Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Auf Wiedersehen, Germany...

Okay, wow. So, I don't really know how to start this one besides's my last night in Germany. Tomorrow I'll fly home and this amazing journey will come to an end. In the next few weeks I will be posting bits of my journal that I kept while in Africa, so this technically isn't the end of my blogging just yet; however, this will be my last post about my study abroad experience and my time in Germany.
After arriving back in Germany last week from Africa, I spent a few days relaxing at a Frankfurt hotel. I returned from Africa with a terrible cold which quickly turned into much more and I ended up spending my last 8 days in Germany very sick. With this, it was nice to finally get to relax and just take a breather after so much traveling over not just the past three weeks in Africa, but also over the past seven months! However, being so sick made it so I had to sit out on the last big adventure that I had planned for Germany: Oktoberfest. I am extremely disappointed that I wasn't able to join a few of my newly made German friends on a day trip down to Munich and to Oktoberfest, especially after we had such a great time dirndl shopping together! But, I know that someday I'll get to return and hopefully we can all make it to Oktoberfest together after all! So, as I mentioned, I spent my last week abroad relaxing, getting well, uploading pictures of Africa to Facebook, and of course, practicing my German for my oral test coming up next week. Tonight I went out for my last German dinner with Carolin's parents at a wonderful little restaurant that only serves food specific to the state of Hessen, which we are in. I enjoyed authentic Radler and Käsespätzle for the last time now for a while and we ended the night with some wonderful German dessert! Now, it is off to bed for, hopefully, a good night's sleep and then up early tomorrow morning for a long day of travel back home!
The outcome of dirndl shopping with two German it!

Last night in Germany!
I really cannot believe it has finally come to an end; it does not seem like seven whole months have gone by. It seems like just a little while ago that I was starting this blog, as well as starting a journey of a lifetime, but instead, here it is, this journey has finally come to an end. I have missed home so much over the course of seven months, but I have enjoyed my time in Germany as well and I really will miss it. I have learned so much, not just about the language, but also about myself. I will cherish so many new friends that I have made forever and I truly hope I will get to see them again someday. This has been such an amazing experience and the journey of a lifetime; it will be a time in my life I will hold dear to my heart, für immer und ewig.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

On To Africa!

Wow, I can't believe it is already the end of August! Over the past few weeks I finished up my time in Karlsruhe. I said goodbye to the new friends I made and had last meals at my favorite restaurants in town. I packed up my dorm room and then finally I checked out and headed back to the Frankfurt area with Carolin. I was so glad that she came down to Karlsruhe to get my things and help me finish moving out of my dorm. During the past few days I have just been relaxing at her house with her and her family and finally today I am heading off for another adventure...Africa! My time in Germany has been quite the experience. I was able to travel so many places and meet so many new people; it was really wonderful! I will always cherish the friends I have met during the past six months and the memories I have made! Hopefully Africa will also prove to be an amazing experience! After Africa, I am looking forward to coming back to Germany for a few short days and seeing friends one last time before I finally return home! Can't wait!!! My plane leaves in just a few hours, so this will have to do for now. Three weeks in Africa here I come! And so, until then...!

My farewell coffee and cake at Cafe Brenner in Karlsruhe! Yum!

Monday, August 19, 2013

...And I'm countin' down the days!

Oh my, just where has the time gone!? It seems like just a few days ago I was finishing up school and finally taking a break, but in reality, it has been nearly a month. During the last month I have been relatively busy with a special visitor, traveling, seeing friends here before I leave and a birthday party. I can't believe it, but in just under two weeks I will be leaving Germany and headed to Africa with a family friend! 

After school was finished, my break began with a most welcome visitor. My boyfriend, Bobby, finally came to visit me in Germany! It only took the past three years of me spending my summers in Germany for him to come visit, but, better late than never I guess! We spent most of our time in Frankfurt, as that is where he flew into, but we also got to visit a few smaller towns during the nine days that he was here. On the second day he was in Germany with me, we visited a castle along the Rhine River called Marksburg. It is situated in the little town of Braubach and even though it was a Sunday and mostly everything was closed, we enjoyed walking around this little, German town and having lunch. Lunch was great, especially for Bobby, as we had Döner, my favorite Turkish style food, and we enjoyed a beer sitting in the middle of town. Needless to say, I think Bobby is fond of Germany's open bottle policy! After a quiet, two hour train ride back along the Rhine River, we made it back to Frankfurt and continued on with our sightseeing. Over the next few days, we were able to visit the Frankfurt Zoo and many other interesting areas around Frankfurt including the Historical Museum and the Altstadt (Old Town), the shopping streets (the Ziel and Goethestrasse), the beautiful Cathedral (Dom) and Lock Bridge and of course, we had to visit as many authentic, German restaurants as we could! We also went to the movies and enjoyed beer and popcorn during my third viewing of The Great Gatsby, which I have now seen in three different counties! We also visited the Main Tower and looked out over all of Frankfurt; it was such an amazing view! All of these sights were amazing to visit and see and the food we enjoyed during the week was spectacular. On one of his last days being in Germany, Bobby and I visited a town near where my host sister, Carolin, and her family are from. There we had a wonderful time walking around the beautiful sculpture and fountain parks, the beautiful church and the old castle. We had a wonderful lunch at a quiet little cafe and completed our afternoon with some delicious ice cream! Afterwards we enjoyed a BBQ with Carolin's parents, as she was visiting Colorado at the time, and then finally, made our way back to Frankfurt. Of course, his visit went by too quickly, but it was great to have a visitor and someone to travel with! 
Bobby and I at Marksburg on the Rhine River

Enjoying some Döner and beer for lunch

Beer time!

Altstadt Frankfut

More German food!

Bobby and I on the Lock Bridge with our lock

On top of the Main Tower

Church in Bad Homburg

After Bobby returned to the States, I spent an afternoon more in Frankfurt seeing a friend from Greeley before she left for Bangkok to begin a masters degree. It was great getting to spend time with her and her sister in town. We walked around the city and went to a carnival along the Main River and of course, enjoyed more amazing German food! Once all of us were done hanging out in Frankfurt, I finally headed back to Karlsruhe and to my dorm. 

My friend, Donna, her sister and I enjoying our time in Frankfurt

Arriving back to Karlsruhe, and to my dorm, after spending so much time with friends traveling and such really seemed to be a downer, but I was also glad to get back, relax a bit and see all of my friends here before they left back for the States as well. Also during this time, the Broncos played their first preseason game and of course, I needed to watch it! So, I had my parents set up the computer in front of the TV and I skype called them with my webcam; it was great, I got to watch the game with my parents sitting along side of the TV--it was almost like I was home! Yet, day by day another friend left Karlsruhe and headed home; as this happened, it began to get more lonely here. Finally, I decided I needed to get out of Karlsruhe once more and I decided to visit a city that I have been wanting to see for the past three summers that I have spent in Germany---Trier, Germany's old city which was founded by the Romans in 17 B.C.

Watching the Broncos game from home!

I had decided not to spend the night in Trier, as I was traveling alone, so instead I had to get up early and leave at six in the morning. The train ride from Karlsruhe to Trier is about four hours long one-way, so I knew it was going to be a long day...but it was worth it! I arrived around 10 am and walked to the city center where the tourist office is located. Then, I managed to get the last ticket for the city walking tour at 10:30 am. This worked out perfectly as our guide was very knowledgeable and lead the group around town to all of the major sights. Afterwards, I walked back through town and all of these sights and spent a little more time in each and took as many pictures as I could! First I visited the Porta Nigra, the ancient city gate that was built by the Romans in the 2nd century along with a four mile long city wall. The Porta Nigra was just absolutely amazing; to see a structure as bold as this one which had stood for more than 1,900 years really went to show the power of the Romans during their time. Among the other sights I saw was the old Roman baths, the Altstadt, the Dom, the house Karl Marx was born in and the old Roman Amphitheater. The Amphitheater was very interesting as one can still see the cells where wild animals and prisoners were kept before they were to fight in the center of the arena. All of these sights were spectacular to see, but after such a long day and so much walking around the city, I was very tired and needed refueling. I enjoyed coffee and cake at a wonderful little cafe called Cafe 1900 and then later, I had a wonderful dinner of homemade pesto spaghetti with sun-dried tomatoes and Parmesan cheese, complete with German white wine of course. The restaurant where I enjoyed this fabulous meal was a part of the famous Red House in Trier. The Red House, also constructed in ancient times, bares the Latin motto of the city. In English it reads: "Thirteen hundred years before Rome, Trier stood. May it stand on and enjoy eternal peace, amen." Another interesting bit about my visit to Trier was that there were many elephant structures all around the city for the 2013 Elephant Parade; of course, I found this marvelous and took pictures of all the ones that I saw; I managed to find 28 out of 50 of them! The weather was perfect for my day in Trier and after I enjoyed my time there to the fullest, I relaxed during the long train ride back to Karlsruhe and took in the beautiful country side of Germany. By the time I arrived back in Karlsruhe and to my dorm, it was already the wee hours of the morning, but the long day was definitely worth it! 

Time for Trier

The Porta Nigra

The Dom

Old Roman Baths

Old Roman Baths

Altstadt Trier

The Red House

Birth place of Karl Marx

Quackers and I at the Old Roman Amphitheater 

Old Roman Amphitheater 

Beautiful German countryside 

After such a tiring day in Trier, I spent the next few days relaxing and such around Karlsruhe. I also went out with a few friends from class for dinner, ice cream and drinks. We went for drinks at a beach bar located on the 10th floor of a parking garage in the middle of the city. The beach bar was complete with sand, lounge chairs and of course, great drinks! As our night came to an end, we said our goodbyes; I will really miss all of the friends I have made during my time here, but I know I'll see them all again someday!  

Beach Bar Time!

New Friends, Jana, myself and Nina
The past month has been packed full of great memories with so many different people and I am so lucky to have had all of the wonderful experiences that I have had! I arrived back to my dorm once again yesterday afternoon after spending the weekend at Carolin's house celebrating her dad's 50th birthday; I am proud to say I survived the party with 60+ German speaking guests and managed to do pretty well with my German (I hope)!!! Overall, it was a good time with great food and lots of laughs! Now, once again I am back in Karlsruhe and countin' down the days until I go to Africa! This whole experience has been the 'once in a lifetime' kind and I am so thankful for all of the people I have met along the way and all of the amazing memories I will hold on to forever, but still, I am ready to go home and move on in my life. I am so excited to see what will come next!  

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

School is Out!

So, the past few weeks since my last update were dedicated to school work and getting finished with homework and classes. I can't believe how fast it went; soon enough, all of my presentations and papers were finished and my final test was over. It was a bit of a bittersweet feeling getting done with all of my assignments. I wrote my, possibly, last papers for college, at least for my undergraduate degrees anyway, and then attended the last week of class. After class on my last day, I was really in quite a shock; I couldn't believe 17 years of going to class had just ended! And, to be completely honest, I don't know if it has set in quite yet either... But, I am proud of my accomplishments and overall, I am excited to be done and looking forward to seeing what my future holds for me!

Last day of School!

After our classes were finished, all of the exchange students decided to throw a going away party since soon everyone will either be traveling around Europe or heading home to their own countries. A few of us got together early and prepared a Mexican feast as well as brownies and cupcakes for the whole group. It was a great time; everyone was able to come and we were all able to celebrate being together one last time! Our entire group consisted of students from all over the place! There are of course the Americans: 6 of us from good ol' Colorado, 2 from North Carolina, 1 from South Carolina, 1 from Arizona, 1 from Michigan and 1 from Wisconsin. Then their are the students from all around Europe: 2 from Poland, 1 from Ireland and 1 from England. And last but not least, 1 student in our study abroad group is from Hong Kong! Everyone brought something different to the group and I think it is safe to say that we have all made some wonderful friends from all over the world! After we all enjoyed dinner, which was complete with an awards ceremony of the "best" and "most likely to" awards, we enjoyed dessert and each others' company, then we said our goodbyes! I do hope that someday I will be able to see many of these new friends again!

Study Abroad Students Karlsruhe, Germany 2013

As I said, the past few weeks have been pretty basic with finishing up classes and such. Myself and a few friends have been able to walk around the city a bit more as well as spend evenings out in the Schlosspark, which is always wonderful! Also, to celebrate school being over, a friend and I had a date with The Duke and watched some John Wayne movies and enjoyed a pizza, or two! It was great to have someone who likes to watch John Wayne movies with, but it also made me really excited to get back home and watch them with my favorite John Wayne movie partner, my Dad! And, after a few days of relaxation, I plan on heading out once again for some traveling around Germany and Europe! I hope to see many more things while on my adventure abroad and I also hope to visit some extended family here in Europe! I really can't believe how fast time has gone and in just about two months from now I will be returning home!

The Duke and Pizza!!!

Hot Air Balloon in the Park!


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Finally, a Bit of Time to Relax!

The past few weeks in Germany have been pretty calm. There haven't been any long trips to far away and exciting places; so, it was nice to just relax for a bit. I have had lots of homework and stuff for school to catch up on since the semester is ending shortly. Only two more weeks of classes-I can't believe it! Two more weeks and I'll be done with my undergraduate college degree! Time really does go by too fast... But anyways, as I said, I have been catching up on lots of school work and working on writing my final papers. Right now I am in the process of writing my last paper for college ever and it is actually rather bittersweet. I am actually enjoying writing this one and I am both sad and excited that it will be my last. It will hopefully end up being the perfect last paper as well seeing as how it is turning out to be rather long and it is on my favorite book of all time, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. So far, it is everything I would want my last paper of college to be and I hope it turns out that way. Besides working on homework and school work, the weather has been wonderful here in Germany, for the most part, over the past few weeks. I have been able to get outside for a run everyday and enjoy the Schlosspark and the city a bit. This last week has been a bit more busy than the others with lots of assignments due, the 4th of July and then a scholarship fest at the Bodensee.

I found a giant snail along one of my runs!

Along a run one afternoon we were caught it a downpour...

And then, naturally, I wanted to jump in the puddles!

This is my favorite run destination a few miles away...and
on this day it looked beautiful in the sunshine!

To begin, the 4th of July was on Thursday and after class and homework was taken care of, we all decided to have a giant celebration complete with BBQ foods and S'mores! The weather was great and the party, which we held on the roof of one of the dorm buildings, was a huge success. Myself and the rest of the Americans were able to feel just about at home with so many homemade, American classic dishes and the Germans were able to get a little taste of America as well. The night ended with S'mores and fireworks, just like any other 4th of July would.

Party food all set up!


A new German buddy and myself celebrating on the 4th of July

Some very excited Americans!

Three Americans and a Brit :)


The next day was an early rise for most of us as we had to travel down to the Bodensee, or Lake Constance, for an annual scholarship fest offered by our scholarship foundation here in Germany. The weather was beautiful and the lake was a sight to see once again. The only down part to the day/evening was that we all were attacked by bugs and mosquitos on the Island Mainau, where the fest was being held, and bug spray was no where to be found... So, 32 bug bites and a long day later, I finally made it back to my dorm in Karlsruhe. Now, once again I am ready for some relaxing time and it will hopefully come in the next few weeks as school comes to a close.

A picture in the same exact place as last summer...
only blonde this time :)

There were so many beautiful flowers!

Stair fountain at Insel Mainau

Garden at Insel Mainau

Good friends and flowers!

My favorites!

I am looking forward to classes being over and then hopefully getting to travel around Germany before heading to Africa for three weeks and then finally, I will head back to the States and back home! In some ways, time has been going very slowly and I really realize just how long being away from home for 7 months (in total) really is. But, at the same time, my time here has really flown by and it is crazy to think I have been here for as long as I have been. I am looking forward to seeing all of my family and friends when I return, yet, until then I am still counting on Germany to provide many happy memories for me in the next few months!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Being a Busy Travel Bee!

It has yet again been a busy time for me here in Germany. Actually, I should say it has been a busy time everywhere else besides in Germany as I have spent the past three weekends in June traveling to three very different and amazing countries! The month began with a trip organized by the school to Milan and the country of Italy. Then, a few friends and I decided that we needed to escape the cool weather of Germany for a while and we headed to Barcelona, Spain. Finally, last weekend was spent in Scotland seeing Edinburgh as well as taking a day tour of the countryside. Now, I happen to be exhausted from so much traveling, but each of these trips offered great memories as well as so much insight into the many different cultures of Europa. To begin: Italy!

The trip began with a night ride on a bus through lower Germany and then Switzerland into Italy. After eight hours on the bus, we all were ready to get out and explore the city of Milan! Our day began with a quick walk through an Italian castle situated right in the middle of the city. It was beautiful and very interesting to see because it had a different look to it than many of the castles that Germany has to offer. And, another fun thing about this castle was that many of the stray kitties of Milan find their home in the moat of this castle and everyone loves moat kitties! Next, we made our way through the city marveling at little shops as well as impressive monuments along the way until finally, we reached the city center. Little did we know, the city center was holding a grand surprise for us and, as we peered around the corner into the square, we were amazed by the Duomo di Milano. This beautiful cathedral is unlike any that I have ever seen and might possibly be my favorite so far. It is made entirely of white marble and is simply a spectacular sight to behold. After marveling at the cathedral for some time we made our way back through town until we met up with our bus once again which would bring us to our hostel for the night. After we checked in, the group went together to find a pizza restaurant where I enjoyed, by far, the best pizza I have ever had. I didn't know that plain cheese pizza could ever taste so good, but then, I also didn't expect anything less from Italy itself! Later on, myself and a few friends made our way back into the city center via the metro for some more sightseeing and of course, some shopping! As we didn't have much time, this part of the trip was a bit rushed, but still, we managed to find some good deals as well as enjoy the culture of Milan. Our night ended with enjoying some wine and spaghetti followed by tiramisu in the light, summer air. The next morning began early once again as we left Milan and drove to the near by town of Bergamo. We could only spend a few short hours here as we needed to leave in time to make the long drive back to Germany, but still our time was well spent. This little medieval town is situated partly on a mountain with the newer parts down below. As a group we took cable cars up to the middle part of town and walked around. This experience was truly what I expected from Italy. Very tall and skinny apartments, old, Romanesque buildings and beautiful churches were the sight for the afternoon until we took another cable car up to the very top of town where some spectacular views awaited us. After we took as many pictures as we could and soaked up the beauty around us, we headed back down the mountain and back to our bus. We then began the long drive back to Germany; however, along the way we did get to drive through many beautiful towns. At one point, we were in a three hour traffic jam in Switzerland and, though this was not ideal, we did have an amazing view the entire time as we sat at the foot of the sun-touched Alps. The group finally made it back to Germany and Karlsruhe around one in the morning and so concluded my trip to Italy!  

The castle in Milan 

The cathedral in the city center

Best pizza ever!

In Bergamo, Italy

View from the top of the city of Bergamo

Beautiful little city right on the boarder between Switzerland and Italy 

After many months of rainy, cool weather in Germany, a few friends and myself decided that we needed to get away and see the sun and so, the second weekend in June was spent in Barcelona, Spain. Our trip began with yet another early morning and a train ride to the airport. By the time we arrived in Spain, many hours later, we all were ready for the beach. After we checked into our apartment that we rented for our four day vacation, we went directly to the beach. The beach was wonderful and the nice weather livened our moods instantly! We found ourselves on the beach for the majority of our time in Spain. We enjoyed cocktails as well as each others company. Also, I had plenty of time to catch up on my reading for both class and pleasure. Nothing beats a good book in the sunshine! When we weren't at the beach, we spent our time walking around the city, sightseeing and trying new foods. We were able to see the interesting Sagrada Familia Church that is in the heart of the city as well as enjoy some fresh seafood along the beach one night for dinner. On our last day in Barcelona, the weather was absolutely perfect and we spent the entire day at the beach before heading straight to the airport with sand still on our toes and sunburns in full-swing. And, a topper to a great day was the Subway restaurant we found in the airport which offered not only free refills on our drinks, but unlimited ice as well!!! You can only imagine our excitement as both of these things are unheard of in Germany. After another long trip, we arrived back in Germany- still in our swimsuits of course!

Beach time in Barcelona!

Some swimming and sunshine!

Fun times!

Quackers getting his suntan on!

Good friends and awesome memories!

After only a few days recovery from my travels, I was on the road again and I headed out for Scotland for my third and final weekend trip of June. After another long day of traveling, myself and a few friends finally made it into Edinburgh and to our hostel. After checking in, we decided to go for a walk around the city and have dinner. On this first night in Scotland we enjoyed some American cuisine at the Hard Rock Cafe and then headed out to do some window shopping around town. The next morning we woke early and went out on a Hop on, Hop off Bus Tour around Edinburgh. The tour took us to many amazing sights including Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace. We spent about two hours at the castle seeing all of the medieval dungeons and  fortresses. We also were able to see the crown jewels of Scotland as well as some amazing views of the city of Edinburgh. After our time at the castle, we continued on the bus tour until we reached Holyrood Palace. This palace is the official residence of the Monarch of the United Kingdom in Scotland. We spent a few hours here taking a tour of the palace and learning about its many years of history and turmoil. Afterwards, we took a walk in the beautiful royal gardens and also got to enjoy some Scottish shortbread. After we finished out our bus tour of the city, we found a lively, Scottish pub called 'The World's End,' as it is situated right on the corner of where the medieval walls of Edinburgh used to mark the so-thought 'end of the world,' and enjoyed some typical, Scottish dishes for dinner and dessert. The next day was our last full day in Scotland and so we took a day-long bus tour of the country and saw many amazing sights along the way including Loch Ness, Glen Coe and the tallest mountains in the UK, Ben Nevis, as well as the spectacular countryside of Scotland itself. While at Loch Ness, we took a boat ride around the lake and heard stories of the famous Loch Ness Monster, or Nessie as the locals refer to her as. The weather was spectacular for the entirety of our stay in Scotland, but especially on this day; the lake was simply breathtaking! We also drove through the forest that was used as the forbidden forest in the Harry Potter films! And, for the entire day of our tour, our tour bus driver told us many stories and interesting facts about the country that were quite entertaining and I will share a few of my favorites here. For instance, she explained how one can tell if a whiskey is from Scotland or from Ireland. It's quite simple actually, if it is from Scotland, it is spelled Whisky whereas if it is from Ireland it will be spelled Whiskey. The tour guide also told us many interesting historical stories. For example, there is a very important stone in Scotland called The Stone of Destiny which was in danger during an attack of Edward I of England in 1296. The people of Scotland were afraid that he would end up conquering and stealing the sacred stone and so, they replaced it with another and hid the original. However, the only stone that they had on hand at the time and that was large enough to be a convincing Stone of Destiny, was the stone that was used as part of the toilet seat in the castle. They used this stone as a "sacred substitution" and later on when Edward I of England did eventually succeed in conquering the castle, we went directly to the so-called 'Stone of Destiny' and sat upon it, claiming his title to the throne of Scotland. Supposedly, the Scottish found this absolutely hilarious and this is where the phrase "going to sit on the throne" comes from when referring to one going to the bathroom. Another similar story and example of the Scottish sense of humor is the story of  Simon Fraser who was a knight who fought in the Scottish Wars of Independence and was finally captured by the English and sentenced to death in 1747. As he was about to be beheaded, he was cursing all those in the crowd who had come to watch his death, when suddenly the stands collapsed and everyone in the crowd fell over backwards. This included all of the ladies in the crowd and when this happened, all of their undergarments were exposed. Now, Sir Simon found this hilariously funny and began to laugh very hard and the story goes that he was still laughing when the axe came down and he, therefore, died "laughing his head off." All of these stories made for a very interesting day driving through the Scottish countryside. When we finally made it back to Edinburgh, we were all very tired and we settled in for our last night in Scotland. The next day we were off early once again and headed back to Germany.  

View of Edinburgh from the castle

Another part of Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle from below

On top of Edinburgh castle 

Eating at 'The World's End'

At Glen Coe

Enjoying a boat ride at Loch Ness

All of these trips were a great experience and I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to travel to so many new places this month; however, I am completely burnt out on traveling now and I don't plan on traveling much more until I am recovered and I finish my classes here in Germany. The time has really been flying by and at this point, I only have one month left of school and then, hopefully, I will be able to do some traveling around Germany. Though I miss home and am very excited to return and see all of my friends and family, I am still looking forward to the many more amazing experiences I will get to have abroad before returning. And, so concludes my many marvelous travels around Europe in the month of June! Whew!!!