Making New (Animal) Friends While Traveling

A dog at the market (Aix-en-Provence, France 2014)

Happy Tuesday everyone!  If you’re feeling that post-lunch tiredness or mid-week “blah,” I hope you enjoy some animal photos from my travels!  Here are a few of my favorites:

A dog at the market (Aix-en-Provence, France 2014)
A dog at the market (Aix-en-Provence, France, 2014)
Ronaldo, the seven-month-old elephant (Chiang Mai, Thailand, 2017)
Ronaldo, the seven-month-old elephant (Chiang Mai, Thailand, 2017)
IMG_1960
When the monkey tried to steal my chapstick… (Hamburg, Germany, 2012)
Pierre my teddy bear, NOT a real bear :-) (Hamburg, Germany, 2016)
Pierre my teddy bear, NOT a real bear 🙂 (Hamburg, Germany, 2016)

Askøy & Bergen, Norway (Part II)

At the beginning of 2018, I hope to go on a trip to Europe with my brother.  He will graduate college in December of this year and has never gone to Europe, so I figure this would be the perfect gift for him (expensive, yes, but perfect…) 🙂

And if that doesn’t work out, then my mom is willing to take his place!

Until my next adventure in Europe, I can look back on the past and cherish the memories I have already made as I excitedly plan on making some new ones in the near future 🙂

img_7528img_7532img_7695img_7618img_7692img_7619img_7634

I hope you all have a great Monday and a great week ahead of you! 🙂

Pictured Rocks, Michigan

Over Labor Day weekend, I visited Pictured Rocks in the Upper Penninsula with a good friend from home!  It was a long drive, but the incredible views were worth it! 

My Favorite Study Abroad Photos

The majority of my photos were taken from my Canon Rebel, but I still have some from my iPhone that I haven’t really shared! 

Here are my favorites in chronological order:







I didn’t have a smartphone last time I studied abroad, so I’m thankful I had one this time 🙂 

Askøy & Bergen, Norway (Part I)

Truth be told, I have been avoiding this post for a long time.  Norway was the second-to-last country I visited while abroad, and I have been home for a little more than two months now.  Things haven’t been the same upon my return; this post solidifies the idea of my big adventure being over.  I finally gained the courage to write about my time in Norway because I have to face reality.  Although the best chapter of my life is now closed, I know more opportunities will come!  I miss Europe, traveling, and my life abroad, but this drives my determination to find a job overseas even more!

IMG_7208IMG_7209

IMG_7211
My view for two weeks!

I left Kalmar, Sweden extremely saddened; I was leaving not only the best part of my life behind, but also several new friends from around the globe!  However, with that said, I knew that my two-week stay in Norway would be a great transition into my normal life back in Michigan.

I visited Norway for two main reasons: 1. It has always been my “dream country” and 2. While my mom was in high school, her family hosted a Norwegian exchange student!  His name is Kjell and I was FINALLY able to meet him and his (entire) family!  It was such an incredible experience to meet a family I have been connected to through my mom’s stories, letters back and forth, and a montage of photos and Christmas cards over the years.

When Kjell and his daughter, Martine picked me up from the airport, I instantly felt at home.  I remember walking with my heavy backpack down this long flight of stairs to pick up my luggage, and as I looked down I could see them waving up at me with Norwegian flags (was it THAT obvious I was an American?)!  My heart was full in that moment.

IMG_7212
Norway’s islands are connected by several bridges 

Kjell and his family live on the beautiful island of  Askøy, which is about a half-hour (not even) from Bergen.  It was a surreal feeling to drive Kjell’s boat to Bergen and several other small islands in the area.

When I travel, I often find parallels between cities I have been to.  Oddly, I found similarities between the countryside of Southern France and the route to the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland.  I cannot compare Bergen to anywhere else; it is truly one of a kind…just like my time in this beautiful country.

The first few days of my new adventure consisted of visiting mainly Bergen, and you know, the typical tourist-y stuff.  Although I try to avoid cliche attractions and events, there are exceptions.  I had to visit Bergen’s famous fish market and visit the highest point of the city!  The market didn’t smell the greatest, but the taste of the fresh fish from the North Sea made up for it.

IMG_7220
How could I miss this view?!

With Martine and Kjell, I was able to take the Ulriken cable car to the top of Mount Ulriken.  Because of all the islands and mountains in this part of Norway, the Ulriken wasn’t the only cable car/ski lift I traveled on.

The city of Bergen itself has a rich viking history, something Kjell takes much pride in.  During my first visit to Bergen, Norwegian royalty were near Parliament and university buildings.  Kjell is a police officer in Bergen and Askøy, so he was hoping we would have a better chance of seeing the royalty if he was talking with his friends and coworkers!  It was a good strategy, but unfortunately I didn’t meet a prince or anyone close.

IMG_7222
Courtyard in Bergen
IMG_7226
Traditional, iconic wooden homes (Bryggen)

I would have to say that my favorite thing about Bergen (aside from the food and people) are the Bryggen that greet you as you ride into the city by ferry or boat.  Inside the wooden buildings, there is a famous nightclub and also a traditional Christmas shop.  I live near Frankenmuth, Michigan (a faux-German town with a world-famous Christmas shop), and I was impressed with the Julehuset in Bergen!

My boat rides with Kjell were some of my most cherished memories of my time in Norway; I was able to learn more about Norway, his family, and even my own family through Kjell’s stories.

IMG_7246

IMG_7248
Historic cruise ship boarding near the Bryggen

I will be sure to share more stories and photos in other blog posts!  This is only a mere sample of my Norwegian adventure.

 

 

Adventures in Edinburgh, Scotland

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

IMG_6574

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.

IMG_6597

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.

IMG_6594IMG_6606IMG_6608

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!

IMG_6653IMG_6654IMG_6655

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.

IMG_6669

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!

IMG_6678

IMG_6689

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!

IMG_6703

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!

IMG_6711

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!

IMG_6722

IMG_6734IMG_6735IMG_6736IMG_6737IMG_6738IMG_6739IMG_6740

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.).

IMG_6823

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.

IMG_6044

IMG_6063

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.

IMG_6064

IMG_6067

IMG_6081

IMG_6122

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

IMG_6134

IMG_6136

IMG_6139

IMG_6155

IMG_6174

IMG_6195

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