The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

IN PHOTOS: 12 planes, 9 trains, 1 automobile across Europe

Our Deputy Photography Director broke out of the Vanderbubble and visited five new countries during the spring semester.
Josh Rehders
The Saint Peter’s Basilica, in the Vatican City, as photographed on March 31, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Josh Rehders)

Studying abroad has become an increasingly popular part of the Vanderbilt student experience. I joined 588 other students in going abroad for the 2022-2023 school year and studied in Madrid, Spain during the Spring semester. Like many other students, I was able to expand my social circles, both by meeting new people from Vanderbilt and other universities, and broadened my global and cultural perspective.

Although many may debate how much actual studying actually happens during a “study abroad,” being abroad brought many unique opportunities and experiences. My classmates and I were very lucky to be able to travel to various locations across Europe on our weekends and during our breaks. However, while many students choose to go to larger, more popular destinations such as London, Paris and Amsterdam, I made an effort to go to a few locations that weren’t traditional European travel destinations.


One of my favorite cities that I visited, Seville, was also located in Spain, and I have nearly an entire album of photos from here. Seville is, in my opinion, one of the prettiest cities in Spain, if not in Europe. The architecture in both the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See and the Plaza de España is incredibly intricate and impressive. I also had the chance to visit the city of Toledo, which was once the capital of Spain, as well as Segovia. The main castle in Segovia inspired Walt Disney’s Cinderella Castle, which gave me a small taste of home while abroad.

Italy and Vatican City

The first country I visited outside of Spain was Italy. We stopped in Rome, Vatican City, Venice, Florence and Lake Como. Seeing the Vatican City decorated with palms for Palm Sunday and for the upcoming Holy Week was an unforgettable experience. The city was packed with people celebrating. We joined a large group of people to watch the sunset over Saint Peter’s Basilica. We traveled overnight to Venice, and the next morning, we watched the sunrise in the canals in Venice, which was a beautiful sight. Seeing the city before the other tourists woke up and flooded the streets really helped us get the most out of the day there. Over a few days in Florence, we toured some beautiful museums, like the Accademia. A few of our Vanderbilt friends who were studying there showed us around the city and took us to one of their favorite places to watch the sunset over the city, Piazzale Michelangelo. 

Despite being last minute, the highlight of the trip was visiting Lake Como. Once there, we even took a ferry to Bellagio, a part of the lake away from where we were staying, which has been made famous by George Clooney and Sir Richard Branson after their purchase of vacation homes there.


A few weeks after visiting Italy, I traveled to Belgium. This trip was special to me because my mom graduated from high school in Brussels. She curated a list of sightseeing destinations, restaurants and bars from her time there. 

Brussels stood in stark contrast to the cities I visited in Italy because it is much newer. For example, the EU parliament in Brussels consists of new, modern, glass buildings compared to the more traditional Italian architecture. However, that is not to say that older architecture doesn’t exist in Belgium. We took a day trip to Bruges, a smaller city near the coast near an important port, that features architecture dating back to the 14th century. 

The highlight of the trip to Belgium was a harp concert in a small venue in Bruges that doubles as the musician’s studio, where he practices and records music, as well as even builds his own instruments.


I saved the best trip of my semester for last. I had nearly two weeks off between the last day of class and my first exam, so I took that opportunity to spend about a week in Greece. We visited Mykonos first, where we went to the beach, an outdoor EDM set and the old town. We only spent about two days in Mykonos, but the winding streets and locally owned businesses showed why it is such a popular destination.

We then traveled to Corfu, a beautiful island with significantly fewer tourists. We rented a car and spent a few days driving around the island and stopping at various beaches. The population was clearly predominantly locals, in comparison to Mykonos, where many Greeks come from other islands to work for the tourist season and then return home. The locals in Corfu were the most helpful, accommodating and downright kind people I met in Europe. Everyone we spoke to was happy to share their culture and knowledge about the island, which led to us finding some great hidden gems like Halikounas Beach. 

We didn’t see another person on the last beach we visited in Greece, Halikounas in Corfu, for the nearly two hours that we were there. At night, the light pollution was minimal, making the sky the darkest midnight black I’ve seen, and watching the Milky Way on the beach was a perfect way to end my study abroad travels.

Leave a comment
About the Contributor
Josh Rehders
Josh Rehders, Former Photography Director
Josh Rehders ('24) is from Houston and is studying computer science in the School of Engineering. When he is not shooting for The Hustler, Vanderbilt Athletics or freelancing, he enjoys finding new music and good food. He can be reached at [email protected].
More to Discover

Comments (0)

The Vanderbilt Hustler welcomes and encourages readers to engage with content and express opinions through the comment sections on our website and social media platforms. The Hustler reserves the right to remove comments that contain vulgarity, hate speech, personal attacks or that appear to be spam, commercial promotion or impersonation. The comment sections are moderated by our Editor-in-Chief, Rachael Perrotta, and our Social Media Director, Chloe Postlewaite. You can reach them at [email protected] and [email protected].
All The Vanderbilt Hustler picks Reader picks Sort: Newest
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments