January 5th, 2018
When a good portion of my friends studied abroad a few years ago, I was envious of their travels, their stories and their memories. I couldn’t study abroad a full semester due to a demanding fall and spring golf schedule, but thanks to Sport Changes Life, I now get to call Northern Ireland my home for a little, giving me easy access to Europe when time allows. I finished 2017 on a high note traveling to three different European cities with one of my roommates and fellow Victory Scholar, Natalya.
Our first stop was to one of the most famous cities in The Netherlands. Upon arrival, Nat and I kept saying how we couldn’t believe we were in another country and we were really about to spend the next six days experiencing different cultures and eating different cuisines. While in Amsterdam, we visited the Anne Frank House, which was such a tragically inspiring place to see. The history in the house and the stories told were so compelling, I had goosebumps practically the whole time. We also visited the Heineken Brewery and got to experience the history of an iconic beer which also included a boat tour where we got to see the beautiful city from the canal. Amsterdam wasn’t all glamourous though, I unfortunately got my phone stolen, but thanks to Nat’s reassuring and calm demeanor I was able to quickly get a replacement (also thank you Mom & Dad for talking me through how to handle this situation as an “adult”).
Our second stop was to Cologne, Germany. Cologne is a smaller city compared to Berlin or Munich, but we researched and discovered that some of the best Christmas markets were in Cologne. The city definitely didn’t disappoint. Our second day there we hit nearly 25,000 steps as we went to four different Christmas markets and climbed the 600 steps to the top of the Cologne Cathedral. We also may or may not have gotten lost for a wee bit, but with some collaboration and help from friends we met along the way, we managed to find our way back.
Our trip concluded in a Prague and this city was my personal favorite. Not only was the city itself beautiful, but the Christmas markets created an atmosphere that transported me to the North Pole. We spent a few hours both days at their main Christmas market in Old Town Square and of course tried numerous traditional Czech dishes. Our time in Prague also included visits to an ice bar, the John Lennon Wall and the Charles Bridge.
There were a few bumps in the road, but nothing we couldn’t handle. Traveling has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl, so although I wasn’t able to spend Christmas at home in the States like I traditionally do, spending a part of the Christmas season in Europe was an experience I will never forget. I look forward to exploring more European cities (& keeping a better eye on my personal belongings) in 2018!
Happy New Year to all my family and friends back home, and to the new friends I’ve made while abroad! A special thank you to Sport Changes Life and the Rory Foundation for continuously supporting us scholars and providing us with this opportunity.