Hey everyone! My name is Michael Kaefer and I am a senior currently studying abroad in Bonn, Germany! I am studying a Bachelor’s in German Language and Literature as well as European History. I’ve been shooting video blogs since I’ve arrived here in September and when I found out that SUNY Oswego had a blog page, I knew I just had to share to everyone about my experience abroad. From Oktoberfest to the Christmas Markets, and my adventures throughout Europe, I want to share with you what my life is like living in Germany for a full year. I know I’m late in the game (I come home in August and I just started publishing my blogs here, even though my video blogs are on YouTube) but that doesn’t mean they won’t be relevant to anyone studying abroad in the future. You can view my older vlogs on my YouTube playlist at http://www.blogginbonn.tk or whenever I post a new one, it should be here on Oswego’s blog page. Here are a few of my personal favorites, as well as videos of what show how the past few months have been for me in Bonn.
Bonn is a wonderful city- just the right size, not too big and not too small- and I can easily go to the larger Cologne thirty minutes away (a.k.a. where the fun is) whenever I want. I’ve met tons of wonderful people (and you will see that through my videos) and have learned and gained so much from my experiences. I just got back from Poland last night, and I’ve already been to various cities in Germany, Austria, and I’ve been in Dublin AND met up with some Oswego students there! Pretty cool. Next week I am researching my genealogy in southern Germany for a few days and then my second semester starts here.
I’ll leave my videos to explain a bit more, hopefully by giving you the ability to visualize, see my personality, and see how I’ve changed since I started vlogging in May, four months before I left, and now. Please leave your comments and suggestions in the comment section below! I would love to hear what I can add, make a video of, and just your questions and whatever. I am very willing to hear from you all!
These are some of my favorite videos:
Thanks for watching- I am currently working on my videos for a third trip to Munich, Austria (Vienna and Salzburg), and Poland (Warsaw, Krakow, and Auschwitz). Stay tuned for more!
Brussels is a city that is extremely underrated! I mean how can you go wrong with a city thriving off of beer, waffles and fry’s! A statue of a peeing baby is their most famous tourist attraction and it has over 300 outfits… what’s not to love?
To know before you go!
- Euros are used here (YAY!)
- You will never feel like a foreigner, the city is made up of foreigners (half the people are Dutch and half are French!)
- Everyone speaks either French or Dutch, English is a little harder to find!
- **WARNING** don’t call the fries French fries! Just don’t do it, very sensitive topic.
- 2go4 hostel has a free walking tour I totally recommend. We saw all of Brussels in 3 hours then we got to go back and explore what we wanted!
- There is a legend for everything!
- Never try the same beer twice!
- Waffles are meant to be eaten plain! Maybe with sugar, but everyone will know you’re a tourist if you get the one with 10000 toppings (though they are tempting.)
- There is a certain type of glass for every beer. All the tourist tries and steal them (I wish I did) but you will get in trouble if caught.
2go4- Very nice! I stayed in a room with 3 twin beds and our own bathroom, which is perfect! The location was walking distance from the Grand palace and also the train station. The lobby was very vintage looking and included free coffee in the morning! Again free walking tour that I recommend!
- Beautiful old buildings in a square with city hall towering over you is deff a site to see! Each street has it original market name for example cheese street, coal street, meat street. One of the buildings is where Karl Marx lived and wrote the communist manifesto during his exile. This is a quick thing can be done in 30 mins or so.
- Biggest (and lamest) tourist attraction in Brussels. It literally is a little baby peeing into the fountain. Legend has it that when Brussels was under attack a baby saw a piece of dynamite in the city, so he peed on it so it would not explode. Thus the manneken pis was born. In the 80s two college students stole it and the city went into chaos! Eventually the police located the statue and thieves and as a punishment they had to make hand-sewn outfits for the baby. There’s a schedule of when the baby is wearing an outfit and everything.
- Think giant steel balls in the sky. Literally that’s all this is. They say its brussels version of the Effile tower, not as grand in my opinion. We went at night and saw them lit up which was pretty cool but did not do a tour or anything. Type of attraction you take a pic and then call it a day.
St Michael’s Church
- Beautiful from the outside but I wish we did a tour of the inside.
- Really cool buildings from the outside but each building was a different museum. There was the modern museum and the fin-de-siècle which we went to for 3 euros… these were pretty boring to be honest but if you’re a fan of fine art this is the place for you! There is the museum of music which I was told was really cool plus there is a restaurant at the top that had a view of all of Brussels!
- Manneken pis sister… or girlfriends, depends who you ask. This is located right near the Delirium café and was put there to simply attract tourists to that area…. Smart.
Ghent or Bruggs
- Both these city’s are close to Brussels and are a must if you are staying in Brussels for long. We went to Ghent and it was awesome, filed with young people and a beautiful river that went through the city. We took a boat ride (not worth it) but the streets are so cute and old! You can get to these cities from the north station for cheap!
To Eat/ Drink
- MUST GO! I cannot rave about this place enough. At first glance it is a little hole in the wall deli-looking store with a big display counter and 2 tables. But the second you get to talk to Garby you’ll see that place is a gem. They serve sandwiches specializing in cheese! Don’t be afraid to order wrong because Garby will explain the whole menu to you, if you like sweet, salty ,or spicy he will come up with a sandwich that will blow you away. He was the warmest most genuine person I have met so far in Europe… definitely what we all needed from being away from home for so long. You will miss out if you don’t give this place a try, it is truly spectacular.
- Guinness world record for having the best and most variety (over 3000) of beers. Such a tourist attraction but worth it! My friends and I shared 3 different types of beer that were all very different and amazing! If you don’t like beer you have never tried a strawberry flavored one before.
- Absinth bar…. I repeat, Absinth BAR! Deadly…. Worth a try… but deadly (right across the street from Delirium.)
Dulle Griet (Ghent)
- This bar is so much fun. When you go you have to get a Kwak, which is a giant glass that is held in a wooden stand. They make you pay the price (your shoe) so that you can’t steal the cup! The boot goes in a bucket that’s attached to the ceiling and a bell is rung once you get your boot back! So much fun!!!