Category: Germany (page 1 of 25)

What the hell is Water?

Author: Liam Bodlak

Location: Reutlingen, Germany

Pronouns: He/Him/His

“There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?” -David Foster Wallace

I’d heard this joke before. David Foster Wallace is one of my favorite writers, and I’d read the speech-given at Kenyon College in 2005-a few times before. However, I read it again about a week ago, and it just stood out to me. This joke, in my opinion, describes what the study abroad experience is all about.

“Water” in this case, is just our daily surroundings. We don’t think of it at all. It’s just where we are. Valpo is Water. Founders is Water. Our classes are Water. And we just keep swimming. I fell into this mindset my sophomore year. I had tunnel vision with my immediate social circle, and with Valpo in general. I didn’t think much about big picture things, I just went to class, went home, did things around campus, and called it a night. All of that was Water to me. I never truly appreciated the good or seriously questioned the bad. I just kept swimming.

Study abroad changed a lot of that for me. I thought more about the world, and our place in it, as Americans, as young people, as human beings. I met people from all walks of life, and every different continent. I was more independent than ever before. I failed-many times-but every time something went wrong it just taught me more. Growth is never easy. Growth doesn’t come from staying inside your comfort zone. It comes from good old fashioned fear. It comes from trying new things and failing miserably. It comes from living in a country for a whole semester without even speaking the language. I grew up a lot this semester. As a student, as a friend, and as a person. Living in a foreign country was difficult, but it’s the best kind of difficult. It gave me perspective. Being able to see Valpo as a small part of a larger whole was extremely eye opening. I figured out what the Water was.

So, in summation, I think this semester went well. I can’t say I have any major regrets, and I honestly think that this semester changed me more than any other semester has. I’m going to miss this place a lot, but I’m eternally grateful for what it’s brought me, and the person that it’s shaped me into. I’m coming back to Valpo as a more well-traveled person who’s better equipped for life at VU and elsewhere. Germany was amazing, and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone who’s even considering going. It’s been an amazing time, and I can’t wait to make it back to Europe again sometime in the future. Until next time.

Sincerely,

William Bodlak
Valpo Class of 2020
Reutlingen Study Abroad Class of Fall 2018

Christmas Markets

Author: Liam Bodlak

Location: Germany

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Fröhliche Weihnachten! It’s still a little bit (about two weeks as of my writing this) before Christmas, but the Christmas spirit is in full swing here in Germany. Christmas Markets are in just about every town here. They feature people selling food, drinks, and just general gift items. One of the more popular drinks here is gluhwein. It’s mulled wine that everyone in Germany drinks a lot of during the holidays, and it’s amazing. Hot wine tastes a little odd at first, but once you’re used to it it’s amazing.The overall vibe of Christmas in Germany is like nothing else. Hearing the music, seeing all of the people milling about, it’s something that never fails to amaze no matter how old you are. Some Christmas markets have different features. For example, Reutlingen’s has an ice skating rink, that I skated on for a bit and somehow managed not to fall. It’s a wholesome, fun experience that reminds us about how special the Christmas season really is. It reminded me of when my family would go see the living Nativity sets when me and my sister were younger. Something about the cold air, hot drinks, and the Christmas spirit just creates an incomparable vibe. That is 100% the corniest thing I’ve ever written, and it’s 100% true. Merry Christmas!

A picture I took at a Christmas Market in Prague

Thanksgiving

Author: Liam Bodlak

Location: Germany

Pronouns: He/Him/His

I’ll admit to not knowing Germans didn’t celebrate thanksgiving until around mid September. It’s so ingrained in our culture, I figured everyone celebrated it in some facet, no matter how US centric it is. However, we didn’t get the day off for Thanksgiving, and most people I met here either knew about it but didn’t celebrate it, or had never even really heard about it. We did, however, have a Thanksgiving celebration put on by our university. It was interesting. All of the staple thanksgiving foods were there (turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes), and the international students that came seemed very intrigued at this foreign (to them, at least) tradition.

One thing that caught my attention was the way the Thanksgiving story was told. We were treated to a presentation by some American students about Thanksgiving, and it was the standard story that every American is used to hearing, with the good feelings between pilgrims and natives. I was wondering whether or not a more critical version of the story would be told, as recently the colonialism of the holiday has been called into question, and many find it distasteful to celebrate a holiday started by heinous actions like this. None of this controversy was mentioned in the speech, however, and we went on with the meal. It was a good time with better people. I missed my family for sure, but I really enjoyed getting to enjoy the meal with people who I’ve become extremely close to recently. It’s well past Thanksgiving, but to everyone reading this, I hope you and yours had a great Thanksgiving, whether you’re in America or elsewhere.

Florence/Rome/Venice, Italy; Reutlingen, Germany; Amsterdam, Netherlands

Author: Shannon Ilg

Location: Florence/Rome/Venice, Italy; Reutlingen, Germany; Amsterdam, Netherlands

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

October 28, 2018

During Fall Break, we continued to travel across Europe. After we left Paris, we went to Florence. Upon arrival I see this magnificent building and am reminded how very, very much I love Italy. I mean, I think mountains are beautiful, but I think that Italian cities have been the most interesting to me.

October 29, 2018

It was a little bit rainy the first full day we were in Florence, but it was just so beautiful! We were staying in the city, but took a bit of a hike just outside the city and were able to see these stunning views.

October 30, 2018

Here is the view from our rooftop Airbnb. It felt like we were in an action movie and could just go run and jump across all the rooftops. I couldn’t get enough. Did I mention how much I love Italy?

October 31, 2018

Next stop? It’s where all roads lead. It’s where you do what the other people do, it’s Rome! The first full day we were there we got to… roam… around quite a bit. We saw the Vatican and all of the ruins, and everything was breathtaking. I really appreciated that anywhere you turned, another building you had seen a million pictures of was right there in front of you, and it’s then that you realize how little pictures actually capture. You can’t tell how beautiful or massive or intricate these places are without visiting them. It’s times like that where I really am just thrilled that I chose to study abroad. I wouldn’t have traded it for anything.

Ooh, I almost forgot! This night, we all decided that we wanted to make dinner and mac and cheese was what we came up with. So, we bought three random cheeses, and tried it out. It was by far the weirdest but most delicious mac and cheese I have had. This is because apparently those cheeses were not meant to melt into noodles. Instead it was a cheese block with noodles, but oh man was that cheese block good.

November 1, 2018

The second day in Rome was much less eventful. It was very rainy pretty much the whole day and within the ten or twenty minutes we were actually outside, we decided just to head back with a fresh pineapple and enjoy a day inside. I had to catch up on some homework and lecture videos that I had fallen behind on the previous several days. That and we watched Monty Python’s Life of Brian (What did the Romans ever do for us??). Despite being indoors, it was a great day. It was nice to just relax and also be productive, finishing some homework.

November 2, 2018

This is one of the coolest doors that I have seen abroad. I mean, mostly because of the artistic lighting and dense shadows, but it really caught my eye and I just had to share!

This was on the way back from Rome when we stopped in Venice. Which was beautiful. Originally, we had an Airbnb here for the night, but Venice had just been badly flooded, so we thought it would be best not to stay so we canceled our booking. Instead of finding another train, we kept our reservations and spent a couple hours in Venice anyway. For the record, there was no more flooding, and we totally could have stayed there. But in all honesty, it was nice to sleep in Reutlingen for free in my own bed for a night. (Not this night though.. this night we spent on an awesome overnight train where the seats stretched out into a bed that we somehow managed to fit 6 people on…)

November 3, 2018

Back in Reutlingen, I caught up on homework yet again and relaxed for the day. This was the fall view from a late afternoon walk.

November 4, 2018

Reutlingen with the fall colors truly is beautiful. I just love being able to look out the window and see mountains. It’s wonderful.

November 5, 2018

This is the last leg of our journey for Reutlingen’s fall break. Amsterdam was quite an interesting city to spend a couple days in. Here you see a street performer who used audience volunteers to tie him up in a straitjacket with chains wrapped all around him, and then proceeded to escape. It was quite the show! He was very funny and in general very engaging to his crowd.

November 6, 2018

Amsterdam has quite the collection of museums to choose from! I didn’t end up going into the Van Gogh museum, but I went into two pretty weird museums. One was a torture museum, where they have the history of Medieval torture devices and at the end, a very meaningful message that questions the reader about what we have in society today that is really just other means of torture.

The second museum was that which you see above. It’s from the only microbe museum in the world. It brought you through the history of, well, the world, on a molecular and biological level. It was very interactive, allowing you to look through various microscopes at different stages of growth for all sorts of microbes. All together a very engaging museum, and the coolest bit was the fact that they have a lab in the back of the museum where they grow all of the different organisms.

November 7, 2018

This was our last goodbye look on Amsterdam. Just one of the many pretty canals throughout the city.

Here I also say goodbye to the Valpo Voyager. As you can see by the date of the last photo, I still had over a month to the end of the semester, and I continued to take pictures every day. But by now, you have seen much of the wonders I explored throughout Europe, as well as the boredom of schoolwork, and the nuance of being in a new place. I hope you have enjoyed reading about my journey and that perhaps it has inspired you to make your own adventures.

Stockholm, Sweden; Reutlingen, Germany; Paris, France

Author: Shannon Ilg

Location: Stockholm, Sweden; Reutlingen, Germany; Paris, France

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

October 20, 2018

Stockholm, Sweden. A beautiful city! Although, it was rather chilly to walk around all day (40,000+ steps, if anyone is counting…) so I ended up purchasing a coat from a second hand shop and a touristy winter hat. Both of them have since then been wonderful additions to my travel wardrobe. Side note… my silly self decided that I wouldn’t need a winter coat so I had originally just brought a jean jacket and a slightly insulated raincoat. I think I would have been okay just in Reutlingen, but with all of the traveling I am certainly glad to have bought the coat and the hat.

October 21, 2018

To save time on traveling by train I secured a cheap flight back from Sweden. It was certainly a great choice, as I got to see the beautiful sunrise over the wing of the airplane (and also saved myself from a 24 hour journey…). Upon flying back into Hamburg, we significantly lowered travel time, and also were able to stop briefly in Berlin again, where we attempted to buy currywurst where we had previously (a delicious sausage street food). Unfortunately, the vendor was not open yet as it was 9 am, so we settled for a chain restaurant.

October 22, 2018

The next morning, Reutlingen greeted us with the first frost. It’s beautiful, isn’t it?

October 23, 2018

Another day, spent completely in the walls of the study room, working endlessly on homework. I mean, this is *study* abroad… we can’t just travel all the time! (Although I have done a fair job of traveling every spare moment)

October 24, 2018

I just have to say kudos to the chef of this wonderfully magical mac and cheese that breathed the life back into me at 2 am. It was delicious. Thank you, Lauren.

October 25, 2018


Here you see the contents of approximately 73% of the meals I eat when I’m traveling. A) it’s cheap. B) it’s quite delicious. C) it’s easy to pack upwards of 5 meals for two people at the same time. D) It’s relatively light and packable. E) You can easily carry peanut butter and jam, Nutella and honey, or a number of other combinations so it doesn’t get boring. F) I mean, I could go on, but I think you get the gist…

Oh, by the way, this is the start of Fall Break for classes in Reutlingen (although I still had to keep up with my 3 classes from Valpo), and this countertop is in Paris.

October 26, 2018

Oh, look at that! The Eiffel tower! In all honesty, I was not expecting a whole lot from it at all. My thoughts were approximately ‘it is an overrated hunk of metal that everyone likes taking pictures of’. But it was actually really cool to see in person! It was a lot taller than I was expecting, and you could see it from very far away. Although I don’t think I need to go back any time soon, it was certainly worth the time to go see.

October 27, 2018

So as you can see, I had a pigeon on my arm. This was in front of Notre Dame, and there were a bajillion of these birds out there. There were some men selling bird food that you could attract them with, some people having ten or twenty birds on them at the same time. I happened to have a bunch of stale granola with me, so we used that and had the time of our lives waiting for our tour to begin.

Financial Blog Part Two

Author: Michael Boyajian

Location: Reutlingen, Germany 

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Greetings again, readers! The picture that I have attached is a recording of my expenses for the month of October. I started the month with $2,458.08 left in my budget. What you’ll see is that this month, not only did I have more expenses, but I also had some income. You’ll notice that I spent the bulk of my expenses in the “Austria Trip” section. Over fall break, my mother came out to visit with me and our extended family, who happen to live in Graz, Austria. During our trip, my mother discovered that her Discover Card did not work in most places, so I ended up paying for both of us when we stayed in hotels and had meals. Luckily, we were able to stay with our family, which saved us plenty of money on living/meal expenses. At the end of our visit, my mother’s cousin gave me an unexpected gift of 300 euros “for travelling”, which converts to roughly $350. Because many of my purchases this month were
made with a card, I have a good amount of cash going into the month of November, and I expect to not have to withdraw much money from my account.

Although my expenses were higher this month, I did receive a larger amount of income, leaving me with $2,346.02 left in my budget at the beginning of November. Going forward, I expect to go on one or two more weekend trips and I don’t expect to see any more income for the rest of my time in Germany. I will keep recording my expenses, and I’ll post again at the beginning of December before I post my total expenses for the semester. Hope this helps! Bis spater, und Ciao!

Oktoberfest!

Author: Liam Bodlak

Location: Munich/Stuttgart, Germany

Pronouns: He/Him/His

“What’s the history of Oktoberfest? Like, what’s the significance?”

A friend asked me this question, and I honestly didn’t know how to respond. I’d been to the festival three separate times-twice in Stuttgart, once in Munich-and I was unaware of any sort of major historical significance of it. So I did my research, thought about it, and finally figured out what Oktoberfest was all about. The answer is that, in 1810, King Ludwig I put on a festival to celebrate his marriage to Princess Therese, and the event sort of caught on and was celebrated every year.

My first Oktoberfest experience was in Munich. Me and three friends took a late train from Leipzig to Munich, and after arriving, met up with our Airbnb hosts. After a survey of our Airbnb (complete with a box shower that kept the water warm for about thirty seconds), we were all ready to start our day at Oktoberfest. And what a day it was. We found ourselves in the Hofbrau House, where we found ourselves seated next to two Scotsmen, who we spent most of the day with. We talked about various topics, including the Midwest (“Indiana’s the one with a lot of NASCAR, right?”) and Unicorns (the national animal of Scotland, because Scotland is amazing). I also received travel advice from a very friendly Dutchman, who talked my ear off about how Rotterdam was better than Amsterdam. A few hours later, I was feeling pretty hungry. I went to a McDonalds right outside the venue, and was reminded again that Europeans don’t have sweet tea. (I tried explaining it for a solid 10 minutes to someone in Copenhagen and he couldn’t wrap his head around the concept. If nothing else, Americans are outdoing the rest of the world in the field of sugary drinks). We eventually got back to the Airbnb, and we left the next morning. Munich Oktoberfest was a success.

Two weeks later, I spent two nights attending Wasen (Stuttgart’s version of Oktoberfest). Stuttgart was slightly smaller than Munich (Munich is around the size of San Diego, and Stuttgart is closer to Louisville), but it was still a great time. Highlights included multiple singalongs of Country Roads (John Denver is evidently huge in Germany) and having one of the people at my table scream, unprompted “I AM THE POLISH ANGUS YOUNG!”, a quote made exponentially better by the fact that there wasn’t even an AC/DC song playing at the time.

Everything was so overwhelmingly beautiful. From the rides, to the food, to the way the whole festival lights up at night. I was awestruck the entire time I was there. I felt a sort of togetherness with the people there. All of us were strangers that became friends for a few hours. We had fun together, but in a few months we’ll all be back in Scotland, or Ireland, or Poland, or wherever we’re from, and we’re all going to be a distant memory and a funny story to someone else. But that word-togetherness-is something I definitely felt at Oktoberfest. Just from little interactions, I felt a closeness with the world that I don’t normally experience. We’re all very different-culturally, spiritually, economically-but for a few hours, we were all together.

 

 

Study Abroad in Reutlingen Germany (Part 2)

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.

Study Abroad in Reutlingen Germany

Author: Shannon Ilg

Location: Reutlingen Germany

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

This is the second set of pictures from my adventures here in Germany. Since my first set of pictures, I have done a lot of traveling outside of the country. I have been to Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Denmark, and I’m on my way to Sweden as I write. It has been so much fun, and I have learned so much. Below is the second collection of pictures I took daily of the beautiful, strange, and mundane for me, your good-ol’ average Valpo student. I hope you can take a moment to see and appreciate the little things I have photographed, feel free to skip around, and maybe even be inspired to take on your own journey!

 

September 19, 2018

In Germany, we take the trains all the time. This is an underground entrance to one of the train stations that is particularly colorful. For the most part, the graffiti on the walls seems to have been paid installations. They are very interesting and colorful; it always gives you something to think about or appreciate. While traveling around Germany, make sure to keep your eyes open, because sometimes you’ll stumble upon really cool murals on the back of buildings or similar places where you wouldn’t necessarily expect.

September 20th, 2018

Here you see the first (and only, up to this point) attempt to make a pizza from scratch with the limited resources that my friend and I could find here. I purchased a circular metal plate for one euro to use as a pan which has actually been quite a good purchase. Since then it has been a plate, a lid to a pot of carrots and potatoes, and a tray to carry other dishes back and forth to my room.
Anyways, the pizza was actually really good. The only weird thing was that we used pasta sauce instead of pizza sauce or tomato paste, so it had a little bit of a strange flavor.

September 21st, 2018

We made our final full group trip to Liepzig which ended up being kind of a smaller version of Berlin. This building caught me off guard because it was so, you know, chopped in half. It was a really interesting café with statues of elephents in front of it.

September 22nd, 2018

Our second day in Liepzig we went to a Bach Museum. Around the museum, you could listen to the different musical arrangements that Bach had written, and in the room pictured above, you could listen to different pieces and decide which instruments you wanted to hear by pushing buttons on and off for each instrument. It was quite interesting.
Another cool thing about this museum was how evolved it was for the blind. It makes sense that a museum about music would be somewhere a blind person would enjoy, but they really go out of their way to make sure it is welcome and easy to enjoy for those who cannot see. At one point there were organ pipes hung from the ceiling that when you touched them, they played different musical compositions. In the above room, there was a book explaining every instrument in Bach’s time. Each page had a plastic page in front of it with braille, and the pages with pictures had a plastic page in front of it with a three-dimensional model of the instrument. I was very impressed that such accommodations were made so that those who cannot see have a wonderful museum to explore while discovering the beautiful history of music.

September 23rd, 2018

This is Wartburg castle where Martin Luther hid after nailing his theses to his church’s door. We went on a tour throughout the castle and got to explore the halls for several hours. The day we were there it was rather rainy which made the view outside foggy and after leaving, we all got soaked to the bone. In general, it was a good fun trip: standing in the rain when everyone is just as soaked as you never fails to bring a few smiles.

September 24th, 2018

After our final day in Liepzig, we all went off to go on our own smaller excursions. A friend and I decided that Austria would be our next stop. This was a delicious hot chocolate from a small café we ate at while waiting to check into our Airbnb.

September 25th, 2018

We had one full day in Austria, and we decided to climb a mountain. It was a beautiful journey up, every turn different and more amazing than the one before. By the time we reached the top, it was pretty steep, and I tripped and fell, scraping my leg pretty good on a rock. We ate at a quiet restaurant at the top and then headed back down. Let me tell you, I laugh at every time I ever thought as a kid ‘dang it, I really wish I was going downhill’ when I was going uphill. I am not a mountain climber; I was clad in plain tennis shoes with a bit of a cold, along with a high level of clumsiness. I slipped and fell like at least twelve times on the way down. I honestly never felt so incapable of anything in my entire life, where every single step I took was one step closer to complete and utter failure. But even so, it was so much fun, and unbelievably beautiful. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

September 26th, 2018

Just look at this wonderful view we had from our Airbnb. Down the hill on the left is a field full of very large friendly cows. On the right is a beautiful panoramic view of mountains all around. Behind the photo where you cannot see is the mountain that we climbed. Everything was so unbelievably beautiful, and I would recommend the Austrian countryside to anyone looking for a calm and stunning view.

September 27th, 2018

Welcome to the Oktoberfest, in Munich! First things first… Thursday was a great day to go. It was lively, but we could still get a seat to get a drink. It was not impossible to walk. It was a blast!
In case you don’t know exactly what the Oktoberfest is, it is a German festival with wonderful food, music, beer, and carnival rides. I have also heard that the Munich Oktoberfest is actually not quite as genuine as some of the smaller cities’ versions of Oktoberfest because it has been turned into a bit of a tourist attraction. Of course, this makes sense, but it did not make it any less enjoyable for me… because I am a tourist.

September 28th, 2018

This entire semester, they have been tearing down this building. In this picture, I was standing on the seventh floor of one of the apartment buildings that Valpo students are staying in. Behind the large pine tree in the top right you see the other building where we are staying. That’s my building. In between there used to be a third similar building but now all that is left is several piles of rocks. Oftentimes, I wake up in the wee early morning to the sounds of construction, or rather destruction vehicles. It has been quite interesting to see the complete process of the tearing down of the building.

September 29th, 2018

This is a little potted plant in the communal kitchen/lounge on my floor. It was just sprouting a flower in this picture. At the beginning of the semester there was a cute note next to it asking people to make sure it was watered while the owner was gone. Thankfully it survived and is here to show us cute little red flowers.

September 30th, 2018

This is the top of Georgenberg, a mountain on the outskirts of town where you can see the entirety of Reutlingen. It makes for a decent hike and a beautiful view. My favorite thing about it is that from the top you can see and point out pretty much every major place we had been to in Reutlingen. You can see our dorm buildings and the University, you can see the Church downtown and between the two you can see everywhere else that we had been in town.

October 1st, 2018

This was an issue that I have had a couple times eating Pringles. When I went to open the can, the inside foil covering peeled away from the cardboard. It’s not particularly strange or anything, it just hadn’t ever happened to me before. But it of course does not affect the quality of the beloved Pringles so I still enjoyed them.

October 2nd, 2018

Above you see Johannesbeeren. It is a delicious fruit that I discovered at a local farmer’s market. I had never eaten or even seen them before but guess what? They are around in the US, too! It’s a currant! I mean, I just never thought that you can eat them plain and not cooked in anything. They are wonderfully sweet and sour, and you can literally put the whole stalk of them in your mouth and pull out the stalk and eat all of them at the same time. They are so fun to eat, and I am definitely going to see if I can find them as well in the US when I return.

October 3rd, 2018

Above is our perfect, uncooked pie. It is made with apples directly off of a tree, and a wonderful blend of sugar and cinnamon (I haven’t been able to find brown sugar though, which is okay, just a little weird for pie). It turned out a little bit overcooked on the top and a little bit undercooked on the bottom, full of an inch of liquid from the apples… It tasted delicious, but this picture is definitely more fun to look at than the one of the cooked pie. Hey, but pie is pie, and it was a blast making-and eating-it.

October 4th, 2018

Here you see the first super interesting thing about Milan, Italy. I took a weekend trip there with a couple others and we ended up having a really fun time. In this picture you can see the track for the streetcars going right through the grass. There were other places where the grass was even growing in between the tracks. As for the rest of Milan, there were beautiful plants and flowers growing everywhere. And I mean everywhere. They were even abundant on the sides and rooves of buildings. I really enjoyed the feeling from this, as it gave the city a very green appearance and feeling.

Financial Advice from Germany

Author: Michael Boyaijan

Location: Reutlingen, Germany

Guten Tag reader, and welcome to my blog! For the past month, I have had the pleasure of studying abroad in Reutlingen, Germany. Throughout my time here I’ve seen many amazing places, made lots of friends, and already had numerous unforgettable experiences. Although there is so much to share, I have decided that the focus of my blog will be more financially-based. For many people, myself included, money plays a large role in whether one can afford to study abroad at all. Although Valpo gives out an estimation of what a student will spend studying abroad, expenses are different for each student. This semester, I will be reporting my personal budget and expenditures so that you, the reader, can get a real-feel for what it costs to study abroad in Reutlingen, Germany. Along with this, I will be explaining things I learn and mistakes that I make.

I started my semester with a budget of $3,133. Like I said before, expenses vary from person to person. Some people spend a lot of money, and some people don’t. At the same time, what people choose to spend their money on varies drastically. What I did not know is that Germany is primarily a cash-based society. Yes, credit and debit cards do exist here, but for everyday purchases (i.e., groceries, public transportation, etc.) Germans generally use cash. With that being said, here is tip #1: Open a bank account/get a credit card that has little to no foreign transaction fees. I have a Chase College account and every time I take out money from an ATM, I get charged a small fee. Additionally, the conversion rate from US dollars to euros varies. So far, I have paid for everything in cash. The amount of cash that I have taken out is $781.80. I have used that cash for groceries, trips, souvenirs, a guitar, and meals out. So far, of the $781.80, I have used $675, leaving me with $106.80 that will still be used. My current budget is now $2,458.

For the first month, we spent a lot of time going on group trips and excursions, rather than in class. As a business student at the ESB Business school here, my classes only recently began. Going forward, I expect to spend less money as I will be doing less travelling, and I will not be buying another guitar. I hope you find this post useful in your decision to study abroad! Tschüss!

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