Important! We are excited to announce that we have migrated our blog to a new server, and the “bugs” we were experiencing are now corrected. All posts from this site have been transferred to the new site, and all participating WOU students are enrolled as authors. Click here to begin posting to the new site. Use your regular WOU login credentials to access the site. Happy posting!
And I invite viewers of our blog to continue following our students on their journeys from pre-departure preparation through the return home.
Photoblogging is a wonderful way for students to share what they are learning, observing, and discovering in their new environments. Enjoy the journey with them!
WOU’s photoblog is modeled on the Australian “Bringing the Learning Home” project developed by Jan Gothard, Greg Downey, Tonia Gray, and Linda Butcher, and with their permission, utilizes some of the materials from that project. http://ozstudentsabroad.com/
Since last September my cousin moved with her husband and two girls to Munich on the opposite side of southern Germany. As Oktoberfest ran into two days of national holidays, Anja and I decided to pay my cousin Jodi a visit. We took the trusty Mein Fern Bus ( which I have mentioned before) and made it around noon in Munich. There we met my cousin, and second cousins Ruth and Hannah, and went on a quick tour of Munich.
As some of you may know, Munich is one of Germany’s largest cities. It hosts a world famous cathedral, the “best” soccer club in the world, and the well-known Oktoberfest. Here are some pictures of my time in Munich, some festive and some solemn.
- The Munich City Hall (Rathaus) is the first thing one sees coming up from the subway. Fun fact: Every morning, those who want to preform on the Munich streets have to come her and try-out!
- I don’t have a picture of the Munich Cathedral, but this one is just as interesting. This print is found once one walks in to the church. The story goes, the devil tried to bribe the architect to build a church without windows. When he walked in and stood on this spot, satin couldn’t see any windows so he thought there weren’t any. But there are.
And by the way, I have the same shoe size as the devil!
- This is the easiest picture to digest that I have from Dachau. The gate says “Work will set you free.” Obviously this saying is a lie for the life expectancy of those who were forced into this camp was a mere 9 months. We went to look at the concentration camp because I believe it is extremely important to acknowledge this horrific part of history.
- Here is looking onto the festival grounds of Oktoberfest. On the one hand, it is nice to be able to say you have gone to Oktoberfest. On the other hand, it has many similarities to any county or state fair.
- Here I am at the gate to Oktoberfest with Anja and my second cousins Ruth and Hannah. Has anyone else visited there Family while studying abroad?
- At Oktoberfest all of the major Munich breweries set up there own beer “tent.” As you can see this is just as much a tent as it is a fair-ground exhibition hall. Never-the-less, it is a temporary structure set up and taken down each year!
- Just another impressive temporary structure for Oktoberfest.
- This is actually how the beer is transported to the individual tents during Oktoberfest! I am totally serious.
- The Spaten beer wagon. You can actually buy this beer at Trader Joe’s or Market of Choice.
- Here is Anja with two Oktoberfest favorites; cotton candy and a gingerbread heart (Lebkuchen Herz.)
- This palace is cleverly hidden just north of Munich. Still, it is one of the lesser-known palaces.
I made it!
With a week of German living behind me, I am starting to fall back into a routine. Last you all heard of me I was headed east from my beautiful Oregon to the land of beer, soccer, and fairy tales…
My first stop after PDX was the Philadelphia airport where I took a brisk mile walk to the complete opposite side of the complex. In all seriousness, when I landed I could see the south-side of downtown Philly and by the time I found my gate I had a gorgeous view of the north-side. With 3 hours left to kill, I decided against a burger at Wendy’s and went for the Panda-express because I thought it was the healthier choice. Boy does Panda-express have me fooled.
Any-who, I made it to Frankfurt and had a hard time finding the hidden bus stop for the newish long-distance line “Mein Fern Bus.” After a four hour trip split between two bus rides, I made it to Freiburg! Making my trip shorter was a surprise from my sweet fiancee Anja who joined me for the last leg of my journey. Not MUCH has changed in Freiburg, but there are SOME noticeable differences that tell me I have been gone for a bit of time. (See the pictures below.)
After settling in Anja and I continued on to her family’s place iin Laufenburg. I have mentioned Laufenburg before but I still like to show it off. I have some nice pictures and better descriptions below. In Laufenburg we helped prepare and join in celebrating Anja’s mom’s birthday before continuing into my first full week back and more adventures and new experiences…
- I found the bus stop! It was cleverly hidden at terminal 2 of the Frankfurt airport (about a mile from the main terminal) and is marked by a small piece of laminated paper hidden inside a covered bus stop. Despite the ordeal it was to find the stop, Mein Fern Bus (My Long-distance Bus) is the cheapes way to get around Germany and to Prag, Strasbourg, and Amsterdam. For example; To get from Freiburg across southern Germany to Munich is only 18 Euro!
- Here is the beginning of the final process of building the new University Library in Freiburg. When I first came to Freiburg, they were still tearing down the old library. Oh how time flies.
- Split by the Rhine, Laufenburg lies half in Germany and Half in Switzerland. Above is the German side. It is really a fairy-tale town with the perfect medieval flair. If one finds themselves in the southern tip of the black-forest, taking a quick side trip through Laufenburg is time well spent.
- The Swiss side of Laufenburg is a little more dense, but just continues the medieval dream. To see exactly where Laufenburg is in relation to Germany, check out my blog and previous post at http://ccaster09.wordpress.com/
- Looking up the street in Laufenburg.
- Looking up the steep staircase leading from the river up to the church and residential part of Laufenburg. Anja has told me stories about sprinting down the steps while it was snowing to try and catch the train for school. CAN YOU IMAGINE?
- SInce he was only weeks old, Anja’s family began babysitting the 8 year old named Paul. I understand him well because he doesn’t notice the language mistakes I make.
Oh how I love her so much! And just one day old!
I am now approaching my fourth day of my journey that is going to last 10 weeks. I still cannot believe I made it this far. I am by myself, and I have no one to fall back on other than the people back in the states but I feel at ease. I am enjoying myself to have an authentic experience that is truly mine. If I want to go somewhere, I just go there. Nothing is holding me back. I got to travel around London for a day and then I took a plane to Mumbai, India. Everything fell into place for the things I wanted to do without having expectations about those plans.
As I said, I traveled around London since I had a 14.5 layover. I had nothing holding me back. I may have sucked the experience right out of the city by racing around the city to go to every tourist attraction, but I enjoyed myself nonetheless. I went to Buckingham palace, Green park, Trafalgar square, and Camden town. I think the best thing about the whole experience was that I got to have a pint in a pub while talking to a local. Life always starts with a good drink and then comes the story. After being at the pub, I realized that the people make the city for what it is not the tourist attractions. As I downed my last pint I made my way back to the airport.
I arrived into Mumbai with my feet drenched literally. The monsoons are happening right now so there is a good amount of rain, while being really humid. The weather is not that unbearable but it does get you lightheaded pretty quick. Going through immigration was frustrating because I forgot my friend’s address for this slip of paper that you have to fill out get through immigration, but once I got through immigration I was greeted by my friend at the airport.
The next morning I was greeted by his dad who made the best coffee I have ever had, and I don’t even drink coffee. As time went by, my friend and I went to the beach. The experience was surreal and exciting. The beach was filled with trash. I guess I was shocked, but I cannot really judge and ridicule them for doing for what they deem is alright. It is just a way of life.
After a while we came back to the house where his mom prepared a vegetarian meal. This would be my first vegetarian meal. It was actually really good. It goes without saying, “ What is better than mom’s home cooking.”
The next day I was picked up by the internship provider and now I am going to start my internship.
As I have now been in Vienna for a week, I am becoming much more adjusted to my new temporary home. I am blessed to have been paired with such a wonderful roommate. Her and I have spent the majority of our time together exploring shops and restaurants while getting to know each other better. It is so wonderful to have someone to share this experience with who is always there at the end of every exhausting day. We have found a really great bakery just down the street from our residence hall. We went there for our first time this morning and are sure we will be frequent customers! We got topfenstrudel and hot chocolate! Yummy! We learned that topfenstrudel is a treat that is special to Vienna. My teachers and site director are also very friendly and resourceful so I have been enjoying being around such wonderful people. There are only four students in my program so we have very small classes and it enables us to cover a lot of material in class. My music history teacher took my small group of four on a tour of the first district our first weekend here. We saw so many beautiful buildings that I never could have even imagined existed. I had a little surprise when I opened my violin case and discovered that my sound post had fallen out of place, but this allowed me to figure out the public transportation system quickly as I had to get to a violin maker’s shop to get it fixed. Since then I have met my private violin teacher and he is basically a celebrity around here. He is a very respectable guy who I know I will be able to learn a tremendous amount from and he is an excellent resource as well. As soon as I met him he offered me a free ticket to an orchestra concert he is conducting! I have been having a great time exploring the city, looking in shops, and finding restaurants with my roommate though we have had our share of difficulties adapting. After my first couple of days it seemed as though everything I tried to do was a challenge. Being that I came here not knowing any German there was a definite language barrier. Prior to coming here I never could have imagined just how many daily tasks I would have difficulty with. Normally simple things like doing laundry, cooking, making copies, and getting a grocery cart suddenly become a great challenge when instructions are written in a language you do not understand and the only people around to request assistance of do not understand your language. Many people I have run into don’t speak any English at all. My first morning here I was trying to find the place I was supposed to be meeting my site director at and I didn’t have a phone that worked here and I couldn’t find anyone who spoke English who could give me directions. Since then I have experienced many similar occurrences. When my roommate and I first went to the grocery store we couldn’t figure out how to get the grocery carts loose. There was a chain that connected them all and we couldn’t get it loose so we gave up because we were really embarrassed standing there trying to get a cart, knowing that there is something simple not known to us that everyone else there knew. Instead we were forced to carry everything in our arms so we were walking around with our arms full of groceries and everyone was looking at us funny. Later on we asked one of our teachers what the trick is to the carts and learned that you are supposed to stick a euro in a slot on the carts and then it is released and when you re-connect the cart after you finish shopping, the euro is returned to you. This has definitely been a huge learning experience and I feel much more informed about how things work now than when I first got here, but I know I still have a lot more to learn.
I leave for Rajagurunagar, India in three days. I do not really have any expectations about my host culture, however I have been reading up on the culture and preparing myself for this journey. The way I think about it is that what I have read about on paper is helpful, but actually experiencing something that you have read and try to put it to use is a different thing entirely. I did not know what to think of this but then I decided to think in broad terms that were in the lines with my passion for interning in India.
I see this internship as a meaningful opportunity to see life though an Indian. Yes, I will be working but it will be my passion that drives my work which will make it meaningful. I have no specific expectations for this journey, but just a broad sense to enjoy the internship for what it is and have meaningful interactions with the people I work with and people who I will be meeting.
I do feel anxious, happy, nervous, scared, and all those other emotions that entail going into a foreign area, but that is the greatest part. This is my first opportunity to travel out of North America and all those emotions are just normal, which makes them the greatest part of the journey. It also makes me realize that I just need to relax and sit back. In the end just relaxing and thinking in broad terms is all that is needed for now.
Here are some photos from a former intern adventures in India. They are just food pictures but I think food is a connection between cultures because who doesn’t like eating and a good conversation while eating. http://fondagoestoindia.blogspot.com/
Manchurian Veggie Balls
In just two days I will be on my way to Argentina. Although I have been planning this trip for months, I can’t believe that its almost time to go.
I’m looking forward to immersing myself in Argentine culture, and overall I feel pretty confident about the cultural experience I will have. I expect to have some challenges and misunderstandings– both with the culture and with the language–but I plan on keeping a positive attitude and not getting discouraged. I know I’ll be able to figure out how to fit into the culture, and I know that the challenges I will face will make this a more rewarding experience.
What does concern me is the fact that I will be working in this environment. Since I am doing an internship abroad, my time in Argentina will affect many people besides myself. I worry that if I have a hard time adapting or make mistakes at work there be more consequences for others, whereas any faux pas I make outside of work will really only affect me. However, I hope that by doing my best to communicate and asking for help or clarification when I need it I will also have a good work experience.
Overall I am really looking forward to starting my experience in Argentina!
Ahh the familiar feel of the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave. I first stepped foot onto American carpeting at the Atlanta airport. Initial thoughts: So much English spoken and so much diversity! The majority of Spaniards aim to blend in- physically most are of similar skin/hair color and of skinny stature. Everyone sports similarly tame/inconspicuous fashion trends (i.e. scarves, neutral earth tones, NO workout attire of any kind, yoga pants & nikes included). The diversity here in the U.S, however, is notable. There are people of all shapes, sizes, shades, not necessarily conforming to a general style.
Also, I immediately ordered a burrito (of American proportions) and a Corona (now that I was freshly legal at home).
Drawbacks: I immediately noticed how impatient and whiny everyone around me was. Everyone was in a rush. Maybe it was because I was in an airport, but hey, airports are sort of the cross section of the country. Entitlement and instant gratification are not a European norm; my patience and cooperation were definitely tested many times abroad where arguing or being demanding simply will not get one anywhere.
From Atlanta, I flew into Los Angeles and was greeted by my Mom and Grandma. We celebrated her new promotion in the Army- a full “bird” aka a Colonel- with an awesome military ball and change of command ceremony. A proud daughter, indeed. We drove down to San Diego and leisurely made our way back up the Californian coast and a week and half later, arrived in the beautiful beautiful state of Oregon. TREES… that is all.
I had missed the air, the plants, and the abundance of restaurants & cafes. It’s good to be home and I am still accomplishing my list of places to return to since my return. However, now that I’ve caught the travel bug…I’m already planning my next adventures! Thinking of doing a month-long trip somewhere this December… Destination TBD :)