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The Best Days of Your Life by Eric Hugenberg

March 4, 2015
Eric at the Cliffs of Moher last fall.

Eric at the Cliffs of Moher last fall.

Eric Hugenberg is a former TAP student he traveled with us on our 2009 adventure in Italy.  He has many fond memories of the trip, but what makes the TAP teachers most excited is that his time with us seemed to trigger an addiction to travel.  He’s been to many amazing places since his going to Italy with us in 8th grade, and he’s agreed to share some of his experiences below. 

Hello fellow Minooka TAP members! My name is Eric Hugenberg, and I traveled to Italy in 2009 with Minooka TAP. Right now, I am a sophomore at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska where I am studying to be a pharmacist.

Eric at the Torc Waterfall in Ireland.

Eric at the Torc Waterfall in Ireland.


The one thing I love about traveling to a different country is that everything is an adventure.  The latest country I traveled to was Ireland this past October. Griffin (my friend from Creighton) and I went over our fall break to go visit our friend, Mark, who was studying abroad at the University of Limerick last semester. The entire trip was pretty much last minute—we threw it all together about two or three weeks before we ended up leaving.

That being said, I had little to no time to plan each day; therefore, we planned each day the night before, which ended up being great because we did not have to worry about time constraints at all.

Blarney Mansion in Blarney, Ireland.

Blarney Mansion in Blarney, Ireland.

While in Ireland, I visited six different cities: Dublin, Cork, Blarney, Limerick, Killarney, and Doolin. My favorite city was Blarney, which is where the famous Blarney Castle is located. The best part about Blarney was walking around the vast castle grounds. I was merely expecting a grandiose castle, but there was much more. It was so cool to wander the trails and find random abandoned structures in the forest. Obviously, however, the highlight of the day was kissing the Blarney Stone.

The famous Blarney Castle in Ireland.  It's said that if you climb to the top and kiss the magical Blarney Stone you'll be blessed with the gift of gab.

The famous Blarney Castle in Ireland. It’s said that if you climb to the top and kiss the magical Blarney Stone you’ll be blessed with the gift of gab.

In Killarney, we went to the Killarney National Park where we saw one of the largest waterfalls in Ireland, the Torc Waterfall. The park boasted spectacular views, and I wish we had time to rent a bike and ride through the entire place.

Aside from sightseeing, I got to experience the Irish culture. I quickly caught on to the fact that the Irish love their storytelling. Many of the tour guides, as well as the plaques posted at certain landmarks, told (highly exaggerated) stories. The first of the Irish stories came from our hotel bus driver, Shamus, who was the first man we met in Ireland. (I thought it was hilariously stereotypical to meet a man named Shamus on my first day there).

Eric did it; he kissed the Blarney Stone, which enabled him with the gift of gab enough to share these amazing travel stories with us.

Eric did it; he kissed the Blarney Stone, which enabled him with the gift of gab enough to share these amazing travel stories with us.

Overall the entire trip was amazing, and I loved being free to do whatever I wanted every day. In my opinion, wandering another country with friends is the best way to go about visiting a different country. The first time I did just that was when I went to Japan during my spring break last year.







The view from the top of Kanazawa Castle in Japan.

The view from the top of Kanazawa Castle in Japan.

I traveled to Japan with my friend Mark (the same friend that I visited in Ireland). While in Japan we visited my cousin Emily who was living in Takaoka where she was an English teacher. We used Emily’s apartment as our “home base” and took a train to every city we wanted to go to from Takaoka.

Eric and his cousin, Emily, showing off their Japanese cherry blossom coffee drinks.

Eric and his cousin, Emily, showing off their Japanese cherry blossom coffee drinks.

The first city we went to was Kanazawa.  We had my cousin with us on that day, which was immensely helpful because she is proficient in Japanese. In Kanazawa, we went to the Kenrokuen Garden, the Kanazawa Castle, and the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art. At the end of the day, we saw a Starbucks in the city, and my cousin suggested that we try the Sakura Frappuccino (a cherry blossom drink that only Starbucks in Japan sell). The sign outside the shop said they were “sold out,” but my cousin spoke some persuasive Japanese and got the barista to make us the drinks.

My cousin also joined us for day two when we went to Takayama where we spent the majority of the frigid day in Hida-no-Sato Village. Despite the snow, we still had to take off our shoes before we entered any of the old homes and temples. Needless to say my toes got so cold that they literally hurt.

Emily, Eric, and their friend Mark visiting a small Japanese village.

Emily, Eric, and their friend Mark visiting a small Japanese village.

Unfortunately, Emily was not with us for the remainder of the trip because she had to work, but Mark and I did not suspect that it would be a problem. Little did we know what was going to happen the next day when we planned to go to Osaka. Long story short: Mark and I got on the wrong train; however, if we had not gotten on the wrong train, we would have been in a train crash, because the train we were going to take got in an accident. Eventually, we made it to Osaka, but our day was cut in half because of the train delays to get to Osaka. We made the best of the day and went to all sorts of restaurants because Osaka is literally a smorgasbord.

The view along the riverwalk in Osaka, Japan.

The view along the riverwalk in Osaka, Japan.

Luckily, we were able to go to Osaka again two days later. On that day, we went to the Osaka Aquarium.  The day before that, however, we went to Kyoto. Kyoto was my favorite city because it was the most historical. The best part of the day was when we went to the Fushimi-Inari Taisha Shrine. In order to get to the shrine, we had to climb a mountain by following a path of orange archways.

Eric under rows and rows of Japanese Torii Gates on the way to the Fushimi-Inari Taisha Shrine in Japan.

Eric under rows and rows of Japanese Torii Gates on the way to the Fushimi-Inari Taisha Shrine in Japan.

Out of the five different countries I have been to, Japan gave me the biggest culture shock—primarily because of the language barrier. Note: everyone that tells you that people in all of the “tourist cities” in Japan speak English is a liar. It is a very American attribute to think that the majority of people in foreign countries speak English, and I fell into that trap as well. Other than the language barrier, the culture itself is so ancient and traditional. From taking off your shoes before entering a restaurant or home to bowing at nearly everyone you see, to slurping your noodles, Japan has tradition everywhere you look.

For the sake of sparing you all from an even longer article, I have combined my trips to Belgium and France.

The famous Manikin-Pis, which means exactly what you think it does, in Brussels, Belgium.

The famous Manikin-Pis, which means exactly what you think it does, in Brussels, Belgium.

My first journey outside the country was in 2006 when I went to Brussels, Belgium. I only spent roughly 24 hours in Belgium, because my dad is an airline pilot, so I was only there for his layover.  Though the trip was very short, I saw so much in such a short amount of time.  Fortunately, I visited during Christmas time, which meant Brussels was as magnificent as ever.

The amazing Town Hall in the Grand Place in Brussels, Belgium.

The amazing Town Hall in the Grand Place in Brussels, Belgium.

My third time outside the U.S. was when I went to France during my junior year of high school. I went with my dad on one of his trips again, so I was only there for about 24 hours.  Nonetheless, I saw all of the major tourist sights: the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, and the Champs-Élysées. Both countries were amazing, and I hope to go back for a longer stretch of time.

The Arc de Triomphe  in Paris.  Mr. Curtis broke his camera here in 1995.

The Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Mr. Curtis broke his camera here in 1995.


The inverted pyramid inside the Louvre, the largest art museum in the world.

The inverted pyramid inside the Louvre, the largest art museum in the world.

Pointy building in Paris.  I can't remember the name of it.

Pointy building in Paris. I can’t remember the name of it.

My TAP Trip to Italy

The Colosseum in Rome, Italy.

The Colosseum in Rome, Italy.

Traveling to Italy with Minooka TAP was one of the best foreign travel experiences I have ever had. This was primarily because I was with all of my friends, and I got to make new friends as well. Also, as lame as it might sound to some of you, hanging out with your teachers in a different country can be pretty fun.

Trevi Fountain in the heart of Rome. Legend says that if you toss a coin over your shoulder and it lands in the fountain, someday you'll return to Rome.  The first time Mr. Curtis was in Rome, he made it into the fountain and returned.  The last time, he tossed the coin and it hit some guy in the face.  I don't think he's allowed in Rome anymore.

Trevi Fountain in the heart of Rome. Legend says that if you toss a coin over your shoulder and it lands in the fountain, someday you’ll return to Rome. The first time Mr. Curtis was in Rome, he made it into the fountain and returned. The last time, he tossed the coin and it hit some guy in the face. I don’t think he’s allowed in Rome anymore.

In addition to hanging out with friends and teachers, the trip was extremely well organized. We got up semi-early almost every morning, and at the time, I hated it; however, looking back, it was worth it because we got to see so much each and everyday. Our tour guides did an excellent job, and our Tour Director, Anna, was full of energy and kept us awake even at the end of the day when we were heading back to the hotel.

A view of Florence, Italy from above.

A view of Florence, Italy from above.

The first city we explored was Rome. The most memorable part of being in Rome was actually during the last night that we were in Italy when we went back to Rome. We went on a “Rome at Night” excursion, and we saw Rome from a different perspective. Even though I did not feel well at all that night, the lights shining on the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain made me forget all about how I felt.

Believe it or not, the Leaning Tower is only the third coolest building in Pisa.

Believe it or not, the Leaning Tower is only the third coolest building in Pisa.

During the first day in Rome, we got a full tour of the Colosseum and learned everything about how the gladiator fights took place. After finishing up our tours for the day, we had some free time, so we all split up in our groups and ran around the city.  Free time was almost always the best part of every city we went to because it was the part of the day where we got to see some of the most unique things that were sometimes in the places you would least expect.

After the first day in Rome, we went to Vatican City. Literally everything about Vatican City was amazing, but the Sistine Chapel was obviously the highlight. The guards did not let us take pictures when inside, however. In order to circumvent the guards, some of my friends and I blocked them from seeing us so we could take pictures.

A statue of Juliet in courtyard of her home in Verona, Italy.  Directly above her on the right is the famous balcony.

A statue of Juliet in courtyard of her home in Verona, Italy. Directly above her on the right is the famous balcony.

The next stop on the itinerary was Florence, a city of unbelievable architecture. Though the city does not really have that many iconic sights, it was my favorite city we went to. The best and worst part of Florence was climbing to the top of the Duomo, a gigantic cathedral. I do not remember the exact number of stairs we climbed, but I think it was ~400-500. Though the climb was somewhat painful, the view from the top was more than worth it.

We also went to Pisa and Verona. In Pisa, we saw the epic Leaning Tower of Pisa. I have some great memories of Mr. Curtis taking pictures of people taking pictures “holding” the tower. If you have yet to see those pictures, I strongly suggest you ask to see them because they are hysterical.

The view from the Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi in Assisi, Italy.

The view from the Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi in Assisi, Italy.

Verona is a must see for all of the Shakespeare lovers out there, because it is the place that inspired a lot of the classic tale of Romeo and Juliet. There was a statue of Juliet outside the iconic balcony she stood on whilst calling out to Romeo, and if you touched Juliet’s right breast, it was said to be good luck.

The Grand Canal in Venice, Italy, where we took our gondola ride.

The Grand Canal in Venice, Italy, where we took our gondola ride.

Assisi was yet another remarkable city, and we stayed in a pretty neat hotel—everything was stone like a castle. The one thing I remember from Assisi was the awesome countryside lined with vineyards and olive tree farms.

Venice, the flooded city, was next on the list. The two things I  remember most about Venice are the prison inside Doge’s palace and the gondola ride. The prison doorways were very short; we speculated that it was because people were generally shorter back when the prison was in use. The gondola ride was almost exactly like the movies—except the gondolier did not sing.

What's left of Pompeii, Italy, with Mt. Vesuvius looming in the background.

What’s left of Pompeii, Italy, with Mt. Vesuvius looming in the background.

My second favorite city that we saw was Pompeii because we got to climb Mt. Vesuvius. We could actually see some smoke coming out of the caldera at the top, which made it even cooler. I took a volcanic rock as a memento of my treacherous hike to the top.

The view from the top of Monte Solaro in Capri.

The view from the top of Monte Solaro in Capri.

Unfortunately, it was rainy when we went to Capri, so we did not get to spend as much time out on the boat as we would have liked. Most of the day was spent walking around to different shops.  Capri is known for their citrus, and many stores offered samples.  There were also pictures of celebrities outside of some restaurants that those celebrities had been to.  Apparently Capri is a hot spot for tons of famous people.

After the night tour of Rome, the trip was a wrap. We were on our way back to United States the next day. If I were given the opportunity, I would do the same trip over and over again. The teachers did an amazing job organizing everything and EF Tours gave us all an experience of a lifetime, and I would go on another tour by EF any day.

A few words of wisdom for before, during, and after your future TAP adventure:

Start thinking about what you need to bring on your trip well before your departure date. I don’t think I need to belabor this because I’m sure the teachers will do that enough, but seriously, take some time to think about it. You do not want to over pack and have no room for souvenirs on the way home.

Make sure you take a lot of pictures during your trip, but don’t take too many. Take a moment to soak everything in, and live in the moment.  Pictures are great, but they aren’t worth worrying about. Also, make sure you take pictures that have you in them. Buy a selfie stick or have someone take a picture of you and your friends. Don’t bring too many (or any) electronics. First off, you don’t have time to sit around on your laptop or whatever, so why waste the space in your suitcase?

Secondly, you really don’t need anything more than something like your iPod or phone (without the ability to call/text/use data unlimitedly). It’s just enough to keep you entertained on the bus rides.

Also, be cautious with how much you spend while you’re abroad.  It’s fun buying souvenirs for all of your friends and family until you run out of money.

I think the most important thing to remember is to be open to trying new things (like food). Everything you’ll do while you’re abroad is part of the experience, so take advantage of it.

After your trip, take your memories and never forget them. Then start saving some money for your next adventure because you’ll want to relive the best days of your life again and again and again and again.

Note from the TAP teachers: Be like Eric.  If TAP is your first adventure to new and strange places, we are so glad we get to share that experience with you, but don’t let it be the last awesome thing you do.   Study abroad, visit friends who live in weird places, teach English in a foreign country for a while.  There’s a great big world out there.  See it.

Any other former TAPpers that would like to share their travel experiences (with our without TAP), we’d love to hear from you.  Email us at minookatap2 @ gmail . com if you’d like to share your stories.

44 Comments leave one →
  1. Michael Peters permalink
    March 4, 2015 3:08 pm

    I truly believe that this blog has inspired me to want to travel all around the world! I love how he shared pictures of his trips, my favorite picture is the one of the view of monte solaro in capri. Its my favorite picture because it shows a full picture of the whole town in the mountain valley. I really like the fact that he is fully describing all the things he did in each place he visited. From reading this it makes Italy seem very fun! Very nice blog Eric, and thank you for sharing your memories with us.
    – Michael Peters

    • Eric Hugenberg permalink
      March 10, 2015 2:24 am

      Thanks, Michael! I’m glad you enjoyed reading about my travels.

  2. Andrew Doerr permalink
    March 4, 2015 3:59 pm

    This is really good. I enjoyed looking at the subtitles under the pictures and the pictures themselves. He must have really enjoyed going on these trips. I would like to continue on going on trips with TAP and your advice really helps. I hope you continue traveling and maybe if you can, travel with TAP again. That would be awesome to travel with a returning TAP member. I feel like I could work harder than before to go on this great expirence.

    • Eric Hugenberg permalink
      March 10, 2015 2:27 am

      Hi Andrew. I’m actually in Japan again right now, so my travels are definitely continuing. I would, however, love to travel with TAP again. There’s something unique about traveling with TAP that you really can’t get anywhere else.

  3. Jordan Springer permalink
    March 4, 2015 6:55 pm

    Thank you, Eric, for taking the time to create this. I thought it was very interesting to see how far you’ve traveled and progressed since your travel with TAP. I’ve been worried that I won’t be able to travel if it’s not with TAP, and you’ve just alleviated that fear, so thank you for that. I think it’s awesome that you’ve found ways to see the world and plan it yourself.

    • Eric Hugenberg permalink
      March 10, 2015 2:30 am

      Jordan, I think that if you really want to travel, you’ll find a way to make it happen–that’s what I do! You don’t necessarily have to travel outside the country either. There’s a lot of cool stuff in the US, too. Good luck with your future travels!

      • Jordan Springer permalink
        March 17, 2015 6:49 pm

        Thanks, Eric! I certainly hope that is true, and I wish you luck with your future travels!

  4. Alexis Riley permalink
    March 5, 2015 6:24 pm

    Eric- thank you for sharing your post !
    I enjoyed reading about Italy and your adventures there. I have a question for you- In Verona, Italy did you see the wall icon of Juliet’s, where people leave letters to find true love – is this true?

    • Eric Hugenberg permalink
      March 10, 2015 2:40 am

      Hi Alexis. That’s a great question… I actually do not recall seeing any love notes. However, I just did some quick research and found out that people do put sticky notes on a wall somewhere near the statue. I also found that the city banned putting sticky notes on the wall due to the damage they caused, so now people can put there notes on a designated board where the wall is.

      • March 10, 2015 7:40 am

        Eric, do you remember the tunnel we had to walk through to get into Juliet’s courtyard? That was covered with spray painted love notes.

  5. Jaden Easton permalink
    March 6, 2015 9:26 pm

    Eric thank you for showing us where you have been in the world, you seem determined to travel everywhere and i want to be like you! Venice looks so cool! I have one question about why you had to kiss the bottom of the blarney stone and were the japanese unbrellas useful?

    • Eric Hugenberg permalink
      March 10, 2015 2:35 am

      Jaden, I’m most definitely determined to travel pretty much everywhere I can. I’d really love to go to Australia, Spain, and Switzerland in the future. To answer your question about the Blarney Stone: I’m not entirely sure why it was placed so that you have to lean back over an edge to kiss it. That’s definitely not how I pictured it before I went to the castle. As for the Japanese umbrellas: I actually didn’t use those for the rain/snow–it was just for the picture. However, regular umbrellas are pretty much everywhere in Japan. Everyone is very prepared for bad weather.

      • March 10, 2015 7:39 am

        I’ll jump in for this one. There are tons of legends as to why the Blarney Stone has magical powers. One story claims that an Irish goddess, Clíodhna, showed up when the castle’s owner, Cormac McCarthy, begged for help with some sort of legal issues. She told him to kiss the first stone he found in the morning on his way to the courthouse, so he did. McCarthy was normally not very eloquent, but he was able to plead his case very well and won. He credited the stone with giving him the gift of gab and incorporated it into the parapet of his castle to both protect the stone and honor it.

        Another version of the legend says that the English queen was stripping many Irish nobles of their land, including McCarthy. McCarthy. again not a very good speaker, went to appeal to the queen in hopes of changing his mind. Before he left, an old woman told him that if he kissed a particular stone (this time it was already built into the walls of the castle – way up in the air), he’d be able to speak more eloquently and persuade the queen. He did, and he did.

        Finally, other legends involve the Scottish “Stone of Scone,” a stone that has been used for centuries in the coronation rituals for the Kings and Queens of Scotland and England (last used in 1953 for the current Queen, Elizabeth II). Some legends say that Robert the Bruce (King of Scotland in the 1300s) presented a piece of the stone as a gift to McCarthy for his support in the Scottish war against England. The stone was so important (and possibly magical), so McCarthy had it built into the parapet of his castle.

        So, those are some possible answers, but the real answer is likely – The Irish love good stories. One odd looking stone near the top of a castle gave them an opportunity to make up some great ones.

  6. cj moody permalink
    March 7, 2015 6:52 pm

    Throughout reading this article, I could really relate to a lot of what Eric said. Previously traveling to Japan with TAP sparked a whole new portion of my life. The language barrier is a big one, but being in the country and absorbing the great times and culture, makes the language barrier such a little detail that you can easily work around. Then, last year I went on a trip to Jamaica for a week, I would definitely say that going on the TAP trips (They pick the most unique destinations) was much more enjoyable because they prepare you so well. If younger kids are still deciding on if they would want to go on a TAP trip, this post would most definitely factor in on it. Thank you for Eric for the great insight!

    • Eric Hugenberg permalink
      March 10, 2015 2:42 am

      CJ, it’s good to know that TAP had a positive impact on your life. I’m jealous of your trip to Jamaica! I would love to explore more tropical destinations. I hope you continue to travel even more!

      • cj moody permalink
        March 10, 2015 6:43 pm

        Jamaica was definitely fun, but like you said, being with friends and teachers makes it more fun. They also get us so much more prepared than if you went on your own. Pretty excited to go to South Africa this summer, and maybe ill have to write something up for the TAP kids like you did.

  7. Kate Gall permalink
    March 8, 2015 1:44 pm

    Thank you for sharing you adventure Eric!
    It was very interesting to hear about all of your different travel experiences epically your trip to Italy with the Tap program. I can’t wait to share my travel story to South Africa just like your adventure to Italy!

    • Eric Hugenberg permalink
      March 10, 2015 2:45 am

      Hi Kate. Thanks for reading! You’re going to have a blast on your South Africa TAP trip! If I ever go to South Africa, one thing I would make sure to do is cage dive with Great White sharks.

      • March 10, 2015 7:40 am

        We did try to add a Great White experience to this trip, but the guy at the insurance company had a heart attack.

  8. Matthew Shepard permalink
    March 8, 2015 6:19 pm

    Eric- Thanks for sharing that! It made me think that traveling the world could be really fun. Since there’s so many countries why not try to go to all of them? I have a question for you. Which was your favorite country to travel to? Because all of them have there own special thing that make their country great. This year I’m going to France for the first time so wish me luck!

    • Eric Hugenberg permalink
      March 10, 2015 2:50 am

      I think it’s really hard to pick just one country as my favorite. As you mentioned, each country has something special about it. If I had to choose, however, I would say Japan was my favorite. I think I liked Japan the most because it was my first time going to a foreign country without any parents or tour guides or anything. It was so much fun to just wander around all of the different cities. I’m sure you’ll have a blast in France! If I ever go back, I want to have a baguette sword fight in front of the Eiffel Tower.

  9. Hannah Jackson permalink
    March 8, 2015 8:19 pm

    Thank you Eric so much for sharing all your amazing adventures and for giving advice to us future TAP travelers. It’s truly inspiring to know that traveling with TAP inspired you to travel the world. Your trips sound amazing, it’s great that you have been able to have all these experiences already, just being a Sophmore in college. Also going with friends sounds like it made the trips even more fun and that’s wonderful that you were able to do so so many times. I am so excited to be traveling with TAP to France in a year and a half. It makes me even more thrilled and comfortable knowing you had such a great experience. My dream is to travel the world as much as I can as I grow up, and it’s great to be starting young. I’m looking forward to following in your footsteps as I experience this amazing world.

    • Eric Hugenberg permalink
      March 10, 2015 2:55 am

      Hannah, I hope you get to travel as much as you can before you finish college. If you can manage the costs of traveling, it’s easiest to do it while you’re young. My dad thinks I’m crazy for traveling so much, but I just tell him that I won’t have as much time once I’m a full-time pharmacist. If I could, I would study abroad in college; unfortunately, pharmacy school doesn’t let me do that because of the rigorous schedule. If you can find time in college to study abroad, DO IT! Also, I can guarantee that you’ll have tons of fun in France–TAP knows what they’re doing!

      • March 10, 2015 7:42 am

        Hannah is going to be a teacher someday – she doesn’t know this yet, but when I retire, TAP will be handed off to her to run.

        • Hannah Jackson permalink
          March 10, 2015 4:54 pm

          Sign me up! That would be so amazing. What you do Mr. Curtis, is truly extraordinary.

  10. Kt Moran ! permalink
    March 8, 2015 9:35 pm

    HEY ERIC!!
    I happen to have a lot of questions for you because I am a curious soul and because why not. So, my first question, how did you fit all of those trips into your schedule? I have often wanted to just go places and do whatever as I’m blown by the wind, but I happen to be way too busy, even though I’m only a freshman in high school. Factoring in that you’re a sophomore in college, how do you balance everything? This also brings me to my next question; between all of your trips, which one would you say was the most beneficial or influential to how you act as a person, or,in other terms, which one most made you a better person, or more the person you are today?

    • Eric Hugenberg permalink
      March 10, 2015 3:09 am

      Hi Kt or (Katie?). I find time to travel during my breaks in college. At Creighton, we get a one week fall break in October, winter break, and a one week spring break in March. Even though a week is kind of short, it definitely suffices. I’m trying to make it a pattern for me to go on a trip for every fall and spring break I have. Besides me first fall break, I’ve managed to do it. It will definitely be a lot harder to travel once I’m in pharmacy school this coming fall. Because of the insanely hard classes and the fact that I will be a Resident Assistant (RA), I will be super busy–even over breaks. Nonetheless, I will do my best to explore the world. Your second question is a tough one… I don’t know if I can say that I’ve been truly changed by my travels. I think I would twist my answer to say something like this: traveling has made me more open-minded and aware of how the rest of the world lives (and I haven’t even been to that many places). I think I’ve gained some wisdom through my travels, and I’ve gotten to experience and learn about many different cultures, which is great experience as a future healthcare provider. I am very interested in traveling to a less developed country to provide some pharmaceutical healthcare, too. I think something like that would be more likely to have an even greater impact on my life.

  11. Isaac Westerhoff permalink
    March 9, 2015 5:41 pm

    Eric’s story has told me how important traveling is, how to enjoy my trip, and what to do with my money on the trip. He has showed how important it is to share foreign trips with others. Now I can’t wait to share my trip with younger people who should go on foreign trips, and with older people who would be interested.

    • cj moody permalink
      March 10, 2015 6:40 pm

      This is exactly what I was saying, this article informs the younger students, lets them know what to expect, and gets them pumped to go!

  12. Jaden Easton permalink
    March 10, 2015 4:38 pm

    Thanks for the feedback Eric!

  13. Jenna Spreitzer permalink
    March 10, 2015 6:10 pm

    Thank you Eric for your story! Reading your article really made me even more excited about the great experience that lies ahead of me. I now know how much of an impact this experience will have on my life. I feel like your article helped me know what to expect for the trip. I love hearing about other people’s experiences with TAP and I am so excited that I will finally be able to do all the things that people like you talk about! Thanks again for telling your story to help my classmates and I who are new to this journey to prepare for the best!

    • March 11, 2015 7:11 am

      Now you should get your brother to write one of these articles about his trip to Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar, and Morocco!

    • Eric Hugenberg permalink
      March 14, 2015 2:59 pm

      Jenna, I’m glad you liked reading about my worldly adventures. I’m sure you will have so many stories to tell after your trip with TAP, and hopefully many more trips and stories will follow in years to come.

  14. Sierra permalink
    March 10, 2015 8:08 pm

    Thanks for sharing the story! Eric showed me how important traveling really is. I love that he continued on traveling and I hope to do so myself. I plan on sharing my trip with others as well. I can’t wait to travel, I feel the same as Eric. Traveling is fun and also a learning experience, an eye opener. I really hope I can continue traveling the world like Eric. This was truly an inspiring story, thanks for sharing!

    • Eric Hugenberg permalink
      March 14, 2015 3:19 pm

      Sierra, I’m happy to know that you enjoyed reading my article. When you return from all of your travels, you should most definitely share all of your stories with everyone that is willing to listen. I’m sure you will also inspire more people to see the world; it really is an eye-opener. Have fun on all of your future trips abroad!

  15. Yazmine Thomas permalink
    March 11, 2015 2:01 pm

    I can relate Eric’s comment about wanting to travel to the same place over and over. Going on a Tap trip is life changing; it opens your eyes to a whole new world, that you knew existed, but haven’t seen. Taking pictures is a great way to look back and think about the good times you had on your trip. I recommend that right when you get home you save your pictures to a flash drive or computer. I lost all the photos I had because my memory card fell out my camera and I didn’t even notice! My best advice is to try new things. In Japan, I ate a cricket, a fish on a stick, and green tea ice cream. These are all things I would normally avoid, but I tried them and they were some of my favorite foods from Japan.

    • March 11, 2015 2:50 pm

      Funny enough, while you typed that comment, Eric is in Japan – maybe he’ll find your memory card?

    • Eric Hugenberg permalink
      March 14, 2015 3:04 pm

      Hi Yazmine. I’m sorry to say that I didn’t find any memory cards while in Japan. Hahaha. I just arrived back in the United States earlier today. I agree with you that backing up all of your photos is extremely important. I have mine saved in multiple locations, just in case. It’s funny that you mentioned how you tried different things that you would normally avoid when at home. I was just talking about that last night during my final sushi dinner in Japan. I tried sea urchin for the first time, and it was surprisingly good! I’m typically a somewhat picky eater, but I do my best to try new things while abroad. After all, you never know when you’ll have another opportunity to eat sushi in Japan.

  16. Kate Moore permalink
    March 11, 2015 8:04 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience with everyone and taking time out of your schedule to write this. I find it very inspiring that you have found different ways to go on your trips. Italy seems like a fabulous place to travel and I’m very ecstatic to visit France and visit the “pointy building in Paris”. It seems like a great experience to have! I also have a question about Venice. Was it really like a flooded city or was it just water scattered in different spots of the city?

    • Eric Hugenberg permalink
      March 14, 2015 3:11 pm

      Kate, I’m happy to share all of my stories with everyone. It’s nice to know that people like to read about my adventures. You are right to be so excited about seeing the Eiffel Tower! It’s such an amazing building–one that most people only get to see in pictures. To answer your question, Venice is truly a flooded city. There are streets, but many people take water taxis to get around because of how many “streets” are actually canals.

  17. March 12, 2015 4:13 pm

    Eric, thank you for inspiring me to travel more. My family always does great summer vacations like Washington D.C., toronto, and Yellowstone park in Wyoming. Last year, we got together Alaska. I can’t wait to experience some of the same sights as you did in Brussels and Paris. My ultimate goal is to make it to Barcelona. They are building a Ferrira hotel there and I would like to see a football/soccer game. Thanks for all the photos

    • Eric Hugenberg permalink
      March 14, 2015 3:15 pm

      Hi Max. It’s awesome that your family does a lot of vacations! Out of the places you listed, I have only been to D.C., but I’d love to visit those other places. I believe I mentioned this in a previous comment, but just to reiterate: it’s important to see what the United States has to offer (in terms of sightseeing), too. I would love to go to Barcelona as well! I took four years of Spanish in high school and one semester at Creighton, so I really want to see if it all paid off. I hope you make it to Spain in the near future!

  18. Kelsie Stanley permalink
    March 15, 2015 12:34 pm

    Eric, thank you so much for sharing these first-hand experiences with us! The teachers can tell you what to expect and what they’ve experienced, but I’ve never heard about a trip in such detail from a student. The different view points and stories made me even more excited to go to South Africa!

  19. Jonathan Lohman permalink
    March 21, 2015 6:34 pm

    Thanks for sharing all your adventures Eric. My brother Robert went on that trip with you to Italy and it was pretty cool to hear a different experience than the one he had. I am looking forward to traveling and share cool stories like you.

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