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When it’s over.

I had a life changing experience while abroad.  It was fun, stressful, exciting, exhausting, and everything in between.  Once I was finished with my 6 week program at Charles University two of my closest and oldest friends met up with me.  I took my first night train!

Sleeper cars are really cramped…

We spent three weeks traveling through Southeastern Europe and ended up in Italy.

Life at home isn’t this exciting.

The last few days of my three week adventure I spent alone in Rome and in Naples.  I definitely recommend solo travel.  I was able to go see the sights at my own pace and I was forced to speak up in situations where I’d usually let my travel buddies step in.

I found the Trevi Fountain all by myself!

Even though I went through bouts of homesickness while abroad, I’m sad to be home.  I wasn’t prepared to feel like this, but I hear it’s normal.  To fight by coming home blues I am keeping myself busy by meeting with all of the friends who missed me while I was gone.  Every so often I look at pictures from my trip and dream of returning to Italy and Croatia.  Aside from the sadness I feel a new sense of who I am and what I want out of life.  Something I want is more travel!  Next on my list is Japan 2018!  Thank you UMKC for letting me have this experience!


Lauren Higgins is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, studying Physics with emphasis in Astronomy.  Lauren is spending the summer abroad at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Solo Travel P. II

Upon arriving in Krakow, I checked my bags and headed into town to make one of two guided tours of the day. The first was of the Jewish Quarter and lasted for nearly three hours. We visited many historic sites, including many locations from the movie Schindler’s List. We ended the tour at the actual factory and were invited to walk through the museum, but because I only had one free day in Krakow, I chose to walk back to the Old Town and start another tour. The Old Town tour I took in the afternoon was interesting and intimate, being only three people and the guide. We walked throughout the Main Market Square and listened to the guide tell us different facts, some of which were about Pope John Paul II. We concluded the trip at Wawel Castle, which is one of the most captivating buildings I’ve seen, architecturally speaking because of the noticeable varied influences and designs throughout the castle. I spent the rest of the evening talking with a group of people staying at the hostel. We all managed to book different trips to Auschwitz the following day.

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My trip to the concentration camp was the only thing I planned for that day, and I could probably write an entire post on that experience alone. This is the second Nazi camp I’ve been to, but Dachau was a work camp as opposed to a death camp. Auschwitz I was our first stop; many of the barracks have been turned into exhibits. After visiting a few, our mini bus took us to Birkenau. The sheer size of the camp was overwhelming and intimidating, with the infamous train tracks leading through the gate. Being in a Nazi camp is like nothing I have ever experienced before and I full-heartedly think everyone should once in their lifetime.

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After an incredible, but exhausting two days in Poland, I left early to catch a flight to Copenhagen. Meandering around the city the first day, my full day was spent on more guided tours. By this point in the trip, my feet had blisters upon blisters and I was sort of tired of traveling alone. But there really isn’t a better place to cheer yourself up than Copenhagen. The people truly are as friendly as they are stereotyped to be. The city is beautiful, so picturesque and vibrant. One thing I suggest anyone who visits is to walk, or enter, Tivoli Gardens at night and experience the magic that prompted Walt Disney to create his empire.

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My final stop was Amsterdam in the Netherlands. I only had one afternoon here before catching a flight back to London. I walked through the canals from the hostel to Museumplein, the art district of Amsterdam. I made my way through the beautiful Rijksmuseum and had lunch in the park before visiting the Van Gogh museum. Afterwards, I walked through a street market, as recommended by the receptionist at the hostel and through the city center, making a stop at Anne Frank’s house before heading in for the night.

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When I started my study abroad experience, I never though I would have traveled on my own. Looking back now, this is the best thing I could have ever done, and is definitely one of the highlights of my whole experience. For anyone considering making a solo-travel trip, I could not suggest it highly enough. If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

Thank you so much for keeping up with me, and I really hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about my travels as much as I’ve enjoyed reliving them.

Xx Jessica

Solo Travel P. I

After my Once In A Lifetime spring break trip, I landed back at Heathrow with my three incredible friends. Feeling happy, despite the shock of the disgustingly cold English weather. However, there was one more trip we planned to take, our “family vacation”. But, due to circumstances beyond my control, it suddenly looked like that trip wasn’t going to happen. So, in-between my finishing my final assignments, I planned a ten-day stint starting the day after I was due to submit them. The thing was, none of my friends wanted to go with me, and I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my time and insatiable desire to see the world. So I finalized the details of my solo trip and booked everything within five days of returning to the UK. Now, I just had to tell my mom.

Leaving early on a Tuesday morning, I headed to Gatwick airport to catch a flight to Budapest, Hungary. Never in my life did I think I would have the chance to end up here, or any of the places I visited really. My plan was to spend about two days in each city, visiting a total of five countries. I booked airfare, bus and train tickets, and a guided tour, simply banking on the hostels I was to stay at to provide any other information I might need.

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I remember the sense of freedom I had as I walked through the streets of Budapest that first night (god, how crazy does that sentence sound?). I’ve been lucky to visit so many different places and see incredible sights, but the first time I have ever felt truly free was that night. The following day, was a dreary one, filled with grey skies and rain, perfect company for the walking tour I had planned. I visited so many different sights and learned so much about the beautiful city of Budapest, and even met someone from Missouri!

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The next morning, I left for the bus station which would get me to Prague by mid-afternoon. Prague is one of my favorite cities in the world, and I am so glad I had the chance to return. I revisited some old sites, the Old Town Square in particular, before making my way to some new ones, like the John Lennon wall. I fit in two tours during my only full day there, one focused on art and modern Prague, the other on the effects of the Nazi Regime. One mandatory site I planned when deciding to go to Prague was to see the St. Cyril and Methodius Cathedral, which was prompted by a book I read a few weeks prior, called “HHhH”. This book details the assassination of Nazi leader Reinhart Heydrich and the Czech and Slovak paratroopers Jan Kubiš and Jozef Gabčík who carried out the attack, and in turn were killed, along with a few other allies, in an attempt by the Nazi police to take them. The small cathedral is the site of the altercation between the paratroopers and the SS and houses a memorial and museum dedicated to the soldiers. It was a story I hadn’t heard prior to reading the book, which by the way is a favorite of one of my tour guides, and I was honored to see it in person.

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That night I went to the train station to catch my pre-booked train to Poland. However, I seemed to have booked the wrong ticket. So, having to purchase a new ticket last minute, which ended up cheaper than the original ticket I’d bought, I managed to finally board my train and arrived in Krakow as the sun rose.

Since this post is already incredibly wordy, I’m going to split it up and post the second half in the following days. Thanks for reading; please stay tuned!

Xx Jessica