While I was studying abroad in Germany I made sure to use the opportunity to travel to different countries and cities throughout Europe. Europe is a lot smaller than the United States and everything is really close to each other, so traveling to different places is actually pretty inexpensive. Coming to Europe was my first time traveling as an adult. One thing I wanted to do while in Europe is become comfortable with the process of flying to different places. I’m glad to say after all of my trips I am very comfortable with the whole process and I know exactly what I’m doing. Over my stay, I was able to travel to 6 countries. I went to London, Milan, Prague, Budapest, Vienna, and Madrid.
I actually went to London twice while I was away. Immediately the first thing I noticed in London was the extensive process at the airport to even enter the city. With the recent terrorist attacks that have happened in England, it makes a lot of sense why they would beef up their security. When I arrived at the passport control I was asked a multitude of questions about my trip there. In Germany, it was a lot more relaxed so it caught me off guard. The first time I went to London I came with friends that I met through the Drexel Program. We decided to come at night and spend a day trip there. Through the study abroad blogs I knew that Ebony was studying abroad in London and I reached out to her. She was kind enough to tell me a bunch of different things I could do while I was there. London was the first place that I traveled to while I was studying. At that time London felt like a little home away from home. To me, it seemed very similar to New York. Everyone spoke English, the people were j-walking in the streets, and the subway system was great. During the day trip, my friends and I had delicious food, saw Shakespeare’s globe, and floated atop the London Eye. It made me really want to come back to the city and experience it for longer.
The second time I went to London I went on my own for my 21st birthday. I’m not going to go into all of the details about my second trip there, but it did not go so well. Basically, everything I had planned failed. Some of it was because of forces out of my control, but a lot of the failure of the trip was due to my ignorance about London and how things work in the UK. I learned many lessons, but the main lesson was about taking the time to research properly before going to places I know nothing about. If I would have taken just 1 more hour to plan things out in more detail I could have saved myself a lot of money and a lot of trouble.
Milan had to be one of my favorite places during the travel. The food was amazing, and I honestly had the most delicious pizza I’ve ever had in my life. I visited major spots in Milan like the Duomo and Castello Sforzesco. My friends and I also went to a gelato festival where I was able to make friends with other college students who I still keep in touch with. On the last day in Italy, we saw that the weather was going to be very bad in Milan so we decided to visit a nearby city that did have good weather. The best option to go to was the city of Parma. Honestly, for my friends and I, there was really not a lot to do in Parma. However, my friends and I are really positive people so we made the most out of the city and still enjoyed our time.
Prague, Czech Republic; Budapest, Hungary; Vienna, Austria
During my Spring Term in Germany, there was a whole week of break for Holiday. So basically every one of the Drexel exchange students took the opportunity to travel as much as we could. A fraction of us decided to go to Prague, Budapest, and Vienna all in one week back to back. Prague was beautiful. The city was not affected during World War II so it’s wonderful architecture has still been preserved over all this time. The biggest thing we saw there was the Prague Castle which is absolutely massive. The view from the top of the castle overlooking the whole city had to be one of the most gorgeous views I’ve ever seen. In Budapest, my favorite part of the trip was visiting the Szechenyi Thermal Baths. It’s basically a huge spa within a palace. It was by far my favorite part of the whole week trip. I think it was because instead of seeing a lot of things it was an actual activity that I did. It wasn’t just sight-seeing, it was an experience. Vienna was the last stop and it was honestly very similar to Germany. The main language spoken there is also German. Sight-seeing wise it was not as great as the last two stops however I met a lot of amazing people that elevated my experience. The hostel I stayed at had a culture of friendliness. Everyone was open to meeting one another and I’m glad to have met friends that I hope to visit soon.
Madrid Spain was the last place I visited before coming back to the United States, and once again it became a solo trip. I learned a lot from my bad second experience in London and did thorough research so I could optimize my time there. This was also during the time the World Cup was happening. There are a lot of fans of soccer in Spain, so almost every T.V was tuned into the game that was playing. I made sure to book a hostel that had an atmosphere of friendliness between the travelers, and made sure I knew how I could get between all the places I wanted to go to. One thing I was warned heavily about in Madrid was that there is a lot of petty crime. I made sure to be very careful with all my things and luckily was not pick-pocketed or stolen from. On the train, I actually met fellow North Americans who were volunteering abroad. They were so kind and nice and they took me to a beautiful rooftop bar to see the sunset. The next morning I participated in a walking tour of the city and was able to meet even more friends that I later spent time with that night. The last morning I had in Madrid I spent walking to other beautiful touristy spots throughout the city. In Madrid a lot of the people I met did not speak English so I had to quickly learn some Spanish phrases to be able to get around and ask for things. This was a little bit of a shock to me because all the places I’ve been to there have been a lot of people who spoke English. But whenever I go to different countries I want to be less ignorant and really try to learn a lot about their culture and their language.
After all of these travels, I’m definitely going to be coming back to Europe hopefully sometime soon. There are still so many places I have yet to see. And now I am surely more equipped to make the most of time there.