Mein Deutsch ist jetzt viel besser. (My German is much better now) Thank goodness. It makes getting around the city and meeting people way more fun! My past week and a half was dedicated to the Berlinale, which is a huge film festival that runs throughout several theaters around the city. I’m taking a film class that allowed us Accreditation passes, which pretty much got us into any movie we wanted to see. With a catch, of course. For about a week of the festival I would wake up at 5:30am (just trying to mimic the team’s weight/conditioning schedule, obviously)to get in line and ensure I got tickets to the movies I wanted to see the next day. As soon as school would get out, we would all rush to the theaters and watch movies until around midnight. Then repeat the process. Homework and sleep were compromised, to say the least. But it was so worth it!! I saw around 20 films, including: world premiers, independent films, silent films, documentaries, and foreign films. A once in a lifetime experience for me. Intermixed with movie watching, my friend and I would stake out celebrities at the premiers of their movies. I saw and got the autographs of actors like Salma Hayek, Antonio Banderas, Meryl Streep, and Robert Pattinson. I didn’t think I would ever be the groupie type, but as soon as I saw them, I was screaming their name, snapping pictures, getting climbed over and shoving my program in their faces to get it signed just like everyone else. Not one of my most graceful moments, but so fun!
I also went to my first European soccer game. I watched the local team, Hertha, play Dortmund. It was an hour train ride for me. From the first stop it was packed over capacity with fans in blue and yellow, singing their chants and screaming things at each other in German. Being sandwiched between about four middle aged men actually took some relief off of standing. They played in Olympiastadion, which was built for the 1936 Summer Olympics. The stadium was beautiful, the fans were crazy, and the atmosphere was everything I imagined it would be. It didn’t hurt that the winning goal was scored off of a bicycle kick, too.
I can’t believe the quarter is coming to a close. I continue to love Berlin and all the new adventures it throws at me; but I also can’t wait to come back to Stanford!! See you all soon!
We can’t believe that it’s already been 6 weeks. Time has flown by, as every day in Florence is packed with classes and exploring the city, and almost every weekend has been spent discovering a new city. We’ve been to Rome, Barcelona, and Venice the past few weekends, and each trip was amazing in its own way. Rome was a great place to see Renaissance art and architecture on a larger scale than in Florence. We saw the Vatican, the Colosseum, the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Villa Borghese, and so much in between (we walked over 12 miles that day!). Barcelona was a totally different experience with its more modern style and vibrant nightlife. It turned out to be quite the Stanford reunion weekend, as we stayed with Stanford Men’s Water Polo Alum Jeffrey Schwimer (’11) and met up with teammate Lindsay Dickerson. It was so nice to have a friend who knew the city to show us around, and we thanked him by showing up at his water polo game to cheer him on before we left! This past weekend we went to Venice for the opening weekend of Carnevale, where we bought fun hand-made masks and wandered the snowy city. It was record-breakingly cold (the Italians don’t do well with cold—our Italian mamma refused to leave the house for about 4 days), but we didn’t let that slow us down- we took a gondola ride through the canals and watched performances in the famous Piazza San Marco. It’s crazy that we only have 4 weeks left here, but we have so many fun things planned in our last month. Our program is taking 2 trips all together: the first is a day-trip to Viareggio, a small coastal town with its own version of Carnevale, and the second is a weekend-trip to Torino (and hopefully Milan or Lake Como). The following weekend we’re going to Prague, and then we’ll be back in Florence to await final exams and visits from both of our moms! Despite all of our travels, Florence is our favorite place by far and we love being able to call it home. Our Italian mamma still wows us with her dinners and takes care of us like we’re her own daughters, and we’ve enjoyed getting to know the city well enough to pick out our own favorite places (among them: an amazing panini place, an outdoor chocolate festival, and a place with a beautiful view of the city). We felt like real locals last week when we went to a Fiorentina soccer game. We cheered loudly and sang their fight song with pride as they came from behind to defeat a higher ranked team. Finally, at the end of March, we’re headed back to Stanford to rejoin our lovely teammates who we’ve missed so much and to start training for next season!
It’s Nina and Rachel writing from Santiago, Chile! We’ve been enjoying this gorgeous weather and country for over a month now! One of our goals from the beginning of our experience was to travel all around Chile and experience as many different things as possible- the country is made up of deserts, forests, valleys, mountains, lakes, glaciers, and the Antarctic circle. We’ve already planned (and gone on) many weekend trips to places like Pucón, Puerto Montt, Isla Negra and Valparaiso, Patagonia, and Atacama (and a couple of trips to Argentina- Buenos Aires and Mendoza.)
We’ve been taking advantage of the hot summer weather here in Chile, but have definitely made sure to keep piling on the sunscreen because not so fun fact: there is no ozone layer over Santiago! But don’t worry, that hasn’t slowed us down. We went white water rafting and hiking in Pucón, walked on the beach of the second largest island of Chile (Island of Chiloé) and have been playing pick up soccer with some Chilean college students. Chile LOVES soccer. In between classes and exploring Santiago during the week, we’ve been able to jump into some “baby” fútbol games- 5v5 with a futsal ball on small concrete fields. Not only do we get to have fun playing soccer, but it allows us to practice our Spanish, too.
We’ll be sending in more updates about our experiences here in Chile so make sure to check in later!
Hello from Berlin! It’s been about 3 weeks but I feel like I’ve been here for months! It’s wonderful. Cold. But wonderful.
My past week has been pretty exciting. Sunday through Wednesday we went on our Will Trip to Istanbul, Turkey. Istanbul is chaotically beautiful. It’s hilly and surrounded by water, with one side of the channel being Europe and the other Asia. You can definitely feel both influences. We toured the lit up city by boat the first night. Monday was more academic. We heard from some Turkish professors, politicians, and students and learned more about Turkey. At night we got to sit in on a traditional Dervish religious ceremony that involved lots of singing, chanting, and praying in Turkish. That was certainly an experience. The third day we finally got to explore the city! We went to the Golden Horn to see the Aya Sofya, Blue Mosques, and Grand Bazaar. Some people also went to a Turkish Bath, which I hear is an incredible and pretty cheap spa. The mosques were breathtakingly beautiful. The bazaar, OVERWHELMING! Hundreds of shops going in every direction with vendors standing at the entrance beckoning you to come look at their merchandise. I was called JLO Beyonce and Spice Girl in about 100 yards. Shout out to my mom for showing me great bargaining skills.
Here in Berlin this weekend there was this great event called Lange Nacht der Museen (Long Night of Museums). Over 50 museums all throughout Berlin were open from 6pm-2am. We bought a 10 euro ticket and got to go wherever we wanted. I saw some great art exhibits and the puppet, salt, car, and hemp museums to name a few. There was food and live music at most museums and it was snowing all night, which made for a cold but magical night. At one museum, I got this great street artist to sketch me, using my broken German and his broken English. That was pretty cool.
Other than that, being abroad has been incredible so far. I’m still in the culture shock phase where everything is new and exciting. I see something new everyday and have met some really cool people. My greatest accomplishment in life is when I can get through a full interaction with someone without using English. I’m getting pretty good at ordering, shopping, and asking for directions. The problem is when I get a response. haha “Wie, Bitte” (what was that?) and “bitte langsam” (slowly please) are probably my most used phrases. As far as soccer goes, It’s not quite as intense as Lindsay’s experience sounds, but everyone LOVES soccer here. There are cute little caged in small-goal fields all through the city streets. The other day on my jog I saw some high school boys playing and asked if I could join. They hesitantly let me, matching me off with the youngest, and smallest of the bunch. They were pleasantly shocked to see I actually knew how to kick a ball.
My teammates know how long-winded I can get, so I’ll cut myself off here. But each day is filled with wonderful, crazy, strange, awkward moments that keep me in love with this city. Talk to you soon!
Come visit me in Madrid and you’ll realize that what you felt for the sport in the States pales in comparison to the loyalty, excitement, and passion that overwhelms you when surrounded by an entire country of people who live and breathe for the beautiful game of fútbol. One of the main objectives of the Stanford study abroad programs is to immerse yourself in the culture of the place you’re living, and I’ve really taken that to heart—I tend to arrange my days and my weeks around the important games, I throw sidelong glances at anyone in the bar who cheers for the opponent, I sing the Real Madrid songs and yell “Vamos! Vamos!” just as loudly as all the other fans, and I make sure that when anyone asks me what the name is on the back of my new jersey, I say “Casillas! El mejor portero en el mundo! (The best goalkeeper in the world!)”
When I’m not watching soccer, there are plenty of other things to do in this beautiful city—I love to run by the river next to my home-stay, visit los Museos del Prado y Reina Sofia, practice my flamenco dance moves in preparation for our big show at the end of the quarter, and get to know my host mamá, Marisa, who happens to be the sweetest woman I’ve ever met and can cook a mean paella. So far, the most challenging (but also an extremely rewarding) part of my experience has been taking all of my classes in Spanish, and trying my best to follow our program rule of only speaking in Spanish, but it’s been amazing how much my conversational skills have improved in only 3 weeks.
I’m off to Barcelona tonight to meet up with Annie and Maddie, and then will be flying to Berlin next weekend to see Mariah, so I’m looking forward to the Stanford soccer reunions in my future.
It’s Annie and Maddie writing from Florence, Italy! We have been here for almost two weeks and we’re just starting to get the hang of the language (after a year-long hiatus), living with an Italian host family, and having free time. Neither of us have class on Tuesdays or Thursdays so we have been spending every free moment exploring Florence and the rest of Tuscany. As you can see from the pictures, we had a great bike workout in Lucca, an impressive lifting session in Pisa, and we climbed 100+ vertical meters for a stair workout in Siena! We are living together with a host family and are extremely lucky as our Italian “mamma” is a great cook and spoils us with elaborate Florentine dinners every night. We already have a favorite gelato shop, which we visit regularly (it’s a blessing and a curse). The Stanford Center is a 40 minute walk from our home, so we spend a lot of our day walking around town. Although it may sound like we don’t go to school, Maddie is taking a materials science engineering class while Annie is interning part time at a law firm. We are both taking a class that meets at a different museum every week, so we are learning a lot about renaissance art while being exposed to work from Da Vinci, Galileo, and masterpieces like the David by Michelangelo. We are also going to be playing soccer with a men’s team here in Florence, so hopefully we can show them what Stanford Soccer is all about! That’s all for now, we’ll send another update after our upcoming adventures in Rome and Barcelona! Thanks for keeping up with us,