So the next stop was to visit the homeland of the great artist Vincent Van Gogh. All of these 4 day weekends had really been wearing me down, so it was good to finally get a “break” and travel. A group of us had our sights set on Amsterdam ever since returning from our trip to Belgium a few weeks back. This time around, we all felt much more comfortable navigating the train system and honestly most of the nerves I had on the first trip were nowhere to be found. After about a 5 hour train ride, we found ourselves in Amsterdam on a Wednesday afternoon.

Amsterdam Central


We weren’t exactly given the warmest of welcomes as it felt like we were walking into a mini tornado after leaving the station. Rain and wind turned out to be familiar sites throughout the weekend. Needless to say, we did not allow the weather to put a damper on the next few days. But it was okay, because I have already grown accustom to never really seeing the sun these days. Nonetheless, the weather could absolutely have been worse, so I don’t have much to complain about. Upon arrival, we immediately began the search for our hostel and also trying not to get too soaked. We found it in no time, but I was reluctant to call this place a temporary home for the next 4 nights. I have never in my entire life had to climb up such a steep and narrow staircase. I literally had to walk up sideways because they was not room for me to place my feet on the tiny stairs. I thought it should have a fitting name.




The hostel was not of the highest caliber, but I guess we got what we paid for (which wasn’t much), and life went on. Amsterdam is home to quite a few amazing attractions. For one, they have an intricate canal system that dates way back to the 1600’s, when they were at the height of power as a dominant trading port. There are hundreds of bridges throughout the city and the canals are very beautiful.




The city also had some great places to visit. The first place we went to see was the Anne Frank house. This museum was quite moving, and one of the most powerful places I have ever been. The perfect time to go is at 10 or 11 in the morning. Any time after that, you’ll be stuck waiting in line for at least 30 minutes. This place is a must see if you ever find your way in Amsterdam. Next, we were able to see the legend that is Van Gogh.


Van Gogh

The museum is quite large and has about 4 floors of Van Gogh’s best work. There is a reason why he is one of the greats. So after spending a few hours soaking in the great artwork, the new museum we journeyed to is known as The Eye Museum. It is less famous, but it is a museum dedication to the film history in Amsterdam (and also it was free on the I Amsterdam pass). This was a neat place and had many short films running on antique projectors. It was interesting to see how the equipment evolved over the years, especially with how advanced it is today. Oh, and I began practicing for my TV show, Johnny and the Jets!



Amsterdam did not lack places to get food. Everywhere you walk there are many options for all types of food. There are even small “restaurants” that only serve french fries! But by no means was Amsterdam cheap. And it was hard to find a decently priced meal that would fill me up all the way, so I spent way more money on food than I expected throughout the weekend. But the fries were delicious each time, so I really don’t have much to complain about.

As you can tell from the title of this post, Amsterdam is the biking capital of the world. Since gasoline is extremely expensive, people just opt to ride their bicycles everywhere. This is no exaggeration, as you always have to be on the look out for bikes coming from all directions, as we had a couple close calls. I would feel confident in saying I saw three times as many bikes than cars throughout the 5 days, and again people like to walk everywhere as well. One of the most unique things that I saw was a simple parking garage. But oh no, it was not for cars…it was for bikes! Never seen anything like it


Bikes on Bikes

The next day we made a trip out to see the soccer stadium where the Dutch team “Ajax” plays. I won’t even pretend to act like I know anything about this club, but that does not prevent me from saying that this stadium was highly advanced (but of course not even close to Jerry World). But hey, still good enough to cash out in!



Took about an hour tour of the stadium and found myself being interviewed for ball boy position. All the job description said was to make sure that they were inflated at the correct size, so seemed worth a try!


From here, we moved to the the legendary I  AMSTERDAM landmark, which was of course flooded with people. But this was a very beautiful part of the city, and for a change we had a few rays of sunlight!



Probably one of the highlights of the trip was doing the “Heineken Experience”. It is basically an interactive museum for Heineken, and was just a lot of fun. Definitely enjoyed my time there, and was able to hold onto a few souvenirs! To close, Amsterdam is definitely a hot spot for young life. There is a hostel called St. Christopher’s and it was crowded with people every night in their bar area. We ran into a few fellow Americans here and there, but the native people were more than welcoming. Amsterdam was great, and hopefully I’ll be able to go back someday!

Next to follow, is the experience from London!



Categories: 2015, Germany, Reciprocal Exchange

So I meant to save the first post as a draft, but I think it posted anyway, so sorry for the oddly timed ending. But to continue, Vallendar is a very small town and there really isn’t all that much to do. The nearest city is Koblenz, and that is where the mall and other shops are all located.

One of the biggest surprises of my life came when it was time to register for classes. Instead of being on the edge of my seat, constantly refreshing the page to type in CRN’s like my life depends on it, registering here was a piece of cake. I literally just clicked the check mark next to the course, and Wa-Bam, I was signed up! I guess it’s just one of the perks of going to a school of about 1300 people. Let me briefly explain the way that German classes go. First of all, the semester is broken up into quarters. So each course consists of about 6 lectures (lasting 3 hours each) and one final exam. The system is definitely different, but so far I have nothing to complain about. My schedule allows for many 3 and 4 day weekends, so travelling shouldn’t be too difficult.

And that leads to the next topic, my first travel experience!! The destination was Belgium, and it was a solid group of 9 Tauschies. Belgium is right next to Germany, so we could easily go by train and it was an easy first destination for inexperienced travelers. Anyway, the trip started off with a bang when we missed our first train. I said that pretty casually, but it was actually a huge pain to deal with. We basically had to get on a whole new set of trains (including trains that we didn’t exactly have tickets for…) and the conductors were not very pleased. Just missing the train by 3 minutes set us back 3 hours. It could have been worse, but luckily we made it to Brussels early in the afternoon.

The first thing anyone should do when arriving in Belgium is to get a waffle. I’m serious, Belgian waffles are a household name for a reason. After devouring my strawberry covered explosion of everything that is good, we walked through the city.





The Grand Plaza made the trip worth it in itself, as I was able to lay my eyes on some of the magnificent European architecture.



And the hostel we stayed at was the complete opposite of what I expected. We had 3 private rooms and actually had very nice rooms, and it was less than $20 bucks for the night! The popular spot in town was a bar called Delirium, and there we were able to meet a bunch of fellow exchange students studying in Belgium. In fact, I met a guy who lives like 10 minutes from my house in Dallas! Small world, huh? Also, here’s the picture of the famous little boy in Belgium

Little Boy




After doing Brussels live, we made our way to the beautiful city of Bruges. It is a city that is near the coast, but definitely a hot spot here tourists.



Here we found what was a way more common hostel to live in. But it was still a nice place to stay for a bargain, so I had nothing to complain about. Here, we definitely went on full on American tourist mode. We climbed the bell tower that had about 4oo steps to see a view that was pretty breathtaking. Okay, well maybe I was still out of breath from the stairs, but nonetheless it was incredible. Also, they had more chocolate shops than I could have ever kept count of and had a very nice selection of post cards. By far this was the more attractive city, and we got to see a lot more of the town due to its very small size. Maybe the highlight of the trip was watching what appeared to be two geese racing in the water. I guess the Belgian geese are competitive? Who knows! 


If you couldn’t guess, there were a ton of waffles in Bruges too, including this amazing waffle stand

Waffle Stand


All in all, the trip was a great first one to have! We learned to navigate the train system to perfection, well except for the two guys who couldn’t get off at our last stop and had to ride the train an extra two hours. Other than that, it was pretty minor (but also really funny). So there is the status report, and the next one will come after we spend 4 days in Amsterdam! To conclude, here’s probably the most artsy photo I will ever take. And it was in Belgium. Thanks (and sorry) for reading, but all is well here in Germany!


Shooting Star

Categories: 2015, Germany, Reciprocal Exchange

I have been living in Germany for about 3 weeks now and I can honestly say it has felt like 3 months already. I absolutely love it here so far and I am so excited to have at least 3 more months in Europe. Anyway, before I get lost in all the things to come, I need to document what has already happened in this semester. So naturally, let’s take it all the way back to the airport in Dallas. My mom dropped me off the morning of December 29th, ready to send me off to Munich, to be in a whole new country to spend the beginning of the New Year. I’m not exactly an expert traveler (to say the least) but I adopted the famous saying from Friday Night Lights to reassure myself along the journey (Clear Eyes, Full Heart, Can’t Lose-if you haven’t seen this TV series, then do yourself a favor and start watching tonight)


So I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t exactly know my way around an airport and doing it all alone was actually kind of fun when I ran into a few challenges. The weight limit for my large red suitcase is 50lbs. I knew it would be a close call, but the suitcase came out to be 56lbs. Great, just what I needed. So to avoid an $100 fee, i took the hiking pack out of the suitcase and decided to just take it as a carry-on. So I get to the terminal, and soon see that the flight to Philadelphia is gonna be a tight one. This turned out to be a great thing because the airport officials started asking passengers to “voluntarily” check more of their bags (to save as much room as possible). So being the great noble servant that I am, I gladly walked up to have two more bags (my duffle bag and my hiking pack) checked for free! Definitely saved me a lot of money, and the issue was resolved.

Moving forward, the plane rides were fine and the international flight had a great selection of movies. So I actually didn’t sleep at all on the flight, and I arrived in Munich already pretty tired. Luckily a german couple that I met on the train helped me find the place to buy metro tickets. To get to the apartment I was staying at (Elizabeth Elliot-you rock), I had to ride on 3 different transit systems (The S Bahn, the U Bahn, and then the regular city bus). Not to mention I was practically walking into a blizzard going on in Munich and it was a solid 15 degrees outside. Whoop, especially because my tennis shoes were very well equipped to handle to inches of snow…Nevertheless, Munich was still a great time, and the German absolutely put on a show to start of 2015. I promise they were shooting fireworks for 3 hours straight and it was quite the site to see. So here is a glimpse of what a snowy covered Munich looks like.




After a few days, the next stop would be Vallendar (where WHU is located). It took an 11 hour bus ride, but I made it into Vallendar safely! So the apartment I am residing in has a very strange nickname that all the german kids use. I live in a 17 story senior residence center. This building is triple the size of any other building in Vallendar (which is good because not very hard to find my way home). Anyway, it was first established for assisted senior living. Now, they allow about 50 international students share these living quarters with them. So after some context, the german kids call it the the “Death Tower”. It’s mean, so you can imagine why they call it that. But my single bed apartment is actually very nice, and besides the very steep walk up the hill, I very much enjoy living here.

Categories: 2015, Germany, Reciprocal Exchange

December rolled around and instead of bringing gifts, it brought finals. Unfortunately, I prefer gifts, but it was now crunch time. It is true how people will tell you that studying abroad truly does fly by. Before I had time to comprehend the brevity of time left, I was forced to focus on the exams ahead. I’m not sure if I had mentioned before, but WHU only has one exam at the end of the quarter. Therefore, it is rather difficult to benchmark how you’re doing. To add to the stress, the grading is relative so after you return from traveling and see your fellow German students not having had moved in the library, you can feel a little bit of stress haha.

Fortunately, I kept diligent and was ready to get my exams over with. Finally, the day came and it was time to see where I stood. I sat down for my first final, which encompassed both of my International Capital Markets & Derivatives and my Asset Management courses. Our group was given a three-hour block and both test and told to start. A&M does their testing system a little bit differently and I would definitely say I prefer A&M’s style. After finishing the first exam and realizing I was only half way done and my brain was fried, I was forced to keep going. Thankfully, everyone else was in the same boat. Before I knew it, our time elapsed and we were forced to throw our hands up and test booklets down. The hard exams were over. Thankfully, staying diligent paid off as I now sought to finish strong and begin studying for my last final in 10 hours.

Surprisingly, my German final proved to be the hardest exam as the 10-hour block was unfortunately not enough time. Thankfully, I was able to do well on the other exams and am banking on the other grades to bolster the final. As I write, my exams are being graded and unfortunately, this will be my last post so the results will remain anonymous.

In all honestly, this month was mainly consumed by studying and preparing for coming home. Mid-way through the semester, I decided to change my flight and come home early to surprise my girlfriend. Initially, I was scheduled to come home the 21st of December. After figuring my finals schedule, I was able to move my flight to the 15th of December. Amongst studying, I was putting the pieces together for my grand surprise. Along side studying and planning, I also sought to finish and gather all the gifts I intended to bring home.

By the end of my exams, I had both in place. I had a special room set up for my girlfriend and friends in place to lure her there. Before I could indulge that moment, I packed up and took off to my last trip before my flight with my best friend there, Bas. Bas and I met up with another Aggie studying abroad to take on the Frankfurt Christmas Markets. Frankfurt, I believe, is the largest Christmas market in Germany. Therefore, we made sure to get our hot wine, sausage, and gifts.


After thoroughly enjoying the Christmas Markets, I made my final arrangements and made the trip to Frankfurt airport where I would be heading home. When I had said earlier that I was bringing home gifts, I might have down-played that. The Lord had put on my heart to try and re-create our old Christmases. Since my parents split, I knew my siblings wouldn’t say it but there was a consensual unsaid understanding that our financial situation could not support our typical Christmas charades. I was destined to take full advantage of that and shatter their expectations. Therefore, I found myself wearing 5 shirts, 3 jackets, one jacket around my waist, 4 pairs of sweats, a pair of jeans, anda pair of shorts as I attempted to make room for my gifts.

Contrary to my attempts, I found my main bag weighing 33kg and had to pay a hefty fee to get it on the plane. Knowing what was ahead, I didn’t flinch to give up the money in order to follow through with my plans. To say I was sweaty by the time I got on the plane would be an understatement. I was gross. Lugging the excess clothes and luggage through the airport led to a tough ride home for the passengers near me.

Upon arrival, I was greeted by an emotional reunion with my family and scurried to get everything in place and drove to College Station. As planned, my girlfriend ended up where I wanted her and I was able to hold and kiss what I had missed for four months. I was home. I was happy. I will not forget Germany. I look to use the hardships to implement positive change for the future. Never forget. Never take for granted. I am home. I am happy. I am content. God bless and I hope you found my posts helpful!

Merry Christmas!!!!!

IMG_2732 IMG_2721

Categories: 2015, Germany, Reciprocal Exchange

If you didn’t know, WHU is split into two quarters within a semester. Conversely, if you were in good ole’ Vallendar, there would be no way of not knowing. The streets have been cleared and the libraries filled. As the first Quarter’s exams rolled around, Vallendar transformed for a short period of time. Studying abroad came to encompass it’s name as each Tauschie was truly studying abroad. Thankfully, my only exam was in German for this quarter, so I got to skip out of some the madness. My Structured Problem Solving course was only case study and my International Capital Markets & Derivatives exam got moved back to the next quarter. Fun Fact: Germans say they’re “writing an exam” on whatever day the test is. Knowing that I had some down time while everyone was studying, naturally I started looking to travel in what will probably be the most ideal time.

Therefore, I found myself asking some of my favorite groups to travel with what they were thinking about doing and stumbled upon Amsterdam. In my previous post I wrote about going to Hamburg and didn’t segway into the Amsterdam trip as I believe it jumped into my next month. Therefore, I’ll start where I left off. After Hamburg, we took a train to Amsterdam where I would go through the most surprising of experiences.

To preface, my faith is everything to me. While in Vallendar, I wasn’t able to find a church of the same denomination and thus, hadn’t been able to go to church since my arrival. Therefore, when I joined the trip my friends had planned and found out we were staying at a Christian hostel; I was excited to say the least. Upon arrival, I felt like a kid in a candy shop. I was excited to see whether or not the Hostel truly held my same beliefs. To my delight, I found out they did. The staff was comprised of volunteers who would work for a semester and do mission work. To add to my surprise, I found a volunteer that was from Dallas. Within the hour, I was able to join their faculty bible studying and was left feeling rejuvenated.


The following day, we ventured out into Amsterdam. First, we took stood in line to experience the historical Anne Frank House.


The wait was well worth it as we peered into one of history’s darkest moments. Following Anne Frank’s house, we visited Vondel Park and did some sight seeing of Amsterdam’s landmarks.



When Sunday arrived, one of my fondest memories was finally being able to attend a church service with the hostel’s faculty at a Hillsong Church plant. If I’ve appreciated anything throughout this experience, it has been the deepening of my faith. Having my ability to go to church pulled out from under me, I learned to depend on the word, prayer, and podcasts. Therefore, I did not take for granted this special moment and experienced the community of the church in a different way that I look to implement into my church at A&M.


The next quarter began and a new set of classes came underway. I took Asset Management, Real Options, and continued with German. Thankfully, I was adapting to WHU and was able to take that into my next courses which turned out to be harder. Throughout the next quarter, I studied and worked on interesting case studies and was able to learn a lot and utilize excel in a new and refreshing way that WHU provides. I loved how adept WHU students become with this essential function in finance and hope to compound some of the learning I garnered.

Finally, I was able to take my favorite trip to date with what I call my “Hong Kong Crew.” Truly, these became some of my fondest friends and I was appreciative for any time I was blessed to spend with them. We first immersed ourselves in one of Poland’s saddest cities Krakow. We were fortunate to get up early and be some of the first to arrive at Auschwitz’s concentration camp.


The weather complemented the mood of our trip as we got to explore a darkened time in our history. We were short on time so we unfortunately weren’t able to spend as much time as we wanted, but I was taken back by the display of hair taken from the inmates upon arrival as well as the monument to the Jewish religion. After leaving, we were only able to visit Birkenau (Auschwitz sister execution camp) for a few minutes before taking the bus to go to Poland’s Salt Mines.I loved the Salt Mines, but one image within stuck with me and it was the main room and chief exhibition below.


After Poland, we took a night train and ventured out to the Czech Republic. Arriving early at Prague, I was taken back by the beauty of the city. Prague truly is grandiose in nature. At times, I felt like they got bored so they chose to adorn ever square inch possible. You would pass meaningless store adorned with beautiful statues depicting various events. After checking into our hostel, we mapped out our attack on the city and got to work.

We visited nearly all of Prague in one day. We stopped by Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, multiple churches, and even visited a Ice Pub. The first church we stopped at turned out to be filled to the brim with gold and gorgeous statues.


Following that, we visited the renown Charles Bridge which did not disappoint. It was heavily saturated with art, statues, and beautiful views.


Passing the bridge, we came to the Prague castle, which resembled the exterior of Cologne’s Dom (Cathedral) heavily. Conversely, the interior was adapted to Prague’s culture and unique design. At night, we even got to visit a local attraction called the Ice Pub.


Finally, we visited a site where you could get a panoramic view of the city and finished with some of Prague’s local cuisines.


This month was by far my favorite having had adapted and taken part in two of my favorite trips to date. I look forward to next month where I get to finish the semester and see my beautiful girlfriend and family! Until next time!

Categories: 2015, Germany, Reciprocal Exchange

The end of the semester is getting closer and I have five projects to complete and four exams to study for. I told myself I would take November easy, save my money, and study more frequently. However, I ended up taking a couple fun trips that were well worth the time and money. First, I decided on a whim to go on a single night trip with eight of my friends to the black forest in two cars. We stopped in Heidelberg, which is a great town to spend 4-5 hours in, and Baden-Baden, a small luxury town in the black forest. On the way to our cabin (which was more like a mansion) one of the cars nearly got stuck on a small steep road in the middle of the woods in the freezing cold rain in the middle of the night. It was a surprisingly fun experience and only made us all appreciate the nice warm cabin more when we finally arrived. We woke up to a beautiful hillside view of France. We had a nice brunch in a small town after driving through the black forest and then made our way back home.


Black Forest

Two days later, I was on the road again with two friends in a rental VW Golf GTI. Driving on the autobahn is an unforgettable experience. If you visit Germany, I recommend renting a car. My friends and I drove to Salzburg first and spent one full day sightseeing. The castle overlooking Salzburg has a spectacular view of the city and the Alps. We also toured the Stiegl brewery, which was my favorite brewery tour so far, and the Red Bull Hanger 7, which displays for free many land and air vehicles maintained and operated by the company. After watching Formula 1 here in Germany almost every weekend, it was one of the neatest experiences for me to see their cars just a couple feet in front of my eyes. The next day we drove through the Alps and stopped near Zell am See to go camping. We stopped at least five times on the way to take pictures. The views are absolutely breathtaking. Hiking up through the clouds later that day was equally as breathtaking. The next day, we drove to Innsbruck for the day and did some more hiking. We also took a chairlift 1.9 km up a mountain and played in the snow. That night, we drove to a small town with a cheap hostel in Germany. The next day, we stopped in Heidelberg for lunch and got home that evening. I did not have Austria on my list of places to visit but I should have. My most beautiful memories are from Austria.We also got to experience our first Christmas market in Innsbruck, which was fun. There is nothing better than delicious sauerkraut and warm mulled wine while walking through the Christmas markets on a cold winter evening.



Back home, class has been the same as always. Nothing has really changed in my area from October to November. The Christmas markets have just opened up but I have not had a chance to visit any here. Most of the vineyards have been picked dry and the leaves have gone through the fall cycle. It’s a little colder, but not much. I have way too many projects to work on and way too many tests to study for, but that is the same as back at A&M. It’s been a nice relaxing month. I had a big Thanksgiving feast with 15 non-Americans, which was tons of fun. I cooked turkey, ham, pumpkin pie, and stuffing all purchased from the US military base in Wiesbaden, and used local vegetables for the rest. It turned out delicious! A lot of people told me studying abroad flies by, but I think it has been the opposite. Looking back, it seems like forever ago when I left. I actually feel at home here in Germany now, and I know I will miss it.

Categories: 2014, Germany, Reciprocal Exchange

The second month was a period of settling in. I wish I could say that I was fully acclimated to the new environment, but it took me a few more weeks before I felt normalized. I believe that everyone takes a different amount of time and would have envisioned a quick and seemingly easy adjustment. I’m a proclaimed extremely independent person, so do not be surprised if it takes you more time than anticipated. As I got adjusted to the courses, I realized how blessed I was to go to such a prestigious school. WHU is Germany’s number one business school and their course difficulty follows suit. I have absolutely had to spend much more time than anticipated in class and studying, but the beauty in that is realizing the pros and cons of each educational system. One thing that I really admire here is the competitive nature and the learning it drives. Everybodyyyyy studies hard here. There are different amplitudes, but the students in the deemed more difficult courses here all spent a much higher average amount of hours studying than back home and thus, they have some awesome opportunities out of college. It is not rare to have multiple students going to the big 3 consulting firms as well as the bulge bracket banks. I found that very intriguing and fortunate but was not surprised as their curriculum and emphasis on 3 years of straight business courses allots more time and knowledge in these fields. There are absolutely cons paralleling these pros, but I admire that about WHU. I also have enjoyed learning about the work-life balance in Germany. Apparently, Germany has a lower base salary, but is compensated through additional vacation and sick days. There have a minimum amount days off that is significantly higher than America. I admire that heavily especially in industries such as banking and consulting where the hours of work can be draining. The additional days off surely create a more balanced lifestyle and allot more time to indulge meaningful time with family and beloved ones. With that being said, I have grown to love and admire A&M in a different fashion. I keep getting emails about the constant programs and organizations that are putting on events to drive student’s careers. Germany has organizations but put a significantly less emphasis on them. I have been blessed to be a part of many of the organizations and have grown in many ways that school can’t teach and it is evident on WHU’s campus. A&M has so many additional perks and accommodations that suit any kind of college student. I have been an ideal victim of taking these blessings for granted. In little ole’ Vallendar, we have three grocery stores and little bread shops scattered throughout. Therefore, without a car, you will find much less to do and engage in here other than your academic ventures. I have a theory that this is why many students place such an emphasis on school haha! I miss being able to grab food at nearly any time and have an overwhelming amount of varieties to choose from. Here in Vallendar, most shops close at 5 pm (or 17:00 here) and  the latest place to get food is either REWE or a doner kabob and both close at around 10 pm. Therefore, no late night Denny or Fuego trips and I can’t express how much I miss that. Also, I miss the variety of activities to engage in back home. Whether that be ping pong, intermurals, an awesome rec center, or etc., I have absolutely not utilized what I now would love to indulge. My biggest plea would be that we internalize what a great university we go to and use it to the fullest as it not only shapes your career, but your state of mind and character.

Now, to the fun stuff. Traveling. This month, I have had the opportunity to go to many places within Germany such as Wiesbaden, Munich, and Hamburg.

My first destination was Wiesbaden and it was my favorite place in Germany thus far. I do not believe that is a typical answer among travelers, but I believe it was a combination of the group I traveled with and the fair festivities that by happen chance were going on during our trip. The first thing I saw when I arrived was the main Protestant church Marktkirche.


Like most churches in Europe, the inside was incredibly grandiose and had a silence that was filled with feeling of God. After that, we ventured to the fair on the outskirts of the church. There, I took part in the classic sausage and various deserts and coffees. Below is a picture of a random cool looking sculpture with the fair behind it.


Finally, we finished the trip by traveling up to the Russian church called Neroberg.


And by the end of this day trip, we were tired to say the least


My next trip came about mid-way through the month as our whole international group traveled up to Munich, Germany for Oktoberfest.


Oktoberfest is without a doubt, one of the most happy places on earth. The atmosphere within one of the many tents is only described through experience and the outside food and drinks available complete the experience.


The pork knuckle as well as the half leg of chicken were one of my favorite foods.


Finally, I wrapped up the month with a trip to Hamburg, Germany. Personally, Hamburg turned out to not be a personal favorite, but with anyone interested in industrial ports and shopping, Hamburg could potentially encompass the experience you desire. While traveling, we came across the coolest park for kids I have ever been too. Therefore, naturally we reverted to a younger age and took full advantage. While there, I randomly found SpongeBob’s house (or at least a look a like 😉 haha)


After that, we decided to indulge our sweet tooth and purchased an extravagantly expensive and delicious desert in one of the many cafes.


Finally, we wrapped up our trip there by going to Hamburg’s town hall and this is where I found my proclaimed “Lightception” photo.


Last notes: Towards the end of the month, I finally felt that I garnered a place where I could grow again. For a while, I felt like I was just trying so hard to gather any foothold in my new environment, but in this month, I finally found it and am excited for the growth and experiences that lie ahead. I now look to travel outside of Germany as I have stayed there the whole trip and I look forward to witnessing some new cultures!

Until next month! Tschuss/Auf Wiedersehen


Categories: 2014, Germany, Reciprocal Exchange

I’ll break this post up into three parts: my local area, my school, and my first trip.


I am attending EBS University in Oestrich-Winkel, which is kind of a misnomer because the main campus is actually in Hattenheim. However, there is a building in Oestrich-Winkel. I live in a tiny town called Aulhausen. Technically Aulhausen is part of the city of Rudesheim, like how a neighborhood is part of a bigger city. The nearest town that Germans know is Wiesbaden, and the nearest town that everyone knows is Frankfurt — it’s a one hour train ride east of me. The region is called the Rhein Valley and is world renowned for its wine: a dry sweet white wine you can find under the label Riesling or Rheingau. There are hills everywhere here and I am never more than 2km from the Rhein. The hills are almost completely covered in vineyards. I usually hate running but I enjoy it here because of the view, terrain, and delicious grapes I can snack on. The towns are ancient and have tight winding streets. If you visit the region, Rudesheim is a a must see. It looks like what you imagine a small touristy German town would look like plus it has a chair lift that carries you above the town and vineyards to the top of the hills for a peaceful walk through the forest. Wiesbaden is the nearest modern town and has a futbol/soccer team that is fun to watch for 3.5 Euro per game. I’ve gone to two wine festivals — one in Rudesheim and one in Mainz. Both had all sorts of local wine, music, food, and trinkets. If you’re more of a beer fan, Pilsners are famous here. The most common is Bittburger but I also see a lot of wheat bears (weizen bier) such as Paulaner Hefe-Weizen. I have had no negative experiences with locals. All the ones I have talked to are helpful and friendly. Almost all Germans speak English, so not knowing the language well has caused few problems for me so far. It would be difficult to be a vegetarian here since almost every menu item has meat, especially pork.





Rudesheim (left) and the Rhein


EBS is a small private school mainly focused on business/management and law. The study part of my study abroad experience has been surprising so far since the classes are on arbitrarily dates with no consistent week to week schedule. Lectures can be as long as 6 hours and I have already had a couple Saturday classes. The schedule is good for traveling, though. I had seven days in a row with no classes so I took a trip to Amsterdam and Copenhagen. There are about 300 international students from around the world out of the 1,500 total students, but I haven’t met many Germans because they mainly stick together. I like how many international students there are because I have learned so much about different cultures that I didn’t expect to learn about. I have two roommates (one Irish and one from Montreal) in a nice three story house. I also started playing ice hockey with guys stationed at the US military base located in Wiesbaden. I’ve never played before but it is so much fun!


My trip to Amsterdam and Copenhagen was fantastic. I went with my Canadian roommate and our train left from Frankfurt at 5 AM. We stayed up overnight in Frankfurt and then took six different trains over six hours before arriving in Amsterdam. The entire city is intertwined with canals, the streets are made of cobblestone, and there are literally bikes everywhere. The city has so much to do; we spent three days and nights there and never got bored. We stayed in a hostel near the red light district and walked everywhere. The city is small enough that you can walk across in 30 minutes. The must see items are the Anne Frank House, the Van Gogh Museum, and the Heineken Brewery. We then flew to Copenhagen and arrived around 8 PM. Copenhagen is just as beautiful as Amsterdam. However, there isn’t as much to do. I highly recommend visiting one of the castles or palaces — they are magnificent. The Carlsberg Brewery was comprehensive and I enjoyed learning about their history and brewing processes. The highlight was standing on the spire of a church in Christiana looking over the entire city. Both cities were small enough to walk around and had canals flowing through them, but Copenhagen was much less touristy, which I liked. The downside of Copenhagen is they use a different currency and the prices there are ridiculous. Good luck getting lunch for less than $10. I loved both and can’t tell you which I liked more. If you’re planning on visiting Europe, you only need to see one of the two. We took three trains and a ferry back, which took 14 hours!


Next post will be about Oktoberfest and hopefully another two-city vacation.

Categories: 2014, Germany, Reciprocal Exchange


First and foremost, the best advice I could give would be to heed all advice/preparation that Katy Lane gives you. All the “work” is for your benefit and eases the transition into what will be a difficult and changeful experience. Initially, I had intended to take a cab from Frankfurt airport to Vallendar. After running into another exchange student at a different school in Germany, she helped me realize how expensive a cab would be. I made a split decision and decided to take a train to Koblenz and get a cab from there in a means to save money. The only thing I neglected to take into account was that I had no preparation for this alternative route.  Had I followed Katy’s advice, I would have been much more prepared to take on this seemingly minute challenge.

Recommendations: Plan a mode of travel and stick to it as you will skip out on a lot of headache and anxiety. Also, have an ample amount of Euros on you and do not try and use the currency exchange at the airport as the exchange rate was 1.34 to 1 when I went and they tried to charge 1.54 to 1. Give your bank a heads up and have them give you Euros before you leave.

As soon as me and the other exchange student parted ways, I was lost. I realized rather quickly that the best way to ensure my safe arrival would be to humble myself and ask a bountiful amount of questions to strangers. I can’t tell you how many times I asked to make sure I was in the correct train station and that I was on the right train and finally, what stop to get off at to end up in the desired area. One of the first positive things that I noticed while navigating my way to Koblenz, was how helpful strangers were to point you in the right direction. The beautiful thing about Germany is that most natives speak English or enough to get you in the right place.  Finally, I arrived in Vallendar at WHU and was overjoyed to say the least.


WHU is a located in a quaint town called Vallendar with a beautiful campus. The inside is strewn with history and has almost a medieval feel concerning their architecture. One of the more unique things you will learn about WHU is that the university hosts most of its parties in an ornate room where many of the company presentations are held. Summed up, WHU constructed a place to host these company meetings and to be respectful of Vallendar’s community, opened it to host WHU parties in a means to not disturb Vallendar’s residents.

The first poignant emotion that came after being let into my room in GoethstraBe 8 (InPraxi) was that of being home-sick. Katy gives you a great chart about many of the emotions that entail studying abroad and the truth behind it is surprising. Being someone I’d consider very “independent,” I was surprised how much of a struggle the first few days were. I believe a lot of it had to do with the two day lay-over before orientation, where you will make a lot of friends, but regardless, I was a mess for those two days. I believe this is an important aspect of traveling abroad similar to mission trips and the like. I was severely emotional but found a deeper sense of appreciation of people, family, and A&M that I believe I wouldn’t have had I not come here. I realized how invaluable people truly are. The appreciation I gained through that tumultuous period is something I look to bring back to A&M.

Recommendations: If you are afraid of this period of hardship, study abroad with others you know as I went alone. Also, make sure you are fully prepared to not have wifi for a few days so bring a good book or go out and travel to kill time. It is truly a difficult time, but the depth of appreciation is worth the hardship I believe. Make sure to go shopping and figure out where you can get materials you need as it is surprisingly difficult without the known stores such as Walmart. You’ll notice that to use a shopping cart, you must have one Euro coin to unlock it that you will get back after returning it. Also, you must pay for your grocery bags, so bring some in advance. For shopping, go to ALDI or LIDYL (cheaper stores) or REWE (more expensive/closer) and ask around for various other needs.

Finally, the orientation came and everything instantaneously got better. Being able to talk other students going through the same thing helped massively. Also, you will be surprised with how quickly you form your niche within the students. A surprising observation was how students from the same country naturally formed groups. I found myself in a group of students from USA as well as Canada. I have been blessed to get close to a group I deem the “Hong-Kong Crew” and love learning about their culture. Regardless where you end up, the orientation is fun and interactive. WHU has a group called the VIP (Vallendar Integration Program) that is tasked with answering your questions/ showing you a good time and updating you with events going on at WHU. The VIP initiative is very well organized and I would recommend you use them and your designated tasuchie (Name for International students) buddy. This photo was the initial room we all gathered in during orientation.



Following orientation, our group went to Koblenz right away to get our sim card set up. Koblenz has a stunning mall and will have nearly everything you could desire for your stay. Below is a picture of the popular mall Saturn within Koblenz.


I would recommend traveling with a group as the busing schedules and etc. can get confusing. A few important things to note: Germans hardly drink water or have water fountains! They also do not give water out for free. Also, if you order water, make sure to ask for “stilles washer” which means tap water or you will get sparkling water every time! Sparkling water here is huge! Another thing that stuck out to me was that beer is often cheaper than water at restaurants! You will notice that the German culture, at least at WHU, is very keen on beer and bread. There are delicious bread shops scattered throughout Vallendar and also another item that is very popular here for college students, the Kebab. It is not a normal kabob, but a swirly hunk of meat sliced and coupled with various vegetables stuffed in a piece of bread. It is very cheap and popular option among WHU students.

Recommendation: Go to IKEA and get all the home appliances there. I got a French press for ~5 euros!!!! Also, the coffee is exquisite and cheap here, if I do say so myself. I use splenda back home and they have this nifty tablet dispenser of something that tastes similar to splenda. Get a water bottle and carry it with you at all times or you will feel massively dehydrated.

School finally started and it is massively different to say the least. First off, you will have half as many days at class. I usually have Fridays off and more often than not, another day off. This is not to hint that they do not take school seriously, as that is absolutely not the case. WHU is very small and competitive. The student’s take school very seriously and study rigorously but are understanding of the tauschie’s desires to travel and etc. Another surprising difference, is that there is not tutoring abroad or office hours, unless requested, and no homework to benchmark your progress. There is one test typically at the end of the Quarter (one semester has two quarters) and that determines your final grade as well as the fact that your grade is on a bell curve with the other students in the class. Therefore, it is much more individualistic with your best bet being to ask another student for help, if you need it. The best part about this is that it opens up the door to travel. Also, the case studies are much more interactive than back home. The groups meet much more often and it is a great chance to experience a different kind of collaboration. WHU does a great job stressing the group work.

Recommendation: Do not take WHU’s acclaimed hard classes and research the courses you intend to take before enrolling.

After getting situated and settling in, I decided to first travel within Germany and go to Koln (Cologne). I went to their famous cathedral that towers over the city and go inside and stand in awe at it’s grandiose stature and history. We made sure to go out to eat at the local places and tried their renown Kolsche beer. I was struck by how much more often you would run across gorgeous statues or pieces of architecture just by walking through Germany’s cities. I neglected to realize how rich in history Germany really is and it has been wonderful to witness all of the landmarks that make Europe unique. Below is a picture of Koln’s DOM (Cathedral).




The following weekend, me and a few friends decided to travel one of the most history rich cities in Germany, Berlin. You need at least two days and I would recommend three to take advantage of all that Berlin has to offer. From the 1/2 off museum passes because of being students at WHU, to the various landmarks that Berlin has, you will need an ample amount to time to experience it fully. Our group decided to purchase the museum passes being 12$ and also made sure to see the renown places such as the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin Wall, and Holocaust remembrances. Below, you will see a picture of one of my favorite museums.


Thus far, the trip has been incredibly changeful. I’ve never been more appreciative of my girlfriend, parents, and other friends that I more than likely took for granted. I also will leave with a greater appreciation for A&M that I could not have gotten elsewhere. I believe everything happens for a reason and am excited to see why I was put here and how I can leave an impact and Aggie imprint. Gig Em!

Categories: 2014, Germany, Reciprocal Exchange