May, 2017 | Reciprocal Exchanges Blog

I put my traveling on hold the past three weeks in order to take care of the studying part of my study abroad. My exams were much easier than I ever could have imagined which was a welcomed relief. It was nice to spend more than three days at a time in Venice as well. All the down time though has put me in the mood to come back to Texas and I am happy to say that I am currently at the airport headed home! Aside from seeing my family and friends again I am most looking forward to air conditioning and driving my car. However I know within a week or two of being home I will be wishing I had stayed in Europe. I guess that means I will just have to come back! I am so grateful for this program because it allowed me to experience a whole new side of life. I hope more students will take advantage of these opportunities because nothing else can compare.

Categories: 2017, Italy, Reciprocal Exchange

Bonjour!

This was probably the most action packed month I have ever experienced in my life.  In the month of April I had successfully finished three of my remaining five classes while also traveling to five countries within the month.

The classes that were coming to an end were my Beginners French Class, Researching in France, and my Financial Marketing class.  For my Beginners French course we attended class every Wednesday for a three hour time slot.  We were assigned three total exams through the semester with the final exam carrying the most weight.  The grade consists entirely of the tests and participation.  This was one of my more interesting classes because the teacher made the class an open dialogue and challenged us to test our french skills.  The final was completely comprehensive, but it was not as difficult as we were expecting.  For our Researching in France class we had an American professor.  Her expectation for us was to read the course materials before attending class and to have an open dialogue with the class about what we had interpreted.  The class consisted of participation points, two presentation group projects, and a final exam in essay format.  In this class we discussed predominately about the issue of the declining tourism in Monaco and how to improve the numbers without losing the Monaco ideals of luxury and exclusivity.  We discussed ideas with our two presentation groups on how to improve different aspects of tourism within Monaco.  Lastly, for Financial Marketing, our grade consisted entirely of three group projects where only the last project is presented to the teachers.  The other two projects are rough outlines of our topic for our presentation.  The topic dealt with the issue of banking moving from in person service at the bank to online banking and how to combat the growing trend towards online banking.

With only two classes left after I had finished these projects I had plenty of time to travel around Europe to the places I have yet to see.  With a week long spring break at the beginning of April we planned a trip from March 30-April 3 to Barcelona with a large group of our study abroad friends and a couple American friends as well.  Luckily for us, Carlos, our friend from Valencia, and his girlfriend have spent extensive time in Barcelona so they served as our own personal tour guides.  They showed us the best places for tapas while also ordering the best ones at each restaurant.  They also showed us the incredible night lift in Barcelona as well as the tourist spots during the day including Park Guell, Gothic Quarter, Sagrada Familia, Camp Nou and more.  On April 3 me and three guys took a bus down towards Madrid to meet up with our friend Pati who is from there.  She showed us the best places in Madrid and ensured that we had the best experience possible.  In Madrid we saw Plaza Mayor, Bueno Retiro Park, Palacio De Cristal, Plaza de Cibeles, Gran Via, Circle de Bellas Artes, Plaza de Oriente, the Palacio and etc.  We left on April 5 to enjoy a day of rest before traveling to Positano (Amalfi Coast of Italy) to meet some A&M friends.  Getting to Positano was a hassle because we had to take a fly, train, ferry and then bus but it was all well worth it.  We decided to make a quick stop in Pompeii to see the volcanic ash that had once wiped out the city.  When we finally got to the coast we arrived at beautiful house overlooking the Italian coast where we were staying. We visited the beach of Positano each day while enjoying the incredible views.  Without a doubt this is the prettiest place I have ever been and I wish I had several more days there.  The following week on April 13- April 16 Garret and I traveled to London.  It was nice to visit a city where English was the native tongue which finally allowed us to converse with the locals with no trouble.  On that Thursday and Friday we saw the London Eye, the Tower of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace (changing of the guard), Tower Bride, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Palace of Westminster, Hyde Park, Shakespeare’s Theatre, and so much more.  The thing that stood out to me first was how big London is.  The subway system there is incredible though making it very easy to travel around the city.  On Saturday, Garret and I did a bus tour to Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, and Oxford.  I definitely recommend seeing these iconic places because you can see all these historical sites within a day and experience the history outside of London.  Stonehenge struck me as the most fascinating place because of the mystery and theories surrounding the placement of the stones.  On April 21 I went back to Paris to surprise my girlfriend who was there for the weekend.  Also, I felt like I needed to go back because there was still so much more to see.  In Paris I got to see the Musee D’Orsay, do the river tour at night, and enjoy some incredible French cuisine.  The last day I was privileged  to tour the Gardens of Versailles by bike.  It was mind-blowingly beautiful in Versailles exceeding my already high expectations for it.  When I got back from Paris I had three days to recover before Garret and I took a bus to Germany.  On April 26 we arrived in Munich late that night.  We woke up early the next day and knocked out the Englischer Garden, Marienplatz, Hofbrauhaus am Platzl, Olympiapark, St. Augustines Keller, BMW Museum, and more.  We also enjoyed true German food suggested by our German friend such as Schnitzel, Schweinshaxe, Knoedel, Curry Wurst, Sauerkraut and more.  On April 28 Garret and I made our way to Dachau Concentration Camp.  This was a surreal experience to stand foot in such a somber place and learn about the haunting history of the camp.  After touring Dachau we made it back to Munich to enjoy Springfest at the fair grounds before heading to Berlin the following morning.  In Berlin on April 29 our German friend, Sven and his cousin, showed us all around Berlin.  He took us to the Berlin Wall, Reichstag Building, Brandenburg Gate, the Jewish Memorial and more.  On April 30, Sven rented us a 4 series BMW to drive to Hambourg along the autobahn.  While this was a once in a lifetime experience I think it ruined my ability to enjoy driving again after maxing at 256 km/hour.

This past month flew by way too quickly.  Looking back on this month I cannot believe all that I have seen and I wish I could relive it again.  With this next month approaching I only have 22 days until I head back to Texas.  I am going to stay in Nice my last month and enjoy my limited time here and prep for my last two finals.  Until next time.

Au revoir!

Categories: 2017, France, Reciprocal Exchange

Bonjour!

Each month keeps getting better.  The weather is really starting to warm up in Nice making it difficult to focus on school with the beach in such close proximity.  Me and my study abroad friends have spent many sunny days on the beach in Nice and on the nearby beaches along the Cote D’azur.  The experience thus far has been incredible.  The change of scenery from College Station to the Cote D’azur has been a seamless transition.

My second class, Excel/VBA, has come to an end this month which has left me at five remaining classes.  For my excel class we had to do semi-weekly excel projects that were taken as a participation grade and then were graded on our final project.  With the final project being very meticulous and lengthy and counting for the majority of our grade, I was very stressed.  However, once I had finished the project it allowed me the luxury of more time to travel more around Europe.

On March 11 my parents and my two youngest sisters came to Nice to come and visit me.  My dad and two youngest sisters planned to stay a week for their spring break while my mom booked her trip for two weeks to wait for my third sister to arrive on her spring break from Arkansas.  It was awesome to have my parents arrive at the halfway point to experience familiarity and to help alleviate my spending habits.  They had rented a nice villa in Ville-Franche Sur Mer which was the town over from Nice.  I got to take a much needed break from my crammed apartment into a spacious villa.  I had four days to show them around the French Riviera before heading to Paris for two days with them.  We hiked Eze, traveled Monaco, and enjoyed the beaches of the riviera.

On March 15 we arrived in Paris.  I only had two days to tour the whole city because I had purchased tickets to Dublin on the night of the 16th for St. Patricks Day weekend.  Paris was one of my favorite cities in Europe.  I saw the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, St. Germaine, Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Elysées, and more in my limited time there.  The thing I loved the most about Paris is the architecture.  Every corner you are greeted by a beautifully architected building or monument.  Me and my roommate Garret left for Dublin on the 16th to meet up with some friends and stayed there until the 20th.  On St. Patrick’s Day we got dressed up in green and visited the parade as well as a couple bars.  The next day we toured the Guinness Factory which was fascinating.  The Irish have a lot of pride in their beer.  On Sunday Garret and I took a bus tour from Dublin to the Cliffs of Moher.  It was probably one of the coolest things I have ever seen.  It was a foggy and misty day so when we arrived to the cliffs we saw the fog creeping up off the cliffs.  We saw some castles after touring the cliffs as well and made our way back to Nice the following day.

When I got back I had to get back into the school mindset because I had three classes coming to a close the next month.  However, that was tough to do with my mom and my sister coming to visit from Arkansas.  I took them to see the same things I showed my littlest sisters and dad.  We also enjoyed some french food I could not afford without the help of my mom.  We tried escargot, frog legs, and oysters.

This past month has been incredible.  It is one I will always remember and it makes me a little depressed knowing I only have about two more months left in Europe.  However, I am slowly getting ready to come back home to Texas and enjoy Tex Mex, my car and many other things I can’t get here.

A bientôt

Categories: 2017, France, Reciprocal Exchange

Hej!

As of today, I have forty days left in Europe! It’s so crazy to think about how quickly time went and how much I wish I could extend my time here. April was absolutely crazy for me. I had two finals for my Quarter 3 classes and am officially half way done with my classes at CBS! My Quarter 4 Financial Accounting class (ACCT 328) just started this month and I’m pretty sure I’m the only American in the class. Every time I walk into class, I have yet to hear anyone speak english (besides the teacher), so that’s been pretty interesting. I’m determined to make some danish friends, but I’m also really intimidated by them, but I’ll keep you guys updated.

After I finished my two finals (which were written essays), I traveled for three weeks nonstop! I went to Riga (Latvia), Tallin (Estonia), Vienna (Austria), Prague (Czech Republic), Krakow (Poland), Italy (again), and Malta! Really broke the bank account this month.. but so worth it!

Riga and Tallin were really random places to hit, but when in Europe, why not?


Tallin

Then it was Easter break, so me and some girls went to Vienna and Prague. Since it was Easter, flights were CRAZY expensive, so we decided to take an overnight bus from Copenhagen to Vienna. (18 hours) Another bus from Vienna to Prague. (4 hours) And the last bus from Prague back to Cope. (14 hours) I highly recommend not doing that. I was so sleep deprived and my body ached from sitting for so long. But Prague had Easter markets and it was amazing! Prague has become one of my favorite cities that I’ve hit thus far.

pretzels at the Schloss in Vienna

Easter markets in Old Town Prague

Then I went to Krakow to visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau Camp. The moment I found out I would be studying abroad in Europe, I knew there was no way I wouldn’t make it out to the concentration camp. It was a really incredible tour to experience.

Then me and my friend went to Italy and we did the Sentierro Azurro hike. It’s a hike along Cinque Terre. It’s a 12 mile hike and you hit all five towns of Cinque Terre, absolutely incredible! I highly recommend the hike to anyone who visits Cinque Terre. One of my favorite memories from study broad so far.

after Italy, we headed to Malta. We visited the islands of Gozo and Comino. And boy was it beautiful. The water is so clear and blue, it looks like a photo straight out of a magazine. I am definitely going to have to make it back to Malta.

and now I’m off to catch up on some accounting…

Categories: 2017, Denmark, Reciprocal Exchange

And by here, I mean April! How in the world is it already April? I know that blogs should not be the place to pour out your feelings, but when I think about only have a month left, I get very very nostalgic. I have loved this semester more than I ever dreamed possible. The life I am living here cannot be reality… I truly feel like it is one sweet dream. I have come to grips with the fact that no period in my life after this semester will ever be as independent and free and with such little responsibility. But now, I have only one month left. Honestly, I don’t think that when I get back I will say “Oh Lydia, why didn’t you savor each moment more?” Why won’t I be able to ask myself that? Because I truly feel like I am enjoying each moment to the fullest. Even if the moment is just me sitting at home studying (rare moment, it’s true) with my host mom, I love it so thoroughly that I do take the time to appreciate it.

Okay, that paragraph was dramatic. BUT IT’S TRUE. If I could, I would race back uphill in this slow slide downwards to May and do it again.  It would be so nice to be like the movie “About Time” with Rachel McAdams and be able to choose days to relive. I would do it, for this semester.

April was so sweet.  I am beginning to feel a lot more confident that:

  1. I am actually retaining the Spanish that I am learning.
  2. I am not behind in classes here.
  3. These Aggie study abroad people are going to be my friends for a long time (s/o to you people #blessed).
  4. I am actually an efficient traveler.
  5. Being away from Madrid isn’t the worse thing ever, but
  6. I never want to go home.

So, here we go.

1. I am actually retaining the Spanish that I am learning. 

When my parents were here, I had to translate for them…. a lot. It was amazing for me! All of my life, my dad told my brothers and I that if we became fluent in any language, he would pay for a trip for us to visit a country that spoke that language. All of my life, I tried to have conversations in Spanish around him, but it would never go in my favor. Maybe the waiters spoke so much slang that I was hopelessly lost, I wouldn’t know a question to ask, or I was simply too shy to speak up. Regardless, he never saw that I could speak any Spanish before I came to Spain. This was my chance to actually show my parents that they paid for this trip and it was helpful for Spanish also! Throughout their 2 weeks here, I had countless conversations in Spanish in front of them and I felt so much more confident when they left that I truly was retaining some Spanish from this!

 

2. I am not behind in classes here.

Easily explained: I felt like I was behind in my classes, but I’m not. This might seem like a silly thing, but with so much traveling and playing this semester, I felt sure that there was no way I was doing all that needed to be done for these classes. As it turns out, Texas A&M is a school of exceptional excellence and has trained me to do a lot more work than Spanish universities do. After asking around a lot this month and reading all my syllabi again, I realized that I really was on top of my classes. Hooray for traveling without feelings of guilt as if I should be studying more! Woe to me when I return to the courseload of TAMU, though.

Florence #views

3. These Aggie study abroad people are going to be my friends for a long time (s/o to you people #blessed).

After a month of hanging with the Aggies here, I was unsure how sincere these friendships would be when we returned. We were all so different! However, we have all had some very deep conversations with each other at this point, and there is no turning back from here. I am thrilled that we were all able to get so close this semester so that we will be able to have friends to share our experiences with when we return. That truly was a fear of mine before coming, that I would make friends from across the world, none of whom would be in College Station with me to share in missing Madrid when we were home. The thought of running into one  of these fools while walking around Wehner is the best! I know it will be so fun to share life back in College Station together. Tapas night, coming in hot for ya Cstat!

P.S. This month I also went to visit my brother’s best friend from his study abroad with REEP! His friend lives in Barcelona, it was the best! The pic below is of us with the Sagrada Familia aka fav church ever:

 

4. I am actually an efficient traveler.

I doubted my ability to really travel well before I came. I thought that I would probably be irresponsible and late and forgetful and all of the things that make you not a great traveler. In fact, I am a great traveler! I have learned so much this semester about how to travel well. I know how to travel with very little money and very little time. I can travel by myself or with people, and I know that it doesn’t take a lot of money to travel. There are always ways to travel for dirt-cheap, if you know how to look for them. Take the bus, buy your food from grocery stores, stay in hostels… All of these things are completely doable if you want to travel for super cheap! For all the times that I almost missed a plane or bus… I only missed one 😉

5. Being away from Madrid isn’t the worse thing ever.

This sentence is only relevant if you consider going other places in Europe. If you are talking about returning to the states, well… We’ll talk about that next 😉 About halfway through this semester, I was so sad that I had booked so  many trips that brought me away from Spain. Even sometimes places in Spain that weren’t Madrid I would be a little sad about. We were traveling so much that I didn’t even have time to prepare for each trip, I would only have time to go to class and then get on another plane. This month, something changed in my heart. I began truuly enjoying the trips. I think it was when I became confident that I was actually learning Spanish that I realized I should enjoy traveling more. I was still going to learn Spanish even with the trips. This month, I went to Italy for a week for our “Semana Santa,” or “Holy Week”, or Spring Break. 😉 It was the best! We spent a few days in Florence, Naples, and finally Rome. Since I’ve been dreaming about this trip since the beginning of the semester, I am so happy that I got over my Madrid home-sickness to be able to enjoy that week to its fullest.

This picture is of my favorite Frutería here! It’s right next to my apartment, and the guy who owns it always gives me free strawberries as I pass each day through the little window!! His name is Nasir… Yesterday he gave me a heart shaped package wrapped in a grocery sack and told me I wasn’t allowed to open it until I got back to the states 😉 Wonder what it could be?? #chocolatesssss

6. I never want to go home.

Dramatic? Yes.

True? ….Yes?

Here is the thing: can my friends and family come here? Can chick fil a and american filtered coffee come here? Because then I would be set for the rest of my life. Yes, this is a formal invite to all of those things. Please make your way to Madrid ASAP.

HERE ARE SOME PICS OF ME IN ITALY FOR SPRING BREAK WOW IT WAS THE BEST:

 

 

Categories: 2017, Reciprocal Exchange, Spain

4/25/17

The other day about 10 girls from my dorm gathered for a tapas night. We all made a dish and brought wine, and it turned into a wonderful night. As I was sitting there thinking about the last few months, I marveled at how far I’d come. Because I did NOT want to live in the dorm, and the only reason I ended up there is because I am plagued by pragmatism and thought university recommended housing would be the least complicated in a foreign country. And on my budget. The next thought that came to me made me laugh. 1) because it revealed just how much of a frameworks nerd I am and 2) it was absolutely right.

Acclimating to dorm life perfectly fit the stages of team formation model that I learned in the MBA program. A quick overview for those unfamiliar…new teams go through a predictable trajectory between formation and becoming high-functioning. Organizational behavior studies argue that recognizing and better navigating these stages will ultimately lead to peak team performance.

  • Forming – The team is formed. There are infinite reasons for grouping these particular individuals, but that does not mean the individuals will immediately find their connections to be salient.
  • Storming – Basically, stuff hits the fan. Clashing personalities, goals, habits, etc. prove to be a lot for the new team to handle, so they fight it out.
  • Norming – Expectations are more set at this point. The individuals know more about each other and themselves. A team culture (set of norms) is crystallizing.
  • Performing – As Taylor Swift would say, we’re out of the woods. There is now a team, and every individual knows the role they play in the broader success of the team.

 

Translated to dorm life this was…

  • Who are these people? Why are they all younger than me? Why won’t they just speak English? I am skeptical.
  • Didn’t these people learn how to wash dishes? Why is that music in the other building so loud? I am annoyed by the mere existence of 60 other people in “my house.”
  • Wow, she’s a pretty good cook! It’s nice to have people to bike to class with. Most people are pretty understanding if you bring a concern to them in a constructive manner. Plus, we’re all low on money and sleep so it’s in no one’s best interest to blast music into the wee morning hours.
  • Group dinners! Planning trips together. Lending bikes and performing bike repairs. Staying up late talking about our respective pasts, presents, and futures.

 

So there you have it! I went from having an apartment of my own to being a 28 year old sharing a bathroom, kitchen, and basically everything but my bedroom. And now that I’m squarely rooted in the performing phase of this motley crew, I can honestly say that living in the dorm has been a highlight of my exchange experience and a gateway to lifelong friendships.

Categories: 2017, Denmark, Reciprocal Exchange

January 2017, and so it begins.

I made it to Sweden! The journey was insane, I flew directly to Frankfurt and after a lengthy layover I headed to Göteborg, where I spent the night, and then took a bus to Jönköping the next morning. I, to say the least, was a mess upon arrival and it was for that reason that I learned how reserved the Swedes are. Although they seem anti-social compared to our friendly Texas-culture they are quite nice and open. I sincerely would have never made it to Jönköping if it weren’t for the Swedish that helped me along the way.

On another note, it is cold…shocker, but I was quite prepared which was favorable since Sweden is a very expensive country. I had a lot of expectations when coming to Sweden and in many cases they differed from reality.

Although there were a lot of things I expected and had thought about when coming to Sweden a lot of things escaped my mind. For example, I didn’t think about not having a car! In the states I used my car for everything and anything but moving here has made me depend on public transportation,  adapting has been a challenge but I’m slowly but surely overcoming it.

I thought adjusting overall would take much longer than it actually did, but Sweden has become my home. Our first two weeks we had a mini kick-off, mainly for the international students, and then the official Kick-Off week! Its like fish camp and Gig’em week all packed into one and it was extremely fun. I’ve made so many friends from all over the world and even been to the HV71 hockey game! The atmosphere at hockey games definitely resembles a Saturday at Kyle Field, the Swedish definitely love their hockey team and their fika (coffee breaks). If you want a Swede to go anywhere just include a fika! They are truly obsessed with coffee, there are at least double the number of coffeeshops in comparison to restaurants in the city. But hey, who can blame them? It keeps you warm!

Jönköping International Business School

Categories: 2017, Reciprocal Exchange, Sweden

March 2017, a month filled with travels and all of my favorite people.

Well I’ll first begin with classes. How the courses work here is that the semester is broken down into two parts: Jan-March, where you take two courses, and March-June, where you take your other two courses. This means your projects/finals are in March. Luckily, one of my classes had no final and the other was on the last day of the week of finals which gave me ample time to travel! It was a little hectic to plan in advance since JIBS has a quirky way of handling the finals schedule. We have a very structured way of handling courses back home, usually you get the schedule for the semester the first week of classes but at JIBS its very different. First I had to register for my final (which was on a Saturday at 8 am !!) and I didn’t find out the date until a month before the final. So as I said, an obstacle when planning, but in the end it all works out. I also found out the Swedish have a much more relaxed way of approaching school, as there are re-examinations here. At first I thought it was a bit strange since we are so used to getting the grade you get, but I realized it is a great way to hand more control to the students. For example, many students approach the first half of the semester more leisurely and instead focus on other things, such as work, and then plan to shift their focus toward their classes the second half or vice versa. As for me, I focused on my courses first semester and fit in some traveling and plan to do the same the second half of the semester. Although it was very strange watching all my friends back home enjoy spring break while I studied for finals! It was also so weird to be done with my courses one day and two days later start right back up.

WARNING: This was a month full of photographs and memories. Shameless plug for all of the places I visited.

Oslo, Norway

I got to visit Maddie, my best friend who is also on exchange, in Norway! It was so nice to see a familiar face from back home and I truly had a blast. I got to explore the beautiful nature that Norway has, as well as visit the Viking Ship Museum, and see one of my favorite artists, Drake, with fellow friends from Jönköping. It amazing how fast I felt right at home in Oslo, I even joked about being a local once I figured out the layout of the city, which I had down by the second day. On my first day I got to meet several of Maddie’s new exchange friends and we even went out to the Ice Bar that night (which is as cold as it looks). This was definitely a highlight in my month, but after returning to Jönköping I had my final presentation for my Project Management class which reminded me of the study part of being abroad.

Spain: The Barcelona, Madrid, Sevilla, and Toledo Edition

My favorite people in the world made the trip across the Atlantic! My godparents are from Spain and they took my parents and I to all the tourist hotspots plus gave us the local tour. One thing to note about Spain is that they love to sit in restaurant patios and drink cañas. So we did as the locals do! I swear Gaudí singlehandedly made Barcelona one of my favorite places, his architecture is like no other. Sweden is so reserved, and more specifically Jönköping is such a small town that the city vibe of Madrid and Barcelona were much welcomed (also the sunshine).
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spain is beautiful but it is incredible how different the hustle and bustle of the major cities differs from cities a bit further south. Toledo was hands down my favorite of the places we went, specifically the Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes. Sevilla is a close second with the Alcázar of Seville, although we waited an hour to enter it was an amazing experience. My favorite part of these cities was that they were cities impacted by so many cultures that you see all of the different influences everywhere. You could have Christian influences in a mosque and Islam influence in a synagogue, within a couple hundred feet of each other. Spain was definitely one for the books, and definitely one my favorite experiences while abroad because its something my parents would have never done if I wasn’t studying in Europe.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

As I said, March was a month filled with travel so naturally I ended the month in another country. The Netherlands was a country that wasn’t high on my list until I came to Jönköping and met all of the amazing Dutch. I got to meet up with Maddie again and we had an unforgettable time. While being known as a strange city, Amsterdam still has the incredible quaintness of the Netherlands. Visiting the Van Gogh Museum, Rembrandt House Museum, Anne Frank House, and the Cheese Museum we got a taste of the incredible culture in Amsterdam. Bonus points if you find me in the Iamsterdam sign.

 

Categories: 2017, Reciprocal Exchange, Sweden

February 2017, one month down!

Its begun to hit me that I miss home, with the Superbowl happening in my hometown, missing my anniversary with my boyfriend, missing his 21st, as well as my best friend’s birthday. Being in Sweden has been hitting me economically and emotionally, so naturally I did what anyone does studying abroad, I traveled. I had the list of places I wanted to go, Greece, Ireland, Germany, Italy, the usual. Its crazy how less than 30 days from knowing my new friends I embarked on a spontaneous trip to a place I hadn’t even thought of going: Budapest.

 

Budapest, Hungary

 Sweden is amazing, but there is nothing I love more than the warmth of the sun (which is greatly under appreciated in Texas). First things first, the Swedish have few authentic food (as they focus on fika) that are actual meals. My diet (when eating out) has consisted of burgers and pizza, an unexpected twist to my life abroad but Hungary was another story when it came to traditional meals. I’m a picky eater but it all looked way too good to pass up, so I tried lagos and goulash and strawberry beer. I was in food heaven and it was noteworthily less expensive. Sweden has a lot of amazing things, but the architecture in Budapest is another story. There was a such a history and everything didn’t feel as sleek and modern, it was such a difference. While there we took a free walking tour that turned out to be about the communism in Hungary and I learned more than I would have ever learned from a book. Technically when I’m traveling I’m not in the classroom but I’m still learning so much, a perk of studying abroad. Remember how I said I was missing the Superbowl? Well we found a bar that was broadcasting it…..in Hungarian….at 3 am (because of the time difference). Call us crazy, but we watched it until the unpredictable ending with our new Hungarian friends.

Vienna, Austria

Our day trip to Vienna was stunning! Vienna is a pristine city where it seems all the building are white and impeccable while be historic. My favorite part was the all the quirky things we stumbled upon, it reminded me of Austin where things are just a little weird! I also had an amazing schnitzel at Figmueller, that claims to have the best one in Vienna.

Living abroad is amazing and its brought so many extraordinary memories I can’t wait to find out what in store these next couple of months.

Categories: 2017, Reciprocal Exchange, Sweden

April 2017, it’s been a real rollercoaster.

Riga, Latvia

                                          I started this month in Amsterdam and took a spontaneous trip to Latvia. My class got cancelled and I figured I’d take a cruise instead of heading back to school. Riga was a place I would never have gone out of my way to visit but Im glad got to explore it. There is an organization at JIBS called ESNJönköping and each university in Sweden has it as well. They are the group that made this trip possible and they have several events throughout the semester which are super fun (I’d recommend checking it out). Anyways as you will see there is a pattern of spontaneity in April, because the thing is that I love April. My favorite activities of the year are in April, which includes my birthday, my best friends birthdays, and Easter. I wouldn’t say its my favorite holiday but I love being able to spend it with my family, something I’m not able to do while abroad. One of my friends in Jönköping suggested visiting Copenhagen for the weekend and so we went. Her favorite place is Copenhagen and I really couldn’t have asked for better people to go with.

Copenhagen, Denmark

Denmark is nothing like what I expected, I kept forgetting it was Scandinavia and then I was reminded with the cold rainy weather we got the first day. Its a beautiful city filled with so much color! We ended up spending Easter at Tivoli, a beautiful amusement park in the middle of the capital. I would never have thought to go to an amusement park while abroad but it was the perfect way to spend Easter, its one of those unexpected things that you didn’t know you missed until you do (like Mac and Cheese). Copenhagen certainly has some cool places, one of them being a building full if street food!

Classes are very different this semester, there is a lot more group work which is difficult to coordinate with everyones schedules. Especially since the school plans trips throughout the semester and in April is the Russia trip! I personally, had no interest in going to Russia but since it was visa-free many of my fellow exchange friends jumped on the opportunity. It kept me back home exploring Jönköping and I was blessed with some nice sunny weather! The small town has so much to offer and I finally got to visit all the places I was told to “visit when it was warmer”, I even wore sandals! We have delightful parks and hiking, and theres a beach by the lake. Honestly, it felt good to be home, although I did travel pretty much every week. Towards the end of the month I headed to Croatia which is gorgeous (and got lots of passport stamps!).

 Croatia: Dubrovnik, Split, Zadar Edition

One of the greatest perks of studying in Europe is that sometimes you look at cheap flight deals and they are to incredible places you would have never imagined going. That is the exact case with my trip to Croatia, I saw, I booked, I conquered. I’ve made incredible friends while at Jönköping and we had an unbelievable time in Croatia. Even the view from our Airbnb was worth the mountain of stairs we had to climb to make it to. A couple of great friends I’ve made are actually from Texas and go to the University of Oklahoma, and they were on this trip! One of the nice things about being abroad is that you meet from everywhere, but having someone from home that reminds you that you’re not that weird for saying y’all is awesome too. You would think I’d be tired of traveling, but theres nothing like stumbling on a wine festival and a local jazz band. Croatia definitely made me go out of my comfort zone since all the Old Towns were a maze and you could get lost for hours without a map, but talking to the locals and going to all of their recommendations definitely paid off.

Categories: 2017, Reciprocal Exchange, Sweden