Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Pleasant Surprises

By: Garrett Nord, Business Scholars in Paris and Munich

I was fortunate enough to join the Business Scholars on their learning abroad trip to Europe.  While Learning Abroad it was my pleasure to have several experiences I could have never imagined. We spent a day in various parts of Austria, and also spent a few days in Paris, France, and Munich, Germany.
Growing up in the United States, there are stereotypes of foreign countries; whether I experienced this from movies, cartoons, or stories, I had a preconceived idea of what life would be like. For example I thought France was a romantic country with scarves and fashion from the United States. I had also imagined that Germany had thick accents and bulky built people. I now know that you CANNOT judge a country without experiencing a part of their life, because my preconceived notions were far from correct!

In France the atmosphere is very different. I found it very interesting that a large portion of the population speaks English.

One may devote a lifetime paying great attention to the art museums, tourist attractions, ancient architecture built out of stone, and cobblestone roads; however, what I found caught my attention were the markets on the side of the streets.   There is a high amount of street traffic with kiosk-type stores of all kinds selling anything ranging from miniature Eiffel towers to crepes.

A common way to make money is to perform on the street. Street performers draw in all kinds of crowds. There was an act for every kind of person, people who looked like statues, instrumental, jazz, magic, impersonators, comedians, etc.  The act that drew my attention most was when we were walking back from the Eiffel tower. There was a gambling game that several men were playing. The tourist (of course) would need to guess which of three objects that the operator was mixing concealed an item (a cotton ball in my case) they needed to find.  I watched them play for quite some time, and moved on to the next game. After watching for several minutes, I was invited to play. I did not have enough money to bet luckily, as I later determined that there was no winner, because the operator cheated the tourist. The cotton ball was hidden regardless if the correct item was chosen! Hence learning to not street gamble for any large sum of money.

My favorite day in Germany was the day we saw the BMW museum. Through building friendships, having good laughs with fellow students, and being at the museum, this was one of the most fun experiences I have ever had.  Every BMW car including concept cars that have ever made are enclosed in this massive structure. Other items of great interest were the Rolls Royces, Rocket Engines, and the many BMW Street bikes.  I now want to join in owning one of the most prestigious brands in the world. This museum is far more interesting to me as it combines the classic styles of BMW’s next to the most recent high tech, newest technology available.

Austria was the most beautiful land I have ever seen. I felt like I was in a Harry Potter movie, with fog covering the endless, tall green mountains.  It was an amazing view as I looked from our boat to the wide river.
I enjoyed both France and Germany, and would love to spend more time there. I would especially like to see more in Austria. This trip has got me on board with new experiences and I want to keep traveling to areas I have yet to see. I wish I could have stayed longer, but am so glad I took the opportunity to participate on the learning abroad program. I made great friends, had unmatchable experiences, and had so much fun!

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