After enduring endless midterms and Pittsburgh’s strange, irregular weather, students traveled all around the world for spring break this year.
Kit Vogel, a sophomore environmental science major, traveled to Switzerland with his mom. Vogel traveled all around the country, visiting Zurich, Zermatt, Lucerne and more to see Switzerland’s incredible mountains.
“We went to the mountains, which I think was the highlight of it,” Vogel said. “You take this really pretty train up, and there’s a lot of skiing there. When you get to the top, it’s super high up, and you can see this crazy view.”
For Vogel, his trip to Switzerland was not only an opportunity to see incredible nature but to also connect with his roots.
“My parents were acquaintances back in the day, and my mom was going on a one-month trip to Europe. Then my dad, who was just friends with her, was just like, ‘Okay, I’ll come with you,’ so that was kinda their origin story, when they went to Switzerland together,” Vogel said. “We actually saw the same hotel that they stayed at, so it was a little surreal to see all that.”
One way that Vogel relaxed and enjoyed the views during his trip was, surprisingly, on Switzerland’s trains.
“The trains are honestly half the experience because they are very pretty, and you can see a lot of cool views,” Vogel said. “The public transportation with the trains was very punctual and easy to use, even though we didn’t speak the language, and they were very clean. It’s a little bit easier than the Port Authority.”
Vogel also tried some new foods in Switzerland. Although he said he didn’t try anything extremely adventurous, he enjoyed Switzerland’s iconic dairy products.
“I tried cheese fondue, which was pretty good. It was a bubbling pot of cheese, and you dip vegetables and potatoes in it, and it was good,” Vogel said. “I feel like it’s not too out there in terms of new stuff, but it was good. And we tried the swiss cheese and the swiss chocolate because they have a lot of dairy cows.”
Although spring break was only a week, it was still a great chance for students to recharge and experience new things. For Vogel, the short break didn’t stop him from having life-changing experiences.
“Seeing those mountains was honestly life changing. It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. I’ve traveled to quite a few places, but these were honestly just life changing to see. The whole trip was amazing,” Vogel said.
Some students took spring break as an opportunity to visit friends and explore nearby cities. Lilyann Bailey, a junior biological science major, went to Chicago to visit a friend. She was only there for a few days, but she still explored a lot of what the city has to offer.
“We did a lot,” Bailey said. “We were only there for four days, but we visited an art institute, we tried a lot of food, we visited a 360 Observation Deck, so we were able to see all the city.”
Bailey, who has lived on the east coast her entire life, said she was excited to see what the Midwest has to offer. Although Chicago is less than 500 miles from Pittsburgh, according to Bailey, the city was very different from anywhere she visited before.
“It gives a small town feeling, depending on what neighborhood you’re in,” Bailey said. “There’s a lot of cute shops that make it feel a lot more authentic in a way, and there’s a lot of food that is native to the area, like the Chicago dog, or a deep dish pizza, which is something you wouldn’t find anywhere else.”
Bailey also noted the differences in Chicago’s transportation system. Although Chicago’s metro system is very different from Pittsburgh’s, Bailey navigated the city well by the end of her trip.
“One challenging thing was navigating. It was a lot of taking the metro and the blue line train, and there’s a lot of trains that run throughout the city,” Bailey said. “I’m not familiar with all the neighborhoods, but I feel like the more time I was there, the easier it was to navigate.”
Trying new things was a common theme for many students this spring break. For Bailey, her trip to Chicago taught her more about Chicago’s geography and culture.
“One thing I didn’t know is that Chicago is right on the border of Lake Michigan, so it was kind of a surprise to me to see the water so close to the downtown area,” Bailey said. “And a new thing I tried would be food, like the Chicago dog, which I recommend — it has a lot of different toppings on it.”
For seniors, this was their last chance to enjoy spring break as an undergrad. Sammie Rao, a senior studying neuroscience and communication and rhetoric, used her last spring break during undergrad to spend time with friends in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.
“All of my friends wanted to have our senior spring break trip, and just be together for spring break,” Rao said. “So we decided to go to Punta Cana because we knew that other senior spring break groups were going there, and we just thought that it would be a good time.”
Rao and her friends stayed at an all-inclusive resort, which Rao said was something she had never done before. Because the experience was prepaid, they were able to try a lot of new experiences and relax on their trip.
“We already prepaid, so when we were there, we could just kinda get whatever we wanted, which is something we all really enjoyed,” Rao said. “At the resort, there was karaoke in a huge auditorium, so we all went and did karaoke together, which was an experience which I thought was different and new.”
For Rao, issues with transportation arose on the journey back to Pittsburgh. Although the recent wave of delayed flights has settled down, traveling internationally is still a long process.
“A big challenge for us was getting home,” Rao said. “We had multiple days, and it took all of us one to two days to get back from Punta Cana, which shouldn’t have been the case, but at the end of the day, we all had fun, so it was worth it.”
Despite the travel difficulties, Rao said the trip offered an incredible experience. As it was her final spring break in college, she used the opportunity to gain new experiences abroad with her friends.
“I think that an experience that really stood out from the trip was the boat especially because it was really fun being able to swim in the ocean, as well as spending time with all of my friends all in one area, and having an experience that not many of us have had before,” Rao said.