Ashley, outbound to Germany

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This journal was written in honor of: The #Run Squad and Sushi Squad of 1810

Let’s be real for a second, I’m pretty confident that April was just two weeks long… How is it even possible that it’s almost over! I literally swear I just wrote my journal for the month of March. Anywho, it doesn’t matter if April was 2 or 4 weeks because A LOT still happened in that small amount of time!

In the first week of April, I checked off a lot of bucket list things to do in Cologne (i.e. eating in a specific chocolate café with my German friends) which made me very happy! I finished up my school work, and then started preparing. Preparing for what you might be asking yourself? My district’s Osterreise! Osterreise is this huge trip that my amazing district leaders plan taking us through Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, and the Czech Republic within a time span of a little more than two weeks! Crazy right? It was absolutely an unforgettable experience that I will cherish forever. We started off in Heidelberg (pretty castle place), and then drove on to France and landed in Strasbourg! It was a little strange to be in a country where I couldn’t fluently speak the language but I had one year of French class in Florida so I managed to get by with knowing how to say thank you and asking if they spoke English. I got to eat some delicious Escargot (which I love and will gladly eat for anyone who orders and then backs out after one bite!) and Le Croque Monsieur (no clue how to spell it, so I apologize to anyone who speaks French, but I can say it!) From there we headed on to the Black Forest, which was so beautiful! We visited the highest elevated lake in Germany, Titisee, and I think I’ve seen more Coocoo clocks in this one trip than I have days of rain on my exchange year, and there have been quite a few!) We also visited a clock museum which was interesting to learn about because I never realized how many different types of coocoo clocks and alarm clocks there were and that were made in Germany! From there, we headed on to Switzerland for a few hours to see the Rhein falls, which were breathtakingly beautiful! Still the second day of the trip, we headed to Konstanz which is on the Bodensee and took a tour about the middle age in Germany. The next morning we went to a wonderful Bavarian Cheese Maker and ate our happy little hearts out with delicious Bavarian cheeses while learning how they were made! We then traveled on to Schloss Neuschwanstein which is a castle that Disney used for inspiration when designing Cinderella’s castle. I can see why because it is unbelievably gorgeous inside and out! Next day we took an hour train ride up and through an Alp to get to the Zugspitze, the highest mountain peak in Germany! It was very cold and icy, but a nice trip across the border into Austria for lunch warmed us up in time to make the train ride back! It was then time to head to Munich, but on the way we made a few pitstops at the Ettal Kloster and Wieskirche, which were both two very impressive and beautiful Bavarian Churches. The next day took place in one of my favorite German cities of all time, MUNICH! I absolutely love Munich, if you get the chance to go, GO! Of course, my Dirndl accompanied me on the journey and it made an appearance in Munich because when in Munich, do what the people most likely do o nly in October! While there, I visited the Residenz Platz, TheresienWiese (Oktoberfest grounds), the English Gardens, and so much more that I couldn’t possibly tell you all about because I’m not entirely sure what the name of the monuments are… they were still pretty though! We started the next day with a pretty emotionally heavy stop, Dachau Work and Concentration Camp. It was a very emotional and powerful experience for all of the exchange students and gave us a lot to think about though. For me though, it made me think just about how different the country is then and now, that type of mentality, those types of actions are ones that are hard for me to imagine happening in this country. Especially as an exchange student who is a foreigner, they welcomed me with more open mindedness and open hearts than I could have even hoped for! We finished our visit there and then headed on to a HUGE salt mine near the German-Austrian border. I guess you could say we were in a Salz Berg, but not Salzburg… am I right? Okay, I now apologize to those of you who just read that bad joke, but it’s staying there okay? We may not have been to Salzburg that specific day, but we were the next morning! The Dirndl made its second appearance and added to the wonderful Sound of Music photo I finally got! It was fun because I got to play a little bit of tour guide since I knew where most things were after my trip in January. And of course I bought Mozart Kugeln because it isn’t a real trip to Salzburg if you haven’t bought a Mozart Kugel! We spent the rest of the day traveling on our way to Vienna, where, yep you guessed it, I got to see Isabel again! She joined our group in the morning for the Elisabeth Emperess Apartment Tour and then took me on a bit of a personal tour of Vienna. We saw a science museum, Manner Store (comes from Vienna!), the Rathaus and Parliament, and she also took me to a café so I could try my first coffee in Vienna! I greatly enjoyed the time with her again and I know I’ll be back to see her soon! We then spent Easter in Prague! We climbed up the astronomy tower and walked around the Easter markets before heading back to Germany in the direction of Dresden, where I had an amazing time visiting the Semper Oper and also finding a really cool trumpet player who played all of our national anthems! 

We had a good next couple of days in Potsdam and Berlin, where I saw pretty much all that there was to see! My new group was awesome and efficient, which helped us see everything we wanted to see! We then took a few more stops as Volkswagen (Fun fact: they make more currywurst/sausage than cars each year), Scwerin (a castle island), Travemünde (the north coast dudes!), and Lübeck (land of the Marzipan) before heading on to Hamburg! The weather during the day was definitely not at its finest, but the evening was fantastic because I saw Aladdin das Musical! It always makes me feel right at home, walking into a theater. It was just an amazing experience and I’m looking forward to seeing Bodyguard and König der Löwen next month! We then had to head to our last stop in Münster where we said our goodbyes. It was actually the first time where I had a truly difficult time leaving the exchange students. I had never really bonded with them like I had over this trip, especially with some new awesome friends that I met! Performing concerts in the hotel lobby, regretting wearing ballerina flats in Munich, and guessing how I would write all of my Instagram posts for later are all things that I miss about this trip and the group of people I was with! So, Osterreise may have ended, but April still hadn’t!

Not a lot more happened, but I did visit a very cool cathedral that is literally just in the woods. Like, nothing is around it except for trees and a few hiking paths. It really was a beautiful sight and was so cool to explore with my host family! 

April was one heck of a whirlwind, but such an amazing and memorable month. There is literally not enough time or words for me to be able to tell every little detail that happened. It’s crazy to think it’ll be time to start packing my things in three months or so. I’m just not going to think about it and enjoy all of the time that I have here and live it to the fullest! As a wise Canadian Rotex I met once said, “Don’t count the days left, but make the days left count.”, and I couldn’t agree more.