Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The hills are aliveeeee

'Ello. Majorly blog slacking lately. I apologize. Last Friday I returned from a week in Vienna, Austria with my European Clinical Psychology class. I know what you are thinking, my life is really difficult, right? To answer your question: yes. Just kidding, traveling around Europe is alright I guess. But to be honest, the whole experience in Vienna wasn't necessarily AMAZING. I mean, don't get me wrong, Vienna itself is super wonderful and amazing and magical, but who you travel with obviously has a huge effect on enjoyment. I'm dying to come back to Vienna with people I know better and also just to see more of Austria. My class is generally awful minus a select few, but given that my blog is public, I find it best I don't go into too much detail about why I spent a lot of time being annoyed. I hate generalizing people, I really do, but it often seems like the majority of people who have grown up very well off missed the memo about manners, respect, appreciation, and humility. I realize I'm not perfect and my personality is generally more easy going, but I don't know man, this week was some other kind of spoiled brat crazy. I mostly just needed to be out of a crowd setting for a while after that week. I have found that traveling is immensely better when you are with only a few people, so you can just decide to sit on a bench for a couple hours and people watch and no one gets too whiney.

But I don't want to dwell on the negatives of the trip, because I did love the city. It's so crazy beautiful, especially for a city and gahhhh I'm just obsessed. Since this was a trip with an actual class, every day we had one or two academic visits. These visits were usually to visit different types of therapists, which was cool, yo. We actually got to go to the U.S. Embassy and talk to the Embassy psychiatrist. It's really hard to get into the embassy, and you have to go through a whole typical United States like security business before you can enter the gates. They do have their reasons, I understand for sure, but it definitely felt like home lol. We also got to go to the Freud Museum, a couple art museums, the psychoanalytic society, plus more. It was a packkkeeddd week. I'm too tired to write about all of it, plus most of the visits would be kind of boring to write about anyways so, sorry.

While I was in Vienna I did get the opportunity to go to an opera and a chamber orchestra concert. Cultured, I know. The opera was about 2 hours too long, but still, it was a cool experience. I did actually enjoy the orchestra concert, though. The concert hall was gorg, and there really is nothing better than contemplating life with classical music playing in the background...while you are sitting in a golden concert hall in Vienna. Nothing. I made some solid life decisions in those two hours. Oh, Europe. I also now consider Vienna home to the best cake and hot chocolate of my life. We were told on our first day in the city that Cafe Demel on the main shopping square in the city had the best hot chocolate ever, so being a chocolate fan, I felt it my duty to test it out. IT WAS LIKE LIQUID NUTELLA. Plus with a side of truffle cake, oh my dear god. So good. I was in a bit of a sugar coma after and may or may not have thought I was actually going to throw it all back up, but worth it. Seriously so good. If you have no other reason to venture through Vienna, Austria, go for the cake.

This was probably the quickest recap of my life of one of the busiest weeks ever, but I'm lazy, and who wants to read every detail of my trip. Everyone, obviously because you are all so invested and interested in the minute details of my life, but alas, I must keep a bit of mystery about myself.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Getting Deep

I'm not usually excessively serious on this, but I'm in two of the most depressing classes of my life here, and this documentary on human trafficking in the US was just too much. I like most other Americans always wanted to think about human trafficking as a European issue, but turns out it's not. at all. So watch if you wish. Inform yourself. Just have some tissues nearby. But can I just say, worst mother of the year award goes to the mother in this? Seriously.

Human Trafficking in the United States---watch it aqui

Thursday, October 18, 2012


I wish I was better at cooking for myself. However, the sad truth of the matter is, I am no chef. I am not even up to the standards of the greasy kids that throw the mickey d's hamburgers together. I mean that's an art form. Let's be real, I'll never be up to that level of culinary mastery. So tofu and frozen veggies it is. For all those who have been DYING to know what I eat on a daily basis, stop wondering. Knowing will just make you hungry and go running to hug whoever cooks for you. Or if you are a real adult and you cook real food for yourself on a daily basis, just give yourself one big hug right now. Then go splurge on a nice dinner out so you don't have to cook for yourself tonight. I'd say it's on me, but I'm all the way in Denmark, soooo sorry bout it. Plus I'm poor, so double sorry.

I should stop acting like I'm starving and surviving off the scraps that the Danes leave out for the pigeons. I do in fact cook everyday...and it's not as though I really hate cooking, but it's a little inconvenient when cooking in a communal kitchen with really limited ingredients, plus it just takes up time. Props to all those real world people coming home from a long day at the office and actually feeding yourself more than a spoonful of nutella. Plus I'm weirdly not fluent in Danish, so grocery shopping can still be one big mystery. I'm honestly not even really sure what average joe Danes eat on a regular basis, since I haven't actually been to a restaurant here. I go to two sandwich places once every couple weeks. What I'm saying is, I'm not exactly immersed in the food culture of Denmark. Well, except the dessert. I'm fully immersed in that. STOKED for dessert crawls of the future. stoked.

ham and cheese...and pickles? USA USA USA

veggie burger and zucchini chips

burnt half my hand off getting these out of the oven. worth it. 

dessert? yes. 

oreo balls. yum yum yum. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Adventures in the EU: Germany

Berlin ended up being an accidental and eventful destination. We didn't actually plan on spending two days in Berlin, but our flights just happened to work so that we had a couple days in this historic German city. I, unlike Kat, had never been to Berlin, or any part of Germany, so I was cool with just chilling for those couple of days. The first day in Germany luckily was nice and sunny and warm. It's especially nice because we literally walked the length of the city. I wish I was kidding. But wait, I'm forgetting the highlight of that day. Simply put, Germany was kind of weird to us. As we were riding the train from the airport to the city, for some reason we got to talking about Dunkin Donuts and all the delicious treats it has to offer, which naturally made me want it. So of course we walk into the train station and spot a German Dunkins just waiting for us to purchase it's chai tea and hot chocolate. Oh and it was also German Unity Day so some other bakery was giving away free jelly donuts. Don't mind if I do. Stop giving me the judgey eyes, banana hot chocolate and a free donut, plus a few gummy bears, is a perfectly acceptable breakfast/lunch. YOU DON'T KNOW MY LIFE.

We wanted to go find the East Side Gallery part of the Berlin wall, but ended up trusting the wrong directions and getting off the train at the historical side of the wall. What is this madness? History? Please, I'm here for the murals. Just kidding, history is kind of cool I guess. Though we had no idea where in the world we were, we decided to just follow the wall, thinking, hey we have to stumble upon it sometime, right? That sometime may have been three hours later, but we did eventually make our way there...even if someone kept telling me with absolutely no real idea, that we were almost maybe, probably there. I'm not going to mention any names. That would be rude. Oh and other weird coincidence as we were searching for a late lunch, we mentioned that all we really wanted was a Subway, and turn the corner and boom, sweet onion chicken teriyaki here I come. 


I loved this

super model status? 

The second day in Berlin was a whole other kind of complete disaster. Ok, disaster is a really strong word, but it was one big mess for sure. Unfortunately it was rainy, cold, and windy, three of my least favorite weather conditions, so we decided just to find a cafe to chill out in for a large chunk of the day. Overall, the day was decent. Ate a panini, later a pretzel, wrote a blog post.....but then things took a bad, bad turn. For some reason or another that is unexplainable, the two of us were convinced that our flight back to Copenhagen was really late. We even looked at the boarding pass, like yeah, WE GOT THIS. Yeahhh, we didn't. Military time, it turns out, is really easy to figure out if you've passed the first grade and now how to count. We apparently don't. So after an angry German turned us away from security, we realized we are actually the biggest idiots in the world and missed our flight. Then once we booked tickets for the next flight out the next day we sat in disbelief that we were so stupid. We actually probably spent more time than necessary beating ourselves up over this debacle, but traveling is expensive enough, so another added flight wasn't too pleasing. But people make mistakes I suppose. Just usually not such perfect people such as myself.

Once we realized we were stuck in Berlin for the next fourteenish hours, the time had come to figure out what to do next. We figured we could sleep in the airport, but we weren't really sure what we were going to do with ourselves for the next fourteen hours. A lot of rounds of tic tac toe? But instead we decided to get back on the train to the central train station, find a starbucks with wifi and try to find a hostel. Now, this would have been a stellar plan if Europe didn't close down the continent sharply at 7pm. Starbucks turned out to be closed and we were once again angry at life. Or actually just ourselves, we take full responsibility for this stupid move. Annnnd then when we went to check when the next train left for the airport, we were pleased to find the trains seemed to have stopped running for the night to that particular airport. PANIC. It's one thing to be stranded at an airport, it's a whole other to be stranded at the train station. I wasn't having that one. Panicked we ran up to the information desk and asked if there was any train going to the airport, yup, there was, in two minutes. At this point the whole evening started to turn into a bad, but comical, movie scene. I'm sure we were quite the site running through the train station, especially when I fell running up the stairs and Kat grabbed me by the backpack yelling "We are making this train! You're ok!!" Lol. by far the greatest moment of the night. At this point we didn't actually have time to buy tickets so we had to make the split second decision of whether to get stuck at the train station or hope for the best and get on the train without tickets. Neither option sounded great, but we had to do something. So on the German train we went...ticketless. I'm kind of surprised we are still alive to tell this story and didn't die of heart attacks..or at least whiplash from staring around for a conductor every time there was a noise. Turns out someone was on board checking tickets. yay. Then we spent the night in a German prison. Just kidding, the woman was so nice, and probably just wanted to be rid of us since we were trying to explain in English our complicated story. She actually just took a look at our boarding passes for the plane and let us go. I LOVE HER. Seriously though, thanks nice German woman, I hope Karma was good to you.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Adventures in the EU: Poland

This is going to be a long one, folks.

I had absolutely no idea what to expect with Poland. I've never ventured to Eastern Europe, and never actually thought I'd make it there, but I'm so glad I did. There were some things I could have done without, like the two by two plane with propellors that we had to take from Berlin to Krakow. I'm not even going to pretend that I didn't panic a little when we drove out to that bad boy. But when your plane has propellors and you barely have to walk up any steps to get on, you try and stay calm. The Dash (as air berlin has named this gem) was not the greatest experience of my life, but I survived. It would have been kind of a shame if I had died in a firey plane explosion. Not that those thoughts ever entered my mind as I tried to listen to some 1D over the propellor noise. Please. Air Berlin tried to make up for sticking me on a toy plane by giving out heart shaped chocolate at the end of the flight. Very sneaky, air berlin, you have now won me over. Kind of, not really, but the chocolate was a nice touch.

My first impression of Poland was a little sketch. It was dark, foggy, and there was barbed wire surrounding the airport. It probably didn't help that we were a little thrown off our usual awesome swag wagon by the surprise dash in the Dash...and that Polish sounds a whole lot like Russian. A stray dog also ran up the road near the airport. Normal? But we made our way relatively easily to our hostel, which actually ended up being by far the nicest hostel I've stayed at. Plus they helped us order pizza. So brownie points to you, 4 Friends Hostel.

The next morning everything seemed a little less scary, but we were also heading to Auschwitz and Birkenau, so that was that. Our tour group picked us up and played the most depressing documentary of my life in the van during our drive. I'm actually putting the warning out now that if you are looking for a happy post, stop reading, or just skip to the last paragraph. Seriously.

It's hard to say what I thought of Auschwitz. They have turned Auschwitz main camp into a museum of sorts, but I'm not really sure if what it has become is entirely, hmmm what's the word, appropriate? I kid you not, that food is served right outside the camp in a little fast food hut. That actually disturbed me a lot. There is also just a ton of people there, especially school groups on field trips. And like any kid under the age of fifteen, a field trip just means a day off from school with your friends, not a time to reflect on the history of your country and the world. I think for that reason I found it hard to take it all in when I was standing in the middle of this former concentration camp. A few times I just stood there wondering why I wasn't feeling anything. I think it's also that I have learned about this for so many years, that I just really couldn't connect that I was finally there. It's hard to describe everything I felt while walking through Auschwitz.

In one of the blocks is housed the most well known of the displays: the shoes, the hair, the suitcases. Those legitimately gave me goosebumps, and still do as I think about it an entire day later. We weren't allowed to take pictures of the hair, but it was allowed at other items, yet I couldn't bring myself to turn a lot of it into a spectacle. Therefore, I left with limited photographs. I can't begin to describe what it felt like to stand in front of those displays, especially the hair and suitcases, that stretched so much farther and were piled so much higher than I ever hoped imaginable. It was just so heartbreaking and sickening.

We were also given the opportunity to go inside an actual gas chamber. This was by far one of the eeriest experiences of my life. We were told that after fifteen or twenty minutes in the gas chamber, everyone would be dead. I can't help thinking about just how long that is. I guess I always imagined, or just wanted to imagine, an instant death for those in the gas chambers, but fifteen or twenty minutes of suffocation had to be absolutely unbearable.

"Work Makes You Free"

Zyklon B gas 

walls of the Jewish prisoners

The Killing Wall

After Auschwitz we took a five minute shuttle to Birkenau, a subcamp, and main killing center of Auschwitz. Birkenau has not been turned into a museum and sprawls over a much larger region. I found it to be much more moving, and just a much more appropriate way to commemorate the tragedy. As we walked along the railroad tracks towards the large memorial at then end, it just felt so surreal. It was odd to see the photographs and then realize that you were in the exact same spot. I don't even know. Birkenau itself was much more silent and eerie. The memorial itself was quite beautiful, the inscription on the stone translated into many languages. There were flowers and stones laid everywhere, which was so nice to see. Though I was obviously very moved and saddened by the whole experience, it wasn't until later that night and the days after that I really started to feel everything that I couldn't seem to when actually in the camps. I started to look at the few pictures I took that day later in the evening and just had to stop. I'm not sure why it took so long for me to really react, but it's an experience I'll never forget. I recommend that everyone ventures out there at some point, especially Birkenau. You would never ever regret it.


Remains of the gas chamber

Luckily things got happier that night when we went into Krakow. Everything is so cheap there so we were psyched to have a real sit down dinner. It's been a while since I didn't have to feed myself. We stuffed our faces with pasta and gelato and walked around Krakow's beautiful main square. I'm not sure if I ever plan on returning to Eastern Europe, but I'm so glad I saw Krakow and can officially cross visiting Auschwitz off my extensive bucket list.

Sorry this was crazy long.  I had a lot of thoughts. A much less heavy and more ridiculous Berlin post is on it's way.

Adventures in the EU: Switzerland

Greetings all! Or should I say, Bonjour. I'm so cultured now, it's crazy. In case anyone is unaware, I just recently returned from my first travel break in Switzerland, Germany kind of, and Poland. It was great and all this traveling has just confirmed how much I love exploring new places.

So some quick facts about Geneva: there's no pollution at all, it's the most expensive place I've ever been (almost 25 dollars for a hamburger? no thanks), and it's absolutely gorgeous. We first noticed how clean and fresh the air was here...and I thought Denmark was good...and also noted the mountains, which I haven't seen in over a month, so it was a nice change in scenery. Nothing too exciting happened between the airport and the hostel, other than the fact that Switzerland is so rich that they just give away train tickets to anyone coming through the airport. Must be nice. We managed to get to the hostel with no problems and then just kind of meandered through the city for a couple hours. We made our way to the giant and iconic fountain of the city, which was crazy tall. Sure shoot upy fountains in the middle of bodies of water have no real point, BUT IT'S WATER SHOOTING REALLY HIGH IN THE AIR, IT NEEDS NO POINT. Sorry, I'm just really fond of water. Anyways, Geneva is basically in France so all the architecture has a ton of French influence. Some of it did remind me a little of Paris, especially all the windowy restaurants. And just like in Paris, I can't afford anything. Seriously though, we brought plenty of tuna packets and bought a baguette and apples at the grocery store. Classy people living classy lives.

The next day we had planned to do a seven mile hike along some vineyards a little outside of Geneva. I'm still not exactly sure how we made it to the beginning of that trail so effortlessly, but I guess European train transportation is just really great...or we are just expert world travelers. Probably the second one. LOL anyone who knows about our last day in Berlin knows that's not even close to being true. Don't worry that post is coming. Anyways, I don't have words for how beautiful and adorable this whole hike experience was. And tiring, but that's just a bonus detail. It was mostly presh because Kat and I were for sure the only people on this walk/hike under the age of fifty. I wish I could say that I'm surprised, but I'm really not. We would do something that apparently only seems to appeal to the middle aged. Sorry I'm not sorry. I would recommend that hike to everyone, you don't just have to be retired. But seriously, the scenery was absolutely breathtaking. We even got to walk through a couple little villages which were probably even cuter than Kat and me having a picnic lunch on a bench overlooking a vineyard and Lake Geneva. I know, it's hard to imagine anything cuter than that, but the villages just might win. Golly gee, Europe. Being our usual rebellious selves we stole some grapes from the vineyard along the way which were super delicious and a nice free snack for us broke children. Hey, you build a seven mile pedestrian path along your vineyards, you are just asking for the desperate college students of the world to come and eat your grapes. I'm just stating the facts. Highlight of my day was easily when we came across two Americans with their dog, Gus, and I got to pet him. I mean I guess the mountains and lake and vineyards were cool and whatever, but I mean come on, it's Gus. I was absolutely exhausted by the time we were done because I'm a super athlete, but I felt accomplished and generally awesome. Although I always feel awesome, so maybe that wasn't because of the hike. It's hard to tell sometimes.

That night we unfortunately had to move to a different hostel, meaning we had to tiredly do more walking, but I guess how can I complain since I was in Switzerland? We planned on going to find some Swiss chocolate after dropping our stuff off at our new hostel, buuuut we forgot for a minute that we were in Europe and everything closes down at noon. Ok that's an exaggeration, but we it wasn't even 8 o'clock yet, AND I JUST WANTED CHOCOLATE. Thankfully the airport opened up its chocolate shop at 6 am, so don't worry chocolate has been consumed. I bought a Lindt orange and milk chocolate bar for myself and had to conjure up a lot of will power not to eat that whole thing in one sitting in the past couple days. Best lindt I've ever had. Best hike I've ever....oh wait Guatemala was pretty legit too. I have no words over the fact that I can't decide if Guatemala or Switzerland was a more awesome hike. WHAT IS MY LIFE? I don't really know, but I'm sure not complaining.