Category Archives: traveling

My Personal “March Madness”

To whoever is reading this and for those who keep up with my blog, I sincerely apologize for not writing in awhile!  Hopefully after you see these photos and read these stories, you’ll understand why blogging has been out of sight this month!

For starters, I went to Prague at the end of February/early March.  Prague was beautiful, cheap, and gave me a true taste of what central Europe has to offer!

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Myself, Bethany, and Johanna enjoying the castle tour and the gorgeous view!
The castle tour was freezing cold, but it was totally worth it! The next day, the three of us also went on a city walking tour, which was something I got more joy out of than I imagined!

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Prague was flawless; it was equally beautiful and dirt-cheap (something that I appreciate having been in Sweden for a little under three months now)! And of course, being the Beatles fan that I am, we couldn’t leave without seeing the John Lennon Wall!

The next adventure was Swedish and Norwegian Lapland!  I went with a group of fifty-something from my university in Kalmar, Sweden; it was great becoming closer with so many students I don’t usually see on a regular basis.

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Stockholm was our first stop, and I wish we would have had more time there.  The Gamma Stan, or “Old Town,” was so medieval and old-fashioned!  The town square was beautiful with all the colorful and rustic buildings; the photos from my low-quality digital camera don’t do it any justice!

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After Stockholm, we finally arrived in Lapland!  It was bitter cold, but worth every shiver and shake!  We stopped at a reindeer ranch and met a Sami couple.  Samis are the native people of Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Russia!  They live off of the reindeer and their lives, meals, and conversations revolve around these magnificent creatures.

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The Norway-Sweden border was such a neat experience; being in two countries (essentially) at once is something that I thought was pretty awesome!

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Although Lapland was full of traveling between hostels, long days of sledding, dog sledding, and snowmobiling, the travel bug didn’t become tired in me!  The next weekend, I visited one of my best friends in Germany!

She was a foreign exchange student at my high school during my junior year (five+ years ago) and we have remained close friends ever since!  I visited Hamburg, Germany in 2012 before I began college, but this time was different; I felt like I was coming back home in a way.

Saskia and I have remained so close, and I’m so blessed for that!  Whenever we get together, it’s as though we never missed a beat; we pick up right where we left off!

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The two of us went dancing two out of the three nights I was there; we had to go out on St. Patty’s Day!  Aside from the excellent nightlife that Hamburg has to offer, we were able to have a nice dinner by my favorite spot: the Alsterhaus!  The walk along the harbor the next day was lovely, too.

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My teddy bear, @pierre.the.bear, had to join us, too!
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I returned on a Sunday feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.  Then, the very next morning, I left on a school trip with a small group to Estonia, Russia, and Finland!  I expected Russia to steal my heart, and although I enjoyed all three countries, Estonia was by far my favorite.  The culture was rich, the food was delicious and gluten-free, and the nightlife may have even been better than Hamburg’s (dare I say it)!

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Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, was so peaceful and medieval at the same time.  The town was almost an eerie kind of quiet, but the kind that all of us needed in between the hectic ferry rides and hostel-hopping!

I honestly didn’t want to ever leave Estonia, but I was excited to see St. Petersburg, Russia!  I just wish my time in each country didn’t feel so rushed.  Despite the trip being so fast-paced, Tallinn stole my heart.

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In less than 24 hours, I saw a Russian folk show, went on a limo tour of the sites at night, walked around in the Hermitage, and stayed in the sketchiest hostel I will ever stay at!  Russia brought just what I thought it would: adventure!

The last stop was Helsinki, Finland.  Two students are on exchange from Finland and downplayed Helsinki so much; I was amazed to find out that Helsinki had quite a bit to offer!  All of us (especially the Americans) LOVED Finland’s capital.

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Helsinki had the most unique churches (made of wood and rocks) that I have ever set foot in!  Also, surprisingly, it had one of the best Mexican restaurants I have ever experienced!

So now do you see why the title is “March Madness?” 😉

For more photos, visit my photo site: https://catherine-yankley.squarespace.com

Växjö, Sweden in a Day

As an American student studying in Kalmar, Sweden, I need a residence permit for my five-month adventure.  Unfortunately, Kalmar doesn’t have a migration board office; fortunately, the six Americans had to travel elsewhere.

Vaxjo, Sweden is a small town, but much larger than Kalmar.  We definitely packed a lot into one day!

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The vibrant colors of the cathedral and the unique architecture cannot be beat; however, the Swedish slides are very confusing, even for twenty-something year-olds!

Umami Monkey was perhaps one of the best burger joints I’ve ever been to…and I’ve been to some good ones in Germany and Ann Arbor, Michigan! To think we were mad that the Mexican place was closed…

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The glass museum in Vaxjo really brought out how modern the town is, as well as how innovative they are with their creations!  As an American who really knows little about Sweden (excluding Ikea and the famous ice hotel of course), these unique creations were exactly what I imagined Sweden to have!

The Vaxjo town model and Ice Man replicas were neat to see in order to put all I’ve learned from National Geographic in perspective!

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The Loranga part of the museum was interesting at first, but then it really brought out our inner child-like behavior!

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All in all, we had a great day at the museums, bookstores, cafes, and restaurants in Vaxjo!  A day of chores seemed to turn into a day of fun instantly!

 

Denmark in a Day

Sorry I haven’t been keeping up with posts lately; each day has seemed to come and go too rapidly. I am out of Michigan and now Sweden for the next five months! Studying overseas taught me so much about myself and other cultures, and I know this experience has already done the same. I haven’t even been here one full week!

I began my travels in Canada; Michiganders have the opportunity to fly out of Toronto for affordable prices! From there, I went to Iceland where I only had a one hour layover! Thankfully the airport is small and I’ve been there before! The semifinal destination was Copenhagen where I spent the night and enjoyed the city for a little bit.

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Things to do in Denmark: get lost because it’s a beautiful city, visit the Queen’s Palace and the Little Mermaid statue.

Things not to do: get too lost when you are freezing, it is dark, and you are trying to find your way back home!

All in all, Copenhagen brought out so much of Denmark’s beauty and I would definitely go again in a heartbeat!

When You’re Feeling Down

Hello everyone, I’m feeling down today.  I know it’s a weird thing for me to say/admit, but it’s true.  I haven’t blogged in awhile or wrote anything worthwhile in a couple weeks.  It’s not about the views or the likes for me; it’s about how I feel while I write.  But I haven’t felt the need to write recently, and now I feel as though all of my thoughts are bottled up inside me.

Here are some things I’ve been feeling lately:

  1. Stressed
  2. Frustrated
  3. Not myself
  4. Afraid

I feel these emotions and feelings are quite normal, but I need to combat these feelings.  As an aspiring Buddhist, I believe acceptance and embracing is key; however, I don’t want to be “okay” with feeling blue.

Here are some things I am going to try in order to ease my anxiety:

  1. Take things one minute at a time
  2. Stop comparing myself to others
  3. Remember what I enjoy doing
  4. Live in the moment rather than in the past or future

I have two exams next week, on top of having to clean my room, my hamster’s smelly cage, packing for a trip up north, and having two jobs to hustle through.  Let’s just say that next weekend cannot come soon enough!  I need to just face facts and realize that my two exams are important, but will not make or break my life (although they may do that to the grade in my class).  I have always been the type who is stressing over exams and sweats the little stuff; I need to be my type-B self when it comes to my education.  Exams are exams, and exams are tough, but that shouldn’t define the day or week I’m having.

On top of the stress associated in school, I cannot stop comparing myself to other people.  Many of my friends have recently announced engagements or marriages, while I’m over here bickering with my boyfriend of almost three years like an old married couple.  We’re both stressed about work and classes, yet while we spend any amount of time together, we take that stress out on each other.  It’s not fair for either of us.  Also, many of my friends are graduating this May (I guess I “should” be, too).  I keep feeling like I’m struggling or something…?  I can’t really explain the feeling I have about it.  I guess my point is that I need to stop comparing myself, my grades, or my relationship with other people because I am my own person.  I know there are things that people think about me that they find impressive (hopefully).

Aside from writing, I have other passions believe it or not.  Maybe if I dig into my passions I won’t be comparing myself to others as much (it’s human nature – it’s bound to happen).  I really enjoy photography, playing the piano and the flute, as well as golfing.  I took homecoming photos for a good friend of mine who is running to be on court, and it made me realize that I really miss photography.  I started my own photography website via SquareSpace, and I will be publishing that live within the next few days or so.  Whenever I travel, I love capturing what I see because it brings back whatever I was feeling in that moment.  I need to keep up with that.

I have also been listening to a lot of Regina Spektor and Stromae lately, which has inspired me to play musical instruments again.  I took piano lessons as a child and I had the ability to be a concert performer, a music major, maybe even play for a living.  I turned it down when it became too challenging – I gave up on it.  But really, I gave up on myself.  I did the same thing with the flute; I was really good, but I couldn’t handle the competition.  We had to compete for “first chair,” where the best performer sat closest to the instructor.  I don’t want to be the best, but I want to be my best.  I want to play for me, no one else.

Looking on my past is both inspiring and depressing, and I mean that in the best way possible!  I look at things that I would have done different, but I would not have changed a single thing.  I am leaving for Sweden soon, which inspired me to look at a few photos from my previous study abroad adventure:

Lyon, France

Nice, France

Fourth of July, France

Lavender Fields, France

These photos bring me hope; they show me that happiness is real and that this is just a dark time right now.  I hope that I can feel like myself again soon, because I miss it when my cheeks hurt from smiling too much!  It’s always darkest before the dawn.

Market Dog, France

Aix, France

Lyon, France

Guise, France

Picnic time!

That’s all for now!  Sorry about the photo spam (not really)! 😉