What can we say? At the beginning, many of us were nervous and didn’t know what to think. But by the end of this semester, we were totally smitten. Here’s to the cities that totally stole our hearts. ♥
From the moment I set foot on your streets lined with countless cafes that serve breakfast all day, locally owned boutiques, and beautiful people (with even more beautiful accents), I knew it was love. Your beaches are breath taking, and the sun never stops shining on this little paradise. You’ve given me experiences I could never forget, friends who are crazy yet kind, and a newfound sense of confidence in myself. For these things I will be forever grateful. Until next time, my dearest Aussie mate.
All my love,
Dear Cape Town,
I love you in the clicks of Xhosa tongues, the breathy sighs of the Afrikaaners, the bodies of every shape and hue. Your aura is that of a homecoming sailor, dressed in all white, waving to his sun-dressed lover on the pier. In a crib of cloud-kissed mountains, your lush greens invite me to lay my head down to rest. Excitement spices my tongue in each Cape Malay dish, each fragrant curry. Each sunset humbles the last, sheathing the flaxen-haired fynbos and gentle zebra grazing, knee-deep. Your emerald seas sigh their foam like warm milk onto a coast of snowy beaches of salt-licked surfers. I’m grateful that through your challenges and adventures, you have deepened my smile lines and my capacity to love.
“All roads lead to Rome” never meant anything to me before coming abroad, but now living with you for these four short months I now realize you have changed my life forever. Your exquisite charm made me feel lost in paradise, then very quickly at home with myself. Who knew that one of the biggest cities in the world could give you such a humble, small town feeling? You’re beauty amazed me everyday; it kept me longing for more time to explore quaint neighborhoods, eat more spaghetti alla carbonara, and layout in the sun at Villa Pamphilli. You provide more organized chaos in traffic than I could of ever imagined Roma, but you somehow were able to make me feel at ease in such an aggressive atmosphere, for example Piazza Venezia. I will never forget the lessons you taught me about myself, to help me grow as a person. I also cannot thank you enough for introducing me to some of the most amazing people that love you just as much as I do. I will be back one day, and I hope you welcome me with open arms just like you have already. Ciao bella!
When I stepped off of the plane in January and began to melt, I thought I had made a mistake when I chose you for my second home. What was a Minnesota girl doing moving to a city that is 90 degrees and humid every day? It was not love at first sight. It was a love that grew stronger with time. Your natural wonders romanced me like a whirlwind of perfectly planned first dates: the lush jungle, the mountains, the bluest ocean and the golden desert. As I prepare to leave, I realize that your natural wonders drew me in, but it was your quirks that ensnared my heart. The sound of the breeze as it rustles through the palm trees as I walk to the bus. The stillness of sitting on a beach completely disconnected from the world watching the waves roll in. Most of all I will miss your people who have welcomed me with open arms, rescued me when lost and taught me how to worry less and live more for today. Colombia, you have shaped me. In two weeks I will get on a plane to leave you, but I know that it is not goodbye only see you later.
Stay magically real,
My dearest Prague,
I have loved fairytales from the time I was a little girl reading of far away lands by flashlight under my duvet. The thing is, I never believed I would get to live in one myself. And then I met you. Thank you for my giving me a new family from all over the world. Thank you for your quirky citizens and eclectic cafes and secret gardens and even for teaching me to like Pilsner Urquell. Mostly, thank you for opening my eyes to the world and always welcoming me back from wherever my weekend travels took me. I stood above your twinkling city lights overlooking spires upon spires of magical buildings just 24 hours ago, hand in hand with my new study abroad family, but I could not say goodbye to you. Not really anyways, because you cannot say goodbye to something that will live on in your heart forever.
See you again soon,
When I first met you and it sunk in that I would be with you for the next four months, I had a mixture of feelings. I was excited but also nervous wondering what I was signing up for. Everything about you was new to me in January. I got lost several times in the beginning trying to use your buses because I didn’t know which way was up. I couldn’t communicate in Spanish as well as I thought I could. But all the new wasn’t a bad thing. I remember how happy I was when I got to try all the different pastries in the different bakeries and had a café con leche to go with them. I remember finding all the different plazas in the city center and each of them were unique and beautiful. I loved trying the different tapas, the good and the bad. You taught me how to figure out things on my own. You taught me that no matter what, things would work out and I would find a way. You have made me much more independent and spontaneous and for that I’m grateful. I’ll never forget the feeling of comfort when I would walk down the main street, Blasco Ibanez to get home after a weekend trip. The same street I was lost on in the beginning, but then it became a place where everything felt familiar. I will miss you, the beach, the people, and hearing Spanish everyday. Thank you for everything.
Until next time,
I know people think you’re rainy and cold and maybe a little bit miserable at times. But I still love you when you have all four seasons within the course of one hour. I love you a little bit more when the sun shines and Dubliners come out of the woodwork to cure their (our) vitamin D deficiencies. I love that you have a deep rooted history and culture but are moving forward, it’s a beautiful paradox that the rest of the world can learn something from. I love that every time I walk along the Quays, I feel nostalgic for a place I’ve not left yet, but soon will. You’re a capital city with a home town vibe and I am forever indebted to you for giving me so much.
Tá tú mo ghrá,
From the second I touched down at Wellington International Airport, I knew the city was for me. The views from the plane alone were enough to confirm I had come to the right place. The blue water below, the unreal surrounding mountains and the unrelenting sunshine made for the perfect, most irresistible elixir.
In the past months I have gained insight into a completely different lifestyle than the one I know at home. A lifestyle that encourages taking everything with a grain of salt. A lifestyle that encourages taking care of the environment that takes care of us. A lifestyle that involves eating Tim Tams. A lifestyle that hopefully I will bring back home with me, even if it is just a small piece.
So Wellington, this letter is more than just a love letter, it is a thank you letter.
Thank you for providing a place for me to experience the most wonderful kind of culture shock. Thank you for allowing me to explore endless brunch options. Thank you for providing an amazing University to study at. Thank you for the endless hills (and subsequent toning of my leg muscles) and unrelenting wind. Thank you for introducing me to the benefits of getting produce from a farmers market every week. Thank you for making me more adventurous, spontaneous and “outdoorsy”. Most importantly, thank you for encouraging me to explore the world around me.
Welly, I can’t predict the future but I know I will do everything in my power to come back one day.
Nobody likes a break up. I just want to thank you for all you’ve done for me. You’ve shown me incredible beauty–in your language, cityscapes, and giant paellas. You made me feel young and restless for the fist time. I’d never stay out til sunrise if not for you. You’ve showed me not to be scared to be alone. Thank you for helping me to grow and explore. So thank you for the best five months of my life.
I know you’ll always take me back at anytime with open arms. I will always consider you home. So please take this as more of a temporary separation. I know we can make long distance work for a little while.
Just writing your name evokes a thousand mental snapshots I took over the course of 4 months. You are all I see. Your image is burned somewhere on the backs of my pupils and even further beyond. I don’t know the exact moment I fell in love. It definitely wasn’t at first sight and I didn’t always understand your unique charm, but we made it, you and I. But when I moved clear across the globe with my life jammed into one suitcase, all I really had at first is your city, and what a teacher you turned out to be. Because for every minor upset that befell me, you gave me a solution, or at least provided consolation. Sometimes it came in the rugged nature of the west coast, where I have never seen so many shades of green. Comfort came with the new friends you gave me, some of whom are among my closest. Other times it was the smell of the sea, looking across it and knowing home was a straight shot to the other side. And yet it was also your living history, your incredible music scene, your winding cobblestone streets, your combined local Irish charisma and global outlook, it was everything. Now I can look from this side of the Atlantic and know home is also over there, and that you are waiting for me.
Til next time-
After experiencing your enchanting way of life for the first time last summer, you unexpectedly captured my heart. I knew that I had to return to you, and I had a lot of positive expectations about what it would be like to come back. What you had in store for me was truly above and beyond anything I could have dreamed of. From every patterned building facade, to each song that a street musician would perform in a piazza, to every scoop of mint gelato, to each vibrant sunset that would bring day into night. All of this and so much more made me realize just how special you are to me. Art is present everywhere in you, and one of the countless things I thank you for is giving me endless opportunities for my art to thrive. As I reflect on these past four months, I can say with all sincerity that not a day was wasted, and every opportunity was seized. We will see each other again soon, Florence.
All my love,
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Beautiful letters & photos…thank you all!
It’s touching that though a lot of students were insecure in the beginning and didn’t know if they made the right choice regarding such an important matter, the uniqueness of each city, its character and spirit made them forget all the worries. Letters to Cape Town and Colombia are moving.