Friday, September 30, 2016

I "Miss" Home

>>> just kidding I don't miss home at all<<<

My best friends and I put quotations around things we don't mean. Like when you say it's "fine", but we all know it's not fine.

 There are people and daily luxuries I do miss...

  • I miss showers that don't get cold half way through, and I miss landlords and store clerks that can communicate in English because I need to replace the lightbulb in our bathroom. Now is when you laugh when you picture me trying to take a cold shower in the dark. 

  • As I mentioned in a recent post, I miss peanut butter and football games. I miss singing Ay Ziggy Zoomba with those friends, and I miss lateral ellipticals at the rec center. 

  • I miss credit cards that work like they're supposed to without denying everything as fraudulent, and I also miss having a mandatory meal plan I could never spend so my daily Starbuck's was paid for in 'monopoly money'.

  • To be honest, I don't miss Springboro at all. Why would I miss my hometown when I wouldn't be there either way? I miss my parents a little bit, but I've been talking to them as much or more than usual anyway.... 

  • I miss Honors Scholars; I miss the conversations we have, and the topics we explore. It's cool, though, how my friends here fill that void really well since everyone has such different perspectives and experiences all pooling together here.

  • More than anything I miss the daily life with my best friends in Bowling Green. I miss waking up laughing because none of us know how we're going to accomplish the 10 extra tasks we should've have committed to accomplish in any given day. I miss running around like crazy because I love all of the organizations I'm involved in on campus, and all of the people who want to grab coffee and catch up. I miss spending my evenings studying for countless hours with my best friends until we fall asleep, and then waking up the next day to do it all over again.
    So, yeah, I do miss Starbuck's runs with these girls...
    ...and low quality pictures with this group of guys...
...and I miss the random American campus shenanigans...
But that's really about it.

How could I miss home too much, though?

Modern technology makes this whole experience so easy. I just got off the phone with Kelsey... It's 9am in America and 3pm here, so it's a convenient time for both of us to talk. For the next nine or so hours we'll all be awake, so if I want to snapchat or whatsapp message my friends or family from home, I can. 

Plus, for everything I miss, there are approximately 100 cool new foods/experiences/people here that can't have in America. Maybe I can have baguettes in America, but I don't think they'll be the same. In America, I can't take a bus to a nearby town in a different country to learn about the towns's history which includes a significant World War II bombing. The people definitely aren't the same either; people in America are lovely, but there are really exciting and significant differences in my relationships abroad.
I'm torn between feeling like this was years ago, and feeling like this way just yesterday all at the same time.

Want to know what I do miss? I miss the 34 days here that have already passed by...

  • I miss the first time I met Francisca. I remember that vividly. I'm fairly confident she was wearing a black tank top, and I greeted her by awkwardly asking her if I could hug her.

  • I (don't) miss the absurd amount of face-kiss-greetings I received during those first couple days, but I do miss laughing about it with Francisca when she could tell how uncomfortable I was. I've gotten to the point where I not only let people kiss my face without cringing (for the most part), but also I can understand and appreciate this polite gesture. 

  • I miss spending the first week wandering to the park for lunch with the original "squad" while we'd just throw out questions like... "Wait, you never go to your classes?" Many European students answer "No, we don't." because they do all of their studying independently from the professors lectures.

  • I also don't miss being helpless trying to communicate with our French landlord, and enlisting the help of Fraga, at the time a completely random other student, to translate while we tried to move in. Now, Fraga is a dear friend of mine.

 I could continue this list, and mentally I am reminiscing and continuing this list right now... but for the sake of brevity, I'm sure you get the point. In just one week, I have all of those dear memories... In a month, I have too many to mention... In my academic year, Strasbourg really will possess so much of my heart. I miss it already.

I'm trying to think of more synonyms to express my happiness... bliss... joy... elation... to hop around I'll add 'falicidade', but I don't know if it works out of context like it could in English. Where's Team Portugal when I need them?

Love, Jules(about half of my friends here solely call me Jules)
"Wander with wonder and the whole world becomes home." -Tyler Knott Gregson
I cannot wait to add countless European cities
 to the list of cool places we've been together, Kels.

P.S. KELS IS COMING TO EUROPE OVER CHRISTMAS BREAK TOO!! (Thank you so much Melendez family for letting Kelsey leave for her semester abroad in Spain early, so we have this time together.) I'll have three of my best friends here over the break, and I cannot wait to traipse through Paris, Strasbourg, undecided-German-city, and Geneva with them.

P.S.S. FALL BREAK TRIP IS OFFICIALLY A THING. As soon as the credit card companies and Flixbus stop denying all of our cards, so we can book the last two legs of our trip. No matter what we're about 5/7th's booked so we're going. There are approximately 12 of us, and we're going October 21st-November 2nd. Here goes something.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Freiburg, Germany

>>> Hallo Freiburg <<<

Day trips are actually the best...

When we travel to nearby cities, we typically take an early bus out of town to leave the whole day for exploring. Today we left at 9:15am to head to Freiburg, Germany, and we took a 6:00pm bus back to Strasbourg. Originally, seven of us girls booked the Flixbus tickets for the day, and by the time all of our friends who were available joined in on the plans, we had a group of 21. 
(Four Italian friends are missing from this picture since they had to split off for an earlier bus home because we filled the 6pm return bus.)
We arrived in Freiburg around 11:00am, and pulled the usual of heading straight for the cathedral. Freiburg's main cathedral, Freiburg Münster, is known for its Gothic architecture, its system of four organs, and its survival of intense bombings during World War II. On November 27th, 1944 over 1900 bombs were dropped on Freiburg within 25 minutes, leaving almost all of Freiburg in ruins with the exception of Freiburg Münster ( We were able to climb the cathedral stairs, and found great views from the top. Since Freiburg borders Germany's Black Forest, we were spoiled with many other amazing views today, also.

After visiting the cathedral, we found the Freiburg's tourism office to get information about seeing the closest edge of the Black Forest. Thankfully we had Troy, an American who coincidentally grew up in Perrysburg, OH and studies at OSU, to act as our personal tour guide throughout the day. We climbed up to the top of a couple peaks in the nearest hills, and the views were amazing. This part of the day was right up my alley; for a few minutes I really felt like I should be backpacking in Red River Gorge in Kentucky versus just climbing a steep hill in the Black Forest in Germany. 

Spain, Brazil, Colombia, Portugal, Mexico, Belgium, (kind of) England, and the U.S. are all represented in this photo.


The man at the tourism office recommended after we hit the trails we should go by Kastaniengarten, a beer garden, with views of the mountains. We decided this was a fine idea, so we stopped for beer and pretzels before heading back down to Freiburg's city center later in the afternoon. Once back in the city, the mission was to find Black Forest cake at Cafe Schmidt, and from there we relaxed for the rest of our day before heading back to Strasbourg.
Between the view and this company, I had an amazing afternoon.

October Travel Plans!

While we were at the beer garden, we talked out plans for future travel on our fall break at the end of October, as well as ideas for weekends in October... Italy is on our sights for October 6-9th. Additional murmurs of Dublin, Ireland or London, England for October 14-16th are making me almost as excited as the 10-day trip we're planning for Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, and Austria for October 22nd-November 2nd. It's crazy to me how affordable travel can be within Europe if you're smart about Ryanair flights and using Flixbus... I'm so excited to see what other destinations lie ahead! 

Plotting an international Thanksgiving celebration

Oh, and in the beer garden we also discussed our Thanksgiving plans... Since we'll have class on the Thursday of actual Thanksgiving, we're going to try to celebrate the day of the Michigan/OSU game, so we have a Saturday with good football. I love my BG falcons (ay ziggy zoomba), but Michigan has always been my team. Since my friend Troy is an equally avid OSU fan, this will be a really fun Saturday for us. (It'll be even more fun for me if Michigan can pull through with a W.) 

We've talked out a full menu, and our friends have agreed to go out and play American football with us, too. The meal is a little ambition for my inexperienced American friend and I, but with the help of our friends who can follow recipes, I think we'll pull off an awesome mock-Thanksgiving. Family, I'll be contacting you for our recipes sometime soon. (:

Here are a few additional pictures from my super fun day in Freiburg!

Per usual, thanks to my friends (today it's Ana and Natalia) who caught great pictures with their cameras for us!

That's it. As always, thanks for reading along!

Love, Jules

"Wander with wonder and the whole world becomes home." -Tyler Knott Gregson

Everyday Life in Strasbourg

>>>Bonjour Daily Life<<<

Generally, I'm having no trouble adjusting to my new routine here in Strasbourg. The first couple weeks were a bit chaotic until classes started, but I'm feeling much more comfortable now that I've settled into my new schedule.
I unintentionally ran by European Parliament the other day, and the structure alone is so impressive.
I can't wait to visit and tour with my Introduction to European Economic Policy course.
Here's the river side view of the parliament building.

Yes I'm Studying Abroad

I'm taking six courses this semester. Five of them are the mandatory curriculum for the Bachelor of European Management, and I got to choose one elective. I chose Theatre for Managers because it's the only class I could transfer back for BGSU credit since I've completed Basics in Supply Chain and other courses already. Mediation team members get to laugh especially hard at me here as they can probably imagine me attempting theatrics. We're a group of ten students, and I'll feel particularly vulnerable around them for three hours every Wednesday morning.

My courses should be manageable, and for the most part my professors are quite engaging, which is nice. All of my courses are once a week for three hours here, so that's a big adjustment for me compared to three 50 minute sessions per week... I'm not struggling to focus in class, but I do always feel like I need an hour to regroup after a three hour lecture. 

I coaxed my way into Baby French II (Basic French Level I, Group 2). Friends here warned me I should push to be in the more advanced of the two beginner courses, even though it's ahead of my technical level, because I don't want to spend the year learning the alphabet and super duper basics when I can spend extra time outside of class to accelerate my understanding of French in this second level course. The first class went well, and I think this course is a good fit although it will require extra effort since I'm starting about a semester behind. (I don't know if I've openly acknowledged this yet, but I came to Strasbourg with zero knowledge of French under my belt.)

My Fridays are always free to travel or study, and I start classes at 9am a couple days of the week, which is my favorite time to get my day going. All things considered, I'm very happy with the general layout of my course schedule. European courses are structured somewhat differently than my courses back at BGSU because most of these courses don't have midterms, just finals or weighty group presentations. Group presentations should be okay since I have all of my classes with the same group of students, and we're pretty much all friends and studious individuals. **Knocking on wood as we speak.**

Strasbourg contrasts Bowling Green

I love this:

  • international friends
  • unashamedly walking out of the house without straight hair
  • baguettes, cheese, wine, etc.
  • cathedrals
  • La Marne (my apartment building)
  • Whatsapp 
  • Duolingo
  • Italians cooking me pasta
  • travelling 
  • Portuguese
  • rock climbing class
  • Strasbourg's architecture

Hung jury:

  • Moodle instead of Canvas
  • Wifi in France
  • 1 and 2 Euro coins instead of paper bills
  • Portuguese words I physically cannot pronounce
  • French pronunciations in general

I hate that:

  • inefficiency
  • my inability to speak French
  • rats and flying rats (pigeons)
  • French milk
  • French eggs
  • 3-hour lectures
  • limited clothes selection
  • business hours
  • meat is expensive
  • notebooks are expensive
  • clothes are expensive
  • blisters
  • 8tracks doesn't work in France
  • Laundry tokens - since coins aren't inconvenient enough

Oh, and I miss this:

  • friends... like a lot
  • peanut butter
  • BGSU's Rec Center
  • American football

//Get Pumped for Christmas Break//

My best friends from home are coming to visit Europe over Christmas break! They booked their flights yesterday, so it's real life. I am crazy excited to have them here for New Years Eve and my birthday during the week they'll be here, and I'm just so thankful they're coming to see me.

Kimmy and Ellie, I cannot wait to see you in Paris on December 29th. Thank you so much for making this trip happen! Our senior year spring break in Florida was great, but I promise France/Switzerland/Germany will be even better.
When you left me at the airport I thought it was a goodbye until May... Jokes on us.
Sidenote: huge shoutout to Kimmy for running/killing the Air Force Marathon last weekend. If I ever run a consecutive 26.2 miles I think we'll all be in disbelief, but pacing 8:05 minute miles and making it look easy to qualify for the Boston Marathon is just insanity. You can ask the Portuguese girls, I freaked out a lot when I checked the finish timing from Luxembourg last weekend. I'm so proud of you for all of your dedication to accomplish this feat, and I'm so impressed by you. Thanks for being a priceless sister-friend-neighbor, and one of my greatest role models for literally forever.

That's all for now!

Love, Julie
"Wander with wonder and the whole world becomes home" - Tyler Knott Gregson
Sneak peak photo from my day trip to Freiburg, Germany today!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

>>> Hello Luxembourg <<<

You beautiful little country, you...

My Portuguese girlfriends and I spent Saturday and Sunday in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg, and it was such a nice overnight trip! Friends in Strasbourg warned us that since it's such a small city (slash country) there would not be much to see, but we're all super satisfied with our choice to visit anyway. It was also nice because in two days we were able to see everything we wanted to see without feeling exhausted afterward from racing to get to everything. I think I slept more Saturday night than I've slept in a night the whole time I've been in Europe. Nine and a half hours, whoa. 

Saturday during the day...

We explored the city, its cathedral (I'm noticing many European cities have a Notre-Dame Cathedral), and followed the 'Wenzel Circular Walk', which led us through some of the city's ancient ruins. We also visited the History Museum of Luxembourg, 'Musée d'histoire de la Ville de Luxembourg'. (Bonus: entry was free for students) I was surprised to learn a country as small as Luxembourg has such a rich history! I guess it doesn't surprise me that I knew nothing about it since my knowledge of European history is lacking on most fronts, but I was very interested to learn about how Luxembourg has transformed over centuries.

Again, a special thanks goes out to Ana and her photography skills.

Oh, and thanks to Francisca for the GoPro pictures, which will be really fun to have, also!

Saturday evening...

The girls and I swung by a Fischer's Market grocery store and picked up personal pizzas to eat back at our Airbnb for dinner on Saturday; it was so nice to have a real oven to use for once! We had such a fun, relaxing evening just hanging out together... It's so interesting to sit and talk about our lives and learn how similar we are even though we've grown up in different countries. When I'm hanging out with the Portuguese girls, or my close friends from La Marne (my building) who are Brazilian or Spanish, it always feels just like I'm hanging out with my best friends back home. I'm constantly reminded how fortunate I am to have such dear friends here already. 

Oh, and I'm constantly reminded how weird they think Americans are... Or maybe it's just how weird they think I am... Pizza apparently isn't something you should eat while drinking coffee... Who knew?

Sunday breakfast...

Special thanks to my old friend Olivia for suggesting we visit Nathalie Bonn's Chocolate House

Friends in Strasbourg also recommended this stop, and I'm so glad they all did. For 10 euro each we enjoyed an amazing Sunday 'French Breakfast' of personalized hot chocolate, fresh squeezed orange juice (reminded me of Florida<3), brioche, and croissants, as well as all of the jams, butters, and chocolate sauces to go on fresh white and brown bread. I think we all smiled for an hour straight as we ate... We couldn't finish the food we were served even though it was delectable. 

10/10 would recommend this pit stop if anyone is traveling to or through Luxembourg anytime soon. 

Here are more pictures of one of the best, most unhealthy breakfasts of my life. (Worth the absurd caloric intake)
These were all of the hot chocolate spoons
we could choose from!

This one is for Mom to laugh at.

Sunday afternoon to wind down our trip...

After approximately an hour of adventuring around Luxembourg City (read: after an hour of wrong turns due to bad directions and my poor sense of orientation in new cities), we managed to find the entrance to the Casemates du Bock. Exploring the casemates was probably my favorite part of our trip to Luxembourg. This complex city wall and tunnel system was originally built as a defense structure for Luxembourg in the 1600's, and construction continued into the 1700's and beyond.  Centuries later the casemates were used in World War II; check the link below for more information. 
On both sides of the road you can see the casemates, and the bridge in between was built to connect the tunnel systems.

'Casemates du Bock' according to good old Wikipedia :

"The first tunnels for the underground defences below the old castle were dug out during the Spanish period in 1644. Extensions were made by the French engineer Vauban under Louis XIV in 1684 but it was from 1737 to 1746 that the Austrians completed the extraordinary complex of underground passages and galleries known as the casemates. With a total length of 23 km (14 mi) and depths of up to 40 m (130 ft), they accommodated 50 cannons and a garrison of 1,200 men. 
When the surface fortifications were dismantled in 1875, most of the underground defences remained largely untouched, 17 km (11 mi) of passageways remaining. In 1994, the casemates were added to the list of UNESCO's world heritage sites, attracting some 100,000 visitors a year.[8] 
In 1933, the Bock casemates were opened to the public.[3] During the Second World War, they were used as a bomb shelter able to accommodate up to 35,000 people. Renovation work and repairs were undertaken in 2008–2009 including the opening up of the mine galleries which contained explosives able to blow up part of the Bock in case of need.[8]"  

After wandering through the casemates, we spent some time in the park before gathering our bags back at the Airbnb to head to the train station. It's so nice to have friends I'm so comfortable with for trips like this, but I must say this weekend (and all of the travel recently) made me miss my friend Chelsie a lot. Last year she and I spent most of the fall wandering around the country together for Mediation Competitions and Honors Scholars trips, so whenever I'm exploring new places I still feel like she should be by my side (or holding my hand as the plane takes off and lands). 

Sidenote of huge thanks to the Portuguese girls for speaking English for me all weekend, and for just being the nicest human beings ever. It's funny to wake up from a nap and cause the conversation to change languages, but I appreciate their accommodation so much. I downloaded Portuguese on Duolingo (language learning app) this weekend, so maybe one day I'll be able to understand them.

I have a lot to share about classes and life in Strasbourg and future travel plans; bear with me as I get used to updating my blog...

In synopsis, everything is perfect and I love it here more than I ever imagined I would... And I'll be completely honest that I boarded my plane with unnaturally high expectations...
I realized today that I've been in France for 26 days. In total I'll be here for 247 days. Already, more than 10% of my time here is gone... And more than 20% of my time with Francisca and the dear friends I've made who are only here one semester.... That's sad.  
Mmkay, back to happy thoughts of French baguettes, wine, pretty flowers & making the most of my time here! 

Love, Jules
"Wander with wonder and the whole world becomes home" -Tyler Knott Gregson


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Day Trip to Colmar, France

>>> Hello Little Venice <<<

Thanks for this photo, Ana
This week I'm finally beginning classes. I've only been to one class, Cases in International Marketing, but I really enjoyed the first day! I'm actually super excited to be starting my courses because I've been feeling super overwhelmed by the lack of routine in my life. Chaos and I only mesh well for about a week at a time, and we're pushing close to a month. On Monday, however, my Portuguese friends and I had a final day off, so we hopped on a train to visit Colmar, France. Colmar is about 70km south of Strasbourg, so it was a 30-minute train ride both ways...

Colmar's well-known for the aesthetic appeal of its system of canals known as "la Petit Venise" or Little Venice. It's very similar to Strasbourg's region 'Petit France'. Colmar is also considered to be the capital of the Alsatian Wine Route, although I didn't explore that claim. We had a wonderful time sightseeing through the streets, and I was especially impressed by the number of beautiful churches littered across the small town. I'm noticing that the long history of these French cities and towns provides they have many architectural elements that are just completely unparalleled by American towns, and I'm loving my exposure to so much beauty. 

My friends deserve an extra 'thank you' for making this day so much fun. We started the day paying an extra 10 euros each because the ticket printing machine at Strasbourg's train station wasn't working properly, and we just ran onto the train because we would miss it if we stopped to asked for help. Naively, we assumed that a receipt that said we had been charged would be enough proof of payment for the trip, but we were wrong. We were definitely frustrated to waste our money in that way, but we just went to the market for lunch instead of eating at a restaurant to make up for our error and let it go. In the big scheme of costly mistakes we could have made, this can be a drop in the bucket... We'll think twice next time.

Here are a few pictures from our fun day! 

Special thanks to Tomás for putting up with us girls all day.

This is an image of 'la Petit Venise'

This weekend the Portuguese girls and I are heading to Luxembourg for a short trip, so expect more beautiful scenic pictures soon! We found a nice Airbnb for all four of us for 12 euros a night each, and we decided we'll take a train both ways. I'm also pumped for this weekend because the 88 degree weather is finally going to subside, and it should be more comfortable in the 60-70's as we explore Luxembourg. (Sidenote: French people don't believe in AC, and I've been melting for the past week.) 

Thanks again for following along!
 Love, Jules 
"Wander with wonder and the whole world becomes home"-Tyler Knott Gregson 

P.S. Super proud of my Falcons for the 27-26 win over North Dakota in the Home Opener this weekend. Ay Ziggy! 

P.S.S. My friends here think "Ay Ziggy Zoomba" is the most bizarre dance/cheer/chant/whatever it is ever, and I'm thinking they might be right