The End of an Era: Study Abroad 2017

It’s hard to believe that four months ago, I boarded a flight departing from New York City and haven’t been back in the states since then until now. I enjoyed a few short days back home, but am now about to embark on my next adventure in Tel Aviv for a month. But before that, I’m reflecting on this past semester with an overwhelming sense of awe, gratitude, and pure happiness. My European study abroad adventure was more fun than I could’ve ever imagined and I covered more ground than I thought was even possible: 21 countries, 61 different cities, and over 28,000 miles traveled in 17 weeks!!
 
I could honestly write a dissertation on every amazing destination I visited, but I’ll spare you โ€“ instead, here’s a quick recap of these past four months:
 
Italy ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น 
(Florence, Cinque Terre, Sorrento, Capri, Positano, Pompeii, Serravezza, Pietrasanta, Forte dei Marmi, Siena, San Gimignano, Milan, Rome, Perugia, Verona, Como, Naples, Venice) 
โ€“ Ate the best pasta and pizza in the world on a daily basis (!!)
โ€“ Climbed Mt. Vesuvius and experienced the Amalfi Coast with the ten amazing people who I now call la mia famiglia, the most amazing group of friends I could’ve asked to study abroad with 
โ€“ Tasted my way though the Gelato World Cup in Florence and the Perugia Chocolate Festival
โ€“ Revisited Cinque Terre, possibly one of the most picturesque places on this earth
 
Iceland ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ธ
(Reykjavik)
โ€“ Went snorkeling in between the North American and European continental plates 
โ€“ Hiked the biggest glacier in Europe
โ€“ Visited Jรถkulsรกrlรณn Glacier Lagoon, easily the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen 
โ€“ Relaxed in the steamy crystal clear hot springs of the Blue Lagoon

 
England ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง 
(London, Bath, Brighton)
โ€“ Danced and sang my way through Lorde’s Melodrama World Tour concert in Brighton 
โ€“ Went to a Lewis Watson concert (seeing one of my favorite artists in his home country !) 
โ€“ Finally saw Stonehenge 
 
Croatia ๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ท 
(Split, Zagreb)
โ€“ Visited the Zagreb Christmas market, rated the #1 European Christmas market 

 
Germany ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช 
(Munich, Berlin)
โ€“ Experienced Oktoberfest (pretzels, beer, dirndls, lederhosen, and all)
โ€“ Became newly interested in learning about WWII history and communism after visiting the Berlin Wall
 
Slovenia ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฎ
(Ljubljana, Bled, Postojna)
โ€“ Rowed across Lake Bled, a sight straight out of a fairy tale 
โ€“ Visited the Potsojna Caves and Predjama Castle, the largest castle that’s literally built half inside a cave on a cliff
 
Poland ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฑ 
(Warsaw, Krakow)
โ€“ Visited Auschwitz and Schindler’s factory an gained a renewed, deeper understanding of the Holocaust
โ€“ Went deep beneath the earth into the salt mines and tasted the fresh salt straight from the caves
โ€“ Explored the country where my dad’s side of the family is from and ate tons of Polish food that I grew up with! 
 
 
Malta ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡น 
(Sliema, Gozo, Comino)
โ€“ Took a speed boat ride through caves and coves that dotted the shoreline
โ€“ Trekked across the entire island of Comino
 
Spain ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ
(Barcelona, Bagรก, Bilbao, Beasain, Madrid, Tenerife)
โ€“ ALL THE TAPAS
โ€“ Had my mind blown by the beauty of Sagrada Familia
โ€“ Hiked 5k up one of the tallest mountains in Parque Natural de Anaga on the island of Tenerife
โ€“ Was there the day Catalonia declared independence from Spain (still waiting to see what happens with that…)
 
France ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท 
(Aux-les-Thermes)
โ€“ Soaked in ancient Roman hot springs
โ€“ Got amazing lavender lemonade and fresh crepes!! 
 
Andorra ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ฉ 
(Andorra la Vella)
โ€“ Checked off visiting the sixth smallest country in the world
โ€“ Went on a mini shopping spree in this tax-free shopping haven
 
Denmark ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฐ 
(Copenhagen, Odense)
โ€“ Visited my Danish exchange student who I hosted in my home in NJ five years ago
โ€“ Biked around town like a true Dane
 
Sweden ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช 
(Stockholm)
โ€“ Ate my body weight in Swedish meatballs and cinnamon buns
โ€“ Found the Spotify headquarters! (hire me please @Daniel Ek)
 
Switzerland ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ญ 
(Lucerne)
โ€“ Tried authentic Swiss cheese fondue
โ€“ Took a boat tour past the famous wooden covered bridges and the Swiss alps
 
 
San Marino ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฒ 
(San Marino)
โ€“ World’s oldest republic and third smallest country in Europe (it’s inside Italy)
โ€“ Hiked along the trail connecting the three old castles with the most incredible view
 
Netherlands ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฑ
(Amsterdam, Breda, Eindhoven)
โ€“ Finally visited the Efteling, rated the best theme park in the world!
โ€“ Experienced GLOW Eindhoven, a light festival with projection mapping and light shows all over the city
โ€“ Was reunited with my one true food love, stroopwafels, in Amsterdam
 
Belgium ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ช 
(Bruges, Brussels)
โ€“ Belgian waffles, Belgian chocolate, Belgian beer… enough said 
โ€“ Fell in love with one of my new favorite cities: Bruges
 
Austria ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡น 
(Vienna)
โ€“ HUGE Christmas markets!
 
Czech Republic ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฟ 
(Prague)
โ€“ Climbed Petrin Tower
โ€“ Visited tons of cute little Christmas markets
 
Hungary ๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡บ 
(Budapest)
โ€“ Experienced what it’s like to be blind at the “Invisible Exhibition” as we navigated rooms and ate dinner in pitch darkness
โ€“ Visited even more Christmas markets
โ€“ Almost cried at how beautiful the Danube lit up at night was
 
Special shout out to my amazing friends Kieran, Irene, Nadja, and Wessel who invited me to stay with them in their homes in England, Spain, Denmark, and the Netherlands!! I’m forever thankful for you showing me around your corner of the world and giving me a truly local experience. I’ll never forget my time in your hometowns and these may be the experiences I value the most since I may never have experienced these things without friends like you! I never would have bar-hopped around all the cute places in Norwich or danced all night without touching my phone as is the true Spanish way to party and live in the moment; I never would have ridden a bicycle all around the third largest city in Denmark or have experienced a local celebration of the inauguration of the Danish Christmas beer; I never would have visited the Efteling and never would’ve driven from Breda to Eindhoven to Bruges to Brussels in a weekend long road trip if it weren’t for amazing friends like you! <3 
 
Hopefully I’ll get a chance sometime in the coming weeks to go back and write a bit more in detail about my experiences from Malta onward, since the semester and keeping up with schoolwork and exams got a bit too hectic to balance with weekly blogging. But in the meantime, I’ll be enjoying living in Tel Aviv for the next month, exploring a new part of this wanderful world ๐Ÿ™‚ 

2 Comments

  1. George Urbanik

    December 25, 2017 at 1:39 am

    Love reading about your adventures Caitlyn, I wonder if you knew your godfather was fortunate to travel a bit too just after high school, summer of 76, we’ll have to share some experiences, I walked the wooden bridge too in Lucerne, even had a dorm room window overlooking the lake. I’d love to challenge you to take a hike up our mighty Mt Washington right here in NH, USA, in the winter no less, I did it twice. Well we definitely have some things to talk about when I see you all next, hopefully skiing with us in February, I really hope you can make a few days with your family. Until then Wishing you, Mark, Cristina, and Ashley a Very Merry Christmas and wishes for another spectacular New Year 2018 filled with happiness, good health, peace and prosperity. Hope you are all together enjoying the holidays, love you all,
    Uncle Godfather George

    1. caitlynlubas

      December 25, 2017 at 12:38 pm

      Thanks Uncle George! Glad you’re enjoying reading about my experiences the past semester. I’d love to talk with you more about your time in Lucerne, hopefully I will be able to visit in February! Merry Christmas!

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