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MADRID

This weekend Giancarlo and I went to Madrid! We visited our Spanish friends, who we met in Aachen this summer. They were so kind as to show us around the city and to take us to all the best places. Take a look at the pictures to see all of the cool places we went!

All of the street signs looked like this on the sides of buildings. Royal Palace IMG_4635 Cathedral de la Almudena Memorial for Nuestra Señora de la Almudena IMG_4643 Laura and Sara The gang is all back together. Gran Via - Madrid's version of Time Square Plaza de España Presidencia IMG_4675 Group gardens Palace gardens IMG_4683 Palace Gardens 2 IMG_4689 Aubrey palace IMG_4693 IMG_4694 IMG_4697 Sara Marta Laura Madrid Skyline IMG_4704 IMG_4708 IMG_4709 IMG_4718 Retiro IMG_4732 Bird territory If you are seeing this picture, don't be mad at me Marta! I thought it was too cute not to put on my blog! And you look beautiful! Paseo de Bolivia Fall lane Park bench Gazebo Park IMG_4748 IMG_4753 Puerta Giancarlo and I took a tour of the stadium Santiago Bernabéu. Real Madrid Stadium IMG_4768 IMG_4786 IMG_4806 Real Madrid Bleachers Changing rooms for the players IMG_4816 This is the tunnel the players on both teams walk down before the game. We got to sit on the team's bench on the field, except it wasn't actually a bench, but very comfy seats. Press box at the stadium: Giancarlo is sitting where the players would sit. Kilometer Zero is the very center of Madrid and located in Puerta del Sol. IMG_4838 IMG_4841 The train station had a small jungle in it with a pond for turtles and a small vendor area. IMG_4845 IMG_4846 IMG_4850 IMG_4852 GC Sara Aubrey Jungle train station from the outside
Posted in Dual-Degree | Comments Off

Northern Ireland

Over this past weekend I went on my second and last Foundation of International Education (FIE) trip to Northern Ireland. Somewhat surprisingly many people are unaware that Northern Ireland is in fact it’s own country that still remains part of the United Kingdom unlike Ireland. We left early Friday morning to make the three-hour drive up to Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland. Leading up to this trip we learned a lot about the dark history of Northern Ireland. For decades Northern Ireland has been at war with itself between two sides battling for national identity. One side the Unionist support the belief that Northern Ireland should remain part of the UK while the Nationalist belief that Northern Ireland should return back to Ireland. This bloody warfare continued until recently when a seize of arms was passed. However there will still be occasional shootings and bombings in uprisings. Belfast is still a very divided city. Most communities are completely split between Catholic (Nationalists) and Protestant (Unionist). The schools, shops, and pubs everything is considered to represent one side or the other. Most communities are completely walled in with gates that close from 7pm-7am every single day. The gates wouldn’t even open for emergency vehicles. As soon as we entered Belfast you could physically feel the despair of these people who have lived their whole lives fighting their neighbors.

The first stop in Belfast our group made was a two-part tour led by members on both sides of the Northern Ireland divide. Our first tour guide supported the Unionist side. He showed us a long wall of graffiti that has pictures and messages of peace and hope for the country. Our first tour guide was very friendly and really preached the message of wanting peace between both sides. Our next tour guide was a member of the Nationalist side and a member of the IRA. He was a prisoner of war who was caught by the police while on his way to place a bomb in the city center 15 years ago. He spoke a lot about the sadness and loss of identity he felt by being part of the United Kingdom and said he regarded himself as Irish. He showed us a memorial site for 12 people innocent people who died during the war. Both sides were extremely interesting to listen to and you could really tell this wasn’t a black and white case. Nobody could say for certain which side they supported. After this tour we went and grabbed lunch in the city center and then visited the parliament building. We discussed the different political parties and how they represent both sides on the war and government’s role in the war. We then checked into our hotel and ate dinner there. Since it was Halloween we walked around the city then and watched the huge firework shows that were happening everywhere we looked.

On Saturday we spent a beautiful day outdoors! Our first stop was Crick-a-Rede Rope Bridge right on the coast. We were able to see the beautiful blue sea with rolling green hills as we walked around. We were also able to cross this rope bridge to an isolated Ireland, which was so fun and a little scary! After lots of photos we went to the Giant’s Causeway, a geological masterpiece. Formed by an ancient volcanic eruption creating octagon shaped columns. Legend has it that the rock formations came from Giants that used to inhabit the area. This day was my favorite of the entire trip because we were really able to see beautiful scenery in Northern Ireland. We drove to Derry to spend the night there.

On Sunday morning we got up early to have a walking tour of Derry. The tour was quite chilly but really interesting. Derry was famous for major fighting in the war and many died here in battle. There are Peace Walls spread throughout the city that were memorials to those who lost their lives. We then went to a small museum that spoke about the fighting in Derry. The man working at the museum was incredible to listen to. He himself fought in the war and his younger brother was shot in the street during the battle. The museum was completely heartbreaking to see all those who lost their lives during the war. After the tour we headed back to Dublin.

Our trip to Northern Ireland was a memorable one. I learned so much about Northern Ireland’s history and the hurt people still feel there. Even though most the trip was quite somber I also really enjoyed our time in Giant’s Causeway to lighten things up.

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Posted in Spring 2014 | Comments Off

Oktober

I know it has been awhile since my last post, but I haven’t been traveling as much the past month since I have been in the full swing of classes and internship applications. Since my last post, I went to the Stuttgart Wasen, which is Stuttgart’s version of Oktoberfest, had my first German presentation in my finance class, travelled to Stuttgart again for a shopping day, and visited Heidelberg.

So far, I have applied to 15 internships in Berlin and am hoping to get one soon. Other than that I have pretty much settled in to Reutlingen and am focusing on my classes. This weekend, Giancarlo and I are headed to Madrid to see the city and visit some of the friends we made in Aachen.

I hope you all are well on the other side of the Atlantic! I miss you all very much.

-Aubrey

Michelle in front of the Tübinger Tor. There are actually three in ground trampolines I like to go bounce on every once in awhile. Michelle, Erin, Maggie and Giancarlo: on our way to the Stuttgart Wasen. We took the train from Reutlingen to Stuttgart. We were stuffed in like sardines! I did enjoy seeing everyone in their Lederhosen and Dirndl. IMG_4440 Chocolate-covered strawberries...yum! IMG_4448 IMG_4450 Bier Tent IMG_4453 IMG_4455 We had the treat of reuniting with our advisor from Elon, Dr. Tiemann. IMG_4460 I went to the narrowest street in the world again during a scavenger hunt through Reutlingen with Campus für Christus. I got Burger King at the Stuttgart train station. How I miss American food! IMG_4472 Maggie Maggie and Giancarlo with matching coats at Urban Outfitters. IMG_4488 Stuttgart Mercedes-Benz tower by the Stuttgart train station. Erin and I were riding in the backseat with the top down and cranking the tunes! My Dutch friend Tommy: we drove on the Autobahn to get to Heidelberg. I kept an eye on the speedometer. We got up to 150km/hr, which is about 90mph so not too crazy, but still exhilarating. Schloss Heidelberg: one of the most beautiful views I have had since I've been here! Heidelberg sits along the Neckar River. Schloss Heidelberg IMG_4517 IMG_4526 Tommy and Erin IMG_4532 IMG_4536 Erin There were two giant wine barrels in the cellar of the castle. They must of had some pretty wild parties back in the day.... IMG_4549 I thought the mini door inside of the big door was pretty comical. I wonder who used this? Parts of the castle were hit by lightning or damaged during  wars and fires. Heiliggeistkirche (Church of the Holy Spirit) IMG_4563 IMG_4576 IMG_4582 I lost my heart in Heidelberg (Ich hab' mein Herz in Heidelberg verloren) was a hit back in the 1920s. Älte Brücke Neckar Sunset IMG_4599 I thought this house was so quaint with the ivy leaves changing colors for fall.
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Halloween Hygge 

Though Halloween is an American tradition, it has definitely crept its way over to Denmark! From spooky window displays in town to pumpkins pouring out of Tivoli, Halloween was sure to be a great experience. 

To share my obsessive love for all things pumpkin, what better way to share the pumpkin-love with my host family than teaching them how to bake pumpkin muffins? The concept of canned pumpkin was completely new to them, but I think it's safe to say I've got them hooked. After roughly converting cups and teaspoons to deciliters in my mind (at moments just guessing and throwing in yummy spices), the muffins turned out great. We then all decorated them with pink and blue colorful icing and topped them with bat gummies and sprinkles. They were ready to take to the party!
We then went ALL OUT for costumes. I got to go through their amazing bin of costume pieces and my host mom put together the perfect witch look (monumental moment that I dressed up as something scary and not a lady bug for the 21st time). Silja dressed up as a doll, Nuka as a vampire, and Katja as a witch too. Face paint, fake contacts, and stage blood were all involved…
We then made our way to a party with 2 other DIS host families in the neighborhood and had THE BEST time. We all sat around the table and had an amazing dinner of pumpkin soup, homemade bread and ginger salad, and we laughed the night away. We then lit confetti sparklers, greeted trick-or-treaters, and enjoyed one another's company by the candle light. This hygge Halloween has been one of my favorite Halloween's yet. 
Posted in Denmark (DIS) | Comments Off

Craftsmanship & Communication

This Wednesday was filled with two incredible field studies spent with my Danish Design class and my Strategic Communications class. 

First, my Danish design class boarded a bus and drove to a surprise location. As we entered the building, the smell of oak and sounds of machinery hinted to us that we were in some sort of wood workshop. We walked inside and were surrounded by stacks of freshly cut wood waiting to be transformed into pieces of hand-crafted quality furniture. 
We were at the workshop of PP Møbler, a famous family owned workshop that creates furniture, including the designs of Hans J. Wegner, that will last through generations. 

We got to explore the entire workshop, from seeing the freshly cut wood to carpenters carefully manipulating the material into distinct parts and assembling them into the famous Danish designed chairs that our class has been learning about. The wood felt as smooth as silk and you could see the determined look in the carpenter's faces as they ensured that every component of the chair was perfect. We then got to meet the upholsters and see them carefully finishing chairs by inserting the springs and padding, and then covering the pieces with leather or fabric. 
The workshop gave us a firsthand look into how the Danes have mastered the art of balancing craftsmanship with production. I used to just see a chair as a chair. After my Danish Design class and seeing the entire process throughout the workshop, I now appreciate a chair and all of the steps that were accomplished in order to create something that combines functionality with quality and aesthetics. 
My Strategic Communications class venture to a digital communications agency called In2Media. We met with the CEO and got the inside scoop on one of In2Media's most successful projects. 

Danske Bank is one of the most used banks in the Nordic region, and they turned to In2Media to develop an innovate mobile banking app that focused on ensuring a quality user experience. We got to hear about the entire process, from brainstorming different mobile-pay ideas to designing the app pages to reduce complicatedness and ensure a quick and easy transaction. The project won numerous awards for its success in the e-commerce business. 

I couldn't believe that the CEO took us step by step through one of their most successful digital communications plans. As he took us through the entire process, it was incredible to connect their steps to what I've be learning in my strategic communications class. It's amazing what can become a product of the collaboration between strategic planners, designers, and digital gurus.  
Posted in Denmark (DIS) | Comments Off

Romania

Hello again! Long time no see…sorry about that. But I’m working on getting y’all caught up on what’s happened this semester, starting with my trip to Romania!

At the beginning of October, I had a 4 day weekend, so I hopped on a plan to visit my Aunt, Uncle, and cousins in Targu Mures, Romania. It was so good to see all of the again!

We we able to explore Targues Maures the first few days I was there–they showed me all of their favorite sites and were great guides! It was so nice to have a few relaxing days hanging out, playing board games, playing with their dog, and exploring new sites.

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The last full day I was in Romania, we took a road trip to nearby towns. Our first stop was to an old salt mine that has been converted into an attraction. Breathing in the salt air is good for one’s health so the put in a bowling alley, row boats, mini gold, and more in the old mine so that people could spend the whole day down in the mine to breath in the salty air. Crazy! It was definitely a place that I never though I would go in Romania, but was definitely worth the trip. After a picnic lunch, we explored a nearby fortress that had great views of the city. A snack of “twirly” bread before heading to a hotel near the airport for the night was a great way to end my last full day in Romania.

 

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I have one more week of classes before exams — I can’t believe how fast this semester has flown by. It’s been a busy semester filled with group projects and mémoire work, but I’ll update at least once more before it ends. Until next time :)


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Wicklow and Glendalough

On Monday there was no class since Ireland had a Bank Holiday! Over the past few weeks I have been attending a small group at a Vineyard’s church in Dublin led by a couple named Ken and Jody. Ken and Jody recently moved here from America where they had been on Young Life staff previously! They offered to help me utilize my day off by joining in with them and their two kids on their trip to Wicklow and Glendalough just south of Dublin. So on Monday morning we all piled into the car and set out for Powerscourt. The best part of the trip was the amazing view from the car window as we drove through the countryside. Powerscourt is a beautiful mason located in Wicklow that is full of history. We got lunch here after walking around the interior and grounds for a bit. I got amazing seafood chowder that came with brown bread. We then went up into the hills and saw some beautiful mountains with a river running right through the center. We hiked up for a little and explored an old monastery that had once stood there. We then headed over to Glendalough which has two lakes located near each other. We walked through another old monastery that had a cone tower along side of it. The tower looked just like Rapunzel’s castle, which I was really excited about! We walked through the woods a bit and then came across both lakes. The view was once again spectacular! A mist was rolling off the mountains as the sun set in the distance over the lake. We ended the night by grabbing some ice cream and heading back to Dublin. I was so thankful for Jody and Ken taking me along with them on this spectacular adventure to such a gorgeous part of Ireland.

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Posted in Spring 2014 | Comments Off

London England

Over the weekend I headed back to England for a second time to revisit London! The first time I traveled to London was when I was part of a French Exchange trip almost 6 years ago now and we took a day trip to the city. I wasn’t able to see a whole lot of the city so being able to go back again was really exciting!

I flew out on Thursday night to the London- Gatwick airport and was met by one of my favorite people in the world, Kerry! Kerry was one of my summer staff coordinators while I worked a Young Life camp this past summer. She works on Young Life staff in England and lives with a woman named Brooke and her family who also serves on Young Life staff and worked at the same camp with me over the summer! Kerry picked me up from the airport and drove me to her home in Thorpe, England which is about a 45min drive from the city. We chatted the whole way to her home and caught up on each other’s lives. When we got to her house I was blown away by how adorable it was! It felt so wonderful to actually stay in a real home after staying in an impersonal dorm room for the past month or so. Also having my own room with an extremely soft bed was a little slice of heaven.

The next morning Kerry and I took the train into the city to start our day off. We first went to the London Tower, which I had never been to before. Kerry was pointing out different sites along the whole way there and giving me the history of each place. When we got to the tower we saw hundred of thousands ceramic poppies littering the ground surrounding the structure. Remembrance day (similar to Memorial day in USA) was approaching soon and the poppy is a symbol used to represent those who died in battle. There were over 800,000 poppies each one representing an English solider who died in WWI. Before we entered the tower we grabbed some fish and chips, the iconic English dish, to eat right outside the tower. We then entered the London Tower and started a tour being lead by a Beefeater, a tower guard, who was a humorous loud plump man. He imparted the stories of the dark history of the tower on us. After the tower concluded we went and saw the Crown Jewels, which were also located inside the tower. After we finished seeing everything in the tower we went to the Borough market and walked around. The Borough market was like a giant farmer’s market selling all sorts of sweets, meats, fish, cheese, vegetables, and much more. I ended up buying a slice of chocolate trifle, which is basically chocolate cake, chocolate chip cookie, and a brownie combined! Afterwards we headed back home for the night and I just relaxed for most of the evening.

The next day I went into the city by myself since Kerry had some errands to run. When I first got to the city I went straight to the London Eye to get in line to go up. After about an hour of waiting I was able to take my turn on the giant ferris wheel and get the best view of the city. The wait was total worth the view you got from the top. I was able to see Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and Westminster Abbey. After getting off the London Eye I headed towards King’s Cross. On my way there I stopped to get lunch at a small café that I got banana and caramel pancakes that were amazing! I then went to King’s Cross to get my picture in front of platform 9 ¾ based on the Harry Potter books and films. There was also a Harry Potter shop next door that I looked around in for a while. Then I traveled to Hyde’s Park. I was blown away by the beauty of this park and couldn’t stop snapping pictures. I loved strolling through the park and around the lake soaking in sunset and views. I then went to Notting Hill to meet up with my two friends, Avery and Mary Francis, who study abroad in London. We walked around the neighborhood and the Portobello Market stopping in different shops and stands. We ended the night by getting dinner in a French Restaurant before I headed back to Thorpe.

On Sunday I slept in a bit before heading downstairs to meet Kerry. Kerry made the most amazing pancakes before we headed to Windsor Castle. Windsor Castle is where the Queen often stays and hosts events. We took an audio tour through the castle and got to look at all the amazing rooms and grounds that covered the castle. After the castle tour we got lunch and then found a café that sold some amazing hot chocolate! We then head back to Kerry’s so I could pack my bag before I had to catch my plane ride back to Dublin. After I finished packing I just hung out with Brooke’s sons, Asher and Ruhl, who are 8 and 6 years old. We played Super Mario Brothers and watched Despicable Me. Kerry drove me to the airport then. While at the airport I ran into the Atlanta Falcons football team, which were playing the Detroit Lions that day in London. I even tried to snap a few sneaky pictures.

This past weekend in London was just wonderful. It was so great to stay in a real house and be able to relax. I definitely grew a deeper appreciation of this city and would love to come back again some day.

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Posted in Spring 2014 | Comments Off

London, England

Over the weekend I headed back to England for a second time to revisit London! The first time I traveled to London was when I was part of a French Exchange trip almost 6 years ago now and we took a day trip to the city. I wasn’t able to see a whole lot of the city so being able to go back again was really exciting!

I flew out on Thursday night to the London- Gatwick airport and was met by one of my favorite people in the world, Kerry! Kerry was one of my summer staff coordinators while I worked a Young Life camp this past summer. She works on Young Life staff in England and lives with a woman named Brooke and her family who also serves on Young Life staff and worked at the same camp with me over the summer! Kerry picked me up from the airport and drove me to her home in Thorpe, England which is about a 45min drive from the city. We chatted the whole way to her home and caught up on each other’s lives. When we got to her house I was blown away by how adorable it was! It felt so wonderful to actually stay in a real home after staying in an impersonal dorm room for the past month or so. Also having my own room with an extremely soft bed was a little slice of heaven.

The next morning Kerry and I took the train into the city to start our day off. We first went to the London Tower, which I had never been to before. Kerry was pointing out different sites along the whole way there and giving me the history of each place. When we got to the tower we saw hundred of thousands ceramic poppies littering the ground surrounding the structure. Remembrance day (similar to Memorial day in USA) was approaching soon and the poppy is a symbol used to represent those who died in battle. There were over 800,000 poppies each one representing an English solider who died in WWI. Before we entered the tower we grabbed some fish and chips, the iconic English dish, to eat right outside the tower. We then entered the London Tower and started a tour being lead by a Beefeater, a tower guard, who was a humorous loud plump man. He imparted the stories of the dark history of the tower on us. After the tower concluded we went and saw the Crown Jewels, which were also located inside the tower. After we finished seeing everything in the tower we went to the Borough market and walked around. The Borough market was like a giant farmer’s market selling all sorts of sweets, meats, fish, cheese, vegetables, and much more. I ended up buying a slice of chocolate trifle, which is basically chocolate cake, chocolate chip cookie, and a brownie combined! Afterwards we headed back home for the night and I just relaxed for most of the evening.

The next day I went into the city by myself since Kerry had some errands to run. When I first got to the city I went straight to the London Eye to get in line to go up. After about an hour of waiting I was able to take my turn on the giant ferris wheel and get the best view of the city. The wait was total worth the view you got from the top. I was able to see Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and Westminster Abbey. After getting off the London Eye I headed towards King’s Cross. On my way there I stopped to get lunch at a small café that I got banana and caramel pancakes that were amazing! I then went to King’s Cross to get my picture in front of platform 9 ¾ based on the Harry Potter books and films. There was also a Harry Potter shop next door that I looked around in for a while. Then I traveled to Hyde’s Park. I was blown away by the beauty of this park and couldn’t stop snapping pictures. I loved strolling through the park and around the lake soaking in sunset and views. I then went to Notting Hill to meet up with my two friends, Avery and Mary Francis, who study abroad in London. We walked around the neighborhood and the Portobello Market stopping in different shops and stands. We ended the night by getting dinner in a French Restaurant before I headed back to Thorpe.

On Sunday I slept in a bit before heading downstairs to meet Kerry. Kerry made the most amazing pancakes before we headed to Windsor Castle. Windsor Castle is where the Queen often stays and hosts events. We took an audio tour through the castle and got to look at all the amazing rooms and grounds that covered the castle. After the castle tour we got lunch and then found a café that sold some amazing hot chocolate! We then head back to Kerry’s so I could pack my bag before I had to catch my plane ride back to Dublin. After I finished packing I just hung out with Brooke’s sons, Asher and Ruhl, who are 8 and 6 years old. We played Super Mario Brothers and watched Despicable Me. Kerry drove me to the airport then. While at the airport I ran into the Atlanta Falcons football team, which were playing the Detroit Lions that day in London. I even tried to snap a few sneaky pictures.

This past weekend in London was just wonderful. It was so great to stay in a real house and be able to relax. I definitely grew a deeper appreciation of this city and would love to come back again some day.

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Posted in Spring 2014 | Comments Off

Long Study Tour: The Troubles of Ireland (and a weekend in London!)

I know it has been forever since I have last written, but life has been crazy with all of the traveling I have done this past week. I only wrote about Portugal in my last post, but the rest of my first travel break was equally amazing, I went to Barcelona and Paris where I was able to meet up with friends from Elon. Nothing else too exciting has happened until this past week:

My long study tour brought our class to Belfast in Northern Ireland, and then down to Dublin in the Republic of Ireland. I had never been to Ireland, so all I really knew was what I had seen in the movies or on television. I pictured green hills with cobblestone roads and lots of rain. When we finally arrived in Belfast, it’s safe to say that it was not what any of us expected. The reason we were going to Ireland was to learn about the conflict between the Catholics/Protestants – Nationalists/Unionists. The streets of Belfast were lined with murals and there was a memorial at what seemed like every corner. We took a walking tour of Shankhill and Falls Roads, two roads that play a very important role in the history of the city.

Shankhill Road

Shankhill Road

On the tour we were able to see a peace wall which keeps the Catholics and Protestants separated. I had never seen anything like it, a society that needs these walls to keep them at bay. And even with the walls, there is still violence within the community as people often throw bricks and glass over to the other side.

Peace Wall

Peace Wall

The trip was a good balance of both educational and  fun, cultural activities. We were able to go see the Giant’s Causeway in Londonderry – a city about an hour away from Belfast. The Giant’s Causeway was one of my favorite parts of the trip. We were there on the tail end of a hurricane so our bus had to be parked at the main lot, and we had to walk all the way down to the coast. The winds were so crazy that you could pretty much learn forward and not fall because they were pushing back against you!

Giant's Causeway

Giant’s Causeway

Other activities in Northern Ireland included a walking tour of Londonderry with the Bogside artists, a visit to Queen’s University with a lecture on the flags of Ireland, a night at a comedy club and a visit to BBC!

After a couple days in Belfast, it was off to Dublin! I have to admit, I liked Dublin a lot more than Belfast. We arrived on Wednesday afternoon and had the rest of the day to ourselves, so some went of to the Guinness Factory while the rest went to explore the city. My friends and I visited Trinity College and just walked around  and shopped. In Dublin we had the opportunity to take an Irish step dancing class, we visited the Irish Times, and went on a musical pub crawl. The musical pub crawl was one of the highlights of Dublin. At each pub the leaders would play music and teach us a bit of history about the musical instruments and music in Ireland in general. At the end they asked people from the crowd to sing a song that came from their home country, so of course our class sang Wagon Wheel.

The study tour ended on Friday evening, and we had the opportunity to either return to Copenhagen with class or travel on our own. I had plans to meet up with friends in London, so I traveled with class to the airport and then boarded a plane to Heathrow. Although I was only there for a short period of time, London is one of my favorite memories so far! My friends and I bought a 48-hour hop on hop off bus pass so we could see as much as possible. We were able to see Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the London Eye, Tower Bridge, and more!

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

Big Ben

Big Ben

London Eye

London Eye

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge

This week flew by, it is crazy to think we only have one travel break left. I am so thankful for all the amazing opportunities DIS has provided us thus far and for everything in the next few weeks. Up next: Halloweekend in Hamburg!

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