The Joys of Independent Travel!



A sunny Saturday afternoon in Amsterdam.

One of the greatest benefits of studying at Franklin has been the chance to learn about other places, grow as an individual, and strengthen relationships with fellow students through independent travel. People often ask me about how expensive it is to travel, and I answer honestly -- I budget and work during the summer in order to "play" in Europe on many of the weekends over the semester. Especially when booked and coordinated in advance, it can be relatively inexpensive to adventure in new places and it is always, always worth it. Personally I believe there are no bad experiences, because every experience teaches me a lesson, whether big or small. Travel is one of life's greatest teachers, and to me it's one of the best investments I can make for myself and for my friendships. I know everyone is different, but I'd rather buy a trip, which comes along with memories that will last a lifetime, than an outfit or new accessory.


My beautiful best friend!

Coming from a university with so many different backgrounds and cultures represented, it's really amazing that we are all able to form a common link through travel. It's such a unifying presence on this campus, as well as a constant form of conversation. Especially on long weekends and after Academic Travel, it's fascinating to hear where people are traveling, and why they chose the places they are going. It's also inspirational -- many of the trips I've been on have been a result of hearing a crazy or interesting story about my fellow peers who went to that place. I'm so grateful for all of the travel inspiration I have gathered just by having Franklin friends with such compelling journeys. And you really don't have to leave Switzerland to feel like you're in a totally different place -- because there are so many languages and varieties in Swiss culture, usually differing from canton to canton, (a Swiss district) you can rent a smart car for the weekend and drive two hours north and be in an entirely different region of Switzerland, with it's own unique food, culture, and language. That said, with budget European airlines such as EasyJet and RyanAir, it's easy to get a round trip flight for around $100 USD for a weekend away. In terms of accommodation, (granted, it's mildly dependent on where you are traveling) you can usually book a hostel for around $30 USD per night, or around $60 USD for a weekend. Of course, if you are looking for a very pleasant accommodation space, it'll be more -- but some of my fondest memories always surprise me -- many include the trips where we stayed in hostels and met some pretty delightful young people from across Europe, and across the world.

Franklin is a community, and if there is one thing I can emphasize for any prospective students, it's that I truly believe it's a safe space for people from all walks of life. People help each other here, and many peers will recommend places to stay, things to see, and where to eat on independent travels. I've had some of the best experiences which I wouldn't have known if it hadn't been through "Franklin's word of mouth" -- Thai restaurants in Budapest, apartments in Croatia, hiking trails in Chamonix, and beaches in southern Portugal.


Milky Chance in concert... sooo good!

In terms of the specifics, I really do try to do as many independent travels as possible per semester, and depending on how the semester is academically, I do at the minimum four weekends away, and usually with a variety of people, sometimes with just one friend, but often with many. I love seeing how travel can influence a relationship, as it can reveal quite a lot about a person's character, especially when facing flight mishaps, cultural misunderstandings, etc. I love seeing places through other people's eyes, and creating memories that become pillars of our friendships. It's one thing to experience a friendship in the context of campus, be it in the library, just hanging out in dorms, or going out to downtown Lugano, etc. It's an entirely different frame of reference to have a friendship where you've traveled to several countries, or even many continents, with that person. This particularly includes Academic Travel, which is, personally, the most rewarding aspect of our school. But more on that soon, because it's about to happen! I can't believe it is already almost midterms week.

This past weekend, four friends and I traveled to Amsterdam to see one of our favorite bands play, Milky Chance. We had such a nice weekend exploring the city, visiting and paying our respects at the Anne Frank house, and enjoying the local Dutch cuisine (stroopwafels, anyone?) Three of the friends who I went with will be graduating this semester, so I'm so grateful we got to spend the weekend enjoying each other's company in one of Europe's most magnificent cities.


Always smiling.

And, at the end of the day, it's always so gratifying to return to Lugano, our home, a place that seems to welcome us happily at the end of a weekend when we are pleasantly exhausted. Lugano itself has so much to offer, and as we grow from freshman through senior years the familiarity of Lugano is such a comfort. It's such a huge blessing to be able to return to a place that makes us all feel so happy, and I think we all appreciate both Lugano itself and the amazing advantage Lugano has - the fact that we are so close to so many other stunning places and they are all just a hop, skip, and a jump (or a bus, train, or a drive) away!

Tune in next week to hear from several different students (from every class level and different parts of the world) about their experience at Franklin and how it has shaped them as students, friends, and global citizens. Until then,  stay well, and remember, leave any questions in the comments section and I'll do my best to answer!

Comments

  1. Thanks for the great post. I look forward to next weeks article. I sent you an email and I look forward to your response. Good luck with midterms. Cheers.

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  2. At least I get to live vicariously through you!! Sounds like a great investment, Morgan!! :)

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