Written by carolinepotts March 22, 2024

When I was little, I was a bit of a hoarder. I took great pride in my button and quarter collections and would quickly grow quite attached to birthday cards, bracelets I had overgrown, and Happy Meal toys. On summer evenings, after hours of playing in the summer heat, I would dump the pockets of my dresses onto my bed, producing pretty-looking rocks, little twigs, colorful leaves, dirt. My poor mom was constantly throwing things back out into nature that should have stayed outside in the first place.

Thankfully, I have broken the habit of stuffing my pockets with twigs and rocks, but I still have a bit of that “collector” in me. As I have explored the world this semester, I have accumulated a little collection of things from all over Europe. Here are some of my favorite little trinkets I have found and what I would suggest when you are traveling (and collecting) on a budget!

My New, Old Earrings – I am not one to buy souvenirs on a whim. I don’t want to clutter my dorm with things I’ll never use. I also don’t have enough room in my bags to take home pounds of Europe’s trinkets. However, I found myself drawn to a little pair of earrings on a roadside shop right outside Verona’s arena. They were small and old-fashioned. I could tell they had been loved previously; there were a couple of pearls missing from one and a small stain on the other.

Yet I was in love. They looked like earrings a family friend of ours used to wear—a woman named Catherine who always offered Tootsie Rolls to my sister and me when we visit—and I realized I had to get them. Be on the lookout for things that remind you of home, even when you are in a foreign place. Now, I wear them all the time, and I am so glad to wear jewelry from the heart of Verona!

My Little Leather Purse – Venice had stores upon stores. The narrow, chaotic streets were teeming with shoppers who were trying on clothes, bargaining for bags, and eating delicious pizza. I was eating a slice of pizza in a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant when I looked across the street to see a couple leather bag stores, crowded with people. I had been looking for a little purse, and though I had seen plenty throughout my time in Italian cities, I hadn’t come across one yet. After walking through a few, I found several bags that I really liked and for a price I was super happy with.

Postcards Upon Postcards – After most weekends, I come back with nothing to show but a postcard, and I am perfectly content with that fact. If you are a student who is planning to study abroad (or anyone for that matter), do not pass up on postcards. They can be found all over and can often be purchased for less than a Euro. Now I have pictures of all the places I’ve been and can hang them in my room when I get home, reminders of all the picturesque memories I have.

There are so many little souvenirs I am excited to take home. Thank goodness I don’t stuff my pockets with rocks anymore, but I think Little Caroline would be proud of my new collection!