It’s hard to find a common denominator in all of the places I have traveled to throughout my time studying abroad. Then I realized something as simple as a bridge has been a shared characteristic in each city. Here are a few of my favorites:
The picture above marked the beginning of one of my favorite weekends abroad. I traveled to Amsterdam with two of my closest friends here. We booked a hostel a small hike away from the city center, so every day we were forced to explore the small, side streets Amsterdam has to offer. Canals are usually associated with Venice, but the ones here lined with bicycles and intricate architecture look to be straight out of a travel guidebook. We went the weekend of November 16th and the streets were already lit up with Christmas lights that immediately make you desire the smell of pine needles, a warm fire, holiday music, and some hot chocolate. It is a comforting thought that the people of Amsterdam took the time to make their city beautiful, for the simple intention of bringing joy to those in it. If you make it to Amsterdam, the Dutch pancakes are just as delicious as everyone makes them seem.
It’s hard to travel to Venice without taking the novelty tourist picture on a bridge over the canal. I traveled to Venice on a school-sponsored weekend trip. The weather was quite gloomy all weekend, with biting wind and cold rain. On the last night before we left, it cleared up for one of the most beautiful sunsets I have seen to date. It was Venice’s goodbye present to my friends after we struggled through the winding streets with our umbrellas bent backwards in the fierce wind.
The beauty of the Venetian architecture directly contrasted with the stunning blue color of the water places this city on my bucket list of places to return to. Piazza San Marco and Saint Mark’s Basilica are a must see, especially as the walls and ceiling of the Basilica are dressed with golden flakes. Fun fact about Venice: do not jump in the water, you may come out with a third eye! It looks beautiful and enticing, but it is deceiving.
I’m not going to lie; one of the reasons why I chose to go to Budapest is because of the popular song by George Ezra. The city sounds so foreign and exotic, and how many people can say they have been to Hungary? I took this picture with the Pest castle in the background. Did you know that Buda is the land on one side of the river and Pest is on the other? The one day that I was in Budapest I saw historical landmarks and learned about a culture I never thought I would be able to. I also got to check something off my bucket list: going in the thermal baths.
The nightlife of Budapest is most intriguing to me. In the aftermath of the wreckage of World War II, there were abandoned apartment buildings all over the city. The people of Budapest decided to begin opening pubs in the ruins of these buildings. These “pub ruins,” as they are called, are scattered all over the city. The one that I went to was a two-story pub. There were over ten different rooms with walls made of concrete but covered in graffiti, Christmas lights, paintings, and random decorations such as a bicycle. One room had a live band; one had a couch and a desk lamp and a foosball table; some had food; and others had different types of bars. It is a major part of their culture that I was lucky enough to experience and be able to share.
After about two and a half months traveling around Europe, I finally made it to the Eiffel Tower. Spur of the moment, I decided to fly to Paris on a cold Wednesday morning, just for a concert. I flew to Paris with about ten other students in my program to go to see Flume, a popular DJ. That’s a sentence I never would have thought would be coming out of my mouth. Since I arrived early Wednesday morning, and flew out Thursday afternoon, there wasn’t much time to be a tourist. Although, can you even say you were in Paris if you didn’t see the Eiffel Tower? So even though I was a little late to the concert, it was well worth it. A traveling tip for France: get a Nutella crepe; it will blow your mind.
I may be a little biased, but this is my favorite bridge. At the time this was taken I was sitting on the wall lining the Arno River in Florence, with my back leaning against the first store that lines the Ponte Vecchio. I am facing the Ponte de Santa Trinita that takes me from the AIFS school to my favorite restaurants and shops. Sometimes I sit on one of the bridges, or this wall, watching tourists and Italians go about their daily business, breathing in scents of baking pizza and trying to make myself realize that this is real. It all still feels as though it is a dream.
Italy is a great location to study abroad with convenient access to diverse travel destinations. If you’re inspired by Ginette’s story, you can choose your very own Italian study abroad adventure with AIFS today!