My period 2 courses are much more manageable as I’m adjusted to the teaching style and have been better about budgeting my time. As a result, I’ve been able to travel most every weekend. This period I have been able to travel to London, Paris, Budapest, Prague, and Dublin.
I’ve enjoyed each city and country. In London, I was able to stay with my cousin who lives right near Tower Bridge. London is such a big city that I am thankful I took a long weekend and had 5 days to explore. I was able to see the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and many other historical sites. My cousin was able to show me the best local restaurants and give recommendations on shows. I ended up seeing Wicked which is one of my favorites. I also had friends studying in London so I was able to meet up with them. Even though this was my first time in London, it felt like home. Everyone spoke English, public transportation was easy, and I was able to enjoy some good comfort food. One day we went to the Warner Brothers Studios Harry Potter tour. We were able to see all the set designs and all the things that happened behind the scenes in the production of the movies. I thoroughly enjoyed London and I would love to go back.
I traveled to Paris via Flixbus which was one of my favorite ways to travel. Extremely cheap and took less than 7 hours. The bus departed right from Maastricht so it was easy and I was able to catch up on sleep. While I was there, I visited a lot of famous art museums. I went to the Louvre which was one of the largest museums I have ever seen. I could have spent an entire day there. I also saw Museum do Orsey on our final day. I loved that the museums were free since we had our Dutch residence permit. The Eiffel Tower was by far one of the greatest things I got to see while in Paris. On separate occasions, we went and sat in the park and had food and wine while admiring it. We also got to go to the top, which is 324 meters high. I’m scared of heights but it was incredible to overlook all of Paris. Also while in Paris, we walked around a Christmas market and the famous shopping street. Overall, I enjoyed Paris especially all of the delicious crepes sold on every street corner.
Budapest was the first eastern European city I had visited. The look and feel of the city was very different. I took a 3 hour long free city walking tour that highlighted a lot of the important history and buildings in Budapest. The hostel I stayed at was perfect for young travelers looking to explore the ruin bars and wanting to meet new people. One night we did a boat party with everyone from the hostel. The next day, my friend and I visited a thermal bath. One of the things more unique to Budapest, these thermal baths were incredible. There were indoor and outdoor baths all at different temperatures. It was so cool to see and we spent a large part of our day enjoying the baths. Budapest also had a great Christmas market where we enjoyed some goulash, mulled wine, chimney cakes, and Hungarian flat bread. Every city I visit, I always try the unique food to that country. Hungary is known for their goulash which did not disappoint. We also did a ruin bar crawl and visited 5 different ruin bars which was interesting to see some of the history of the city. We may not have gotten a lot of sleep in Budapest but we had lots of fun.
I traveled to Prague on Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving was hard to be away from my family and home but I met up with friends studying abroad but also from my home university. In Prague, we are at all the popular restaurants that locals had recommended to us. We explored new town, old town, the jewish quarter, and toured all the castles. The castle provided us with a great history of Prague. We are also able to shop around and went out to Lucerna for an 80s/90s dance night. We were also able to do a bar crawl that took us to 5 different bars and then ended at the largest club in Europe. Prague was beautiful and I was happy I got to share it with friends from home.
I only had a short weekend in Dublin, but I got to meet up with 2 other girls from my home university. We stayed right around the Temple Bar area and Trinity College. On Saturday, we did the Guinness Storehouse and Teeling museum tour which was really fun. It was fun to stop at a lot of the different Irish pubs for a pint and a quick bite to eat. Dublin had a lot of character and I loved the energy of the city and the people.
Now I only have about 2 and a half weeks left in Maastricht. I’m trying to enjoy all the cafes and local spots one last time before I head back to the US. Even though I’m busy with final papers and projects, I want to enjoy my last days here.
Looking back on my time while in Europe, I have been thankful that I haven’t felt super homesick. I’ve been lucky enough to travel to 11 countries and explore a part of the world I have never seen before. Not to mention, learn a lot in Maastricht and adjust to a new teaching style. I have loved my time in Maastricht and I’m sad to return home.