And so the study abroad blogging begins…

Alright so I must admit that again this week I have cheated in my duty as a blogger.  My computer is unfortunately STILL in the shop, and yes my parents have one at the house but…it is STILL in the shop as well!  So that leaves me again with a 60 minute daily time limit at the public library, and I am faced with the task of answering urgent emails, blogging, AND writing an article for the local newspaper distributed throughout the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

This leads me to my confession, the following blog isn’t in fact an actual blog, but instead a copy of the newspaper article that I submitted today to the Sun Herald.  Before you start saying how much of a slacker I am, let me first explain the history behind the article.  Once upon a time long long ago when I was just a high school student…ok 3 years ago, I was a part of the Sun Herald’s Teen Board, a group of high school students that were chosen from across the Coast to write articles geared toward the teen population on everything from things to do, to what to wear, to hard-hitting issues.  As a member I was able to develop my writing skills, as well as publish a column entitled “Sibling Rivalry” where my older brother (a Millsaps Alum) would go head to head arguing about EXTREMELY important things.  Like which Little Debbie was superior (obviously the Cosmic Brownie) and whether or not texting in restaurants was appropriate (remember this was before texting was as common as it is now).

Anyhow…I wrote for the paper in high school 3 years elapse and I find myself preparing to travel abroad and wanting to again share my stories with other Coast residents so…I called up our old Teen Board contact and he gave me the go ahead for a monthly chronicling of my adventures as well as an introduction piece to be published before I ship out!  Below is the introduction piece that I submitted.  For all two of you faithful readers some of this you will have already been informed of but…oh well READ IT ANYWAY!

Oh and I find the title to be rather catchy if I do say so myself…

Coast to Castles….Chronicles of a Young Biloxian Abroad.

For decades Mardi Gras has been a celebration of Coastal traditions, a gathering of family and friends, a time to indulge in unlimited amounts of king cake, and a last hoorah before the beginning of the Lenten season.  The day following Fat Tuesday, known as Ash Wednesday, marks the beginning of Lent; however, this year the day marks a different kind of beginning in my life.  This year it is the beginning of every college student’s dream study abroad journey that will take me to the heart of Europe for the next five months.  Where exactly is the heart of Europe you ask?  Surrounded by Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and Austria, a tiny country by the name of Liechtenstein is where you find this heart!

At this point you are probably wondering if I am bold enough to call a country the “heart” of Europe why is it that you probably have never heard of it?  The truth is before last spring I suffered from the same lack of knowledge.  A little less than a year ago, I found myself in the study abroad office of Millsaps College being asked if I had thought about studying in Liechtenstein.  I had heard the name mentioned in a movie once or twice, but anything more was news to me!  A few Google searches later, and I had decided Liechtenstein was indeed the place for me, and with easy access to nearly every country in Western Europe what more could a student ask for?

Most commonly known as the hometown of Sir Ulrich as played by Heath Ledger in the movie “A Knight’s Tale”, Liechtenstein is a mere 62 square miles, is home to only about 35,000 people, and can literally be travelled from end to end in only one day!  Vaduz is the country’s capital, and this tiny slice of heaven is where this Gulf Coast native will call home. With one of the highest GDPs in the world and the world’s lowest external debt, it is an Economics’ majors dream.  I will be enrolled in the University of Liechtenstein’s Business Administration program where I will take a variety of business focused classes including International Marketing and Private and Corporate Banking all of which will fortunately be taught in English.  I speak not a word of German (except for the small amount I have recently taught myself) so outside of the classroom I will be forced to fend for myself from grocery shopping to getting around town it is sure to be a bilingual adventure!

While the country may be small, it is certainly mighty, including its weather!  The Mississippi Gulf Coast has been shaken by the recent bout of cold weather; however, the 10 day forecast lists the high for the week as 28 degrees in Vaduz!  A person from somewhere other than the Coast may find the weather a bit more manageable, but for me a 28 degree high in the Swiss Alps is anything but manageable! Along with mounds of paperwork and correspondence, the recent weeks have been filled with research and shopping in hopes of making this abnormal weather a bit more convenient.  Snow boots, ski socks, a snow coat, and extreme weather gloves have all been added to my South Mississippi wardrobe.  Along with the weather provisions, a great deal of other preparations have taken place in the past few months.  From a Swiss visa to a Lichtenstein Residence Permit to a foreign bank account the experience has already begun!  Who knew there was a direct line to the Swiss Consulate General in Atlanta?!

The pre trip preparations have finally slowed down, and all that remains is packing for five months away from home. (which will include a bit of every season) After adding a power converter, German dictionary, vacuum seal travel bags, and a few extra suitcases to my required study abroad equipment, I have finally begun to feel a bit prepared.  In only a few short days I will embark on the biggest adventure of my life thus far.  In addition to a weekly blog for the Millsaps College admissions website, I also will publish a monthly article sharing with the people of the Coast the ups and downs of a semester abroad!  From cold weather, to an everyday language barrier, to cooking in an international dormitory I will surely learn a great deal, and I look forward to chronicling my adventures as I explore the depths of Europe and travel from the Mississippi Gulf Coast to the castles of Liechtenstein!

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