where i been and what i did
Written by: Faith Costa
Studying abroad in Europe is amazing for many reasons, one of them being that it is very accessible to travel to other neighboring countries. You can fly to most countries in less than two hours and it’s easy to find great travel fares by flying with discount airlines like Easyjet, Ryanair and Vueling. I love studying in Italy and having the opportunity to travel to several Italian cities, but since it is so accessible, I have also had the opportunity to visit several other countries.
On Saturday September 17, my roommates and I took an early morning flight to Munich, Germany to go to Oktoberfest. We spent the day we arrived exploring the city of Munich, eating traditional German food and, of course, buying our dirndls, which are traditional Oktoberfest clothing.
On Sunday we woke up bright, put on our dirndls and headed to the Oktoberfest festival site, Theresienwiese. We waited in the rain outside the festival for 30 minutes before it opened at 9am and everyone started running to make sure they got a good seat in a tent. The tent we spent most of the day in was the Hofbräuhaus, where the majority of American visitors spend their time. In the tent there was food, live music, hundreds of people and of course beer.
We ended up spending about eight hours in the tent and really had the best time eating, dancing, meeting people and making memories. Overall, this trip to Munich, Germany may have been short, but I saw enough to be quickly captivated by the country and all it has to offer.
Getting to Paris, France has always been at the top of my bucket list, so when I realized how easy it was to travel from Italy, I was ecstatic. At the end of September, we had a week of autumn holidays and during this time, my roommates and I went to Paris. When planning our trip, we knew there was so much we wanted to do and see, so we fit as much as possible into the five days we were there. We were in Milan, Italy before our trip to Paris, so we took a late night flight from Milan to Paris on a Monday night.
On Tuesday, we woke up early and started our day by visiting a cute Parisian cafe by the Seine for crepes. From the cafe, we headed to the Champs-Élysées (the most well-known shopping street in Paris) where we browsed the shops before heading to the Eiffel Tower for our visit. Seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time in person was truly breathtaking and a memory I will remember forever.
During our visit, we had the opportunity to go to the very top of the tower and admire the breathtaking view of the city of Paris. Later that night we went to dinner at 6 New York for a traditional French dinner and stunning views of the Eiffel Tower from across the Seine. We ended the night by returning to the Eiffel Tower to watch it twinkle (it twinkles for the first five minutes of each hour from dusk to 11:00 p.m.), which was absolutely stunning.
The next day we had another early start as we were spending the day exploring the Palace of Versailles. The visit to the palace took about four hours, but it is so large that if we were to visit the entire property, it would probably have taken us another three hours. Overall the palace was so beautiful and I loved learning the history of Marie Antoinette and seeing where she once lived.
After spending most of the day at the Palace, we returned to the Champs-Élysées to take a closer look at all the shops and ended the evening with another French dinner where I tried the escargot for the first time and I loved it (it’s not as scary as it sounds!). The next day was our last full day and our busiest day so we made sure to start our day with an amazing breakfast at the famous Café De Flore where we indulged in buttery croissants and their hot chocolate rich and creamy.
After breakfast, we headed to Notre-Dame to admire the magnificent cathedral, then to Colonnes De Buren, a famous art installation created by French artist Daniel Buren. Our next stop was the Louvre Museum where we saw some of the most famous works of art in the world including the Venus de Milo statue, the Mona Lisa painting, the Winged Victory of Samothrace statue, the painting of Liberty leading the people, etc.
We then went from one museum to another; our next museum being La Gallerie Dior museum where we were able to learn about the history of Christian Dior and see some of his most unique and beautiful creations on display. Our last and final stop of the trip was the Arc De Triomphe before heading to our final Parisian dinner. Overall, my trip to Paris felt like a dream and I immediately fell in love with the city and its beauty.
The last and most recent place I traveled to outside of Italy was London, England. London was one of the places where I considered studying abroad, so when I decided to choose Italy, I knew that I always wanted the opportunity to visit London. We flew into London on a Friday afternoon and spent the time we had after arrival exploring the area around our hotel before starting to prepare for our dinner reservation at the famous Sketch Restaurant. Not only was the food amazing, but the dining experience was exquisite.
The restaurant was located in the SoHo area so after dinner we walked around and enjoyed the London nightlife before heading back to our hotel for the night. Just like our trip to Paris, we had a lot to do, so we woke up early to start each day to make sure we saw it all. We started our first full day at a local cafe where we had our first English breakfast. After fueling up and being ready to start the day, we headed to Tower Bridge where we took lots of pictures and admired the beautiful scenery. From there we returned to SoHo to experience it during the day and visit the London College of Fashion. We spent the majority of the day there shopping, exploring the streets of SoHo and of course eating fish and chips.
Another busy day ahead meant another early morning wake-up call. We started our morning walking around to see the Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben) and take pictures. After seeing Big Ben, we visited Buckingham Palace to watch the changing of the guards. Unfortunately it was raining so the changing of the guards we saw was a modified version but still an amazing experience. After the changing of the guards we hopped in a taxi to Notting Hill where we spent our day walking the streets of colorful houses and shopping in the cute boutiques and vintage stores. As always with our travels, the last day was by far the busiest.
We started our morning in a lovely cafe where we had coffees and scones before heading out to take the most London tourist photo we could think of…complete with a phone box. Once all our photos were taken, we headed to the London Eye, which truly offered the most amazing views of the city. Once our eye trip was over, we took a taxi to take us to The Parent Trap house (where they filmed the London scenes for the movie).
We took more pictures and then we started our walk towards Harrods, the biggest luxury store in the world. Once I arrived I was completely blown away by the displays and merchandising from each of the retailers. You could certainly spend hours inside the store in awe of everything, but we had a tight schedule so after about an hour in the store we took another taxi this time to Abbey Road (the zebra crossing iconic where the Beatles took the photo for the cover of their eleventh studio album Abbey Road). After recreating the album cover photo and shopping in the gift shop, we took one last taxi to our final destination of the trip, Camden Market.
Camden Market is an open-air market with hundreds of shops, cafes, restaurants and bars. We got to the market about two hours before closing so we didn’t get to see everything, but we were impressed with what we saw. It was yet another place where you could spend hours. Overall, I loved London and all of its beauty, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to check it off my to-do list.
If you are considering studying abroad, here are some reasons why you should. Traveling in and around Europe is easy, accessible and there are plenty of cheaper alternatives for those on a student budget. I have been studying abroad for about two months and have traveled more than I ever imagined. I made memories that will last a lifetime and saw some of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. So if you love to travel and are looking for a reason to study abroad, so be it! Do not lose sight of the study part!