Saturday, December 10, 2011


Hej hej for the last time from Scandinavia :( 

A short blurb about my experiences since my last entry.  I will keep them to a few sentences because I have a flight to catch early in the morning and 18 hours of travel ahead of me.  Berlin was wonderful!  I wish that I had much more time there.  There is so much modern history there, so many wonderful Christmas markets, and great sights!  I'm looking forward to returning to the German capital and hopefully exploring with the benefit of one of my German friends as a tour guide :) Prague was also a very nice end to our short European tour.  As the only more eastern European country on our tour, we had the benefit of a personal tour guide for our experience.  A friend of a Tenhult friend studies in the city and was kind enough to show Gary and I around for our two days in the city.  We were so tired of planning and mapping out cities by then, it was nice for a sort of local to show us around.  I hope I get the opportunity to return the favor to friends or friends of friends visiting the states!  We got to see the Prague Castle, the Charles Bridge, some (again) lovely Christmas markets, and a few of the other great places in Prague.  For me, Prague felt the most genuinely old Europe to really had that "different feel".  A lot of the other cities that we visited felt different than America, but also had that very modern city vibe.  Prague had this to an extent, but oozed that old world look as well.  

From these experiences, it was also cool to end up back in Scandinavia again.  It's very different from many of the European countries, I think.  I feel very at home here, so its a good jumping point to head back to my real home :) 

So by the time we arrived in Copenhagen so very late last night, we were so done with all the touring and traveling.  To say the least, our Copenhagen touring was almost non-existent.  We are both just so exhausted (not complaining, simply stating) that we just didn't have it in us to do the "touristy" Copenhagen seen to the full extent.  The cold and cough that have been creeping up on me the last few days have finally made their appearance in full, so I guess its good to relax on the last day before a LONG day of traveling ahead.  

May I say though, as a side note [see the Shhhhhhhhhhh title].... I have stayed in a number of different hostels/hotels over the past four months.  My one BIG pet peeve/observation from all these experiences---IF you snore like a broken train or a loud truck, do not stay in a dormitory with 7 other people OR provide those 7 other people with ear plugs upon your arrival.  Rant over. Otherwise, hostel life is very nice and a great way to meet people while traveling! 

Anyway....this time tomorrow, if I have converted my times correctly, I will be on the ground in Chicago and back in the USA for the first time in almost four months [and FINALLY able to turn my American phone back on]. However, I really can't come to terms with this whole idea.  As I've reiterated many MANY times, my feelings are so very VERY mixed on this subject matter.  I have to say, I'm freaking out a bit about my return to the other side of the ocean.  I was talking to some girls I met in the Copenhagen hostel today about abroad experience (they're from the US, studied abroad in France, and are currently teaching English in France) and they warned me of the "reverse culture shock" that I will inevitably experience upon my return to the states.  So, I warn all those of you back home of this fact...if I am constantly having fika, saying hej hej or tack, and using the metric system/celsius/24 hour clock, among other things ...don't say you haven't been warned!  I'm so lucky to have had the opportunity to gain a different perspective on the US and the world through my experience abroad.  Its been wonderful to meet so many people from all over the world and I would never trade it! Think it's possible to "study abroad" in my future career?  We will see! 

Back to reality in t-minus 24 hours... don't know if I'm ready for this! See all you stateside people soon, see ya later Scandinavia.  I WILL be back :) 


Monday, December 5, 2011

Bonjour Paris & Ciao Bella Roma

[These are all the pictures I'm too lazy to put on facebook at the moment..figured this is a good start.  Many more to come!]

Delicious italian dinner! I will start to demand red wine at all my meals now :) 
Concert of some famous Italian popstar we stumbled upon when visiting the Spanish steps
Roman ruins + Colosseum.  
Making my wish at the Trevi fountain, Lizzie McGuire Style! 

"Glistening" after a 16 hour overnight train & a hike up to the top of St. Peter's Basilica! 
Positively lovely English bookstore in the middle of Paris!
Notre Dame! 
Me + Eiffel Tower! 

Eiffel <3

MASSIVE nutella covered donut in Italy! 

European Musings

Hello to all!

I have to say, before tonight, I was feeling a major bought of Sweden-homesickness/home-homesickness.  I was ready to have the ultimatum that if I did not return to one of them ASAP, I would not be a happy lady.  I saw that it was snowing in Sweden and wanted nothing more than to get myself back to Sweden to play in the snow :) However, just about the same time, we stumbled upon the most wonderful of places...a German Christmas market.  It turns out that this said Christmas market, not far from the Brandenburg Gate, so happened to be hosting a Christmas concert by none other than the wonderful Michael Buble!  What a wonderful 5 Euro surprise.  That lifted my spirits pronto.  Not to mention, I got some Christmas shopping done too.  It was quite the successful evening...all to the lovely sound of Michael Buble's voice <3 But, before I brag too much about Berlin (trust me, it will be to the tone of my Oslo borderline obsession...yeah, Berlin is that good), I will provide some European musings via my experiences in Paris and Roma!

Again though, before I begin, I must express my extreme sadness of my departure from Sweden.  It was a horrible, horrible feeling.  I had absolutely no desire to get on that plane.  To put it simply, I was a wreck on the bus from Tenhult to Jönköping--and may I say, I'm fairly certain people generally are not that upset when leaving the tiny town of Tenhult.  And again, when I got on the plane in Gothenburg, I was a sad, sad lady.  It was torture taking off.  I would never ever trade my 4 months abroad--it was probably the best decision I could have made.  I'm so thankful that I met such wonderful people abroad and am sad that this experience had to come to a close.  I'm already trying to figure out how I can get back to Europe--and all you sly Tenhulters who have discovered my blog--beware, I'm coming back to stay with you :) Seriously.

Okay enough of the sad subject of leaving, now onto the happy subject of traveling! I'm really lucky to get this chance too! As many of you know, my first stop was Paris, then Rome, and now I'm settling into the lovely (but COLD compared to Rome) city of Berlin!   So as for Paris, I liked it, but I wasn't "sold".  There were parts of it that were positively exquisite--take the Eiffel Tower, for example, that was AMAZING, breathtaking really.  The Paris Catacombs were also very cool.  But, I think, I'm just resistant to the whole huge, busy city feel.  I'm used to Jönköping, Westminster, and State College...I don't think ANYBODY would characterize ANY of them as big cities! I would really love to come back to Europe and do some of the smaller town areas to really get a feel for the life here.  Paris and Rome were both filled with big city stuff...beggars on the streets, people constantly hounding you to buy stuff, expensive merchandise, and everybody always rushing.  It was exhilarating, but could also be a bit stressful.  Thus far, Berlin hasn't had that feel, which I am thankful for :) The only vibe I have gotten from Berlin is a Christmas one, and I LOVE it! Its about time there was a Christmas feeling somewhere. I know that I will be bombarded with it once I return to the states, but its nice to start it now too!

So, before I ramble on, per usual, I figured I should make a quick list of my "European musings"...all my new found European friends, feel free to critique my observations :) These are largely from Paris/Rome:
1. European women have some great boots.  And there are some excellent stores for boots in Europe. I'm  jealous.
2. There are LOTS of stairs in the Old least for us cheap folk (elevators can be expensive).  The Catacombs in Paris, the Eiffel Tower, the Vatican, the subway systems...all with a million stairs.  Even the catacombs had a defibrillator at the top of the stairs---go figure.
3. There is a serious lack of blonde haired people in southern Europe.
4. The European places I've visited all have positively delicious food.  I haven't disliked a meal in my travels yet! For Paris, it as the crepes, pastries, baguettes, panini pizzas, nutella.  In Rome, it was red wine, gelati, nutella, pizza, pasta, cannolis...all wonderful!
5. I was constantly suspicious of people on the streets trying to scam me or pickpocket me (only in Paris and Rome).  Maybe Rick Steves (the guidebook) made me paranoid.
6.  Winter is a great time to travel.  Nothing feels as crowded as in the height of tourist season. Except for the constant need for a coat, it's perfect!
7. I know why Europeans are so skinny...there is SO much walking in Europe.  That may have been due to our inadequate navigating, but still...YIKES...I've walked miles and miles and miles over the past week.
8. I'm finally a nutella convert.  That stuff is delicious (and works well as a chocolate substitute in s'mores too, who knew?!).  My PSU roommate, Sharon, would be so proud!
9.  Downside of European Union stamps in my passport (BOOOO). And, they discriminate against us non-Europeans...all the museums and places would be SO much cheaper if we were EU students. Not fair!
10. I don't know how I would travel if I didn't know English or the native language of the country--I think it would be VERY difficult.
11. I like to play 'guess the American' sometimes.  Not surprisingly, its quite easy.  I like to think that I blend at least a little more--but let's be honest, I'm sure I do not!
12. I am turning into my mother (not that that is a bad thing, mom :).  I have the constant desire to connect with/talk to other Americans---or specifically, a kid wearing a Ravens hat that I spotted on the subway or the kid wearing the PSU shirt at my Berlin hostel.  The difference is, I didn't act on this desire (mom would have), except in the case of the PSU reppin' kid...ya can't pass that up!

I have SO much more to write about, but do not have the time to detail more Roma and Berlin excitement.  I'll cut the rambling off here.  If I can't head back to Sweden, I guess the next best thing is heading stateside ;) It will be nice to get back to PSU, to watch Sam graduate, to legally hit up the US bars (cheaper than Sweden!), watch American football, and White Christmas with my sister etc. etc.  But I will always look back on this European trip with nothing but smiles :) More to come later..and probably pictures!

Peace out from the wonderful city of Berlin,