This post is incredibly long overdue, but I couldn’t go without sharing a few major highlights from my independent travel week. Something I didn’t necessarily realize when I enrolled in DIS was just how different it is from other study abroad programs. Because DIS is designed with American students in mind, it allows for a degree of flexibility that’s not possible when studying at a foreign university. Independent travel week is just one example of why DIS is the perfect option for students looking to get the most out of their time abroad.
For my independent travel week I trekked across Norway with some DIS friends, and then I met up with a friend from high school to spend the latter-half of my week in Barcelona.
I’ll be honest, the only reason we were in Oslo was to see my favorite band, Twenty One Pilots. Though this was my fourth time seeing them live, it was a blast watching them perform in Scandinavia for the first time. The Norwegian fans were so excited to have them there, and that energy really fed into an amazing show. Yay Twenty One Pilots!
The next day we spent wandering around the city, with no concrete objectives or destinations in mind. It was an absolutely stunning day, and while I wasn’t overwhelmed by all that Oslo had to offer, it’s undeniably one of the most beautiful places I’ve been (even if the sunset at 3:00 p.m.).
We also found this pretty wild sculpture park that featured a lot of sculpture babies attacking sculpture adults. Despite the weirdness of the artistic inspiration, I’d definitely recommend checking out Vigeland Park if you ever find yourself in Oslo. It’s a wonderful place to enjoy Norwegian scenery or play in the leaves (as we did). Also, if you’re looking for an easy, yet delicious meal, hit up Peppe’s Pizza. It’s a chain, but no judgement zone, it’s delicious and probably on the cheaper end of food you can find in Norway.
The highlight of my trip! Again, I signed onto this Norway trip with no expectations, but after visiting Bergen, I have to say that Norway will definitely be on my travel list in the future. If you’re into nature or you like really beautiful things or you breathe oxygen, you need to go to Bergen and see the Fjords. I’m lamenting that my pictures can’t capture half the beauty of the Fjords, but here they are anyways:
Finally, a picture that sums up my exact emotions in a particular moment:
Basically, this was the most fantastic day of my life. Even the rain and the cold seemed to highlight the mystery and power of the Fjords, and I was actually glad by the end of the tour that we happened to be there on a stormy day. We even had the chance to taste water from one of the waterfalls (and yes, it was delicious!)
Beyond the Fjords…
After our Fjord tour, my friends and I enjoyed time wandering around Bryggen, Bergen’s old town, and we even got a glimpse of sunlight. Absolutely stunning!
If you’re looking for a spot to escape the rain/cold, or just chill out and enjoy the most delicious Norwegian waffles and lattes, check out Bar Barista in Bryggen. The quirky décor and friendly staff make you feel right at home, and the food is absolutely delicious.
After a wonderful weekend, I waved goodbye to Norway, and headed off to warmer weather in Barcelona, Spain. I met my best friend from high school in Berlin, Germany for a short 18-hours (in which we managed to visit the East Side Gallery, escape bed bugs and get a phone stolen 😦 ) before jetting off to España. Don’t worry everyone, we survived our fair share of travel struggles and you can too!
After struggling through our short time in Berlin, we decided to approach Barcelona with a relaxed attitude and to see where the city took us. Turns out Barcelona is really great at taking people to eat a lot of tapas, drink a lot of sangria and admire a lot of Gaudi.
My personal favorite spot was La Boquería, a touristy Spanish market with more fresh fish, meat and produce than you can imagine. Can you say guacamole plate the size of my face? Because we did…
And of course… no trip to Barcelona would be complete without margaritas on the beach (which was CRAZY gorgeous guys!!!)
PRO TIP: If you’re looking for a more laid-back stay in Barcelona with great access to all tourist attractions, I’d definitely recommend Itaca Hostel. It’s got a great, cozy atmosphere and is just a few streets away from La Rambla, the main tourist shopping area. Free coffee, great people to meet… what else could you want in a hostel experience?!
Overall, I was thankful to get a taste of many different parts of Europe during my travel week. From freezing Norway to sunny Barcelona, I wouldn’t change a thing! And I won’t even mention how hard I crashed when I finally made it back to Copenhagen…