May Term Abroad
This is my last week in Germany! I will not lie I am excited to go home soon, but I will miss Germany so much. Just this past night I was out until 3:00 am talking at a bar with people from all over the world. Most were from Germany, but other nationalities include British, Russian, and even Czech. If there’s one thing that I will miss the most, it has to be these conversations. I think that it is the coolest thing that I can walk anywhere here and strike up a conversation about anything with someone not even from my country. And these people love to talk to Americans, too! I had an Australian man bluntly tell me that Americans in a group can be obnoxious, but alone Americans are the nicest people you can find. There is a general sense of respect for everyone here, and sometimes I wonder what it will feel like once I am out of the country. Will it feel different talking to people in the US now?
All in all, my time here has been the adventure of a lifetime. I have done so much I thought I would never do in 6 weeks here. There is so much I could say about my time here, but most of it would be redundant, and all boil down to the same thing: go to Germany if you can. I will admit that Germany does a lot of things much better than America (except for no free water, that’s a big kick in the shins). Anyone could do with a cultured experience like this one, and I implore anyone who wants to visit Europe to go to Germany.
It is my last week here and I plan to make it a fun one. I do have a lot of classwork to do, but there are only three days of classes left until we go to Berlin, so it will be a great time here. I cannot wait to get home, but I also don’t want to leave!
May Term Abroad
Germany is still amazing. Recently, I’ve been going back and forth from class doing my work and eating in town. To start my day, I typically will listen to music, hop onto my bus, and ride to the bus stop closest to my school. Many times, I will see average people, of whom most likely have average day to day activities just like me. That “averageness” is the most intriguing part of another country for me. Knowing that halfway across the world there are people who go to work, come back, and do the same thing every day. These people have to fill up their car’s gas tanks just like I do, yet they are on a completely separate land mass than me. It goes to show just how many resources are used for everyday life; even when it is on the other side of the world.
This week has been a pretty, normal week. Nothing too interesting has happened, although I do feel myself becoming slightly fatter, so I should probably watch my food intake. Though, to combat this new fatness I have started going on runs around the promenade that goes along where the old medieval city walls used to be. My walk to, the run itself, and my walk back to my house equates for more than 3 miles, so I definitely get a very good run in. The weather has not been as forgiving lately, though. It has stormed recently, which has brought the temperatures down a little, but most of the time the temperatures go back up. It has been warm recently, and my attic room loves to store that heat during the day.
I still cannot complain about my time here. There has been so much to do and experience, and I would highly recommend anyone to visit a country like Germany, if one were to visit Europe.
May Term Abroad
This week has been a blast. It started out as a normal week with classes and walking around the city, but this weekend I went to Cologne. I ordered a ticket for a train earlier in the week, and this past Saturday I traveled to the city. On my way in, I did not see the main cathedral, but right out of the train station, I was met with the immense height of the cathedral. I felt pretty, insignificant standing under such a monolithic structure. The cathedral had delicate and beautiful designs on its façade, and the inside was impressive in its own right. I went with two other students around the cathedral and into the main part of the city of Cologne. We walked up and down the bank of the Rhine, and it was amazing to see a river with such rich history of Roman and German culture. Along the bank of the river we found a chocolate museum, and we went inside to find that the chocolate sold there was cheaper than the chocolate sold in stores. After the chocolate museum we walked back north and went to the Cologne zoo. We saw many animals including a hippo, a couple elephants, and even some giraffes. We ended up at an old bar, and I had some of the best liver I have ever had in my life. The taste was so much better than I expected. Afterwards, we went to an Irish pub and met an Australian woman. We talked with her for a little, but then we left to find more things to do. All in all, it was a very, very fun weekend, and I cannot wait to explore more of Germany!
Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral)
May Term Abroad 2019
Wartburg Castle Eisenach, Germany
I’ve never been to Europe before, so this is my first time experiencing a whole other culture 4,000 miles away from home. I will say that my first week and a half in Germany has been one of the best parts of my life so far. I have seen so many new and exciting places to explore, and I’ve loved every single place I have been to. I have already visited two castles while in Germany, and both of them have stunned me. Seeing just how old some of these places are really is mindboggling.
St. Lambert’s Church
The city of Münster is a very nice place to be as well. I can walk to a café not even 10 minutes down the road, or I can take a bus into the main square and look for more shops. My host family has made it very easy for me to be able to be on my own, and experience German culture at its best. Most days here I hop on a bus near my house, put in headphones to listen to music, and ride all the way to the main market to find a café to relax at. German food is also amazing. I’ve never had more delicious sausages, or even potatoes. The quality of the food here is on another level as compared to America. I honestly think America should take some lessons in food preparation from Germany.
Now there is one thing that Germany is probably most well-known for, and that is the beer. Since I am legally able to drink beer in Germany, I will say that I have tasted many different types of beer. People were not lying to me when they said that German beer is cheap in cost, but high in quality. The culture around beer here is much different than America, and it is honestly sad to see how much stigma is placed on drinking in America. The German beer I have had is mostly local brews, and the brewers really care about their craft. Their goal is not to get someone drunk, it is to create a great tasting beer that people will enjoy during the evening. I genuinely cannot wait to experience more of the culture with my 4 remaining weeks here. Germany, by far, has been one of, if not, my favorite experiences ever.
May Term Abroad
Vienna & Budapest
My experiences abroad in the imperial cities of Vienna and Budapest went above and beyond my previous expectations of the trip. I expected only a few statues and monuments carefully placed throughout the cities, but I learned quickly that we would easily view around a dozen during our rigorous and in-depth tours. The food was much better than I expected it would be, and there were even many American cafes and restaurants in walking distance from our hotels. I had no idea how the people there would react to American tourists, but I was pleasantly surprised by their continual politeness and kindness.
Some similarities I noticed involved the public transportation system and the security. The metro and tram systems in Europe are surprisingly similar to what we have in America, with certain times of the day being more crowded than others and its corresponding lack of personal space. It was sometimes difficult to navigate around the city because of the strange names such as Schwedenplatz and Blaha Lujza Ter, which were the two districts where our class stayed, but we got used to it by the end of the trip.
From this life changing experience, I learned that different parts of the world, at least America and Central Europe, were not so different from one another. They all honor their traditions and history’s. I also learned a little about myself on the trip, such as how easy it was for me and the rest of the class to absorb all of the information thrown at us and how we were able to quickly immerse ourselves into the respective cultures. The three weeks there flew by so quickly because it really did feel like a second home.
What I will miss most from my study abroad experience will be the experiential style of learning in the classroom. Instead of being lectured to in the classroom for four hours a day, going out with the class and seeing it for yourself made to so easy to learn the material. Experiential learning was exhausting, but I will remember every single day of class on this trip.
May Term Abroad
Vienna & Budapest
Over the three weeks we were in Vienna and Budapest, we toured so many amazing museums and magnificent monuments. There was almost too much history in these two cities, which made it difficult to fit all of these historical sites into the schedule.
In Vienna, we saw two incredibly appealing palaces in the Hofburg Palace and the Schloss Shonbrunn with its beautiful gardens. For museums, we toured the Heeresgeschichtliches Museum of Military History, the Wien Museum Karlsplatz of Vienna’s history, and the Jüdisches Museum Wien of Jewish history, life and religion in Austria.
In Budapest, we saw many more museums. We toured the Hadtorteneti Museum of Military History, Buda Castle for the history of Budapest, and the House of Terror and Holocaust Memorial Center which exhibit the tragedies of World War 2 and the Holocaust. On our last day in Budapest we hiked up Gellert Hill to see the Freedom Statue as well as the amazing view. Lastly, we were able to go inside the Hungarian National Assembly that was possibly the coolest and most beautiful place I saw on the entire trip.
In our free time, we visited the Tiergarten Schönbrunn (The Vienna Zoo) which is one of the best in the entire world. In Vienna, we also visited the Seegrotte Hinterbruhl which is a large underground lake and cave system on the outskirts of the city that offers underground boat tours. In the early twentieth century, the cave was used for mining expeditions and there are currently many memorials in the cave dedicated to the Hungarian miners.
May Term Abroad
Vienna, Austria & Budapest, Hungary
When we first arrived to Vienna, we started in a suburban town on the outskirts of the city that looked very similar to Virginia. Then, we traveled by bus to our hotel in the middle of the city and we immediately witnessed the grand architectural structures and monuments that made Vienna so beautiful. This major urban area had numerous restaurants, bars, and cafes we would later venture to after class. Budapest offered much of the same, but often times we had to take the metro as our hotel was not in the center of the city.
For class in Vienna, we only had to go a few floors down in the hotel where we had a conference room set up for lectures from Dr. Frusetta and Dr. Glont. Before class, we were given complimentary breakfast in the hotel with a traditional European breakfast consisting of sausages, deli meats, and many different kinds of croissants. In Budapest, we needed to take the metro one stop away to a separate building for class.
Both our hotels in Vienna and Budapest were very nice with employees who were also kind and helping. I would say that the biggest difference between living at home and abroad is the lack of air conditioning. During our may term, it was regular 90 degrees or more so we had to get used to the heat. I should have packed more shorts and sun screen.
There was excellent food in both cities. Schnitzel was easily the best meal I had in both cities, and the food stands in Vienna along the Danube river were cheap and delicious. Also, during our class excursions all over the Vienna, we would often stop to get a quick snack at the many tasty pastry shops that served some of the best croissants and donuts I have ever eaten.
May Term Abroad
Ireland has been an amazing experience, with so many new places to visit and people to meet from across the world! Summer at University College of Dublin has been an amazing opportunity. I love learning about conducting business in international settings while meeting people from all around the world!
Since we arrived, life on UCD’s campus has been interesting. I woke up at 9:00 everyday and got ready, then I would walk to Centra, a small market, to pick up a pastry and coffee on my way to class. I would be with a group of friends from time to time, but I tended to walk by myself and explore the campus before class. I would always see people eating with their friends outside of the Centra or walking to class while looking around and admiring the campus. The business center was not far away from where we were living, and from 10:00am to 1:00pm I would be in class.
Afterwards, most of us in the program would get lunch together. The cafeteria was conveniently next door to the business center, and we would sit down and eat really, good food that we normally would not experience at any other college cafeteria.
After lunch, we normally took naps before either going out or doing homework, unless we had an early excursion into Dublin. We lived in a chain of apartments buildings called the Glenomena Student Residencies, which had three apartments per floor. I lived on the second floor (or first in Europe) and had a nice room with a bathroom, desk, and wardrobe; six of us shared a common area fitted with couches, refrigerators, and a stove. The apartments were very clean and pristine and didn’t seem very old at all. Most of UCD is still expanding at a fast rate with new halls! I personally found my room to be smaller than a Hampden-Sydney room-smaller than the Carpenter rooms-but the bathroom was definitely a plus. As time progressed, I found that I had less space to put things away, just because I bought so much! There were some books, hygiene products, and some clothes that I wish I could’ve left home; I packed a little more than I needed to, but I had everything I needed!
Whenever we went out, I noticed that many people don’t wear shorts, except for Americans. Everyone seems to wear khakis with either a t-shirt, polo, or button up. By the end of our first week, I could already tell who was American and who wasn’t just by clothing styles. However, there were other ways of telling if someone was American. As said by someone back home: “we walk around like we own the place.” I didn’t think it was true until I came to UCD. I usually wore khakis (occasionally jeans) with a button up, which is normally my style in the United States. I would say that I fit in to the point that Irish speakers would come up to me at a museum and ask me questions, as if I knew Irish! It must have been the red hair.
During the trip, I also noticed how the Irish have a different perception of time than we do. The sun sets later than in the United States, around 10:00pm, so the towns are always full of actively late into the night. People seem more active due to the increased amount of daylight throughout the day. It wasn’t terribly hard to adjust to eating dinner at 9:00pm, but it certainly felt off. Normally I eat at 5:00pm, so going an extra few hours is always weird, but well worth the wait. The food in Ireland fills you up fast because it’s so hearty and thick! My two favorite meals were Beef and Guinness stew-namely the one found on the fifth floor of the Guinness Storehouse-and seafood chowder with soda bread. Lamb was also popular at all restaurants that we went to, and I can say lamb is definitely a new favorite as well. Overall, the nightlife proved to be fun. Since people were always up late, it was always interesting to see what people were doing throughout the day: working and shopping followed by dinner at a pub or going out to a club to dance. There was always something going on.
May Term Abroad
Alcalá de Henares, Spain
Given the fact that I have never traveled and hadn’t done much research on Spain, I didn’t have a lot of expectations coming into the trip. I will say that the trip has been an amazing opportunity for me. Again, since I had not ever traveled or spoken a foreign language for a month, I had no clue what to expect. From the very beginning, this trip took me out of my comfort zone. I was ill-prepared for the language, culture, travel, etc. Because of that, I learned so much more than Spanish on this trip. I learned a lot about myself. Not only did my abilities in Spanish grow, but I also learned a lot about myself. I have gained a lot of confidence from overcoming challenges that I had never expected. I also gained experiences of travel that I had not yet had the opportunity to have. Therefore, I am extremely thankful for the time that I have spent in Spain.
When I leave Spain, I will most definitely miss my host family most. I have discussed them a little bit in my blogs, but they have been very supportive and kind during my time here. I am extremely thankful that they were kind enough to take my roommate and I in for an entire month, feed us, wash our clothes, and most importantly help us advance our knowledge in Spanish. I have grown close with both my host mother and brother. I will not forget the transformation I have gone through during this trip. Now, I wish that I had talked to my host parents more during the first couple days because I will most definitely miss them.
Again, I recommend that any student should study abroad if they are given the opportunity. I have learned so much more by immersing myself in the language of Spanish, than I would have studying at Hampden-Sydney. On top of that, I enjoyed the entire experience of travel. If you are a student that enjoys leaving your comfort zone and travel, then study abroad will undoubtedly be an unforgettable experience for you. Moreover, I suggest that if you are a student interested in studying abroad, make sure to research the area that you are going because I didn’t, and I believe that I made a mistake. As I said in an earlier blog, I experienced a little culture shock when I landed in Spain and I think that had I researched the area more, then I would have known what to expect. A little bit of research will help you to hit the ground running when you get to the area that you are studying. This will allow you to maximize your experience in your respective country.
Overall, I am ready to return to the United States to see my family and friends and return to Hampden-Sydney College. On the other hand, I will not forget the month I spent in Spain or the memories that I have made. I plan to come back to Spain in the future, as well as travel more after my time at H-SC. For every student that reads this, you should study abroad. It’ll be some of the best credits that you earn during your time on the Hill.
May Term Abroad
Visiting State Parliament
Nearing the end of my trip here in Münster I can honestly say that it has been a blast. Individually I have met many unique and friendly people around the city. As a group we have recently been able to meet with a Parliament representative for North Rhein – Westphalia and see how the laws are made for the state we are staying in. I found it very interesting to see the State Parliament where laws could be made to impact the family of my favorite local döner shop, or the school that we study at in the city. We often think that just because something is foreign that it is beyond comprehension, when in reality it is closer to home than we were led to believe.
scenic church view
Our final day of class is Wednesday and we leave for our final destination of Berlin Thursday before departure. Saying goodbye to my host family will be close to saying goodbye to my own family. The program has selected amazing people to host us and make us feel welcomed for our stay here in Münster. I will probably miss the day to day living the most. I will miss stopping at the same bakery every morning before class to grab a small snack before class. I will miss seeing the husband and wife that own the local döner shop and having conversations about the soccer game from the previous evening. Most of all I will miss family dinner time where everyday my house family and I would sit down to a homemade meal and recollect on our day and laugh over small jokes.
Anyone considering studying abroad should stop considering and just do it, and those who have not considered it should start to.