Oct 4, 2017

Munich, Brussels, & Beyond

It's been a hectic past few weeks but now that I have some downtime, I'm excited to share some of my recent travels! As I'm writing this, I'm escaping the rain at a window seat of a cafe with the best latte macchiatos I've ever had...(if this doesn't describe me then I don't know what does☺️).

The past three weekend have been packed with travels first a road trip all across Holland (4 cities in three days), then to Munich, Germany for Oktoberfest, and this past weekend my best friend from Richmond came to visit me and we headed to Brussels, Belgium. To say it's been an adventurous month would be and understatement!! There were times I was pushed waaaay out of my comfort zone but the memories and friendships along the way have made it totally worth it.

I decided to go on the Discover Holland so I could actually learn and see more of my host country! We explored Rotterdam, Kinderdijk, Utrecht, and Volendam...each of the cities were SO different and know for something in particular! Kinderdijk is know for their 19 windmills and waterways that are still in tact since the 1700's! Volendam is a beautiful coastal town so of course it had amazing fish and chips and Rotterdam was the most modern and industrial of the cities! Since I started my time in European in Amsterdam, I truly feel like I've seen all the best that Holland has to offer!

One thing that people told me I had to experience while studying abroad was Oktoberfest. At first, the thought of drinking beer all day pretty much turned me off completely, but I figured that I'm probably never going to have the chance to experience a true Oktoberfest in Munich with all my friends at any other point in my life. So I went, and I'm so glad I did! I did dress up in a dirndl and drank a litre of beer before 10am (these pictures might not be 100% appropriate for the blog) and while I'm not sure I'd be willing to do that again, I'm glad I got the true experience. I went with a group of exchange students from my University here but saw SO many friends from Richmond once I got to Munich...talk about small world! The trip was planned for two full days at the Oktoberfest festival but after a very long first day, a few of use decided to venture in the Munich city center and explore! I'm so glad we did because 1) I'm not sure I would have survived another day and 2) Munich is such a beautiful city! We climbed up a tower of a church in the city center to get a view of the city and oh my gosh it was worth the 200+ steps we climbed. We stumbled upon the Eisbach, a small channel of the Isar River that runs through Munich's central park where surfers line up to ride the (ice-cold) waves that run through all day. It was honestly the last thing I expected to see when walking around Munich but it was quite the sight and something I'll definitely never forget! The surfers were in full wet suits and just taking turns jumping in to ride the waves. We chilled in the park for the afternoon before grabbing dinner and heading back home!

This past weekend, Ashlee my college roommate from last year came to visit! She's currently doing her semester in Germany so she took a train to visit me here! I showed her all that my city has to offer and kicked off the weekend with an amazing dinner with friends and a night out ;) Since she was here for a long weekend, we decided to take a day trip to Brussels on Sunday! Neither of us had been and wanted to experience real Belgian waffles and chocolate. It took about two hours to get there and by the time we arrived we were hungry so we headed to find the best waffles in the city. I got strawberry, banana, and nutella on mine and it was 100% worth the calories! We spent the afternoon in an art museum and then ended the afternoon picking up some chocolates to take back home. If the Belgians do one thing right, it's definitely their sweets! Brussels was a fun city to see and I'm hoping to explore other close Belgian cities like Bruges and Ghent sometime soon!

This week I just have a normal class schedule and no weekend trips planned (yet)! I hope you guys are enjoying my travel posts...if there is something specific you want to know about my abroad experience/my university/my transition...let me know!!

Sep 5, 2017

Checking In from Abroad

Hi all! It's hard to believe that it has only been a little over one week since I've arrived in Holland. It's been a whirlwind of a few days but I wouldn't have changed a thing. After moving in to my room and meeting my sweet roommate from Barcelona, the student group that handles exchange program kept up extremely busy. From a city tour, bike workshop, meeting our buddy groups, a traditional Dutch dinner, and of course a few parties the past few days have been some of the best ever.

To say I was nervous going into this entire experience would be an understatement. While there are a few students from the University of Richmond on the same program, I didn't know them very well so it was almost as if I was coming here alone. We've ended up getting friendlier and one of the girls actually live across the hall from me. That being said, I'm actually very proud of my adjustment to Dutch life in just the past week. I got a bike (everyone here bikes from place to place...its amazing) and have navigated my way from my building to campus to the store and basically everywhere around town. The rules of the road here are pretty unique for bikers so while I've definitely got the hang of it, I'm nowhere near the level of a local - people here are somehow able to bike and use both hands to text (don't ask me how). I've been cooking for myself and have picked up a few Dutch words that have helped me get by in the grocery store. As for classes, its a bit different because I'm coming from an environment where my classes at my home University are around 15 students and here I have lectures of about 100 students! But, so far so good...I'll be sure to give you guys another update later in the semester.

I'm thankful that I've quickly met some of the nicest new friends from all of the world and that I've been able to share these experiences with them. Classes have started but I'm definitely more excited for some of the trips that I have coming up. My exchange program has planned a trip all across the Netherlands to see some of the most iconic cities in the country. We'll be traveling to Utrecht, Delft, Rotterdam, Kinderdijk and Volendam just to name a few....so stay tuned for tons of pictures of windmills and clogs😉. And since I only have classes two days a week, my friend and I planned a very last minute day trip to Cologne, Germany and we leave this week. It's only about 15 euros to get there and back which is definitely one of my favorite things about where I'm studying...the location is so central and accessible to basically anywhere in central Europe so obviously I have to take advantage of this and explore some of the neighboring countries.

That's all for now but enjoy these picture of my new home! More to come soon!

Aug 24, 2017

Hello Holland

After a summer spent thinking about this day, I'm so excited to be leaving for my semester abroad! I posted on my Instastory a few months ago and I'm sure you can tell from title of this post but I am going to be spending my fall semester in HOLLAND! 

Since the time I began my college search, I knew studying abroad was going to be part of my experience. After visiting my friend Julia in London two years ago while she was abroad and hearing all about one of my best college friends semester in Vienna (hi Kristina!), I have been even more excited for when my time would come! 

It still doesn't feel 'real' yet, even though by the time you're reading this, I'll probably already be on my plane to Amsterdam! Even when I was trying to pack my life into two suitcases, I still couldn't believe it was finally time to leave! Spending four months in another country is a really daunting idea for me (can someone teach me Dutch?) but I'm excited to travel, learn, explore an amazing new culture and make new friends with people from all over the world. I'm so thankful for this opportunity and can't wait to share my experience on the blog - expect tons of pictures, travel recaps, and even travel tips on the blog! 

Have you studied abroad? Where did you travel to?!

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