The Adventure that is Oktoberfest

Early in the summer, a group of us decided to plan a weekend to have the experience of a lifetime—attend Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. And in the end it was definitely that, an experience.

To get the most bang for our buck, we decided to combine two trips into one and stay in Salzburg, Austria. This way we would be able to spend one day exploring the breathtaking city in Austria and travel into Munich for the other two days. When I was in 6th grade my family visited both Munich and Salzburg, so I was excited to see them again.


The first day in Salzburg we quickly learned how to use the local bus system to travel from our cottage on the outskirts of town to the city center. We walked through what is considered the “old town”, experiencing all it could offer (but mostly focused on finding the best sausage available). Then we hiked up the hill to walk through the famous Fortress Hohensalzburg. The view of the city was absolutely amazing from up there. That night we had the opportunity for a mini-reunion with students from the Lausanne and Heidelberg programs. There were a couple dozen of us crammed into one apartment, but it was a fun time talking about all of the crazy experiences we have had during our first month abroad.

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The next day we geared up at 5am in our borrowed Dirndles (the traditional dresses worn to the festival) and checkered shirts to travel to Munich. It was not hard to figure out how to get from the train station to the Oktoberfest location because there were thousands of dressed-up people walking in the same direction. Once there, I took in all of the sights, smells, and noises. I am not sure exactly what I expected, but it was much grander than I had ever imagined. My favorite parts were the pretzels larger than my head and the many, many sausages. Needless to say we were exhausted by the time we got home and eager to go to bed.

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Our last day, we traveled back into Munich to do official sightseeing there. After filling ourselves with more food (it felt like we never stopped eating or thinking about the next time we would eat), we made our way to Saint Peters’s Cathedral. We took in the wonderful view from the top of it, and then headed down to make our way home.


It was a very fun trip and a great opportunity to spend time with new friends. Here is a link to our video of Salzburg:

It’s all Greek to me!

Each semester Pepperdine plans a 5-day educational field trip for the whole program to go to. London’s first trip is to Greece. For the first time ever, we got to add the island of Santorini onto our three days in Athens. Going there was one of my dream destination spots, so I was beyond excited to go!

Day One: After arriving in Athens we all split into separate groups to explore the city. My leader immediately took us to get gyros (our soon to be favorite meal) and then on a short hike to the top of one of the local mountains. From there we could see the view of the entire city. I was immediately struck by the Acropolis peaking up out of the modern buildings all around it. Afterwards, we had a free night to go explore the city. Almost half of our program tried to fit into the two hot tubs at the hotel—needless to say, it did not work out very well.


Day Two: We went by coach through the town of Thebes (connected with the tragedy of King Oedipus) and arrived at Delphi. This town is considered the center of the Ancient world. We visited the Sanctuary of Apollo, the Treasury of the Athenians, and the Archaeological Museum. Afterwards we had a traditional Greek lunch at a local restaurant and then handed to the Monastery of Ossios Loukas. This is a 11th century Byzantine Greek Orthodox cathedral surrounded by olive groves. The girls were instructed to put on skirts for modesty—you can see how fashionable we looked:


Day Three: This was the day of all of the classic Athens tourist spots. First we headed to the Acropolis and the Parthenon. It was such a cool experience to see in real life the monuments that I have always studied in school. Then we made the short walk up to Mars’ Hill. This is where Paul gave his famous speech to the Athenian philosophers in Acts. We spent a short time up there reading the scripture aloud and taking in the views. Then we ate lunch in the Plaka (the flea market neighborhood of Athens). Lastly, we toured the Acropolis Museum. The tour guide we had throughout the three days was extremely knowledgable and made the experience that much better.

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Day Four: After an 8 hour boat ride to Santorini, we were set free to enjoy the beach and explore the city of Kamari. Our hotel was just ten feet from the black sandy beach and we were all in swimsuits within ten minutes of arriving. It was a good time for the whole program to bond, as we were all eager to enjoy the California feel of the island. Many of us took to cliff jumping and shopping along the beach.

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Day Five: We headed to the ancient Minoan outpost on the island, named Akrotiri. It was preserved under tons of volcanic ash for 3,500 years and is in excellent condition. Next, we eased to the picturesque village of Oia. This is the town most pictured when thinking of Santorini—filled with white houses and blue roofs. We were set free for our inevitable photo shoots and trinket shopping sprees. I came across a store where you would receive a pedicure by fish eating the dead skin cells on your feet. I had seen this previously on TV and could not pass up the opportunity. I am happy to report that it is not as gross as it sounds, and just feels like little bubbles popping on your feet. After one last afternoon on the beach, we flew back to London exhausted and unprepared for the cold weather awaiting us.

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It was a dream of a trip that I would love to replicate if given the opportunity. It was nice having someone else do all of the planning and organizing. I simply had to follow the group and have fun with my friends. Here is a link for you to see all my Greece fun:


Brighton and The Seven Sisters

For our first travel weekend, four of us decided to go to Brighton, England (a small town on the southern coast of Great Britain). Some guide books call it “the Miami of England”, but I would compare it more to Santa Monica. Its most popular spots include its famous pier (much larger than the Santa Monica Pier), the Lanes (a series of boutiques and restaurants), and its Royal Pavilion (built in an Indian-style palace).

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The four of us stayed at the Royal Albion Hotel, with a view of the pier from our window. After checking in, we spent the day exploring all the town has to offer, while especially indulging ourselves in the ice cream and chips (french fries). There were many little beachside artisan shops to explore and knickknacks to be bought.


The next day we bought bus tickets that service the neighboring towns along the coast. One of the stops includes the Seven Sisters Cliffs. These are a set of white chalk cliffs, similar to the famous cliffs of Dover. To get to the cliffs you must walk through fields of cows and sheep, following a river. It is a beautiful walk and only topped by the site once you reach the ocean. We spent some time eating lunch on the shore and taking in the surroundings.

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Afterwards we visited the nearby town of Eastbourne. This is considered by the locals to be the older and cleaner version of Brighton (but also the less fun version). We stopped for shakes and shopping, and then headed back to London.

Overall it was an extremely fun weekend and definitely a perfect first trip out of London!

Click on this link to see the video of our weekend 🙂

Doing What The Brits Do

With as much free time as we have living in London, it isn’t hard to find activities to do. The students in our group have kept busy at every waking moment—going to comedy shows, restaurants, fashion shows, concerts, the list goes on and on! The range goes from quirky to touristy (never quite sure if the Brits actually do these things or if we just think they do). It is safe to say we are willing to try anything and everything:

Grey Hound Racing:

A group of us bought cheap tickets to go to greyhound racing in Wimbledon. We were expecting a nice arena, like what you see during the tennis matches. Instead we were in a less than desirable area with no idea what was the proper protocol for dog racing. We made the best out of it and those who bet money actually ended up winning (although it was only 20-40pence in the end).

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Equestrian Classes:

As a PE option, Pepperdine has partnered with one of the only remaining stables in Hyde Park to offer us a 10-week equestrian class. I could not pass this opportunity up, so now once a week I make a beautiful walk across Hyde Park to the Ross Nye Riding Stables. We take the horses out for an hour and ride all over the park. We are learning the proper English style and so far I am able to properly trot. My goal is to be able to canter by the end of the class.

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Boating in Hyde Park:

You can’t live two blocks from Hyde Park and not partake in the very touristy, yet very fun activity of paddle boating in the river. We had a very relaxing Sunday afternoon, eating in the Hyde Park cafe and then paddling down the river.


High Tea:

One of the girl’s parents offered to treat five of us to high tea at the Chesterfield Mayfair Hotel (a very swanky hotel). We were treated to long lists of tea options (I chose the chocolate tea, while another girl chose a tea that had a flower bloom inside as you waited to drink it). We ate towers of sandwiches, scones, and desserts, many of which used the fresh honey made from the 60,000 bees on site. It was a very posh and quintessential British afternoon, definitely one I will remember!


A Day in Greenwich

As a chance to see London from a different perspective, our Program Director set up a day for us to boat down the Thames River. Our final destination was Greenwich (a district of London), but along the way we would be able to see many of the famous London attractions.


Some of the highlights from the boat ride included:

The Shard (the tallest building in London, as well as in the European Union. It was finished in 2012 and stands at a height of 1,004 feet. )


The Tower of London


The Tower Bridge


Once arriving to Greenwich, we were set free to explore the area. Of course the first stop we made was to indulge ourselves in the local fish & chips. This sign was properly displayed inside of our restaurant:


Then we were off to enjoy the views from the Greenwich Royal Observatory! Here is where the official Greenwich Mean Time Line is (also known as the global standard time). The observatory overlooks a gorgeous view of the park, as well as the “Queen’s House” and the Maritime Museum.



Lastly, we went to the Greenwich Market—there were tons of cute stalls ranging from chinese food to baby clothes. Overall it was adorable and so much fun to walk through! It was definitely hard to stay within a student’s budget (so basically $0).



Some more fun around Greenwich:


Photo Scavenger Hunt: Knocking off all of the London Sites in just a few hours

As a bonding activity and a way to get us out of the house and into the city, our directors came up with a plan: send us off in groups with a list of places to get photos of. The most creative and amusing photos would win a trip to high tea, the losers would have a collection of photos and some memories. Here are my group’s results:

First on the list was Piccadilly Circus (London’s version of Times Square):


Next up: the famous Trafalgar Square Lion Statues. Here we decided to get creative and reenact a scene from The Lion King. We were quite the site to see with our many attempts at raising me high enough— needless to say we attracted a few stares.


Third was the official half-price ticket booth in Leicester Square. Two of our girls even bought play tickets right there on the spot!


As expected, we stopped for a photo at Buckingham Palace. Unfortunately the guards were not outside of the gates, so we weren’t able to taunt them or take silly photos.


And lastly, we visited the London Eye— which you can actually see if you walk two blocks from our house!


For our mode of transportation to all of these locations, we were required to take all that London has to offer:

The famous black cabs (here is our attempt at hailing one):


The Barclays Bikes (which can be found all over town and are actually quite fun):


The iconic red double-decker buses (note: to be creative we acted as loud Americans and the annoyed British passengers):


And of course, the Tube (pronounced “chube”):



Other stops made along the way included:

Big Ben (representing my Kappa sisters):


Hyde Park (definitely necessary to throw autumn leaves in the air):



The Wellington Arch near the entrance of Hyde Park (you don’t see that in Southern California):



Check all of that off my bucket list!

PS. If you were wondering, we didn’t win the competition (but we had tea in Hyde Park ourselves).

London Rocks (literally!)

For me, one of the biggest draws of going to London was being in close proximity to so much of what we learn about in school. I had seen photos of the famous historical sites, the cathedrals, the art, but never experienced it for myself. It was definitely time to change that. Clearly Pepperdine agreed because our first big outing was to two very touristy, yet important places: Stonehenge and Salisbury.

Stonehenge is an iconic site that is on every must-see list for Great Britain (needless to say we were pretty excited). Our tour guide was a lovely British woman by the name of Hazel. She quickly taught us the lesson of “British Fast Walking” (which she felt was very important for us to learn if we were to make it in the big city). It was a very interesting place with not only the stones as the main attraction, but examples of the huts that the workers would have lived in while building the monument. Of course, most of us took the moment to have a complete photo shoot (involving many different poses, facial expressions, etc.):


Representing almost every Pepperdine sorority


Casual– we always sit like this


The Stonehenge Pose

Huts with Alex

Peek-a-boo! This is the replica of the Bronze Age huts



Unfortunately, we did not time our visit properly and we missed President Obama by just a few hours. Imagine that, a photo of us with Obama at Stonehenge (oh well! Next time!).

Next stop: Salisbury!

Salisbury is a wonderful little town full of delicious restaurants and quintessential British countryside architecture. It is, of course, most famous for the Salisbury Cathedral, which is impressive not only for its size and beauty, but for its role in holding one of the Magna Cartas.

Salisbury Castle


There you go! My first day-trip in England 🙂

London Calling

Ever since I was a little girl, I knew that I would attend Pepperdine University. I would hear the stories of my mom living in Heidelberg, Germany and wanted to experience this far-away place. Later I had the example of my older sister studying in London—wearing cute pea coats and making the friends she would have for a lifetime. Admiring these women, I wanted to follow in their footsteps and spend my sophomore year of college in Europe. I have finally come to that point in my life! I have now committed to spending the next eight months in London, taking classes during the week and traveling to all areas of Europe during the weekends. Let the adventure begin!