The GoGlobal Blog

Tag: Loyola Study Abroad

9 Days. 8 Friends. 5 Countries.

9 Days. 8 Friends. 5 Countries.

If you asked me before coming to the John Felice Rome Center that I would be able to pull off visiting 5 countries and navigate 4 different languages in 9 days, I would have never believed you. Over the past two months here (WOW time is flying by!) not only my confidence in myself has grown but also my ability to navigate foreign cultures has as well. Also, luckily for me, 7 of my fellow Alpha Delta Pi sisters were willing to embark on this adventure together.

We set off on Friday for Vienna, Austria and ended in Barcelona, Spain by the end of the following Sunday. In-between those two countries, we took a day trip to Budapest, Hungary, stayed in Nice, France, and packed in another day trip to Monte Carlo, Monaco. Every where we visited, a different aspect of the local culture and architecture intrigued me. In Budapest, I felt like I was transported into a fairytale; whether it was peaking through the arches of their castle lined hill tops or the aroma of fresh apple strudel floating from tiny alleyways, I loved it and hope to return some day. Taking in the aqua beachfront in Nice was breathtaking, and people watching from a cafe in Monte Carlo, ogling over the lavishly dressed locals, was a hoot. Undoubtedly, nothing tops the cuisine in Barcelona. We ate tapas after tapas as well as plenty of paella and Spanish omelettes, and even got to experience brunch again.

There wasn’t a place I regret visiting, or an experience I wish I could have rather had over of my fall break. This trip was unforgettable, and what made it even more memorable was the life-long friends who were by my side.

Ciao, Roma!

Ciao, Roma!

It has been a little over a week since I arrived at the John Felice Rome Center, and I still can’t stop pinching myself. From the aroma of oven-fired pizza on every cobblestone street to the blooming olive groves lining Via Massimi, I am starting to see why they say living in Italy is la dolce vita. 

This past week of Orientation has been planned minute by minute by our trusted Student Life Assistants to give us a crash course in Roman life. We’ve toured the Colosseum, splurged on a gelateria crawl, navigated public transportation, relaxed on the beach, and consumed bottles and bottles of wine (thanks Loyola) to toast the beginning of the semester. This weekend we had the opportunity to tour the Italian region of Umbria, and became aquatinted with the whimsical towns of Narni, Spoleto, Foglino, and Citta di Pieve. Sometime during lunch overlooking Castiglione del Lago, or wine tasting at a countryside vineyard, or even reenacting a Roman battle we grew from classmates to friends as we learned about the ancient history of these fairytale-esque Umbrian escapes.

With the commencement of Orientation on Wednesday upon the Mass of the Holy Spirit, I do have to admit that I’m excited to explore Rome on my own terms, and learn more about exactly what is la dolce vita (with the help of gelato, of course).

Orientation in Madrid

Orientation in Madrid

Hola a todas!
Tonight concludes our very hectic two-day stay in Madrid as part of API’s orientation for Sevilla students. Yesterday when I arrived, I met other API students and the director at the airport. From there, they loaded us into a bus and when we arrived at our hotel I got to meet my roommate for this semester! I definitely appreciated how they gave us the opportunity to room with our future roommates before we even arrive in Sevilla. This allowed us to get to know each other better all while experiencing new and exciting things. After an informational meeting we all went out for a group dinner, where we were able to socialize with more students.
This morning, we got an early start as we walked from our hotel to The Palacio Real where we toured the palace. It was amazing to take the time to appreciate such a beautiful place. We had a short break for lunch and after lunch we walked to the art museum- Museo del Prado where we were able to learn about the works of Goya. Tomorrow we will embark on yet another journey to Toledo, where we will stay for a night.

Major takeaways:

– There is a certain shared sense of vulnerability amongst the students in my program- entering a new country with a different primary language. Because of this, it has been easy to make new friends. My advice is to talk to other students, even those you would not typically strike up a conversation with. A lot of times you will find that sharing your experiences abroad thus far-even some of the more embarrassing ones- will help you form connections with other students.
-People will make their intentions/goals while studying abroad very clear within the first day or so. It’s more than okay to make friends with people who have different intentions than you, but I have found that hanging around those who have similar travel goals as you makes you feel much more comfortable when exploring and makes for less awkward situations in the future. If your #1 priority abroad is to immerse yourself in the culture, you might regret limiting yourself to going out to American clubs every night because that is what the majority of your group wants.

 

Taken while walking to the heart of Madrid. I loved admiring the architecture

 

One of the many magnificent ceilings in the royal palace

 

Madrid to Mallorca

Madrid to Mallorca

Time is running out, and finals are fast approaching. Earlier in the semester a couple of friends and I decided to book a trip for the long weekend before finals week to the island of Palma, Mallorca.

I’m not sure if it was because I know my days are numbered now, but this trip was by far my favorite. I arrived with only two expectations: laying on the beach every day for the whole trip, and leaving with a heavy tan.

Not only were my expectations met, but they were surpassed. I made friends with other guests at my hostel and we tanned on the beach and went on adventures for the three days there. I went cliff diving for the first time, visited a palace, took a picturesque train ride to the other side of the island, and partied with people I just met! It seems like a dream, how perfect the trip was. It made me realize that talking to people who didn’t come on the trip can add to your plans, not take away from them.

Of course, I was afraid to do a lot of what I’ve done, but I’ve also conquered a lot of those fears now. I’m terrified of heights, so cliff diving seemed ridiculous to me, but I went anyways. I still have no idea how I mustered up the courage to jump, but I did, and even though I landed wrong I’d do it again any day. You don’t have to do anything as extreme as cliff diving, but you should do things that push you out of your comfort zone.

The last night I was there I got to see the sun set over the mountains and the ocean, while thinking about my study abroad experience. As often as it is repeated, I really do believe you have to go into all of it with zero expectations, ready to change plans again and again, and be open to new experiences. My time studying abroad wouldn’t be as amazing as it is without trying new things.

    

Pretty in Paris

Pretty in Paris

Make sure to visit this at night for a stunning light show every hour on the hour
If you can afford it, the views from the tower are breath-taking

I’ve been lucky enough to have visited Europe before. I saw some cities in Spain, France, and Italy, and loved them all enough to come back. Recently, I returned from a trip to Paris, which I saw last time I was in Europe.

I thought I wouldn’t have much to do, since I’d been to the Eiffel Tower, seen inside the Louvre, and entered the Notre Dame, but I didn’t have enough time to visit half of what I wanted to.

As preparation for this semester abroad, I hunted down works of fiction that took place in Europe as inspiration on where to visit during my stay, and I had a few new ideas on what to see in Paris. This trip was so fun because it was like a scavenger hunt, I was either viewing the touristic attractions in a new light or visiting places a tourist would normally walk by.

Be sure to look for the cat if you don’t have the time to read part of a book in there
A complicated, beautiful work of art. If you think it’s pretty on the outside, wait until you walk in

I highly recommend reading a couple books that take place in the countries you’d like to visit, because that way you’ll learn about new places to visit, or gain more knowledge on places you already know of.

Thanks to the books I have read, I was able to visit the church of St. Etienne du Mont, Shakespeare & Company, and learn more about Point Zero.

I learned Point Zero is where all distances in France are measured. Apparently if you make a wish on it, it’ll come true, and if you don’t make a wish, you’re bound to return to Paris again one day.

Don’t worry, I made sure to stop at Point Zero before I left Paris, but I can’t tell you what I wished for, or it won’t come true!

It’s worn away from the tourists walking past, to Notre Dame
North-Central and Nearing Goodbyes

North-Central and Nearing Goodbyes

Have I ever mentioned how much I love Vietnam? Some people and loved ones that read my blog posts probably think I’ve spent much of my semester miserable because I almost always find a way to squeeze into my blogs about being homesick. Yes, I’m homesick, but I also really don’t want to leave. I want to bring all my loved ones to Vietnam, so I can stay here without missing my people back home. This past week we went on our last excursion of the semester to the Northern and Central regions of Vietnam. The regions of Vietnam all have distinct characteristics about them which I heavily learned on this trip, but I will get into that in little bit.

Our first stop was the Central region. We spent just about 24 hours in a central city called Hue exploring some of the more historical parts of our trip. Some highlights were the Imperial Palace, Thien Mu Pagoda, and the Tomb of Emperor Minh Mang. It was a day heavy with information, but information I had no idea about from out ~Eurocentric education~. Afterwards we took a bus ride to a city called Hội An. I’m not going to lie, this was my favorite city on our excursion. Before we got there, we passed through the Hai Van Pass stopping at a colonial military post. It was cooler in temperature and looked like what I thought would be “tropical Colorado”. Hội An itself was definitely a tourist area, but not in a negative light. It kind of felt great to be a tourist. We walked along the river and visited the markets and bargain for souvenirs (no spoilers for my friends and family) and relaxed. Something called Earth Hour was occurring one night we were there where the entire city turned out the lights for, you guessed it, a whole hour. I was in the streets at that time and walked around and it felt like I was in another dimension. People were selling glow sticks, eating dinner lit by candle lights, and lighting candle lanterns to float on the river. The real question is why doesn’t America institute this??? I hope to return to Vietnam one day with my loved ones and Hội An is definitely a stop I want to take again.


Our last stop was Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. I know majority of the people reading this don’t know what Saigon looks like, but Hanoi is Saigon with less sidewalk, more condensed streets, and more foreigners. In Saigon I feel like we are the only foreigners living in district ten which is great for immersing us into the culture and not just living along side other travelers in districts like one and two. We stayed in the Old Quarter where a lot of tourists congregate so it was bizarre to hear English all around us and to have conversations with Australian and British people in English rather than my sad attempts at Vietnamese with local people. We had a lot of free time in Hanoi, but we visited a few historical sites as well. First, we waited in a really, really, reallllly long line to see the mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh. Colloquially known as Uncle Ho, he is the single most important historical figure in Vietnam. His body is preserved and kept in a mausoleum that is open to the public, so we waited in the longest line I’ve ever seen (and I’ve been to Space Mountain at Disney, so this was the real deal). It was very interesting as we waited for a very long time to walk through the actual mausoleum in about 30 seconds. It was interesting to see just how devoted Vietnamese people are to Uncle Ho and to get to be a part of that experience. We also got to see a water puppet show which is something very common usually in northern Vietnam. They have roots going back many decades and it was amazing to look at although I had no idea what was going on (curse the language barrier). We finally hit Ha Long Bay as our last trip before the airport. We took a boat out to the bay and got to kayak and visit a cave before we came back to Saigon.

   
Coming back to the differences in the regions in Vietnam, there are quite a few. Norther accents are wild. The tones of the Vietnamese language are completely different, and I had quite the adventure ordering coffee and learned there is a completely different word for coffee with ice and milk instead of what I know and have memorized from the south. The food is also spicier. No lemon, which is by the way a small green lemon that looks like a lime but is a lemon, with my pho so I had some trouble in that area too (I cried while eating super spicy curry in Thailand). It was also quite cooler and dare I say I was chilly in 70 Fahrenheit degree weather.
I am now back in Saigon preparing for the amount of school work that is about to slam into me and locking myself away in coffee shops to work. I went out to dinner with my roommate and a few Vietnamese friends as the rest of our group is still up North as we did not optionally extend our trip for an individual trip and came back to Saigon. It is going to be hard to say goodbye as we have less than a month left, and it is going to be quite bittersweet.

  

Romantic Solo Trip to Venice, Italy

Romantic Solo Trip to Venice, Italy

So, there I was, sitting in Rinaldo’s in my usual seat on the couch in the corner listening to my peers discuss travel plans for the upcoming weekend. I couldn’t join in because I had no plans so I decided I needed to go somewhere. I pulled out my computer and my credit card, searched “Rome to Venice” and booked a train ticket and a hostel for the weekend. Spontaneous and maybe even a little impulsive, I made the decision and didn’t need to discuss it with anyone. After I realized what I did, I thought, Oh my God I’m going to Venice, ALONE!! And there began the brewing of excitement tinted with unease in the pit of my stomach.

Here’s my “excited-to-travel-alone” selfie.

After a late night of cheering on the Men’s basketball team and celebrating their victory into the Sweet Sixteen, I woke up (a little hungover), packed, and made my way to the train station. I’m not an anxious person, but when it comes to traveling with a deadline, I’m always on the edge of panic but everything went smoothly and I made it on the fast train headed to Venice. With a grin on my face, I admired the hills and fields passing me by as I sped over 150 mph towards the City of Water. Four hours later, tired and hungry (the default state of being for a college student studying abroad), I arrived in Venice, immediately dropped my backpack off at my hostel, and went off to explore the narrow streets and winding canals.

Venice is a maze. Google Maps would tell me to walk down what appeared to be a dark, deserted alleyway but, when I would turn the corner, the street would be bustling with life. I thought I was walking in circles because I would pass Murano glass shops, mask shops, and pizzarias then I’d walk over a bridge and pass more glass, masks, and pizza. I happened upon Piazza San Marco, the only piazza in Venice, crowded with one half tourists and the other half pigeons. Children were chasing the pigeons, couples were dancing to live music emanating from the caffès lining the piazza, men were feeding the pigeons and trying to get tourists to pay to take pictures with the birds, and tourists were walking around with their selfie sticks, always looking up with their mouths agape. When you travel a lot, you start to notice the typical tourist giveaways.

At the East end of Piazza San Marco lies Basilica Cattedrale Patriarcale di San Marco, Saint Mark’s Basilica. Unfortunately, I was unable to go inside but I did admire the facade, which was highlighted with gold mosaics and sparkled in the golden hour sunlight. The sun was approaching the horizon and I realized that now was my opportunity to see a Venetian sunset so I frantically walked around trying to find that perfect view that I’ve seen in photos but, unfortunately, I could not beat the sun. I started back towards my hostel, meanwhile glancing at all the menus posted along the way. A woman, whose job consisted of getting people into her ristorante, advised me about the perfect Venetian dishes to try for a seafood beginner (I’m not a fan of seafood but I wanted to be adventurous). I ate spaghetti alle vongole which was spaghetti with teeny, tiny clams in their shell and tomatoes with garlic sauce. Delizioso! Oh, can’t forget the glass of white house wine, one must drink wine in Italy.

I began my second day in Venice with a cappuccino and a trip to Murano, an island about a thirty-five-minute waterbus ride from my hostel. Murano is famous for its glass production which began in the 7th century. I went to the Glass Museum and saw some ancient glass and learned the history surrounding the main product of Venice. The glassblowing process is so fascinating, I wish I could’ve seen it in person! After leaving the museum, I walked along the canals and browsed through the shops lining the water. It took lots of deliberation but I found some beautiful souvenirs to bring back home for my friends and family.

Let’s talk about transportation in Venice. There are no roads, only canals, so you can either walk or travel by water. Waiting for the bus consisted of standing on a swaying platform next to a dock and hopping on a boat when it arrived. Venice did not feel like a real place because it is so different than any city I’ve ever seen. Florence has mopeds, Amsterdam has bikes, London has the Tube, Paris has the Metro, and Venice has waterbuses and gondolas.

Gondolas have set rates in Venice so one gondola for forty minutes is €80 and you can have a maximum of six people splitting that cost. As we know, I was traveling by myself and I could not afford an €80 private gondola ride on my romantic solo trip but I couldn’t go to Venice and not ride a gondola! I scoured the internet until I came across a deal on Viator.com for a walking tour plus thirty-five-minute gondola ride for $51. US DOLLARS! Lifelong dreams were coming true that day. It was time to meet up for the walking tour of Venice and my tour guide was a Venetian with a sarcastic, dark sense of humor and I enjoyed it. We toured an area with less tourists and saw a few of the one hundred and twenty-five churches of Venice. Venice sinks about 12 cm a century so now is a great time to invest in the housing market (credit for that joke goes to my tour guide, Marco). 

It was finally time for my gondola ride! I was put onto the boat with two couples and another solo rider and we embarked on our thirty-five-minute expedition around the winding Venetian canals. My gondolier did not sing or wear a fun hat like I saw other gondoliers wearing but he peacefully propelled us along. The best way to experience Venice is by water and I am so glad I was able to go on a gondola ride. It was peaceful and beautiful but over all too quickly.

After disembarking from the gondola, I wondered around a bit and happened upon Piazza San Marco, again. There are wooden walkways for when the city floods stacked all over the piazza so I went off towards the Doge’s Palace to sit on the walkways with the other tourists. I had a salami sandwich in my purse leftover from my sack lunch and I was starving so I thought it would be a good time to relax for a minute and eat. Plus, I was saving money because I did not need to buy another meal. I pulled out my sandwich, unwrapped the tinfoil around it, and took a bite but within thirty seconds of that first bite, a seagull swooped down and grabbed the sandwich from my hand. The seagull landed about fifteen feet in front of me and eight other seagulls were fighting that thief for my sandwich. I was completely shocked. Did a seagull really just take my sandwich? The other tourists around me also looked shocked and I started to laugh hysterically. I could not believe that just happened and I thought it was hilarious because it was such a stupid mistake to try and eat in a piazza FILLED with birds. If you go to Venice, please do not eat in the Piazza San Marco, learn from my mistake!

There I was in the piazza, hysterically laughing, alone, and without food so I wondered around until I found a take away pizza place. I had walked past it a couple of times during my earlier adventuring and there was a spinach and ricotta pizza that I had been eyeing. Of course, I got the pizza because it was only €3.50 and the slice was huge! I think my sandwich was meant to be taken from me so that I could enjoy that delicious pizza. It was waaaaay better than any pizza that I’ve eaten in Rome so far.

The sun was setting on my second day in Venice and I found myself at a dead-end with a perfect view of the sunset. It finally hit me that I was in Venice. Traveling is hectic and everything moves so fast that it’s possible to forget to take a breath and really appreciate the place you’re in. I felt the cool breeze on my face and I knew that if I touched the water, it would be cold. I’m not sure for how long I watched that scene but I did not walk away until the sun made its full decent beyond the horizon.

Venice is gorgeous, unique, and a little bit ridiculous and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to visit before it sinks. I’m kidding, that’s not going to happen for a while. Traveling to Venice felt unreal because it is so different than any city that I have ever seen. This small town will forever hold a place in my heart, even if it feels like just a dream.

 

Saigon Living

Saigon Living

 

I feel like I’ve killed this phrase, but time is flying. I’ve spent the last two weeks just enjoying Saigon and going to class and getting into my everyday routine which I have been craving. It’s no secret to people that I had a bit of a rough time adjusting to life abroad which (surprise surprise) is 100% okay. Everyone is secretly having their own struggles, and I’ve been trying my best to be transparent now a days. I feel a lot more okay with saying “I think I’m going to take a nap, but thanks!” to people.

My service learning placement has been amazing. For the program here, you do have to have to complete some hours at a service learning site (or take the internship class) but, honestly it’s something I’ve been craving since I came here. I officially started right after the Tet holiday in late February, and wow it has already improved my time here a million times over. Having something I go to weekly now keeps me sane. I get to get out of the dorm so I don’t keep taking boredom naps, but I also know I’m spending my time here productively within the community. A few of us go to the Green Bamboo Shelter that house boys in Saigon and we teach English. Obviously none of us are qualified teachers, but we are native English speakers which is super helpful for people learning English especially with pronunciation. We have been working on a curriculum to help us guide out study session a little better and to have for Loyola students who follow after our semester, but these sessions are exactly what I needed. We get to talk to these boys who are the cutest, cheekiest, and hilarious kids ever. Its fun to just spend time with them, but also we know we are helping in the ways we can with their English skills. The weekends we have thrown in with a pool day and board games also helps us sneak a few days in just to hang out with the Green Bamboo boys.

Our Bach Khoa partners took us out for dinner the other night and we had quite the meal. First, we had the fluffiest yet crispiest bread I’ve had in Saigon. I know I know Emily shut up about the bread BUT Saigon has the best baguettes (from the long history of awful French occupation). For our actual food we had quail. Yes, the cute lil bird. And it was delicious. In Vietnam they do eat almost everything so after a long deep breath, I ate a quail head. It was an experience. I thought that qualified me as ~fully immersed~ but, no I had another snack to complete my immersive experience in Vietnam. Does everyone know what balut is? If not open a new tab and google it and prepare yourself. So I ate what is the equivalent of quail balut. It took a lot of baguette to wash it down with but, honestly it wasn’t half bad. You’d expect something like that to be disgusting but it was pretty okay with salt and kumquat juice. The only thing I have left to eat is fresh durian to consider myself pretty well versed in the food. I’ve tasted it in a few snacks that have been in grocery stores with less than satisfactory responses, so maybe the fresh fruit will bring me around to it.

Well, next week we head off on our final excursion to northern and central Vietnam. It’s wild how that excursion seemed so far away but, its creeping up on us like our final papers are. I’ve gotten pretty skilled at sleeping on buses and on planes so I say bring it on! I’ll end this entry with the classic food pictures and some food for thought. I think I’ve changed a lot by travelling to Southeast Asia and specifically Vietnam but, for the positive. I’m excited to see my loved ones, but this city has become a lot more than a temporary home for me. So I’m just going to keep making memories and living it to the most of the month and a half I have left.

      

Things I’ve Learned While Abroad

Things I’ve Learned While Abroad

Hi again! Blogging my life abroad has started to feel almost normal? I have had a lot of time to reflect on some important topics during our excursion to Cambodia, so to make this easy on all of us I am going to make a list of the things I’ve learned as a whole while studying abroad. Hopefully I can help inform anyone thinking of studying abroad, and specifically anyone wanting to come to the Vietnam Center!

  • You learn conversions for money in a snap

After our trip to Thailand, where the baht is used, and our excursion to Cambodia, where the US dollar as well as the riel is used, you learn to become a money saving master. The exchange rate for each currency is different, but budgeting has become second nature, so I don’t have to keep going to ATMs and racking up those international fees. The amazing thing about being in Southeast Asia is that places you only could’ve dreamed of visiting are just an hour flight away instead of a 20-hour flight. I do keep a small amount from each different currency I have just as little keepsakes which I find something I am going to love to have to look back on.

  • We never really learned about Southeast Asia

Our recent excursion to Cambodia really made this point very clear to me. The Cambodian genocide is something not mentioned in most general education classes, but is a very important historical tragedy that I recommend everyone read into. We spent our trip visiting Phnom Penh and Siem Reap where we visited the historically important spots in each city which I am super grateful for. The two sites we visited in Phnom Penh were the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Choeung Ek Killing Field Genocidal Center which become not only a sobering moment, but a reflective one. Speaking to the tour guides and people we met allowed us to learn more information about Cambodia in a handful of days than I knew in my entire life. When Loyola said this experience would be immersive, they weren’t kidding (in the best of ways).

  • You learn new things everyday

My time here has showed me that I actually am learning and not just running around Saigon as a 19-year-old American with no direction. I am finding ways to incorporate what I’ve learned slowly into my life. I have also learned so much from our BK partner students and would listen to them speak non-stop about their lives if they wanted me to. It’s amazing to pick up on things you never really knew about Vietnam even after being half way through the semester. I just found out I’ve been telling my taxi drivers the wrong way to turn since I got the two Vietnamese words mixed up for right and left (I should’ve enrolled in that Vietnamese class huh?).

  • No pain no gain

As mentioned, we also went to Siem Reap while in Cambodia and went to the Angkor Archeological Park. We woke up at 4am (yes you read it correctly!) to see the sunrise over Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument in the world. It was a lot of walking and tuk tuking (motorbikes with an attached ack for up to 4 people to sit) and standing in the sun, but it was all worth it. We got to venture around a few of the temples including Angkor Wat, Bayon, and Ta Prohm (The temple in Tomb Raider!). If we didn’t get our lazy bones up that bright and early we wouldn’t have spent so much time seeing temples almost a thousand years old and the carving that looks like a dinosaur in Tam Prohm.

                                     

(The dinosaur carving *X Files theme song*)

I don’t think I am going to stop learning as long as I’m here, and as the days roll by I do get nervous to come home. I think I am going to miss living and studying in Vietnam a lot (and the 22-hour flight back has already given me nightmares aha). I definitely know I am going to fall victim to reverse culture shock, but I do know I am going to get myself back to Vietnam one day again.

Winter Break in the Winter

Winter Break in the Winter

At Loyola we get Spring Break and Winter Break, but at SLU Madrid we get Winter Break and Spring Break. Our Winter Break was after our midterms, so it just ended, and I chose to spend mine in the cold snowy countries instead of on a beach (and I only slightly regret it).

Bike riding through Copenhagen

I travelled to Scandinavia, visiting Stockholm, Sweden, Oslo, Norway, and Copenhagen, Denmark and even in below freezing temperatures I loved them. I definitely recommend bringing a Chicago winter coat for the Spring semester, because I incorrectly assumed it’d be sunny and beachy weather, so I had to buy a winter coat in Spain.

Walking the streets of Stockholm

Despite my mistake coming into the trip, I wound up having a lot of fun touring the cities! Since it was so cold my friends and I took every opportunity to go into the little shops along the streets and saw things we wouldn’t have if we had just walked by, and I ended up with some pretty cool souvenirs. We also booked tours so that we were doing more than just walking around in the cold. There are free walking tours in every city we visited, but we paid for ours in order to be a bit warmer travelling inside a bus. I learned a lot about the local history and current opinions on the city I visited and I stand by the belief that guided tours are worth the money.

Out of all the cities, Oslo was my favorite just because I loved how the city looked and felt covered in snow, and how beautiful the parks were even in the winter. I do think Copenhagen was the most fun city I visited though, because we booked a bike tour, so we were biking to all the sights! It was freezing so I was completely bundled up, but the tour was absolutely worth the cold weather.

My friends and I kept joking how it was warmer in Chicago than where we were, regretting not choosing the warmer climate, but enjoying the experience we were having. I definitely don’t regret the trip, but next time I book one I’ll be planning according to weather first.