What was the best place you visited outside of your study abroad city?
Jenna: In December, I went to Luzern, Switzerland with one of my roommates and spent a weekend in one of the most beautiful towns I have ever seen. It is surrounded by alps and ‘Swiss style’ houses and buildings. In the center of town, there is a bridge that cuts diagonally across a river filled with swans and has a great view of the mountains.
In winter, the Christmasmarkts transform the town into a perfect Christmas village. The chocolate stores, restaurants, and shops in the old part of town are also great fun. The tallest peak just outside the city is Mt. Pilatus which is easily accessible and offers an unbelievable view of Luzern and the Swiss Alps.
Describe a goal you set and how you went about accomplishing it.
Jenna: One thing I wanted gain from my study abroad experience, was independence. Last semester was the first time I had traveled alone or been out of the country so just through my decision to study abroad, began achieving my goal. After making it to Vienna on my own, meeting all new people and surviving my first few weeks in a country where I didn’t speak the language, I began to gain confidence in myself and planned a solo trip to Paris.
I met up with a friend there and after returning to Vienna, gained a new confidence and independence because I finally reached one of my biggest dreams (which was just to see Paris). I then planned and took another solo trip to Prague and the town where my ancestors lived in the Czech Republic. It was another fantastic and life changing trip and after returning realized that I can do anything I set my mind to.
Where was your best photo taken and what was it of?
Jenna: One of my favorite photos from my semester abroad was taken when I visited a little town named Hallstatt, located in the Austrian countryside. The town has been civilized since 800 B.C., has the oldest salt mines in the world, and (in my opinion) one of the most beautiful scenes in the world. Most of the houses in the town were built right into the side of a steep mountain and line the water (as the town was built in the narrow space where mountain meets water).
There is also a stone church on the edge of town that sits next to the lake, which is inhabited by beautiful swans. On the trip, I hiked a steep and winding trail up to a view that overlooks the town and got an incredible shot of the sun rays shining over the lake just as the sun ducked half-way behind the mountain top.
Describe your most meaningful souvenir and why you love it?
Jenna: One very special trip I took was to Lidice, Czech Republic. My father’s ancestors once lived in the town and moved to America just a few years before it was destroyed by Hitler. When I finally made it to the memorial, I felt so proud to be the first member of family to have been back to our home land since we left.
It was also amazing that I was finally able to gain a hands-on understanding of my background and heritage. Stepping on the ground where my ancestors once walked, was an experience that will stay with me for the rest of my life, and I am very glad to have a few leaves that I picked up from the ground to always take me back. My parents were thrilled and very touched that I was able to come home with pictures, and souvenirs for the family. Giving them that joy meant the world to me.