Valpo Voyager

Student Stories from Around the World

Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 7)

Life and Travel in Cambridge

My name’s Simeon Klepac, and I’m studying abroad at the Valpo Study Center in Cambridge, England! Here are some of the adventures I’ve had so far during my time abroad.


Here I am in the King’s College Chapel, one of the largest buildings constructed without steel in all Europe!

With plenty of amazing architecture all throughout the city, Cambridge is truly a beautiful place to live and study.  I’ve loved immersing myself in the history of the city and working with the excellent professors! One of my favorite parts of study abroad in Cambridge is weekly tea-time, where the students and faculty of the Valpo Study Center come together for fellowship, snacks, and delicious tea!


There are also many other awesome destinations in the UK, and with the national rail system they’re pretty easy to reach.

A group of Valpo students went with a tour guide to see the towering pillars of Stonehenge. They’re way bigger in person! I loved learning all about the history of ancient peoples in the area and marveling at how this epic monument was constructed.

Here I stand beside an old Roman fort at Hadrian’s Wall, nearly 2000 years old!














Studying abroad is a great opportunity to see even more countries than the one in which you study, and with the international rail system, getting back and forth is cheap and easy.

Here I am at Neuschwanstein Castle, the fairytale masterpiece of the Dream King, Ludwig II of Bavaria.

Here I am at the Eifel Tower in Paris. After the sunset, I climbed all the way up to the second level and took in the view of Paris in night time. The Tower glows with light from the floodlamps, and once every hour, they have a lightshow running up and down the whole structure!











When in Rome!

Name: Mikayla Flanagan

Program: Valpo Study Center in Cambridge, England

Location: Rome, Italy

Mikayla in front of the Trevi Fountain

My name is Mikayla Flanagan and I studied in Cambridge, England this past Spring. I am a sociology major with a criminology concentration as well as a political science minor. I will be a senior this fall and am planning on graduating next Spring! I have always wanted to study abroad since I was in high school and when I heard of this opportunity, I took it immediately. This would be my chance to see Europe for the first time and this would be the only time I would be a student in a different country with this type of opportunity. All of the trips I have been on have meant so much to me and it is difficult to just choose one. One of my favorite places I visited was Rome, Italy.

Pasta that Mikayla made in Rome.

I have always wanted to go to Rome, and I was able to go during my final days in Europe. It was such a surreal moment walking around the city of Rome because everywhere you turn there is a piece of history waiting to be seen. There are fountains, churches, ruins, and pieces of buildings that have seen so much history. The streets themselves are a piece of history when thinking about all of the people who have walked down them. I took a pasta-making class because what better place in the world to learn how to make pasta than Italy! 


When visiting Rome, I was able to see the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel, and the Colosseum. The Vatican Museums showed so many beautiful pieces of art, and seeing with my own eyes Michaelangelo’s Last Judgment and Creation of Adam was something I will remember forever. Since you are not allowed to take photos in the Sistine Chapel, I ingrained those pieces of art into my memory. The Colosseum was unreal since it has such a rich history. Walking around the ruins where emperors and citizens alike watched gladiators fight was something I never thought I would get to experience. Being in a place where history is so rich and has been preserved for so many years was incredible.

The Colosseum in Rome, Italy.

Studying abroad has been one of the best choices I have made. I have learned so much about myself as well as the world around me. There is so much to see, and it is at our fingertips! It is an experience of a lifetime no matter where you go. The sights you see and the cultures you learn first-hand are something that cannot be matched. Studying abroad is such a unique experience, and I recommend it to whoever is able to do it!

Vos Sos el Dios de los Pobres: Context, Theology, and Personal Testimony

Name: Jenna Johnston

Location: San José, Costa Rica

Since my time in Costa Rica was cut short, for 3 of my 5 remaining blogs, I’m publishing stories based around the academic research and personal interviews I conducted in January and February for my Central American history class.

I interviewed Doña Eva*, a woman from El Salvador, about Vos Sos el Dios de los Pobres, a song from the Nicaraguan Peasant Mass. Our interview took place during a night of singing and sharing Latin American protest hymns, including this song, together. Vos Sos el Dios de los Pobres (“You are the God of the poor”) was written by Carlos Mejía Godoy, and comes from his Misa Campesina Nicaragüense (Nicaraguan Peasants’ Mass). The mass was written in the mid-1970s, and was used as a religious protest song in Nicaragua and El Salvador throughout the 1980s, when El Salvador was in a civil war. Leftist protestors and guerrillas fought against a US-backed military government that was characterized by mass death and disappearance, torture, and targeting of Catholic clergy (Michelsen 2020). Vos Sos has a rich history, is part of a radical theological movement, reflects Latin American culture, and has intense personal significance to Central Americans, reflected in Eva’s testimony.

Vos Sos el Dios de los Pobres was composed as the entrada (entrance song) for the Nicaraguan Peasants’ Mass, published in the mid-1970s by Carlos Mejía Godoy (Vigil and Torrellas 1988). Following the Second Vatican Council and Latin American council meetings in the 1960s, Catholic composers began to write masses in the language and context of everyday people. The importance of Mejía Godoy’s life and music to Nicaraguan revolutionary movements cannot be overstated. Former Vice President of Nicaragua Sergio Ramirez described Mejía Godoy: “The [Sandinista] revolution owes everything to Carlos. He put the soundtrack to the revolution” (Salinas 2018).

Mejía Godoy is considered by some to be the most popular singer and composer in Nicaragua, famous for revolutionary and religious songs that came from Latin American folk traditions (Gioconda 2002). Before writing the Mass, Mejía Godoy had been in Catholic seminary in Costa Rica, but dropped out because it was run by “backwards” (atrasado) Spanish elites (Zeledón 2001). The mass was banned in Nicaragua by both the Church and the government following its publication because of its humanization of God and its Marxist undertones (Gurza 2003; Perez 2014; Zeledón 2001). Due to the political nature of his songs and their use in protests, Mejía Godoy has spent part of his life in exile. Many of his songs, including those in the mass, have more religious connotations and are less explicitly revolutionary. However, several songs of the album Guitarra Armada (“Armed Guitar”) give direct instructions on how to operate rifles that protestors stole from the Nicaraguan National Guard in the late 1970s. Mejía Godoy recently left Nicaragua again, fearing for his life because of his open personal and musical defiance of President Ortega’s regime (Salinas 2018).

The musical style of Vos Sos el Dios de los Pobres is distinctly Nicaraguan. Mejía Godoy said he tried to incorporate rhythms and instruments from all parts of Nicaragua into the mass, just as he used his authentic conversations with Nicaraguan common people as inspiration for its lyrics (Zeledón 2001). Even as a newcomer to the genre, the language, and the song, at the music night, I found the chorus’ melody and harmonies easy to pick up in the moment. I was able to sing along in full voice by the time the last few choruses came around. The song’s inviting tone and quickly learnable chorus has likely enhanced its popularity and use as a protest song.

Several words, phrases, and themes stuck in my head while reflecting on the lyrics to Vos Sos el Dios de los Pobres. The first and most obvious word that sticks out is the very first word of the song: vos. Unlike more traditional hymns and translations of the Bible, this song does not use the formal usted to refer to God. God is vos, the Latin American informal “you” used for everyday peoples. This relates to a friendly image of God, radically different from traditional paternalistic conceptions. The emphasis on God’s struggle also points out God’s humanness. The word “struggle” (luchás) is directly used in the first verse, to describe God struggling in the field and the city. Within the song, it is God’s nature as a worker that gives ordinary people the power and ability to speak directly to God.

While Vos Sos is not in the Misa Popular Salvadoreña (Salvadoran Popular Mass), it has still been sung in El Salvador in worship and other settings from the late 1970s onward (Peterson 1997), which explains the personal connection that Eva and other Salvadorans have to the song. When I asked Doña Eva what Vos Sos el Dios de los Pobres says about God and humanity, she was overwhelmed by such a big question: “With this song you can say a lot.” The first point she focused on was that the song elevated and praised work that was traditionally viewed as “low” or inferior. She said the song is “a new way of looking at work” because it dignifies and admires people simply for working. The song reflects the culture of everyday working Central Americans, which relates to what Ernesto Cardenal, a Nicaraguan priest, said: the mass is not neutral — it is a mass against the oppressors (Zeledón 2001).

In addition to giving a fresh perspective on the value of work, the song also reframes God’s relationship to man. Doña Eva talked about how Vos Sos el Dios de los Pobres shows God as a part of humanity, one who is walking and working alongside us. Drawing from liberation theology, the song paints a picture of God based on Jesus’ life: a God who is an integral part of humanity.

In many of Carlos Mejía Godoy’s other works, the social messages and calls for change are explicit. The social problems that Vos Sos highlights are more subtle, but are rooted in the concerns of liberation theology. God works and struggles in the lyrics of this song, but God is not sad or angry — God only has one mild complaint, and it’s about the flavor of shaved ice, not about social issues. Yet the focus on God’s many different jobs, some of which are physically taxing and all of which are low paying, highlight and center the struggles of the poor within the narrative. The mass and its opening song hold theological importance as an advancement in the continued centering of the poor within the Christian fight for justice.

When asked how singing Vos Sos made her feel, Doña Eva expressed a wide range of emotions. In El Salvador and when first arriving as a refugee in Costa Rica, she had fear associated with singing the song, but the fear always gave way to passion, a sense of pride in her identity, and adoring love for God. Singing the songs of the mass allows her to “desaugándome” (“let it all out”). The rich historical background, social and theological implications, and impact of words and themes of Vos Sos el Dios de los Pobres contextualize these responses, enriching the song’s spiritual significance today.

*Name changed to protect privacy.

References cited in this story can be viewed here:

Semana Santa

Author: Kayla Doyle

Location: Rome, Italy/Granada, Spain

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

This semester I was fortunate enough to be able to celebrate Easter festivities in two countries: Italy and Spain. I went to Rome with a group of friends from my program for the first half of the week before Easter. The second half of the week we were back in Spain and able to participate in Semana Santa. Both experiences were different than I normally celebrate Easter back home in Michigan with my family, but it was very eye-opening and intriguing to witness. 

When I went to Rome, we had to walk through the Vatican City just about every day to get to the center from our Airbnb. We happened to be there during Palm Sunday, so a few of my friends and I decided to go to the Vatican for mass with the Pope. On Sunday, we arrived at the Vatican and had to go through security to get into the main plaza for the ceremony. When we got through, we were given an olive branch to participate in the Mass and a rosary to commemorate the celebration. There were seats in various sections closed off to people who had reserved seats. We did not have a reservation, so we stood right behind a fence that blocked off the reserved seats that still had a decent view. The ceremony was three hours long, but we only stayed for the first half of it. There was a procession at the beginning which included people carrying palms, followed by bishops and the Pope. It was spectacular! Then there were a few readings and the pope gave a homily, however I couldn’t understand anything because it was all in Italian. After the Pope’s homily we left, but remained in awe of what we just witnessed. I have never been to a church service so enormous and surrounded by people from all over the world. I would highly recommend anyone to experience a mass at the Vatican City.

After we came back from Rome, we were able to see the processions in Granada that same night. It is very popular in the south of Spain to celebrate Semana Santa with huge processions the week leading up to Easter. In the processions there are people wearing a uniform that looks exactly like the clothes that the Klu Klux Klan wore, but the two are not associated at all. I’m not going to lie it was a little scary to see at first. There is also a band that plays music for the march. And my favorite part of the processions, are the floats that are carried by men below the structure. The floats are decorated in gold, flowers, candles, and porcelain objects, and the image differs each day of the week. The people in each city and “brotherhood” in charge of the processions planned all year for this week.

The processions are something that people from around the world travel to come see during Semana Santa every year, so the streets are full of people through the night. I enjoyed seeing the streets full of life, as it is a time of anticipation for the processions and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I enjoyed experiencing Easter in a new way this year, but also missed the time together celebrating with my family back home and watching my little cousins hunt for eggs the Easter Bunny laid out for them. But I guess seeing the Pope makes up for all of that!

Luxembourg City

Author: Liam Bodlak

Location: Luxembourg City

Pronouns: He/Him/His

I had one more travel weekend before finals, and I was struggling to come up with somewhere to go. I’d already been most places in Germany, and I wanted to go somewhere really worthwhile. However, one night after talking to my mom about my Luxembourgish heritage, I decided to look up how close Luxembourg City was. Surprisingly enough, it was close enough for a day trip. So, one Saturday, I decided to travel by myself to Luxembourg City for a day.

Luxembourg City, and the entire country in general, is interesting because of its history, and what its history shaped it into. It’s been colonized and ruled by many different countries, and shared borders with many more, thus making it somewhat of a combination of different cultures. I heard people speaking French, German, English, and Luxembourgish, and a tour guide told us that a substantial amount of people that work in Luxembourg City don’t even live in the country. This leads to a multicultural society of people that all share the same love for the city. There are beautiful views, a downtown area with lots to do, and friendly people wherever you go.

The people were what intrigued me the most about the trip. Two in particular. One was a US Air Force serviceman I met while taking a tour of the city. We wound up grabbing drinks and dinner and hanging out for a bit and talking about life back in the US and our travel experiences. It was the type of experience I could only have traveling alone, and it’s one that I was extremely grateful for. Then, on the way back, I sat next to a South Korean man who was living in a small German town. We had a long talk about Germany, travel, and what it really meant to call somewhere home. As with the previous encounter I had, I was extremely grateful to meet him. The day trip was relaxing, fun, and let me discover a part of my heritage that I hadn’t previously been that in touch with. I’d highly recommend Luxembourg City to anyone who finds themselves in Europe.

Liechenstein, Slovenia

Author: Mark Young

Location: Liechenstein, Slovenia

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Two friends and I went to Liechtenstein.

We hiked up a mountain and might have accidentally crossed into Switzerland for a short time.


We passed many beautiful vistas such as this one.


The entire country is surrounded by mountains providing for good views in every direction.


This is Vaduz Castle where the Prince of Lichtenstein lives. Overall, Lichtenstein was, while being very small, one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever seen.

The following weekend I went to Slovenia. I started out by arriving at Lake Bled at 4am. It was pitch black when I arrived and I began walking around the lake. The boats take you to the island in the middle of the lake, which is home to a church that dates back to before the 15th century.


This is the church with the beautiful mountainous backdrop.


Here is the view of the entire city. Definitely one my of favorite views I’ve had while studying abroad.


This is another, and main, type of boat they use to go between the island and the surrounding land. It is called a pletna and its design dates back to the 16th century.

Osaka Castle

Author: Olivia Dausch

Location: Osaka, Japan

Pronouns: They/them

My most recent experience in Osaka was one of the most memorable. A nice lunch in Osaka Castle Park followed by a trip up to the castle surrounded by the city is something that simply can’t be experienced anywhere else.

I signed up for this event as part of Kansai Gaidai’s Experience Japan program, where local students host various events throughout the year to showcase some of Japan’s unique culture. There were events showing foreign students how to make takoyaki and okonomiyaki, taking a bike tour around Osaka, and much more.

I signed up for this event because I thought it would be a good opportunity to see other parts of Japan I may not have been interested in seeing in my short time here. Most of my plans revolved around going to primarily urban places, like Dotonbori, a famous street in Osaka lined with different food stalls. I knew the castles in Japan are interesting, but only hearing about them made them feel very remote or out of the way. When I went to Osaka Castle, I realized that the area around the castle is almost untouched by the city surrounding it.

My group ate our lunch outside the castle, near the outer moat. It was extremely beautiful and lively. There were people walking their dogs, children playing, and people just enjoying the weekend. We ended up playing badminton for a little bit, then headed up to the castle

The walk up to the castle was long and winding, as expected from a castle from the Warring States Era. There were countless trees lining the path, as well as stones with engravings. Eventually, we made it up to the castle, which was much more grand up close.

The castle itself was impressive. The entire inside was converted into a museum. We were not allowed to take pictures on some of the floors but having access to the top floor was more than worth it. The view was fantastic.

We stayed until the sun started setting, casting a nice glow on the moat. The lights within the castle gave it a nice glow before the spotlights were able to turn on.

Miscellaneous Travels

Author: Liam Bodlak

Location: Amsterdam, Zurich, Prague

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Over the course of this semester I’ve taken a few short weekend trips to various places in Europe. Here are stories about some of them.

Amsterdam: In October, a stranger I talked to in Munich told me that Amsterdam was a “theme park for American tourists.” Having been there, I can confirm that it pretty much is. It’s a beautiful city, filled with canals, art, and amazing views nearly every block. It’s very obvious that the city makes a substantial amount of money off of tourism. Walking past coffee shops and bars, I could hear very clear American accents, and the people we had short conversations with all seemed to be from somewhere other than the Netherlands. It was an interesting multicultural experience, and I appreciated the opportunity to interact with fellow travelers.

Zurich: Zurich was…nice. Not sure how much was legitimately unique about the city, but it was a really nice place to spend a Saturday. The waterfront was amazing and the people in Zurich were extremely friendly (save for one angry bouncer who yelled at me in German until I gave up trying to understand him and left. Language barriers are hard). Switzerland in general is sort of culturally split between German, French, and Italian, and we saw signs in every language while walking through the city.

Prague: Prague has interested me for a long time. My parents talked about traveling there all the time, how beautiful it was, and how much fun they had there. They strongly encouraged me to see Prague, and said that out of all the cities in Europe, that was the one I need to see. It was with that in mind that I set out to see the city I’d heard to much about. I can honestly say Prague lived up to the hype. It’s a beautiful city, filled with landmarks, nightlife, great food, and great people. We saw the John Lennon Wall, the Infant of Prague, St. Vitus Cathedral, and Wenceslas Square. Prague might be the nicest city I’ve visited in Europe, and I will absolutely be back one day. My parents were excited about it for a reason. Prague was everything I’ve heard about it and more.


People, Places, and Food – Paris, Lugano, Luzern, Milan, Rome, Venice, Amsterdam, Guggenhausen

Author: Mark Young

Location: Reutlingen, Germany

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Midway through October, I went to Paris for the weekend. I saw all the major sights and had a good time. This was a street performer who was singing and dancing on a slackline.

Of course, I saw the Eiffel Tower. I took the tram to the to the top and had a really good time. It was very hazy when I went up but still had a good view. I wasn’t too excited about the Eiffel Tower going to Paris. I thought it was going to be uninteresting; however, as soon as I saw it, and walked under it, I knew exactly what the appeal is about. It’s one of those things that, when it’s in your view, you almost can’t stop looking at it.

The Louvre was very pretty. However, I’m not much for looking at copious amounts of art so I got tired of it rather quickly. The main attraction at the Louvre, is, of course, the Mona Lisa. I took Word and Image with Professor Chelsea Wagenaar last semester, which is all about replications and images(take it if you can, it’s a great class!) and thought I’d try to capture the scene in a slightly more inspired way than just taking a snapshot of the painting. I also wanted to rebel against the hundreds of people shooting tons of photos of it…so instead I did a short photo series of all the people taking photos of the Mona Lisa. It was rather fun to shoot and makes me think about why people take photos of what they do. Here are a couple more from the series…

For Fall Break I went to a few different places. My first stop was Lugano with my roommate. It was a gorgeous city, even though the weather was slightly less than gorgeous…

But with beautiful pathways along the lake, and being able to see across said lake into Italy…who can complain about some rain?

We ended up backtracking a few hours by train because we found a free place to stay in Luzern. I’ve been using Couchsurfing (a free app where strangers let other strangers sleep on their couch) for years now and this was the first time I actually got someone to accept a request to stay at their home. So we got to Luzern and met a very nice guy named Sergio. He was fantastically nice and helped us with planning on next exploring the city. He even was okay with us staying with him a second night. I’d highly recommend trying Couchsurfing! This is the view from the 16th-century wall that guarded the city. If it wasn’t overcast, you’d see beautiful snowcapped mountains surrounding the city.

From Luzern, we headed down to Milan for one purpose: to see Damien Jurado, a favorite singer of mine perform. It was a fantastic performance and he played one of my favorite songs, ‘Working Titles’. Travelers tip: If you’re ever in Italy and want to see a concert or performance or whatnot you may see the price and think “what a steal” and you’ll get there and they’ll say “you have to buy a 15-30 euro membership to get in”. In Italy, they have these “clubs” where you have to be a member and it gets you into a lot of different stuff for relatively cheap…so if you’re planning to see a concert in Italy, expect to drop some more money for the membership fee even if you’re only seeing the one concert.

Italy was being barraged by vicious storms during our break, so we had to quickly change plans. We were intending to go to Cinque Terre, a beautiful town on the western coast of Italy. However, it was completely flooded and most of the town was shut down, so I texted another group that I knew was headed to Rome and we were headed to Rome two hours later. I hurt my ankle rather badly on the first night there and ended up having to use a cane the entire trip. So, as I hobbled around Vatican City, I saw the Pope.

The Colosseum was pretty neat. Like 60,000 birds flew out of it as the sun set.

We had planned on going to Venice for two nights and then directly to Amsterdam; however, every news source ever said Venice was two feet deep in water. So naturally, we wanted to check it out. So we get to Venice and turns out it was all fake news. There were maybe 2 days with flooding and then it all cleared up. Unfortunately, we had already canceled our AirBnB and booked reservations on a night train back to Reutlingen. So we hung around Reutlingen for a couple nights and then ventured up to Amsterdam, pictured above. Amsterdam was a very interesting city with nearly every single building looking like it was going to fall over into the nearest canal. Also, the Dutch language sounds and looks hilarious to Americans and Germans. It’s like if you took German and added a whole bunch of double vowels in random places.
Ants. This was taken at a museum called Micropia, in Amsterdam, that was all about microbes. Micropia was one of the coolest museums I’ve ever been to and my going to it was due to a set of crazy coincidences. I worked at Shedd Aquarium this summer, I made friends with one of the head doctors and a few days before the end of my internship, he gave me a book called “I Contain Multitudes,” which is all about microbes. I had a few other books on my to-read list so I finally got to reading it on the train ride to Rome. And in the first few chapters, the author writes about a Dutchman, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, the father of microbiology and then how because of his discoveries, how a museum, Micropia, was opened in Amsterdam(where I’d be in 6 days) to celebrate and allow people to discover and explore microbes! It sounds super nerdy but it turned out to be a super interactive and extremely fun and interesting museum. These ants were open air, no glass or covering at all, and we watched as they harvested the leaves from a plant.

If you study abroad, make sure you make new friends! I purposefully try to sit by someone new every class period and sat by Julius, pictured, my second week of classes. We became good friends almost instantly, bonding over photography and a love of traveling. So, he invited me to his house near Lake Konstanz and I got to experience small village Germany. It was about as authentic as it gets. His grandmother, who only spoke German, made wonderful kaese spaetzle, potato salad, and apple cake. It was amazing. I like to do astrophotography so that night we shot some astro-portraits.

His brother, Janis, was very proud of his Simpson motorcycle — which he was too young to legally drive…so the next day I took some photos of him with his prized possession as well.

The night sky was beautiful in their village, Guggenhausen. You can’t see him, but their cat Charlie is in this tree.


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.



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