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Munich, Germany

My last trip out of Ireland for the semester was to Munich, Germany! I have always wanted to visit Germany since a large portion of my families’ background is German. I flew in early Saturday morning from Dublin and then took the metro from the airport to the main Munich train station where I met my friend Michelle! Michelle went to college with me the past two years and was a member of my sorority but decided to take part of a special business program for two years that has her studying in Germany for the next two years. After we met up we dropped our stuff off at our hostel and headed out for the day. I was really excited for the Christmas markets in Munich and we ran into them almost immediately! We walked around one for a couple of hours and ate a lunch of sausages that were amazing at a local vendor. Lots of the stands sold punch or mulled wine that came is adorable mugs that were all different with various Christmas or German scenes that you kept when you purchased the drink. People would be walking around with dozens of them trying to collet them all. I tried some of the non-alcoholic punch and really enjoyed it! The Christmas markets were never ending and one just lead into the next. Each one was different and unique selling different items and food. One was even a renaissance theme! After looking at a lot of Christmas markets Michelle and I bought tickets to a hop on hop off bus. This was a great way to see a lot of the city in such a short period of time. The bus went all around the city center and gave us the history of the sites we were viewing. Afterwards we bought some food from grocery store and ate dinner in our hostel.

The next morning we got up and ate some delicious pastries at a local bakery and then headed back on the bus tour to see Olympic Park and a few other important sites. Afterwards we went to more Christmas markets and got to try a something called chimney cake that was dough baked in a cylinder fashion and then coated in cinnamon sugar. We also ate lots of sugarcoated nuts as well. Michelle had some friends from school that were also visiting Munich at the same time so we met up with them at the Oktoberfest grounds that was now home to another Christ market! This one was the biggest we had seen so far with tons of large tents set up that had musicians playing and vendors selling anything you could imagine. We then went and had dinner at a beer hall type restaurant that was very good. Michelle had to leave then to go back to school so I walked her to the train station to say my goodbyes and then headed back to my hostel for the night.

The next day I decided to head to Dachau, the original concentration camp in Germany. I had to take the metro and then a bus to get there but the camp itself was free entry and only a couple euros for an audio guide. It was an extremely cold day but I was very glad I made the trip out. I started the tour by watching a 20min film on the history of the camp and then walking around the grounds and listening to the guide. There was a ton to see there since almost all of the original camp was preserved. You could walk inside the barracks where people stayed and the crematorium and gas chambers were many people died. There were also lots of memorial statues and religious monuments in honor of those who lost their lives there. There was also a large museum that speaks a lot about the history of the concentration camp as well. This part of the trip was extremely heartbreaking and eye opening of the horrors that occurred during WW2. I spent almost the entire day at the camp and then returned back to Munich to grab my bags and head to the airport to catch my flight back to Ireland.

Germany really surprised me in a lot of ways. I absolutely loved all the Christmas Markets and the beautiful lights everywhere! The weather was so cold a bitter the entire time so I would love to come back in summer and really enjoy the outdoors in Germany plus there are so many other cities I still want to visit there! I’m really glad I also able to visit the concentration camp and have really eye opening part of my trip.

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Posted in Spring 2014 | Comments Off

Interlaken, Switzerland

After my wonderful time in Spain I was headed to Switzerland to meet up with my friend Sydney! I was really excited about this trip since going to Switzerland has always been a dream of mine! I flew into Zurich and then took a train from Zurich to Interlaken, which is a small town in the beautiful countryside of Switzerland. I arrived once it was dark so I couldn’t see much of the town at first. I walked from the train station to my hostel and met up with my friend Sydney. We decided to go grab some fast food for dinner and then call it a night so we could get up early the next day.

We got up early for breakfast in our hostel, which was amazing! We were able to sit outside with a perfect view of the mountains and eat homemade bread and Swiss cheese! We then decided to hike on of the trails that lead up on of the Swiss Alp Mountains and have a picnic lunch at the top. We stopped at a local grocery store and loaded up with bread, cheese, chocolate, grapes, and water and started our hike. The hike was a lot more intense than I think either of us was planning for. Going up the mountain took almost 3hrs of lots of sweat and water stops. The view from the top though was entirely worth it. You could see the entire town and the next three towns over! We ate our lunch and spent some time doing bible study. It took us only about an hour to head back down the mountain. After we got down we were surprisingly cold since we were not longer sweating. We stopped in a cute restaurant/chocolate store and bought some hot chocolate to warm us up. We bought some food at the grocery store to eat for dinner and then headed back to the hostel to shower and hangout for the remainder of the night. Food in Switzerland along with pretty much everything is super expensive. Buying food at the grocery store and cooking it was about a fraction of the price of what it would have been to eat out.

The next morning we got up and ate breakfast at the hostel once again. We walked around the town a bit and watched parasails float down from the top of the mountains. We then walked to the most gorgeous lake I have ever seen! The water was so crystal clear and framed perfectly by the mountains. We walked a while around the lake and then headed back to eat dinner. I then walked around the shops for a while. The town was full of chocolate watch shops, which was really cool to look at. We tried to find another lake that was on the other side of town but it ended up being much further than we expected so we never made it there. We ended up finding a different café and getting hot chocolate again. We packed up our stuff that night and got ready to leave the next morning.

Monday morning we got on the train again but this time to Basel, Switzerland where we would be flying out of back to Dublin. This airport was really interesting since it was half in France and half in Switzerland!

I really loved Interlaken and would return in a heartbeat to anywhere in this country! The landscape was just breathtaking and I was really able to capture some unreal photos. The people were all so friendly and with country known for its chocolate and cheese there was no way to go wrong! Switzerland is now tied with New Zealand for my favorite country ever!

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Posted in Spring 2014 | Comments Off

Granada, Spain

My final destination in Spain was Granada! I had heard a lot of amazing things about this city from my brother who had studied abroad in Madrid a number of years ago so I was really excited to check it out! I got in at about 5am so I had to take a taxi to my hostel. Luckily my hostel was extremely nice and let me check into my room early so I could sleep a while until things started opening up. My original plan for the day was to head to Alhambra, the main attraction of the city, but was told by someone working at the hostel that you must but tickets in advance because they sell out everyday! I was fortunate in that I could still buy tickets for the following day. Since I didn’t really come up with a backup plan for that day I just explored the city with not too much of a plan. I found lots of cool shops that sold really interesting crafts and jewelry that reminded me of what I would find in Morocco. I even bought a pair of flowy pants that you always see people riding camels in! I got dinner at a local restaurant and then called it an early night since I was still really exhausted from a lack of sleep on the bus ride.

The next morning I woke up early to head to Alhambra! When booking tickets you have to pick a certain time to go and see the palace area and you must arrive almost an hour early so you don’t miss it! I bought an audio guide as well to tell me all about the history of what I was seeing. The place was just beautiful! Full of Islamic architecture this building dates back to 889 AD. From when it was originally built different rulers that are apart of various religious organizations have added much on. The palace was my favorite part for how breathtaking it was there were also amazing gardens attached as well. Large towers were also located in Alhambra that you could climb and see the entire city! I spent my entire day exploring every inch of this wonder until I couldn’t walk anymore. At the base of hill that Alhambra is located I found a nice restaurant that had a three-course meal for a set price. I got calamari, paella, and then crème caramel for dessert.I went back to my hostel to sleep until I woke up at 4am to head to the airport in Granada to fly to Switzerland!

I really loved seeing Alhambra in Granada and was glad I made the trip out there to see it! The city wasn’t nearly as wonderful as Barcelona and Madrid had been but I would recommend making a day trip to Granada if you have time!

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Posted in Spain, Spring 2014 | Comments Off

Madrid, Spain

After about a 7hr bus journey from Barcelona I finally arrived in Madrid, Spain! It was quite early in the morning still but I took the metro from the bus station to Plaza de Sol where my hostel was located. After checking in and hanging out for a few hours I met up with my friend from home, Alyssa. We walked around the city for a while just chatting and then stopped at a cute café to grab some tea. We then went to the Royal Palace in Madrid and walked around the beautiful gardens outside. We grabbed lunch at large indoor tapas place that had all sorts of different vendors called Mercado de San Miguel. I got to try all sorts of different dishes but really feel in love with Jamon Iberico which is a special type of ham from Spain where the pigs are only fed acorns. Afterwards we to a famous churro place to get chocolate churros. The place was called Chocloteria San Gines. We walked around a lot of shops and then headed towards Parque del Retiro. The park was just beautiful and we had a wonderful time just walking around. We got dinner later that night at another tapas place where we got to try even more amazing dishes.

The next day I spent the first half of the day on my own exploring Madrid. I found a free city tour group that I went on for three hours and really enjoyed it! They took me to all sorts of different places in the city that I hadn’t been yet and told us the history behind the tapas, the oldest restaurant in the world which is located in Madrid, the Madrid royal family, and much more! After the tour I got a Jamon Iberico sandwich for lunch and walked around Plaza de Sol and Plaza de Mayor. I then went to the Museo del Prado to wait in line to get in free. The Museum normally costs money to get in but if you wait till 6pm you can get in free for 2hrs till the Museum closes. The Museum was massive but I was able to see a lot of it in the 2hrs I had there. Many famous paintings that I had learned about in school were housed there and it was an awesome experience to view them in real life! After the museum I headed back to my hostel for an hour and then met up with Alyssa to grab dinner before I had to leave the city. We had some amazing food once again and then said our goodbyes and I hopped on another overnight bus to Granada, Spain!

I really enjoyed my time in Madrid especially because I got to see my friend, Alyssa. The food I also got to try in Madrid was amazing! I think my favorite city in Spain is Barcelona still but Madrid is a close second.

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Posted in Spain, Spring 2014 | Comments Off

Barcelona, Spain

So these next few blog posts are long overdue! These past few weeks I have been so wrapped up in getting all my schoolwork done for the end of the semester I haven’t gotten to post on some of my most recent adventures! In mid-November I had my Reading Week for school, which was basically just a fun fall break for all students that lasted about 10 days. My first stop on this journey was in Barcelona, Spain to stay with my friend Loida! Loida and I met while I volunteered at Young Life camp this summer. She and her family have always lived in Barcelona and she is currently going to school to be a lawyer at University of Barcelona!

I flew into Barcelona from Dublin Thursday night and was picked up from the airport by Loida and her mother, Anna. We went out for a quick dinner of sandwiches at 100 Montaditos and then headed to Loida’s home for the night. Loida’s family was all so sweet and generous while I stayed with them. The next morning we woke up somewhat early because Loida needed to go to two of her classes at college because she had a presentation to give. Seeing her school was really cool also I loved the soaking up the sunlight and warm weather in Barcelona. After class we walked around a palace right by college and then headed home from lunch. I was shocked by how different the eating schedules were in Spain. Lunch was generally eaten around 4pm and then dinner at 9pm or 10pm! Loida’s mom cooked us amazing food the entire time I stayed with them and let me try all the Spanish and Barcelona staples. After lunch we headed to Plaza Espana, which is a huge square in the center of Barcelona. There was a mall, Las Arenas, nearby that you could go to the top of and have a perfect view of the city! There is also an amazing fountain show that happens multiple times every night with lights and music that we were planning to see. However when we got down to Plaza Espana we found out there were huge protests going on for SioSi, a large movement of people trying to separate Catalonia from the rest of Spain. Thousands of people were there with flags and banners to show their support for this movement. Loida told me that there was going to be a vote held on Sunday about this and that’s why it was occurring. Unfortunately because of the protests the fountain show was cancelled so we decided to come back another day. Since it was about 9pm we headed to get dinner at a restaurant near by with Loida’s sister and her fiancé plus two of Loida’s friends. We went to a tapas restaurant, which is very typical in Spain. Here they serve lots of small plates of food so you can try a lot of different things than just big courses. The dinner was amazing and afterwards we headed home to go to bed.

On Saturday we slept in a while and then decided to head to the older part of the city which was really beautiful. There were lots of shops everywhere and we were able to see some of the older sites. We visited Placa Catalunya, Portal de l’Angel, and Catedral de Barcelona. We then walked down to sea and saw Christopher Columbus’ statue and had lunch in a mall nearby called Maremagnum. We then walked up Las Rambles, which is a popular street with lots of vendors selling all different Spanish items. That night we went to Fonts of Montjuic, which was the fountain show we missed yesterday because of the protests. The show was absolutely amazing and I was completely mesmerized by the water. We then went back to Loida’s house and ate dinner and went to bed.

On Sunday I woke up early and headed into the city by myself to see some friends from my sorority who were also visiting Barcelona at the same time. We all ate brunch together, which was delicious, and then I headed back to Loida’s house. We had lunch and then headed to La Sagrada Familia, which is one of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen in my life. The church has been being built for over a hundred years and still is not completed since it is only being made off of donations to the church. The inside had beautiful stain glass windows of all the colors of the rainbow and was just stunning to look at. Afterwards we went and had chocolate churros at a local spot in Loida’s neighborhood. Then Loida and her mom drove me to the bus station where I took and over-night bus to Madrid.

I really loved Barcelona! I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy Spain since it was really different than any other countries I have been to before but it completely surpassed my expectations. The food that Loida’s mother made for me was amazing and made me fall in love with Spanish food. I also really enjoyed the warm weather and beautiful architecture of the city. I am also so thankful for Loida and her family for their warm hospitality. It was so wonderful to stay with a family and they really showed me the best time.

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Posted in Spain, Spring 2014 | Comments Off

BOTZERSREUTH & WEIDEN

Only 4 more days until I am home for Christmas!!!

This weekend I visited my good friend Alex Göldner and her family in Botzersreuth, which is about a 5 hour train ride from Reutlingen and close to the Czech border. Alex and I met last year at Elon because she is in the same dual-degree program as me, but she started in Germany and is finishing at Elon. Alex came home for Christmas so I was excited when she invited me to her house for three days. Her family fed me delicious German food, took me to a Middle Ages Christmas Market, and showed me the town of Weiden. We also ate at a typical Bavarian Gasthof so I tried some traditional food like Knödeln. It was so wonderful spending time with Alex again and getting to know her lovely family.

Another exciting update from me is that I accepted an internship offer!! I will be working in the business development team at Modomoto, which is an online clothing shop for men. The basic concept is that men who hate shopping can easily order outfits picked out by the Modomoto stylists. You can check out their website here: https://www.modomoto.de/. Modomoto is located in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin. Matt will be in the Mitte district for his study abroad program so we will only be about 30 min away from each other by U-Bahn.

Maggie putting on ESB's mascot costume. Maggie, Michelle, Marie, and I worked a booth for charity at the Reutlingen Christmas market. As the mascot, Maggie would attract families to come by our booth to buy some waffles. Alex and I at the Middle Ages Christmas market. Christian waiting to hold an owl. FullSizeRender 3 Alex, Laura, and their mom Alex's dad setting up his phone to take a group picture. Laura and her mom FullSizeRender 7 Alex's former high school I wish I had a climbing wall at my school... FullSizeRender 10 Fußgängerzone in Weiden FullSizeRender 12 FullSizeRender 13 IMG_5480 FullSizeRender 14 Weiden Rathaus FullSizeRender 16 These stones are actually cannonballs from a past war, but they added hen statues in front of the cannonballs so they look like their eggs. In former times, this shop was an Apotheke (drugstore). The inscriptions of the wall read "catholic door" and "evangelical door," meaning the catholics and lutherans had to use separate doors. Rathaus Stadtmauer: Weiden's city wall and the wooden walkway for the guards. FullSizeRender 21 FullSizeRender 22 FullSizeRender 23
Posted in Dual-Degree | Comments Off

Christmas in Cope!

cookies

It is finally December, which means that is finally Christmas time!!! If I was home I’d be buried in exams and getting ready to head home. Thankfully I only have one exam here, and yes I am getting ready to go home, but not before celebrating Christmas the Danish way. The Danes, like many others, are very enthusiastic about Christmas. There are Christmas markets set up throughout the city. They make it look like you have just stepped into one of those cheesy ABC Family movies (which I love, of course). The streets of the city are lined with garland and pretty lights, and there is a Christmas tree set up in the plaza in front of city hall.

tivoli

One of the best parts about Christmas in Copenhagen is Tivoli. Christmas is one of Tivoli’s “seasons,” so the entire thing is decorated like a tiny Christmas village. There are dozens of little shops selling anything and everything related to Christmas. There are also shops selling traditional food like gløgg (mulled wine) and aebleskivers which are kind of like pancakes, but in a circular shape. If you ever find yourself in Copenhagen during the holiday season, visiting Tivoli is a MUST.

So back to Denmark as a whole, the Christmas season here begins on December 1st. You will find no shortage of Christmas parties whether its with your friends, family, colleagues, or other organizations you are a part of. Similarly to the United States, some parties require you to bring a gift to exchange, so for our Danish class’ Christmas party, that is exactly what we did. The game we played required everyone to put their gifts in the middle of the table as we sat in a circle around it. There were two pairs of dice, one given to a person at opposite ends of the circle. When the game began they rolled the dice and then passed it clockwise. If both die landed on the same number, you got to take a gift. The dice kept on getting passed around the circle and if you rolled a pair multiple times, you got to take multiple gifts. And once the presents were all out, you could start taking from other people. The rules vary depend on who is playing, but traditionally a timer is set for a random amount of time. For the sake of our class, we played until the gifts were evenly distributed (aka everyone had one).

chocolate

Switching over to my host family, Christmas means everyone gets their own personal candy-filled advent calendar, and a stocking. Each morning you eat your piece of candy from the calendar as well as whatever we got in our stocking. Christmas also means baking. Last weekend we baked cookies for a solid 3-4 hours. They were different variations of almond-based cookies as well as candied almonds. This weekend we made various types of marcipan treats. First of all, I never knew that you could just buy marcipan (apparently that’s a thing, and its half the price here that it is in the States). It’s basically like cookie dough, but marcipan. We rolled it out and cut it in different shapes, just like you would with regular cookies. Then we dipped them in different chocolates and added various toppings (chopped almonds, chopped pieces of chocolate, etc.), and some even have a pistachio filling.

I would say that the amount of chocolate/cookies/candy I have eaten in the past seven days is more than the rest of the semester combined. My host mother has also already given me two boxes of the cookies we made to take home. I think that it is safe to say that Denmark definitely knows how to do Christmas!

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Food For Thought

Week one of exams is complete! Only 2 more days and 3 more exams to go.

Counting down the days and hours until Tuesday at noon when my last exam ends is both terrifying and exciting. Terrifying, because I have soooo much to learn in the next days, but exciting because I’m almost done with the semester. Plus, there is a good chance that this is my last official final exam period. Ever. Next semester we only take one class at a time (similar to winter term at Elon, but for a whole semester) and exams will be at the end of each class and I do not have any immediate plans to go back to school. Either way, it’s the last one of my undergraduate career. And it’ll be over in 3 days. Crazy.

For the past week, I have done nothing but sit on the couch, in my room, at a coffee shop, or at the library studying (except for the time I spend procrastinating…). So, I don’t have any exciting stories or travels to share, but here are a few interesting articles that I’ve come across this semester. Just a little food for thought and perhaps some inspiration or a study break for everyone else who’s struggling through finals week one cup of coffee at a time.

7 Strange Questions That Help You Find Your Life Purpose: http://markmanson.net/life-purpose

10 Things that Change One You’ve Lived Overseas: http://takingroute.net/2014/09/22/10-things-that-change-once-youve-lived-overseas/

The Thing No One Tells You About Traveling: http://thoughtcatalog.com/allison-pardys/2014/04/the-thing-no-one-tells-you-about-traveling/ 

51 Quotes to Inspire Success in Your Life and Business: http://www.inc.com/jayson-demers/51-quotes-to-inspire-success-in-your-life-and-business.html?cid=sf01002

And just for fun: Flash Mob : The U.S. Air Force Band at the Smithsonian: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cKE8pyfcZc


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MATT LEE COMES TO TOWN

Santa visited me early this year and left the one-and-only Matt Lee! He arrived on a Wednesday and sadly left the following Friday. It was such a blessing to have him here, and I enjoyed showing him around campus and Reutlingen. I even took him to some of my classes. But, it sort of backfired when one of my professors decided to split the class up into groups by counting off. I quickly tried to say Matt’s number and mine right after it, hoping that no one would notice that Matt didn’t know what was happening since the class was in German. To avoid the group work, Matt secretly “went to the bathroom” and worked in the hallway the rest of the class.

From Friday to Sunday, Matt and I visited Munich. The first thing we did was climb to the top of St. Peter’s Church, which had a great view of the city, but since we hadn’t dropped our stuff off yet, Matt had to lug his 25 lb suitcase up the 306 steps. Everyone we passed would either look at Matt in shock or laugh at him. Afterwards, we walked through the Viktualienmarkt, the city center, and saw the Hofbräuhaus. On Saturday, we took the train to Füssen in order to see Schloss Neuschwanstein, which Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle was inspired by. King Ludwig II of Bavaria commissioned the palace in 1869, but he mysteriously died during its construction so it was never finished. Matt and I rode a horse and carriage up to the castle and then took a tour of the inside. Ludwig clearly had an obsession with swans. The doorhandles, his sink faucet, and even his air vaporizer were in the shape of a swan. Ludwig also built one of his personal rooms to look like an actually cave…so he literally had a man cave. After the tour, we hiked to Mary’s bridge (Marienbrücke), which gave us a great view of the castle. On Sunday, we went sightseeing all around Munich. We went to the Cuvilliés-Theater, walked through the Englischer Garten, and wandered around the rest of the city. We also discovered a new water sport for the Crawley family…check out the pictures below to see the surfers.

When we got back from Munich, Matt and I saw the new Hunger Games movie at the Reutlingen cinema. One thing that is different from American movie theaters is that you have to reserve your specific seat number with your movie ticket. We also went to the middle ages Christmas market in Esslingen and  tried Glühwein (hot red wine) for the first time. For my birthday, we hiked up Achalm together to eat at the restaurant at the top, which has a great view over Reutlingen. To celebrate Thanksgiving, the university hosts a small gathering for the Americans, Mexicans, and German students, who will be studying in the U.S. The meal was actually quite good and even had some eclectic side dishes like crepes and spring rolls.

Overall, it was a wonderful visit from Matt and I was sad to see him go. After he left, I had to finish a 10-page paper on target costing for my accounting class. It was a major feat, but I am glad that it is over with. I am still searching for an internship, but I expect to hear back from one next week with whom I had a 2nd interview. I hope all is well with you, and I can’t wait to come home for Christmas break in two weeks!

On the bus ride back from the Stuttgart airport...reunited and it feels so good! München Hackerbrücke Station IMG_5039 IMG_5040 IMG_5046 St. Peter's Church view over the Viktualienmarkt IMG_5055 Rathaus, you can see the Glockenspiel here too I couldn't believe he made it up all of those steps with that suitcase! Muscles! IMG_5071 IMG_5078 IMG_5080 IMG_5082 Hofbräuhaus Hofbräuhaus Hofbräuhaus dinner at an Italian restaurant IMG_5104 Matt taking a snooze on the train to Füssen IMG_5119 Schloss Neuschwanstein the carriage ride up The Hohenschwangau Castle is right across from Neuschwanstein. IMG_5141 IMG_5143 IMG_5147 Schloss Neuschwanstein IMG_5153 IMG_5157 IMG_5161 IMG_5169 Marienbrücke Schwangau Valley IMG_3686 IMG_5206 IMG_5208 IMG_5219 IMG_5229 Ice cream at a Chinese restaurant IMG_3709 IMG_5242 the percussionist really jammed out during his solo IMG_5247 IMG_5254 IMG_5255 IMG_5259 IMG_5262 IMG_5271 Cuvilliés Theatre IMG_5274 IMG_5286 IMG_5290 IMG_5296 IMG_5300 IMG_5305 Matt Lee Münich IMG_5311 IMG_5312 This cello player was really talented. Matt and I had gone to a ballroom club night last year at Elon so we danced what we could of the Waltz and drew a crowd of about 5 older ladies. IMG_5318 IMG_5327 Englischer Garten IMG_5334 IMG_5336 Here is the new water sport for the Crawley family. We just need to bring our surf boards and wet suits to Munich. IMG_5342 IMG_5357 IMG_5370 IMG_5374 Chinesischer Turm Monopteros IMG_5382 IMG_5384 Esslinger Mittelaltermarkt & Weihnachtsmarkt IMG_5400 IMG_5408 Glühwein IMG_5416 IMG_5420 IMG_5424 Thanksgiving dinner IMG_5426

 


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Christmas in Copenhagen

As the temperature has dropped and Christmas cheer is beginning to spread throughout all of Copenhagen, it was finally time for my Danish class to go to Tivoli together! I had been holding out on my Tivoli experience until Christmas, which I had heard was the most beautiful time to visit. 
As I entered Tivoli, it felt like I was walking into a massive Gingerbread house all lit up with Christmas markets lining the streets. The lights were amazing, Christmas music was playing, and you could smell hot chocolate and gingerbread every way you turned. It was absolutely beautiful. 
Our class then had æbleskiver and gløgg, a traditional Danish treat for Christmas time. Æbleskiver resembles a mix between a pancake and a donut hole and is served with powdered sugar and sweet jam, and gløgg is mulled red wine with various spices, sliced almonds, and raisins. Both were so delicious. 
And MORE æbleskiver and gløgg!!! You just can't get enough of this stuff. 
My host family recently served me another traditional Danish dessert called Risalamande. It’s a sweet rice porridge served with a hot cherry sauce. Christmas in Denmark is worth it simply for the traditional foods! 
Similar to America, Danes place a high importance on the advent calendar, the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. My host family gives the children a gift every Sunday of advent and lights the candles in the beautiful advent wreath hanging in the kitchen. This Sunday, I got a pair of warm, fuzzie socks, perfect for the cold snap!

Also on this Sunday, the first Sunday of advent, Julemanden (aka Santa Clause) stopped by Copenhagen for the lighting of the gigantic Christmas tree in the city center square. I felt so accomplished when I could join in the Danish count down of the lighting. All of the lights turned on and Julemanden sprayed fireworks from atop the tree. The official Christmas season had finally begun! 

After going to my host sister Silja's Christmas choir concert tonight, passing by the Christmas markets every morning, and seeing more and more Christmas light pop up on store fronts and cafes, I'm not wanting to leave Christmas in Denmark any time soon. 
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