Halfway update: lessons learned abroad

Since my last post I’ve been to Italy, Poland, and back to enjoy Prague for the weekend. Getting caught up in the whirlwind of studying abroad is easy to do, so I finally took some time to reflect on my experience and catch up on some much needed sleep.

I’ve been living abroad for over a month and a half now and I am constantly amazed by how much more of the world I’ve already seen. But now I know that there’s so much more I want to explore. Every place I go, I make a mental list of all the places I need to see on the next trip.

So far, after visiting five new countries and eight cities, and attempting to understand at least four new languages, I’ve learned a couple things.

One, the places I go to with the lowest expectations are by far the best. Vienna, Austria turned out to be an amazing city with interesting culture, great food, and more amazing parks, but I only went there because my friends were planning a trip and invited me to tag along. That weekend showed me how fun it is to be spontaneous, and prepped me for the upcoming travel.

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Mozart Statue in Vienna.
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Flea market in Vienna
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Vienna, Austria.

Krakow, Poland was another surprise that I’m so thankful i got to experience. My study abroad program hosted this trip which drew me in because it was covered by the program, so it was “free.”

Krakow was such an amazing city. I don’t know what I was expecting going into the trip. I definitely did not research the city because we had the weekend planned out for us. But wow, it was a surprise. The beautiful city has remnants from the tenth century, mixed flawlessly with architecture from every era. And then the food was insane. Vegan burgers, chicken schnitzel, Polish goulash and street food. Everything I ate was so delicious.

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Main square in Krakow
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Wawel Castle, Krakow
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Street performer, Krakow
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Vistula River, Krakow

So, if Poland taught me anything, it was to remember the places off the beaten path. London, Paris and Rome are all amazing cities, but the hidden gems in smaller, less popular places are just as great and feel even more special.

I’ve also learned that it’s equally important to spend time in your host city as it is to travel. This weekend in Prague was great and I remembered how much I love this city. That seems a bit dramatic since I’ve been in Prague since August. But for four weekends straight I was spending only a few days at a time in Prague for school then leaving for the next city.

My time in Prague was mostly spent sleeping, doing laundry, grocery shopping, and going to school. So, taking time to try new coffee shops, go out with friends, see the Festival of Lights reminded me how much Prague has to offer.

I look forward to spending more weekends in Prague and immersing myself further into the culture, and the upcoming Christmas markets!!

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