There are so many wonderful memories and experiences that I have gained from spending a semester abroad, but the best of all of them has been the opportunity to reconnect with my family that lives in Europe. I come from a very large family that is spread out through both the US and Europe. My grandfather was from Cairo, Egypt, and was the oldest of 7 siblings. He and three of his siblings immigrated to the United States while the other three immigrated to various parts of Europe and the Levant. As a result, I have multiple aunts, uncles, and cousins who are still living there. Because we are separated by such distance, it has been very difficult to see our European family members. So I knew that when I signed up to study abroad, I would need to take full advantage of the opportunity by visiting my European family as much as possible. And that’s exactly what I did.

Throughout my time in England, I took several weekend trips to visit family. I started out by visiting my cousin Aimee in London, which was only an hour away from where I was living in Bristol. Then, two weeks later, I flew to Switzerland for the weekend. I visited my aunt Miguel, my Uncle Amine and my cousins Larissa, Philippe, and Cyril. On the first day, Amine took me around Geneva eating amazing food and visiting my family members, and then Larissa and I spent time going out in Geneva to clubs and experiencing nightlife. Over the next two days, Amine and I took a road trip to the Swiss and French Alps to go visit his sons who are working in ski resorts for the season. My time in the Alps were absolutely incredible. A few weeks later, I went to go visit Amine’s brother Rafiq (my other uncle) in Greece. Rafiq lives in Athens now with his girlfriend Norma. Rafiq and Norma were amazing hosts and showed me around Greece for 5 days. Larissa is the daughter of Rafiq, and, though she is living in Geneva, she decided to surprise me and fly to Greece the same weekend. We had so much fun together exploring Greece and building a strong friendship. Athens was the most beautiful place I visited in Europe. Then, a few weeks after that, my mom, Dad, and sister came to visit me and we went together to visit my Uncle Alan and Aunt Marilese in Paris for Easter. Alan and Marilise have two children, Alan and Melanie. We got to meet them and their children. I have always spent Easter with all of my family in America and enjoyed it, but it was so awesome being with the other side doing the same traditions but in a new setting. Then, in my last week in England, Larissa and I reunited once again to go visit her brother Adrian in Amsterdam. It was so fun, and an awesome way to end my travels in Europe.

I am so thankful for my time abroad, and especially thankful that it brought me closer to family that I rarely get to see. This experience has taught me that I love my family so much, and that I will never again go this long without reconnecting wtih them abroad.