Sunday, January 5, 2014

2013 in Review

It’s no secret that 2013 has been a great year for me. I would definitely say it’s been the best year of my life, in fact! So to say goodbye to 2013, I wanted to do a little recap post and choose one picture from each month that represents what I was up to. Let me tell you, it was hard to choose just one picture for most of these months. 

On January 1st, I still thought that I was going to be at BYU for winter semester. On January 2nd, we convinced Dad to buy tickets for the Packers playoff game against the Vikings at Lambeau. It was one of the most awesome, fun nights of my life! On January 3rd, (don’t worry I will not recap all 365 days of the year like this haha), Jenna and I flew to Utah. 

I didn’t actually need any more credits for my degree, but I was enrolled as a full-time student just to be eligible to do the Jerusalem Center program. Less than two weeks into the semester, I got permission from the Jerusalem program to take the semester off. Even though I was taking fun classes and living with my great friends in the French house, within a few hours I decided to drop out and come home. I was so READY to be done with school and spend some time in Wisconsin. Mom flew out to help me drive home and that was that!

So February is NOT one of the months where I had a lot of pictures to choose from. I was pretty lazy, but I really enjoyed it. The most exciting thing I did was enroll to audit a Hebrew class at UWM. It was fun to experience a little bit of another university, take the bus to Milwaukee a few times a week, and take a Hebrew class where everyone else was actually Jewish instead of Mormon haha. And I had to keep up my Hebrew skills before going to Israel, of course! But this picture represents what I did with most of my time: hang out with my dog at home :)

March was pretty much like February. Pretty lazy. Some things I loved doing were Zumba classes and helping out in nursery at church. My main occupation was frantically shopping for Jerusalem Center-approved modest (basically Amish) clothes that I was actually willing to put on my body. This seemed like a chore at the time, but when I go shopping now I actually miss the challenge. This picture is from the famous Milwaukee Public Museum, where I went with my mom to start saying goodbye to my city!

The main excitement in April was heading to Utah for my GRADUATION ceremony. I didn’t officially graduate until August (delayed it for the study abroad...), but it still felt like a big deal! My parents came out with me for the ceremony, and it was really fun to get to see Jenna and have a last family week together before I left for the summer. I also got to hang out with Olimpia and some extended family and have a little graduation party (that included Culvers’ custard- obviously).

May 1st was my first full day in Jerusalem! It was so exciting to finally get there and see the city for the first time. It was kind of an adjustment to be in classes again after a long break, but I managed. May was all about figuring out my way around Jerusalem. Towards the end of the month we went on an great trip to Turkey! I saw some of the most amazing things in the world there (Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Grand Bazaar, Bosporus Straits, Ephesus, Pergamum...). The picture below is from the Blue Mosque, if you can’t tell from the headscarf. I also turned 24 in Turkey! Unfortunately, most of my birthday was spent on a confined bus with people constantly singing ‘Happy Birthday’ really loudly...but hey- it still sounds cool to say I turned 24 in Turkey.

June was when I really started getting to know Jerusalem. It seemed like our professors were trying to keep us too busy with homework to have fun, but I went to the city and had as much fun as I could. I even got to swim in both the Red Sea (in Eilat) and the Mediterranean (in Tel Aviv) in June. Here’s a picture at the most iconic place in Jerusalem: Dome of the Rock.

July included trips to Jordan (my 10th country!), Bethlehem, and the Galilee. I got really tan from my Jordan sunburn. And even better, I got to see Petra, definitely one of coolest and most unique places on earth. We spent 10 days in Galilee at the end on the month, which was pretty relaxing despite including a lot of field trips to a lot of ancient ruins. Here’s me at the Jordan River.

The first half of August was spent running around Jerusalem trying to do everything we hadn’t done yet as well as all of our favorite things we wanted to do again. And we had to finish all of souvenir shopping, of course! I bought a burqa. No big deal. I was sad to say goodbye to some great friends from the Jerusalem Center, but happy to finish college (for real), and lucky to get to have my dad come pick me at the end of the program! I loved showing him around Jerusalem! Here’s a picture from my last night at the JC- goodbye, beautiful view!

I spent most of September back in good old Wisconsin enjoying my family and puppy and temperatures that were lower than 100 degrees. But soon enough, it was time to start packing again for my next adventure. On September 22nd, my mom and I flew to France. We spent 4 days in Paris before heading to my new city of Strasbourg to start getting settled in. I was so happy to finally be back in Paris after 3.5 years, but I must say that it wasn’t my best trip to Paris because I was a little stressed about moving to a foreign country! I did still have some fun though. It’s probably impossible not to have at least some fun in a place that’s so beautiful.

My new job teaching English started on October 1st. By the end of October, I was mostly settled into my French life and the initial stress went away. The best part of October was that after 2 weeks of work, we had a 2 week break from work...and I got to go to Italy! I loved seeing Rome with Olimpia (Vatican! Colosseum!), Florence by myself (Duomo! David! Uffizi), and Siena and Pisa with Jenna. Honestly, the Italian gnocchi was almost worth the trip by itself. This is a view of the Vatican from Castel Sant'Angelo.

In November, I spent most of my time planning and teaching my classes. I went on day trips to Luxembourg and Stuttgart. I loved watching the progress of the Christmas decorations all month, and I did lots of sightseeing around Strasbourg. Since I spent most of my time in Strasbourg this month, I’m going to cheat and post this picture from the first week of December because I don’t have one of myself from this month. 

December started out with a visit from Jenna and a weekend trip to Paris. I got to rediscover my love of Paris because there was no stress involved this time. A few weeks later, Olimpia visited as well! I loved shopping at the Christmas markets all month and seeing the beautiful lights. Then, I was lucky enough to get to go home for Christmas. I had a perfect 2 weeks at home. Gotta love Wisconsin snow.

And that’s my 2013! That was a lot longer than I planned on this being... It’s because I’m on the plane back to France right now and and I’m bored out of my mind. Oh well. Happy New Year, everyone! Bonne annĂ©e!

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