Study Abroad

The Break

I had the most amazing Christmas Break ever. Damian flew in to Paris and arrived by train to Strasbourg as I anxiously waited. He surprised me by getting an earlier ticket and I was even a few minutes late to the station picking him up!  After almost 4 months apart it was such a sweet moment being with each other again. The whole bus ride to my apartment I couldn’t stop smiling! We stayed here in Strasbourg a few days during which I got to show him my city and he got to see the Christmas Market on the last day before it closed. We then took a 9hr (turned 10hr) bus ride with FlixBus to Amsterdam, Netherlands where we began our travels.

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Maybe I’m stating the obvious but Netherlands and Holland are the same thing. Europe is so confusing having so many names for the same places!

Anyway, we spent our New Year’s in Amsterdam. We stayed in Harleem which is a little far away from Amsterdam Central but it was honestly better that way. The city is so hectic and although it was a great visit, I feel under different conditions we would have enjoyed it more. There were tons of people. However, we got this Amsterdam CityPass that allowed us to use public transportation and free entrance in several museums. We visited the Van Gogh Museum, the Holocaust Museum, the Dutch Resistance Museum, Tulip Museum, and Botanical Garden. My favorite parts were seeing the canals at night and definitely the Jewish Quarter near the botanical garden. We also had an amazing dinner at this Indonesian Restaurant called IndraPura. It was an awesome treat. To save money we went to the grocery store and cooked a lot of our other meals. For New Year’s from our AirBnB we had the most amazing few of the fireworks and we were pretty far outside of the city, we stayed in and cooked dinner since we had a very early flight the next morning (I’m not sure who’s idea that was). However, something to note is that I had read that if you wanted to know what a war zone was like you should visit Amsterdam for New Year’s, I’ve never experienced a war zone, but there were explosions and fireworks going off since the day we arrived all day long! Not as much as at midnight but I was amazed at how many fireworks were being set-off. People were throwing them out of there 2nd story window into the street and it was honestly a little scary. Walking home after a trip to the grocery store you couldn’t even see there was so much smoke. Aside from the things we saw, Amsterdam was miserably cold, windy, and wet. I’m glad we went but I’m sure in Spring and Summer it would be so much better!

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The next place we visited was Rovaniemi, Finand. If you weren’t aware, this is near Lapland, the Arctic Circle, and SANTA CLAUS’ official hometown. We got to meet him, see his reindeer, visit the North Pole and it was the coolest thing ever! If I had to pick a favorite destination out of the places we visited, Finland was definitely my favorite. I would assume it’s because it’s so out of the ordinary for me to see that kind of scenery. This was Winter Wonderland straight from your wildest dreams. Not to mention, I think the best part of our stay was that our AirBnB host was the best ever! We stayed in this little cabin connected to his house that had a sauna, the Finnish love saunas, pronounced “SO – nah”, not “Saw nah”.  He also had a snow mound in his front yard for sledding, cross-country ski tracks in his neighborhood, along with an area to go ice-skating! It was amazing. Although we didn’t see the Northern Lights we did see an igloo, went ice-climbing, snow-mobiling, and on a sleigh-ride with huskies. We also drank lots of Hot Berry Juice, our 1st time trying it was by mistake where we bought a concentrated version from the supermarket thinking it was normal juice that you were actually supposed to dilute with water and heat up. This idea is genius and so simple. Just heat up juice next time and it’s sooo good!

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Finland, is definitely a place I’d love to go back to. My only regret is that I didn’t go prepared enough. Had I purchased a base layer like Damian had brought and boots I think I would have been able to enjoy exploring much more because we could have hiked and ventured around. We were a little limited by our clothing, well maybe it was just me. I even had a near catastrophe when my coat sleeve randomly had an 8in rip. Of course it happened on a day when it seemed like everything was going on, so there was a minor freakout that afternoon but I managed to mend it and all was right with the world again after that.  Ultimately, I loved seeing the snow, and experiencing life in the Arctic! Plus, it wasn’t as cold as you think. It wasn’t unbearable to go outside, the only thing that was strange was that there were VERY FEW hours of daylight. Starting at around 3pm it began to get dark.  I could go on about Finland and how amazing all of the things we did were but I hope the pictures speak for themselves. It was such a blast!

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After Finland we had a little mishap trying to get to Paris and had to stay a night in Copenhagen,Denmark due to a missed flight so we can cross that of our list.

As pretty as the Scandinavian countries are the only downfall is how expensive it is to travel there. We managed but we ate MAMA noodles and oatmeal a majority of the time we were there.

…can you believe in the middle of no where in the Arctic they have MAMA noodles??!!!

Anyway, Paris was lovely as always. This was more of a destination to unwind from our adventures. We stayed pretty close to our AirBnB and went to see the Eiffel Tower light up at midnight one evening, we also got to see the Palace of Versailles, it was on my list after having visited a few times and never making my way there. The palace itself was cool but what I really loved was seeing the estate and the Grand Trianon and Petit Trianon which is where Marie-Antoinette had a “private home”. I can only imagine what it looked like in the summer. Visiting these places, and Europe in general makes me want to have a garden sooooo bad!

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Traveling with Damian was amazing, and it was one of the most fun trips of my life. Everything we saw it was for the first time together, getting to fly together and navigate public transportation was pretty cool too. I will say I do stress when things don’t go according to plan and Damian lives by the words, “I’m just gonna wing it”. So with that being said, I did snap a few times, but all of our mishaps ending up being great memories we’ll laugh about for a long time.

Leaving Damian in the airport was so hard and very emotional but, this time around we won’t be apart for so long! He comes back in a month to start his adventure for the semester studying in Italy! I’m so excited for him and the fact I’ll have an excuse to escape to Italy for the weekend!

After Damian left it wasn’t the end of my trip. Damian and I went to the airport at the same time and shortly after his flight left I got on a flight to Budapest, Hungary to meet my Swedish friend Mimie.

**Quick fact, Buda and Pest are separated by the Danube River and they mashed these two areas together to create the city Budapest! I didn’t know that.

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In Budapest we saw Buda Castle, the Széchenyi Thermal Baths, the Parliament Building, the famous shoes on the Danube and so many other beautiful buildings and attractions. One of the best was that by chance walking up to Buda Castle we got to see the changing of the guard!

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Budapest is known for not being expensive so we feasted the entire time we were there. It was a foodie’s dream. We ate at the best restaurants and it was amazing! Budapest was such an awesome city, and it wasn’t too crowded. There was so much to see and so many places to go. We stayed in the Jewish Quarter and our location was prime! We were right by two of the most popular ruin bars which are just bars that they’ve opened in abandoned buildings. The interior are decorated in a fun way and they have a lot of character. Mimie and I had a blast, played Havana by Camilla Cabello one to many times, got fish pedicures, and ate til our bellies were full everyday. It was the perfect last getaway before coming home to Strasbourg for the start of the semester!

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Each place I visited was so much fun and again, I can’t stress enough how much more I could say but I’d rather just show you because the pictures capture how amazing the trip was.

Aside from this being an amazing trip, what made it so much more special was that I could to experience it with my best friend and we started 2018 off in the most magical way. I love New Year’s, and I think this was a great beginning to an even better year. I have one semester left here in Europe and I couldn’t be more grateful for all of the things I’ve gotten to see and experience. The world is a very big place y’all.

Some things I’ve learned on this trip:

  1. You can wear the same outfit multiple times. IT IS TOTALLY POSSIBLE TO TRAVEL IN A CARRY-ON and only need 1 PAIR OF SHOES.
  • If you travel in the Winter you’ll wear a coat to cover the outfit anyway

2. You can cook bacon in the microwave

3. Gloves where you can use your phone are essential

4. A scarf makes a difference

5. Always carry an umbrella with you

6. Always carry a portable charger with you

I have a soccer game tomorrow and I start school on Monday! Good luck to everyone this semester back home!

P.S. I was notified that crawfish season has begun, and I’m so upset I can’t partake in feasting on the best thing Louisiana has to offer. Please eat so much of them for me guys!

Long posts like this make it hard to sound eloquent because my thoughts are so jumbled, especially considering I’m still trying to process the things I got to see and experience myself. I hope the pictures give you some eye-candy to enjoy of our adventure this break!  Cheers and missing you all so much back home! Be prepared for me to bug you to come to Europe!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Study Abroad

Strasbourg Capitale de Noël

The Christmas Season is in full swing, and we were greeted with snow on the 1st day of December making it all the more magical. Since then it has snowed a handful of times but not big snow, however, enough to be beautiful. Unfortunately, unlike back home, classes don’t get cancelled. It was so strange for me to see little kids at recess the day it snowed.

 

 

 

I’m missing home extra right now because everyone is finishing finals and I won’t be done until the 22nd. The exams are EXTREMELY spread out and finals for me started last week and is finishing the week after next. Although I’m not stressing out and cramming, I much prefer to get it over with as soon as possible. Someone told me they don’t feel they’ll do as good because they don’t have any pressure as opposed to if you had a shorter amount time and I think that’s very true!

Along with finals, I also have 2 group projects left.

Reflecting on this semester, If I’ve learned anything it’s how to work on a group project. I’ve become a master of google slides and google docs. Although at times it was frustrating to work in groups, at LSU it is very seldom there are group projects and I think it’s very important to learn how to work with a team. Something else I’ve enjoyed this semester is NO TEXTBOOKS. I can’t tell you how many times either myself or someone in class has asked how a topic would ever be relevant in real life. Here, as opposed to using a text book we learn topics with case studies, aka real-life. I’ve really enjoyed learning how the concepts we study in class are applicable in a real-world scenario. Plus, I’ve learned several cool facts of some of the biggest companies in the world! Also, I’ve gone on 3 field-trips! Two of which were to the European Parliament and one will be next week to the Christmas Market to conduct some marketing research for my experiential marketing class.

I’ve also enjoyed playing on the soccer team at school! We won our first game 6-2 and play again tomorrow! The girls are awesome and it’s great for me to practice my French, and they get practice in English haha. It’s a sight to see I can imagine during our games or practice when I’m yelling at them in English the whole time for runs and calling for the ball.

As for the Marché de Nöel, as much as I love the Christmas market I do feel like it’s a “go once and that’s it experience”, however, it is very pretty. This may be in part because it’s extremely cold out and there is no indoors area. One of the good things is that since there are so many surrounding villages, visiting their Christmas markets there’s always something new to see. They are also much more cozier since they aren’t in the middle of a big city and as opposed to being surrounded by huge buildings it’s little cottages.

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As usual, regardless of all the good things that happen, I feel there’s some rule that it has to be a 2:1 ratio. So the one bad thing that has happened to me the past week was that on my way to work on a group project, mid-peddle crossing the street, my bike chain broke and I couldn’t control my bike anymore and there was a group of about 20 people at the bus stop in front of my house watching the whole scene play out. It wasn’t like I could check why it happened in the middle of the road and I was so embarrassed I didn’t even look back so I had to hop down of the seat straddling my bike and scoot the rest of the way and then I just walked it as quickly as possible to lock it on a rack since I was in a hurry and couldn’t figure out what had happened at first. It wasn’t until I compared my bikes to the others on my way home I realized the whole chain was missing. This will be the 3rd time I bring it to the bike shop. I’m sure they’ll know me by name before I leave!

In order to get in the Christmas Spirit, I bought hot cocoa which may or may not have been a good thing. I make it on a regular basis, in order to a.) get warm, and b.) feel christmasy. Our evenings are usually spent drinking hot cocoa, wine, or tea together and eating bread and cheese or whatever evening treat someone brings home. And lately, we’ve been watching Christmas movies to make it feel more like a Christmas atmosphere.

Today we’re picking up our Christmas tree today and will be having our Christmas dinner next weekend to exchange our Secret Santa gifts since everyone is leaving for the holidays.

 

Finally, this past Thursday Alex, Soundousee, and I visited the Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg in Selestat. It’s so neat that things like this exist so close to us. We took a train from Strasbourg there and poor planning on Alex’s part had us taking an Uber up and not knowing it was the only one in all of Selestat we had to ask for a ride back down to the train station. All-in-all it was a fun afternoon, the weather was beautiful and the view was amazing. I can only imagine having lived during the Middle Ages and looking out at my kingdom. The cool thing is that you can see other castles in the mountains in the distance.

Only a handful of days until Damian gets here! So excited to travel for the New Year !!

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