The morning crisp dusts the train windows with frost. The coffee is hot, and the steam dazzles in the dawn light fracturing on the floor. The train breaks the bend in the south of France revealing hulking masses looming in the distance: the Alps.
Students who studied in Europe likely utilized its transportation system, particularly the railway. A Global Eurail Pass allows students to travel to 28 countries within Europe.
Bobby Leis, the exchange program and study abroad adviser at Baylor, recalls his favorite scenery while on a train being the trips from the south of France, through the Alps and into Italy.
“You definitely feel like there is a time limit on how long you are going to be there, and you want to see and experience as much as you can,” Leis said.
Coppell senior Brianna Williams said some of her fondest memories while studying in Maastricht were seeing different landscapes and having conversations while traveling between countries.
“We actually met a lot of people who were also traveling who just wanted to know more about us and about Baylor,” Williams said. “So it’s a great way to meet people and it’s a great way to get to see things that you would never get to see.”
Some students receive their passes through their programs as part of the general transportation fee. For students who do not get a train pass with the program, $689 pays for a month’s worth of travel within the Eurozone, as well as several additional countries. This pass is available at eurail.com
Trains are not the only means of getting around Europe.
“There’s just a lot of public transportation,” Leis said. “Cities are closer, so more subways, more trains, more buses.”
Those who purchase a Eurail pass will not receive inner-city transportation passes, and will have to purchase them separately. But students should be careful if they stop through countries that do not use the Euro, such as Switzerland or Sweden, as they will have to convert their currency and lose some money in fees.
“That’s what kills you, because the exchange rate is so bad. And what you take out is kind of what you are stuck with,” Williams said.
Though the transportation system is more comprehensive between countries and within cities than the United States, the ease of travel in Europe does not come without its own set of faults.
While attempting to travel to Vienna from Berlin, Williams had to change travel plans last minute due to a group of rail workers who were on strike. She also encountered a group of protesters while in Belgium.
“There were communist riots while we were there, at the train station too. People were throwing things onto the train rails,” Williams said.
But any negative experience was forgotten when Williams traveled through the Italian countryside along the coast of the Mediterranean.
“When we got there, it was probably mid-day. So you just saw the very blue water,” Williams said. “There was just nothing better than that.”