Alex in Copenhagen

Alex, a junior international studies major with minors in Italian in Dedman College, is participating in SMU-in-Copenhagen in spring 2010. She will be studying European culture and history at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad and plans to take a study tour to Prague, Czech Republic.

Home from Copenhagen

My last month in Copenhagen went by so fast that I still cannot believe that I am back in the States again – and have been for 2 months! In my last month I was busy writting papers, taking a weekend trip to London, and the ever popular (not) finals week.

Once school was over with, my parents came to visit me in Copenhagen. It was a lot of fun showing my parents where I had gone to school and lived for 4 months. We then took a 2-week vacation in Norway.

The vacation was mainly so that my parents could meet the family I lived with back in 2006. It was so nice for my two sets of parents to finally meet each other! We even got to celebrate Norway’s Independence Day like true Norwegians!

After leaving my family, we went all the way to the top of Norway on the border of Russia and took a boat cruise all the way down to Bergen. It was very relaxing and we got to see the midnight sun!

I feel like I should leave you all with some wisdom about SMU study abroad programs. My advice would be just to go for it! Jump in head-first to the experience and you will have so much fun. It helped to make my SMU experience great, and I am so glad I went! So stop reading my blog and go out into the world and make your own adventure.

Hei Hei! Vi Ses!

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My European vacation

My two-week break from school was my time where I was set loose on Europe to find my own way around. I had planned my trip, in that I knew where I was going and where I was staying for the nights, but other than that, I went with no real expectations.

I set off on Friday with my friends Julie and Margot to fly to our first destination: Madrid! Once in Madrid we had our first task: how to find our hostel using public transportation. We were able to find our way through the subway system, which was very convieniently connected to the airport. Our hostel was really cool and the staff were very helpful, pointing us in the direction for a really great meal out.

madridpic.jpg After a good night’s sleep we got up and were ready to experience Madrid. Our first stop was to walk around the Puerta del Sol (left). We then went over to one of Madrid’s many parks.

That night we met another friend Emily and we walked around looking for some good food and a good atmosphere; we eventually found it, good thing that Spaniards normally eat later than Americans.

madrid2.jpgThe next day we wandered over to yet another park and took a row for a relaxing Sunday row. Next we were off to Barcelona!

Our flight got in pretty late and since it was Sunday there wasn’t much going on in Barcelona. We were able to find the only open restaurant, Chinese, in what seemed like the whole city.

barcelona.jpg The next day we were up bright and early to go on a bike tour. Now I haven’t rode a bike in about 6 years, so a 4-hour bike tour had me a little nervous. But I made my way along with a nice older couple in the back and I loved the experience. We got to see all the sights and be outside! I found this fountain (right) that I fell absolutely in love with and want to go back to. The next morning we were on our way to Paris!

Paris was a more of a little stop for me as I was going to leave earlier than Julie and Margot. Unfortunately, the first day, in which we had planned for the Eiffel Tower, it was raining. We decided to take it easy and look instead for some good food, which happened to take form in burgers.

paris.jpg The next morning we decided to appease our inner child and go to Eurodisney. It was silly and fun and so much more. It was a great day, and after we went to see the Eiffel Tower all lit up at night. I was sad the next day to leave Julie and Margot for the rest of my travels alone. I made my way, all on my own, to CDG on public transport!! Next stop for me was Levanger, Norway!

Now most of you are probably wondering why on earth I would go to a random little town in Norway. But Levanger is very special to me because I have once before done study abroad, in which I lived with a family in Norway and went to high school. I went back to spend Easter with them.

It was so nice to spend a couple of days with my “second” family and just hang out. I’m excited to go back next month when I’ll take my parents to meet them for the first time. I had to leave them and go on my last stop – London.

I spent my last couple of days with one of my mom’s friends in England. It was nice to just chill out and go around with a local. It was nice because I’ve also been to England many times before so I was comfortable with the city. It was a nice relaxing end to my long journey.

I have no idea where life will take me next, but I’ll let you know when I find out! Vi ses! Hej Hej!

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Home in Copenhagen

I was home at 10 am. It feels so good to be home in Copenhagen. It was a great trip, and I now look forward to my next adventure – 2 weeks’ vacation on my own.

Vi ses! Hej Hej!

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Cold day in Cesky Krumlov

Day Seven brought snow and cold. It had been such great weather in Prague that this was a little disappointing.

We started our day with a guided tour of Cesky Krumlov. The goal of lunch was to stay warm, so we found exactly where we wanted to eat and sat there until we had to go to our next visit.

We once again found ourselves at an art museum. This time it was Egon Schiele. Our last task was to have our final dinner together before we had to get back on the bus for our drive home to Copenhagen.

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Tragedy of Lidice

Today we went on our way toward Cesky Krumlov.

pic%204.jpg The first stop was at Lidice. Lidice is a village that was completely distroyed by Nazis in 1942. The children of Lidice are an interesting topic because those who were thought be more Ayrian were sent to Germany to be adopted and “Germanized” (photo left).

All men in the village were shot. The women were sent to concentration camps. The museum was very touching. I would say this is a must-see museum if you are in the Czech Republic.

pic%205.jpg After more Czech food for lunch we finally make it to Cesky Krumlov (photo right) where we were free for the rest of the night.

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Last night in Prague

Today we started our day by visiting the museum of modern and contemporary art and talked to Milan Knizek. Milan Knizek is another interesting Czech artist. He doesn’t paint or sculpt, but he makes “actions.” Confused? So am I.

It was then time for lunch. We were on our own so we tried to pretend that we were Czech and go to a more local spot. We managed to find a cute cafe and ate some good Czech food.

After lunch we went on a walking tour of the Jewish Quarter. It showed art drawn by Jewish children that had been hidden in a suitcase for years.

Afterward I went off on my own for some quality me time. I, of course, went shopping.

Dinner that night was another interesting choice. We went to the Crown Plaza Hotel, which is the best example of Stalinistic architecture. The meal was buffet style, and it was once again amazing. This was our last night in Prague.

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History and architecture

We once again started our day with breakfast at the hotel. We then all went to visit Radio Praha. At Radio Praha we got to hear actual audio that was transmitted during the Prague Spring back in 1968. The Prague Spring is when Prague revolted to try to reform the communist system. The Soviet Union, however, came in and put a halt to all rebellion. It wasn’t until 1989 that Czechloslovakia was able to get rid of communism.

pic%203-1.jpg We then split into groups to go on different walking tours. I chose to go on the Art Nouveau tour. The buildings in Prague are gorgeous! I was happy to just wander and look around.

That night we dressed to the nines and had dinner at Municipal House. It was very, very fancy (photo right).

After dinner we went to a concert. It was the best of Czech music. I’m not one to judge classical music, but it was ok. That night we all went out to try to find some Prague nightlife.

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Art controversies and great food

We started our day with breakfast at the hotel. We then drove out to the Meetfactory to see the work of David Cerny. David Cerny is an artist whose biggest goal is to annoy people and make them think. He is the creator of the large babies placed on the Prague TV tower. We saw some of the molds for the babies, their faces are barcodes – creepy. David Cerny fancies himself as a bad boy; I would describe him as a Mick Jagger artist.

Afterward we went to lunch at one of the most gorgeous hotels in Prague. It was all art nouveau. Czech food is amazing – very rich, but very tasty! We were then given the rest of the day to ourselves.

pic%201.jpg I went with friends up to the Prague Castle, which had a great view of the city (photo left).

pic%202.jpgAgain we hit a block when we found out that the castle was actually closed on Mondays. We did manage to get into the cathedral, which was just as cool (photo right).

I then went with just three others to see “Entropa.” “Entropa” is a sculpture by David Cerny. It was made to poke fun at all the members of the EU. It made a lot of countries very upset – just Google it and you’ll see what I mean. That night we went out for Lil’s birthday at a vegetarian restaurant.

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Busy day in the city

At 9:45 am our class arrived in Prague. We got to eat breakfast at our hotel and put our bags down. There was no resting, however, as the day was fully planned by our teacher Brian and intern Amelia.

We started by going on a 2-hour walk of the city, during which we would stop and the students would give presentations on certain historical or cultural events. I was in a group with two other girls, and we presented on the Jewish Quarter in Prague.

After we finished our presentations we were given free time until dinner. I walked around with friends, and we ended up getting pretty lost, causing us to not be able to eat lunch or really relax any before dinner.

Before dinner we met with two Czech women who were there to tell us more about Czech culture today. It was very interesting, even if we were really too tired to talk much.

They then took us to a restaurant outside the city. This all seemed to be great at first. Unfortunately the small restaurant was not ready for 33 Americans – there was only one chef and one waitress. The dinner came to be called the 4-hour dinner as it took that long for any food to be produced. Every trip has its bumps, and we were all still in good spirits for the rest of the night.

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Long journey to Prague

Today was the day I was to start my weeklong adventure in the Czech Republic. I spent the day packing and finishing up some last-minute tasks before I met up with my friend to go on the bus to Frue Plads, which is our meeting point for all DIS field trips/study tours. At 9:45 pm we started our journey to Prague by bus. Yep, that’s right, we drove to Prague.

A little after midnight we had to get off the bus in order to get on a ferry from Denmark to Germany. The bus ride was the low point of the trip as no one can sit on a bus for 12 hours and sleep/be confortable the whole time.

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