Adventures in Edinburgh, Scotland

Once Johanna and I parted ways with our friend Taylor in Dublin, we ventured off to Edinburgh!

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The above photo is our view from the hostel we stayed at!  Who else could say that they slept across the street from something as beautiful as this?!

Johanna and I are both of Scottish heritage, so being in an area of such rich history and culture meant the world to us.

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Being able to casually and conveniently stroll within the castle walls was one of my favorite parts of the trip; this is something that is extra special as an American!  Our country is so new that castles are alien to us, thus why it is on many of our bucket lists to visit them in Europe.  The Edinburgh Castle is one of my personal favorites not only because of its size, but because of its deep-rooted history with England and so on.

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Mary Queen of Scots is one of my ancestors; being in the location where she and her family lived years ago is something I will never take for granted. I am truly proud of my Scottish and French heritage on my mom’s side!

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The following day, the two of us went on a free walking tour recommended by our hostel staff.  I wasn’t surprised to see two stereotypical things about Scotland on our tour: whisky and scotch signs, as well as cashmere scarves!  I had to try some and buy some…

Although I saw what I imagined in Edinburgh, it was refreshing to see things that I didn’t anticipate, such as colorful, bright buildings.

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Our tour guide was so knowledgeable (Sheldon Cooper status) and was extremely passionate about J.K. Rowling’s influence on Edinburgh, and vice versa.  He showed our group the places in which Rowling received her inspiration(s) while creating her infamous Harry Potter characters; she took character names from this here cemetery!

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Of course we had to visit where Rowling sent her sons to school (aka: Hogwarts’ inspiration)!

This little puppy statue is lucky, only if you rub his nose though!

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The above photo was taken as Johanna and I had tea in the cafe in which Rowling penned her ideas for Harry Potter: Elephant and Castle.  The bathroom was filled with what I’ll call “Potter Postings” from fans; her brother-in-law who owns the cafe tried covering them up at first, but fans are “too” passionate for Potter!

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The two of us also climbed (part of, a VERY small part of) Arthur’s Seat.  We were ratchet and didn’t feel like climbing the entire thing; all the rich and sweet food we ate must have had us out of shape!  From what we did see, it was as incredible as expected!

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Simply wandering around Edinburgh was enough to make Johanna and me happy; the contrast between the day and night in the city is parallel to Edinburgh’s light and dark sides (of history, culture, etc.).

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And obviously, the food was solid in Scotland.  If only this macaron place was in my hometown…

We meet again, Big Ben!

I visited London during the summer of 2014 and left a piece of my heart there!  The charm, the elegance…all of what London had to offer attracted me and made me want to go back!

I was supposed to visit London with a friend at the end of March, and although our plans changed last minute, I am thankful I was still able to see the city that captured my heart nearly two years ago.

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At night, everything seems to be glowing and prestigious!  I love the contrast this city has to offer: busy at night, and calming during the day.

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“Do one thing a day that scares you.” Simple, truthful, brilliant…

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Whether I was drinking at my favorite pub, strolling through Regents Park, or seeing shows on Broadway, London Round II did not disappoint!

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!

The Evolution of my Hair

I have dyed, cut, and styled my hair more than anyone should in their lifetime (I’m only 22 mind you)!

Here’s a photo compilation in chronological order starting from middle school:

The confusing
The confusing “curly hair, straight bangs” combo (Spring 2008).
Straightening this hair took FOUR HOURS (Homecoming 2008).
Straightening this hair took FOUR HOURS (Homecoming 2008).
When I regrettably chopped all of my hair off (Summer 2011).
When I regrettably chopped all of my hair off (Summer 2011).
The darkened and straightened bob (Senior Homecoming 2011).
The darkened and straightened bob (Senior Homecoming 2011).
Curly bob (Prom 2012).
Curly bob (Prom 2012).
Freshman year of college (Fall 2012).
Freshman year of college (Fall 2012).
” (Fall 2012).
” (Winter 2012).
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Natural-colored puff ball (Summer 2013).
Awkward ponytail (Winter 2013).
Awkward ponytail (Winter 2013).
Study abroad in France (Summer 2014).
Study abroad in France (Summer 2014).
21st birthday in Chicago (October 2014).
21st birthday in Chicago (October 2014).
Habitat for Humanity trip (Winter 2014).
Habitat for Humanity trip (Winter 2014).
Slightly red ombre (today).
Slightly red ombre (today).

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)! 😉