The Pros and Cons of a Few Cities/Country

Here I give to you is the pros and cons of a few countries/cities that I visited in on my time abroad from Kentucky. To start the list off let’s discuss…

Munich, Germany

Munich was the first place I visited, and I wish I hadn’t gone here first because I feel like I would’ve appreciated it a whole lot more if I had already known what to expect out of a European city. Anyways, Germany, as my impression from spending about four days here was that it was very car centric, which I loved because of my love of cars, and extremely overcast, like the Netherlands. While in Munich some friends and I stayed at an Airbnb of a nice man. My only remark with this Airbnb stay is that the beds were impeccably comfortable – Europeans don’t know that they really sleep on cardboard mattresses every night. However, the main reason we went to Munich was for Oktoberfest. Oktoberfest, honestly, was everything I hoped it would be and more. The best way to describe it or even try to compare it to is the Kentucky State Fair. All the guys are dressed in Lederhosen and everyone is walking around with a beer in hand on a big plot of land with massive beer tents on all sides with a carnival with rides in the back of the place. Everyone I met on that excursion was extremely friendly and wanted to share life stories with – which at this point all I had to say for myself is that I had just arrived by train from the Netherlands. Additionally, downtown Munich was gorgeous with dozens of historic buildings and the royal gardens with lots of art galleries. Overall it was a 10/10 trip I wish I could go back and do again – mainly for the Bavarian food.

The Netherlands

Moving forward, I feel that its important I talk a little bit about the Netherlands, which was my home country while I was away. The Netherlands is extremely friendly but gloomy country. It is always raining or way too windy to walk with overcast skies. However, I was lucky enough to have a flat about 25 minutes from the beach in The Hague. At the beach there was a pier with an oversized Ferris wheel, a dozen restaurants on the actual beach and several more food and clothing stores on the boardwalk up and down the coast. When I first arrived in August, the beach was heaven. Additionally, getting to and from the beach was a breeze. I had bought a second-hand bike as my transportation for the four months that I was going to be there but the actual trains and street cars that were within the country were very accessible. I wouldn’t say that they were cheap compared to other countries I visited like Slovakia but for the price it wasn’t bad. During the week I would occasionally take the train 25 minutes up to the capital of Amsterdam to explore everything the city had to offer – it was a lot. The Hague, where I was staying, is more residential and Amsterdam is a big tourist trap most of the time. I would also go southeast to a city called Rotterdam to party with friends at concerts or bars which was fun since the young people scene wasn’t great in The Hague – lots of older people. Overall, I loved the country and loved calling it home.

London, UK

Finally, I wanted to briefly touch on my five-day excursion to London with one of my good friends because I feel like Americans are obsessed with British people and I want to shed some light on it. Don’t get me wrong I don’t want to throw shade at the British I had an amazing time while I was there; however, London is overrated. Everything in London is geared towards tourists and the prices reflect that in the food and all the activities to do. That being said, there is so much history and amazing culture to be seen in this large, dated city. The three biggest things that stood out to me was the Shakespearean theatre. The theatre was not original, but it was close to it since it is made from sticks and stones – literally. Additionally, the art scene in London is nothing like I have ever seen or experienced before; and, I don’t get impressed easily when it comes to art. The art galleries are impeccable, and free, and there’s an ally tunnel with tastefully done graffiti everywhere that’s done by artists and it’s just insanely beautiful but also comedic. Anyways, the last thing I thought was amazing about London is the fact that you could take a boat down the river as public transportation – like what??!

Hope you all enjoyed the very short reviews of just a few places I went to this past semester.

Reflections from the Studying abroad Process

Europe was a game changer. Yep, everyone says it, but boy is it true. Honestly, it’s totally cliché but the world outside of the United States is uniquely different. Even between differing first world countries there’s a change – this was, in my opinion, one of the more important lessons I learned while away. I can distinctively pinpoint that my trip to London, UK was the trip that I learned this. London feels like America. Everyone speaks English and is rudely passive aggressive. And, London has the Arlington, Virginia American favorite of Five Guys in the city center with Starbucks at every other corner – America, am I right?! Yet at the same time, it wasn’t my perfected version of living and growing up in the United States. If you talk to the locals, you can identify that either you can’t understand their speech either through accent or dialect of English speech and the morals are significantly different. Which can be said about Nederland but with my five-day excursion through London it hit me that I loved the truly European culture of students living at home till they graduated university, taking public transport everywhere, and plane tickets being under one-hundred euro round trip because it was uniquely not America. However, if there’s anything that stands out to me since arriving back to the United States is that I never want to see the small amount of clothes I brought abroad with me ever again. Frankly I could burn them and be extremely happy. Elizabeth drills it into you that “YOU NEED TO PAIR DOWN EVERYTHING YOU BRING WITH YOU.” And yes, I distinctively remember sitting in a room the semester before I left as she’s dripping it into our ears and everyone freaking out. I was not freaked out to this point due to the fact that I have been traveling around the states since before I can remember pre-k. But, for some reason Elizabeth got to me this morning…might’ve been finals looming over me and having to put down security deposit for my European flat. However, personally, all stress aggravators aside, I would beg to differ. The exchange rate currently is not kind to United States students and as such is more expensive to buy things once you get over there. Yes, bringing two checked bags and a carryon is annoying but your wallet and sanity will thank you later. Another factor that stands out to me since arriving home is do not exclusively hangout with people also from your home country. I saw it happen in different programs; and yes, they had fun, but they had a completely different experience than I who had friends from all different continents other than North America. To be honest the only people I hung out with from North America were the people I went to Nederland with – hey y’all! However, no matter how much I moan and groan about the difficulties of being an expat, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.