There’s a first time for everything…

By Caroline Morgan

I categorize myself as an adventurous homebody. Although I know many people do not share the same feelings as me, I love my hometown, and although I love traveling and exploring new places I am not used to doing it without my family or friends. And of course, packing for 5 months in a new environment that you’ve never been to is nerve-racking in itself; am I bringing enough warm coats (as a born and raised south Florida girl, anything below 60 degrees is freezing), how many pairs of boots should I pack, will I ever actually use a sundress in the North of France, etc. A lot of questions with answers that only time can tell. However, I really think that pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is important, so here I am, 4,500 miles away from home. So far I have found that homesickness is not a consistent thing, it really comes in waves, sometimes you are out having a blast with new friends, and other times you get home and just want to stay home and miss seeing your family, which is completely normal. However, please do not let this deter you from studying abroad, instead, my advice would be to let yourself become distracted by everything around you. Allow yourself to become distracted by the new, exciting city around you, your new friends, the new countries you are going to visit, and all the activities that you are planning. Let yourself soak in all of the experiences.

The first weekend of travel

Even though I have only been in France for about a month, I have picked up a few helpful tips for planning trips and adventures. Start your adventures small and get the lay of the land. My first real weekend trip was to Munich, Germany, which from Strasbourg was only about a 5-hour bus ride (bring snacks!). Coming from the US where everything is so far apart, it was amazing to just take a Flixbus from point A to point B. I went one day earlier than most of my friends because I do not have class on Thursday or Friday, however, I found the experience to be great. The city was easy to navigate (with Apple Maps) and the people were very welcoming. The one friend I was traveling with and I got off the bus around lunchtime and found a charming old beer hall to sit and enjoy traditional German food (hot tip: Germany is not a good place to visit if you are vegetarian or vegan…). Then we explored some of the old town before checking into our hostel which was clean and spacious and met some really lovely people.

The old town hall

The next day the rest of our friends arrived and we hit some of the key points of Munich, including climbing up to the top of St. Peter’s church to get an amazing panoramic view of all of Munich. We finished the day by hitting Hofbräuhaus, one of the most famous and oldest beer halls in Munich. The next day we took the tram to the Nymphenburg Palace which was the summer palace for the royal family and the birthplace of King Ludwig II. Each room of this breathtaking palace is ornately decorated with gold and luxury fabrics and is even home to the well-known Gallery of Beauties which is an entire room with 36 portraits of who was considered the most beautiful women of their time, from royalty to the shoemaker’s daughter. After finishing up in the Palace and eating a quick snack at a cafe, we made our way to the Munchen Residenz which is the largest city palace in all of Germany. Although it is beautiful, it can be a little overwhelming, so give yourself plenty of time to wander through and admire all of its beauty (it took us 3 hours). Following the 3-hour tour, we had to go back to our hostel to rest our feet and decide where to get dinner. Eventually, we decided on a small family restaurant known for its schnitzel, which was an amazing decision as the portions were twice the size of the plate it was served on and the prices were great. After a filling dinner, we decided to visit another old beer hall where it turned out to have a Greek festival going on, so we put on our dancing shoes and learned some traditional Greek group dances. We finished our night by going back to the hostel for some well-deserved rest.

My friends and me in the Munchen Residenz

On our final day of exploring Munich, we decided to walk around the city a little bit more and eventually stumbled upon the famed surf spot. The surf spot is a small, but powerful river that because of a cement block has a constant wave throughout the year in which surfers from around the world come to try out the wave, even in freezing temperatures. This was one of my favorite things about Munich; I was simply in awe of these amazing surfers that would bear freezing waters in January to attempt to surf this river. From there we took our Flixbus back home to enjoy a nice sleep and scroll through the many pictures that were taken.

The Nymphenburg Palace