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Growing up, my family always emphasized the importance of learning about and appreciating other cultures. I spent many summers traveling around the world with my family. So, it was hard this summer for me to sit around in my hometown when I wanted to be out and about, exploring famous historic and beautiful sites. The pandemic really made me realize just how privileged I was to be able to travel and visit all these places and made me appreciate it more. Here are my two distinct memories while traveling in Europe:

Florence, Italy: Walking around Florence as a middle schooler, I was in awe of everything around me. Every part of the city was beautiful in its own way, from the vineyards to the small boutiques, shops, and carved pavements. This trip is one that holds such special memories to me, because it’s the first trip that I actually remember vividly. We had stayed in a little motel called “Hotel California,” right in the heart of the city. The room was so small we could barely fit our family of four in it, but the view from our balcony made it all worth it. I remember waking up super early, still adjusting from jet lag, ready for the day ahead of me. We went to the Accademia Gallery home to Michaelangelo’s David. I stood in awe at the gorgeous white statue towering over me. I never expected it to be so grand. Art students surrounded the statue, intricately sketching David from all different angles. I aspired to be like them one day.


Vienna, Austria: If I had to compare Vienna to an American city, it would be New York city; specifically, the Upper East Side. We spent three nights in Vienna, which was a smaller part of our bigger European trip. Vienna was filled with beautiful Baroque architecture. You could see it in the apartment buildings, in the hotels, but most significantly, in the grand palaces all over the city. Walking around the Schönbrunn Palace and its exterior gardens gave me the worst sunburns and blisters on my ankles. The scorching in the sun and the pain I felt in my ankles were all worth it at the end, though, because we found the most beautiful coffee shop in the garden up five flights of stairs. Sitting outside drinking an Italian soda, I admired the most enchanting view of the palace. Fresh out of high school, I was so moved by the idea that there was more to my life than my high school experiences. This trip really showed me the true meaning of that.

Spencer Davis
Spencer Davis / Unsplash

Needless to say, it was tough to spend my summer trapped inside, when I wanted to be out traveling. My experience traveling has made me realize that there is more in the world than everyday problems. I realize now that traveling is such a privilege, and I am so grateful for the memories I have made with my families, the exotic foods that I was able to try, and the beautiful sites that I had the opportunity to see in real life instead of through a textbook. I cannot wait to be able to do this once again, hopefully, in the near future.

Hi! My name is Ashley, and I am a Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior major and a Communications minor :)
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