On Thursday, June 18th, I was invited to the New Audi Q7 Release Party by the CEOs of King & Mayr. The party was held at the “Cobra 11″ race track where a popular German TV show is filmed. I was able to ride in an Audi R8 around the track with a professional driver who took turns at 100MPH. I drove the Audi Q7 on an off road course which tested the degree of the vehicle. Over all this was a very entertaining and interesting event. We were only granted access to this exclusive event because of the CEOs business relationship with the Audi dealership in the Nordrhein-Westfalen Region of Germany.
So, I have 6 days until my flight back to the U.S from Italy. My head is filled with so many mixed emotions as I am excited to finally see my dog again and sad that my first trip out … Continue reading
During my third weekend in Europe I traveled to Dietzenbach, Germany, a smaller town near Frankfurt. I had a great time on this weekend trip in Germany. My friend knew some people from Dietzenbach and we were able to stay with them.
The first day there our host took us to a nearby town and we toured some very unique old buildings. That night we also went out to a nice ice cream shop and sushi restaurant for dinner. The second day my two friends from my study abroad program and I went to Frankfurt, Germany. Here we were able to go to the Städel museum and see their series on Monet. We saw several famous paintings by this artist, such as The Japanese Bridge, his Cathedral series, and countless more. This was nice as I had never really been to an art museum before. Next we walked on the lock bridge over the Main River, which lead to the Frankfurt Cathedral. This was an impressive Catholic Cathedral with many very old graves and structures inside. After this we rode the train back to Dietzenbach and had schnitzel and fries that our host made for us.
Our third day in Germany we went to visit Rothenburg, Germany. This was a very beautiful city that had a lot of medieval buildings to see. We started by walking along the old fortress walls and then going to the city center where the town hall was located. They had a very interesting Christmas shop near the city center. It had a ton of ornaments and decorations you could buy for a fair price. After this we went outside the fortress to a park area where they had a lot of landscaping and old tombstones. We took many pictures here of the fountains, hills around the fortress and statues in the various gardens. Back inside the castle we saw another Cathedral that was very beautiful, but it wasn’t as large as the one in Frankfurt. We finished this small city with a trip to the Torture Museum. This was a very interesting and large museum and was fairly inexpensive to visit.
When we made it back to our home in Dietzenbach we had dinner with our host’s family. This was the best dinner I had in Europe thus far. We had bacon wrapped strips of cheese and sheep, potato salad, bread, baked potatoes and grilled ribs with a homemade barbecue sauce. After dinner our hosts took my friends and me up the hill by their house to a tower where we could see the whole city and take pictures with them.
The next morning we got up and traveled to Frankfurt to get on the train back home. We said our goodbyes and left back to Bregenz, Austria. I really enjoyed the people we stayed with. They were very nice and taught us a lot about Germany, German words and their culture.
My study abroad has been a great experience thus far. I’m halfway through my program in Bregenz, Austria and have loved it. After the first week of classes, our director took us on a group excursion to Munich, Germany where Dachau concentration camp is located. We toured this camp for a few hours and it was a very humbling experience.
After this we were allowed to break up into groups and travel to wherever we wanted for the weekend. A few groups went to Berlin and Prague. However, my friends and I decided to go to Salzburg, Austria. Salzburg is not a huge city, but it is very beautiful. I was able to see several old churches and cathedrals in Salzburg. Some notable places I visited were the Mirabell Palace and Gardens, the Hohensalzburg fortress, Mozart’s childhood home, and the lock bridge. The lock bridge is a place where you can put a lock on its chain links and throw the key in the river. Our group made a lock for the KIIS study abroad program. We toured Salzburg for two days and I was able to visit the main landmarks, see some beautiful sights, and purchase some great souvenirs.
I enjoyed these two cities very much and plan on visiting more Austrian and German cities during my study abroad. I only hope every weekend will be as fun and interesting as this one has been. I have a great group of friends and really enjoyed traveling with them to these beautiful and historical cities.
I’ve spent a little past 3 months in Shanghai now and this city is filled with life, people from literally around the world come to Shanghai in search of the luxury lifestyle. I wasn’t sure what to expect from such a booming city but it has surpassed my expectations you can go from the most ethnic neighborhood area to feeling like you’re in France and you’re surrounded by “laowai” (foreigners). Shanghai is very much internationalized and many say its not a correct representation of China so I made sure to get a good idea of what China is really like, just 5 hours on the fast train you arrive in Beijing. Beijing and Shanghai are polar opposites, Beijing brings you the culture aspect of China and of course you can’t leave without trying some strange things, visiting the Great Wall, Temple of Heaven, Forbidden City, and eating Peking Duck.
Shanghai is unpredictable but that’s what foreigners love about it. The metro has been my best friend here so convenient and cheap i will truly miss it. My language has improved from -2 to enough to get around and talk to people. Before coming here I thought my Chinese was up to par to at least communicate with locals but i couldn’t have been more wrong. Shanghainese is a quite different accent and the pronunciation is a bit different not only that but people just don’t understand you. It’s not like they’re willing to hear you out either so that was a rude awakening, but taking Chinese 3 hours a day for 3 months can change things quickly. I’ve spent a beautiful time here and everyone should go at least once if you feel like experiencing interesting things.
Before heading back to the states I will be making a stop in the Philippines, summer can’t begin without some beautiful beaches.
On Monday, June 8th, I visited Dusseldorf, Germany and represented King & Mayr at the American Chamber of Commerce meeting. Many CEO’s from Europe and America were there. I met the CEO of Ford Europe as well as many other corporate leaders. After meeting with the leaders for about an hour, we sat down to a four course meal and listened to a panel of three speakers that discussed the T-TIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership). The discussion focused on why there might be objections to the new trade partnership and how it can be beneficial for Transatlantic commerce. Over all the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is designed to reduce red tape and legal barriers to trade between the United States and Europe. The law is similar to NAFTA. After the four course meal I was able to end the evening by securing a few contacts for the company. Over all it was interesting to represent a company on my own and see how Germans conduct formal business events.
I’ve been in Den Haag for about a month and a half now and have already seen more places than I ever though I would. The time has flown by and I have no idea as to where to start to describe the journey.
After having multiple delays and missed connections, I finally arrived in Amsterdam on February 2nd with the beginning of the exchange program’s orientation the next day. That week was an overwhelming whirlwind of scheduling classes and familiarizing yourself with the new school, meeting other exchange students from all over, and doing some sightseeing of Den Haag. I felt like a freshman all over again. The small community that is our exchange program has introduced me to some of the nicest people that have the same wanderlust desire to travel.
For only being here for a month and a half, I feel like I have accomplished a lot of traveling. Within the Netherlands, I have been to Delft, Breda, and Amsterdam. Believe it or not, I still have more exploring to do in the Netherlands and Den Haag. I visited all three of those cities in a weekend during the festival called Carnival. We unexpectedly came upon a parade for Carnival in Delft and were able to get a view of the festival and the surrounding cities after climbing the tower of one of the few beautiful churches. Everyone was dressed up in the most ridiculous costumes and wigs. Just imagine a Halloween street party. The best way to explore in Amsterdam is to mindlessly walk around and appreciate the beautiful city. While getting lost, we came across the Red Light District, an amazing burger place, flower market, and museums. A big sight to see is definitely the Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh Museum. Breda offered us the after hours version of Carnival with everyone in costumes on the streets with beer dancing to traditional Dutch music.
Next on the line up of trips were Budapest, Prague, and Krakow for Spring Break. One of the best things I experienced in Budapest were the Turkish baths. The outdoor, naturally heated baths were extremely therapeutic. People of all ages are welcome to the two larges “baths” complete with jets, whirlpools, and fountains. It was also interesting to see the architecture of buildings and how most had bullet holes in their walls. Prague was not as touched by the World Wars but still had a rich history. Prague has the one of the oldest bridges that connects the castle and Old Town. The view from the Petrin Tower at sunset offered the most breathtaking view of Prague. Krakow was the last stop of the trip. If you ever find yourself in Krakow, Auschwitz and Schindler’s Factory are must-see. We had the honor to celebrate Poland’s Doomed Soliders Memorial Day on our last day in Krakow. It was great to see everyone in the Main Market Square waving Poland’s flag watching the parade of Polish soldiers. After 10 long days of traveling, I was so relieved to be back in Den Haag!
The most recent trip that took place was Paris. Paris was just as you would imagine it to be. Cafes and restaurants were placed on every corner, cobblestone sidewalks, and similar buildings with the same gray roof. The Eiffel Tower at night was surreal. The most underrated part of Paris was the Montmartre district, a hill that overlooks Paris. It houses Moulin Rouge and a beautiful basilica with an amazing view that overlooks Paris.
One of the things I’ve learned with traveling is that a whole lot of mistakes will be made and you have to learn to go with the flow. This is something I struggle with and I hope I am getting better at. I also pledge to post more pictures!
After the first week of studies in Bregenz, Austria, a group of about 15 students and I decided to explore Munich and Berlin. My very first piece of advice is to travel with smaller groups. We had an amazing experience but quickly realized it is easier to travel in groups of 4 or 5.
First, we took a train to Munich. I have a Eurail pass which makes taking trains very simple. We arrived in Munich around 12pm and wanted to explore the city. Our journey started on the outside of the city. We took a bus to Dachau, the first concentration camp during WWII. This was an experience I would not have wanted to miss, and something that is hard to put into words. It was a very emotional few hours. We learn about concentration camps in school. We see pictures and old blurry videos, but nothing can prepare you for what you feel when you enter. It was so horrible to think that so many people had suffered where I was standing at that moment.
Once concluding our experience at Dachau, we traveled back to the main part of the city in Munich. I saw a beautiful glockenspiel and climbed almost 400 steps to the top of St. Peters Church. I enjoyed this view because it allowed us to see a good portion of the city that we would not otherwise see due to time. I wish I had more time to explore Munich because there was so much more to see. After finding some dinner and walking through an amazing park, we boarded a night train to Berlin.
I really enjoyed the night train. I think this is very efficient and makes it easier to see more sights during the day. We arrived in Berlin at 8am on Saturday morning. There were many cool museums and churches that we saw but the main event of the day was the UEFA Championship match. It was amazing to watch the biggest game in Europe in the city where it was being held. The match was between Barcelona and Juventus. Everyone in the city was wearing soccer jerseys and chanting and cheering throughout the streets. We made our way to a giant festival for the match. It was incredible to see all of the energy in the people and how many cultures had come together to watch. There were many Americans present but the majority were Italian, Spanish, or German. Barcelona won the match 3-1!
The next morning we took a train back to Bregenz to start our second week of classes!
- Amsterdam- Amsterdam is a beautiful city with canals spread throughout the city in a spider web design. Bikes are plentiful, streets are bustling and the entire city seems alive. Things to do and see include the Ann Frank House (make an online reservation to skip the 2 hour long line!), the Van Gogh Museum, and simply exploring the streets of Amsterdam where you can take in the architecture, try traditional dutch food, and walk past the infamous red light district.
- Budapest- Budapest had a focus on its more recent history with its WWII Nazi/communist gestapo regime leaving its mark on the city in multiple ways. Notable things to do include the Turkish baths (they are amazing and a must to a visitor) and caving under the city (participants must be able to fit through very narrow openings and cannot be claustrophobic).
- Prague- Prague was simply a beautiful city. The building are gilded in gold, the street food was some of the best i have ever had, the deserts were outstanding, and the architecture miraculous with an enormous castle at its center.
- Krakow- To be honest i found Krakow to be very bleak. However the real reason we went was to see Auschwitz, which was one of the most sobering experiences i have ever had. It was and incredible and overwhelmingly sad sight to behold and I do not believe words will ever be able to grasp what had happened in that spot.
- Paris- I entered Paris not really expecting a lot and was honestly overwhelmed by how much there was to see. Hundreds of different landmarks and attractions were scattered throughout the city. Macaroons and wine overflowing and the Eiffel tower at night was something to behold. There were some things we did not get to see but a few of what we were able to go to included the love lock bridge, Notre Dame, the catacombs of Paris, The Louvre, the Mona Lisa, and a lot more!
- London- I found London to be somewhat underwhelming. We saw the notable attractions- Big Ben, Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, (Big Ben and the Palace were both much smaller than I had imagined them) etc.- but it seemed to simply be a large metropolitan city and was extremely expensive for the most basic of items. I will say my favorite part was visiting the set of Harry Potter in Warner Bros. Studio and seeing all the different props and how the movies were made.
- Dublin- Dublin was amazing. We hiked the cliffs of Howth, covered in green grass and golden flowers, learned of the history of the country and its recent occupation, and enjoyed late nights at some of the many pubs across the city listening to to a violin and an Irish serenade, and visited the Guiness Brewery.
- Rome- Last, but certainly not least, Rome. Rome was my favorite place to have visited. The culture was enticing, the food delicious, and the amount of history was incredible. I saw everything I possibly could including the Pantheon, Colosseum, Roman forum, Palantine Hill, Trevi Fountain, the Vatican, St. Peter’s Basilica, Castle Sant’ Anglo, and so much more. I took a day trip to both the ruins of Pompeii and the ancient Roman port city of Ostia Antica. I ate gelato everyday and had spaghetti and meatballs with wine for dinner.
Like all students studying abroad for the first time, the start of my trip was a whirlwind of new experiences, amazing sights, and unknown variables. The information that follows are tips and tricks to studying abroad in The Hague and making that transition as smooth and streamline as possible. One of the first things I noticed after my first few weeks here was that the majority of the UofL students that came here became sick. This could have been due to the new environment or just for the simple fact that they had caught a bug but I believe it is important to keep an eye out for the closest pharmacy (apotheek) indicated by a giant neon green ‘+’ sign located outside the shop. Knowing where to go for medical help can be a great relief and avoid a lot of confusion and misery down the road as well as knowing exactly what your medical insurance coverage is and which doctors you are covered by. The second challenge I faced in my first few weeks was one i never ever thought I would have a problem with- home sickness. I have never been the type of person to miss my home very much and have always considered myself an relatively independent person. However, especially when I was sick, I missed the familiar sounds, smells, and views of home and being able to relate to the culture. I found the best way to deal with this was to get out and go on different adventures and trips with the other students from my home university. The best solution was to distract my mind with the new opportunities waiting around every corner instead of sitting alone in your room belly-aching over what you miss. I also had a problem with jet lag. My first week I was tired all the time and wanted nothing more than to relax and unpack my things. The only problem was that this was when the rest of the students were out exploring and getting to know each other and started planning different things. My advice is to push through the exhaustion and take part in the international community. You will get the chance to sleep and unpack in time but there is only a limited time in which all the international students are very eager to meet new people and make new friends.
Another way to take advantage of your first few weeks is to take a day to yourself and walk around and explore the city while also noting where all of your basic amenities are in relation to where you live. Find your local grocery store, fast-food joints, basic housing supplies, restaurants you may want to try etc. Taking one day to do this will save you a lot of time and effort over waiting until you’re all out of supplies and trying to find everything last minute. It is also important to do things on your own from time to time. When you first arrive you will naturally want to do things in groups and stay close to what is familiar, but often you can succumb to the group mentality which can be somewhat limiting in regards to experiencing things on your own and by your own pace.
If it is your first time in Europe, you may be overflowing at the idea of traveling and seeing all there is to see. While i do recommend planning your trips as soon as you can, there are things you should be wary about. First and foremost is knowing your school schedule, when your classes are, and when your breaks are. Working around these things in planning your trips should be at the top of your list. You also must keep in mind planning your trips strategically. Have a list of the top places you want to visit and remember to be realistic taking into account the amount of time and money you have at your disposal. If you have a long break in which you can visit multiple places, make sure the places you visit are geographically close together so that you do not spend 4 of your 10 days free on a bus or plane. It is obvious that when planning a trip the two big things are booking the hostel and the major mode of transportation. Yet sometimes, the smaller costs get forgotten about. Things like transportation to and from the airport you arrive at to your hostel, day trips and large events your may attend while visiting a city, and knowing exactly what you want to see and how are all just as important as booking your plane ticket. Plan accordingly!