Igor Travels Abroad

"In the end, we only regret the chances we didn't take."

Let’s Start at Christmas


when it didn’t look like the photo below.


Christmas was very unique and fun. On Holy Night (24th), after opening the last flap on my Advents Calendar,


we went to church around 5 and listened to a sermon given by the preacher.When the sermon was over, we went to give some money in the collection plate, then drove home around 7. I then went walking with my host-dad, brother and dog, while the Christkind came and delivered presents. When we came home, the tree was lit up and the presents laid under the tree.


We then proceeded to opening the colorful assortment of presents and packages. I received a new sweatshirt, chocolate, model airplane kit, shirt, smartphone keyboard, candle of the Kölner Dome and much more. I gave each member of my host-family something interesting and unique from the USA, sent by my mother. After opening packages and presents, the rest of my host-family came over and we had  “Holy Night Dinner”.


The most interesting thing I found out was that most Germans keep the presents under the tree until after New Years. That’s when the next story comes in….


I don’t how to describe the feeling of having my mom rolling up in a car and parking in my host-families’ driveway. I stared out the window and ran outside. It was one of the most incredible feelings of my life. We then had lunch and my host-family and I gave a tour of our little village.

IMG_0861The same day, we drove down to Schwarz-Wald and stayed in a very nice, cozy hotel. The next morning, we departed to Switzerland, land of the cows with bells, snow, skiing and mixed up languages.

IMG_0864At the border…

We then drove to Grächen. We stayed in our own little vacation cottage in the Alps, approximately half a kilometer from a neat ski resort.

100_3706IMG_0509Unfortunately, my mom got sick and I went downhill skiing by myself. On the other hand, we were able to go cross-country skiing the first day.

IMG_08821st January: Real Black Diamond Skiing at the top of Grächen. Real Black Diamond skiing. It took five different ski lifts to get up to the top and the crowd got smaller and smaller at the top. I saw maybe 20 at the top, with more than a few hundred in the middle.

IMG_0536IMG_0539At the top….

Video in the middle height at the resort. The hills you see in the back is the very top.


We celebrated New Year’s at the vacation home, watching the German New Year’s Celebration in Bayern.

IMG_0899After packing up, we headed to our next destination, Dijon, France. Home of the Dijon Mustard.

On the way there, we stopped at the FountainBleu, home of Napoleon.

IMG_4153We took a tour and then proceeded to Dijon. Here I am at the center all happy looking. It was really great!

IMG_0919We stayed in a nice but little hotel then went to Paris.

IMG_0624Paris was nice and interesting. I checked a few things off my bucketlist such as eating snails and frogs and touching the Eiffel Tower.




Right Before:

IMG_0934Haha, it tasted great!

Finally, we went to Brussels, Belgium. There we went to town, ate yummy food and took some pictures. It is a very calm and nice country.

IMG_1012IMG_4176The street lamps were like desk lamps!

My favorite part, other than Switzerland, was Amsterdam. It is so calm, the people are really cool and, yes, again the food was wonderful.

IMG_0966 IMG_0983 IMG_0988 IMG_4188Our journey was nearing towards the end. My mom and I went to the train station, Bruxelles Nord, where I was supposed to depart and go to Köln, Deutschland. It was so awkward, so hard to spell that word, saying goodbye and then watching through the train window my mom fading into the distance.

The train went fast (around 130 mph/ 210 kph) and arrived in Köln in about two hours. I then took another train home. Life became reality and I was back at my second home. Oh, btw, I’m staying with my host-family until the end of the program!

Near the end of January, we had our Mid-Year Seminar. It was cool seeing how we all changed and speaking the language. We had some time to talk about the first half year, walk in Bonn, go to a German History Museum, bars and clubs. I believe we all had a great time and all look forward to meeting in Berlin.

Find Igor!

Ahrweiler Mid-Year 2Half of my face is hidden, sorry :/

In the beginning of February, I ended up switching schools and now attend a Gesamtschule, just like a typical US high school.

It is really nice there and I enjoy it a lot. My grades for now are all A’s and B’s. My time schedule is great so I only have school from 8:15am until 1:25pm. I take part in a Mountain Biking club led by a German MTB Master for four years. He is a really nice person and a great mountain biker 😀

So those are the happening of the past few months 🙂

I apologize for the delay. It’s becoming more difficult for me to blog, because it’s like blogging about regular life. I will update every Sunday at 8am Eastern Pacific Time though so be on the lookout!

Have a great Sunday,

Igor Bayluk

Author: Igor Miller

A passionate Swiss hotelier with a love for adventure, entrepreneurship, experiencing cultures and people.

2 thoughts on “Let’s Start at Christmas

  1. Great update, Igor! I was just notified yesterday that I am a finalist for FLAG, and will be interviewed along with 66 other people! Thanks so much for taking the time to Skype me and help me with my application! All the hard work is starting to pay off!

    • No problem man! Check out the CBYX link on the left of my blog 😉 Congrats. Read up a little on the German history, punktlichkeit for the interview and don’t think you got it yet. You need to go in confident, but not TOO confident. Take care Jack and have a great week,

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