33 days until peanut and sis take europe!

hi, everyone!

i hope you all had a fun-filled holiday and new year. i have very exciting news today! my sister, jessica, and i have just booked our flights and trains for the two and a half weeks we are spending together in europe next month!

we found some great hacker fares on Kayak for the flights, and booked through RailEurope for the Thalys trains. i’m so excited to have concrete plans (finally!), but it still feels so surreal! here’s our itinerary:screen-shot-2017-01-03-at-5-50-36-pm

in case you’re not a visual spreadsheet-loving psychopath like me, here’s our itinerary again, but with less going on:

  • London, U.K. – Feb. 6-9
  • Dublin, Ireland – Feb. 9-11
  • Paris, France – Feb. 11-14
  • Brussels, Belgium – Feb. 14-15
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands – Feb. 15-17
  • Munich, Germany – Feb. 17-20

we also got matching patagonia backpacks (because we are extra, don’t ask) and i bought a 35mm film slr camera to document my trip. a lot of people seem genuinely worried that my sister (aka sis) and i (aka peanut) are backpacking through europe together, but i assure you, she will make it home…i cannot guarantee that i won’t fall in love with deutschland and stay forever.

just kidding, mom! i’ll be back to finish my degree, but who knows after graduation??? lol

there are 33 DAYS LEFT UNTIL WE LEAVE FOR LONDON, and i cannot wrap my head around it. i promise much more scintillating content in the coming weeks, such as how to pack everything you would need for five months in europe into a 28L backpack and carry on-sized luggage (spoiler alert: it probably cannot be done, but i digress), or how to encourage your sister that she doesn’t really need to bring those extra 16 pairs of shoes “just in case.”

don’t forget that i will also be publishing content for the SDSU Be International Blog starting in February! i’ll announce it all here, of course.

until next time & thanks for reading!

xoxo,
julia

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finals week

we’ve finally reached the end of the semester, but my workload shows no signs of slowing down!

i have three finals this week, and at 3 p.m. on friday, i will be a free woman! i’m slightly anxious about my gpa this semester, as my classes have been more challenging than i could’ve ever expected.

however, i have some exciting news!

  1. 55 days left until i leave for london
  2. i was selected to be a contributor for sdsu’s official “be international” blog while i study abroad next spring!

i will be posting content of a more personal nature here on WITWIJ, but my work for the be international blog will be exclusive to their site! i plan to focus on the foods i’ll be trying in the countries i visit, in addition to chronicles of my daily life. i will post here and on facebook when i start publishing content for the be international blog!

stay posted by subscribing to WITWIJ! and for students reading this, good luck with finals.

xoxo,
Julia

first leg booked – london, u.k.

hi all!

i’ve just booked my first hostel, which means the first leg of my european tour is finalized! i’m staying in london from feb. 6 to 9, at the wombats city hostel london.

as a first time solo traveler, i’m a little nervous about navigating the tube with my luggage and no wifi/gps, but it’s something i’ll have to get used to. i arrive at london heathrow airport at 12 p.m. and will take the tube to tower hill, which is about one hour of travel time. when i was beginning to plan, my mom and i thought about booking hotel rooms while i traveled before classes since we were wary of hostels. after tons of research and talking to people who have traveled, we decided hostels were the most cost-effective way. since i’m going to be by myself, i think it’ll be much easier to make friends in hostels as opposed to walking around cities  and returning to a hotel room alone every night.

wombats has wonderful reviews and is a well-known chain of hostels in europe. i was drawn to its price and amenities, despite it being east of the main city. i’ll be staying in a 6-bed female dorm with an en suite bathroom and locker. i think the biggest challenge will be getting any amount of sleep in a hostel, because i am an incredibly light sleeper (and a bit of a neat freak.)

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Wombat’s Reception Area

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Wombat’s Basement Bar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

while in london, i want to do some touristy things, but i also want to see some lesser-known sights. i’ve heard wonderful things about the sky garden, which provides spectacular views of the city, and is FREE.

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London’s Sky Garden by day

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London’s Sky Garden by night

 

 

 

 

 

 

St. Paul’s Cathedral is also on my London bucket list. I’m not very religious, but I appreciate beautiful architecture. Also, my parents would kill me if I skipped this one.

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St. Paul’s Cathedral, London

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ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the next step is to purchase my eurail pass, and from there, book the next hostels. until next time!

xoxo,
julia

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welcome!

Friends, family, and loved ones,

Welcome to my blog! Its main purpose is to keep you all updated on my journey not only when I study abroad in Germany next fall, but also the steps I’m taking along the way. I also hope to be able to lend a helping hand to anyone who stumbles upon this page and has questions about studying abroad.

I am currently in my sophomore year at San Diego State University and, as many of you may know, I am studying journalism with an emphasis in public relations and double minoring in international studies and English. As an international studies minor, I am required to complete a cross-cultural comparison on a chosen topic and, in order to do so, I am required to study abroad. However, in my case, “required” isn’t quite the word I would choose.

I have always been fascinated by the different cultures, the diverse people, and the beautiful wonders of this world. My number one goal in life is to travel to as many places as I can, and my study abroad experience is one of the first steps in doing so. I have gotten many questions in the last few months about my study abroad experience and in this post, I will do my best to answer some of them.

“Why Germany?”
Honestly, there isn’t one perfect answer that I have for this question, but it seems to be the one I get asked the most. I’m drawn to Germany’s rich culture, traditions, and (inarguably) dark history, as well as the country’s self-imposed penance for events such as the Holocaust and the existence of the Berlin Wall. As one of today’s leading world superpowers, Germany’s infrastructure, economy, and vast technological advances indicate that it is truly a phoenix risen from the ashes. Aside from the country’s gorgeous landscapes and nearly flawless public transit systems, I chose Germany as the perfect country to conduct research in due to its cultural similarities and differences as compared to the United States. Munich’s annual Oktoberfest may or may not have also factored into my decision.

“When are you going?”
If I am accepted into the program I am applying to, I will be studying in Germany from August 2016 – December 2016. More likely than not, I will stay in Europe and country hop for as long as I can before I have to come back to finish up my junior year at State in mid-January 2017.

“What’s your research project on?”
My research project is going to be a cross-cultural comparison of social media’s effects on relations between businesses/brands and consumers. In layman’s terms, I’m going to be studying whether or not, and how, social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Yelp have the capacity to affect spending habits, brand loyalty, and attract new customers in college-age students in the United States and, you guessed it, Germany.

“Where are you studying?”
If all goes according to plan, I will be studying at Philipps-Universität Marburg (University of Marburg), about an hour outside of Frankfurt. This university has been around since the 1500’s and boasts alumni such as the Grimm brothers, who penned some of our most cherished fairy tales.

“What is the application process like?”
Through SDSU, there are many different programs to choose from (not surprisingly, we ranked as one of the top 25 universities in the nation for study abroad). I am applying through a program known as the International Student Exchange Program, ISEP. More specifically, I’m applying to the ISEP-Direct IUSP program. I have completed one part of the application process through SDSU and I am in the process of completing the other part. The ISEP application requires a letter of recommendation from one of the professors within my major, a personal statement, and an evaluation from the on-campus study abroad coordinator.

“Will you even be going to class while you’re abroad?”
Oh, how my parents doubt me. (Just kidding, kind of) The IUSP program I mentioned above is a program developed by the university and ISEP. It’s designed specifically to allow students to study in Germany for one semester and not worry about falling behind once they return to the U.S. (German first semester typically runs October-February while spring semester in the U.S. starts in January). For the first six weeks of the program, I will be taking only intensive German language courses as sort of an orientation period and after that time, I will be able to choose two elective classes to take in conjunction with the language courses. I would love to study English literature from a German perspective, as well as learn about criminal justice on that side of the world.

“Where else will you be going?”
Flying between countries in Europe costs around $40-$50 depending on where you’re going. While studying abroad, I plan on visiting some of the world’s fashion, art, food, and historical capitals. I would love to take a weekend trip to Berlin, spend Christmas in Paris, watch New Year’s Eve fireworks in Amsterdam, window shop in Milan, enjoy authentic pasta in Rome, learn how to ski in the Alps, taste chocolate in Belgium, frolic in the gardens of Versailles, peruse galleries in Madrid, and pay my respects at Auschwitz.

That’s all I have for now, so thank you for taking the time to read this! If you haven’t already, take a look at my “about me” page! I can’t wait to begin sharing stories with you, discuss my experiences abroad, and, indeed, welcome everyone to see Europe through my eyes.

xoxo,
Julia

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