Germany, Italy, Food, and really long Layovers

I came. I saw. I ate lots of food.

Seriously though, a lot has happened in the last month and a half. I arrived here dazed and confused with no idea what I was doing. I am now slightly less confused now that my time here is done. My German skills went from almost non-existent, to the level of a 3-year-old. However, that is being very generous to myself.

I’ve finished my engineering classes of course, but I have learned far more outside of it. I can now get around the city on my own, navigate the various transit systems in Europe and how to figure out where I am when I am lost.

Did I mention the food? I’ve discovered that my favorite German food is Döner kebab, despite it being Turkish food. I have also eaten enough Schnitzel and potatoes to last a lifetime. I’ve had delicious Italian food in Naples as well.

I’ve spent way more time in airports and train stations than I should have and I’ve been to places I never thought I would have just a year ago. I’ve eaten pizza in Naples and visited the home of Martin Luther. It’s been a great set of experiences.

Elevator Speech

My experience in Germany was very good. I am very glad I went on the trip. Since I’ve been at Calvin is the longest time I’ve been in the States, so its been very nice to travel around a bit. I’ve enjoyed getting a taste of life in Berlin. Highlights for me were exploring several of the German national parks, cliff jumping in the Mediterranean, and experiencing some night life in Prague.

Reflections on the Trip

Germany was unbelievably great. It’s amazing how much we were able to do during the time spent there. Even the first day was filled with historical monuments like the Brandenburg gate and I even accidentally found Checkpoint Charlie. The trip was a perfect mixture of planned activities and trips and down time. While the entire experience has been great there are a few key highlights. The Koln Cathedral was absolutely amazing, it’s impossible to describe it without seeing a picture, and even the picture doesn’t do it justice. The top is 157m (515 feet tall) –  that’s like stacking nearly two football fields on top of each other. Besides its height, the detail was magnificent. There wasn’t any part of the whole building that wasn’t handcarved using extreme care in the details. (There is a reason it took 800 years to build.) Also, the Heidelburg Schloss was really amazing, along with many of the other castles and palaces we saw. Then there’s the food – which was so good. I will need to try going to more German restaurants to find some authentic ones. The brats were especially good and are not comparable to the brats we have in the US – the ones in Germany are just exponentially better.


Our group was able to visit most of the different regions all over Germany. We visited many of the key and well known places in the country and when there weren’t planned trips, I was able to visit some of the beautiful National parks – Jasmund National Park in very northern Germany and Switzerland Saxon National Park a few hours south of Berlin. Jasmund is known for it’s salt cliffs and ancient forests and Switzerland Saxon is known for its towering rock structures and arched bridge roads at very high elevations. Both parks were amazing and I don’t have anything in the US to compare them to as a reference point.


What really made the trip the best was the people I got to meet and know better in our group. I knew a few of the people before I came on the trip, but I got to know so many more. Having these old and new friends made the entire experience amazing.