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August 6, 2012

Posted by dhull06 in Travel Log.
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As my trip came to a close and I looked back on all the places I had been I decided to take sometime throughout my last week of classes to roam around Oxford. I had spent a lot of time around Oxford throughout the first five weeks but hadn’t managed to make it around to all of the big sights. I had felt that Oxford was my favorite city out of all of the cities I had visited, but after seeing everything that the small town has to offer. For starters, taking a walk through the seats is like a flash to the past; you can visualize all of the famous faces stolling through the same streets and looking around at the same gothic spires. The interior of all fo the buildings have been updated, but all of the architecture of the buildings and the original style and feel reamins the same as it did hundreds of years ago. Without a doubt Oxford is my favorite city. The University of Oxford does not have the same layout as the traditional American University. Although it is considered a single University the institute is comprised of multiple colleges that are scattered throughout the city; we studied specifically at Worcester College. I had no doubt by the end of the entire program that Oxford was my favorite place to be among all of the big european cities. I am not just sure about my favorite city, but I am also certain that the Oxford program all together was perfect for me. The program took me through all of the major cities in Europe and then gave me time to decompress at one of the worlds most respected universities. The travel portion of the trip is what makes the program so unique and it was during this crazy ride of three day stays in foreign cities that I made so many new close friends.

Arriving to the UK August 3, 2012

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By the time we stepped off the bus and walked onto Oxfords campus we were all ready to be off the road, settled in somewhere, and spending time with our friends from other travel groups. The first week in Oxford was a whirl wind of figuring out the campus, getting into a routine, and getting ready for a new round of classes. At the end of the first week I hadn’t done much more then catch up on sleep and spend time catching up with friends on campus. By the weekend however, we were ready to travel again. My first weekend off the road several of my friends and I took a train into London for the weekend. We made the split second decision to take the 4 AM train out of Oxford into London Paddington the wait in the “queue” for tickets to Wimbledon. standing in a giant field for hours, we braved the elements to get our chance to roam the courts of the worlds most famous tennis center. As the day went on and we finally got our tickets, the weather improved. We spent all day wandering and watching different tennis matches. At the end, the only match left was Federer playing on court no. 1.We did not have stadium seats, but we sat on a grassy hill with hundreds of other people watching the match on a giant projection screen. After the match we made our way back into the heart of london. We arrived at London having little more planned out then a booked hostel. It took us quite a while to find out exactly where our hostel was, but once we checked in all of us passed out immediately. The next day we woke up well rested and headed out. London is an interesting city because it was mostly build before steel, so instead of growing up like many American cities, it grew out. The city is scattered along a large portion of the Thames. The best game plan for a trip to London ended up being a treck along the river side. This brought us to all of the major sights, from tower bridge and the tower of London all the way down to big ben, parliament, and the London Eye. All in all the trip was a nice introduction to British culture, and my later experiences in London, while the Olympics were going on, would prove the city as an international hub for the games.

Berlin July 25, 2012

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My next favorite city we visited after treking through Rome and Florence was Berlin. Although we had gotten a taste of Germanic culture when we passed through Austria, we had a full dose upon arrival to Germany’s capitol city. For starters, the city is spred out and has many more modern aspects to it then the previous cities we visited. fortunately the sprawling city had a great metro system that could get us anywhere we wanted to go. Teeming with modern history, I found Berlin to be one of the most interesting cities throughout our trip. Although our course emphasis was more oriented on much older history, i find more recent history, having a more direct influence on the current global atmosphere, to be more interesting. Although the Berlin wall and some of the left over world war II museums were cool to see, the best thing about berlin was the cultural experience. Upon arrival to the city, we noticed an unusually large amount of people out and about in the public park. We quickly discovered that it was the night of Germanys first match in the euro soccer tournament. Come six o’clock that night, hundreds of thousands of Germans, and maybe a couple Americans here in there, crammed themselves into the streets to watch a public viewing of the game. Hyundai sponsored the projection of the game on multiple massive screens lining about a mile or two of street in downtown Berlin.

 

Florence July 15, 2012

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Hot off the streets of Rome we made our way north form the west coast, through the Italian country side towards the smaller city of Florence. Unfortunately bus rides and I do not play well together and I was not feeling so hot for the several hour ride. As a grace from god we made a pit stop in Sienna, a quant little mountain town with an almost perfectly preserved layout. All around the edge of the town, anyone can easily look out over miles and miles of hills and small mountains, some scattered with Vineyards. After a refueling a stomach that was emptied violently on the ride, we hoped back on the bus and finished out the last leg of what would be our first city hop. Florence had a completely different dynamic. The city itself was much smaller, and it may have been the result of a more centralized and less sprawling city, but Florence gave off a more local genuine Italian feel. The several main plazas were all within easy walking distance, and the streets were always bustling with people over cars. Although there were several large attractions, for example the Duomo, they are more integrated into the city rather then being separated strictly for tourism purposes. The old parts of the city are still actual parts of the city, which i thought was cool. The 8 euro it cost to climb to the top of the Duomo was well worth it for a 360 degree view of the entire city, covered in classic red roofing. One of the most interesting things about Florence was the general age of it’s population. Our arrival may have coincidentally in sync with those of other study abroad programs from across the country, but while we were in Florence we ran into a bunch of American college students. Overall Florence had a great small community feel to it but was large enough to have cool things to see. Throughout the 14th and 15th century, Florence housed the Medici bankers, at one point the most prosperous industries in all of Europe. Because the Medici were not just wealthy but also patrons of the arts, Florence has some of the most spectacular pieces of art in Italy.

Rome July 4, 2012

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The last five weeks have been a fast and furious tear through Western Europe, visting over ten cities. Life on the road was draining and with only three to four days in each city, every minute of our time was packed with sight seeing and lectures to help take advantage of all of the different locations we were seeing. I think that the most interesting time to really reflect back on things is after experiencing all of the different cities and cultures. Our trip started in Rome where we were unsuspecting and unaware to the convenience of the metro. By far the most walking I did in any city was Rome, from the Coliseum and Roman Forum all the way up to the Trevi Fountain and around the Pantheon. Being the first city we visited in europe made it one of the most exciting by far. The weather started out wet and cold, but cleared up for the rest of our time there. The city itself is very centered around all of the large sights, and is littered with pizza shops. If we didn’t make it out of Italy in time I was on the verge of turning into a pepperoni. Although the sights were great and the food was delicious, there streets were teeming with vendors. Every corner we turned, my friends and I were bombarded with street vendors selling us children’s toys and flowers; we were successful in bargaining down the price by about 500% one night only to break our purchase of a light up helicopter within the hour. Although the nightlife was cool and the city was big, still, the biggest things that stood out were some of the things that we toured as a class: the colosseum, the roman forum, and the Vatican. Unlike some of the other Italian Cities, Rome truly had, in my opinion, the most impressive attractions speaking on a historical scale. From Rome we made our way north to Florence.

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