This is my last, though certainly not least, post to sum up my time spent abroad this past semester. After coming back from the Slovenia/Croatia trip, we all locked ourselves away for a week or so to do some major studying and final taking. Lucky for me, I was the first to finish out of the Belgium crew, and had planned one last weekend for myself after my last final on June 6th.
So here is the story of my last weekend in Europe. After our final, I got on a train with Jenna and Tay to head to Bruges for the night. We had booked a hostel and planned on going to a relatively famous restaurant called Balls n Glory. Amazing. After a great meal, we went out for the night. Drinks, dancing, the whole thing. It was a great time and a fond memory that I have with my last night with those two, who are now two of my greatest friends. I had a flight to catch to Prague the next morning out of Brussels, and had planned on catching an early train out of Bruges so that I could make it to the airport on time. Well one thing led to the next, I ended up on a later train, and missed the flight. DEVASTATING. I had been so excited to go to Prague and explore the city I had heard so much about on my own for a few days. If I can really have one mistake from the entire semester this was definitely it. BUT, after some deep breathing and a phone call with J&T, I realized that I was still in Europe, at the airport, with a few free days ahead of me; so why not just go somewhere else? I am so sad to have missed the chance to get to Prague, but now I can say that I have a reason to get back to Europe and try again. After some research about where I could possibly choose to go next, I ended up at Brussels Midi train station to get on a train to Cologne, Germany. I booked the round trip tickets that day, and the lady at the booth said I was lucky because I got the last seat on the train to come back to Brussels. That really put things into perspective for me after my eventful morning.. how lucky was I that within just a few hours so much had happened and then I was just simply on my way to another European city. So after a few hours on the high speed train, I was in Cologne, the city where my dear friend Anisa studies! I grabbed a map and found my way to the hostel on the other side of the city. Lucky for me, I ended up meeting a really nice English girl in the hostel as soon as I arrived and immediately had a friend to walk around with. It was so interesting to meet Michelle and hear her story, why she was traveling, and all that. We spent the afternoon walking around the city and had dinner back at the hostel. That night I was exhausted, and slept like a baby after such an eventful day.
The next day, I was up on my own to explore the city. I walked through the shopping area, toured the cathedral, crossed the bridge to the other side of the city and did a panoramic view from up top the “sky scraper”, walked back across another bridge that was covered in locks, had ice cream, laid on the grass, read my book, people watched, enjoyed some food, read some more… you get the idea. This basically went on for my entire weekend. It was incredibly relaxing and invigorating to travel and spend that time with myself. I explored some of the campus in Cologne, where people were laying out and barbequing. Overall, I thought it was an awesome city for students. It was manageable, comfortable, and had some really gorgeous traits. I had a great time with myself before getting back to Belgium to pack up.
I returned to LLN at the end of my weekend and spent some time saying goodbye to all of my dear friends. We had dinner, took pictures together and enjoyed a last drink. I cherish these people so much, and its an incredible thing to be able to say “Next time I see you it’ll be somewhere else around the world”. I formed a really unique and cherished relationship with these people and will always hold that close to me.
The following morning I checked out of my room and was back at the airport on my way to JFK. 2 overweight bags checked into Icelandair, and two carry-ons in hand, I made it to Reykjavik and then back to New York. What an incredible journey.
Like I’ve said all along, words cannot do a lot of these experiences justice. It is now August, and I am still amazed at what I have done in the past few months. A lot of it feels like a dream, but the best part is that it wasn’t, and I am so inspired to keep exploring and traveling throughout my lifetime. I don’t know when or where I’m headed next, but I am patiently waiting until I can get back out there to see more of this precious world in which we live.