Monthly Archives: July 2016

Prague vs. Berlin by Savannah Welnetz

One of the greatest gifts in life is when things don’t go as planned. This was definitely the case for my study abroad trip to Berlin and Prague. I originally signed up in order to finally get to see the infamous German capital. The idea of Prague was just a pleasant bonus. I wasn’t even sure where it was until I started the classes. But, boy, did I discover a gem.
I fully expected to spend my time in Prague looking forward to Berlin. And in some ways I did. But in others, I never wanted to leave. One such moment was anytime I could stand and gazing up at the Prague Castle. I will never forget the image so long as I live.
The St. Vitus Cathedral peaks out from behind the lengthy castle, confusing tourists who don’t know any better. The castle itself stretches out almost the entire length of the hill it sits upon. The orange titled roof blends in with the similarly painted roofs of the other buildings and homes beneath it, again stumping the unknowledgeable tourist. What struck me the most about this postcard perfect view is the fact that no matter where I went in Prague, no matter how much of a glimpse I caught of the fortress, it was still beautiful. There was never a time in which it looked ugly or off. Even the view from our hostel made it shine.

 

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In addition to the fact that the castle and cathedral looks epic from any angle, the dynamic duo looks just as breath taking at all times of the day. In our exploration of Prague, every time we cross the Charles Bridge I made sure to capture at least one or two quick shots of the castle in the hopes of capturing just how gorgeous the view really was.

I never did manage to capture a picture that fully communicated to the viewer the sheer beauty of the castle. And I often felt guilty for failing to be able to share this hidden gem to my friends and family back home. However, what I ended up doing was capturing a series of shots that showed the castle at different times of the day. Each picture makes the castle look like almost a different location.

Prague Castle during the day…

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Prague Castle at dusk…

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And finally, Prague Castle at night…

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Obviously to the harder to impress, it is the same location. And the not-so-stereotypical looking castle can be written off as something not so astounding. But as someone who grew up with Disney princesses and dreams of fairy tale places, Prague and its castle view really gave the feel that I was standing in the middle of said dream. Standing on the bridge or looking up from our hostel, I felt like I was looking up at a marvel of mankind. Often times I would be just ogling and committing the picture to memory when I would think, “People get to live in this ancient city and look up at this same castle I am everyday”. It’s hard to wrap my mind around that.

For all of our modern technology, I’m not sure there will ever be a camera that could capture the near angelic image of Prague Castle to my satisfaction.

 

For more information on the castle:

 

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Brexit: Implications Home and Abroad

Is the European Union Falling Apart?

After World War II, European states realized the need for an alliance in Europe to ensure that another war was not an option. In order to do this, European states began to not only unite but also intertwined their economies. This resulted in the creation of the European Union (EU). The EU brings together 28 different countries, but its foundation is shaking. And, on June 23rd, 2016, the votes came pouring in on whether Britain was to exit (British Exit; or ‘Brexit‘ for short) or remain in the EU.

Each political side had their advantages and their disadvantages. Anti-establishment members, or “Pro-Brexit” voters, called on Britain to leave the EU. They believed Brexit was necessary in order to protect what was left of the country’s culture which would benefit their economy by not having to follow EU business regulations. By leaving the EU, Pro-Brexit voters believed Britain would be able to regain its control over its independence. With the EU’s preset regulations on immigration, Britain did not get much of a say in the handling of the country’s labor migration. Many argued that immigrants would work in Britain for fewer benefits and lower wages. With jobs of British citizens being threatened, many individuals began seeing Britain’s role in the EU as a negative for Britain’s working class citizens.

On the other hand, “Remain” supporters proposed that it would, in fact, be better for Britain’s economy to stay in the EU. Those who voted to remain believed that the consequences of leaving the European Union were even more harmful to Britain. Remain voters believed Brexit’s potential would not be worth its risk to the country’s economy. Fearing the break would cause major economic problems, Remain voters saw the EU as a security blanket and hoped to keep things in Britain the same. However, in the early morning of June 24th, 2016, the votes had been counted. Winning by 51.9%, Pro-Brexit voters beat the Remain supporters, who came up short with only 48.1% of the total vote.

The result in numbers

In order for Britain to completely withdraw from the European Union, many deals and treaties still have to be met. But since the vote, changes throughout the country have already begun. These changes not only affect European natives, but also Americans. Well, at least those with European stocks or those who plan to travel to England and other European hotspots soon.

What does that mean for the 2017 London/Edinburgh trip?

The Currency Conversion:

Both England and Scotland use pound sterling as their form of currency. The pound sterling is commonly referred to as ‘pounds’ and it uses the ‘£’ symbol. Before the Brexit (06/23/16), you would need $1.49 (USD) to purchase £1. But since Brexit, (as of 07/14/16), £1 is equal to $1.32 (USD). Right now, the gap between the pound sterling and the US dollar is shrinking, which is great news for Americans who are planning to travel to European countries such as England and Scotland.

IU South Bend’s London/Edinburgh trip is not scheduled until Spring of 2017. With this is mind, a lot could change between now and the trip. There is still plenty of time for the pound’s worth to continue its decline, stagnate, or quite possibly, rebound completely. As of right now, very few predictions can be made about the future of Britain’s economy. But for the time being, Americans currently traveling to Europe can expect their dollars to travel further as well.

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Blog post written by: Margaret Belt