Indiana University Overseas Study

The last few weeks have been full of weekend excursions and lots of planning. Next week, five of my friends and I are making a much anticipated trip to Portugal. Just like my trip to Poland, I don’t even have a basic understanding of the native language.

This time around however, I plan on being the Portuguese expert on my trip. Poets and authors will marvel at my intrinsic understanding of the foreign tongue and I shall impress natives with my insightful and intuitive understanding of the grammar. Okay maybe not. Maybe I might just buy Portuguese for Dummies and learn how to count to 10 and how to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’  Here’s to wishful thinking!

I am fortunate enough to have all of next week off due to Pfingsten Ferien, which is Pentecost in English. I am not religious, but I am very thankful for the abundance of religious holidays here in Germany, especially when it means I can lie on a beach for a week. We will be flying into Faro with the rather infamous RyanAir—needless to say, I’m terrified. After hearing the ever popular myth that RyanAir actually forces passengers to stand for the duration of the flight and being regaled with stories about their insanely intense rules and regulations for luggage and boarding papers, I’m hoping that the two hour flight to Portugal will leave my nerves and armrests intact.

In anticipation of my week long beach stay, I have been Google-ing, Wikipedia-ing, and Trip Advisor-ing everything there is to know about Faro. I am always hesitant to be the obsessive compulsive traveler with an itinerary that schedules the day from sun up to sun down (in hopes of not turning out to be my father’s clone), but seeing as I am traveling with four other college-aged boys, I have a feeling our trip is going to need some guidance. On the list of things I hope to do in Portugal are: scuba diving off the coast to see shipwrecks, going for a boat tour along 46 miles of coast line, discovering Portugal’s cuisine, and hopefully taking a day trip to Sevilla, Spain (only a two hour train ride away). I have very high expectations for the trip and I hope the weather will work in our favor!

The list of adventures and excursions over the last few weeks have included a trip to Europa Park, wine festivals, high rope parks, and trips to the pool. My favorite experience over the last couple weeks, however, has been the reunion with my spring language course. Sadly, only half of my classmates were there because not everyone stayed to take classes over the summer, but the loyal eight decided to meet up with our old teacher and eat dinner together.

Through our month course together, we all realized our mutual love for hiking and the outdoors, so of course our dinner out could not do without another small adventure. We all met in the city and then took the tram to an all familiar hiking spot roughly 15 minutes outside of the city and hiked to our restaurant location. After trekking through mud and forest we reached our quaint restaurant which seemed like an oasis in the humidity.

The restaurant has to be one of Freiburg’s best kept secrets because besides the nine of us, the place was deserted. We all enjoyed our dinner and then decided to make our way back at around 10 pm. It didn’t occur to any of us that we would be walking through the forest while it was pitch black, but thankfully our teacher, Jan, brought some small torches to get back down the mountain. Our trek back was a mixture of terror, laughs, getting lost, and getting spooked. After a few close moments of thinking we were utterly lost, we finally made it back to the tram station. It was such a simple evening, with good food, great friends, and the weather was perfect—definitely a Freiburg must.

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