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Berlin, Germany

Berlin, Germany

Thursday we headed to another country: Germany! We were in a Harry Potter train again, but this time there were no beds. The guy who checked our ticket started yelling at us for not putting the date on our Eurorail passes. He continued to yell at us in front of everyone saying we would have to pay a 250-euro fine each. A fine for not putting the date on our passes before getting on the train! No one told us prior; now we know. He ended up just doing it for us.

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Saturday morning we had a six-hour tour of the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. Before getting on the train, we met four other PT majors from San Diego, California. They were undergrads and thought we were the coolest people for doing a clinical over in Italy and wanted to do one too!

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Brandenburg Gate
Brandenburg Gate


Our tour guide was from New Zealand (and was really cute too!) and moved to Berlin when he met his German wife. On the way home from the camp, he gave us suggestions on where to go, what to eat, and what to see during the rest of our stay.

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After the tour, we went to see the Berlin wall. There are parts of the wall still standing, and we were advised to go to the portion covered in graffiti by the river. A wired fence protects some of the wall while other parts are open and can be touched by passersby. Tourists were writing their names on the wall as they walked passed!

Sign on gate into concentration camp "work will set you free"
Sign on gate into concentration camp “work will set you free”
LVC at Berlin wall
LVC at Berlin wall


We took a wrong turn while heading to dinner and ended up in a large park. This was probably one of the scariest experiences I’ve had thus far. About a 100 guys lined the sidewalks of the park and approached/tried to talk to us.  We could smell weed and saw a guy right in front of us snort something straight from another guy’s hand! Luckily there were families with children walking through the park too, so we weren’t alone.

Next stop: Amsterdam, Netherlands!

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Capital of Germany

3.5 million people

After WWII, the city was divided into East & West Berlin surrounded by the Berlin wall (1961-1989). Following German reunification in 1990, Berlin was once again designated as the capital of the united Germany.

Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp:

Nazi concentration camp in Oranienburg, Germany used primarily for political prisoners from 1936 to the end of the Third Reich in May 1945.

Executions did take place, but only after the war started. It was made as a work camp.

The main gait (Guard Tower “A”) held a 8mm maxim machine gun that could point down the lines of each of the barracks. It also housed the offices of the camp administration.

On the front entrance the gates held the infamous slogan “Arbeit Macht Frei” (work will set you free).

About 200,000 people passed through the camp between 1936 and 1945.

50,000 were brutally murdered.

First camp established under Heinrich Himmler

Until its closure in March 1950 another 60,o00 were captive here of which 12,000 died of similar catastrophic conditions of hunger, physiological, and physical exhaustion.

Sachsenhausen was intended to set a standard for other concentrations camps, both in its design and the treatment of its prisoners.

**I don’t really want to share too much more concerning concentration camps and the treatment because I advise all readers to travel to one and experience it personally. Being in one definitely gives you a different kind of feeling and a special appreciation for life.

Famous Prisoners held in Sachsenhausen:

Georg Elser:  opponent of Nazis who attempted to kill Adolf Hitler on his own in November 1939. He was later moved to Dachau concentration camp.

  • (Inspired the movie 13 minutes-look up how and why this attempt failed! History was changed forever because of just 13 minutes!)

Yakov Dzhugashvili:  Joseph Stalin’s eldest son, was briefly imprisoned and then died here in 1943. He was kept alive thinking he would be a good collateral during the war, but Stalin later claimed that he did not have a son, and he became unimportant.


Willkommen in Würzburg

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.


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,


Berlin, Frankfurt and more Würzburg, oh my !

Berlin, Frankfurt and more Würzburg, oh my !

Hello all !!
It has been a BUSY couple of weeks here, and I apologize for my negligence. There has been so much to see and do, I figured I may as well show you rather than tell you 🙂

Lebanon Valley College and Hillsdale College, together in Rothenburg

The Brandenburger Gate at night. During the day, this portion of town is bustling and full of people, sometimes with small events and entertainment.

The Sony Center is a perfect example of Berlin’s fast-growing use of technology. The center was a sight to behold

The Festung, a defensive castle in Germany

Frankfurt on the Main river.

Würzburg on the Main… a gorgeous city.

I’ll write later in the week, seeing as it’s the last full week of the study-abroad experience. Hopefully it doesn’t fly by too quickly !

Auf Wiedersehen !


Munich and more Würzburg excursions!

Munich and more Würzburg excursions!

Hello all ! After many technological issues, I have finally established a solid internet connection in mein Wohnungszimmer. I can now blog from the comfort of my single room in Würzburg!

I recently returned from a short weekend trip in Munich. The two hour train ride only mounted our excitement. After spending about a week in a mid-sized German town, it was time for the big leagues. Munich is a city that is about ten times larger than Würzburg, with a population of about 1.4 million proud citizens. Add the almost 5 million visitors YEARLY (most for Oktoberfest), it’s safe to say that this is a very busy, bustling area of industry mixed with old-fashioned buildings and culture. Talk about an interesting combination!

On the first night there, after settling into our Hostel-Hotel — which was far nicer than I imagined it would be — we made our way to the English Gardens, a gigantic park that rivals New York’s Central Park. In the heart of this green labyrinth stands the Chinesischer Turm, which is essentially a gigantic pagoda surrounded by outdoor booths providing people with traditional food and drink. There, I had my first Weissbier, which is what Munich is known for. It was absolutely delicious:) We sat around listening to the music and voices permeating the air, and spent the remainder of the night taking in this environment.

Saturday was filled with much sight-seeing, and in the afternoon, a few of us traveled to Dachau, the infamous city of one of the most well-known concentration camps. The town is only a half hour away from Munich’s main train station. Never having been to any sort of Holocaust memorial before, it was a very sobering experience. Most of the buildings are open to the public and virtually restored to what they resembled during WWII. Each place was filled with testimonials, artifacts, and historical information all surrounding the town and camp. It was definitely worth the trip. Despite the sadness that weighed down on our hearts, it was good to finally recognize and reflect on these events from not so long ago.

We returned on Sunday, exhausted from our travels. Most of that day was spent recovering. But Monday brought a pleasant surprise: all of us felt a new-found sense of direction for this town we temporarily are calling ‘home’. Finding stores on side streets isn’t nearly as difficult, and German conversation occurs much more readily. It’s an exciting development for all of us:)

Today was the closest to home I’ve felt since arriving. During an early-morning tour of the town, our group passed a Nunnery that a sister was unlocking. She overheard bits of our tour and inquired if we wished to come inside. We agreed, and as she was opening the door she asked where we came from. Upon our response, she told us that many of her sisters came from outside of Philadelphia… Huntingdon Valley, to be exact! The exact town I’ve lived in all my life. Sister Teresa and I spoke for a while about it, and it was really a ‘small-world’ experience that I’ve never internationally experienced. I loved every second of it:)

That was much more long-winded than I expected. So I’ll let you all go for now, and I finally found my camera cord, so pictures will be here within the week !

Auf Wiedersehen,

Laura 🙂

The city of Würzburg

The city of Würzburg

Willkommen nach Würzburg!

Welcome to Wuerzburg! I apologize in advance, if anything is spelled incorrectly. I am sitting in an internet cafe located in the heart of the town, and the keyboards here have quite a few of the letters swapped around (such as the ‘z’ and ‘y’. I think I finally have it down, though).

The reason I did not post is because the internet in my apartment is still not up and running, but this is not a huge issue here. This town is a beautiful place, and I have spent the past couple of days exploring every inch of it with the other three students from LVC. Contact with the outside world seems to be less of a priority here, especially since we’re almost constantly on the move.

We all arrived in Würzburg from Frakford on Monday, fighting jetlag but very excited to be where we were. The first day was spent unpacking in our apartments and becoming aquainted with the nine other students involved in the program. They study at Hillsdale College in Michigan, and are equally excited to be here.

On Monday night, we all had dinner at a place called the Bürgerspital zum Heiligen Geist. Known for the traditional wine and delicious dishes, the Restaurant is almost seven hundred years old! It was an enjoyable night as we began to soak in this new culture.

The next morning marked the beginning of classes, and in order to immerse us into the culture and mindset of the town, the Professors prepared a ‘scavenger hunt’ for us. Basically, we went around using only German to find various landmarks around town, and learned about their historical or social significance. It was very helpful and beautiful. The town has various styles of architecture, and the impressive buildings (many with religious connotations) are a marvel in itself. I’ll post some pictures once my laptop is up and running.

As the days have passed, places are becoming more familiar, and asking for directions isn’t as awkward. I feel as though we are all starting to become more comfortable here.

Tomorrow, we travel by train to Munich. We are all spending the weekend there, right in the center of town. I will probably not blog again until I return, but I’m sure it will be an incredible experience! The city does have 1.4 million citizens, so there should be much to do over there.

Wiedersehen ! 🙂


The Final Countdown

The Final Countdown

I’ve finally started counting down to single digits: in nine days, I leave my home and travel to Würzburg, Germany! In the last few days I’m home, I hope to spend a bunch of time with family and friends, while figuring out if I have everything I need for the month-long trip.

Having never left the United States before in my life (or even traveled west of Pittsburgh!), I am equally ecstatic and nervous for what is coming. It still hasn’t really hit me that in two weeks from now I’ll be an ocean away from everything known to me. But that makes this even more exciting.

Bis bald!
Bye for now,