Reflecting on My Trip

100_6698The month I spent in Europe was everything I expected it to be and more! While from the start I knew my trip was going to be an adventure I never could have guessed the impact that it had on my life. While preparing for the trip I was terribly excited and also quite terrified. This was my first time leaving the country and I didn’t know what to expect. In all my years of foreign languages classes we have talked about differences in culture and the concept of culture shock but I realized it was something better experienced that simply speculated.


2013-05-25 11.10.55When Claire and I decided to make our first stop Rome my fear was amplified but so was my excitement. We knew Rome was going to be a culture shock! And it was! The Italian people did not understand us. At first I found myself wanting to talk to them like you would to someone hard of hearing. Speak louder and more clearly. This method did not work. Luckily we managed to navigate Rome and communicate enough to enjoy our visit.


100_6565My month in Europe gave me a lot of confidence. All of the challenges I was able to overcome really amazed me. I have never felt so independent. As crazy or cliché as it may sound this trip really helped me to understand just exactly what I am capable of achieving. I feel empowered. I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to spend the time I spent abroad. I tried new things. I met new people. I went outside my comfort zone. I experienced life like I never had before. Literally every day was something new and exciting. This was a great trip.



28 Days Abroad

I left Missouri May 21st. My first stop was Rome, Italy, where I spent 4 days visiting as much as was possible in such a short period.  My next destination was Paris, France, where I was lucky enough to have 14 days’ worth of adventures. The next stop was Caen, where I would stay for 5 days. My final European destination was London and I was there for 3 days.  I returned to Kansas City, where I came from, June 17th. These 26 days plus the 2 days I spent on airplanes and in airports are my 28 days abroad.

Claire and I visited  St. Peter's Square

Claire and I visited St. Peter’s Square

Rome was an experience, to say the least! When Claire and I arrived in the airport we were immediately stricken by the feeling that Rome would be a challenge for us. Even though Claire can speak some German and I can speak some French the only four words we really knew in Italian were ciao, arrivederci, grazie, and scusi. While hello, goodbye, thank you, and excuse me are very important phrases to use, there are certainly many more words and phrases necessary for successful communication. Although we spent 4 days isolated and challenged we learned a lot and we saw some amazing sites. The Trevi Fountain, the Vatican, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Pantheon, the Roman Forum, and countess other wonders.100_5952

Once we arrived in Paris things seemed easy!! Maybe this was because I speak some French, or because most of the people we encountered speak English really well. The simplicity of navigating the city, thanks to its well-developed public transportation, surely enhanced our experience. Regardless of the reasons, Paris was a lot of fun since day 1.

Paris! The city of lights, love, and romance. There are certainly a lot of lights here, and surely plenty of public affection. However, above all, Paris is a city like most any other. The population of this great city is over 2.2 million people.  Just like Chicago, New York, or even Rome, Paris can be quite dirty despite its idealistic and beautiful reputation. Also, Paris smells. That being said, I found Paris to be wonderful!100_6319

There are so many distinct parts to Paris. Each neighborhood offers something new and usually exciting to explore. There were seemingly endless opportunities there whether it was a day exploring different museums or a night roaming to different clubs and bars. Courtney and I discovered that the first Sunday of the month all the museums in Paris are free to enter so we tried our best to take advantage of this. We were going to museum hop. Sadly, we only made it to one museum that day because we got caught up in enjoying the exhibits for VanGogh, Monet ,Renoir, Duras, and Georges Seurat that we never made it to another museum. It was awesome!

Caen, which is in northwestern France, was a very different experience from Paris. Although it is a very large city it had a more of a rural feel to it. The hotel where we stayed only had wireless internet in the lobby. We arrived in Caen on a Sunday when nothing in France seems to be open. Plus the public transportation stopped running much earlier than it did in Paris. I did not like Caen at first, but seeing the D-Day beaches and learning more about the battles that occurred there absolutely made the trip. Being in such beautiful places while imagining all the terrible things that happened there was just eerie.IMG_0774

London was the final destination in my adventure. Everyone is this city is super polite and talkative. Everywhere you go people want to talk, and they are immediately eager to help you have as much fun as possible. My favorite part of my visit was playing football in the park and hanging out there for hours.IMG_0686

Overall this trip has been a really great experience. I feel like I have had the opportunity to experience many new things and meet new people. Airports and buses seem to be a wonderful place to talk to people and learn about where they are from. Even just hanging out with the different people from my own campus was awesome! I got to interact with people I may have never crossed paths with had it not been for this trip. I also feel like a pro at traveling now. Most things that could go wrong on this trip have for me at some point. I experienced lost luggage, a flight delay, a weather delay, a terminal closed due to suspicious unattended baggage, a missed flight, and I have slept in an airport twice now.



The view from the top of Montmartre, in front of Sacré-Cœur. Absolutely beautiful!

The view from the top of Montmartre, in front of Sacré-Cœur. Absolutely beautiful!

Paris is a huge city! In order to run more effectively this large city is split into twenty arrondissements municipaux which are really just smaller administrative districts each with their own mayor. Each of these arrondissements has its own culture and personality. This is especially true of the 18th arrondissement, which is on the outskirts of the city and also the home of Montmartre.

Montmartre is the name of a 130m high hill plus the surrounding neighborhood and it has definitively been one of my favorite parts of Paris thus far. Historically speaking, in the context of war, which is a large portion of our class, the height of this area has played greatly into its importance strategically in many wars throughout French history. The view of Paris from the top is breathtaking. I would even say it rivals the view from the Eiffel Tower. It is also very well known by the presence of Sacré Cœur since it was completed in 1914, where again the height was significant in making this hill a wonderful location for such a holy place.  [Read more…]