Dubrovnik Croatia Tom Mason

Pre Exchange Travels

Tom – Exchange to Middlesex University, UK, Semester 2, 2016

Wimbeldon Tom MasonBefore my exchange begins in September, I thought I should take the opportunity to explore the continent of Europe. I had never travelled outside Australasia so it was an obvious choice to take advantage of these couple of months and travel. After what is always a huge build up before exchange, to finally get on the plane, sit back, relax and soak up the excitement was an incredible feeling.

Going on exchange isn’t just about the study. To meet new people and gain new experiences is so crucial in gaining an understanding into different cultures and what the world has to offer. My trip began with me flying to London to drop my exchange suit case off and quickly see the sights before heading off on my travels. I stayed and caught up with two friends who had previously come to Australia on exchange and loved it. A highlight included ticking off something from the bucket list and getting to Wimbledon for a day.

From here, I have since completed a week of sailing around Croatia, with highlights including Split and it’s incredible history, Dubrovnic’s beautiful Old Town and  riding bikes Hvar Croatia Tom Masonaround the national park on Mijet island. Despite not knowing much about Croatia before arriving, it came as a surprise how rich the culture and history of the nation is, along with the crystal clear waters and amazing summer weather made for an awesome week out of the cold of Melbourne.

Following on from Croatia was the city of Budapest. After many tips from friends who were familiar with the place, we wondered the street, saw the sights, experienced incredible food (Bors Gastrobar is a must!) and rode bikes around the amazing parks. Budapest was a city with so much to see and do, yet was relaxed and uncommercialised to my surprise. Definitely a place worth the trip.

Currently I am travelling to Prague, then to Berlin, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Madrid, and many more places. So much to see and so much to look forward to.

So much work goes into planning an exchange; where to live, what subjects to do, how to pay for it all- this takes time and so much effort, and I haven’t even come close to starting the study aspect of exchange, but I can already see the priceless value one possesses.

Over the past 6 weeks travelling all around Europe, I have experienced so much of many different cultures. For me, a nations food is something crucial to its culture, and from this, Spain definitely takes the cake as having the best food. From Churros like no other, to amazing tapas and Sangria, it was all exceptional. However, the one thing that beat it all was the seafood Paella I experienced on my second day in Barcelona.

I’d experienced paella quite a few times in Australia, but to see it in all its glory was something pretty incredible. Along the esplanade of Barcelona are many restaurants including one me and Stephen, a fellow exchange student happened to stumble upon. For 10 euros we were provided with this Paella and some traditional Spanish Sangria. In the Paella (pay-yay-a as they pronounce it) was fresh prawns, squid, mussels, as well as the usual Vegas and rice. The flavours were amazing and definitely a recommendation for anyone seeking a top notch meal in Spain!