By now I am well aware that my course is not one that follows the flow of the majority of university courses, at least at Cardiff Uni. For one we only have one exam, at the end of the year, and an extreme weighting on coursework that’s all marked in basically a single presentation.
The compulsory ‘study’ trip, paid for by the school, is one of my favourite ways in which it is different. Throughout all three years of the Bsc course students are taken out for around a week in a European city. Last year we went to Barcelona. This year we went to Zurich in Switzerland and Bregenz in Austria.
The format of this trip was quite relaxed, a few things had been organised for us, like a bus tour of Bregenzerwald, and our head of year also compiled a list of things of architectural merit to try to see. But aside from this, we were free to explore the cities at our leisure.
So it began, following a very early coach journey to London, then a short plane ride (which turned out to be occupied mainly by people on my course despite everyone organising transport separately), we were ready for our first day of exploring in Zurich! Being slightly lazy we decided to follow the guide and try to see as many buildings throughout the day. The morning began in a quite hyper state as we got over excited at the ease in which we found the first point of interest. Leading us to take many pictures gleefully running around a rail bridge posing next to questionable graffiti and buying all of the sweets from a coop that appeared like a mirage from nowhere. This enthusiasm continued as along the way we came across an empty playground. So of course we had a break to play on the swings and rocking horse! Making our way around the city was tiring but well worth it as for all the interesting things we saw, obviously related to architecture, I mean of course we stayed on track for what we were there for…! But honestly one of the best parts was visiting the Grossmunster to see the beautiful stained glass windows, where an elderly lady told us all about them, going onto give her thoughts on Brexit and Trump in a surreal but oddly heart-warming turn of events.
We left Zurich after that day for a coach to take us to Bregenz. On the way it made a few stops in some cute towns along the way. As well as Vaduz the capital of the small country Liechtenstein.
On The first day in Bregenz we had a coach tour of the more mountainous areas of Bregenzerwald. It was brilliant, mostly (but not only) because of the snow, that was so deep everywhere yet all the locals didn’t see it as anything interesting, in fact the majority was completely untouched!
Besides the snow, the architecture was actually pretty interesting. The buildings there are so different in their history to buildings in Cardiff or the UK, and so the more modern reinventions have an interesting take on this mixed with more common contemporary styles. We were lucky as well to get entrance into non-public buildings such as schools and offices, another perk of the course.
The last day in Bregenz we were again free to explore. Deciding again to do a walking tour of the city, visiting the museum (which only some of it we understood due to not speaking German, but was interesting none the less), and generally getting lost in the fog.
This was the last stop on our tour. From then we had the freedom of a ‘reading’ week. For which we were encouraged to either go home or go explore somewhere else if we wanted. I decided to go home, as any further exploration wasn’t funded by the uni!