Its the end of an era

This is what this past week looked like for me.


I wrote my last final of the semester on Thursday and I can’t tell you how much of a relief it feels to be completely done with the schoolwork of this year. It’s been harder and more challenging than I think any of us anticipated. Despite the fact that I am so happy to be done with the academic part of this semester, I am sad that this year is coming to an end. It has been the most amazing experience (to say the least) and I am so grateful for this opportunity to see the world. I have been completely humbled and I have learned so much.


I learned that I love the mountains. I didn’t know that about myself really before coming here. I guess because I never spent time in the mountains growing up. But, I have fallen in love. Snow on the pine trees that cover the mountain is probably the prettiest thing in the whole entire world. So, I will make an effort to go to the mountains more often when I’m back in the states.


I learned that I loved traveling. Sure, I knew I loved the idea of it and I had visited places before. But, I have officially caught the travel bug. I just don’t think I could see enough of this planet. This world is magical (as cheesy as that sounds) and sometimes we forget to appreciate it because we get stuck in our daily routines. That’s probably why I have now seen more of Europe than I have of my own home country of the United States. It’s sad. And I want to fix that.


On top of that, I have learned to be a tourist in your own city. There are so many places that completely pass you by because it’s your everyday life. We take the same routes to the same destinations over and over. And we forget to explore. You never know what you’ll find. Even if its just trying out a new restaurant.


I have learned how to pack efficiently. Ask anyone…before coming here I was the queen of over-packing. But, now I have got it down to a science and I’m much more practical.


I have learned that even though I absolutely love traveling that I don’t want to ever be away from my family as long as I was again. I miss them too much.


I have learned how to plan a trip and I’m really good at reading maps now.


I have learned how to be cautious of your surroundings and escape weird people who are following you.


I have learned how to go with the flow. Traveling makes you go with the flow. If you don’t, you will be completely defeated. As hard as you can try to plan the most perfect trip, something will not go according to plan. You can choose to either let it overwhelm you and be frustrated or just realize that things happen and move on to enjoy the rest of your day. A little hiccup isn’t worth ruining any part of your day. So, going with the flow is always the best option. This is coming from someone who would get anxiety from just hearing those words. I have crossed over to the other side and I promise it’s much happier over here on this side.


I have learned that I had prejudices that I didn’t even know I had about cultures I hadn’t even experience myself. But, once you choose to not believe these perceptions that have been fed to you by the society and culture you grew up in and choose to make an effort to understand other cultures, you gain the respect for others that they deserve.


I have learned American history from the perspective of a British professor who lives in France but teaches in Switzerland. To say the least, it was not the same American history that I have learned over and over again growing up, even though we were covering the exact same material. Learning your country’s history from the perspective of other countries around the world makes you realize that you had been taught with a bias attached. And maybe completely innocently, but nonetheless it makes me more aware.


I have learned that pretty much every European can speak multiple languages. And to be honest, it makes me feel incredibly dumb when a waiter walks up to me and says hello in five different languages to see which one I respond to and then proceeds to speak fluently in my language when I can just barely make it by in his language. And I’m the guest in his country. It’s a humbling experience.


I have learned that it is indeed possible to function on 40 minutes of sleep. I have also learned that I never want to try that again.


I have learned that it’s possible to turn a house full of 70 strangers into a home.


I have learned that it’s important to remember that you cannot let school get in the way of your education. Don’t get me wrong, school is important. But, experiencing other cultures, exploring the world around you, meeting new people, trying new activities teaches you just as much, if not more, than a textbook and a professor. Experience is everything.


Lastly, I have learned to really make a conscious effort to appreciate every second you have. This year has sped by so fast I don’t even know where it went nor do I believe that I’m leaving in a couple days. I’m happy that I didn’t give into my tiredness and exhaustion instead of going on a trip because I’m never going to get this kind of experience again. I learned that it’s worth it to live every day like its your last because tomorrow is not guaranteed.


I’m sure I’m forgetting a million other things that I learned. But, I felt like I needed to try to get this all out and reflect on this chapter of my life before I go back to reality. So, if you made it to the end, thank you for listening/reading. Now, I’m on to packing up all of my things. Wish me luck that everything fits!

Nice, France


When we were planning our very last travel weekend, we were exhausted from all the papers and projects and presentations that were due just before finals. So, we decided we wanted somewhere a little bit warmer, somewhere with a beach, somewhere with a cute little town to explore, and somewhere with no major tourist attractions. We just wanted it to be simple, easy, relaxing, and beautiful. Nice, France was all of that!

We caught our very last 3:50am train to the airport ever. Then, at the airport just before getting on our plane, I stumbled upon magazines from AMERICA.


I nearly died. There was even a Martha Stewart Wedding magazine that I hadn’t seen yet! Boo ya. I splurged on the over priced imported magazines because I just couldn’t wait any longer. And besides, I would need something to do while sitting on the beach!


We arrived at our hotel by 9:00am and we were ready to start our day. We grabbed some breakfast at our hotel and made reservations for dinner that night. Then, we wandered along the beach until we found the perfect spot to sit and relax and read magazines. The only thing missing was a couple of pina coladas. So, we hopped up and walked along the beach until we found a restaurant that served drinks on the beach. Bingo! Pina Coladas coming right up.




At the end of the day, we wandered around the cute little town and grabbed some dinner. We also stumbled upon a gelato place with about 70 different flavors. So, of course, we stopped for some dessert and I found my new favorite flavor: Lavender!

The next morning, we grabbed brunch in town at the cutest little cookie café ever.



Then, we wandered every little street of the old part of town and stopped to get some gelato half way through the day of course. You can never have too much. And it was our last opportunity for some European gelato.



We had dinner, where we celebrated our year abroad with some champagne. And then sat there for about 3 hours just talking. It felt like we had only been there for half that time. I guess it’s true that time flies when you’re having fun. Either that or we have officially become like the Europeans, who eat really long dinners like that every night! It was such a great place to end our year of traveling all over Europe.


Ott European Invasion


The Milly & Grace Girls are back together again!!! The entire family is visiting Caroline in Switzerland and traveling around Europe. So, we are going to take a bit of a break from blogging to enjoy this time together. We’ll be taking lots of pictures and video though and we cannot wait to share them with you guys! In the meantime, we’ll be posting lots on Instagram. Here are the links – @emilyhollister @allison_ott @caroline_ott – in case you want to see what we are up to while we are away!