Friday, November 22, 2013

Funny Story, Bro

Since it is Friday and we’re feeling a bit silly in the office today, we thought that there’s no better way to enjoy the day than to reminisce over a few odd or interesting stories from our time abroad. Now, not all these stories are our own and I am not going to label who said what (though I’m sure a few are quite obvious), but hopefully you enjoy a few of our tales from abroad. Here it goes, from Hannah, Holly and few others we won’t disclose. 

                While studying abroad in the Netherlands, I was given the opportunity to work on an organic, pure graze Dutch dairy. It was the highlight of my trip and taught me so much, but one of the most essential lessons I learned there came during one of my daily chores. You see, it was my task to trudge out across the fields to the very back pastures where the heifer cattle and beef steers were kept. I would go out every morning to move their fence lines, offering them new grazing options. My boss had painstakingly showed me the correct paths to follow so I wouldn’t get lost in the tall grass. One morning I decided to make my own path and marched across the field in grass easily a foot above my head. All of a sudden, the ground beneath my feet turned to water, and I was thrashing violently in one of the murky canals as some of my charges watched mockingly from across the way. No harm done, I climbed out soaking wet and quickly found my way back to the correct path, finished my chores and got to endure the nickname Kromowidjojo (a Dutch Olympic swimmer) for the next 24 hours. #SticktothePath

a few of my Dutch bovine charges

When I was living in Frankfurt, Germany, there was this bridge that we hung out under. So here’s the bridge, right, and then beneath it is this small overhang and beneath that is the train tracks. Occasionally, I would find myself sitting on that overhang enjoying the view. One morning I had just enjoyed watching a gorgeous sunrise, and was on my way back home when I came across an older gent.  I had just come back across the bridge after ducking back from the overhang when we crossed paths. He started out the conversation with this statement: “I can tell you’re not from Germany because you look like you don’t have a cold heart.”  That initial remark about my foreigner status was just the beginning of big long tale about his supposed life story that to this day I am not sure was true. Regardless, at the end of his gallant tale he then proclaimed that if I should ever need assistance, he would kindly become my mentor. He even gave me his name, phone number and email address. To this day I have yet to contact him, but I have always wondered what he might say if I ever did. What other excellent advice might he offer up? #OddConvo

Frankfurt, Germany

Generally, students are required to get a special VISA in order to study abroad. Some countries don’t mandate it based on length of stay or other concerns, and occasionally there are other loop holes students can use to avoid paying that special fee. Well, being a poor college kid, myself and my fellow American friends decided we would wait to complete our VISA payments. Word to the wise, that’s never a good idea. Feeling a bit homesick, we decided to spend our Thanksgiving holiday in London in search of a turkey dinner (we found it). There wasn’t much issue leaving our host country, but upon our return we encountered a “slight glitch.” Our passports lacked a special VISA stamp, and so the customs officer pulled us aside, spent ten minutes scanning our documents, and then finally sat us down on a row of plastic chairs while he called in back up. That’s right folks, we had just got detained.
 Now, our detainment wasn’t really too terrifying if you ignore our individual panic attacks (and my obnoxious sarcastic version). In fact, the cute, yes cute, male officer who was handling our case even offered us tea or coffee to ensure we were comfortable during our 2 ½ hours of waiting. To make matters worse, it was a Sunday afternoon. Now, if you’ve ever traveled in Europe, you know what that means. Everything is shut down. So, as the officers attempted to contact our host school to confirm our identities, all that replied was a voicemail. After a couple hours of trying phones without luck, one of the officers took one of my friends aside and talked to her privately in another room. At that point, we were all thinking this was the “individual interrogation” part of our crisis and were sitting huddling getting our story straight while she went first. Luckily for us, the officer simply wanted to know if she had access to any proof of our intents. God bless her, she had saved our acceptance letters in her email. After advising we pay our fees and stamping our passports with the government seal, they sent us off to continue the journey home to our host school. #DutchDetainment

a glimpse out of the Schipol Airport where we were detained

When I was in Switzerland, I had these two splendid best friends. One was a fellow American girl named Kristina who was studying in Bern, just 30 minutes away from my location. The other was a Swiss girl name Evi who I went to school with during that whole year abroad. Now, the two only met once during that year.  At my birthday or something, I can’t recall. Anyway, earlier in year before they met, Christina went to the Czech Republic and stayed with girl there named Mara. After Kristina and I left Switzerland, Evi, the Swiss girl went to Spain on study abroad to improve her Spanish. Needless to say, she ended up living with a girl by the name of Mara from the Czech. Turns out the girl who my friend Kristina stayed with in the Czech Republic was my other friend Evi’s new roommate during her study abroad in Spain. #SmallWorld

                Over winter holidays, my friend and I decided to spend two weeks country jumping with our first destination being Ireland. Wanting to hit up all the “hot spots,” we decided to stay in Dublin, and then take a tour bus to Galway and other locations. The day we spent in Galway was wonderful, of course, except for one detail. While wandering down shop street (the main and best street by far) we ended up in another random back alley. Out of nowhere, an old Irish man appeared and asked me to take a picture of him. At that point, realizing that he wanted me to take his picture with my camera, I should have caught on to the plot at hand, but being the naïve American tourist, I dutifully pulled out my P&S camera for his photo op. As I was about to snap his photo, he abruptly pulled down his trousers and laughed loudly. I was blushing so profusely and in such shock that I completely failed to take the photo then simply thanked him awkwardly and dashed off back to the main road. #IrishEncounter

Shop Street, Galway, Ireland

My friend and I were staying in a hostel in Dublin one night in preparation for our flight to London the next day. Well, unfortunately, my friend suffered food poisoning and stayed behind an extra day while I went on to London (through Ryan Air of course, since that’s how we college kids do). In hostels, you generally are placed with other 20-30 year olds in a room full of bunk beds. Well, there was a guy in the bunk underneath me and although I never spoke to him, my friend managed to strike up a conversation with him the next day after I had left. Turns out he was a student from UW-Platteville. #Smaller World

When I was studying abroad in Thailand, I met a Thai student who was a representative of my host university's drama club. I never joined that club, as they met on weekends and I needed to keep my weekends open for responsible good times. He asked me where I was from. I replied the United States, as those from outside the US and Canada typically aren't aware of where Wisconsin is located. He asked which state, at which point I of course replied Wisconsin. He asked where in Wisconsin. I didn't expect him to know the area, but I told him that I studied in Platteville. To my surprise, he was aware of Platteville and its amazingly large M, due it part to its proximity to Dubuque, which he had been to. #AlsoASmallWorldIncident

One weekend we went to the (in)famous beach city of Pattaya. On Friday evening we had dinner at a local restaurant, visited some nightlife establishments in a responsible manner, and came back to our hotel room to sleep. Except for two of our friends (anonymous members of the "Green Park Gang"), who decided to stay out all night. We had been scheduled that next morning to go on an official excursion provided by GlobaLinks Learning Abroad, an official Affiliate partner of UW-Platteville. The excursion was taking a boat to a small island off the coast and spending the afternoon on the beach. Unfortunately for our two friends, they were nowhere to be found, and unable to be contacted by cellular phone. We immediately formed a search party for the two, and put their faces up on bulletins for the entire city to see. Just kidding! We assumed they were adults that could handle themselves, and that it was their fault they missed the boat. After a few hours of beaching it up, I grew bored, and decided to explore the rest of the island. I found a small bike trail, and walked up it for a short while. After turning around and arriving back at the start, I saw to my amazement our two lost friends speed past me on a single moped. They managed to make it to the island after all, and after catching up on where they'd been, we all hopped back on the bike, and the three of us rode that tiny bike all around that island, including up and down some scary hills. #VerySketchy
Sanuk mak! (Very fun!)

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