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All Good Things Come To An End

All Good Things Come To An End

I am homeward bound tomorrow. It is nearly impossible to wrap my head around the fact that I will not be in Europe in less than 24 hours. It is definitely bittersweet.  I cannot wait to be home for the holidays. I have this great picture in my head (similiar to the ending scene of Love Actually) when I arrive in the airport to the open arms of my family. Needless to say,  it will be the perfect holiday reunion.

My program officially ended on December 13th so I have spent the last 9 days on a solo trip in the UK and Ireland. As much as I love traveling with friends, there is nothing more thrilling or exhilarating than solo travel.  It is a true test of your independence, travel smarts, and ability to make friends with strangers.  I definitely reccomend it if you are comfortable and confident with your travel abilities.  There is nothing more freeing and satisfying than knowing you traveled somewhere all on your own. In total, I traveled to Croatia, Montenegro, England, Scotland, and Ireland solo. If you are worried about being lonely, trust me you are not. I made instant friends with so many people in my hostels and I was constantly surrounded with other fellow backpackers.

Because I was watching my budget ( I mean I spent it all on Christmas presents) I took a bus from Prague to London mostly to avoid the outrageous fees for my luggage, which of course has doubled since my arrival.I quietly shed a tear as I watched the beautiful Praha (Czech for Prague) fade away in the distance.  I know it is my time to go for now because I dearly miss my family and want to return home. However, I know that I will not be able to return  to Prague for at least 2 years and that saddens me. How do you leave something that has literally embedded in your soul and become a part of you? Praha has forever left its mark. I left a piece of myself that day. I’m not quite sure how to go back to my life before I went to Prague.

I fell in love in love with London. It is as fast paced as New York,  has the quirkiness and good nature of Chicago; it is filled with amazing history that I only dreamed about in books, and those accents are to die for.  Let me tell you: chivalry is still  alive in the land of tea and crumpets.  Being a bit of a theatre nerd I spent most nights in London’s West End seeing  various performances. Over my stay I saw the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace; toured the Tower of London; went to Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross; went to mass at Westminster Abbey; saw Big Ben, Parliament and the London Eye; visited the Tate Modern Museum,the National Gallery, and the British Museum and much more. It  was an amazing trip and I will make London one of my first stops when I return to Europe.

Next I ventured up to Edinburgh in Scotland. It is said to be one of the most haunted cities in Europe because of its bloody history. I went on a ghost tour and loved hearing about all the Scottish folklore and myths. Edinburgh was gorgeous with its castle sitting a top a giant hill overlooking the rest of the city, and the winding streets lined with stores, pubs, museums, and amazing medieval architecture. Plus, the Harry Potter nerd in me came out as J.K. Rowling used many aspects of Edinburgh for inspiration; the Elephant House Cafe even claims that it is the birthplace of Harry Potter. Although, when she actually started writing it in Porto, Portugal (a little fun fact I discovered while visiting there earlier.)    I also took a trip into the Scottish highlands and Loch Ness. The Highlands were simply breathtaking. Covered in snow, the mountains were striking and the lochs that lay nestled in between were majestic.  I survived a battle with Nessie and I have to say we are quite good friends now. I highly suggest leaving the city for a trip into the Scottish Highlands, they are amazing.

Lastly, I ended in Dublin, Ireland which is where I am writing this entry from. I felt completely at home with my fellow Irish and redheads. I have been to Dublin before but it is always nice to come back. I had a lovely time touring the city, spending time at Temple Bar, O’Connell Street, Trinity College, St Stephen’s Green, and the River Liffey.  Overall, it was time well spent with the spirited and most welcoming people.

I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the last 4 months. I thought I would make a small list to put in perspective all that I have done and  the different methods of transportations to the destinations.

Planes: 22

Trains: 7

Buses: 12

Currencies: 7

Countries: 18

Cities: 27

When I tell people that I have met in the various cities that I have traveled to 18 countries, their jaw usually drops and they are shocked. In all honesty, I cannot believe it myself. I cherish my time with the people I have met, the places I have been, and the life changing moments that I have experienced. I am forever changed by time abroad and I cannot wait to share my stories, experiences, and adventures with all my friends and family.

Luckily for me, only half of my adventure is over as next semester I will be in Australia. I am so sad to leave my precious Europe, but over the moon to live down under. They always say: when one door closes another one opens.  Bring it on Aussies!!

If I have one piece of advice being on the other side of studying abroad, all I can say is GO! You will never regret it and it will be the best experience of your life.

Happy reading and Happy Holidays!!

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