Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Dear Me, One Year Ago,

You have no idea what you’re in for. Right now you are in Budapest with three of your favorite human beings, halfway through one of the best trips of your life. You know that in less than two weeks you’ll be back in Boston and things are going to be awkward and weird and strange and it’s going to take a lot of getting used to.

But what you don’t yet realize is how much things have changed and how hard it’s going to be and that just because you’re back in Boston doesn’t mean that everything is suddenly going to be okay.
In fact, it’s going to kind of suck for a while.

You’re going to be scared of commitment. And large grocery stores. And interacting with old friends, because maybe they won’t understand how you’ve changed and what has happened in the past year (and how could they when you barely understand it yourself?)

You’re going to hate the public transit system in Boston. And your retail job. And the thought of being stuck in one place for an extended period of time. And anything that even remotely resembles permanence.

And you’re going to write in your journal, and vent to your sister, and think you’re going crazy, and cry, and be filled with an inexplicable rage, and watch too much Netflix, and mourn the loss of your transitory nomadic life.

But then slowly things will get better.

You’ll get a better job. You’ll form new connections with old friends and new connections with new friends. You’ll take online classes. You’ll travel in the U.S. You’ll start reading, and writing, and taking pictures again. You’ll start making plans. Your brain will settle down a bit, and things won’t seem quite so all-or-nothing-end-of-the-world. You’ll make peace with your year in Germany, and the guilt and anger will finally leave.

And you’ll realize that you still don’t know what you’re doing, and you still don’t know what you want.

So you’ll move on to the next thing, and it might be wonderful, and it might be terrible, but either way it’s okay because at least you are trying and day dreaming and living, and in the end it will just be another adventure.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

My Life as an American in Hamburg

That's a picture of Copenhagen, because I felt like it. 

Anyway, in case you couldn’t tell, this whole blog thing lost its appeal for me, for two reasons:

1. I got bored. I already write for an unresponsive audience, it’s called my journal, and in there I don’t have to edit or sensor myself or worry that I am offending anyone.

2. As I have said before, things here in Germany didn’t exactly go to plan (not that I ever really had a plan to begin with), and that kind of put a damper on the naive ideas that I had about what I would spend my year doing/writing about.

So this may very well be my final, “farewell” post, I haven’t decided yet. Either way, I wanted to cover a few things before I leave both this blog and Hamburg.

Back in August I thought I knew what it meant to leave everything behind and start over somewhere new and unfamiliar. I had done it when I moved to Boston, and to a certain degree both times when I studied abroad. Turns out I was wrong.

If I am being entirely honest, these past nine months kicked my ass.

And I’m not going to go into details because I’m tired of overthinking it and no one needs/wants to hear about it and I’m sure that the few people closest to me who have heard about it are tired of hearing about it too. The main point is that I always preach about the importance of going outside of your comfort zone, and this past year I went so far outside of my comfort zone that there were times I wasn’t sure that I would make it out in one piece.

But the good news is that I will make it out in one piece, for several reasons:

1. Writing – If I hadn’t filled six journals and counting, I would have lost my damn mind. Keeping my thoughts straight and tracking my progress helped me to maintain my sanity, and I am not joking in the slightest here.

2. The kindness of random strangers – I can’t tell you how many random people, be it a receptionist at a hostel, a woman at an expat meeting, or a new co-worker, offered advice, or company, or concern. These people, even though they don’t know it, helped me in more ways than they know, and helped restore my dwindling faith in humanity.

3. My strength – This will probably sound egotistical, but I don’t give a shit. This isn’t the first time that I have had to try to extract something good from a bad situation. I am constantly reminded that although there have been countless times in my life when I could have given up, I always refuse to do so, and I am always stronger for it.

4. My family – I am amazed by how wonderful these people are. My family offered unwavering support and sympathy. They would Skype me into family dinners where everyone was being too loud to hold a real conversation, which meant it felt like being right back at home. They sent me cards and postcards (and tried to send me a Christmas present, but we all know how well that worked out). My mother came the whole way to Europe for the first time to visit me. My dad sent me encouraging messages via Words with Friends (in between messages making fun of me for losing). My sister (and better half) would talk to me at all hours of the day, no matter what ridiculous thing I was stressing over. My family may be the most insane group of people that I know, but they are my insane group of people and no one else can have them.

5. My friends – There are the European friends who graciously hosted me, the wonderful friends who visited me, the new friends who kept me distracted and entertained, the old friends that I reconnected with, and, of course, my best friend (I am honestly surprised that she is still talking to me/I haven’t scared her off yet. HI HILLARY). They all made this year bearable.

Without those things, I would have given up, simple as that. And I don’t want anyone to read this and think, “Oh god, she had a really bad year, maybe moving to Europe/Germany/Hamburg is a bad idea. Maybe doing a Fulbright Teaching Assistantship is a bad idea. Maybe going outside of my comfort zone is a bad idea” etc., etc. My experience here is singularly my own, and it is in no way going to deter me from traveling, or moving abroad, or making poorly thought out decisions, or suggesting to any student that I come across that they should apply for a Fulbright and/or study abroad program. My tale should not be a cautionary one, it’s just a fact of life; sometimes things work out, and sometimes shit happens. And when shit does happen you tend to find out what you’re made of, and what is really important to you, and who really matters in your life.

So like I said, this may be my last post. In less than a month I am done with my teaching assistantship, then I am going on a two week European adventure with some of my favorite people in the entire world, and then I am heading back to Boston.

And if you’re still reading this, kudos to you for making it through my ramblings, and again, I hope you guys were able to take something away from this blogging attempt of mine. As usual I would love messages/comments with thoughts, otherwise I will talk to you guys later.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Lüneburg: A Story in Photos

So as you guys can clearly see I have fallen off of the blogging bandwagon, yet somehow my blog has still gotten 3,300 views. Seriously, who is reading this shit??
Anyway, having said THAT all that I have for you guys this time around is pictures from my recent day trip to Lüneburg. Enjoy.

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Longest Post Ever

Hello all, it’s finally April and I couldn't be happier.

I’m here to finally talk about my whirlwind trip in March, mostly to avoid doing what I will probably spend the next 4 weeks doing: writing and rewriting my resume and CV as I apply for what feels like a million jobs that I am overwhelmingly under-qualified for. So this will be a much needed distraction.

Here’s what I am going to do: I am going to post my favorite photos and talk about my favorite stories/parts of the trip rather than give some boring play-by-play (also if you have already seen these pictures on Facebook then whatever, deal with it. Also I am probably going to stop posting photos to Facebook soon anyway; it’s too time consuming and nobody actually looks at them and the picture quality is shit).


Even though a canal tour may be a clichéd touristy thing to do, I still loved it, and not just because it was a great way to get out of the shitty weather that we had in Amsterdam. You get to float around in a boat, see the city from a new angle, and learn a bit of the city’s history, all while sitting on your ass.

We also saw a more…unique aspect of Amsterdam. My friend wanted to check out the Old Church, so we headed there not knowing that it is smack dab in the middle of the red light district. As if that wasn't disconcerting enough, this particular church had an art installation that at best can be described as…trippy. I’ve got no explanation for any of the things that I saw that morning.

And last but not least the Albert Cuyp Market. Let it be known: I am a market fiend. I love ‘em. You can buy food, souvenirs, clothing, etc., and if you’re feeling brave you can haggle with people (I was not feeling brave, as I do not speak a word of Dutch and it has to be one of the weirdest languages I have ever encountered). I personally purchased Matcha tea, Rum and Coke tea (delicious, in case anyone was wondering. I have yet to put actual rum in it, but it will happen), and a purple ring that I am currently obsessed with (anyone who has ever traveled with me knows that rings are my thing; I like souvenirs that you can wear and look at all the time to remind you of your adventures). (also while we were at said market the weather suddenly went from okay-by-Amsterdam-standards to fucking-hailing-like-it-was-the-end-of-the-world. Moral of the story? I don’t have one. Carry an umbrella maybe)


Brussels was my first experience with Airbnb, and I have to say it really set the bar high. Our hosts had a centrally located apartment, tea, a fantastic sense of humor and great suggestions for restaurants (they sent us to an amazing Lebanese place where I had quite possibly the best hummus I’ve ever had in my life), and, most importantly, a dog that I immediately befriended and wanted to take home with me.

I loved the Horta Museum. Loved loved loved. Unfortunately you aren't allowed to take pictures inside, but just imagine that you are inside the book The Great Gatsby, and that’s pretty much what this place was like and also now you know why I loved it so much.

And finally, I loved the Grand Place at night. We wandered (read: power walked) there one night just after sunset and hit the perfect time to take pictures (read: stalk people).


 In Bruges (movie reference #1) we stayed at a quaint little inn. And by quaint little inn I mean this place was straight up out of a Hitchcock movie, I was convinced that I would be stabbed in the shower, and for the rest of our time in Bruges (movie reference #2) we called it the Bates Motel (picture shown is not the Bates Motel, it is the hotel from the movie because I didn't take a picture of the Bates Motel and also why not?).

The Belfry of Bruges was awesome. Yeah, you wait in line for a million years just to haul your ass up a shit ton of stairs, but damn is the view worth it. Just amazing, beautiful little medieval buildings for days.

Bruges in general just blew me away. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to, and if I ever win the lottery I will probably retire to Bruges when I’m old. Being in Bruges (movie reference #3) (just had to sneak one more in) just felt like being on a movie set: too beautiful to possibly be real.


Confession: I am obsessed with Paris. Anyone who has ever seen my bedroom knows this, as it is fairly covered in French shit. I was in Paris for a few days back in 2009, but this time around I got to see some things that I hadn't seen last time, like the catacombs. Holy shit, the catacombs. The catacombs were quite possibly my favorite part of the entire trip, because I am a clearly a dark, twisted human being. But just the sheer size of the tunnels, and the sheer number of skeletons…it was both mind-blowing and breathtaking in the most macabre way possible.

This time around I also got to go to/up the Eiffel Tower. FINALLY. Again, as anyone who has seen my bedroom can tell you, I have an Eiffel Tower problem. I can’t explain it, I just love it. I have to restrain myself from buying things just because they have the Eiffel Tower on them (this works only 50% of the time), and I had to restrain myself from taking too many pictures of the Eiffel Tower too.
I have a problem.

And finally, I went to the mecca for Jazz-Age-loving-English-major-nerds such as myself: Shakespeare and Co, the bookstore to end all bookstores. I consider my trip there a success on the whole: I only bought two books (I wanted to buy dozens, naturally), managed to spend under an hour total in the store (probably), and managed not to completely piss my friend off (thanks Ange!!!)


And last but not least, Berlin. To clarify, Berlin was not technically part of my vacation; after Paris my friend headed for the UK for some more traveling, I headed back to Hamburg for one day to do all of my laundry, and then I went to Berlin for the mid-year Fulbright conference.

And it was awesome.

It was amazing to meet the English teaching assistants from other European countries and the researchers from all over Europe. And beyond that it was great to talk to the other ETA’s and swap stories and ideas for what was and was not working at our schools.

I did get the chance to do a little sightseeing, and was blown away by the East Side Gallery/Berlin Wall. Though I haven’t posted many pictures here, street art is my thing right now, so I was in heaven.

So there you have it. Four countries, about month of traveling, more beer, wine, and chocolate then I’d care to admit, and multiple ridiculous/snarky postcards later and my adventuring is over for the time being (until May that is, mwahaha).

(Also sorry for the longest post ever)