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Berlin the Bountiful

I’m halfway through my time in Berlin, so here is a list of all my favorite things about this city so far.

  1. I could argue Berlin is the most international city in the world. For one, let’s take into account that one city was controlled by four different nations for a number of years. Want to go a British pub? 20 minutes away in Charlottenburg. Hungry for some French food? Visit the neighborhood of Wedding, a former French district. And there’s nothing like an American burger… I can find one down my block in Zehlendorf. I had known the city of Berlin was split into four of course, but I had only really thought of East Berlin changing, and had never realized the brief control by other nations would actually have a lasting effect on West Berlin.
  2. Flower shops are everywhere. There are three flower stores I walk past every day on my 3 block walk to the S-Bahn platform.
  3. Their determination to keep the memory of The Holocaust and and the atrocities in World War II alive, but at the same time to prevent it from happening again is tremendous. In the museums I’ve been to so far, they have these plaques up, that say “No photos of Nazi symbols,” which prevent tourists and attendees from focusing on the Nazis and Hitler. Along with that, the site of Hitler’s bunker was kept secret until 2006. The German government refused to put up a sign or open the bunker to the public to prevent neo-nazis and worshippers from making it a pilgrimage. Today, the bunker remains sealed and looks like an ordinary parking lot a part from a small sign at the corner.
  4. It is true, the German’s are incredibly environmentally conscious. Some of the ways are obvious and a little incumbent to the typical American, the 3 different bins at every trash can and the lack of dryers in houses. But most of the ways are subtle yet so easy it has me wondering why we don’t do them in America. For example, train and bus doors don’t open unless you push a button, most public lights, like in schools or apartment hallways are motion sensor so they are not on permanently. But my personal favorite is that it is a common habit for Berliners to leave glass bottles outside of trash cans. Besides the abundant cigarette butts, these glass bottles are the only litter you will see. But it’s not really litter because people, mostly homeless, will go around collecting these bottles to make money. And since drinking in public is legal here, those beer bottles stack up on the weekend.
  5. Doner Kebab. For those of you who are unlucky enough to never had tried this delicious, heaven sent, marvel of food, I pity you. In a crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, perfectly cooked piece of bread, slathered in garlic sauce, spicy sauce, hummus, anything you can dream of, then filled with seasoned meat and topped with lettuce, and then sprinkled with cheese. Doner is amazing and I eat it every day. You will catch me coming home 40 pounds heavier and still smiling because that’s how amazing doner is.
  6. Stuff! To Do! Every! Day!: This could also be filed under things I don’t like about Berlin because wow is this overwhelming. And the guilt I feel when I’m laying in bed not doing anything. 100 new galleries opening every day, new exhibitions at every museum, all the bookstores and coffee shops, concerts and a walk in every park, restaurants to try….phew.
  7. Public transportation. Yeah, commuting sucks but being on a train and not worrying about driving gives me time to read and work on homework. Public transportation is specifically great in Berlin because Germans love punctuality which means buses and trains are always on time.
  8. Art scene. The city of street art means you’re walking through an art museum 24/7. Everyone here is so creative, you can’t help when it rubs off on you. From the people sketching on the bus, to work shopping screen plays in coffee shops, everywhere you turn is an artist working on their next masterpiece.
  9. All the parks and green areas. This is something I will appreciate much more when it gets warm out, but Berlin is more park than city I swear.
  10. Berlin is Berlin. You are you. Unlike any other major city, one gets more stares in public for dressing too nice than too sloppy. It’s a city where it’s cool to look unkempt. At the same time, a 86 year old man can walk onto a bus in a wedding dress and I don’t think anyone would look up from their newspapers. Fashion is no fashion, wear whatever you want, no one has any expectations or rules. This applies for bars and clubs too, there isn’t a dress code apart from don’t try hard. As a girl who takes approximately 7 minutes to get ready in the morning, I am at home here.
  11. Bread and cheese all day every day. I could go days only eating some variation of bread and cheese. And since these two things happen to be my favorite food groups, let’s just say I am doing well.
  12. Mauerpark Flohmarkt, and any other flea market. Sundays are the best days in Berlin! Everywhere you turn there is a market, like elves come in over night and transform the city. Mauerpark is the best, with rows of stands, live music, karaoke when it’s nice out and the occasional dance show.
  13. Spatkaufs. Late shops open on almost every street corner. Go in and buy beer or snacks for really cheap, and when it’s nice outside people will just hang out on the street drinking and eating.

 


Emily Reid is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City double majoring in Journalism and Political Science. She is spending the semester in Berlin, Germany through the ISA Berlin Program

Disclaimer:  Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Wait… It is over???

I am now on my way back to the United States from Scotland and I am happy to be heading home, but so sad to be leaving Scotland behind.

At the beginning of the trip I was very homesick and could not wait for this trip to be over and by the second week I never wanted it to end. Soooo, why should you study abroad? Because it is the single best thing you can do to make yourself grow as a person. It is the best thing you can do to truly learn about a topic. It is simply the best thing you can do. So do it. I mean it. I worked many hours of overtime and spent many sleepless nights working to save up for this trip. I applied for every scholarship possible and it was one of the most tedious processes, but everything I did for this trip was worth it. It was worth it when I first landed in London and saw the British flag. It was worth it when I was gazing up at the Eiffel tower taking in its beauty. It was worth it when I was walking through Edinburgh’s castle.

Edinburgh Castle

It was worth it when I smelled and touched the ocean for the first time in my life. It was worth it when I found new friends in the park. It was worth it through the sleepless homework filled nights. It was worth it gazing at the Highland mountains in Scotland. It was worth it. I would do it all over again tomorrow. I was so homesick in the beginning and now I never want to leave Scotland. A piece of my heart will always be here. There is a maturation that comes with traveling abroad and stepping out of your comfort zone so far you want to be sick. When you decide to step out of that zone you discover the greatest joy and some of the best memories. Do not let fear hold you back because if I had let it hold me back I would have missed the greatest experience of my entire life.  I left my small town and everything I have ever known and experienced the world for all it had to offer. I met new people. I tried new things. I laughed….. A LOT. I guess what I want to say to all of you is please study abroad. Please meet new people. Please try new things. Please try this. It will be one of the best things you have ever done. Good luck everyone. Adventure finally found me, I hope it finds you.


Kylie Wilson is a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Nursing. She is spending the summer term abroad with the UMKC Honors Program in Scotland. Kylie is from small town Helena, Missouri and hopes to be a Cardiac Intensive Care Unit nurse in the future. She has a pet cow named Betsy whom she loves dearly.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

UP….UP…. AND YOU ARE IN THE HIGHLANDS

The ocean

Want to know the most beautiful place on planet earth? It is the Highlands of Scotland! Greenery surrounds you almost everywhere you look and the water is restless, but stunning.

Just a small glimpse into the beautiful Highlands

There is always a hanging mist in the Highlands in Scotland and I admit it is really cold here, but if you bundle up and brave the cold it is a sight worth seeing. We took a boat into the Highlands and I have never been on a cruise ship, but that is what I imagined it would look like. It was huge and luxurious with a cafe. I was able to relax for a little bit and enjoy the ocean. On this trip to the highlands we are visiting the Isle of Lewis and the Isle of Harris. There are many monuments here and the start of our journey in the highlands we went to the Butt of Lewis. You read that right. I said the Butt of Lewis (don’t google or you may get some weird images). It is the end of the Island of Lewis and there are cliffs high up that we got to look off and stare at the ocean. I stared at the sea gulls circle around trying to get the fish and there was a seal popping his head out of the water daring the sea gulls to come closer. The water crashed into the rocks angrily and the vastness of the ocean is enough to make the largest person feel small.

There was a lighthouse behind the cliffs and it was everything I imagined it would be. I felt at home here and never wanted to leave. But we made our way back to our Hostel for the night where nine of the girls in my class here all stay in a hostel room together. It was so much fun, it felt like a slumber party! The next morning we had class things to clear up, so we gave our speeches in the hostel. This trip has taught us all how to be flexible and roll with the punches! It has been a very fun experience seeing what our journey will bring us next. The second day we made our way to the Isle of Harris where we stopped at an old town where we learned how tweed blankets and scarves are made. It was interesting to watch and the people there were very kind. A nice man explained everything to us and left nothing but happy feelings in my heart. I will definitely be visiting that town again.

The mighty and powerful stones

Next, we made our way to the Calanais stones which were tall, mighty, and mysterious. These stones are mysterious and no one knows exactly why there are there. After the stones we made our way to the beach and at the beach I got to see a HIGHLAND COW (pronounced coo). If you have been following my blogs you know I am a farm girl and all I wanted this whole trip was to see a Highland cow and get a picture with it! I finally got it and my dreams have been fulfilled.

My baby Highland cow. I FINALLY GOT A PICTURE!!

We then made our way back to the hostel and all in all. The highlands were pretty amazing. As always, may adventure find you… even if it is so far north that it doesn’t get dark at night.


Kylie Wilson is a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Nursing. She is spending the summer term abroad with the UMKC Honors Program in Scotland. Kylie is from small town Helena, Missouri and hopes to be a Cardiac Intensive Care Unit nurse in the future. She has a pet cow named Betsy whom she loves dearly.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

The mighty and powerful…. Ocean!

I am a little ol’ farm girl as I have said before. I had never been anywhere before this trip and that includes the ocean unfortunately. But I finally got to see the Ocean last week!!! Let me tell you I have never seen anything more beautiful and powerful.

The beautiful ocean!

I was immediately captivated and in love with the ocean. It was cold out and the water was dark, but I was still in love and I have made myself a promise to save all of my money and go to a warmer beach next summer! My classmates and I walked around the beach collecting rocks, shells, and memories. We laughed as many of us had to climb or rocks to get close to the ocean and quite a few of us fell a few times (I may or may not be the person who fell repeatedly, but we won’t talk about that). One of my classmates found a dead jellyfish on the beach that must have gotten stuck when the tide rose up and couldn’t escape when the tide went back down.

The poor jellyfish we found.

We were also had the most perfect view of a castle ruin in the background of our ocean adventure and what made the ocean experience even more fun was the people I was experiencing it with. My classmates are so supportive and sweet. They make every adventure fun and worth it.

The castle ruins.

I am very grateful I get to experience some of these amazing “firsts” of my life with them. A few of us sat on a rock for a while and just enjoyed the amazing view of the ocean in front of us. The air was a little crisp, but we didn’t care. We watched the amazing power of ocean waves crashing into the rocks and felt how truly small we are and how beautiful the world is. If you are in need of a humbling experience go to the ocean and just stare at how large it is. It makes you feels so small and your troubles even smaller. I hope all of you get to see the ocean someday and get to adventure the world with some amazing people like I do. Good luck and may adventure find you… and may it help you find yourself.


Kylie Wilson is a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Nursing. She is spending the summer term abroad with the UMKC Honors Program in Scotland. Kylie is from small town Helena, Missouri and hopes to be a Cardiac Intensive Care Unit nurse in the future. She has a pet cow named Betsy whom she loves dearly.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Helado and Heat Strokes

Last week we toured the Alhambra, a palace and fortress located in Granada, Spain. Originally it served as a small fortress until the Moors renovated and rebuilt it in the 13th century. But after the Christian Reconquista of 1492 it became the Royal Court of Ferdinand and Isabella. The same Ferdinand and Isabella that endorsed Christopher Columbus! History is so cool.

In the gardens of the Alhambra

So our toured started at 3 in the afternoon, which is not only siesta time but also the hottest part of the day. The day we went, it was a whopping 109° Fahrenheit. I knew it was going to be a hot day when I saw paramedics casually walking around with their gear and water jugs. Nevertheless, walking around a fortress that has stood since the 9th century was pretty amazing. I felt like I was walking in a set of Game of Thrones. 

A ceiling in one of the bedrooms
Spain is full of cute doors to take pictures in front of…

The tour took around 4 hours and by the end of it we were all exhausted, but it was worth climbing up all those stairs for the amazing view of the city we’ve all been living in for the past month. Also it was probably due to the dehydration, but I have never tasted helado (ice cream) so amazing.

From the top of the fortress
I couldn’t ask for better program leaders!

Thankfully, no one from our group had a heat stroke. But, if you do ever find yourself visiting the Alhambra make sure you bring a fan! I would also recommend going on a guided tour so you get the most out of your visit. I don’t think I would have appreciated the architecture, and I learned so many quirky facts about the kings and queens that resided there. I also need to brag about how amazing my program leaders are. Lorena and Louis have made this summer abroad so fun and I don’t know what any of us would do without them. If you’re thinking about studying abroad with UMKC, you definitely need to go with these two.

Follow me for more Study Abroad adventures!

 

Megan Schwindler is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying English Literature and Spanish. Megan is spending the summer abroad with the UMKC Spanish Program in Granada, Spain.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

España vs. Me: Round Two

The history and culture shock of Spain continued down its path with me as I began to more fully comprehend the  amazing accomplishments that took place in the last five thousand years or more.

La Granja Royal Palace was an interesting find on our tour throughout Spain. Just outside the small town of San Ildefonso, the summer palace and its gardens were a wonderful delight that I did not think any king would ever want. The 1,500 acres of gardens, trees, groves, and amazing flowerbeds and fountains were stunning.

A flower bed of the La Granja gardens.
A view looking down at one of the main fountains at the garden.

The most incredible thing was how the king had Red Woods shipped from the United States to Spain just so he could have them in the garden. The fountains and architectures were modeled after Versailles, and I found it interesting how the palace now belongs to the people and that they are allowed to visit inside of it. The garden continues to grow all of the original species of plants that were originally planted, and the palace itself contains all of the original furniture and architecture from its original conception as well.

The Mezquita that we had the welcomed pleasure of seeing is the ultimate symbol of how the three cultures of Spain, Jewish, Moor, and Christian, came together and completely redeveloped a new mosque-cathedral as new kings ruled over the area.

View of one of the old entrances to the Mezquita of Córdoba, Spain.

Though the mezquita is mainly a representation of the Moor and Christian cultures, I believe that the history behind it was influenced by all three cultures, even if it wasn’t at the same time. Each chapel represents a different part of the religions and I found most fascinating the pillars that were inscribed with different meanings.

A neighborhood of the “Village of Three Cultures”.

Frigiliana is a town that takes the time to celebrate the Festival de las Tres Culturas (Festival of Three Cultures) at the end of August. This festival commemorates the coexistence between the Christian, Muslim and Jewish traditions, as well as the regions historic confluence.

One of the most pure colored houses of the “White Village”.

This special town, also known as the “White Village” inspired me to find the time during this study abroad trip and visit it again. Though I did not like all of the stairs that we had to climb, this white village full of artists and flowers was the push I needed to continue my journey through the Spanish culture and the Spanish Language.


Grace Englehart is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Creative Writing and Spanish. Grace is spending the summer term abroad with the faculty-led UMKC Spanish Program in Granada, Spain.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

España vs. Me: Round One

España has displaced my mind from my life and has put it inside of my history books and National Geographic Magazine issues that I praised as a child.

Throughout my first week in Spain, I was shown that no matter how ‘small’ she may be compared to the states or other European countries, the people and history of the Iberia Peninsula have stolen the empty spaces of my mind and have replaced them with all of her glories and wonders. Madrid became the city of maze-like buildings that trapped me, only to show me the history inside of each maze turn. Interestingly, the street names in Spain are placed on the sides of buildings, so I found myself looking up a lot and missing the sights of the streets below.

A memorial text for Cervantes, reading: To Don Miguel de Cervantes, on the fourth century of the publication of the first part of Don Quijote.
One of my favorite streets to get lost on: Calle de Cervantes

The first night I spent in Madrid left me puzzled and restless because I knew that I could not possibly learn a culture by its language or history alone.

As the night went on, my mind began to rest and the morning of our trip to Segovia awakened the adventure I did not think I could have on a study abroad trip.

One of my life-altering fears shattered: Heights

It is amazing to have encountered one of the most magnificent structures from the Roman times that is still standing and still being used today. I have spent years in history classes, reading and studying the use the Roman Aqueducts, but I have never imagined how intense their presence may be until I saw them for myself.

My first impression of the Aqueduct of Segovia: How is history alive in front of me?

Since they were built without any mortar, the thirty-six semi-circular arches blew me away. Ironically, I was almost afraid to climb the stairs and see the view from the top of them, but thankfully the history behind the entire structure gave me the confidence to take the climb.

My history book selfie.

The Plaza de España is one of my favorite outdoor descriptions of history that I have experienced thus far on our trip (besides the Mezquita and the beautiful town of Frigiliana). The plaza is in the Parque de Maria Luisa in Seville, Spain. It was built for an exposition is 1929 and is an example of Regionalism Architecture, meaning that it mixes elements of the Renaissance and the Moorish revival styles of Spanish architecture. Essentially, it’s a Neo- Mudéjar style.

View of the Plaza from the far right.

The half-circle complex contains four bridges representing the four kingdoms of Spain. Inside the semi-circle are tiled alcoves that represent each province of Spain. Out of the forty-eight alcoves, everyone has a relevant tableau and map that gives a representation of the history of that said province. This in an amazing and beautiful piece of tiled architecture because it not only gives a historical aspect of each province and the four kingdoms, but of how the culture and people reflect on each other.


Grace Englehart is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Creative Writing and Spanish. Grace is spending the summer term abroad with the faculty-led UMKC Spanish Program in Granada, Spain.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Solo Travel P. I

After my Once In A Lifetime spring break trip, I landed back at Heathrow with my three incredible friends. Feeling happy, despite the shock of the disgustingly cold English weather. However, there was one more trip we planned to take, our “family vacation”. But, due to circumstances beyond my control, it suddenly looked like that trip wasn’t going to happen. So, in-between my finishing my final assignments, I planned a ten-day stint starting the day after I was due to submit them. The thing was, none of my friends wanted to go with me, and I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my time and insatiable desire to see the world. So I finalized the details of my solo trip and booked everything within five days of returning to the UK. Now, I just had to tell my mom.

Leaving early on a Tuesday morning, I headed to Gatwick airport to catch a flight to Budapest, Hungary. Never in my life did I think I would have the chance to end up here, or any of the places I visited really. My plan was to spend about two days in each city, visiting a total of five countries. I booked airfare, bus and train tickets, and a guided tour, simply banking on the hostels I was to stay at to provide any other information I might need.

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I remember the sense of freedom I had as I walked through the streets of Budapest that first night (god, how crazy does that sentence sound?). I’ve been lucky to visit so many different places and see incredible sights, but the first time I have ever felt truly free was that night. The following day, was a dreary one, filled with grey skies and rain, perfect company for the walking tour I had planned. I visited so many different sights and learned so much about the beautiful city of Budapest, and even met someone from Missouri!

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The next morning, I left for the bus station which would get me to Prague by mid-afternoon. Prague is one of my favorite cities in the world, and I am so glad I had the chance to return. I revisited some old sites, the Old Town Square in particular, before making my way to some new ones, like the John Lennon wall. I fit in two tours during my only full day there, one focused on art and modern Prague, the other on the effects of the Nazi Regime. One mandatory site I planned when deciding to go to Prague was to see the St. Cyril and Methodius Cathedral, which was prompted by a book I read a few weeks prior, called “HHhH”. This book details the assassination of Nazi leader Reinhart Heydrich and the Czech and Slovak paratroopers Jan Kubiš and Jozef Gabčík who carried out the attack, and in turn were killed, along with a few other allies, in an attempt by the Nazi police to take them. The small cathedral is the site of the altercation between the paratroopers and the SS and houses a memorial and museum dedicated to the soldiers. It was a story I hadn’t heard prior to reading the book, which by the way is a favorite of one of my tour guides, and I was honored to see it in person.

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That night I went to the train station to catch my pre-booked train to Poland. However, I seemed to have booked the wrong ticket. So, having to purchase a new ticket last minute, which ended up cheaper than the original ticket I’d bought, I managed to finally board my train and arrived in Krakow as the sun rose.

Since this post is already incredibly wordy, I’m going to split it up and post the second half in the following days. Thanks for reading; please stay tuned!

Xx Jessica

Ireland and its North

Ireland has a short-but-controversial history with it’s northern neighbor. Following a history of colonial oppression by the British, Ireland was finally able to break free, in part, following an agreement in which most of the nations counties would become part of the free Irish Republic. The north had a greater quantity of British loyalists, so a collection of six counties were made to remain part of the United Kingdom.

For some, this was a point of pride, but for others it became a source of distress. Decades of political conflict were brought to a head during The Troubles, when the conflict turned to terrorism from both sides.

Officially, The Troubles ended following peace treaties signed by organizations on either side of the conflict, but the sociopolitical tension remains strong within The North.

We visited Northern Ireland as a daytrip to Belfast, the city which suffered the greatest during the Troubles. Our tour guide told us the history of the nation as we approached the border, but failed to mention The Troubles themselves.

As we reached Belfast and began our tour of the city, we transferred ourselves to black taxis. When asked why this was necessary, we were told the Irish-green buses previously used fell victim to too many terrorist attacks. The guide then went on to explain how religious conflict was still incredibly-common within The North, and how all five of the tour guides had an immediate family member killed in a hate crime.

The city itself remains strongly divided between catholic and Protestant. One neighborhood had 50,000 members and zero Catholics, while another had 30,009 and only Catholics.

The most surprising part came upon touring the Peace Wall, a ten-meter tall concrete partition between the two halves of the city. Designed to prevent terrorism, it’s supported even contemporarily by 85% of the citizenry.

My impression of the Irish republic so far had convinced me of the nations charm, but led me to believe all of Ireland was a slightly-modified United States. It wasn’t until I came to Northern Ireland that I realized portions of the nation still exist in a state of conflict.

The tour made me feel for the people on both sides of the conflict, and brought me a new appreciation of the tranquility of my life in America.