Brian and Brussels

Let’s talk about Brian.

I don’t really recall how we originally met, but we went to high school together. We had mutual friends, took many of the same classes (including an honors government class which took us on a memorable three-day trip to Washington, D.C.), and in our junior year, joined band together in the same section. I can’t speak for him, but that it was one of the best decisions I made during those four years.

So with that added connection, we got to know each other a lot better. And when he went to American University in D.C. and I to Rowan, we still kept in touch.

Brian and I during a day-trip to New York City, circa 2009

Brian and I during a day-trip to New York City, circa 2009

Around the time that I was applying to study in London, I found out that he was planning to go to Brussels; AU has a specialized program where the students took classes together, went on field trips together, and had internships working with diplomats within the city. So, kind of like how my British Life & Culture class was set up, but that was their entire program (and add in a number of countries throughout Europe).

Naturally, we had to visit each other.

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Easter 2011 in Berlin

Rowan’s always gotten a bad rep for being a Suitcase School – plenty of students stay in Glassboro during the week but once the weekend arrives they all flock home in droves – but I’ve always stayed. I was paying for on-campus housing, so I wanted to get my money’s worth; plus, with a weekend part-time job it just made more sense to stay. I would only go home twice a semester: Me and my dad’s birthday weekend / Spring Break; and Thanksgiving / Easter. Every year, without fail.

Until this Easter.

Easter was never really that big with the Jaworski’s. We’d wake up, my mom would already have the ham in the oven, my sister and I get little baskets, my grandmother (and sometimes my uncle) come over for a nice meal. With me abroad and my sister on a cross-country train ride, my parents did not celebrate Easter.

And I think what I saw of Berlin encompassed some of that sentiment, albeit unintentional. Many Germans are not Catholic so I don’t think it is anywhere near as big a production as it probably was in Italy, Spain or even France. Everyone just sort of went about their business. And if I didn’t have a scheduled Skype date with my parents that night, I might not have really noticed that it was Easter.

For Berlin I’m going to do a little something different. I’m mainly posting photographs with captions, but here are a few highlights:

  • Tim and I hopped on the Metro after arriving in Berlin and we picked a station at random to exit. Crazy the kinds of adventures you can have when you don’t plan anything.
  • DUNKIN DONUTS IN BERLIN. DUNKIN DONUTS IN BERLIN. DUNKIN DONUTS IN BERLIN.
  • Watching street performers right around the American Embassy, which can be seen in my Munich/Berlin video.
  • Despite carrying a number of souvenir bags, a backpack and a DSLR camera, a couple of people came up to me and asked me something in German. (I think it was either something like, “What time does the bus leave?” or “Where is the bathroom?”) Unfortunately I couldn’t communicate as well in Germany as I had in Spain and Italy, so all I could say in reply was, “Ich spreche kein Deutsch.”
  • Food. Glorious food. 

Author’s Note, Present Day: It’s been over a year since I visited Berlin (and the rest of the places I’ve gone to after Berlin), but I am still very interested in telling my story. Now that I have graduated from college I will have plenty more free time to do as much, and I hope to update more often than I have as of late.

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Munich & Dachau

If France, Spain, and Italy are wine country, then Germany definitely starts the beer country portion of this spring break adventure. Granted, it’s not necessarily the only alcohol in these respective countries; it’s for what they are best known. While France, Spain, and Italy all had a summer-esque feel to them, Germany (and later Belgium and Scotland) were reminders that while the weather was getting warmer, it was still firmly spring up north.

But first?

Tail end of the Swiss Alps. Yes, really.

Good lord the Alps are beautiful. I only had a glimpse of them from the backseat of a car while driving through Austria, but still. Switzerland was on our original list of countries to visit, but it fell through – and was a tad out of the way with all of the other stops on this already-cram-packed trip.

We eventually arrived in Munich, where, after catching the Metro into Marienplatz, Tim found this little church that let you climb to the top for only a Euro. What the guy in the little kiosk failed to mention was that in order to get to the top, you had to climb 15 flights of quite narrow stairs.

(Europe isn’t exactly the most wheelchair-friendly continent.) Continue reading

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Florence, Italy

One of those things I found online. No idea who made it.

One of the rather unfortunate things about wanderlust is that you want to see everything. Visit ALL the places, to use an Internet meme.

Long before this next stop in Florence, which I would say is about the halfway marker on this spring break adventure, I realized that, no matter how strong the wanderlust is, I simply couldn’t see all of Europe in a semester. There was no way realistically, financially, mentally. Not to mention that also around this time everyone started to get on everyone’s nerves, which – no matter if you’re traveling with friends, family, or complete strangers –  always tends to happen.

So this was when we started crossing items off our list of travels. No Venice, no Vienna, and no Amsterdam. Everything else, however, was still on track. Continue reading

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Rome, Italy

If ever you have the chance to visit Rome (and the date is completely flexible), might I suggest that you try to go during Culture Week. It tends to be more crowded than usual – a real feat in one of the more-popular tourist stops in the world – but with that comes the real treat of most of Rome’s top tourist attractions are either free or discounted. We didn’t know that coming in, but finding out that our first days’ attractions of the Colosseum and the Roman Forums were free-of-charge just made them all the better. Then again, it was pretty surreal walking in and exploring these over 2,000-year-old ruins.

The Colosseum

A hint of life even where it's all in ruins.

A look below

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