Wednesday, January 2, 2013

"Like the Wheel that Keeps Travelers Traveling On"

At the Louvre in Paris
Hangin' out in Salamis, Cyprus
 Today's post title comes from "Like the Wheel" by The Tallest Man on Earth. I started with Tallest Man on Earth lyrics for the Title of this blog, so it is only fitting that I end with his lyrics too since he's my favorite! As hard as it is to believe, this post concludes my study abroad adventure. Those three 

months certainly flew by! Having arrived back in the States on December 18th after a 17-hour flight journey, I have had time to adjust and unpack. The flight home seemed rather long, and I almost missed the second one due to a short layover in Heathrow and because Heathrow is ginormous, but luckily I got to the gate one minute before it closed after running through the airport.  (Phew!) My suitcase was overweight at 27.5 kilos, but luckily I read on Cyprus Airways’ website that students in Cyprus are allowed up to 30, so I argued my case and didn’t have to pay a cent- Woot! Because I can’t sleep on planes, I watched four movies on the second flight to pass the time, and I was looking forward to seeing my twin sister Cassie and little brother Cameron waiting for me at the gate.  Cameron just got his license in November while I was away, so it was a strange concept to imagine him driving me home!
Cliff jumping in Agia Napa, Cyprus
  Anyways, let’s start wrapping up the tale of Courtney in Cyprus. First of all, a study abroad experience is unique to each individual. I’d like to say that I’ve changed a lot or learned something profound about myself or had some life changing realization, but I’m not sure I can claim any of those things. It’s funny because most people expect me to say something to that effect, but an experience of this caliber is hard to describe to anyone who wasn’t there. I’ve tried to convey my adventures using this blog, but I feel as if even my words cannot fully describe what it was like to travel to so many places in such a short amount of time! I think if I can claim anything, it is that I’ve strengthened my definition of what makes me: Courtney Amanda Haines. I will explain what I mean by this in a second.
The Pyramids of Giza
The Map of my Travels
            With Global Learning Semesters, I truly saw the ‘World in One Semester’ by traveling to 15 countries: Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Vatican City, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, France, Luxembourg, Austria, Belgium, and the Netherlands with GLS, and Egypt, London, and Ireland independently.  Highlights of

 course include seeing the Coliseum, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Berlin Wall, the Pyramids of Giza, Big Ben, and the canals of Amsterdam, but my favorite moments were the ones that paralleled with a certain trait that defines who I am. For me, studying abroad proved to be the most rewarding when I put my already existing traits into the experiences rather than waiting to see how an experience would ‘change’ me.
Astronomical Clock
Vienna State Opera House
The Cliffs of Moher
Scuba Diving in Paphos
I have a fascination with intricate clocks, so the Astronomical Tower in Prague was a special treat. I love the joy found in a simple bike ride, so renting a bike to ride around the river in Strasbourg made my day. I enjoy attending theatre events, so my trip to see ‘Il Barbiere di Siviglia’ at 

The Vienna State Opera House was perfection. The Sound of Music is one of my favorite movies, so The Sound of Music tour in Salzburg was a magical experience with snow included! I am obsessed with nature, so experiencing the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland was my favorite experience of all time! A good hike makes me happy, so traversing the Troodos Mountains in Cyprus was a highlight. I am independent, so I was able to plan a visit to the Cyprus Handicraft Service on my own. I’m always looking for the next adventure, so scuba diving in Paphos, Cyprus on my 21st Birthday was better than any birthday I would’ve had at home. I like cultural experiences, so I will never forget trying escargot in Paris, halloumi cheese in Cyprus, Belgian waffles in Belgium, and Grill Cheese and Trdelnik in Prague. Dancing is fun, so I attended a Greek/Cypriot dance lesson, researched the cultural tradition, and wrote a paper and did a presentation on Cypriot Dance for my cultures class. I am an extreme budgeter, so keeping track of my expenses abroad in an excel spreadsheet became an amusing daily activity. As I predicted, food was the largest expense.
The Expenses Chart....haha
Goodbye, Cyprus!
            And last but not least, I am determined, which is how I ended up studying abroad in Cyprus in the first place! For those of you who have been following my blog since the beginning, you’ll know that I started learning about Cyprus 8 years ago in 7th grade, and after researching the country, it became a dream to visit Cyprus someday. 8 years ago, I never would’ve thought that I would travel to Cyprus before graduating college let alone study there for 3 months in addition to traveling the world! The fact that I have fulfilled this dream makes me excited and inspired to see where else my goals and dreams will take me! Only time will tell, I suppose. Where will I be 8 years from today?! Perhaps there’s another blog in store for my next big adventure.
            One thing I have realized by studying abroad is how big the United States is! Cyprus is the size of Maryland, and traveling so easily between countries in Europe made me think about what I’m missing with so many unvisited states! I hope there are many road trips in the future to find adventures right here in the good ol’ US of A.
            This is the first blog I have ever done, and I am proud that I kept it up to date rather frequently. With over 1,300 page views to date, I must of course thank all of you for reading and being interested in my travels!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!
-Courtney <3