Happy International Women’s Day!

Today’s post is for some of my favorite women that I’ve either met abroad or are from another country (or both)!  People are the reason why I love travel as much as I do; it’s about immersing yourself in new cultures and creating strong friendships along the way.  In case you’re reading this, thank you for all of the fond memories, laughs and sharing once-in-a-lifetime experiences with me 🙂

Saskia – friends since 2011 (met through foreign exchange)

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Hamburg, Germany – 2012
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Hamburg, Germany – 2016

Carolyn – friends since 2014 (met as roommates in France)

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Aix-en-Provence, France – 2014

Anwar – friends since 2015 (met as coworkers at our SVSU Writing Center)

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Saginaw Valley State University – 2015

Bethany – friends since 2016 (met as exchange students in Sweden)

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Chicago – 2018

Jacomijne – friends since 2016 (met as exchange students in Sweden)

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Arctic Circle, Sweden – 2016

Gloria, Jagoda & Hui Jun – friends since 2016 (met as exchange students in Sweden)

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Lund, Sweden – 2016

Kaila – friends since 2017 (met as volunteers in Chiang Rai, Thailand)

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Bangkok – 2017

Longing for Lapland (March, 2016)

The cold, windy air hitting my nose and cheeks in Michigan reminds me of Swedish Lapland. We visited Abisko and Kiruna, and even crossed the border into Norway for an afternoon. From visiting the ice hotel I saw in Nat Geo as a third grader to sledding in the town after bar hopping, riding on the back of a dog sled, feeding the reindeer and seeing the Northern Lights (three times!), Lapland was probably the happiest week of my life…

Smiling in Stockholm (March, 2016)

It has been nearly three years since I wandered the streets of this amazing city. Our class trip, a cruise around Sweden, Russia, Estonia and Finland, commenced here and we couldn’t get enough!

Study Abroad Reunion: Chicago (March 9-11)

In 2016, I made the best decision of my life: to study abroad in Kalmar, Sweden.

I made THE BEST friends I could’ve asked for!  We all decided to have a reunion in Chicago because Alice (to my right in the above photo) was student teaching in Illinois for one month.  Mitch and Bethany (to my left) are from Colorado, and Taylor (far right) is from Texas.  We HAD to take a selfie at the iconic bean, obviously 🙂

During our first afternoon/evening, we were catching up at dinner, the hotel bar, and even played Uno for awhile in our room.  I hadn’t seen Taylor or Alice since I left Sweden in June, 2016, so seeing them meant the world to me.  Bethany and I, thankfully, have been able to see each other twice since we returned home (once in Chicago in June, exactly!) and will be going to one of my favorite places, Iceland, this May!  Spending time with Mitch is always great, and seeing him meant the world to me as well!

On our only full day together, we went to the Sears Tower (I STILL need to call it that…) and we took some obligatory Sky Deck photos!  It was worth it, but the crowds and heat were too much for all of us.  Thankfully, Giordano’s was right around the corner 🙂

All of us (except for Taylor – he needed a major nap after the deep dish!) spent time near the Water Tower place, specifically at Nike and Ghiradelli!  Mitch and I were OBSESSED with the store.  I have probably been in there at least 10 times and it never gets old!  Mitch, Alice, and I all got ice cream after, which also put us into a food coma, much like our dear friend!

You can’t go to Chicago without going to a comedy show, am I right? I am in love with Second City and Zanies; I have been to both three times I believe.  Bethany and I went to Zanies in June, and I’ve also been there with another friend from studying abroad in France.  I decided on Zanies this time because 1) the tickets were cheaper, 2) stand-up is hilarious and is rarely ever bad (in my opinion), and 3) it’s located on N. Wells Street, where all the best bars are!

Of course, we picked the best night to go!  It was Zanies’ 40th anniversary so we were able to have some mystery shots, more stand-up comedians, and many more laughs! I would tell you some of the jokes; however, they were NOT appropriate for this blog 🙂 Take my word for it: Zanies is the funniest club in Chicago!

Bethany and I are always thuggin’ it on Wells St…

Our coats got switched at Benchmark…oops!

Fun fact: Bethany and I took a similar photo here back in June.  Once we found the same bar, we obviously had to recreate our masterpiece 🙂

This goes without saying, but this was probably the best weekend I’ve had in a long time.  Seeing old friends felt so rewarding and I haven’t laughed that hard in SO long (both from the comedians AND my best friends)!  I can’t wait until our next reunion together.

I can’t wait for Taylor to have a Guinness at every bar he passes, for Alice to be as stereo-typically French as possible, for Bethany and I to laugh over nothing at all, and for Mitch and I to have the best conversations again 🙂

Teddy Bear Travels

Hello, long time no blogging!  Yet again, I have been MIA for quite some time; however, I’m back and ready to focus on blogging again!

When we travel for an extensive amount of time, it’s always nice to have something from home.  Some bring a photograph, others a keepsake…but for me, it’s always my teddy bear, Pierre!

Pierre is a 3-year-old Build-a-Bear who my boyfriend and I made for Christmas in 2015.  He is very loved, privileged, and fortunate to have seen all these incredible places!  I hope you enjoy his journey as much as he does (and as much as I do)! 🙂

Pierre loves to go boating on Michigan’s many lakes!

He and his wife, Claire, have even ventured to Chicago with me!

Pierre and his best friend, Chestnut, were my travel buddies in Sweden for my semester abroad.

Pierre has even been to castles, something that many humans haven’t even experienced!

He loved riding through Kalmar, SE with me!

Praha (Prague) was one place where Pierre could meet some cool cats 🙂

…but he enjoyed being in my dorm with Chestnut, Coconut, Barry, and Sandy!

Pierre was able to meet one of my best friends from Hamburg, Germany too!  She gave us a care package when we arrived!

I bought this bag in Copenhagen, especially for Pierre! He needed it for our weekend in London together 🙂

DOUBLE RAINBOW!!!

We enjoyed sunny days on the dock near the Kalmar castle 🙂

Pierre and I probably loved our time in Norway the most! 🙂 It made him feel at home with all the boating we did in those two weeks…

We love quality time with Juan!  Pierre loves Lake Michigan 🙂

Pierre was also my buddy on my train from Denver to Grand Junction to visit a friend from study abroad!

More traveling is in Pierre’s future, and mine as well 🙂

My Travel Timeline

One major flaw of mine is that I compare myself to others – I can’t be happy and reach my full potential if this nasty habit continues…

Loved ones around me are “progressing at faster rates”: moving into new places, getting engaged/married, are more financially stable than me…

Rather than getting bitter, I want to get better!

And let’s face facts here: I wouldn’t be who I am today if I hadn’t traveled and seen the incredible things that I’ve seen!  So what if I’m carrying a bit more student loan debt because of study abroad?  Who cares that I’m not living with my boyfriend at the moment?  I knew that travel would alter my life’s course, and that’s fine.  Why do I care what others around me (family, “friends”…) think?!?!

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In honor of my choices, that I am VERY proud of, here’s my travel timeline:

Canada (as a baby several times and again in 2011)

*no photo from Canada unfortunately…*

Germany (2012 – one month)

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France (2014 – two months)

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England (2014 and again in 2016)

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Italy (2014 and again in 2016)

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The Netherlands (2014)

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Iceland (2014 and again in 2016, also visiting again May 2018)

*no saved photos of Iceland unfortunately…more to come this spring!!!*

Denmark (a few times in 2016)

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Sweden (2016 – five months)

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Czech Republic (2016)

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Norway (2016)

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Estonia (2016)

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Russia (2016)

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Finland (2016)

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Ireland (2016)

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Scotland (2016)

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Hungary (2016)

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Spain (2016)

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Thailand (2017 – one month)

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Macau (2017)

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I hope this inspires you to live your OWN life!

“Do your thing and don’t care if they like it,” – Tina Fey

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Two Years Ago… (In Copenhagen)

Two years ago, I was wandering the streets of Copenhagen in the freezing cold waiting for my connecting train to Sweden, wondering if I was making the biggest mistake or greatest decision of my life. My semester abroad was life-changing. Here’s the photo that started it all…✨