Elizabeth Hiatt
Johannes-Kepler Universitat Linz

After Vienna I went to Hannover, Germany to visit my friend Madison!  I was beyond excited to get to see her.  When I got there though apparently we both kept walking past each other at the airport because it took us a while to find each other…  It was really great to see her, especially because I’ve been in such a new environment with new people in my life.  It was really refreshing to be able to see someone I know from home in person.  We went back to where she lives in Hannover and I got to see the University she goes to and the dormitory she lives in.  After dropping off my things we went to the Hannover city center to look at some of the shops and stop for a coffee.  We decided to make plans to go to Hamburg with another friend of hers to take her laptop to the Apple store there because it had just stopped turning on.  Having had that experience back in the US, I could not imagine having to deal with that soon after arriving in Europe. 

I enjoyed Hamburg, but unfortunately it was pretty rainy and cold the entire day.  I got to ride on a train again! I’m right there with Sheldon – trains are the best ever.  (Sorry, I love “The Big Bang Theory” and miss it dearly.)  We stopped at a café to have lunch and some amazing pancakes!  It’s really amazing how you can be in an entirely different continent and some things are always the same – I’ve experienced it with Starbucks and now the Apple store.  I guess that’s what they go for. We got Madison’s laptop taken care of (they ended up fixing it the next day!) and spent the rest of the time shopping. 

Ok so I had a little bit of a hiccup in my plans because I realized that registration for Maryville classes was going to happen while I was traveling during the break.  Unfortunately, since Madison’s computer decided to give up the ghost, so to speak, we didn’t have internet access.  I had to end up changing some of my classes at an internet café down the street, and after some hurried emails to my advisor eventually I got everything sorted out (fingers crossed) and registered for senior year.  Madison was able to do this too, and I’m glad we were able to be together to deal with that.  That night we had dinner with some of Madison’s friends, and we made fried chicken! We just had to have that good ol’ tribute to the south! I had never made it before, but it turned out purty darn tootin’ good. 

Even though I only had a short time to stay with Madison, I’m so happy I got to see her at all!

Next stop:  Dublin, Ireland.  I think I can officially say that Ireland as a whole is my second favorite place I’ve been to (just right on the tail of Budapest).  I really enjoyed Dublin, and what made it even more awesome was that the wonderful Michae was able to meet me there!  Seeing another one of my friends from home was amazing! Exploring Dublin was incredible – we got to see St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin Castel, Trinity College and the Book of Kells (which blew my mind – along with the Old Library), and of course no trip to Dublin would be complete without seeing the Guinness Brewery!  We toured and got to learn how to pour “the perfect pint of Guinness.”  One of the best beers I’ve ever had! We also ate the best fish and chips I have ever had.  Now, I haven’t exactly had a lot of fish and chips during my life, but I can say that these were the most delicious fish and chips probably in the entire universe – with salt and a little vinegar they were absolutely heaven.  I think they must have been the food that angels eat.  If I were an angel I’d eat it all the time.  Heaven is probably just a giant fish and chips place.

But anyway, even though Dublin was absolutely amazing, I think my favorite part was being able to get out in the countryside.  We decided to take a day tour to the Cliffs of Moher, which are way on the other side of Ireland (on the west coast, actually).  To get there we drove through small towns and villages and vast, rolling, green landscapes.  What really made that tour though was our driver and tour guide.  He told us old Irish legends and sang Irish songs for us and was pretty much the most amazing tour guide I’ve ever had.  The cliffs were absolutely beautiful, and I left feeling that I didn’t get to spend nearly enough time there.

I was really sad to leave Ireland, but I was also excited for my next stop:  The Netherlands!
Kelley Blankenship
University of Worcester, England

Wow! What a weekend! Let me just say that the Irish know how to do St. Patrick's Day!

My weekend started off on Friday morning with a very early wake up call to make it to the Worcester train station by 6:59am.  Tamara and I practically walked like zombies through the cool morning air, but we made it just in time to catch our train to Birmingham. After an hour on the train, we made it to the airport! Woohoo! I remember being very excited that we were actually going to Dublin! Ah! Everything ran smoothly with the exception that Tamara almost had to pay £50 because they said her carry on wouldn't fit in the little measuring thing.  Let me just say that Ryanair is a pain-in-the-behind when it comes to your carry on. They're crazy. Anyway, Tamara didn't have to pay because we squished her bag in, but then it was a bit of a struggle to get it back out :)

After a very short 45 minute flight, we landed in Dublin!!! Tamara and I took a bus to the city centre, ate a small lunch and then met up with her friend Chris, who we were staying with for the weekend, and the rest of the day we went exploring around the city... in the pouring rain I might add. Despite the rain, it was so much fun! Dublin is such a nice city and it was totally decked out for St. Patrick's Day, so there was green everywhere!

Saturday morning we all slept in a bit because we had gone to a party the night before at another friend's flat in the city.  Chris made a nice English breakfast that was delicious! We then painted up for the St. Paddy's Day festivities! The first one of the day was the parade! I must say that it was one of the strangest parades that I've ever seen.  There were people on floats saying things like "Dream with your eyes open!!" in really creepy voices, a guy dressed as Dracula, and a giant rhino in a wheelchair....?  Despite some of the strange acts floating down the parade, it was so much fun! We had trouble finding a place to stand and ended up having to walk quite a ways to find a place to stand, but we ended up in a great spot! After the parade we popped in a Japanese restaurant for some lunch and then rode the bus back to our flat for a nice power nap. :)

The real fun began when we decided to make our way back in the city to the area known as The Temple Bar. There is an an actual pub called 'The Temple Bar', but the area carries the same name.  I've never seen so many crazy drunk people in my life.  I've also never seen so much crap on the ground. haha. There were police officers (called Garda in Ireland), but they weren't really doing anything.  We ended up meeting up with a bunch of French people that were friends with Chris and hung out with them for the rest of the night. The plan was to go on a pub crawl, but that wasn't really possible because of the amount of people that were actually in the pubs. We found one pub that we could fit in and stayed there for the rest of the night. It was so much fun!