Europe Tour

36 Rotary exchange students, 11 cities, 12 days… C’est parti!

Day 1:

We started day one of the Euro tour bus trip in Paris, France on Easter! Unfortunately we didn’t have a lot of time to visit all of the famous monuments but we did have time to stop at the Eiffel Tower! It was an Easter we’ll never forget!IMG_0759

Day 2:

Bienvenue à Strasbourg! Day 2 was a lovely, rainy day in the city of Strasbourg located right on the border of France & Germany. The word “Strasbourg” in German means “street city.” Strasbourg is less than a 30 min drive from the German border, therefore there is a lot of German influence in the architecture and food. One of my favorite foods we tried here was the “Bretzel,” a German-style soft pretzel.

Day 3:

Next stop: MÜNCHEN! This was my first time visiting Germany, so I was pretty excited. We arrived in the afternoon and had “Rotwurst” which is like a sausage served with French fries for lunch. En route to Munich, we got caught in traffic because of the snow storm that was going on, but that didn’t stop us from arriving in the beautiful city of Munich! We took a very nice tour where we learned that it is the wealthiest city in Germany and is known for football (soccer), beer, and cars. With that being said, we visited the BMW museum. BMW is one amongst 3 other companies that do the most hiring in Germany, roughly 36,000 people work for BMW. It is also a very popular University city, there are many university students in the city of Munich, where college is free!!

Day 4 & 5:

Czech this out!

The next 2 days were spent in Prague! We took a tour around the “Old Town” visiting a lot of the important buildings and cathedrals, and since it was Easter week, we even got to see the adorable outdoor Easter market. We also tried a Czech specialty food called “Trdelnik.” The best way to describe it is like bread dough rolled up around a hot iron rod where they roll it in sugar, bake it, and then spread caramel sauce/ Nutella/ whipped cream/ etc on the inside. It was delish! We then visited the john Lennon wall, a beautiful wall where you can find graffiti with drawings or quotes of world peace.

IMG_0922IMG_0885IMG_0908IMG_0940

Day 6:

We then drove to, in my opinion, probably one of the most beautiful cities in Europe… VIENNA! We took a nice walking tour around the city but we’re unable to visit the entire city by foot, so we hopped on the bus and saw the rest of the city. There were so many beautiful buildings with ‘Art Nouveau’ style architecture.

Day 7 & 8:

Next up on our tour is Venice, Italy! I had seen so many beautiful pictures of Venice in books/ social media/ etc, but when I saw this city in person, my jaw dropped. It is such a unique city built on water. We had to take a 20 minute ferry form the main land to get to Venice. First thing we did when we arrived was get Gelato! IMG_1040I got Stracciatella, which is vanilla with bits of chocolate, it was delicious! We then took a guided tour where we saw a good bit of Venice including the Byzantine cathedral and learned about Venice’s 15 day carnival and specially in Glass making. I bought a pair of beautiful glass earrings that are made on an island not far from Venice. We ended the day off right with a run along the beach at sun set and had pasta for dinner! Fun fact: pasta is considered as an appetizer in Italy, so we had one plate of pasta, then a plate of veal and potatoes, and then Panna Cotta for dessert.

IMG_1034IMG_1016IMG_1181IMG_1245

Day 9:

Ciao Milano!

Every day I spent in Italy I ended up loving more and more. The people are so friendly, the food is great, and I even got to practice my Italian! For breakfast we ate traditional Italian food: presunto, cheese, pannetone and café with latte (which means warm milk!). I was surprised to find that Italian is quite easy to understand. For lunch we stopped at a restaurant in Milan where they did not speak English, therefore we had to make an effort to speak in Italian. Luckily my knowledge of Portuguese, Spanish and French came into hand and we had no problems ordering our meal. I ate a delicious “gnocchi Verdi,” which is a potato based pasta with basil and garlic.

We then took a guided walking tour visiting all of the major monuments in Milano. We saw the beautiful Duomo cathedral and the Plazza Della Scala, which is a very high end shopping centre. I was completely starstruck by this city because my freshman year of high school, I did a project on Milan and its famous monuments, so I was in awe to actually get to visit Milan and see the city in person during my senior year of High School.

And since Milan is one of the fashion capitals of the world, i just had to go shopping. I found an adorable Italian hand bag store, from Naples, where I bought a beautiful summer-y purse. And we couldn’t leave Italy without trying the coffee, so I tried an espresso. Boy oh boy, those Italian espressos are about the size of 2 sips but it gave me so much energy!

IMG_1277IMG_1262

Day 10:

En route back to La France! Today we adventured to Mont Blanc, the tallest mountain in in Europe. We arrived in the afternoon, it was raining so we decided to eat a warm lunch. We found the cutest little Swedish restaurant in the centre ville of Chamonix where we ate Swedish meatballs, lingonberries, and mashed potatoes. We then caught a train to take to the top of mount blanc. It was such an awesome view! We then took a gondola to the bottom to check out the glaciers! It was incredible to get to see the inside of a glacier but alarming because of how fast it is melting. 

img_4418img_9209

Day 11: 

Guess who’s going to the UN in Geneva today?! ME!!!

Today we drove from Annecy, France to Geneva, Switzerland. We got to see an actual conference going on during the ‘eCommerce week’: Assessing eTrade readiness of the least developed countries. We also learned that there are 6 official languages of the United Nations: English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Russian, and Arabic.

We then stopped in downtown Geneva for lunch! I ate at a delicious Brazilian restaurant with all of the Brazilian exchange students. It was delicious!!!

Then we headed back to Annecy where we spent the rest of the day! We drank hot chocolate and saw some of the other exchange students who live in Annecy.

And to end the bus trip, we had a dance party in the hotel! This was a trip that I’ll never forget! Thanks to everyone who made it unforgettable!

img_4520img_4578img_4631

Bisous!

I went to the UK: Edinburgh, Scotland

I just spent a week in the U.K. with my fellow french classmate and it was such an awesome experience!
We started the trip leaving at midnight Saturday and drove all the way from Chambéry, france, passing through Luxembourg, Belgium and made our way to Amsterdam, Holland where we caught the ferry to take us to Newcastle, England where we would then drive to Edinburgh, Scotland.

Day 1
:

Once we arrived in England, we drove a few hours to get to Hadrian’s Wall. It was the wall built during the Roman Empire, located just below the border of Scotland. Unfortunately it rained and we were walking in mud the whole time but it was a really cool thing to experience! I’m not a game of thrones fan but apparently this tree is famous because of the series.
We then drove to an ancient roman town that is more than 2000 years old called Viandola. This town has archeologists and volunteers who come to dig on the site to find things from the ancient times. We also go to see the museum where they had a collection of shoes from the romans that they found in display.
Later on that night, we met up with our Scottish host families in the suburbs of Edinburgh .One of my french friends and i were hosted by a very nice woman and man who also had kids but they were not home because they were visiting family in Wales. It was really strange for me to be speaking in English with people who’s native language is English since I have been in france for 8 months! I can’t imagine how weird it’s gonna feel when I actually go back home to the US! 

Day 2
:

We woke up bright and early to rejoin with the group and head to Sterling, a city in Scotland that used to be the capital. We had a tour guided by a local Scott who wore a kilt! I learned that the unicorn is one of the national symbols of Scotland, the other is the thistle.
We got to see a monument call the National Wallace Monument. Scottish army defeats British forces in the late 1200s. It was a very tall tower with a total of 264 steps. It was actually quite scary to go up to the top because there is only 1 state case for everyone to use and it was not a very big one, since it is so old, so you had to take turns going up and down the steps because they weren’t big enough.
Fun fact: A veryyyyy long time ago, Scotland had glaciers that passed through pausing the land down, which caused all the large hills/ tiny mountains but now a days, the ground in Scotland rises just a little bit everyday while the ground in England sinks just a little bit.
Scotland also has volcanos, that’s why you can find many old, black building made from the volcanic rock.
Later on, we took a boat ride down one of Scotland’s deepest rivers! 



Day 3:

First thing, we were greeted with a “Goodmornin” (imagine it with a Scottish accent) and ate toast with butter and blackcurrant jam with tea and milk!
We then drove to the Edinburgh castle located on a cliff like hill with an amazing view of all of Edinburgh!
We spent the rest of the day walking along the ‘Royal mile’ Edinburgh’s Main Street for shopping and restaurants. Scotland is known for its cashmere and Whiskey, but I did not buy any of that. I went for the Scottish shortbread and fudge and took pictures at the red telephone booths, of course! It’s such a cute city with its double decker busses and cobble stone streets! We really got lucky, out of the 4 days that we were in the U.K., 3 of them were sunny!
And since it was the last night with our host families, I thought I’d be cool to ask them a few questions about their country…

1. What is a specialty dish & dessert from Scotland?: black pudding- blood sausage Heggis– served wi h turnips and potatos (sheeps somach- lining) cranachan– whipped cream & raspberries & whisky & granola

3. Number of sunny days per year?: only a handful, gets up to 19 degrees Celsius in the summer

4. Favorite thing to do in Scotland?: Lockness & golf, because Scotland is the home of golf



Day 4
:

We said a final goodbye to our host family and stopped one last time in Edinburgh to go to the Edinburg dungeons! This was a really cool experience and I’d highly recommend it to anyone visiting. I think the best way to explain it is an interactive museum/ haunted house. It was based off of legitimate Scottish history but twisted a little to make it ‘scary’ and intriguing’ lol. I was accused as a “witch” during a court case.
We then drove back down to Newcastle, England where we took the ferry to Amsterdam and then drove all the way back home to Chambéry.


Next up is a bus trip around all Europe lasting 12 days!!! I’m gonna be exhausted after all this traveling! 😂

Bus Trip: Paris to Barcelona

Hola amigos!

I created a youtube channel where I’ll be posting videos of cool events I got to participate in, like this bus trip! Click on it to watch! 🙂

I had the amazing opportunity to go a bus trip with 38 other exchange students from the Rhône-Alpes region of France. We traveled from Paris, France all the way down to Barcelona, Spain. I got to meet lots of cool people, try new foods, and experience different cultures during this trip, so I thought I’d share it with everyone. Enjoy!

DAY 1:

We started the adventure in PARIS! We got to see the Eiffel Tower, L’arc de Triomphe, Le Louvre, L’Opéra de Paris, etc. Unfortunately, most of our time in Paris was spent in a bus, but that changed when we arrived in Chambord, France.

img_0401img_0404

DAY 2:

The second day we visited 2 castles: Le Château de Chambord and Le Clos Lucé, they were absolutely beautiful! We then stopped in Amboise, a city located south west of Paris, for lunch and made our way down to Potiers.

img_0444img_0466img_0484

DAY 3:

The third day we went to Futuroscope, a French amusement park in Potiers. This park was sooooo much fun!! It has super advanced technology and it was all in French, I really enjoyed  my day here with my friends.

img_0494img_0453img_0470img_0497

DAY 4:

The fourth day, we went to Toulouse, France. Aka ‘the rose colored city‘. Toulouse is a beautiful city in the south of France known for it’s orange (rose) colored bricks that make the streets so unique. We got to visit the city hall, a church, and try authentic Italian pizza. I had a very nice time.

Later on that night, we drove to BARCELONA!!! I was soooooo excited to finally get to Spain because I went to Madrid two years ago and fell in love with the culture, language, food, etc. This time I was with my friend Ireland who is from Peru so she helped me with speaking Spanish, since I now speak more French than Spanish. 😝

img_0482img_0498img_0504

DAY 5-6:

We stayed at a hotel 1 hour away from Barcelona, called Lloret del Mar. It’s a costal city in northern Spain. We spent 3 nights at the hotel with another district of exchange students from the northern part of France, so I got to meet and talk with other exchange students.

The first day in Barcelona, we went to Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria. It’s an adorable market known for its fresh produce.

img_0603img_0604img_1454img_0601img_0599img_1455

I’m so grateful I could discover another’s city in Spain. I think Barcelona is my favorite city I have visited so far, especially La Plaza de Cataluña: the heart of the city of Barcelona. The atmosphere here is incredible! The streets are filled with so much art, different languages (because the official languages here are Catalan & Español and many other languges from travelers) and the weather was beautiful!! I couldn’t have asked for a better 2 days in Barcelona.

My favorite food from Spain is called ‘Pinxtos,’ an appetizer from the Basque region of Spain. They are typically tiny pieces of bread with cheese, a type of meat, and veggies severed on top. We also had fresh fruit juice and a Basque dessert called Góxua which is like creme brulee with vanilla ice cream in the center.

img_0533img_0538img_0535img_0540img_0525

We then visited La Sagrada Familia, my jaw dropped when I saw it. The architecture is so unique, I’ve never seen anything like it before in my life!!

img_0611img_0614img_0608img_0626img_0609img_0616

And my favorite part… la playa! The beaches of Barcelona are so beautiful and we had great weather during the time we were there, so I was enjoying every second!

img_0553img_0590img_1493img_1511

DAY 7:

The last visit was in Figueres, a city in the northern part of Spain. It’s  a very cozy city, they also speak Catalan here. All the streets are filled with signs in Catalan. It’s  actually quite similar to the Latin languages.

We got to visit the Dali museum, it was one of the most unique museums I have ever visited. Salvador Dali had a very unique style and I’m really glad I got to see his work in person.

 

 

Sadly, it was the last day of the bus trip and we drove back home to Lyon. I have made so many new friends, learned more Spanish from all the Hispanophones I met, and made lots of hilarious memories on this trip.

Shoutout to my parents for giving me the opportunity to explore the world with like minded people. This trip was one I’ll never forget!

 

Snow Shoeing In the French Alps: Grenoble, France

I’ve officially been in France for 5 months…

And what better way to spend it than with people from around the world experiencing the same journey! This weekend 43 exchange students headed to the mountains to explore all the nature France has to offer. The weekend started Saturday afternoon, we met up at a chalet a then headed to the hills to luge a.k.a sledding.

img_4599img_9371

After sledding we ate a delicious French meal called Raclette. It’s cheese melted on a pan, then scrapped onto potatoes, and can also be eaten with a selection of cold cut meats. It’s a super delicious and super popular meal amongst the French.

edsa-shangri-la-swiss-week-10img_9375

The next day we woke up bright and early to hit the mountains for some Raquette a.k.a snow shoeing for almost 4 hours!!! I had never done it before so it took a while to get used to, but it was super fun and we saw some awesome views from the top of the mountain!

img_7007

img_7069img_7068img_7067img_6945img_6895img_7006

Joyeux Anniversaire: Chambéry, France

Happy 18th Birthday to me!

I have been so fortunate to spend my 18th birthday in France surrounded by my exchange friends, my 2 host families, and my Rotary club! I enjoyed great company and delicious food at the most beautiful chateau, I could’t have asked for a better way to celebrate my first year as an adult! It was truly a day to remember! Thank you to my legit family for giving me the opportunity to spend a year abroad, my host families for always being so patient and supportive, my exchange friends for teaching me a bit of their culture, and Rotary for making my exchange year possible!

But the celebrations didn’t stop there!! The day after my birthday, my best (French) friend surprised me by showing up at my house!! It was the best birthday surprise ever!! Her name is Estelle, she was an exchange student at Jackson High School 2 years ago and my family hosted her for 5 months, so you can imagine how happy I was to see her!! We spent the whole weekend in the city of Chambéry eating Nutella waffles, drinking hot chocolate, and shopping. She has also helped me tremendously with Français since it is her native language.

Estelle and I also went to a ‘Dia de los Muertos’ fiesta with some Latina exchange students in Chambéry, so I have been speaking a lot of Spanish, French, AND English this weekend! That’s one of my favorite aspects of study abroad because there are more ways than one to communicate with others. Overall, I will never forget the memories I made on my 18th Birthday thanks to my friends and family!

img_5347img_5384img_5385img_5383img_5386img_5372

Weekend Ski Retreat: Grenoble, France

I absolutely love my host family because they love to stay busy whether it’s going into the city for a cup of hot chocolate, going on a walk along the country side, or playing Scrabble, we always have so much fun together! This time, my host family decided to spend the weekend on the slopes at Vercours, being that we live in the French Alp region known for its ski resorts that attract lots of tourists from all over Europe!

Friday night my whole host family packed into a ‘mini-bus’ and headed to the south of Grenoble where we stayed in an appartement. It was a rough drive to to the ski resort,  would say we got about 2 feet of snow over night! Therefore, we did not get to ski Saturday because it continued to snow and the visibility was so bad. But we did go ‘luge-ing’ (I don’t know if that is a word in English, but in French is called a ‘luge’). It’s basically like an outdoor rollercoaster on a snowy mountain! It was super cool, I enjoyed it! The rest of the time we went sledding except it took us almost an hour to create a path on the mountain because there was powder up to our knees! But it was worth it because I got some cool pictures 😉

Sunday morning we woke up bright and early to hit the slopes. It’s funny because every time I would go skiing with my family back in the States, I would always get sick… so of course with my luck, I got sick this time too! I ran 1 round on the blue tracks and the energy was completely knocked out of me and during that time I only fell twice!! But hey, at least I can say I skied in France!

Bonne Année: Lyon, France

HAPPY NEW YEAR! 

I couldn’t have asked for a better NYE! My host family and I spent the whole day (and night) in the city of Lyon, also one of my favorite cities that I have visited in France! We visited the most beautiful church called Cathedral St Jean located on a hill in Vieux Lyon (Old Lyon- which is the very charming/ medieval part of the city!). I would definitely recommend this to anyone visiting Lyon, it had such great views from the top and the church was stunning! Pictures don’t do it justice!

img_6527img_6536img_6545img_6529img_6530

We also walked the adorable streets of Lyon, decorated with Christmas lights. We ended the year with a delicious meal at an Indian restaurant in Vieux Lyon, but my favorite memory will be riding the ferris wheel as it turned midnight! The city of Lyon was full of people lighting fireworks on the sides of the streets, honking cars, and everyone shouting “bonne année // happy new year!” I had never experienced anything like it and I am so grateful I got the chance to! It was certainly a night I will never forget!

P.S. Merci to my host family for everything, I’m so grateful for these kind and supportive people who have done so much for me during my time in France! 🙂

Au revoir 2016! I have learned so much this year, met so many new people, and have fallen in love with a new country. I’m looking forward to all the new things I will learn in 2017. Wishing everyone the best year yet, filled with lots of laughter, happiness, and adventure in 2017!