An Erasmus Reunion: Life after the Exchange

It’s been a while since I wrote anything on my blog, and lots for things have gone on in the mean time. I felt prompted to have a browse and perhaps write something more after a great weekend of traveling that made me so glad that I had chosen to leave the safety of my life in Southampton, and find a life for 6 months in a modest Swedish town.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than the things you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

An Invitation

The idea of a reunion of some kind was discussed at length in the closing stages of my exchange. I’d suggested London, many suggested Berlin (mainly due to the high volume of Germans), and various other cities (capital and otherwise) were suggested by various nationalities.

It all sounded good in theory, especially when we talked about it during a farewell party in someone’s corridor in Ryd! However, if I’m honest, I never really expected to see my friends from Sweden in any meaningful volume again. Perhaps the occasional visit here and there, but never large numbers.

However, after one of the Czechs decided to not only suggest Prague, but organise it too, with dates and hostels etc at a time that I was free… It seemed rude not to take her up on it!

The Trip

The weekend in question was the 27th to the 29th of June 2014. Due to the oddities of European flight prices, it turned out that flying to Berlin and paying petrol money to get a lift down to Prague was cheaper than flying directly to Prague itself!

Two capital cities for less than the price of one? Yes please!

26th – 27th

A night in Berlin on the 26th, and then straight into the car on the morning of the 27th meant that we were in Prague by early afternoon.

Meeting up with the others was a breeze and, as soon as we were in our Linköping overalls, we set off to have a bit of an explore!

In our Overalls at the National Memorial on the Vítkov Hill
In our Overalls at the National Memorial on the Vítkov Hill

To carry on the theme of odd, non-Czech trouser choices, I was also persuaded into some lederhosen at one point in the evening… I’m not sure why, but there we go.

Lederhosen Posing
Lederhosen Posing

 

28th

On the morning of the 28th we headed straight to the Television tower. The tower looks like some sort of evil lair, like that of a Bond villain, but the observatory level does yield some fantastic views! More info at: http://www.towerpark.cz/en.

View from the base of TV tower
View from the base of TV tower

 

One of the Views
One of the Views

We then went on a walking tour of Prague, which was around the centre and old town.

By coincidence, our tour guide was half Czech and half Swedish, originally from Jönköping! I’m not sure if that could have been planned better! It goes without saying, of course, that his tour was excellent. It was a free walking tour, which I would thoroughly recommend.

Free Walking Tour with the Czech/Swede
Free Walking Tour with the Czech/Swede

After our tour, we sampled (to the best of our collective ability) Czech beer, ate and generally had a nice time.

29th

On the 29th, it was time to go home.

A quick wander around the castle (the largest castle complex in Europe, I believe), it was back on the road, and back to Germany.

Once back in Berlin, I was treated to a quick look at some of the sights near to where I was staying, including the Russian war memorial.

Then it was back to the house to watch the Costa Rica vs. Uruguay match in the World Cup. Obviously, being an English fan surrounded by Germans watching football was a new and somewhat upsetting experience… but the alcohol helped!

30th

Luckily, I had a morning free before my flight, and was taken on a whirlwind tour of central Berlin: the Brandenburg Gate, the Holocaust memorial, the Reichstag, Alexanderplatz and general public transport.

The Reichstag
The Reichstag

I need to go back to Berlin. It’s such a fascinating city, with such an extraordinary history; I just have to explore it properly.

So, going home after such an action packed, exciting long weekend was, as you can imagine, somewhat dull!

What does this have to do with Erasmus?

City breaks are a common type of holiday. They are great fun to do, I certainly love exploring strange cities!

The thing is, though, I would never have done this sort of trip if I hadn’t made these friendships in Sweden. Why on Earth would you fly to Berlin and take a car to Prague if you’re trying to find the cheapest option? You wouldn’t, unless you had people in those countries to see!

The friends you meet on an exchange are not only amazing to have in their own right, but they give you the perfect excuse to explore, dream and discover new, interesting and exciting places.

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