Author: Shannon Ilg

Location: Milan/Reutlingen/Copenhagen 

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

October 5th

This is a chapel in a rather inconspicuous looking church and guess what those interesting decorations on the walls are?
Human bones.
That’s right. Hundreds and thousands of sculls line the walls of this chapel, very different from anything I had ever thought to use as decoration. Our tour guide said that it was actually fairly common in the Middle Ages to use this type of decoration as death was not seen in the same light as it is today. Rather than being repulsed or disgusted by the thought of death, it was a daily occurrence that no one thought twice about when presented with it, so there was no problem with it at all.

October 6th

Okay, so… you can’t go to Italy and not eat some pasta. I mean, would it really even make any sense at all? It was really tasty and the fresh basil made a great difference.

October 7th

Here is an example of the beautiful flowers decorating the city. This large pink flower was growing on a median in the middle of a street.

October 8th

Back in Reutlingen! This is a picture of the very small elevator in the dorms. The stairs just go around it in a square. I don’t usually use it because I live on the fourth floor and I can usually make it up faster than it would take to go all the way down and then back up to my floor.
Ooh, but here is a good time to mention the floors in Europe, or at least Germany… come to think of it I really don’t know if it is like this everywhere or just Germany… Anyways, it is like Wehrenberg as the ground floor is called the ground floor and after going up a flight of stairs you are on the first floor, etc. It takes a little getting used to but honestly it makes more sense to me now to number the floors in this way: when you walk up one flight of stairs you are on floor one… two flights of stairs and you’re on floor two…

October 9th

I want to mention the uniqueness of doors here in Europe. This is just someone’s front door in Reutlingen that I thought was geometrically interesting. But usually, every door is unique. Perhaps not so much in our dorms or office buildings, but in older houses and castles, there are rounded doors, triangular doors, doors with square cutouts, etc. In Copenhagen, I saw a lot of small rounded doors with circular windows. Oftentimes, in an older building there won’t even be two of the same door in the same building. I love how even just looking at doors throughout Europe there is something different and unexpected at every corner.

October 10th

This is right outside the door of the apartment building I live in. It’s interesting to see hot air balloons flying overhead every once in a while. In fact, since taking this picture I have seen the same hot air balloon several times. I have no idea where they come from or where they are going, but it’s always a nice surprise to look up and see one floating by.

October 11th

Okay. Above you see the beginnings of the best trip ever. No exaggeration at all. The magic 8 ball even said so. I’ll begin several days earlier: I asked my friend Andrea if she would want to join me for an adventure where we make no plans at all. We both were very excited and invited another student, Mark, to join us because we thought he would be very interested. We met and agreed to leave Thursday and get back sometime Saturday. That was the extent of our plans. See, the three of us have this rail pass (Eurail if you’re interested) that allows you to travel almost anywhere in Europe for two months. So we didn’t really need a plan anyways.
Thursday, Mark asked if he should bring the magic 8 ball from his floor. Obviously, this was a genius idea and it became our mode of all decision making on the trip.

October 12th

Our first stop was Zurich, Switzerland. You know, where they make all the watches. We got there around midnight and just explored the dark, quiet city at night. It was quite beautiful; all of the tall important buildings were lit so you could see them from very far away and nighttime gave it a very interesting appeal. Above you see the storefront of a lamp store. It was super cool and, though I wouldn’t want a single one of those lamps actually in my house, it was really cool to look at.

October 13th

I would love to talk about all of the things we did on this trip, but it would take far too long as we ended up spending time in 13 different cities over 41.25 hours, so I will stick to just this last bit. We ended up in a small town called Meiringen near Interlocken (Switzerland still), because we saw a cool waterfall from the train and the Magic 8 ball agreed that we needed to see it up close. On the way to the waterfall, we explored the countryside a bit with beautiful mountain views, a stunning river, and purchased fresh milk out of an atm at a farm (like… you give it some change and fill your water bottle with milk… it was great!). When we finally got to the waterfall, we decided to climb up to the top, and it was a treacherous journey ending in a beautiful view.

October 14th

Coming back from our wild amazing adventures, I had a lot of homework to work on. Here, we see my attempt to capture the most boring picture in the history of the world. Have I succeeded? Perhaps not, at least it says hello!

October 15th

In the midst of so much excitement, October 15th I was doing homework and did not get around to taking a picture of anything new, interesting, or even boring. Instead, above I have provided a picture of a previous day, when I took a walk in Reutlingen. Beyond the university, there are miles of walkable paths through fields, hills, and small mountains. It’s always really pretty just to go for a walk or a run around here.

October 16th

Once again, I failed to actually photograph anything this day. Instead, I give you a piece of grass from my floor at the beginning of the semester. I thought it looked like a dinosaur.

October 17th

Another student and I went with my German teacher to go bouldering for the third time. Afterwards, she made us a wonderful dinner of pasta with pumpkin sauce. Afterwards we tried Quark, which is kind of  like yogurt but closer to cheese. I absolutely loved it. Here, you see some Russian nesting dolls that nested to an impressively tiny size. The little pink dot was the final doll. Overall, it was a very lovely experience in a very genuine German home.

October 18th

Above, you see the deck of the ferry to Copenhagen on my second journey there. This time, the ultimate stop is Stockholm, Sweden, with a day in Copenhagen. It was a really cool city so I was thrilled to explore it again.

October 19th

This is one of the many interesting finds in Copenhagen. It is a sun-heated sauna you can enjoy on like Wednesdays or Thursdays. We didn’t go in, but it pretty much shouted at us to look so we gladly did.