Monday, August 30, 2010


So, after 4 weeks I am home! But before I begin, just as I promised, Österreich photo's!

So, after 4 weeks I am home! But before I begin, just as I promised, Österreich photo's! There really isn't much I can say about them other than that the scenery was beautiful. The photo's don't even give Austria justice.

My last week in Konstanz was a busy one! Between last minute souvenir (and luggage!) shopping, along with trying to go and see everything we didn't do the past three weeks, I had not a moment to spare!

Wednesday we went to Insel Mainau which is about a 25 minute bus ride from my dorm. It was a botanical/flower garden that was absolutely beautiful! The flowers were so perfect and there were some that were just so different and outrageous you'd never think they were flowers.

These were just two of the coolest looking flowers, there really is no way for me to describe them you'd HAVE to go and see them for yourself. We went on a super nice day to Insel Mainau, it wasn't too hot and it wasn't rainy. Sunny and perfect weather! Could not have been luckier!

Dhalia in bloom

These are just some of the things to see at Insel Mainau. There really isn't much to say about it because its just expansive gardens with amazing views onto the Bodensee. I kept saying in my head "I feel like I'm in a Monet, this is so unreal." If you like flowers and scenery this is an amazing place to go to.

Thursday, I went to a Chocolate Factory in Switzerland with some friends. It was only about a 15 minute train ride and the train ticket was super cheap (1,68EUR). Once you got off the train you could SMELL the chocolate! And it smelt d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s! The only downside was that there was no tour or viewing of the chocolate making process. You walked into the factory lobby, and went up some stairs into a gift shop where you could buy chocolate that was made in the factory. So if you're looking to actually tour the factory you won't be able to, you can just buy chocolate! They have all of their prices in Swiss Francs, but they do accept Euro's as well! Unfortunately I don't have any pictures from the chocolate factory because there wasn't anything to photograph!

Friday I was running around like a madman trying to get everything I needed before I came home in order. This included: cleaning my dorm, finishing packing, buying last minute souvenirs, making sure my luggage wasn't too heavy, eating my left over food, saying some final good-byes and going out to eat with everyone for a final good-bye typische Deutsch dinner. Friday was extremely busy and hectic and it made me wish I didn't save souvenir shopping for some people until the last moment. I took Thursday off from class so I could catch up on sleep and pack my things as much as I could, but I still felt like I needed another few days to make sure everything was REALLY in order.

Saturday was departure day and our flight left at 13:00 (1:00 PM) We took a 8:03 train from Konstanz directly into Zürich Airport and it took about an hour. The people I was traveling back to NY with and I were smart and bought our train ticket Friday afternoon after class this way we wouldn't have to worry about it Saturday morning which was a HUGE help. We got home just fine, and Zürich Airport is so easy to maneuver through; unlike JFK where everything is a maze!

But anyway, I am so happy I went to Germany! Before I left I was really having some angst about being gone for a month and not knowing anyone, but it was by far the best decision I have ever made. I had so much fun and met so many amazing people on my trip that I hope I will keep in contact with and just maybe, go and visit this winter in Europe! 4 weeks felt nothing like 4 weeks and it flew by in the blink of an eye. Coming home it felt like I never left NY, and being in Konstanz it felt like I never lived anywhere else.

Before I end my blog, there are some things I'd like to share with you; and these are things I wish I had known going into this study abroad program.

What I wish I knew
1. The dorms for Konstanz (and as I was told most other European universities) are off campus, so you need to take the city bus to get there (it's super easy to do and nothing to be scared of at all)

2. Deutsche Bank & Bank of America are sister banks, which means if you have a Bank of America account and you withdraw money from a Deutsche Bank ATM (Geldautomat in Germany) it's completely free. If you can't get a Bank of America account, this University has an International ATM and it has very low fees for using it.

3. Don't bring a lot of USD with you, it's much cheaper to take money out of the ATM than it is to exchange USD to EUR. For me it was 1,50EUR to take money out of the ATM and 5,50EUR to change my USD to EUR.

4. When you're eating out at restaurants you walk in and seat yourself. You also have to ASK for the bill, they won't see that you're done eating and bring it. Water in Germany also is not free, if you just ask for a glass of water they will bring you mineral/carbonated water and you do get charged for it. If you want tap water (which is free) you need to ask for that specifically...Leitung Wasser is what you ask for

5. Some restaurants have an English menu! Perfect if your German food vocabulary isn't 100%

6. When the last day of dorm-check out was...had I know I could stay until August 31st instead of the 28th I probably would have just so I could leave my stuff there and take the time to go to München or another city

7. In Liechtenstein I could have gotten my passport stamped!

8. Summer weather in Germany is not JUST LIKE summer weather in NY which is what I was told. Konstanz had about 3 weeks of hot, NY-like weather, which ended as soon as we got there. The rest of the time it was cool, between 60-75 most days, with the occasional 80-85 degree day. There was also a decent amount of rain which you should definitely pack for and you should definitely bring some sweatshirts and warm shoes. But at the same time, you need to bring a bathing suit and some shorts for when it is warm and when you want to go swimming in the Rhein as well as some clothes for going out in when you want to go to some of the clubs in Konstanz (whatever you do, don't go to Cantina! I went there twice and both times the music was so bad, go to Blechnerei instead! Much better music).

Basically, it rains alot, so bring a rain coat and umbrella; it's cooler than what you'd expect, so don't just pack sandals and shorts; there are some gorgeous days perfect for swimming so bring your bathing suit (and who doesn't want to say they went swimming in the Rhein?)

9. Surge protectors don't work with power converters, neither do blow dryers. But straighteners do!

10. Go on every single University sponsored trip! Even if climbing a mountain in Austria isn't your "thing" GO! You're paying for it in your program fee, you might as well take advantage of it and see something new! Also, save enough money before the trip so you can go to München for the weekend and see the cities around you! It'd be a waste not to!

Monday, August 23, 2010

A week already?!

Oh my goodness!

I can't believe it's been a week already since I've posted. I can barely remember what I've done! Time has been flying by so quickly, I feel like there is still so much more for me to do and see that I just won't be able to.

Last Wednesday, we went into Dornbirn, Austria, for a mountain hike. It was a beautiful hike, and we took ski lift up to the top of the mountain, had light breakfast, then began our hike down. At first it was kind've chilly at the top of the mountain, but as we kept going I got hotter and hotter! I was so happy I dressed in layers, that's one thing that I've learned is an absolute must here in Germany and the surrounding areas. In the morning it can be kind've chilly, at night it gets down to about 55 degrees on a normal day and when it's only been 60 at the warmest point it's even colder than that at night which makes for a very chilly morning. But I digress! So we're hiking down this mountain in Dornbirn, and it's getting warmer and warmer going down (natürlich, we're going DOWN the mountain and it's only going to be cold at the very top) and at first this hike is kein problem, no problem. Easy as pie, there are stairs and well defined paths and everything is dandy and you think to yourself "well isn't this a nice walk through the woods, it's not a hike at all!" Then, it gets steeper, and you're going up and down hills that while still are well defined and for the most part paved, are quite tiresome. Then it gets to the middle part of the mountain. And the path gets less and less defined, to the point where your walking a dirt trail following the people in front of you until, alas, there is no more trail. And you're trying hard, so hard, to not slip on your butt in the mud while walking down this steep incline in the mountain. Ugh! Just when you think the hike is an easy one you are proven wrong. Luckily I did not fall on my butt once, but I did have a few sliding moments that I swear were planned the entire time. (Kidding, I totally would've been on my butt, however for some reason I was able to catch myself and keep myself from falling.) So, as we're hiking the group of people I was with managed to lose the larger group we were hiking with. So we totally thought we were taking the proper trail when we start walking up a road and are going UP the mountain, not DOWN the mountain like we're supposed to. So naturally some people are like "hey is this the right way do we know where we're going?" and naturally, no one has a map, so we have no idea. Eventually we were found by the second set of hikers from our program because there were some people that decided not to follow us UP the mountain and wait for them. So they came and found us and we realized we had walked probably a mile or so out of the way. Go us! Good thing we were found...! So, we continued on with the group, ate some lunch, took some photos and continued on our hike down the mountain to the buses that were waiting for us. We then proceeded to a Museum of sorts, it was an interactive science museum, and it was pretty good. I was just mad because it was a rainy, nasty day and I just wanted a nice hot cup of coffee or something, but the coffee machine was broken so there was no coffee/espresso/cappuccino or anything; so I settled on a Sprite and a topfelstrüdel. It was similar to an apfelstüdel (apple struedel) minus the apples and plus some kind of cheese-cake-like filling. Either way it was d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s. So then it was back to the bus and back to Konstanz for us!!

Next on my list of exciting things I did during the week was on Friday! We had a potluck and you had to bring food native to the country you come from. We have so many different countries represented here, let me name a few:
Canada USA Brazil
Colombia Norway Finland
England Ukraine Romania
France China Denmark
South Africa Turkey Spain
Czech Republic

So the International Potluck went over amazingly well. I brought Macaroni & Cheese, it really doesn't get much more American in my book, and someone else brought spare ribs, baked beans and peanut butter cookies. There were also many crepes, someone from Canada made "Seal" which was really just Wurstsalat, not REALLY seal, and the Chinese food was amazing. And mind you, 90% of this was all HOMEMADE in our dorm rooms by the students. Its really cool walking down the outside walkway around lunch & dinner time and smelling all the different types of foods being cooked. But, the potluck was an extreme success and I really think I am still full from it.

Next, I decided on Saturday & Sunday to go to Augsburg! I have family there and I went and paid them a visit and spent the night. It was a very nice trip, I ate traditional Bavarian food, and at meals like Germans do. At home Germans eat there meals very differently than Americans. In America we eat three meals, breakfast (if you're lucky), lunch (if your lucky) than dinner. So we really only eat ONE meal. But regardless, Germans, or at least my family, eat a larger breakfast, then a light lunch, than have a before-dinner snack, than light dinner, and than a beer in the evening with some chips and small pretzels. It felt like we were eating all day, but it didn't feel like we were eating a lot because it was more meals with smaller portions, so it's arguably the same thing. But visiting my family was nice, I haven't gotten to upload any pictures yet, but I most certainly will my next post that I do either sometime this week or once I get home. I've been making a mental list of things I want to talk about in my last blog, including what I would have done differently and what I wish I knew and what I have gotten out of the experience.

Anyway, the entire weekend I could only speak German to my family because they speak very little English. It was very very tiresome and exercised every last bit of my vocabulary and knowledge of the German language. It really put into perspective how much I DON'T KNOW and what I really need to learn.

I have learned going to Augsburg though that in Germany traveling by car is much quicker than by train. And even though Germans are known for being pünktlich (punctual, on time), their trains tend to get verspätung (late) quite often! Going to Augsburg my initial connection train was 30 minutes late, than 50, so I had no other option than to find another train that took me where I needed to be. The timetable system is really easy to follow and use, each station has a giant poster for "arrivals" and another for "departures" with the days of the week and the times, along with what station each station stops at and the times it is scheduled to arrive when everything is working on time and there are no delays. It is absolutely amazing how perfectly timed the trains are when they are operating correctly though, because if it says the train is going to arrive in Ulm at 14:01 it is arriving at 14:01, not a minute later, if anything, it's a minute early. So when the Deutsche Bahn is good its absolutely amazing and everything works like clockwork, however, when there are delays, it can add hours onto your trip!

Going to Augsburg I was arrived 30 minutes later than I was supposed to because of my delays, and coming home a 4hr train ride took me 6hrs because one of my trains was late, I missed my connection and had to wait and wait and wait for the next train. So glad that train ride is over and that my next one is a direct train into Zürich!

Other than that I have not much to say! It's just about midnight here, and I had to blog and tell you all about what I've been doing this past week.

This week I may take of one my two allowed absences to pack my stuff and make sure I have everything together before I leave and wash/dry my laundry! So much to do, so little time!! I still have to do last minute souvenir shopping! ah!

Reporting live from Konstanz, this is Samantha from SBU! Thank you and have a good night!


P.S. tomorrow or next post I PROMISE Austria pictures!!!

Monday, August 16, 2010

nothing but busy!

So, since I've last posted, I can't even remember what I've done! But, we went into Meersburg to see the oldest castle in Germany which wasn't a REALLY BIG castle, it was more like a big house. Then, my class and I went to the Brauhaus for some REAL German food, which was of course delicious! I got the chicken with spätzle and I could have eaten it for days.

**if you click on the pictures they will enlarge!**

Alexander from Finland, Me, and Eva from Norway before the Brauhaus

ferry ride over to Meersburg

this is the oldest castle in Germany, the Meersburg Castle (about a 15 minute ferry ride from Konstanz)

when the bishop's decided to stay in Konstanz they built this new "castle" for them to live in because they didn't like the old one anymore apparently

this was a house walking up to the castle

this was on the castle grounds in one of the courtyards

Saturday, 14 Aug, was the final day of the Seenachtfest (Sea night fest) and every year Konstanz, Germany and Kreuzlingen, Switzerland (neighboring towns) have a firework competition essentially. A group of people and myself walked into Switzerland (yes, we walked!) and watched the fireworks from there. Konstanz charges about 16,00 EUR for admission into their area, but in Switzerland it is free, so we walked! It was of course POURING outside, but the fireworks were amazing. First Germany went, and they had their show set to music. Then it was Switzerland who didn't have theirs set to music but most certainly outdid Germany....but only by a hair. They started out with three fireworks that didn't open up huge or anything they just shot into the sky and flashed like a spark and made a really loud bang like a gun shot, one right after the other with a few seconds in between. Then in the middle they were beautiful of course, but the end is where Switzerland hands down won. They had fireworks open up into little red parachutes!!!!! I wish I had pictures of them I MUST find them somewhere from the internet. But they exploded like fireworks and look all pretty, then we see these glowing red parachutes come our way! It was unlike ANYTHING I have EVER seen before. Absolutely amazing.

here's a link for the Swiss firework show, I can't find the parachutes yet, but give me some time and I will!

The "ambiance" of the Swiss side

Then yesterday, we went to Liechtenstein! Oh my goodness what a BEAUTIFUL country. If you don't know anything about Liechtenstein, its only 160 sq km and has a population of 35,000. It was cold and raining when we went yesterday, but everything was so scenic! We were in the capital of Vaduz for their Independence day, and when we arrived at the "castle" (they have so many large Rupunzel-like castles here in southern Germany and the surrounding areas but I seem to be going to none!) the Prince of Liechtenstein was out shaking hands, talking to people, and some man even sang the national anthem to him! Everyone was so impressed when they saw the Prince walking around drinking a beer (in his suit of course!) because for any country seeing your leader like that would be a HUGE deal. But, Liechtenstein was beautiful! The group of people I went with and I decided that we were going to travel up to the top of one of their mountains, Malbun. So we took a bus as far up as we could, but before I continue, I must tell you this: the entire capital city of Vaduz was closed! AND ALL THE BUSES AND MUSEUMS WERE FREE! Yes! Free!! So, moving on, we took a bus up as far as we could, and then a ski lift up to the very top of the mountain. We were all sitting there like "why did we decide to do this its so foggy you can't even see anything." But as we started walking down the mountain the fog cleared for literally 3 minutes and made the ENTIRE thing worth while. At the end of this blog I'm just going to post a ton of pictures and write captions so you can get an idea. So since it was their Independence day, and the ENTIRE capital was closed down, there were just food and candy vendors lining the streets. All of the food was delicious, but it was amazing how much more things cost in Liechtenstein. In Germany, a soda is about 2,40 EUR, a small beer is like 1,00 EUR sometimes less, and coffee about 3,00 EUR; but in Liechtenstein, soda was about 3,30 EUR, 3,60-4,00EUR for a small beer, and I paid 3,60 EUR for a coffee! It was crazy to see the prices change when you're just an hour away.

Liechtenstein also had an AMAZING firework display around 10:30 PM. It was better than the Swiss show, it had to be! They shot the fireworks off from a cliff where the "castle" was situated and at one point had fireworks falling down the side of the cliff like a waterfall. It was unreal and every time we thought it had just been the finale and they were over, MORE came! At the very very end however they lit one firework and it was a smiley face! It was adorable!

this was one of the views from the mountain as we walked down and the fog cleared

this was from inside the bus going up the mountain...these buses had to have been turbo charged or something because they were going up these mountains without ANY issue

a pretty building in Vaduz, Liechtenstein when it was actually sunny, NOT pouring.

a very original style home that looks like an organ

This was the castle on top of the cliff!

Overall my past week has been good! Lot's of things to do and see and NO time to write about it! I thought I would have wayyy more time than what I have had and it's hard trying to remember a week's worth of activities! Although one thing that does stand out and very strange here in Konstanz is the weather! The first week I was here and maybe 2 extra days it was hot, like 85-90 hot. The rest of the time its either cold and rainy (today is 58 with rain) or sunny and around 70-75! I could have sworn it was going to be so much warmer here!! I have had to buy warm clothes because it's been so cold, I brought one pair of flats and the rest sandals expecting summertime weather! ah! But, alles gut (all is good) and the way I see it I've done some school shopping that I otherwise would not have had the chance to do back home!

I am also very disappointed in the weather because I had purchased a float so I can float in the Rhein and I have not yet been able to use it :(

Check back soon! I am going to Austria this week!!!


Monday, August 9, 2010

So, this past weekend was amazing! It was so much more fun than I was expecting, although to be honest I really didn't know WHAT to expect. Friday night we all just hung out in one of the dorms, Saturday the Uni hosted a beach party for us at a club...I was expecting sand and a beach atmosphere, but there was none! Regardless it was an amazing time and it was so much fun to see how energetic everyone got when Jay-Z's Empire State of Mind came on and Kesha's California Girls. It was so weird I was just thinking "you're all European! And if you're not then you're from IBH and you're probably Canadian!! You're not from New York!" It was really entertaining and as far as I'm concerned just solidifies the fact that NY has the best music! The DJ was amazing though and everyyyyone was dancing. Yesterday, Sunday, me and a small group of people (6 others....that's small right?) went to see Toy Story 3 in 3-D! AND IT WAS ALL IN GERMAN! By far the best decision I've made thus far. Toy Story 3 was amazing! And what made it even more amazing was that I understood ALOT of the German they were speaking!!

What is even MORE amazing though, is that the other night I had a dream in German! I woke up and was like "woah did that just happen?" and the more I am in class and the more I am speaking German the more I find myself wanting to type and write words like they do in German. So this is so far an amazing trip and worth every penny and every single day.

As amazing as this is, it could possibly be the worst trip ever for me! As soon as I get home I KNOW I am going to want to come back again and again and again. Everything here is so laid back, at least where I am in Germany and the people here don't get mad if you make a mistake speaking German, if anything they try and help you and correct your mistake! Sometimes they feel bad and speak English to you....but let's not talk about that and pretend like thats NEVER happened to me....

So anyway, today was a very long day of classes, from 9-5 but that didn't feel so long either! I really enjoy being in class and absorbing every single thing that I can. My professor (or TA I'm not sure what to call her, I think she is a graduate student at the Uni and is teaching this summer course for experience) only speaks German and another Slovic language that I can't think of at the moment. So we are FORCED to ask her questions in German, and it turns into the entire class filling in the "blanks" with their German that they know and she eventually understands! But I am learning SO much and everything is so great with me!!

I don't have any photo's to post yet, I just cooked/ate dinner and am getting ready to head back out! So possibly tomorrow or when I have time to upload my photo's you can see some new ones!!


Friday, August 6, 2010

It's Friday!

Finally, a week (well, 4 days) of classes are over! Not much has been going on, really just classes, some shopping and hanging out and meeting new people.

Yesterday however, some friends I made from Norway & Canada and I made a family-style taco dinner together at one of the dorm rooms! It was a lot of fun, and it's really nice to eat dinner with people as a "family" when you're so far away from each other. Dinner was excellent and this is a picture of who I ate with once we were done and cleaned up!

I also found this amazing little spot by the Rhine where you can just sit and put your feet in and depending on how high the water is that day you can even just walk around on top of this little platform and get your feet wet! There is also an amazing view of the Rhine and the other side of the river!

Everything here is so beautiful, and I honestly don't feel like I'm out of place here. A lot of students and people speak English, and a lot of them don't but it honestly doesn't even matter because people try to understand each other's broken English or German, and your language progresses so much once you just start talking. One of the biggest problems I've noticed is people just being too shy to try and say what they want and instead they say nothing and their language skills don't progress. I love speaking my German here! Its so much fun being able to use the skills you have!!

Today we went into Meersburg which is about a 10 minute ferry ride away. We had a castle tour, and it was about 2.5hrs long. The castle we went to was the oldest one in Germany, and because it was so old it was super hard to take pictures inside, they really didnt allow it. It had so much history to it though and the courtyard was very very nice.

Alright well, it's time for me to go!


Monday, August 2, 2010

Rain in Konstanz


okay so today, Monday, day two of my journey, was a rainy one. Brianna, Charlotte and I went to Media Markt across the Rhine for some things we needed (ethernet cables, blow dryers, etc.) and wound up eating at this amazing bistro; the food was SO good, and even though I got a pizza, I was so happy with it. The owner guy, Joe, spoke some English and was kind enough to help us figure out the menu. He was so sweet, and even tried getting his daughter to help us who spoke the most English. We also met some 3 girls, 2 from CT and 1 AZ that are going to spend the year in Germany (first two girls) and Switzerland (last girl). Konstanz is just their month-long intro to Germany/German before they continue on the next year. After talking to them I was very pleased my flight even more so than I was before (and mind you I was VERY pleased) because I found out they were only allowed 1 piece of luggage at 50 lbs and had to pay an extra 50$ for their second piece of luggage. And 1 piece of luggage would NOT be enough for me for one entire year. So I was pleased because my airline allowed 2-50 lb pieces of luggage, a carry-on as well as a personal bag...and the pilot spoke 3 languages, the landing was absolutely amazing, AND the Swiss chocolate at the end of the flight was AMAZING.

So what else did we do today...after lunch and Media Markt we all (Brianna, Charlotte and I plus the three other girls we met) walked around on the other side of the Rhine, found some places for groceries, than came back to the dorm to drop off our left-overs, put on some rain gear than head out for more exploring/food shopping (which was not accomplished)/souvenir searching. Everything went over really well except the food shopping part, however I went to a bakery and was able to purchase 3 rolls and a pretzel for ,89 € which I was super pleased at.

After bargain hunting all day for post cards, I was able to find some for ,30€ as opposed to ,60€ and even got a book of 12 postcards for 3,00€. I also got a keychain!

After that we ate dinner at a cute little place where I ordered Kaffe (coffee) and Olivermuss mit baguette (olive spread with baguette bread), and the coffee was very good and came with a little chocolate! All of the chocolate here is delicious, there was a chocolate place that I came across that I must go back to so I can bring some home.

I also got Gelato before dinner, hazelnut flavor, and that was to DIE for, definitely going back there again. 2 scoops of delicious gelato only 1,60€ !!

Not too much happening today, although I had a moment of self realization... when I'm home at SBU and it's raining I freak out about my hair getting wet, my legs getting wet, and looking miserable, however here I was completely fine with everything. So what if my hair was wet, there were times that if it were raining I wouldn't put my hood up at all, and I never would do that back home. I guess its just the environment and the people that make you not worry so much about how your hair is or if you look really nice, everyone here is very laid back and its very refreshing.

Thats about it for now, its 22:30 (10:30 PM) here and 16:30 (4:30 PM) back in NY and I have my first day of classes tomorrow! I need to be up at 7AM and take the 8:09 bus in order to get to the University on time (I'm in off-campus housing) and Germans are very, very adamant about being on time, and prefer earliness.

Oh and by the way, my suite-mate speaks only German and very little English, so my skills will completely improve by the time this month is over!

German snails have the coolest shells, they're a pale yellow with a brown spiral

this is me outside a cathedral in the middle of town

Sunday, August 1, 2010



Okay, so I'M HERE IN KONSTANZ!! And let me start from the very beginning. So, 12:30 pm I leave my house to head to the airport, say my teary-eyed goodbyes to everyone not coming with me to the airport, and even more teary-eyed goodbyes once I'm there. Check in was actually really quick because I had already done it online, and all I needed to do was pick up my boarding pass. So, my baggage was weighed, and I was allowed 50lbs but wound up only having 40lbs (go me!) and off I went through security. So, let's fast-forward to me on the plane. I was SUPER impressed by the pilot, he spoke German, English AND French, and when he made his announcements he made them once in each language and said THE EXACT SAME THING!!!
There was no deviation! We arrived a full HOUR EARLY (absolutely amazing timing!) and we fly from NY up north way past Maine and way up into Canada, then east, and we were actually a little south of Iceland & Greenland, over England, France (we actually passed over Normandy) and then on into Zürich. Let me tell you, this pilot not only amazed me with him language skills, but his landing ability is equal to no other. We touched the ground and that was it. No bounce back up, no feeling of being pushed forward and like bending over because of super hard braking. It was like we were in a helicopter and he just hovered on down from 40k feet. I was SO amazed. Everyone on the plane clapped! It was amazing. Here are some pictures from the plane!

these are all pictures heading into Switzerland. This one is of the country side outside of Zürich and if you look really close you can see the Swiss Alps!
These were some clouds when we were still over France that I thought were lovely!!
Look at these colors. It looks like cotton candy in the sky! So beautiful to see, this was the sunrise heading into France

Okay, so I get my bags, go through customs, all that un-fun stuff, then, get a 2nd class train ticket from Zürich to Konstanz, and let me tell you, this second class was like first class on the LIRR....if it existed. There was such ample room, every seat was a two-seater facing another 2-seater, like booth style in a restaurant without the tables, and the sights were AMAZING.

this is one of two sunflower fields we passed going from Zürich into Konstanz on the SBB.

So, We get into Konstanz, we get picked up by Bastian (Bass-tee-on) and he takes us (I was traveling with two other girls, Brianna and Charlotte) along with our massive and heavy luggage THROUGH THE CITY OF KONSTANZ ON FOOT, to show us around a little bit and how to get to the dorms. So after that trip, which Bastian said would be about 10 minutes, and was actually about 20-30, we were all dead. So at this point we're super excited to head into our dorm's and unpack and hang out, however, the elevator was not working. Bastian said it must have something to do with these two kids who were moving out last week putting a couch in it and riding the elevator up and down all day for hours. So we had to trek...again...up the stairs. Now mind you, in Germany the first floor is really our second. So I was on the second floor and had to trek my luggage up a good, long 3 flights of stairs. Not fun at all. This is the dorm:

After that we all walked around and explored and had quite the adventure trying to order dinner at a Spanish restaurant that they only spoke Spanish and German in. We struggled but managed to pull through with dishes that were totally not what we were expecting! Oh well, every day is an adventure that's for sure! her are some places I thought were very pretty and blog-worthy!

this place was built in 1913

foot/bicycle bridge going over the Rhine to the other half of Konstanz

the Rhine from across the foot/bicycle bridge "the other side"

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

3 days left!

So I have three days left officially until I leave for Konstanz! I am in the process of going through all of my clothes putting some aside that I want to take and going through them to see what I really DON'T need to bring with me, because if I bring something and I don't wear it, then it's just a waste of space in my luggage! I'm traveling with Swiss International Airlines and they allow two pieces of luggage at 50 lbs each. When you're traveling for a month two pieces of luggage at 50 lbs cant be enough!!! I suppose its going to have to be. I'm trying to pack things that I can leave in Germany; like shampoo & conditioner I can throw out before I leave because that doesn't HAVE to come back with me, and I'm bringing bars of soap instead of body wash because I'll only need one bar instead of an entire bottle.

I also bought some cool things from the store for my trip but the trial-sized packages of laundry detergent are my favorite and by far the most noteworthy. There's just something about them!

I also bought luggage from the store because everything I have is old and heavy. I got a really good price on a 7-piece set, and even though its just green I bought some fabric and I have my mom adding it to my luggage to make it "my own" so when I'm in the airport waiting to collect my baggage I'll be able to see it and know that I'm not taking the wrong luggage! She's still working on it, but I'm going to take some pictures and upload them. If you don't have a mom as handy as mine, or if you're not handy at all, another thing you can do is buy patches from walmart or michaels or any craft store (online even too) and iron them on.

so thats the luggage so far, i'm also bringing a duffle bag that i'm going to try and convince her to put some fabric on!!

But, I must depart, I still have to make photocopies of my passport and drivers license for my mom and myself...and time is slowly ticking away! More pictures to come that WILL be much better than my luggage, promise!


Monday, July 19, 2010

12 days & counting

Right now, I have twelve days left until I get myself on a plane and head to Germany! I've been feeling so overwhelmed trying to PLAN what to pack, that I feel like there are so many things I NEED that it just won't ALL be able to come with me. There are so many unknowns, for example I have no idea if I need to bring sheets with me, or pots and pans or even a sponge to clean these things. Of course I can buy things while I'm in Germany, thats not a big deal, but I just wish I KNEW for sure what I needed to I could appropriately plan! I want to travel as lightly as possible but when you're abroad for a month that's not very easy! I'm going to have to send some emails and see what I can find out. However, once I am done with my list-making (lists keep me so organized I'd be lost at times like these without one) I will paste it onto my blog so you can see what it is I'm bringing! Hopefully when I get settled in Germany I'll be able to let you all know what was/wasn't useful and what I should have brought!

All of that aside though, I am SO excited to get there and to see EVERYTHING!!!!! I fly into Zurich, Switzerland and than take a train to Konstanz, Germany. While I'm there I'll have German Class and part of the program involves the University taking the study abroad students to "see the sights" which include the oldest castle in Germany, a trip to the country of Liechtenstein and Austria! AHH! SO EXCITED!

I have family in Germany, and apparently they are only about 30 minutes away from Universität Konstanz, so I am hoping I'll be able to see them; I haven't seen them since I was only a few months old! I'd love to be able to meet them again.

Well time to head back to my lists, then off to the stores to run some errands to purchase things for my trip!


Sunday, June 27, 2010


So, as of right now, I have 33 days left until I get on a plane and arrive in Konstanz, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous! While everyone else is blogging about their trip and what they're currently doing and all the fun they are having, I haven't even left yet, so you get to read ALL about my pre-study dilemmas, woes and excitements, and hopefully can learn from the the mistakes that I definitely won't be making....yeah you're right I'm sure I'll mess up royally....a few times!

So already a few tips if your planning on studying abroad:
• pick two or three different locations to want to study in, like different country locations. My first choice was Russia, but because of the Moscow bombings it became a non-option because my parents were worried about safety, so I needed to pick some place else I really wanted to go to. So, if your first choice either gets closed out or something happens in that country and you don't wanna go, have back ups that you're familiar with!

• get to know as much about the country you want to study in as you can; weather, customs, history, neighboring areas/countries, food and attractions near-by. EVERYTHING. Because if you're going to France and your lactose intolerant, you might want to choose someplace else because so many of there foods involve butter and cream, and you'll be dying and study abroad won't be fun :( .. customs are also good to know so you don't look like an outsider and don't offend anyone.

• before you commit to studying abroad someplace, look into flight costs well in advance for the month you'll be studying abroad, because overseas flights are expensive, and you need as much time to save money for the overall expense of the trip as possible!

That's all the advice I have for now, until next time!


Friday, June 11, 2010

Germany...HERE I COME!

Hi everyone! So, my name is Samantha and I'll be studying abroad in Konstanz (Con-shtan-ts), Germany this summer...and I am SUPER excited!

Before I get in to this really cool going to Germany business, let me tell you a little about me so you can understand how tremendous this opportunity is for me. I am the youngest of two daughters and was born and raised on Long Island, New York. I am a first generation American, my family comes from Germany & the Czech Republic and even with all of that heritage my out of country experiences are well...minimal.

I've never been to Europe or out of the North American continent for that matter. I've been to your stereotypical Mexico, Canada and the Carribbean which were amazing trips, however not my style. I have ALWAYS wanted to go to Europe and just TRAVEL, I took French in High School, I love Indian food and sushi, and Morocco and Egypt and on the top of my list of places to travel to. So, while Mexico and Canada are really cool, they were just to bland for me.

Originally my plans were to study abroad in St. Petersburg, Russia; however my parents were not so pleased with that and with a bombing in Moscow I decided the next best thing was Germany! I took German my first and second semesters at SBU and fell in LOVE with the language and everything German that I've learned, which is why I really want to go and just submerge myself in Deutschland. Maybe, if I like it, I'll move there after college and spend a year or two perfecting my Deutsch skills.

So with my plane ticket purchased, my mental suitcase packed, I have 49 days (and counting!!) left.