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Senior Natalle Kezy has had a longtime interest in travel, and this previous summer completed her “bucket list” goal of backpacking in Europe. She visited 10 cities in multiple countries throughout her trip, traveling by bus, train and air. 

“Backpacking in Europe isn't necessarily like hiking everywhere,” the political science and Spanish double major said. “It's more like you city hop. So I flew from Chicago to Amsterdam. And then I took a Flix bus, which are super cheap...It was about probably eight euro to go from Amsterdam to Brussels.”

Some of the countries Kezy visited include Germany, Austria and Hungary. 

Hungary was notable to Kezy because her family is Hungarian, and so she describes her time in Budapest as “a really great opportunity to see culture and just like taste the food [that] tastes like home.” One of Kezy’s favorite locations, however, was in Croatia, which interested her because of its complex history with civil war. 

“It was interesting to be able to talk with everyone about their experiences because they just separated from Yugoslavia,” Kezy said. “And so just to see how the people were shaped from being in such a war-torn country that they were so kind and they wanted to show you their culture and talk about everything.”

Kezy went on a one-day cruise while in Croatia, costing her only about twenty US dollars, where she spent the day “island hopping.” 

“It was just absolutely stunning because at night when I docked in right after the cruise

I jumped off the cliff into the water. And when I started swimming my friend goes, 'look into the water,' and it's just like plankton starts glowing green around me. And it was just so vibrant and something like out of a movie,” Kezy said.

During her freshman year at Valpo, Kezy was made friends with French, German and Dutch students who were studying abroad, and was able to meet again with some of them. 

“It just was an awesome ability to connect with people,” Kezy said about her friendships. “And I still talk to them all the time. So it's absolutely fantastic that I was able to make those connections here and they're so lasting.”

One of the places she was able to see friends in was in Stuttgart, Germany. She mentions having personal connections there made the trip easier than, in particular, an instance where she studied abroad in Spain. 

“It made it feel better...I have people within my time zone. So it wasn't like, with my parents when I was studying in Spain I'd call them at like, three in the afternoon, it would be seven here in our time zone in the US. So it was just kind of a phone tag almost,” Kezy said.

Kezy was inspired to learn Spanish to help her communicate with people from other places. Trips like Europe or Kezy’s study abroad experience to help her see that the world is a big place full of other cultures. 

“I think that's primarily why I picked up Spanish because I wanted to see another country and to be able to communicate with people because I think speaking in their own language makes them comfortable with speaking with you,” Kezy said.  “It's an opportunity to connect with someone in a way that you can make feel more genuine for someone else. I wanted to study abroad to connect with other people to see another culture and just see like, the world is bigger than just Valparaiso.”


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