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LAKE CONSTANCE

On Saturday, I went to Lake Constance, which touches the shores of Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. I took a tour of the city of Konstanz, climbed to the top of the cathedral, and then rode the ferry across the lake to Meersburg. Konstanz prides itself on its old buildings, some of which have been there since the Middle Ages. The town is on the border of Switzerland so Konstanz kept its lights on at night during WWII to fool the Allied forces’ into thinking they were a part of Switzerland so they were not bombed.

On Sunday, I tried out a different church. I didn’t understand much of the sermon, but another student from my university invited me back to her apartment and made me lunch. I got to know her pretty well. Although she is little bit older than me, we seem to have a lot in common. I mentioned that I have missed playing my guitar here so she is letting me borrow her old acoustic!

This week has mostly been orientation stuff, but I finally got my class schedule for the semester today and I start my classes tomorrow. I have the option to take 3 classes in English and the other 7 will be in German. This is going to be a hard semester academically so my goal is just to pass my exams in January and to find an internship for the spring.

Lake Constance (Bodensee) Konstanz's city gate Statue of Friedrich II Maggie IMG_4021 Konstanz's Rathaus IMG_4034 Constance Vines IMG_4039 This  Imperia statue sits at the entrance of Konstanz's harbor and commemorates the Council of Constance, which took place from 1414-1418. The Imperia is actually a prostitute, representing the over 700 registered prostitutes who came to the city during the years of the Council. She holds a bishop in her right hand and a nobleman in her left, satirically representing the subtle power prostitutes had over both the religious leaders and the nobility. The statue went up during the night in 1993 because it caused controversy in the town. This building used to be a brothel. It was built near the cathedral so the bishops did not have to roam through the city at night to get to a brothel. IMG_4076 IMG_4078 IMG_4080 We had to climb up this rickety, wooden set of stairs to get to the top. View of Constance from the top of the cathedral. IMG_4088 IMG_4108 The cathedral's doors were so intricate with many wooden carvings like this one. Lake Constance Seagull Yarn bombing the harbor Michelle and Maggie in front of the Italian restaurant we ate at in Meersburg Burg Meersburg Meersburg fountain Meersburg Fortress Castle Mill Neues Schloss The Bodensee Wine Festival was going on the day we were there. We didn't have enough time to go in, but we could still enjoy the live music from the outskirts. All of the kids thought this animated bear was pretty exciting. It could blow bubbles on its own. Giancarlo Maggie and Michelle
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Livin’ la vida loca

Where to begin! 

So I have been living in Sevilla for a week or more now and there are so many wonderful things about this place and the people I have met! I shall start with the band: Cayla, Greta, Bailey, and Rachel. The five of us have been to the beach Matalacana in Huelga together and since then have spent time together studying, going out for sangria and chatting, or planning what we are going to do with our weekends here. There are my huggy bunch of gals who I already miss when I don’t see them for a few days. There are so many great people in the program that I am getting to know, as well.

 

 The next great thing about Sevilla is my host family. Jori and Juan are so sweet to me and I am having such a great time getting to know them. Juan used to work three jobs, one of which was at a radio station so he knows a ton about music and technology. One night we were talking about flamenco and cantores (the flamenco singers) and he played some records of different genres of flamenco that he had recorded from his time working at the radio. Jori is an amazing seamstress and has made everything in the house from the bedspreads to the curtains and even some of her clothes. She also loves to cook and everything she makes is phenomenal! The number of cookbooks she has in impressive and I know I will not go hungry by any stretch of the imagination. Juan cooks, too!

We also have some pretty funny conversations. My favorite so far is when I was doing homework for my intensive Spanish class (two weeks long) and we had some vocabulary we had to go over. The wifi in the house has been having problems/we are changing providers and they don’t have a dictionary so I couldn’t look any of the words up. Jori and Juan offered to help me and it turned into a game of how can we explain to the American what these different words mean. Through charades, showing me said item or explaining what each thing was I learned quite a lot-a box of matches, a snowflake, a gust of wind, a bunch of flowers, etc. They were explaining “gajo” which I learned is basically a section of orange. A debate ensued between Jori and Juan if lemons had these sections, too, and Juan ended up cutting up a lemon to prove his point. Now, he will bring it up every so often if Jori is telling him he is wrong about something.

I have also finally learned the word for sink! I think I asked Laura and Pepi how to say it a few times when I was in Valencia and now that I am here I have asked Jori and Juan. Then I would try and remember it at various points throughout the day and they would laugh when I said it wrong and tell me how to say the name again-fregadero.

This past weekend I went to their beach house in Rota and oh my goodness was it lovely! If you ever need a relaxing scenic beach vacation this is your place. Also, it is good for people who don’t speak a lot of Spanish since there is a naval base nearby and a lot of English is spoken in the town.




The second week of intensive classes has started off well and there is already so much going on! Figuring out classes for the semester is a bit challenging but I am sure things will work themselves out in the end! 

Off to get started on this weeks tasks!
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Livin’ la vida loca

Where to begin! 

So I have been living in Sevilla for a week or more now and there are so many wonderful things about this place and the people I have met! I shall start with the band: Cayla, Greta, Bailey, and Rachel. The five of us have been to the beach Matalacana in Huelga together and since then have spent time together studying, going out for sangria and chatting, or planning what we are going to do with our weekends here. There are my huggy bunch of gals who I already miss when I don’t see them for a few days. There are so many great people in the program that I am getting to know, as well.

 

 The next great thing about Sevilla is my host family. Jori and Juan are so sweet to me and I am having such a great time getting to know them. Juan used to work three jobs, one of which was at a radio station so he knows a ton about music and technology. One night we were talking about flamenco and cantores (the flamenco singers) and he played some records of different genres of flamenco that he had recorded from his time working at the radio. Jori is an amazing seamstress and has made everything in the house from the bedspreads to the curtains and even some of her clothes. She also loves to cook and everything she makes is phenomenal! The number of cookbooks she has in impressive and I know I will not go hungry by any stretch of the imagination. Juan cooks, too!

We also have some pretty funny conversations. My favorite so far is when I was doing homework for my intensive Spanish class (two weeks long) and we had some vocabulary we had to go over. The wifi in the house has been having problems/we are changing providers and they don’t have a dictionary so I couldn’t look any of the words up. Jori and Juan offered to help me and it turned into a game of how can we explain to the American what these different words mean. Through charades, showing me said item or explaining what each thing was I learned quite a lot-a box of matches, a snowflake, a gust of wind, a bunch of flowers, etc. They were explaining “gajo” which I learned is basically a section of orange. A debate ensued between Jori and Juan if lemons had these sections, too, and Juan ended up cutting up a lemon to prove his point. Now, he will bring it up every so often if Jori is telling him he is wrong about something.

I have also finally learned the word for sink! I think I asked Laura and Pepi how to say it a few times when I was in Valencia and now that I am here I have asked Jori and Juan. Then I would try and remember it at various points throughout the day and they would laugh when I said it wrong and tell me how to say the name again-fregadero.

This past weekend I went to their beach house in Rota and oh my goodness was it lovely! If you ever need a relaxing scenic beach vacation this is your place. Also, it is good for people who don’t speak a lot of Spanish since there is a naval base nearby and a lot of English is spoken in the town.




The second week of intensive classes has started off well and there is already so much going on! Figuring out classes for the semester is a bit challenging but I am sure things will work themselves out in the end! 

Off to get started on this weeks tasks!
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Part 2: Sweden

Thursday: Louisiana & Ladonia

Thursday we boarded the bus and were off to the Louisiana Museum before continuing on to Sweden. Honestly, I (along with the majority of my class) am not a museum person. There were two exhibits, one by an artist who had lots of different paintings – many of which we felt we could’ve made on our own – and the other was a cool rock formation indoors. The rock exhibit was actually pretty fun, it was multiple rooms with all-white walls filled with rocks and a stream running through them. We had a little over an hour to kill, so after we walked through the museum we hung out outside which was right next to the water! I’m pretty sure our teacher Gry was still walking around the exhibits, meanwhile us Americans were rolling down the grass hills outside…

Our next stop was the micronation of Ladonia! Although no one lives in this micronation, it has about 15,000 members as well as a queen (who lives in Chicago). After a steep hike we finally reached Nimis, a structure made of driftwood that marks Ladonia. We immediately began to climb up the towers to reach the top; it reminded me of the ultimate treehouse.

After Ladonia we went to a nearby restaurant to enjoy Fika which is Swedish cake and tea. The cake was delicious! Once we were finished we went to our hostel which reminded me of an old barn house that was converted into more of a B&B-style house. We had wild salmon and potatoes for dinner followed by cake and then a bonfire with s’mores and candy.

Friday/Saturday: Malmö

Friday we took the bus South to Malmö, one of Sweden’s biggest cities. The day began with a visit to SVT (Swedish television station) where we met with Jane Anders – one of the anchors – to talk about how the Swedes differ from the Danes in the the world of news reporting. Next, we went to a synagogue to meet with a Rabi and then to a youth center to meet with a representative of an organization handling honor violence within the Swedish-Muslim community. We were finally able to go to our hostel where we had a two hour break, which was spent sleeping (I’m pretty sure the majority of our class was falling asleep/asleep through the latter two speakers). For dinner we met Billy, who works for DIS, and he gave us a walking tour of Malmö before we ate dinner with a group of Swedish roller derby girls. By the end of the day we were all more then exhausted and ready for bed.

Saturday was the most relaxed of the week, after breakfast at the hostel we went bike orienteering around the city. We split up into groups and were given a map and a compass. We had to reach designated locations and do different tasks (Amazing Race-style), and the team with the most tasks completed by lunch won. My team completed our first site and attempted our second. We couldn’t find the answer at our second site, so instead decided to detour to an open market set up in a square. We walked around and sampled all of the yummy food before we rejoined the rest of the group for lunch.

I cannot believe how great/tiring/long this past week was! It was full with amazing opportunities where I got to go to new places and meet new people. I am also so thankful my class is made up of such great people. I am excited to continue to get to know them throughout the rest of the semester and travel to Ireland together in October! I now have two weeks of regular classes before heading off on my week-long adventure to Lisbon, Barcelona and Paris!

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Core Course Week Part 1: Copenhagen

I know I haven’t written in a while, but there hasn’t been much to say up until now. This past week was core course week! I spent the week with my core class (cross cultural communications) traveling around Copenhagen and Sweden. This was both an amazing and exhausting few days, so here is a little recap of what we did:

Day 1: Borgen & Christiania

We began our week by watching an episode of Borgen – a Danish tv show – to learn a little more about Danish values. It reminded us of a mix between Scandal-House of Cards- and the Good Wife all in one. It was actually really good, but unfortunately we tried (and failed) at finding it online. It made us all think about the way the US is perceived by other countries and the ways our actions impact those around us. From there we hit the streets of Copenhagen, and more specifically Christiania. Christiania is a place within the city of Copenhagen that is basically its own town separate from the rest of the city. They have their own culture and own way of life, when you leave there is even a sign saying “you are now entering the EU.” I can honestly say I have never experienced anything quiet like it, I would definitely say it is worth a visit if you are ever in the area.

Day 2: Mosque, Nørrebro, Parliament

Tuesday morning we met at a mosque to learn about Muslim integration in Denmark. The Muslims and the Danes have a long history of conflict, so it was interesting to hear from the Muslim perspective about the issue. From there we took the bus to Nørrebro which is considered the ‘ghetto’ of Copenhagen. In Nørrebro we met with a Somalian man who gave us a walking tour of the neighborhood and talked to us about the immigrant population in the area. The day concluded with a visit to Parliament where we met with a member from the Social Democrat Party. We talked with him about his views on immigration and whether or not he could foresee a future where Copenhagen transforms into more of a ‘melting pot’ similar to the United States.

These first couple of days spent in the city gave a lot of insight into the problems Copenhagen, and Denmark as a whole, is facing when it comes to immigration. It also gave us a look at the many cultures that make up the country and how they are interacting to form the society as a whole. Wednesday we had a much needed break to rest up before we began the journey to Sweden…

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Core Course Week: Western Denmark

Friday morning began my core course’s (strategic communications) short study tour to western Denmark! Before I left in the morning, I found the sweetest surprise on my desk waiting for me from my host family. Aren’t they the best?
We hopped aboard the bus and were on our way to Odense, the hometown of the famous author Hans Christian Anderson. The class split up into 2 groups, and I first went to the Brandts Workshop to do a news team workshop! We divided up roles and responsibilities and were soon on our way to producing a full 10 minute newscast. I was the weatherwoman…please laugh. I need to work on my camera skills if I ever have to do this again! I was so focused on being engaging that I accidentally smiled the entire time I reported on the devastating flood in India and Pakistan killing hundreds of people and leaving many homeless…not a smiling matter! 
The class then all met back up together and went to a ropes course for some team building. This was the first time I had ever done a ropes course! I slipped on my harness and was on my way to tree tops to attempt to do the second hardest course…not the best idea! 

I was swinging and zipping along, thinking again and again that surely the course I chose was about to end, but obstacle after obstacle kept following the next. The forest got quiet and I just knew I had to hurry to meet up with the rest of the group. I chose THE LONGEST COURSE. Why me. After our teacher located me up in the trees and kindly let me know that my friend Kate and I were the last ones, I booked it and finally finished the course that wrapped around the entire park…oops!

We then all went out to dinner and slept VERY soundly after a long day of broadcasting and zip lining. 

Tuesday morning my group did a walking tour of Hans Christian Anderson and saw his childhood home and the streets where he grew up. It was amazing to see houses still standing from the late 1500s! The town of Odense was quiet and adorable. I wanted to sit by the river forever and read HCA’s fairytales. 
We then went to the branding office of the town that shared their marketing strategies to gain tourism in Odense with Hans Christian Anderson as the main selling point. The printed materials in museums and plaques on buildings are all in several different languages, making the tours friendly to people from various countries. The town also has metal footsteps on the sidewalk throughout the town that allows visitors to take their own walking tours in the “footsteps” of HCA. 

Nest stop: Aarhus. 


In Aarhus we went to the Folkekirken and Denmark's Church Media Center to learn about how the church handles their communications office. It was so interesting to see how engaging their Facebook page was and how many fans it had. It  posted content from wedding ideas to news articles about the church. We all enjoyed learning about this realm of communications that few of us remember has such an impact on a community. 

We then went to Skovdal & Skovdal, one of my favorite site visits. This company is a photography business that takes photos of food and home products for advertisements and publications. When we entered the studio, there was a busy chef at the open kitchen preparing a Christmas meal. We got to see him place the dish on the the Christmas "table" (a plank of vintage-looking wood) and see it be photographed for the holiday edition of a supermarket's publication. The photos were stunning and we couldn't believe we got to see a real photo shoots occurring right before our eyes. 

Lastly, we went to ARoS Art Museum. On the roof of the museum, there is a rainbow spectrum that you can walk around and see the city from every hue of the rainbow. It was incredible! The museum had other modern and traditional art that we got to explore before heading back to Copenhagen. 
Back in Copenhagen on Thursday, we visited a company called DesignIt. This place was amazing. The office was so open and flowing, and we got to tour the space and see designers at work. We saw some of the products that the company has designed, including a first-aid kit that won an award for its functional design and a beer bottle that weighed significantly less that its previous model, saving the client shipping costs and materials. The member of the communications team that showed us around the office was a DIS alum! It was so cool to see her as a professional in Copenhagen after being a study abroad student just like us a few years ago. 

Next we went to Trinitatis Kirke and learned about how this church in Copenhagen communicates its values to the public. The church is led by a female pastor, has a night service with mats to rest on, contemporary music, and it supports gay rights. This is not the traditional kind of church that is popular around Denmark. The female pastor who spoke with us was incredible and has a unique outlook on how to serve the young community. The relaxed night atmosphere draws in the target population of adults ages 18-30 and forms a sense of community. This community can then spark the desire in the individuals that come to learn more about the church and commit their lives to its values. 

We then broke up into small groups and spread ourselves out among 4 different companies. My group went to an architecture firm called 3XN Architects. The office was STUNNING. I couldn't believe how many models of modern buildings lined the halls. The designers were busy at work, and it was so cool to see them actually designing amazing buildings and structures. We met with one of the communications professionals who has the job of communicating the complicated architecture news jargon into a simple message to targeted audiences who would be interested in the news about a certain project. She was incredible to talk to. 

Our class concluded core course week by creating stop-motion videos that communicated what we had learned over the week and presented them together today. Core course week was such a success. I can't wait for our next core course adventure: London for travel week 2! 
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An Oslo Weekend

This weekend marked my first independent spontaneous travel adventure! What do three friends do while hanging out between classes? Plan a weekend trip to Oslo. And off we went.

Jess B., Jess M., and I flew to Oslo on Friday night and had the smoothest travel experience we could have asked for. We landed safe and sound and took a bus (possibly filled with questioning the driver every stop…) to our hostel.

This was my very first hostel stay! And boy, did we do it right. We had a private room with 3 comfy beds, an amazing shower, and it was located right in the center of Oslo. Included in our stay was the sweetest front desk woman we could ever ask for that gave us directions and recommendations better than Google ever could.

We woke up early on Saturday morning and began our Oslo adventure. We enjoyed lattes and breakfast goodies at the cutest café next door, stumbled upon the Royal Palace, and then took a northbound train for the forest. We hiked along a gorgeous lake and through root-ridden trails. It was more than beautiful. We couldn’t believe that yesterday morning we woke up in Copenhagen and how we were in the lush forest of Norway. 
After our hike we enjoyed some lunch downtown and set sail for a fjord cruise! We hopped aboard a huge ship and set sail in the Oslo fjord. We passed the opera house, historical bathhouses and summer homes, the deepest water point of the fjords, and more. The views were amazing and it was such a great experience to be out on a ship. 
After our sail, we indulged in the best dinner we could have asked for that met our pasta cravings! As we turned in for the night, we just had to introduce Jess M. to Mulan, which had never been a part of her childhood! 
On Sunday morning we went to another adorable café and set off for the The Vigeland sculpture park. I had always seen pictures of the famous crying baby sculpture, so it was time to see this with my own two eyes.

The park was incredible. When I look at sculptures, I forget that a human worked for hours and hours, chiseling away at something with no form and transforming it into something so realistic and beautiful. 
In the midst of admiring the beauty, we just had to have a little fun. 
After the sculpture park we headed up to the Holmenkollen Olympic ski jump! This was unreal. The fact that real skiers take off of this massive jump and literally fly from the top to the bottom without becoming pancakes literally blows my mind. I was so tempted to do the zip line that went down the jump…but I just couldn’t come to terms with spending 600 kroner on about 10 seconds of my life…next time! 
Thanks Oslo for an incredible weekend! 
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National Gallery, Design Museum, & Harbor Tour

Wednesday wins my busiest day in Copenhagen yet! With two study tours and one harbor tour, I was in for a day full of facts and sights.

First, I met my Danish class at the National Gallery of Denmark for a tour of artwork from the Golden Age. Our tour guide was amazing as she guided us through the time period, and she explained the evolution of art and the influence of the enlightenment period. 

We learned how landscapes changed from only beautiful scenes to those that represent the realness of everyday life, such as paintings with animals that included the manure. 
The lighting of paintings also changed as more and more artists began taking their supplies outdoors, rather than working in an indoor studio. Also, perspectives began to change. One of my favorite paintings we saw was one that was from the perspective of the inside of the coliseum looking out, and the scenes between the columns were painted from the artist sitting in different positions and combining his perspectives into one piece. 
Portraits also began to be painted representing reality too- so no longer painting ladies with perfect complexion. Welcome rosy cheeks! 
I loved seeing the art in this amazing museum and how I got to see what I have learned in my Danish class.

After our tour, my friend Casey and I casually had our lunches in the beautiful King’s gardens. The weather could not have been more perfect. Finally the sun was shining in Copenhagen and we took advantage of it. 
Between tours I went to a bakery, strongly recommended by past DIS students, that sells half-priced cinnamon snails on Wednesdays. YUM. The pastries in the country…I’ve got to stop. 
Next I headed to the Danish Design museum and got to see how furniture and lighting has been improved upon throughout history. The functionality and aesthetics of Danish design amazes me. The coolest chairs lined the museum and we got to see all of the elements of design we have talked about in class. 
Lastly, I went on a sunset harbor tour around Copenhagen. I finally got to see the famous sculpture of Hans Christian Anderson’s Little Mermaid! The view of the city by boat was incredible. 
A full day of study tours had me exhausted, yet filled with more wonder of how much this beautiful city has to offer. 
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HOHENZOLLERN CASTLE & TÜBINGEN

On Saturday, I took an excursion to the Hohenzollern Castle, which is about 40 minutes from Reutlingen. It was a steep climb to the top, but once I finished all of the steps, the view was breathtaking. I heard a classical choir singing in the chapel and took a tour inside the castle. I saw the crown jewels, suits of armor, and a lot of creepy family portraits lol. There was also a Biergarten next to the castle so I ate french fries and enjoyed talking to some of the new friends I made from ESB. It was also a special day at the castle because the Prince of Prussia was visiting. We even took a group picture with him.

After the castle, we drove to Tübingen, a slightly bigger city than Reutlingen. The walk along the Neckar River was very picturesque, and I enjoyed some strawberry ice cream while strolling through the city. I will definitely go back here a lot this semester, especially since it is only a 15 minute train ride away.

This morning I also ventured downtown by myself to try out a small German church. Everyone there was very nice to me, and they were excited to practice their English with me. The service was in German so I did not understand all of it, but it was about the Prodigal Son so I was familiar with the parable and could follow along in my English bible.

IMG_3930 The castle was built on top of a mountain so it had a great view of the landscape. Hohenzollern Castle IMG_3919 IMG_3916 IMG_3895 IMG_3924 Maggie IMG_3933 IMG_3938 I snuck a picture of the prince... Maggie, Michelle, and I IMG_4008 Neckar River Tübingen IMG_3966 IMG_4010 Some hooligan had climbed up this fountain and put a wine glass on top. IMG_3977 I enjoyed listening to this rockabilly band. They were really talented and sang in English. IMG_3993 a classy getaway car This street performer had some impressive soccer tricks. He was able to eat an apple while juggling a soccer ball and tennis ball. IMG_3998 IMG_4011
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Tea Cups & Castles

As a part of my Danish Design class, I went on an independent field study to traditional and modern stores that sell table settings and furniture. I went to Royal Copenhagen, a traditional and famous retailer of the beautiful white and blue porcelain table settings, and Illums Bolighus, a department store that includes modern Danish designs. 

For those of you that know me, or have ever walked into my kitchen, it's pretty clear that pretty tea cups and mugs bring me happiness. Therefore, I was in heaven this Tuesday afternoon surrounded by the traditional and modern designs. It was so interesting to see how the modern designs borrow the traditional fundamentals and then add their own spin of functionality. I'm still having dreams of my future kitchen… 
Last week I met up with my boyfriend's second cousin, Tina, who lives in Denmark! We met a few summers, and now I got to see her familiar face in Denmark. 

Tina met me at the train station and we drove up to Helsinger, Denmark, a beautiful town on the coast. We enjoyed some delicious ice-cream and walked though the gates of Kronborg Castle, the castle that was originally built by King Frederick II in 1585. I couldn't believe that I was walking through this beautiful structure that has gone through so many years of history! 

The castle was also the inspiration for Shakespeare's Hamlet, which was set in the beautiful castle. We walked around the border of the castle, stood out over the coast that treated us with an ocean breeze, and took in the scenery of the magnificent structures. 

Tina then treated me to an incredible dinner. Thank for being such a great tour guide! 
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