Day Trip to Bled

Yesterday on our last day in Slovenia, we visited two places. Our first visit was to the ski manufacturing company Elan. I thought this was super interesting because on the trip we got to go tour their factories where they produce all the products. Because there are so many different models, sizes, and colors of skis, there was a lot going on. Usually during factory tours they are very strict about where you can and can’t walk. Normally this is far from where the work is being done but we got to get up close and touch some of the skis mid-production. 

Our next visit was to the Bled School of Management. This was cool for me as a member of the Business Leadership Program because a lot of the things that they are teaching the older professional enrolled in their school are the same as what we are being taught. Dr. Hedeman actually got one of our assignments that we had this year from this visit last year. 

We also spent the day touring the Bled Castle and the clock tower and church on the middle of the island on Lake Bled. The only way to get there is by a special kind of boat that only certain families have been allowed to operating since the late 1700s.

Overall this was a great last day in Slovenia but I’m ready to be home!

Goodbye Slovenia, but more importantly… goodbye airports

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As we all packed up to leave Slovenia — some of us forever and for others, just for a little while — we reminisced about the fun times we had and the new life experiences we gained on this trip. I have spent the last week and a half talking about a variety of topics regarding Slovenia and the different companies we visited. And while all of these things made a great impact on my life, and the conscious decisions I will choose to make going forward, I feel like this trip has taught me a lot of lessons I didn’t expect — or want — to learn.

My first ever all-nighter was the day we arrived in Slovenia. I definitely didn’t expect to have an experience like that quite so soon. Throughout this whole trip, I have tried to make having a positive outlook on anything, regardless of how bad it seems, a habit. I did not expect to be put to the ultimate test over the last 36 hours, but I can say I learned a lot about myself as a result.

It all started when we woke up to go to the Ljubljana airport at 4:30am local time (that’s 9:30pm Wednesday Kansas time if you’re keeping track). After a smooth couple of flights from Ljubljana to Zurich and Zurich to Washington D.C., I was getting anxious to get home, take a shower, and get a good night’s rest in my own bed. Unfortunately, life had other plans and wanted me to learn one last major lesson about myself and what I could handle before this trip ended.

Every traveler’s worst nightmare is a canceled flight, especially after a long day of traveling. That’s exactly what happened after a 4-hour delay in Washington D.C. This was an experience I had never had to deal with before. I am someone who is extremely Type A and uncomfortable when anything stays from what is supposed to happen. As you can imagine, this was extremely difficult for me.

Luckily, everyone was rescheduled to different flights home, however, I was assigned the worst possible option. I was scheduled to leave D.C at noon the next day en route to Denver where I would have a 6-hour layover before flying to KC where I wouldn’t arrive until almost midnight. Another full 24 hours of travel. However, I was still trying to have a positive outlook on the situation so I decided to try to get some sleep in the airport. I was woken up less than an hour later by a vacuum cleaner. Little did I know that was the best thing that could’ve happened to me. A couple of SELFs got tickets on a flight to KC through Chicago but the plane was flying out of Reagan National Airport almost 30 miles away.

I decided to test my luck at one of the kiosks next to a very long and hostile customer service line. Thank goodness for that vacuum because I was able to book the last seat on a flight to Chicago and therefore get on the flight to KC. I didn’t have my luggage but I had a new flight and two people to share an Uber to Reagan with and that’s all I needed.

Eventually, I made it home 12 hours ahead of my original flight (with my luggage that miraculously made it to KC before I did). Back in a familiar environment, I was able to reflect better on how this experience has made me more willing and able to go with the flow. I understand that, no matter how much I would like to, I can’t control every situation. Sometimes you need to step out of your comfort zone (like driving across Washington D.C. at 2:00am) to get things done.

Regardless of how much this situation has taught me, I do not want to step foot in another airport anytime soon. However, all of this was worth is because I was able to make the best memories in one of my new favorite places in the world: Slovenia.

–Bailey Thompson–

Becoming Comfortable in a New Country

Maybe it’s because I had to make a new town home during this previous school year, or maybe it’s because Slovenia is just that welcoming. Less than 10 days ago I arrived in this new country where I was unable to speak the language or read any of the signs. Since then I have become more comfortable with this new environment and the people that have called it home much longer than I have. It amazes me how nice the people of Ljubljana and Slovenia as a whole are. I am so glad that I have this opportunity to call this beautiful place home… at least for a little while. 

Back from Vacation?

After a very eventful weekend that felt more like vacation than study abroad, we hit the road bright and early this morning.

Our first stop may have been my favorite company visit of the trip. It was at a company called Pipistrel that manufactures light weight aircraft. I was wary when we walked into a presentation complete with a PowerPoint but my mind was quickly changed. It was probably one of the most engaging presentations we had been given. Unfortunately, we couldn’t tour the part of the facility where they were actively manufacturing the aircrafts. Instead, however, we got to see the finished products and got to see some take off and land. 

Our second stop was at a company that works with start-ups specifically by helping them improve their product and pitch as well as connecting entrepreneurs with potential investors. What I thought was so cool was how one of the girls going through the program was from Hutchinson, Kansas and knew my friend’s older brother. 

Because of time constraints and the fact that it would probably take our group about two hours to get through security at the US Embassy, we had the presentation in our hotel. I thought it was so interesting to hear from someone working with the government but somewhat separated from it at the same time. I don’t know if I’d ever be able to live for a long period of time outside of the US, especially in the embassy’s in the more dangerous parts of the world. It’s because of this that I gained a new appreciation for the things that all the people that work in all of the embassy’s all around the world do. 

Overall, it was another successful day and I enjoyed getting back to the familiar city of Ljubljana. It’s weird to think we only have two more days here before heading back to the states. Until tomorrow…

–Bailey Thompson–

Free Day in Piran

One of my favorite things about this trip has been the amount of freedom we have been given. Being allowed to go out in pairs has allowed me to have a variety of new and unique experiences as well as form new friendships with my business and engineering classmates. 

Because most of our mornings on this trip have been very early, I decided to wake up later before heading down to breakfast. Most of the other students on the trip got up early to rent bikes to go to Croatia but Grace and I decided to have a more laid back day. After breakfast, we decided to meet Koree and Meredith in Piran for lunch. On the way I wanted to put my feet in the sea to see what it felt like. That was not a good idea as I completely slipped and fell on the bottom step and almost fell in. Even though I wasn’t wet I was still covered in moss and needed to walk all the way back to the hotel to change. Moral of the story: even if a rock isn’t covered in moss, it can still be really slippery. 

Eventually we made it to Piran where we ate lunch before heading back to the hotel to spend the afternoon relaxing at the pool. That evening, a group of us rode the bus to Piran to climb up to the town wall to get the best view of Piran. The climb was tough but the view was worth it. 

I had never tried squid before so I decided to give it a try. Afer a delicious calamari dinner we decided to call it a night and headed back to the hotel. 

Puppers and Doggos of Venice

Yesterday I got to cross “visiting Venice” off my travel bucket list. I can’t really tell you why I’ve always wanted to go to Venice; maybe is was the gondolas or the history or the story of the structure itself. One of the things in Venice I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with was the dogs. It was raining on and off while we were there and while some of the people seemed miserable in the rain, the dogs were still happy. Situations can easily be made better if you have a certain mindset so I learned from the dogs, had a great mindset about a sometimes not great situation and had a fantastic day in one of the most beautiful cities on the planet. 

–Bailey Thompson–

Off to the Coast!

Today started off a little rocky for room 519 at Hotel Park. We had initially planned to wake up at 6:30 and get down to eat breakfast and check out early so we could spend the morning relaxing. Instead, our alarms didn’t go off. We woke up at 7:15 and we still needed to pack, get ready, eat breakfast, and be on the bus by 8. Somehow we were able to do this and be ready to begin a day consisting of a company visit and a change of scenery. 

Our only visit of the day was Hidria. The way there consisted of a road with many twists and turns but the views were gorgeous! The visit was very interesting and I was able to see the applications of business in a manufacturing/engineering company. 

Afterwards, we continued traveling to the coast and we got to enjoy our first day in Piran and Portorož. We had lunch in a fabulous restaurant where I tried another new food — sardines! We then took a walking tour around Piran and got to take in all the beautiful sights. This place is so perfect it doesn’t seem real, it seems like something you would only see in pictures. After checking into our hotel in Portorož, most of us hit the pool to cool off and relax for a while. We had dinner at the hotel and a small group of us walked the 30 minutes back to Piran to sit by the Adriatic Sea and watch the sunset. It was a beautiful end to a beautiful day. I can’t wait for Venice tomorrow!

–Bailey Thompson–