The GoGlobal Blog

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I promise I’m learning (:

I promise I’m learning (:

Salaam (:

The first few times I called home, when I told my family everything we have been doing, it didn’t sound like we were really in school and I know they worried about whether I was really learning or not. So, after after being in Amman for a little more than one month, these are the few things I have learned. (:

Go adventure! Meet people!

Be strong. And Aware. And find the balance of keeping my guard up while also remaining soft and kind.

Try all the new foods.

Do the things I can’t do at home — prioritize spending time & money on experiences not things.

REFLECT REFLECT REFLECT — It is what slows things down and puts me where I am or else everything will just blur by faster than it already does.

Say thank you (:

Drink all the tea!

Listen to people. Get lost in listening to them. Don’t worry so much about the time. Ask them about their life here and what they love about their life!

Pay attention to those around me who make me feel good, appreciate them, and focus on making them feel good too.

Allow people to do nice things for me — then reciprocate!

Contact my family often!!! — Everything for me here is new but for them, life is mostly the same just without me there — so call them and tell them I love them all the time (:

Look up the facebook events in my city so I can do many things!

Find ways to pick myself up when I’m feelin down — music, movies, books, exercise, going outside, dancing, sunsets, climb trees, swim!!

*** Be sure to sincerely thank those who have helped me to have these opportunities & those who have helped me feel welcomed. Then GIVE BACK to the community that has welcomed me!

“Few things in this world are worth feeling like an unwelcomed guest” – Nujeen Mustafa

Remember what it felt like to be a guest so that when I go back home I can warmly welcome others and go out of my way to help them the way countless people have done for me here.

(and of course I am learning arabic and tons of things about humanitarian aid also!!)

 

 

Spain’s Melting Pot

Spain’s Melting Pot

Coming from Chicago, I am very used to having many different types of people live in one place at the same time without any problems.  For my whole life, I have been surrounded by diversity: in religion, in race, in everything.  But coming to Spain has greatly expanded my definition of diversity and coexistence.  I came to Spain only knowing one or two other people from Loyola.  My hopes were that I would leave my comfort zone and make lots of new friends.

When I came to Spain, I knew no one who lived with me or close to me.  But the house I am living in has 17 girls and the first day, I met a wonderful girl from the Netherlands.  I slowly met everyone and made friends from so many different countries at both my house and at school.  In the university, every one of my classes has students from at least three different countries.  I have learned so much about so many different cultures and about myself as well.  Most importantly, I know that I know almost nothing about the world; even if I were to travel my whole life meeting new people and learning about different cultures, I would never be able to know everything.

The melting pot that I found in Spain is unlike anything I have ever seen.  In Spain, especially in Andalucía, there are three major groups of people who have peacefully lived together for thousands of years: Christians, Jews, and Muslims.  Within the first few days in Sevilla, I experienced the unique atmosphere that has been created with this mix of different life styles.  The architecture, the food, and even the language has traces of all three of these groups.  This is quite different than Chicago, where there are many different cultures; but they have stayed separate, each keeping to their own people and culture.  

I went to Córdoba yesterday, and this is another city who truly shows this unique coexistence that is present in Sevilla.  Walking through the city is such a wonderful experience, seeing the influences of each culture at each corner.  In the Christian part, there was a monument of two hands that were almost touching, and our tour guide from Erasmus told us a beautiful story of a forbidden love between a Spanish princess and a Muslim prince.  Once outside the walls of the city, we saw the Roman aqueducts and the Arabic gardens.  There was a statue of a Roman poet overlooking crystal-clear fountains from the Moors which led to the entrance to the Jewish section of the city.  This amazing sight with the three cultures seeping into each other really stuck with me.  It is so wonderful to see the possibility of people coming from such different backgrounds living harmoniously. 

The most breathtaking part of Córdoba was the Mosque-Cathedral, or the Mezquita.  The name itself shows this fusion of cultures.  In high school, I had learned of the rotating use of this building, how one century it was a cathedral and a mosque the next depending on who was ruling at the time.  The pictures do not start to do justice to the extraordinary architecture of this building that has resulted from each religion calling this their place of worship throughout the centuries.  The massive cathedral that is situated in the middle of the building is surrounded by the Moorish arches and columns.  I left in complete awe of the beauty and shear size of this impressive place.  

Looking back on the past month and a half that I have been in Spain, I have been exposed to so many different cultures and types of people.  I have learned to never assume anything, to be open to change, and to always be curious.  This curiosity has lead me to new friendships, beautiful reading spots in the city, and unforgettable cites.

Exploring: Trial and Error

Exploring: Trial and Error

During this past summer, I started thinking about where I wanted to travel while in Spain.  Then when I arrived, I saw the list of cities to visit with the Erasmus group (they are a group that organizes trips, tours, and parties for international students).  But their trips don’t start till next weekend.  This past weekend, I was getting restless in Sevilla and wanted to go exploring in another city.  Luckily my friends thought the same, so later that night we booked some cheap train tickets to Cádiz.  I did some research to find places to visit in this ancient, ocean-side city and planned a general path we could take when we arrived on Saturday morning.

The rest of the week flew by and before we knew it, it was Saturday morning and we were waiting in the train station to begin our first trip outside Sevilla.  There were four of us going, and we were split up between 2 train cars.  Two of us got off 1 stop too early, and we had to take a taxi to try and find the other 2.  But luckily the meeting spot we picked was easy to find.  Crisis averted.  Now it was time to explore.

Our first stop was a Roman theater tucked away in the winding roads.  Unlike Sevilla, Cádiz had more of a Roman influence.  The ruins were only recently discovered so there is still archaeological work being done. They rebuilt part of the seating to resemble what it would have looked like a thousand years ago. It was very cool to see!

 

Next we stumbled upon the Cathedral of Cádiz.  We were going to go in, but there was an entrance fee, so we took a quick peak and started walking again.  We found a quiet cafe off the main tourist path and had a quick lunch. 

 

 

We went to the Market of Cádiz.  This was very cool.  I love exploring different foods, and the markets all over Spain are the best way to see the wide variety of foods Spain has to offer.  Because Cádiz is know for the seafood that is caught fresh everyday, this market had a very large section devoted to just fish and other seafood.  Some of the tuna that they were selling were over 6 feet long.  Everything was so fresh!

 

 

Our next stop was a tower in the middle of the city.  In order to get to the top, we had to climb 6 flights of narrow, glass stairs, squeezing past the people that were coming down from the tower the entire way.  But the view at the top was spectacular!  Every part of the city could be seen: the cathedral, the market, some old military forts, and the ocean.  This city was so beautiful.

After we climbed back down, we made our way to the gardens near the ocean.  We saw beautiful flowers, giant trees, lots of cats, some ducks, a waterfall, and some swings.  Everything was very picturesque.

We walked along the ocean until we came to the Castillo de Santa Catalina, an old military base on the edge of the ocean.  It was like a small city.  There was a chapel, huge walls, watch towers, and many buildings that are now filled with historic artifacts about important moments in the city’s history.  We walked all around the base, imagining what it would have been like to see it up and running.

 

 

Whenever someone says they went to Cádiz, the first question asked is which beach did they go to.  So we took our siesta on a small beach between the two military bases.  The water was so refreshing, but the sun was hot so we left to find some food.

Many small restaurants lined a street near the beach, so we decided to try one of them.  Now an important thing to remember in Spain is that no one is ever in a rush. If you sit down to eat, expect to be there for at least an hour.  The service is at times very slow in comparison to what is usually expected in the US.  But the restaurant we picked was very attentive and had amazing food.  I had some tortillitas de camarones, which is a famous shrimp dish of Cádiz.

After our very filling dinner, we walked to the second military base and watched as kids jumped off the walkway into the water.  It was closed, but we got some great pictures of the ocean and the city.  On our way back, we stopped and each bought a bracelet to remember the first trip we took in Spain.

Sitting in the train station, exhausted and a bit sun burnt, we quietly sat thinking about everything we had seen that day. Besides a few small bumps, it was a successful trip.  The bit of planning I had done before the trip to find the main sights had helped a lot and let us have more free time to relax on the beach or eating.  The only thing to remember for next time was to remember to ride the train all the way to the city and not get off 1 stop early.

Nothing goes as planned but go with it

Nothing goes as planned but go with it

If I could give one piece of advice to someone abroad traveling on the weekends it would be to not expect your travel plans to go perfectly 100% of the time. Sounds a little grim, I know but trust me, it happens and when you’re staying a hostel and the Wi-Fi doesn’t really work and you’re trying to message your mom not really freaking out, it happens.

I’d like to think somewhere along the lines in my planning I went wrong but I didn’t, the travel gods just had other plans for me. It’s not like we didn’t make it to our flight on time or our flight got delayed, all of that went perfectly fine. It was arriving in Edinburgh, Scotland sleep deprived and only being there for an hour when our flight back got cancelled. To be fair our arrival in Scotland was accompanied by a rainbow but for whatever reason we were not going to be lucky. For what reason did the airline give us that our flight got cancelled? They didn’t give one. I’d like to say getting the full refund was pretty nice but when you only paid 16 pounds for your return flight, you would rather just cut your losses. (Although I did take the refund because college) So we get to our hostel, we check in, and start scrambling to find a way home and of course the Wi-Fi isn’t working. We checked every airline for a flight back Sunday night or Monday morning because I scheduled a class on a Monday. After every airline was checked and they broke my heart by telling me there were no available flights I thought this is it, I’ll never make it back to London. I’d like to point out that my sleep deprivation kept me a little calmer then I normally would’ve been in this kind of circumstance. We looked at every transportation alternative and it got to the point that my friend said, “You look for food and I’ll try and find us a way home.” Bless the transportation system from Scotland to London because we found one. To make this train though, we were going to have to get up at 3am Monday morning. After calling the train station and having some firm words, we were able to get on at a closer stop and were rewarded two more hours of sleep.

I’m not trying to say that your travels won’t go well or that it’s all doomed, all I’m saying is that if something does happen that it is fixable and you’ll look back on the experience and laugh (although I wouldn’t have minded being stuck in Scotland). This small mishap didn’t ruin our trip one bit and I highly recommend going to Edinburgh, Scotland but every transportation system did have it out for us that weekend. Count your transportation blessings and three cheers for coffee.

Living my Pinterest Dream

Living my Pinterest Dream

Hey guys!!!! I’m so excited to share my travel experiences with you all, thank you for reading! I hope I can inspire you to see this beautiful world, please don’t ever forget, to travel is to live.

Travelling to Spain was something that I dreamt of for years. I have learned about the language and various traditions since the 7th grade, and now I would finally be immersing myself in the beautiful country where all the culture has flourished. Even before my semester began in Madrid, my friend, Michael, and I took a trip to Barcelona and the island of Mallorca…and I absolutely fell in love with both.

Our Airbnb hosts were incredibly nice, which was already a great impression of the Spanish people. The first half of our trip was spent at the island. Our Airbnb apartment was right off a main street in the city center, Palma. We lived right across a beautiful bakery, with Gaudí-esque architecture.

The Gaudí-esque building across from our Airbnb!!! One of my first pictures on Spanish soil

We spent time exploring the city center with all the beautiful avenues marked with shops, bars, bakeries, and restaurants. But one of the highlights was a beach called, Cala Major, where I stepped into the world of my Pinterest boards and all the travel pictures that I pin, read and dream about. It was truly magical. This beach paraded crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean as well as amazing sea cliffs that Michael and I swam through to get to the other side!!! Super adventurous and definitely worth getting up close to these rock formations.  

 

Cala Major sea cliffs

 

Another highlight of Palma was a town called Sóller. 

The tram we took to and from the center of Sóller to the harbor

 

Yet again, I felt shaken in a positive way, and I was left in disbelief at the postcard views that were before me. My dreams were becoming a reality. I was no longer the dreamer living off of my Pinterest board to feed my travel bug, but I was transforming into the Pinner who inspires others to travel through their pictures and experiences. Sóller is a harbor so there were boats all over complimented by colorful architecture on the mountainside of the U-shaped shoreline. It was completely breathtaking.

                                             

 

Our next stop on this end-of-the-summer adventure was Barcelona. And, once again, I fell in love. But this time, with Gaudí. I could write a novel about our time in Barcelona, from the gigantic Gothic cathedrals to the churros & chocolate to Gaudí’s incredible masterpieces to the Olympic port and beaches. However, I will keep my focus on Gaudí.

The Catalan architect, Antoni Gaudí, definitely made his mark in the city of Barcelona. Of Parque Güell, La Casa Batlló, La Sagrada Familia, and La Pedrera, I have to say La Casa Batlló was my favorite Gaudí building. The entire design, like a lot of his art, was inspired by the sea where the iron balconies mimic seaweed and the colorful building itself is constructed of all curves and waves; absolutely no straight lines.

Casa Batlló at night

To get to La Sagrada Familia, Michael and I took the train-even though you will hear this time and time again, let me just say, the metro system is SO, SO easy to navigate in Barcelona. It is fast, easy, and cheap. I remember coming up the escalator to the street of La Sagrada Familia and as I turned around, there it was. This giant masterpiece. I had absolutely no words at all. I was in awe. The carvings are just marvelous and so detailed. It takes a mastermind to not only imagine, but create such a treasure. I am beyond grateful for this start and I cannot wait to share about my experiences in Madrid, where I am finally studying. Spain has already left me speechless as I lived my Pinterest dreams.

Rooftop of La Pedrera

 

La Sagrada Familia

~To travel is to live 

 

 

Beaches, Star Wars, and Bull Fights

Beaches, Star Wars, and Bull Fights

It has been a few weeks now since I started classes and exploring Sevilla.  Everything is starting to feel more familiar: the food, the streets, the language.  I have even visited a few beaches!  The first week I went on many tours of the city with a group called Erasmus.  This group organizes many events for international students from all over the world to meet each other and make the most of their study abroad experience.  The tours are great, with lots of history included and free food after! I also went to a beach in Portugal called Tavira and a beach near Cadiz called Bolonia Both were so beautiful!

If anyone is a Star Wars fan, then the Plaza de España is the place to visit.  This breath-taking building with influences from all over Europe and even Latin America stars in Episode 2 of the Star Wars series.  On my way to the shuttle for school or if I walk into town, I get to pass this plaza and I am amazed each time.  Whether it is during the day, when the sun is setting, or during a late night walk, it never ceases to fill me with awe.

The park that this plaza is a part of is one of the biggest in Spain, and was a gift to a Spanish queen’s sister.  It is filled with sparkling fountains, intriguing statues, and intricately-detailed buildings.  Walking through this park is a nice way to end a stressful day or pass a lazy Saturday morning.

One of the things I love the most about traveling is trying the new food.  One of the coolest things I have found throughout Spain is their markets.  Sevilla has two markets just a block away from each other.  One market, the Market of Triana, is an older market in what used to be a Moor castle.  It is full of vendors selling everything from fresh fruits to the famous Jamon Iberico.  There are even cooking classes offered to anyone interested in expanding their culinary skills.  I spent an afternoon wandering through this wonderful place and plan to go back again.  The other market is just across the river.  There are more prepared, traditional Spanish dishes here.  I found a huge octopus at one of the vendors!

 

I was able to visit the legendary bull fighting ring as well called the Plaza de Toros.  I went on a day that was very hot and had to wait almost two hours to go on the tour, but it was free and definitely worth it.  Before actually entering the ring, we walked through displays of paintings and sculptures all about the history of bull fighting.  I also saw many of the trajes de luces (literally suit of lights) that famous matadors wore during the corridas (bull fights).  I had learned about the corridas in school so it was very fascinating to see everything come to life.  I walked through the chapel that the matador goes in to pray one last time before entering the arena and the stables where the horses wait for their turn to enter.  When I finally walked through the gate into the arena, I was stunned.  It was as if I entered a different world.  Turning around taking in the thousands of seats, I imagined the anxiously matador awaiting in the sand for the moment that would determine the rest of his life.  The doors where the bull enters were opposite of the balcony where the king and queen sit when they visit the corridas.  I left feeling as if I had traveled back in time. 

 

I hope to keep exploring not just Sevilla, but all of Spain.  I am finding a good balance between studying and wandering around the city, which was something I was nervous about.  A good family friend gave me some advice before I left and I have repeated it to myself every day since I have arrived.  He told me that I am going to have rough days, days where I won’t want to do anything.  But I should try to do something exciting every day, especially the challenging days.  So whether it is just a walk through the park or I go to explore the city, I try to do something every day.  Every day is a new day to visit something else, and this has made my experience even more memorable.  I am taking it one day at a time, and each day is bringing a new adventure that I cannot wait to share.  Hasta luego!

 

From Roma, with Love:

From Roma, with Love:

Finally.

I have made it to Rome.

And it’s pretty spectacular.

Actually, I have been in Rome for about two weeks already. I should say: finally, i’ve made it to this blog post, which has been open for the past week. Classic, procrastinating Joe. It’s okay, i’m on Roman time. I’ll be better in the future, pinky swear.

Once again, i’m very late! Apologies to all my fans…

Thank you, thank you.

It’s absolutely grand to have you all here. As Dr. Beazley, our beloved Dean of Academic Affairs would say: “I’m overwhelmed by your enthusiasm.”

Anyhow, i’ve looked forward to writing these posts for a long time, and i’m thrilled to be able to share my adventures with all of you. Before I actually get down to the topic of my Roman holiday, I believe that relatively brief, one-sided introductions are in order:

My name is Joseph Ignatius De Larauze, known to most as Joe, to many as French Joe, and to a select few as French. As stated by my sobriquet, I am French and American by birth. I was born in the lovely town of Evanston, Illinois, in the distant year of 1997. After 8 years living in the vicinity of beautiful Chicago, my family moved to France, in a town west of Paris. Culture shock, patriotism, and a strong dislike for the French (inevitable for one who has to live with them for the first time), ensued. But never fear, I lived a very eventful and incredibly awkward decade of my life in that beautiful country. I was schooled in the Lycée International, which still has a very special place in my heart today, even though it was no piece of cake. After High School, and after the International Baccalaureate, I said au revoir to my parents and two sisters, Nathalie and Maggie, and made the hop across the pond, back to Chi-town. I have been studying at Loyola University Chicago for the past two years, and am currently studying abroad at the John Felice Rome Center, which is the reason for our encounter today. I read with an all-consuming passion, which has influenced my majoring in English, and aspire to write and set people’s hearts on fire with my stories, as mine has been by theirs. I am also an Economics major, though i’m still trying to find my way with that one. I am a (very) part-time musician, love to listen to music, play it, and occasionally compose it. I love good food, good company, and hugs. I am Roman Catholic by birth and practice my faith intentionally, though imperfectly. There you have it. I hope that this introduction will suffice to help you get to know me, if you do not already.

So, about five paragraphs in, let me lead you through my journey, as it has been since my arrival in the Città Eterna. I did warn you I would be relatively brief, remember? I will accompany my narrative with a few pictures, but would rather let my words take you to where I am, and have been. On that note, let’s begin. Wherever you are, sit back, relax, get some coffee, and enjoy.

The Eternal City carries her name well. There is a kind of agelessness to her that is palpable, walking her streets, speaking to her people, admiring her splendor. Before my arrival here, I had believed Rome to be luxurious, like a crown perched upon a hill. I thought she would be ornate and sparkling, like the Eiffel Tower at night. I likened her to Paris, my point of reference as European cities go, and the real city of Love, thank you very much.

Now, I have arrived. Half-walking, half-tripping along the cobblestoned streets, I make my way through crowds of tourists, who snap pictures right and left. I try my best to escape the noise. I pass countless gelaterie, restaurants and street-vendors brandishing their wares like trophies. Rome is a tourist attraction. Yet, exploring the city, the edifices built hundreds and thousands of years ago, Rome beckons to me in a secretive manner. I am privy to something greater.

I walk the Forum, where countless musicians, philosophers, and various speakers once stood. I enter the Colosseum, and cheer on with tens of thousands of others as men fight men fight beasts. Bread and games. I don’t know about you, Russell, but i’m entertained. In the Campidoglio, rank upon rank of soldiers stand stock-still, eyes front, back strait, pilum held high. They await orders to conquer the world. I see the street-merchants, selling pottery and food and jewels, yelling over each other to attract customers.

Rome is history. All the years that have passed are still here, buried beneath my feet. Strolling through the city with my friends, I am awed by the ancient majesty of this place, eternal in her grandeur.

” Trois mecs”

Rome is a dream that I have lived every day since my arrival.

I miss Chicago. I miss my friends (you know who you are). But I am thrilled to be in this marvelous place, and I like to think that when you read of my journey, you are all here with me. There is still much more for me to share with you, so I don’t doubt that our paths will cross again.

Until then, I wish you all the best.

From Roma, with Love:

Joe I. De Larauze

Finally Here!

Finally Here!

It has been a very long journey to finally arrive in Sevilla, and not just the plane ride.  When a student first decides to study abroad, the excitement of a new country is the only thing on their mind, not all the important details that go with this experience.  This process began around last February for me, with picking a university and the classes. Then during the summer, I applied for a Visa, which took some time.  And finally, I had to find a housing arrangement, which is definitely not as easy as it sounds!  I ended up finalizing my arrangements for housing when I arrived in Sevilla.

My parents flew to Spain with me to help me move in.  We flew to Madrid first.  In Madrid, we did a lot of sight seeing in two days, seeing everything from the famous Prado museum to the beautiful, timeless Plaza Mayor and Palacio Real.  We ate lots of tapas and I began to see why the Spanish take a siesta.  During the days, it easily reaches 100 degrees Fahrenheit (I am slowly learning the conversion to Celsius).  After walking around all morning in the heat and eating a large lunch, obviously the next thing to do is take a nap!

The Plaza Mayor
Inside the Palacio Real
Symbol of Madrid

In Spain, their meals are very different.  I researched this before arriving, but it is still a shock to be immersed this different lifestyle.  For breakfast, a piece of toast with a puree of tomatoes accompanied with a coffee is the usual.  Then, around 2 to 4 in the afternoon is lunch time.  For lunch, there is often a 3 course meal.  The first course is an appetizer such as a tapa, then followed by the main course, which usually consists of a meat or fish dish.  After, coffee and dessert top off this feast.  Then for dinner, around 10pm, light tapas are eaten while enjoying the unending nightlife of the city.

Spanish tortilla with garlic                            mushrooms
Tapas at a market
Our first lunch in Spain!

      

So after we finished exploring Madrid, we rented a car and drove 3 hours to Valencia. When we arrived, we visited the Turia park and the City of Arts and Sciences.  There was so much to see! From the futuristic architecture of the buildings to the beautiful surrounding landscape to the breathtaking life size photographs that had been taken around the world.  After we explored this unique park, we ate some tapas and called it a night.

The next day, we packed up and hit the road for a 6 hour drive to Málaga.  While this drive was definitely not fun, seeing the change of the land as we drove was fascinating.  There are so many olive trees, grape vines, and even whole fields of sun flowers.  And almost everything is planted in straight rows.

When we finally arrived in Málaga, we ate a late lunch, which was some beautifully grilled fresh-caught fish in a beach restaurant right on the Mediterranean Sea.  We then went on a walk along the sea and saw many small vendors and very large cruise ships.  Later on, we found a great rooftop restaurant that overlooked the sea.  The view was stunning!

The next day, we started our final 2 hour drive to Sevilla.  When we arrived, we returned our car and took a taxi to the hotel.  And it was a good thing that we had a taxi, because the streets in Sevilla are very small and very crowded with people and carriages with horses.  We had our first paella for lunch that day, and it was delicious!  Then my exploration of my new home began.  My parents stayed for a few more days to celebrate my birthday with me.  We saw a very moving Flamenco show, explored one of the biggest parks in Spain, and of course ate more tapas.

 

When they left, I made my way to a shuttle to the university for my first day of orientation.  Walking through the quiet streets in the morning made me fall in love with the city.  Even though heat is stiffing at times, I would not  trade any part of this for the world.  The unending beauty and rich history is like nothing I have ever seen before.  I am very excited to spend the next 4 months in this magnificent city and cannot wait to meet new friends and make many new memories!

The river Guadalquivir and the Torre de Oro
Flyin Solo – Copenhagen

Flyin Solo – Copenhagen

My one and only truly solo trip I took this semester was to Denmark. I realized I had been to every Scandinavian capital except Copenhagen, plus I had wanted to travel alone at some point, so it felt fitting for my last trip of the semester to be there. Here is my experience down in words….

Day 1

Despite being enthusiastic for my final trip, especially since I was traveling alone, I got rather sentimental at the airport. I started thinking about how much time I’ve spent in this airport these past 6 months and how that airport and Denver’s are my favorite airports. I laughed when I reminisced about my first trip I took there to Krákow. My friends and I were so newly aquatinted with the country and traveling. We got lost, over packed, you name it. Now I feel like a pro or something because I’ve done so much traveling this semester. Except my expert bubble popped when I still managed to try to board the wrong flight. That was the second time that happened but in my defense the flight I tried to board was also to Copenhagen but only 20 minutes earlier than my actual flight—an easy mistake really. When I finally boarded the correct flight, I was in the front row, feeling like a boss. I looked out the window and thought how beautiful Norway is in the summer now that everything is green. “My Frosted City” to which I named because it always looked like it was frosted with snow now more closely resembled “My Green City”.

When I landed, I was happily surprised at how easy it was to figure out where the metro was to get to my hostel. The airport looks eerily similar to the Oslo one, and the public transit systems could be sisters. Although, the amount of people and how they act is very different. The train was packed full of people by the time I got off, and the city as a whole was bumping for a Wednesday afternoon. Juxtaposed to that, Oslo seems quite desolate, although I like that the city is smaller and not crowed. Copenhagen with the crowds and the fact that I was alone for the first time made me feel extremely anxious and I couldn’t shake it.

After I checked in, I immediately left to go grab food. I was so hungry that I bought the first sandwich that sounded good at this cool market outside my hostel. I saw in the distance what looked like a park so I figured I would go there to eat it. I was happy to find that it was a lake with a nice walking path around the perimeter. It seemed like the only place in the city that wasn’t packed and I was beyond grateful to take this opportunity to calm down and acquaint myself with my environment.

The park right near my hostel where I spent my first day at, as well as ate at least one meal a day at the entire time I was in the city. Very lovely.

I guess it just felt strange to be alone suddenly. The past week I literally spent every single moment with my friends (or studying) because seeing that we were leaving soon, we were trying to pack in as much time together as we could. Thus, transitioning from that to complete solitude in an unfamiliar city really threw me off. Not to say that I wasn’t happy to be in Copenhagen, or that I can’t spend time alone in general, but it was just a surprisingly hard transition that I wasn’t prepared for mentally.

With no plans of what to do (again logistics are not a strength of mine), I just kept walking anywhere that looked appealing. Turned out that I happened to arrive on a day when this massive EDM festival was going on. It’s the biggest street party in all of Denmark, called Distortion. It used to be all over the country but the smaller areas got sick of it and moved in all into Copenhagen. The party was going on the entire week and would move each day to a new section. Streets were closed to cars and instead filled with what seemed like every 20-something-year-old Danish person intoxicatingly vibe’n to the beat of the music. Every 10 meters there was another stage and at some points the crowd was so packed it was hard to move. When one stages’ music would fade, another would come into focus. It was THE place to be for everyone my age it seemed! Given that I was alone, I mostly just walked through and took it all in, wishing that the guys were here with me because together we’d have a blast.

As I was getting tired of being surrounded by drunk people with loud house music all around me, I set off to escape the festival and continue seeing the city. It was an interesting first day, and I was keen to see what the next day had in store.

Distortion, the largest street party in all of Denmark, was absolutely crazy. At one point, I come across this man just carrying around a plastic leg!

Day 2

I woke up around 9:30 and to my surprise all the people in my room were already out. I got ready and set out for a quick breakfast at the market near my hostel. I wanted to make the 11am free walking tour in the city so I didn’t have all that much time. The cafe I went to took forever, so I had to scarf down my food before speed walking to the meeting spot at Town Hall.

When I arrived, there were a ton of people–probably the biggest walking tour I’ve ever seen. Before it began I heard two guys next to me had an American accent so I asked them where they were from. Their names were David and Tommy, two college students from New York who go to school in Buffalo. I found that intriguing because that’s where my mom was from. As the tour went on, we hung out the entire time and got to know each other as we walked from each destination. I learned a lot on the tour as I always do (the free walking tours in every city are amazing, I highly encourage doing them on the first day of any trip to gain your bearings in the city, both geographically and historically). For example, the crown prince and his family took in an exchange student this semester! How cool right? I should have applied on exchange here!

The famous Navn street in all its glory.

When the tour ended, the guys and I went together to Christiania, the free town in Copenhagen to explore and more importantly get food. Inside was really fascinating. It had a totally different atmosphere juxtaposed to the rest of the city. While inside, we ran into a group of Finnish men that Tommy had met the night before. They took us to this beach there which we would have never known existed if it weren’t for them. We stayed there for hours and eventually the New York guys got up and asked if I wanted to leave with them. Since I knew them a little better, I went with. We walked back to the city center and got another hot dog to eat–the hot dogs there are amazing, be sure to order them with everything on them. Unfortunately, I was so hungry I didn’t even think to take a picture. So sad… After we ate is when we split our ways and I went back to my hostel to nap for a little.

The entrance to Christiania, the free town. On the flip side it reads, “You are now entering the EU”.
The beach in Christiania where the people I met and I spent a good few hours at.

When I awoke from my nap, a Swedish guy had moved into my room. We talked for a little before I headed out to continue exploring for the night. I ended the night by watching the sunset over the river. When I came back, the Swedish guy and I talked the rest of the night together. He’s 23 and quit school three separate times. He seemed frustrated with himself that he did such a thing. I found him to be quite intelligent, for when he found out I studied math, we talked about our favorite proofs for quite a while. It was a perfect, chill second day in Copenhagen.

 

The beautiful sunset I witnessed along the water.

Day 3

I didn’t need to leave for my flight until 4:30pm in the afternoon, so I set a plan to see the rest of the city that I wanted to hit. I quickly ate breakfast at the hostel with a Brazilian woman whom I met that morning.

Now, my first stop was the botanical gardens followed by the Kings Gardens. It was so beautiful and peaceful inside. I always love seeing the botanical gardens in any city I travel to. Kongens Have, or the Kings Garden was bigger than I was expecting. There were large fields of finely cut grass that people were sun bathing and playing games on. I could totally see myself throwing around a ball, or lying down there for days

The botanical gardens in the city. Very sublime.

Next on my agenda was Kastellet, i.e., the star shaped fortress. I heard from a friend who studied abroad here that it was unlike any fortress any Americans have ever seen, yet I was still astonished. It was basically a gorgeous park with a moat running through the middle. There was even a windmill on the hill at the very center. I sat on a bench in there, just relaxing, watching the occasional runner or biker swing by me. I ended up walking the entire path that surrounded the fortress, both on the lower path, as well as the path on the hill. If you’re a runner, I think this would be a fine spot to take a jog if ever in town.

The statue of the Little Mermaid is just on the perimeter of Kastellet. I’ve heard not to really go there because it wasn’t worth it but I decided that I wanted to see what has been deemed the 2nd most underwhelming tourist attraction in the world. What I found more impressive when I saw it, was the amount of tourists gawking at such a mediocre statue. I stayed for a half a minute before moving on.

One part of the fortress. It was so beautiful it was hard to believe it actually was a fortress.
The windmill that was located on the hill inside the fortress.
Included because I think this statue is cooler than the Little Mermaid…

On my way to the Church of our Savior, I found this interesting Octagon. There was a small door and inside was so unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It’s an art installation called “Cosmic Space” by an artist from the Faroe Islands. Definitely try to find it if you can. No one really notices it, so I was the only one in there for quite a while. I don’t want to include any photos because it is one of those “be surprised” types of places. Not a huge tourist attraction, but when you happen across it, you’ll be glad you saw it.

Finally I arrived at the church. I first went inside where the organs were playing some rather dark music very loudly. Yet, the inside was remarkable. Probably one of my favorite churches I’ve ever been in. Following a quick stop in there, I headed up to the tower. I’ve heard it was the best view of the city, but I had no idea just what that meant—beyond worth the 35 kroner I spent to get there. First you had to walk up a set of narrow wooden stairs inside the church. A funny, elderly British couple near me were playfully bickering about how difficult it was. Then you come out onto a platform where you can see the whole city. I thought this was the end until I turned the corner and saw a set of oxidized copper stairs spiraling upwards on the outside of the tower. I climbed these, with my legs shaking from my fear of heights, until I reached the very top. Glad I made it before I left, is all I can say.

Overall, it turned into a beautiful trip. I finished it off by eating an early dinner and reading my book by this beautiful lake before heading off to the airport. TY København.

The the best view of the Church, but you can see the twisting stairs at the very top.
A small view of the stairs I climbed on the outside of the church. So high!!

Well this is my last blog I’m going to write. I don’t think I’m mentally prepared enough to write a final, “goodbye” blog so I’ll leave it at this… S/O to all my friends, all my roommates, all my adventures, and especially to all of Norway. You’ll be missed…

Spring Break: Part 3 – Rusland

Spring Break: Part 3 – Rusland

Day 6: Thursday (Entering and Customs)

It literally took us a full 24 hours to get into Russia. (Cami, who was extremely upset at that fact, said she “will never forget” it). As everyone was trying to leave the boat, it got so jam packed that no one could move, so Vince and I just sat on the ground to wait out the crowd. When we finally left the boat, it was snowing and freezing outside—exactly what you would imagine Russia to be like. To get to boarder control, we had to take our first steps on Russian soil over to a nearby building. Just as Vince is telling me that we can’t take pictures at the borders, I snap a picture of him, the boat, and the blizzard around us. He laughed at me but later was really grateful because he ended up loving the photo I took.

 

Vince and the boat – our first steps on Russian soil.

We realized that our ESN group must have met somewhere on the boat and we missed it because we were the first one to get to customs. At first, it was as scary as I was imagining. Vince went first, then me and Nick went in tandem. I just stayed extremely quiet and did what they told me to do. Cami, who was still upset with how long it took to enter the country, noted that she felt like we have to beg to get into Russia, or at least that’s how it felt to her.

Particularly because we went first, we had to wait forever for the rest of the ESN group to finally enter Russia. We just found seats in the building and ate the rest of our food.  We were glad we got there first so we could relax. Just as we were saying how easy it was to get into Russia, we learned about how the only two people of color were stopped by border control and have been in questioning for the past hour…. sickening, I tell you. The male was taken first and was interrogated for 15 minutes. Then the girl was told to follow, the guards not even looking at her passport before telling her to step aside. So, in short, border control was easy, but only if you are white… After an hour and a half, our ESN leader decided we had to board the bus for our city tour without them.

The first thing the tour guide said was, “Believe it or not, you are in Russia.”

We saw and learned a lot while on that tour bus. Saint Isaac’s Cathedral, the church that used to be the main church for the entire city, is probably one of the most impressive buildings I’ve seen in my life. Russia, with 342 bridges, is nicknamed “The Venice of the North”. Interestingly, 1/10 (approximately half a million people) live in communal apartments in Saint Petersburg. They are basically like a dorm or hostel style living arrangement to keep costs down because most of the people are extremely poor.

Usually I don’t like organized tours, especially those on busses in which you are unable to walk around through the city. However, for several reasons I was grateful to start our stay in Russia with a city tour. One, I was exhausted. Two, the weather was snowy and cold. And three, the tour guide just knew so much about the city! I found it fascinating to learn about it in way I never would have if I had traveled individually.

Despite what I just said, it was too difficult to not fall asleep for a little on the warm, rumbling bus, so soon I drifted off with my head resting against Cami’s shoulder.

Eventually, we arrived at our hostel that we would be living at for the next few days. Luckily, my little crew was called first for our room assignment as well. We had the very top floor and a nice big room all together. Due to our enormous hunger, we immediately went food shopping to try to find items for a communal dinner and for food the next day. It was the hardest shop of my life because I was just so tired and hungry that I was paralyzed and was unable to make an decisions. Cami opted for going solo for dinner so the guys and I bought pasta with meats and vegetables. Cooking took ages (figures) but it was kind of fun all cutting and cooking together. The hostel’s cooking supplies was subpar (no pepper!), so that contributed to the extended wait time. Around 10pm, we had finally finished and I proceeded to eat till I was in pain. Climbing the 5 flights of stairs right after meant that I had to immediately lie down for a little to digest all I had consumed.

Later that night, Cami and Nick decided they didn’t want to go out for whatever reason, so it was just Sam, Vince, and I who set out for a night in Russia. We happened to met a guy named Victor in our hostel who is from Russia. He took us under his wing and showed us the ropes with the public transit, using random cars as taxis, not allowing to take pictures in the tunnels to the trains, etc. Speaking of, I LOVE the metro system in Saint Petersburg!! It is just so cool! Victor said that the deepest is about 100 meters, and to get down there you ride the longest escalator ever!

Victor got a little funny as the night went on. He kept telling us stories of how he’s seen many people get shot before, and all the fights he witnesses on the streets.. Really made me (and the guys) weary of the country. Then before we left him, he said that the men in Russia are crazy and how I, specifically, shouldn’t date them. It was an interesting night to say the least.

The metro escalators that go 100 meters down into the ground!

Day 7: Friday

 On Friday, we ate breaky (what Australians and Kiwi’s call breakfast) extremely fast because we felt unnecessarily rushed to head to the Hermitage Museum. It was a long walk over there, and after 10 minutes or so, Vince joked that we had already walked twice the length of Helsinki.

When we arrived at the museum, we had to do coat check which was the biggest hassle ever. No person behind the various counters were taking our jackets for whatever reason, and the ladies would just yell at us in Russian. So frustrating, but eventually we found a nice woman who took our coats.

The first thing our tour guide did was warn us that “back pockets are the public pocket”, because pick pocketing in Russia is far too common. The museum, and particularly the church, has unreal amounts of gold leaf everywhere. The place was really beautiful but far too large. You’d have to spend days there to really see it all.

 

Outside the Hermitage museum.
An area inside the Hermitage.

Our group was starving and tired so when the tour ended we searched for a place to eat. The first open and relatively inexpensive place was an Irish restaurant, but luckily we were all able to get Russian cuisine because they provided it along with Irish dishes. I got salmon cutlet which was so delicious – my meal probably was the best out of everyone’s and it was the cheapest somehow. The guy when we paid even gave me and the girls a discount (not the guys for some reason, strange I know).

After that, we set out for coffee, and the only place we found that was crazy expensive was McDonalds! But hey, it was about a buck for a big Americano, so worth it. We were still amazed at how expensive everything seemed to be—we thought it was be beyond cheap in Saint Petersburg.

Later, we went to the top of Saint Isaac’s church, which only cost 150 rubbles or about $3. It was so cool to see the city, despite the chilly wind blasting us. I stood there, alone, just amazed at the city and myself. In other words, I found the city to be so vast that it felt crazy. Then that got me thinking about how I couldn’t believe I was there getting to experience it. So far, all my travels have been to places I never thought I’d see, especially including Russia. I was just grateful to myself for pushing my comfort zone and experiencing parts of Europe that most Americans usually don’t get to travel to/ have no desire to travel to.

The view from the top of Saint Isaac’s Church.

When we left the church, Cami and Bianca wanted to go shopping (something I never have the desire to do), and some of the other guys just wanted to go back to the hostel to nap. I was frustrated because we only had so much time there, so I wanted to keep exploring with or without them (except that I was rather timid of traveling alone in Russia). Luckily Vince opted to stay with me, so once we helped the others find the metro, we split off to go explore.

Again, I really loved spending time with Vince, this time included. As we walked around Saint Petersburg, we discussed how we see ourselves within our generations (I consider myself a millennial, while he believes he belongs to generation X), our parents, taking a gap year, you name it. Eventually we came upon the Grønland of Russia—a really cool outdoor and indoor market with lots of clothing located outside and free food and meats inside. (Grønland is the cheap market in Oslo where we all go food shopping even though it takes over a half hour to get there.)

The entrance to the market Vince and I found.

After leaving the market, we ventured back outside just to walk. While we were on top of Saint Isaacs church, we saw this beautiful blue church in the distance and Vince and I wanted to go see it but figured it was too far a distance to walk to. Well, low and behold, we somehow found it on our walk! It was bigger than I even realized and very beautiful. A statue made of cannons was outside which was interesting. I wish I knew Russian to read what it said. We checked the door to see if we could go in and it turned out that a service was going on. It was Russian orthodox, I’m pretty sure. The inside was spectacular and about a hundred people were standing in the middle facing a few men performing the service. In the back was a small choir singing peaceful church tunes. Every 15-30 seconds everyone was make the sign of the cross and then bow, some just partially and others all the way to touching their toes. It was so unique and fascinating to watch. Vince had never even been in a service before, no matter the denomination. Now we can both say we’ve attended a Russian orthodox one!

 

The ‘blue church’ with the unique statue in front.

We realized when we took the metro back that we were at the station that just had the terrorist attack about a week earlier. There were still a lot of flowers outside and a ton of scary policemen with unfriendly dogs standing around the main entrance hall. Felt weird to have just been in Stockholm at the place where their terrorist attack happened and then also in Russia where a separate one had just occurred. I can’t really put to words how it felt, but I guess rather surreal is the best way I can explain it.

When we finally got back to the hostel, Vince and I made dinner together and shared our meal with three other people (Dutch, Swiss, and French). They were working on trying to finish the biggest pot of pasta I’ve ever seen for 3 people. Luckily for us, they couldn’t and asked Vince and I to help them eat the food. Ironically, the guy from the Netherlands told us through laughter that he witnessed our friend Sam blow drying his hair in the bathroom for the longest time ever. Except, he didn’t know it was Sam, so as he was telling the story, I realized it must have been Sam because, well, his hair is probably his most prized possession. We all laughed for a while at Sam’s expense.

Speaking of Sam’s hair, he ended up doing all the boys hair that night before we went out. Needless to say, they looked quite snazzy. Our plan was to go to a bar crawl that Sam heard was going on earlier that day. We told everyone else about it, so when it came time to meeting in the hostel lobby, fifteen people from our group was there but no official bar crawl was happening. Sam must have heard wrong. However, since we were all there, people decided lets do our own. I naturally went to my phone and started looking up pubs near us, which somehow indicated to the group that I was now the leader of this shindig. I certainly wasn’t comfortable with it but I tried to do my best anyways because everyone was set on me running this event. They started calling it “Shayna’s famous pub crawl”, while Cami joked that we should have charged them for attendance. It actuality, I got everyone lost a little but it still turned out fun. I was the only American, so people kept joking how they happened to put the American in charge. My friend group ended up just sticking together and talking the whole night, which was just the best. I couldn’t believe how dispite there being so many other people with us, we enjoyed each other’s company so much that we stuck together. I really loved it. It was a very good day that ended in lots of friendship and laughter.

 

Nick (left) and Vince (right). Clearly loving their hair by Sammy K, and each other’s company.

Day 8

We woke up at 8:15am (kill me) with the intent to try to figure out how to get to Catherine’s Palace on our own for the day. According to google maps, it was a two hour trip by public transportation, which meant there was a lot of room for error that could result in us getting utterly lost.

Despite that fear, we departed by 9:45am first by taking the metro and then luckily finding the perfect bus to take us directly to the Palace that is outside the city. It was all much easier than we ever thought it would be. The public bus system (transit system in general) is really interesting and surprisingly easy to use. The busses, to be more specific, are all very archaic and small but come super often. You pay only 40 rubles and all in cash or coins. The driver will even deliver you your change as he drives. I noticed people going up and just asking the driver to stop random places even. Plus, people on the sidewalk could wave down the driver and he would stop. Maybe I’m weird because I am oddly fascinated by cities various public transit systems, but I think anyone could appreciate the unique Russian busses that we took.

This is the inside of the public bus we took to Catherine’s Palace. I was sitting at the very back, so you can see how small it was.

It only took an hour to get there (silly Google maps!) and immediately we were so glad we didn’t let the fear of getting lost stop us from coming. The palace looks absolutely unreal, and before entering we sat outside listening to a guy play the flute while we ate our lunch.

The crew eating lunch outside Catherine’s Palace.

The palace was so lavish, with gold everywhere and all the ceilings painted intricately. This is hard to describe, but it was cool how the paintings on the outside were an extension of the building and then it opened up to scenes depicted in the heavens. Vince and I stuck together for a while because we lost the rest of the crew but soon we all found one another and toured through the place.

Outside the Palace is just as amazing, in a way. It felt like Christmas of sorts walking through the gardens while it was snowing. Only after a minor snow ball fight did we then proceed with the rest of our day. While on the long bus ride back, I started thinking about what it’ll be like to go home. Even just the thought made me anxious and really sad. I was so happy here with everyone and everything, I didn’t want to leave and I especially didn’t want to stop seeing my friends there everyday. I was already getting upset about how near the end is. But that is so characteristically me; I always get upset when anything ends and things have to change. I tried to remind myself everything would be ok and just to live in the moment, which to be honest, is beyond difficult.

Here you can vaguely see what I tried to describe – the outside of the painting in an extension of the building opening up to the heavens.
The crew walking through the gardens.

Back in Saint Petersburg, Cami wanted tea so we stopped at a place called Oh!MyTea, a small joint with one other person in it. The guys became attached to their phones (free wifi and all) while Cami and I talked with the girl working for 15 minutes. She spoke fairly good English and she was so awesome! She said that Saint Petersburg is an exception to the rest of Russia because it’s so European. She comes from a small town 5 hours away by train but soon she is leaving to a different town on the border of Russia, China and Europe. She told us how she studied philosophy and Italian culture in college. We asked how she learned English and she brought up how she watches the show, Game of Thrones. Me and Vince just started watching it with the rest of the guys this semester (we were on season 5 at the time we were in Russia) so I yelled to the guys how she watches it too, and immediately they joined the conversation and we geeked about the show together. She almost spoiled something about John Snow for Vince and I but luckily Sam stopped her. It was a cute addition to our day, I really do think many of the people in the city are quite kind and lovely to chat with.

One of the most astonishing places we went to was the Church of the Savior on Blood, otherwise known as the Church of Spilled Blood. It was entirely decorated in mosaic—so hard to believe! I stood there in awe of the building for ages.

The outside of the Church of Spilled Blood.
The inside of the Church – everything is mosaic.

The rest of the day was spent eating dinner and going out. The following day which was Easter meant everything was closed in the city for the most part. We traveled a lot on another boat to Tallinn the next day which is beautiful (I wanted to move there for the summer, I loved it so much).

Please note, the rest of day 9 and 10 I didn’t take notes on (I usually do and that’s how I am able to remember the small details of my travels for these blogs). Hence, I am just going to skip to my last reflections while I was heading back to Oslo and just note that there is a significant gap in my recollection of events during this time period.

Day 10: The end of Spring Break

 While sitting on the train from Stockholm back to Oslo, I began to feel this hint of melancholy nostalgia for not only my spring break trip coming to an end, but for my entire semester thus far. Everything seemed to be moving so much faster than I anticipated and I felt as though I couldn’t catch my breath. Don’t be mistaken, in many ways that is a good reaction because it is indicative of an amazing experience, with incredible friends and memories. But at the same time, to be honest, I was terrified of it finally ending. The end always seemed so far away, just like how my spring break–which I planned with most of the people on this trip way back in Poland–always seemed far in the distance. But yet there I was, closing in on my last hour on the train back to Oslo–the place I now call home. I understand that before I know it, I will be on a plane back home, just an hour away from touching down in Denver.

It’s funny, Cami showed us last night a video of Zach and I back in Poland in January. We were sitting at the dinner table of the sushi place we went to on our first night. Our waiter was showing us on a map where the cool bars and clubs were. Nick, Cami, and Sam talked and laughed about how young Zach and I look. I concur, I actually looked like a different person even though that was just a few months ago. Cami said we all have changed so much since then, which I guess I hadn’t realized as of yet. Nonetheless, she is right. We have all changed so much in such a short period of time, and soon we would be forced to leave one another and nothing will be the same.

These last 10 days were phenomenal. I truly loved our group. Although we are all quite different, we meshed together almost seamlessly which allowed us to spend so much alone time with one another with zero clashes. Hell, one night all five of us slept in a room the size of a handicap bathroom stall–talk about being close with people!

It is worth noting as well that it was also a unique experience for me to be the only American while traveling on this trip. I learned so much from other cultures, specifically those in which my friends derive from, and I recognize I have so much more to learn.

Although I just discussed how particularly sad I seem to be, I also just want to highlight that I always get sad at anything ending. I’m an “easily pleased” person as my friends describe me, and thus, I am constantly sad when various amazing events in my life come to a close, this trip specifically. I guess I want to close this blog post with a moment of gratefulness for the various events that occurred during my travels.

I am grateful for Nick, who handled being alone with me like a champ. I am grateful for bread, peanut butter and salami, which got me through so many meals those 10 days. I am grateful for the alone time I received in Djur garden. I am grateful for the curry I shared with Vince and Nick because sharing is certainly not my forte. I am grateful for exploring the rest of Stockholm alone with Vince, only to happily run into the entire crew on the way to the boat. I am grateful for shared meals on the floor of various cabin rooms while aboard ferries. I am grateful for duty free vodka and fun nights of dancing, laughing, and bonding. I am grateful for the hours dedicated to playing the card game presidents/scum, as people call the game either name (we combined the names and denoted it as P.S. from now on). I am grateful for Russia not giving us any troubles and only good memories. I am grateful that our group always stuck together and had such an amazing time talking and got to know each other better and better. I am grateful for Russia’s metro system, and how easy the buses are to take. I am grateful for Vince exploring Saint Petersburg with me and happening across the blue church we were both so keen on finding. I am grateful for both the snow and sunshine that we received while traveling. I am grateful for the beautiful day we received in Estonia. I am grateful for being able to return to Stockholm’s national library before we came back to Oslo. I am just grateful.

Peace Spring Break, and thanks for everything ✌️ Peace Spring Break, and thanks for everything.

The crew in Tallinn, Estonia.
Love these people.