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Scotland and Ireland: A Modern Fairytale

Fairytales have always been a part of my life. My mom is Native American, and growing up surrounded by superstitions and old wives’ tales meant that I was always encouraged to believe in the imaginary. It is because of this intrinsic love of oral tradition and folklore that I became so attracted to Scotland and Ireland. The reverence and magic associated with the world that the Celts knew became not only a place to me, but a living, breathing entity that I could interact with. If you were to ask anyone what they would think of when it came to Scotland or Ireland, one of the first … [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...]

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...]

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...]

Destination Spotlight: Dover, Kent, England

Dover, Kent, England. In my entire life, I never imagined I would have the opportunity to travel to Dover.  But there I was, early one Thursday morning, packing to travel across the English Channel to visit the famous town. After class, my best friend and I made our way to Maastricht station, in order to board a train to Brussels, where we’d be taking the Chunnel under the English Channel. I had coffee in my system and food in my tummy, I was set. The train ride to Brussels went flawlessly, it was as easy as all our other train rides and we made it with enough time to get through … [Read more...]

Berlin: Where History and Contemporary Coexist

Berlin is a fascinating city, full of history yet surprisingly modern. Obviously, one of the main reasons people visit is because of the Berlin Wall. Divided into two halves after World War II, Berlin represents the conflict between freedom and communism— and the triumph of the former in 1989. Several museums document the numerous escape attempts people made to try to get out of the GDR (Communist east side) to the free side of West Berlin. Some hid people under the hoods of their cars, some built tunnels under the Berlin Wall, and one family even built a hot-air balloon to fly over … [Read more...]

London & Ireland: Best Spring Break Ever

After a long winter, it may have seemed spring would never arrive. For this group of student travelers Spring Break came just in time—a break away from classes for time to take in the sights of England and Ireland.  This week, we had our “spring break” due to Carnival, a week-long celebration in Maastricht. Many of us took advantage of the break by flying to London and Ireland. Though I called it a “vacation,” at some point, I realized that this whole trip is, in a way, a vacation. Yes, I am taking classes. But when you travel to a new country every weekend, it’s hard to think of … [Read more...]

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