Hej Hej! Lots to report this week, I’m still having an amazing time studying abroad and each day seems to get better and better.
My first class finished last week when I turned in two essay exams. I am still waiting to hear back about how well I did but I am hoping for the best. My parents came last week and I had an amazing time seeing them. They definitely spoiled me! The first night we all did a bit of shopping and they treated to me some new clothes and shoes, along with the many goodies they had already brought from home. It was so amazing to see them and I’m so grateful they took the time to come visit me. Since they have been to Stockholm before, we mostly focused on catching up, but we also managed to see some of the city.
On the first day, I showed them around Stockholm Universitet as well as where I live here in Sweden. It was really cool to familiarize them with the places I’ve been living all semester and show them my daily routine. We then went to the Vasa Museum to check out the ancient Swedish warship. To finish, we then headed to Gamla Stan for a traditional Swedish dinner. The next day we explored the Royal Palace which I hadn’t been able to do before and saw the royal jewels and apartments that are located there. It was a really unique experience because the Swedish Royal family uses the palace to this very day. On their last night, we went on the Stockholm Ghost Walk in Gamla Stan which was so much fun! Our tour guide was so lively and told the history of this area in such an interesting, yet terrifying, way. My dad then treated all of my friends and me to a few beers. I was so happy to have my parents meet my new friends and so pleased to be able to spend time with them. I can’t wait to see them again at the end of the semester, and I especially can’t wait to see my sister, Haley.
But for now, I am stoked to be starting my newest adventure: backpacking! I am currently writing this post from the lounge in our hostel in Berlin, Germany. It has been such an incredible time already but we definitely faced challenges as well. We left this past Friday to Copenhagen by train. Unfortunately, the train tracks were malfunctioning and we were informed that the train company would have to bus us all to the next station where the train could pick us up. After walking to the bus terminal and waiting for about an hour, we were told that the trains were working again and that we could proceed back to the train terminal to catch our originally scheduled train. However, because so many trains were affected, our train was delayed another two hours. While it wasn’t an ideal start, we still made it to Copenhagen safely.
On Saturday, we had an extremely long day of travel as we made our way from Copenhagen to Oldenburg, Germany to Hamburg, Germany and lastly to Berlin where we made our first stop. Again, our first train was delayed due to issues with the track, but this time we were bussed directly to Oldenburg, which took approximately five hours. We arrived at a rather small, rural station with no restaurants, sitting areas, or wifi, but it was a beautiful countryside station nonetheless. We were happy to continue with our travels though and quickly boarded a train to Hamburg. That was another 2 hour journey. Once there, we had time to grab a quick bite to eat before heading on our last two-hour train to Berlin.
We arrived in Berlin around 9:00 PM and got to our hostel at about 9:45. We were exhausted! Though we were sitting for a majority of the day, the stresses of travel really wore us down. Plus, it didn’t help that we were only running on two hours of sleep from the night before! The hostel we are staying at is really nice. It has a 1970’s theme with a lot of young people, cheap beer, and good music. My friend Alexa and I have already made new friends from New Zealand, the UK, and Norway. So far, meeting people from around the world and making these unique connections and friendships is my favorite part about traveling and staying in hostels.
Yesterday, we took a free walking tour of the city that started right outside our hostel! Our guide was very knowledgeable and I really enjoyed learning the history of the city. From Prussian rule to Nazi Germany during WWII to the Berlin Wall, this city tells an incredible story of conflict, sacrifice, compromise, and triumph. After the walking tour, my friends and I headed to the East Side Gallery where there is a long stretch of the Berlin Wall standing. Each section is painted with breathtaking scenes by various artists. Many depict ideas of hope, remembrance, peace, and unity. It was humbling to see how something that tore so many families apart in the past can bring so many people together today. We finished the day by grabbing a large German beer and Schnitzel at a traditional German restaurant for a great price. It was so relaxing that we sat for 3.5 hours and just enjoyed the food, atmosphere, and each other’s company.
Today we had a relaxing day in the city visiting some of the same sites that we did yesterday in hopes of getting better pictures. It has been raining both days which has made it seem much colder, but a little rain wouldn’t stop us from getting out and exploring the city! We started by walking from the Brandenburg Gate to the Holocaust Memorial and finished at Checkpoint Charlie. We then spent lunchtime in Alexanderplatz at a traditional German beer hall where I had a delicious Bratwurst. After that, we headed to a trendy area where street art covers practically every inch of the city. We also visited a free museum about Otto Weidt who employed blind and deaf Jews during WWII to protect them from the Nazi concentration and death camps. Tonight we will grab another quiet dinner before joining the pub crawl that our hostel is hosting! We don’t want to stay out too late though because we leave here early tomorrow morning (Tuesday) and are heading to Kraków, Poland. I am really excited to visit that city since I have never been before and hope to continue making amazing memories.
I am still in awe of this amazing traveling and learning opportunity that I have been given. While I’m trying to enjoy every single moment, they seem to be passing by before I even realize it. With a spring break this lengthy, I’m glad Alexa and I have been able to make the most of it.
Thank you all for continuing to read and support me… as the Germans say, wir sprechen uns bald (we’ll speak soon)!