After spending the holiday season at home last year, I returned to England to take my exams and finish out the year, but not before visiting Ben and his family in the midlands. His hometown of Great Malvern is quite quaint and surrounded by hills. There’s not much to do there but it was nice to meet his family.
Final exams in the U.K. are so much more difficult than in the U.S. At American universities, I feel the work is evenly distributed throughout the semester (with the “final exam” usually just being assessed like other exams in the term) so you can assess your understanding as you go along. In the U.K., your final exam can be worth from 50-100% of your final grade. No pressure, right? After my exams, I got to take a wonderful trip to Germany with my grandpa.
We met in Munich and spent our first few days exploring Bavaria, including the Zugspitze, the tallest mountain in Germany and the Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein “Disney” Castles. While based in Frankfurt, we visited Trier (birthplace of Karl Marx), Luxembourg, Wurzburg (my mom’s birthplace) and my personal favorite, Rothenburg ob der Tauber. My grandpa left from Frankfurt but I went on north through the country solo, first stopping in Giessen to see my friend Amy. I then stopped in Cologne for a day before heading on to Berlin, my favorite city on the trip. I really enjoyed the walking tours, where we explored the history, art and counter culture of the city, the East Side Gallery (which I walked up and down several times as my hostel was right near it) and meeting new people, both locals (who worked at the hostel) and travelers. You can read more about my Germany adventure here.
In mid-February, I took another holiday to Budapest, Hungary. Although I had really limited time there, I enjoyed the walking tour, spas, ruin bars and meeting up with my Irish friends, Rachel and Craig. Budapest was one of my favorite cities and I wish I had more time there. You can read more about my Budapest trip here.
From about mid-January to mid-February, I challenged myself to be sober for a month. Spoiler alert: it’s very anti-climactic as I found that my drinking habits (or lack thereof) don’t seem to influence my academics, health or sleep patterns.