Language trip to Florida 2014
Full of impressions, we came back from our fantastic language trip in the Sunshine State.
Our first stop was Miami, where we went sightseeing with our Cuban tour guide, Vivian. She invited us for a typical Cuban “coffee shot” in Little Havanna, the Spanish quarter of Miami.
After waking up again thanks to the strong coffee (the flight was a rather long one), she showed us the most expensive area in Miami, Coral Gables, where the rich and beautiful reside. After visiting Coral Gables we went on a walk in Bayside, the harbour of Miami, where some of us also grabbed a quick first American meal and some bought a shirt at the Hard Rock Cafe.
On the next day we organized a coach that took us to the University of Miami in Coral Gables. Two American students toured the beautiful campus with us. We felt like we were in a rainforest surrounded by palm trees and lush vegetation. They showed us where classes are held, pointed out how much students pay for one semester—an awful lot, showed us a typical private room of a student, the huge campus gym and two university owned Starbucks cafes. Then our task was to interview 3 American students, which we felt a bit uncomfortable about in the beginning, but soon after finding out how incredibly friendly Americans were, the ice was broken and we had no worries anymore. We were lucky and could buy tickets for the women’s university basketball game on the same night. It was a typical American sports event with cheerleaders dancing, the university band playing, male cheerleaders/acrobats lifting the girls high up in the air, flags being swung and the university team winning the game.
On the way to Key West, the southernmost city of the USA – also called the “Conch Republic” we explored the Everglades by airboat with a funny guide and were taught about the variety of plants that grow there by Jeremy, a wildlife officer and ranger.
On our way south, we stopped at Robbies, a pier where we marveled at pelicans and tarpons, while feeding them fish. We even discovered an eagle ray near the beach. In Key West, where tolerance is the rule and differences are to be celebrated, the Hemingway house, the southernmost Point, Mallory Square Dock at sunset, Duval street, the crazy cosmopolitan people who party there, the National Park Fort Zachery, Truman’s Little White House impressed us a lot.
When continuing on to the West Coast, we stopped at the Dolphin Research Center on Grassy Key, where “Flipper” was trained. “His descendants” still live on there, proudly presenting acrobatic jumps, turns, waving at tourists while swimming on their backs, towing brave girls on their fins, shaking hands and posing for photos with happy visitors.
On arriving in Fort Myers, we were amazed by the fine sandy beach in front of our hotel, even though the weather was again a bit rough at night. That was the first day when some of us turned on the heating. The next day we went “shelling” to a peaceful paradise on Sanibel Island and headed on to Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge. After a video presentation in the educational center, we went along one of the nature trails and saw many a bird, alligator and snake hide away when our party of 36 whizzed through their wilderness.
Next we stopped in Tampa and St. Petersburg. We crossed the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and went to the famous Salvador Dali art museum where we enjoyed the largest collection of his surrealistic works outside Europe.
The Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral captivated us. We could take photos right next to the Spaceship Atlantis, had the chance to personally meet and greet an astronaut who had been on a mission in space, got goose bumps when experiencing a shuttle launch in a simulator, watched movies in the IMAX theater, could almost feel zero gravity when watching the video installations and so much more. One day wasn’t enough.
The area around the Kennedy Space Center is a huge wildlife sanctuary where, if you have enough time and patience, you can also see the American bald eagle - we could take a snap shot of the huge nest high up in the trees -, manatees, wild boars and of course again alligators. Our bus driver, Orlando saw two Florida panthers running by when picking us up and honestly, we were rather glad we weren’t faced with diamond headed rattlesnakes crossing our way.
Since it was Black Friday, the best shopping day with mega sales in the USA, we just had to go to a big shopping mall for a couple of hours and were delighted about the unbelievable offers we encountered, even Santa Claus was there, posing for photos with the little kids. Many suitcases had grown quite a lot heavier after the shopping craze.
Right in the heart of Florida we explored the murky waters at the Fish Eating Creek Outpost with canoes, watching the vultures above us and adoring the plants around us. We spent the night in a hotel at Lake Okeechobee, also called "The Big O", the largest freshwater lake in the state of Florida.
After touring the back country with its big cattle ranges and typical American farm houses, we stopped at a shooting range, where we were shown different kinds of weapons and various kinds of ammunition. A security officer informed us about the American weapon laws and instructed us how to handle weapons safely. Right there, treated like real Americans, was our group of Austrian students, aiming rifles of all kinds at a pink Chevrolet – how much better could it get?
Our last destination was West Palm Beach, where fortune smiled on us. It was a warm and sunny day, the “First Advent Sunday”, which some of us - once in a lifetime - could spend on the beach before arriving back home in good, (c)old Austria.
At the end of our trip, even though we had been spoilt with great American food like steak, Thanksgiving turkey, burgers, fish, burritos, bagels, muffins, waffles, donuts, sweet potatoes, veggies, salads with innumerous dressings, ice-cream, cakes, we can’t name it all, we were really yearning for juicy Austrian “Schwarzbrot” again!
Leitung: Prof. Alexandra Sieber,
Begleitung: Prof. Andrea Schmidt, KV 3a