Being in Europe for an entire year is a long separation from friends back home. I have luckily not felt extremely homesick during my stay in Denmark so far, but have felt that it would be nice to meet old friends. Quite a few of my peers from Cal Poly have invited other friends to Denmark or traveled to other countries to spend time with them. I took the opportunity after my Core Course Week in Berlin to visit a high school friend that was studying in Germany for the year.
After saying goodbye to the class as they went back to Copenhagen from Berlin, I stayed in Berlin waiting for my bus to take me to southwestern Germany. I had some eight hours to walk around Berlin by myself and so I took the opportunity to go to the Berlin Zoo. It was great!
One of the highlights of the zoo was the Panda Bears. They had a whole exhibit with four bears, two adults and two cubs. SO CUTE! I happened to get to the zoo right after feeding time so they all were busy munching away on their bamboo and the two cubs had fun wrestling with each other. It was one of the first times that I saw pandas that were doing something other than sleeping!
Something that I have experienced in many European cities is the seemingly lack of interest in safety. This was present in their hippo exhibit where it was an inch of safety glass protecting us from two very large hippos. It provided great views of them swimming in the water as well as the heads of each as they came up to breathe.
From the zoo, I headed to the bus station to take a bus to where my friend was staying: Giessen.
Travel Tip #4: Look at busses for transportation instead of planes. BlaBlaBus and FlixBus are most popular
I arrived in Giessen at 5 AM after a seven hour bus ride. My friend had a great day already planned, where I got to meet many of his friends over a brunch. He is studying in Germany, but all of his friends are not German; they are Dutch, Italian, Polish, Czech, to name a few.
One of the main attractions in Giessen is the Mathematikum: a museum meant for young kids to discover mathematics or a place for older people to just have fun with math and puzzles. We spent a good three hours exploring the three floors of the building. Many of the puzzles we recognized as the traveling salesman problem, or fibonacci, or harmonic series, etc. It was great to see how mathematical concepts could be practiced in a certain physical problem.
Overall it was a great time with my friend in Germany and it was a great mental health vacation to ensure I will still enjoy being abroad for another 3 months.
On my way home I had an interesting journey. Because of storms in Germany my flight got cancelled an entire day before. I then spent the next five hours stressing about how I was getting home until Lufthansa rebooked me on a better flight. I originally was supposed to fly to Brussels and then onto København, but now I was on a non-stop flight. After figuring out train tickets to get me to the airport and arriving the needed two hours before my flight, I looked at the departure board for my flight and it read. Lufthansa. Flight to Copenhagen. CANCELLED.
Somehow I got rebooked again within 20 minutes of being cancelled but I was now flying through MXP – Milan, Italy. Wait so now I am flying an hour south, to immediately fly the same route back on a two hour flight. Seems legit. Somehow it worked out and I made it with little more hassle back home.