Nov 17, 2017

Dreaming of Paris

So it's been quite a bit since my last blog post! But rest assured, I'm alive and well and enjoying the last month I have left of my study abroad semester (time. is. flying)! It's been a pretty difficult to put together blog posts but you can keep up with my on Instagram to see what I've been up to!

 This post might be my favorite that I've written because it lets me relive one of the best weekends ever! Ask anyone and they'll tell you that I've been dreaming of my first trip to Paris for years! I never thought that my first time to the city of lights would be with some of my absolute favorite people in the world! It was everything I have dreamed of and more! I already want to start planning another trip back. My bestie, Julia made a super fun video of the trip with all the highlights...I cry a little every time I watch it.

The program that I'm on works on something similar to a quarter system so the 'semester' is actually divided into Period 1 and Period 2, and we have a whole new set of classes in each period. After my last final exam of the first period, my friend Bobbi and I hopped on a train for the 2-hour trip to Paris. We were meeting up with my college roommate Ashlee, who was coming from Germany, and my two high school best friends, Maddie and Julia, who were coming from Denmark.

Our first priority was grabbing a bite to eat, so we made our way to the nearest cafe. We walked right past Notre Dame and obviously had to stop to snap a few pictures! After lunch, we grabbed gelato at the cutest spot because its a tradition that Bobbi has every time she comes to Paris! Feeling a bit tired and weighed down with our luggage, we took the metro to our apartment in Le Marais. The apartment was quite tiny for 5 girls but it was in such a great location had the absolute best view! 

After a tearful reunion with Maddie and Julia (I hadn't seen them since early August!) we freshened up and headed to see the Eiffel Tower. Julia and Bobbie knew the best metro stop to get out for the best first view of the icon. It such a amazing experience seeing it for the first time. We stepped up out of the metro station, turned the corner, and *bam* there it was. I cried...just watch the video for proof. It was SO much bigger than I thought it was going to be! After taking it all in, we decided to have dinner under the Eiffel Tower. We grabbed baguettes, cheese, fruit, and wine (a truly balanced diet) and cozied up for a picnic. We watched the tower light up and twinkle (I cried, again) and even witnessed a proposal happen! We headed back to our apartment and ended the best first day with some nutella crepes.

We started the next day bright and early. We grabbed croissants for breakfast and made our way to the Arc de Triomphe. The whole trip I just kept stopping to take picture and say how beautiful everything was! The Arc de Triomphe was stunning but the view from the top of it was definitely a highlight of the trip. Thankfully, we went in the morning on a beautiful day so we had a clear view of the entire city.

my best friends💕

We worked up quite an appetite after all the walking and climbing and headed for macarons at Laudurée on Champs-Élysées followed by a lunch of fries and croque-monsiours. I was so excited about finally getting my hands on the new Glossier products so we popped into Colette since it was right around the corner from our lunch spot. The new products did not disappoint...the perfume smells incredible!

We split up after lunch so Ashlee, Maddie, and I wanted to go to the Louvre and Bobbi and Julia wanted to go to Musee L'Orangerie. To be honest, the Mona Lisa was a bit of a letdown! We all met up at the D'Orsay to see a few of Monet's water lilies, Dega's ballerinas, and of course the iconic clock. If you're a student studying abroad, be sure to ask about entrance discounts. We all got into these museums for free with our residence permits. 

After a quick coffee pick me up I made the group take a quick pit stop into a French pharmacy...hello, beauty junkie over here...I had to pick up a few new products!  

Our next stop was Monmarte! Again, I was absolutely stunned by the beautiful view once we got up the what seemed like a thousand steps. The Sacré-Cœur was stunning and we walked around the area where all the artist's have their stands. I picked up the cutest little print that I can't wait to hang up at home. We had gotten sandwiches from a nearby bakery and enjoyed dinner on the steps of the Sacré-Cœur while watching the pink and orange sunset over the city. After the sun had set, we went back to the apartment to get ready for a night out! 

The next morning we had a ~very French~ breakfast of fresh squeezed orange juice, espresso, and croissants. It was a rainy morning but hey, I'll take a rainy day in Paris over anywhere else! We walked to the famous Angelina's for their hot chocolate and picked up a few pastries to along with it. We grabbed a bench in the Tuileries Gardens to enjoy it. It's safe to say we were all on a major sugar high after this. We popped into Galeries Lafayette for a bit of shopping and of course to see the Christmas Tree! 

Palais Royale was on my Paris bucket list and I'm glad we made the time to see it! I had no idea the black and white pillars were actually an art's such an iconic spot in Paris! 

We ended our last, rainy day in Paris with baguettes before Maddie and Ashlee left for the train station to head back to their host countries. Julia was coming back to Maastricht with me to spend the week before heading to Amsterdam the next weekend. 

It was an absolute whirlwind of a weekend but I would do it again in a heartbeat. We were exhausted from all the walking and exploring but I think I can speak for all of us when I say it was worth it! It was such an amazing experience to share this trip with my very best friends! Paris took a little bit of my heart and I can't wait to come back...hopefully sometime soon!

Check out the video that Julia made from our weekend! 

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 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 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!

Blog Design by Get Polished

09 10