Semester Travels

Jeeze Louise, it’s been forever since I’ve posted.

I have been really busy lately and haven’t been in one place for very long. For the past two weeks I have been traveling and visiting friends in Nordrhein Westfahlen (the northwestern most state in Germany). I have seen cities like Bonn, Cologne, Aachen and many other smaller villages around them as well. I also went to Heerlen, Netherlands for a few days as well.

Visiting friends is the best way to travel in my opinion. You normally get home cooked meals, you don’t have to pay for the bed to sleep on, and they know all of the great places to see. And on top of that, they normally introduce you to their friends so you get to meet new people as well! Such fun! :D

Today (Happy Easter by the way) I had to unpack my suitcase, wash all of my clothes, and repack again because in just a few hours, I leave to go visit a different friend in Mátészalka, Hungary for 6 days. Then I go and stay in Budapest for 4 days by myself. I’m excited for all of that because where my friend (named Máté lives – completely coincidental that his name is the first four letters of the city he lives in) lives quite close to the Hungarian borders with Romania and Ukraine. I’m hoping that I will get to see a little bit of what the culture is like in those countries as well; however I can’t go to visit Ukraine without a visa (which I don’t have at the moment). I’m also really excited because while I’m staying in Budapest by myself, I think that I will have a lot of opportunities to meet even more people who are traveling Europe like me. On top of that, I’ve heard that Budapest is a GORGEOUS city, so I really can’t wait.

Anyway, sorry for the short entry, but I must get back to packing and I will try to post maybe once while in Hungary, but I don’t know how successful that will be because it’s hard to find time to just sit and relax when you’re traveling.

Cheers,

Zac

March 31st, 2013  |  Category: Uncategorized  |  No Comments

Birthday Weekend!!!

Hey!

SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, this weekend is celebration weekend for my birthday! However, only is it my birthday, but another friend here (Caroline) shares the same birthday! On March 11 (Monday), I turn the big 21 and Caroline turns 23 (I made a mistake in the last blog entry with her age)! I’m the youngest one in our group of friends, other than one person who is only 1 month and two days younger than me, so all of my friends get to pick on me for not being 21 yet.

Anyway, I’m really excited. All week it has been gorgeous. Apparently this entire year (since January 1, not the beginning of the school year), before this week, the sun only came out from behind overcast clouds on one day, but since this past Monday, the sun has shone every day, and the temperatures have gotten up to the 60s! It’s been the coldest and darkest winter that Ingolstadt has seen in over 50 years (keep in mind, a cold winter here might get to 20 degrees — it’s nothing compared to the cold winter in Montana that I experienced my first year at Rocky when the wind chill brought it down below -20!).

So yesterday a few of my friends went on a day trip to a nearby (2 hours away) historic town called Rotenburg; however, I didn’t attend because I had a migraine. Today we plan on going out to clubs so we can celebrate though. On Monday, we will likely visit another “nearby” city for our birthday called Bamberg. It is recognized by UNESCO as a “world heritage site” which is just fancy terms for “outstandingly beautiful.”

Also another thing we’re doing to celebrate our birthday is go to a beerfest that is being held in Munich (only about 30-40 minutes south of us by train). It is essentially the spring version of Oktoberfest except instead of having the light Oktoberfest beer, it is a darker and heavier springtime beer. I’m quite excited for this event because Oktoberfest was a blast, so I’m hoping the Starkbeirfest (the name of this festival) will be just as fun. I have faith though because the Germans find every way possible to make beer and festivals most enjoyable.

Also, shortly after our birthday, I leave to visit some friends that I met in high school as exchange students. On March 16, I travel to Aachen to visit my friend Verena. Then I leave her place and go to Cologne (only 20 minute drive more or less) on the 22 of March to visit my second best friend in the world Sarah. I stay with her until the 28 of March. Then I return to Ingolstadt that day and stay there until April 1. On April 1, I then depart for Hungary. I will stay in Hungary until April 10 (probably – this isnot definite). The first four days I will spend with my friend Máté in the eastern side of Hungary, but the second four days will be spent in the capital, Budapest. The other two days are left for traveling beacuse the bus ride is 10 hours overnight.

Anyway, it’s 4:06 pm, and 56 degrees out, so I’m going to go enjoy the lovely weather!

Tschüß!!!!

Zac

March 9th, 2013  |  Category: Uncategorized  |  No Comments

VACATION!

Hey!

It’s been forever, I know, and for that, I give my most sincere apologies. BUTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT THE SEMESTER IS OVER! It’s now the second week since I’ve been on semester break and it’s amazing. I can’t believe I haven’t posted in such a long time because I’ve done so much awesome stuff. I saw the Schloss Neuschwanstein (the castle that was replicated in Disney’s logo), went to Berlin, and passed my exams (obviously the most important thing).

Berlin was a really great trip, but I can honestly say, it stands out like a sore thumb. It is so different from the rest of Germany, from at least what I’ve noticed. Its architecture is different (mostly because it’s been destroyed so many times over), the way they speak is different (however, it’s much easier to understand than the Bavarian dialect), and by golly I heard more English there than I did German. It’s a mixing pot of so many things and so many different kinds of people (and obviously many tourists) so it was quite an experience, but, I have to say I enjoy my little town in Bavaria more. The culture here seems a lot richer and it’s much more different than home, which is why I decided to study abroad – to experience something different, not just live in another “modern” city.

Schloss Neuschwanstein was gorgeous. It was also really interesting to learn the history of the castle and the king of Bavaria who had it built (King Ludwig II — also known as Mad King Louie).

Pictures of the castle will be uploaded later – for some reason many of my pictures need to be resized before they can be uploaded onto the site, so I will just take a day to go through some neat pictures, resize them, and then upload them all in one giant blog entry.

Unfortunately, today I had to say goodbye to one of my best friends here. Paola is going back to Spain in a few hours and won’t be returning for the next semester to start in April. She’s one of the final goodbyes I have to say. Today I also said my farewells to a friend named Harry; he’s going back to Finland tomorrow. The only people left to say goodbye to are Caroline (going back to Reunion Islands – territory of France), and Nerea (going back to Spain as well). But they won’t leave until after my birthday which is March 11 (also Caroline’s birthday – woooo birthday buddies!!!) so we will have a nice celebration when I turn 21 and Caroline turns 22. ^_^

Anyway, it’s been a long day, and I’m quite sad, so it’s about my bedtime.

Cheers,

Zac

 

**Picture**
This is the group of us that went to Berlin for a few days.  It was a 6 hour high speed train ride from Ingolstadt to Berlin.  Behind us in this photo is what reamins of the Berlin Wall.  On the side facing the east (what you can see) is an art gallery showcasing many really cool paintings, but we couldn’t pass up a group picture with this one in the background.  If you click on the picture, you can see it larger.  The people from left to right go as follows:  Caroline (Reunion Islands), Connor (Ireland), me, Paola (Spain), Ainhara (Spain), Danielle (Italy), Harry (USA), Katya (Russia), Amy (in front of everyone else – Ireland), Alex (Mexico), Harry (Finland), Nerea (Spain).

February 27th, 2013  |  Category: Uncategorized  |  No Comments

Lernen, lernen, lernen (study, study, study)

Rossi,

It’s that time again. Not the super fun time that all of my wonderous friends are having in Montana dealing with the fun Gandolf brought, but no, that time again for nonstop studying, nightmares about failing finals, and of course, finding every excuse of why I couldn’t acutally study.

In Germany, the semesters run from October to February and April to July. So yeah, this month and next are wrecked with final exams, papers due, and thoughts of suicide (this is OBVIOUSLY a joke; I’m not thinking about killing myslef). Oh, have I mentioned, that here in the good ol’ Vaterland, the “final exam” is the ONLY EXAM! They don’t have homework, or quizzes, or tests, or attendence or blah blah blah. You don’t have to come to class, you don’t have to be awake during class, you have no homework or anything. You have ONE test (and maybe a paper) at the end of the semester and if you pass it, you pass the class. If you fail it, you fail the class. There’s nothing to average out your grade against. I’M SO NERVOUS! Another interesting thing they do is if you fail the exam, you have one opportunity at the end of the semester break to retake it; however, this exam is much harder and two months later. You are responsible for studying on your own time for this. If you fail this, there really is no hope; you must retake the course.

Side note!!! I feel like I have used far more semicolons in this blog alone that a normal person would ever use…. like ever, ever, EVER use. It’s kinda because they’re like my favorite thing in the world. While I write my blogs pretty conversational and use words like “kinda” and say “like” when I would as if I were speaking (because yeah, unfortunately, I say it more than a 90′s valley girl. -_- ), semicolons are still my favorite thing ever. I’m not sure why though. Aslo, I HATE when people use them incorrectly. **Grammar lesson** A semicolon is to be used when one combines two related independent clauses without the use of a conjunction. *steps off pedestal*

Anyway, back to the real topic: finals. They suck huge gigantic tropical mangos.                                                   -______-

Well I should get back to finding excuses of why I can’t study!

Hope you all did well on your finals and are having a great beginning (if you have started) of your new semester!

Cheers,
Zac

January 12th, 2013  |  Category: Uncategorized  |  No Comments

MILAN & VENICE!

Yo, Rossi!

So I randomly decided that I wanted to go Italy over break instead of staying in Ingolstadt all by my lonesome. It turned out that two of my other friends (both named Amy/Aimee, but neither was the “Amy” that I went to Munich with) were also going. I met them here in Milan where I’m staying in a hostel until 12/31 then I will go back to Ingolstadt. Then, on Jan. 2, I am going to Cologne until Jan. 6, and school starts back up on Jan. 7.

So it all started because I wanted to go to Austria for New Years instead of in Germany. I texted Aimee the day before I was going to go to Salzburg, Austria asking her if she wanted to join me and she informed me that she and Amy were going to Milan for a few days, so she couldn’t come with me. Then she invited me, and without thinking, I had a hostel and flight to Milan booked for the next day, and it was all for under €200!!!

Milan is amazing! The food is the BEST part about the city; I have to admit that. But there are also all of the high-end brands that are all over the place like Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton, and a million others. Just for giggles, my friends and I went into Prada and LV (the first time for me). I never knew that things there were so expensive! IPod covers were a minimum of €200 and a mid-sized handbag in Prada was €1200!!! I couldn’t believe people paid so much for things like that!

Venice is by far the most beautiful city. I was there today on another spur-of-the-moment decision. I got a train from Milan to Venice, which took about 3 or 4 hours, for only €18 each way. The city is amazing. The canals cut through buildings forming narrow streets full of boats, gondolas, and even floating vendors! You can walk through the city using the labyrinth of pedestrian-only streets ranging from as narrow as a foot wider than my shoulders, to enough for two cars. The canals were crossed using bridges that went considerably higher than expected so the boats can go through all of them. The food here is also great, but the feel of the culture in this city trumps Milan any day.

Both of these cities have the most gorgeous surroundings. You can see snow covered mountains anywhere you look in Milan (assuming you’re high enough to see over the buildings – I did this by visiting a famous cathedral which you can walk on its roof and see over the entire city) and if you look up to the northeast (I believe) of Venice, you can see snow covered peaks as well. It’s a sight to be seen.

Well I believe we’re going to explore the night life of this high-class city, so I must be leaving now.

**Pictures will be posted when I get them uploaded to my computer.**

Cheers!

Zac

December 29th, 2012  |  Category: Uncategorized  |  No Comments

Faces

Here are just a few of my fun faces.  I figured I’d make a fun goofy post with the pictures I just took of myself because I’m that bored :P

November 30th, 2012  |  Category: Uncategorized  |  No Comments

München (Munich)

Hey Rossi!

So Saturday (Nov. 18) I took a day trip to Munich with some friends. It was a great time! There were eight of us: Lenka (Slovakian), Katya and Amy (Irish), Daniele (Italian), Harry and Christian (Americans), and Caroline (French). Traveling in Germany, especially Bavaria (the state I live in), is very cheap and very convenient. For a round trip train ticket from Ingolstadt to Munich, it cost each person only €8! The train ride was only about an hour, but that was only because we took a commuter train which stops at about 8-10 stops along the way instead of the more direct train which only stops once or twice before the final destination. There also is the option to take the ICE (inner city express – high speed train) from my city to many cities in Germany. These trains take very few stops and travel at speeds above 200km per hour. Obviously these are considerably more expensive. We didn’t take this because the distance between Munich and Ingolstadt isn’t enough to make a big difference in time; if we had taken the ICE, it would have taken about 20-30 minutes to get to Munich and the commuter train is only an hour. It would be much different if we were traveling to Berlin or Hamburg or Frankfurt because the amount of time traveling. These cities are at the very north side of the country and would be like traveling from Baltimore, MD to Boston, MA (about 400 miles) for the smallest trip.

The eight of us met up at the Ingolstadt main train station at 10:45am to decide which train we would catch to Munich; we decided on the 11:31am train that would get us there around 12:20pm or so. On train ride there, we all managed to sit together and we talked about any random topic that came up. Some of them were quite….. interesting: animal testing, how in Italy and France they eat horses while in the US it’s illegal, the annoying kids that were on the level below us, but we could still hear them (two story train), and many other random things.

We got to the main train station and walked outside. For the first time in over a week, we saw sunlight. For some reason, Ingolstadt has been under this cloud of darkness for over a week without a single break to see the sun. It was funny though, because Lenka and I had a conversation about whether or not we should bring sunglasses; we decided not to because it was still cloudy in Ingolstadt. *sidebar* Today, as I’m writing this, is the first day that I’ve seen a blue sky and sun in Ingolstadt for nearly two weeks.

It took about five minutes for Caroline and me to get separated from the group. Of course, we are the ones taking pictures while the others are just chatting away and walking. We stopped to take a picture of the entrance into the old city (almost every Germany city has one – it’s hard to explain because we don’t have them in the States, but they’re just really cool. It’s the oldest parts of the city that have remained preserved and they are 100% pedestrian zones. No cars or anything are allowed in them. They’re often heavily populated with popular stores to shop at like H&M, Müller, S. Oliver, and many others.), and when we turned around, everyone was gone. Well we thought they were, but it turns out that they were standing right beside us and we went off looking for them, only to get a call about five minutes later asking us where we disappeared to. We eventually found them.

Our main priority was to get to the Hofbräuhaus (said like hof-broy-house). The Hofbräuhaus is probably one of the most famous breweries in Germany and it is definitely the most famous in Bavaria. It is also probably the most famous tourist attraction in Munich also. We stopped here for lunch.

In case you’re wondering, cooking myself some noodles and then I’m going to make some tomato soup and then put the noodles in the tomato soup! It’s quite good; if you’ve never had it, try it!

Back to the real story: At the Hofbräuhaus, I ordered myself a typical Bavarian meal – all of the options there are typical Bavarian meals. I got a bratwurst with a side of spätzele. Spätzele is difficult to describe. It’s this noodle/starchy stuff that is delicious. If I am correct, it’s made out of egg, potato starch, and corn meal and then often topped with cheese and onions; however mine was not. On top of the meal, I got a liter of the Hofbräuhaus original beer. The food was good. The beer was great. Amy, Katya, Christian, Harry and Caroline all got the same dish which was some sort of pork steak (they eat so much pork in this country) topped in a gravy served with a side of potatoes (they were kind of like au gratin potatoes except a thousand times better). Their meal was much better than mine. I wish I would have gotten that instead.

I’m not one to take pictures of food, but since it was the Hofbräuhaus, I decided it was the first and only time it was acceptable. ^_^

After lunch, we went walking through the town and went into the market place. Every German city has an area in the center of town were the market comes with fresh goods like fruits and vegetables, flowers, handmade gifts, and all sorts of other foods and sweets. We stopped here for some glühwein which has no English translation to the best of my knowledge. It’s a special kind of red wine that you heat up and drink. But it also has cinnamon, lemon juice, sugar, and something else (I forget what it is) added into it before it’s heated up. It is absolutely scrump-diddly-umptious, and it warmed us all up in the freezing cold.

In the market square, I learned a very important lesson: texting and walking can lead to very painful situations. While I was checking Facebook on my phone, we were walking around the market square. In Germany, when there is a change from pedestrian zone to an area where there are cars or bikes allowed, they put up these metal poles about two and a half feet tall and about four inches in diameter. These poles are the perfect recipe for disaster. While following my group of friends and checking my Facebook at the same time, I was not focusing much on what was directly in front of me; it was one of those poles. I thought moment like these only existed in movies, but I was very mistaken. At once, I keeled over and let out a grunt of discomfort. I had no idea what happened to me at first. I just knew something had hit me right between the legs and I couldn’t move. My friends turned around to see what happened and when I stood up, at this point laughing, they realized I had perfectly lined my groin up with the top of that pole. We laughed for a good while.

After we had decided we’d had enough, we went into a large indoor market that reminded me very much of the store World Market, except there were different stands for different products. Upstairs was all wines and vinegars and you could do some tasting if you wanted. While up there, I found a 400ml (less than a 16 oz. fountain drink from McDonalds) bottle of vinegar for €97! I don’t know what was so special about it, but apparently there was something. On the main floor there were many things ranging from Christmas gifts, to furniture, to prepared foods like pizzas, sushi, and Chinese, and foods to take home and prepare yourself. Finally, the bottom floor was “Milkawelt.” Milka is a brand of chocolate that comes from Germany (I’m sure you’ve heard of it – it’s delicious) and “welt” means world, so it was “Milka World” on the bottom floor. There was so much chocolate there, including my favorite chocolate bar: the Milka Oreo bar. This is basically a Hershey’s cookies and cream bar with a coating of creamy, sweet milk chocolate on the outside. It’s the best thing you can ever imagine. I should mention this: chocolate in Europe is much different than chocolate in America. European chocolate is a much creamier and sweeter version of the bitter and not so creamy sweet that we’re accustomed to from Hershey’s, Mars, and Nestle. This doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy a nice Kit Kat, Crunch Bar, or M&M; I’m just saying it’s much different. Even the Kit Kats here taste different.

Anyway, while downstairs in the Milkawelt, I buy my chocolate bar, and convince Christian to buy one also. We share them with the rest of the group who’ve never had them before. Everyone falls in love. It was sweet, sweet harmony until coming running down the stairs is a family of three – father, mother, and son (I assume the two adults with him were his parents). They were saying “entschuldigung” (excuse me) in a very rushed manner trying to get somewhere and get there ASAP. Right as the boy reaches the bottom of the stairs (only about three feet from where we’re standing), he decides he can’t make it to the bathroom anymore, and he has to let loose. He blows chunks all over the place and it splatters against the walls, all over the floor, and unfortunately, on Caroline’s expensive boots. In a fit of panic, Caroline and I run up the stairs in order to avoid puking ourselves. The rest follow quickly. Needless to say, I think that is the last time either Caroline or I will eat an Oreo bar because the boy threw up as we were shoveling these chunks of heaven into our mouths. I do feel bad for him though. It must have been embarrassing. Well and for him being sick – nobody likes throwing up.

We went to dinner after leaving the market and walking around the city for a while. I didn’t eat or drink anything for dinner because I didn’t have the money, nor was I hungry. All of the guys, except for me, got coffee and all of the girls got beer (a bit backwards, right?), and only three people ordered food. Christian and Daniele got apfelstrüdel, which is a delicious German desert that’s kind of like apple pie and caked mixed, and Harry got some sort of soup.

After dinner we went back to the train station, hopped on the next train to Ingolstadt, and had a peaceful ride home. Most of us listened to music or slept. I played Mahjong Titans and listened to my music.

When we got to the Ingolstadt main train station, we all went our separate ways and walked to our respective apartments.

I was exhausted because I was awake early that day, so I went to bed shortly after getting home – around 10pm.

Until next time,

Zac

 

Image 1:  Random building outside of the Hofbräuhaus

Image 2:  the Glockenspiel (big clock) in the market square

Image 3:  Food at the Hofbräuhaus

Image 4:  (left to right)  Lenka, Amy, me, Katya at lunch

Image 5:  Menu at the Hofbräuhaus

Image 6:  Cool building near the main train station

Image 7:  Side of the building with the glockenspiel

Image 8: (left to right) Lenka, me, Katya, Amy, Christian, Daniele, Caroline (Harry is taking the picture)

 

November 28th, 2012  |  Category: Uncategorized  |  No Comments

Post Number 1

Hey readers!

So, I should first mention this. I am determined to have an interesting blog. Not just one where it’s point after point after point. My blog will also have a name. From here on, my blog’s name is Rossi. So, instead of “Hey readers!” next time the greeting will be something about talking to Rossi. I will also do my best to make better titles than “Post Number 1,” but since this is the first post, I figure most of it will be more or less introductory fluff.

Now that we’re set with that, I should also let you all know, that I have a very conversational style of writing. I find it more fun to read, and well heck, easier to write! Anyway, this means that i go from topic to topic quickly because I’m mostly afraid if I stick on one thing too long, either you’ll get bored, I’ll get bored, or honestly, it’s very likely we both get bored.
Now to the “juice” of this entry. If you didn’t read my bio, I’m a junior at RMC triple majoring in business management, environmental studies, and environmental management and policy. Here in Germany, I study international and European economics for two semesters.

So, I’ve been here in Germany since September 18, but my classes didn’t start until October 15, so I had quite a bit of time to travel around with friends that I’ve made because they were Rocky’s past international students. I’ll spend time trying to make each of my little excursions a blog entry later in the event I have nothing else interesting to tell you.

So my class schedule for this semester is
Monday: International Economics – 12:00-4:00pm
Structure of the European Economy – 4:00-6:00 pm (same instructor and same room, so we start the next class immediately)
Tuesday: Service Performance Management: 8:15-11:45am
Structure of European Economics: 12:15-2:00pm
International Business: 2:15-4:00pm
Wednesday: Wirtschaft Deutsch (Business German): 1:30-4:00pm
Then also in December, I’m taking a class called Organizational Behavior, hopefully (I’m on a waiting list to get in). This class is only 6 days though, but 9 hours of class per day. I have two classes in German, and the rest are in English.

Okay, well I was going to upload a few pictures of the city I live in now onto here just so you could see what it looks like, but i first have to make my image files smaller before they can be uploaded.
So, now that it’s 1:00 am, I must do some studying (which translates from student to normal 20 year old to “facebooking”) before bed and then class tomorrow.

I will try my best to keep up with the blogs at least once a week.

Good night!

Zac

November 14th, 2012  |  Category: Uncategorized  |  No Comments