Getting Settled…

I have been in Berlin now for two and a half weeks. The city has seemingly shrunk as I get more comfortable. I am now pretty conifident in my ability to use the public transportation and not get lost. Now that I think about it, I’ve only gotten lost once and I think that’s pretty impressive.

I haven’t felt well ever since I arrived in Berlin, but now I think I am in the throws of actually being sick. These past few days, I’ve been really tired and have been sneezing and coughing. It seems like everyone in my German class is sick, too. We had a test today and part of the test was listening to an audio recording, which was made even more difficult with the wheezing and sneezing around the room.

These past two weeks, one thing I’ve heard from the locals is that Berlin isn’t Germany, so I guess I came to the wrong place to experience German culture. I can see waht they mean because the other day it took me a long time to find a restaurant that actually served German food. But I’m still really enjoying my time here. The buildings are all huge and can be really majestic. Just walking down a street, you never know what you’ll find. The city is really varied, too. There are all these different neighbourhoods and each one is unique. It is really fun when you go to a friend’s place or a bar in another part of town.

I think it’s kind of safe to say that the glamour of Berlin has worn down. Now I read on the subway to pass the time by rather than look out the windows of the train. I have gone to one of the famous museums and have seen part of the Wall, but outside of that I haven’t done very much sightseeing. I really hope to do some more, and will when the weather gets warmer and I feel better.

I have planned a couple of things that I’m excited about. In a couple of weeks for Easter, I’m going to visit my distant relatives in Weidenberg. I’m really looking forward to seeing the country and experiencing some “actual” German culture. I also really need someone with whom to practice my German. I also have planned a trip to London in early June to go to a music festival. I only know like 10 of the bands playing (and that might be a stretch) but I’ve been looking up the people who will be playing it on Spotify and I’ve found quite a few that I’ve liked, so I’m really excited for it. I’m also going to a big music festival in Berlin at the end of May with some people from my German course. It should be really fun, and it’s actually quite close to where I live.

Sorry this is a shorter post; I don’t feel well enough and have quite a bit of paperwork to do before I can go home. I will post soon!

School Days, Snow Days, and Holidays

Ulpan has ended and classes have begun! However, if you thought I was actually going to blog about my classes, you’re incorrect. I would hate to bore you with those details when so many fun things have been happening!

The weekend before classes started, there was a rumor of a snowstorm. A week or so before this, there were also rumors of snow, which proved to be false, so the prospect of an actual storm seemed slim. However, my roommates and I dutifully stocked up in case we were snowed in. The grocery store looked like anywhere in Florida before a hurricane—packed with people with arms full of canned goods. The day was sunny and warm. It had to be another false alarm.

But then it started raining. And that rain turned into sleet and that sleet turned into hail. Over dinner, we watched as the hail pelted the sidewalks, the cars, and anyone unfortunate enough to be outside.

When I woke up the next morning, I suddenly remembered the forecast. I pulled open my blinds to be blinded by a sea of white—everything covered in snow. I had only even seen real snow once or twice in my life.

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My roommates (shout out to the ladies of Apartment 742!), all from cities north of my home in Florida, were less thrilled, as I danced around the apartment and ran to each window. After our first apartment attempt at making French toast (which was actually successful), I convinced Rachel and Mel to join me outside. It was fun for approximately twenty minutes, and then we headed back inside to curl up in blankets and sweatpants

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Snow much fun!

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While the snow only lasted a day (shout out to the Middle Eastern sun!), the Jewish holiday of Purim, typically lasting one day in America, was an entire week in Israel. A few days before the official start of the holiday, people started wearing costumes around the streets. Bakeries spewed out thousands of “Oznei Haman” (Hamantaschen), traditional Purim pastries. Toy stores turned into costume stores and “Happy Purim!” posters were hung up around campus.

On the night of Purim in Jerusalem, my friends and I went to hear the Story of Esther read at a feminist, Modern Orthodox synagogue called Shira Chadasha. Later that night, we braved the shuk, the marketplace, which had been completely transformed. I had never seen the shuk that crowded, even right before closing for the weekend. Thousands of people, dressed in costumes, danced down the streets, met with friends, and pushed through crowds.

By now, a post-Purim calm has set in. All costumes have been pushed to the backs of closets and the copious amount of Oznei Haman in my apartment has been slowly decreasing. However, never a dull moment here—three more weeks until Passover!

closets and the copious amount of Oznei Haman in my apartment has been slowly decreasing. However, never a dull moment here—three more weeks until Passover!

Visits from Home

March is the month of visits here in Madrid. Friends back home are on Spring Break, we have a couple vacations during March, so sure everyone come on over to visit.

My boyfriend, Ryan came to visit me last week during UF’s spring break. I can’t explain how excited I was to finally see him after being away for just over two months. FaceTiming someone everyday is so different from finally seeing them face-to-face. I was so overwhelmed with happiness when I saw him walk out of the luggage area at the Madrid airport.

It was so exciting to give someone a tour around Madrid. We got to experience my favorite restaurants, like La Musa and Lateral, as well as try new things, like a picnic and boat adventure in Retiro Park. We had beautiful weather, which made the visit even better. We were able to do a lot of activities that it had been too cold to do before.
Ryan and I on a boat in Retiro Park!

Our yummy park picnic

We went to one of the oldest restaurants in the world, Botin, to celebrate our one year anniversary together. The food was amazing and definitely worth it. We had roast pig and roast lamb. Both were equally delicious. And dessert was amazing as well. The Spaniards really have a strong dessert game. Everything is just so good!

In front of Botin before our delicious dinner.

One cool thing we did was hop on a train to a random town we found online. It was called Cuenca and it was absolutely beautiful. It is an old town built into a mountain with hanging houses and beautiful scenery. We weren’t prepared, but there were a lot of hiking trails we could have done. They looked beautiful.

Being in the city, I forget how scenic Spain is, so I am happy I took the opportunity to get out and explore something new with Ryan.

Cuenca cliffs!

Ryan’s visit went by too fast and I was so sad to see him leave, but we only have about two and a half more months apart.

My best friend, Allura, will be coming to visit me during Semana Santa, or my spring break here in Spain. It’s the first week of April. I can’t wait to see her and celebrate my LAST spring break as a college student. What’s better than Europe with your best friend?

Potluck

Tonight I taught everyone the word “potluck.” In the South, potluck is a heavenly word. It means that all the ladies in your church that have the best secret recipes whip them out and you get to eat a little bit of everyones home cooked food.

I wanted my British friends here to experience a couple of “American delicacies” and I did my best to replicate them with the ingredients I had available to me.

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America: Biscuits and gravy, Banana pudding, Peanut butter and Jelly, Fluffer nutters, S’more (which we cooked over tea candles), Salsa, Brown sugar pop tarts, air heads, tootsie rolls and tootsie pops.

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To make the S’more, we had to attempt to roast the marshmallows over tea candles. It didn’t work so well. I’ve learned nothing is like a freshly roasted marshmallow from a bonfire

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Britain: hot cross buns, bourbons, custard creams, chocolate digestives, lemon sherbets, freddos, milky bar, licorice allsorts, cornish pasties, sausage rolls, scotch eggs and kinder eggs.

Some facts from the evening:

  • Hot cross buns are an Easter tradition. You toast them and then put butter on top. They are really sweet and delicious and have a cross on the top!
  • bourbons taste kind of like less sweet, yet more chocolaty oreos
  • Custard Creams taste like golden oreos
  • Chocolate digestives make really great s’mores! You can skip the chocolate bar and just use two chocolate digestives!
  • Apparently, the British measure inflation by the freddos (which is a really sweet chocolate bar, and delicious!)
  • I really loved the cornish pasties. They have to be made in Cornwall to be called “Cornish” pasties, so tonight I had a “Meat pasty”
  • Sausage rolls are pretty equivalent to our pigs in the blanket, while a pig in the blanket here is a sausage wrapped in bacon
  • Scotch egg is an egg wrapped in minced pork, covered in bread crumbs and fried
  • Lastly, the kinder eggs are apparently illegal in America. It’s a hollow chocolate egg with a toy inside that a child ate and choked on. A common phrase I have heard among my friends is “Guns are legal, but kinder eggs aren’t.” I actually find that ironically funny.

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potluck

Almost a Week

Hi everyone! I wanted to make a post as soon as I could. It has been quite hard, as I don’t have wifi in my dorm and I don’t have the credentials to use any of the university’s internet connections. I am writing from the mediacenter of the University, and the computer and keyboard are pretty different as they are made to write German and not English, so this post will probably have a lot of spelling and grammar errors.

I arrived in Berlin on Sunday, and since then it has been a whirlwind. I don’t think I’ve mentioned it, but I signed up for a Buddy Program for here in Berlin. The program is that you get paired with a student of TU and they help you get settled in the City. My buddy’s Name is Hayri Göcke, and I am particularly lucky to be paired up with him. He is a Masters Student studying Mechanical Engineering at TU. He picked me up at the airport and helped me get a travel ticket so I can take the subways and buses through the City. I was so grateful for the help after over 20 hours of travelling which included an intimidating look at modern Russia. On the train, he pointed out a lot of sights and notable things of Berlin. The first thing that struck me was how big the buildings are. Tampa is a pretty big city, but it doesn’t even compare to the grandiose architecture of Berlin. The Östbanhof (East Train Station) amazed me at its sheer size, and it isn’t even one of the central train stations of Berlin.  I live on the fifth floor of this horribly ugly building which is about an hour away from the university by train. When we got to my dorm, there was nothing in there. Because I wanted to pack light, I didn’t bring any bedding, towels, or silverware; something I instantly regretted. Hayri took me back to his place and lent me some for my first few days of Berlin. Then we went and got me a German SIM Card so I can use my phone in Berlin, and then we went to a traditionally German restaurant where I had my first German beer. I got some cheese pasta thing with bacon that was very good. We walked around the city and he showed me the university campus. I was shocked that the University has an actual campus with a Center and everything. I was sure that would be just a collection of buildings in the city, but it’s its own place. After setting up the SIM Card, I bid Hayri goodbye and went grocery shopping at a market under a train station. It only took me an hour to find it (even though it was right down the street). I was able to go home and get to bed at around 10 pm and thankfully avoided much jetlag.

The next day I had the welcome session for the Pre-Semester German intensive course at the University. Thanks to the help of Google Maps, I was able to find the building where it was located pretty easily. I had to wake up pretty early since my dorm is about an hour away from the university. I the course sounded like a lot of work, and we got assigned times for a placement test later that day. Since I had a couple of hours between the end of the session and my test, I went out to lunch with a couple of guys from South Korea. After wondering around for quite a while, we ended up at this Spanish Restaurant that served tapas. Something that I find really cool is that everyone can speak English. It makes me feel bad since every person here knows at least English and their native language while I only know English, but it is really neat being able to talk with people from completely different countries and cultures. I took the placement test and after that met up with a girl who came to Berlin from UF last Semester. Her name’s Samantha, and while we were only able to hang out for a while since she has exams to study for, she was able to show me a couple of cool places around the city near the university.

On Tuesday, I was woken up by the sound of my new roommate, Ben, moving in at 7 in the morning. He’s an Australian working on his master’s degree. I had to get up anyway to do some paperwork down at the university. I went grocery shopping, and then my roommate and I got to know each other while making our way to IKEA. There is probably nothing in this world more confusing than a German IKEA. It took me a half an hour to pick out bedding, and I wasn’t even sure I got the right things. Everything was written in this strange mix of German and Swiss that I suppose has a certain charm when you can speak one of those languages. They don’t use mattress sizes like we do in the US. I was looking for stuff labeled “twin” and all I got was measurements in inches and centimeters. I used how tall I am to guess what I needed, and I somehow got it right. The pillows there were shaped weirdly as well. They were either perfect squares, or the length was exactly twice the width. I still don’t know if the pillows in Europe are weird or if that’s just IKEA. After Ben and I got back to the dorm, we unpacked and set up our stuff. I went down to a central part of the City called Alexanderplatz where there was a department store that was 6 stories high. I climbed all the way to the top.

Yesterday, I went to an information session about the administrative matters involved with moving to Berlin that stressed me out. I got some coffee in the Mensa (a Cafeteria-like place) and then met up with Samantha again. She showed me the mall and a shopping center in Berlin. I had an impromptu shopping spree with a friend who came along which I badly needed because I don’t own the clothes for Berlin weather (of which I will talk later). I went to a meet-and-greet for the incoming international students at this cafe that weirdly served beer. It was really cool drinking beer in public and actually being allowed to. Then I went directly to bed.

This morning was the first day of course, for which I had to wake up at 6:30. The course seems good and the instructor seems really nice. I was glad to see that everyone else in the course can speak about the same amount of German as me.

The experience so far has been amazing. So far, it seems almost easy, but I know I’ve gotten a ton of help. I am almost sad to say that I don’t miss home at all. However, I do miss the weather. It the temperature hovers in the high 30s and low 40s, and there seems to always be clouds in the sky. It rains every day, but not like at home. The way I have been explaining it is that back home we have storms, whereas here they just have rain. One Thing I learned yesterday is that when it is cold like this, you have to keep your hands in your pockets less they dry out. Unfortunately I learned this the hard way when the cuticle of one of the fingers on my right Hand started bleeding because it was so dry. Until then, I thought that keeping my hands out of my pockets was a way of showing manliness, but now I just bury my hands in my jacket pockets every time I step outside. The rain is cold, too. It’s miserable when it rains, but when it does it’s only for a short time. I just run into a store or a cafe for about 20 minutes and come back out and the rain is typically done.

It’s also been hard getting used to the metric System. Between not knowing the metric System and not knowing the cold weather, my roommate thinks I’m from another planet sometimes. I know the conversion from Celsius to Fahrenheit pretty well, but I get myself in Trouble for not knowing the metric System. For instance, the other day I bought garbage bags for my dorm, and I bought 10 liter bags for our garbage cans. As it turns out, they are much smaller than even the bags you get from Publix and definitely wouldn’t have fit in the can. Ben says we can use them for Sandwich bags.

Not knowing the language is also definitely isolating. At least I’m taking the course now. My German is getting better every day as well. I feel really good about myself when I can have a conversation with people in checkout in German, but feel really dumb when they reply to whatever I say in English.

If the media center is open this Weekend, I’ll make another post then. Goodbye!

My weekend in Liverpool was full of many firsts.

  1. First football game

One thing that was on my England bucket list, and should be on everyone’s, is seeing a football game. My friend Taylor from Liverpool is a massive Everton fan, and he was kind enough to invite me out for the weekend to experience my first football game (yes, I am saying football, not soccer). Now Liverpool has two big football teams:

Everton & Liverpool

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Liverpool fans do not like Everton, and Everton fans do not like Liverpool. So just combine University of Florida vs. Florida State University geographically, and University of Florida vs. Georgia hatred wise, and you’ve got this exciting Liverpool rivalry.

Everton was playing Young Boys (from Switzerland), at the same time as Liverpool was playing Besiktas (from Turkey, shout out to all my Turkish friends!). In the middle of the game, the guy sitting about 3 rows in front of us stood up and just started screaming. A couple second later the whole stadium went crazy; Liverpool had just lost their game, kicking them out of the Europa league. Everton won the game, 3-1, making them the only English team to advance.

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I have officially decided to become and Everton fan. Seeing as it is probably the only football game I will go to while here, their color is blue (my favorite), and they have an American player named Tim Howard who has an amazing beard, I feel like there is no reason for me to not be an Everton Fan. You’re welcome, Taylor.

  1. First Full English Breakfast

The next morning we went to breakfast at the Tavern, who’s Full English Breakfast won the Hot Breakfast award of the year. A Full English Breakfast consists of:

-2 Lincolnshire sausages, 2 rashers of lean back bacon (like Canadian bacon), fried egg, black pudding, grilled tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms, baked beans and toast.

It was delicious.

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  1. First time seeing Liverpool

Now, if you keep up with my blog, this one may confuse you. You may be thinking “Tiffany, I though you went to Liverpool a couple weeks ago?” Well, you go Glen Coco, you would be right! I did go to Liverpool a couple weeks ago, but I never got a chance to actually see the city. But this time, James held true on his promise, and he showed me around the town.

He attempted to explain to me how to get to city center, and I set off, waiting for the 79 bus to reach the last stop where I was instructed to get off. All of the sudden, the guy sitting a row behind me said “Um, I think that guy over there is trying to get your attention.” Much to my surprise, I look out the window and there is James, jumping up and down waving his arms around. I jump out of my seat and sprint down the length of the bus, ask the bus driver to stop, and luckily get off just in time. Good one, James. “Last stop…”

Meet James, my tour guide. He is 22 years old and studying Computer Engineering in Liverpool, where he was born and raised. I met him about 6 months ago on a cruise I went on out of England.

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We started out on our walking tour and went through city center, where James gave me some good history behind the new shopping center, and the distinct smells of Liverpool (so he says). We then made our way to the water, and it was my first time seeing water since leaving Florida. It felt good to see some seagulls and look at the pirate ships and boats tied up to the dock. Apart from it being 40 degrees outside, it reminded me a little of home.

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Next, we went on one of the coldest ferry rides of my life, where a bird pooped on James. It was so great to be out on the water, and it gave a chance to see the whole city view at one time. After the ferryboat, we went to the Carvern, which is where the Beatles made 292 appearances back in the day.

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Our last stop was going to the Anglican Cathedral, which was massive! It was built in 1904 and took 74 years to finish. It was originally supposed to have two towers, but it was later redesigned to have just one.

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It’s crazy to think back to 6 months ago when I first met all the guys that live in Liverpool. Had you told me then that I would be visiting them in their hometown, and they would live less than an hour away from me, I wouldn’t have believed you. We all plan our lives, but we never know where our path will lead.

Let me leave you with some famous Beatles lyrics:

“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make”

Weekend in Bath

 

One of the perks of living in London is having the ability to travel around the beautiful English countryside. This past weekend we spent the night in Bath, and I was surprised by differences between Bath and London. The architecture and uniformity of Bath was unlike anything I had ever seen before. All the homes and buildings are made of the same tan stone and fit well together. Saturday morning we visited the Royal Crescent, which is a set of these homes on a hill overlooking the city, and it ended up being one of my favorite spots.
In Bath, I loved going to the Roman Baths and the Thermae Spa. The Roman baths were beyond incredible and I was stunned by the condition they remained in. It was exciting to see one of my favorite aspects of Roman life so well preserved and in person. It helped me connect even more to my classics major and fall more in love with the Roman Empire.
Going to the Thermae Spa was another highlight of the weekend. The spa was such a wonderful way to relax during this hectic semester. It had three floors, one with a large pool with a bubble section and lazy river, a second with four scented steam room pods (sandalwood, eucalyptus, lotus flower, and lemongrass and ginger), and a third with a rooftop pool. I would recommend a trip to a European spa to any study abroad student, it was the perfect way to spend an evening in Bath.
I enjoyed the ride to and from Bath because we got to see the English countryside and stop at Stourhead Gardens and Stonehenge. Stourhead is know as the Disney World of the 1800s; it has an incredible walking path around a gorgeous lake, along with a stone grotto and a greek temple where Darcy’s first proposal was filmed in Pride and Prejudice. Spending a few hours there was magically, and I could have spent a whole day exploring. I visited Stonehenge when I was in Europe three years ago, so it was nice to see it once again, but also quite cold.
I’m looking forward to seeing more of England this spring break and visiting Florence; stay tuned to hear all about my spring break adventures!

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Two Days From Departure

Hi everyone,

It is really hard to believe that I leave in two days. I have been home since the twentieth, so for six days now. I thought staying at home would be a lot of lounging around and relaxing, but it has actually been kinda crazy. My online classes had exams this week so I’ve been studying for either one or the other all week. I’ve also, of course, been trying to get all my paperwork together, in order to make the first few weeks in Germany as simple as possible.

I made a Netflix bucket list of sorts because I have heard that German digital rights laws are more strict than in the US, so there probably won’t be as much stuff on German Netflix. Not to mention it will be in German. Unfortunately, it looks as though I won’t be able to even make a dent in it before I leave. Hopefully it’s not as bad as they say over there.

I’ve been trying to visit as many friends and family as possible before I leave. I was fortunate enough to hang out with one of my best friends a couple times this week, despite us now living 45 minutes away from each other. I also got to go out to dinner with my dad, and it was nice seeing him. My grandmother came into town from Canada to see me before I leave. On Friday night, we’re having a kind of going away dinner which I’m looking forward to. My flight on Saturday morning is at 7, so I’m not looking forward to having to be at the airport at around 5.

I’m back in Tampa and it’s been pretty warm. The past couple days, it hasn’t even felt like winter. It always seems to be warm in Tampa when I visit, and I don’t know if its because the climate is actually a little warmer, or if it is just the timing of my visit. I used to think the former, but the app on my phone says that it’s pretty warm back in Gainesville now, too. It’s been solidly in the seventies and really humid, too. I see posts on Facebook from some people who are in Germany and there’s snow on the ground; I don’t know how I’m going to adjust to actually having a winter. Hopefully I’ll just be catching the tail end of it. I’m crossing my fingers that I won’t have to deal with negative temperatures (not just because the cold but also because I don’t know how to convert negative degrees in my head).

I think I should add some personal flare to my blog, and since I like to listen to music, maybe I’ll start talking about the music I’m listening to at the time of each post. I had to trade in my iPhone for a Droid a couple days ago, since my iPhone didn’t have a SIM card in it (important because of my last post). As those who know me would guess, this was pretty traumatic for me. I had carried that little sucker around with me since 2010 and it had all the music I had been listening to on it, about 150 albums. I’ve been driving a lot this week back and forth between where I used to live and where I live now, and doing most of my music listening while I drive. While going through my car, I found about half a dozen CDs that I burned during my Freshman year. The one I have been listening to most is the Notwist’s Neon Golden. While I haven’t really gotten into any other of their stuff, I do really like this album. It’s an indie rock album with subtle electronic stuff mixed in here and there. It was released in 2003, and so I find its use of electronic sounds kind of forward-thinking. Its a really mellow album and the thing it stands out the most to me is all the weird noises it has going on in the background, and yet how it still seems melodic. The Notwist is a German band, so I find it kind of appropriate to be listening to them on the eve of my departure. While the lead singer doesn’t really sing well, I like his accent and the way he pronounces words. He kind of skates by the vowels and hits the consonants really hard; it’s hard to explain.

I guess I should put some tips in for anyone interested in possibly studying abroad themselves. First and foremost, I found the student handbook for international exchange students that I received from the University I’m going to very helpful. I would suggest that you read through the whole thing as soon as you get it. It was littered with advice about all the administrative and bureaucratic processes to do when you arrive. It also had people at the university to contact with questions. It has been the single most helpful thing when preparing my paperwork for Germany. If you are within about 6 weeks of leaving and you haven’t received something like this from the university you’ll be studying at, make sure you email someone and ask if they have one.

Also, Germany is six hours ahead of the US, and all European countries are at least 4. This means that if you wait until the evening to send your emails or call, it is the dead of the night for whomever you’re trying to reach. I find that if I send an email out before 11:00 in the morning, I typically get a response the same day, and if not there’s a response the next morning before I wake up. You’ve got to love German punctuality.

So that’s about it for today. If you’re reading this from Gainesville: I already miss you guys! I can’t believe that I haven’t even been gone a week, it feels like forever already. Can’t wait to see you all when I get back. If you’re reading this from Tampa: Hi mom, I’ll see you when you get home.

I Found Winter!

Yes actual winter. With snow, hail, and lakes partially freezing over! In the area where I am living in northern Germany, the winters are not as extreme as it is in the south. So we only had snow for about two weeks. The temperature is really consistent, and stays the same around 32 every day. For me, it’s not that cold though, since it’s not always windy and raining. And after walking around 10 miles a day, you start to warm up. So perhaps when I go back to Florida I’ll be one of those people that wears shorts in 50 degree weather! We had snow ball fights and I attempted to make a snow man, but the sun is my enemy right now. Every time it starts to snow it ends up melting by noon! For now, I’ll just leave you with some of the pictures I took!

Winning London

The thing I was most excited about when I decided to study abroad was the traveling. As much as I really am enjoying some of my courses here, nothing compares to the thrill of being able to casually book a weekend trip to Prague and Budapest. My exciting travel adventures kicked off this last week with the first stop being London. Originally, London was not on my bucket list of places to go while in England, because I went a couple years back when I was in high school. However, I told myself if the opportunity presented itself, I would do it. Well, as you may have guess, the opportunity came! One of the very first days here, I met an amazing girl named Melissa. We happened to both be trying out the same church, and it was both of our first weeks in Manchester. She is from Canada and is in Manchester looking for a 6 month job opportunity. She happened to intern last year in London for a fashion designer, and presented me with the opportunity to go to London Fashion Week with her. We set off Saturday morning and caught the bus that left at 7 AM. So, this meant I had to catch the bus from my dorm to Piccadilly Gardens at 6 AM, which meant that I had to wake up at 5:00 AM to pack and get ready. Needless to say, it was the start to a long weekend! We caught the bus (which is half the price of a train ticket, but double the time) and arrived in London at 11:30 AM.

Our first stop was food… what else? We hopped over to Camden area and we went to this outdoor market where there were food stands from all over the world. After many taste samples, I decided on Peruvian. 2015-02-21 12.16.37 2015-02-21 12.19.56 2015-02-21 12.36.17 HDRAfter lunch we went to our hostel to check in and drop off our stuff. It was the first time I had stayed in a hostel. In my services marketing class, we are learning about different ways that consumers judge the quality of a service, such as a hostel room. One way is through the value-based method, where you measure how good the service quality was compared to the price. So, for 10 quid a night, I can say the hostel was lovely.

Up next: becoming tourists! 2015-02-21 14.55.14I think back to when I was in 10th grade and went to London. Trying to be the cool high school kid I was, I wanted to do everything in my power to not look like a tourist. Since graduating high school, I have given up hope on being cool, so the selfie stick came out, and with no shame! We walked what seemed like 4 miles to the tower bridge. Then, we hit up Big Ben, the London eye, Westminster abbey and finished the last bit of sunlight with Trafalgar square and the National Gallery. For dinner, we split an apple and pulled pork pizza and then enjoyed some cold (very very cold) night air at Piccadilly Circus, which seems like the London version of New York City’s Times Square, but I wouldn’t know. 2015-02-21 14.31.41 2015-02-21 14.55.492015-02-21 15.01.322015-02-21 15.45.12 2015-02-21 15.03.38 HDR 2015-02-21 15.47.52 

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The next day, we woke up early and made our way to the Ethologie Fashion Show by Japser Garvida. Afterwards, we walked about the venue a little bit and grabbed some Starbucks. We spent the rest of our free time just enjoying London. 2015-02-22 10.57.31 2015-02-22 11.23.11 HDR

2015-02-22 12.58.03 HDR Before heading back home, we went to the church that Melissa used to go to when she lived in London. It was such a great end to such a great weekend. Last thing left to do was take the long journey back to Manchester. I got back to my dorm room at 2 AM Monday. My springy mattress has never been so sweet. What do you do when you’re at London’s Fashion Week and you just don’t fit in? Shake It Off! (Click on the “Shake It Off” to see our Shake It Off- London edition)

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