What to do in Europe’s major cities: Paris, Rome, and Venice




Paris was on my ‘must-see’ list when abroad. After looking at all of my weekends and planning out which cities I would travel to and when, Paris landed on the shortest weekend, 3 days: two for travel, and one for sight-seeing. It seemed like a stretch, but there’s a reason why it’s called a ‘can’t-miss’ list. I booked my train ticket with a friend, and the two of us headed out to conquer Paris in a day. We arrived the Friday evening to a very busy train station. We were heavily warned about thieves and bag-slicers, so we held our bags close as we wandered through the station. We had done some previous research about metro passes (something everyone should do if you are looking to get around a city easily), and were able to find the machine to get them. Stepping out in to the street, well, it is not the Paris we expected. Wave after wave of stench hit our noses as we navigated to our Airbnb. We were a little shaken at the shock of what we thought Paris was going to be like vs. our first impressions. However, we dusted ourselves off, threw on some deodorant, and took a train to see the Eiffel Tower light up at 10pm. We found a shop that made cheesy baguettes stuffed with hot dogs, took them to-go, and found a nice spot on the lawn in front of the Tower. There, we had a nice time seeing the sun go down, the Tower light up, and the lights being to sparkle. It was quite a sight. The next day, we utilized the train and bus system to hit the Palace of Versailles, The Arc de Triomphe, Moulin Rouge, the outside of The Louvre, the Notre Dame, and a second visit to the Eiffel Tower. We walked from the Moulin Rouge to The Louvre, which totaled about 45 minutes. It was there that we got to see what we thought Paris ‘really’ looked like: triangular stone buildings and terraces with flowers growing out of them. It was beautiful. We realized that movies would only show the historical parts of Paris, not the modernized ones. By the end of the day, we were exhausted from the amount of traveling we did in a single day. Our wallets, however, were not. A cavet of t-tickets, meaning 10 travel passes on either the subways or buses, cost a mere 14 euros. The banana and Nutella crepes we had cost 5 euros. That was about the extent of our expenses, excluding the Airbnb. It is very easy to do Paris in a day, on a budget. I recommend visiting Paris at least once in your life, but it is not a city I would want to spend more than 2 or 3 days in, simply because it feels just a bit too large.


I have visited Rome once before in high school, and knew I would be back again some day. The high school tour, however, was a bus tour, and all of our meals were set up and paid for. Traveling abroad with a friend is much different. We decided to see both Rome and Venice in a single 4 day weekend. Rome is a 13 hour train ride from our city in Austria, and only 7 hours from Venice. We found the perfect overnight train that would take us from Austria to Rome, and arrive at about 10am. A teacher on the program advised us that the two-tiered bus tours of the city are definitely worth the money if you can haggle it to a decent price. We arrived at the Roma Termini, one of Europe’s largest train stations, after a long night of barely sleeping on the train. After purchasing a metro pass to get from the main city to our Airbnb, we were approached by a man attempting to sell us passes for the Roma Big Bus City Tour. I was hesitating because I wanted to drop our stuff off at the Airbnb before touring Rome, but he lowered the price to only 20 euros, so it was impossible to refuse. We saw all of the ancient sights in a matter of an hour, and got off at St. Peter’s Basilica and did some souvenir shopping. With your student ID, you can get into the Sistine Chapel Museum for only 8 euro (so make sure to bring that cardinal card abroad!). Later, we got back on the bus and cruised around Rome some more. We made sure to stop at the Trevi Fountain to throw another coin into the water so that we will come back in the future. Ended the day with some more gelato and fresh grapes. The next day, we ran into some issues with the public transportation system…a ‘strike’ kind of issue. We decided we would just suck it up and walk the hour and a half to the train station rather than paying for a taxi. We got to see a different, non-touristy side to Rome so that was pretty cool. With the help of the train station staff, we were able to find our train to Venice with only 5 minutes to spare. Talk about a crazy way to end our time in Rome! Final thoughts: I love Rome with all of my heart and would love to live there some day. The history intermingled with daily life is truly unique, and if you get the chance to travel, Rome is a MUST.


The issues with the strikes in Rome carried its way to Venice, because we struggled to find a way to our Airbnb from the train station, and we weren’t wanting to walk 2 hours to it. Eventually we gave in and found a taxi to take us. We were too tired to head back into the main city at 8pm, so we stayed nestled in our Airbnb and got some much needed sleep. In the morning, we found our way to the bus and got a ticket to the main islands. There, we just wandered Venice all day. This city isn’t one you typically learn about in history class, so we weren’t pressed to visit any main monuments or structures. Instead, we took pictures in the alleyways, crossed over bridges, and waved to the gondolas as they passed by. It was a very relaxing day, up until we made the mistake of passing through San Marco’s Square, where there seemed to be thousands of tourists packed into the small alleys. Once we got out of there, we grabbed some pasta at a restaurant along the river and enjoyed the last minutes of daylight in Venice. It was absolutely beautiful, and contrary to rumors, it did not smell in the slightest. Venice is an incredible city, and one that I would love to revisit someday.


Mandy Paganetto, ’17

B.S. in Marketing and Sport Administration

What you need to know before Traveling: A Beginner’s Guide

So you finally bit the bullet and decided to look at various study abroad programs…that’s great! Studying abroad will truly change your life, and that of course, is coming from someone who spent a summer month in Europe. It can be both exciting and overwhelming, browsing through all of the available programs via the business school’s studying abroad website. There are beautiful programs in London, Australia, and of course, Italy. Those were places that I was looking for a program, almost strictly because of my comfort level. 2 out of those 3 places speak English, while the other…well, come on, it’s ITALY! My first piece of advice, look outside of your comfort zone. I ended up in Austria, of all places. I decided to look past country boarders, and look into what the specific program provided. Mine, for instance, allowed and encouraged students to travel on the weekends. Because of this, I was able to visit Munich, Paris, Rome, and Venice. I also got to stay in a homestay with a woman who spoke only German. This can seem like a turn off, but it allowed for complete submersion into the culture, something I craved.

When you are abroad, you will have good days and bad days. Some days can seem really great: the sun is shining, the temperature is great, the locals are friendly, and the meal is correct. However, not every day is like this, and that is perfectly okay. You’ll get caught in a rainstorm without an umbrella, the language barrier will cause a fight with a store owner, or what you thought was schnitzel is actually chicken liver soup. Things happen. But it’s up to you to deal with how you react to it. Some days, I just needed to go home after dinner rather than try to stay out later with the group, or I needed to separate from everyone, get my own gelato, and soak in the country by myself. Turn a bad situation into a better one (and chicken liver soup really isn’t that bad…it tastes like a meatball!).

My last piece of advice is to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. If you do select a program that allows independent travel (highly recommended), then you will need to get used to navigating the extensive train system through Europe. You will be knees-to-knees with strangers, passive aggressively fighting for luggage room, and have to do the occasional sprint to the connecting train. The best part? All train-traveling Europeans experience these same issues, so you’re not alone! Try the local food, check out new restaurants, and treat yourself to gelato. For some, it could be your first and only trip abroad, so you will want to make the most of it. For others who plan on visiting again, make this your opportunity to trial-test the train system, ordering at a foreign restaurant, and behaving as a local to make your future trips even more successful. Have a great time, you will love every second.

-Mandy Paganetto, ’17

B.S. in Marketing and Sport Administration