When In Rome…and Some Other European Cities

Most people spend Spring Break looking for beaches and warm weather. I left the beaches and the warm weather and headed up north with a friend (shout out to Heather Shore!). In all my travels, I had been to three different continents, maybe even four if you consider Israel to be both in Asia and Africa, but I had never been to Europe.

Our journey started in Copenhagen, the capital city of Denmark. We rented bikes and, despite the chilly weather, we were able to bike the majority of the city in two days. We didn’t meet a single unfriendly (or unattractive) Dane during out trip, and we are still pretty convinced there aren’t any—everyone was tall, blonde, beautiful, and very kind. We visited a few museums and spent some time wandering around Nyhavn, the pretty waterside area. By the end of our three days in Copenhagen, we felt we truly knew the city and could navigate relatively easily.

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Nyhavn

Amsterdam was our next stop. The plane ride was quick, and I found myself sitting next to an engineering student from Ecuador, who was studying at a university a few hours from Amsterdam (shout out to Rick!). He gave tips for getting around Amsterdam, ideas of things to do, and also explained aerodynamic things about the wings of the plane, while I nodded and pretended like physics made sense to me. Though we got there at night, I could tell the city was very pretty—there were canals, and lights, and small boats lining the streets. However, navigating the city was a challenge compared to Copenhagen, and we got lost a few times in the subsequent days. The weather was less than ideal, with strong, biting winds that literally pushed us into the streets and the occasional hailstorm. Despite the weather, we got to go to the Rijksmuseum, which had more amazing artwork than either of us could comprehend, and we met up with friends who were also visiting from Hebrew University (shout out to Megan, Dani, and Emily!).

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We found friends!

Our last destination was Rome. Though it was approaching Easter weekend, we managed to somehow get tickets to the Vatican, and were also able to see the Coliseum, Piazza Veniza, and Fontana Di Trevi, which was unfortunately closed for construction but was fortunately near a really great gelato place.

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One of the highlights of Rome was spending the first night of Passover at a seder at the Chabad center in Rome. Though I missed the silly traditions that characterized my family’s seder, to be in a completely foreign country, celebrating the very same holiday, was such a neat experience. We even happened to be seated with a family from Florida, who coincidentally knew the majority of my South Florida relatives and many of my friends from that area (shout out to the Schertzers!). At the end of the seder, it is customary to say, “Next year in Jerusalem!” As the rest of the seder’s participants said it, Heather and I looked at each other and said, “Tomorrow!”

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While Europe travels were so much fun, it is good to be home. The weather here is beautiful—I can finally say goodbye to my winter jacket. But beyond that, being in Europe reassured me that studying in Jerusalem was the right choice. I get to have five months in a country with a culture that’s both unique to the world, and also very familiar. While it was cool seeing famous world historical sites, in Israel, I have those in my backyard. I’m not confined to a city, rather, I can get on a bus and within one to three hours, I can be at a beach, on a hilly green hike, or in the middle of the desert. In Jerusalem, I have found another home, and it is so nice to be back.

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