Being a student doesn’t always afford the most free time, even during times considered breaks. Many students choose to spend their sunshine-filled summers taking extra classes, doing research, or going away for internships. That’s why this winter break, I decided to seize the opportunity to broaden my global horizons by planning my first ever trip to Europe! In total I spent about two weeks strolling about in both Oslo, Norway and Aachen, Germany, spending time with friends in the area and taking in all the sights.
Right after finishing my last final for the semester I rushed back to my apartment to scavenge together a carry-on for my first stop, Oslo, Norway! Although visiting a Scandinavian country in the winter is a rather bold move for someone who was born and raised in sunny Los Angeles, Norway is absolutely gorgeous in the winter and the city is completely lit up by a variety of different christmas lights and ornaments. I spent the majority of my time in Oslo taking in the typical tourist sights like the iconic Viking Museum and Frogner Park while also spending as much time as possible hanging out with my online friends who lived in the area.
After I had gotten my fill of the frigid air in Oslo, it was time to travel to Aachen, Germany! For sake of the shortest travel time possible, I actually traveled to Brussels, Belgium and got to experience the famous Belgian trains first hand on my way down to Germany. When I arrived in Aachen, Germany the Christmas season was in full swing. I spent most of my time strolling the stone paved streets of the city, visiting historical sites like the Aachen Cathedral (one of the only remaining structures left in Aachen after WWII) and learning more about the culture from my friend in the area whom I was staying with. There was also a wonderful Christmas market that I visited almost everyday, with various knick knacks and Christmas decorations lining stalls that resided outside of the Cathedral.
Alas, after spending two weeks in Europe taking in the sights and having my fill of snow and frigid winds, I was ready to brave the holiday air traffic in an effort to make it home by Christmas. After have more than my fair share of delayed flights and dealing with a closed down airport, I finally managed to make it home in one piece. All in all, my first time in Europe was truly insightful; I got to ask so many different questions about culture and norms and got to see first hand how these things helped form the unique of identity of whatever country I was in. I can definitely say that my global perspective has been greatly expanded upon, something that is invaluable for someone like me who is studying a field that is as global as engineering.