April – Semester Exchange to Heidelberg University, Germany
Semester 2, 2016
As a part of ACU’s student exchange program, I am studying at Heidelberg University in Germany. Arriving in Europe was my first ever time overseas, making me very excited and eager to explore other parts of the world. Heidelberg is situated in South Western Europe, making it the perfect location for some side travel to other parts of Europe. Given Heidelberg’s later semester starting dates I have already been lucky enough to undertake some side travel during the 7 weeks prior to the beginning of semester.
Along with my fellow ACU student also studying in Heidelberg, Emily, we embarked on a European adventure beginning in Croatia. In Croatia we stayed in the beautiful city of Split which is a vision for any traveler. The town was built around the ancient Diocletian’s Palace with its unique architecture design and beauty. We then sailed to other parts of Croatia such as Dubrovnik, Hvar, Tristink, Korcula and Makarska. Through our tour company, we were very lucky to visit the island of Tristink which has a population of less than 100 people, which is not usually open to tourists. It was also incredible to see some of the filming locations of popular TV show Game of Thrones, including the infamous Kings Landing and Meereen, a must see for any fan like myself!! We then continued through to Italy, stopping notably in cities, such as Rome, Florence, Venice and Sorrento. A major highlight for me were the historical sites and monuments, such as the almost 2000 year old Colosseum in Rome and the Ancient city of Pompeii.
From Italy we ventured to Geneva in Switzerland. Here, we got to visit the United Nations Office of Geneva, which only receives 115,000 visitors per year. This was a particularly special part of our trip for me as I have always aspired to work for the UN one day. We were able to see the headquarters for important meetings and were informed on UN procedure and history. It was an incredible experience.
After Switzerland, we explored parts of France and Spain. In France we visited Nice, Chamonix and Paris. One of my favorite experience was travelling to the top of Mont Blanc, the highest point in western Europe, 4809m above sea level! The food in these parts of Europe especially were some of my favorites. The bread and pastries in France were amazingly delicious and I even got to try snails (which were surprisingly good!). The markets and fresh juices in Barcelona were also a delicious experience to taste fresh, local cuisine! Our final locations were London and Belgium. In London we were able to embrace the local pub way of life as well as shopping at the famous Oxford Street. Belgium was a beautiful way to end our trip before arriving in Heidelberg. We were able to visit the very beautiful little town of Bruges, as well as enjoying a waffle…or three.
After finally arriving in Heidelberg it wasn’t long before we headed off for another side trip. We visited the city of Mannheim on our first weekend here which was a different perspective of German life and culture! We plan to do many more weekend trips including places like Dublin, Amsterdam, Berlin and Munich. I’m particularly interested in visiting places associated with Holocaust and World War Two history. I have just finished reading the diary of Anne Frank and am keen to visit her The Anne Frank House close by to Germany in the Netherlands!