Traveling Europe while Abroad

Studying abroad in Florence, Italy was a remarkable travel experience in itself. However, due to ample amount of time overseas and yearning to explore, I decided with conscious pre-planning and budgeting to set sail from my home away from home in Florence and discover new cultures in the European countries of Greece, Spain, and France.

My first adventure began with an overnight cruise to the island of Corfu, Greece. My friends and I booked the trip with the #1 European Travel Company Bus2alps, and had a memorable time on their planned excursion. During my time in Greece I jumped the waves in the Ionian Sea, devoured one too many gyros, and even attempted to learn a traditional Greek celebratory dance, key word- attempted.

Next on my travel list was a sporadic trip to Barcelona, Spain.  Two friends and I decided to book a flight with Ryan Air to what later became my favorite visited country outside of Italy.  My first stop in Barcelona was the warm beach on the Mediterranean Sea, followed by a night of shopping down the city’s most famous streets, “Las Ramblas.” While making my way through the city I viewed the enchanting Sagrada Família Cathedral, and thankfully discovered the Spanish delicacy, Paella, which quickly became my new favorite dish!

Before my time abroad came to an end, friends and I booked one last excursion to the French Riviera. Our primary bus stop was to the popular city of Nice, where I admired oceanic views as well as inspiring French couture. In between our destinations, my friends and I took a train ride to Monte Carlo, Monaco to gamble at the world famous Monte Carlo Casino, which consequently was a loss in euros, but a gain in wonderful memories! My journey ended in the city of Cannes, where movie stars around the world gather for the annual film festival.

These three trips fulfilled my experience abroad, and allowed myself to come home a more adventurous, knowledgeable, and cultured individual. Traveling while studying abroad is a factor I am most grateful to have experienced, and has inspired me to voyage to other new and intriguing destinations in my future.

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Student Blog Spotlight: Stacy in France

We’re enjoying Stacy’s adventures in the City of Lights, la belle Paris.

There are “ah ha” moments when our students come face to face with new cultures, and new surroundings. Stacy is navigating her way through a new place and a familiar language, with her best face forward. Earlier this month she offered up a  James A. Michener quote, “If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home.”

We couldn’t agree more. Follow along on Stacy’s French adventure: http://lostinfrenchtranslation.wordpress.com/

Experiencing a different lens; The cultural

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” -St. Augustine

When we leave the United States, we fly away from everything that we know as truth. Our family, friends, foods, language, beliefs and more are left behind. Other than our perspective, our culture just can’t fit inside that suitcase. It’s all left safely on the ground below the pilot’s wingtips. Where we’re headed, none of it would make sense anyway.

Students returning from studies abroad are ready to tell us all about their experiences upon their arrival. We often hear about perspective. We often hear that it has changed. Students tell us that after spending time outside the United States, they return with fresh eyes and new considerations for what was once taken for granted.

I enjoy hearing these stories, these tales of enlightenment. They remind me of similar instances I’ve experienced while abroad. They remind me that our way isn’t the only way. They remind me that our way isn’t always the right way.

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It was while lost in Greece, being led to my hostel by a woman whom I’d never met before, and with whom I could not communicate, that I recognized that hospitality only begins in the South.

It was when confronted with a French man who knew that I knew that he spoke English, but refused to speak anything but French, that I reconsidered the position of the Spanish speaker in the United States.

It was while reading about the latest Kathoey (transgendered) beauty contest winner in a local Thai newspaper that I acknowledged how much we really oppress particular genders and sexualities in the United States.

It was while drinking homemade wine with a Quechua family in the jungle of Ecuador that I truly realized happiness has absolutely nothing to do with how much or little one has.

It was while touring Cambodia that I understood circumstances can always be worse, and that smiles always do more than complaints.

It was while sitting in Office of Study Abroad that I heard a student say, “I learned to appreciate the small things in Italy, like sitting down for dinner. And not working through lunch.”

And I smiled.