Our Ulpan is over, and about twenty of us are on a four-day excursion to Tel Aviv for our short break, which includes Purim. As the basic formula for Jewish holidays goes: Someone tried to kill the Jews; By some unlikely luck or resilience, the Jews are not dead; Let's celebrate! Purim is the epitome of this concept and the celebrations in Tel Aviv are across the board. A group of Hassidim dance in circles, little kids dress up as fruit and zombies, and the streets are filled with DJs, music and people of all ages roaming around. Day and night. ...continue reading "Purim"
One of the best parts of this experience has been living in a homestay. My homestay consists of a mother, father, and son. They have been beyond amazing and have welcomed me into their home.
-Chilo: Is my “tico” father. He is honestly one of the sweetest people I have ever met. He is pretty famous in Monteverde for being friendly and knowing everybody. He makes his living from selling lottery tickets. He used to make shoes from scratch until he hurt his back. He showed me a pair of shoes his and they are gorgeous. The other night he taught me how to make cheese. He milked the cow himself!!!! Then he brought home the milk and took me through the whole process of how to make cheese. He promised me that he will teach me how to milk a cow before I leave. ...continue reading "Familia Tica"
For the past week, I have been traveling through Morocco on a southern excursion with my program. The trip has taken us from the coast of Rabat to the cedar forests of the Middle Atlas Mountains, through the first dunes of the Saharan Desert, west through the High Atlas Mountains, and back up to the beaches of Essaouira. There have been so many highlights of the excursion that it is almost impossible to name my favorite part. However, the purpose behind the trip, visiting NGOs and associations dedicated to the education and well-being of women and children in rural areas, has been both interesting and enlightening. ...continue reading "Cookies and Cooperatives"
While Paris has decided it's not quite ready for the spring and would like to throw the entire populace off by once again snowing 2cm, I am determined to begin spending time outdoors and sightseeing as though the Champs Elysee weren't covered with slush. While I am determined to fully experiences Paris' greatest gardens and monuments in the spring when they're slightly more impressive and slightly less grey, it seems that this won't be for some time so I have to get a head start. Thanks to time spent with my fabulous aunts who happened to visit the city this week (yes I do mean Paris, not New York) I thoroughly explored L'Orangerie, the catacombs, and some of the less-touristy and more-delicious arrondissements. With my program, I was able to visit Chateau Fontainbleue - one of the oldest in France - and take a walk through the surrounding village. Aside from the food which was quite fresh, this week has been an exploration of Paris' past. I'm a bit saddened to see what has changed in the city over the years, but more impressed to learn what has stayed the same. I love living in a city with entire blocks that were built around the time of America's founding, and have a deeper appreciation (literally) for what it takes to keep such an urban center thriving for hundreds of years. ...continue reading "Civilization has a natural resistance to improving itself"
I can't believe I leave for spring break at the end of this week! It really does not feel like I have been in Firenze for that long. I came on the this trip to become a better artist, student, and person and I think I have grown since I been here. It really saddens me to know that my time here is halfway over. I do not have any cool or interesting stories this week seeing as I am still very sick. ...continue reading "Spitish"
I’ve finally figured out what GW does with all of our tuition money- it’s spent on study abroad programs. We live like kings and queens here in Spain. I had this epiphany last weekend during our trip to Barcelona. The trip, which was included in our program, was amazing. We traveled from Madrid to Barcelona on a high-speed train (a welcomed change from the buses I am accustomed to taking) and stayed in a hotel near the beach. Unfortunately, it was a bit too cold to spend time on the beach, but nonetheless, it was a nice area to be in. The first day, after a bus tour of the city, which I’ll admit I was too sleepy to pay any attention to, we ate lunch at a beautiful restaurant. When we asked if the place was nice our program director responded, “You know I take care of you guys, right? Don’t you notice that as we walk down the pier the restaurants get nicer and nicer?” When we were close to the end of the pier we entered into the restaurant. We sat at a table next to the glass wall which showed the gorgeous view of the city and the water. The waiters must’ve brought out about 10 courses. We all felt extremely fancy. ...continue reading "Where All the Money Goes"
When preparing to come to Costa Rica I was told that I would be eating a whole lot of arroz y frijoles (rice and beans). I figured this meant that I would be eating it once a day. What I did not grasp is that in Costa Rica arroz y frijoles is the staple of every single meal. Occasionally there is a breakfast without rice and beans, but that is a rarity. There are two main dishes that make up the majority of Costa Rican cuisine. The first is gallo pinto for breakfast. Gallo pinto consists of a mix of rice and beans as well as a fried egg. The second dish is casado. Casado can be for either lunch or dinner. It consists of a serving of rice and a serving of beans, separately. That is coupled with red meat or chicken. I eat casado at least once a day, usually twice. ...continue reading "Comidia Tipica"
I got my leather jacket this week. I finally feel like I am officially in Italy. Not the fact that I've been here for over a month, nor the fact that I've consumed half my body weight in pasta. The leather jacket is the essential piece of the Italians' wardrobe. It's perfect for the brisk yet sunny days and the chilly but still ever eventful night life. I went to Massimo (the leather genie) over a week ago to buy my jacket. After I tried on half the store he found me the perfect black cross body leather jacket. Only problem was the sleeves were too short for my freakishly long arms. So what did Massimo the leather king do? He calls up the factory to create the same jacket but with longer sleeves! So yes I got my jacket custom tailored so the wait was worth it. I of course wore it the entire weekend....even though it was a tad too cold for it but of course I did not care. What was the price I paid for my negligence? Well I am sick, again, for the third time in two months. I think there is something seriously wrong with my immune system. I can't breathe through my nose and my throat is on fire but none of that matters because I look great and Italian in my leather jacket!
I’m convinced that I found the place where every fairy tale is set. My friends and I took an overnight bus from Madrid to Seville a week ago and spent most of the weekend in the picturesque city. Immediately after getting off the bus at 7 am we were mesmerized. Seville is located in the region of Andalucía, in southern Spain. All of the houses look like dollhouses and there is even a castle and a beautiful cathedral (the third biggest cathedral in Europe and the home of the tomb of Christopher Columbus). The streets are filled with thousands of orange trees and in the main plazas there are many horses and carriages which offer rides around the city. The weather was beautiful (over 60°F and incredibly sunny) and the branches of the orange trees were heavy with fruit. On a walking tour of the city, the guide explained to us that once upon a time there was a queen who lived in Seville who was from the mountains in the north of Spain. She loved Seville but missed the snow that was typical of her former home. The king had orange trees planted around the city, and when the trees began to blossom, the streets became covered with the white petals, just like snow. ...continue reading "A Spanish Fairytale"