Good afternoon !We’re heading off to Ljubljana now from Venice and I figured I would use the bus ride to send y’all some pictures.I could have taken photos if every crevice of that place. It’s such an interesting architectural marvel. The alley ways were so light but then they would open up to a massive courtyard. There is something so lovely about northern Italian courtyards with the houses all looking down on them. We only had a day and a half so we didn’t spend it standing in lines for the Doges Palace or St Marks Basilica. We wandered about and, Mom, you would have died at the gorgeous random churches we would find. They were stunning and massive and had their own flair and style. The city fills up during the day in such an overwhelming way (and it’s not even peak season) but we loved wandering around at night and getting lost in the alleys and canals. We got off the main island to go see Murano, which is where the glass blowers all work. Some of the artwork was stunning, some not so much.Due to the canals and the steps and the winding roads, bikes are not common, but Venice does have a bike share program, worry not, John. [edit: my father rides bikes regularly. this note was for him.]I’d love to go back and just get lost for days but unfortunately it’s time to move on to cheaper cities. We’re heading to Slovenia now. We’ll stay the night in Ljubljana before going to Bled. We’ve been lucky with weather but after cold, dreary London, anything is good weather.Love you and I’m sure I’ll update you in a few days!Ciao, ciao!
I’ve studied abroad more times than the average human. I travelled to Paris and Nice the summer before high school, encouraging me to better utilize the French skills I thought I had. (Let’s just say the 13-ish years of French classes have made me nowhere near fluent.)
The summer after my first year of college I went on a short-term study abroad trip with my university’s College of Education. The two weeks were a joke academically, but were a wonderful introduction to being in a foreign country, and I can’t complain about being able to travel from Paris to the South of France to Barcelona, Madrid, and Toledo. The next summer, I did another short-term trip through the CoE, this time to Italy and Greece. I had a blast.
I learned a few lessons on these trips though: 1. I was too independent to be forced into a group of 20 people who couldn’t figure out the French metro system to save their lives. 2. I wanted to interact with locals, not with Americans. 3. I was so freaking fortunate and privileged to be able to go on these trips.
My junior year was spent abroad: first in Sydney, Australia then in Stockholm, Sweden. My time in Sydney was spent attending Macquarie University, meeting Americans and Australians alike, taking Sociology classes, learning to order drinks at bars, pushing my introvert to its limits, and growing a heck of a lot. (Please send Tim Tams.)
Stockholm was a very different experience. I met next to no Swedes, ventured around Stockholm and Europe a heck of a lot, learned to pack a carryon for varying trip lengths, studied very rarely at Södertörns högsköla (in English, let’s be real), discovered the horrors of seasonal depression and the beauty of 22 hours of daylight in the summer. (My love affair with IKEA and Max Burgers continues to this day.)
When I was finishing my undergrad, it was only logical that I seize the opportunity to go abroad one last time, so I applied to do a Master’s degree abroad. The financial benefits were there, it was one year compared to two in the US, and it would be a new opportunity to travel and meet new people. In retrospect, it would have been nice to better research my program before I went and I probably could have better selected my courses. But overall, I can’t say I regret going to London.
Would I study abroad again? In a heart beat. Is studying abroad the same as traveling abroad? Absolutely not. Did I meet the best people everywhere I went? 100 percent. Am I so freaking fortunate to have this many once in a lifetime experiences? Heck yes.
P.S. If you have ANY questions about studying abroad, please let me know – I’m more than happy to chat about any of my experiences for months.
P.P.S. I did some “research” on the term “broad”, which seems to have originated in the 1930s to refer to women by their “wideness”, which is icky (also it mostly referred to prostitutes which like makes me frustrated by the historical objectification of women in a patriarchal society, but…). I’m going off the Urban Dictionary definitions here to justify my “clever title”: less respectable than a lady, but more respectable than a bitch. I’m not mad at it.
I’m gonna make a casual series here called my five favorite things. As part of my dual need to express gratitude and live simply, I figured that picking some of the cool places I’ve been and identifying my five favorite things about them would be a satisfying, yet stress free way to show my love in a minimalist way. So enjoy the first installment: Venice!
Wandering at Night
Some of you may have heard that Venice is going to start limiting the number of tourists on special occasions and is moving their cruise ships out of the closer harbor. There’s a reason. The city is overrun with tourist groups, following a tour guide with a flag, clogging up the tiny side roads. It’s pretty miserable to walk the city when there are so many (inconsiderate) tourists blocking your view and your path. But what’s great about Venice is that at 6:30 pm, the tourists tend to leave. Whether their buses are departing for their next stop or their cruise ships are leaving or they just don’t think they’ll get the best Instagram pictures at night, everyone disappears.
Nighttime is the best time to wander the little streets and peak down alleyways and canals. I one hundred percent recommend putting away Google Maps and just getting lost for a bit. You’ll eventually reach the edge of the city, but the best parts of Venice are hidden away, discoverable by foot, inhabited by local kids playing soccer in the streets.
To escape the crowds, we hopped a ferry to Murano. Murano is home to glassmakers galore and they display their art everywhere. Whether you’re looking for a new chandelier or just want to window shop, the island is worth a visit. It’s also awfully colorful and gives you all the good vibes without the crowds. We were able to pop over in the mid morning and grab an early-ish lunch for cheap. Spending an hour or two wandering about was lovely. Plus the ferry back might take the scenic route and show you other islands and what Venice used to be: swamp land!
The Church with The Views
We choose to skip St. Mark’s Basilica as we only had a day to explore and didn’t fancy standing in line for hours. But that’s okay, because Venice is packed with hundreds of glorious churches. On your wanders, pop your head in to a church. Be respectful and take a look around. Even for the non-religious, it’s an experience not to be missed.
If you want to see a beautiful church and get great views, hop a ferry to S. Giorgio. You’ll be right in front of the Abbey of San Giorgio Maggiore. The Abbazia di San Giorgia Maggiore has a bell tower you can take an elevator up to see a stunning view of Venice. The view took my breath away, especially as we arrived as the sun was setting.
If you’re going to visit Murano, you might just stop at the cemetery island on your way. The Cimitero di San Michele is an island that is a still active cemetery. Families were there to visit their loved ones while we wandered. If I inherited one thing from my mother, it’s her love of wandering through old cemeteries. Many of the tombstones had little photos of the dead, which was both touching and a little bizarre. There was still quite a bit of unused space on the island, but apparently they have plans to expand, and the island isn’t a final resting place, as you’re only guaranteed ten years there. I thought it was fascinating and it was both calming and quiet.
This may seem silly, but one of my favorite things about Venice was all the puppies. Venice was full of sweet, well-behaved, pups. If you’re not a dog fan, the people watching is also excellent. Take some time out from running from site to site, church to church, to watch the locals and tourists alike. We stayed off the island and were able to walk to a small bakery for breakfast in the morning. They remembered our order on the second day and were joking with us as we nibbled on our delicious pastries. Plus on our way there, we met the sweetest pup!
Sometimes the best thing to do in a new city is blend in, find the locals, and skip the touristy spots in favor of pups and a new perspective.