Monday, January 30, 2012

We're home.

We all arrived safely in Wichita yesterday evening and were greeted by many, many smiling family members.


Friday, January 27, 2012

The Weather in Austria is NOT wrong!

Yesterday, we watched out of our train window as the snowy Munich countryside turned into beautiful blue skies in Vienna. We arrived a little after noon and, after grabbing some lunch, took a nice walk through the city to find our hostel. And then, the adventure began.

Our hostel was located a mere two blocks from the area in Vienna known as "Museum Quarter". So, after arming ourselves with a map of the city, we decided to just head out and see what interesting things we could find. The buildings in Vienna are beautiful. We walked around state buildings, museums and parts of the old Imperial Palace. Half of the time, we didn't actually know which buildings we were taking pictures of.

We then went to the Imperial Apartments and spent a few hours looking around at the three museums held in the one building. First, we saw rooms full of the dishes, cutlery and centerpieces used by the Emperor and Empress. There were plates decorated with birds, some with stories from Greek mythology and some with intricate flowery patterns. We were amazed at the large, gold centerpieces used for holding flowers and candles. There were even giant trunks holding travel sets of the beautiful dining-ware. Next, we visited the Sisi Museum -- a museum for Empress Elisabeth. There were replicas of the amazing gowns she wore and items she used on her many travels as Empress. We were a little creeped out, however, when we came to the display of the file used to assasinate her. Finally, we came to the actual Imperial Apartments. The rooms were huge! The Emperor and the Empress each had two lounges, a bedroom and a waiting room. The Empress even had a room used for exercising. We decided we definitely want to be Empresses when we grow up.

Our Austrian adventure didn't end there. After grabbing a Döner for dinner, we headed to an aquatic zoo that stayed open until 9 at night. The building was nine levels of aquariums and displays of other reptiles and amphibians. In one level there was even a rainforest-like room filled with birds, turtles and bats. Yes, bats. Sarah almost made it inside until one of them flew a little too close to her head. We took lots of pictures and even managed to capture the snakes' dinner time! (We would show you, but we can't load pictures at our hotel.) The top level of the zoo opened to a rooftop view of the city of Vienna. We could see all the fancy buildings we had visited earlier that day.

We decided to head back to the hostel then, since we were finally worn out, and met a few of the students also staying there that night. Three were from Turkey (two were cousins, and the other one found out he had grown up a few streets away from them) and the other was French Canadian. All of them spoke smooth English, so we enjoyed sharing stories of our travels with eachother.

This morning, we decided to skip Salzburg and come back to Munich. We were a little sad to be leaving such a beautiful city, but we were excited to see the rest of the group again!

Only a few more days until we come home! We're enjoying our time, but are definitely ready to live out of our closets instead of our suitcases.

Sarah and Anna

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

We're too tired to think of witty titles

Dearest Readers,

Today, eleven weary students arrived in Munich. Don't worry, we didn't lose anyone! Our official tour of Europe is over, so we're spending our last few days traveling on our own ... well, kind of. Lisa is visiting her host mother, and Megan is spending time with a friend. The rest of us stayed together.

We checked out of our hostel in Leipzig at 10:00 this morning and waved farewell to Professor Extraordinarious and Megan before heading to the train station. After a mere 5 hour nap, we arrived in the Munich train station. Our walk to the hotel was twenty minutes; after brief confusion concerning how to actually get into the building, we all congratulated ourselves on successful travel without the help of our "grown-up".

Even though we are no longer being led by Frau Thimm, we are continuing to strengthen our math skills. It took us less than 5 minutes at dinner to figure out individual payments on a bill for eleven people (not an easy feat -- our first attempt was Fatal).

The majority of the group is taking a trip to the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial tomorrow. Sarah and Anna will be visiting Vienna, Austria for a day and then stopping in Saltzberg on the way back to Munich (They hope to find "hills alive with the sound of music."). Friday, group members are going to be visiting a BMW factory; and Saturday, David, Dylan and Justin will be catching a soccer game. We'll spend Saturday night in Dusseldorf before hopping on our flight home on Sunday.

Nobody has been severly injured or sent to prison, so we're all still well!


The group

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Wolfenbuttel and Leipzig

Hello there, friends and family. It's quite rainy here in Germany. We're on the move a lot more here than the first half of the trip. After we left Gottingen, we headed to Wolfenbuttel. It's a very small town compared to some of the other places we have been. Our connection in Wolfenbuttel is the Herzog August Bibliotek. Leibniz, a German mathematician, was the librarian there for some time. Dale Schrag spent some time researching there and was kind enough to arrange a tour of the library.

One of the collection rooms in the library

Front of the Library

Courtyard of the palace in Wolfenbuttel

Looking in the windows doesn't work very well

We only stayed in Wolfenbuttel for one night. The next day we took off for Leipzig, our last touring destination. 
Outside the university building that pays homage to St. Paul's church, which was destroyed.

We didn't find the Leibniz statue on campus. Here's a girl carrying water instead.

The crosswalk signs are funny here. 

Leipzig also has a significant music history. Bach, Mendelssohn, and Schumann all spent time here.

This is St. Thomas' Church, where Bach was choir director for a long time. 

Bach Museum


Saturday, January 21, 2012


We have arrived in Germany. The weather has been cold and rainy with light snow flurries, but that has not kept us from going out and about to see the sights. Yesterday we received a guided tour of the city and had free time to explore the city. We all found some pretty cool things. We saw where the first electro-mechanical telegraph was sent. Today we decided to have a photo scavenger hunt, this lead to
some pretty interesting adventures.

There are pictures of these events, but unfortunately, the internet connection is to slow to allow them all to be uploaded... look for them soon!


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Monday, January 16, 2012

So. Many. Stairs.

On Sunday morning, we went to the Musee de Arts et Meiters, which contained thousands of original inventions. Not copies, not pictures, actual objects created by the inventor. We saw the first battery, the first telephone, the first calculator (made by Blaise Pascal), and several other objects that were very familiar to objects that we see and use today. The museum also contained other interesting pieces, like this sculpture...

How Much of This Sculpture is Made of Glass?
Other items at the museum included cars, the first French airplane, scale models of the Statue of Liberty, bicycles for men and women, and a giant pendulum that shows the earth's rotation. It also included a large, super expensive experiment by Lavossier to show that water is not a pure element of the earth. With all of the awesome things, and the superb tour by our wonderful tour guide, everyone enjoyed the museum.

After a quick lunch, we made our way to the Effel Tower. Jenny was so pumped, she couldn't stop talking about it as we were walking up. 

She finally noticed him and accidentally whacked him in the face.
We decided to take the stairs up the Effel Tower. That meant hiking up over 700 stairs in the metal structure. We were quite winded but got some cool pictures and spent a significant time wandering the first, second, and top level. (There was even an ice skating on the first level, which none of us actually partook, but thought was awesome.) The top level was very chilly, but several members of the group decided to use the restroom up there!

Then we went to the Arc De Triomphe. To climb more stairs. At the top we were able to see the twinkling lights of the Eiffel Tower and Paris at night. After we came back down, we took a walk down Champs-Elysees and looked at some expensive things and some really nice cars. 

On Monday, we first went to Notre Dame and guess what? Climbed more stairs. Spiral stairs. Small spiral stairs. Notre Dame was beautiful, the view from the top and down in the sanctuary with the giant stained glass windows.

After lunch and some souvenir shopping, we traveled over to the Louvre. It was ginormous, but we all some some cool pieces of art. And here we sit again, exhausted, with swollen legs, ready for another full day tomorrow.

Thanks for all to read this blog, feel free to leave comments or questions! 


David, Dylan, Andrew, Justin, Sarah, Emilie, Emily, Jenny, Miriam, Megan, Roxy, Sarah, and Anna

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Weather in Austria is ... um... Wrong.

As we journeyed out from the land of Hungary towards the Swiss Alps, we came across a young man who warned us that our train might be delayed due to wrong weather in Austria (The Hills Are Alive!... sorry). How right he was. The weather was not at all correct. Instead of taking two trains, we took four plus a bus on our long, strenuous journey to Switzerland.

Finally, after 16.5 hours of travel, 2 buses, 1 metro, and 4 trains, we were welcomed by the good people of St-Genis Mennonite Church who hosted us weary sojourners. We woke bright and early the next morning for a thorough tour of the innerworkings of CERN, the particle collider. We have attached a picture of us during the tour! It was so exciting!

After being treated to a lunch by Curtis and Shelly Weaverdyck at CERN, we were then guided around Old Town Geneva, which is way cooler than Old Town Wichita. We then each retreated to our host families for a French meal and then to an early bed time so we could get up for our 6:00 train to Paris. We love early trains. After a quick taste of Switzerland, we are now in Paris for five fun-filled, fantabulous days!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Just so you Know!!

First off, thanks for following us! Also, tell your family friends to follow us as well, because the more the better.

Second, please post comments so that we can respond to your questions and provide more details on what we are doing while we are here. To do this click on the title of the blog post that you are wanting to comment on and then scroll to the bottom of the screen. Type your comment and hit publish, and you are done. We will get back to you as soon as possible. Although it might be late (because of the 7 hour time difference).

This has been a public service announcement.

H. Bubbert

The American Pests in Budapest

We're not really that much of pests, but puns are fun.

It's Day 3 in Budapest, and things are going great. Travelling here went through without any major hitches. The whole overnight flight thing was awesome, except for the losing a night of sleep thing. Jenny managed to sleep the entire flight because when you go from China to the US to Europe within 3 days you tend to get a little off.

First thing we did upon actually arriving in Budapest was find an ATM. The Forints to Dollars conversion is 250 to one. That means we're carrying around bills up to 10,000 forints, and a few of us even got 20,000 forint bills. That's quite a bit of money in one bill. Our math skills have been quite handy in converting money and splitting bills.

They have really long escalators to the Metro. Hi, Miriam!

Food here is cheap compared to the other places we will be going. Our first meal was pizza (it was legit pizza, not some chain place, so don't worry) and each pizza was the equivalent of $4.50. Our most expensive meal has been Fatal Restaurant, which had fatal portion sizes (as in big, not fatal to our wallets). Not all of us ate our money's worth there.
A lookout point by the church

On Monday we explored the Castle District, which is the area around the main castle, not an area with a lot of castles. After touring Matthias Church (because no trip to a European city is complete without going to an old church) we spent a few hours running around in underground tunnels. It was a lot more fun than it sounds.

Tuesday we started our actual history of math studies. Our first mission was finding where Paul Erdos was buried. This involved trekking from our hotel in an attempt to find the tram station, and we ended up going up a staircase to nowhere in the snow. Turns out just following the tram tracks doesn't necessarily lead to a station. We turned around and went back to our trusty Metro station at that point.

Absolutely terrifying
Once we finally arrived at the cemetery, some of us gave our presentations on Hungarian mathematicians (Erdos, Lovasz, Von Neumann, Halmos and Polya). It was still snowing at that point, so what were we to do but walk around in a cemetery looking for the graves of Erdos's parents, since his ashes were scattered on them?

The cemetery was quite extensive and we were not successful. It would have been cool to say we found it, but cemeteries are an interesting place to find out more about a country. Names that pop up over and over again are probably the popular ones in a country. We also found a portion of the cemetery dedicated to Polish soldiers who died in WWII.

We split up into different activities for the rest of the afternoon. Some went to the National Museum, which turned out to be all in Hungarian, some explored the area around the Parliament building, and others went to the mall. We met up for supper at a vegetarian Indian restaurant, then went to look over the Danube and at the buildings that are lit up at night. The general consensus is that Budapest is even more beautiful at night. The lights are breathtaking.

Today is our last day here, and tomorrow we get on a train bright and early to head to Geneva. It's been a spectacular start to our adventure. Lisa was the only person on the trip who had been to Hungary before, so we're amazed by everything here.

We're going to try to update this more often, but hopefully this is sufficient for all you parents who were just absolutely dying to know what we've been up to. No one has been lost and no one has been really late when we meet together, if that makes you feel better.

Ciao (because we don't know the Hungarian version of that),

Megan and Emily

Sunday, January 8, 2012

We have arrived!

Thirteen very weary travelers made it safely to Budapest today!

snoozing in the Frankfurt airport

We checked into the hotel, mumbled many prayers of thanks for Emily's Hungarian friend who showed up and was able to translate for us, found an ATM, some shampoo, and some pizza.

Now we are all going to bed.