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A year of travel

May 14th, 2018 | by Shiori Ozawa

The perks of being an exchange student in the UK (pre-Brexit, importantly), is that you have a great chance of travelling around all of Europe and its nearby countries. For a travel lover like me, who’s constantly dreaming about getting around somewhere, being able to book an incredibly cheap Ryanair flight and wander around the world was a heavenly experience. Among the 11 countries (including Britain) I’ve been to this year, these were my top three destinations.

Just like you’ll never forget your first love, your first solo travel is a life-lasting memory

1. Budapest, Hungary.
Just like you’ll never forget your first love, your first solo travel is a life-lasting memory. When you have no clue how to get to the city, struggle to order food and encounter all the party animals in the hostel; all these become sweet memories when looking back.
The city itself was amazing, with an extraordinary aura. The architecture, the iconic parliament, churches and other buildings, were so pretty, and possessed an aura of nobleness at the same time- which makes the city incomparable to anywhere else. The Danube River flows elegantly throughout the city, creating a calm but gracious atmosphere. I think I will never forget the panoramic view from fisherman’s bastion, where you can observe the whole city glowing at its sunset.
It was a pleasure being able to see the Christmas Market set up almost everywhere in the city. Although not the authentic German (Nuremberg or Munic, iconically) Christmas market, the atmosphere itself was pleasant, surrounded by cheerful people enjoying the time.

2. Athens, Greece
The birth place of democracy is still full of livelihood today, despite the economic crisis in 2009. This city was the most all-rounded in terms of what it had to offer. First, you cannot miss all the ancient temples and monuments. Though you may assume that it’s just going to be plain rocks and pillars (like I did at first, to be honest), standing right at the place makes you wonder how long it actually took to create all the massive construction, and the ancient life. If you are a student studying in European Union countries, you get free access to most of the historical sites!
Food wise, the city has a wide range of authentic Greek cuisines, which you can enjoy at a relatively reasonable price. The old town district, Plaka, offers so many options of shopping, satisfying whatever your needs are. Exploring the nature is another thing you must not miss. The spectacular ocean view from Cape Sounion is unforgettable, with the bright Mediterranean Sea sparkling bright under the perfect sunshine.

3. London, UK
Last but not least, the UK itself has so much to offer, especially the significant mega capital, London. The city is a patchwork of so many different vibes, each area has a distinctive characteristic of its own. Some say that each person has their own favourite area and things to do. My picks were Shoreditch, Camden and Brixton, the core cultural hubs. Each area has its own colour, Shoreditch as the leading one, Camden the classic rock and vintage culture and Brixton having the atmosphere of start-up and multiculturalism. Getting yourself lost in the crowd, and exploring all the narrow streets and smallest shops was like a small adventure in such an urban environment.

Why do I like travelling so much? Why do people go travelling? I would simply say it’s the best kind of experience you can have to learn so many different lives. Although some people say that traveling is a mere run away from your daily troubles, I believe it is still a worthy experience. To immerse yourself in an unfamiliar environment, to absorb, learn and enjoy the difference will surely be an encounter that will shape who you are.

After all, my whole year was a kind of “travel”, being away from home but knowing that I will have to be back at some point. I feel that it probably has not solved all the problems I was facing when I was at home, but surely will lead me to a different step of life.

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