On to London, on to Home

07/08/2016

Where to start? For the past week, I’ve been staying with a cousin (my first cousin once removed, on my dad’s side of the family) in Standish, a tiny rural “village” in the west of England. Today I fly home out of London Heathrow, back to the familiar streets of Ann Arbor and the well-known terminals of Detroit Metro Airport. A few days ago I was in London; a week ago I was leaving Germany to start this next and final leg of my travels. There’s still so much left to say.

In this trip, I did as much as I possibly could, spending a day in France, a beautiful weekend in Italy, and many days practicing and solidifying my German. This week, I’ve done my best to cope with the subtle differences between American and British English, and I saw as much of London as could be packed into three days there. I met up with an exchange student I knew from my freshman year of college, and crashed in an American friend’s hotel room with about a week of advance planning. Everything came together perfectly, and all at the last minute, as things tend to do.

This trip has had so many ups and downs, and has challenged me and forced me to grow in so many new and different ways. I could have easily passed these months in Ann Arbor—instead, I’ve had the adventure of a lifetime. I’ve built new connections here, and worked with those I had. And—I’ll miss it. The friends I made and met up with here, the international nature of Europe as a whole, the chance to speak high-level German on a daily basis. I wish it didn’t have to end.

Never fear, though—there are travel grants and unique course offerings at my University that may be just what I need to get myself back over the Atlantic sometime in the coming year. I don’t know exactly what’s waiting for me when I get home, but I know there’s still plenty to be seen in the States. And whatever else happens, now that I’ve had a taste of Europe—even just a small one—I know one thing for sure. I AM coming back.

Okay, enough with the sentimental rambling. Here are the photos of England that you’ve all been waiting for!

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Thanks for reading.

Xoxo,

Susan

Out of the Schwarzwald again

6/12/2016

Well, after an exciting and drama-filled reunion at the youth hostel where we’d arranged to stay the night, my travel companions and I started off the day with a delicious—and complementary—breakfast. Our goal food-wise was to eat some Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (Black Forest Cherry Torte cake) by the end of the day, but before that, our goal travel-wise was to pay a visit to the namesake of that most-delicious of treats…

That’s right—we were headed for the Schwarzwald itself!

That’s right—we were headed for the Schwarzwald itself!

My phone/camera was, unfortunately, very out of battery today—guess I used it up listening to music in the library yesterday—but it was honestly a bit refreshing, being cut off from the need to constantly take photos.

Despite that, I did get a couple of nice shots from our cable car on the way up!

Despite that, I did get a couple of nice shots from our cable car on the way up!

Hello, The Schwarzwald! Hello, mountains! Hello…France?!

Hello, The Schwarzwald! Hello, mountains! Hello…France?!

After a bit of hiking, we arrived at a beautiful observatory tower, where we braved the climb to the top despite one girl’s fear of heights. From there, we found ourselves looking down over blowing banks of fog, driven by rushing wind through beautiful, dense thickets of pines. Even though the day wasn’t clear—what a view!

Although we hadn’t hiked for very long at that point, we were all more than ready to call it quits and head back down the mountain. I’m not sure why, but everyone was extremely exhausted all day—myself included! Lucky for us, we had a recommendation for a spot where we could find the ultimate cure-all: CAKE. And not just any cake…

Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte! (Photo credit europeantravelista.com)

Eaten right here in the region of the Schwarzwald!!! (Photo credit to www.cafeschmidt.de)

Despite all the ups and downs, the getting lost and putting my fellow travelers through a lot of unnecessary worrying, it was a pretty satisfying trip! And most important of all—I can now say that I’ve eaten Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte in Germany. I mean, clearly that’s been right at the top of the bucket list all along!

I’m always happy to come back to Mannheim, though.

There’s nothing quite like having a home-base.

There’s nothing quite like having a home-base.

Xoxo,

Susan

Not Really the End of Anything

5/31/2016

Good-byes are one of my least favorite things. Often, I don’t know if or when I’ll see someone again, and…well, how are you supposed to part ways with friends who’ve grown to feel like family?

To celebrate the end of the semester and the end of a hard yet rewarding month, we went out to eat at our favorite place, Café Vienna.

The food was great...

The food was great…

But the fun we had taking selfies was even better!

But the fun we had taking selfies was even better!

One final game of Catan, one final night talking in English about anything and everything that seemed important enough to discuss. One final night with friends who’ve grown to feel like family. I’ll see them all again tomorrow morning, of course, but somehow it just won’t be the same. And Alex and Catherine aren’t the only ones leaving—on the morning of the 2nd, I depart to spend four days with a friend in Italy!! If I try, maybe I can even pick up a bit of Italian. ❤

I will miss Mannheim, though...

I will miss Mannheim, though…

Xoxo,

Susan

Digging in

5/6/2016

I’ve decided to stay in Germany for another month! (I’ve also had continuous difficulties getting online, which is why there’s been such a lack of posts!) I had a few things planned for June back home, but being here just seems too important to cut the time short. I need the chance to experience as much as possible. So, you know what that means—more pictures, coming soon!

Things to do Before I Leave

  1. Pack … more

    20160429_163858

    If the little suitcase won’t cut it, there’s always the bigger one!

  2. Read up on Germany

    Germany Guidebook

    With this thing, there’s no way I’ll get lost…I hope!

  3. Get some Euros

    10 €

    So shiny…I’ve never used Euros before!

 

Of course, all of this will only happen if I can tear myself away from Fire Emblem: Fates for more than a minute at a time …

Fire Emblem: Fates!

Can it be done? We’ll find out!

Thumbprints? Huh?

While having lunch with a really dear friend yesterday, we were discussing our travel plans for the summer, and specifically my trip to Mannheim, which starts on May 1st! She said one thing that stuck with me: the idea of “thumbprint” traveling, where you put your thumb on the map and stay within that circle.

That’s pretty much what I intend to do while I’m overseas–while I will be exploring Europe for the first time, I have a feeling I won’t have the time or energy (or money) to race around between countries and capitals. And although I’d love to see as much as possible, a month is a fairly short amount of  time to spend in any setting, so I’ve decided to focus in on what I can explore locally. There should be plenty of options–Mannheim isn’t too far from Cologne/Köln,  Neuschwanstein, or Nia classes in Heidelburg, all of which would be great to see and to experience.

I’m really excited to be taking this trip, and also that you’ve decided to join me vicariously through this blog. While a lot of my time in Germany might be spent cooking dinner in my dorm, I promise to get out and explore now and again. Check back here, and you’ll be the first to know about it! 😉

Spaghettieis

Oh, and let’s not forget the Spaghettieis–yes, it really is ice cream!! And I can’t wait to eat some.