There are a lot of reasons why I love my school and many of them revolve around my activities during the school year itself. But one of the things that makes me adore Florida Tech the most is the opportunities it affords me. This year I got to go on one of the biggest adventures of my life through my school – I got to study abroad.
Walking into the Miami airport alone on that fateful day in June, I felt so small. I was an 18 year-old about to fly halfway across the world all by myself. For the next two months, I would essentially be on my own. The thought was both incredibly terrifying and beautifully exhilarating.
For the first 10 days of my trip, I stayed in Madrid, Spain. I took a business class with 10 graduate students and two other undergrads that definitely knew how to have fun. We traveled to places like Segovia and Toledo – which may be the most beautiful place I’ve ever been in my life. After ten glorious days in the Spanish sun, it was time for the undergrads and I to catch a flight across Europe. The next phase of my adventure began with an early morning flight out of Madrid and straight into London. And believe me, by then all of us were already missing our daily siestas.
England was, in a word, incredible. Over the course of six weeks, I got to see Wicked, Les Miserables, The Cripple of Inishmaan and Once in London’s West End – and get autographs at the stage door. And yes, that includes from Daniel Radcliffe. I got to travel to medieval castles, palaces and tons of crypts, take late night train rides into and out of London, get harassed by French border control and walk among the streets where some of my famous novels were set and written.
The weekend we spent in Paris is one of my fondest memories of the entire summer. My friends and I went to the Louvre and some of the more historic places, but my favorite times were the ones we spent adventuring. One night, we ended up at a carnival in the heart of Paris. We went on log flumes and roller coasters and my friend Christina and I ended up playing in giant hamster balls!
Speaking of friends and adventures, some of the best parts of my Florida Tech study abroad experience were simply wandering with my friends and exploring in the various countries. The feeling of being completely free, out of your element, scared, ecstatic and just lost in the summer heat in a country you don’t know is something entirely indescribable.
Each night, Christina and I had a “tradition” of wandering out at one in the morning in search of ham and cheese, Nutella and banana crepes to share. On one sunny Sunday morning, three of us dressed up and went to Notre Dame, then to the famous Pont des Arts, or the “love lock” bridge. Each of us placed a padlock onto the bridge dedicated to someone we loved, then threw one of the two keys into the river Seine. My lock was dedicated to my College Players and the remaining key stays on the necklace I wear over my heart. *Insert “aw” cue here*
The people that I spent my summer abroad with are some of the most incredible people I’ve ever met, and I’m so thrilled to be able to call them my friends. The experience I had in Europe was one of the best of my life and it taught me a lot about myself and the world. I’m truly a different person because of my time abroad and I’m unspeakably grateful for everything that I learned.
I really didn’t want to leave Europe, but the saving grace of returning home was seeing my amazing family and school friends once again. The return of my texting and 4G plan was also very welcome. When I turned my phone back on and read the barrage of texts from my friends about how much I was missed and loved, I knew I was finally home.