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EUREKA — Sophie Halpin isn’t afraid to blaze her own path.

The 18-year-old daughter of Rose Halpin and the late John Halpin spent the fall of her senior year at Oxbow School, an arts school in California, rather than at Eureka High School. The only credit she needed to graduate early was consumer education, which she took online while she was in Europe from early April to late June.

The first week of the adventure she shared with her friend Emma Polley. They had talked about taking a trip to Maine, but Halpin had a different idea.

“Two years ago, I called her up and I was like, ‘What if we went to Iceland instead?’” Halpin said.

They spent a week driving a rented camper van around the island, exploring the beauty of snowy mountains, rocky cliffs, and black sand beaches.

After Polley flew home, Halpin continued on to Bergen, Norway; Copenhagen, Denmark; and the Faroe Islands of Denmark.

Halpin then headed to Belgium, Scotland, the Bavarian region of Germany and then to Poland, where her online class caught up with her. “I was working on homework the entire time in Poland,” she said. 

She saw Cesky Krumlov, a medieval town in the Czech Republic, and Slovakia, before traveling on to Budapest, Hungary.

In Salzburg, Austria, she went on “The Sound of Music” tour. Her next stop was Hallstatt, Austria. “That was my favorite place,” she said of little village in the Alps. 

Halpin visited Lake Bled in Slovenia, the Greek island of Santorini and then Skopelos, where she tried to share her ice cream with some of the many stray cats on the island.

She didn't want to miss the annual masquerade ball at the Palace of Versailles in France, so she rented a dress at a costume store. Back in Paris, she enjoyed a picnic on the Seine River. She then took a train to Barcelona, because it was much cheaper to fly home from there. Her final night in Europe, she went to see "Toy Story 4."

Looking on

Her mother, Rose Halpin, was excited her daughter had the opportunity to take the trip.

“I thought it was great; it was something I would have done when I was young,” Rose Halpin said. “I’m glad I didn’t go with her, because I would have died all the places she walked. There’s no way I could have handled it.”

Mother and daughter had traveled to Europe before, and stayed in constant contact during the recent trip.

Nowadays, Sophie Halpin is appreciating air conditioning and dryers, luxuries that Europeans forego. Her next adventure awaits at Reed College in Portland, Ore., where she plans to study English and then pursue a career in law. 

This article originally ran on

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