Monday, June 25, 2012

Saturday Day 27 June 16, 2012

Now I am officially a "World Traveler" it says so on my plane ticket. It has been a weird travel day, I honestly don't even know what day it is because I have been time traveling across the world.



Hall of Mirrors

Oxford
 This sounds super cheesy, but after this trip I really do feel different. The way I see things and my outlook on life is not the same. It's nice to see that there are people who enjoy the simple life. From what I could see, people really seem to appreciate time and the beauty that life has to offer. Afternoons in Europe are filled with people sunning in the parks, paddling across lakes, painting outside,reading a book, or coffee with friends. One of our guides gives tours of the Palace Versailles and his wife owns an ice cream shop...and they couldn't be happier. Apparently he previously owned a very successful business in Mexico City and decided he no longer wanted that lifestyle. He said, "Sometimes you have to just leave it all and do what you want to do...what makes you happy." I really like that and I think a lot of us should live that way. Another girl who previously went on our study abroad trip, obtained a 6 month work visa and moved to London the summer after she graduated. How cool is that? Before traveling Europe that idea would seem completely out of the question, but now not so much. Parts of me would love to do something like that one day.

 Azn Love
Verona
  One of the things I loved was during local interviews we asked, what do you think of America? I was surprised by some of the responses. People there said you can always tell Americans apart by their positivity and friendliness. A local Londoner said, "America is a place where dreams are made by the people...they seem to really believe in themselves. They have a yes I can attitude and its quite different from what people tend to think here." I never really thought about it, but he's right. It makes me proud to know that is what people think of my country. Merica for life! Haha





Study Abroad Random Memories: The Purple trees, Rose gardens, Dr. Macs sleepy pics, Scavenging for wifi, Vanilla wafer cookie things, Nutella, Rest stop candies, Me and you and a dog named Boo, Asians taking pics of us, Loosing track of the day of the week and time because it doesn't matter, Ryan mic jokes, Jimmy's we are doin it live quotes, Garrett looks like a fish, DJ Fierce Nasty, swagg, and crunk with Kell Kell, Visiting H&M and Zara in at least 5 countries, Mind the gap...to Piccadilly circus.



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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Friday Day 26, June 15, 2012

Hmm today was my last full day in Europe. Bittersweet best describes this incredible journey. It's sweet because I have never been so happy in my life, and bitter because now it is over. All of us definitely made the most of this long beautiful day in Lucerne, Switzerland. Lucerne's Old Town was fun to walk through and my group and I decided to splurge on lunch at The Fondue House. Yes, it was basically $50 queso, BUT how many times will I eat Swiss fondue? It was delicious and I was very much pleased with my lunch ( Swiss fondue, meats, rice, potatoes, veggies, chocolate fondue, fruit...).


After lunch and visiting Lucerne's famous Lion monument, I came back to pack my life away. Two hours later it all somehow managed to fit. I hope it makes weight...but I highly doubt it eh. The dessert cruise on lake Lucerne was the best way for all of us to end our European adventure together. We all dressed up, had some sweets, took tons of pics, and danced the evening away. The exact same question filled the boat...where did the time go? I still can't wrap my mind around how quickly time has passed! It seems like we spent so much time preparing for this and now we are finished. To celebrate the all nighter about to come (leave at 3:30am), the whole group went to club Roadhouse. I had so much fun dancing and the best part was all 80 of us taking over. The locals did not know what to think of all of us dancing and singing at the to of our lungs. I then returned to room 502, took a nap, and woke up at 3am. It is now time to go home. Today is basically a total of 15hrs travel time...but I think it'll give me some time to reflect on this incredible journey of literally the best summer of my life... I am finally on the plane, going to Texas.
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Thursday Day 25 June 14, 2012

This morning I couldn't help but smuggle a few packets of the best tea ever during breakfast. It was a caramel flavor i had never tried before. With milk and sugar it almost tasted like a frappe. I definitely wanted a warm drink before our snowfield excursion in Mount Titlis. Luckily my ski socks I bought in Austria came in handy along with my fleece and jacket layers. As we made our way up the mountain we were all greeted with a perfect sunny day.



The chill factor was not too unbearable, and thank goodness for all of us TX children. Mount Titlis is a whopping 3000m in altitude and it was amazing. I could see the glittering snow and mountains going up the ski lift. It was crisp, untouched, and perfect. We were able to get a 360 view of the Swiss Alps on the first revolving cable car in the world. It was pretty cool to be able to see everything. At the top of the mountain we went sledding in the inner tubes and it was awesome. I had the best time ever but it was kind of scary at times because people we're going so fast it looked like they were going to fly off the hill. We basically started at the top of the hill and ended with a snow wall that you could slide up if you had enough speed. The other side of the wall sloped off into a steep hill...scary.

My poor sweet friend Ashley didn't have the best luck. She ended up with a broken collar bone after a sled collision. I hope she feels better soon. She is in good spirits and seems like a trooper. I am SO glad I came, it was an amazing morning in the alps...truly a gift from God. Only something so beautiful can be created by something so great. This sounds silly but all the snow reminded me of that husky movie Balto haha. The movie took place in Alaska, but still I've never seen snow like this until this trip.
 On our way back we saw some cute jersey cows with bells. If I had one I'd name her belle she can live outside my gingerbread home in Austria. My afternoon consisted of joking across the wooden bridge about trying to go shopping. Key word "try" it's SO expensive here. However, I was able to afford a delicious assortment of Swiss chocolates. The samples were delicious and really decorative and pretty. I want to buy more tomorrow...Today my group and I also made a new friend Tomas. We went downstairs for tea and he was the BEST server we have had in all of Europe. Sn interview seemed like s good idea, but his English wasn't very good so we just had fun conversations with him. Tomas was hilarious and he acted everything out to bridge the communication gap. We all even added each other on Facebook. Our conversations were of cow jokes, his country Slovakia, and just the great evening together.

Before the mountain

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Wednesday Day 24 June 13, 2012

So basically I decided the Swiss hate me. Just kidding, but the boarder patrol guy was not too fond of me today. I apparently made my way to the "Swiss" bathroom without asking. He then proceeded to shout and yell at me until Dr. Dan came to talk to him. I do not appreciate being talked to like I am an idiot, I was following the group ahead of me. It was really irritating but in the end we all used the "Swiss" bathroom...whatever.




Before the toilette ordeal, I did get to see a real "Royal Throne". We went to the Neuschwanstein castle and it was absolutely incredible. How cool, I actually got to see what inspired Disney's Cinderella castle. We walked across a bridge to get the best view of the outside. It was freezing cold, but completely worth it. The inside gave me even more of a wow reaction. Each of the room's walls were covered in designs as well as the ceilings with carvings and paintings. I enjoy drawing, so I can't imagine the time and effort those must have taken. The thrown room was my favorite and the floor was made up of over 2 million mosaic stones depicting life on earth. It gave me almost an Egyptian vibe with its gold, blue, red, and green hues. The Byzantine crown shaped chandelier was simply gorgeous, huge (over 2000 lbs), and filled with colorful stones. Some of the group mentioned it kind of felt like a smaller Beauty and the Beast ball room, I agree. I can't believe the king never even got to use it!


King Ludwig II also had a pretty fabulous bedroom built too. Dark wood carvings, blue/gold tapestries, delicate linen, and the most intense carved bed canopy are what I found to be most memorable.

Driving to Lucerne seemed like a lifetime with all the traffic. Dr. Mac's sneaky sleepy pic capturing gave me a good laugh along with Guy's ( our driver) German music. The passing gingerbread homes never seem to end along the German countryside. One day I want one. I will sit, read, sip caramel tea, and relax in my happy little gingerbread house.
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Tuesday Day 23 June 12, 2012

I'm kind of sad we didn't get to spend more time in Munich. 2.5 days really isn't long enough..I literally felt like I spent my time looking at all of the things I could have done. My friend from Germany, Martin, told me all about Munich so I was looking forward to our stay. I mean there really was not much we could do about the weather or timing but we still managed to have fun. This morning was our Riedel glass visit and it was back in Austria. I was just happy to see the alps again. Our speaker gave us a brief overview on the history of Riedel and then we went into the shop to watch the glass blowers. One of the workers was making a decanter and it was the coolest thing to see. The hot glass was so pliable and he effortlessly formed it to what he wanted. The workers also used different colors and swirls to make designs. Riedel also had this show for us to walk through. Some people thought it was a little strange, but i enjoyed it. It was different and it reminded me of something I'd see at Disney World or a museum. The show just basically showed us little presentations on how the 5 senses and wine tasting work together. There were different smells and things to see as we walked through the presentation. Reidel was a quick visit and then we continued the drive to Fussen.



The small German town reminded me a lot of Avignon...little souvenir shops, cafes, and quiet people. Fussen remained rainy and cold as we unloaded and explored some of the shops. I found a really cute accessory shop and got a few things for my sister and I. I always seem to find those places, but I figured I needed to spend up my euros. Dinner was the usual Italian spaghetti and dessert. I feel like I always say that but Europe has the best food, especially Italian. My dessert was the best part. Who can pass up layered chocolate, bananas, vanilla ice cream, chocolate ice cream, and cream? Not this girl. Wifi was a mere €5 so my group and I definitely took advantage of that deal (much better than the €23 Holiday Inn Munich tried to charge). Kelli, Christi, Hannah and I had a wifi party in the hallway; of course it would not work in the comfort of our rooms. It was fun listening to our gangster jams and a lot of the others came and joined. As I'm writing this people passing in the hallways laugh at us. Then again who wouldn't? We all look ridiculous, I'm loving every second of this.

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Monday Day 22 June 11, 2012

Flawless, beautiful, elegant, and fast are what come to mind when I think of luxury cars. Today we had the privilege of visiting two of the top european car brands, Audi and BMW. My dad used to have a BMW Z3 before he sold it for an Audi TT...so I have definitely been a fan of these cars. We first visited the production site of Audi in Ingolstadt, Germany. It is the largest production site and group headquarters of Audi AG. I was really excited because they took us on a factory tour and we got to see and Audi A4 in production. I had no idea exactly how much time and work goes into the actual production of each car. They showed us everything from producing the sheet metal, to the body, paint, and engines. Audi vehicles are most definitely worth their pricey tag. This visit just reconfirmed the prestigious outlook I have for a company and brand.


BMW gave us a tour of their headquarters, but it was more of after the car is produced. They explained what goes into customization and working with their customers. BMW makes picking up their cars a special day for their customers. They get a company tour, lunch, and finally presented with their car displayed in a platform with show lights all around. I like that they want you to create a memory and have the best possible experience with BMW. Both companies had car museums we looked through before heading back to the hotel.




It was about 4:15 so we had some time to explore and wander the streets of Munich...things are actually open now yay. I went in a few shops and fell in love with Halluber. Scarves and a soft blue tunic made their way into my shopping bag. That evening we tried to go out, but Monday was not exactly Munich's college night. Once again the girls (Christi, Kelli, and Hannah) and I wandered around and found that church, Frauenkirche, with the devils footprint. A local actually told us the real story behind it and apparently the devil was pulled by a carriage of wind. When he angrily left, he left the winds. She said that by the trees in front of the church the wind never leaves. We decided to go check it out and sure enough, that area of the still night was windy. It was really neat, kind of creepy...but I'm glad we went.


All of us continued to walk up and down Statchus and Marienplatz until we found Augustiner Brau. I decided to wind down and have a Radler (beer+lemonade) and cheesecake strudel. Note of today: In America I am forever mixing half lemonade and beer...it's the only tolerable way to drink it.




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Sunday Day 21 June 10, 2012

Rain rain go away come again another day...that is basically what everyone was thinking today. We woke up to a stormy gloomy day in Munich. It was freezing, rainy, and a bike tour did not look like the best way to spend the morning. I'm still coughing and not completely 100% so I decided to sit out the bike tour. I was really looking forward to seeing Munich, and all the bike sights were places my German friend had suggested we see. Oh well hopefully tomorrow will clear up and we can see the English Garden. A group of us did decide to go back to Marienplatz for shopping since it seemed to be the main center in Munich. Except we soon found out that on sundays literally everything is closed. All shops, most restaurants, and sights to see were not open...womp. That is really disappointing seeing as how we are only in Munich for 2 full days eh. We were able to find this really cute cafe with the best hot chocolate though.

 Another up side, of the girls found an open movie theater with English movies! It was the perfect rainy day solution. Snow White and the Huntsman was playing and it was a really good movie. We all had fun in the small artsy theater and screen was so tiny. Cultural difference of the day, movie prices are determined by the length of the movie, so that was different. After the movie we made our way back to the hotel to catch up on some wifi. For some reason we were able to get free wifi in the lobby. It was like we hit the gold mine.


Dr. Mac mentioned last years group found a really good Mexican food restaurant called Joe Penas. At this point all of us would give anything for some great Mexican food, so we were all in for dinner. It wasn't to far the hotel and the food was wonderful. I split a fajita plate with the twins and ordered a strawberry margarita...Mmm heaven. Joes tasted like home, I think I am ready for some home very soon.
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Saturday Day 20 June 9, 2012

Another bus day today and we were in route to Germany. Austria was a blast so I can't wait to see Munich. One of my good friends is from Germany and lived in Munich for awhile so I hoped to meet up with him. His wallet was stolen last weekend and he had to go back to his hometown to get it all figured out...next time. On our way to Munich, we stopped at Dachau Concentration camp to look around. Past books and classes have informed me about some of the things that went on in the camps, but actually being there was an entirely different story. I wasn't really emotionally prepared for some of the stories and sights of Dachau. We listened to an audio guide and walked around the roll call area, the barracks, and the crematory. It was a struggle to hold back tears and the whole thing was absolutely horrible. We read some of the stories and articles from survivors in the Dachau museum...I'll never understand how anyone in their right mind would ever think that torture and killing is ok. Our class pitched in and bought beautiful flower arrangement to leave for the thousands who suffered and died at Dachau. I have to say I'm glad I went though, it was a real eye opening/changing experience. Munich wasn't too far and after orientation we went to explore the city. Dr. Dan gave us a brief overview of the metro and MarienPlatz was our destination. The Marienplatz square is home to St. Peters, Haufbrauhaus, and plenty of shops. Most things were closed by the time we arrived, but we all wanted some good German food and HB was the place to go. I ordered the a brat-worst plate and their famous liter Radler (lemonade and beer). The food and beer was delicious and the whole table was having a blast. Euro 2012 (soccer) has taken over Europe and we were eating just I'm time for the game. HB had projectors up with the game and you could tell how tense the room was as Germany and Portugal battled it out. Luckily Germany won, so everyone was happy. As we made our way back to hotel we fund these really great street performers. They had a violin, cello, accordion, and other instruments in their street band. The performers really put on a show for our group and they were amazing. Especially the violinist, he did a great job. Their variation of Cannon in D was my favorite, I have a classical music weak spot haha. We walked around some more and eventually went back to the hotel. Tomorrow is a free day so hopefully we will find some fun things to get into here in Munich.
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Friday Day 19 June 8, 2012

Learning to ski in the Alps...Check! Ah today was absolutely amazing. I decided to branch out and learn to ski for my extreme Austrian sport. It seemed a little more laid back than the other sports and that is perfectly fine with me. Plus never experiencing more than a foot of snow in my life made today even more exciting. I really liked that I went with a group I hadn't really had a chance to hangout with yet. Most of the others had never been skiing either, so it was good we all got to learn together. After the group got sized and fitted for our ski gear we made our way up the alps. The roads were really curvy but filled with amazing scenery and sights of Austria. There were rushing rivers, fields of cows, cute little towns, and trees that touched the sky. We were all wondering where the snow was...everything was just so green. It was hard to believe that a snowy mountain would be our final destination. Finally a bus ride and two ski lifts later, we made it up the mountain. Who would have known that just on the other side of Narnia was a winter wonderland! The snowy mountains and hills were incredible. Never in my life have I seen so much white. As silly as it sounds, I felt like I was on top of the world. Some of the group complained about the skiing price, but the view of the alps was completely worth it. Our ski instructor, Karsten, showed us the ski basics and taught us on the flat snowy surface. Skiing was definitely not as easy as I thought. My entire body was getting an intense workout. There were times I was literally digging myself in a little snow hole trying to move around. I thought we would just slide around on top of the snow...I was wrong. Some of the group was getting antsy and wanted to go down the big hills. At this point I was exhausted and needed a lunch break. When we went up to the ski lodge we were greeted by a group of drunk Bavarian ski instructors. They had just passed their certificated exams so they were definitely in celebration mode. It was funny to hear them all singing German drinking songs and getting crazy at 1pm. They made it clear that Bavarians know how to have a good time. Once lunch finished up, Karsten said we were ready to take the baby hills. The hills were so much easier than the flats. I could actually slide around and get some speed. All of us did that for awhile till the ski lift closed and then it was snow photo shoot time. We were able to get some great shots of the mountain. It was so much fun and I am glad I decided to spend my day here in the Alps. Right now my body is completely exhausted and sore...workout of the trip complete.
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