Its the end of an era

This is what this past week looked like for me.

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I wrote my last final of the semester on Thursday and I can’t tell you how much of a relief it feels to be completely done with the schoolwork of this year. It’s been harder and more challenging than I think any of us anticipated. Despite the fact that I am so happy to be done with the academic part of this semester, I am sad that this year is coming to an end. It has been the most amazing experience (to say the least) and I am so grateful for this opportunity to see the world. I have been completely humbled and I have learned so much.

 

I learned that I love the mountains. I didn’t know that about myself really before coming here. I guess because I never spent time in the mountains growing up. But, I have fallen in love. Snow on the pine trees that cover the mountain is probably the prettiest thing in the whole entire world. So, I will make an effort to go to the mountains more often when I’m back in the states.

 

I learned that I loved traveling. Sure, I knew I loved the idea of it and I had visited places before. But, I have officially caught the travel bug. I just don’t think I could see enough of this planet. This world is magical (as cheesy as that sounds) and sometimes we forget to appreciate it because we get stuck in our daily routines. That’s probably why I have now seen more of Europe than I have of my own home country of the United States. It’s sad. And I want to fix that.

 

On top of that, I have learned to be a tourist in your own city. There are so many places that completely pass you by because it’s your everyday life. We take the same routes to the same destinations over and over. And we forget to explore. You never know what you’ll find. Even if its just trying out a new restaurant.

 

I have learned how to pack efficiently. Ask anyone…before coming here I was the queen of over-packing. But, now I have got it down to a science and I’m much more practical.

 

I have learned that even though I absolutely love traveling that I don’t want to ever be away from my family as long as I was again. I miss them too much.

 

I have learned how to plan a trip and I’m really good at reading maps now.

 

I have learned how to be cautious of your surroundings and escape weird people who are following you.

 

I have learned how to go with the flow. Traveling makes you go with the flow. If you don’t, you will be completely defeated. As hard as you can try to plan the most perfect trip, something will not go according to plan. You can choose to either let it overwhelm you and be frustrated or just realize that things happen and move on to enjoy the rest of your day. A little hiccup isn’t worth ruining any part of your day. So, going with the flow is always the best option. This is coming from someone who would get anxiety from just hearing those words. I have crossed over to the other side and I promise it’s much happier over here on this side.

 

I have learned that I had prejudices that I didn’t even know I had about cultures I hadn’t even experience myself. But, once you choose to not believe these perceptions that have been fed to you by the society and culture you grew up in and choose to make an effort to understand other cultures, you gain the respect for others that they deserve.

 

I have learned American history from the perspective of a British professor who lives in France but teaches in Switzerland. To say the least, it was not the same American history that I have learned over and over again growing up, even though we were covering the exact same material. Learning your country’s history from the perspective of other countries around the world makes you realize that you had been taught with a bias attached. And maybe completely innocently, but nonetheless it makes me more aware.

 

I have learned that pretty much every European can speak multiple languages. And to be honest, it makes me feel incredibly dumb when a waiter walks up to me and says hello in five different languages to see which one I respond to and then proceeds to speak fluently in my language when I can just barely make it by in his language. And I’m the guest in his country. It’s a humbling experience.

 

I have learned that it is indeed possible to function on 40 minutes of sleep. I have also learned that I never want to try that again.

 

I have learned that it’s possible to turn a house full of 70 strangers into a home.

 

I have learned that it’s important to remember that you cannot let school get in the way of your education. Don’t get me wrong, school is important. But, experiencing other cultures, exploring the world around you, meeting new people, trying new activities teaches you just as much, if not more, than a textbook and a professor. Experience is everything.

 

Lastly, I have learned to really make a conscious effort to appreciate every second you have. This year has sped by so fast I don’t even know where it went nor do I believe that I’m leaving in a couple days. I’m happy that I didn’t give into my tiredness and exhaustion instead of going on a trip because I’m never going to get this kind of experience again. I learned that it’s worth it to live every day like its your last because tomorrow is not guaranteed.

 

I’m sure I’m forgetting a million other things that I learned. But, I felt like I needed to try to get this all out and reflect on this chapter of my life before I go back to reality. So, if you made it to the end, thank you for listening/reading. Now, I’m on to packing up all of my things. Wish me luck that everything fits!

#OttEuropeanInvasion Food Inspiration – Mojito

We are starting a little series inspired by the all the glorious food we tasted while we were away on the #otteuropeaninvasion! (We know, we know, we still need to post our pictures from the trip! Caroline has finished her grueling finals and is coming home on Tuesday and then we will get right to work!)
Since it is Friday, I thought that I would kick off the series with a cocktail to get you in the mood for the weekend!  While in Barcelona we ate at a vibrant Mexican restaurant, Rosa Negra, recommended to me by my friend Erika.  It was so delicious.   I was particularly impressed by their take on a Mojito.  I took some notes and played with the ingredients when I got home.mojito

Here is what you need:
1TB of RAW sugar
1/2 of a lime
5-6 mint leaves
2oz of white rum
2 dashes of bitters
ice
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Into a glass, add the sugar. Squeeze in the juice from the lime and then throw the lime into the glass, as well. Tear up the mint leaves and add. Muddle these ingredients. (This is my first time muddling, people!! I usually use a cocktail shaker.)mojito2

Add the rum and the bitters. Add ice and top it off with club soda.mojito4

I think it’s a nice change of pace from a regular mojito.  It’s not as sweet.  If you are someone who likes a sweet drink, I would add in some agave when you are muddling.mojito5 mojito6

Cheers to the weekend!!

Movie Review – The Grand Budapest Hotel

There are two types of people.

People who like Wes Anderson movies and People who DON’T like Wes Anderson movies.

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When I told a couple people that I was going to go see The Grand Budapest Hotel, the responses I got were either… I heard it wasn’t good or so and so saw it and they didn’t like it.  I was a little discouraged but then remembered…

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When you watch one of Wes Anderson’s movies you should know that you are in for a quirky, absurd, imaginative and aesthetically beautiful wild ride…. so I say to you (and myself) let yourself go on that wild ride.  Throw logic out the window, be in the moment and laugh!  His movies are funny!  And I was the only one in the theater laughing out loud!  I couldn’t believe it.

So what was this movie about?  Well, I guess I will let the actors tell you themselves…

Critics are saying this is Wes Anderson’s best movie yet!  Before I agree with them, I think I need to go back and re watch all of them.  But I would definitely say it is worth seeing… if you are open to it.

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The sets, the costumes, the props and the locations were all gorgeous.  You could tell that every little detail was thought of… I think Wes might be a little bit of a perfectionist.

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And the actors were all bringing their A game.  To recruit a cast that included Ralph Fiennes, Jude Law, Owen Wilson, Bill Murray,  Tilda Swinton, Jeff Goldblum, Adrien Brody, Ed Norton, Jason Schwartzman (and the list goes on)… is awe inspiring… especially when most of them only had small parts in the movie.  It has to be a true testament to Wes Anderson.

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One of the reasons why I think I loved watching this movie so much was because I truly believed that every member of the cast, including Wes Anderson and his crew, had so much fun while shooting.  The reason why I laughed out loud some of the time was because I would just imagine them being on set and playing out some of the crazy scenes.   There seemed to be a genuine bond, respect and comradery with the whole cast that is not always seen in films.  I am sure this is why the same amazingly talented actors come back to work with Anderson film after film.

My Take Aways from This Movie:

1.  I know we get set in our ways and what we like and have a need to be in control… but sometimes we just need to sit back and relax and enjoy the show… in life (and in the movie theaters)!  Be open to new adventures, experiences, people and opportunities.

2.  Do what you love and love what you do… and then it won’t feel like work.

3.  Laugh out loud.  It’s good for you.

Photo Credit: IMDB, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 6, 7, 8, 9,