Nikki is a sophomore studying abroad this semester in Ormskirk, England. Check in each week for posts from Nikki as she shares her experiences abroad.
I feel in color. Yes, you read that correctly! What that means is that every person, situation, place or future plan has a color association that I can “feel” or sense when I think about it. For example, whenever something or someone makes me anxious or uncomfortable, they are the color orange. Everything has a different color scheme, and for me, colors are how I sort my feelings and emotions in life. So what better way to share my experience with you than through the colorful lens that is my world?
Inspired by my grandparents, I always knew I wanted to travel. When I decided to study abroad at Edge Hill University in England, I knew I wanted to make most of the trip and see as many other countries as possible. Two of my best friends and I decided we wanted to travel a couple weeks before the semester began. We were originally going to backpack and hop trains like most college kids do. However, being only sophomores with almost zero languages skills (we all took either Latin, Japanese or basic Spanish) we decided it was best to go with professionals. We booked a 12 day trip through Expat Explore that goes to France, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. Paris and the Swiss Alps are where our adventures began.
Paris is a bold yellow, somewhere between a mustard and a daisy. It brings along feelings of peace and happiness (yellow is one of my “happy” colors) mixed with the busyness of a city. Unlike Chicago, the streets aren’t filled with a million honking horns and chaotic sounds. It brings on the feelings of content and relaxation. “Strolling’ through Paris is exactly what one should do.
The city almost looks fake — like a perfectly built replication that belongs in Epcot at Disney World or in a museum. Its narrow streets are clean and often filled with the colors of pink and red roses. The houses 30-40 minutes outside the heart of the city continue to look picturesque. Even the graffiti on the buildings looks tasteful. We saw most of the great, cliché stops. We went to the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Tomb of Napoleon, River Seine, Catacombs, National Assembly, Notre Dame Cathedral and tons of bakeries. White bread never again will be good enough to me.
The Parisians were incredibly helpful, and we had no problem navigating through the city with minimal to zero language skills. Just as an aside — I’ve NEVER seen as many attractive people as I have in Paris. Every man aged 15-30 was beautiful. Not in the “hot” way, but in the “you belong in a painting” way. And I’m not biased because the straight men on the tour agree. I wish our stay was longer than two days, but the Swiss Alps were waiting for us.
To be honest, I thought the Swiss Alps would be my least favorite stop. While I still have four countries to go, I doubt it will be at the bottom of my list. When I think of Switzerland I feel hunter green, navy blue and hints of rose pink. Switzerland brings along the feelings of precision and utter calm. The mountains around you make you feel incredibly small, yet safe. Everything is done in strict time, yet it isn’t stressful. There is an effortless and precise flow between the people. There is a large respect for the land.
The service station we went to had better food than any average American restaurant. We are talking a colorful buffet with iced teas/lemonades in glass cups with ice, straws, and fruit wedges on the side. Keep in mind this was a bathroom stop. Dustin spent the day going to the top of a glacier, Colette went skydiving and I went paragliding. If anyone wants somewhere to “escape,” I recommend the Swiss Alps. I’ve never seen nature as beautiful as I have here. The closest it comes to is Colorado, but Switzerland surpasses it by miles.
Next time you hear from me, I’ll have made my way through Italy, Germany and a bit of the Netherlands and Belgium. Until then — live in color!