While I was talking with Pat (my friend from Philadelphia) about Rise Against’s upcoming U.S. fall tour, he mentioned a Europe tour I was previously unaware about. Although they’re not coming to the United Kingdom, I thought it would be fun to see my all-time favorite band abroad. I compared flights with my university timetable and came to the conclusion that seeing them in Milan was the most economic choice that won’t interfere with classes. I was originally going to go alone, but in a matter of a few weeks, I got my roommate, Ben,  into them and convinced him to go with me to see them!

Wednesday, September 30: I arrived just in time to grab a bite to eat before heading over to the venue. After grabbing a few drinks once we got inside the venue, we watched the opening band, Raised Fist. They were pretty different from Rise Against, but I liked them nonetheless. When Rise Against came on, the room exploded and the next hour was an awesome mess of pushing (and being pushed), crowd surfing and singing. I lost Ben for a while, but found him just in time for my favorite song of the set: “Black Masks and Gasoline.” It was a great show and I appreciate them carrying on with the tour even when their front man (Tim) broke his wrist. Afterwards, we waited outside to meet them and sure enough, they came out. First, Brandon (the drummer) appeared alone, but we didn’t get a chance to talk to him until the other three came out and he retired. I first talked to Zach (the guitarist) and once I told him I’m from Arizona, he recognized me from when I met them in April and gave them a painting. After that, I got to talk to Joe (the bassist) and Tim before we had to head back to the hostel. I’m upset I didn’t get to meet Brandon again, but meeting the three of them and getting my ticket signed was overwhelming.

Thursday, October 1: We didn’t have a lot of time before we had to head to the airport, but we got the quick tour of Milan by having quality pizza, gelato and exploring the Duomo. The view of the plaza from the terrace and the architecture of the building was especially impressive.

It was a bad stroke of luck that the concert was on a school night, further minimizing my time there, but I’m excited to explore the rest of Italy this spring.

My next adventure: Nice, France!

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During the spring semester, the study abroad office at my home university held a pre-departure orientation, where the highlight was meeting four other girls going to the University of Sussex. One of these girls, Emily, and I were in touch often and were talking about our travel aspirations. As it turns out, we shared a mutual priority of visiting Amsterdam. Without further ado, we booked a trip together and started getting excited. Soon after. Another girl from Arizona State, Jessica, asked to join us. I’m all for “the more, the merrier” policy, so with that, the three of us set off!

Friday, 25 September: We didn’t arrive at our hostel until early evening, so we didn’t do much for our first night aside from dining out and bar hopping around our hostel.

Saturday, 26 September: We had a really busy first day, starting off with a visit to Dam Square; the town square with shops and landmarks like the Royal Palace and National Monument. After that, we went on an hour-long canal tour. On our way to the other side of town, we walked through the floating Flower Market. We weren’t bothered to buy anything, but it’s a neat place nonetheless. Then, we visited the Van Gogh Museum before walking around a nearby park to end our day.

Sunday, 27 September: Although we weren’t bothered to wait in line on Saturday, we returned to the Anne Frank House Sunday morning, determined to get in this time. We waited in the queue for about an hour, but it was worth it, the history behind the home is really interesting. After that, we grabbed a bite to eat at a pancake, which was (what I think) the best meal we had. Emily and I shared two crepes; one sweet with Nutella, bananas and coconut and one savory with cheese, onions and mushrooms. They were both very good, but you can never go wrong with sweet. We then visited the Tulip Museum, which was probably the biggest surprise. I had no idea the flower had such a history. Lastly, we rented bikes for a few hours without any real direction and ended up in the Red Light District. It was pretty weird, I’m just glad I didn’t go at night.

The three of us are in consensus that it was a fun, but tiring trip. I had a great time with the two of them and can’t wait to travel with them again.

My next adventure: Milan, Italy!

Photo by Autumn Studio.

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I have now been settled in England for about two weeks and it’s been amazing. I’m convinced I live in the best city in the country.

The day after my initial arrival at London Heathrow, Joe drove me to stay with my friend, Adam, outside Worthing, a town about half an hour west of Brighton. I spent a few days relaxing there with Adam and his roommate, Clare, (both of whom I’ve become close with) and exploring the town. After my Dublin and Copenhagen trips, I returned there for one last night before heading to Brighton.

Upon my arrival in Brighton, Emily, another exchange student from Arizona State, was waiting at a hotel we’d both share that night before moving in the next morning. Together, we explored Brighton. It was a beautiful day, so we walked around the pier and went on the Brighton Wheel. I can best describe Brighton as a downsized mix between Santa Monica with its lively beach scene (well, as lively as you can get in England) and San Francisco with its liberal attitude and unique architecture.

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Although this trip was kind of an afterthought, it fit in well as one last hurrah to finish of my month (can you believe it?) of traveling.

Tuesday, 8 September: After a long day of travel on Monday, I was excited to finally get out and explore Denmark. Per my dad’s suggestion, I purchased a Copenhagen Card, which allowed me free public transportation, meal discounts and free admission into highlight attractions. First, I took a canal tour starting in Nyhavn, where I saw highlights of the city from the water. After that, I went to the aquarium, which is one of the biggest in northern Europe. Finally, I went to Tivoli, one of the oldest theme parks in Europe. I didn’t go on any of the rides (probably for the better, some of them are over one hundred years old), but I enjoyed the atmosphere.

Wednesday, 9 September: I took a short walk to the Rosenberg Castle. I would have liked to go in, but couldn’t be bothered to pay for a locker. After that, I went to the Experimentarium, which was made out to be a fun, educational adventure for all ages, but it turned out to be a glorified children’s museum. On the bright side, Street Food (a collection of vendors) were right next door, so I took in the views of the harbor while having a bite to eat. My last two stops of the day were the National Museum and House of Amber, but of which weren’t a big fuss, but worth the quick tour.

Thursday, 10 September: I participated in a walking tour which took us to City Hall, Parliament, Nyhavn, the Royal Palace and more. The highlight of the tour was learning about Denmark’s history and understanding how far they’re come. I’ve heard great things about Scandinavian countries and Denmark resembles how prosperous that area is. Later, I met up with my friend, Jessica, at my hostel for a chat. I met her at the Arizona State pre-departure orientation back in April and she happened to be in Copenhagen for a few hours while I was. It was good to catch up on our crazy travels and get excited about university together!

On that note, this last month has been a roller coaster and I’m ready to have some more consistency in my life. After a few more hectic days, I will finally be settled down in my university flat and ready to start the “study” portion of my study abroad journey.

My next adventure: Amsterdam, Netherlands!

Photo by Nick Karvounis.

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When I first thought of studying abroad, I asked my England-based friends if they would like to travel with me. Joe was the first to take me up on the offer, so I prioritized a trip with him likewise.

Thursday, 3 September: I took a train from where I was staying the last couple of days (outside of Worthing) and met up with Joe at Gatwick Airport and all our travels went smoothly. My Dublin-based friend, Rachel, was kind enough to pick us up from the airport and take us to our hostel in central Dublin. We briefly exploring the city before getting a drink and turning it in early.

Friday, 4 September: We had an early morning for our day trip to the northern coast. Our first stop was the Carrick-A-Rede rope bride: a simple suspension bridge with stunning views of the Irish coast and Scotland. After a quick lunch, we made our way to the highlight of the trip: Giant’s Causeway, a natural phenomenon of interlocking hexagonal rock formations emerging from the coast. I’ve wanted to go there for a while now and it was everything I expected and more (bar the rain and cold weather). Our final stop on the trip was an hour in Belfast. Although it was interesting, I like Dublin a lot more.

Saturday, 5 September: We participated in a free walking tour provided by our hostel (as well as several others). Highlights of the tour included Trinity College, Temple Bar (nightlife area, although it’s often confused with an actual bar in the area called Temple Bar), Christ Church and Dublin Castle. Our guide was very knowledgeable and funny. From the tour, we went to the Guinness Storehouse, where learned about the process of making Ireland’s best-known beer and got a free pint ourselves. Later that night, we met up with Rachel and her boyfriend, Craig, who took us to several bars in Temple Bar. The town was especially buzzing as there was a Gaelic football game on a few hours before.

Sunday, 6 September: We walked around town some more on our way to the National Museum of Ireland. It was a little dry, especially since we learned a lot of Irish history on our walking tour, but at least it was free. Needless to say, we were both pretty tired from the week and decided to take it easy before having one more night out before returning home the following morning.

According to Joe, Ireland is a lot like England, but that didn’t stop us both from having a great time.

My next adventure: Copenhagen, Denmark!

Photo by Michael Shannon.

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