As my semester abroad wraps up, it becomes increasingly hard to ignore the fact that I fly home in three days. To celebrate the end of finals and as one last hurrah before going back to the U.S., Bridget and I took a final trip around Europe. One thing about being abroad is that sometimes trips are extremely spontaneous. That’s part of the whole “you’re only abroad once” philosophy. It’s part of the package. You have to be ready to be flexible if you want to travel. While most of our friends were still in the midst of finals week, I lucked out, being an English major means a whole lot of papers and very few exams. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but I’d much rather write five papers in ten days (which I did) versus taking exams in a hall with 1000 other kids. Now I know a lot of people wouldn’t say the same and to each their own, but I was thrilled that finishing my papers 12 days before my scheduled flight to Boston, meant one last trip around the world.
When my mom was in college, she spent a semester studying abroad in Budapest, Hungary and because of that, it’s been a bucket list item of mine this semester. Once May rolled around I didn’t think it would happen, but religiously checking Ryanair flights pays off sometimes. Bridget and I booked a last-minute trip to Budapest, Vienna, and Prague, checking off three countries in one week and bringing my country count this semester to a whopping nine; Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, France, Italy, Spain, Hungary, Austria, and the Czech Republic.
Budapest was incredible, we spent our days there exploring the city, relaxing at the Széchenyi Baths, taking a river cruise tour on the Danube, and eating great food. It was so special for me to spend Mother’s Day weekend in the country that my own mother studied abroad in when she was my age.
We decided to take a train from Budapest to Prague but first stopped in Vienna for the day. I will admit, I didn’t know a whole lot about the city before visiting but I was incredibly excited to see The Kiss. Gustav Klimt’s painting has been a recurring motif in my life ever since my mom introduced it to me when I was a kid. She brought home a framed copy one day to hang in our upstairs hallway and told me it was her favorite painting. “It’s impossible to tell whether or not the two figures are entangled in love or hatred, is the man trying to strangle the woman or kiss her?” That’s what makes the painting so compelling and why the highlight of the trip was staring at the golden trademark in The Belvedere for as long as I could. That and trying schnitzel for the first time of course.
The last leg of the trip and final destination outside of Ireland before heading home was Prague. The city blew me away. I had very low expectations but had been told by other study-abroad students that it was their favorite trip. The architecture was incredible, each building was intricately detailed and unique in ways that made me want to study it for too long. The river running through the center was a constant comfort and the views from Prague Castle made the scope of the city even more magical. I was genuinely in awe.
My last trip outside of Ireland while studying in Europe was bittersweet. The perfect ending to a semester of incredible adventures and memories that I am lucky to call my own.