Interlaken, Switzerland

The first country I traveled to was Switzerland. And it’s funny because I had no intentions of going there, but man am I glad that I did. Although the city of Interlaken is quite expensive, I don’t regret a single dime that I spent there. On the first day there, my group and I decided to hike up the Swiss Alps a bit. We came across a few “rest areas” with gazebos and spent some time at each one taking pictures and reflecting on life. The second day we took a train to a little town called Grindelwald. It reminded me of those little Christmas villages you buy piece by piece and set up around Christmas time. On the third day we went parasailing, which makes you literally feel like you are flying. Side note: Thai food in Switzerland is incredible. I actually ate it each day I was there.. The whole weekend was a giant adrenaline rush, and it took me about three days to come down from it.

Ciao, Firenze!

First and foremost, I have to say I really didn’t think I was going to make it from New Jersey to Florence without experiencing some type of confusion. I had never traveled alone before, so this was a big step for me. Fortunately, it was much easier than I was expecting.

Once I arrived in Florence, it took about .5 seconds for me to fall completely in love with the little city. I couldn’t help but smile over the fact that I was going to call this place home for the next three and a half months. It also didn’t take long for me to make a few friends, which is always a great thing when you’re somewhat nervous about doing something so out of your comfort zone.

Within the first week, I had hiked up to Piazzale Michelangelo, climbed the bell tower and the infamous Duomo, and indulged in fine Italian cuisine. It didn’t take me long to realize that picking Florence for my study abroad experience was the best decision I had ever made. If anyone ever asks, I will undoubtedly suggest Florence every time.

With meeting friends, came planning memorable trips. The first day trip I took was with a traveling agency called SmartTrip (hands down the absolute best). We went to Cortona for vineyards and wine tasting, and also to a spa with hot springs pools. You can never go wrong with wine and a spa day.