The GoGlobal Blog

Category: Global Exchanges

Being an Airbnb host for the right reasons

Being an Airbnb host for the right reasons


I have traveled to Oslo, Norway three times now. The first time I stayed with an amazing couple with two kids. I paid 412 SEK ($50) for both nights, which I believe is reasonable. The price was definitely lower than it should have been based on the experience I had. Each night my friend and I came back, it was either talking all night or playing card/board games with our hosts. They also drove us to the city each day on their way to work. On Sunday, the wife (Nina) made us baguettes with over 10 spreads to choose from. Spreads are common to have with snacks and to use on baguettes, or crisp bread. A commonality in Sweden and Norway is food in tubes: kaviar, cheese, and dill spread. Also, we had homemade chocolate cake because it was Mother’s day. I did not know what to expect from booking my first Airbnb, but I was blown away.

They are such amazing hosts so I visited Oslo a month later with my brother and stayed 5 nights for FREE at their home. Again, each day consisted of traveling the city and each night was talking, board games, or card games. My brother is in SLU med school so he geeked out talking about Norwegian healthcare.

The wife is the main contact for all her Airbnb guests. What she wants most out of Airbnb is for her guests to be treated well on their first visit, so they come back and bring something from their home country. Yes, she has a motto, “if I like you on your first stay you don’t have to pay for any further visits, but you do have to bring something from your home country… preferably chocolate :).” Nina wants to hear stories from around the world, so she can visits those places later and experience the stories first-hand. She has been to 29 countries and she is 31 with a 8-4 job, 9-5 husband, and two kids 6 and 8 years old. How does she travel so much? Because it is easy to get away and know where to go when you visit people who were previously your Airbnb guests. I LOVE IT… to the point where I am debating renting out my other bed in my room, if that is even possible.

My “second” family, as I call them now, took me to their family cabin in Hemsadel, Norway. We went skiing all Saturday in the second largest ski resort in Norway. Previously, I only been on slopes that lasted at most 2 minutes. The longest slope here took 20 minutes to get to the very bottom. It was absolutely surreal. We had the 6 year old son with us, so we often took it slow. At one point, myself and the husband went off-piste and that’s where the real test began. I was toppling down the side of the mountains through fresh, powdery, untouched snow. I am hurting so bad three days later, I wasn’t able to go to the gym haha. I can now say I witnessed what real slopes are like, rather than the fake snow back around Chicago. Myself and the husband, 31 years old, had a 6 hour conversation into Sunday morning. What I found amazing is that someone who is 10 years older, from another part of the world, and a father could have such similar experiences and thoughts as I do… We are all humans in the end.

The purpose of this post is two-fold. One, it is to remind me how opportunities can rise from trying new things. I had no idea booking my first airbnb would snowball into so many experiences. Second, it is to educate my readers about how beautiful and exciting meeting new people is. Airbnb is an amazing platform to do so. It shouldn’t be about the money, unless you need it. If you have a part of your home that is vacant, try renting it out. There are a lot of characters in this world to make your world just as exciting to live in. The experiences are endless, if you choose to open yourself up to new experiences.

Pizza and Immigration

Pizza and Immigration

‘It is a privilege to be a resident of Sweden where people are respected regardless of religion, belief, colour, appearance and nationality,’

The idea for this post came from pizza. I love pizza and I guess residents of Sweden do to! It seems that on most corners you will find a pizzeria with a family name on the sign. I have tried about 4 places in Jonkoping and Tenhult. The style of pizza is definitely different from Chicago pizza. Your order is almost always a full thin-crust pizza and is not meant to be shared. Also, every pizzeria has about 30 combinations where some are radically different from anything I have ever seen before. I tried a pizza once that had marinara, bananas (common topping), pineapple, paprika and roasted peanuts… I was the only one who liked it.

I looked up and noticed who was serving me this delicious compilation and not once was it a native-born Swede. One pizzeria owner was interested in my English and we had a conversation about our origins (while he recommended the kebab pizza, kebab being one of the most common foods in restaurants). He told me how he migrated from Iraq to Sweden 27 years ago and opened his pizzeria doors 21 years ago.

Angelo: Do you like living in Sweden?

The owner: No, I miss home too much (long pause). You know, it is the motherland. How could I want to be elsewhere?

And if you read my last blog post, you would know why inside I was like “aww man why does everyone have to go breaking my heart?”

A lot of pizzerias are owned by immigrants mostly form Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Chilean and Iraq. They immigrated their “motherlands” in times of political turmoil. Many Chileans came during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet during the period 1973-1990. The Iran-Iraq war brought many from both countries avoiding a war they did not believe in. They were able to do so according to the Geneva Convention which granted many residence permits to Sweden.

‘I am proud to be part of a country that gives shelter to those in need.’

Sweden also became an asylum for many Syrians during the war zone that is occurring in Syria. Sweden has granted permanent residence permits to all Syrians and led to Syrians being the largest immigrant group in Sweden. Every fourth immigrant is from Syria.

The current situation is that every sixth person was not born in Sweden. Sweden has become an asylum for the right reasons. It is amazing to be able to see the diversity everywhere I look. It is not a new sight for me considering Loyola is similar with diversity, but still beautiful to understand.

The task for Sweden now is integrating refugees into all aspects of Swedish society. From the testimonies of refugees, it looks like all Swedes are excitedly willing to accept the challenge.

Thanks for reading and HEJDA (GOODBYE)!

quotes came from this website:

Sweden and migration

Escape to the Swiss Mountains

Escape to the Swiss Mountains

Hi Everyone!


From the moment that I came to Switzerland about a month ago, there has been almost zero time to relax or sit back. Weekdays are a constant balancing act between figuring out how to live by myself in a foreign country, adjusting to the academic system here, and making new friends. While weekends have been just as busy, as attempting to make the most out of every single minute of traveling isn’t always easy.

Therefore, due to the last few weeks being hectic for myself and everyone else, my group of friends and I chose to find somewhere where we could finally unwind. Luckily for us, finding a place suited for relaxation wasn’t difficult at all because Switzerland is filled with woods, mountains, lakes, and other serene nature attractions.

                           Villa Margharita

After only a little bit of searching, we chose Viznau, a tiny town of 1,000 people that is on a lake and encircled by vast mountains. Just to get there we had to take three different trains and a bus because of how remote the town is. To add to that, our villa for the weekend was a 45 minute walk from the town, which made it completely isolated. That evening and night that we spent at the Villa was exactly what I needed to recoup from the intensity of the prior weeks. All we did was appreciate the view, cook a big meal for all of us, and hang out. The whole time there wasn’t any sound but the one coming from our voices and the music we were playing. All in all, it was one of the most carefree days in my entire life.

The train that we took up to Rigi

I would’ve stayed there for forever if I could, but we had to be a little more productive in our touristic endeavors. Therefore, on Sunday we took a train from Viznau up to Mount Rigi, a popular mountain in the area. The train ride lasted about an hour and had increasingly more spectacular views the higher that we went up.




At the top of the mountain, we were greeted with the most spectacular view of all: a breathtaking panorama of mountains. We took it all in for about an hour, taking as many pictures as possible and trying to comprehend the beauty of what we were looking at.


To top off an already extremely relaxing weekend full of remarkable views, we spent the rest of the day in a spa on the top of the mountain. Not only was the spa itself much better than any I have ever been too, there was an outdoor heated pool that overlooked all of the mountains. 

The hard part of having such a calm weekend is going back to the busy life of an exchange student after. However, despite not always having much down time, these last few weeks have been some of the best of my life. Whether its trying to order food at a restaurant when the server doesn’t speak English, catching up on Finance homework, or being in a spa on the top of the mountains, I have loved it all.



First Trip to a Different Country

First Trip to a Different Country

Hallo aus der Schweiz! (Hello from Switzerland!)


One of the many perks of studying in Switzerland is its location in Central Europe. There are multiple countries that are only a few hours or less away, which means the possibilities for trips are endless. Last weekend, my friends and I decided to take full advantage of that by going to Konstanz, a small town in Germany and only a hour train ride from where we live.      


Unfortunately, Konstanz is right by the Swiss border, which means that it is very similar to what I’ve gotten used to in Switzerland. While studying abroad I hope to experience many different kinds of cultures and people while traveling and Konstanz didn’t provide much of that. There were many of the exact same stores that I see in Switzerland and the people even spoke with a similar Swiss-German dialect.

However, even though  I may not have gotten the full German experience that I craved, the town made up for that in multiple ways and it was more than a worthwhile trip. To start, everything was much cheaper than it is in Switzerland. I had already heard of Swiss people going to Germany just to grocery shop, but I didn’t think that there could be such a drastic change in prices. Luckily, our train ride back to Switzerland was late at night, which meant that we could save money on lunch, coffee, and dinner while in Germany. Not only did everything cost about half as much as it would in Switzerland, it was some of the best food and coffee I’ve had while being abroad so far. For Lunch and then later for coffee, we went to the most popular café in town called Pano. The food drew us in, but the intimate atmosphere of the place gave us no choice but to stay there for a few hours. To top off an  already amazing food day, for dinner we went to the most authentic German restaurant we could find and I had a Weiner Schnitzel. It was satisfying to come back to Switzerland that night without an empty stomach or wallet.


Aside from eating and drinking coffee, my friends and I spent much of the day walking around and trying to see as much of the town as possible. Konstanz was filled with fantastic architecture and streets, and it being situated on a lake didn’t hurt at all either. Half of the fun of traveling comes from just that, exploring the towns you go to and discovering various unique features. The other half of the beauty of traveling comes from being able to connect with the people that you travel with. I may someday forget some of the towns that I see while being abroad, but I’ll never forget all the memories I make. The day trip to Konstanz was filled with carefree moments that I’ll always remember.


Konstanz was the first of many possible day trips that I’ll be able to have while studying in Switzerland. However, for the meantime it’s back to school and living in Winterthur. I’m slowly starting to adjust to the Swiss system of academics and I’m thrilled to share my experiences from that standpoint in future blogs.


Till next time,





The Unexpected Trip of a Lifetime

The Unexpected Trip of a Lifetime


After arriving in Winterthur, the town that I’m living in, and quickly getting accustomed to the local area, my new friends and I decided it was time for our first trip. Since we only had the weekend and we hadn’t seen much of Switzerland yet, we chose to go to Luzern. Luzern is a small, scenic town in central Switzerland, and only about a two hour train ride from Winterthur.

Despite Luzern being a somewhat common place for people to visit in Switzerland, I didn’t expect much going into the trip. I’ve already planned many other trips to more popular tourist destinations  throughout Europe, so the quick visit to Luzern felt like more of a warm-up than a trip of a lifetime. However, I couldn’t have been any more wrong as Luzern ended up exceeding any expectations that I had and being a place I’ll always remember.

On Saturday morning, my friends and I arrived in Luzern with absolutely no idea what to do or what to see. Besides for the hotel that night and the train ride back, we hadn’t planned anything in advance.

When we started to walk around the town, I was immediately captivated by all of the views Luzern had to offer. Every single street was fascinating and we walked around the town for hours, only stopping to get sweets and coffee at a Café or to look inside one of the fancy stores that Luzern is filled with.

One thing I’ll need to work on in Switzerland is my dessert picture-taking skills

Besides having dazzling streets and being a shopper’s dream, the town also sits on a lake, with two famous bridges that go across it. We crossed the bridges multiple times without ever getting tired of looking at the incredible place that surrounded us. Most people likely just walk across the bridge once or twice, but the feeling that it gave me was something that I wanted to have over and over.

The bridges and all of the streets in the town were extraordinary and already enough to make the trip worthwhile, but that wasn’t even close to the highlight of the trip. The best part came when we decided to take a risk and venture into the unknown.

From the moment my friends and I got to Luzern, all of us noticed a white palace-like building that overlooked the entire town. The building looked like something straight out of a Disney movie and we took turns coming up with theories of what it could actually be. We eventually found out it was a hotel, but we still had no idea how to get up there or whether it was even possible. In the end, we decided to just figure it out for ourselves.

After trying to get up to the hotel a few different ways, we finally found a small trail that we thought led up to it. Thankfully, at the end of the trail was the hotel, but also the best view that I’ve ever seen in my life. My friends and I stood there for about an hour taking in the panoramic scenes of the entire town.  Not only did we get a view of a lifetime, we also went into the hotel and had coffee and dessert. Being in the hotel made feel like royalty, as it was just as grand and luxurious inside as it appeared to be from the outside. My friends and I sat there for a couple of hours and connected with each other, all while still being able to see the whole town from our table.  

It wasn’t until after the trip  that I looked online at what to do in Luzern. Ironically, I found lists filled with museums and excursions that we didn’t do and not a single mention of the hotel or the views from it. It made me realize that you shouldn’t always do what is advertised the most or what tourists usually do in a particular city or town. Sometimes, you have to take a chance because you never know what you could discover.

Aside from the trip to Luzern, day to day life has been tremendous as well. I’m currently writing this blog while having a Cappuccino in one of my favorite spots in Winterthur, Locanda Trivisano, after just taking a class in Portfolio Theory. The trip was truly memorable, but living here in Winterthur and being an exchange student is something I’ll hopefully never take for granted.

I look forward to writing more about my daily life here in Winterthur in future blogs and showcasing all of the aspects of studying abroad.

Till then,





First Days in Switzerland

First Days in Switzerland

Hallo Leute! (Hi Guys!)


After a long Winter break, I finally arrived in Switzerland on Wednesday to study abroad at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences. Although the main campus of the school is in Zurich, the business school and where I’ll be living is in Winterthur, a town of 110,000 people and a 20 minute train ride from Zurich.

Since moving in a few days ago, I’ve already made new friends from all over the world and explored Winterthur as much as possible. Winterthur is a cozy European town filled with many friendly people, coffee shops, and places to get delicious Swiss chocolate. I’ve quickly fallen in love with discovering new small side streets that are everywhere in the town and seeing what each has to offer.

Even though I’ll probably never get bored of walking around the town itself, the best part of Winterthur might be the scenery and nature that surrounds it. Twice I’ve gone on long hikes through the beautiful forest trails and taken in all of the sights. Both trails offered picturesque views overlooking the town and I was able to get an idea of how fascinating and vast the Swiss wilderness is. Hiking also provided a great way to connect with the people that I’ve met and make some great memories. 

Along with enjoying Winterthur, my friends and I also took the 20 minute train ride one of the days to visit and walk around Zurich. While Winterthur is more of a peaceful town where only locals live, Zurich is a bigger city full of attractions for tourists. For the most part we walked along Bahnhofstrasse, which is the equivalent of Michigan Avenue in Chicago. The street goes through the entire city and ends at Lake Zurich, a gorgeous lake that overlooks the city.

We decided to grab coffee and sweets at Sprüngli, one of Zurich’s most popular cafes. Luckily, we were one of the last groups of people to get a table and as we left there was a long line out the door. Sometimes famous places may be a bit too overhyped, but the coffee exceeded all of the expectations that I had. Even though we were in Zurich for much of the day, there is still a lot more to see and I’m excited to visit the city many more times as I study here.  

Tomorrow I begin the next step of studying abroad as orientation begins. I’m eager to meet even more people that are studying at the school and to begin to get a feel for the school from an academic standpoint. It will be intriguing to see how much things differ from Loyola and how I’ll be able to adjust.


Till next time!






“No, I didn’t go to the club… I have a dream to follow”

“No, I didn’t go to the club… I have a dream to follow”

“I have a dream to follow.”

This hit me hard, really hard. Which is why I wrote this spontaneously because I truly believe others can benefit.
I mentioned in my last blog that I live in a house with 20 people. I have not met them all nor have gotten to know everyone’s name.

I was making eggs and potatoes while my friend from Singapore and another guy (whom I’ve met but never got his name) from northern India were talking about start-ups. They were bouncing ideas off each other and I threw in some interjections about ideas I have. Once Erfi, my friend from Singapore, left it was just me and this guy who I will call “V” because his door tag says “V. ‘last name’.”

V: Did you go to “AKA” (the student-ran club) last night?
Angelo: I did, but was not a huge fan
V: Are you hungover?
Angelo: No because I did not drink that much
Angelo: Were you there last night?

And here is the beginning of the end.

V: No I did not go to the club… I have a dream to follow

This statement jumped right from subconscious to conscious and there was no way to forget it, yet he continued on with a leisurely conversation. After the conversation seemed to be done I told him that I really liked that statement, and then I was dug into an even deeper hole.

He said how he is a really busy man because he is doing a masters in a business related focus. He is taking a Swedish language course outside of the school, that from what I heard takes a ton of time. And he is working part-time for the Swedish postal service.

He told me how he used to love partying. To the extent that he was suspended from his school because of partying too much. I was taken back again because he did not seem like the type. The suspension was an awakening for him to do something better with his life. He then had another revelation, when his met his “girlfriend.” I put girlfriend in quotes because he told me how in his culture, there is no boyfriend or girlfriend. The moment you have sexual relations with someone is the moment you say that marriage is on the horizon. V said he was going to marry his “girlfriend,” no doubt.

V said that she is an orphan. She has no idea who her mother or father are. This enrages V’s parents and they do not want them getting married. V’s “girlfriend” has terrible asthma and extremely low red blood cell count. When she walks to school and back, her day is basically done concerning physical activity. He said she is dealing with a lot of health issues.

He still has a smile.

He said he is doing a masters at an international school, learning Swedish on his own, and making money part-time, so he can create a stable life for both of them.

If you made it this far, thank you for reading. This is what going abroad is all about. When the hole he dug for me finally reached bedrock, he ran out because he was late for a meeting. I was left with a plate of eggs and potatoes and another pile consisting of my thoughts that I could not eat to make disappear.

He spoke so purely that I do not think he understands the impact of his words. He spoke so casually, as if it was a regular topic. He was not trying to make me feel bad, or trying to get pity from me. He was telling the story of his past, and the story to unfold for his future. V has a solid dream that I know will be fulfilled.

You do not see or hear these kind of first-hand situations when you are in the same place you have always been and surrounded by people who have a similar background to you. At least I never have, which is why, at home or aboard, I always try to dig out deeper information so more of these opportunities to learn can arise. In this case, all I did was tell him that what he said was a really nice statement. And now look at where I am.


¿Qué onda, México?

¿Qué onda, México?

Hola! My name is Alex. I am studying abroad as an exchange student at la Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, and I am going to start my first blog post with a little bit of venting.

I already studied abroad for a semester during Fall 2016 in Heredia, Costa Rica with USAC. This was, by far, the best time in my life, which is why I decided to study abroad again. I knew this would be very different- my program at la Ibero is much more independent, I’m taking classes in Spanish, living in an apartment instead of with a host family, etc. I prepared myself for these differences (or thought I did) but also figured that I had already studied abroad and traveled before, so I felt that I knew at least the basics of how to live and travel abroad.

When I got to Mexico, everything I knew seemed to be thrown out the window. Leaving the airport, my Uber driver couldn’t find my apartment. When my roommate and I made it to our apartment, we found it absolutely filthy- apparently it’s not a thing to clean before you move out here. I kept getting stuck places the first few days because I had planned to just use the WiFi on my phone, but it’s not safe to hail taxis off the street here, so everyone goes everywhere with Uber- without a working phone, I couldn’t call an Uber. Getting a Mexican SIM card was one of the most difficult Spanish interactions I’ve every had. In Costa Rica, it’s safe to drink the water; here, I am still adjusting to carrying around plastic bottles and not having water accessible all the time. Even though I speak Spanish, classrooms that echo and professors that mumble make it nearly impossible for me to determine where we are supposed to find the homework for the next class. On the first day of one of my classes, which I really needed to take, the professor told me and a German student that we would almost definitely fail since Spanish is not our mother tongue. My roommate ended up in the hospital with a bad infection and my phone broke during the same day. I have felt wildly overwhelmed more than a couple of times here.

Pero, todo vale la pena- all of these difficulties are so worth it already. Despite how many troubles I have encountered and how much stress I’ve had, I can tell this will be so rewarding in such different ways from the last time I studied abroad. There are around 170 exchange students in my program, and only 20 of us are from the United States, meaning I already have friends from all over the world: Central and South America, Canada, Europe, Australia, and of course Mexico. I have been at events where five or six different languages are being spoken, and I’ve picked up a few Portuguese words (Brasilians say “cheers” by making the sound of two glasses clinking together, something like like “ching ching”- it’s very endearing). I’m already picking up some Mexican slang (que padre!). Even though it’s tough, I am forced to speak Spanish almost all day every day, and I know I will continue improving. Everything is so inexpensive here, so I feel quite comfortable financially even without working. My roommates, another girl from the U.S. and a guy from Mexico, are so so so supportive and wonderful. The Mexican people are truly the kindest I have ever met: I haven’t encountered a single person who does not go out of their way to help me with whatever I need and make me feel welcome here.

I guess my takeaway is that this is tougher than I expected. I made it through Costa Rica with almost no culture shock, but it hit me much harder this time. I am still so excited to be here and grateful than I am able to experience studying abroad again. I know I will continue to settle into this new life in one of the coolest cities I’ve ever seen.

Next time, I will hopefully have more adventures to share and less complaining to do. I can’t wait to see what else CDMX will throw at me!

From Jonkoping to Tenhult

From Jonkoping to Tenhult

Tenhult Big House
path near lake Tenhultasjon
Munksjon Bay
Tenhult Station

Welcome to my blog! I am attending the International Business School @ Jonkoping University in Sweden. The university is split into four schools: School of Health and Welfare, School of Education and Communication, School of Engineering, and last but not least Jonkoping International Business School. All 4 schools consist of around 10,000 students, of which around 2,000 are international students. I thought before I start posting about informative cultural or societal aspects of Sweden I would start with my journey to where I live to add some geographic context.

My university is in the city centre of Jonkoping. Among the students living in the city, many locals reside there because of the developing business scene. As a result some students, including myself, are made to live further away. I wanted this to happen to me because 1. I wanted to live in “the countryside” and 2. I wanted to travel so I could learn the area more quickly.

Alright, the logistics. From the university it takes 3 hours and 20 minutes walking. It takes 1 hour riding a bike. It takes 30-45 minutes depending on the time for the bus. It takes 13-25 minutes by train, which comes every hour. Lastly, it takes 2o minutes by car, however no one has a car.

Alright, now I took the train to Tenhult Big House where there’s approximately 20 international students. So far in my house I have met students from Singapore, Mexico, France, China, India, Czech republic, and Netherlands (informally Holland). Yeah, they were not kidding about being an international hub. In my exchange group of 150 students, there are about 70 countries represented. Having all these perspectives in one place is surreal to me. In 4 days, I have already broken down so many stereotypes I have heard and made additions to my global perspective. I am so grateful for an opportunity like this.

Thank you for reading! Anybody reading who is studying abroad in Europe, I created a Facebook group for students to connect, meet up, and share information while traveling in Europe. Here is the link:

Let me know if you are interested. My Fb name is Angelo Michael DeMarco.