Sorry this post is a day late! We were traveling for our long weekend to celebrate Easter so blogging had to wait until I got back to LCC (and let me tell you, as fantastic as the weekend was, I have never been more excited to sleep in my life).
Another girl and I spent two days in Dublin, Ireland and another two in London, United Kingdom. As second group also went to Dublin for the whole weekend, so we were definitely hitting up the UK for Easter! What we didn’t know before going to Dublin was that it also happened to be the centennial celebration of their independence as a country, so Easter Sunday was a dual celebration in the city center. They had ceremonies all over the city and big screen TVs playing the main ceremony for everyone else to see–the President of Ireland even came and hung a ceremonial wreath. It was a really fun cultural experience to see the Irish people remember their past as an oppressed country and celebrate the freedom they now have!
Here are some tips we learned from our travel mishaps along the way:
- ALWAYS bring snacks. You will regret nothing more than getting stuck in an airport longer than you expect and not having snacks. The ‘hanger’ gets real.
- ALWAYS check to make sure you have the right kind of outlet adapter for your phone charger in the country you visit. The UK is different than Lithuania and it was a struggle to share one the whole weekend when we constantly drained phone batteries with taking pictures!
- PLAN everything so you’re not running around last minute trying to work out the small details–transportation, hotels, etc. Get it taken care of before you go so you can just enjoy your adventure!
- CHECK the weather before you leave and pack accordingly–getting caught in the rain without a rain coat or umbrella is unpleasant. Our Cliffs of Moher tour was a little damp and we felt like wet rats…
Although, the mishaps are part of what makes the adventure memorable so if you do have a problem independently traveling look at the bright side and laugh about it! And, if all else fails, the study abroad office is back at LCC waiting to help you out!
Since we’ve all done quite a bit of traveling over the course of the semester, we’ve learned a few lessons the hard way. Here are our best tips for when you travel for weekend adventures across Europe! 🙂
- ALWAYS bring your ISIC card. You never know when this little piece of plastic will get you a discount–whether it’s on coffee at a coffee shop (super randomly), bus tickets, or anything in between, your ISIC will be your best friend.
- Exchange currency before you leave Lithuania. Yes, you can get it once you get there, but unless you’re super organized and know where the banks are (and speak the language), it’s easier to get it in Klaipėda before you leave. And, whatever you do, don’t exchange it in an airport because I guarantee you’ll lose money in the process!
- NEVER hand over your passports to ANYONE. Even if it’s a police officer, if you can help it, hang on to your passport when they check it. I’m not saying get physical about it, but when given the chance, keep your hands on it. It’s your most valuable possession for these four months.
- Don’t turn your backs on your things in a public place for a second. I come from a small Christian college at home where you can leave your laptop in the library unattended for an hour to go grab dinner and find it right where you left it when you come back. Americans can be seen as targets for theft in Europe, so don’t let your phone, wallet, or any other valuables out of your sight!
- Be aware of your surroundings. We are all heart broken to hear of tragedies all over the world, but living Europe makes ones like Paris and Brussels feel closer to home. You’re not in danger everywhere you go! But, with many of us traveling to the UK this weekend for Easter, we’re learning to be very attuned to our surroundings so we can be prepared for anything.
- Plan to spend more than you think you will. No matter where you go or how much self control you think you have, when you see that one perfect souvenir or really good looking pastry in the window, it’s all down hill from there. Budget these things in and plan for unexpected surprises. This is a once in a lifetime semester–live it up and buy that donut!
- Fully immerse yourself in the culture of the place you visit. Your time in Lithuania is about more than seeing everything and leaving–it’s about developing a new understanding of the world and its people. Even the small things make a difference when traveling. For example, avoid familiar places like McDonald’s and Starbucks and hit up a local cafe for lunch. People watch out the window as you enjoy traditional Spanish food and fall in love with the beauty around you for that short time. Believe it or not, even a weekend trip to Poland can steal your heart if you let it. 🙂
Lithuanian word of the week: bulvės — potato (the classic Lithuanian food product; if you see it on the menu, it will always be the best potato you’ve ever eaten!)
As we enter into our last 5 weeks in Lithuania, we continue to reflect on what it means to be a traveler rather than a tourist. We have all discovered that there is so much to learn from other cultures and their people–from Russia to Poland to Spain and everywhere else we have gone, our most valuable memories from each beautiful country are of the cultural differences we see being lived out. This quote is what keeps coming to mind as I plan out my last few weeks abroad and prepare to head back to the States soon. I want to see all that the world has to offer because each new place adds something to my worldview and understanding of our Creator and continues to teach me to appreciate people who live differently than myself. 🙂
Our stops in St. Petersburg were just as breathtaking as in Moscow! We spent time at Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood–the most iconic building in St. Petes–St. Isaac’s Cathedral, Catherine’s Palace (where the movie Anastasia was based off of, whoa so cool!), saw the famous Russian ballet perform Sylvia, explored the Hermitage and […]
After an equally exciting and tiring week spent exploring Russia, we are back at LCC and ready to finish our last 6 weeks here (WHAT??) strong! Our time in Russia was one of growth and one full of once in a life time experiences.We spent 3 days in Moscow and got to see pretty much all of the sites one would think of when thinking about Russia’s capital city. We got to explore Kremlin at the heart of Moscow, overlooking the Moskva River, Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Red Square, and the Alexander Garden. We got to pose for silly photos in Red Square, in front of and inside of St. Basil’s Cathedral (the most beautiful building in the world, if I do say so myself!), and see Lenin’s preserved body in his tomb. We survived the Moscow Metro, which in and of itself was a huge accomplishment, ate some delicious Russian cuisine, and experienced a traditional Russian circus. In other words, what didn’t we do?
We started the trip with a 4 hour bus ride to Riga, where we stopped along the way to see the Hill of Crosses in Lithuania. During the fight for independence, Lithuanian Christians were being oppressed. They started putting crosses in the ground to show they would not give up their faith, but the Soviet soldiers would take them right back out. The more oppression they faced, the more crosses they stood. Now lay millions of crosses on a small piece of land, representing the perseverance of the Lithuanian Christians, and showing an example of how God’s love can spread through human beings.
Then we spent 19 hours on a train from Riga, Latvia to Moscow, Russia. Here are some of our favorite things we did during our three days in Moscow:
Even the Metro was beautiful!
Even the Metro was breathtaking! ^^
Red Square, St. Basil’s Cathedral (inside and out, day and night), Lenin’s tomb, matryoshka dolls, more cathedrals, goofy pictures 🙂
Russian circus! (with real lions and tigers, oh my!)
We leave for Russia in less than 24 hours, and we couldn’t be more excited! After weeks of trip prep and Russian lessons, all that’s left to do is pack and get on the road. We will be spending spring break in both Moscow and St. Petersburg, the two most beautiful cities in Russia, seeing places like Red Square, St. Basil’s Cathedral, the Hermitage, and much more! Here are some cool things about Russia I bet you didn’t know:
- Russia is bigger than the former planet Pluto.
- There are almost 10 million more women in Russia than men.
- Russia and America are less than 4 km apart at their nearest point.
- The Hermitage Museum has cats to protect the art from rodents. Each cat even has their own room in the basement.
- Beer wasn’t considered an alcoholic beverage in Russia until 2013.
- Traffic can be so bad in Moscow that wealthy Russians hire fake ambulances just to beat the rush.
- The Moscow metro is the fastest metro in the world, and also the most beautiful.
- There are 11 different time zones within Russia, more than any other country.
In our Russian lessons, we practiced the Cyrillic alphabet and learned some key words and phrases to take with us. Here are some of the must-know Russian words we’re working really hard to remember for our trip:
Привет (privet) – hi, hello
как дела? (kak dela) – how are you?
пожалуйста (pozhaluysta) – please
Спасибо (spasiba) – thank you
английский (angliyskiy) – English
We may not have them down pat, but we have a 20 hour journey there to practice them some more! We’ll post lots of pictures and adventures to the blog when we get back from the trip! yвидимся, (see you later) friends!
Here is a video clip encapsulating our cohort’s attempts at reading Russian words after two weeks of learning the Cyrillic alphabet. We had fun making it and laughing at ourselves and hope you enjoy it too! 🙂