Going Rogue: My Study Abroad Experience

During the summer of 2015, I was fortunate enough to study at the London School of Economics in the heart of London! (This experience was brought to you by countless hours of babysitting and working as well as donations from Jack Jessen- thanks dad). I took two business classes there (Foundations of Management and Consumer Behavior where I won Best Research Project), but before that, I went backpacking (also known as "going rogue" to our group) with one of my good friends at UGA and some of her friends through Munich, Venice, Milan, and Interlaken. Once I got to my program, I traveled on weekends to Ireland, Scotland, Paris, and of course, places in England like York, Cotswolds, Cambridge, and Oxford! Like many others, I recorded my experiences in this travel blog! It means a lot to me that you are taking part in my adventures by reading this blog, so thanks for stopping by! 

Ciao! ...Ciao!

I hope that my extensive Italian vocabulary in the title of this post impressed you (hello!... goodbye!) Today marks our last day in Italy before we head to Interlaken, Switzerland tomorrow. Italy is an incredibly historic country with different cultures in their respective cities and towns, impressive architecture, and a beautiful language. Now if only I knew what they were saying. We were able to experience the northern cities of Venice and Milan on our trip through Europe, and they were astonishing. 

Sunset over a canal in Venice, Italy

Sunset over a canal in Venice, Italy

Milan Cathedral 

Milan Cathedral 

Venice

I cannot even begin to describe Venice to you. You absolutely have to visit if you have not been already. I felt like I was in a fairytale walking along the beautiful streets, looking at the adorable housing, and eating dinner on the water. Pictures do not do this beautiful city justice, but I could not stop taking them because it was so amazing.

Disclaimer: Venice was not so beautiful  when we were trying to find the place where we were staying and every street looked the same. It was also not super fun lugging a rolling suitcase up bridges that have stairs on them. So map out your route very well if you plan on trekking through Venice (or take a water taxi if you aren't a broke college kid), then it is much easier to enjoy the views upon initial arrival! My group laughs looking back on our dramatic entrance into Venice because an added level of frustration was hunger. We all get "hangry" if we have not eaten in a while. We now pack lots of snacks. (:

Murano, Burano, and Torcello

We went on a remarkable boat tour to three islands very close to Venice.

Murano is a small island city that is famous for its incredible glass making. We were able to watch one man craft a beautiful glass pot and another construct a horse out of glass in well under three minutes! I had always thought that this would have to be a long and painful process; however, with the right craftsmen, it does not take long at all.

Burano is another small island city that is known for its brightly colored houses and intricate lace designs. Rumor has it that the bright colors both helped keep sailors from running into their island and allowed people to distinguish both individual houses and the island from one other. Today, the church tower is leaning, so this is another unique feature of Burano!

The third stop of our island tour, Torcello, only has eleven inhabitants. Though sparsely populated, it is the oldest continuously populated area in the Republic of Venice, and its natural beauty won me over. It was interesting to see a Venetian island that wasn’t as busy as the rest. 

Milan

Who doesn’t love a city where cars drive and park wherever they want and women bike in dresses and heels?

For instance, here is a car just casually parked on the sidewalk. In Milan, anywhere is a parking space if you just believe! 

For instance, here is a car just casually parked on the sidewalk. In Milan, anywhere is a parking space if you just believe! 

Milan is cool because it is a major city that still has historic architecture yet it is bustling with excitement. If you are a fashionista, you should definitely go shopping in this town! It has a big city feel with a historic element that is very cool. 

The thing that I learned most in Milan is that big cities can be capable of efficiency if they try. (cough cough Atlanta) Milan has an underground train system that will take you just about anywhere, a tram system, and many bike and walk. In addition, most of their cars are electric or at least hybrids. 

One thing I do have to note about Milan is how hot it was! I thought I was escaping the summer Atlanta weather, but apparently it followed me here. It probably would have been bearable if we had air conditioning; however, like a lot of places in Europe, our hotel’s air conditioning included only a fan and a window. The craziest part was that everybody seemed to be wearing pants, and we seemed to be the only people sweating. Obviously, the heat wasn't something that gelato couldn't solve! 

Overall, Italy blew me away. It inspired me to pick Spanish back up and then eventually Italian for when I come back. (Yes, I am already planning a trip where I work my way through Italy because of how much I enjoyed these two cities and the Italian culture). Happy 4th to all of my friends back in the States! Have a free water with ice and eat some Chick-fil-a for me!

Yet another insightful tip from yours truly: Hypothetically, if your train ticket says “bus” anywhere on it (yes even if it says train and train number and coach number as well), odds are that your “train” is actually a “bus,” and you may have to sprint from a train station to a bus station with a nice Austrian guy who barely speaks a lick of English just to make your connection. This is all hypothetical, of course, but it’s just a thought.