Discover what some of our Park Scholars abroad are doing.
Saturday, March 30, 2013
By Mia O’Brien ‘15
Prior to jetting across the pond to Europe for the spring semester, I had had plenty a conversation with older Park Scholars who had partaken in the Ithaca College London Center program. Among the various tid-bits of advice I was given, the one phrase, or, rather, term, that stuck out in my mind was “eurostomping,” coined (and passed onto me) by PS alum Willie Sleight ’12. Long story short, when Willie came to London, he set a budget, spent his money wisely, and saw over a dozen different countries, “stomping” his way across Europe.
Because of my chosen career path as a sports broadcaster, I have accepted that travelling across Europe may be a once-in-a-lifetime chance for me (sadly, being a broadcaster in Bangor, Maine probably won’t give me much leeway to take a month off and backpack through Europe). But that is why I really took Willie’s advice to heart and made my own budget upon arrival and have since been able to see (and do) everything I had hoped and dreamt for when I set out on this four month adventure.
During the first half of the semester, I really focused much of my time in London and the United Kingdom, visiting Bath and the West Country, Stratford-on-Avon (home of William Shakespeare), and Oxford while really getting to know the city I am living in. I also had an impromptu, 48-hour excursion to Paris thrown in there, but who’s counting. As much as the London weather certainly was dreary during those first two months and I dreamt of the sunny spots I could be travelling to, I really appreciate my decision to stay in the U.K. most of Block Three. It gave me time to grow accustomed to “flat life,” learn where the best restaurants and pubs were, and to see all that London has to offer.
...but then I caught that “eurostomping” bug and went non-stop for three weeks straight. Beginning in Portugal for Spring Break, I visited five very different cities each with something special and unique of their own. I took a wine, or “port,” tour in Porto, Portugal, walked the shoreline of Lisbon, toured the museums and history of Madrid, and tried to get as much Vitamin D as I possibly could in sunny Barcelona—all on Spring Break alone. The following weekend, I took a hop, skip, and a jump to Dublin, Ireland for some St. Patrick’s Day festivities (magically, my bank account remains reasonable given how much I still have to do... did I mention how important it is to keep a budget?).
After two weeks of “rest” back in London, I’ll be back on the road soon enough, when I travel to Frankfurt, Germany to catch a couple of “football” matches, including the U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Germany and Bayern Munich vs. Frankfurt. The following weekend will bring a trip to Edinburgh and Scotland, where I am really hoping to do the “literary pub crawl” that traces the stomping grounds of such greats as J.K. Rowling. Even on my final weekend in London, I’ll be doing a bit of travel, as I am taking a day-trip to Wales with my Contemporary British Politics Class to see the Welsh National Assembly among a slew of other sights. And as if I couldn’t get enough of Europe, I extended my trip (which I do recommend—gives you more time to explore London this way!) and will be travelling with some fellow Park Scholars to Geneva, Switzerland, and several cities in Italy before I finally head back to the U.S... and somehow make it back in time for Senior Week.
(note: if you’re wondering how I’m swinging all this while still having money to live, travelling by cheap airlines like RyanAir and EasyJet, overnight buses, and InterCity trains are the way to go. Like we’re talking two of us are flying to Geneva for less than $90).
For those of you counting at home, that brings the grand total of countries visited by this world traveller to eleven (if you count Vatican City). But, for me, “eurostomping” really hasn’t been about the quantity but, rather, the quality of each trip. I’ve chosen to go to certain places as opposed to others because I really wanted to go there. I’ve woken up ahead of everyone else in my travel group to go to museums or churches because I wanted to experience them. Sure, the dreary weather we have been experiencing is a nice excuse to sit inside... but why do that when there is a whole city—and continent—to explore? That’s been my motto throughout this whole trip, and, like that budget, I have really stuck to it. Certainly, this new lifestyle I’ve adopted will mean I won’t be eating quite as much in the U.S. as I did prior to my travels (remember: budget!), but, at the same time, I have spent my money wisely and have seen too many wonders to count on my hands and feet.
And so “Eurostomping: MOBrien Edition” continues if only for another six weeks. But fortunately, I haven’t checked off every city on my list during my time here... giving me all the more excuse to one day return to Europe.
Be sure to follow all my journeys on my own personal blog, too! I’ll be here until May 4.
Until then, cheers!
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