in Saint Vincent’s Art Club. Outside of her studies, she volunteers at local food pantries, roadside cleanups, Relay for Life and the Canyon Heroes Project. Some of her broader achievements include being the Salutatorian of her high school graduating class and the first place winner in the American Legion’s statewide essay writing contest. After graduation from Saint Vincent College, Gina plans on attending law school and pursuing a career as a civil rights lawyer. 

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