The GoGlobal Blog

Spring Break 2013

Spring Break 2013


Wow can’t believe it’s been almost a month since my last blog entry. As you have read, I had my spring break during the beginning of April, traveling to four countries in a matter of 18 days. And honestly, as fun as it was, I am EXHAUSTED. I will try to do a quick recap of everything that happened without drawing it all out to long and making you all jealous 😉

First Stop: Aix-en-Provence

Since I had already been to all the major cities (Paris, London, Berlin, etc.) last semester, I decided to visit some lesser known places and focus on visiting friends and relaxing, as compared to going crazy with sight-seeing and touristy adventures. My first stop was to Aix-en-Provence, a small city in the south of France, to visit my good friend Phoebe from Loyola. I would compare Aix to Alicante in that it is a rather small city, but it is beautiful and relaxing and has almost no tourism, which I personally prefer. The first couple days I was there, Phoebe took me around the city, showing me where she hangs, her school, the museums, favorite restaurants, etc. I met a couple of her friends and we went out for drinks and dinner a couple nights, but for the most part, we just talked and relaxed over a cup of coffee at the café below her apartment. We went to Marseilles for a day with one of her friends, which was fun, but spent most of the time just hanging out in her apartment and cooking homemade meals. It was nice not having to pay any money for a hostel and spending practically nothing on fresh produce to make our food the whole time I was there. Being in France and catching up with my friend was a very relaxing and fun way to start my spring break.

Stop Two: Greece

After 6 days in France, I was off to Greece to join two of my good friends that are in the USAC program. I arrived in Athens a day early, and after checking into my hostel, I decided to spend that first day alone exploring the city. I walked around the Acropolis and ate some delicious Greek food by myself, and did some light shopping too. I did not mind being alone at all, especially in a city with so much beauty and history. However, around 8 pm when I returned to the hostel, I met some really nice Australian girls who invited me out for dinner and drinks with them. It was fun hanging out with them and getting to know more about them, what they were doing abroad, where they were going next, and of course, more about their Australian culture. The next day my friends joined me, and we took it easy just walking around the city and shopping. The following day, however, we were up bright and early to go on a 5 hour free waking tour of Athens. Our tour guide was an archeologist, so he was able to give us more information and details about certain ruins, buildings, and life styles of the Greeks back then. Of course I had learned about a lot of this back in Loyola, but it was quite the experience to actually be able to see and experience these things. We explored museums, the Acropolis with the Parthenon, Zeus Olympus, the Agora, the ancient forum, and numerous churches. We were all exhausted by the end of the tour, that after a nice dinner and some repacking for our adventure tomorrow, we were in bed by 11 pm. That Friday we headed off to Mykonos, a small Greek island that is part of the Cyclade islands. Mykonos was absolutely gorgeous! It was the island that you image when you think of the Greek Islands- amazing sunsets, warm temperature, bright white buildings with blue and red accents, and incredible food. It was quite the island adventure, exploring this tiny island and enjoying the sun and beaches. The tourism season of the city hadn’t started yet, so we got to see the island in its natural setting- old men and women going to church, children playing at the beaches, people cleaning and working, etc. The crazy partying tourists hadn’t arrived yet, which allowed this trip to be very enjoyable and continue my Spring Break of relaxation. We returned back to Athens after two days at Mykonos, and parted our separate ways to spend the rest of Spring Break in different cities. I absolutely loved Greece, and truly hope I can return some day.

Stop Three: Rome, Italy

There was no way I was not going to return to Italy during this second semester, to revisit my friends and my second home, Rome. I was only in Rome for two days, but it was enough to make me nostalgic for last semester. I visited some friends that are still studying in the JFRC center and was immediately overcome with a mixture of feelings. I was so happy to see my friends and return back to my home last semester, seeing my favorite sites and eating at my favorite restaurants, but I was incredibly sad too that not all of my friends from last semester were there to accompany me. It really made me miss them all and appreciate the community and love that I experienced last semester. The second day in Rome, I was joined by my friend Lizzy, and I took her all around to the famous spots and ruins, acting as her free personal tour guide. It was fun showing her my favorite spots and reliving some of my memories from last semester. We ate at the best gelateria and pasta restaurant, and had a great time simply strolling the old Italian streets, as everyone should when visiting Rome. My time back in Rome was short and cheap, but it was nice to revisit this gran city.

Stop Four: Milan, Italy

I had a one day layover in Milan between Rome and Barcelona, so I decided to message a friend of my family who was living there, seeing if she was available to take me around Milan and show me what a local does. She was delighted to have me for the day, and showed me a wonderful time. She took me around Milan, showing me the great shopping and bar areas, the breath-taking church, the main plazas, and her favorite restaurants. She took me out for Indian food (my favorite!) and even took me out to Pavia, a small city on the outskirts of Milan that has an incredible medieval feel to it. There is an ancient and beautiful monastery there which we spent a couple hours at, admiring the incredible paintings, architecture, gardens, and interior designs. My stay with Jane was very short, but it was lovely. It was nice having an older woman showing me her city and taking me out, just to treat me and have fun… also helped me save some money!

Last Stop: Barcelona

After 15 days of traveling, I was coming to my last trip during spring break- a weekend in Barcelona with my friend Allison. I arrived mid-afternoon that Thursday, checked into my hostel, and slept until my friend arrived. I was so tired from all the planes and buses that a nice long nap was necessary. She arrived around 8 pm, we went for dinner and drinks, and decided to go to bed early for the night so we could take advantage of the next day. That Friday morning we went on a three hour free walking tour around Barcelona, seeing all the famous sites of course- the medieval churches, the Jewish quarters, the Gothic buildings, all of Gaudi’s unique buildings, and the Picasso museum. I had not walked that much since the first month in Rome, and my body was incredibly sore by evening time. We did some more exploring after the tour, checking out some flea markets and other museums, and of course we did some shopping and eating. I really like Barcelona, but it was way too touristy for me. I heard more English and German there than any other country or city I had ever visited before. It was fun being able to talk and understand the people more, but I felt like the true Catalan culture was lost in the midst of all the foreigners and concentration on tourism. Nonetheless, the Sagrada Familia, the beaches, the seafood, and the lively atmosphere made this trip very enjoyable. It was not nearly was relaxing as my previous adventures, but it was nice a bang it the end of my spring break.

Back in Alicante…

I was actually incredibly excited to head back to Alicante after being gone for almost 20 days. I was missing my host family a lot, even though we had texted and talked on Facebook several times. I was missing my bed and home cooked meals, and I was tired of flying and tours. I was ready to sleep and enjoy my last month back in Alicante. School was hard to get back into when I returned, but it was easy being back with my family and friends. I realized though that I only had a month left in Alicante, and I became very sad this past week. I have two more trips left, one to Scotland and one to Portugal, and although I am excited, part of me just wants to stay in Alicante with my family and the beach. Can’t believe this semester is wrapping up so quickly… it feels like it went by so fast! I still have a couple weeks of school, internship at the museum, and free weekends, but I know it will fly by right before my eyes. I am starting to worry about how I am going to return to real life after this!

I really hope students are reading my blog and learning a bit about traveling, like all the ups and downs and the numerous opportunities that come about from traveling. I hope they, or yourself, see that it is possible and totally worth working hard and applying yourself to set out on an adventure like this. I honestly wouldn’t give up any of it. I hope that I can really share my experiences and my advice to students who want to study abroad, whether it’s suggestions on where to study or advice on how to save money and apply to different scholarship programs, like the Gilman scholarship, to help with this adventure. If anyone is interested in some more one-on-one communication, I would love to help out! I really want other students to have an incredible time traveling the world and growing as an individual, no matter where you are now or where you want to go.

Please find me on Facebook (Ryann Nicole Howard) or email me ( to find out more!


Ryann Howard

Mykonos, Greece
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