5. Only 1% of college students study abroad. 197,000 people a year.
6. That’s about the population of Salt Lake City. 128,050 are girls.
14. You might come across these signs:
28. The average Italian eats half a pound of bread a day.
If you look up Lake Bled, Slovenia on the ever-so-trustworthy, Wikipedia, there is literally three paragraphs explaining a small amount of history and geography. Not too interesting, right?
Interlaken is publicized so much more; skiing, snowboarding, skydiving, canyon jumping and night sledding in the Alps. All of this sounds and is amazing, and fortunately, I got to experience it myself. But little do many people know, Lake Bled, Slovenia has all of that to offer, and even more.
After a Thursday night of posting up at the bar in Lion's Fountain, I got home and made a game-time decision around 1:30am to join Euroadventure's weekend trip departing that morning. Although my roommates and good friends were still out and declined the offer, I kept thinking, 'We are lucky enough as it is to be studying abroad, why wouldn't we take advantage of everything that's available to us?' So, I sent Cathy a text saying I was coming on the trip, and began packing for Slovenia.
Somewhat hesitant because I did not know a single person going, let alone the slightest clue where this country was even located, I packed my warmest clothes, wrote my roommates a note, and left to walk to the train station at 6 a.m.
Six hours later, I stepped off the bus and was surrounded by about five feet of snow, accompanied by an unbelievable view of mountains, a castle, and a gorgeous lake. Not a fan of cold weather by any means, but the scenery of this place overcompensated for any complaints I would have had.
Our small group of 21 took a walk around the lake, getting to know each other and seeing the awesome views of the only natural island in Slovenia; Bled Island, as well as a castle that sits on top of the mountains bordering the lake. Absolutely beautiful.
Having a dance party in a igloo is something many people cannot check off their list. But now we can. Taking a bus 30 minutes into the Julian Alps of northwestern Slovenia, night sledding, then hanging out and jamming to music in a giant igloo, was our Friday night in Lake Bled. After warming up back at the hotel and making new friends at the local pub down the street, we were ready for a day filled with sky diving, paragliding, snowboarding, skiing, and treating ourselves to massages. We woke up Saturday morning and boarded a bus to Kranjska Gora, a ski resort town about an hour away from the hotel.
Being in Interlaken, many people were hesitant to do anything adventurous. Whether it was the extremely high expenses or lack of skill, there seemed to be more limitations. Lake Bled offers the same activities for almost half the prices of Interlaken. Every one in our group participated in one thing or another and it's safe to say, no one left with any regrets. After canyon jumping in Interlaken, I thought that was the most thrilling activity I'd do, but after reassurance from the locals in Lake Bled, I decided to go snowboarding for the first time.
I was pumped. Renting all the equipment; boots, board, pants, etc., for as cheap as 21 euro, we spent a full 8 hour day at the ski resort. Everyone took advantage of the amazing, sunny weather, skiing and snowboarding until the last round of lifts went up. Perfectly content practicing on the smaller hills and hanging by the pubs, I can finally say I snowboarded in the alps of a different country.
Hitting up Pub Bled later that night, some of us not coming home until 6am, we all met downstairs Sunday morning for the best free breakfast I've had traveling in Europe so far.
While some of our group decided to hike up to the castle, the rest of us went to check out, Wellness Ziva. A well-known spa and salon resort with a wide range of massages, baths, saunas, body and facial treatments. Why did I not do this earlier in the weekend?!
We sat in the outdoor jacuzzi while it was snowing, over-looking Lake Bled and the castle in the mountains. After diving in the snow in our bathing suits, and jumping back into the hot tub, we put an end to our great weekend. If this was not a version of paradise, I'm not sure what is.
Overall, this spontaneous trip to Lake Bled was a total eye-opener. Of course I hope to be back later in life traveling through Europe, but going to a place that seemed to be extremely unheard of is something I felt I needed to do. I traveled alone for the first time, creating an even higher level of independence for myself as well as forming numerous relationships I know will carry on throughout the semester. I was actually sad that my close friends back in Florence could not experience this with me and almost felt bad for people who do not know about this Slovenia trip. It was incredible.
So, moral of the story; A few drinks at Lion's Fountain may be just what you need to make the decision of a lifetime...
Juuuust kidding. But in all seriousness, take the chance to explore something completely new. Do something on your own to broaden your relationships and independence. This is the perfect example of straying away from the more 'popular' trips and discovering one of the many hidden treasures Europe has to offer. I could not be happier with myself for going on this trip and have nothing but amazing things to say about Lake Bled, Slovenia.
We are lucky enough as it is to be studying abroad, why wouldn't we take advantage of everything that's available to us?
So you’ve been abroad a few months, eating, drinking, walking everywhere, buying new clothes, traveling to new places and generally mixing up the routine. It’s awesome, you’re trying new food, new delicacies, seeing wonderful sights that are expanding your mind and accustoming yourself to new and old traditions. You’re living the dream, you can’t believe it’s real, you’re doing incredible things on a daily basis. This is your routine, this is studying abroad.
Most people generally fall into a routine after a while. I remember when I was in school I had everything for the next day planned, ready to go, approximate times I would get things done and it felt great when you finally finished. Studying abroad is a little bit different, things are a little more…well, lackadaisical. Especially here in Italy, things tend to work at a slower pace than back home in the states. It’s just how it is, you get caught up talking to a friend at a café, or decide to peruse through a new store on your way out of class. Yeah, it takes a little while longer to make dinner, go grocery shopping and you’re taking time out of your day to skype with family and friends back home. For some people, not having a routine works fine, for others, the constant game of playing catch-up can be draining. But hey, I’ve got a solution for ya.
One of my favorite things to do is workout, it keeps me going, helps stay in shape, helps de-stress when school or work gets tough and leaves you feeling all those endorphins for the rest of the day. It’s a hobby that is well worth whatever price you pay, here in Italy gyms are far more expensive than back home, but still worth the price. For me, going to the gym helps me orient myself with positive energy and allows me to fit the puzzle pieces of the day together. But, as I said earlier, like so many students here, it is WAY too easy to fall off the fitness bandwagon. Things happen, you’re traveling, you’re doing homework, you’re going out drinking, you’re meeting new people and all this is great ad wonderful, but for me the centerpiece is having some place to go where I can burn off the stress while working towards a certain fitness goal.
My point being is that mid semester can be tough and very stressful with mid-terms, planning trips, seeing friends, going out, traveling, working and everything else you folks do on a daily basis. So, the best advice I can offer would be to get back on the fitness bandwagon and de-stress! It will help clear your mind so you can finish the semester strong and also go on all these awesome beach trips in April and be ready for the summer! No excuses, get out there and get back on the bandwagon!
Try to imagine over 1,000 people in one giant hall, all of whom are drinking, wearing either a lederhosen or a German dress, singing and dancing with each other for countless hours day after day. This is Starkbierfest.
Most people have heard of Germany’s world famous Oktoberfest, yet few ever get to see the actual glory of this amazing gathering. Starkbierfest is also an international wonder, but far smaller than Oktoberfest. Both events, which take place in the lustrous city of Munich, Germany draw thousands of people annually to gather in humongous halls and drink beer out of giant steins.
For me, and perhaps a lot of other Americans, this is quite a site to see. This past weekend’s trip to Starkbiefest in Munich was a blast, and one to remember. Starkbierfest, German for, ‘Dark Beer Fest’ is celebrated all around Munich with large quantities of dark beer being made just to be drank at the event. Munich itself, a huge city in the southern region of Germany, also known as Bavaria is world famous for its beer. By an old Germanic Law, Beer brewed can only contain four natural elements. Keeping in tradition of brewing the best beer the world has ever known.
This is a key tradition in Germany and they celebrate it well, and also in style. I was wearing my lederhosen, among several other guys in our group and we were dressed ready to party. The females in our group (most of whom were all wearing their traditional German style dresses called, ‘Dirndls’) had a wonderful time drinking beer in the hall and partying with people from all around the world. Starkbierfest is more than just what people see in movies, it is a way of life, and the Germans know how to celebrate their way of life.
Munich, which was home to the 1972 Olympics, is such a beautiful city any time of the year. I had been to Munich, once before in the summertime when I was 18, when the humidity felt unbearable, but the city remained more beautiful than I had previously remembered. The town square in Munich boasts an ancient gothic style architecture building that races into the sky. With a countless number of individual sculptures enamored all over the building, it surely is a sigh to see. Pictures alone do not do it justice.
Although Starkbierfest is an incredible event, there is so much more to do. While we did our famous beer walking tour around Munich, we learned just how much of an impact Hitler had on Munich in his early days. The atrocities committed by him and his band of fascists not only transcended through Munich, but left devastating effects that have lasted decades after his tyrannical rule. Our group also toured through the Dachau concentration camp, a very emotional morning trip, but a memorable and important one at that.
Overall, there are a lot of things to do in Munich. Starkbierfest is a party you do not want to miss, and the rich history of Munich is not to be overlooked. Not to mention German food also lives up to its reputation and pairs extremely well with their excellent brewing standards. All in all, people need to go to Munich and see just how incredible southern Germany is, in history and in tradition.
Till next week!
Check out the photo gallery here!
Toto we’re not in Florence anymore! Upon entering Interlaken your surrounded by the gorgeous Swiss Alps, snow, and sapphire blue glacier lakes. Interlaken welcomes you with their hospitality, inspires you with its beauty, and brings you back to nature! Classic cottage-like homes are nestled at the mountains base with snow dusted roofs and chimney smoke puffing in the crisp winter air. You feel like you went back in time or entered a winter wonderland, it’s impossible not to feel like there is something special about this place. You can indulge in spiced wine, hot fondue with multiple gooey cheeses to choose from, and of course – CHOCOLATE! Whatever you’re into, Interlaken can offer. Be sure to try the fish n’ chips served at The Three Tales- BOMB.COM. Plus, its right across the street from ‘The Funny Farm’ (our hotel we stay at. Flat screen TVs and dope balconies). First time I got to relax and take a BATH since I’ve been here… side note; I have showered since I’ve been here- twice.
Activities: For the more adventures/ daredevils out there you can go skydiving out of a HELICOPTER over the Swiss Alps with breathtaking views as far as the eye can see, canyon jumping(one of the only places in the world to do so), paragliding, zip lining, bungee jumping and much more! Skiing and snowboarding are of course a common past time, getting to shred through some fresh powder in one of the best places in the world for snow sports! For the more mellow souls, ice skating and night sledding are a great alternative or snow trekking(also the cheapest activities offered). Things can get pricy so choose your activity wisely (Snowboarding and skiing is a bit expensive so if you have snow gear, bring it!) but DEFINITELY go out and do something snow related or something outdoors! If you’re looking to get you freak on, make sure you go with a good group of friends (and euroadventures of course!) as there isn’t much of a nightlife scene there. Oh, and BRING ALCOHOL WITH YOU! The drinks are twice as expensive as Florence and bottles of liquor are usually 25+ franks! Womp womp, So stock up and check out Interlaken!
Till the next time!
Who Wrote This?
We are former study abroad students who have been there, done that. We're not here to pretend we're all high & mighty because we've lived abroad before - we're here to tell you it's normal to worry & freak out about every detail that comes along with living in a foreign country. Just kick back and let us drop some knowledge and before you know it you'll be feeling like a professional tour guide (just don't try to take our jobs, k?).