It has been two weeks since I arrived in Europe. After a weekend in Amsterdam and a quick trip to Cologne, Germany, I have finally settled into my new home: Maastricht, The Netherlands.
5,871 miles – the distance between Seville, Spain and my home in San Diego. No matter the distance, the thought of life back home will always prevail and make one appreciate certain tendencies most might take for granted.
As I write this on my final flight back to the U.K. from Berlin, I can’t help but reflect on all the experiences I’ve had and the people I’ve met these past few months of being abroad. I’m blessed to have a group of women here who share the same love for knowledge, adventure and (most importantly) incredible food as me. I now have friends from the U.K., the Netherlands, Norway, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark and Australia. I only hope they’ve grown from me half as much as I’ve grown from them.
My first actual winter, what a cool experience! (see what I did there? 😉 )
Christmas is just around the corner and it is getting cold here with snow falling pretty often. But throughout the country of Germany, there are many towns that host a Christmas Market (Weihnachtsmarkt). They are unlike anything I’ve seen in the U.S.
What are weekends for? When you’re in Europe, the best way to spend a weekend is in another country! This past weekend we took a flight to Italy and visited the city of Florence. It was an absolutely incredible experience and worth every minute. For the next four weekends I will be packing my bags and visiting a different country each weekend. With that in mind I thought I’d share some insights and tips I have gained to help anyone who is planning on studying abroad.
Over the weekend, I traveled to arguably one of my favorite places in Europe: Vienna, Austria. Austria is a German speaking country in central Europe that is known for its lovely café culture, being the center of many art movements, and being home to classical music and picturesque mountain ranges. However, as a newcomer to this land of mountains, I had no idea what really set it apart from Germany, which is also home to some of these things. Turns out, Austria is more than the Canada to Germany’s United States.
Proper pub food should be enjoyed from a pub! That’s what my British friend told me when I mentioned that I absolutely needed to try every traditional British meal during my time here. I’d like to think I live a pretty healthy and active lifestyle, so going out to eat is not something I do often. However, this is definitely as much of a need as a want.
Last year, the United States had an election — for better or for worse. It was quite an emotional time and it occupied every facet of our lives for a year. During the last fall semester, I had made friends with exchange students from Germany and they were quite surprised at how prevalent the election was in the media and on campus. (They would later do a road trip to the inauguration). Now it was my turn to see a foreign election, but in Europe!
It’s been a month since I first packed up the necessities of my life and traveled across the country to live in an unfamiliar place. To me, college has made me realize that home really isn’t about the place I grew up or the feeling of familiarity I get when I walk into my room. To me, home is more the feeling of comfort I get when I am with the people who are part of my life. So when I first arrived in Spain, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to find that here.