We are here! The last month of study abroad, the last two weeks before I’m back for graduation, and the last moments with my friends here at IES and my host family. The time has been flying just as I anticipated it would this April, but I have so many new things to write about. Honestly though, I’ve been putting off writing. Sometimes avoiding the memory of things, even great things, allows one to live in denial a little while longer that those things are truly over and only memories now. I’ve also been trying my best to be present here in all of the final things. But, bills need to be paid and posts must be written!
If I spent a lot of time at home and in France during my first few months abroad, I have more than made up for it these past few weeks. My unofficial tour of Europe started with a visit to another IES program location, Freiburg, Germany. There I met up with my friend Evan who is at the start of his semester abroad. I was also able to visit with an old exchange student of my family who lives in the Black Forest region.
After 5 years apart, it was great to see her face again and get to meet her sweet and welcoming family. She was a fantastic tour guide and showed my friend and I all the best German foods including Wurst, Bretzels, and Spaetzle, a comfort-food pasta dish. One of the reasons I was excited to come to France was the opportunity to have a host family, since my family also hosted exchange students in high school, so spending time with her was a full-circle moment.
The week after, our spring break began. My friend Rachael (whose blog posts you should also check out!) and I started our travels in Lille, France. Though we were only there for a night, the Old Town was a great place to stay, and we had a row of restaurant options to check out right next to our hostel. The next day, we took a train to Brussels, Belgium, where we tried some famous Belgian waffles. One was not enough! The consistency was much lighter than the waffles we were used to, so we ended up getting two to share, though I could have gone for a third even. While we enjoyed our time there, we both agreed it wasn’t necessarily a city we’d spend longer than a few days in since we somewhat ran out of things to do in such a short time.
Next up, Amsterdam. We met up with our friend Alex to explore the parks, the canals, and of course the many restaurants and cafes the city has to offer. Personally, this city was one of my absolute favorites in Europe. Though it was busy, it still felt very comfortable and walkable. The canals and parks also gave a sense of being close to nature, and the city never felt too industrial. While there, we actually stayed at a hostel in Rotterdam, a bigger, more student-populated city which we also very much enjoyed. I strongly suggest trying out all the Asian-food restaurants!
Finally, we set off to Croatia, but when I say that is a whole other post, I mean it! Travel stories to be continued…