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Looking Up

One of my favorite jokes to repeat while I’m traveling is, “I really like this ceiling. It’s not my favorite, but it’s definitely up there.” I loved it because the joke is cheesy and awkward, but mostly because it served as a reminder to actually look up and look around. Traveling to 12+ countries provides me the unique opportunity to not only experience art and history that I never thought I would have the chance to, but to understand and study people that I have never encountered. Far too often I would see tourists surrounded by the works of Michelangelo or van Eych, encompassed by some of … [Read more...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

10 Lessons Learned from My First Week Abroad

This semester I am fortunate enough to be studying abroad in Maastricht, the Netherlands. It is a quaint city in the southern part of the country. Although unfamiliar to me now, I am confident that it will feel like home by the end of this adventure. I have only been in the Netherlands for a week, but have already learned several important lessons; it doesn’t take long to spot the differences between America and Europe. I got to travel throughout the Netherlands for our group trip, specifically to The Hague, Delft, Amsterdam, and Zaandam, which was an incredible experience, thanks to … [Read more...]

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