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Picture of a building in France

Since I've been talking your ears off about my study abroad experience, this week I thought "enough about me let's hear from some others." I interviewed three of my fellow study abroad friends for their vacation week highlights!

Kent Friel ('26) on the Toulouse French LSA+ (Language Study Abroad):

"The vacation week offered me the opportunity to travel across France, and it was a week which I hope I never forget. With no classes on the Friday before the vacation week, I left as soon as classes finished on Thursday. A friend and I took a train from Toulouse to Paris, and the following morning, we got up early to arrive at Versailles when it opened. After a full day exploring the chateau and gardens, we returned to Paris to meet three other friends. The weather was sunny, and we spent the following day walking around the city and viewing different monuments. The following morning, my friend and I took a train to Bayeux, near the Normandy coast, where we left for a tour of the D-Day landing sites, including Omaha Beach and the American Cemetery. It was a moving and emotional experience, to say the least.

The following day, I took an early train to Mont Saint-Michel. On a quiet weekday morning, the island off the Normandy coast was almost deserted and breathtakingly dramatic against a stormy winter sky. The Gothic and Romanesque abbey, 500 feet above sea level, is an incredible feat of engineering.

A picture of a street in France.
A scenic street in Northern France!

On my way south to Nice, I stopped in Chartres to see the town's cathedral. The cathedral, one of the largest in the world and remarkably built within 25 years in the 1200s with very little changed since then, represents a high point of Gothic architecture. 

I then arrived in Nice by train, where I met several friends. The next day was rainy, but I set out to explore the old town, the Marc Chagall National Museum, and a house-museum called the Villa Masséna. The following day, we made a day trip to Monaco. The day after that, I visited Renoir's home and studio, which is now a museum. Then I walked to a hilltop town to see a 13th century chateau, Chateau Grimaldi, and met my friend in Antibes to see the Picasso museum.

The following day was time to return to Toulouse by train, but not without a few hour's stop in Avignon to see the former Pope's Palace. Built and occupied by seven popes in the 14th century, it is the largest Gothic palace in the world. There were several painted rooms with 14th century frescos by Matteo Giovanetti. After Avignon, I stopped in Nimes to see one of the best preserved Roman amphitheaters in France and a Roman temple, both over 2000 years old, as well as the wonderful Roman history museum."

Next up we have Amita Grewal ('26) on the Barcelona Spanish LSA+:

A picture of Paella!
Some delicious Paella!

"Valencia has been one of my favorite cities that I've visited over the course of the program. It was really cool to spend some time there because my aunt had studied abroad in the city when she was in college (also for Spanish literature)! I especially liked this trip because it gave me my first glimpse into the diversity of Spain— Valencia is smaller than Barcelona and the pace of life is much slower and more relaxed. I am also a massive foodie, as my friends will tell you, so being able to try paella in the city of its birthplace was definitely a highlight, in addition to local horchata and churros. 

We also started our week of vacation in Madrid for a couple of days with our entire program. In contrast to Valencia, Madrid is a huge, bustling metropolis that reminded me a lot of New York. I loved the city's cultural richness, especially the Prado and Reina Sofia museums, where I was able to see world-famous paintings (like Pablo Picasso's Guernica) in-person and close-up. Overall, traveling has been one of my favorite aspects of studying abroad, and I would definitely say that my worldview has been broadened upon exposure to new and exciting customs and cultures."

We'll finish off with Emma Corey ('26) on the Toulouse French LSA+:

A picture of Emma & her friends in front of the Eiffel Tower!
Emma & her friends in front of the Eiffel Tower!

"For my vacation week, I decided to travel to Paris for the first time! I stayed in an Airbnb with a group of friends and every day was packed with activities exploring the city. On our first day, we saw paintings at the Louvre that we've talked about in our art history class, which was an amazing way to experience our course in real life! On our second day we climbed up the Eiffel Tower for incredible sunny views of Paris. Our third day was spent at Versailles. For me, the highlight was seeing Trianon, Marie Antoinette's country village, which even had its own petting zoo! We went to the Musee d'Orsay on our fourth day to see the Impressionists, and I loved every minute and took so many pictures. And for our last evening in Paris, we enjoyed a chocolat chaud at a classic "salon de thé" before we made our way over to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle. It was truly such a surreal experience and the moment I decided to return to France with the Paris FSP (Foreign Study Program) next year!"

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