Monday, January 23, 2012

Interested in Studying Abroad?

If you are interested in studying abroad it is a great experience to broaden your horizons. You are put in situations that are hard and stressful, but they definitely build character and make you a better person because of them. Some of the biggest "shocks" from going from a small town to usually a large city in Europe is the transportation systems. Here at KSU we are not used to relying on a bus schedule or trains and trams. It is so easy for us to just hop in our car and ride off for school. It's not the same in Europe. In Denmark, we used the bus system everyday because we lived far enough out of the main city center that it would take almost an hour to walk to school. Also, the weather was crummy, so therefore we relied completely on the bus system. Once you get used to knowing which buses can take you back to your station, and getting used to relying on someone elses timetables, you start to feel like a local. There were quite a few times in Denmark that a native would come up to Brooklyn and I and ask in Danish for directions or wondering about what buses go to a certain station. Obviously we wouldn't answer them in Danish, but we were able to help them know which bus to take in English. You think you will never learn the system and in no time at all you feel like a local and you know the transportation system quite well. It is a great experience to show you how different lifestyles are and that you can adapt to something completely foreign to what you are used to.

Anther awesome thing about studying abroad is that you not only get to experience the culture of the country you are staying in but you can travel around Europe for relatively cheap. We went to 11 different places around Europe while we were studying in Denmark. They have really cheap budget airlines that you can take to get to another country without having to spend a lot going by train or bus. Some of our greatest memories come from Italy. Brooklyn and I stayed at a vineyard in Northern Italy in the end of September and it was completely amazing. Italy is by far my favorite country, because I love their way of life (slow and easy:)) and I love how friendly they are.

Heather Hnizdil

New Experiences in Education!!!

Studying abroad really opened my eyes to some big differences within the school systems of different countries. One of the biggest shocks about Aarhus University in Denmark were Friday Bars. Because the drinking age in Denmark is 18 and alcohol is a big part of there culture, every Friday in each department building they would set up these mini bars where you could go and get alcohol and take it to class with you if you wanted to. We are so used to here in America seeing alcohol as COMPLETELY separate from the university. There are restrictions on alcohol on campus and in the restaurants in the KSU union. Also, i think because you have to be 21 to legally buy alcohol is seemed so strange to me that in a university building you can go and grab yourself a beer for class. You eventually get used to everything smelling like alcohol and by the time you are ready to leave it seems like nothing at all to see people walking around with a beer in their hands.

Concerning courses, two things were really different. For one, in all of the classes Heather and I took, your entire grade for the class was what you got on your final exam. You didn't have assignments or presentations because they did not count for any part of your grade. You would either pass or fail the course solely based on what grade you received on your final exam. I really did not enjoy that system because even though i complain about having to do a lot of work for classes here at KSU, I am glad that you can have assignments that can help your grade even if you don't do really well on your final exam. Last, one of the exams we had to take was an oral exam. An oral exam went as followed: you went 24 hours before the exam to an office in the History department and received an envelope with a question on it, you had 24 hours to study and prepare for the question, you then presented the question in front of 3 professors for the actual examination. You went into this room and it was you and 3 other professors, and you have 10 minutes to answer the question the best you can and then the next 20 minutes the professors can ask you any question they feel coincides with your question or the class. It was kind of uncomfortable at first because you had no idea what to expect, but once you were in the examination room, it was really good. For me, because i enjoy History it was quite interesting to feel as though you were lecturing back at them, instead of vise verse.

You learn so much about yourself and how diverse the world is when you study abroad. I think it really opens your eyes and shows you that just because we have so much and we do things a certain way here in the States, that doesn't mean that everywhere else is the same.

Thanks
Brooklyn Hnizdil

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Finale!!!!!!!!!

Hello again. We picked up our sister at Copenhagen Airport and then spent a day or two in Copenhagen. (Got in on Copenhagen Special Meeting which was absolutely wonderful.)


A couple days later we left for Italy. We spent one day in Milan and then caught a 7 hour train down to Rome. Spent 4 amazing days in Rome. The weather was beautiful! On one of the days it was warm enough that we didn't need coats. Absolutely gorgeous. Have some great memories of eating gelato as we sat by the Trevi Fountain and finding amazing peices of art by the Spanish Steps and the Coliseum.





We left Rome on Christmas Eve and took a train up to Florence. The city smelt disgusting but all the streets were lit up and it looked gorgeous. Florence was one of the best cities for Christmas lights. They had them on every street. Walked around Florence and saw some famous sights and enjoyed soaking up the Italian way of life: slow and easy.:) On one of our last days in Florence we took a train over to Pisa to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa. (Spent Christmas day at some of the friends house where we also got the privilege of being there for Pisa Special Meeting.) In all three cities we enjoyed a completely Italian meal in some of their adorable outside restaraunts. That was some of our best memories because we felt like we were really being a part of the Italian culture.


On New Year's Eve we boarded a plane and headed to Paris, France. We really wanted to bring in the New Year in Paris because we thought it would be really cool by the Eiffel Tower. We got into France around eight in the evening and took the train into Paris. We got off and as we were walking up from the underground, the Eiffel Tower was right there! It was all lit up beautifully. We joined the 3 million or more people and waited for the clock to strike 12am, 2012. We were sitting on the other side of the river so that we could get a better view of the Eiffel Tower. There were no fireworks just the usual light show on the tower, (which was disappointing when you compare it to London). But, it was still fun to bring in the New Year in Paris. Our cheap hostel was in a creepy part of town, so when we left Paris we were ready to be gone.


Flew back to Copenhagen where we spent a night and then boarded a plane to London. Spent the night in Heathrow Airport and early the next morning flew to Boston and then on to Kansas City. We were so glad to be back on American soil! It was a wonderful and life changing experience, but we are definitely glad to be home.:)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Our Final Days in Aarhus, Denmark

It is so crazy to think that on Saturday we move out and are officially finished with Aarhus. It feels just like yesterday that we were running over our own toes with our big heavy suitcase trying to find this place. Wow, how time flies! We have made some great memories here and have met some amazing people on this little journey of ours. We've been enjoying the Christmas holiday over here with their adorable lit up downtown area and hanging out with our friends. 

Stay tuned for our December travels in Italy and Paris. Our sister Rachel is coming over and we are traveling around a little before we officially leave and head back to the States in early January. You won't see another blog until January, so see you later and have a great Christmas break!!!!:):)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Swiss, please!

We enjoyed some time in Basel, Switzerland. Their Christmas markets were out so we enjoyed walking through them and trying a cream filled donut from a stand in the market.



We spent time sitting by the Rhine River watching boats go by and enjoying sunlight for a change. Funny little story about Basel. They are so proud of their tallest building in the city; a skyscraper. We thought we'd go and find this tall building (before we knew what it actually was), and we get half ways there and we see a large skyscraper. We are like, "Are you kidding me. This is what they call their cool tall building?" We had a good laugh and took some pictures of it to remember how advanced America is. :) (you can see it between our heads a few photos down)
We were pleasantly surprised because it was a really clean and well kept city. It was so nice to see city blocks that had nicely painted buildings and some cool architecture. Basel is also proud of their modern architecture, which they do have, and we were so glad to see large MODERN buildings for a change.




We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Switzerland. We stayed at the YMCA youth hostel which was like the Hilton of hostels.


Dad this is for you. IT'S FUN TO STAY AT THE ...........



Not that this was part of our Swiss trip, but when we were flying back into Copenhagen, three drunk rocker people (mullets and all) were sitting behind us. They smelled DISGUSTING. The pilot said that it was windy in Copenhagen, and he didn't lie. The last 15 minutes of our flight/landing, the plane was just jumping around. Our prayer life was strengthed. One of the drunks barfed behind us. Then, the bus we usually take home didn't know if the ferry would run because of this "winter storm." But, the bridges to get to Aarhus were already closed at 5pm. The ferry was open, so after a long 3 hour "kill me now" bus ride, we crossed the water (on the ferry of course) feeling like a bath toy in a hurricane. (more people barfing) We were never so glad to get home. Let's just say we literally went through hell and high water to get to Aarhus. :)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ulfborg

We enjoyed a fun weekend in Ulfborg, Denmark. Some of the friends, Henrik and Laureisa Jensen, invited us for the weekend, and we were so glad to get to go. (Kind of expensive, but well worth it)
We arrived on the train around 4:30 (it was dark already) and Laureisa was there to pick us up.

They are a great outgoing family and it was so nice to get to go to their house and then to meeting the next day. They have four adorable children, three boys and one girl. (Tobias, Niclas, Oliver and Ida)

We had a great time getting to know the kids and hanging out with them. We enjoyed the good food and company.We loved our chats with the parents and playing the card game 500. (I'm a slow learner so it took me about 4 rounds to actually understand what i was doing:))





Thursday, November 10, 2011

Aarhus University

Well, we thought that you might want to see where we are currently going to school. It’s the second biggest University in Denmark, which doesn’t really say much because Denmark is tiny. Anyways, the entire campus is made out of that yellow brick, so every building looks the same.
The picture above is a library on campus. It's carzy because the way they organize their books is they give each one a number and then you have to ask someone that works there to go and get it for you. So, you can't go through the books yourself. Also, they are so proud of how big this library is, but i'm pretty sure they would freak if they saw the size of K-State's library.





 It isn’t that big of a campus but they have such a huge lawn area that it seems big when you have to walk across it. They have a little pond on the campus where you can watch ducks or they have enough lawn that you could do whatever you wanted and still never be in the way of someone else.



 Our classes are going well. We have two classes concerning Soviet history, which are interesting, and one class that is about Art. Its title is Great Works of Art, but it should just be considered a music class. Our teacher sings and plays the piano for us and teaches us things like sonnets and the essence of music, which is fine but extremely boring.  So, we have been busy typing 15 page papers for two of our classes and hanging out with friends when we have extra time. (Coming to this university, I’ve never been so glad to be going back to KSU where it actually feels like school and you are always busy.) 

Fall in Denmark is absolutely gorgeous. Heather and I went down to this wooded area a couple days ago to play in the leaves. It was so much fun.



We bought a beautiful 2000 piece puzzle the other day and finished within two days. We got it from a thrift store so it's missing two pieces but we did it anyways. :)