By Gigi Lin, Simon Fraser University, winner of the 2017 Stories from Abroad Scholarship.
Where do I even begin? It seems that the last breath I took was at the airport, waiting for my flight information to appear, directing me to my gate. When I look down at my feet now, I think about the different cities I have been to, the many restaurants where I’ve reveled in a new cuisine, and the never-ending list of monuments I’ve had the opportunity to see.
Though I am technically an exchange student, I’ve spent a considerable chunk of time planning trips, buying tickets and revising travel itineraries- than I have reading textbooks or lecture slides. It is not to say that I have neglected my studies; but rather, I work hard so that I can truly relax when travelling. I would recommend making a schedule to stick to during your days not spent travelling, in hopes of not being bogged down by academic difficulties as the semester winds down.
It’s been almost 3 months since I’ve touched down in Bath, England. My bucket list of cities to conquer has been shortened by Barcelona, Copenhagen, Brighton, Munich, Amsterdam, Warsaw, Krakow, Prague, London, Naples, Rome, and Paris.
Barcelona is a historic city. My top memories would be climbing Montserrat, seeing the cross, getting scared by the elks, and ultimately- ending the night at a delicious seafood restaurant. As it is a city close to the port, we stumbled upon a bike shop, and needless to say- biking along the shoreline was truly spectacular.
Copenhagen is a progressive city. If you are deciding to go, I would definitely recommend trying the Food Market! Best food around, a huge variety, and all at great prices. The famous Nyhanv street, the quaint atmosphere, coupled with a sunny day- you can feel yourself wanting to get lost in its streets for longer than a while.
Munich is a rustically elegant city. The cobbled streets actually (“literally”) stole my breath away, more times than a few. It is also very close to Salzburg- where ‘The Sound of Music’ was filmed. I found my favourite Cathedral there in all my excursions thus far.
Amsterdam is picturesquely serene. It was interesting to learn about how the canal rings were built in accordance with the century. So if you started in the middle, those canals were built in the 15th century, and as you extended outwards, each outer ring was completed in the next century (16th, 17th, etc.). We also biked around De Zaanse Schans, a quaint and peaceful city encompassing the remaining windmills of Amsterdam.
As I sit here writing this blog post, I am very content. Coming on exchange has given me fulfillment in realizing and partaking in the many journeys and sights that this world has to offer. Being able to fly around Europe so easily and building my own weekend itineraries within a day has definitely sharpened and harnessed my love for travelling immensely. I also appreciate that I am able to learn much more about the city itself by living and walking in the shoes of the residents of the cities.
If you are still considering exchange, I highly, highly, highly, recommend saying YES! Come on exchange to conquer countries, experience different ways of living, new ways of eating fruits, and most of all- see the personal growth as you learn to become an independent voyager of this world. You will not regret watching yourself grow from an university student, to a global ambassador with a love for adventure and an inter-cultural mindset of working within a web of diversity.