Kara and I decided to take a night train to Venice, Italy. The night train seemed like a good idea since we would leave Thursday night and arrive the next morning.
What we failed to realize was that our tickets were for the Sitzplatz, not a Schalwagen. This meant that we had to sit and sleep on a seat for nine hours instead of sleeping on a bed on the train. It was definitely an experience, but we made the most of it.
We were both expecting a crowded and tourist-filled place. Venice is the place to visit and the weather was still nice enough to expect tourists to be roaming around (I talk as if we’re not tourists too.)
But we ended up arriving to an almost empty city. Even walking around, there were not as many tourists as we originally thought there would be. This, however, was a huge blessing. We got to explore Venice and take in all its beauty.
The most interesting thing about Venice was its public transportation. All of it was all by boat! It was great to not only get around the city but also see it from the water too.
If you study in Vienna or even in a surrounding country. I highly recommend Venice.
Hello from Aix!
Is time moving as fast for you as it is for me? It is already MIDTERMS here at IAU! How did that happen so fast?!
Since my last post, I feel like I made some big strides in the right direction and I am excited to share them with you… A few weeks ago, I travelled to Nice and watched the sunrise from the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Last weekend, I spent three days in Bordeaux where I got to see the new wine museum, Cite de Vin, go wine tasting at a beautiful vineyard in St. Emilion, and indulge in some of the most delicious pastries in the world while sitting next to the Garonne river.
I have been learning more and more French every day, and finally know enough to hold (rather short) conversations with my French host family. I go to the market and find fresh vegetables, meats, and cheeses to use for dinner, I go into wine shops and buy wines that I have never heard of, and I’ve been baking cakes and cookies with my host mom, converting every “cup,” “pound,” and “teaspoon” into grams. Needless to say, I am learning so much!
Speaking of learning, I have been wanting to write about the Wine Studies Certificate and overall wine education I am receiving here for some time now. For those of you who do not know, Linfield’s Wine Studies department has partnered with IAU to provide an opportunity for students to travel to Aix-en-Provence, France for one semester to study wine. At the end of the semester, the student emerges with a Global Wine Studies Certificate. Ergo, “Hello from Aix!” ?
My curriculum consists of a Biochemistry and Chemistry of Wine course, a Wine Marketing course, a Food and Wine Pairing for the Sommelier course, and a French language class that, oddly enough, is kind of like a wine course in its practical application when I go to the local wine shop and speak with the French wine steward!
Other classes that IAU offers for the certificate are an International Wine Trade course, an Overview of Wine course, and a course on Major Wine Regions and Economics.
Overall, the education here is wonderful. Why? Because the topic at hand is an integral part of the French culture and way of life. It is everywhere, inside and outside of the classroom, and therefore it is truly an immersive field of study. If you are a wine studies student who has taken the 200 level wine courses from Linfield and is planning on travelling to Aix to obtain the Global Wine Studies Certificate, you will most likely find that there is a considerable amount of overlap on the information shared when you get to IAU. However, I believe that this is nothing but a testament to Linfield’s wine education – it is thorough, relevant, and comprehensive on a global scale. It makes me feel good knowing that the information we are receiving in the classrooms in McMinnville, Oregon is the same as the information they share some 5,600 miles away in Provence, France.
Overall, if you are considering this program, would like to learn more about wine from a global perspective, or are looking to solidify your foundational knowledge of wine, I recommend this program. However, if you are looking for something more intense and challenging, I might recommend considering other options. The course work here has been straightforward and the homework is minimal (knock on wood…)! This allows for ample time to explore, reflect, and enjoy where you are for three short months of your life.
I hope you are well, I will check back in after midterms are over!
This past weekend was eventful, to say the least. My roommates and I wanted to see Venice before we left, but staying there was too expensive. In the long run, it was cheaper to stay in Milan and take a three-hour train to Venice. We flew into Milan on a Friday and hit the ground running. My friends and I went straight to our ADORABLE Airbnb and went to the Duomo in central Milan. This building is insane. The Duomo is a cathedral church with extensive details both on the inside and out. I could stand there for hours and find something new to look at every few seconds. Milan is not a place I thought of going, but I am glad I did. There is a lot of architecture, kind people, and great food.
We took a train early Saturday to Venice. I had a general idea of what Venice would be like, but it beat my expectations. My roommates and I stepped off the train and our jaws quite literally dropped. The canals had a unique blue color with colorful buildings surrounding it. The city was busy, but there were sections of the city less explored that were equally as beautiful. When trying to find the location of our gondola reservations, the GPS took us off the beaten path. We found a really good, small gelato shop and were able to look at the canals with less population. Concerning the gondola ride, my roommates and I originally were not going to do this because it is so expensive but then we found one for $30 instead of $85+ per person. The only thing with this is that the gondola is filled with 6 people. I personally did not mind a few strangers in the same boat as me, I found the experience outweighed the addition of a few extra people. Another section of Venice that was stunning was Saint Marco Square. This building was also beautiful in a unique way. It had peaks of gold and a unique structure. If you find yourself in Venice, do not miss out on seeing this!
Something I would suggest before going anywhere is to learn basic phrases in the native language such as “hello”, “thank you”, etc. Even though 9 out of 10 times a person knows English, natives appreciate the effort. Another pro tip, triple check the departure time of your transportation! My roommates and I were having a nice dinner in Venice and thought our train left at 8:30 pm when in reality it left at 8:00 pm. We thought we were so prepared being at the station over 30 minutes early when suddenly it hit us. When I saw the big clock say 8, the connection was finally made. We RAN to the platform and, like a scene of a movie, saw the tail lights of the train slowly leaving. We got lucky because another train was going back to Milan 15 minutes after that, but if there was not, we would have had to sleep in the train station or pay for an expensive room. Long story short, always triple check and never be too sure. Luck was in our favor, but that will not always be the case!
Last week was the beginning of our fall break. It’s crazy to believe we are already in October and only two months away from being back in the United States.
Like with any free time we have had, the four of us took this opportunity to travel. But this time, we all went our separate ways.
Dane and Kara started their break in Munich for Oktoberfest; Dane then went to meet up with a friend in Copenhagen while Kara went to Rome and Naples. Delaine spent her fall break with some family friends in Paris and I spent my break in Madrid and London.
The plane ride to Madrid was more nerve-racking than any other plane ride; it was my first time traveling to a foreign country all by myself.
There’s something comforting about having a person you know by your side when you travel and I was sad to leave my Linfield friends behind to start my own travels in Madrid and London.
When I got to Madrid, I ended up buying a MetroCard for way longer than needed. It wasn’t until later that I realized I could’ve paid per trip (the cheaper option) instead of by day. But I was so nervous that this thought never crossed my mind.
Madrid itself was a familiar place, mainly because of the language and friendliness. Spanish was my first language, so getting around was no issue, though there were multiple times where the difference between Spain Spanish and Mexican Spanish got in the way.
The streets of Madrid were filled with color and life, and each plaza had its own appeal.
In London, I had to go through passport control since they are not under the Schengen Agreement of the European Union. However, it was quite easy because I went through an automatic passport machine that scanned my passport, making sure it matched my face. That was my first time seeing one of those machines work in real life.
Similar to in Madrid, the difference between British English and American English was prevalent in conversation, but it never became a real issue.
What surprised me the most about London was its diversity in people and languages. It was amazing to see so many nationalities and ethnicities living together in one city.
One of the things I was most excited to try was fish and chips. It’s one of my favorite dishes and I was not disappointed in London.
Even though I enjoyed my fall break, towards the end I felt myself missing Vienna more and more, and this feeling was mutual among other Linfield students too.
So with two months left in our study abroad program, I will try my best to preserve my memories here in Vienna.
The wish I made on my 6th birthday came true last weekend: I climbed the tower of a medieval castle. The only difference was that I wasn’t wearing a Cinderella dress as I’d thought I would be at 6, but the view from the tower more than made up for it. I could see every red tile rooftop in Trujillo as well as the surrounding farmland. For a second, I really felt like a medieval princess until I saw a supermarket and gas station at the edge of the city.
In addition to Trujillo, we also visited Merida and Cáceres–two other medieval cities in Extremadura, Spain. While exploring the medieval neighborhood in Cáceres, we stumbled upon a jazz concert. Our professor, who was our tour guide for the weekend, was less than impressed with it and hurriedly guided us to a different area. We were then stopped by a crowd watching a medieval reenactment, so we had to return to jazz concert, much to our professor’s dismay. As we wandered through the neighborhood the sun began to set, reflecting pink and gold light on the walls of the stone buildings. We stopped to listen to a band that I can best describe as a combination of a traditional flamenco group and an early 2000’s boy band. Nonetheless, our professor approved of it better than she did the jazz concert.
“Do you ever feel like we’re in a movie or something?” a friend from my program asked me last week. We were walking home along the Guadalquivir River at sunset, the palm trees and outlines of cathedrals silhouetted against the sky. It’s true–sometimes living in Sevilla doesn’t feel like real life. We’re surrounded by palaces and cathedrals, and my host family lives blocks away from where the Spanish Inquisition began. Although we’ve been here over a month, it still feels a bit surreal.
But it is real life, and there are always little reminders of that. Sevilla has a bike rental program that some of my friends and I have started using. It’s convenient and it’s not. The first time I tried it, I got hopelessly lost in a maze of twisty cobblestone streets with identical balconies and flower boxes. While I love walking down these streets, the rental bikes don’t work great on cobblestones. They’re heavy and don’t absorb the impact of rough surfaces well, so it was a bit of an uncomfortable ride. Now that I know the area a bit better, I don’t get lost very often but there are still lots of obstacles to avoid. Seville is a very pedestrian-friendly city, so the sidewalks are always full of people, dogs, cats, kids…everything. And the bike paths are on the sidewalk, so dodging everything and everyone can be a little tricky.
I also began my integrated course at the University of Seville a couple weeks ago. Going to class in the old royal tobacco factory (Real Fábrica de Tobacos Sevilla) is pretty exciting–it reminds me of my favorite ballet, Carmen, and it holds a strong resemblance to Hogwarts. Unfortunately, I feel a little like a squib there–the professor talks extremely fast and I miss some words here and there, but I’m surviving. Luckily, I think it’s easier for an exchange student to survive an art history course in Spanish than it is for a squib to learn magic at Hogwarts.
Kia Ora Everyone!
Last weekend my friends and I went to Brewster Hut and had the best time! Brewster Hut is located in Mt Aspiring Nation Park, the same park as my trip with the tramping club. I was so excited to go back because the area was so beautiful! This tramp, however, was very different than my one with the tramping club. The 6 of us squeezed into our friend’s van and Juliet had to sit in the back seat surrounded by all our packs. We were originally going to camp Friday night close to the trailhead but it was raining pretty hard so we instead stayed at a hostel in Wanaka.
When we got to Wanaka we went to Red Star Burger again and then to get groceries. At the grocery store, we ran into another group from Otago who was also going to Brewster Hut. However, their group alone consisted of 15 people and the hut only has 12 beds. They also rented crampons and we did not. We got a little worried even though the DOC said the conditions should be safe. The DOC is a great source to use, similar to the Forest Service. Their job is to know the tracks and advice you on the conditions. If you ever have any questions about safety and knowledge of the track, don’t hesitate to call the DOC! We tried to find a rental shop for crampons the next morning just in case, but when we couldn’t find any we decided we would just asses the situation when there and if it was dangerous we would turn around.
The next morning we left Wanaka and drove another hour to the trailhead car park. We parked, strapped our packs on, and headed out! The first part of the tramp entailed a river crossing past our knees. None of us wanted to hike 4 more hours with wet clothes so we took our pants off and crossed in our boots and underwear! It was definitely a bonding experience for all of us! After crossing the river, we put dry clothes on and climbed up this huge rock to actually get to the trail. We immediately realized this hike would be very difficult and a steep climb. For 2 1/2 hours, we were climbing up the beach forested mountain over tree roots and rocks. Many times we had to use roots and shrubs to help hoist ourselves up. The track was also slippery and very muddy. We had sunshine, rain, snow, and very strong winds in those couple hours. I was definitely losing motivation after a while and ready for a change of scenery when we finally broke through the tree line. The view was worth it as you realized you were tramping surrounded by mountain peaks! The track continued to climb up a ridge with lots of rocks and eventually got to the snow line. Luckily you could walk to the side of the snow and wasn’t dangerous at all. When I finally reached the top of the last hump I was so grateful to see the hut! It was a beautiful location, with this bright red hut surrounded by snowy mountain peaks.
There ended up being 30 plus people trying to stay in the 12 bunk hut. It was very crowded! When we got to the hut we warmed up inside, played cards, and then explored around the hut outside. During the off-season, winter, there is no gas provided in the huts so we brought our own stove burner and gas can. During the off-season, there is still water provided outside the hut collected from the roof, an outhouse that doesn’t stock toilet paper, and a first-come-first-serve standard. Since its first-come-first-serve, you do not have to book a bed but the DOC still suggests paying $10 NZD to help keep the facilities up to standard. To be safe the water should also be boiled before using. Some of the people at the hut used the water and were fine, but one of our members drank the water without boiling it and felt sick to her stomach when we got back.
For dinner, we boiled water and made gnocchi with tomato sauce. After dinner, everyone at the hut grabbed their sleeping bags and sat on the deck watching the sunset. It was so much fun to talk and laugh with everyone as we watched the sunset and the stars appear while being surrounded by native Kea Birds!
The next morning I woke up for sunrise, which wasn’t as good as sunset but still amazing!
In the morning, the outside water facet was frozen so we collected snow and boiled it to make oatmeal. The tramp down was much harder than the way up! It was really hard on our knees, hips, and muscles because it was so steep and uneven. It took a little less time to get down, but everyone’s legs were so tired at the bottom and we were so ready for lunch! We ate lunch in Wanaka and then made the long journey back to Dunedin. We all slept amazing that night and woke up the next morning barely able to move because of sore muscles!
Being in France gives many traveling opportunities and it is fairly inexpensive. I have used multiple methods of travel while being here(bus, plane, train) and there are many things I learned along the way! Concerning flights, you must take a bus to get to the airport in Marseille. This bus is seven euros for a 30-minute ride, BUT if you get the cartetreize from the Gare-Routière (bus station in Aix), it is only two euros which saves you a lot of money in the long run! I did not know this the first time I went to the airport and overly paid for a short bus ride. The cartetreize is free and does not take much to obtain(just fill out an application online and bring your passport). I highly recommend getting it before school goes into full swing!
A popular airline used here is RyanAir. This company provides extremely cheap flights throughout France BUT there are many catches. For example, printed tickets are required and you can only print out tickets 24 hours in advance unless you buy a reserved seat. When in a hostel or Airbnb, it is not guaranteed there will be a printer, so buying a seat on the way back is ideal. These seats range from 4-7 euros, so it is not that bad. If you check-in/print the ticket at the airport, it is 55 euros(yikes!). Also, some flight attendants are very strict on baggage size. The free bag allowed on board is slightly smaller than a carry-on in the states. It is important to note this because it is more expensive to pay for the baggage when you are boarding the plane than to pre-buy a bigger size bag. It is perfectly doable to have a smaller bag(roughly school backpack size), but if you are a heavy packer, this is important to note!
My first experience traveling was to Munich, Germany for Oktoberfest and the journey to the city center itself was a little more complex because we did go a cheaper route. We took a plane into Stuttgart, Germany and then a 3-hour bus to Munich which was fortunately only a 15-minute walk from the hotel we were staying at. Many people go to the campsites associated with Oktoberfest which are actually kind of far from the “fair-ground” that Oktoberfest is located at. It is important to look into proximity to things you want to do and where you are staying or the cheaper stay might actually add up because of travel expenses. In Munich, a day pass for the trains/subways/buses was 16 euros for five people, so some locations can be cheaper than others. My friends and I went to the Dachau Concentration Camp(which is free!) and used this pass to get there.
The two main events of my weekend were going to visit the Dachau Concentration Camp and Oktoberfest. The camp was something extremely moving and was a very important experience for me. It is one thing to hear about these camps in class and another to see the conditions first hand. The displays also had more facts that are not taught in school that were hard to read/see. Although sad, highly recommended.
I did not know what to expect for Oktoberfest, but it still was not what I expected. There was a large crowd and it almost felt festival-like. It was complicated to find a tent to obtain food and beverages at. It was also a very cool experience because there were people from all over Europe in these tents. While waiting to be served, I had conversations with people not only from Germany but also Italy, Austria, and the Netherlands. There were also many study abroad students–this apparently is typical of the second weekend of Oktoberfest. It was quite fun and allowed me to experience an event where all kinds of people and cultures could enjoy.
P.S. wear closed-toe shoes to Oktoberfest!
Our second trip together as a group outside of Austria was to Budapest, Hungary. The city was about a 3-hour bus ride from Vienna and was the perfect city for a weekend getaway.
We had a long list of things we wanted to see, do, and eat in Budapest. On the first day, we opted to not buy a public transportation ticket and walk around the city. We ended up walking around 14 miles that day, though it was a great way to get to know the city.
One of the more traditional foods we tried in Budapest was Lángos, which is a fried dough, usually topped with sour cream and cheese.
A great view of the city is at the Freedom Statue. The trek up to the monument was steep, but worth it for the views and historical meaning. It was erected in memory of the Soviet liberation of Hungary in World War II.
Budapest can be divided into two sides; the Buda and the Pest side. These sides are parted by the Danube river, which also runs by Vienna. The chain bridge, which connects Buda and Pest together, was also an iconic monument of Budapest.
The next weekend, we made another bus ride to Prague, Czech Republic.
Prague was a study trip that was arranged with our study abroad program. We went with Professor Kröll, who was more than knowledgeable about the city.
We visited the Astronomical Clock Tower, where we had amazing views of the city. We also visited St. Vitus Cathedral, St. Nicholas Church, and Jewish Synagogues. It was my first time being in a synagogue and I learned a lot about the religion and its history in Prague.
I am so grateful to have come to Europe because I have learned so much about WWII through the lenses of different nationalities and religions. Not only that, but it is twice the fun when you can visit or see historical locations in real life.
Welcome to Japan! I hope you can live vicariously through me happily through all the struggles, adventures, and stressors (mainly from school haha).
I would like to start with the hardest experience I’ve had while being in this country: Getting Home From the Airport. (DUN DUN DUUUUUUNN)
Everything about my flight was amazing until I landed. Due to the power of Japanese weather and glorious timing from the universe, the largest typhoon of the year hit Tokyo during my flight, and while it didn’t delay anything flight wise, land was proving to be the harder challenge. The typhoon shut down the highways, stopped trains, and slowed every mode of transportation in and out of the airport. Someone fainted in line while we were waiting for customs to move, and due to the weather there were fewer employees able to get into work. Needless to say, after sitting on the airport floor for hours in front of a ‘closed-for-inventory Starbucks’ (the worst timing, truly) I was a shell of a human and my friends finally made it to the airport to pick me up.
My friends, Emi and Zeno, were both exchange students at Linfield. They were without a doubt the greatest gift I could’ve received in that moment — they were in the car for nine hours trying to get to me, and then drove me two more hours to my dorm so I wouldn’t have to worry about sleeping in the airport. Very simply I owe them everything 🙂
With that being my first experience with the country, I have a pretty good feeling that everything can go up. It was a really great bonding experience amongst people in my dorm to discuss the various ways we struggled with getting to the country.
The days following were pretty amazing. I made friends quickly and we’ve spent lots of time exploring around Tokyo. Akihabara is basically anime heaven, whereas Shinokubo is for everything K-pop. I live in Kanagawa prefecture, more specifically Musashikosugi. It’s a quieter part of the city, suburbs are still very crowded but you can very quickly recognize the craziness of Tokyo and the lack of noise (specifically in smaller areas).
A few things to take note of while here:
A store called SoapLand is a brothel so don’t go in there (whatever floats your boat but maybe just be aware of what you’re getting into). I thought it was really cool that there was a whole store dedicated to soap and when I suggested we go in my friend laughed really hard at me, so I would just stress the fact that its fun to experience things but at the same time do so with a friend that knows more about the city for a bit longer and can guide you.
There is an old woman in Shinjuku, I only mention this because she apparently has done this to multiple people, but she will ask you for money and when you refuse she gets very aggressive. In my situation, she asked for money and when I didn’t respond she cut me off from my friends, grabbed my arm and started shaking it. My friend then pulled my arm away because she was shouting a lot and we ran off. She then proceeded to yell “never come back to Japan” at me. A chaotic experience, but a learning moment definitely. (Also my teacher experienced the same thing, so what a bonding moment!)
Make sure you leave extra early for class, the commute could be anywhere from 30 min to an hour and 45 min.
If you’re a vegetarian, short statement: give up. Nearly every dish will have meat incorporated in it. THAT BEING SAID I am a vegetarian. It’s harder to find meals, but I have been forced to become a better cook (which I’m sure my parents are happy to hear).
Lastly, 7-11 in America is not 7-11 here. It is extremely fancy (and super healthy?!) most people will buy basic meals from there and they have everything from cup ramens, to pesto pasta, to salads, to sushi. All-in-all just a pretty good place, not just your everyday slurpee stop.
That’s it for now my lovely humans, thanks for hanging out!