A study abroad favorite, Holy Family University students visited London and Paris from March 4-11, 2017. A cultural hotbed, activities included visiting historical landmarks like Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Piccadilly Circus, St. Paul’s Cathedral, St. George’s Chapel, the Eiffel Tower, Versailles, the Louvre, and the Notre Dame Cathedral.
Senior nursing major Alyssa Trautz and senior biology major Salma Begum sat down with Holy Family University to discuss the trip, their traveling experiences, and the big takeaway while studying abroad.
HFU: What made you decide to travel to London and Paris?
AT: “My best friend and I always said since freshmen year that we wanted to travel before graduation. The final semester seemed like the right time to do so. I always loved European culture and was interested in seeing many of the places on the agenda, such as the Eiffel tower, Versailles, and Buckingham Palace.”
SB: “Going to London and Paris, two of Europe’s most popular cities, has always been a dream of mine. I knew I was going to go visit them one day—it was only a matter of when. Going on this trip was the perfect mix of a much-needed break/graduation gift/my first of many traveling experiences.”
HFU: What was your favorite aspect of the experience?
SB: “My favorite experience from this trip was not the sights that we saw, even though they were absolutely spectacular—it was spending time with the group that I went with. On our last day of London, we planned to explore the city and find a karaoke place. Everything was all set and we were able to Google Maps the location with ease. When we finally arrived at our destination, we saw that the doors were bolted shut and the place looked as though it had been abandoned for quite a while now. So not only were we cold, hungry, and tired from a long day of exploring, but the one thing that we were all looking forward to was closed. Instead of going back to the hotel, we circled around the block and decided on a nice little restaurant. That ended up being my favorite night. We joked, laughed, talked about our experiences so far, had good food, and most of all a great time. The staff was so friendly, as they could so obviously tell we were not from around there! Finally, to top it off, we did have our own impromptu karaoke session.”
AT: “I have never been outside of the country, so just being outside of the US was one of my favorite parts. I also enjoyed seeing Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower—that is a sight I will never forget.”
HFU: What advice would you give to other students considering a study abroad experience?
AT: “Pack light, since carrying luggage around can be tiresome! Wear comfortable shoes because there is A LOT of walking. Enjoy every moment because you will miss it once you get back home.”
SB: “For other students considering traveling abroad, don't think, just DO! If you're an over-thinker and a worrier like me, you'll talk yourself out of it a thousand times. Just commit to something that you would love to see and jump in with both feet. These are once-in-a-lifetime experiences that you will never get to relive the same way. Second, plan for things to go wrong or out of schedule. I 100% guarantee that it will, because, come on, life never goes the way you expect it to. Finally, be open to new experiences, be open to new people, thoughts, ideas, beliefs, and values. If you can do that, you're guaranteed to be able to navigate anywhere.”
HFU: What is the major "takeaway" from your experience? What did you learn?
AT: “I learned a lot about the history of France. I learned about all of those who lived in the Palace of Versailles. I learned about the everyday lives of the European citizens, specifically their customs.”
SB: “The major takeaway from this experience is that with a little bit of optimism and the ability to keep yourself open to new experiences, you’ll be fine anywhere in the world. In college, we learn a lot about being independent adults. For some, living on campus is the first real experience that you have living on your own. Eventually, major things will occur in your lifetime, such as new jobs, graduate school, etc., that will force you to make that move. How well you adjust to that new environment is up to you. Being in a country where you don't know the area, or even speak the language, gives you a new perspective on how to handle situations. Going off of that, I finally experienced what it is like to be a foreigner in a new country. It’s pretty intimidating having to try to explain what you want to someone who has no idea what you're saying. It definitely made me more empathetic to people I come across who need help.”