Study Abroad: Conclusion

To the city that stole my heart, you will be missed. Although I don’t know when we will meet again, I think a little piece of me will always be in Edinburgh. I adore this city and all it has to offer and it breaks my heart knowing that I must leave it.

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Ok so this post marks the official end of my study abroad journey. I can’t believe that my time abroad is coming to a close, but I am excited that I got the most out of my my last few weeks here!


In that past 4 months I have traveled to 11 different countries: France, Austria, The UK, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Ireland, Switzerland, Italy and Spain!

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I have learned so much in just under four months in Scotland. I can confidently say that now I can…

  1. Hear different “British” accents and have some idea where they are from.
  2. Successfully pack 4 days worth of clothing in a small carry-on backpack
  3. Navigate through the Edinburgh airport early in the morning
  4. Cook for myself- sort of- still working on that one
  5. Cross streets in the UK by looking Right then Left
  6. Get creative with my limited wardrobe
  7. Search for cheap flights on skyscanner like a boss
  8. Budget my money
  9. Navigate through new cities with the help of google maps offline areas
  10. adapt to the UK school system

 

IMG_0740.JPGNow, clearly I am no expert on all things study abroad, but my time in Scotland has given me a new perspective. This semester has helped me take a step back from the Georgetown bubble and reevaluate what is really important to me. I have gotten to experience things I never imagined I would and met some amazing people along the way.

Thanks for keeping up with me on my crazy Scottish adventures!

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Weekend Trip: Milan

So now for the second leg of my pre-finals trip! After a early morning train from Geneva, we arrived in Milan!

I am so happy that I was able to visit Italy this semester because I took a trip around Rome, Positano and Capri with my family a few summers ago. I loved exploring Italy and couldn’t wait to see what Milan was like.

The trip got off to a rocky start when one of my friend’s wallets was stolen on the metro on our way to our air b&b. Fortunately she still had her passport with her and kept a great attitude the whole trip! Shout out to Greer Richey for being a true superstar (check out her blog about it here).

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So now for some good stuff: Milan was incredible! Seriously one beautiful city. Our Air b&b was in a great location, right next to the Duomo and it was super easy to walk everywhere around the city!

We spent a good amount of time walking through the Galleria and admiring the designer stores. It is true folks, Milan is the fashion capital of the world for a good reason. Although the prices were way out of my budget, I had fun looking at the couture fashion.

 

 

We then walked to the Sforzesco Castle and meandered around the grounds. My favorite part was the architectural juxtaposition in Milan. I walked past modern skyscrapers and ancient ruins all in one day! We took some time enjoying nature in Sempione Park, which reminded me a lot of Central Park in New York City.

Walking through the park we ended up at the Arco della Pace. No, these pictures were not taken in Paris! Although at first glance the arch looked very Parisian, this was in fact constructed in 1838 and its origins can be traced all the way back to ancient Rome!

So a thing that we do in all European cities is, we climb things! Yup, just like in Geneva, my friends and I decide to wake up early on Monday morning to climb the 919 steps of the Duomo. The view was amazing from the top and made this one of my favorite things I have climbed in Europe.

If you visited Italy and didn’t take a picture of your food, did you even go? Well, I unfortunately ate most of my food so fast that I forgot the all important food picture. Instead I only have this one pizza picture, but let me assure you that the food in Milan was spectacular! Seriously, after eating Italian food in Italy you can never go back to Dominos, at least not right away!

Well, that is it! My semester abroad is winding down, but I still have a few more trips planed, so stay tuned!

Day Trip 4: Ferney-Voltaire, France

On Saturday we decided to venture out of Switzerland into France for a little fun!

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After only a 30 minute bus ride we crossed the border into the quaint french town of Ferney-Voltaire. We spent the next several hours exploring the world famous farmer’s market and eating tons of free samples.

I struggled to remember my Middle School level french, but managed to kind of communicate with the vendors. After a few failed attempts to ask questions in broken french, most of the vendors spoke English to me, but at least I tried!

With only 3 euros to my name, I set out to accomplish the classic french market lunch- bread and cheese!

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Being the bargain hunter that I am, I somehow managed to barter with one of the vendors (in French!) and got brie cheese and a fresh baguette for only 2.70 euros!

Pro Tip: All prices are always negotiable, even in France, so be confident and try your hand at some good old-fashioned bartering, who knows, you might save some money!

After a successful french lunch, we headed back to Geneva to explore the city for one last time before we sent off for Italy the next morning!

Weekend Trip: Geneva

So in typical study abroad fashion, while everyone was spending hours in the library studying, I spent my revision time traveling.

This was one of the longer trips I have been on: we left for Geneva on Friday morning, took a train to Milan on Sunday morning, and flew back to Edinburgh Tuesday afternoon.

The city of Geneva is situated around the curve of the beautiful lake Geneva, and in the middle sits the Jet d’Eau. This fountain shoots 130 gallons of water per second 460 ft in the air.

We spend the weekend exploring the city, but by far my favorite part was climbing the St Pierre Cathedral. Once we got to the top we could see all of Geneva around us, and the sky was so clear we could even see the Alps in the background. We couldn’t have asked for better weather, and if you look closely you can even see a bit of a rainbow by the Jet d’Eau

No only was the view of the city beautiful, but the architecture of the Cathedral was not too shabby as well. I loved the way the sun was shinning into the building and reflecting off the windows!

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I know what you are thinking, oh my gosh, is this the famous Last Supper painting? But wait, isn’t that painting in Milan, and you are in Geneva? Well, some of us didn’t get to go to see the Last Supper in Milan, so we decided to recreate it in Geneva, what do you think, the resemblance is striking right?

Fun Fact: The European headquarters of the United Nations is in Geneva!

Other Fun Fact: There is a statue of giant a 3 legged chair in Geneva!

Both of these facts a equally interesting, for different reasons of corse, but did you know the link between the two? The Broken Chair Statue, which stands in front of the Palace of the United Nations, symbolizes the plight of landmine victims and encourage States to commit themselves to the prohibition of cluster munitions.

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I had a great weekend in Switzerland, now it is off to Milan!

Stay tuned for my next day trip and weekend trip blog posts!

Things No One Tells You About Studying Abroad in the UK

Ok, so I’ll admit that most study abroad blogs (mine included) focus on the beautiful, crazy, amazing adventures and glorify studying abroad. Yes, I have loved my time abroad, but there are a few things that most people gloss over when writing their blogs. So here is a list of things no one tells you about studying abroad in the UK:

  • There is a lot of planning involved- you don’t just magically go places on weekends, it is up to you to sort out all the details about transportation, lodging, food and so on- Google docs and skyscanner will become your best friends!
  • You actually have to study- yes as silly as that sounds, you will always be a student first and a world traveler second.
  • You will need to seriously budget your money- know your preferred method of payment and check with your bank about foreign transactions fees, these can really add up
  • You will miss things at home- just because you aren’t there doesn’t mean that your friends and family pause their lives. You will miss family holidays and school events and that can make you very homesick
  • Senior Housing- you will have to sign leases while abroad and it can get very complicated
  • Coordinating with friends in different countries is hard, but make time to do it
  • It is ok to be homesick and it is also ok to not want to go home
  • It can get really cold here really fast- remember a warm coat or two
  • Don’t expect to become an expert in four months- take your time being a tourist and don’t be ashamed of it
  • Planning on celebrating Thanksgiving with some good old pumpkin pie? think again, it is extremely difficult to find canned pumpkin in the UK
  • You will never get used to how early the sun sets in the winter
  • Cross the street will always be a dangerous adventure- they drive on the other side of the road remember
  • Even if the UK seems similar to the US culture wise, the UK school system is much different!

Well those where just a few little tips that I think are helpful for anyone planning on studying abroad in the UK. But don’t let this scare you, I have had a fantastic time in Edinburgh so far and wouldn’t change it for the world!

Weekend Trip: Dublin

This weekend concludes my weekend trips for the semester, but have no fear, I have a few week-long trips coming up at the end of December before my exams start.

Oh, also, my phone is officially broken, so shout out to my questionable ipad pics!

Friday

We arrived in Dublin early Friday morning. After a somewhat confusing bus ride from the airport to our accommodations (shout out to Cat for being the best unofficial airb&b hostess ever!) we dropped off our heavy backpacks and hit the city!

Despite the freezing cold weather we developed a great strategy of wandering around the streets and popping into any nearby store when we couldn’t stand the cold. We walked all around Dublin on Friday, here are a few highlights:

Trinity College

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Trinity College was beautiful! Although I only got a chance to briefly walk through the campus, I can imagine it would be amazing to study at!

Temple Bar

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The temple bar area of Dublin was a bit touristy, but equally interesting. Walking around the area I could hear live Irish music and see a bunch of cool shops. Although I did not actually go into the Temple Bar (I went there at 2:00 in the afternoon) the outside was iconic enough.

Grafton Street

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Grafton Street was in full Christmas swing! I loved walking through all the lights and seeing the street performers.

Ha’penny Bridge

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This little bridge was stunning (and very popular). In fact, it was so busy, I found it really difficult to get a good picture on it, lol, we will just have to pretend the people in the background aren’t there.

Saturday

After some well deserved rest, we spend the entire day on Saturday at the Guinness Factory.

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When I say we spent all day there, I mean it. With over 5 floors and endless history Guinness was truly inspiring. I had no idea how important Guinness is in Ireland and loved learning about how it has expanded over to to be a global brand. We even got to watch traditional Irish dancing on one of the floors in Guinness. My favorite part, not including the gift shop of course, was the top floor. You get an incredible view of all of Dublin through the glass walls of the top floor bar.

We had a 6:30 AM flight Sunday morning back to Edinburgh, and I am still quite groggy from the lack of sleep, but it was worth it!

Stay tuned for some of my next blog posts about more adventures!

Day Trip 3: Cambridge

On Sunday I took a day trip to Cambridge before I had to head back to Edinburgh that night.It was nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of London city life. On the hour long train ride from King’s Cross to Cambridge station I had time to reflect on my weekend and take a much needed nap.

Before I talk about my train journey, let’s talk about world famous King’s Cross station.  Yes I saw platform 9 3/4 and all the magic is has to offer. There is even a Harry Potter gift shop next to the platform with a wand shop resembling Olivanders. I had a blast being transported into the magical world of Harry Potter even if just for a few minutes before hoping on my train.

So back to the Train:

There is something so peaceful about traveling through the English countryside on a train. I even was inspired to read a few more chapters of Jane Austin’s Sense and Sensibility before I dozed off to sleep. After more than two months abroad, having taken subways, buses, train, planes and even a few boats, traveling by train is by far my favorite!

Enough about locomotives, when I arrived in Cambridge it was unfortunately raining heavily. Now I am no stranger to the rain, but this rain was something else. I even had to abandon my umbrella efforts at some points during the day due to the combination of freezing rain and gusting winds. But despite the ‘typical’ English weather, I persevered and started off the day explore the most beautiful University on earth!

 

With no map and no clear plan for the day, I call this section “Tori’s All-Access Guide to Cambridge” also known as the “walk through the open door and see what is on the other side” exploring method. I was very successful with this plan of attack, because most the the doors and archways I randomly walked through lead to spectacular courtyards and buildings.

Sorry Georgetown, step aside, because Cambridge, even in the rain, was breathtaking. The winding streets with little shops in combination with the regal buildings and fall foliage was amazing.Cambridge University is made up of 31 colleges dispersed all over the little town each with a self-contained courtyard and garden area.

After a beautiful walk across an old bridge above the River Cam, I strolled through a little park area. I couldn’t help but get inspired in Cambridge, I mean how could you not in such a beautiful place! I imagined all the brilliant people who studied here and all the geniuses to come.

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I absolutely loved my visit to Cambridge, and who knows when I will be back, there is always grad school right?

 

 

 

 

London Calling

This weekend I traveled to London!

London is a BIG city, in fact it is the biggest city in all of Europe. After 2 1/2 days I walked a total of 35 miles all over London. My feet are killing me, but I had a blast this weekend!

I got to London on a rainy Friday afternoon so I took the time to do some indoor sightseeing.

Friday

The British Museum

This was by far the coolest museum I have ever been to! It was a dry space away from the english rain and so much more! I could have spent hours there if I had the time.

The British Library

This is not your typical library. It houses more than 150 million books as well as many original manuscripts  such as Jane Austin’s Persuasion and Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre.

Saturday

Saturday proved to be a beautifully sunny day! Yes, I even put my sunglasses to good use walking around the city. And boy did I walk, wanting to be outside as much as possible I opted to walk everywhere on Saturday rather than use the underground metro. In total I walked 14 miles!

The Many Colleges of London

London is full of Universities! University College of London,The London School Of Economics and King’s College to name a few!

The Royal Exchange

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Being the economics major that I am, I had to visit the Royal Exchange. I am sure that some day I will understand what really goes on behind those doors, but until then I think I should take a few more classes to clear up my confusion 🙂

St. James’s Palace

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This red brick palace was more modest than Buckingham, but just as interesting. And I captured the famous London black taxi in my photo!

Covent Garden Market

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This market was full of handmade crafts and delicious foods! Like many parts of London it was decorated in true Christmas fashion.

Somerset Palace

I walked through the Somerset Palace courtyard while Christmas preparations were underway. They were in the process of hanging ornaments on the massive tree and construction an iceskating rink!

Guildhall Yard

 

Home to a church, an art gallery, and many, many Union Jacks! I loved walking around Guildhall Yard and taking in the true culture of London!

Big Ben

If you didn’t take a picture with Big Ben or a red phone booth did you even go to London? Well I took many pictures with both! Rain, shine, night, day, Big Ben was just as beautiful as ever!

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey, home to almost every royal wedding ever was huge! I had no idea how large it was and seeing it in person was an experience like non other.

Buckingham Palace

Touring my future home was great! But seriously this palace was grander than I ever imagined! Fun fact- the union jack flag (pictured above) only flies when the Queen is NOT at home!

The Tower Bridge

Walking across this bridge was very windy, but beautiful! I couldn’t resist taking a selfie with the bridge!

The Tower of London

 

The tower of London, more like the fortress of London! I had a blast walking around these ancient buildings!

St. Paul’s Cathedral

Although I did not pay the entrance fee, the outside of St. Paul’s Cathedral was amazing!

Guy Fawkes Fireworks

Remember, remember, the 5th of November! Saturday night I watched the Guy Fawkes firework display from a park near my hostel. It felt just like the 4th of July, except much, much, colder!

Sunday

Sunday was jam-packed with a few last London activities before I traveled by train to Cambridge for the day and then all the way back to Edinburgh!

Harrods

Although I got there before the store was actually open, I was blown away with Harrods! It’s Christmas decorations and window displays were so fun and festive!

The Victoria and Albert Museum

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This museum, in honor of my namesake, Queen Victoria, was stunning, from the outside at least. I did not get the chance to actually go inside, but if I had more time I would!

Hide Park

I can think of no better way to spend a sunny Sunday morning in London than walking from Hide Park. I walked along the edge of the pond and watched the swans and ducks soak up the sun.

Wellington Arch 

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I came across this arch as I was strolling through the park and thought of Paris!

The London Eye

The London eye was my favorite part of my weekend trip! After walking around a majority of the city for the past 3 days it was amazing to see all of London from above. I went in the morning right as it was opening so I barley had to wait in a line and the sun was shinning down on the city.

So that was my whirlwind of a London weekend trip! Stay tuned for my next day trip post about my trip to Cambridge!

 

Weekend Trip: Isle of Skye

Hi again!

I just got back from an absolutely amazing trip to the Isle of Skye this weekend! I could not find the words to describe just how stunning this trip, so I made a little video to document my weekend!

 

Stay tuned for my next blog post!