10 things I’ve learned in 10 countries
Last semester, spring 2018, I studied abroad at the Assumption College Rome Campus. During my time in Italy, I took advantage of the opportunity to travel to other countries. I ended up seeing ten cities, all unique and all offering different cultures. Looking back at my semester abroad, here are the ten things I have learned in ten countries.
Rome, Italy- You can never eat too much pasta. When I was in Rome, I ate pasta almost every day and it made me very happy. The food in Rome is always good, no matter where you go. Rome is home to many delicious dishes, such as Jewish-style artichokes and thin crust pizza, but the pasta was always superior to me. Some popular pasta dishes unique to Rome are Cacio e Pepe, Carbonara and Amatriciana.
Barcelona, Spain- Be open to new experiences. Going abroad, I had a list of places I wanted to visit; London, Paris, Prague, but I never expected to go to Spain. The second weekend abroad, all 24 people in the Rome program, including myself, were on our way to Barcelona.
Barcelona was picked and we all joined the journey. I got to see the famous Sagrada Família and Park Güell, as well as, drink sangria and eat paella. I had no expectations for Barcelona, but the city ended up being one of my favorites. The weekend was full of marvel and adventure.
Vienna, Austria- The best things are unplanned. For spring break, me and two other girls planned a trip of a lifetime, five countries in ten days. To prepare, I researched A LOT and created an ‘itinerary;’ basically a list of sights and museums we should see.
After a long day of traveling to Vienna, getting lost, and having to walk over an hour to our hostel in the snow, we did not do the things I planned. Instead, we went ice skating front of the city hall. It was so beautiful that night, especially because it was lit up with Christmas lights; a memory I will cherish forever.
Prague, Czech Republic- Strive for love and peace, not hate. The John Lennon Wall in Prague symbolizes many things for different people. After the assassination, of John Lennon, an unknown artist painted the imagine of John Lennon with a few of his lyrics.
Since then, many people have added images of love, peace and hope, and the original painting is long covered. The three of us went to the wall and reflected on the importance of love and peace in the world, while someone played old Beatles’ songs on the guitar. It was a special and peaceful moment for me and I will always carry the message of peace.
Berlin, Germany- Remember history. Germany was taken over by Adolf Hitler during the 1930’s into the 40’s and was responsible for exterminating millions of Jewish people. Sixty years after the end of World War II, the Holocaust Memorial was opened to the public to remember the victims of the Holocaust.
Underneath the memorial is a museum. There are no words to describe the feeling of seeing the memorial for the first time. It was shocking, sad, yet moving to see. Germany has come a long way since the end of WWII. Berlin was the capital of Nazi Germany and it was grounding to see the country recognize its history and remember and honor the victims.
Amsterdam, Netherlands- Old friends are the best friends. Before I was born, my parents met and befriended another couple on vacation in the Caribbean. The couple was originally from England, but living in Connecticut. They kept in touch over the years and the couple had a daughter in the United States.
However, around 17 years ago, they moved back in England, and we only saw them when they visited us. I reached out the their daughter when I was in Amsterdam. She goes to University 30 minutes away from the center of the city and we were able to meet for lunch.
I never thought I would see her again in Amsterdam, of all places. The last time I saw her was in 2012 and it was very refreshing to see a familiar face during my time abroad.
Brussels, Belgium- Be grateful. It is so easy to get caught up in things that do not matter. Brussels was our last stop on our spring break trip and I was tired from all the traveling we did prior.
We got to the metro and couldn’t figure out how it worked. We were lost. In that moment, I was frustrated, annoyed and just wanted to be back in Rome. Once, we figured it out and rested for a little bit, I realized that this might be the only time I will be able to visit Brussels; I should be excited, not angry.
I was so lucky to have the opportunity to be there. I was only in Brussels for a limited amount of time and there was no need to be upset about little things that in the end, don’t matter.
Paris, France- Sometimes reality does not meet expectations. Growing up, I’ve always wanted to go to Paris, the place dubbed as “The City of Love.” Paris is romanticized in media and when I visited the Eiffel Tower, I expected someone to be playing romantic music and couples nearby drinking champagne and eating French cheese, but instead, street vendors were shoving one euro souvenirs in my face.
Do not get me wrong, I loved Paris and seeing the Eiffel Tower in person was a special moment. Paris is an amazing city, but in my opinion, I wouldn’t classify as magical.
Ireland- Be kind. I was lucky enough to travel to Ireland for a week with a friend who’s family is from Ireland. We went from Dublin, to Cork, back to Dublin, then Galway City. We were in Ireland during Easter break and my friend’s family was kind enough to take me in and treat me as family.
They showed me nothing but hospitality and warmth. They toured me around their city, shared its history, and brought me places that were meaningful to them. I felt at home at a country I have never visited before. The people of Ireland were the same way, as every barista, salesperson, or bus driver were very friendly and kind.
London, England- Not all those who wander are lost. England is famous for its cloudy and rainy days. However, the weekend I was there, it was sunny and warm.
My friend and me had a great day of exploring and walking around the city. We saw the London Eye, Big Ben, Piccadilly Circus, China Town and the Palace of Westminster just by wandering around.
My favorite part of the day was going to Green Park and seeing everyone out enjoying the nice weather. We just walked around and saw what the city had to offer.
Sarah Ardolino, a junior, studies English. She is a staff writer for Le Provocateur.