erika travels

blogging my three month adventure in europe

02 Mar

something to keep in mind for future travels

this a great post about women traveling alone. i’ve always felt a bit nervous about being alone, even just in my own city. whether that’s just my own paranoid personality or living in fear like the post talks about, i’m going to save this post for later if i ever travel alone. it’s inspirational and motivating. 

18 Sep two and a half months later, i’m still thinking about you.

two and a half months later, i’m still thinking about you.

27 Aug

back to the real world.

i’ve been back in america for two weeks. i want to say it feels like i never left but that’s just not true.

my last first day of my school career begins tomorrow. senior year in college. my last night of summer and all i can do is reminisce on the most amazing summer of my entire life. 

it’s hard to sum up what i miss about europe. it’s more like what don’t i miss about europe. i hate to bring my summer up but i can’t help it, that was my life for three months. i was on my own with new friends in a new place. it’s nice to have a vivid memory, i like to look through my 2,000+ photos of my summer and remember where i was and how i took practically every photo. i’ve always felt different from everyone but over there, i feel like i fit in. i’ve always been a naturally quiet, shy person but maybe it’s just because i don’t feel comfortable and over there, i tried to open myself up and when i did, it came naturally. 

tomorrow, i’m back to school. the only thing i’m really looking forward to is seeing my friends from spain and scotland. seeing them on campus instead of in europe is going to be weird, but at the same time so exciting because they will remind me of all the times i had over there and that the experience was real. i’m dreading the stress and exhaustion and late nights this last year of college will bring me but it’s just another step closer to graduating and being free to travel more.

i haven’t even rested since i’ve been back. as soon as i was back, i hibernated for a few days and went back to an 8 hour day at work. the next weekend i went to visit my boyfriend’s family and three days after that, i went to las vegas with my boyfriend. i know i won’t go back to europe for a while so doing all the american things will have to do and las vegas is pretty american i think. i’m excited to see more places in america. my next goal is to go to new york for christmas break with my boyfriend and another friend.

america. i can’t even describe the mixed feelings i have about it. i love the convenience but have animosity towards our culture. i think that’s reverse culture shock.

i miss scotland. i miss italy. i even miss morocco. but most of all, i miss spain. i am utterly and completely homesick.

i went shopping today and didn’t buy a thing. i even left kind of sad. nothing pleased me, nothing looked appealing and that didn’t happen in europe. i loved all of their clothing. that might be all in my head but they just don’t have their kind of stores here. they don’t have primark or stradivarius or mango or bershka. the fact that shopping could make me so sad because of how much it reminded me of europe is pretty disheartening but i’ll get over it. there’s always online shopping. 

there won’t be a day that goes by where i won’t think of this summer. this summer was absolutely amazing. nothing i can do will top it and i will never be able to fully explain my experiences and feelings about it. so as this last summer night comes to an end, i just feel thankful for everyone that supported my decision to go abroad and everyone that came into my life because of it. because of you, my life has changed and the life plan i once had for myself is now up in the air and oddly, i wouldn’t have it any other way.

10 Aug

this is it.

i’ll be on a plane in 8 hours back to the states. in 8 hours, i will begin to fly further and further away from my new home.

i was in europe for 78 days. 78 days. i can’t even believe it. i remember the day i left and almost every day after that. the time flew by but i’ve done so much. 

i went to spain and fell head over heels in love with the country. i lived with a family, spoke the language, ate the tapas, drank tinto de verano and partied til 5 in the morning. i climbed La Giralda in the Sevilla Cathedral, enjoyed the peacocks in Alcazar, ate lunch in Plaza de España, danced in Triana, met every day at Plaza Nueva, shopped my heart out on Tetuan and Sierpes, cheered on Spain on the Euro Cup in Las Setas and went back to my home every day in Puerta Carmona. 

i visited 6 cities while i was there. i spent time with picasso’s “guernica” in Madrid, saw the fairytale city of Toledo, got tipsy off sherry in Jerez, swam in the Atlantic Ocean in Cadiz, thought deeply about the Cathedral-Mosque of Cordoba and reveled in the beauty of the Alhambra in Granada. 

during my time in spain, i took a short trip to morocco. i was guided through the confusing maze of the medina in fes. i smelled the worst smell i’ve ever smelt in my entire life. i saw a protest in the market by meknes. i took my first arabic bath and had an old moroccan woman scrub my naked body to be as clean as a baby. i saw the saddest things in my life in morocco but at the same time really learned to appreciate the things i have in a way that is indescribable. 

i went to italy and saw the beautiful pictures i’ve seen of the country for myself. i had great, affordable wine every day and discovered limoncello. i went to the Amalfi Coast and saw the biggest lemons i’ve ever seen in my life. i roamed around the ancient ruins of Pompeii, a city i’ve always dreamed of visiting since i first learned about it as a child. i went to Rome and saw the colosseum. i went to the Vatican and climbed to the very top of St. Peter’s Basilica, an important pilgrimage in my life. 

i came to scotland and finally achieved my lifelong dream of being amongst the british. i visited the Edinburgh Castle and took part in an art instillation where i climbed to the very top of Arthur’s Seat at night time with only a light stick to guide me. i immersed myself in the Fringe Festival and got handed hundreds of fliers only to end up seeing 12 performances total. i saw Mies Julie, a play that will stay in my head for a long time, a play that made me really sit and pause to appreciate theater and the effects it can have on people. 

i went to Loch Ness, another teenage dream i’ve had after seeing many documentaries. i saw the breathtaking Highlands, the most green i’ve ever seen in my life extending for miles. i went to Glasgow and saw USA vs. France in women’s soccer at the olympics while i cheered on America and experienced the strange sense of pride i had when we won. i went to Dunbar and had the best, cheapest scotch pie. i climbed the cliffs of their beautiful shoreline and saw the North Sea’s tide take away my swimming friend’s shoe. 

god, i’ve done so much this summer. i can’t believe this all happened, i’m so happy i did this. i made friends along every way. i was so afraid at the beginning that i wouldn’t make any friends because i’m such a recluse but beautiful things happen when you open yourself up. i opened my mind and my heart to being receptive of new people and letting them into my life.  as a result, i’ve made so many new friends. before, i hardly had any friends at school because i never really had the opportunity to make friends. now, i can’t wait to see my friends on campus. 

i look back on all that i did and i’m honestly so proud of myself. i did it all by myself. i set my mind to studying abroad and here i am. i didn’t wait for someone to do it for me, i had to go through all the procedures and get the drive to do it myself. i lived in another country that spoke another language and survived perfectly fine. i learned cities and grew comfortable enough to call them home. i feel so much more confident in myself.

i have the travel bug and just want to keep seeing the world. the four countries i’ve visited during this trip have all been completely different from one another and i just want to see more. more more more. 

i promise myself that i am going to come back to europe. some way, some how, i will be back. but for now, it’s time for me to go home. i miss my family and i miss my friends. i miss mexican food and BBQ. i miss my bed and my car and cooking. i have a long flight ahead of me but it just brings me that much closer to home. 

i’m nervous about my adjustment back into america. reverse culture shock. it will happen and i think it’ll hit hard. i’ve enjoyed life here. life without a phone, without driving, without everything at my fingertips. a life of simplicity, at least as simple as i could get it to be. i’ll take note of what i’ve learned here and maybe i’ll lay off the iphone a little more. maybe.

this was the best thing i’ve ever done in my life. no one will ever be able to truly understand my experiences this summer and that’s okay because all these memories are mine. this is what life is about, being young and seeing the world and having an open mind. 

this study abroad chapter is closing but the impact it’s had on my life is forever. i can’t wait to come back.

10 Aug adrifts:

Foreign Exchange by Randy Otter


Foreign Exchange by Randy Otter

09 Aug

random things i learn

all the swans belong to the queen. 

08 Aug


bathrooms are toilets.
underwear is pants.
pants are trousers.
chips are crisps.
french fries are chips.
line is queue.
white coffee is coffee with milk.

more later.


08 Aug

taking a breather

yesterday, i laid down in a small plot of grass next to the Grassmarket. with the view of a castle that dates back to the 12th century, built on top of an extinct volcano shaped by glaciers millions of years ago, surrounded by hundreds of year old stone buildings and watching clouds shape shift and move across the rare blue sky, i finally realized i will miss this place. 

05 Aug
05 Aug

a very happy birthday

yesterday was my birthday. 21 in scotland. that alone is better than any sloppy night someone has on 6th street in austin for their birthday.

at midnight, my friends got a whole pub to sing me happy birthday. during the day, those same friends surprised me with an adorable cupcake cake in front of the class. at night, i went to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, the most incredible display of talent from around the world. after, i celebrated with my friends with drinks and dancing. i couldn’t have asked for anything better for my birthday, it was by far one of the most exciting days of my time in europe!

the fringe festival has started and it’s been so exciting. it reminds me of SXSW with hundreds of acts playing and a surplus of badly designed fliers. i’ve seen some great acts so far, from Hannibal Buress to The Blanks from Scrubs. we’ve gone to a random show that one of the actors persuaded us to go to that was hilarious. this week i’ve got Sweeney Todd and will just roam around to see what kind of things i run into. it’s exciting and fun and finally what i’ve been wanting to experience here in Edinburgh. 

this is my last week in Edinburgh and in Europe. i can’t believe it’s coming to an end. these three months flew by. i’ll reminisce later when it gets closer to saturday but for now, i’m going into the city to enjoy this beautiful place.