One of the main advantages of studying abroad in Europe is the convenience of travelling to other nearby or Schengen countries. Within the Schengen area, there is no border control, so there is no need for a separate visa for each country. It is also very helpful to create your university class schedule in a way that you have a long weekend or some days free to travel.
Another great reason to travel is that flights are very cheap within Europe. I usually fly Ryan air and I have found flights for 21 euros! Skyscanner is a good app to lookout for cheap flights.
My study abroad program has almost come to an end, and I have visited 7 countries and each country has given me a new learning experience and opened my mind up in many ways. Some countries I also travelled solo which was in a way, a life changing experience. At the start of my study abroad program, I was nervous to travel solo. For most of my trips, I was able to find friends who also were interested to join. But for some trips like the ones to Amsterdam, Azores and Budapest, my friends were not available that weekend and our plans did not coincide. So I was forced to travel by myself and I am glad that I did. Solo travelling teaches you to be more attentive and gives you confidence. After solo travelling to Amsterdam, I was not nervous at all to travel by myself to Budapest.
This was the first weekend trip I took during my study abroad and we had so much fun. My favourite part about Barcelona was walking around the streets and trying out some Spanish food. We had also checked out the famous architecture by Gaudi, which are La Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, Casa Batllo and so many more. Barcelona being a coastal city, had amazing beach views and so we had spent some time by the beach. And we ended our day meeting up with some Drexel students who were studying abroad in Barcelona! We had taken a train to and from Madrid and Barcelona as it was only a two hour ride.
This was my first time and it was very memorable. I had two days in Paris but still managed to see most of the city. My favourite part of the trip was seeing the Eiffel Tower sparkle at night. My friends and I also took a boat ride along the river Seine and we got to see the Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower and other beautiful buildings from the river. And of course, when in Paris, we had to try out as many croissants possible. We looked for small family owned bakeries rather than the bigger and more touristy ones and we were not disappointed! The day ended with a beautiful sunset by the Louvre and there was live music which felt great to listen to. Paris is a huge city and we tried covering as much as we could, but I would love to go there again.
My trip to Amsterdam was my first solo trip! I took a day trip to Amsterdam from Paris. It was a very charming city and everything was very walkable. I enjoyed seeing the trams and people biking on the road. There were several canals running throughout the city and I had tried out a lot of Dutch food. One of my favourite things about travelling is trying out local foods and in Amsterdam, there are several highly recommended spots. I had waited one hour in line to try the famous Van Stapele cookie and it was worth the wait. I also tried out the truffle fries, apple pie and stroopwafels! I also got to see some of the main sites like the Anne Frank house and some of the museums.
I would say, this is definitely one of the top countries I hit so far. I enjoyed every minute of this trip and I had travelled with two friends from South Korea, whom I’d met during the first week of study abroad. We took a four day trip and saw so many cities in Swiss. I had visited the Swiss alps and the views were truly mesmerising. I bought a Jungfrau pass and we visited all the cities in the Jungfrau region. Most people who visit Switzerland only visit the bigger cities like Zurich, Bern and leave out the smaller villages which are the most picturesque and serene parts of Switzerland. My friends and I stayed in Interlaken, and we visited Lauterbrunnen, Grindelwald, Eiger glacier, Bern and Zurich. Apart from the Alps, I particularly loved Zurich as it was such a lively city. Another highlight was the cheese fondue we had for dinner. Switzerland is definitely very expensive compared to Madrid, but the breathtaking views of the Alps make it worth the cost.
Portugal, being so close to Spain, was too near to not visit. I took a weekend trip to Lisbon, and once again had so much fun in the city! The city has a very hilly terrain and we had to walk up very hilly slopes which was quite an experience. We had spent most of our day walking up to viewpoints to get good views of the city overlooking the ocean. We also did some sightseeing and visited the Torre De Belém, Padrao dos Descobrimentos, and so much more. Lisbon is full of colors and every building is a different color. I love how cheerful the whole city is. The highlight of my trip was trying out Portuguese snacks. Natas are Portuguese egg tarts and is also now my new favourite!
The Azores are Portuguese Islands in the Atlantic ocean. This was my second solo trip and I was told that to travel within the island, I was required to rent a car. I was nervous about that part because I wasn’t comfortable with driving in a new country. However, in the Azores, I was fortunate enough to meet a group of solo traveller whom I car-pooled with and explored the Island that way! I also joined them on many beautiful hikes and the views of the island were pristine, untouched and scenic. It was a very refreshing break.
I do have a few more trips planned before I return home, and I hope to blog those as well! I enjoy travelling and I am so grateful for this study abroad opportunity that Drexel offers. Just as how important education is, I believe travelling is also important and is a great way to open you up to so many cultures.