Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Back home

Hello everyone,

well as you probably noticed I am no longer abroad :(.  I apologize for the lack of entries after finals ended.  Once school was out I devoted all my time to traveling and even just exploring Ljubljana more and more.  My family also made their way over in the last month that I was there.  It was really nice to have them come over.  My dad, my aunt, and my sister ventured over first and I had a good time showing them around Ljubljana.  We did a lot of biking and took some nice long lunches--European style.  We also took a little holiday to the island of Krk off the coast of Croatia.  It took us a little effort to navigate our way there but it turned out to be a fun adventure and we made it to where we needed to go so everything was ok.  We rented an apartment and spent a few days relaxing by the sea and doing a bit of exploring.  It was really nice to have them come, I enjoyed planning things for them to do and places to go see.
My Dad, Aunt and sister enjoying dinner in Krk, Croatia
After a week or so my dad and aunt left to go back home to the states.  My sister continued to stay with me in my dorm.  My friends and I took her out to see the nightlife in Ljubljana quite a bit so hopefully she is prepared for her own upcoming college experience.  We also took a weekend trip to Vienna, Austria.  It was such a beautiful city!  We spent the whole weekend just touring around and taking pictures of the amazing architecture in the city.  I would have to say it is one of my favorite European cities I've seen.  We couchsurfed there which turned out to be really interesting and fun.  Our host had to fly to London last minute so we had the apartment to ourselves for one night which was pretty fun.  We also met up with another person on couchsurfing to go out to a trance dance...techno beat with blacklights etc.  It was cool to see some underground culture in the city!
Outside the palace in Vienna
Trace party in Vienna!
After we returned from Vienna Lydia and I spent a lot of time with my roommate and hall mate Petra and Tamy.  We went to Petra's hometown and had a swimming day and wine tasting too!  It was really cool to visit her home because it was out in the country and we were able to see farming and nice landscapes!
Having fun with Petra, Tamy, and Lydia in Ptuj
My mother soon arrived after and we embarked on a week long trip to Italy and Croatia.  We couchsurfed with her, she was pretty excited about that.  she had a good time talking to our various hosts and traveling in a different style.  We began in Novo Gorica which is on the Slovene and Italian border.  Our host was a young film student originally from Italy.  He accompanied us on the next few days as we traveled to Venice.  What a crazy place that was, so many tourists!  It was definitely cool to see though, being one of the most famous cities in the world.
Mom, Lydia and our host Antonio
From Venice we took a ferry boat over to Pula, Croatia.  We saw the famous Roman style Colosseum and couchsurfed with an American who was living there.  From Pula we rented a car and drove thru Croatia looking at the villages that my grandparents are from.  It was really cool to see our family's origins, such a cool experience.  After couchsurfing one last time in Delnice, Croatia we headed for the Plitvice lakes and saw really cool waterfalls!  so beautiful!! I think that was one of the nicest places I've seen so far!  After our travels were thru, we headed back to Ljubljana from Zagreb.  My family left after that and so I had a little over a week left on my own to enjoy.
Plitvice Lakes
I devoted the rest of my time to making as many memories as I could during that time.  People were leaving for home everyday.  It was a sad but nice time.  I really hope to see some of the friends I made again someday.  All the people there were so wonderful and were so open and excited to living in Ljubljana.  We all learned from each other and grew to be better people I think.  My last week there I took a  trip with Tamy and her boyfriend Danijel to their summer house in Croatia.  We had fun getting out of Ljubljana and hanging out with Dani's family!  After we got back it was time to go on another trip! This time I went on a trip to Italy with some friends to go to a rollercoaster park!  Petra, Tamy, and I went to "Gardaland" for a whole day of riding rides and fun!  We were pretty dead the night we returned but it was totally fun and totally worth it!
One of many goodbye parties
 Tamy and I in Croatia
Petra and Tamy after a full day at Gardaland!
soon it was my last day.  I think that I had a great last day though.  Everything was fun and memorable.  I went to lunch with my friend Vladimir from Croatia and then we went to see the botanical gardens in Ljubljana.  The weather was so hot but it was worth it to see a part of the city that we hadn't seen before.
Vladimir and I at the botanical gardens
 After going for a drink I headed back to my dorm to meet up with Petra, Tamy, and Damir to go for a dinner at my favorite restaurant in Ljubljana, "Don Philipe" a great Spanish restaurant, it was such a nice night in Ljubljana, we saw a few street performers and there was even salsa dancing in the streets!  We left from the Spanish restaraunt and went to skyscraper for a drink.  This is one of the coolest places to go for a drink because you can see all of Ljubljana from here.  We had fun drinking fancy drinks and chatting about random things.  I will really miss these girls because I spent so much time with them and we had a lot of fun no matter what we did.
 street performer in the center
drinks at skyscraper
 From here I met up with Vladimir and a few other friends one last time to explore a "haunted hotel" I had stumbled upon earlier in the year.  There was an old hotel up in the park that had burned down and was abandoned and we decided to go explore it at night and see what there was to turned out to be quite scary and it was fun to go in each room and see what was left, mainly broken glass and old wood but nonetheless a thrill.
exploring the haunted hotel!
With only a few hours left before my flight I wasted no time and promptly returned to the dorms to meet up with Petra and Tamy for one last night at Companeros, a popular club in Ljubljana.  I surprised the girls with sambuca, a special drink you set on fire before you drink it!  After a few shots of that, we headed to the club and had such a good time dancing like there was no tomorrow, we had a few drinks there too and thankfully the club was busy so it made it even funner!  After a few hours on the dance floor we headed back to the dorms so I could get ready for the airport shuttle to pick me 5 am the girls helped me drag my luggage to the curb of the dorms so the shuttle could pick me up.  As the shuttle came, I tried my hardest not to cry but I ended up shedding a few tears as I said goodbye and left the home I had for the past 6 months.
 at Companeros
 taking me to the shuttle

The multiple flights back home were long and uncomfortable and after a full day of traveling I made it back to the was really a shock when I entered the airport and heard only English being spoken...using dollars instead of Euros, and watching the American news on T.V.  Its been almost a month since I've been home now and I'm basically back to normal but still everyday is a little different.

so this marks the end of my study abroad experience.  Boy o boy did it go fast like everyone said it would.  I'm really happy I kept this blog so I can look back at it whenever I'm in a nostalgic mood.  In closing this experience all I can really say is how happy I am that I did this.  I remember how nervous I was before I left and how I had no idea what to expect.  Having no expectations was kind of a good thing, my travels turned out to be the best thing I've done in my life so far.  I feel like a completely different person now.  I think that studying abroad and traveling on your own in general makes you a stronger person.  You learn that you can only rely on yourself, you learn more about yourself and what kind of people you can really enjoy being around.  You also learn tolerance and the importance of keeping an open mind.  I am so lucky to have been able to do this, I feel stronger and more independent, I feel like I know where I want to go in life and I've found my true passion is traveling.  I've gotten a taste for it but there's so many more places to see in the world I won't stop here.
Beautiful Ljubljana
I'm back in Kansas City now and ready to have a great senior year.  I'm enjoying the last bit of summer before school and spending time with family and friends.  It's nice to reconnect with everyone and tell them all about my travels.  I'm hoping to go back to Europe after this year to meet up with some friends and go to the Majske Igre games in May!  I'm starting to save now so lets hope I can get there next year!  My friend Tom from the UK is also coming to visit in September and I can't wait to show him Kansas City and all its perks :) I hope others will also come visit, Petra and Tamy are planning a trip next summer so I'm looking forward to that too!

Anyway thats all folks, thanks so much for following me in my travels.  I hope this blog could give you a look into studying abroad and all the wonderful things that come with it!

A true Slovene :P


Monday, May 30, 2011

Finals friends and frustrations!

Dober dan!

Just giving you all another fabulous update from yours truly.  No trips at the moment, just busy with school and enjoying the country.  I am actually one hour away from taking my first final out of 3.  Geneologies of Citizenship to be exact.  The class is really unorganized, hence the reason I'm writing in my blog instead of studying.  Our professor decided to change our exam from being oral to written today on the day of so it makes it much easier for me.  He also did not even have a class room for us to take it in until one hour ago.  Ugh, this lack of structure will certainly be evident on the final I am sure.  I have a final in Crisis Management and Contemporary Political Theories as well which I need to pass, I've been studying all weekend but the professors make it kind of unclear as to what the tests will be like and how to prepare for them.  Is this because the students need to be self sufficient or is it a lack of preparation on the professor's part...who knows!  I finished a huge group project in Communication Management last week. (27 pages on a communication plan for a Slovenian wood laquer company and how to improve their market sales) with a group of 4 other Slovenian girls.  It was a lot of fun and challenging but definitely not my field of interest.  I used my psych training to profile our potential customers but from what I get from Communication Management, it is a lot of manipulation in order to get anything sold.  Thats the way the world works, thank god I won't be doing that for a living though...I'm not the salesy type :P  Because of all this schoolwork I've been really taking it easy in regards to having a social life.  This weekend I stayed at the dorms for the most part studying only to go out for dinner with a friend and running with a friend.  Time to get down to business and fun is not in the agenda!

Before school took over my life I went to a lot of the Majske Igre concerts and parties.  Student social events around Ljubljana that attracted thousands of people for good music and fun!  I've also attended a few goodbye parties for Erasmus students who are now beginning to leave for home.  My departure is exactly July 15 so I need to start thinking seriously of how to spend my time here too!  My family is coming next week! I'm really excited but also need to figure out how to manage my time with them, friends, and studies.  I would love to just shirk everything and travel with them but I know this last month is precious and needs to be divided equally between the three different catagories.  I still want to visit my roommate Petra's home in Ptuj and explore Slovenia even  more.  I think my sister and I will also go to Vienna for the weekend and see what Austria is all about.  My parents also want to do some traveling in Italy and Croatia so I will have limited time for everything else. Oiiii!  Things are definitely feeling different too, I know my time is running out and I'm really comfortable here now...kind of scary to think how things will drastically change again in one month when I go back to the States.  I can safely say I'm not the same person I was when I left for Europe, lets hope I can feel comfortable once again on American soil.

Speaking of America, I have a whole new perspective on my nationality and country.  For some reason last week I had a few uncomfortable occurences that really shook me up.  To begin I think it is clear that most Americans know they have to deal with a pretty nasty stereotype.  When it comes to foreign policy, and internal social and political conflicts some Europeans think they know it all and are quick to judge our country and its practices.  I usually let it roll off my shoulders when someone makes a "funny" joke about the way we do things, and yes sometimes its okay to poke fun of our culture etc.  I don't agree with everything our country does but I don't think its any different than the problems that all nations encounter at some time. But I have a problem with hating someone on the basis of their nationality.  Anyway someone I considered a mature, decent, somewhat friend got pretty inebriated and started yelling at me at how he hates America and everything it does and stands for as well as how he thinks its people are stupid and ignorant etc etc.  I was really struck silent because I did not know this person felt that way until this instance.  I really did not have much to say in terms of how we steal oil and wage war against everyone blah blah.  Sometimes its better not to argue and let the person realize that the issue is not worth fighting over.  I never gave this person a reason to hate me or project my "American" viewpoint on their Slovene way of life.  I'm not going to argue with someone who blindly hates me so I just held my tounge.  Unfortunately I have to see this person on a daily basis because we live close to each other.  Its natural that something like this would happen eventually but I'm still shocked that it was from someone I regarded as a friend. 

Coincidentally the next day in class we watched a film on American warfare and our motives behind our recent wars.  Being the only American in the class I felt like everyones eyes were burning through the back of my head as we watched U.S. Soliders train for killing in Iraq.  Ugh I don't know how to address this issue.  I think this is a large problem for many Americans who travel outside of their country.  With American media such as music, films, tv, permeating most of Europe it seems like people here think they know our culture better than we do.  I know most of the world has a strong opinion on our view of war and foreign policy which is fine but when it comes to judgment on an individual American citizen I think they have it all wrong.  We don't all contain the values projected by MTV and CNN.  I just can't take closeminded people in or outside my country.  Needless to say last week was rough, I almost had to leave class when they were interviewing a lot of ignorant Americans who were talking nonsense.  Its not anyones fault but its really annoying to have a specific national attitude projected on me as an individual, it just made me sick.  So theres another frustration that you may run into while studying and traveling abroad (potential international students take note)  Maybe one day we can work to fix this problem but its going to take more than a few people's commitments, it has to be a global change!

with love,

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Hola amigos!

I am back in Ljubljana after a long trip to Espana! It was so wonderful but like any trip it had to come to an end. I was on vacation for 10 longest vacay here yet! Its been a few days since I've returned but I still am pretty tired and need rest. The whole week I got about 48 hours of sleep...I stayed energized because we were traveling and of course everything is fun and exciting that way, but that lifestyle cannot keep me alive for too long!

We began our trip in Valencia for a few days waiting for the party boat to pick us up on our way to Ibiza. I was on the trip with Sam, Alicia, and Maggie from America and Anja from Austria, it was a really good group! We were fortunate to find a fellow Erasmus student, Henrik from Germany to stay with through couchsurfing. It was a lot of fun, he took us to a few parties and to the cheapest bars in town! We spent a day at the beach where I got totally burned but it eventually turned to tan so it was worth it. We also did a full day of sightseeing around Valencia! It was a great city, there was old as well as new architecture everywhere. And I got to speak Espanol, I'm pretty rusty but I could understand pretty well and it really came in handy because not so many people speak English there!

I really enjoyed Valencia!  It was so much fun. But the fun was just about to begin because we were all getting ready to board the party boat to Ibiza!!! As soon as we got on the boat the party began. There was a pool and a dj so we naturally decided to go swimming, the water was cold and the guys kept dunking the girls but all in all it was a great time. We were on board with Erasmustudents from all over! Mostly students from Italy, Spain, and Mexico so we got to meet a lot of new people! Most people had too much fun and had to be carried away from the boat once we arrived but 5 hours later we made it to the island and headed to the hotel. We were all too tired to go out that night so we had a decent nights sleep for once! We woke up the next day and headed to the beach, this is pretty much where we spent most of our days. We were also able to rent a car so we could drive around the whole island and explore the different beaches! The sun was so hot so I was able to get even more burned :(  

When evening hit we got ready to go clubbing. The entrance fees to clubs varied from 10 to 20 euro which was technically a good deal compared to the prices during the tourist season...70-80 euros to get in alone!!! Drinks there were about 10 euro each so we made sure to get good and spirited BEFORE we got there...we had a party bus to ride on so it was pretty convenient, except the whole way there the other Erasmustudents were screaming "YO NO QUIERO AGUA, YO QUIERO BEBIDA" the entire 30 minute drive to the club. Ugh. The first night we went to Punta Arabi for a foam party! Around 4 am the dancefloor got shot up with foam! Everyone was covered and the floor was so slippery! Creepers took this opportunity to try to get some action by hiding in the foam and attempting to get frisky! At this point we were all so tired we went to a table in the corner and slept until the bus came at 6 am...and once again on the bus "yo no quiero agua yo quiero bebida" all the way home!

The next day was pretty much the same beach all day, walking around and exploring the island, eating delicious cuisine and then heading out to go clubbing, we went to a club called Martina this it was average and nothing too special, no foam :) We were out again till about 6 am and woke up at 10 the next day!

The next day we all boarded another boat to go to a smaller island off the coast of Ibiza called Formentera. It was the most beautiful place. We had a walk around and accidentally stumbled upon a nude beach filled with old men XD that was quite interesting so we just kept on walking haha. After a nice relaxing nap on the beach we boarded the boat back to Ibiza with music and all you could drink sangria! Of course we took full advantage being poor and thirsty. After a nice dinner we got ready to go out again to the club Es Paradis! I would say it was the best club I've ever been to in my life. They had so many lights and sounds and different platforms everywhere. The best part was that the dancefloor turned into a swimming pool! Water just starting pouring out from everywhere and everyone was practically swimming. I wish I could have enjoyed it more. I was feeling pretty haggard by that time in the night and so I spent a lot of the time in the bathroom next to the hand dryer to try to dry off and get warm...the water was freezing!! 

Another night getting home around 7 a.m. to wake up just a few hours later and make the most of our time on the island. We went to the old town and did some looking and shopping and eating again. They have the best aioli sauce for bread there (garlic cream spread) I want to make it myself at home!!! Our last night out was at another great club called Pacha! We were all exhaused at this point but we decided to go hard anyway. The club was great with a huge disco ball and dancing everywhere. We had all really bonded with the other Erasmus people so we had a huge group just dancing and having a good time. We got back, packed our things, had a horrible time trying to find where to return the car, and then boarded the party boat for one last island party! And surprisingly enough people still mustered enough energy to do so! I sat and watched but people decided to get in the pool and dance the day away!

Once we got back to Valencia Anja, Sam and I decided to take a quick trip to Barcelona. We had a few days before our flight back home so we wanted to make the best of them! We immediately got off the boat and went straight to the bus station for a 5 hour night bus ride was pretty uncomfortable sleeping on a bus so once again we were exhausted when we got there! But it was okay!! We were in Barcelona!!! Oh goodness this city was so great!!! It was unlike any place I've been before, the architecture was so cool and the atmosphere was great! We took an open air tour bus all day looking around the city. It was a huge city so the tour bus was a good idea to be able to see everything. We had a fun last night in Spain too. We ate Paella and drank Sangria. We went to a few bars with some people from our hostel and didnt get much sleep again! Next morning we left early and took a bus back to Valencia, a plane back to Italy and a car back to Ljubljana. Whew a long day of traveling but definitely worth the weeks trip. I want to go back to Espana asap!

Anyway I'm back in Ljubljana now. Home sweet home! I really feel at home here now :) I've been studying up the past few days and getting back on track. Although we have the "May games" going on now. A lot of concerts, parties, and competitions are going on and its a lot of busy activities for students. I can feel my time slipping away so I hope to balance my time of having fun and getting school work done for an overall great time!


Monday, May 2, 2011

Spring Break!

Hello readers!

I am finishing up my last day of our vacation period in school.  It has been a very busy and fun week, I feel like I am a very experienced traveler now.  I feel comfortable living out of a bag and sleeping in a different place every night.  When you are a college student studying abroad you cannot afford to be picky!  My vacation started out with my roommate Petra driving my friend/corridor mate Tamy and myself to Tamy's house for a nice Easter weekend in Celje.  I had previously been there for a day trip to the castle but I was fortunate to spend a whole weekend there with Tamy and her family.  I was so happy to spend Easter away from the dorms and in a family environment.  Holidays aren't the same without family!  Tamy's mom and grandma made the best food ever!  We had potica, french salad, ham, and lots of cheese and veggies.  Yumm!  When Tamy and I weren't eating delicious treats, we had fun hanging around Celje.  We watched movies, hung out with friends, watched "Slovenia's got Talent", and went out to visit a nice lake with her mom.  We also went up to a cool alpine slide and had a few rides down.  For Easter we colored eggs of course and did the traditional "blessing of the food" that we do in the Croatian church at home.  I had a good time visiting with her family and her precious dog Kimy (makes me miss my Lulubean!)  It was such a fun weekend.  Celje is a really beautiful town located in the mountains by a river so the view was great.  I hope to visit again soon :)

After a few days back in Rozna Dolina dorms in Ljubljana (completely empty by the way!)  I began to pack once again for my next trip to the United Kingdom to visit my best mate Tom at his home.  After a quick plane ride and a bit of interrogation at the border I made my way to England!  Tom picked me up at the airport and we headed to his home in High Wycombe.  We had an fun night that consisted of him showing me the main sights in his town!  We went to a few local pubs and had quite a few drinks with his friends at the classy venue called "The Antelope".  I remember there was some dancing and bottle tricks involved but it was all excellent mayhem.  I also got a shot in improving my "British banter".  For all who are not aware, it is my understanding that the Brits (especially large groups of males) enjoy nothing other than "slagging each other off" for long periods of time with no sign of getting anywhere with anything!  For those who are still confused the main point of banter is to poke fun of your mates with embarassing stories and witty one liners.  I still need some work on my comebacks but I think I got the hang of this type of humor.  It kept me laughing all weekend at the expense of those who were the butt of the jokes!

After a crazy night in Wycombe we got up and took the train in to London.  The city is just huge!  It was a long day of going in and out of "the tube" to get to different parts of the city for sightseeing and entertainment.  Also, if you weren't aware, the Royal wedding of Prince William and Kate was taking place on the day we arrived.  It was almost impossible to get anywhere at a normal time.  The floods and masses of people were everywhere in attempts to catch a glimpse of this historic occasion.  The closest we could get was a sideshot of a screen broadcasting the wedding from Buckingham Palace.  But it was all a great time.  There was such a happy atmosphere around and the city was so alive!

We did a few sights like Camden (alternative scene) and the theater district and I did quite a bit of shopping! but after the wedding buzz died down we went to meet up with some of Tom's friends in Hyde park to have a picnic and celebrate.  The park was also buzzing with people and the drinks were flowing freely.  We stayed there for a few hours just hanging out and watching the people.  The weather was surprisingly nice and I was so happy to be there on that day with such a great event going on for the country.  Lots of patriotism thats for sure :)

After the day in the park we went to Tom's friend Grace's flat to have some dinner and prepare to go out to the soho district for a night on the town.  That was definitely a crazy place!  It was known to be the "gay scene" of London but it really attracted every kind of person, it was really fun!  Everyone was quite drunk due to the wedding and we had a lot of beggars come up asking us for money for their "hostel" so after a few drinks we decided to head back.  We rode the night bus so that was also an experience.  People trying to get in fights and random drunks peering into the windows made it a fun yet aggravating journey.  We finally made it back to Grace's dorm and got some sleep.

The aftermath of the wedding in Soho.

The next day we did more sight seeing in London.  I think its impossible to see everything in London in just two days but I definitely feel like I saw the main sights :)  We saw the Covent Gardens market with a lot of street performers and then headed over to the church where the royal wedding was held (it was packed).  Of course we also saw famous Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and the London eye :)  After a full day of walking around London when it wasn't swarming with people we said goodbye to Grace and went back to Tom's house to quickly prepare for our next destination.  We promptly jumped in the car again and drove out to Birmingham to visit another one of Tom's friends Sam in his flat.  We participated in typical student shenanigans and I was able to improve my English banter even more :P  After a funny night, we woke up and Tom and I went to look at the sights of Birmingham.  Definitely a different feel compared to London, everything went at a much slower pace.  We did some shopping and then headed back to Wycombe for a nice dinner with Tom's parents.  By this time I was running low on energy and excitement but we decided to go see Henley and Oxford.  Henley was where Tom went to high school/college and it was a really nice town on the river.  They actually filmed part of "The Social Network" in Henley so it was quite exciting to see it!  We then headed to Oxford, the famous University town.  It was really nice and quaint lots of old architecture and nice shops.  We went and had a beer at a pub and then headed back.  I really loved the UK.  In a way it reminded me of home in the States.  Obviously we have our differences but our country did originate and is highly influenced from theirs, that has to count for something.  The UK is definitely more "in touch" with the America compared to Slovenia.  It was also really funny hearing English spoken on the streets and being able to understand everything!  I had a fabulous trip, I'm so thankful I had a friend willing to show me all around as well :)

I'm back in my dorm now and my body is still recovering from all this traveling.  It can be exhausting!  Well in 2 days I'm off to Valencia, Spain and then going to party island aka Ibiza!  All this traveling is so exciting, although it can be tiring I think I need to do it while I'm over here :)  I've got to catch up on some school work though.  I've got two group projects due at the end of May and its time I get productive.  I think I'll do that now while I have some time.  Just a few more months until I return back home to America so its time to get busy in some way or another.