Thursday, May 7, 2009
The has been no limit to the access of knowledge that has been obtained here. Every single student has learned a lot about themselves, has been introduced to a larger spectrum of life, and has learned many lessons that they never would have had an oppertunity to learn back in America.
I have had a great time here, making friends with people I have only seen around campus, or who I have never known before. These friendships will be life long. Being able to travel as a class and on our own with our fellow classmates who are now friends, has been one of the best parts. In traveling with the other students and teachers we have been able to learn more about each other which reflects and adds to our knowledge about the world.
This opportunity has allowed me to do freelance on an educational/ real life level, it has allowed me to travel to places I hope to see again, I have been able to engage in classes I never would have taken.
I will always be hopeful of returning to Innsbruck and Wien with the ones I love and who are a part of my life back home. To return and share the knowledge I have gained, and also learn from the experience we may share returning here.
I hope every student is able to take a piece of this far away land and share it with the ones they love most.
I woke up in Rindge, New Hampshire for 5 semesters to go to the same buildings and sometimes have the same professors। The biggest change is what I'm doing after class। I'm still in class here but when I get free time, I can wander Europe। Besides the class trips to Salzburg, Innsbruck, Munich, Bavaria, Paris, and Prague, I managed to go to Venice, Rome, Semmering, Budapest, Amsterdam, Berlin, Dresden, Krakow, Auschwitz, Zilina, and many other little places along the way। It's been amazing to see the world. I loved traveling on my own at points because I can do what I want. I've heard from others that they didn't have a good time at places because they were held back by friends and their desire to do other things. When alone, I can do what I want to do and not feel like I was held back.
I am a mass communication major and I love that this trip was all about mass communication। I have watched so many European films that I never would have seen in America because we don't really get them। This trip has opened my eyes to the rest of the world and see what is beyond the American borders that doesn't get imported in। I know many people that can't stand subtitled movies because they can't get over the fact that they have to read the translation the whole movie. Honestly, I really haven't watched an English spoken movie in 3 months so when I go back to the states it will feel like something is missing. I feel that once you get into the movie, the subtitles aren't even thought about. You almost forget that it's a foreign film because you get so used to it. I'm glad I've watched so many foreign films.
I don't know how somethings happen sometimes, but I've noticed someone is always looking after me। I seem to get into situations that could end badly, but something always makes them swing in my favor. There are so many examples that I feel it's honestly its own category. I'm in Slovakia in a Eurail Pass deadzone, meaning my ticket is invalid. I was confronted by train authorities and they told me I had to pay a fine for fraud ($160), then the actual ticket ($100). After explaining my situation to them for 10-15 minutes, he just smiled and said, "Sit anywhere you want. Don't worry about it." It could have been bad, but it worked out for me. Another time is just recently... I overdrew my bank account and they charged me $117 in overdraft fees. After calling up the bank and explaining my situation, they told me many times that they can't do anything about it because it wasn't a bank error. I got a little personal with the representative and the supervisor and then the manager... I explained I took complete responsibility for my mistake, but I was asking them a favor and eventually they rebated me the overdraft fees. So many stories like this have happened here, and I know I'm alone a lot of the times, but sometimes I feel someone or something is always looking over me. I guess Karma is working for me.
This is the longest I've ever been away from home। Yes, I'm in college I'm 1 1/2 hours from home... but I can always go back home on the weekends or when I want. This is 3 months without my mom, dad, sister, other relatives, and my girlfriend. I'm so grateful that my girlfriend stayed by me even though I left for Europe. She has always been supportive. I respect that so much and it honestly has built our relationship more because we met new people and never once wanted someone else. We know how strong our relationship is and how in love we are, and we waited for each other and that showed me a lot about how strong our love is. We webcam everyday, talk on the phone when I'm on excursions, but nothing is the same as being able to touch or see her right in front of me. Less than 1 week left and I can't wait to actually be able to hold her in my arms again.
Final exams are coming up and the end of the semester abroad. It has been an amazing time and I recommend this trip to anyone. It is the best time of your life because you experience the way people live in a land far from yours. I am so glad I came. I learned so much.
Monday, May 4, 2009
While I was in Vienna, I learned how to live on my own in a city. I'm from a small town in Massachusetts and living in a large city in a foreign country taught me how to take care of myself and others around me. Learning how to travel was a great experience, especially in Europe. I found it quite easy to travel by train or plane. I'm used to driving every where in the States, but being on my own, finding the airport and getting there on time taught me how to managed my time wisely. I was studying here, so I had homework. I started out procrastinating, waiting until the last minute to do my work, but I realized that this was dumb. While I was in doing work, my friends were out enjoying the weather and the sites.
I enjoyed traveling. I know what it takes to plan long trips and I know how to pack light and be prepared. (zip ties came in handy). I very much enjoyed traveling to all the places I went to because I know this is a once in a lifetime experience. Even when I felt under the weather, or I didn't feel like going out, I mustered up the energy to get up and get out and 99% of the time it was the right call. I enjoyed Europe and all the culture it had to offer. I understand the world a little bit better now from being abroad for a semester.
My favorite part about studying abroad was being able to learn about paintings, statues, or historical information on a country and actually be there to really visualize these things. We recently went to Prague, which is the capital of the Czech Republic. Before we left we watched movies and talked about communism, then actually went to a country where this actually existed. We visited a museum on communism and had a tour around the city where major events occured, and actually being able to be there made a major impact on my learning experience. I was able to skype with my mom and tell her everything I learned, such as how we stood on the spot where a teenager actually burned himself to death to make a statement. It is a much better learning experience abroad because you just don't read something out of a book and get tested on it, but you visually see it.
I was able to go to Rome, Venice, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Munich, Paris, Athens, and some Eastern European countries that weren't really planned. Speaking different languages and eating different food was a lot of fun. Traveling with different people is always interesting because someone might want to visit somewhere that I never even thought of going.
I have made many new friends here in Austria that I hope to keep in touch with, even one from England. Everyone has been really nice when we travel or get lost. For example, when we went to Athens for spring break we had to find our apartment. Not speaking any Greek, we took out our map and tried to figure it out, but a couple came up to us immediately and showed us the right way, and even spoke English. People in Europe may say they don't like Americans, but for the most part they are excited to have visitors and show us their culture.
With only a week left, I look back on my entire experience of being here and I feel great about it. I hardly travel when I am in America and to think of how much I traveled here makes me happy. I never thought that the 5 years of French I took, would actually come in handy, where I can actually communicate with people who speak that language. I will miss living here in Vienna, Austria, and I am excited to say that this experience has really helped me mature. I will never forget it!!
Wow!!! Its almost time to leave....in 8 days I will be back in America.
I'm so excited to see all my friends and family and tell them all about my times here. However I do not want to leave. I want to bring the city back with me or bring everybody from back home to Vienna. Even though the time spent here is almost over, and the sun is setting on amazing time; the colors the sun casts up are beautiful, and I appreciate that beauty.
Before I reflect on my times here, I want to say that I am so thankful and appreciate that FPU offers such an amazing opportunity to study abroad. Honestly, if you're a student reading this considering if you want to study in Vienna...DO IT!!!! Its the best thing that I've ever experienced. Its not every day an opportunity like this comes around. Living in Europe for three months, taking a few classes, AND getting credits for it. Whats better than that?? I cant think of too many things.
Okay, so, looking back, time has flown by. I remember saying, "We've only been here for two weeks, it feels like forever." Well now it feels like I said that only a few days ago. There is so much I still want to experience here. When it was rainy, cold and snowy it was hard to want to go out and explore. But ever since the weather has gotten better, I've been outside every chance I can get.
Since being here, I've learned that everybody needs to travel at some point in their lives. Whether it is three months in Europe or a week to tropics, the life lessons learned give an understanding to how other people live. Not everywhere is like America, and it is important to see how other people go about their daily lives, and seeing the differences and similarities throughout cultures. Here in Austria, people are punctual, polite, respectful, resourceful, considerate, and selfless. I'm going to be cranky when i get back home, because i can tell that I'm going to feel that Americans are loud, lazy, disrespectful and rude, wasteful, and glutenous. Yeah there's some great people back home, but after living here, I've kinda been spoiled with a majority of amazing Europeans.
I've also learned that it is important to hold on to who we really are. To try not to get caught up in the trends, or what seems cool, or what everybody is doing. I'm a positive caring person, and for a while I started to pick out the negative sides of people, and not notice the good side, or not care about other peoples feelings. I almost lost a friendship because of it. But I realized what was happening and got a hold of things before I messed up. I though about my definition of friendship and why I came to Vienna in the first place. I've gained a few friendships that are going to last for a while. My motto about being over here is, We're only gonna be here once, honestly, why look at what is wrong or what could be better......when we could be focusing on all the amazing things we may never get to see or do again. So I've gained a stronger sense of myself and taken steps to improve upon my faults.
I've gotten to travel to so many places while being here. As a class we went to Salzburg, Innsbruck, Munich, Paris, Prague, and trips to museums, churches, and abbeys. For outside of class, I've gotten to Amsterdam, Athens and explore Vienna. Just yesterday my brother Steve and I took the train and bus to the mountains just outside Vienna. The view of the city below is breath taking. We enjoyed a coffee then started to explore. We found some trails and followed them, before we knew it we were descending down the backside. We decided to walk all the way back to where we're staying. We talked and caught up on a lot of things and laughed the whole way home. I'm not sure how many miles it was but it was a 5 hour journey. And on that journey i connected to the city, we saw so many different sections that I was completely oblivious to before.
I feel like there is so much I can continue on about the whole time here. Even though I have spoken of some of the harder things experienced here, there have been so many truly amazing times that I will remember for the rest of my life. I know years from now I will look back on the trip and not have any regrets because I feel I've benefited so much from everything we have all experienced.
Throughout my 13 weeks I've faced personal challenges as well as physical ones. I never realized train schedules, tickets, and reservations could be so complicated! Especially during the time I spent traveling from Paris to Spain and back to Vienna during spring break really opened my eyes to how your plans can change faster than you know what hit you. I learned very quickly that many people in other countries will judge you because you're American and although this isn't right the world is not perfect and neither are people. This encouraged me even more to plan numerous routes to my destination in case my first and/or second and third plan fell through. On a personal level I can definitely say I'm much direction savvy now. I trust myself with a map and I'm now able to get myself places and not have to rely on anyone else.
Some of the more personal challenges I faced was learning how to deal with others and be more tolerable of people in general. Especially when there is a language barrier it's easier to become frustrated and not want to try at all. By the end of this trip I can definitely say I have a lot more tolerance and patience for all people in general, this including the other Americans attending the trip.
Some of the smaller issues to touch upon revolved mostly around time management. Trying to focus on schoolwork and your next trip to Italy or Amsterdam is not always so easy. Discipline and hard work definitely came into play when it came down to choosing between work or play.
I think I learned the most by experiencing it first hand being out and about in Austria and some of the other places I visited. Most of the time it was the small things that mattered the most. Meeting people from all over the world on the trains, in the streets, at restaurants, what have you. It's completely true when they say first-hand experience is always the best way to learn. Even some of the bad things were really learning experiences that helped me to put things into perspective.
Overall my best memories of this trip are all random times that made me laugh or cry that really made the trip what it is and helped me to grow as an individual. Although the 12 of us didn't always get along that was to be expected and we always found a way to get over it.
I know after being in Europe for 13 weeks I have definitely come to appreciate home and America in general so much more than I use to. There are so many small things that you take for granted daily that you would never think twice about...driving your car, eating home cooked meals, efficient and quick laundry, family and friends, pets, and even just the fact that you can walk into a store and people speak English.
Through the ups and downs, the goods and bads, it is finally time to say goodbye to Europe and move forward with all the knowledge and memories I have gained from the past 13 weeks.
The semester in Vienna was amazing. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I've traveled so much and learned so much about myself and the people who I am living with. As the semester went on I learned to love Vienna more and more. Everything from the language to the rooms and cafeteria. With only 8 days until my return to the United States I am going to miss Vienna and all of Europe so much.
This opportunity has giving me the ability to travel to so many places. I've been to Rome, Prague, Paris, Athens, Salzburg, Munich, Innsbruck, and even an all day layover in Serbia. Having been able to travel to all these places has made me become a more confident traveler. I can't reflect on one trip because each one had its own ups and downs and exciting new things to do. Some trips were down on a personal level and others on a class level. Though each were different they were all amazing.
I think that coming here has shown me that I can do things that I never thought I could do। It also taught me to not take things for granted। When I first arrived I only thought wow 3 months is a long time to be here, but its really not. It flies by and I feel I made the best of every opportunity given to me. Getting over the fear of getting lost and just exploring was something that I enjoyed doing.
Something that I thought would never happen was when traveling in other non German speaking countries I started to miss German and Vienna a lot. Now that I will be returning home in a week I wonder if I'll still miss the German language and Vienna.
If someone asked me today would I recommend this for them I would say yes. No matter who you are or what is going on going abroad was the best decision I have ever made. Yes it gets stressful and things can get a little crazy but I wouldn't trade any of it. I had the time of my life here and I hope one day that I can return. I can't seem to say it enough one of the BEST decisions I have ever made was going abroad to Vienna!
Spending a semester abroad is a chance that far too few people take advantage of, and in spite of my early hesitancy at leaving my home and family for so long, I am happy that I decided to travel to Vienna to continue my education. My eyes have been opened to new and different ways of living, to a different culture with different norms and values. While my German still may not be as great as I originally hoped, I cannot help but be impressed at the journeys-- both geographical and intellectual-- I have taken these past several months. From Vienna, Rome, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Munich, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, and Prague, I have been exposed to the best that Europe has to offer. Whether it was looking down at the gladiatorial ring in the Colosseum or up at the Soviet War Memorial in Berlin, I often found myself in awe at the history and culture of a continent that was, for most of human history, at the center of the world. Yet it was not only the traveling and the history that made this semester so memorable. I have been fortunate enough to meet a talented (and above all fun) group of eleven other students who have made my time in Europe exciting and go by all-too-fast. The laughs and memories that we have made since arriving will never be forgotten, and I hope that they have enjoyed my company as much as I have enjoyed theirs.
At the same time, it was not only my fellow students that have impacted me. I was lucky enough to go to Europe with a family that has been very accommodating, kind, and fun-loving. Professor Tullio has enhanced my love for film for example, and now I am seriously considering doing something with film studies for graduate school. Our Program Director, Tom, was always prepared and on top of things; I never got lost while following him (in fact, it seemed as though I had difficulty when he wasn't around!) on our excursions, and he often went out of his way to ensure that our class trips went as smoothly as possible. Last, but certainly not least, there were two young kids that I have shared many fun times with. Whether it was playing Star Wars on the computer (and around town too!) with Oliver, or trying to "escape" from the blockades that Lilly often set up, I always found myself with a smile on my face when I was around them. I hope that as they grow older they remember the fun times we had together; I know I will.
Though it is hard to peg down the things that I liked "most" and "least" about my time abroad, I feel that I should, in accordance with our culture's fondness for rankings, talk about the places and events that were my favorite. Though I liked all the cities I visited, Berlin, Germany is definitely my favorite. It is the city I would be most likely to return to next time I visit Europe. My love of history found much nourishment there, especially in terms of the history of the Third Reich. Germany itself is a country that has done much to remember and preserve its past, and consequently, there is so much to see. Visiting the Olympic Stadium, House of the Wannsee Conference, The Brandenburg Gate, and the countless memorials, I was completely absorbed. What is more, Berlin is a city that is always moving; there is always something to see and somewhere to go, even after the museums have closed in the evening. In terms of Vienna, the city where I spent the majority of my time while in Europe, I have much praise to give as well. It is one of the cleanest major cities I have ever been to, and the history, as in Berlin, is well-preserved. Having a local professor, Heinz Kröll (who is without a doubt one of the most knowledgeable men I have ever met) to take us on excursions around the city helped to unlock the secrets of Vienna, many of which I would otherwise not have known about.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Another really great thing about this semester has been the friends that I have made. From meeting some really great people who live and work here, like my friend Kate who is from Britain but is currently working in Vienna, to becoming close with the people who came here from FPU. Being in a country where you do not speak the language and living with only eleven other people who speak english, for the most part, can be very difficult. But it also brings you close together. Living in a confined space and being limited to such a small group really limits how you can interact with them. Since I did not come abroad knowing anyone too well I am very lucky that I ended up with two great roommates who I was able to travel with and get to know. The trip certainly would not have been the same without them, or without everyone else here, and I think it is so great that I was able to meet them all.
Overall when I look back at this trip I can honestly say it is one of the best experiences of my life. I have been wanting to study abroad since I was high school and the semester has met all of my expectations. I really feel like I got to do something unlike anything I have ever done before and I truly got to experience Europe in a way that you can never experience it after college. I really believe this was the opportune time for me to come to Europe and experience these intriguing cultures and learn more about the lives of those who were unknown to me before. This is most certainly the trip of my life.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Monday, April 6, 2009
Von Steves Perspektive, die Pierce auf Österreich Wien erfährt.Von Steves Perspektive, die Pierce auf Österreich Wien erfährt.
The snow boarding has been amazing, and I recommend this journey to anyone who has a desire to learn from a new perspective... Different than the standard American views of issues, and life.
The journeys that have been set out by the teachers have offered many things. Great experiences, times for students and teachers to bond, Much learning, frustration, problem solving, the entire works. Everything that comes with great knowledge.
The expeditions which the students are allowed to create and explore on their own, are also priceless experiences. Being able to go out and meet people who have seen much of the world. Being able to relate and understand that everywhere you go people are still people, and there is a lot to learn.
Many students have learned that a great time is not just going out for a beer, but learning as much as they can over one beer.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Then we went off to Innsbruck, Austria to meet up with the Spring Breakers from Franklin Pierce. Some of us went up the mountain and took a lot of pictures, after the whole group of Vienna students took a tour of the city.
The next day was a free day, and I went to VENICE, ITALY! W00T!
Venice was amazing. We left at 5am, got there at 11am, went to a glassblowing place and watched some guy make cool things out of glass, and then we were left to wander on our own at noon. I walked all around and took many pictures and got many souveniers. Venice was just beautiful. I loved it. We left at around 4pm and that pretty much sums up the day.
The next day we left for Munich and did our art presentations and then go to the Hofbrauhaus! Which is where I believe Oktoberfest is held. The next day we went to Bavaria and saw CrAZy Ludwig's Castles. One of the castles gave Walt Disney the idea for the castle in Disney World, so it was cool seeing what inspired him. Overall though, I wasn't too impressed. That night i walked around the city and went to the Hard Rock Cafe and other places around town.
The next day we went to the Bavarian Film Studios, which was cool because we saw the sets of many European films and even acted in our own =) I was the purple guy from Star Trek. We even got to see Falcore... from the Never Ending Story. After that I saw something that wasn't something I was enthusiastic to see, but something I had to see, and that was Dachau Concentration Camp. It was so overwhelming that I didn't know what to feel because I felt angry, sad, depressed, free, and about 10 other feelings at the same time. I went to the memorial there and payed my respects to the 7 children my grandfather lost in the Holocaust. The hardest thing was seeing the Krematorium and walking through the gas chamber and seeing the ovens. It's something I hated to be put through, but I wanted and needed to.
That night we left back for Vienna and it ended our 1 week on the road. While it was very tiring and fast paced, it was so worth it.
The old town in both Salzburg and Innsbruck were astonishing. The view from the fortress was mysteriously beautiful. The lights portrayed the shapes and sizes of the buildings in the city but you can not actually see everything like in Boston (wave of homesickness...). Everything in Boston is so much bigger and brighter which illuminates more of the surrounding buildings, streets and parks.
Innsbruck's high and centralized view of the city was from up top of the city tower was the name of it (i think). We had to climb up 148 stairs to get there and it was well worth it. The irrigation system of the rooftops was well planned and efficient. I like it better than modern gutters.
I walked the city alone the second day there. Five of the students went to Munich early, and five went to Venice for the day. My brother was the only other student who had no minutes on his phone, so it was hard to find him to meet up. I had the city to myself and my camera; this was my favorite part of the trip, which is surprising to myself. I generally enjoy peoples company, laughing, talking, and having a good time exploring. It was revitalizing to just wandered by myself letting my feet take me where ever they wanted to go. No compromises, no complaints, no worry if I was lost or going to be late. My mind was clear and I remembered my high school photography class and many of the rules that make a good photograph. Within the three hours I was completely free I took photo's of the city capturing the city life and its architectural beauty with stunning alps shining through wherever they pleased. I found so many cool things and places that I normally would not have seen if i was with other people. I found a hidden section of wooded walking paths with a few covered bridges. One which cut across the main river, with jaw dropping scenery on each side. I found a metal 10 foot tall bird in a park near an elderly home. I walked along a small river and saw many locals conversing strolling alone like I was. I found a big shopping complex with tons of people trying to get word out about their companies or fundraisers. And my favorite of it all is I found a slightly run down industrial street with a large bridge running parallel to the street below it, leading down to bright white peaks towering over the city keeping it safe. Who knows maybe some of the photo's will make it to post cards. ^_^
The city itself was beautiful despite the chilly (but not freezing) weather.
The people are friendly and basically crazy but I guess that's pretty much anywhere you go.
There's no traffic except for the one million bikes that are speeding along waiting to kill a pedestrian...seriously, once they ring their little bell you better run out of the way or you're toast.
The coffee shops were amazing.
The hostel we stayed in was a little...lived in, but ok.
Pretty much everyone there speaks very good English which was nice since you could go somewhere and not have to worry if they could understand you or not.
The train ride was 17 hours which wasn't great but I'd still do it again.
I did not have a favorite part of our week long trip, instead, I liked all of it. We started out in Sulzberg where we checked out the slat mines and we under took the Sound of Music tour. the mines were awesome, I realized that the first time I had ever been to Germany was 300 meters below the earth in a mine shaft. It was a pretty cool feeling. The Sound of Music tour was sick because it gave us a chance to get out of the city and see the surrounding country side. The country was absolutely beautiful. After two nights in Salzberg, we took a train to Innsbrok. There, we met up with the spring break FPU group, we had a good night. The next day I left early to see Munich. There, Ryan John and I walked the streets and viewed some of the monuments around town. we also hit up the old town center. When the rest of the group arrived, we took a train to see the castles in the country side. I forgot the names of the castles, but they were high up in the mountains of Germany and they were breath-taking. That night we went to the haufberg house. On the last day we toured a Germany film studio and we visited Dachau concentration camp. The studio was fun and interesting, they filmed The Never Ending Story there. The concentration camp was moving. To actually see the crematorium and the barracks, is an extremely touching thing for anyone to witness. After the trip, we all returned to Vienna, happy to be home from an exciting week of travel.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
I also sang that song while there.
In Salzburg I got the chance to really see a beautiful Austrian town, not that Vienna isn't beautiful but it felt great to get out of a huge city. I went up to the fortress that at one time was Salzburg protection and then went on The Sound of Music Tour. This was something I had been looking forward to since I watched the movie in class. It was pretty interesting but a little disappointing since the weather wasn't that great. After that tour the following day I got to go to a Salt Mine in Dumsburg. Traveling under the mountain by train and then by slides was a lot of fun and learned a lot about the salt industry. I think Salzburg was probably my favorite place to visit.
After a 2 hour train ride I arrived at the next destination of Innsbruck. Surrounded by mountains it was another amazing sight to see. At the time of this trip FPU was also on spring break there. It was great to see familiar faces and catch up on news going on back at Franklin Pierce. I only spent about a day and 2 nights there since the day after I arrived I took a day trip with the rest of the FPU students to Venice. It was 5 hr. bus trip with a hilarious tour guide Angelica ( i don't think she was trying to be funny but she was.) This was probably the longest day ever getting up at 4am and then not returning until around 10:30pm and having to hike back to the hostel but I am so happy I got to see Venice. And it was a great day filled with warmth and sun.
After this small excursion I left and ventured to Munich Germany. Once I got there I hit the ground running and didn't stop until I was in my bed back in Vienna on Saturday night. I started right away going straight to the Museum of Modern Art and presenting about Fritz Winter. This Museum was interesting but neat to go to. But what I was really looking forward to was going to the beer garden called Hofbrau Haus. After an unforgettable night of having a German time we traveled the next day to the Castles. The one that i was looking forward to seeing was Neuschwanstein Castle. This was built by King Ludwig II he was a king who loved building castles. This castle was based on Richard Wagner's operas. It was extravagant and I loved it. The mountains that surrounded the castles were so beautiful and snow covered with snow falling it reminded me of something out of a book like the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. After this long day outside seeing the castles I got to go to the Bavarian Film Studio. This was something I didn't think I would really care about and just do it to do it. It turned out to be AWESOME. The Never Ending Story was filmed there and I was able to ride Falcore the Luck Dragon and I also bought slippers. Even the rest of the sight was amazing. I really enjoyed myself and this is something that surprised me and I am happy it did. After the morning film studio I ventured outside of Munich to Dachau Concentration Camp. This was eye opening. I know that people have moments that change their lives forever and I thought this would effect me more but I went to the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. and that seemed to have more of an effect. But this was still an extremely important piece of history to visit. I was surprised to know how big a camp was as well as that there weren't just Jewish people there but also others like gypsies, mentally challenged, gay and even other religious people were sent to camps. I learned a lot and it was still a moving experience but just not what I expected. After this day I RAN to the train to catch the one that would arrive in Vienna at 9:30pm. It was fun like training for the Amazing Race.
I made it safely back to Vienna tired and ready to relax for a week until my next adventure to Paris. There was a lot of new experiences and it felt like a lot longer then only 8 days! Everything was worth it and I am happy to be here and experiencing everything I can.
I spent the most amazing 4 days of my life in Rome! I went with my two roommates Natalie & Alison, and our friend Matt came along too. We really made the most of 4 days; we walked all over the city and started off the first day by seeing the Vatican Museum including the Sistene Chapel and the Laocoön Group statue. We made our way to the Pantheon and even stumbled across the Trevi Fountain. We also had our first Italian pizza! It was delicious, and a lot cheaper than pizza in America! That night we went out with our hostel on our first pub crawl. It was a lot of fun, we met new people, many of them tourists like ourselves from all over Europe and some from the States as well.
The next day we went to the archaeological area on and around Palatine Hill. This included seeing the Roman Forum and Titus' Arch. The archaeological ruins were so amazing. Matt, Alison and I are all Anthropology majors so it was really interesting to see these sights! If we did not have more to do that day I could have spent the entire day there, but eventually we left to go see the Colosseum. It was just about as amazing as I was expecting it to be. It was so cool standing next to and within something so massive, old, historic, and well-known. That night we enjoyed gelatto by the Trevi Fountain and we all threw in coins to make wishes!
On the third day we took it a little easier. We walked around the Trastevere area and had heart shaped pizzas for lunch. During this day and the next day we just did out best to see all the rest of the sites and check out the main areas in Rome. We saw the Temple of Hercules and the Mouth of Truth, plus we saw the beautiful ruins of the Caracalla Baths. The weather was warm and we thoroughly enjoyed the sun and grass all around us. We spent a lot of time looking at the fun souvenir shops as well, I bought two beautiful Venetian masks and a ton of postcards!
I learned quite a few things about Rome while I was there. For example, I never knew there was a pyramid in Rome, which we got to see on our last day! Plus I did not know anything about the many obelisks that exist in the many Piazzas all over Rome. It was an experience of a lifetime and it is something I will never forget! Thank goodness I took 1,000 pictures to help me remember everything!
Monday, March 30, 2009
Our first stop was Salzburg, a few hours away from Vienna by train. Even in the twenty-first century, the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart looks like a town from the eighteenth century, largely free of major industrial factories or intrusive modernist architecture. One has the impression of stepping back in time as soon as exiting the train station! The two major excursions we participated in while visiting Salzburg were "The Sound of Music" tour, which brought us to locations where the world-renowned film was shot. We learned some highly interesting and amusing things about the film. Indeed, I never suspected that the production used two different houses when shooting scenes at the Von Trapp villa, or that the actress playing Leisl was almost seriously injured while shooting in the gazebo where many of the film's romantic scenes take place.
The day after taking the movie tour, we went to visit the local salt mines, a major source of revenue for the Salzburg area for many centuries. It was interesting to see how this precious mineral is mined, and it was even more fun to ride the underground slides that transported the miners to their jobs every day. Spending an hour so many feet underground, however, was enough for me; I would not have enjoyed working down there every day, regardless of how good the pay may have been!
Compared to Salzburg, Innsbruck was a more relaxed and carefree trip. I only spent one day in the city, but once more, I was taken by the natural and artistic beauty of the city. Surrounded by mountains everywhere, Innsbruck, like Salzburg, is a quiet town which seems to have let the modern world pass it by. At the same time, however, it is a town which is most beneficial to those who enjoy winter sports, such as skiing and snowboarding. The mountains, as seen in the picture below (taken from the top of a tower in the center of the city), must be heaven for those who like the snow and cold weather. They are much more impressive than the mountains found in New England, that is for sure!
I, however, am no fan of the cold or of winter sports, so I, along with a few other students, decided to leave for Munich a day earlier than the rest of the group. The largest and most important city in Bavaria (in Southern Germany), Munich is one of my favorite places in Europe for several reasons. Like the other two cities on our journey, it looks much like a Medieval town, with cathedrals, monuments, and Gothic architecture. In addition, however, Munich is a thriving modern city with shopping districts, theaters, and restaurants at every corner. Through history, the city has served many purposes, chiefly as the birthplace of National Socialism and the Nazi Movement. In these streets, Adolf Hitler laid the foundations of his political career. As a student of history, this fact is what made Munich so fascinating to me. Indeed, I ate dinner in the very same beer hall, the Hofbräuhaus, where Hitler gave some of his most memorable and popular speeches before becoming Chancellor of Germany. It was a surreal feeling knowing that the Nazi Party's policies were formulated in the very same room in which I was sitting
Even more surreal and sobering, however, was the trip we made to Dachau, the first Nazi concentration camp, before leaving Munich for our train ride back to Vienna. One cannot accurately express in words the horrors that took place there between 1933 and 1945, and the memorial site remains one of the most important locations in Europe in terms of the location's historical value. Walking into the former gas chamber (which was never used for mass exterminations at this particular camp) was the event that impacted me the most, yet it was also very difficult for me to visit the crematorium, where so many men, women, and children became nameless victims of industrialized and systematic murder. Though I do personally feel that the countless books, movies, and documentaries that I have read and watched have to a degree "desensitized" me to what I witnessed at Dachau, it was nevertheless an emotional and educational experience that I will never forget.