Dear Fellow Strasbourgers,
I cannot say thank you enough for opening up your home to me. Strasbourg offered such a beautiful portrait of Europe. Whether it be timeless cobblestone streets, preserved historic bridges and watch towers, thousand-year-old cathedrals, or rich cuisine, Strasbourg captured a blend of Europe like none other. As we learned in our EU Integration class, history is the backbone of any country. That being said, due to close proximity and history with Germany, Strasbourg balanced many German influences whilst staying true to its French roots. After each weekend adventure, coming back to this city truly became my home away from home and allowed me to better grasp an appreciation for Strasbourg, France.
When we first arrived to EM Strasbourg Business School, no one really knew what to expect. Many were wondering what our French Professor, Sabine Menu, would be like and how our class would be structured. I’ll be the first to admit that taking International Finance and EU Integration in five weeks is challenging and ambitious. However, both of our professors were accommodating and knew the reason we were in Europe was to grow our knowledge in the classroom, but more importantly outside of it. I really enjoyed learning from Sabine Menu; even though the language barrier was very real, she was such an intriguing lady and her class was terribly relevant especially being in Europe during the Brexit. She stressed the unity of Europe through its diversity and therefore on our weekend adventures I made a conscious effort to note each unique characteristic. Both classes spiked my interest in current events which tied into the structure of both the EU and International Finance classes. I found it really fascinating to be able to tangibly witness, analyze, and debate current issues while relating their history to their global impact nowadays.
I believe going on a study abroad trip is vital. As much as I value my education in the classroom, the growth in which I have experienced outside the classroom is unbelievable. With each adventure brought new faces, places, obstacles, and excitement. Our travels led us to these 17 incredible cities in five weeks: Interlaken, Gimmelwald, Kehl, Brussels, Paris, Munich, Fussen, Salzburg, Frankfurt, Bacharach, St. Goar, Moselkern, Klotten, Cochem, and Colmar. As Sabine Menu stated, each country truly speaks to the union of Europe, but also it thrives off each country’s unique characteristics.
Each new adventure created its own story. Additionally, each city meant travel, which brought up the question, how to get there? I am officially a firm believer in mass transit and an advocate of trains! Although figuring out where the train station is, getting a ticket, validating the ticket, finding the platform and not sitting in first class (oops) are quite the task, yet the reward is wonderful. Plus, after a few tries, we were basically pros. The train was our favorite means of travel; it allowed us to sit back gaze upon beautiful countryside and reflect upon each individual journey. From our first weekend in Switzerland, I’ll always remember being a mountain hippie. Not only was hiking the Alps an empowering feat, soaring above the Alps as I paragliding is the freest I have ever felt. This weekend was one adventure I will never forget. Switzerland may have cost us more than we bargained (as we we’re literally down to .74 francs), but we learned the beauty of no phones and not checking weather forecasts, what happens when you blindly follow trails, and how people’s stories have the power to shape this world. Switzerland started our trip with a bang! Second, Brussels, Belgium and Paris, France taught us how to be tourists and be proud of it. We did Paris in a day and all 30 miles of it were worth it! Not only did we conquer the metro, we saw it all and lingered little, this weekend was not a weekend for the faint at heart. Paris was overwhelming with crazy soccer fans, history, beautiful churches and cuisine! Third, we ventured over to Germany and Austria. This weekend met low points and high points. We (me) overcame biking fears, walked 45,000 steps in one day, drank straight from an Austrian cow, faced disappointment and sometimes had to compromise, pretended to be Julie Andrews in Salzburg, and stomached pretzels bigger than our faces. This trip was a bonding experience. Our last weekend in Germany involved getting lost and sticking our thumbs out like the Ags we are looking for a ride. This weekend taught me how warm yet austere Germans can be.
Something I found most interesting and appealing about Europe is this – simplicity. The word can be felt and sensed all around, in the people, in the portions, in the pace of life, in its preservation of history, in its scenery, in its communication; simplicity is gratitude. Thank you Strasbourgers for letting me call this place home. Thank you for the opportunity to become well-rounded, more knowledgeable, more self-aware, more appreciative and more confident. This non-stop adventure is something I will cherish the rest of my life.