Europe: A place to learn, grow and study

By Abigail Furutani
Staff Photographer

My parents have always believed that traveling is a big part of education.

They want my brother and me to experience new and different things and to see how other people live. They also value history and art, and Europe has plenty of both. When my brother graduated from high school, he went on a gap year trip, and this year I graduated and did the same. We both went for the same reason: to learn, grow and study Ò as well as to develop our foreign language Û not to mention to have some fun.

The main goals I had on this trip were to learn and improve my mind, to improve my photography and pottery skills in new surroundings, and to learn a little German. I went to a language school in Heidelberg, Germany, for five weeks, and studied with students from all over the world. I went to England for four weeks and while there I took ceramics classes from a well-known potter (David Frith) for a few days. I also visited several ceramics museums in England and Germany.

Of course, when you go to Europe, you have to do some sightseeing, and I did lots of that, too. Besides the times in England and Germany, I spent time in Prague, Czech Republic; Salzburg, Austria; and Vienna, Austria; and Paris, France. I was away a total of 12 weeks and had many amazing and memorable experiences.

I enjoy many kinds of photography, but one of my favorites is nighttime photography. Why? I think it is because at night the city looks like a new and enchanted world. I love a city at night Û it looks so magical; there are dark, mysterious alleyways, lights and shadows. All of the grittiness we see in the daytime is hidden. I love writing stories and night-time photography always leaves me full of new ideas.

These are a few of the night-time shots I took while on my trip.

Notre-Dame de Paris is one of the world’s largest and best-known cathedrals.


People gather in the Old Town Square in Prague, Czech Republic.


The Seine is a 483-mile river that extends from northern France to the English Channel. Thirty-seven bridges span the Seine as it flows through Paris.


Heidelberg Castle is considered architectural masterpieces of the Renaissance.