Hayley is an official CAPA blogger for fall 2017, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Communication and Media major at Merrimack College, she is studying abroad in Florence this semester.
In this week's post, Hayley appreciates how her independence and openness to taking risks has grown from studying abroad and exercises those traits over break.
For me, fall break was all about taking risks and stepping out of my comfort zone. Originally I planned to go on a week long trip with one of the travel agencies in Florence, but I decided that traveling on my own terms would be a better way to get the most out of this 10-day experience. So, spontaneously I booked my flights to Amsterdam, London, and Barcelona and started doing research on what to do and where to stay in each city.
Amsterdam was my first and favorite of all my three trips. I arrived late Thursday night and checked into “The Flying Pig Hostel,” which is one of the most popular backpacking hostels in all of Amsterdam. On Friday my friends and I walked around the city and visited the Van Gogh museum.
We got to see many pieces of famous artwork from Van Gogh, including my personal favorite, “Sunflowers.” For lunch that day we went to a small restaurant known for their Avocado only menu called “The Avocado Show.” The rest of my time in Amsterdam was very relaxed and low key. My friends and I visited the I Am Amsterdam sign, and ate TONS of street vendor food.
My favorite part of my trip to Amsterdam and fall break in general, was attending the Amsterdam Music Festival. Thousands of EDM fans from all over the world packed the Amsterdam arena for an unforgettable night of good music and dancing. On the last day I visited the Anne Frank house. The Anne Frank house has been on my bucket-list since I learned about it in middle school. Being able to witness such an important piece of history such an overwhelming feeling and an experience I will never forget.
London was a great place to unwind with a cup of tea and take in the beautiful scenery. During my time in London, I got to see famous artifacts such as Big Ben, Kensington Palace, Platform 9 ¾ (from Harry Potter), Buckingham Palace, London Bridge, and Tower Bridge. On Sunday morning, my friends and I got up early to see the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace.
Because I am a Beatles fan, my favorite memory was visiting the iconic Abbey Road located in Westminster, London. Of course my friends and I had to mimic the famous album cover picture! On the last day in London I took a ride on the London Eye. Even though I’m petrified of heights, the views from the top of the eye were absolutely breathtaking.
Barcelona was the last but certainly not the least of my 10-day break! On the first day in Barcelona my friends and I did some sight seeing at the famous Sagrada Familia church and Park Guell sculptural buildings. I was absolutely blown away by the size and unique architecture of the Sagrada Familia and how beautiful the mosaic buildings were at Park Guell.
We also visited the Gothic Quarter which was filled with Catalan restaurants and visited the beautiful beaches on the coast. The coolest part of my experience in Barcelona was being able to witness history being made during the Catalonian rallies in the center of the city as they declared independence from Spain.
My fall break was hands down the most amazing experience I’ve had in my entire life. I got to visit three different counties in the span of only ten days and got to witness things that I thought I would only see in movies. During my time traveling I realized how much independence I’ve gained from the beginning of my study abroad experience to now. I am beyond grateful for these experiences that I will never forget!
Hayley's journey continues every Thursday so stay tuned.