Written by SU Strasbourg’s Justin Cole.
The end of midterms signals a euphoric, or should I say Europhoric, response for abroad students. Not only are we finally relieved of the stress of papers and exams, but it also means that Fall Break is here!
Fall Break is infamous in the hearts and minds of abroad students, as droves of college students are released to spend 8 days and 7 nights anywhere they please. Students here in Strasbourg were no exception, and destinations included such far-away places as Morocco, Budapest, Vienna, Athens, Berlin, and London, just to name a few.
Elizabeth Nagle, a senior biochemistry major at Syracuse, decided to travel south for her break to the historic city of Athens and the breathtaking island of Santorini. Four days and three nights in Athens was surely not nearly enough time to enjoy all of the city, but Liz and her two fellow travelers were able to see the major sights and attractions such as the Parthenon, the Acropolis, and the flea market neighborhood of Monastiraki. For all you girls out there (or guys…I shouldn’t assume), many of the locations in the movie “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” were shot here in Santorini. Google the city (like I just did) and the first pictures you come across will feature the characteristic white stone buildings with blue domed roofs that Elizabeth said were absolutely incredible. While the buildings were nice, Liz said that by far her most fun and exciting experience on the trip was renting ATVs to travel around half of the island of Santorini. While it was rainy a couple of days, it didn’t dampen their spirits. But I mean, when you’re watching the sun set from Oia, the most famous village in Santorini, you’ll find it tough to complain much about anything.
Justin Welch, a sophomore International Affairs and French major from CU Boulder, also went south for his break (do we see a trend?) but instead of changing countries, he changed continents. After a journey that required at least six connections and the usage of nearly every mode of transportation thinkable, Justin’s group arrived for 4 days in beautiful Barcelona. La Rambla, one of the busiest streets in Barcelona, proved to be one of Justin’s favorite places of the entire trip. His break also took him to the beautiful city of Marrakech, Morocco in Africa.
Justin’s a pretty well-traveled guy, but even he admits that the country’s use of the barter system to purchase goods and the interesting techniques used for meat preparation proved to be a bit of a culture shock.
“We went to this market where if you wanted chicken, you’d choose the live chicken and they’d slit its neck and let it bleed out right in front of you, then they’d pluck the feathers out and hand it over to you.”
Justin and his two fellow travelers made sure to make the most of their time in Morocco, traveling to the nearby High Atlas Mountains and rode camels up and down the mountain. Plenty of sun and fun made Justin’s trip a memorable one.
Finally, my trip brought me and two of my friends on a whirlwind tour of central Europe. Starting our journey in Budapest, Hungary, we were treated to a beautiful panorama of the city from atop a nearby hill and admired the parliament alight in the red, white, and green glow of the colors of the Hungarian flag. Our trip there coincided with a national holiday recognizing the unsuccessful Hungarian Revolution of 1956. We were disappointed to find out on our last day in Budapest that all of the aboveground museums were closed, so we did what any reasonable person would do and descended to the subterranean expanses. Our day was filled with spelunking in a nearby cave and traversing through a vast labyrinth that ran beneath Buda Castle.
Next up was Vienna, Austria and we were soon aware that we did not budget nearly enough time to explore this magnificent city, although we did take a half-day and explored Schonbrunn Palace, a 1400 room palace that served as the seat of the Austrian-Hungarian empire. We then departed for Vienna’s twin city, Bratislava, (named as such because it is also a capital and is a short 40 minutes away) where we were treated to the cheapest meals (no more than 5 euros for an appetizer, entrée, and drink) and a surprising amount of Halloween decorations. A day excursion to the High Tatras Mountains in northern Slovakia to the tiny town of Poprad-Tatry rounded off our journey, as we took a dip in the thermal baths and visited the Old Town’s beautiful square.
I never thought I’d say this, but all of this traveling has really worn me out. A much-needed weekend spent here in Strasbourg will help me recharge for next weekend; that’s right, on to Stockholm.