My First Trip Abroad in Photos

My project “Austauscherfahrungen” has been active for more than a year now. To celebrate this occasion and reflect on the roots of this blog, I have put together this post—My First Trip Abroad in Photos.

There are two ways to “read” this entry: you can either start from this page and click on the photos that interest you, or you can start by clicking on the first photo and then go from photo story to photo story.

 

The first time I went abroad I was 18 years old. I went abroad the summer after my freshman year of university. It was not an organized trip with my university, nor was it a group trip through an organization offering study abroad opportunities to American students. I signed up for a summer language course with an international language school, Goethe-Institute.

I was from a small (southern) American town and somewhat bad at directions. Naturally, I had some expectations of Europe, but I was open-minded and unafraid to travel to Germany by myself. I wasn’t too nervous before I took off—I only worried about organizational matters. At first, it was a challenge to navigate train stations and flow with the pace of Germany, but I soon met friends at the language school and spent a fantastic summer abroad.

Some quick tips I have are: to enjoy the small things and give yourself time for reflection. Also, you have to be bad at something before you can be good at it, so don’t be afraid to try something new. Ultimately, I gained a strong motivation to study German further and changed my major to German once I returned home. For more on my study abroad in Germany summer 2015, check out this article~Getting Started with Studying Abroad

 

Introduction aside, here is My First Trip Abroad in Photos:

 

 

 

Lake Bled ~ Slovenia

Lake Bled is a popular tourist destination and wedding venue in northwestern Slovenia. The town of Bled and Bled Lake are 55 km away from the capital of Slovenia—Ljublana.

Excerpt from my travel diary: Lake Bled was such a stunning and serene site. The lake was an amazing color and so clear. We had enough time to climb the steep hill and enjoy the view from the castle. The view was incredible! Being at the castle and looking down on the water was magnificent and fairytale-like. My eyes devoured the scenery.

 

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Bled 1
There are no major natural streams flowing into the lake; water supply comes from only a few springs. The thermal springs in the north-Eastern part of the lake now supplies the swimming pools of Bled hotels.
Bled 2
On Bled island are several buildings. Most notably is the Church of the Mother of God. The church has a stone-staircase with 99 steps. Ringing the church-bell three times is said to bring good fortune.

 

Lake Bled is a popular tourist destination and wedding venue in northwestern Slovenia. The town of Bled and Bled Lake are 55 km away from the capital of Slovenia—Ljublana.

The lake is surrounded by mountains and forests. It also has a small island. There are a few legends about the island: The legend of the Sunken Bell and one telling a story of Slovene pagan gods and the conversion to Christianity. There is a medieval castle at the lake—Bled Castle. A popular culinary delight at the castle is the Bled Cream Cake.

 

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Bled Castle has more than just tasty cake to offer. There is a museum collection and wine cellar, where you can bottle and seal wine. Not to mention, the view is splendid.

 

Bonus for nature-lovers: Close to Lake Bled is Vintgar Gorge. Vintgar is “gorge” in Slovenian. There are several touristically arranged, wooden bridges with great views of the 1.6 km-long gorge. There is also a stone bridge above Vintgar Gorge, if you would like a bird-eye’s view of the most intact nature of Bled. The gorge is also home to numerous plant species. Steep depths and beautiful fauna make the largest waterfall in Slovenia a memorable stop for Lake Bled-visitors.

 

~Stephanie F.

 

 

*All photos are from Austauscherfahrungen.

**https://www.slovenia.info/en/places-to-go/attractions/bled

**http://www.bled.si/en/what-to-see/natural-sights/lake-bled

**http://www.bled.si/en/what-to-see/cultural-sights/churches/the-church-on-the-island

**http://www.bled.si/en/what-to-see/natural-sights/the-vintgar-gorge/Presentation

Returning Home After 13 Months Abroad

 

Returning home to Georgia, U.S.A after 13 months abroad was surreal. I spent 7 weeks in Kiev, Ukraine. And before that, I was an exchange student in Erlangen, Germany. During my 11-month stay in Germany, I didn’t visit home a single time.

 

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The Court Square ~ Newnan, Georgia

 

I left behind a different reality in Europe and had a hard time suddenly slamming my brakes to match with the pace of life in a good ol’ suburban town.

 
The population of my hometown (Newnan, GA) is approximately 30,000 people, which is about the same as the number of undergraduates at my alma mater, Georgia State University. Although it has been a humbling experience to revisit my hometown, I do not feel that my roots are here, and it is quite clear that the suburban lifestyle of southern American towns, or at least this one, is too mundane for someone like me.

 
I no longer have the stresses that I had here as a teenager and I feel as if I am on a different level than other long-term residents… as if I am not defined by or confined to the old rumors. I see that my hometown is continually becoming more modern and more culturally diverse. But, I still have sympathy for the kids, who feel stuck here and have not had the chance to travel, or the chance to develop their beliefs at university.

 

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It was hard coming back. Having conversations with family or old friends can be challenging. The best way to describe the scenario is Plato’s Allegory of a Cave. In other words, we limit reality to our perceptions. To become enlightened, it is necessary to see life outside of the cave. The cave represents the states of most human beings. Those who return to the cave and try to recount what they have experienced meet disbelief from those who have not left the cave. We need more than just the naming of things; we also need reflective understanding. Travelling and learning foreign languages allow us to grow past only seeing the shadows in the cave.

 
I am still learning languages and working on a few small projects until my “medium-size” projects take off—I am looking for local internships and work while continuing plans of travel in the States. And my “big project” is getting accepted into grad school.

 

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A few days passed, and I was no longer waking at 4 in the morning. I guess it’s also not so bad being around people who really know you and not just the exchange student version of you… with friends who have not just seen how you’ve bloomed, but friends, who also know the “Georgia Red Clay” that you grew in and how your branches developed.

 

Sincerely,

Stephanie F.

 

 

 

Blog Update

Dear readers,

As my blog continues to grow, I am trying to improve as a travel blogger. I want to record my memories for myself, but tell them in a way that is inspirational for my readers. I love exchanging ideas with others and picking up good habits from different people. Moreover, I want my travel posts to be just as interesting as they are informative. I’d love any feedback, tips or further comments about travel blogging. Why should we write about our travels? What do we gain by sharing our travels with others? What does travelling and writing mean to you?

Sincerely,

Stephanie F.

Why I’m Learning French

Hello hello!

Learning a new language is hard work and a big time investment, so we better have good reasons for why we want to do so. Knowing why helps us with our goals in the language (making learning it more structured) and will also help keep us motivated.

Here are eight reasons why I want to learn French:

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1. I had French for a few years in secondary school. I didn’t go that deep into the language, but I still had some interaction with vocabulary and basic grammar, which will make the learning process a little easier. Not to mention, French classes and other materials are relatively accessible in the USA, so it will be quite doable to learn basic French in the States.

2. It’s the second most popular foreign language after English. This means that I could speak French with friends (who already know it) and meet new francophones. It’s not the most popular language now, but it still holds its status as a lingua franca. It will always (or so I think) be regarded as a beautiful, romantic language that is part of a nice, prestigious culture.

3. It won’t be easy to read and write, but I like the pronunciation. (And, as I am learning more French, I like how French grammar expresses itself differently than English or German grammar. I am learning new vocabulary/new ways to think about the world, too.)

4. French and English are (sometimes) similar, so it won’t be as big of a challenge as learning, for example, an Asian language (or even Russian for that matter :D) There will be a lot of new vocabulary (and false friends) due to the Latin roots of French, but it will make it easier for me to learn another romance language in the future.

 

 

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5. The language has crept into other European languages (French used to be the language of government and the language of the elite, so other languages borrowed many French words) and knowing French will help my reading comprehension in general humanities. Therefore, I will understand history better and also improve my vocabulary.

6. I like a few French scholars already and would have access to even more scholars, writers, artists and the like.

7. After learning German and starting with Russian, I just wasn’t satisfied. Learning languages is one of my hobbies and it is something that I enjoy–not just to say that I speak the languages, or just to be able to communicate with others, but because I enjoy the process of learning them. Speaking multiple languages also makes travelling easier and more interesting.

8. Learning French will make it more enjoyable to travel in France. I can’t wait to see the beauty of the country, enjoy tasty food and get to know the culture (art, literature, customs) better.

 

So, guys, what languages do you want to learn and why?

~ Stephanie F.

 

For more language-related fun check out–>How I learned German (A Bilingual Text) & New language, new life