Costa Rica-Nicole

Hello my name is Nicole and I’ve been doing my coop at Buena Vista lodge for a month now. While I’ve been here I’ve got to zipline, ride a horse, go on this crazy water slide and go to the beach (as well as getting burned at the beach) of of these things I have no done before getting here. As well as doing all of these crazy things I’ve met tons of new people and seen lots of new animals. Sorry no pictures of me yet but here are a few of my favorite past time, wildlife photography.

More to come soon, Nicole

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This is the End!

Goodbye Germany!

Thank you to those who followed me throughout my journey here in Germany and the many European excursions.  I started from hiking on my first days in Reutlingen, Germany to spending New Years in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  This has been a great experience and I do encourage current and future Centennial students to take part of this magical journey.

You treated me great for the last five months but its time for me to get back to reality.  Every single moment from day 1 to day 144 was absolutely wonderful and the opportunities are unless with traveling.  The best part of this study aboard was meeting people from all around the world and discovering how they are and how their culture is so much different then mine.  I did not only gain German friends but I also gain friends from far east countries such as Russia and China, from all over Europe, and North and South America.  I could not have gotten through this semester if it weren’t for the great people here and all of the great friends that I encountered.  “Having no expectations led to the best experiences”.  This is goodbye for now and I will see you soon.  Words cannot describe how this experience was but pictures can.

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Berlin! (Last trip before the holidays)

It has been amazing here in Germany so far with all the travelling and parties.  I can’t believe Christmas is almost here, where has the time gone to. This is the last week for a lot of my friend because they are either headed back to their home countries to spend the holidays with their friends and family or because their study abroad semester is over (we had a choice to either finish our studies before the break or stay the full semester till end of January), and of course I decided to stay and travel a little more.  My most recent trip was to the capital of Germany, Berlin with ten other friends for 3 nights.

Our first stop was to the Berlin Wall.  We walk from one end of the wall to the other end (now, let’s remember that the wall collapsed about 25 years ago where the wall stretch from one end of the city to the other), so the part we walked was only about 1km long.  The artwork on the wall was unique and has meaning.  The wall speaks for itself……

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The wall is divided into “East” side and “West” side, the majority of the artwork is on the east side.

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Here you can see the split between the “east” and the “west” side.

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These are a few of the friends that experienced this adventure with me.  William is from France and is on the very left, Carlos is from Spain and he is in the very middle, Amine is the person beside Carlos and he is also from France, last but not least is Iacopo and he is from Italy.

For those of you who have been to Berlin, you would have noticed different traffic lights depending if you were on the east or west side of the city.

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Sometimes you may see a few of these….

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Next, we are off to “Checkpoint Charlie”. This was the best known international border crossing.  Berliners were not allowed to use it; it was only for foreigners and diplomats.  This was the only place during the entire Cold War where there was a direct confrontation between the US and the Soviets.

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Reichstag was our next stop, this is one of their famous Berlin landmarks.  We were not able to take the tour of the building because we needed reservations 4 weeks ahead.  The scenery outside was nice but I wish I could have seen inside and walk all the way to the top.  The Reichstag is now the proud home of the German parliament.

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The following day we visited the Pergamonmuseum where they showcase art, artifacts, sculpture, and architecture, some of the art was aged to be over 6000 years of age.  The museum was full of heritage but the one piece that stood out to me was the first a wooden stand from the Islamic Art Collection.  According to the museum, the first-ever Quran was laid on top of it.

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Later on in the day, we went to check out Altes Museum and Holocaust Memorial.

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The last stop we made on our trip was to the Brandenburger Tor.  This divided the two sides during the Cold War.  Now this gate represents German’s reunification where they now host festivals, concerts, and New Year’s Eve parties.  A little history lesson is to be told here.  Prussian emperors, Napoleon, and Hitler have all marched through the gate.  US President Ronald Reagan once said, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Two years later, the wall was history.

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This is all for Berlin, please stay tuned in for my next adventures.

Paris

Last week here in Germany, we had Block Week (Reading Week in Canada) and I met up with my girlfriend in Paris and later on went to Rome.  This is my first time in Paris and Rome and I enjoyed every moment of it.

Paris

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The Eiffel Tower was unreal!  Just like in Toronto where they have the CN Tower Climb, they had that here in Paris as well with the Eiffel Tower but it was available everyday.  We decided to do the Stair Climb challenge so we can say that we walked up the Eiffel Tower.

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Louvre is one of the most famous museums around the world and it holds the Mona Lisa painting.

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Mona Lisa is a portrait of a women painted by an Italian artist named Leonardo da Vinci.  This portrait is the best known and most visited painting around the world.  It was worth the wait outside in the rain to see something this important.

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This cathedral is called Notre Dame and it is the oldest cathedral in the world.  We were able to go inside to walk around but the top of the tower was closed.  Notre Dame is 850 years old and is worth seeing for those interested in visiting Paris.

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Pont de L’archeveche is the name of this bridge and this is where everything started.  What you see on the bridge’s rails are thousands of locks put there by couples.  This is where the original “lock bridge” started from and now wherever you go, there are copycats of Pont de L’archeveche.

Rome

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This was my first dish in Rome and it was one of the best pasta dish I ever had.  We found this small little Italian restaurant called Gustosando and it was a perfect way to start my adventure in Rome.

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Visiting the Collosseum was one of the main reason why I wanted to visit Rome.  It was even more incredible after reading about the history and the types of events that were hosted here.  This is something worth to see if anybody has a chance to go to Rome.

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We also visited the Spanish Steps where people just sit around enjoying Wine or Beer.  During our visit to the Spanish Step, we saw a couple getting married right in the middle.

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This is the famous Trevi Fountain.  There were hundreds of people here taking pictures and tossing coins into the fountain and making a wish.

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This was a sea food dish from the same restaurant as the restaurant I went to on my first day.  This was also my last meal in Rome and it was an amazing dish.

Overall, my adventure to Paris and Rome were amazing but I really enjoyed Rome a lot more than I did Paris.  Both places are worth seeing but I would recommend Rome for both cultural sites and cultural food.

“Cannstatter Wasen”

On October 13 2013 I went to Stuttgart to visit a festival called “Cannstatter Wasen”.  Cannstatter Wasen is similar to Oktoberfest in Munich but it is much closer to home.  Cannstatter Wasen is located in Stuttgart about 45 minutes from Reutlingen (where I am staying).  Oktoberfest in Munich is more for touriast and first timers which I experienced two weeks ago and it was amazing.  Cannstatter Wasen is more for locals and students.  Reutlingen University rented out 3000 seats meaning 3000 out of 4500 students were in attendance.  This was a lot more fun than Oktoberfest in Munich only because everywhere I went, I saw somebody I knew.

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Furstenberg is the name of the tent that we stayed in.  From 4pm till 11pm, 3000 seats were reserved for our students in Reutlingen.

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A group of us wanted to get some food in our system before we started drinking in the tent.  And ofcourse we had the typical German food, Brot Wurst (Sausage in a bun).

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The amazing view from the biggest ferris wheel I have ever seen.

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Also, this is the biggest and longest game stand I have ever seen.

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I was not able to try this delicious looking salmon but it was a unique way of cooking.

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The Wasen started at 9am but Reutlingen’s party only started at 4pm but most students arrived at 3-3:30pm.  By the time 6pm hit, everybody was drunk and dancing to the great performances.

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Round One!

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This is my friend Iacopo and he is from Rome, Italy.  He is also studying at Reutlingen University for International Business.

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These are my friends from the United States.  Tammy is the one in red and she is from Chicago and Sarah is the one in green and she is from Boston.

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We were lucky we got the table right in front of the band.  It was great because the band was drinking with us.

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These are my really close friends, Ivan is the one standing right beside me and he is from Croatia, Gabriel is in the green and he is from Italy, Iacopo, and the last person is Mason and he is from Georgia, Atlanta in the United States.

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This is how we all ended our night, with this amazing view of some of the rides at the Cannstatter Wasen Festival in Stuttgart, Germany.

First month in Germany!

Time is pass so fast! I’ve been came to Germany more than a month.

Last week, I suddenly think i should go to Paris for a short trip, so I booked my ticket on Friday. I booked a train ticket, because i love to see the views outside of the train.

I forgot it was Saturday, I can’t catch the bus on time, so i was too late to catch my train. So i changed it to the later one.  I met a professor in the train. He is a software professor, that’s his business trip.

I think I don’t like Paris, because there was too many little girls were trying to steal things from other people. a little girl tried to steal my money from my backpack, but I found it. She pretended nothing happened and looked at me. I walked to the police, and tried to scare her because of her atitute, but i actually didn’t tell anything to the police. She and her friend run away.

When I got in the train, many polices were holding the door, and asked the driver stop the train. Few girls walked out from the train tried to walk away, and police pointed to one of them, then the lady said “moi(me)?”. all the polices walked to them, and one of them said”yes, it’s her”. They started to search those few girls’ pockets and bags, before i found out what happened, the train started.

I went a church, that makes me felt sick. I went there with a friend, a group of people came to us, they were tried to tie those tiny ropes on our hands. They walked to me and tried to do it, I said” no, go away, or if you touch me, I am going to call the police!” They caught my friend, and my friend can’t run away. They tied those tiny ropes on his hand and asked him to pay. It’s 40 euros, then asked more, but my friend was just run away.

I was stay in Paris like one and a half day, for many times, those little girls and little boys were fighting in the subway. Honestly said, I am totally don’t like Paris.

I went back to Germany on Sunday night, because i have classes at every Monday. In class, my professor said he cancelled the class on Wednesday, and Thursday is holiday, I don’t have class on Tuesday and Friday. Guess what? I had a very long weekend!

Many friends asked me to go to Munich, because of the beer Fesitvel. I was kinda frustrated, because i can’t drink, so when everybody go to munich, I go to a little trip by myself.

One of my professor told me, there is no grade will be marked on the assignment he sighed to us, but if we don’t do it, we won’t pass the course.

I am kinda miss our student system in Centennial College. When I loggin CC, I can see every classes I had my personal time table, and I can see my email once i loggin my account. In Reutlingen University, it’s a lot complicated. There are many groups in our program, and each of your course will be in differen group. So image, you have to go to each group, and find your class! I think too many people had problem with that system, so at the end, they put each course in a paper which shows Internation students which class we are belong to.

Taking the classes in Germany, sometimes professors would use some German words which you might not undertood. But it doesn’t matter, you could asked your classmates or professor what’s that mean in English, they would explain to you.

I love the food in Reutlingen University. You have many choices every day, and the prices are also very cheap, but don’t forget to bring cash and put money into your student ID. It would have huge difference from using a student ID to pay you meal or not.
If you are a party lover, Germany is such a good place for you. I can tell, they have parties every week, and many activities. At the beginning, I was struggling to chose one of the parties to go, but later on, they won’t find me in any of those parties. I think life is too short for partying every day.

Uracher Wasserfall (Urach Waterfall)

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I am standing right under the Uracher Wasserfall in Bad Urach, Germany (20 Minutes from where I am staying).  This was the first time I’ve been to a waterfall and it was a great experience.  The scenery and the waterfall was amazing! Image

From the bottom of Uracher Wasserfall.

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One of the many hiking trails surrounding the waterfall.

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My friends and I (Nick on the left and Mason on the right) were climbing up to the highest point of the mountain but did not have enough equipment to make it to the top but we will be back.

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The amazing view of the downstream of the waterfall.

Oktoberfest in Munich

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A group of us decided to take an adventure to travel to Munich and spend just the day for the 2013 Oktoberfest.  This adventure started on Friday to early Sunday morning which accumulated to 39 hours of non-sleep madness.  This was the most exciting 39 hours of my life and to top it off this was my first time in Munich and it was also my first time celebrating Oktoberfest.

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Hofbrauhaus is the biggest and most recommended tent for first timers and tourists to visit.  We were waiting in line from 6:30am till 9:15am to ensure we had a table for a group of 9.  The tent became fully very fast and doors were closed right before 10am and the remaining people had to wait.

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These guys kept us entertained with their music and dances.

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This was when we first entered the tent and got a table.  Beside me is a guy a met at Reutlingen University and he is Carlos from Barcelona Spain.

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As you can see Hofbrauhaus is big and they can fit a lot of people inside, this is only half the tent.

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These are my friends from Reutlingen University and they are a few of the wonderful friends that I have met.  Starting from the left is Mason, Nicola, Madison, Eddy (myself) for those who does not know me, Carlos, Jessica, Sarah, Nick, and Alison.  Can you believe this was our first drink and it was only 9:30  in the morning?

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My buddy Mason stood on top of our table and chugged his beer while everybody was cheering him on.  The thing about this challenge is that if one finishes the beer stein (1L of beer) in one chug attempt then they are applauded but if one does not finish the stein in one attempt they are booed off the table.  Fortunately Mason was one of the lucky ones.

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This is a beer stein (1L cup).

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Here we are cheering for our friend Mason while he was chugging down his stein of beer.

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This was my first time drinking beer out of a cup as big as this one.  This stein contained 1L of beer and this was 9:30 in the morning.

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Chicken and beer!  What gets better than this?

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This is where people went to sleep after drinking too much beer and this is why this area is called “Hangover Hill”.

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Outside the tents were rides, beer, food, and souvenir shops.  For those who knows what Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) is in Toronto, this is similar but a lot better in many different ways. First of all, Oktoberfest has beer tents for inside drinkers and beer stands for outside drinkers.  Second of all, there are a lot more things going on outside the tents such as rides, beers, and restaurants.  Lastly, the entire Oktoberfest is free (no admission fees) and that is why millions of tourist visits Oktoberfest in Munich each and every year.

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This was my Oktoberfest 2013 in Munich.  This festival is still going on till October 6 if anybody is interested for those back in Canada or for those studying in Europe.  For those who are studying within Europe, I only paid 33 euros for a round trip from Reutlingen to Munich (DB Bahn trains).  This was probably the best 33 euros I’ve ever spent.