My gym membership is about to expire and it’s too nice out to choose running on a treadmill over running outside, so I did just that on Saturday and Sunday, which I hadn’t done since I first got here in March. I ran the same 3.5 mile loop that I used to do and ran up a not too steep, but extremely looong hill with no problem. After that, I realized I can now run almost as fast as I could in freshman year of high school when I actually played sports. At first that didn’t make any sense to me, considering all the food I’ve eaten, the beer, and traveling I’ve done since March. Despite those factors, I’ve had the most time to dedicate to exercise this semester since I can remember. I may not have utilized as much as I could have, but running up that hill felt good. It’s no surprise that an extended stay in a foreign country has affected me and motivated some growth and progression in myself, even beyond running. Traveling has a lot to do with it, and studying abroad in general. My sister-in-law shared this TIMES article with me a while ago. “People who have international experience or identify with more than one nationality are better problem solvers and display more creativity”. I’ll do a reflective post on my growth throughout my entire experience once I’m back home, but that’s what I’ve noticed so far.
ANYWAY last Saturday I boarded a flight with my 6 closest friends here from Stuttgart to Split, Croatia. The only other “tropical” places I’ve been to are southern California, Fiji, Florida, and southern Italy (if that counts). The view getting off this place was breathtaking and unlike anything I had seen in a while…and definitely not a bad start to our day (since we landed at 7:00am).
We took one step out of the airport and were lost immediately. I got a text when I turned on my phone after the flight saying my “unlimited” and “world-wide” phone plan was not covered in Croatia (even though T-Mobile is one of the primary cellphone carriers there) and data would cost $15/MB. I put my phone on airplane mode from that moment forward, and our navigation hopes were crushed, and it was so great. This phone plan has done wonders for my friends and I while traveling, but it was nice to feel lost for a bit, and be encouraged to ask people for help…and of course to not have to rely on a smartphone for yet another thing in life.
We figured out which bus to take and got off about 3 kilometers away from where we were staying. So we walked, and walked, and made it to a tourist office who kindly called the host of our apartment. Our host was there within 5 minutes and drove us all back to his place in 2 trips. We stayed at an apartment in Seget Donij, close to Trogir and about a 30-minute drive west of Split. We got this 10-person apartment for 600 euros, meaning each of us paid 60 euros for 3 nights. This was beyond amazing considering the location and the view we had. It greatly exceeded my expectations and really was the perfect place for all 10 of us. We all had a bed, the view was amazing, and even had our own little beach with a dock. The beach was a stone beach, but apparently almost all beaches around Split are like that. But I don’t think I can make any complaints about being able to wake up to a swim on the Mediterranean.
The first thing our host did when we got there was open a beer for each of us (it was 9:00am)…WHAT A GUY! We proceeded to buy food and subsequently threw on our bathing suits to head down to the water. We baked in the sun and napped to prepare for our first night of Ultra, which I don’t know how to describe or explain, but I had so much fun. By some miracle, we all made it back to the apartment in separate groups at almost the exact same time. The second night was a bit better, because we were all a bit more manageable, and GERMANY WON THE WORLD CUP! Not that I really gave any care for soccer the entire time during the World Cup (or ever), but I am proud to be studying in such an amazing country that believes in their team but also doesn’t make it their everything. A group of us made it to Ultra on our second night just in time to see W&W and then headed outside to where they were showing the game, and shortly after Germany scored the winning goal. The crowd went insane, and by that I mean insane like I could never describe but thankfully I have videos to remember. All in all, my first festival (although we missed the first night) was a great success and I can happily say I would do it again, and definitely want to now more so than I did before. And I survived, so there’s that. Thank you, Ultra Croatia.
It’s a good thing we got such a nice place to stay at because honestly, we didn’t leave it much. We went out to dinner on 2 of the nights and had some very, very good seafood. We went to bed around 5:30am each day, so a lot of sleeping and swimming was done. We wanted to go to Hvar on our last day, but the weather didn’t really cooperate and we all didn’t get out of bed until at least 1:00pm. I do wish we had the chance to see more of Split and Croatia, but I will be back.
Getting back to Stuttgart was unfortunately a very cold wake up call, with 2 exams last week and 2 this week, and one more final project due next. The past 3 exams I’ve had were all 30-minute oral exams, meaning I had to sit in a room with a German professor and his/her invigilator while they asked me random questions about the content we’ve learned this entire semester. Nerve-wracking, to say the least, but I passed!
15 more days. Might take an army to put me on that plane.