Monday, December 28, 2009

A Picture of Most Members of the Study Tour

This is a picture of those who were present at the first meeting in October. We weill take another one in the airport and I'll post it here.

4 Days to Departure

I hope you all had a great Holiday and are still having a relaxing break. In 5 days we will depart for Berlin and I wanted to touch base with you. I'll be sending another e-mail 24 hours before our departure. Here is a list of essential things that you MAY not forget: Your passport, ATM card, credit card, any essential medication, some cash. (See below for additional information!)

We all have electronic tickets. Our flight from Washington to Frankfurt is a non-stop flight. Our group confirmation number is: (I have sent this via e-mail). I will order vegetarian meals for those who indicated that on their health forms.

It looks like there will be a 40% chance of snow showers on New Years Eve and New Years Day, the day of our departure. Therefore, I would recommend that you leave early and check the weather report on a regular basis. Please plan to be at the airport at least 3 hours prior to our departure, the latest by 2:30 p.m. Please, make sure to leave early.

The weather report for Europe calls for snow and rain (depending on where we will be). The weather will be similar to here in the USA on the West Coast. Therefore, please take with you winter clothes: warm gloves, snow boots, warm winter coat, sweaters, etc. Here is the link for the weather in Berlin ( check it out.

I have made reservations for everyone for the opera and paid for that using my credit card. I prefer if you can pay me in Euros once we are in Germany. This will be the easiest for me. I am looking forward to seeing you all on January 1 at 2:30 p.m.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Post-Meeting Advise

At the last meeting on Friday, I didn't have enough time to go over everything. Here are two issues that you need to keep in mind:

1. Money: 
  • An ATM card is the best way to get cash everywhere. Therefore, make sure that your ATM card is unlocked and usable in the countries we will visit. It takes up to a week to do that. Therefore, contact your bank immediately. Make sure you also have enough money on your account.
  • I would take at least $300 in cash, for emergency situations. In case you are only bringing cash with you, then I would suggest $50 a day (total of $600).
  • Credit cards: Visa and Master Card are accepted everywhere. However, many shops, bars and restaurants don't accept credit cards. Don't plan on using your card to pay for lunch and drinks. You will need cash for that.
 2. Rechargeable batteries for cameras, etc.: 
  •  Does your camera or camcorder use rechargeable batteries or not? Make sure to bring enough batteries with you in case your camera takes regular batteries. Don't forget your power cords and plugs!!!
3. Getting to Dulles airport in Washington, DC
  • Everyone MUST be at the airport by 2:30 p.m. We will meet at the Lufthansa counter. Please don't check in until we all arrive. We will check in as a group.  After we check in, we will have a short meeting together. I would recommend carpooling together. Therefore, those who from the Westminster area who are planning on driving to the airport and can give someone a ride, should let me know how many people they can take with them. I know from 2 people who need a ride. We will then meet at my house or at the college and then will drive from there.
 4. Food: Please let me know if you are vegetarian or have any dietary restrictions. I'll then try my best to accommodate your needs. I can order a vegetarian/kosher/fish/etc. meal.

5. Additional fees: Those who didn't bring their checks with them, please pay the additional $100 at the Bursar's Office or stop by my office and bring your check, put it in envelope and leave it under my office door.

6. Blog: Please check out my Blog for the trip at:

I encourage you all to create your own Blogs before we leave. Let me know if you have any questions how to do that or click on this link for a video tutorial:

Meeting on December 4th

Our final meeting will be on Friday, December 4th at 3 p.m. in Hill Hall 104. This is obligatory and every McDaniel student MUST attend it. Bring your laptops with you, in case you have one. Also please e-mail me with any questions you have.

In preparation for the meeting, please inquire about the following issues:
  1. Call your bank and make sure your ATM card can be used in Europe (Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Austria)
  2. Find out from your cellphone company whether you can use your cellphone in Europe and how much this will cost you.
  3. Do you have your passport? Did you give me 2 copies of the information page? If not, then bring those with you to the meeting. If you didn't get your passport yet, you need to contact your elected officials and ask for their help.
Good News: I have just learned that our tour guide will be Jürgen, the same person I had 2 years ago. He is simply awesome. He is bi-lingual German and Hungarian and speaks fluently English. I'll call him and talk to him about 2 optional tours: a night cruise on the Danube in Budapest and a de-tour to visit the castles of Ludwig II in Bavaria. These are not part of the trip. In order to do that, there will be an additional fee. Last time, we paid 40 Euros for both. I don't know how much this will be this time, but I guess not more than 50 Euros. It will be definitely cheaper than going through the travel agency, which will charge double the amount. Also the travel agency has charged us $34 extra for the non-stop flights from Washington to Frankfurt and Frankfurt to Washington. Therefore, please bring a check in the amount of $100 (made out to McDaniel) with you to the meeting, to cover the 2 tours and the additional fee for the non-stop flights.

In the price you have paid there is a lifetime membership fee for EF. In case you have traveled with EF before, you will receive a refund of $100. Those who are traveling the first time with EF, are entitled to a discount next time they travel with EF. Currently, there are 5 or 6 students who have traveled with EF in the last 4 years. I'll e-mail you separately. You don't have to pay the $100 additional amount. EF will issue us $100 refund for you.

Opera in Vienna: I contacted the Opera in Vienna and tickets fir both the State Opera and the Volksoper will go on sale for January 2010 on December 1. Therefore, I need you to read the descriptions below (and see the prices) get back to me what you prefer to see. Here are the options Just e-mail me back with

Option A: Jan 8: State Opera: Manon - Opera by Jules Massenet (3 hours long with intermission)
Tickets cost 57-168 Euros (most expensive and also will be sold out very fast. It is the opening night o a Friday. I doubt that we will find any good seats.)
Option B: Jan 8: Volksoper: The Land of Laughter, Operetta by Franz Lahar with English subtitles (2 hours and 45 minutes with 1 intermission)
Tickets cost: 36-80 Euros
Synopsis: Lisa, daughter from a good Vienna family, falls in love with the Chinese prince Sou-Chong. The couple want to lead their life as a couple in China, but the cultural differences are soon revealed as unsurmountable and their love fails as a consequence. The prince is ultimately left only to conclude sadly: "Always keep smiling..." - even when your heart is at its most despondent. Franz Lehár created beguilingly beautiful music, making this work one of the most well-known and most frequently performed operettas worldwide. With English Subtitles

Option C: Jan 9: State Opera - Nutcracker Ballet (2 hours with Intermission)
Tickets cost 48-130 Euros

Option D: Jan 9: Volksoper: La Boheme, Opera by Giacomo Puccini (2 hours and 15 minutes with 1 intermission)
Tickets cost: 36-80 Euros

Friday, October 30, 2009

Welcome to "Treasure of Central Europe" Jan term Trip

Explore the culture and history of four central European countries: Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary and Austria. The participants will learn about current events and the history of these four countries, especially the history of Germany: during the Nazi time, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the aftermath of German unification.

This trip will offer students the opportunity to visit an important region in Central Europe. They will visit old, and historic German, Czech, Hungarian and Austrian cities such as Berlin, capital of reunified Germany, Heidelberg, Germany's oldest university town; Munich, Bavaria's most important city and the residence of the historic Wittelsbach family. Other stops will include Dachau, Germany's first concentration camp; Vienna, the city of music; Salzburg, the birthplace of the most famous Austrian musician, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Prague, where Mozart first conducted Don Giovanni; and Budapest where McDaniel College has a campus.

Travel Guides & Langauges

Travel Guides on Central Europe: I would recommend buying a Tour Guide for central Europe. The best guides are published by Passport Books, Fodors or Lonely Planet. However, you can share one with a friend or download anything you are interested in from the Internet and bring that along I have 2 old copies of the Lonley Planet travel guide and will them along on Friday.

Many Europeans speak more than one foreign language. English and German are widely spoken in the countries we will visit. You don't need to speak German or any one of the local languages. However, it would be great if you can learn some basic words and greetings in German, Czech, and Hungarian. This will make a huge difference when you meet people on the street, in the bars or restaurants.Here are some links:

Questions, Wishes, etc. Please e-mail me if you have any questions, wishes, other concerns.

Flight Information- TCE 2010

You must make your own travel arrangements to and from the airport in the USA. Make sure you arrive at least 2 hours prior to departure in Washington DC. Call the airline or me one hour before you leave your house. I’ll have the latest flight information (delays, changes, etc.) My home number is: (410)386-9994 and (Cell) 410-967-1669.

Please be at Washington-Dulles Airport at 3:30 p.m. at the latest. Please take into consideration that the roads are jammed at that time, especially the Beltway and I-270. Please drive as early as you can to avoid rush hour (between 2:30 and 4:30 p.m.). In any case, let me give you two ways to get to the airport.

Coming from Frederick or Hagerstown: Take I-270 south to the split, then take 495 to Northern Virginia (right two lanes before I-270 splits). Then take the Dulles Airport Access Rd, exit 12 from the Beltway. Take the Access Rd. Entrance is on the left after you merge with the access Rd. Be careful not to take the Toll Rd. The Dulles Access Rd leads you to the airport. Drive in the airport to Ticketing/ Check In. We’ll fly with Lufthansa. They are located in the main terminal. We will meet in front of the ticketing counter for Lufthansa.
Coming from Baltimore, Delaware or New Jersey: Take I-95 south to the Washington-Beltway (I-495). Take the Beltway toward Silver Spring (Not Richmond or College Park). Follow the Beltway, pass the Mormon Temple on your right hand side, pass I-270, continue on Beltway toward Northern Virginia until you get to the Dulles Airport Access Rd, exist 12 from the Beltway. Take the Access Rd. Entrance is on the left after you merge with the access Rd. Be careful not to take the Toll Rd. The Dulles Access Road leads you to the airport. Drive in the airport to Ticketing/ Check In. We’ll fly with Lufthansa. They are located in the main terminal. We will meet in front of the ticketing counter for Lufthansa.

Departure: All participants will depart in one group with
Lufthansa/ Flight #419
Jan. 1, 2010: 5:80 p.m. (Dulles Airport/ Washington DC)
Jan 2., 2010: Frankfurt: 7:30 a.m.

Return: The participant will fly back from Frankfurt to Dulles in one group with
Lufthansa/ Flight #418
Jan. 14, 2010: 1:00 p.m.
Arrival in Dulles at: 3:50 p.m.

Please make sure to let those who will pick you up know that they MUST check the arrival time with Lufthansa (on-line at or via phone 1-800-399-5838

Course Requirements

This trip has been approved by the Curriculum Committee as a 2-credit course. To receive these 2 credits, you must register for the trip as a Jan-Term 2010 Class. The course number is IDS 1142-01. To receive credit for this trip, you must fulfill the following course requirements:

Part 1: Active Participation in Trip (25% of final grade) You must attend all scheduled tours, lectures and meetings and take active part in conversations and discussions.

Part 2: Choose one of the following alternatives and fulfill the requirements (75%):

Alternative 1: Create your own Blog
  • Your Blog must consists of (a) selected images that you have taken on the trip (a few images from each city we visit) (30%) and (b) at least 9 journal entries (5% each), 6 of which must be reflections about our visits to the 7 cities on our itinerary: Berlin, Dresden, Prague, Budapest, Vienna, Munich and Heidelberg. The first entry must be posted prior to our departure. In this entry, please describe in details why you have signed up for this trip and not another one, what you expect from the trip and what cities/ countries you are looking forward to seeing and why. Your last entry that is due upon your return to the USA is a final reflection on the entire trip: what did you like about the trip, which places, events, etc. and why. 
Alternative 2: Journal & Photography: This consists of 2 parts:
  • Journal (50%): You must write in a journal once a day (at least 10 entries) about what you saw and experienced on that day. Use your imagination; be creative and reflective. Each entry should one page long. You can also draw pictures, add small souvenir items, cards, pictures, etc. The journal will be collected twice: in the middle of trip after our visit to Budapest and on the plane. Please buy a composition book and write your name on it. 
  • Photography (25%): Each student will take photographs for exhibit at McDaniel. Try to focus on something you like (castles, bridges, churches, doors, people, graffiti, Berlin, Dachau, etc.) and make this your project idea. You will choose 10 of your best pictures, enlarge them and put them into a poster collage. These poster collages will be exhibited at McDaniel in the spring semester. You can opt to do a PowerPoint slide show instead with explanations to the pictures
Alternative 3: Video-Journal
  • Your video will consist of footage you will take during the trip, short interviews with select members of the group and also your own commentary and reflections. This is a project for 2-3 students who will have to meet with me before and during the trip so we can start planning for the video and editing it after we have visited each city. I have video editing software on my computer and we would be able to start the editing process on the trip by adding titles, images, music, etc. (25% photography and video quality; 20% quality of interviews; 30% commentary).