At Park Guell

If my time in Copenhagen has taught me anything, it is the value of experiential learning.  Here at DIS, Europe truly is our classroom; two weeks after my trip to Kosovo and Vienna, I traveled with several friends, two of whom attend SMU.

For our second travel break we visited Barcelona, Madrid, Rome and Milan. I had never been to Spain or Italy, so I went in without any expectations.  The week was definitely well spent – full of fun and cultural immersions, but tiring. In Barcelona we got to eat some tapas, see La Sagrada Familia (after waiting in line for nearly an hour), visit Park Guell as well as some touristy areas in the city. It was also interesting to see Catalonia’s desire to separate from Spain play out, with some people supporting separation holding up a particular flag versus those opposing the movement.

After spending a short yet lovely three days in Barcelona, we headed over to Madrid, where we got to visit Museo Del Prado. I can now say I am one of the few who has seen the Prado both in Meadows and Spain! We had only one night in Madrid and surprisingly ended up seeing much of city. While eating at one of the restaurants in Madrid, a friend of mine from DC who is studying abroad in Madrid recognized my voice, and we had a spontaneous greeting, with both of us screaming in shock and running to each other’s arms.

In Rome

After our short visit to Madrid, we spent the next five days in Rome, where we got to enjoy some delicious pizza, pasta, gelato and tiramisu. Although I really enjoyed Barcelona and Madrid, walking in Rome literally felt like I was stepping into ancient history. The highlight of the trip for me was the seeing the Colosseum and the Vatican City.  It takes a trip to Rome to truly understand why the Colosseum is not only one of the greatest works of Roman architecture, but also one of the largest tourist attractions. I am still amazed at how a building started in 72AD is still standing in pretty good shape. Walking in the Colosseum and going in the museum made me feel as if I were in the period of Imperial Rome ready to watch gladiatorial contests.

Stepping foot in the Vatican City elicited similar feelings. The feelings of “you are no longer in Rome, but in the Vatican City” was very much a reality. Visiting the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museum were the highlights of the Vatican City tour. We didn’t quite fulfill our wishes of running into the Pope, but at least we spent a whole day in his city!

Our hostel in Rome wasn’t so great – actually it was the worst hostel I stayed in – but besides that, we spent an unforgettable five days in Rome. We closed out a great trip by spending a day in Milan, most of it uncomfortably in its tiny airport overnight, but we sure were glad to be back in Copenhagen and catch up on rest.

At the Colosseum with SMU students