Monday, July 27, 2009

My last week in Karlsruhe...

I can’t believe our last week is here. It seems like we just got to Karlsruhe!

On Monday, our train didn’t get into Karlsruhe until 5:30am! I had to be in class at 8:30am. Needless to say, I was very tired! After our usual classes, I went took a much needed nap! That night I went to the computer lab until it closed to work on my international marketing paper. I was determined to finish that paper because I didn’t want to have to worry about it anymore this trip.

After classes on Tuesday, Lauren and I decided to take a trip to a nearby city called Baden-Baden. It is known for its luxurious spas. People all over the world come to Baden-Baden to enjoy a day at the spa. We went to a spa called Caracalla. It had three huge pools with jets, fountains and massaging showers, two saunas with aromatherapy jets, tanning beds, drying lamps, and a massage area. We took full advantage of everything they had to offer! I also had a 30-minute back massage — it felt amazing! Afterward, we went to a local restaurant and had dinner.

We took a field trip to Strasburg, France on Wednesday to tour the European Parliament. It was a very beautiful city. The European Parliament was a very interesting place. When we first arrived, we were given a presentation about the European Parliament, through which we learned about the history of the parliament, the member countries, representation in the parliament, and some of the rules and regulations regarding the parliament. We were able to sit in on a session, but had to use earphones to hear the debates in English. The earphones had over twenty different languages playing. We could also see the interpreter box from where we were sitting. While we were listening, they were discussing their relationship with China.

Thursday was packing day! I didn’t realize how much stuff I had acquired over the past three and a half weeks. We had our last classes that morning, and then Sarah, Dr. Droms and I decided to do some last minute souvenir shopping in Karlsruhe. I found a cute little cuckoo clock magnet for my refrigerator back home. I wanted a real cuckoo clock, but they were so expensive! My mom was born in Frankfurt; she still has the cuckoo clock my grandmother gave her from Germany. For dinner, we had our last Doner Kabab sandwich. We basically lived off those sandwiches while we were there.

That night I packed and packed and packed! It took me almost two hours to pack all of my stuff back up! It was a very strategic process! We were lucky enough to have the faculty at the university take the luggage that we didn’t need in Paris to Frankfurt on Wednesday morning before our flight back to America. It was really nice not to have to worry about carrying all of our luggage around Paris!

* Mallory is participating in a study abroad program in Karlsruhe,Germany, organized by Valdosta State University's Langdale College of Business Administration and International Programs.

Rome is AMAZING!!!

We started the trip by taking a 12-hour train ride from Karlsruhe to Rome. I am absolutely scared of flying and after taking the plane last week. I decided that I wasn’t taking another plane anywhere, unless it was headed back to America! We left Karlsruhe around midnight on Thursday and arrived in Rome around lunchtime on Friday. The train was very uncomfortable on the way there! We paid for the cheapest seats on the train, thus the uncomfortable ride. I was sitting between two random people on the train and had nowhere to lay my head for 12 hours! We definitely learned our lesson and upgraded our tickets on the way back from Rome to beds. (They were a lot more comfortable!)

As soon as we got off the train, we headed to the Colosseum. I love the Colosseum! This was the site I wanted to see the most out of all of our weekend trips. My favorite movie of all time is the Gladiator. Being able to see where so much history took place was almost surreal. I couldn’t believe that the Colosseum has been able to survive longer than 1900 years! We took a tour through the inside and saw where the Romans use to keep the trap doors for the animals to come out to attack the gladiators and learned some interesting facts about gladiators from our tour guide. Most people think that all of them were forced to be gladiators (slaves, captured homeless people, prisoners, etc.), but some made a choice to pursue the lifestyle because they were looked upon as heroes if they were successful (not killed). For some reason, many men volunteered to fight in the battles to become heroes of Rome. I don’t know of many people who would volunteer for that today!

After the Colosseum, we took a tour of Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum. Our tour guide for these sites was a local history professor who was very knowledgeable in the subject. We learned all about the ancient history of both of these places. It was a very weird/cool feeling to be thinking that Caesar had walked where I was walking. Later, we went to the Pantheon. This was built as a temple to all of the gods of Ancient Rome. In the center of the dome-shaped ceiling, there is a huge hole cut out that is the only source of light for the building. It was really neat to see all of the paintings, architecture and burial sites of past kings in a building, which is central to the hearts of many Romans.

Afterwards, we enjoyed some real gelato! It was so good! If you got pineapple, it actually tasted like a pineapple! If you got peach, it tasted like a peach! It was seriously the best ice cream I’ve ever had — way better than any ice cream in America. That night we went to see the Spanish steps. It was so pretty at night. There are all sorts of lights, music, food and drinks, making it a perfect spot for “people watching!” It was the perfect end to a very fun day!

On Saturday, we went to Vatican City, which I learned is actually the smallest country in the world! When we decided to tour St. Peters Basilica, we all had to make sure that our shoulders and knees were covered before we went inside. They are people at the front of the building checking to make sure everyone is in proper attire to enter. We walked around inside the basilica then headed up to the top of the basilica. Because the elevator only goes halfway up, we had to walk over 300 stairs to get to the top, but the view was well worth all those stairs. It was a beautiful view from the top. Next, we went to see the tombs of all the previous popes. There were popes buried in tombs dating back to the year 1200! We also went to visit the Sistine Chapel. The artwork inside the chapel was gorgeous. Michelangelo was truly a master at art. All of the paintings were breathtaking! That night we went to see the Trevi Fountain. It was huge! Legend has it, that if you throw a penny over your shoulder into the fountain you will have good luck. I had to try!

Sunday was our last day in Rome. We didn’t really have much time to look tour around because we had to catch our train back to Karlsruhe that afternoon. For lunch, we ate at a little café that served over fifty different kinds of pasta! I tried the spaghetti carbonara. It had bacon, eggs, pasta and cheese in it. Sounds kind of gross, but it was really good! Then, we caught our train back to Karlsruhe.

* Mallory is participating in a study abroad program in Karlsruhe,Germany, organized by Valdosta State University's Langdale College of Business Administration and International Programs.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Cold Day in July...

So I'm sitting here working on my final paper only one more day left of class! It is sort of bittersweet because obviously. I'm stoked to be finished with class, but that also means that it is almost time to go home, which I am NOT excited about. But I'm trying not to think about it; I'm just concentrating on spending what time I have left with all the friends I have made here in Peru and finishing this paper!

I think the people are what I will miss most about Lima. We leave for Cusco on Saturday morning (which by the way is spelled Cusco not Cuzco, spelled with a "z" it means little dog in Quetchua, which is offensive, obviously). So Macchu Picchu is on the horizon, as well as Lake Titicaca, the belly button of the world according to Incan legends. It is supposedly like 20 degrees in Puno and might snow. It's so crazy to be somewhere that cold in July. I heard a rumor that it's an all-day bus ride to Puno, where Lake Titicaca is, so that should be fun. But anyway, I'm about to get back to my paper. I'll let you know how Cusco and Puno turn out!!

* Katelyn is participating in a study abroad program in Lima Peru, organized by Valdosta State University's International Programs and Modern and Classical Languages.

Amsterdam, Bikers and the Holocaust

With a week left in the trip, there is no slowing down. It has been go-go-go for the past four weeks and it seems it will be that way until we get on the airplane next Wednesday. But before I get all sentimental, I should recap the past week.

Monday thru Thursday was as normal as it has been the entire trip. Five hours of classes Monday and Wednesday with field trips every Tuesday and Thursday. The school work has kind of crept up on me, seeing how I was up until 5:30 this morning working on presentations for both of my classes (but the good news is that they are done and only one more project to do!). But the highlight of my week — the Mecca for most college students — was our weekend trip to Amsterdam.

Everyone hears Amsterdam and automatically thinks of legal drugs, sex and debauchery. I am not going to lie, there was plenty of that to go around, and I kept a comfortable distance from the three. This does not mean that I didn’t have a great time, so don’t get me wrong; there are plenty of place to get into trouble in Amsterdam, but the city offers so much more. From the Ann Frank House to the Heineken Experience to the Dam Square, Amsterdam opens its arms to tourists of all shapes, sizes and fantasies. It is a beautiful city, dissected with canals and a haven for bikes. I thought the bikes/bikers were one of the coolest things about The Dam. There were thousands of bikes, chained together as if they were huddling to stay warm from the port breezes.

The funny thing about the bikers, however, was that they have no consideration for your bodily safety. One of my friends actually got run over by a biker, and I was cursed out for not moving out of the way quickly enough (they speak English very well in Holland). We went in two factions, a group of seven, who went one night before I did, and me and one of my other friends that I made on the trip. The other group booked their hostel right after the orientation in May at a place called Amsterdam Cribs. This was no hostel; it was an apartment that a local guy rented as a hostel to the younger crowd. The hostel that I was in was I bit less luxurious (to say the least). But both nights I spent the night on their couch.

So I’m not going to lie, the Red Light District was a place that I wanted to check out. To be brief, it lives up to all the hype; anything you want, you can get.

Tomorrow we go to Dachau, a concentration camp outside of Munich for our last field trip. I have been in a Holocaust class for the past few weeks, and it has opened my eyes to a history that I was not versed in. This trip, for me at least, will provide the slightest glimpse into what it must have been like to spend a moment in the camp. I believe only those who were there will ever understand what it was like, even if all the books on the topic were at one’s disposal. This should be a catalyst for an interesting blog afterwards.

* Lee is participating in a study abroad program in Bonn, Germany, organized by Valdosta State University's European Council and International Programs.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Penguins, Sea Lions and Bird Poop…oh my!

This past weekend our group visited three very different landmarks on our excursion. Our main destination was Ica, a smaller town about three hours south of Lima nestled in the Atacama Desert. For those who do not know, Ica and the surrounding areas were pretty much devastated by the large earthquake that occurred in 2007. Thankfully, you can see signs of re-growth today.

En-route to Ica was our first destination — The Ruins of Pachacamac. This archeological site was once inhabited by several different groups (Early Lima, Huari and Inca) and used for religious purposes. Here the Inca built the Temple of the Sun, which was used to worship the sun god Inti. Luckily for us, the temple remains for all to admire. All of the ruins in this area were really spectacular and in decent shape. For me, the ruins asserted that there really were people living there before conquistadors came in and took over. You can learn about different cultures like these in history books, but until you really see the actual thing for yourself, it’s just not the same.

After Pachacamac, we continued our very long ride to Ica (thank goodness it was a private bus)! We arrived at our hotel just in time to grab lunch and get settled in our rooms. Later on that afternoon we went screaming through the dunes in dune buggies. It was like one long, crazy, scary rollercoaster that wouldn’t stop. This was every thrill seekers dream!!! The dunes are indescribable with the Andes Mountains in the background. First of all, they are HUGE and there are tons of them. I’m not quite sure how our driver didn’t get lost because everything looked the same to me (like one big sand box)!

Our driver found some really tall dunes to ride down, waxed up the sand boards and got us ready. You could either ride down on your stomach or your feet, but most of us chose our stomach! In order to go down on your stomach, you lay down on the board with your arms tucked under your body and your feet spread apart so you don’t flip over. The first time I did ok….except for half the desert that ended up in my pants! The next hill was a bit bigger and that’s when I received my sand burns. It turns out that I got going too fast and my arms slipped out from under me and started to drag on the sand all the way down the hill (OUCH)! Needless to say, my forearms look a little nasty right now! Once everybody was done sliding down the dunes, we rode over to one of the highest points to watch the sun set over the horizon. It was truly beautiful. In the end, the experience was so worthwhile! This was one of the best experiences of my life and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

The next morning we woke up super early to see Las Islas Ballestas. These Islands are a chain of big rocks off of the Peruvian coastline commonly called “The poor man’s Galapagos or The Peruvian Galapagos.” The crashing waves have created numerous arches making the islands unique and interesting. Many animals, such as Humboldt Penguins, Sea Lions, Peruvian Boobies and Peruvian Pelicans, call the Ballestas home. There are also gazillions of other birds that claim this island habitat. Because there are lots of birds, there is a lot of bird poop or guano, which is a very important, profitable resource/export here in Peru because it is sold to farmers who use it as fertilizer. To the occasional tourist, guano is not so appetizing because is smells atrocious!

All in all, this was the best weekend yet. I wish I could do everything all over again because it was so much fun! Now if I can just get past this last week of classes, I’ll be in Machu Picchu in no time!

Lots of Love,


* Stephanie is participating in a study abroad program in Lima Peru, organized by Valdosta State University's International Programs and Modern and Classical Languages.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Survival Tips for Traveling by Taxi in Lima

I thought for this week's blog I would do something useful, so here are some hints for taking a taxi in Peru.

1. Before you step to the curb, know where you are going and about how much it should cost to get there. Remember, there are no meters in these taxis — you must "haggle" with the taxista to find a price that makes you both happy.

2. Step to the curb and wave your hand, about three taxis will pull over, so don´t worry if you don't like the first one because there will be another and another and another. DO NOT jump in the taxi right away. You must first ask the driver through the window if he knows the place you are going. There is a chance he will tell you he does even if he doesn't, but I can't help you there! Anyway if he knows ask him how much. Since you are from the United States, he is most likely going to tell you something ridiculously pricey. Don't be afraid to say no. Negotiate and if he doesn't cooperate, go to the next one.

3. After settling your price, you can get in the taxi. If you are in the front seat, put on your seatbelt. If you are in the back, its a good idea but not required. Also LOCK THE DOOR. This is to prevent the door being opened and someone grabbing you or your bag at red lights.

4. I forgot to mention if a tiny little car pulls up that says tico on it anywhere don´t get on it unless you have to! It is a tin can on wheels. Tin cans and normal-sized cars, plus high speeds equal unhappy passengers.

5. Pay attention to where you are going, watch for familiar buildings etc. just to be sure the taxista really does know where you are going.

6. Do not be surprised if the taxi driver does any of the following:

a. Drives down the middle of the road,

b. Honks his horn incessantly,

c. Drives as fast as he can,

d. Squeezes past and in between other cars.

He is only driving down the middle of the road to make sure that if one lane opens up he can get there without having to completely change lanes. He is honking his horn at other drivers that cut him off and pedestrians who try to cross in front of him. He will also honk because you are coming to a crossroads with no stop sign or red light. The horn will alert the drivers coming from the crossroads to maybe stop or to accelerate, so that he has to stop. Either way, everyone is blowing their horns. I'm also pretty sure that they occasionally just do it for fun.

If he is driving as fast as he can, you can be sure that not only have you just gone over a speed bump, but another one is coming up. They use the space in between speed bumps to practice going from 0 to 60 and back to 0 in short distances. Also don't be alarmed if he squeezes between cars and buses. The drivers here in Lima act a lot like children in line at the ice cream shop — they are all trying to get there first. But, this is a perfectly normal behavior, so don't worry.

7. When you reach your destination pay, check all of your belongings to make sure you didn't leave anything before you get out. EXIT ONTO THE SIDEWALK NOT INTO THE ROAD. They do not stop for pedestrians here.

Well, I think that is everything you need to know for successful taxi travels in Lima, Peru. I deeply apologize if I left any questions unanswered and promise to do better next time! By the way, some of these tips come from the Peruvians themselves and some of them are my own insight — in case you were wondering how credible they are.

* Katelyn is participating in a study abroad program in Lima Peru, organized by Valdosta State University's International Programs and Modern and Classical Languages.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Late Introduction...from Lee Johnson

We arrived in Germany in late June, and I was prompted to do a blog around the same time. The problem that arises with a blog while studying overseas is balance the time to both write the blog, keep up with the work load for school and to experience all that this great country has to offer. So if you notice this is the first one in almost three weeks and this is not due to the fact that I am lazy, but the fact that I have not found the time, or the energy for that matter because traveling and taking in the local sites have taken its toll on my energy level. But here I am, early on this great German morning waiting for breakfast to be served. So without going into great detail, because it would take at least 10 pages to go over everything, but I will do my best to sum up the first three weeks without becoming long-winded.

The first weekend was awesome, in short. I know that the previous statement is a very

simplistic adjective to describe the first week, but to be honest, I know no better. The first three days we were here we took tours of Bonn, Aachen and Trier; all of which blew my mind not only by their beauty and culture, but also by how friendly the people are. I had my stereotype of Europeans before I came and to be honest, right now that stereotype is completely shattered. The cathedrals, the “shopping malls” (which are more like open-air outlet malls to be very general), the restaurants and the beer gardens all blew my initial expectations of this country.

Before I get to far, I should preface this with details about my program and why I am here, and possibly a little about myself. The European Council has many trips overseas, and I chose the Bonn, Germany trip, mainly because it gave me the best opportunity to explore not only Germany, but the various countries that border the city, locally called Deutschland.

About myself: I am a senior journalism major at VSU and I chose to come overseas this summer because I felt that at no other point in my life I would have the opportunity to experience something like this. All I can say is it was the best decision I have ever made.

We are staying in a little town 45 minutes outside of Köln call Königswinter. Imagine Helen, but a little smaller with better food and drinks. The traditional German architecture is apparent, as the town has a rich history in tradition. It is located on the Rhein River, and I have spent countless hours reading on a bench perched over this prominent Westphalian feature. The hotel we are staying at hosts many people (by this I mean not only American students, but tourists who are mainly from Germany). Not only does this provide a little entertainment, but also a chance to immerse ourselves into the language and culture. If I could spell German, I would share a few phrases, but that is not a reality for me.

So far, we have visited Munich and many local cities (Bonn, Köln, Linz, Remagen). I plan to visit Amsterdam this weekend. To travel to different cities is a bit expensive, seeing how the Euro is 1.4 dollars as of the last time I went to the ATM.

I feel like I am getting a bit long-winded, so to sum up the trip and the country right now, I would have to use one word — unique. To me, this word encompasses many other words: beautiful, friendly, delicious (as it comes to food and drink), and proud (especially in Bavaria … it’s kind of like the Texas of Germany, but with better beer and lederhosen). To be honest, I will be a walking advertisement for this program for the years to come and will be wishing that I can come on this trip every single year. I wish right now that I could upload some pictures, but unfortunately the Internet at the hotel we’re staying at is sub-par and I am lucky enough to be able to put this up. But I hope everyone who reads this will come back to search the Photobucket site that will be up as soon as I return stateside.

I am hoping sometime this week that I will catch a few moments to write down some unique experience to share with the VSU community. One thinks college is a hard enough place to budget time; come on a study abroad program and time is like money, literally, and for the next two weeks I am as frugal as they come.

* Lee is participating in a study abroad program in Bonn, Germany, organized by Valdosta State University's European Council and International Programs.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Touring the Audi Plant

On Monday, we had our usual marketing class. Everyone was so tired from traveling all weekend. Some of the girls who went to London didn’t get back until almost 5 a.m. on Monday morning because of flight and bus delays! After we got out of marketing class, many of us took a quick nap before heading to lunch and our German class. After German class, some of us decided to go walk around the city. We ended up getting some ice cream from an amazing little ice cream shop in the shopping square. The ice cream here in Germany is way better than any ice cream I’ve ever had back in the states. It’s so much creamier here! After that, I spent most of my afternoon at the train station. I am absolutely scared of flying. After last weekend’s flight from London and back, I refuse to get on another plane, unless it's heading back to the states! So, I basically had to figure how to get to Rome and back this upcoming weekend at the train station. I’m going to have to take a 12-hour train ride to Rome, but it’s worth it to me to not have to take a plane!

On Tuesday, we had classes and lunch at the hostel. After class, I went to the computer lab to catch up on some schoolwork for about three hours or so. That evening, some of us girls decided to straighten Dr. Droms hair for the night. It was quite an event! It looked so good! All of us girls had fun getting ready for our night out together. Our entire group was invited by Dr. Lembach, the Director of International Programs at the Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences (our host for the trip), to a biergarten party at a local biergarten. We all got dressed up, and we were looking good for the event! Some German students also came to join us for dinner and drinks. They will be coming to VSU next semester to take class and study abroad at our campus. It was really nice to be able to meet some of these students and tell them all about our city and our campus. They seem really excited about coming over to America. We all exchanged names and numbers, so when they do make it over to the states, we can meet up and show them around.

On Wednesday, we had our second weekly field trip for the international marketing and management classes! We were invited once again by Senator Aurenz, who is on the board of directors for Audi, to tour the Audi plant in Neckarsulm. It was about a 1.5 hour train ride from Karlsruhe, but was definitely worth the trip. We arrived at the plant around 10 a.m. Senator and Mrs. Aurenz greeted us and advised us to study hard, get a good job, make a lot of money, and then buy an Audi! We toured the production facilities that make the Audi R8s and it was amazing. Did you know that 80 percent of the R8s are made by hand? Only about 20 percent of the production process of an R8 is by robots. This means that each and every R8 is truly unique. You can have anything you want put into these cars. They will specialize the car to fit the consumer’s needs. Of course, the price tag increases with each specialization request.

It was so cool to see how the assembly line works in a car production company. For the Audi R8s, each station has exactly 29 minutes before the car parts move on to the next station. We also learned that each and every Audi car is sold before it is ever made. This makes it so the company does not spend a lot of money in storing product that hasn’t been sold. We later moved on to see how the Audi A6s are made, which is a much different process. A robot is responsible for about 80 percent of the A6 production. During the tour, we basically just watched a robot twist its little steel hands and rotate in all different kinds of ways to put the car together. These cars can also be specialized according to the consumer’s preferences.

After touring the plant, we were treated to lunch in the Audi Staff Restaurant. After lunch, we took a bus to a local wine vineyard for a wine tasting and buffet. We were given a quick tour of the wine cellar, and treated to a wine tasting of some of the different wines produced in the cellar. We tried five different wines, ranging from white wines, to blush wines, to red wines. We were also served dinner at the wine tasting. After we had our bellies full, we went to catch the train back to Karlsruhe.

* Mallory is participating in a study abroad program in Karlsruhe, Germany, organized by Valdosta State University's Langdale College of Business Administration and International Programs.

A Weekend in London

Yay! Finally, a place that speaks English! Don’t get me wrong, I have loved being able to use some of the German language I have been learning recently, but I’m not going to lie, being able to talk to people with no language barriers was amazing! London was an amazing trip. I wish I had more time to explore its all around history and beauty. There is so much to do in London, and there is absolutely no way to see it all in only two and a half days!

On Friday, the first place we went was to Kensington Palace. This is the place where Princess Diana and Prince Charles lived for a short period of time. I am a huge fan of Princess Diana. My grandmother was from England, and of course, she was a huge fan as well. I can remember receiving gifts from England that had Princess Diana on them when I was young, including a tea set (the English love their tea) that featured likenesses of Princess Diana and Prince Charles in celebration of their marriage. I also received many calendars, pictures, stamps and postcards with Princess Diana on them. I have always thought she was an incredible woman with a huge heart. She is a role model for many people around the world still today.

Kensington Palace had eighteen of the dresses that she had worn while she was alive inside the palace. There was also a make shift memorial outside of the palace because her birthday was July 1. We explored around the outside of the house and its gardens, which were stunning! After the palace, we decided to take some fun, candid pictures in the ever-so popular red phone booths, and then headed to do some shopping at Harrods — one of the largest department stores in the world! It sits on over four and a half acres of land with 330 departments within the store. It's every girl’s dream shopping store. You can find almost every brand/designer name in the world in this one store! It was also the first store ever to install an escalator.

After a little shopping, we went to visit the Princess Diana memorial fountain. It was located in a park close to Kensington Palace. It is in a beautiful garden where people are welcome to put their feet in the fountain to cool off and relax. We later decided to check out the London Eye. It is basically a huge, modern ferris wheel ( that gives riders an amazing view of the city of London. Built in 2000 for the millennium celebrations, it was so popular that the city of London decided to keep it up for tourist and their citizens. You can see for miles when you get to the top of the eye. It takes about thirty minutes to make one whole revolution around the wheel. You can get spectacular pictures of the Parliament building and the Big Ben. Afterwards, we decided to get some dinner at a local Chinese restaurant. We heard that the ethnic food in London was really good, so we gave it a try — it was really good!

On Saturday, we decided to take an open top bus tour around the city of London on the “Big Bus Tour.” It took us to see all the major attractions in the city including Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Parliament, St. Paul’s Cathedral (where Princess Diana and Prince Charles got married), the London Eye, London Bridge, Tower Bridge and the Royal Courts of Justice. It also included a river cruise that offered excellent views of the Big Ben and London Eye. We also got to see the Shakespeare Globe Theater and the Millennium Bridge. After that, we stopped by the first ever Harley-Davidson shop in Europe and then headed to dinner at the first ever Hard Rock Café. I had pork nachos that were out of this world good! We also got to tour their “Vault” where we saw all kinds of famous memorabilia from people, such as Elvis, Madonna, B.B. King, Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Beatles, Tom Petty, Prince and Kurt Kobain.

After dinner, we went to get a t-shirt for Kent’s sister from Wimbledon. When we got there, we were told we could actually get in to see Venus and Serena Williams play in the women’s doubles championship for only 10 pounds, so we jumped on that deal! It was so much fun! I mean, how many people can say they’ve been to Wimbledon! It was definitely one of the many highlights of our trip!

On Sunday, we had to pack and prepare for the trip back to Karlsruhe, but we didn’t leave without having a little fun first. We went to Buckingham Palace at 10 a.m. to see the Changing of the Guard and ended up sticking around until 11:30 a.m. to see the entire ceremony (with the band). For lunch, we ate at a local café that served England’s famous fish and chips. They were very good! Then we headed back to the airport to travel back to Karlsruhe.

Overall, it was an amazing weekend! It was a wonderful experience and I will definitely be back to visit London!

* Mallory is participating in a study abroad program in Karlsruhe, Germany, organized by Valdosta State University's Langdale College of Business Administration and International Programs.

Back in Karlsruhe

This week in Karlsruhe was an amazing week! We did so many fun things around our hostel and the city.

On Monday, we had class, as usual, and lunch at the hostel. During lunch, everyone sang happy birthday to me (my birthday was actually on Sunday, June 28). Ms. Droms and Dr. Ware had bought me a cupcake from Starbucks and put a candle in it for me. It was so sweet!

It really meant a lot to me! For dinner, we went out to a local restaurant for Tiara’s birthday, and later, we all came back to the computer lab to start studying for our daily quizzes and case studies. We wanted to get as much done that night as we could, so we wouldn’t have to worry about it all week!

I’m slowly starting to pick up on some key German words! Two of our favorite words to say are “danke,” which means thank you, and “bitte,” which means your welcome or please. These words are very important for anyone to know if they are planning to travel to Germany. However, being able to understand the German language when Germans are speaking to you is very tough. They speak really fast! I really wish I would have taken a German language class before I came over to study so I would be able to speak and understand the language a little better. Luckily, many of the Germans I have interacted with know some of the basic words in English, so that makes it easier to communicate.

On Tuesday, we had classes and lunch at the hostel. Afterwards, a couple of us decided to check out the Karlsruhe water park named the Europabad. It was so much fun! They had four indoor pools, one huge outdoor pool (with plenty of chairs to lay out on), two super fun water slides, a lazy river and a sauna. It only cost three euros to stay for two hours! We definitely stayed the entire two hours and we want to try to go back sometime again before we leave! After the water park, we all went to eat at a one of our favorite local restaurants, the Doner Kabab. It is so good! They serve all kinds of sandwiches, pizzas and wraps. Then we all came back to our hostel and passed out because we were so tired from playing at the water park!

On Wednesday, we had our first weekly field trip for the international marketing and management classes! We were lucky enough to be invited to tour the L’Oreal plant in Karlsruhe, thanks to Senator Aurenz and his wife. Senator Aurenz owns a company in Valdosta called ASB Greenworld, and he is also on the board of directors for the Audi plant in Germany. His wife has connections with executive directors at the L’Oreal plant in Karlsruhe, and this yielded us a wonderful experience at the L’Oreal plant. Senator Aurenz and his wife have been loyal friends and supporters to the Langdale College of Business for many years.

Our group received a complete tour of the plant. We started in the room where they actually make the products (shampoo, make-up, creams, etc.), then we saw how they bottle it, label it and package it all up. The machines they are using to do all of this are unbelievable — so correct, exact and precise each and every time.

After our tour, they served us an amazing lunch. It was, without a doubt, one of the best meals I’ve had since we’ve been here. After lunch, we were served coffee and they answered all the questions we had for them. When the tour was over, they gave all of us incredible gift bags with all kinds of products for girls and boys. All of the products were labeled with German words, so we came back to our hostel to look up what the words meant to figure out what products we were given. It was like a scavenger hunt for German words! During our visit, we had tons of fun and learned a lot as well. We were all really appreciative of what the L’Oreal plant did for us. They really showed us a wonderful time. For the rest of the afternoon, I basically just ran errands. I mailed some postcards, grabbed some Starbucks, and ate dinner at the hostel. Most of us went to Scruffys for a little while, then headed back to the hostel to get some sleep!

On Thursday, we did the usual class thing then everyone started to pack up for their weekend trips. I was packing for my trip to London with Kent, April, Tiara, Gail, Lauren, Danielle and Ms. Droms. We left Karlsruhe around 5 p.m. and took a train to Baden Baden; from there we took a bus to the Baden Baden/Karlsruhe airport. We got there about three hours early, but we didn’t really have anything else to do, so it was okay. Our plane left at 9:45 p.m. and arrived in London around 10:25 p.m. London time. They are an hour behind Germany. So, the flight really took about an hour and forty minutes, not just forty minutes. When we got to the airport, we took a bus from the airport to the city of London. When we finally got there, we checked into our hostel, the Bestplace in Waterloo, and went to sleep!

* Mallory is participating in a study abroad program in Karlsruhe,Germany, organized by Valdosta State University's Langdale College of Business Administration and International Programs.

The Fast-Paced City Life of Lima

Hi everybody, it's me — Katie.

I'm here in Lima, Peru, where the weather is cool, the language is FAST, and the food is amazing!! I'm from a small town back home, so this fast-paced crazy city life is a little overwhelming at first. But, I'm getting there! Lima is a beautiful city with lots of old architecture and statues — there is SO much history here.

The people are very understanding with language blunders, which is good because I have made a few. I told a man that I had fat eyes, which was not at all what I was trying to say. We straightened things out and had a good laugh about it, so it was worth it!

We are learning the city by walking around and taking taxis and buses. I must say if you are ever in a foreign country, try to take a taxi because it is something you will NEVER forget! Here in Lima I live with a retired professor and his wife. There are three other college girls living here, but I have my own room and bathroom, which makes me pretty lucky. The girls are so nice and are helping with my Spanish. It's so exciting that everything is starting to click into place and the Spanish is spilling out of my mouth faster all the time. It's a weird feeling to hear a foreign language and realize it doesn't sound so foreign anymore, but that's what I'm here for right?

Everything is so busy here, but I guess that's mostly just how things go outside of my quiet little life. I'm learning so much about how different parts of the world work. It's a very different life here, but I am loving every minute and trying not to miss anything. I will let ya'll go for now, but there will be more to follow!!


* Katelyn is participating in a study abroad program in Lima Peru, organized by Valdosta State University's International Programs and Modern and Classical Languages.

Montezuma’s Revenge

Hello, again! Our group finally arrived in Lima, Peru very late Saturday night and headed off to a local hotel to grab a few zzz’s. Sunday was a very busy day, filled with interesting first experiences. My first impression of Lima is that it is a HUGE city filled with crazy taxi drivers, American fast food restaurants and the sweetest people you will ever meet. Everybody here welcomes you with open arms. My host parents are Oscar & Julia. These are the wonderful people who really make this trip special. We live in a cute duplex apartment with my “host sister” Amber who is also on the trip.

Monday was the first day of classes at “La Universidad Cientifica del Sur.” We were originally to be at “La Universidad Nacional de San Marcos;” however, it was changed at the last moment. Because it is a satellite campus, it has only three tall buildings. Every Tuesday and Thursday, we take a bus to the main campus, which is 40 minutes away, to take part in a speaking class with other native students. They try to improve their English and we try to improve our Spanish.

Living in Lima is very different than living in the United States. It really makes you so appreciative of what you have and what you have access to. Not many people have cars, so everybody takes taxis. We have to negotiate a price depending on where we are going, because they do not have meters. The more people you pile into a taxi the cheaper it is. On average we can fit 5 to 8 people in one small taxi including the driver (disclaimer: I don’t recommend more than 6). Lima is also full of McDonald’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Papa John and KFC restaurants. I’ve eaten at a Pizza hut and it’s very similar to the restaurants in the U.S., yet at the same time a bit different. However, I highly recommend the local authentic food — it is amazing. Here you can eat a huge three course meal for only eight to ten soles, which is about $2.66 to $3.33 American dollars. Lima is an up and coming culinary capital of South America. There is a huge blending of Peruvian, Japanese and Chinese cultures. One thing that remains truly Peruvian is the Pisco Sour! This cocktail is AMAZINGLY tasty and my beverage of choice! I wish you could get these back in the U.S. because there is no other comparison.

Although the food is amazing, you have to be very cautious of where you eat. If you eat at a bad restaurant, Montezuma’s revenge will hunt you down and find you!!! I unfortunately have been laid up in bed for the past three days from a horrible bout of food poising. I would not wish this on my worst enemy! My host mom has been so sweet by making the best homemade chicken noodle soup, so I can recover more quickly!

Until next time!

* Stephanie is participating in a study abroad program in Lima Peru, organized by Valdosta State University's International Programs and Modern and Classical Languages.

Monday, July 6, 2009

T-Minus 46 Hours and Counting…

That title pretty much sums up my life right about now. Currently, my to-do list is stretching miles long with no end in sight. Now is the time where a maid would come in VERY handy….oh wait…I just paid my little sister to do all my cleaning and laundry for me!!! Yay!!! Now the only thing left up to me is homework. For my Latin-American Literature class, I was assigned three papers and an extensive reading list. So far, I have two papers done and most of my reading completed; however, I still have one paper left that I have to finish before arriving at the airport (and of course I saved the worst one for last).

In these few precious moments that I have to reflect on the past few months, I feel a sense of calm. I am ready to go and experience a different way of life, yet there is still this lingering anxiety, anticipation and nervousness about the trip. I have been well prepared by my very capable and amazing director Dr. Aronson Friedman, which makes me feel much more at ease. She has worked long and hard putting this trip together for many, many, many months now, so I just want to say thank you to her! I have high expectations about this country and this trip, as I have heard many wonderful things said about the past study abroad program to Peru.

I hope to have some sort of Internet access set up as soon as possible after we arrive. I’ll update everyone then as to my first impressions and experiences!

Lots of Love,


* Stephanie is participating in a study abroad program in Lima Peru, organized by Valdosta State University's International Programs and Modern and Classical Languages.

First Weekend Trip (Munich)

Hello again! Well, we finally had our first class with Dr. Droms. She is seriously one of the best teachers at the business school, and being able to have her as a teacher for International Marketing in Germany is amazing!

In Dr. Droms class on Thursday, we basically discussed the many cultural differences we have been experiencing since we arrived in Germany. We also talked about how the marketing techniques were different between Germany and America. One of our assignments over the weekend was to eat at a McDonald’s on our weekend trip. Dr. Droms wanted us to see if we noticed any differences. While there were no major differences in the McDonalds between America and Munich, there were some little variations. First, they offered a shrimp burger and real potato fries. Something I’ve never seen in the states! I tried the bacon cheeseburger, regular fries and a coke. It was exactly what I would have got back in the states. However, their large coke is a lot smaller than our large coke. I was expecting a big coke, and I got like a medium size in my opinion. Customers also have to pay for condiments and the straws are not wrapped like they are in the states.

I am also taking a German Language and Culture class with a professor from Germany. Everyone is in that class. In our first German class we learned the alphabet — it was pretty fun. We did have some German students who were laughing at us though. We probably sounded like we were in kindergarten! It was funny!

After class we went to pack to get ready for our weekend trip to Munich. We left on the train from Karlsruhe heading to Munich at 6:06pm (the Germans are very precise)! We arrived in Munich around 9:30pm. We checked into our hostel, and decided to hit the town. We just walked around and explored the city for a little while. The next morning, Friday, we woke up early and caught a train to Fussen. It is a two and a half hour train ride from Munich. We went to see the Schloss Neuschwanstein, which is the castle that Cinderella’s castle in Disney World is modeled after. King Ludwig built it back in the 1800s. Once we got there, we had to take a bus to get up the side of the mountain. When we finally made it to the castle, I was captivated by its beauty! It was absolutely gorgeous! There really are no words to describe how beautiful the castle and the forest surrounding it looked. The pictures just don’t do it justice!

After we left the castle, we headed back to Munich. We decided to eat dinner at the world famous Hofbrauhaus. It is one of the most famous beer halls in Germany. It was one of the most popular places where Hitler use to give speeches.

Saturday, we caught up on some much needed sleep and then headed to the Brandhorst Museum, a new museum that just opened up about a month ago in Munich. It included many paintings from Andy Worhol and other famous contemporary artists. It was a VERY contemporary/modern museum — very interesting — something you would never find in Valdosta! After we left the museum, we headed to Mike’s Bike Tour, a five-hour bike tour around Munich. It was the most fun thing we did all weekend. I would strongly recommend anyone going to Munich to take this tour. The tour takes you all around Munich to show you all the major sites in Munich. Here’s is a list from his website ( of all the places we went during our tour:

  • Marienplatz (Old and New Town Halls, churches, Marketplace)
  • Hofbräuhaus Beer Hall am Platzl
  • National Theather - Opera House
  • The Residenz of the Wittelsbach Family
  • Odeonsplatz
  • Hofgarten (the back yard of the Residenz)
  • Saatskanzlei (Governor´s offices, formerly The Bavarian Army Museum)
  • Schwabing (Leopold Strasse)
  • The English Garden (about 1/3 of it)
  • Chinese Tower Beergarden
  • Surfer´s Bridge
  • Prinzregenten Strasse (National Museum of Bavaria)
  • Friedensengle (Peace Angel Monument)
  • Maximilianeum (Bavarian Parliment)
  • The Isar River and the Lukas Kirche
  • Deutsches Museum
  • Isartor (Eastern gate of city wall from 14th century)

After the very informative, enjoyable tour, we were so tired that we decided to head back to the hostel. The next morning, Sunday, we woke up, packed all of our stuff up, and headed to the Dachau Concentration Camp Museum — our final stop before heading back to Karlsruhe. The camp was one of the first to be opened and was one of only a few to last throughout the entire war. It was really sad to know that thousands of people lost their lives in harsh, inhumane conditions where we were standing. The camp had a huge museum that took about an hour to go through. We also toured the bunkers, old prisoner cells, the gas chamber and the crematory. It took about two hours to go through the entire camp. After touring the camp, we hopped on a train headed to Karlsruhe. It was nice to get back to see everyone, share pictures, and tell stories!

* Mallory is participating in a study abroad program in Karlsruhe, Germany, organized by Valdosta State University's Langdale College of Business Administration and International Programs.