Archive for December, 2013

This can’t be the end?

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

Well I am back in the U.S. of A as of Saturday night! I have so many mixed emotions right now and so much on my mind. I thought I would write one final post to wrap up my experience, but I wanted it to settle in my mind before writing.

Where do I begin? These past three months felt like they were just a dream. Coming back has to be one of the most unreal feelings I have ever had. I was finally comfortable in Costa Rica, and to be honest it felt like home. My “host” family felt like a real family to me. I actually love them a lot. Don’t get me wrong, I love being home in the U.S. as well. I missed so many things about being here. I missed my family and friends so much. I missed being able to eat when and what I want. I missed being able to drive myself wherever I wanted to go. I missed my bed! But since being here I can now only think of the things that I miss from Costa Rica, like the fresh fruit (PAPAYA!), the warm sun everyday, the friendly and easygoing people, and the wonderful conversations i would have with my host mom. I miss the reggae music and dancing. I miss the sound of Spanish especially. What a beautiful language. I hope I can maintain all that I have learned over the past few months. My Spanish has gotten a lot better. 

Costa Rica taught me so much about myself and about the world in general. I will be forever grateful for that. I feel that now, I am much more appreciative for my family and friends, and for the small things in life. I have learned to SLOW down, and enjoy every moment. I have learned to be patient. Tranquilo ( to be peaceful, tranquil, relaxed). Here in the U.S. we have such a different lifestyle. We are always in a rush, and we always want things done NOW. We could learn a thing or two from our Latin American neighbors. They seem to lead a much less stressful lifestyle. I did so many things studying abroad that I never believed I would ever do. It was like I was a different person altogether. I met so many great people there. It was such a diverse group, and everyone brought something different to the table. It is so sad to me that I may never see some of them ever again. However, on the bright side, I know that I will stay in touch with many, and hopeful have reunions. The time we spent together, although very short, was so meaningful. We shared an experience that our friends back home can’t relate to. I wish them all well in their future endeavors and I can not wait until the next time I am able to see them again.  

Costa Rica was gorgeous as a country. The music, the people, the scenery! Oh the scenery. Everything was great. 

Here is a picture that my roommate Edith took:

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I will definitely miss those sunsets. So beautiful. So tranquil.

My Tica Family, with the exception of my other brother and sister: 

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I hope to see them again one day!

Since being back a few things have been, well, wierd to me. For example, the traffic seems so much slower compared to in San Jose. People ACTUALLY follow road signs again. Carpet feels extra soft. I haven’t walked on a carpeted floor in so long. I feel strange every time I throw my toilet paper in the toilet. I finally go the hang of throwing it in the trash can. When I drove for the first time yesterday it felt like it was my actual first time EVER. I was a bit nervous. All of the Christmas decorations don’t feel right. I had no idea this week was Christmas. It didn’t feel like December over in Costa Rica. Last night, while I was out getting sushi (one of my many cravings I had back in CR) I accidentally said “Gracias” to the waitress. Woops! I can tell this will take some time to get used to. What do they call it?Reverse culture shock, that’s right. 

In order to give a full reflection on my study abroad experience I feel as if I have to give the entire story. There were so many positives and they definitely outweighed the negatives, but there still were things that I was not completely happy with. Unfortunately one of these bad experiences included me getting robbed at gunpoint. I had heard so many stories about it happening to other students, I was just praying that it wouldn’t happen to me. The night that it did, I was so angry. Angry at myself for being so complacent. Angry at the man who did it. Angry that the authorities did absolutely nothing about it. But in the end I thought it about it, and there wasn’t anything I could do after the fact. It was done. Yes, it sucked, but it was done. I couldn’t be angry because it is something that happens all over the world and in every country. There are people like that out there. I did not want it to ruin my experience and so I let it go. 
Another thing that I guess I was not entirely happy with was the vast amount of Americanization in Costa Rica. One of my preconceptions I had before going there was that it would be more like other Latin American countries in the sense of culture. There were so many American restaurants and fast food chains. Even the language was influenced by the U.S. They don’t roll their R’s! That was a huge surprise for me. The kids listened to a lot of American music and rock. It was almost as if the country was little America. After visiting Nicaragua and Panama on two of my free weekends, it was even more apparent how different Costa Rica was. After this initial shock, I began to realize that in order to enjoy the rest of my experience I had to accept Costa Rica for what it was. It DID have culture. I just had to take a closer look and learn to appreciate it.

I was also elated to have picked up an old pastime :)  I started to train in Tae Kwon Do again! It had been about 5 years since I put that uniform on:

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I can tell that I am not the same person I was 3 months ago. I feel different. It is hard to put my finger on what has changed, but I just know my perspective is different and I have learned so much. I never thought I would be the one to take off and leave my family and friends for 3 months to study abroad. I was so scared coming into this. I honestly wanted to back out just a week before I left. All I can say is that I am glad I didn’t. Costa Rica has been one of the most life changing experiences I have ever had and I will never forget it. I will be back for you one day Costa! But until then, I will just have to remember, Pura Vida!

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Goodbye, Bilbao

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Tomorrow I will leave the city I have come to know as my “home away from home.”  I cannot believe how fast this semester flew by!!  It feels like not so long ago I was just getting to know my host family and unpacking my bags…and today – my host family really does seem like my second family, I am almost done repacking my suitcases.  (It blows my mind that my entire life for the past 4 months is going to fit into two suitcases, by the way.)  Lately all I have wanted to do is soak in this city as much as I can.  I spent most of this past week spending time with my host family and revisiting my favorite spots in the city – getting a glass of wine with friends at our favorite bars, grabbing a coffee and people watching on Gran Via solo, and watching Disney movies in Spanish with my host family.  I don’t know the next time I will be back in Bilbao, so I needed to do all my favorite things one last time before I left!

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My last time tutoring Mikel in English :) What a cutie.

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Last grammar class. Me encantan estas chicas.

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Me and my host family :)

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Me and Katie with our favorite bartender in the city!

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Merry Christmas from Bilbao public transportation!

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At Deusto’s closing ceremonies.

It blows my mind how transformative this semester was for me.  I learned a new language, made a new city in a foreign country my home, gained confidence and courage I didn’t even know I had in me, and formed relationships with amazing people who have touched my life forever.  It is unbelievable to me that I am leaving to return to the United States in less than eight hours, simply because I can’t imagine myself having a life in another place other than Bilbao!  As much as I am looking forward to being in Virginia with my family and friends, I am sad to say goodbye to this city.  However – I am trying not to think of it as goodbye.  It is just:  “Hasta luego, Bilbao!  Hasta la proxima vez.”

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“See you later” to Bilbao, my Spanish home.

Only one week left!

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

The past two weeks I have been busy with finals and traveling and so I did not have time to post. So, let me catch you all up with my whereabouts.

Last weekend I went to a place called Monteverde, Costa Rica. It was a place way up in the mountains with cloud forests and lots of trees!

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Unfortunately I was sick for the entire weekend with food poisoning but it was still a blast! I went ziplinging at Latin America’s longest zipline. I even did a tarzan swing which was awesome! It was basically a swing that had me tied with a bungee and I jumped off the bridge into the trees and swung for a bit. One of the scariest things I have ever done. We went to a butterfly and frog sanctuary afterwards. Costa Rica has the most beautiful wildlife.

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On Sunday we went to climb a ficus tree. It was one of the coolest things I have ever seen. It’s a strangler tree that grows around a tree and kills it leaving it hallow on the inside.

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This past weekend we went to Puerto Viejo, a beach on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. I was expecting it to look like Belize with the crystal blue waters and white sand but it did not really resemble typical Caribbean beaches at all. Still beautiful though. We all enjoyed our last weekend together and relaxed on the beach. We rented bikes and biked down to Punta Uva. It was beautiful. We stayed in a really cool hostel that had a room filled with hammocks for rent instead of beds. Not your traditional hostel.

I am back in San Jose today. Not looking forward to finishing up my finals and packing. I am thinking about doing a day trip to the beach on Thurday to get in some last minute sun! It is unbelievable how fast this trip has been going by. It feels as if i’ve been gone for only a week. Nothing can compare to the amazing experience I have had here. It is sad that I will be leaving this wonderful life behind soon. The worst part is that no one  back home will truly understand my experience through just stories. When I get back and people ask, “How was your trip?” I will not know what to say. How can I possibly explain to you in one sentence the most amazing three months of my life? It just can’t be done. I have 6 days left in this gorgeous country and I just want to soak it all in and leave with no regrets. I do have to admit I am missing home for the holidays. I miss my friends and family. I miss warm showers with actual water pressure. I miss organized street traffic. I miss american food. I miss sushi, oh how I miss sushi! I miss feeling safe walking the streets at night. Even though I am excited to go back home, I know I will miss this place just as much. One thing that is for sure though, I must come back here one day. I can not fathom leaving this place and never seeing it again. Same with the people I met here. We are already planning our next reunion. Haven’t even left yet and I already miss them!


Veni Vidi Vici

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Tomorrow is my last day in the UK (for now) which is great and tragic. This semester abroad has certainly not been conventional but I wouldn’t trade it for anything because I’ve learnt more about how to think than I could have doing anything else. At the risk of sounding like a flyer for study abroad, I have learnt so much more about other cultures from living here than I thought I would. I had no idea Manchester was so diverse culturally, linguistically, and religiously before I got here and at first it wasn’t a nice surprise. There was a lot more culture shock than I was expecting but after talking to and getting to know so many study abroad students with all kinds of backgrounds, I became really interested in knowing about culture variation. Not only did it help me connect dots and make sense of how people here live and where they come from, but it truly helped me realize that you just don’t know anything about a person until you ask. It’s not safe to assume anything because people here come from all walks of life.

Of course, I’ve learnt a lot about British culture too. I’ve been keenly aware of linguistic differences between British and American English since I got here just because it interests me. But there are so many cultural differences too and I’ve had a great time talking to my friends about them and figuring out things like why the only cold cuts you can buy are ham and why people never talk to cashiers. It’s interesting because they’re small things, but they make a big difference in people’s lives and especially attitudes.

I think a lot about the interactions I see every day and I think about why people are the way they are. I’ve thought a lot about ideas I have of other cultures and how they affect interactions that I have before I even have them. I’ve been asked a lot about American stereotypes since being here and it’s made me think about how we’re seen by non-Americans and to what extent our stereotypical notions of other countries are true.  It seems that Americans think that other countries view us as ego-centric, rude, and maybe even self-absorbed. In reality, thinking that does make us those things because the average non-American 20 year old doesn’t know enough about the US to have a non-television based opinion of us. Every classmate I’ve talked to about the US has asked if my high school was like High School Musical or Grease. American media is so prevalent in other countries that most people’s ideas of Americans are based off what they see. Which is fair, as media aim to represent society to some degree. That said, very few people here consciously maintain a negative image of Americans like we think they do. Frankly, they have better things to think about. So, not so surprisingly, none of the people I’ve met have assumed anything about me before getting to know me. In my opinion, going abroad and expecting people to think you’re a jerk is a lot less productive than acting as if you have nothing to disprove to people.

My favorite thing that I did while here was visit Edinburgh, which was breathtaking and cute at the same time. My least favorite thing was “Fresher’s Week” in the halls where I learnt to sleep through the sound of kegs rolling down cement steps. The most valuable thing I did was spend time at the International Society and get to meet people I never would have known otherwise. My favorite class was Morphology for which I plan to finish the final essay during the probably extended period of time that I will be in Heathrow on Sunday (due to the impending snowstorm).

My next goal is to travel home smoothly and eat something that I’ve heard of before. And ski. Although Manchester has grown on me quite a bit, I have learnt to appreciate Mary Washington so, so much since being here, as if I didn’t already. There truly is no other community like it and I cannot wait to be back.

Thanks for reading my blog this semester if you’re not my parents who are lovingly obligated to.

Pre-Christmas in England

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Between studying rapidly for the finals for the classes which have been really easy up till right now to coordinating dates for visiting the Christmas markets in every surrounding town, December is a busy month in Manchester. Britons take Christmas very seriously, not only starting celebrations comparatively early (due to the whole no thanksgiving thing) but also planning and attending celebrations of all kinds every week. Exactly one week after thanksgiving, the formal dinner was held in Owen’s Park for our court and the surrounding ones. Our usual drab dining hall was transformed completely into a Christmas wonderland with decorated trees, long tables set with Christmas crackers, decorations, and seats waiting for formally dressed students. We enjoyed a traditional English Christmas dinner, which is similar in many ways to a typical thanksgiving dinner. They usually eat turkey, potatoes, carrots, etc. The main differences are that stuffing comes in little balls here and saran wrap is purple, so if you ever come eat here and need to save some for later, it’ll look cool. We had a good time opening our crackers and immediately putting the contents on our heads.

Last Wednesday, I went to the Manchester Christmas markets with the Manchester and Lancaster GlobaLinks students and our resident coordinator. The markets in Manchester are beautiful and expansive and every food there is the best thing you’ve ever smelled. I’ve been three times and every time I try something new. I’d had the joy of ordering a lager in German, burning my mouth on Dutch pancakes, getting a toothache from eating so much meter-long licorice, and crying over how good chocolate-covered strawberry kebabs are. After we explored the main part of the markets, we hopped on a train to a nearby town and had dinner at a traditional English carvery. This was by far the best meal that I’ve had here. Inside, there was a roaring fire and a big decorated tree and we sat and ate and ate and ate. They had different meats that they’d carve for you and then a buffet style dinner. The type of food was also very similar to thanksgiving but it was delicious and the perfect ending to a cold day outside.

The most recent Christmas festivity I’ve been to was on sunday night at St. Peter’s Chaplaincy in Manchester. There was a carol service held for international society students in the venue where I have one of my lectures regularly. I’ve just recently learnt that the chaplaincy is not a Catholic one, but one that hosts a variety of different services weekly. It was clear during the service that all who were involved were very welcoming and open about religion, two factors which I imagine are important when entertaining students from all backgrounds and religions in one service. It was a beautiful service, we sung lots of Christmas hymns, heard an amazing harpist, two choirs in two different languages, and heard lots of scripture readings in different languages as well. I was surprised to find out the pastor was American and had the chance to talk with him briefly after the surface.

As much fun as Christmas has been here, I am ready to go home for the holidays. Manchester has grown on me so much since the first week that I was here but I am ready to be with my family and friends and be in a familiar surrounding. Luckily, the markets are perfect for getting all your Christmas shopping done early and having presents you know they won’t already have.

A Family Visit!

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Hello, friends!

Over Thanksgiving break, my family came to see me here in Bilbao! It made me so incredibly happy to have them here for an entire week!  In fact, when I finally laid eyes on my dad, my  mom, and my sister for the first time in almost three months in the Bilbao airport, I definitely cried out of happiness.  I was just so overjoyed and relieved to have the people who know me best here with me in Bilbao, my “home away from home.”  The whole week was me familiarizing them with Bilbao – I showed them my favorite spots for a drink or a coffee, to study/people watch, to wander and explore, and to shop!  And of course, I had them try pintxos – lots and lots of pintxos!  (My mom kept saying that we were “eating our way” through the city – but what better place to do that than in the gastronomy capital of Spain?!)  For those of you who do not know what they are, pintxos are little appetizers/snacks that people in Bilbao have in between meals at bars, usually with a glass of wine or beer.  They are very similar Spanish tapas.  In fact, I’m rather certain they are the same, even though my host brother Ignacio insists they are not – although I think that may just be Basque pride speaking!  Here are some pintxos and us trying them at the bars in Bilbao, as well as us at other yummy stops!

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A typical pintxo bar!

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Me and Haley at one of my favorite pintxo places in Bilbao!

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Another pintxo bar!

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Bilbao pastries!!

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One of the yummy restaurants we ate at!

One of my favorite things about having my family in Bilbao with me was that they were able to finally meet my host family and get to know them.  Some of my favorite parts of the week were just when the seven of us were gathered around the kitchen table over a meal!  Speaking of which, we had a very pleasant cultural exchange at mealtimes between my two families: My host mother made my family a traditional Spanish three-course lunch upon their arrival to Bilbao and on Thanksgiving Day, we made an (almost) traditional American Thanksgiving  meal for my host family!  I think both sides were very pleased with the exchange, if I do say so myself.  Although we couldn’t have an exact American Thanksgiving (chicken instead of turkey, no pumpkin bread, etc.), it was still delicious – and my Spanish family absolutely loved it.  I think they were surprised that we Americans eat healthily on occasion (even if it is in unhealthy amounts)!  They also got a kick out of the fact that we have this day off of work and school in order to spend time with friends and family giving thanks, and instead we slave away in the kitchen all day.  (“Always going, going, going – you Americans never stop, even on your day off!!”) I guess that’s what it looks like from the outside looking in, you guys!

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Lunchtime!!

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Both of my families together!

Sharing Bilbao with my family was so fun and really important to me, so I’m so glad they could make it happen!  It was so great to show them the places they have heard so much about from me, and for them to get to know my Spanish family that I’ve come to love.  It was a very special Thanksgiving!

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Me and my parents on the mountain in Bilbao!

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On my family’s balcony!

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The parents at the Guggenheim!

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Family photo!

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Walking around Bilbao with the family.

The Flâneur (Camden Town)

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

According to cultural theorist De Certeau, walking is the key ‘tactical practice’. In other words, walking is the most effective tactic that allows one to understand a city. He views walking as being conducive to opportunities for learning. Flanerie is the act of occupying urban space by strolling effortlessly and observing the built environment.

Each city dweller has a connection to a place through an experience that is entirely their own. The lived culture of the urban street cannot be understood without seeing it first-hand. A place is ultimately distinguished by its history, culture, social practices, and other elements that cannot be replicated.

Walking the city is crucial to immersion because it provides an indispensable interactive experience, giving the walker autonomy to wander as opposed to only paying attention to established routes.  This experiential knowledge contributes to forming emotional attachments with our surroundings. Cities play a role in the formation of identities and the way various cultures are experienced. Within the spaces of the urban landscape, individual and collective identities are created. 

Camden Town is a central London district that embodies Michel de Certeau’s theme of using space as an act of defiance. It is a microcosm of alternative culture and resistance, as evidenced by the various groups that occupy its streets to sell or purchase items that reflect individuality. It encapsulates freedom of self-expression and the metropolitan lifestyle, promising art, culture, vibrancy, and spontaneity. The street performers, old structures, and market place make this location a unique and nostalgic experience. This area of London is particularly intriguing for its lack of conformity and the numerous cultures and personalities represented. The market place also mirrors Walter Benjamin’s interest in the impact of industrialization on art, illustrated by the retail, tourism, and entertainment. Navigating the streets of Camden has allowed me to explore an edgier side of London. The vibrant atmosphere almost makes it seem like a separate city. It would be almost impossible to comprehend this scene without looking around and seeing the eclectic range of merchandise in person. Camden gives the impression of independence and mystery because it appears to be socially divided from the rest of London. The market place near the stables exudes secrecy, especially when one is confronted with punk or gothic culture, associations with illegal substances, the nightlife, and bargaining. The main factor that sets Camden apart is that creativity is never stifled. Both the assembly of different groups and the manipulation of space give urbanites the means to overcome social oppression within the mapped city.

Walking the city leaves a lasting impression on the individual because spending time alongside city dwellers as they go about their daily routine, as well as watching societal change unfold over time helps shape new perspectives. The identity struggle among urbanites is observable in the way they utilize space as a form of resistance against the mapped city. Getting lost and encountering obscure buildings and structures may be advantageous in regards to understanding the true nature of the city because it uncovers layers of social meaning. It is by exploring the city on foot that one will stumble upon public events and places where history that is specific to the city occurred. These are the things that contribute to the identity of the city and the attitudes of its citizens. Once one is able to grasp the identity of the city through personal experience, he has achieved a thorough understanding of his surroundings.

Paris Vacation

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

After my adventures in Rome, I went to Paris for a few days with Katie! It was so nice to get away with one good friend for 3 days – and it was even better that our “getaway” destination was Paris, France!

Our very first night there, we dropped our stuff off at the hostel and headed to the Eiffel Tower – yes, the Eiffel Tower.  We had tickets to go halfway up the beautiful monument at 10:00 that night!  We took the metro and got off at a stop slightly around the corner from the tower, so we couldn’t see it right away – but as we rounded the bend and I laid my eyes on the Eiffel Tower for the first time, I teared up.  It was beautiful, shimmering and appearing so majestic against the black night sky.  That’s when it hit me that I was in Paris – one of the most impressive cities in the world!  After overcoming the shock at seeing the tower for the first time, we headed to the base to take the lift up it!  Although it was freezing cold, we still loved it up there.  We were able to see the entire city from one of the most famous city monuments in the world!  So, needless to say, it was very, very cool.

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Our first sight of the tower!

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The obligatory selfie on our way up the tower!

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View from the top!!

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Hello from the Eiffel Tower!

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The Eiffel Tower at night during its hourly light show!

The next day we took a short walk through part of the city to the opera house, in order to find our “Hop-on-Hop-off” bus. (On this little walk we found a Starbucks – which may have been the highlight of the weekend for Katie, I kid you not!)  We found our tour bus and rode part of the loop around some the touristy parts of the city.  It was so so very cold, but Katie and I stuck it out and rode on the top of the bus – we are tough troopers who wanted to do Paris the right way!  The first stop we made was at the Louvre Museum! It was neat to see the beautiful art in there, especially the Mona Lisa.  After wandering around in there for a little, we headed out to the bus stop…where I ended up running into a childhood friend.  I hadn’t seen Haley since first grade when she moved away, but there she was walking around in front of the Louvre too!  What a small world!!  After a couple moments of shrieking like little girls and a short catch-up session with Haley, Katie and I headed to our next destination – the love bridge!

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Selfie at the Louvre!

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Mona Lisa!

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Long lost friends meet in Paris!

At this bridge in Paris, it’s a tradition for couples (and more recently, friends/sisters/whatever) to buy a lock, put their names on them, lock them on the bridge, and throw the keys into the water to symbolize their commitment to each other forever.  Romantic, right?  So…Katie and I did it together!  (I know what you’re thinking – not exactly the same as eternal love, but we thought that a good friendship is something to commemorate as well!!)  On our way back from the love bridge back to the hostel, Katie and I hopped on a Ferris Wheel that overlooked the city.  At this point in the day it was dark, so it was really cool to see the city at night again from another point in the city!  We had a perfect view of the Champs-Élysées and the Arc de Triomphe.

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Love bridge!

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Katie and me with our lock!

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The Ferris Wheel!

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From the top of the wheel!

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The Champs-Élysées at night!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next day was probably the coldest day I have ever experienced.  But that’s okay!!  We still rode on the top of our tour bus and squeezed everything we could into that day!  We went to the Notre Dame – which was one of the sights I was most excited to see.  It was so beautiful.  We waited in line to get inside, and I’m so glad we did!  I loved being able to wander through the columns in the cathedral and feeling its sanctuary envelope me.  I’m not a very religious person (I consider myself more spiritual than anything else), but I still really appreciated the beauty of this church.  I even lit a candle and said a silent little prayer.  It was very special.  Katie and I then grabbed lunch at “Le Quasimodo,” a little cafe where I had a delicious traditional French sandwich with a crepe for dessert. Yum!  On the bus again, we got to see more of the popular tourist attractions and then we hit  Champs-Élysées!  We were very excited to walk along the street because it was all decked out for Christmas!! We even saw Santa Clause and drank hot cider – so it was legit.  Christmas in Paris definitely put us in the holiday spirit!

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Katie knows how to bundle up!

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Finally at the Notre Dame!

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Inside the cathedral.

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My lit candle is amongst those.

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So beautiful!

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Yummy lunch spot!

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Hot cider for Christmas in Paris!

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Arc de Triomphe!

On our final day in Paris, we visited the Palace of Versailles.  I loved it!  I was really blown away by how enormous the palace was – and even more astounded by its gardens.  I can’t even imagine how beautiful it is during the summer when everything is in full bloom, because it was already gorgeous in the dead of winter.  Not to mention is was just an incredible amount of land – trees and gardens as far as the eye could see.  I looked at that and thought – this was someone’s backyard??  Woah.  It helped me begin to see why people hated King Louis and why the French Revolution occurred.  I mean, how can a ruler live like that while his people are homeless and starving?  I thought it was so awesome to be in the same space that the revolutionaries stormed in rage centuries ago, as they fought to change their country.  I love history!

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Outside the palace!

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Golden gates!

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Bust of Louis

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One of the gardens!

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After Versailles, we started the journey home.  My weekend in Paris with Katie was very much needed.  I loved being able to travel with just one good friend – it’s much more relaxing to me than traveling in a larger group!   What I really loved about being in Paris was all the cool people Katie and I got to meet.  We met a group of people from Germany, a man from Algeria, people from all over the United States, and a group of guys from Brazil.  It was really fun just sitting in the hostel after a long day of sight-seeing, making friends with people from all over the world.  Just another perk of traveling!

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Hostel friends!

Thanksgiving in England

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

Last Thursday, I went with and American flatmate of mine to the International Society’s thanksgiving dinner. Since this was my first thanksgiving away from family, it was really nice to be around people and have dinner. Because there are so many American students studying abroad here, I was surprised the number of non-american students at dinner. We were sat at long tables and had the chance to talk to everyone around us. At our table alone we met people from Italy, Guatemala, Singapore, and the Republic of Congo. There’s really nothing not to love about an international society. Before we ate, they gave a short presentation on the history of thanksgiving and the pilgrims and settlers etc. After four courses, everyone got up and played a charades game which was hysterical only to the italian girls next to me who’d had four glasses of wine. It was still fun though and after we ate pie and cupcakes and chocolates until we were ready to roll out. The best part of the night was eating food that was so familiar. It sounds weird, but when none of the food around you is familiar it’s really nice to eat something you’re used to. The next exciting food-related cultural and holiday event is on Wednesday when GlobaLinks is going to an English Carvery. Then on Friday for the formal Christmas dinner in Owens Park. So much to eat, so little time.