I travelled home today after about 2 months abroad and was able to do a lot of reflecting on my time and experiences over the past few weeks. From wine tours in Tuscany to exploring the tiny streets of Lake Como, from riding bikes in Amsterdam to stumbling upon corners of people playing live music in Paris, I’m so thankful for every place and person I was able to meet, and have some memories that I will cherish forever.
Out of my month in Paris, my favorite moments ended up not being all of the museums and statues I saw (although I did see a lot and really enjoyed them!), they were all of the picnics by the Eiffel Tower and along the Seine where I was able to feel fully immersed in the experience, in the city, and in the culture. I was in Paris for Bastille Day and decided to go to the Eiffel Tower for the celebration. There was a live classical concert and a huge fireworks show and it was one of the best nights of my summer!
I’m going to miss being in Paris but I know I will be back one day. I can’t wait for that day to come and until then I will be looking back on all of my memories from this summer!
While there are hundreds of articles, lists, blog posts, etc about “The Best Places to eat in ___”, sometimes the best way to have a memorable experience is to just get lost. Walk around the city you’re visiting, turn down random streets, go into shops that seem interesting, and check out small, local bookstores. One of my favorite things to do is just walk around, because you never know what you will stumble upon. So many cities, especially in Europe, have very rich and extensive histories that are represented in statues, buildings, etc. There is so much to learn just by wandering through parks and down roads that it’s important to take advantage of it!
Another thing I have loved during my time abroad has simply been talking to the people around me. I wish I would have thought at the beginning of my trip to bring a notebook for all the people I’ve met along the way to sign– people from Wales, Australia, Brazil, Turkey, and so many other places. It’s amazing how much you can learn from striking up a conversation with somebody. It’s so amazing to have the opportunity to connect with people from so many cultures and corners of the world. So don’t be afriad to introduce yourself to someone or ask to join a conversation that seems interesting, it could be the beginning of an amazing friendship!
When you’re bouncing from city to city, country to country, it can be easy to get wrapped up in the quick pace of it all. Feeling like you have to see every inch of every city is normal, and there is also always a slightly guilty feeling if you sleep in later than expected, need to take a rest, etc. One thing I’ve learned from travelling so far, however, is the importance of taking a step back and slowing things down. While you of course want to make the most of your experience in each place, sometimes forcing yourself to explore from morning to night can have the opposite effect. It can hinder your experience and lessen your appreciation for the things the city has to offer. So, don’t feel guilty if you don’t get to every historical monument, museum, or famous restaurant. It’s okay to slow things down and take the time to appreciate the things you do get to see and experience, and it makes the experience all the more memorable!