Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Former Constantinople!

Istanbul. What words can begin to express what an incredible experience. The culture, the people, and the food were all absolutely incredible. The Eastern culture is unlike anything I have ever experienced before.

We visited such incredible monuments; the blue mosque, Hagio Sophia, The underground Cistern, Topkapi Palace, and the Harem. We also took a boat up the Bosphorus river, smoked Hooka, ate traditional Turkish Kababs, drank Turkish tea after every meal, and bargained for deals at the Grand Bazaar ( I am such a sucker and bought worthless perfume that I didn’t even want for 15 dollars. Luckily, I saved so much on other things that it wasn’t that big of a deal). There were 7 of us, 3 girls and 4 boys and we stayed at this Hostel called the Bahaus Hostel. It was such a great environment with a bar and music upstairs. Each morning we ate bread, cucumbers, tomatoes, cheese, and olives. A pretty basic European breakfast. It would have tasted a lot better had we not woken up from only getting an average of about 4 hours of sleep each night.

The Turkish people were so kind and generous to us the entire time we were there. Yes the obvious is that they wante our money and business and have perfected the art of bargaining, but everywhere we turned around there was someone to give us free tea, or point us in the right direction, or inform us more about the culture. Everyone we met had such great senses of humor. For instance one man walked out of his shop to greet us by saying, “How can I rip you guys off today?”

Our favorite Turk was a man named Mustafa, who owned a restaurant that we frequented a bit while we were there. Each time he gave us free tea and the best hospitality. One of my friends, Alex, went outside to have a cigarette with Mustafa during dinner and they became immediate friends after that and since we were friends with Alex we got special treatment too.

I also learned so much about the religion of Islam. I have been taking this History of the Middle East class this semester and it was so important for me to have this understanding before I went to the capitol city of Islam. Turkey is 99.8% muslim and is home to the most famous mosques in the world. Not only was I able to understand the significance of some of the architecture. It is really hard for many people to be open and understanding to Islam because of recent acts of some radical associated with the faith but the reality is that Islam is founded on morals comparable to Christianity and Jerusalem and have an ideology of peace and love throughout the Koran. It’s historical basis is also so close to Christianity that I honestly had to question myself and ask why is it that Islam is incorrect and I don’t believe in it. The answer is the Divinity of Jesus Christ and the way that he lived his life. I find his legitimacy lies in the fact that he is always pointing us to Yahweh whereas, Muhammad, as great of a man and leader as he was is only a human, he made many mistakes and exalted himself quite a bit. The best example of this is the creed which each Muslim recites upon coming into the religion. It basically says “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet.” Other examples of too much focus on Muhammad are praying towards Mecca and taking a pilgrimage to mimic Muhammad. It was so great to have such a clear understanding of the faith and being able to watch them pray and live. Also, an understanding and background on headscarves was really neat to be able to witness and to see women in full on burkas was really neat too.

Also, having an idea of time and people in history was so cool to be able to correspond to monuments and artifacts within the museums and since 5 of us were in this class we got into heated debates over who remembered the right part of history and who was mistaken.The group was so great together though and we all go along so well. I couldnt have asked for a better group of people to travel with!

Monday, November 2, 2009


So it has been quite some time since I have been able to post a blog about all that is going o here in Europe. Since my last post I have been to Berlin, Corsica, France and have spent quite a bit of time here Lausanne.

I will start with Berlin though. We had a large group of girls and we all went together to Berlin. We took a really cool walking tour of the city and learned so much about the history of the city. We visited a few really nice art museums. One of them being a Renaissance museum that had art that we had been learning about in class. It was really neat to be able to see those pieces first hand. We had dinner at a Mexican restaurant that night of all places and ate the best hamburgers in Europe. Saturday, we visited a concentration camp. It was a really powerful experience and we had so much fun. Somehow I wound up on the outside of the camp and couldn’t go back through the gate cause it was locked. I may have been one of the first people ever to jump a fence back into a concentration camp. I bet the security guards who caught that on camera had a great laugh watching me. That night we went to dinner at an Indian Restaurant: one of the funniest nights of my whole life. We sat next to ten older women who began laughing at the snow hats my friends were wearing. The night ended with us all laughing uncontrollably at the older women dancing around the room in our hats and the water giving us all desert for free. Don’t be disappointed at our authentic German food choices because we got haggen-daz ice cream, bratwurst, and pretzels. Berlin was a gorgeous city and one of my favorite memories thus far. The countryside on the train ride was also phenomenal. All in all, we were all pleasantly surprised by Germany. The people were so nice and hospitable too. I can’t wait to visit again!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Its still crazy for me to think that I live in Europe. One day I’m sitting by “lac Leman”, also known as Lake Geneva, and the next day I am walking down the small sidewalks of Venice. We arrived Friday afternoon to a warm sun and loud Italians taking people on Gondolas or trying to coerce tourists to come in to their restaurants for a slice of pizza. We stayed in a hostel outside of Venice. I use the term Venice very loosely. What we stayed in was more like a trailer park; Camping Jolly was the name. The facilities were fair, the temperature was just below the point where I start shivering and I am not sure if Aubrey, the girl I shared my bed with, was comfortable with cuddling so I maintained a fetal position the whole night.

After a restful night’s sleep we started early and made our way to St. Marc’s Square, visited St. Marc’s Church, and took a museum tour of the “Doge” before lunch. We spent the afternoon getting lost in the streets and later took a boat ride to a glass blowing factory where we saw a man sculpt a HORSE out of GLASS one of the coolest things I saw all day).

Before we grabbed dinner, we decided to take a quick trip to the opposite side of the island to see the sunset. Unfortunately, our short trip turned into a 2 hour walk because Michelle was still on one crutch and moving fairly slow. For dinner we stopped for Pasta and white wine and topped the evening off with Gelato (did I mention that was our third serving of gelato for the trip…I rationalized it because of the extensive amount of walking and effort done on Michelle’s partJ)

One of my favorite parts of Venice was the people playing instruments in the different squares, I had no idea that the kazoo isn’t just used at birthday parties but as an actual instrument for making music! Venice is also very into masks! They have so many shops devoted to masquerade antiques and souvenirs. Some of the most elaborate ones were going for 100 or more Euros but were absolutely phenomenal.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take many pictures of the romantic city because I forgot to charge the battery on my Camera. Friends got some beautiful shots, however. Monday we started back with classes and my allergies to something in the house started again too. I have actually been sneezing and coughing since I got here which has been quite unfortunate. I went to the doctor, though, and he prescribed me an inhaler for the week so hopefully I start feeling better.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

why i will never live in a glass house

Well it has been an eventful time in Switzerland to say the least. This past week tops the cake though. Classes have officially started and we are all slowly getting into the swing of things. My teachers seem pretty good and I am interested in 2 of 4 my classes so that’s something. This past weekend we had a lot of fun. We went to a fun night club called le Darling, we visited the Olympic Museum, took a day trip to Bern, and revisited the beautiful winery that we took a tour of during orientation. All of these excursions were so fun and it is so beautiful here. The wheather is so tricky here though. It looks so cold outside and the moment you step ou of the house you realize that the clouds fooled you again. Other than that I have no complaints. The food is extraordinary. We went for Fondue tonight to celebrate our RA Amy’s birthday. It was fantastic, a pretty penny though if I do say so myself.

The topic of discussion this week is of a far different nature though. As many of you know I have a rather playful spirit and well I have never had to suffer the consequences of this playful behavior. However, life has a way of surprising you. My roommate and I were running around the house a few days ago and well…as mom always says “someone is going to get hurt.” Michelle was chasing me through the house and as I ran out of the room I closed the door behind me and she ran through the door. By that, I mean that the door was glass before, and after she flew through it there was no more glass on the door. The house was full of people running around, helping in every and any capacity and after a dreadfully long 15 minutes the ambulance arrived. Before they arrived, however, another young lady was told about the incident and passed out at the very thought of blood. In the process of falling to the ground, she hit her head on the wall causing a minor concussion. Michelle ended up with 22 stitches, a few scratches and some really lame medication. The events of this trip have brought us all back to reality and showed us our limits. We are relatively lucky to have made it through all of this as well as we have, but it is a little stressful to say the least.

This weekend we have decided to take it easy and stay in Lausanne on account of the fact that Michelle is walking with the aid of what we joke as “polio sticks” but are a lame version of crutches. Time to catch up on rest is much needed for me. I have averaged anywhere between 2-7 hours of sleep each night and my cold/cough hasn’t subsided yet on account of the lack of sleep. Life in Switzerland as stressful and crazy as it sounds is worth every minute of it and I am having the most incredible time of my life!!! Keep us all in your prayers.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Here are some pictures of the first few weeks in Swissy! copy and paste this link... http://picasaweb.google.com/Marshele.danner/SwissAlbum1#

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


.I have been in Lausanne for about four days now and my body is finally adjusting to the change. We have been doing such fun things at orientation. On Sunday, we took a train ride to a wine vineyard where we walked around, took pictures, and tested grapes. We all had such a fun time and the scenery was absolutely beautiful. We made our way over to a boat, which we road over the lake toa quant district called Lutry. We had ice cream explored the town and some people went swimming. We ended the day at a Chinese buffet and went home to listen to music and hang out. Monday and Tuesday, we began “intensive French” which isn’t quite intensive but we split up and went on different field trips around Lausanne. We took a billion hour walk to see a garden and a caccon exhibit. The exhibit was throughout a wealthier neighborhood. Artists donated these giant cocoons to home owners and they were in each front yard. It was a symbol of renewal and transformation. We also took walked to the top of the main cathedral in Lausanne. From the top, there is a panoramic view of the city and the ringing of bells at the top of each hour. Next we took an incredible tour of a museum of l’art brut. This is a term to describe a raw kind of art done by artists who were outcasts, convicts, and many who suffered through psychiatric problems. All of the pieces had intense emotion and beautiful and disturbing stories behind them.