What A Trip!

Some of the group has been back in the USA for a bout a week now, while others are off still adventuring in Europe or participating in internships from all over  the world! Since I’ve been home I have had many people ask me how my study abroad experience went and what it entailed. To save everyone from the long description of day by day details, I’ll touch on some of the highlights that I think everyone on the abroad trip will agree with.

1. The first day means absolutely no sleep, but you’ll be having too much fun to even notice how exhausted you are. We left Portland at 8:00 am Monday and arrived in Zurich at 8:00 am on Tuesday… and immediately started our trip!

2. You’ll be learning about the topic your program entails and you will also get to participate in different cultural events and sightseeing during your free time. Plus, the free time is when you not only work on your program requirements, but its the best time to hang out with the people you are participating in the program with. Some of the best times I had was visiting the Duomo di Milano in Italy with Anyssa and OSU advisor Autumn  and paddle boarding with some of the students in Lake Bled.


3.  There are some really cool academic events tied into the abroad program as well. Our group got to see the World Expo in Milan and visit the wooden tower Pyramidenkogel and slide down its slide!

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4.  The food, drinks, and desert will be one of the trip’s highlights. My favorite food in particular was Slovenia’s and Austria’s sausage.

5. You get to learn about different cultures and forestry practices from multiple perspectives. Our program had the opportunity to travel with Slovenian students from the Univeristy of Primorska so it was interesting and fun to hear their take and knowledge on topics. Also, travelling with students from OSU, OSU Cascades, and an E-Campus student from Montana gave light and different understandings on multiple forestry concepts throughout the trip. You’re able to gain knowledge from multiple individuals and make friends from not only Oregon State, but across the world!

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I think I can speak for everyone when I say it was one of the best times so far throughout my studies at OSU!


Here’s some of  us recreating the Sound of Music in Austria!

University of Applied Sciences

Today we visited the University of Applied Sciences in Kuchl, Austria. The university has three specializations- timber construction, forest products technology, and furniture development and interior design. They base their education on the needs of the industry and began studying smart building in 2012. In fact, the room we sat in for our lecture was entirely built in only 3 weeks!

The University has begun to work on passive houses and Austria even won the Solar Decathlon in 2012. The Solar Decathlon is a yearly international competition that challenges 20 teams to design the most attractive, effective, and energy-efficient solar-powered house. Austria won for the house they they built which generates more energy than it consumes. The house has a pre-fabricated wooden frame and can be quickly assembled or disassembled.

On the campus there are also schools for teenage students who are interested in studying wood products. They begin learning at age 14 and are given a lot of independence to create their own projects and use tools and equipment safely and effectively without much supervision. Each term they are required to complete a final project that demonstrates what they learned that term.


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The students are also lucky enough to have this incredible view from their campus!

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On our way to our hostel in Austria we stopped at the Pyramidenkogel tower. The original tower was built in between 1966 and 1988. However, in 2006 new plans to create a tower were put underway. Construction was officially completed in 2013. The tower is built of wood and steel and is ranked as the tallest wooden tower in the world at 100 meters.

The tower was definitely incredible! The views were amazing.

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However nothing compares to its slide!! The whole group got to go down a 66 meter slide. This is the tallest slide in all of Europe!!! It was fast and furious..check out everyone’s faces coming down.


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Manufactured Housing and Glamping!

Our next destination was Ljubljana (kinda pronounced “loo-be-yana”). But we made a few stops along the way! First stop was to Jelovica, which is a panel housing manufacturer. They put pieces of house walls together from the outside layer to the inside wall, including the electrical outlets and windows, then the pieces get transported to the building site and assembled together there. It was pretty neat! Here are some pictures:



Pictures of a wall being assembled




The cross section of a wall



After we visited Jelovica, we went to a kindergarten that was built by them.

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We then visited lake Bled where the glamping resort was! 20150624_145832

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We then made it safely to our new hostel in Ljubljana, which is surrounded in some neat graffiti displayed below!


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(Sorry I did not get a picture of the actual hostel)


A Retreat in the Country

Hello Everyone! Our group has been gone on a lovely getaway to the Slovenian country side. We had the pleasure to stay in a renovated family house. The family didn’t try to remodel the house. Instead they used whatever leftover material they could to preserve the personality of it all. The owner said it was expensive and took a lot of time to renovate, but its beautiful location within vines and acreage of land makes it all worth it. For each night the students were separated into two different groups. The first group of students were in charge of cooking food the first night. They made a Moroccan dish with fish and vegetables. It was delicious.  The second group made a veggie and a meat lasagna with a salad appetizer as well. Both meals were spectacular.



During our stay we also got to look at the Port of Koper. Thanks to its methods to reduce multiple pollution, it recently won an award for being the most eco- friendly port. The port uses a paper sludge left over from paper mills to coat coal and reduce pollution. Basically the cellulose within the mix dries and produces a layer thick enough to trap the coal. It is then burned. The port also is the first in the world to pass legislation to prohibit light glow. In addition to its monitoring methods to reduce pollution, the port also recycles material to produce housing bricks. When the port dredges (to increase depth and safety) silt is pumped to the shore. The silt contains the perfect mixture of materials to produce housing bricks. According to the presentation, they have made enough so far to produce three houses!!


During our stay we also had the opportunity to visit the salt pans. The salt pans were doing great pack in the day due to its expensive value. However, the market today has decreased its worth so production has also decreased. Now only a portion of the salt pans operate in Lera. The system is still the same today despite modernization. The salt pans are also and important eco system to preserve organisms and bird species. 350 out of the 360 bird species have been sited here and is also home to special flora adapted to a saline enviornment. We also had the pleasure of visiting a wooden spa located within the salt pans. The spa uses untreated larch timber and is beautiful! It has only been in operation for about a year now and is entirely dependent on the weather.





Today was our free day in Milan! We rented bikes from a neat bike borrowing thingy and toured around the city all day! Below are some highlights:

Duomo di Milano


Inside the castle Sforezesco




And out front the castle, at the Plaza Castello


Probably the longest fooseball table ever!


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And the night ended back out front the Duomo!


Milan Expo

The theme for the 2015 Expo in Milan was Feeding The World. The event is the biggest organized event revolving around agriculture with 140 participating counties displaying their best technology that will guarantee healthy and sufficient food for the whole planet. The showcase lasts from May 1rst through October 1rst.

We were greeted by a tour guide to examine the Slovenian exhibit. Here we learned about their five themes revolving around five senses. To begin the first theme was sustainability/ plants. We got to witness a design the country created to plant actual gardens on top of rooftops and housing side panels. Next we were showed the other theme, bees. Bees and their honey provide an important resource for the country. However, the bee population is dropping fast and the exhibit wanted to provide some insight to visitors on just how important they are to not only their country, but our world. Next was water. According to the tour, Slovenia has incredible drinking water full of healthy minerals. Additionally, the country has a few hot springs that provide an attractive feature to the country. Next the tour guide showed us the windmill exhibit. Here it talked about the second biggest source of pollution: black carbon. Lastly, we examined the salt exhibit within the Slovenia’s exhibit. Here the tour guide talked about the significance of salt for the country. In Slovenia they have the only salt in the world that is naturally white. It is collected and sold without additional preservatives. This was probably my favorite exhibit to visit and makes me super excited to visit the country here in a few days.

Next we visited the Malaysian exhibit. The structure was made out of tropical Glulam and inside there was a display about the country’s biodiversity. Rubber trees from Malaysia produces a lot of the materials needed to make rubber products and attracts a lot of tourists due to the abundance of fireflies.

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ETH House of Natural Resources, Covered bridges, and Rhein Falls

Today we made an excursion to the ETH House of Natural Resources. The ETH House acted as a pilot building for hardwood construction and a project building for full scale research and demonstrations.  The two lower levels of the building were made out of concrete while the two upper stories were made out of hardwood. One of the most interesting things we learned during the presentation led by one of the research institution students was the controversy of using Glulam in construction. Robert mentioned there is often a trade off  between using renewable materials, such as wood and glue, for the benefit of the environment and causing another problem. For example, glulam cannot be disposed of by the public. Instead, it is burned in specific buildings to produce part of the country’s energy and cut down on toxic pollution released when the glue is burned improperly. The building will be open next week.

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Robert also showed us to two other covered wooden bridges. The first was in a tiny little Swiss village and was originally constructed in 1815 and renovated in 1955. The second bridge was just outside a farming community in Switzerland. It was made from untreated wood. Lastly our group got t see the spectacular Rhein Falls. Rhein Falls is the largest waterfall in Europe and a major attraction for the country. It was quite a journey to get to the bottom but well worth the effort!



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Bridge Tours

While in Switzerland Robert has taken us on a bridge tour of sorts, we’ve seen 6 different bridges now. The first was probably my favorite, it is a wooden suspension bridge that’s about 8 years old, made from Norway Spruce and Larch, and designed by a local designer, Juerg Conzett. The span of the bridge is 62 meters horizontally and 22 meters vertically. Built in 2005.


The second bridge was another wooden bridge, much smaller than the first, but it lead to another large suspension bridge. This one was made from steel and overlooked an awesome swimming hole!


The fourth bridge was actually half in Switzerland, half in Lichtenstein! It was a wooden bridge built from 1871 to 1875, that was recently restored.


The last two bridges were both covered wooden bridges, one built in 1815 renovated in 1955 used glulam, and the other was made in 1992.

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Walking Around Zürich

To keep us all from passing out we went for a walk around Zürich.   Our trusty leader Robert was able to show us all around the odds and ends of the town. We discovered what Switzerland’s water fountains looked like and got to see the incredible view from Zürich’s University. On our way back to the hostel we also got to walk around part of Lake Zürich.imageimageimage image