Bonjour again from Paris! After my first full week here, I can definitely say that one of my favorite parts of study abroad so far has been the experience to travel to places outside Paris on the weekend. While we will be leaving this Friday to spend two weeks in Rome, leaving the city for a little bit was a nice way to still get to experience culture in a foreign place.
This Friday I traveled with IES to Palace of Versailles, in the Versailles suburb just outside of Paris. Having taken AP European History in high school and hearing my mom say for ages that you cannot visit Paris without seeing Versailles, I found the visit fascinating. We went with one of the IES staff members who toured us around the property for almost the entire day. She showed us the Marie Antoinette estate, summer palaces and big canal in the back of the property before taking us through the castle that once served as the center of French political power and home to the royal family. She even brought up the point that throughout the royal family's stay at Versailles, the property was almost always under construction. They were never actually able to see it the way we do today! Even though it has been restored as a museum with beautiful gardens, Versailles has become a grand estate that serves as a significant symbol of France's history.
After Versailles, my classmates and I ventured to Brussels, Belgium for a weekend away from the hustle and bustle of Paris city life. We took the Thalys speed train, a short hour and a half ride to the home of French Fries, Waffles, and Chocolate-essentially a food lover's dream. As someone who loves to eat and try different foods, this was the perfect weekend getaway for me. Immediately upon arrival, we went to a waffle restaurant where I tried a liege waffle topped with chocolate and strawberries-quite easily the best food I have ever tasted We had the opportunity to take not one but two tours in Brussels: one visited six different local chocolatiers, including a tasting of some of Belgium's best and most well-known chocolate, while another took us on a walking tour of some of the area's most famous monuments.
Traveling to and from these different places has allowed me to learn more about the culture where I am studying abroad. While each of the countries-and cities for that matter-in Europe are all different, together they contribute to an incredible history. I am so lucky to have been able to continue my learning outside the classroom and cannot wait for what else there is to come!
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Hannah is a rising senior at University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, majoring in Human and Social Development with minors in Psychology and Education. When she is not in class, Hannah serves as Vice President of Coordinators on the Panhellenic Executive Board and a member of the Student Government Senate as well as being a member of the Homecoming Executive Committee and Kappa Kappa Gamma. While she has been on a safari in Africa and tried fresh sushi in Japan, this will be her first time studying and traveling in Western Europe, a dream of hers since high school. She is excited to document her adventures and hopes to share this blog on the study abroad adventure of a lifetime.