Saturday, June 14, 2014

Off to Germany I go!

Germany has been one hectic country. I definitely will say that I am ready to go back to the U.S. but in the meantime I am having a lot of fun at my new college. I arrived in Magdeburg on June 1, and ever since have been loaded with activities and trips -not to mention class everyday at 9am. Since a lot has happened, this potentially could be a book, rather than a blog post, so hold on while we recap the last 2 weeks. 

June 2- So waking up at 7:30 was not as fun as I thought it would be during my summer... break? However the German class today was pretty great. However, being as I have only ever had one German course... taking a B1 level German course isn't the easiest thing. Most of the time I truly haven't a single idea of what she is saying... and I completely bombed the first test she gave us. So lets hope that the course is based on your growth and not just how good your German is. Ooh, I almost forgot to mention... I am not on this trip alone, there are other Americans! :D Who are my class mates for the duration of this time, and I also live with them in the hostel. There are 8 in all, all from good 'ol South Carolina. 4 guys and 4 gals make up there group and I mean they are pretty fun. Although about every stereotype from the South/ the U.S. in general are portrayed. You have the uptight Christian/Jock, the big guy who is engaged at 19, the rich kid, the immigrants, the pretty popular girls (who probably ruled high school), the smart one, the bla-  African American, the pot smokers, and the young father. Ooh, and of course you have the Gay one. 

So tonight we had a welcome party, which simply consisted of the whole group going to a riverside bar (beach bar) and having the school (Magdeburg) pretty much buy anything that you wanted (alcohol). #gottaloveGermany

June 3- Tonight we had a "Campus Fest" at our campus here in Magdeburg. It consisted of 3 bands, which were surprisingly really good! Definitely had a great time. The approach to college, while much more intense here isn't the same as in the US as alcohol is imbedded in their culture. So quite obviously they served alcohol at the fest, which was on the campus green. It was so much different than any festival I had been to at my home university in the US, which is a completely dry campus. 

June 4- Well, I have been here for 3 days already, it is quite crazy to think that in exactly 20 days I will be home. It has been a long 4+ months in Europe and I am very excited to be arriving back in the US! Today wasn't the most exciting adventure ever... we got a guided tour courtesy of the university. We got to see the best parts of Magdeburg, which (obviously) consisted of 3 churches and a few older government buildings. The oldest church that we saw was built in (I believe) the 1600's and the majority of it has survived through the wars. Which not much has, we learned that Magdeburg used to have amazing architecture, however after the war much of it got destroyed and only a few things - one building with stone statues near the doorway, the church(es) and one other building which is now the government building - survived and are a staple of the city. They also had a person who is very regarded in Physics. He was the first person to prove the function of a vacuum. He demonstrated this by taking a 2 half metal circles and sucking all the air out of them, they then attacked each side to a horse and had the horses attempt to pull them apart... It got lost in translation, but I don't think it came apart. 

June 5- Today I personally didn't do anything, the rest of people went to this medieval festival... Which just simply isn't my cup'o'tea. However there is a pretty awesome festival that is beginning... And rumor has it they have rides! 

June 6- Anyone ever heard of VW? As in the car manufacturer? Well today I got the chance to go tour their factory where they make the cars. When we arrived at the facility we got informed that we would get to ride in a cart, which we later found out was created to look much like a VW car... and a roller coaster! So we got to sit back and get driven through the plant. We actually got to see nearly every part of production in the facility which focused on 2 main models (the golf and tiguane) but will be expanding to future models in the future. We found out that each time someone orders a VW it is manufactured at that facility according to the person specifications they requested. Which I though was very awesome! After the facility we got to tour their VW car land which has different buildings for each VW car brand (Porsche, Lamborghini, Audi etc). Due to time restraints I was only able to visit the Audi building and the history part, which had all brands of the cars. All in all, I totally want to purchase a VW when I get a car! Definitely great German manufacturing going into those cars! 

June 7- After WWII most of Germany was destroyed. However one city (which I forgot the name) wasn't destroyed and still has much of its original structures! It is what they consider a classic German town, which now is on the list of protected cities and can no longer be undated or renovated. Many of the structures in that town date back to the 1600's. They are maid with nearly all wooden beams and nails. Definitely a great site to see, unfortunately it was nearly a billion degrees today so the heat kind of ruined it. We also went to a gigantic hill/ mountain which has great German history of dancing witches. We got to take a gondola up to the top and then walk around and see all the amazing sites. I would love to upload pictures on here, but unfortunately I seem to have misplaced/lost my camera :$ 

June 8- Today was another brutally hot day, we went on a sight seeing tour to Stendal. In Stendal they have the sister school of the school I am studying at here in Magdeburg, DE. Some of the buildings here are equally as old as the town we toured yesterday, although the history of Stendal is very rich. Around the year 1600 Stendal was a vibrant and powerful city. They had many wealthy residence who would trade their goods with local towns and made Stendal a very popular city. Unfortunately as time went on the money did not stay there, and now it is not a very big city, nor is it at all powerful. Nut none the less it has some great and rich history, 

Well that was the first weeks recap of my stay here in Magdeburg, Germany. I will be writing and uploading this weeks journey as soon as it gets finished. Hope everyone has enjoyed reading about my time in Europe... Only 1 week left and I will be states bound. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

And... I have to leave

Well, the time has finally arrived that I actually get to leave this place. While I am not going to lie, I have hoped for this day for nearly a day now. Now that it is here it seems very surreal and I am sad to leave. While in Amiens, France I have met so many amazing people. That is the hardest part, leaving all my friends I have met here. Luckily in today's modern world I will be able to talk with them anytime I want, and they are also mostly from North America, so a short plane ride, or long car ride, and I can be at their front doors.

So I am all packed up and leaving in 2 hours. I will have to catch a bus, then another bus, then a train, and another train, and then 2 more trains after that. But by roughly 6pm I will finally be in Bochum, Germany where I will stay with one of my best friends from high school! After a short weekend with her I will have to, yet again, travel back to college. However, not in the U.S. as you may think... I stay in Germany. I will have roughly 3 weeks of intensive German course in Magdeburg, Germany... after which I will FINALLY be able to go back to the U.S.

While in Germany I am going to try my best to keep updating my blog, however I cannot make any guarantees. Wow, I am sort of in shock that it is over already. Anyway, in the meantime I will leave you with a picture of my sunrise/ cloudy sky here in Amiens, at 6:20am.

Till next time ~~ Alex

Thursday, May 22, 2014

My days are numbered!

As of yesterday I am officially finished with classes in Amiens, France. Which also means that my study abroad semester has come to an end. I am unsure of how I exactly feel, on one side I am happy to finally be done with this semester and am definitely ready to go home. However on the other side... I still have another month left, as I travel to Germany for a summer program.

As of today 5/23/14, I have 6 days left... which now that I think about it I really cannot believe. In those 6 days, which I am sure will go by super fast, I have to still check out Paris (as I have avoided that place at all costs) and meet up with a fellow Minnesotan who will be traveling through. Then continue to pack and make sure everything is finalized in France, as well as in Germany.

I would just like to take this time to give a huge shout out to the International Exchange Office at Northern State University, and especially Liz Hannum. Without her I do not believe I could actually be here. She has had extreme patients, as she has had to deal with my billions of questions not only before I left... but also while I have been here. She also has dealt and talked me through (prior to choosing France) my changing of study programs, and my indecision. As I had originally choose Germany (over a year ago) and then Korea, then Germany again, then Korea again after I found out when Germany's semester began... and finally France after I decided on the summer course in Germany (which for travel reasons, France was a much easier decision than Korea). Through all the bulk emails I would have pestered her with and the stupidity of the majority of my questions, she has answered and help me through.

If anyone is thinking about studying abroad, and would like to receive more information you are in good hands with Liz Hannum and I definitely not only suggest that everyone goes and talks with her about study abroad opportunities (RÉSUMÉ BOOST!) or actually plan your own semester or summer program abroad. Just go, walk down to Lincoln Hall and visit with her! Trust me, you will definitely not regret it! And you can still, with some planning, graduate on time!

In the weeks to come, I am sure my life will begin to get filled with new experiences and an extreme amount of German language. I will do my very best to be much more structured at posting about my trip and what I am doing at that time.

So, until next time... Alex

Sunday, May 18, 2014

C'est mon anniversaire!

Well it is officially here, my birthday... and the start of the final week in Amiens, France. It is astonishing to believe that I have been in this wonderful country for such a long amount of time. I must say I am not very sad to be leaving and continue my journey to Germany. While France has been an amazing host to be for nearly 4 months I am ready to wrap it up and be back home. Of course I won't be home for a little over a month from now, but finishing off in the amazing country of Germany will make me feel a bit more at home. Currently I do not have to much more planned as far as traveling. I will be however seeing one of my best friends from High School in her home country of Germany. That is something I am very excited for, as it will be the closest thing to being home I can possibly acquire while living in Europe.

As I stated it is my birthday, and I turn 22 years old today. While having a birthday is generally a wonderful and exciting day, having a birthday on a Sunday, in Europe... not so great. In the majority of Europe on Sundays everything is closed for a day of rest. The vast majority of stores and restaurants are closed and most people do not leave there house on these days. I have come to a realization that France is just celebrating my birthday for me and that it has become a national holiday.

On a different note, my final class of my time here starts tomorrow (May 19th) and I am super excited for it to be finally here, and even more excited to be finished with it. In a short week I will be completely finished with all my schooling in France and be transferring my focus onto preparing to leave. Thankfully there is not much to do, as I have already done all necessary paper work so that I will be able to leave easily. Last thing on the list would be closing my bank account and printing out my train tickets.

Until next time... Alex

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Good Morning From Venezia

Today is day 2 of my trip to Venice, Italy. There is nothing quite like Venice. The city is quite amazing - and not going to be here forever - with walking paths weaving through the entirety of the city. Before coming here I didn't realize that Venice consists of many different island. Of which some are connected by bridges, others are not. Currently the hostel I am staying at is on the Island of La Giudecca, which is a smaller island consisting of mostly houses. It is also one of the islands that are not connected to any other via bridge. So we have to rely on the boat taxis (pictured below) to bring us to and from. Luckily for us they run all day and night, at rougly 20-40 minute intervals. 

Currently we are getting ready to go to a few islands. Morano and Borano two rather famous islands. The first, Morano is famous for their glass blowing factories. The island has many different companies which specialize is the glass blowing. Glass blowing is an intensive job, which takes many, many years to master. By their numbers it taked 15-20 years of apprenticeship to become a master, however it is often handed from father/mother to child. While the island doesn't have a ton to see, it is a must for shoppers! Next is Borano which specializes in making lace, and silk. This island has nearly anything you can think of made of pure Italian silk or lace. The majority of the lace products are shirts or table doilies, while the silk has many table clothes, dresses and table liners (the things that in the middle long the table). 

While Venice is amazing, with its rich history, and beautiful views. I cannot say I am in love, as an impatient person, waiting for the water bus and riding the water bus would make living hear a real pain. It also makes travel quite slow, and often it is easier to walk to places rather than use the water bus. However, as much of a hassle it is to travel around Venice - not to mention the tourist crowds - it is definitely a must do, if you are given the opportuniy! As sea levels continue to rise, and these islands begint to sink lower and lower. This beautiful place will cease to exist. So come while you can, enjoy some pizza, pasta and gilato. And just enjoy the beautiful city that is Venezia. Caio  

Saturday, April 26, 2014


Since my last blog post I have finally started to do some actual traveling around Europe and I started that traveling off with a trip to the beautiful country of Croatia. Most people probably do not know where Croatia is located, or that it is even a country. If you see on the map, Croatia is just across the see from Italy. Pula which is the city where we stayed is the red arrow. The place was amazing, it was nice and sunny. Had gorgeous beaches and landscapes. Also because it is so close to Italy the food is very much similar to Italian food. Which meant I got to dine on delicious hand made pizza, home made pasta and fresh gelato.  

My first day in Pula I was informed of a red bull air show which was in a city not to far from Pula. So me and my friend from my college here decided to go to that because I mean lets be real... its the red bull air show. After an hour bus ride we arrived at an amazing beach front, the sun was nice and bright in the sky and the temperature was fantastic. Unfortunately the air show started to late so we weren't able to actually see any of the planes go through the course which was designed. However just spending the day walking around, eating nearly everything in site and doing some great shopping was much worth it. Plus we all got pretty tan. 

Pula also had rich history as it was once controlled by the Roman Empire. Much like the Colosseum in Rome, Pula has one much like it. While I am not actually sure if the building has the same history of fighting as the one in Rome does, it is a pretty amazing site to see something so old in such great condition. They also have a temple that due construction we couldn't see, however our host at the hostel we stayed at was a very big advocate for seeing those building before we left. 

The remaining 2 days were sat laying on the beach and soaking up that gorgeous sun. If anyone ever plans on going to Croatia (which I definitely think you should consider it) you definitely have to spend time on the beaches, it is a staple of Pula and many other cities. Their sun rises and sun sets have been rated as the most beautiful in the world... it is also fairly cheap while you are there. Most meals cost around 15€, which for pasta in Europe is very cheap. 

Below are some more pictures of my trip to Pula, Croatia. Stay tuned for an update on my upcoming trip to Venice, Italy. 

A seal that was resting on the shore. They are extremely protected animals and there was a man who was on the beach to make sure that no one disturbed the animal. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014


Well, a little less than a year after first coming to this amazing city. I returned! Of course this time I actually had free time to tour around... Which I did! So much walking over these last few days have left me rather crippled. 

While I absolutely love London I must say 4 days here is just to much for me, of course there is definitely a ton I didn't get the chance to see. But there is always another time to come back and journey more. 

A few important things I have to share would be the second night me and my 2 friends I came with went to find a bar... So we hop on the bus and go closer to London Centre. After passing a few bars we decide that the next bar we see we are going to get off and go... which we definitely did! Found this really really cool looking bar that was described as an Irish Pub (it literally said... "Irish Pub"). So we jump off the bus and go across the street, open the door... and discover it was a watering hole for the local elder men. The average age I would have to say was 50 years old. So needless to say we didn't stay long before we got back on the bus and drove onward. Going closer to the city we discovered that drinking establishments close super early, and we kept getting told "Sorry we're closed". So finally we found a bar that was still opened for another hour, sat, relaxed and had a drink before admitting we were exhausted and got back on the bus and going to our hotel. 

Sorry... got distracted by this Russian woman who is yelling at the front desk. Its rather humerous as her English is more like Rusglish. 

Okay. So the other big event while here was the stumbling upon an anti-fascism rally. Which was more or less a bunch of people yelling about rascism and then playing bob marley. 

All in all I must say that I am very much ready to head back to France. This city is absolutely amazing and has so much wonder and rich history... but it definitely has gotten the best of this boy.