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The Great Debate: Airbnbs vs. Hostels

Anyone who has studied abroad during the last decade is familiar with the lodging debate. Hotels typically get ruled out first, due to the price-per-space ratio. The question then becomes: where should we stay this weekend? A youth hostel or an Airbnb? Both have pros and cons. For anyone who has never hosteled before, these establishments are focused on providing space for large amounts of people (typically young travelers) with a little price tag. They are nothing fancy, supplying a place to lay your head and little else. While hostels tend to be cheaper per person than Airbnbs…you get … [Read more...]

Group Dynamics Within Travel

It is no secret that people can make or break a place. No matter if you are in the most beautiful city you’ve ever seen, if you don’t enjoy your travel companions, it won’t be the wonderful experience you want it to be. Traveling brings out the best and the worst part of people’s personalities like no other. So, choose your travel buddies wisely. Naturally, taking a trip to an unfamiliar place gives rise to leadership. Beforehand, planning has to get done. It is unwise to enter into a new country or even city without any prior knowledge of what there is to do and how to get around. The more … [Read more...]

A Haunting Visit to Normandy, France

I visited Normandy, France on a cloudless, crisp morning. The group I was visiting with had woken up before the sun and watched the day emerge through the windows on a two-and-a-half-hour train ride from Paris. Though I thought I had a firm grasp on the things I was about to see, I truly do not think that anyone understands what they will encounter when they experience the beaches and cemetery of Normandy, France. To give some background, the Allied Powers of World War II stormed the beaches of Normandy in an attempt to push back the German western front in France in what is known as the … [Read more...]

The Complete Picture of Adventure

Adventure. We all seek it in our own ways. For some it looks like roughing it in a tent for a weekend, for some sky-diving, and for some trying mysterious foods. Basically, anything involving both adrenaline and the outdoors falls into this category automatically. Adventure is a really attractive concept. Without it, wouldn’t life be pretty bland? The less shiny side of the coin, however, are the mishaps that come with the territory of adventure. The night spent sleeping on the airport floor in Dublin (personal experience) might not have been ideal at the time, but it is a night I’ll never … [Read more...]

Paris Express: What to See in a Short Trip

Without a doubt, Paris was our most ambitious trip to date. We went with a group of seven who wanted to see a variety of different things, and instead of compromising, we thought, “Why not do them all?” which is (almost) exactly what we did. Our days were spent on the go, dashing from one site to the next, hitting every tourist attraction except for Moulin Rouge, the Catacombs, and the Sacred Heart, walking in total around 45/50 miles over the course of three days. So, take it from me, when you’re planning a short trip to Paris, you must pick and choose; and, because I didn’t do this, below … [Read more...]

An American’s Guide to European Street Food

If you were to ask our study abroad group what was the one thing we were most excited about experiencing in Europe, without hesitation the answer would be food. I had heard the stereotype that American food was saturated with fats and tasted of plastic, but growing up knowing nothing else, I was skeptical of the difference that I would notice. Well, I noticed it. On weekend trips I have essentially been living off street food and take-aways, and have now developed a special relationship with each of them. Below, you’ll see some of my as well as my group’s favorite snacks (meals?) that’ll be … [Read more...]

America the Imperfectly Beautiful

This past weekend I traveled to Salzburg, Austria, which was a dream. The timing worked out perfectly enough for me to get to meet up with one of my friends who is doing a study abroad graduate program in Milan. Natalie is living in Italy this semester, I am living in the Netherlands, and we got to see each other in Austria…ah, the magic of Europe. She was talking about how her passport never actually gets checked for validity, because once people see “United States of America” written on it they’re like, “She’s good. We can trust her.” That got me thinking, my passport has not really been … [Read more...]

Brugge: A Quintessential Dream

If Brussels was not what I was expecting, Brugge was everything that I was in the best way possible. Our second stop in Belgium, we arrived on a Saturday morning, the sun just peeking through the clouds as we made our way to the Air Bnb. Once we had our things settled in, we took off on the town to explore. A walk through the town boasted canals and corridors, cathedrals and cobblestones lining every side of the street. The many city squares we saw displayed classic architecture and colorful flowers, doors and windows giving each building its own individual personality. Every corner … [Read more...]

Cologne: Nice to Smell, Better to Visit

I took German classes for five years, so to say I was excited about finally getting to go to Cologne (Germany’s fourth largest city) for a day is an understatement. I was stoked to get to witness the greatness of the Cologne Cathedral I had seen so many PowerPoint slides of, walk on the “Love Lock Bridge”, and test out my rusty German skills. The train ride was only 2.5 hours, making a day trip viable. As soon as I stepped out of the train station upon arrival, I was floored by the behemoth structure that is the Kölner Dom. I knew it was near the train station, but I did not expect to be … [Read more...]

Brussels: The Perfect Mix of Ancient and Modern

When we first planned a trip to Belgium, I was not the most excited. It was our first weekend of free travel, and after plans fell through for a visit to Copenhagen and a forecast of rain and clouds for the entirety of the weekend, Belgium was not topping the list of places I was optimistic to see. Arriving in Brussels at 8:30 in the morning on a Friday covered by a slight drizzle, our prospects seemed grey, literally and figuratively. I am so thankful that that is not what they turned out to be. Brussels was certainly not what I had expected in the slightest. I’ll admit, I bought into the … [Read more...]

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