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.

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