My Favorite (& Least Favorite) Things about Europe

Good morning everyone 🙂

I’m back this week with another overview of my study abroad experience, and a more general review of what I think about Europe! After returning to the States and talking with friends and family, I’ve come to some conclusions that people tend to love the same things about the continent – and that being said, people also tend to have the same reserves. Here I’ve put together a list of my favorite, and furthermore my least favorite, things about Europe as a whole.

Starting off with my FAVORITES! Overall, I loved Europe, and though it is so diverse, there are lots of similar cultural norms across the continent. I definitely have more favorites than least favorites, so let’s get into it!

  • Most cities are very walkable, and public transportation is rather simple to figure out, so it’s super easy and pretty affordable to get around between sites.
  • Branching off of that, it’s SO easy to travel between cities/countries. Flights, trains, and busses, tend to be inexpensive for the most part, and travel time isn’t too bad either! Since most countries in Europe are part of the EU, this makes travel time even easier, since you don’t have to go through customs every time you fly.
  • Europe is such a diverse area, with different weather, culture, and architecture in each city. Even within the same country you can find so many interesting and unique spots, so there’s always something new to see.
  • The food in Europe (for the most part) is SO amazing! Each city has it’s own menu of local recipes that can’t be beat anywhere else. Some of my favorites were chimney cakes in Prague, a pesto pasta dish I had in Ventimiglia, Italy, and the gelato I tried in every city we visited!
  • One of the best things about eating out in Europe is that tipping culture is way more minimal than in the States. While in the US it’s almost assumed you will tip 20% at every restaurant, employees in Europe don’t expect anything. This was definitely helpful on a college student’s budget!
  • In general, it seems like people are much more open in Europe than in the US. People are so friendly and accepting, and the social culture is much more elevated, whereas in the States it can be more reserved.
  • It’s a simple fact that Europe holds way more history than the US, which is clear walking through any major city. The architecture itself is amazing to look at, and the history and culture behind it is even more rich.
  • In my experience – and what I’ve heard from others – Europe is much safer than most parts of the US. Yes, pickpocketing is a major issue, but other than that, I never once felt unsafe where I was, or questioned a situation that could potentially be dangerous.
  • Overall, it was amazing to see everything I had seen pictures of or learned about in school before in person. These are real places with real stories, and it’s definitely worth making the trip.

Not to end on a bad note, but as much as I love Europe, there are some things to keep in mind before traveling that might make your experience slightly more difficult…

  • Though some countries do speak English, most do not, and so this was definitely a struggle while traveling. In Spain I was usually okay understanding the language, but I noticed especially in France, Portugal, and most Eastern European countries that I really had to pay attention (or use English!) to converse with people.
  • I’m a very picky eater, so as much as the food was delicious for the most part, some things were not my cup of tea. For example, Spain is most famous for their jamón – and I don’t eat any ham or pork. I think I had more ham in the four months I was living there than I’ve had in my entire life.
  • Spain was a very affordable city to live in, which was great, but some places I traveled to were definitely not! A lot of northern European cities I visited, like Amsterdam and Copenhagen, were much more expensive, so definitely be aware of the differences in the cost of living where you’re traveling!
  • I’ve mentioned this before, but drinking water is not as big of a thing in Europe as it is in the US. This sounds crazy, but while we’re so used to carrying around water bottles all day at home, it’s very rare to be given water at a restaurant without having to ask – and even then, it’s usually a very small glass. For me, this was difficult since I tend to drink 4-5 liters of water a day!
  • This doesn’t bother everyone, but I walk very fast, and so the concept of people walking slowly/stopping short in the middle of the sidewalk/taking up the entire sidewalk was very frustrating. I definitely got more used to it as the months went on, but you’ll notice right away that Europeans are much less worried about their surroundings or their being in the way of others in public places.
  • Similarly, time is much less of a strict concept in Europe, especially in Spain. In most cases, people are never on time – and that is normal. Going along with that, no one is ever rushed. Servers at restaurants will not come back to your table after taking your order unless you call them over – so if you wan’t the check, you need to ask!

There are definitely more pros and cons to living in Europe than I have listed here, these are just a few that stood out to me. Along with that, I am by no means complaining about the European lifestyle – there are things I don’t like about the US either! These are just some of the things I would be aware of while traveling to Europe, and all of this is to be taken lightly 🙂

I loved my four months in Europe and I will definitely be returning soon, I just wanted to share these thoughts with you all! I hope you all have a great week, and I’ll see you next Monday with a review of one of my absolute favorite cities 🙂



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TRAVEL GUIDE: 24 Hours in Prague

Good morning!

Today we’re talking about quick trips – this one to Prague, Czechia. If you remember back in October, I spent a weekend alone in Eastern Europe, and I had just over 24 hours in each of the cities I visited. It was definitely an ambitious and busy weekend, but I quickly learned how to manage my time and get the most out of each city in the short time I was there.

My first and favorite stop on this trip was Prague, Czechia, so I wanted to go into a bit more detail on how I spent my day, and give you a more structured itinerary on how to best see the city in just 24 hours. I definitely would recommend spending more time there, and I hope to go back some day and see more of the area, but for a quick study abroad weekend, I’m satisfied with what I accomplished.

To begin, I want to mention that Prague is a very walkable city. I was never too far from where I needed to be, and I never felt the need to take a taxi or a bus anywhere. The only thing I would pay attention to, though, is how far from the city the airport is. From what I remember, the drive from the airport to the city center was about 30-45 minutes, so plan ahead for this – you will definitely need to drive or take public transportation!

Once you’ve made it to the city center, everything is relatively close to one another. Sone highlights I definitely recommend hitting are:

  • Prague Castle and St. George’s Basilica – these are right next to each other, and you can buy tickets to walk around inside.
  • Letensky Sady (one of Prague’s largest parks) and the Prague Metronome – a bit out of the way, but very peaceful and worth spending some time here to take a break from the major city sites.
  • Old Town Square – there is so much to see here! Stop by the famous astronomical clock, the Church of Our Lady before Tyn, and the Old Jewish Quarter. This is also a great place to do souvenir shopping.
  • Charles Bridge – my FAVORITE part about Prague!
  • John Lennon Wall – cross over the Charles Bridge into Mala Strana, a much younger part of the city.

Some food recommendations:

  • The Farm: a modern, trendy cafe that’s a bit outside of the city but (in my opinion) definitely worth the walk. It’s right past Letensky Sady if you’re already in the area!
  • Trdelnik: a traditional cinnamon sugar rolled pastry, which you can get with ice cream, chocolate sauce, fruit, etc. I recommend getting this fresh from a street vendor in Old Town Square – much better than in a shop!
  • Traditional Czechia food is mostly comfort food, so this is a good option for dinner. There are lots of restaurants in Mala Strana worth exploring.

If you’re only staying in Prauge for 24 hours, I recommend finding a cheap hostel to stay in overnight. Hotel rooms are also a good option, but I found that the hostels in Prague are generally very clean and comfortable, and you can leave your belongings here for the day so you don’t need to carry everything around. You can find a bed for around $15/night, which I think is worth it for such a short stay. The hotels are also very centrally located, so you’ll always be close to something fun!

As much as there is to do in Prague, it can also very easily be done in one day (if needed), so even if you already have a packed itinerary, I highly suggest finding some time to spend here. Prague was definitely my favorite Eastern European city that I visited, and I think there’s something for everyone here.

Let me know if you have any specific questions on traveling through Prague, or Eastern Europe in general, and I’ll see you next week!

Safe travels!



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TRAVEL GUIDE: 1 Week in Madrid

As promised, I’ll now be continuing my blog as more of an informative guide to travel while I’m taking a break for it myself here in Boston. It’s only fitting for me to begin with the place I learned the most about: Madrid.

There is never enough to do in Madrid, and even during my four months there, I still did not get to see or do everything that I’d planned (so I guess I’ll just have to go back!). That being said, there’s definitely a way to see the major highlights of Madrid in a week, in three days, or possibly even in 24 hours if needed.

For a normal, planned vacation to Madrid, I think one week is the perfect amount of time to spend in the city – it’s long enough to see everything you need to, while also getting some time to relax and enjoy some of the more local parts of Madrid without feeling too rushed. To start, I think the best way to get around Madrid is public transportation – it is very easy to figure out, clean, and affordable, and Madrid is a rather walkable city, so there’s no need to take cabs or Uber. You can purchase a weekly pass for around 30€ which allows you to use the metro, bus, and train as many times as you like.

The first area you must visit is Sol. Puerta del Sol is Madrid’s city center, and just close by is the Plaza Mayor. Both are large open plazas, surrounded by restaurants, shops, and lots of street activity. This area is definitely a bit more pricey (it’s a major tourist spot), but one of the most bustling, popular places to visit. Right outside of the metro station is one of Madrid’s most famous bakeries, La Mallorquina, which you’ll definitely be able to smell right away! While in the area, I also recommend grabbing a bite to eat at the Mercado de San Miguel – a large indoor market with a wide variety of Spain’s traditional food items. The Chocolatería San Ginés serves churros with chocolate 24 hours a day, and is one of Madrid’s oldest and most famous chocolaterías. Lastly (and my favorite), you must visit Takos al Pastor at least once. There are two locations just outside Puerta del Sol and the Plaza Mayor, where you can get some of the best tacos I’ve had (and the best in Europe) for 1€ each!

Another great area to walk around is the neighborhood of Mala Saña. This is a much younger area with lots of shopping, so be prepared to spend some time here! You can walk down Gran Via toward Calle Fuencarral, both filled with stores and great restaurants. I would recommend starting at the Plaza de Cibeles, one of the prettiest buildings in Madrid (which you can go inside and up to the roof!), and making your way up Gran Via during the day. Spend some time on Fuencarral, and then find a cool tapas restaurant in Mala Saña for dinner!

While in Madrid, a day must be spent visiting its many museums. There is SO much art history here, so I highly recommend taking the time to explore and appreciate it. If you take the metro to Estación del Arte (also called Atocha), you can access both the Museo del Prado and the Museo Reina Sofia, where you can see Picasso’s Guernica. Two other museums I recommend visiting are the Sorolla and the Thyssen Museums. These visits may take up to a whole day (depending on how many museums you choose to see), so definitely reserve some time for this. One more building I recommend visiting is the Royal Palace of Madrid. It’s especially beautiful from the outside, but worth walking around inside as well. There is so much art and history to see, though the line for tickets is often very long, so be prepared and get there early!

Right by the Prado and the Reina Sofia is Madrid’s Retiro Park, which is another must-see. Not only is this one of the few nature-filled areas of the city, but you can rent boats, visit the Glass Castle, or grab lunch at one of it’s cute outdoor restaurants! Retiro Park is especially beautiful during the fall once the leaves begin to change colors, though it’s always an amazing place to visit and a nice escape from the bustling city once in a while. Also nearby is Madrid’s botanical gardens, another great pocket of nature worth exploring.

If you have another full day free, I definitely would suggest taking a day trip to either Toledo or Segovia, both about 30 minutes to an hour outside of Madrid by train. You would need to purchase a train ticket in advance, but these are only about 20€-30€. Both of these cities are so close and accessible, yet so different from Madrid, that I think it’s definitely worth taking the time to explore and get a deeper feel for Spanish culture. There is a lot more history to be learned from these smaller cities, and as much as I love Madrid, there is A LOT more to Spain! While in the area, try Spain’s traditional seafood paella, or a Tinto de Verano (sparkling sangria)!

Now that your days have mostly been filled up, I have some recommendations for the evenings. Spanish people tend to eat dinner around 9pm, so you have some time to kill before restaurants begin to open up. One area that’s best seen at sunset is the Temple of Debod. You can visit here at any time of day, but I think it’s prettiest while the sun is setting, and you don’t need too much time here, so it’s a good evening activity. Madrid also has lots of rooftop bars and lounges, so I highly suggest visiting at least one, again during sunset. You can see all of Madrid from a glance, and enjoy a drink or two before getting dinner. Some of my favorites are Azotea, and the Hotel RIU (360º view). Definitely plan ahead for both of these, as the lines can be long and you don’t want to miss the sunset! Lastly, if you can, try to get to a soccer game while in Madrid! You will definitely need to purchase tickets in advance, but it’s a great part of the Spanish culture to experience.

For dinner, you can’t go wrong with a local tapas restaurant – for the most part, their menus should all be rather similar, and Madrid is a very affordable city, so you’ll be able to get lots of food for a great price! There are also lots of non-tapas restaurants for when you get sick of all of the fish, ham, and cheese (I did very quickly), so definitely try some of these as well. If you’re still looking for more after dinner, Madrid has a very active nightlife, and you’ll be able to find something going on any night of the week, so younger travelers should definitely check out some of the city’s many nightclubs. These are a much larger part of the culture than most other places I’ve visited, and definitely than the States, just be prepared for a very late night – Spanish people don’t start going home until 4, 5, or even 6am!

There is always more to do and see in such a large city, but I think this is a pretty good overview of the major points to hit in order to truly experience the Spanish culture. In my opinion, you can’t go wrong in Madrid, but these are my favorites and most-visited places during my stay. I hope you’ve enjoyed this guide, and I will be posting lots more content like this in the upcoming months before I begin traveling again. Subscribe below to stay posted, and happy travels!



Wrapping Up Abroad

Welcome back everyone!

It’s now been just over a week since I’ve returned to the States from my four months abroad, and it’s definitely been a crazy transition back to normal life. I’ve been going back and forth the past few weeks between being excited to come home, and not wanting to leave the best and craziest four months of my life. I’m finally beginning to adjust to the time difference, the food changes, and the much slower lifestyle I have here, and it’s been nice to settle in a bit more over the holidays. That being said, I would give anything to go back to Spain and keep living the abroad lifestyle I’d grown to love.

Along with this public blog, I’ve been keeping a personal travel journal throughout the semester to remember my weeks and my trips myself, and to go deeper into how this whole experience has affected me. I hadn’t read back any of my journal entries until last night, and reading through the entire semester at once was definitely enough to make me miss all of the early flights, travel mishaps, and times spent with friends in places I’d never thought I would visit. I want to share a few of my favorite thoughts and memories from this journal:

“When we arrived last Monday I was a little overwhelmed and didn’t quite know what to think of my new home, but now that I’m settled I can definitely see myself falling in love with this place.” – 9.1.2019, first week in Madrid

“I know the next four months will fly by, but I’m so excited for all of the adventures we’re going to take and all we’re going to learn.” – 9.1.2019, first week in Madrid

“To sum up our day trip in Salamanca, we spent the night.” – 9.8.2019, after being stranded in Salamanca, Spain

“Even though I barely have school here and being in Europe is so much fun, it was really nice to have a real beach vacation with nothing to do but relax in the sand. We also have such a good group of people, so I’m really excited to travel with everyone again this weekend.” – 9.15.2019, Palma de Mallorca, Spain

“Saturday was a BIG day. We ate breakfast in Nice, France. Then we got all dressed up and headed to country #2 of the day: Monaco where I gambled in the Casino de Monte Carlo. The day still gets crazier. Dinner? We wanted pasta. So we went to Italy.” – 9.21.2019, our day of 3 countries in the French Riviera

“The more I travel, the more Madrid feels like home, and the more I realize how lucky I am to feel that.” – 9.23.2019, returning to Madrid from Nice, France

“This was probably one of my favorite days abroad – the whole environment was so electric, I ran into so many friends, and the experience itself is something you just can’t miss out on.” – 9.28.2019, Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany

“This was one of those memories that you know is more special than words or photos can describe, even while living it. I hope for many more experiences, connections, and nights like this, for these are the ones that will change you, and that will last a lifetime.” – 10.6.2019, after a dance party in a mountain village of Morocco

“Standing on the Charles Bridge and looking around, it all fell into place. The beauty of the river, the architecture of the buildings, the colorful foliage, the bands playing music, and the children dancing – it hit me just how lucky I am to be here, and how peaceful and empowering this alone time has been.” – 10.10.2019, day 1 of my solo backpacking trip in Prague, Czechia

“You are so aware of how high up you are, standing out on tiny ledges and bridges. I could see the river stretch out in both directions, the top of the Gellert Hill I had just climbed in the distance, and the entire Pest side of the city.” – 10.12.2019, day 3 of my solo backpacking trip in Budapest, Hungary

“It truly hit me that night that I’m meant to be in Madrid right now, and this group of people is meant to be my family.” – 10.13.2019, returning to Madrid after a long weekend backpacking along

“Finally having a visitor and getting to show her what my life is like here was so special. And, after hearing reviews of Lisbon, I’m so glad we chose Porto!” – 10.26.2019, Porto, Portugal with my mom

“This was definitely my favorite part of the weekend – great views with great people.” – 11.1.2019, watching the sunset from the Carmel Bunkers in Barcelona, Spain (the highest point in the city)

“This was a much needed trip for lots of reasons: warmer weather, relaxing, change of scenery, and I’m really glad to have had that as the semester winds down. Being with 30 other people who were strangers 3 months ago and now are some of my closest friends, sitting on a beach in the south of freaking Spain, watching the sunset with absolutely zero responsibility, was so beautiful and magical.” – 11.9.2019, class trip to Málaga, Spain (in Andalucía)

“Standing on a bridge in Paris, France, watching the Eiffel Tower light up at night is something so unbelievably special, I still can’t believe I was there.” – 11.14.2019, Paris, France

“From the second I arrived in Amsterdam, I knew I was going to fall in love with the city.” – 11.15.2019, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

“I really liked spending genuine time with everyone and I’m getting very appreciative of all the connections I’ve made here.” – 11.30.2019, Rome, Italy

“It’s now December, which is so crazy to think about – I have less than 3 weeks left here.” – 12.1.2019, returning to Madrid from Rome, Italy

“I will definitely enjoy the break from flying every weekend, but I’ll always miss how spontaneous, careless, and excitingly special these past four months have been.” – 12.7.2019, returning from my final trip to Copenhagen, Denmark

While living through these four months, although I tried, it was hard to truly take in all that I was doing and realize how incredible it was. After a few weeks, the flights every weekend to new cities and new countries became routine, and it was harder to value living in Europe as much as I would’ve liked. Now, looking back on it all, it’s hitting me just how crazy these past four months have been, and how lucky I am to have experienced all that I did.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that “abroad changed me,” as many people do, though I definitely think it helped me grow as a person, and it taught me so much about life and how valuable its experiences are. I know see travel as a fairly easy way to learn and explore, rather than an expensive luxury, or a once-a-year thing. I now take fuller advantage of my free time and want to maximize the time that I do have while I’m young to do and learn as much as a can, whether that’s here in Boston or all around the world. Most importantly, I made lifelong friends who now seem more like family, and I already miss though we left just ten days ago.

It’s weird for me to be wrapping up abroad like this, because I can’t completely believe or admit that the whole thing is over, but somehow it’s not August anymore, and instead of telling everyone that I’m going abroad, I now have to say “I went abroad.” Even though I’m sad that it’s now all in the past, I wouldn’t have changed a thing about my four months, and I’m looking forward to everything that’s to come out of this semester and what I’ve learned.

I would highly recommend to anyone thinking about studying abroad to do it – like I said, I wouldn’t have changed a single thing about my time in Spain, and I can honestly say these have been the best four months of my life. I know this is not the end of my travels, I have so much more I want to see in the world! But, for now I need to be in Boston for a bit, and as much as I miss Madrid, Boston will always be “home” for me.

Thank you all for following along with me these past four months, it has been such a pleasure sharing these photos, stories, and experiences with you! I will continue posting as I travel more, along with some tips and tricks I learned while traveling through Europe. For some highlights of the semester, I’ve posted my final abroad video below, I hope you enjoy 🙂

Hasta luego,


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A Week in My Life Abroad: Madrid to Copenhagen

Hi, again!

As classes have now finished and I’m in my final weeks here in Spain, I’m doing my best to squeeze in as much activity as I can before I return to the States. This week in Madrid was definitely a busy one, as the next few will likely be as well, and then this weekend I was able to visit my roommate in Copenhagen, Denmark for my last trip of the semester!

Starting out the week was definitely stressful, as I had my last three days of classes Monday through Wednesday, and then immediately began Christmas activities. My friends and I took a bus (called the Navibus) around Madrid on Wednesday night which passes through all of the Christmas lights they’ve set up, and it was so nice to finally be able to really celebrate the holidays. Unfortunately I had my first final exam on Thursday, so it was a busy week of studying, and then I left straight from my exam to the airport.

Spending time with my roommate in Copenhagen was so nice, not only because I haven’t seen her all semester, but it was really nice to have a quick break before buckling down to take my remaining 5 finals back in Madrid. I was only in Denmark for two nights, but we spent our time exploring the city (especially the Christmas markets!), and I took advantage of the amazing food there – I’m starting to get sick of tapas!

Copenhagen was very similar to Amsterdam, which might have been my favorite city so far, so I really liked exploring different neighborhoods and seeing all of the Christmas decorations. The one thing I could’ve done without, though, is the cold weather. I’m definitely a warm weather person, so getting back to Madrid (even though it’s still pretty chilly here) was great.

Now that I’m back, I’ve been hustling to study for the rest of my finals, as I have four on Tuesday and Wednesday, and then my last one the following Monday. On Sunday morning, my friends and I continued to get into the Christmas spirit by running a 5k in Santa suits – so much fun! The suits were far from durable so we lost most of them by the end, but we got to cross the finish line under (fake) snow, so I got a little taste of Boston in my last two weeks here.

This upcoming week will be filled with studying and exams, but once I finish I have some time to spend in Madrid before I leave, so I’m excited to get my last few memories in. I’m so thankful for all the experiences I’ve had these past four months, and I can’t wait to continue traveling the world! Thank you for following along with me on all of my journeys, and I’ll see you next week for my final post of abroad!



P.S. Once I’m back in Boston, I’ll be shifting my posts toward more tips and tricks for travel, and itinerary suggestions in some of my favorite places, so please subscribe below for a lot more content coming soon!

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Weekend in Rome

Welcome back! It’s definitely been a while, but I’ve been spending lots of time in Madrid recently and taking some time off from traveling every weekend. I spent Thanksgiving here last Thursday with my entire program, who put on an amazing dinner for us all. Even though I couldn’t be at home for the holiday, it was nice to spend it with so many special people in Spain.

The following day we had a very quick turnaround – early Friday morning we flew out to Rome! I’d only been to Italy for one dinner before back in September, so this was really exciting. We spent lots of time deciding which city we should visit, since there’s really so much to do in Italy, but Rome seemed like the best weekend option.

When we landed Friday morning, we first made our way to breakfast. We walked up the Spanish steps, and then found our way to a small cafe where we had spinach and mozzarella sandwiches. We had some time before checking into our apartment, so we walked around the area we were staying in, visiting the Pantheon as well. I studied Latin all four years of high school, so I spend LOTS of time studying Ancient Rome. Therefore, seeing all of these  sites and monuments in real life was so interesting for me.

After checking in that afternoon, we decided to spend the rest of the day in the Vatican City. Even just walking around outside in the city was so beautiful, and they were setting up Christmas decorations which made it even more special. Walking through the Sistine Chapel as well was amazing. This is definitely one of the most intricate and beautiful things I’ve seen so far, for every wall is lined with famous artwork and designing, and it all tells a story. I am so glad I was able to experience this place, and I would highly suggest a visit here at some point.

For dinner that night, we went to a very small, intimate restaurant which our renter recommended to us. I had spaghetti with a pepper and cheese sauce, and it was by far one of the best meals I’ve ever had. Italy definitely knows how to make pasta! We spent the rest of the night trying a couple different bars in the area as well, as Rome has a much more relaxed nightlife scene.

Saturday was our second and final full day in Rome, so we made sure to hit all of the rest of the city’s sites. We started at the Colosseum, which was probably my favorite part of the weekend. Not only had I studied this in SO much depth in high school, but the structure itself is so immense and breathtaking (it’s one of the seven wonders of the world!). By now we were all starving, so we found a local pizza shop and had a little picnic outside. I don’t know if it was the fact that we were in Italy, or just that I was so hungry, but this pizza was amazing!

After lunch we headed back toward the Colosseum to explore the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill. Everything we saw here was straight out of my high school Latin textbook, so I had another wave of excitement. There was so much history to see in the Forum, and all of it was preserved so incredibly. 

Once the sun began to set, we made our way to the Trevi Fountain to toss in some coins and make a wish. We shopped around this area for a bit, and then got ready for another pasta dinner. This time I got fettuccine with pesto, and this was definitely my favorite meal of the weekend! We explored another bar that night (Scholars’ Irish Pub), which was so much fun, and then went home before we had to catch our Sunday morning flight home. 

This weekend was for sure a quick one, but I’m so glad we were able to see such a beautiful city. The weather was great, and I was with so many close friends, so it turned out to be one of my favorite trips of abroad. Now that I only have a few weeks left, the traveling is starting to slow down while the school work is picking up (today is my last day of school before finals!). I have one more trip planned this upcoming weekend, and then after that my next flight will be back to Boston!

I hope you’ve all been enjoying my weekly updates, and I hope to keep this going in some form or another once I’m back in the States! Please subscribe below to be notified of new content, and I’ll see you all next week 🙂



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Weekend in Paris and Amsterdam

Welcome back!

This past weekend was definitely an ambitious one, but it was definitely my favorite so far. We had been mostly traveling to more uncommon cities so far, with a few exceptions, but this weekend we finally hit some of the major “abroad” destinations. On Thursday we started out in Paris, France, and then on Friday we made our way to Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

Honestly, I didn’t expect to like Paris too much, because I had heard it wasn’t the nicest or friendliest city, and it was very touristy. So, I went into that leg of the trip with rather low expectations. I was completely wrong. In the one day I spent in Paris, I saw so much more that I thought I would, and the city completely surprised me. We got crepes, visited the Sainte Chapelle (so beautiful!), the Louvre Museum, and the Arc de Triomphe. From there, we finally made our way to the Eiffel Tower. This was much bigger than I expected, and was really amazing to see. As we were leaving, the sun was setting so they began to turn on the tower’s lights. Seeing the entire Eiffel Tower light up was definitely one of the coolest things I’ve seen abroad so far.

After a break at our hostel, we ended up going back to the Eiffel Tower to eat dinner at a nearby restaurant. Every hour, the tower’s lights twinkle for about five minutes, so we were able to see this before we ate dinner. Standing on a bridge in the middle of Paris, watching the Eiffel Tower light up, was one of those moments that you know is so special, even as it’s happening, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever be back to see that again, but I feel so lucky that I was able to experience it this week. In the end, I’m glad I went into Paris with low expectations, because it only continued to pleasantly surprise me, and I ended up loving a city which I didn’t even plan on visiting.

Friday morning was an early wake up, as I had to catch my bus to Amsterdam. What was supposed to be a six-hour drive turned out to be eight, so by the time I reached Amsterdam, I was ready to walk around. From the minute I stepped off the bus, I noticed how charming and cozy the city was, with restaurants and shops lining the streets, and Christmas lights strung everywhere. I reached the apartment we were staying in, which overlooked one of Amsterdam’s many canals. Sitting in the warmth on the couch looking out at the lights over the cold water felt like the holiday season, and made the weekend even more relaxing and homey.

We didn’t have too much time on Friday since we got in later in the afternoon, so once we were settled we headed out for an amazing pasta dinner at Spaghetteria, and then explored some of the bars and plazas open in Amsterdam at night. Again, seeing all of the Christmas lights everywhere, and everyone so bundled up in the cold, got me SO excited for the holidays.

Saturday was the only full day we had in the city, so we packed everything in. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get tickets to the Anne Frank House (they sell out really fast, so buy them FAR in advance!), so we started our day with a delicious pancake breakfast at De Carrousel Pannenkoeken. From here, we toured the Heineken Museum, as we had previously bought tickets for the “Heineken Experience”. Going into this, we expected a normal museum tour, explaining the history of Heineken, with a tasting at the end. We were completely surprised to find an entirely interactive experience, with films and music and lights and games, ending in a Heineken bar. I am definitely not a beer person, but the whole experience was so cool, I would definitely recommend the tour if you are even in Amsterdam.

After leaving the museum and getting a quick snack of stroopwafels, we made our way to the canal tour we had booked. I suggest touring the canals both by foot and by boat, because first of all, they’re so beautiful and you can never see enough, but also, you get a much different point of view passing through the streets in the water, and you get to see so many cool bridges and corners and pathways while relaxing on the back of a boat.

For the rest of our day, we walked around to hit some more sights while it was still light out. We passed by the outside of the Anne Frank House, we visited Dam Square and tasted lots of cheese, and walked by the Centraal Station of Amsterdam. Eventually we made our way to Casa di David for another delicious pasta dinner (we don’t get pasta in Spain), and then explored some more bars, including my favorite which had live jazz music.

We flew out early Sunday morning, so I had the day to catch up in Madrid. Again, I’m not sure how we fit Amsterdam into pretty much one day, but I definitely could have spent a lot more time there. This city felt so different from everywhere else I’ve traveled, and I think that’s why I loved it so much. It was definitely the right time of year to visit, with all of the holiday decorations out and the cold air, and even though it’s a pretty big city, it had such a personal, small town feel – I could definitely see myself spending a longer period of time here. It also felt like a much younger city, with lots of students and young families, where Paris had an older, more traditional feel. I will surely be returning to Amsterdam at some point while still in my twenties, hopefully for a few months so I can really enjoy the city.

The semester is finally beginning to slow down, so I will be staying in Madrid this weekend, and then only traveling a couple more times after that. I’ve been seeing and learning so much while abroad so far, and it’s crazy that I only have a few more weeks, but I’m excited to continue exploring Europe in this last month, and even after I return to the US.

I hope you’ve been enjoying my weekly updates, and I can’t wait to share more!



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Weekend in Andalucía

This past weekend was another one spent in Spain, and for once we didn’t have to fly anywhere – a break from the airport was definitely needed! We started out in Málaga on a trip with our study abroad program, and then headed west to Sevilla. Both are cities in the southern region of Andalucía, so it was also nice to have some warmer weather for the weekend.

In Málaga we started off with a quick walking tour around the city, where we visited the Atarazanas food market, the Cathedral, and the Plaza de la Constitución. After a tapas lunch, we then explored the Picasso Museum – he is from Málaga, so a lot of his history and artwork is represented here! We then walked through the Alcazaba, Málaga’s medieval Moorish palace, which overlooked the ocean and was a great way to end our tour.

We had some free time to explore, so we all spent some time sitting on the beach as the sun set. Since Málaga is a much smaller coast city, the beach was so calm and so peaceful. Once it grew dark, our whole program drove over to a dance studio (which happens to be where Antonio Banderas rehearses) for a flamenco class. All I can say is that I now have a new respect for flamenco dancers – this was one of the hardest things I’ve tried to learn!

Saturday morning we started with a huge hotel breakfast and then walked back toward the beach to the Centre Pompidou, a branch of Paris’ contemporary art museum. The art we saw here was definitely different from what we’ve been studying so far, as it was much more modern and utopian. From here, we walked along the coast to a beachfront restaurant where we ended this leg of the trip with an amazing paella lunch.

Most of the program was heading back to Madrid that evening, but while we were already in the south of Spain, my friends and I decided to go to Sevilla for the rest of the weekend. We arrived by train around 7pm, so after checking into our hostel, we immediately found dinner and began to explore the city at night. We were very centrally located, so it was super easy to get around and see the nightlife of Sevilla in the short time we had.

Sunday morning we had to pack in all of our sightseeing, as we were leaving for Madrid at 4pm that day. We started off at the Catedral de Sevilla, which was so beautiful, but since it was Sunday and mass was going on, we were unable to climb up the tower. We also walked by the Royal Alcázar of Sevilla, but the line was so long and we didn’t have tons of time, so we weren’t able to go inside here either. We ended up taking a bus tour through the city for the rest of the day, so we were able to see most major sights in time for our bus ride home.

We spent some time at the Plaza de España, which was one of the largest and most extravagant plazas I’ve seen in Spain so far. We walked around a bit more by the Metropol Parasol, got some lunch and gelato, and then made our way to the bus station for our 6 hour drive back to Madrid.

This weekend was much more relaxed than past trips, so it was really nice to take a break and have more time in Spain. It was also fun to travel with the whole program, since we don’t see everyone else as often. Overall, Sevilla is one of my favorite cities that I’ve traveled to so far, so I’m glad we were able to squeeze that in after our Málaga trip. This upcoming weekend will be VERY busy, so having a weekend to relax was definitely good beforehand.

I’m looking forward to my last month and a half here, so please stay updated for my final adventures! Subscribe below to get email updates when I post new content 🙂

Thank you and see you all next week!



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Halloween in Barcelona

Catching up on another weekend abroad! This past weekend some friends and I went to Barcelona to celebrate Halloween. We spent about three days in the city before returning to Madrid, which was definitely enough to see all of the major sites and enjoy ourselves.

We arrived early on the morning of Thursday the 31st, so we spent most of the day walking around and seeing as much of the city as we could. We passed by the Barcelona Cathedral and walked through Citadel Park before checking into our Airbnb for the weekend. This wasn’t the nicest place to say (we were told that if anyone knocks, we were not to open the door under any circumstances), but it ended up working out for the two nights we were there. After checking in, getting settled, and napping for a bit, we headed back out to walk around some shops and grab tacos for dinner.

Thursday night there was a major Halloween party at one of Barcelona’s main night clubs, so we all dressed up and went as a group. This was definitely a MAJOR Halloween party. The entire club was packed and we only lasted a short while before heading out to the beach, which was right outside the back door. Being right on the beach was definitely a big change from Madrid!

Friday was our main exploring day. We started out with a big brunch at Citizen Café, and good thing we did because we had no idea how much walking we would be doing that day. After brunch, we headed to the Sagrada Familia, which is Barcelona’s unfinished Roman Catholic basilica, designed by Antoni Gaudí. The building is supposed to be completed relatively soon, so it would be really cool to go back one day and see the finished product.

From there we walked a LONG way uphill to Park Güell. We were able to walk around some of the outside paths of the park, but the tickets to get into the museum part were sold out. It was still really pretty outside, and we were able to look over the whole city. After a quick break, we continued the hike uphill to the bunkers at El Carmel. While walking up, we were all questioning whether it was worth it (we had been walking uphill for about 4 hours now). But when we got to the top, we concluded that it was 100% the right choice. We arrived at the top right around sunset, and we could see the entire city of Barcelona. These bunkers are the highest point of the city, and keep in mind we started at sea level that morning, so this break at the top was much needed.

After hiking back down the hill (and taking a bus the rest of the way), we ended back up on level ground and hit up a hole-in-the-wall tapas bar, which we all agreed served the best croquettes we’ve had thus far. The day took a lot out of us, so after napping (again) and trying to get ready, we decided we couldn’t take another late night. We quickly tried the Dow Jones stock exchange bar, which seemed like a cool idea, but was honestly not very well executed once we got there, and then ended up at Burger King to end the night.

Sunday morning we packed up, and before heading to the airport we made a few quick stops at Las Ramblas, la Boquería, and of course, Starbucks. After a rocky flight home (and many more naps), we finally made it back to Madrid early Saturday night. Getting home that early in the weekend was such a nice change – having all day to catch up and get organized on Sunday was amazing.

In conclusion, I’m glad I visited Barcelona, but I’m even more glad that I’m living in Madrid. I can’t quite explain it, but the people, the culture, and just the city itself are more comforting and welcoming, in my opinion, in Madrid. It was definitely a cool experience to see another (very popular) part of Spain, but the more I continue to travel elsewhere, the more I realize I made the right choice coming to Madrid 🙂

It’s crazy to think about, but the months are quickly passing by and I only have a short time left in Europe! I have a few more trips lined up for my last weeks abroad, so I will definitely be posting a LOT in the next couple of months – subscribe below to stay updated!

Thank you again for following me along this AMAZING journey, and I’ll see you all next week!



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Weekend in Porto, Portugal

After a looonng break I’m finally back blogging! I took some time off from writing while my mom was visiting last week, so now I’m catching up on my last few trips.

While my mom was in town, we spent the first weekend in Porto, Portugal, which I highly recommend if you get the chance to visit! I thought we would be missing out by only staying in Porto and not seeing Lisbon as well (the capital), but after returning, I’m glad that we stayed in one place, and from what I’ve heard from others, Porto is the place to go.

When we first touched down, we headed straight for the water, which in this case was the Douro River. We grabbed some lunch at a cafe right on the river, and just relaxed for a bit until checking into our hotel (it was an early morning of travel!).

Much later in the afternoon, after a much needed nap, we headed back out into the city to shop around. The one thing you should know about Porto before visiting is that the entire city is on a hill – so you’re either walking up or down. This made our trip a bit more tiring than most, but it was good to get some exercise in! We window shopped for a while, since there are lots and lots of cute little shops in Porto, and then we made our way down to the river once more.

Right along the water there was a man singing and playing guitar, and the whole vibe was so beautiful and so relaxing, so we decided to eat dinner right above him, on a stone wall overlooking the river. You could see the town lights from across the river, and occasionally a few boats pass by. This was definitely one of my favorite meals so far, simply because the atmosphere was so unbelievable.

Day two we slept in LATE, which is very unlike us but very much needed. We started out with brunch at Zenith Brunch & Cocktails (which also has a Madrid location!), and I finally got the açaí bowl I’ve been craving since I left the states. I’ve learned that breakfast isn’t a huge thing in Spain (and I’m a big breakfast person), so finding real breakfast and brunch restaurants is a big deal for me.

We spent the morning sight seeing around Porto, first climbing up the Igreja dos Clérigos, walking by the Palácio da Bolsa, and climbing up (more hills) to the Porto Cathedral. Even just walking through the streets, we saw beautiful architecture and blue and white tiled buildings. After lots and lots of walking and climbing, we settled down by the river again for a glass of wine and some bruschetta while we waited for our Port wine tour to begin.

I didn’t know anything about Port wine before this tour (which I probably should have), but I had just been told over and over that if you go to Portugal, you must go to Porto and you must do a wine tasting. Apparently Port wine is extremely sweet and extremely alcoholic. After one sip I knew it wasn’t for me, but it was still cool to tour the different wineries and wine cellars, and learn about the history of Port wine.

Four hours and seven tastings of Port wine later, we desperately needed food and water, so once again we found ourselves at a restaurant on the river, this time on the Gaia side of the river (which is where the wine is made). Here we enjoyed some more breads and cheeses before walking home (and stopping for gelato on the way!).

Day three was time to fly back to Madrid, so before heading to the airport we explored one more part of Porto. We drove out to Foz do Douro, which is where the Douro River meets the Atlantic Ocean. Since we came here early enough, there was almost no one out yet, so the air was calm and peaceful, and we were able to enjoy the beach for a moment before departing. We could walk out along the boardwalk to the lighthouse, and although the water was really rough, it was so relaxing to be on a beach again.

After another delicious brunch and one more walk through Porto’s shops, we finally headed to the airport. Two to three days was the perfect amount of time to spend in the city, as we were able to see and do everything we wanted without feeling rushed, but without running out of plans either. We then enjoyed an amazing week back in Madrid with lots more sight seeing and LOTS more eating!

I’m so thankful I was able to take this trip, and that I was able to share it with my mom as well. Again, if you get the chance, PLEASE try to visit Porto! It is so beautiful and a nice break from most other fast-paced European cities, you won’t regret it.

I have lots more to catch up on, so I’ll definitely be posting again soon! If you’d like to stay updated when I post new content, you can subscribe down below to receive email notifications. That’s all for now, so thank you for staying in touch and I’ll see you soon!



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