3 countries in 1 week – Spring break Blog!

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Like most people I know, one of my goals growing up was to one day travel the world. When granted the opportunity to study abroad in Sweden, I was extremely excited about the idea of traveling to all the other surrounding countries. This abroad experience was the first step toward reaching my goal. However, I did not know about funding nor the process one takes while traveling from country to country because this was my first time. One of my vast worries was tackling the expenses attached to my desire to travel. I quickly realized that, unlike the usually high flight prices I was familiar with ($400+ round trip), the prices in Europe were a lot cheaper ($50+ round trip). Despite this convincing in flight prices, I knew I could not travel alone for safety reasons, but I did not know how I was going to find another individual or group of students who had similar desires as I. It was about week two of class when I heard a couple of students discussing travel plans, and I decided to join the conversation, although I was not familiar with these students. I heard people saying countries that I had never imagined – this made me extremely excited and allowed me to expand my options. Quickly, I found myself one week before spring break, and I had not booked any trips for this vacation. I had plans to travel; however, this was still a thought because I had no tickets booked yet. One day after class, a friend and I decided to book tickets for three different countries in one day, and this was when it all started. Below I wrote a snippet from my favorite country that I explored during spring break, and I included the sights I saw and would recommend.

PARIS, FRANCE

Tuesday morning – Thursday night

My trip to Paris was just as the locals say, une bonne expérience! My friend from Bates had to return to her program, but I was able to travel with another friend of mine who I met at DIS. We began our Parisian adventure by quickly checking into our beautiful hotel, then finding our way to the local beauty, the Eiffel Tower. Lucky for us, our hotel was very close to La Tour Eiffel-only a 20 minute walk. Even though it was a walkable city, it was very helpful to have transit passes that worked for both buses and trains within the city ,and transit officers that spoke enough English to help us out when needed. Pictures and video do not do this beautiful piece of architecture any justice. It was just breathtaking to witness such beauty in person and have lunch with such a view. Lunch was followed by wandering across bridges, walking to L’Arc de Triomphe followed by a promenade down Le Champs-Elysées, where we were able to peek our heads into a few stores and even buy fresh Parisian street crêpes-the best kind. Seeing La Tour Eiffel once was not enough; we decided to admire her beauty once more in all its sparkling glory after the sun had set. Always a magnificent sight. The next day we visited Le Louvre, where we set our eyes on the one and only, Mona Lisa-a painting that is actually smaller than it seems and heavily guarded! Our stay at Le Louvre was amazing and followed up with more street crêpes followed by a walk to Le Notre Dame and Le Pantheon. As we headed home, it only seemed fair to stop by a patisserie for some fresh baguette, eclairs and beignets. They were all delicious and incomparable to anything like it outside of France. The final day in France was spent pursuing Le Musée D’Orsay and admiring the works of none other than Vincent Van Gogh. Interestingly enough, I learnt about what it was like for him as an artist to live in a time where people thought his work was meaningless and inconsequential. He suffered from mental health issues and had extremely low self esteem because no one believed in his talent. Ironically enough, his works are some of the most famous in the world and are kept in the best museums-a phenomenon that he was never able to witness and gain satisfaction from. I also learnt about the original Starry Night painting, painted months before the rendition that hangs in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. How fascinating! Our stay in Paris came to a fitting end with a cruise along the River Seine as we learnt about Paris’ long and complicated history while admiring all of its best historical sights from the serenity of the water. Although we were sad to go, promises of good pasta and pizza made us excited for what was to come. Au revoir Paris, à bientôt!

Sightseeing recommendation:

Eiffel Tower,

Le Place de Concorde

Le Louvre

La Seine- (River Seine Cruise)

Le Musee D’Orsay

Le Notre Dame

Le Pantheon

L’Arc de Triomphe

Le Champs Elysées

L’Hôtel des Invalides

Le Sacre Coeur

Le Jardin des Tuileries

Le Pont Alexandre III

Les Jardins du Trocadéro

Le Petit Palais

My friend and I explored all of Paris while using the GPS to help us navigate, and this was very efficient and saved us from the fear of getting lost. The train station was reliable and took us to the city very quickly. Once we reached the city center, we found that most of the locations/cities we wanted to see were within walking distance – approximately 20 min walk. I wouldn’t say this is a good option for all people; however, the decision to walk instead of taking the train or bus allowed us to explore the areas we passed along the way. From walking in and out of small local markets to viewing the larger famous sightseeing areas, I got a well-rounded experience of Paris, and I loved every second of it. I hope that you one day get to visit!

Merci!

Belize