Well, it’s hard to believe that I was flying out of the country for the first time in my life just a little over two weeks ago. Now, my study abroad trip has come to an end, but I have made memories that I hope to keep with me forever. After my first week in Athens, I knew that the other cities I was going to visit would have a tough time beating it. Paris did its best!
We arrived in Paris in the evening, and the rest of the day was nearly perfect. After grabbing some great Kansas-City style barbecue for dinner (a little unimpressive for a first meal in Paris, but we were quite hungry), some friends and I decided to explore the city a little. We walked to the Notre Dame Cathedral and down the Sienna River, taking in as much of the city as we could. In the distance, we could see the Eiffel Tower stretching above the skyline. We decided to go check it out and began the thirty-minute trek by foot to the tower. Originally, we planned to just walk around the outside of the Eiffel Tower, but after running into two of our other classmates at the tower, we decided we might as well go to the top. Just as we were approaching the ticket booth, they opened a second line, making us first in the queue to take the elevator ride to the top. We arrive to the top as the sun was setting and got to view the city of Paris from about 300 feet in the air. Everything had gone so seamlessly it felt like a movie scene. The one thing that was slightly imperfect was the sky was cloudy, so we didn’t get the full beauty of a sunset a clear sky. Nonetheless, it was still a terrific start to Paris.
The early wake-up call to travel to London the next morning was less fun but still worth the trip. We rode the London Eye Ferris wheel, ate some solid Thai food, and toured Westminster Abbey. A 5:45am departure for Bruges, Belgium made for another early morning the next day, but turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the trip. The rest of my day in Bruges consisted mostly of eating because my lack of sleep was starting to catch up with me, but as a food fanatic I had no problem with this. I also enjoyed just walking around the streets, exploring some of the impressively designed churches, and visiting a chocolate shop. As I was walking back to the bus, I decided to make one last stop for my second waffle of the day. I originally planned to order a waffle with bananas, telling myself the bananas would make it “healthier.” When the cashier informed me they were out of bananas but had banana ice cream, I threw my plans of being healthier in the trash. The warmth and fluffiness of the waffle contrasted with the cold banana ice cream and made for a flavor not even syrup could make better.
Everything from Thursday, the next day on was kind of a blur. Some friends and I went to the Louvre and saw the Mona Lisa and some other phenomenal paintings and sculptures. A whole day there would not have been enough to take in everything. Unfortunately, I got scammed out of 60 euros before entering the Louvre and this soured my day. A good reminder not to trust random people that come up to you when you are a tourist. We went to Normandy, France on Friday to see the historic World War II site, but due to a mishap with the bus company, we only got to see two out of the five sites on the tour. The World War II museums were very interesting, but playing cards was the only hope in saving the five-hour bus ride back to Paris. Saturday and Sunday were both lazy days. By this point, most everyone was tired. We took our final exam on Sunday morning, which was no easy task. The short answer format of the exam kept my hand moving the entire time. The stress of the exam was all gone though by the time we had our farewell dinner and got to have a great time talking with classmates and hearing our professor sing a song for us.
I will certainly miss Europe, but something sounds quite good about seeing my family again and eating a nice greasy burger cooked the American way. I think the thing I will miss the most are my classmates. Before the trip, I was concerned I wouldn’t make friends on the trip, but my classmates turned out to be my favorite part of the trip. We were all in the same boat, exploring new places and trying new things together, and that made for some great connections. It was great to actually get to sit down and know people in a way that feels nearly impossible during the hustle and bustle of a normal fall or spring semester. I would have preferred not to get scammed at the Louvre and actually see Omaha beach in Normandy, but I would do the trip all over again in a heartbeat.