One of the things I was most excited about in coming to London was the proximity to Europe. As an international studies student (and self-proclaimed wanderlust), I am most happy when I am traveling. Luckily, it’s fairly easy to get to the Continent for a weekend trip (or shorter).
A few weekends ago, a few friends and I decided to take a weekend trip to Paris! The most cost-effective choice was a coach bus, so we took an overnight coach to the city. Once there, we explored all of the major sites: Notre Dame Cathedral, the Latin Quarter, the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs-Elysee, the Spanish quarter, and Sacre-Couer Basilica.
We had an incredible day in Paris and ended up taking an overnight coach back. Such an efficient, albeit tiring, way of traveling! I just couldn’t get enough, so the next weekend, I decided to go to Amsterdam!
I ended up going by myself, which was a little daunting but I knew I could do it. I initially took myself on a tour of the city, which was surprisingly walkable. I saw Dam Square, Magna Plaza, Anne Frank’s house, Rembrandt’s house, and a lot of beautiful Dutch, Gothic, Renaissance, and neo-Renaissance architecture. I then headed over to the Museumplein, a plaza of some of the world’s best museums, all located in Amsterdam.A few months ago, maybe even a few weeks ago, I would not have believed myself capable of going to a foreign country alone, but I did it! There is nothing more self-affirming than putting yourself in a situation where you have to rely on yourself and be resourceful. Traveling is disorienting; immersing yourself in an entirely new culture, frequently an entirely new language, can be scary. Still, I think nothing helps the soul grow more than traveling, than learning about different cultures, than experiencing the way someone else lives. I can think of nothing I enjoy more.
I have learned so much already in my time abroad, not only about the new places and people I have interacted with, but also about myself. I feel as though I have grown so much in these few months. That’s the point of studying abroad, I think: to uproot yourself from familiarity and to discover that you can in fact thrive somewhere entirely new.