Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Neglected

On blogger you can see how many people read each blog post you write, so when I get bored sometimes I check this out. Well, I haven't exactly had a lot to do lately...so I made this list of my Top 10 most neglected blog posts for anyone who's interested!

Christmas in Strasbourg
Strasbourg calls itself the 'Capital of Christmas' because they go ALL OUT with decorations and Christmas markets all over the city. So this post includes all of my cute pictures of Strasbourg looking like a winter wonderland. 


Lyon with Olimpia
One of my most fun days in France was when I took a train down south to Lyon to meet up with my favorite travel buddy, Olimpia. Lyon is a beautiful city, so I have lots of lovely pictures!



Siena with Jenna

It was amazing to get to visit la mia sorella during her study abroad in Italy! She showed me all around this beautiful medieval city, and we did things like celebrate Halloween and eat lots of pizza together.


Bonjour Strasbourg
It's fun to look back at my first impressions of the city where I lived all year! This post has all of my best pictures of Strasbourg. And Strasbourg is so cute; so these are good pictures.


Old City with Dad
It was so fun to get to show my dad around Jerusalem! This was my LAST day in Jerusalem, and I took Dad to some of the main sites in the Old City on this day. There's some pretty views of Jerusalem in this post; because we walked around on the Old City ramparts. This post also documents the time when me and dad went shopping together...which was definitely a momentous occasion.


Dead Sea

I got to float in the Dead Sea! How awesome is that? This was one of our last field trips. We also went to Qumran, where they found the Dead Sea Scrolls...and Masada, the last Jewish fortress to fall during the revolt against Rome.


Last Sightseeing
This post is a combination of a lot of sites we saw during our last weeks in Jerusalem. Including Mount Herzl, the Mount of Olives, and more...



A Castle and a Civil War Zone

This was our field trip of sites north of the Sea of Galilee. My favorite part was going to ruins of a Crusader castle, and the most interesting part was going right up to the Syrian border, where there had been a big battle just a few weeks earlier. I even got to hang out in some Israeli bunkers.


Sea of Galilee
This was the field trip where we visited the main places where Jesus completed his ministry. Another highlight included a boat ride across the Sea of Galilee itself!


Petra, Jordan
This is my least read blog post, but it's hands down one of the COOLEST places in the world. And I tell stories about how I actually went hiking, and then later how our bus broke down in the Jordanian desert. Exciting stuff.


So...if you're looking for something to do...read away!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Birthdays Abroad

As of last week, I've had 25 birthdays! All but 2 of those birthdays have been celebrated in good old Wisconsin. Last year was one of those unique birthdays- I turned 24 in Turkey! And a few years ago, I turned 21 in Barcelona.

I've been reminiscing about the interesting birthday that I had last May, so I thought I would do some reminiscing about my two international birthdays here on my blog.

On my 21st birthday, I was about halfway through my study abroad in Paris. The weekend of my birthday just happened to be our one free travel weekend when we were allowed to leave France. So before we left Provo, a small group of us had already booked a trip to Spain for that weekend. The day before my birthday, I flew to Barcelona with 4 other BYU students!

Right away when we got to Spain, it was a nice change of pace from Paris. Barcelona and Paris are night and day different from each other. Barcelona is cool and modern, and it's on the Mediterranean...and Paris is beautiful and full of history, but the people are not the nicest haha. In Spain people were very nice and helpful, and no one cared that we didn't speak Spanish.

On the lovely day of May 21st, 2010, we started off our day by getting distracted by a park that was near our hostel (Oh yeah, that was the bad part about this trip...I stayed in a hostel. And it was gross and I won't do that again).


Yep, looks like all the way back in 2010 I was taking my 'travel dance' pictures. The main thing we did that day was visit Gaudi's unfinished masterpiece...the Sagrada Familia.


Even though it's still under construction, it's one of the most amazing places I've ever been. And that still holds true after all of my recent travels.

For a lot of the day, we rode around in a double decker tour bus to see more of the city.


We also did a little Spanish shopping. My favorite store- ZARA- happens to be Spanish, and if I remember right we went to two different Zaras on this day because we kept seeing them all over.

For dinner, the people in my group were nice enough to find an Italian restaurant! Because that's probably the safest bet for me as a picky eater to find something I like :) For dessert we went back to the restaurant we'd been to the night before because we were obsessed with their chocolate truffle dessert called 'El Pecado'- 'sin'. Because it was that good.

As you can tell, it was a pretty amazing birthday! It was a little weird to be away from home, but I was completely having the time of my life in Paris, and this little getaway weekend made it even better. Also, I really liked joking that Paris was too mundane for my birthday which is why I had to fly to Spain for a few days haha.

Annnnnnnd just last year I got to make that same joke! Jerusalem was getting too boring, so I had to spend the week in Turkey to celebrate my birthday.

I already wrote about my Turkish birthday here. But if you want to know my true feelings about this birthday, then keep reading this. Now that some time has passed I can share how I really felt about this day...maybe this will be cathartic and I can let go of the bitterness haha.

So. Here's what we did on May 21st, 2013.
1. Visited a WWI battle memorial site (Gallipoli) on the Aegean Sea.



2. Visited the ruins of Troy.



And here's the reality.
1. After several hours on a bus (where 40 people were kind enough to loudly sing me 'Happy Birthday' not once, but twice), we sat outside in the hot sun for over an hour while our Turkish guide talked about a WWI battle that I don't care about. There isn't actually anything to see at the battle site. My shoes become full of sand for the rest of the day.
2. We have a strange lunch and I don't eat anything except for a piece of bread. I am handed an envelope full of 'nice notes' from everyone on the study abroad. Most people's say something like "You're the sweetest person I've ever met. I'm so blessed to know you." Have these people met me? Oh, and then all 80+ people in our group decide to sing to me yet again at the restaurant. In public. Although I begged them not to.
3. We spend approximately 6 more hours on the bus together. Most of these people think it's fun to have sing-a-longs during this time.
4. We arrive in Troy. It sounds cool, but there's actually NOTHING there except for a handful of rocks and a Trojan horse replica for children (and BYU students) to play in. Our tour guide has plenty to say however. We stand around for a few hours in the heat and I think I eventually just take out my headphones and give up listening.
5. I am so relieved to finally get to the hotel and chill out by myself, because if you can't tell...I am NOT feeling like a little ray of sunshine by this point. Unfortunately, I happened to be rooming with my least favorite person on the study abroad. We didn't get to choose our roommates.... She screams at me for a while and badgers me to come to dinner immediately because everyone is waiting to sing to me again. 
6. After getting to video chat with my mom (that was needed!), I eventually come to dinner, where I thankfully avoided being sung to in public yet again. Oh, they still sang, though. My friend just convinced them that they could sing without me there*. I eat another piece of bread for dinner (weird Turkish food again!) and shut myself up in the hotel room.

So that was the drama queen version :)  You know, every day of this Turkey trip was absolutely incredible except for this day. I loved Turkey, but this just happened to be the day when we didn't do anything cool and almost everyone was annoying. Of course, my attitude didn't help either. And the fact that all I ate that day was 2 pieces of bread. If you can't tell, this was NOT my best birthday*.

Here's a birthday picture of me in 2010 and 2013. Do I look older?? And can you tell that's totally a fake smile in the 2013 picture?  ;)



This year, I had a great birthday!! I went with my mom to the Pleasant Prairie outlet mall in Kenosha. I had a wonderful shopping day, lunch at Culver's, my favorite dinner and birthday cake made by my mom, video chat with Dad and Jenna who weren't home, and great presents. A simple Wisconsin birthday turned out to be a million times better than an exotic Turkish birthday.



I'm loving being home! I'll celebrate my birthday next year in Israel, so we'll see if that ends up being a Barcelona kind of birthday or a Turkey kind of birthday. :)  I should be getting old enough to stop caring about birthdays soon too, so maybe that will help.

And I already posted this on Facebook, but here's the album I made (in collage form) with one picture from every year. It's fun to see them all next to each other.


*Don't worry, I didn't miss out too much! A few days later when we were back at the Jerusalem Center, I was forced out of my bedroom to be sung to yet again :) Don't ask me why.
*I can't write this post without mentioning my friend Lauren's birthday that was a little later in the summer because it was totally worse than mine. She had to take a final exam, and by the time we got out to the city everything was closing for Shabbat. She bought a nightgown at one of the stores that wasn't closed. And then we went back to the JC. Poor Lauren.

Friday, May 2, 2014

French Fashion

Hey look, my blog looks different! The new picture at the top is Haifa- where I'll be living next year. Seems like I'll be getting a little more sun than I did in Strasbourg :)

The clothes people wore in Jerusalem were pretty much endlessly fascinating, so I wrote a post about that (including all of my stalker pictures) a few months ago. I thought it just wouldn't be fair if I didn't do the same thing about what people wore in France.

Of course, it's not quite as interesting...because you don't see any of this:



You do, however, see A LOT of this.


Actually, as many as 10% of French people are Muslim, so you see Muslims all the time, every day! And it was pretty rare to go a day without hearing some Arabic in Strasbourg.

But since I already covered Muslim fashion here, let me move on to les Français. I wasn't planning on doing this in France, but when I saw this outfit I had to take a picture of it.



Please enjoy how big the scarf is, and the fact that there's leopard-print on his pockets. He was working it.

So after seeing that, I took pictures of people occasionally and I tried to capture the kinds of styles I saw a lot in France. Usually this happened when I was bored waiting at the train station.

I'll start with the men, because I am completely fascinated with the way they're obsessed with scarves. I feel like the concept of men wearing scarves as a fashion accessory doesn't exist in the U.S. Thankfully. Haha. 

From what I've observed, in France men accessorizing with scarves is something that no one would bat an eyelid at. Except for me, clearly.


Ok, the zoom on my phone is really good. I wasn't that close to this person haha.



I was especially entertained when I saw men wearing paisley scarves (which happened fairly often). I didn't get a great picture of that phenomenon, but in these next 2 pictures guys were rocking the paisley.



Another thing I noticed was that they usually make an effort to wear nice shoes.

Scarf+cigarette+shiny shoes =French


I spy pointy toe shoes on the guy on the right!


This was a guy sitting next to me on the train, and I think I almost might actually wear these haha. 


This next picture exhibits two more French man trends. The guy (yes that's a guy) on the left has a purse and skinny skinny jeans.


I'm so sad I didn't get a better picture of this next guy, because he had a scarf+a purse+leather skinny jeans. But he was walking too fast for me to stalk him properly.


This last picture is my crowning achievement, because it includes every single thing that I saw French men wear that didn't look American. Purple scarf+purse+skinny jeans tucked into shiny ankle boots.


Not everyone dressed like this...but a lot of people did. 

I don't have any pictures of my students, but I have this screen shot from a video of them singing Christmas songs in English. That's an excellent video, by the way! Maybe I'll post it sometime. It's so painfully awkward but their accents are so cute.


This picture documents the 'American flag' shirt trend. Every day at least one of my students was wearing one.

So I guess now I'll move on to the French girls! The way they dress wasn't as different from Americans, but they did generally dress a little fancier. One of my favorite things about France is that girls don't walk around in t-shirts, sweatshirts, or sweatpants. My kind of people haha. And it wasn't weird to just wear dresses and heels in normal life.


Everything she was wearing was expensive. I could sense it.



You know I love a good hair flower!


If I had to describe the typical 'French girl' uniform it would be a scarf (yes, the girls love scarves too), and a dress with tights or skinny jeans/leggings with ankle boots. Everyone seemed to be obsessed with ankle boots. I may have bought a few pairs myself. I mean, I had to experience French culture, right?

So maybe now you have a slightly better idea of what French people look like. You can get that image of a guy with a mustache, a beret, and a striped shirt out of your head. Despite the guys wearing girly outfits occasionally, I would say that France is the 'best-dressed' country that I've ever been to. They just seem to put a lot of effort into what they wear. 

And the shopping there. No words.