Where in the World? My 2023 Travel Diary

2023 was a year of remarkable exploration and growth as a person, Ph.D. student, and avid traveler. In this blog post, I recap the wonderful opportunities I’ve had to explore our great big earth this year.


I started off the year in Rome, Italy with a 10k race. This race was the ignitor to start my blog for the 2023 year. I spent the rest of the night waiting for fireworks at the Coliseum with some new and old friends.

NYE in the Coliseum…would not recommend before 11:30 pm as there are many hooligans around

Then, I headed off to Germany to visit family in Stuttgart, a day trip to Strasbourg, meet friends in Munich, and explore the amazing city of Berlin.

Just 5 euros to see Munich from the top…worth it!!


In February, I celebrated Chinese New Year with the International Student Union in Prato, Italy.

Dragon during the Lunar New Year festival in China Town Prato

I also took a day trip to Pisa with new friends for some pictures next to the famous tower and to try gelato for the first time.


In March, I went to Barcelona to unite two friends from different parts of my life. One from college and the other from my PhD program.

Visiting a park built by Barcelona’s most famous architect: Gaudi!

We also went on a day trip to the Game of Thrones city of Girona!


Believe it or not, I stayed the majority of April in Lucca. I explored the hills between Lucca and Pisa as well as the Serchio River.

Nothing is better than a sunny afternoon in the Tuscan hillside with a loved one


Soon at the beginning of May, I went to Turkey to celebrate a friend’s wedding. Our group first explored the capital city of Istanbul before taking refuge in Ankara, where the wedding was held.

Posing in front of the Bosphorus river that connects Europe and Asia. Behind me is the famous Blue Mosque of Istanbul (right) and the Hagia Sofia (left)
Wedding time in Ankara! Such a lovely couple
A kitty in the Hagia Sofia!!

We also had another ISU event held in Livorno, where we had a swing dancing session.


In June, I went to an aesthetic conference in Bergamo, Lombardia. This city reminds me of a Lombardic version of Lucca with medieval walls and greenery.

Walls of Bergamo in the background of the green path

From Bergamo, I took a train to Milan and spent a few hours in the metropolitan city.

Galleria of Milano where the world’s biggest designers sell their goods

In June, I also spent a significant amount of time in Pisa executing my experiment and spending time with friends during Luminara.

View from the experimental lab in Pisa, it’s a direct view of Piazza Miracoli where the leaning tower of Pisa is!


At the end of July, I went to a summer school in Turin, Italy.

Trip to the Royal Hunting Museum

There, I tried a special kind of pizza in Turin.

The closest thing to a deep dish pizza is found in Torino and is called “Tegamino”


In August, I had my mother visiting me in Italy. During this time, we explored Lucca, Florence, Pisa, and Rome.

Red Tour Bus around Roma, Italy

At the end of August, I went to Elba Island for a day trip. Other activities during the summer period are recorded in my other blog post.

Beachside in Elba


At the beginning of September, we took another ISU trip. This time, we went to Cinque Terre!

Small group travel of the ISU in Riomaggiore!

Then, I went to an academic conference in Ghent, Belgium. In between keynotes, I had the chance to explore the Flemish town.

The wonderful architecture of Ghent

After the conference, I took a train to Brussels to visit my boyfriend and some friends. We also went on a day trip to Bruges, a town made famous by the movie “In Bruges.”

We are all..In Burges


In October, I didn’t go anywhere. But, I did see a double rainbow in Lucca!

What’s better than a rainbow? A double rainbow


In November, I went to Turin again for a conference. The most notable thing about this trip was the cat in my Airbnb.

This friendly cat makes me want one for the future!!

I also made a second trip to Belgium to visit my boyfriend and my best friend. My boyfriend visited Leuven for the first time where we had Tibetan food.

The moment before the mono dumplings were devoured


In December, I went to Oslo, Norway for a research trip. I noted down some of my highlights in a previous post but I enjoyed a splendid time in the Norwegian winter.

The only place where Christmas songs have made sense to me

I also went to Genova for the first time for an academic conference. Though the conference was in Genova, we stayed in a small city called Sori. This beautiful beach town was 40 minutes away from the big city and Genova was a layered town with a lot of history and even more focaccia!

View of Sori from the accommodation
Genova’s main piazza is called Piazza di Ferrari
Ligurians are best know for their pesto and focaccia. When you mix it together, you get a Genovese heaven

Now, I am writing this blog from the United States. I was able to visit my family on the East Coast for the Christmas and New Year break. Together, we went to New York, Washington DC, and plan to go to Boston for the New Years Celebration.

NYC Christmas light show at fifth Ave
Selfie with the Washington monument in front of the national mall

2023 has been a great balanced year for exploration, relaxation, and work. Through research trips, planned vacations, and holiday breaks, I had the chance to visit family, friends, and new destinations. I am grateful for all the places I’ve traveled to this year and all the memories that are held in these photos.

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