Back for a Second Time

Adam and Aurelia in Bregenz 

 Above is a picture of Adam and me on our hike up a hill that overlooks Bregenz, Austria. 

So I’m back for my second time studying abroad in my undergraduate degree! Last year, I studied in Bordeaux, France for six months, and this time around, I am doing a summer study abroad in Bregenz, Austria. When I returned to Louisville last year from France, I couldn’t wait to have the opportunity to study abroad again, and I’m very excited to be back!

So far, Bregenz has been an amazing trip. We have only been here for 3 weeks, and we’ve already traveled to several towns around Bregenz and to Munich, Salzburg, and Vienna. The first weekend we were in Bregenz, we travelled to Feldkirch and Lindau. The second we visited Munich and the Neushwanstein Castle near Munich. The third weekend, we visited Salzburg and Vienna. My favorite of all of these cities has definitely been Salzburg. I didn’t realize how much there was to do in Salzburg, but once we arrived there, I didn’t want to leave. People played music in the streets as we walked the streets where Mozart was born, we visited a castle that overlooked the city, and we visited the beautiful dome in the city center.

This coming weekend, Adam (the other UofL student on this trip) and a few of the other students from the KIIS program and I are going to Interlaken, Switzerland and Stresa, Italy. Interlaken is in the Alps, and we will be taking a train to the tallest mountain in Europe. Stresa is a small town on the Italian Lakes but near Switzerland. There, we will take a boat tour to an island and take a cable car to a mountain that overlooks the town and lake. I can’t wait!

The program in Bregenz ends in a week, but I can’t believe it! It seems like we arrived here just a few days ago! The two classes I’m taking here are International Business and German 100. I love my International Business class because we’ve been learning about business practices in different cultures, and I’m definitely enjoying my German class. The two languages I speak fluently are English and French, but I’m excited to learn German and hopefully be fluent one day. As regards to the German language, being around people who don’t understand me and where I can’t express myself has definitely put me out of my comfort zone. Although it has been difficult, it has been an opportunity for me to learn a new language! I had never been interested in learning German as a third language before this trip, but after these past few weeks of speaking German in Austria, I am planning on taking classes when I get back to Louisville!

Traveling from Bordeaux

Cardinal Pride at the Dune of Pyla!!!

We are now at the end of March, and I can’t believe half of my study abroad experience has already past. I have gone on many wonderful trips, but I am still planning more. This month, I went to Ireland and Paris for a week. I started the week in Dublin and then went to Galway, then spent a weekend in Paris. I was actually in Dublin for St. Patrick’s day, and that was a great experience. Dublin isn’t necessarily a pretty city, but the people who live they are extremely friendly! We were approached by people with smiling faces the entire trip. Galway was the exact same way, but Galway is a very beautiful city. Our bed and breakfast was overlooking a bay, and we were only two kilometers from the beach. There, we also went on a tour of the Cliffs of Mohr. These cliffs were amazing to see. I would definitely go back to the Cliffs of Mohr, in addition to Ireland. The green grass everywhere in the country side is so beautiful and peaceful.

Once again in Paris, I met up with Clementine, our friend who came to Louisville on an exchange from Bordeaux. It was great to see her one night and spend more time with her, but I also met lots of her friends who had gone on study abroad exchanges all over the world. It was amazing to me that they had all experienced different things and had ended up to work in Paris together. Needless to say, I had many great conversations with them that night and hope to see them again the next time I go to Paris.

This past weekend, I went on a trip with three of my roommates to the Great Dune of Pyla which is the highest dune in Europe. It was actually only an hour away from our house, so it was our Sunday afternoon activity. It took me awhile to get to the top of the dune (and it was a work out!) but once we got to the top, it was beautiful! We spent some time walking around on the sand, and then went to the beach below at Arcachon to eat some crepes. One of the things I have found I love about France and most of Europe is that you can get anywhere pretty quickly. From Bordeaux, it takes us three hours to get to the mountains to ski, and it only takes us one hour to get to a beach! That is very different than the thirteen hours it takes us to get to Florida’s beaches from Louisville!

I have included a picture of the Dune of Pyla in this post. We went on the day of a UofL basketball game, so I wrote “Cards” out on the sand to root for UofL! GO CARDS!

Our First Studying Abroad Experiences- Bordeaux

So we have been in Bordeaux for almost two months, and I can tell you now that the experience has been great! We have met so many people here at our school –Bordeaux Ecole de Management (or BEM as they call it)–, we’ve gone on some great trips, and we have enjoyed the business classes in school. Bordeaux as a city is extremely beautiful, and we can’t wait to take many more walks in the city once it gets warm!

The first week we got here and we were a little lost. None of us knew the school, the city, or the other students. The international group here (the Melting Potes) organized many little outtings for us to meet the other international students and some French kids, and we did just that! I can’t even count how many people I’ve met, but I can tell you that I have definitely met some life long friends here.

We started our classes January 12, and luckily, we knew almost half the students in our class because they were international students, but there were also many French students. I was very impressed to know that French students would take an upper level business class in English, but they did great in the class! We had two professors in this class-one Australian and one American. We had some amazing discussions in class, but some particularly stuck to me. One day, we presented something about the economy in our home countries, and I was surprised to know that 15 countries were represented in our class! That seemed like such an enormous amount! The class only consisted of about 50-75 students, but there were 15 different countries and cultures represented within those students.

This week we will start a new class for the next three weeks, so we will let you know how it goes!

We have taken some amazing trips in these past 2 months that I will never forget. Our first weekend trip was to the Pyrenees for a ski trip. Matt, Hassan, my Swedish roommate, and I went skiing with a ski group from our school, and we had a blast! I had only been skiing a few times before, but to say that I skiied down a few mountains in the Pyrenees is a great accomplishment!

Our next trip was to Paris. Ryan and I went for one day and night, and we visited a friend, Clementine, who was actually a French exchange student at the University of Louisville from Bordeaux last fall. In Paris, we got to see Notre Dame, Mont Martre, Sacre Coeur, the Moulin Rouge, and the Eiffel Tower, and we also had dinner with Gaelle (the other exchange student from Bordeaux). We did all of this in one day. Clementine was a great tour guide, and we enjoyed seeing her and Gaelle at least for a little bit. I’m sure we will be visiting them again very soon.

After Paris, I went to visit my grandparents in Provence and then my grandparents in Nice. It was so great to see them even if it was only for a few days. I usually only get to see them once a year in the summer, but I have gotten to see them in January and February this year. I am so grateful that I have this opportunity to study in France, the country I was born in and have loved for all my life, but also to be able to see my grandparents fairly regularly. It has been such a blessing, and I will always cherish this amazing opporutity I have been given.

In Nice, Ryan joined me, and we saw the Carnaval de Nice. My parents have told me about carnaval all my life, and it was great to finally see it! Kids were spraying silly string and throwing confetti everywhere as large carnaval objects made their way through Nice. We brought my twelve year old cousin to see it with us, and we had such a great time!

This past week, we have been traveling as well. On February 20 we began by taking a train to Brussels. We spent a few days in Brussels, then went to Amsterdam for three days, and then to Berlin for three days. Each city was very different from the others, but I loved every one of them. I had never thought of going to either of these places, and I just went along with the trip because Ryan, Hassan, Matt, and my roommate Annika were going, but I am extremely glad to have gone! Brussels was a very charming city. We ate many delicious meals, and very much enjoyed the Belgian waffles. In Amsterdam, I was surprised by how beautiful the city was! The canals, bridges, and apartment buildings went very well together to form a gorgeous city. In Amsteram we also visited the Van Gogh museum and the Anne Frank house. We haved learned so much about Anne Frank, and it was unreal to see the house in person. When I was standing in her room, I was taken aback by the fact that this was her room. This was were she spent hours writing her diary and afraid for her and her family’s life. This part of Amsterdam was probably my favorite, and will definitely leave a great impression on my life.
Berlin was definitely my favorite city out of the three we visited. Our first day in Berlin we went on a six hour walking tour, and I fell in love with the history. I had never realized how much history can come from one city! The history we had already known from World War 2, combined with the stories our tour guide told us, made the city that much more interesting to me. I remembered all I had learned from our history classes in school, and I couldn’t believe I was in the very spot much of this history had taken place.

Tonight I am actually writing from Berlin. Tomorrow morning we will visit a concentration camp just outside the city, and then we will get on a fourteen hour train ride to Paris. Sunday we will be back in Bordeaux to continue with school.

All in all, my study abroad experience has gotten off to a great start! Thank you very much to Betty and David Jones and Dean Goately for making these experiences possible. I have already done much more traveling than I have ever imagined, and I have learned more about myself in these past two months than I had in the first two years of college. I can’t wait to travel more to places I have never been, meet many more people, and learn a great deal both from the classes at BEM and my wonderful experiences.