Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Hello all! It's been a little over 4 months since I have returned from Spain and wow what a semester this has been. Adjusting back to life here was definitely way harder than adjusting to there. I have had some sad spells but I try to focus on the fact that I am extremely fortunate for having been able to live in Spain for 4 months. The first few days of being back were very odd and exciting. I distinctly remember stepping off the plane in Dallas- Forth Worth and feeling like I had entered a new world. My perspective of our country changed so much while I was in Spain and it was so crazy to walk off the plane and hear English all over the place and to go into the bathroom and have automatic soap dispensers and PAPER TOWELS. Although silly, it was the little things such as those that I had never noticed before and suddenly felt foreign to. The way of life here is so different just with the day-to-day things, and I couldn't get over the fact that we have huge stores such as Target with absolutely everything and that you have to make a long drive just to go somewhere instead of hopping on the metro or taking a walk. I know 4 months isn't THAT long, but it apparently was long enough to change my perspective so much. The change in perspective, however, isn't a bad thing. I have a huge appreciation for Target and stores like these now because of the convenience. I feel very fortunate for everything that is given to us here, and I never noticed how easy things are for us just on a daily basis. After awhile I got used to all of the cultural differences again, but I have learned to value both ways of life, and I will never forget to be thankful for the conveniences that I have. Upon returning I started working as an intern in the IAP office for the company I studied abroad with, ISA. It has been great working in the office and I love promoting study abroad because I now realize how valuable it is. I'm pretty excited that within a couple months of returning it has already benefited me career wise, too! I do have to admit that I had a hard time getting over the fact that my awesome experiences were over with, though. One word of advice for returnees: DON'T look at your pictures on Facebook right away, it's sad!! Maybe that's just me, but I started to reminisce too soon, I think. It's a slow process for me personally because I had looked forward to that experience for 8 years so I had to remind myself to be happy that I finally got to do what I had always wanted to. But now that I've said all that....I will also admit that I am returning to Granada once more for a summer study abroad with school. I know, I'm addicted. I'm really excited for it! I'm starting my MA in Romance Languages and Literature so I figured what better way is there than to start it than at my home overseas!? I am even more excited for my 17 day 6 country backpacking trip afterwards, though! My friend doing the Lyon program and I are going to go to: Amsterdam Berlin Krakow (we will also see Auschwitz while there) Prague Vienna Geneva It just doesn't get any better than that. Life is great!
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Monday, March 25, 2013
In the process of trying to complete my matriculation at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, I learned that I needed to have their name on my visa. To do that, I needed to go to a Brazilian consulate office outside of Brazil. For me, living in Florianópolis, the closest Brazilian consulate, outside of Brazil, is located in Buenos Aires, Argentina. So began my trip to a city that I knew very little about until I arrived there.Because Brazil has always been my South American country of choice, I had never considered visiting any other country in the region. Had circumstances not dictated my need to travel to Buenos Aires, I can see now, it would have been a mistake to miss the opportunity to visit a beautiful and interesting city that shares a lot in common with two of my favorite destinations in the US, Washington, DC and Manhattan, NY.
I’ve had the privilege of living on the east coast for several years, specifically Washington DC and northern New Jersey, and there are some principal characteristics of those areas that make them nice places to live and visit. Interestingly, while in Buenos Aires, I felt right at home because I noticed some of those same characteristics that I loved about living on the East Coast.
Because I love “live” flowers, I immediately took notice, in Buenos Aires of the ubiquitous street vendors selling flowers. The same is true for DC and Manhattan. Since they were so accessible, while living on the East Coast, it was easy to reward myself with fresh cut flowers regularly.
Second, my attention was seized by the architect and monuments in Buenos Aires. Since this trip was unplanned and strictly a business trip, to change my visa and quickly return to Brazil, the only research I did prior to leaving for Buenos Aires was to learn all I could about changing my visa and gathering all the documents necessary to accomplish that end.
Upon arriving in Buenos Aires, the first item on my agenda was to locate the Brazilian consulate office. On my way to my destination, to my great surprise, as I ran across the busy intersection of 9 de Julio, I saw a tall obelisk, an exact replica of the Washington Monument. Interestingly, on my last day in the city, on my way to purchase my return ticket to Brazil, I stumbled upon a monument that resembles a combination of the Vietnam Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington, DC. The monument is named, “El Monumento a Los Caídos en Malvinas.” Similar to both the Vietnam Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, it pays homage to soldiers lost during war. The appearance of the monument is like the Vietnam Memorial, the names of fallen soldiers are carved into black stones, but the activities at the monument are similar to those at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. An eternal flame is a part of the monument and guards dressed in historic uniforms are posted at the monument.
Third, I would be remiss if I did not mention the parks, plazas and shops. Buenos Aires is very urban and holds the distinction of being considered “the Paris of South America.” I stayed in the Recoleta neighborhood, which reminded me of a combination of Dupont Circle in Washington, DC and the upper east side of Manhattan, NY. Despite its urban characteristic, it is clear that the city demands its green space. I was enamored by the plazas and parks that I frequently stumbled upon, and the variety of shops and restaurants that kept my constant attention as I made my way from one destination to the other. The fashion trend in Buenos Aires, for every member of the family, is definitely inspired by Paris.
Fourth like any major city, with all its wonderfulness and beauty, you must exercise caution. I was almost the victim of a theft while walking along the busy avenue of Santa Fe. I was carrying my book bag on my back. I thought it was secure because I had all the zippers pulled completely to one side. I was not prepared for the craftiness of three perpetrators as oppose to one. While one person, perhaps standing to the side of me, slowly unzipped the bag, the other, standing behind me, attempted to rummage through my bag. Fortunately, I felt my bag moving and turned around, startling the thief and thus foiling their plan. When I took the bag off my back, it was completely open. The most surprising thing about the entire ordeal is that I would never have suspected the persons to be thieves. They were well-dressed and groomed, and looked like your typical employees on a lunch break. While it seemed strange at first, I became quite comfortable carrying my book bag covering my chest.
Finally, I know that there is so much more to Buenos Aires that time and circumstance did not permit me to explore, however, the corner of the city that I was able to experience was a great place to start.
Friday, March 22, 2013
|Prinsesstårta and Semla|
|Stockholm's T-Centralen Metro Station|
Stockholm is beautiful! Last week I had a chance to visit Stockholm and over the few days I was there, I enjoyed a culture which is very different from the one in Lyon, France. Even though the weather was still in the 30s, the sun was out every day! I visited the Historiska Museum, which had a great exhibit on the Viking Era of Sweden. There is also the famous Vasa Museum, which is dedicated to the Vasa Ship. The ship sank on its maiden voyage in Stockholm's harbor in the 1600s and wasn't excavated until the 1960s. Gamla Stan(Old town), of course, was lined with tourist shops just like in any other European city. They sold traditional Sami clothing and other Scandinavian souvenirs.
While France has great pastries, I must say that I like Sweden's pastries and desserts much better. Kanelbullar (cinnamon rolls), Prinsesstårta (Princess Cake), and Semla (cake of light wheat bread with a sweet filling of almond paste and cream) are just some of Sweden's famous desserts which I had multiple times while there! They are usually eaten during Fika (coffee break) and Swedes love Fika!
Not only were the people extremely nice, but every one of them speaks close to perfect english! It is really amazing :) Of course there were plenty of blondes and the average height there for men and women seemed to be a lot taller than in Lyon. The Metro system is very large and many of the stations are known for being like little art exhibits. Several stations are themed and extremely colorful! ...
I can't wait to visit Sweden again. By far my favorite place I have traveled to this year!
Thursday, March 7, 2013
|le Vieux Port|
|Le Notre Dame de la Garde|
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Regardless of where Carnaval is being celebrated in the world, the word excites thoughts of people celebrating, endless dancing in the streets, colors from every sphere of the rainbow and continuous sounds that leave no doubt in the hearer’s mind that “there is a party going on.” Carnaval in Salvador is no exception.
I started my Carnaval experience in Pelourinho, which the guide referred to as the Circuito Batatinha. That was a good place for me to start, since the area proved to be less congested and more tranquil than Circuito Osmar and the Barra area. In both those areas, the crowd was innumerable, and while the atmosphere was electric, it was a chore to try to simultaneously see presentations by bands or performers, listen to the music and hold onto my valuables.
While the crowds certainly presented some challenges, whether that was trying to navigate the crowds or attempting to catch a bus home, I found the experience as exhilarating as standing in Time Square waiting for the ball to drop at midnight on New Year's eve.
Saturday, February 16, 2013
France's big sales just ended, but it was a crazy five weeks in Lyon! France has two major sales throughout the year. One from the end of June to around the beginning of August, and another starting the middle of January to the middle of February. Practically every store in Lyon had sales during this time. Its starts with a small price reduction during the first week of sales and ends with everything being between 50-70% off! I can't imagine what stores in Paris were like the last few weeks.