Traveling internationally—it can be scary, amazing, nerve-racking, or eye-opening. Or even all four. Being able to experience different cultures and ways of life is an experience all together. Throughout many years of history class, I learned many facts about historical places all around the world, and never did I ever think I would have been able to sit in history class and say I’ve been there. But after going on the most recent international trip to Italy, Germany, Prague, and Austria, now I can.
We’ll start from the beginning.The trip started off with an exciting but tiring flight to Switzerland and then another one to Prague, in the Czech Republic. The Czech Republic was amazing. Its environment in particular was delightful. The people there were so kind and very proud to be Czechain. In Prague, we were able to visit the Prague Castle, which is home to the current president and has been home to those in power since the 9th century. During our time in Prague, we were also able to experience Easter. The center of town held an Easter festival with a market where people sold food, and performed traditional songs and dances. This experience was not only beautiful, but eye-opening to a different culture and way of life. Prague was packed with history, pride and beauty.
Munich, Germany was our next stop. Germany was surreal. I personally have learned so much about the history of Germany, which made my experience there even more special. It was crazy and almost didn’t feel real when I was standing in places home to so much history. One very moving place in Germany was Dachau, the first Nazi concentration camp in Germany. This, as you might imagine, was a life-changing experience. We learn about the Holocaust in schools and are told about all the unthinkable events that took place in these camps, but it was unnerving to be walking the same paths that had been walked by the victims of the Holocaust. It felt so strange, and sad at the same time. Hearing about these camps was one thing, but to actually see one was life-changing. It was a tough experience, but I am glad to have been able to see Dachau and further my understanding about what happened there.
Next in Germany was the Neuschwanstein Castle, which was built for Ludwig II of Bavaria
in the Alps. The inside of the castle was beautiful, along with the view of Germany from the castle. Once we left the castle, we headed off to Austria. Personally, Austria was one of my favorite places. We only spent one night there, but the drive through the Alps to the small town we stayed in was breathtaking. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.
After Austria, our last stop was Italy. Italy was the most action-pack
ed portion of our trip. We went to three different cities there. Our first stop was Verona, where we went through the city to see the famous balcony from Romeo and Juliet. From Verona, we went to Florence, where we were given a tour through the city and got to see famous sites and statues. Then, we were off to Rome. In Rome, we visited the Colosseum and the Vatican City. Italy, in a nutshell, was beautiful and amazing.
Now, let me tell you in more detail about how everything works. At every place we visited, we got a lot of free time—usually 3-6 hours. A lot of time, I know. It was nice to have that much time to ourselves. It gave us a chance to experience parts of the places we were visiting that we wanted to see. The moving from hotel to hotel was an experience in itself. Tip: pack lightly! There were many times when we were carrying bags five floors up, and trust me—you get tired of it. I would also try and keep everything neat. Moving every 1-2 days was messy. I had to refold my clothes twice to be able to zip up my suitcase. With the traveling came long bus rides. Make sure to bring a portable charger to keep your phone charged. Although, when it comes to phones, you really want to use yours as little as possible. Of course I missed people at home, but putting down my phone made the trip a more amazing experience in which I was really able to experience different cultures, and I’m very glad that I was able to truly experience Europe.