Lebanon Valley College Study Abroad

To The Wind

Several days after our generally successful foray to Wellington, we headed back to Lake Taupo, a destination we had always driven near, but never visited, to resolve a bit of unfinished business. In the shadow of Mount Doom sat carvings, inaccessible except by boat, several summer’s of work now condensed into a convenient guided tour. The carvings ranged from the traditional faces of Maori deities to a naked etching of the sculptor’s girlfriend at the time, whom I doubt would be super pleased with the amount of people taking pictures of her stone likeness.

Everyone else kept insisting that it was a carving, not a bust.

Everyone else kept insisting that it was a carving, not a bust.

I had spent study week on a road trip, now, I was determined to spend the whopping two week long finals period for a last bit of cavorting and merriment. For the New Zealanders, many of them retaining an admirable level of post semester motivation, there was plenty of time to study and ensure the preservation of their GPAs. For me, there was plenty of time to seal myself into my room and watch Netflix without that usual annoying obligation to socially interact with other people.

If it had gone much longer, I shudder to think what may have become of my social skills.

If it had gone much longer, I shudder to think what may have become of my social skills.

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Bleed Me Dry

Wellington is a city trying very hard to be San Francisco. Between the art deco buildings and the cable car, it’s a wonder that they didn’t import a scale model of the Golden Gate Bridge. Las Vegas certainly doesn’t have the same qualms about monument theft.

What was notable, at least for me, about my arrival to Wellington was my newfound conservancy when it came to spending money. I believe I’ve mentioned before how I’ve been blithely burning through my money on trips and such with the mindset that, as a visitor to a country on the other side of the world, it would be a very, very long time before I returned, if at all. However, the cavalier attitude that I’ve taken towards currency had put me in a bind, and suddenly, the desire to see and do as much as possible was replaced with a vague, gnawing dread that everyone was out to get into the sweet, leather folds of my wallet.

Paid wifi? Yeah, right. City parking? Not likely. Vending machines? What utterly despicable leeches. No, I didn’t care how compelling they were, candy bars hanging seductively against their plastic housing, ladies of the night wrapped in crinkly cellophane.

Fortunately, Wellington offers a number of attractions that are mercifully free, allowing me the chance to hoard my money a little bit longer until I could pull an Ebeneezer Scrooge years in the future.

My ghost of Christmas past was more riddled with alcohol than I remember.

My ghost of Christmas past was more riddled with alcohol than I remember.

Economics aside, I really, sincerely, for real this time, recommend the Wellington museum for its sheer size and sheer lack of required payment. Much of the week had, given the cold and rain, been a slog through a multitude of museums and art galleries, all eager to give you your daily suppository of New Zealand knowledge.

That said, Wellington did something right, in the way it conveyed a subtle mood with its exhibits, through organization, music, and yes, the occasional Lord of the Rings prop, a staple of New Zealand attractions. I may have come dangerously close to learning in that museum, because when we left, I realized that the breeding habits of New Zealand birds had stuck in my mind. You think I’m joking. I’m not.

Trust me, you really don't want to know.

Trust me, you really don’t want to know.

But, for every Wellington, saturated with culture and hipsters, there was a tourist attraction that was slightly under par, trumped up for the sake of the locals with little regard to whether it would be an actual desirable place to visit.

For instance, when we attempted to visit the coveted hill elevator of a sleepy coastal town, we found a deserted concrete tunnel, complete with a single downtrodden bench and an ancient elevator that may very well have been the understudy for the Tower of Terror.

"They say I'll get my own Disney ride in a few years!"

“They say I’ll get my own Disney ride in a few years!”

Although there was an attendant to give us a ride and our guts remained mercifully knife-free, the opportunity to clank on up to a hilltop view of the town that could be accessed by road was pretty overrated.

Once we got even further away from Wellington, into New Zealand’s scenic swathes of farmland, towns didn’t even bother trying to distinguish themselves with a tourist trap, becoming simply, “that town with the one lane bridge” or similar. We had become well acquainted with the country’s rural areas, but hadn’t quite anticipated the desolation of some of these areas, often a few houses with a beaten up sign signaling a nearby school. These were the sleepy little country towns that seemed just remote enough to harbor some kind of dark, Lovecraftian secret.

So come on down to Innsmouth, and meet some friends of mine!

So come on down to Innsmouth, and meet some friends of mine!

But soon, the quality of the buildings and genetic diversity of the people improved, and then immediately took a dive as we arrived in Hamilton. But it was home, and we were exhausted. With only a few loose ends to wrap up, this was our last great expedition through the sheep infested ranges of New Zealand.

Willkommen in Würzburg

I arrived in Würzburg, Germany five days ago and I can already say that this city has stolen my heart. Würzburg is a small city located in Bavaria, Germany in the Franconia region. I will be staying in Würzburg for the entire month of July while I take a German course at the University of Würzburg. During my time in Germany I am staying in a single room in a dorm at the University.

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The past few days have been so busy that we haven’t had much down time. On our first night here we got settled in our rooms and then took the bus downtown to eat as a group in a restaurant that is 700 years old. Many of us did not know each other because the group consists of only one other LVC student, besides myself, one professor from LVC, and eight students and two professors from Hillsdale College in Michigan, so we used this time to get to know each other. We enjoyed a traditional German style meal with Franconia wine, and of course amazing desserts.

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We started class the next day, which goes from 8:30 to 12:30 Monday through Friday. In order to get to class we have to take one of the bus lines downtown, which is about a 10 minute ride from our dorm building. After classes we ate lunch in the main lunch hall of the university, where we will be eating lunch most days. On Thursday afternoon we did a citywide scavenger hunt that took three hours. We learned so much about the culture of the city and how to navigate through it. It is a beautiful city that has a fun, positive vibe.

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My favorite place in the city is the Alte Mainbrücke (Old Main Bridge) which is a foot bridge that goes across the Main River. It has several statutes on it that are historical people of the city. During the day it is a beautiful place to relax and read a book or do homework by the river, and at night it is a fun place to hang out with friends. At night the fortress that is visible from the bridge and the length of the bridge itself are lit up, and there is music and lots of people drinking wine.
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On Friday after classes we visited the Marienberg Fortress that overlooks the entire city and the Alte Mainbücke. We explored the museum inside the fortress as well.
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On Friday night the Kiliani-Volksfest began. Kiliani-Volksfest is a huge festival in Würzburg that honors Saint Kilian and is celebrated for about two weeks. To start off the festivities, the major of Würzburg tapped the first keg that came from the Würzburg Hofbräu, the only brewery in the city. Later in the night there were fireworks for the Festival as well.
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During the day on Saturday there was a huge parade that was for the Kiliani-Volksfest that went through the center of the city that featured tons of German traditions. After the parade, we went to the Juliusspital Winery to go on a tour and taste their wines. Würzburg is known for their wine, especially their white wines, since it is located in a huge wine region in Germany with three huge wineries. While we were at the winery we saw their wooden barrels that they age wine in, some of them were decorated for specific things. There was one where you could climb in it to see how big it was and a few of us went into it.

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At first it was hard to become adjusted to speaking German all the time but it is getting easier now. It is very rewarding to be able to understand and communicate with another person in a language that you have spent so much time studying. There are a lot of small cultural changes in Germany that most people wouldn’t realize unless they visited. For example, stores are not open on Sunday and close early at night, and most places do not take credit cards for payment. The past couple of days have been extremely hot and it is very rare for buildings to have air conditioning in Europe. Our classroom and dorms do not have AC either, and since the weather has been over 90 degrees the past few days it has been very difficult to adapt without AC. It is also something we are getting used to. Hopefully it will start to cool down soon too!

 

Bis später,

Emily

A Trip of a Lifetime

Thank you LVC for the opportunity to experience so many adventures this summer! The first short-term summer program to Perugia, Italy allowed for a great learning experience of Food and Philosophy of Italian Culture. While in Perugia, we were able to do amazing things like eat great Italian food, go to the Perugia flower show, and enjoy the incredible views!

DSC00619      Our Walk to Class View

Our class had several excursions; including trips to Venice, Parma, Modena, a winery, an olive oil tasting, and world famous Dario Cecchini’s butchery.

Venice, Italy

We also had a few free days to explore other parts of Italy! We chose to visit Florence and the hillside town of Assisi…

The Hillside Town of Assisi

This study abroad opportunity allowed a few of us to travel to various places in Europe afterwards! The first stop still within Italy was Ancient Rome.

The Colosseum: Rome, Italy

Our next destination was Munich, Germany! At this destination, we enjoyed the quaint buildings and beautiful views from nearby towns.

Munich, Germany  Outside of Fussen, Germany

We also traveled to the nearby town of Fussen to see the famous “disney” castle, Neuschwanstein Castle.

Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

Next on the list was Paris and London!

The Eiffel Tower: Paris

Lastly, I would like to once again thank LVC study abroad and everyone else involved in making this trip possible for the amazing opportunity. I have been able to see so many incredible attractions, and I am so grateful for the experience!

 

 

Constants and Variables

The curse of my generation, it is often said, is that we were born too late to explore the earth, but too early to explore the universe. Personally, I think this is pretty dumb, because we were born just in time to explore the places on earth that people on Trip Advisor have already meticulously mapped out and reviewed, which, generally speaking, leads to a lot less scurvy and imperialism.

"Great atmosphere, but not in India as advertised. 1/5."

“Great atmosphere, but not in India as advertised. 1/5.”

I’ve been a little inactive blogging lately as a result of this trip; but now that I’ve returned and have sorted out the details of my eventual departure from New Zealand, I am happy to document my travels to the other windy city: Wellington.

It was an unusually sunny Friday morning when we departing from the university. Our hopes were high, our gas tank was full, and the trunk was filled with a week’s worth of peanut butter and jelly supplies. The road trip had begun, and like the explorers of yore, we were off to find new places and then take Instagram photos with them.

me n my crew reppin christianity #columbus #crissyc #spanishempireabroad

me n my crew reppin christianity #columbus #crissyc #spanishempireabroad

Most of our trip gave us a good look at something that, oddly enough, we hadn’t seen a lot of during our trip: the beach. Pristine in the winter, New Zealand beaches lacked tourists to scour them clean of all of the best shells, so we really had to pick up the slack in that department. Slightly more confusing is when, upon hiking up nearby Mount Maunganui, we found that there were still seashells at the top of the mountain, so clearly, the seashell collectors of New Zealand need to get it together. The view was spectacular, but this country doesn’t earn points for that anymore. The university food is terrible, the liquor is expensive, and the view from the mountains would make Michelangelo cry joyful tears into his toga. Yawn. You’ve heard it all before. Much more interesting was an establishment in the town below called “The Pizza Library,” which raised all sorts of questions about the feasibility on flatbreads and card catalogs. Does the Pizza Library use the Dewey Decimal system? Is there a specific shelf for meat lover’s, or is it just lumped in with the rest of the nonvegan section? Can the stereotypes of sultry librarian and Italian pizza chef be combined?

According to Google Images, they can.

According to Google Images, they can.

Pizza archiving aside, we ended up eating at a place that specialized in “American Food,” which apparently consists of lots of macaroni and cheese and at least three different types of gourmet butter. Although I had spent some time puzzling over why mustard and butter needed to be combined in any capacity, it was nice to an American restaurant not sporting golden arches.

Later that evening, I began my love-hate relationship with hostel showers. Generally speaking, I hated them, and they loved to shift to cold water at unexpected moments, leading to goosebumps that could have cut diamonds. As is always the case with trying out new showers, I soon discovered that the shower back in the dorms at school had been my one true love all along.

Cue the Whitney Houston music.

Cue the Whitney Houston music.

One downside of traveling in the winter is the general emphasis on outdoor activities. So, deprived of our usual fare of mountaindiving, skyboarding, and sheep herding, we were forced to turn our gaze inward, to the museums of varying quality in each town we passed through. No New Zealand town seems to think itself without some kind of history, as I found out upon reading about how the explorer James Cook once stopped to get gas and buy a meat pie at one of the town’s truck stops.

Day 304: William won't stop asking us to play twenty questions. We may have to throw him overboard.

Day 304: William won’t stop asking us to play twenty questions. We may have to throw him overboard.

That being said, there was enough weird art to be ironically enjoyed and enough nature to observe at a safe distance to keep up busy for a few days. However, the true prize had always been the city of Wellington, where at the very least, we could get a break from all of that annoying beautiful nature.

We’ll get to that next.

The last adventure!

Barcelona is so beautiful! I spent the two days just relaxing on the beach. It was very refreshing to just sit by the water and relax after a month of traveling. But I think my favorite part about Spain was the food. I had paella, fresh seafood, and wonderful sangria while there.

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Super fresh seafood in Barcelona

As always, once we arrived it is a little bit of struggle to find the hostel, but I think this trip was almost record time. I had to break out my very rusty Spanish skills while trying to navigate. The people of Barcelona were super friendly and were always willing to help.

The beach of Barcelona was small compared to our idea of a beach. It’s just right along the city which is pretty cool! While on the beach there were multiple people trying to sell things, from alcohol, clothes and even massages. But it was technically illegal for them to be doing that so when the Police went by it was comical to watch them all run and try to hide!

Our last day on the beach right before we left, we met some super friendly Dutch guys. Obviously we conversed a lot about our summer program in Maastricht. The one guy said something that stuck with me. “It’s nice to be important but it’s more important to be nice.” I think this not only shows the true Dutch culture but also speaks a lot to life.

From Barcelona, the plan was to go to Paris for the day and then arrive late at the Brussels airport. But God has slightly different plans than that. We woke up at 5:30 and made our way to the airport. It was time to board and there was no plane in sight. At this point, I’m a little worried, but only hearing of a one hour delay I didn’t think much about it. However, after that hour, the desk started to hand out food coupons. Which as a student on a budget I greatly appreciated, but this meant the delay was going to be a lot longer. Word finally comes around that we will be leaving at 3:30…. Let’s just say there was some sleeping and multiple games of uno and rummy. Brittany and I even went “shopping” around the area and I found a very cute dress!

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The Eiffel Tower!

Although a little frustrated, I didn’t let myself get upset about this. Although we already used our 30 minutes of free wifi at the beginning, I knew there was nothing we could do about it so getting upset would only make the situation worse. So we finally leave around 3:30 and arrive in Paris a little after 5. Knowing that our train that night was at 9:45, I thought well at least we have 3 hours in the city. But with our luck that day, it was an hour bus ride into the city and it took 40 minutes to get to the other train station. This meant that we had an hour and half in the city. We felt so rushed the whole time (even though it wasn’t long.. ha). We literally took pictures at the Eiffel Tower, got a mediocre crepe and then had to head to the train station.

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At this point on the metro, I’m thinking okay our bad luck has to be gone by now… right?? Well not exactly. On the metro, I had a man try to steal stuff out of my backpack, which is not my idea of fun. But not to worry, I luckily saw him and was able to stop him!

After 9 hours in the airport, a rushed hour in the city, and a stressful metro ride, I was ready to get on the train and just get to the airport. Thankfully, no problems getting on the train! FINALLY, we are on our way to the end of our journey.

EKKK.. that was the sound we heard mid-way through the trip. You are kidding me right?? The train is now stopped and they just made an announcement that they are unaware of why the train has stopped. Brittany and I just look at each other and start busting up laughing!! This was a day filled with bad luck and we were so tired that we just found the whole situation hilarious. After some time, they figured out that the train in front of ours had hit an animal and that was what caused the delay.

We have finally arrived at Brussels train station a few stops down from the airport which meant we had to buy a ticket. Of course, none of our cards worked and neither of us had enough euros left to buy the tickets. So at this point, we just hopped on the train and decided to pay for the ticket on board. Thankfully, this worked out and we were able to get to the airport and retrieve our luggage with no problems.

Now, only 9 hours til our flight home……

When in Rome (or Venice)…

This week was filled with a lot of different emotions. On Friday we went to the USA vs. Netherlands soccer game, which turned out to be a huge upset. The Americans came out on top in the last couple minutes of the game. It was an awesome experience, but we were definitely the black sheep repping our red, white and blue!

Soccer game

A little blurry.. but the Xavier and LVC crew before the game!

Then Saturday we said goodbye to all of our Xavier and LVC friends and they all left to go back home. I have to admit I was slightly jealous of them all because part of me just wanted to go home and see my friends and family. But Brittany and I planned to stay an extra week and travel to Italy, Spain and Paris!

We started in Venice, Italy! We got into the city pretty late which wasn’t the best idea. The streets of Italy are a maze and of course we didn’t have a map or Wifi. We asked so many people for directions but still couldn’t find out hostel. God bless the one man that called our hostel for us because we would have been walking around all night! A worker from the hostel actually came and picked us up so we didn’t have to navigate through the streets anymore. After finally arriving at the hostel, there was no sign indicating the hostel, just a little piece of paper on the call button outside…. No wonder we couldn’t find it…

ITaly

The next morning we woke up and ate some breakfast. This is where we met the nicest mother and son from Tennessee who showed us around the city that day. They were so nice and really helped us learn the streets of Venice. It was also nice to talk to fellow Americans for a couple hours. That day we saw all of the “touristy” attractions. Then after we ate lunch with them and said our goodbyes we decided to venture to a recommended pasta restaurant. A Le Torte makes their pasta every morning from scratch and it was delicious! I had black pasta and seafood with asparagus and it was one of the best meals I’ve had in Europe! To my surprise I was not overly impressed with the pizza in Italy. The only perk about the pizza was that the cheese and toppings were super fresh but it just tasted like normal pizza to me.

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Black Pasta!

After our pasta, we decided just to venture around the streets of Italy. This is when we found some of the coolest places. We first stumbled across a little lookout point onto the Mediterranean Sea and another island. It was right at sunset and was absolutely breathtaking! Then we kept walking and came across what looked like a little yard sale. After talking to the locals, it was a fundraiser for the church to go on a mission trip. They were selling homemade baked goods, so of course we had to try some of the classic Venice desserts. We had a very tasty fruit cake! After taking a few steps around the corner we saw there was a little fair going on. Food, beer and even a concert filled up the little village’s square, along with all of the locals. We were absolutely amazed at what we had found. We stayed and enjoyed some Italian music for an hour or so. I was so thrilled that we stumbled across this little village in Italy. It was without a doubt an unforgettable and once in a lifetime experience.

Lookout

The next day we ventured to another little island 10 minutes from Venice, called Lido. We spent the day soaking up the sun! We were a little worried that it was going to be a nude beach because most beaches in Europe are nude beaches, but thankfully we were safe!

Our last day in Venice, we walked around the museum, Basilica and Palace and saw some really impressive art and sculptures from hundreds of years ago. That night we went out and “did as the Romans do” and enjoyed an Italian lifestyle.

Overall, I really enjoyed Italy. The humidity and heat were a little overbearing but the beauty of the city made up for it! I would love to visit not only Venice, but also all of Italy again!

Me-italy

Now we are in Barcelona, Spain!! The game plan is just to enjoy two days on the beach relaxing after a full month of traveling.

 

One month ago tomorrow…

Ciao!

Exactly one month ago tomorrow came nerves, excitement, and the realization that we were just an 8 hour flight away from Italy. Most of us met at the airport on Sunday May 10, which happened to be Mothers’ Day, so there were a lot of “happy mothers’ day, bye for three weeks, mom!” situations going on. We were able to easily get through security and checking in and arrived at our gate with plenty of time to spare before our flight departed.

Waiting to board Flight 718

 

Before we knew it, we were boarding the plane. Next stop, Rome!

After landing in the Rome airport (Monday morning), we were taken to Perugia by the Umbra Institute staff and briefly introduced and oriented before being taken to our apartments. We were all fortunate to be placed into the same building, 5 of us in each apartment on the first, second, and third floors. That night, we were given a walking tour of Perugia to help us orient ourselves around the city and taken to get our first Italian pizza!

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The first few hours in Italy definitely were filled with excitement and recognition of how different our culture is from theirs. The next week was kept activity packed. Between an “authentic” 5 course Italian meal at dal mi’ cocco, a pizza making workshop, our first couple of class sessions with Dr. Valgenti, and grocery shopping, we were guaranteed to get a few hours of catch-up sleep on the bus to Venice Friday morning.

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Waiting for the first course at dal mi’ cocco

 

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Third course

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Fourth course

 

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Pizza making workshop

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Completed product :)

Reliant internet, you were missed

Ciao tutti!

So I know that a couple of posts were made while we were abroad but our internet was so spotty that many of us could barely connect to send in our assignments, let alone post both informative and visually intriguing updates on our fantastic three weeks abroad. Though most of us are back home, I plan to do my best to post-update everyone about our class, excursions, field trips, interactions, etc. to the best of my ability. So, for the next couple of weeks or so, I look forward to giving you a glimpse of la vita italiana.

Traveling Cliches are 100% true

It’s hard to believe but we only have one more day left at the university! Time sure flies when you’re having fun. It feels like yesterday when our plane finally touched down. Without a doubt this experience has been unbelievable.

From traveling around Europe, I have not only met a lot of people from all around the world but also figured out a lot about myself. It’s crazy how in 4 weeks you can learn so much about a different culture that helps shape your outlook on America and the world. Just from being here I have gained even more independence and confidence in myself. Just something about getting lost in the middle of nowhere with your friends but finally finding your way is invigorating.

As much as I hate to admit it, every single cliché about traveling is completely and utterly correct.

1.You will take a picture of almost every meal because everything just looks amazing!

Maastricht Sour Meat

Maastricht Sour Meat – an authentic Dutch meal!

Tiramisu

Tiramisu – Our “last supper” that all LVC students and professor enjoyed!

2. Time really does fly when you are having fun!

3. You will get lost…. For me….. more than once.

4. Laughing is a universal language. No matter where we went this was one thing everyone had it common.

The Girls

5. You will be homesick. Yes I have to admit, I miss my family and friends A LOT!

6. On the same note, when it’s time to leave you will do everything in your power to stay.

7. Traveling is exhausting! All those steps add up and at night you can’t wait to get to bed!

8. Take the road less traveled. Believe it or not, the unknown places can be just as fun, if not more fun than the popular spots of Europe.

9. When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and money. Take half your clothes and twice the money. So sad but oh so true.

10. I’ve met a lot of people in Euorpe. I’ve even encountered myself – James Baldwin.

Tomorrow we have 2 finals, an exiting lunch and then the USA vs. Netherlands soccer game! This week has flown by. We had a couple days of classes and a field trip this week to visit regional companies. The first stop was at a Stroop (Dutch jam) factory. Unfortunately, they went out of business in the late 80’s so we mainly heard about the history of the factory and saw some of the old machines. For this stop, the best part was getting to try the different flavors. If you haven’t learned by now, I ABSOLUTLY LOVE anything with the word free before it!

The next stop was at Brand Brewery. They are a regional beer distributor who is now under the Heineken Company. I found this visit very interesting, I love hearing about how a company positions themselves in order to be profitable in a certain market. Once again, at the end we had a free beer tasting, which  I’m pretty sure everyone enjoyed!

Brand Brewery

LVC Business in the European Union at Brand Brewery