Free Time in March

It’s April in Germany and it seems summer is fast approaching. This past week has been nothing but T-Shirt weather, which makes me possibly the happiest person on the planet. The flowers are in full bloom, and the leaves are finally beginning to return.

Despite being in Europe, I have recently started a new internship in Kentucky, working for a start up company who actually emerged from the UofL entrepreneurship program – US Chia. March has been slow in terms of classes, because many of the students have this time off to work on their thesis. This has meant I needed to fill my time with other projects, so I decided why not make an internship while I study abroad? I have been mainly writing blog posts related to all the benefits of chia, and have thoroughly been enjoying the productive feeling. (I also highly suggest looking more into integrating Chia into your diet – it is quite the super food as I have found out!)

On another note, this large chunk of free time has afforded me the ability to do some extensive traveling. During March, I was able to visit Scotland, Portugal, and France. I was extremely luck with the weather in Scotland; it was sunny and gorgeous all three days I was there. I checked out the famous town of St. Andrews (where William and Kate went to school), and sampled the Black Pudding (can’t say I cared for it).

Portugal was just wonderful, and the people there are amazingly friendly; however I have been in Germany for the past 6 months, so anyone who smiles at you is friendly. That’s just a little joke though – the German people are actually on average much nicer than people make them out to be. Anyway, in Portugal we enjoyed 2 full days out on the beach getting tanned and learning to surf – well, trying to surf. I had some fantastic meals, and I was able to meet up with some of my Portuguese friends I made last semester, which was a real bonus. But if ever visit Portugal, make sure you check out the palaces in Sintra – the closest thing to paradise I have ever experienced.

France was also quite enjoyable although the weather was much colder. I am fortunate enough to have distant family member who own a horse farm/bed and breakfast in a tiny, rural village near Bordeaux. If you know me, you know I am a weird horse girl at heart, so it was great to get some much-needed horsey time. The first day we went on a five and a half hour trail ride, which my body was inadequately prepared to handle. Funny how much more difficult things are when you have had 6 months off from riding or really exercise in general. My body has recovered and it was wonderful to reconnect with my French family, although I was reminded of how it feels to not understand what people are saying. I need to learn some more French I guess…

Next week I have to get back to the grind of classes, but I guess that is what I am here for after all. That’s all for now, until the next time!


Settled In A Second Time Around

So, I find myself settled in half way through my second semester in Germany, and I realize my post is long overdue. Much has happened in the six months since my arrival last August, and I still have six more months to go, but already I feel I have grown exponentially and learned quite a bit. I have had some wonderful experiences thus far, the highlights of my first semester being as follows:

  • Arriving in Germany homeless, and showing up in Oestrich-Winkel with only a backpack and without a clue.
  • Finding one of the only apartments left in my tiny village on my first day here; where I found myself in the company of a Korean boy, and two German master’s students.
  • Purchasing a bicycle and riding it every day along the Rhein River on my way to and from classes.
  • Experiencing the joy of wine season in Germany. Everyone must do it once in life. There are wine festivals in almost every village in the region, and along the Rhein River you can also find quaint little wine stands. I spent several enjoyable evenings sipping nice Rieslings by the river in the company of great new friends.
  • That brings me to my next point, of meeting around 200 exchange students from all over the world. I was fortunate enough to be able to surround myself with people from many different cultures, and we would often take turns hosting dinners of traditional foods from our countries.
  • Sharing the tradition of Thanksgiving with over 35 exchange students at my apartment. Despite being a lot of work, many students were able to experience their first Thanksgiving, complete with bird, sweet potatoes, green been casserole, mashed potatoes, and apple crisp – a very memorable night.
  • Landing myself in the hospital for a week – in the most German way possible. While attending a soccer game, I ate an undercooked bratwurst, which in turn gave me salmonella, which in turn gave me a reactive arthritis infection in my knee. Silver lining of the whole event was the quality of the German healthcare system. For eight days in the hospital, I only paid €90.
  • Of course, being my first fall in Germany, I had to go to “the Oktoberfest” in Munich. To sum up the trip, I spent 24 hours in Munich, bought a dirndl (traditional Bayerisch women’s clothing or what the girls wear when men wear lederhosen), drank beer in the rain because it was too full inside, and then spent the night in a train station trying to get home. I don’t know if I will ever feel the need to go back again.
  •  Last but not least, one of my favorite parts from last semester – Christmas Markets. If you don’t know what a Christmas Market  is, it’s exactly what it sounds like. A market full of Christmas things. You can buy wonderful handmade pieces of art, ornaments/Christmasy thigns, or traditional German nick nacks, but the best part is without a doubt, the food and drink. So many warm, delicious meals, and candies and snacks, it’s difficult to decide what to eat. And then there’s the Glühwein, which is a hot, spiced wine everyone drinks. Simply to die for.

So far this current semester has been pretty laid back. I have moved apartments and am living with one of my former roommates from last semester. Readjusting was difficult in the beginning. I went home to the States for Christmas, and when I returned, the majority of my friends from the previous semester had return to their home countries. So I had to start all over meeting new people again. I have been fortunate enough to find a new group of people whom I really connect with. Some of the happenings so far are:

  • I went to Berlin last weekend, and was able to soak up all of the sights and sounds of Germany’s capital.
  • I’ve been improving my German and trying to speak it often. I’ve found the little joys of just being able to schedule my own hair cutting appointment in German are very rewarding.
  • Recently, I have begun tutoring a local woman in English to fill up some of my free time.

For the most part, I am going to class and taking it easy, trying to enjoy the time I have left. The weather here is starting to get warm, and I can feel spring coming. I can’t wait until it is pleasant to be outside again. Life here is really wonderful, and I looking forward to all that the rest of the semester has in store for me!

That’s all for now,