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!
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!