I'm a Virginia wedding photographer based in Loudoun County and I spend my days photographing incredible couples in Virginia, D.C. and beyond. Explore some of my favorite sessions below!
Hi there, I'm Maddy!
January 18, 2017
For anyone who’s been following along for a little while you’ve probably heard me mention my love for London and study abroad travels once or twice! A few weeks ago I was thinking about it how it has been almost a year since I headed overseas and thought it might be nice to write a slightly nostalgic reflection of my study abroad experience and share some of my favorite travel photos! Please be warned there’s plenty of cheesy tourist photos also thrown into the mix!
I was lucky enough to live in London for three months, take five classes to complete my minor in British Communication and Media, meet some of my best friends, and visit 14 cities (Dublin, Belfast, London, Oxford, Vienna, Amsterdam, Bruges, Prague, Berlin, Brussels, Paris, Bath, Stratford, and Edinburgh!). The favorite experiences are too many to name, but I would hands down recommend that anyone who is debating whether or not to study abroad should go for it! Read on for the breakdown of some of my favorite cities and experiences!
I started my trip a week earlier than the rest of the JMU students, flying out to spend some time in Ireland with my mom’s cousins before school started. While jetlagged me certainly struggled to keep up the first couple of days I got to see so much of Dublin and Belfast, and got to stay with my cousins who showed me around the town were my great-grandmother grew up.
Vienna was sort of a spur of the moment trip for us! Throughout our time studying abroad were were given designated free weekends during which we were allowed to stay in London or travel on our own. The very first free weekend came up pretty quickly and at that point we were still getting to know each other. However, none of us wanted to waste an opportunity to travel so four of us found tickets to Vienna. After a 4 am wakeup call to get to the airport on time we got into Vienna in the afternoon and with no real plan on what we were going to see. We enjoyed an afternoon coffee and dessert break before accidentally stumbling on St. Charles church! By luck we made it to the top just in time for sunset on our first evening. Day 2 we were a little more prepared- explored art museums and got to see Gustav Klimt’s work, visited the royal palaces and ended our day at St. Stephen’s cathedral were again we ran up many flights of stairs to see the sunset from above!
As sad as it may sound one of my biggest takeaways from my experience with Amsterdam is to be wary of booking trips with travel companies! Almost the entire 26 of studying abroad together booked the trip and ended up spending more time on a bus driving there then getting to explore on most days. Despite that Amsterdam was one of my favorite cities I visited and trip were I really bonded with all my friends! We kicked off our time in the city with a small cruise around the canals as the sun set and then spent the rest of the evening exploring the area around our hostel. We really only had one more day in Amsterdam after that so my friends and I spent our time running between a cultural museum outside of the city, the Van Gogh Museum, the Anne Frank House and finally ended the day running through the day to catch the last tour at the Heineken Factory! Unfortunately our time in Amsterdam was short and mainly rainy so I ended up leaving with only a few photos due to less than stellar weather. It was still one of my favorite cities to visit though and I can’t wait to go back!
It’s so hard to pick a favorite city among all the ones I got to visit, but Prague is right up there at the top! During our semester we had a spring break were we got ten days off for a long period of extended travel. My friends and I went back in forth about where we wanted to spend our time over break. It was temping to head to sunny Italy or Spain for the whole time, but ultimately we decided that while we were abroad we wanted to experience smaller cities that we might not necessarily fly back for to experience soon. We kicked off our break with four days in Prague, and rented a cute little Airbnb near the river. We spent most of our time in Prague wandering from site to site and moving at a slower pace for this part of our trip!
Spring break stop two was Berlin! We met up with two more of our fellow students, hustled from the Berlin Wall to the Holocaust Museum, took jumping photos in front of the Brandenburg gate, climbed to the top of the Reichstag building, stopped by Check Point Charlie and finished off the trip with a crazy pub crawl! Overall Berlin was a whirlwind!
Brussels was our last stop on spring break and we spent less than 72 hours in the city. The city was beautiful and had fantastic food, but I think all of can agree we are glad we didn’t spend more time here as we didn’t feel like there was a lot to see!
Paris was one of my favorite trips! The trip to Paris was included in our study abroad trip so all of us and our advisors headed out for the weekend! On day one we explored the Musée d’Orsay and stopped by the love lock bridge, and the Louvre. I was most excited to see my favorite piece of art- the Winged Victory of Samothrace! My friends can tell you I took countless photos of it and spent forever staring at it. Our second day started with a group trip to Notre Dame before we split off and headed to Sainte Chapelle. This was my favorite stop in Paris because the stained glass in this little chapel is breathtaking! I have unrealistic dreams of photographing a wedding there now!! We then headed up the Eiffel Tower, wandered to a few other landmarks, and wrapped the night on a river cruise! Sunday we took the train out to Versailles before heading back to London.
Edinburgh was our very last trip before heading back to the states. We took the train out to Scotland, explore both the castle and Holyrood Palace (the history lover in me was having a blast), and climbed to the top of Arthur’s Seat! The views at the top were definitely worth hiking up in less than stellar exercise apparel.
And of course I couldn’t wrap up this blog post without talking about London. Living in the heart of the city, just a block from the British Museum made it impossible not to fall in love. I loved every minute of the three months from the classes that took us exploring, going to the theater once a week, the morning rains, and exploring all of the historical sites. I’d go back in a heartbeat! I could honestly go on and on about the experience forever, but really if anyone is going to England anytime soon let me know! I’d love to share travel tips, favorite pubs and markets and more. London gave me the best experience and I wouldn’t have wanted to live abroad anywhere else!