At the University of Vienna, the first semester begins the first of October and ends the last week day of January. The second semester begins the first of March and goes until the last week day of June. This means that the entire month of February is free to do whatever you like and being that I’m hoping to see as much of Europe as I can, I used this month to my advantage.
The first place I went was to the beautiful capital of Poland – Warsaw. I took a direct train from Vienna to Warsaw and it took about seven and a half hours. I also met up with two friends that are on exchange at the main train station in Germany.
We ate traditional Polish perogies (a must when in Poland), Polish chocolate and drank a traditional, hot punch. I believe that Warsaw is a very underrated city; it has many things to offer like Łazienki Palace, Wilanów Palace and the Royal Castle. Of course, it didn’t hurt that 1 Euro equals about 4 Zloty, making everything very inexpensive.
The land of tea and that British accent you’re always trying to mimic! I found a roundtrip ticket with Ryanair for 39.98 Euros, leaving from Bratislava, Slovakia to London-Stansted, England and I was not going to pass up that opportunity! I met up with a friend and was able to crash at his place for the four days that I was there.
You know that cliché, it always rains in England? Well, I can confirm that this is in fact very true. The entire time I was there, there was not a day that it did not rain. I would wake up in the morning and check my weather app to see if it was going to rain. My app didn’t call for rain, but when I looked out the window it was raining! It wouldn’t stop raining until late afternoon.
The rain didn’t stop us though! We were able to see the London Bridge, Tower Bridge, Big Ben, The London Eye, Westminster Abbey, Parliament, Trafalgar Square, Oxford Street, Piccadilly Circus, Buckingham Palace and the Royal Guards ride by! Of course, I had to get a photo with the big red telephone booths and the red double decker buses. I loved my time exploring London and the opportunity to try chicken from the famed London chicken shops.
Athens and Santorini, Greece
I was lucky enough to have my Grandma from Canada come and visit me for two weeks during my holidays. We decided to go to Athens and Santorini in Greece because, again, I found lots of 19.99 Euro one way flights with Ryanair. We spent the first three days in Athens and saw so much of the city thanks to the Hop-on, Hop-off buses.
On Sunday, locals and people from outside of Athens come in and set up a large market, the Monastiraki flea market. They sell goods like paintings of Athens and other souvenirs, along with their own personal items. It’s similar to a garage sale. Places that I would recommend visiting in Athens would be:
- Agora Ancient Site
- The Acropolis
- New Acropolis Museum
- Lycavettos Hill
- Odeon of Herodes Atticus
Santorini was also beautiful to see, but I would recommend to anyone considering going there to go at the beginning of tourist season, because the majority of attractions are closed outside of the months of April-September and it was difficult to do everything that we were hoping to do.
When you do an exchange, I believe that it is very important to explore the country that you’re in. Seeing as there are trains from Vienna to Salzburg for less than 20 Euros one way, it’s the perfect opportunity to do so! My Grandma and I did the Sound of Music Tour and found out that this movie isn’t as popular in Europe as it is in the rest of the world. This tour allows you to see the most popular sights in Salzburg and the smaller towns outside of Salzburg, things that you might not think of visiting. We also took the time to go up to the Hohensalzburg Castle which offered a very nice view of Salzburg and the surrounding mountains and tried the famous Salzburg Mozart Kugeln.
Overall, the month of February was a very busy and very fun month with great people. I hope that every exchange student takes the opportunity to travel while they are abroad because I’ve realized that the there are things you learn while traveling that are different from the things you learn in a classroom. You develop intercultural skills, decision making skills, and self-confidence that will all greatly influence you in your studies and your future career!
Thank you for reading and I’ll see you next time!
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