I’m currently sitting in seat 40F on a flight from Dublin to Toronto. It’s 10:00am and I’m exhausted – I’ve been awake for over 36 hours. My seat mate is busy alternating between reading a gigantic novel and listening to music on his iPad. The guy across the aisle from me is out cold; he has been since takeoff.
This flight marks the conclusion of a 10-day Euro trip, my first taste of the BIB lifestyle. I call it that because it really is a lifestyle – you’d be hard pressed to find another group of university students who have friends living in countries all around the world, and a global worldview to match. The following is a glimpse at what you can look forward to in your third year, should you be fortunate enough to find yourself in Sprott’s Bachelor of International Business program.
December 30th, 2016. 6:55pm ET.
Wheels up in Toronto! I’m headed to Madrid, Spain to visit Andrea, who I haven’t seen in four months (pro tip: pay attention to who you sit beside in your first university class – she may turn out to be a forever friend). I just read that back. Four months probably doesn’t sound like too long. For us, it is.
The flight is uneventful and it’s 8:00am local time on New Years Eve when I land at Madrid Barajas Airport. It’s surprisingly dark at this time of morning and also unseasonably chilly. Brrrr. Andrea meets me at Arrivals. We hug – it’s cute. We stop for breakfast on the way to her apartment. Yikes. My Spanish is RUSTY.
December 31st, 2016. 11:25pm CET.
I’m in an Uber cruising through Madrid. We are on our way to Puerta Del Sol, which is a large square in the centre of the city that essentially functions like Times Square on New Years Eve. The Uber pulls up and we are immediately lost in a sea of thousands of people. The streets are crowded with both locals and tourists, all waiting to ring in the new year.
We zig and zag through the crowds for about 10 minutes, slowly inching our way toward the square. There are couples kissing, taking selfies. Spaniards weave through the crowds with grocery bags full of beer, wine, champagne, and grapes for sale (more about the grapes in a sec – read on).
January 1st, 2017. 12:00am CET.
Salud (Cheers)! We are ringing in the new year. Everyone is munching on grapes in sync with each chime of the clock tower. The tradition of eating grapes on New Years Eve was invented by the vineyards of Spain several decades ago after an unexpectedly phenomenal growing season that left them with a surplus that they needed to sell. Oh, capitalism! Participating in this tradition is said to bring you good luck in the New Year.
January 5th, 2017. 10:00pm CET.
Andrea and I are in Budapest, Hungary checking out the unique restaurant scene after an amazing day relaxing at the Széchenyi Baths, a massive natural thermal spa in the middle of the city. We’re at a “ruin bar” dining on some of the amazing food that the city has to offer. Yep, if you like food, Budapest should be at the top of your list — we were blown away! Ruin bars are unique to Budapest; they are old, dilapidated (‘ruined’) buildings most often found on dark side streets or in sketchy alleyways that have been transformed into beautiful social houses. The perfect blend of old and new!
January 7th, 2017. 2:30pm GMT.
I’m two storeys below street level, careening through London’s iconic Tube. With the help of my friend Abby, a former colleague of mine from an internship during the summer after first year, I’m hitting all of the tourist spots in one day. It’s only my first day in the city, but I already know that I could live here. After we finish exploring, we’re headed to cross another item off of my bucket list — a fish & chips dinner in London, England.
January 9th, 2017. 7:15am GMT.
I’m 33,000 feet in the air on a Ryanair flight headed for Dublin, Ireland. It still amazes me how cheap it is to fly within Europe; this flight cost me CAD $29.00 — I know what you’re thinking, but the decimal is in the correct position. Sadly, I’m only connecting through Dublin, though I will definitely be back one day to explore!
January 9th, 2017. 12:10pm ET.
We’re starting our descent into Toronto. I’ll admit that I’m glad to be home after 10 days of intense travel — I’m ready to sleep. I can see the ever recognizable skyline out of the window as the plane floats toward the runway; it’s a comforting sight.
Even though this trip was a mere flirtation with the exchange student experience, I am now convinced more than ever that the next year will be a constant adventure. I’m excited to experience new things, learn a lot about myself, and keep on exploring the world around me. ¡Nos vemos en Santiago, Chile!
Kevin is a Bachelor of International Business student who is currently studying abroad in Santiago, Chile.