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Thunderstruck

I don’t know who this guy is…but I’m happy he’s catching up on much needed sleep!

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I get the opportunity for a free topic blog this week and since everyone else is covering our trip to Auschwitz, I want to do something a little different. I want to share with you all my observations and thoughts on Europe so far.

Let me get the rough part out of the way first. You spend essentially the entire trip with some form of limitation. You take a day-trip to Poland and you don’t have any of their currency. You go to a nice Italian restaurant but they do not understand what you want to order because they do not speak English. You try to find a nice outing for a beautiful day in May but all of the attractions and courses are only offered in Czech. You start running low on money and you can’t make any while you’re here. Your laptop hard drive crashes and you have to type blogs on your phone. You want some time to think, to rest, to relax but there’s always someone around. And sometimes you want a beer in the morning, but you have church in 40 minutes.

Now, that’s the downside, here are all of the upsides. If you start missing Qdoba or Chipotle (or Moe’s, but who misses Moe’s?), there’s a $4 burrito place right next to the classroom. If you miss your family and friends, there are always places to go to FaceTime them and instantly be reunited. If you want to go to some random country just because, just book a ticket and go. If you want to play sports or go for a run, there is an assortment of parks, courts, courses just a few tram stops away. If you want to go to a water park, play laser tag, or dance the night away, put $20 in your pocket and you will not be disappointed. If you’re bored, there’s 23 new family members here with you that are always up to play cards, grab a drink, chat, or have an all guys slumber party in Abe’s room.

And that’s just Olomouc. A small, cozy town halfway across the globe.

After spending two months and two days here, you start to realize that maybe it isn’t so different here. Yeah, the coffees are smaller and the beer is cheaper, but you forget about that after a while. At first, everything is so immensely different that you aren’t quite sure which way is up, sideways, or yesterday. You’re entirely foreign. As time goes on, however, those large differences become smaller and smaller until they just become the norm. People still drink coffee here, people still eat hamburgers here, people still show love here. Granted, they still don’t say “excuse me” or “ope” like I ranted about in a previous blog, but nonetheless, they do what they do, and we start to do what they do too.

Oh, you thought I was going to just have one deep, meaningful post about my wonderful time in Europe? Na-na-na-na-na-na-na (that’s Batman). Bloopers. I once ran into a door because most entrances here are push doors here, EXCEPT FOR THE ONE I TRIED TO PUSH BUT IT WAS A PULL. I fake run into signs often and everyone knows I’m faking, except for one girl that thought I was serious the entire time. She still thinks I’m a clutzy person, probably. Snails are a delicacy here too, so Abe stepped on one and crushed it “by accident.” One person bought chicken nuggets here shaped like dinosaurs. Na-na-na-na-na-na (Batman), these were fish nuggets. Learn Czech, it helps. They put a sweet sauce on McChickens here. It’s not ketchup. What do you call a fake noodle? An impasta (or the cheapest “noodles” available at Globus). If enough people get bronchitis or pneumonia, you aren’t expected to do to well in Czech class the next day. If a girl doesn’t know how to swing dance, don’t dip her. She won’t like it, she’ll say “DON’T DO THAT” and will run away. And if you go to Club 19, you will be thunderstruck. We’re all a little thunderstruck here: bright, loud, and a little struck by how much we’ve come to love this place.

And again, that’s just Olomouc.

– houston arens

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Excuse me, are you Polish?

No, I’m German…

This is my field trip blog (this message included for grading purposes).

We had to take a field trip to Krakow, Poland this weekend and I think we truly bonded as a group. Let me walk and talk you through this.

We started off at the Salt Mines not too far from Krakow. It’s only a few hours from our hometown of Olomouc so the trip went swiftly. Down in these deep salty depths, we were escorted on a guided tour through walls and tunnels made up of almost entirely salt. Our tour guide said we could lick the walls, so we did.​ I have attached a video of a pretty intimate moment between me and Wall-e. This mine has multiple Catholic chapels and ballrooms and event spaces. It’s truly incredible that such a tasty tunnel wall could lead to such glorious spaces.

After our trip to the mines (and my goodbye to Wall-e) we finished our trek to Krakow where we checked into our hostel and watched UNK’s graduation ceremony to celebrate Alison and Taylor’s (two of my wonderfully fun study abroad pals) graduation. We also got to watch all of our friends from back home grab their diplomas and turn their tassels. In those moments I truly wished I did not have to be in Europe any longer; I wanted to be with my family and friends and be there for and with them on their special day.

That longing to be home did not linger. Most of us traveled to a Mexican restaurant to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with margaritas and some of the spiciest fajitas and enchiladas we’ve ever had. This led to a slew of tears, laughs, genuine feelings of imminent spice death, and instant regret. We were all in Cinco de Mayo hysteria and everything was perfect.

We eventually found our way to a couple Polish bars and clubs to get a feel for the nightlife. Everything was very calm and easy to figure out and we continued to just enjoy each other’s company. We found a club that had essentially just us in the dance area and the DJ literally would play whatever song we wanted, whenever we wanted it. We danced all the way into our hostel room where all nine of the guys got to have a slumber party and into Saturday.

This was a much more somber day, we toured Schindler’s factory. Oscar Schindler was a businessman during World War II and by employing hundreds and hundreds of people, he saved them from inevitable death at Nazi concentration camps. We were given a break for lunch and rest and then given a tour of the city center where some of us were able to attend mass at one of the most beautiful cathedrals I have seen. We were able to steal a reservation at a club (literally, we sat down and hid the sign that said “reserved”) later that night and again just hang out and enjoy the company.

Our final day consisted of a tour of some governmental buildings and housings. Nothing truly spectacular other than some tapestries depicting biblical scenes and Polish ideologies. We then hit the road for home and that was Poland. Surprisingly, I did not see any more poles than I do in America. I think I saw less, but I almost ran into one. It wasn’t a heavy one, just a light pole.

I don’t normally have cut-and-dry narratives, but a blog about a field trip is a little tricky. But, here is my takeaway: Poland is nice. Krakow is at least. We all felt fairly safe and confident in our excursions to restaurants and other outings. We were able to enjoy many laughs (Oskar is sometimes spelled with a ‘c’, you know, Coskar). Poles take their spices seriously, so be prepared when you order spicy. Never try sleeping with a chair cradled in your arms. Club 19 has the best game of Thunderstruck. If someone comes up to you at 3am and says “excuse me, are you Polish?,” just say “yes.” Never share a churro with another guy. Sometimes you sing too much so you have to do sit-ups. Marco Pollo is way more fun than Marco Polo (ba-kawk). Know that there is a difference between poles and Poles, then make all of the jokes to your Polish roommate (I think Abe is bitter about being white Pole and not a light pole).

If you want to know what happens when you’re asked if you’re Polish, listen to John Mulaney with this link:

The gist is this: Barney and I have said it before, it’s not legendary unless your friends are there to see it. Luckily, my study abroad family was there to learn all those lessons with me.

P.S. If your tour guide tells you to not lick a statue of a certain man, do it when she’s not looking. He’ll taste great. Follow me on Snapchat (@Houstace11) for more salt-licking and other crazy adventures as I finish up in Europe.

– houston arens

(my Venmo is still @Houston-Arens 😉)

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The Inter(national)actions with the Locals

If you’ve been keeping up with my interactions with the locals so far, you may have a rough estimate of how I feel towards them. You’re also probably wrong.

Although annoyed at us sometimes, the Czech people in Olomouc are great and wonderful and speak just enough English to make our interactions pleasant and less stressful. It’s when they don’t interact (which is rude) that irritates me, but that is very much the less common scenario. We’ve gotten really good at always saying “thank you” and “sorry” in Czech profusely so the locals know we are trying and we found out that trying goes a long way in being kind and courteous. Our Czech language class facilitates proper interactions. It has gotten to the point where some waiters, staffers, workers won’t even realize we aren’t locals until they spring something new on us. This morning I ordered a large coffee, asked for no cream or sugar, and listened so I could pay in exact change, all in Czech. A normal interaction for the barista until she asked something I did not understand (if I wanted it to-go or to stay). I had to respond with the embarrassing word of defeat “English?” She look shocked and confused and repeated to me in English how I wanted my coffee. However, there was a genuine look in her eye that I interpreted as genuine appreciation or respect for trying my best there. I didn’t find her too attractive though so I didn’t bother showing off and saying my phone number in Czech (jedna-čtyrí-nula-dva-osm-čtyrí-jedna-xxxx). Shallow, I know. But I like my women like I like my jokes: not this one.

While we’re on the topic of women, let’s talk more about another interaction with one of them. I was at the club one night and this lady in a red dress punched me in the back. I thought this was an aggressive gesture asking me to cool it with my dance moves (I just flail, basically). So I calmed my tornado arms and went back to conversing. My flatmate Niko saw the whole interaction and knew her and when I talked to him the next day, he informed me that she was actually flirting and was too shy to talk or ask me to dance. Two things here: 1. I somehow attracted a female woman person; 2. She was too shy to ask, but not too shy to punch.

Here are my takeaway analyses. People naturally act and behave differently over here. Whether it be subtle flirtations, aggressive tram shoving, or trying to order a meal deal and subbing the chips for a cookie, unless you completely submerse yourself in a new location for an elongated period of time, you will not interact with people the way that is customary. I am still getting used to carrying a bunch of exact change because people do not like being handed bills that require giving you a couple coins of change. I am still trying to ride the trams without having to hold on the the rails. I am still trying to scout out the pubs and restaurants that are no-smoking safe havens. I am still trying read into American politics (it’s huge here; they hate Trump, but their president loves him).

I should include some photos, but it’d be weird to go back to that barista or red dress lady and say “hey, smile and look like we’re interacting!” But sometimes, you’ll walk into a random pub with no one but you and your group inside, meet a Czech magician (part-time bartender) that loves the Cleveland Browns (ouch), and he’ll magically make the card you signed upon entry magically be removed from inbetween your friend’s hand and onto his face. This magician may just become your study abroad group’s hero and the next greatest magician. You just have to interact with these people, and maybe they’ll leave you with a lasting memory (and autograph).

If these are interactions, what’s an intra-action? Thoughts?

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Sorry Mom

I left the crowd. I drank with some strange foreigners. I didn’t tell you where I was going or what I was doing. Sorry Mom.

I went on a personal excursion during spring break. We had scheduled programs and field trips in Vienna and Venice to start spring break, and if you read my last blog you’ll know that a few of us scheduled a trip to Rome for another four days or so. After those four days, we all went our separate ways. A couple guys went to Ireland for cliffs and Guinness, a few girls went to Barcelona for beaches and Taco Bell. And I traveled solo to the cheapest city I could find a ticket to: Zagreb, Croatia. I intentionally didn’t tell my parents I was traveling by myself because you know how parents are (sorry Mom and Dad). But I’m alive so they can’t be too mad.

I want to provide a brief itinerary just so you get the understanding of my excursion. I had to grab an 11:30pm bus from Rome to Milan that would last ten hours. After an hour and a half layover, I had to grab another 10 hour bus trip from Milan to Zagreb. Once I got to Zagreb, I had an hour long walk from the station to some random inn in the back of some biker alley in moonlit darkness.

I arrived at my AirBnB at 11:00pm and passed out almost immediately. Zagreb turned out to be a really big Kearney. With a population slightly smaller than the greater Omaha area, Zagreb was never loud, crowded, or overwhelming. Everything seemed walking distance, trams were cheap, and almost everyone I spoke to understand and communicated in very fluent English. I had two full days to spend but I didn’t have to wait on anyone but myself, so it was very relaxing. I took the first day to do all the indoor stuff like church visits and city center adventures. The second day I meant to spend all day outside, but I only got the opportunity to walk to Zagreb’s huge artificial lake and hang out there before weather conditions changed and it wasn’t nearly as pleasant to be outside. I later got invited to some random girl’s birthday party at the place I was eating supper (supper came in the form of a few beers). I showed up and met a couple guys from Chicago but went to bed early to catch my bus back to Olomouc in the morning.

That bus never showed up. I showed up at 8:20am for my 8:45am bus that would have put me in Olomouc by 8:30pm. The company bus had some issues and I had to get a different bus all the way to Prague and then a train to Olomouc. The only available option was a bus that would take me into Prague at 3:15am and a train to Olomouc leaving at 5:44am. I got on those and finally got back to my dorm just before 9am Monday morning, 6 hours before class starts.

I understand that was wordy and long, but here’s my analysis of it all. There was a great man by the name of Sir Nikealot that said “Just Do It.” That is what I told myself when leaving Rome by myself. Just do it. If you have a device that can connect to wifi and a bank account with at least $40, then you should book that ticket, buy that book, or jump off that bridge (some of my friends went bunged jumping over break). If I can travel alone to several different countries that all have their own language, you can text that girl, get that grade, or throw that ball. You just have to do it. The worst thing that happened to me was having to get back home a little later than intended, but even that gave me more opportunity to explore more of Zagreb, see the sunset over the mountainside, and find the best vanilla wafers I’ve ever had. It’s crazy how often we limit ourselves. Don’t let hesitations weigh you down. I met a Pakistani that hates gummy bears but loved American people, a Frenchman with a Polish girlfriend that prefers Jack Daniels over wine and actually hates soccer. I met two Chicago men that think Jay Cutler is a great quarterback. And not to sound too deep, but I met more of myself. Being alone in Europe meant I heard almost no English and was left alone to my thoughts for more time than I ever have before. I learned two crucial lessons:

1. People are people, regardless of nationality or personalities or ignorance of quarterbacking abilities

2. Always use the bathroom in all its faculties before going on 24 hour excursions.

If you can remember these two things, you can handle almost anything.

Sorry for the lack of jokes in this one. Maybe next week I’ll talk about how I almost drowned the other day. The whole ordeal was breathtaking.

-houston arens

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No One Needs to Read This

I don’t have to do a blog this week (sprangbreeaaak) so this is solely for the sake of continuity and not for a grade (Dr. Snider, please discard this from my final grades please).

One clarification. My last blog was not meant to be ruthless and overtly rude towards the European lifestyle. It was more of a playful rant that was just fun to go off on for a while. Olomouc has very nice people. If you know my humor, I hope you understand.

Now, let’s talk about about all the things regarding Vienna and Italy (Venice and Rome). Vienna was neat. Great big town. Nothing truly spectacular for my interests, however. Saw a few museums, nice parks. One random lady saw my “Keep Calm and Hate Iowa” tshirt and asked if it was an anti-Trump shirt. I said no and she seemed disappointed. A couple photos and some meals and we were out of Vienna early Wednesday morning and off to Venice.

Oh boy. Venice has virtually no cars; only boats and canals. However, you can replace the amount of cars in New York City with pigeons in Venice and you still wouldn’t have enough pigeons. My ex-friend Luke Fennessy (we were friends until this happened) kept stealing bread to feed them so they never would be far away. Pigeons are ruthless. They stole my friend Shaina’s sandwich and muffin one day and pooped down her shirt a different day. No one else has been targeted yet. Anyway, Venice sucks the money right out of you. We’re talking seven dollar beers (birra in Italian) and 13 margherita pizzas (can’t eat meat on Lenten Fridays, man). And we were there for 4 days. So money is tight (send money to my Venmo @Houston-Arens, might even bring you a souvenir). But let me tell you about the wine.

What if you could go to your nearest Olive Garden and order 10 glasses of wine for $2.50, total? What if I also told you that this wine won’t make you choke on the dryness and instead will taste exactly like the grape juice your mom purchased when you were a kid (Welch’s, anyone)? What if I told you that these things happen in Venice and more? You can just go to the local market, grab it off the shelf, pay in exact change because they will yell at you in angry Italian in front of everyone if you don’t, and immediately start walking around downtown Venice next to the grand canal sipping on the sweet, sweet nectar you just purchased. That happened to me. I guess good things do happen to bad people.

So Venice was cool. We then boarded a 4 hour train-ride to Rome where I lay my aching feet and tired little head. We’ve seen the Roman Coliseum (Czech out my Instagram), the Ancient Forums, the Pantheon, some neat parks, all of the Vatican sites and museums, beautiful churches, Spanish Steps, random plazas, and some of the best pizza I’ve ever had. I almost mastered the subway station until a bump from a stranger got my foot stuck in between the subway and the exit platform, a gap no wider than my shoe width that could have resulted in my left foot being amputated via subway departure.

Tomorrow is our last day in Rome and a few of us are going to St. Peter’s tomorrow morning for the Pope’s annual post-Easter blessings. Thousands and thousands are expected to be there and towards the end of the ceremony, the Pope will give out a large blessing that will not only bless us, but our families and loved ones at home (especially the sick and dying), and the items we bring with us. So, if you are reading this, at about 11am my time (4am U.S. Central), you will receive the Pope’s blessing. How neat is that?

To finish this bless sesh, let me rant real quick. Being at the Catholic center of the world, I’ve noticed a lot of people don’t really understand Catholicism at all. And I want to bring up one thing that bugs me twice as much as the Czechs not saying “excuse me”: Catholics do not worship Mary. We venerate her and ask for her intercession in helping us become more closely united (Airlines) to Christ. It’s like this: if I wanted to make you your favorite dessert (let’s say brownies), I could try and make some brownies and give them to you, but they probably wouldn’t be done the way you like them. Odds are, the person who knows the way you like them the best is someone who raised you, most likely a mother or mother figure. So I’d ask for her help in making you brownies.

Same thing goes with prayer. I can pray to Jesus and give him my prayers, but Mary (His [and our] Mother) knows how to make those prayers perfect. So we offer them up through her, to Christ, so He can have the best brownies ever. Happy Easter, Jesus. Thanks for rising!

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Culture Schmulture

Americans aren’t as loud as people say we are.

It’s just that no one in Europe talks. They don’t even speak up to say “excuse me” (“prosim” in Czech). They just move. They don’t utter words. Often times they will shove a little limb by you and just force themselves through you or by you. But God forbid they make any audible sound in the process.

I’ve heard many people here say that Americans are loud and obnoxious. Many times, we are. But most of those times that loudness is relative to the local population’s innate ability to be mice and just scurry around. In Nebraska, particularly, one might here the infamous “ope” or “ope, sorry, excuse me” as someone tries to make it through a crowded area. Very polite, considerate of others around you, and conveys the idea of “Hey, sorry that I am such a nuisance, but it is pertinent that I must travel beyond and through your personal bubble. I will try to make this as quick and easy as possible,” more easily summarized as “ope, sorry, excuse me.”

If there is one thing that bothers me about the culture here is the sheer contrast in what is considered polite. It would be downright rude to push through a crowd in the United States like these Europeans do. It bothers me. It really grinds my gears and I don’t even have any gears. If my mother saw me shove through a crowd like that, she wouldn’t let me have ice cream for a week. Sure, the people here don’t find anything wrong with that and I am just a visitor and I should be okay with what is considered normal behavior, but no. I will not budge. I am about 95% sure that Nebraska has it right and Europe has it wrong and we should fix that (just kidding, let them be rude. I’m leaving in less than two months).

We could be quieter though. It is incredibly difficult to quiet down the group of 10-26 of us (depending if the plague has still hit us or not). The first few days we all had to travel together on small trams and in various restaurants and I am almost positive we drove everyone nuts with 24 American voices booming from one collective group of tourists.

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Post-set up for American Night (look at Luke’s leg)

I am beginning to get the hunch that Americans are not the most popular tourists here, maybe due to the reasons listed above. One of the clubs here, 15 minut music club, hosted an “American Night” for which we were asked to provide a playlist and help set up. We decked the place out in the national colors, plastered flags all over, and bought the junkiest of foods as snacks (knock-off Oreos, bacon-flavored chips, and popcorn). We left to prepare for the night and when we returned, the place was nearly vacant, a contrast from previous themed nights of “African” or “Asian.” So we made the party our own and made sure our “loud” stigma carried through as we all jammed out to Yeah! by Usher, Party in the U.S.A by Miley Cyrus, and even that one Barbie Girl song (I’m not proud of that). No one really touched the food and most of the people were unable to enjoy some of the music we were playing. I guess our culture promotes eating and dancing and their culture promotes making sure they do not enjoy American things. Oh, they don’t know how to country swing-dance over here so when I do it I actually look like I’m good at it. That is a significant difference worth noting.

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Indoor/Outdoor paintball facility, couple blocks from our dorms

I found out there wasn’t a maximum word limit anymore so at this point I am just talking. People do not like jokes as much here. I have told a few jokes to some of the graduate students that assist us in this program and they just stare at me like I got hit with a “stupid joke” stick. And I’m hilarious. If you know me, I am pretty funny, but looks aren’t everything I guess.

Well, until next time, enjoy this photo of a castle we played paintball in. Our program director shot me in the neck and face, probably because of my jokes. Or maybe because we were on the same team and I intentionally shot her first.

Oops.

-houston arens

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Academia + Scholarly Book Time

School is hard.

The past week I have spent over 1 full hour studying and let me tell you, it’s exhausting. Let me break down my classes for you. I am enrolled in four different classes:

  1. INTS 480 – Special Topics — that’s me writing this blog.
  2. FORL 110 – Intro to Czech Language
  3. INTS 445 – International Studies Field Study (The Holocaust)
  4. INTS 300 – Eastern European Studies

All of these classes have different ways of preparing and “studying.” I’d say the only real class structured similarly to classes at UNK is the FORL 110, a class where we meet regularly, get assigned homework regularly, and actively have to participate in class regularly (crying together as a class regularly is optional). This class is relatively difficult and takes up all of my study time.

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Beautiful German courtyard, right outside a world-class art gallery

The other three classes are a little different. The INTS 480 class asks us to think critically about our experiences and trips and interactions and communicate them through this blog so that it may be shared to the family and friends we left behind. Not only does this help us appreciate this trip even more, but it allows others to live through our experiences. You might be hearing about my trip to Germany soon.

INTS 300 features a slew of varied professors, locals, professionals, and experts that donate a lecture or two to speak to us regarding things as varied as the Cold War, higher education, borders and immigration, and online piracy (basically everyone watches and downloads things illegally here). We are also asked to read three Czech novels (the only 3 books required for this program) that are widely known and received around here. I haven’t read them yet, but they seem like they would be the equivalent to The Notebook, To Kill a Mockingbird, and some satirical novel I haven’t heard of because I do not read often.

Lastly, INTS 445 focuses on the Holocaust primarily. Obviously, Europe has had many travesties and disasters such as the Black Plague and several border disputes and empires going in and out, but none more inhumane and unthinkable as the Holocaust. We started with the understanding of Christianity and Judaism at the time prior to the Holocaust and will soon move into deeper understandings of Antisemitism, WWII, the acceptance, and the aftermath.

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Jewish grave site, ghetto of Prague

Altogether, we are getting a crash course of Europe in every facet possible in our short 2 months remaining. Along the way we still have mandatory trips to Italy and Austria and breweries and rafting and we’ll struggle to get through all that. None of these courses apply to my major (Psychology) whatsoever, but I find myself enjoying them all the same (minus the Czech language, I’d rather do Calculus).

I have 40 words left to fill the maximum word limit so here’s a joke:

Have you ever seen an elephant hiding in a tree?

No?

That’s because they’re really good at it.

Ba dum, tss.

-houston arens

THERE ARE NO RULES

THERE ARE NO MORE RULES. NO MORE RESTRICTIONS. I POSTED SOME RANDOM PHOTOS AT THE BOTTOM TO SHOW HOW FREE I AM.

I don’t have to blog anymore, but I like talking so that’s what I’ll do. I think I’ll try and continue my blog throughout the summer. I start my summer job “Totus Tuus” teaching kids about Jesus all across the Grand Island diocese this Saturday and I will travel to a different town and parish each week, so a weekly update seems like it could be fun. More on that later.

For now, I want to fill you in on what’s going on presently. Our entire study abroad group has said goodbye to one another and we are officially done with the program. Some of us are home, some of us are currently traveling home, and the rest of us are in Europe for a few more days. I am in Strasbourg, France with a couple others until Wednesday, where I’ll travel with an overnight bus to Prague, stay there for the night, and catch my flight back to the glorious USA. That’s my plan, so if any of you want to bring me some Jimmy John’s or anything else, really, be at the Omaha airport at roughly 11:20pm, Friday night.

Let me tell you about the French. If you’re walking, you are considered a third class citizen, basically. An exaggeration of course, but biking is considered the only acceptable way of transportation here. The bike paths are nice, clean, centered, well kept all throughout the town. The walking paths are adjacent to the biking paths and have you weaving around poles and trees, walking through mud and gunk, bumpy and unpaved walkways, etc. You get honked at, and even insulted (I think) if you’re walking. I’m not entirely sure. This man was upset because I was walking and/or American. Jokes on him though, his spandex made him look silly.

I tried taking a nap in the park, but a bug flew on my nose. I’m pretty sure it tried to have babies on my face.

I tried to order a ham and cheese sandwich at a deli, they gave me bread and cheese. But it was only 3 euros so that’s cool.

I tried to take the bus to town, but for some reason they wouldn’t take my Czech korunas. I walked 2 miles instead.

I saw this really beautiful Catholic Church. Turns out, it was taken over by the Protestants in the Protestant-Catholic debacle, which is fine, but the church is indefinitely closed due to lack of maintenance. Also a homeless man outside the church asked me for money and I almost laughed, which is horrible, but I don’t have any money.

It’s 95 degrees here. I have to sit outside to cool off because my AirBnB doesn’t have AC. I think I was sweating in my cold shower. 

I can’t grow a mustache. Or a beard. Or a self-confidence.

That’s about it. I’m ready to go home, though. See you in 4 days, America 🇺🇸.

If Colin was a bunny
If someone asks to write on your arm, make sure you watch them
11/12

24 Reasons Why

Are goodbyes easy?

Believe it or not, I don’t think I have much to say. I feel I’ve exhausted all of the topics worth communicating. Houston, we do have a problem. I don’t know if you know much about this study abroad group. With that, I haven’t told you much about the people with whom I’ve been privileged to spend this time. Let me tell you a little bit about this family we’ve formed. I’ll call it, “24 Reasons Why (I Came to Europe)”

Abbie Graham, an always happy, spontaneous shopper that loves wholeheartedly 

Abe Dush, the “Dad” of the group, always putting others before him

Alison VanSkiver, one of the most personable and friendly people out there

Ashley Florer, a great storyteller and knows how to surprise people

Ashtyn Bratt, definitely not a brat, and is probably one of the nicest people here

Audrey Gay, a person known for the miracle and spectacle that is her golden locks

Bailey Hoadley, a person that won’t shy away from any situation and will make it fun

Bryce Newton, one of the calmest guys you’ll meet, but he hates my jokes

Colin Reuter, a guy that isn’t afraid of being ridiculous to make the group laugh

Erin Lewis, someone who often goes out of her way to say “good morning” or “how are ya?,” traits that are rare nowadays

Halie Platt, if you want to know facts or find gelato, she’s your girl

Houston Arens, I make funny faces

Kody Krantz, a man who will do anything for his brothers, and even more for his country

Leslie Masek, a crazy spout of energy that always can keep the spirits up and conversations going

Livia Dwornicki, a proud Pole that will pity laugh at your jokes and can show anyone how to dance anywhere 

Luke Fennessy, can flip bottles and man a ship, can be adored and mutinied simultaneously

Matt Luther, a man of few words, a Rubik’s cube of complexity, but endeared by all

Miranda Ketteler, a person who is not afraid of sticking up for her beliefs in the face of strangers

Mitch Kampschnieder, a man who will sacrifice time to accompany anyone on anything to ensure every adventure is a great one

Rachel Vetter, a recruit from UNL that is happiest when she has a coffee in one hand and a gelato in the other, or at a Husker game

Sammy Harper, a man that will always be dressed better than you and could never say a bad word about anyone

Shaina Fouts, known primarily for her love of small doggos, this girl will find strawberry juice anywhere and is the epitome of joy when it is found 

Taylor Ritz, outspoken and cherished by many here, she is always ready to participate in lectures, adventures, and conspiracy theories

Tessa Gale, known for her catchphrase, “Wooowwwww,” Tessa has a gentle heart and enjoys conversing with anyone

And there’s a few bonus reasons: Tereza is a Ph.D student that was tasked with guiding us all these weeks, taking us to the doctor, booking trips, and translating our drink orders. We call her “Mom.”

Martin and Jan co-direct this program and they constantly enlightened us with history, facts, and tidbits about topics ranging from their lives to the Holocaust.

And Dr. Snider treated 24 young college kids in a foreign land, free reign, like adults and with ultimate respect, to which I hope we returned.

There are many other reasons I could add: my friends and family for support, Globus for cheap gummy worms, our Czech teacher for doing her best to try and teach this monster of a language, but the list would never end. I wish I had more jokes for you all, but maybe it’s best that this last post be a serious one, because I’ll seriously miss this adventure. Goodbyes are incredibly difficult for me and as I write this, there are only four of us left in Olomouc. That makes this more bitter than sweet.  So, that’s it. Goodbye. 

This semester was nuts; I’ll cashew you on the other side.

(HA, you thought I’d end without a joke).

Na shledanou!

– houston arens