Dutch Tulips with Mom and Dad

Have you ever been to the Netherlands? I have been twice before, but this time was extra special. My parents picked me up in Münster and whisked me off to the tulip fields across the border. I don’t have a particularly green thumb (re: black) but I can appreciate gorgeous flowers as much as the next person. And man, these flowers inspired me to plant my own! These photos were taken at the Keukenhof garden, which is basically Disneyland for flowers. I was awe-struck and couldn’t help saying “Look at that, Mom!” around every corner. Below are a few photos if you’d like to see.Dad thoroughly enjoying the tulips…All in all, an inspiring visit! I’m off to purchase gardening supplies…

Goodbye Germany! (for real this time)

img_3080If you scroll through the archives of this blog, you will see several posts with titles similar to this one. I think I’ve said goodbye to Germany at least four times without knowing if or when I would return. But each time I knew I wanted to return, so I pushed to make it happen: I connected with a family to work as an Au Pair, I found an internship, I applied for a Fulbright and then a graduate program. I knocked on doors (or kicked down doors) to get myself back across the pond. I have not one, not two, but three visas from the German government. They’re probably like “Really, this girl again?!”

I say all this to show what a big role Germany has played in my formative years. I grew up a lot here. This country has taught me so much, and for that I am forever grateful. I have friends here who I know will always welcome me with open arms and host me on their sofas when I visit.

But I feel so much peace about saying goodbye. Once I made the decision to leave, I’ve felt zero regret or doubt. This time I am saying goodbye without the intention of finding my way back. Sure, I’m young and who knows where life will take me, but I am thrilled to live near family and friends in my home culture. I can’t wait to start my career and make friend and call people in the same time zone.

So goodbye, Germany (for real this time!). You have been true to me and of me. Thank you for everything.

 

How I Met My Boyfriend

dba90e31-5112-4655-b0f7-480512fb0cefFor some reason, I really enjoy hearing about how people met. Like, it brings me an absurd amount of joy.

So, dear reader, I will recount for you how I met my boyfriend, Trey. This is partly for your enjoyment and partly so I don’t forget any of the details!

I had just finished my Fulbright and was living with my parents in Fort Worth for the summer. I had was waiting to hear whether or not I had been accepted to the graduate program I’d applied to. Since Fort Worth is not where I grew up, I didn’t have any many friends there. I decided to download an online dating app mostly just to laugh at the Texan cowboys’ profile pictures with their camouflage outfits holding a fish they’d recently caught. I’m an LA snob, I know.

I went on one date that was mediocre. Then I swiped upon Trey’s profile. He was cute. I liked his glasses. He went to Baylor University, where my little brother currently goes. I messaged him something casual: Hey, my brother goes to Baylor.

Genius.

He wrote back and we ended up discovering that we’d both taught English abroad– him Spain, her Germany. We decided to meet up a few days later (jokingly at a German/Spanish fusion place).

We met at a cafe called Black Walnut. It was a nice place, but casual. I was so nervous I changed my shoes two times in the car!

The first few minutes were a bit awkward as is usual with online dating, but soon we got into discussing our mutual childhoods in the church, funny youth group culture, teaching abroad, going to small christian liberal arts colleges, having two siblings, and so much more. We had a lot in common…

The date was off to a great start but we were done with our food. So we decided to continue at a local coffee shop. We drove over there, ordered and sat down. After about five minutes, I see a woman walk past and I say, “That’s my mom.”

Yes, my mom had accidentally wondered into our first date!

She was so embarrassed haha. She drank her drink in the corner and left ASAP like a trooper. Luckily Trey thought it was funny and not too creepy.

My house wasn’t far from the coffee shop so Trey walked me home afterwards. It was sweltering Texan heat, and the poor kid had to walk back to his car drenched in sweat. The things we do for love!

We decided to go out again later that week and I said goodbye. On the other side of the door I remember smiling and thinking, That was the best first date of my life.

It was. And every date since has only been better 🙂

The Greek Island of Aegina

6E2C030B-91C2-47AB-A56C-F70F42DD41DC.jpg9C601C4B-5003-452B-8216-C268340620EF.jpgB6B0EB3A-9910-4E5C-8021-0CBD0471BFF1.jpgA6CC1EE9-2790-4DB2-A1DB-7256C3441FF4.jpg09D7BDEA-BCD0-4C86-9AD4-D6AC8A77CC89.jpg0108655D-3885-4D81-88BD-28F370C8FF00.jpgIsn’t it dreamy? It’s a 40 minute ferry ride from Athens that I just couldn’t pass up. If you are in Athens I would definitely recommend this day trip. It was pretty affordable and the ferry ride itself was also beautiful. I felt like I was the character Lena from The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants! The water was gorgeous and the atmosphere was relaxed. I think I could get used to island life ;p

Israel!

When my friend Jessica asked in November if I wanted to go to Jerusalem, I took a moment to think about it. I had never been anywhere in the Middle East. I am comfortable with Europe, but this would be something new entirely. Having grown up in church in Los Angeles, I knew all the Bible stories by heart and remember studying the map of Israel in my Bible when I was (bored) in church. How could I say no when I was only a short flight away? So off we went.

First of all, Jerusalem was so much greener than I imagined. Hilly and rocky, with yellow wild flowers and tall, skinny trees. The city is built out of creamy limestone. The old city has four quarters: jewish, christian, muslim and Armenian. We went on some walking tours to get more information, which was helpful! It struck me as a city full of contradictions- a devout jewish man praying for peace at the Western Wall right next to a an Israeli soldier with a machine gun. I was taken by the complexity of the milieu.

One day we did a bus tour into the Judean desert. We climbed the mountain to the fortress of Masada, which was built by king Herod the Great as a military look out and retreat of sorts. Then we went to the Oasis park called Ein Gedi. It had beautiful waterfalls and gentle rivers. I think I finally understand the concept of a desert oasis! But my favorite part was swimming in the Dead Sea, which is HUGE! I thought it would be a little lake. The mud is good for the skin, so of course we covered ourselves in it! The water stung a little bit because it is so salty, but it was fun to lean back and float effortlessly.

We also went on a tour of the tunnels under the city built by King Hezekiah. Its so funny: the tour guide was asking all these questions about jewish history and I knew the answers automatically- buried deep from years of Vacation Bible School I guess! She was like “How old was king Solomon when he was crowned?” and I blurted out “12!” No idea where that came from haha!

I was fascinated with how the jewish religion emphases outward expressions of faith (clothing, behavior, hair, food, etc.). This is so different than the ways we are taught to express faith at home in America, which is more internal. I loved seeing an entire city (or section of the city) on the same page, with religion at the center.

Overall, it was a wonderful experience. I’m so glad I went and would definitely recommend it. Enjoy the photos below!

The long hike up to Masada was worth it for this view!The Dead Sea!Israelis sure know how to cater to white western protestants hahaThe Dome of the Rock was gorgeous! We couldn’t go inside because we are not muslim but it was stunning!

Athens, Greece

Isn’t Greece just gorgeous?! I am spending a few days here with my girl Jessica before flying back to Germany for a few weeks and then to America in April. I am soaking up the sunshine like an addict haha! Hope you enjoyed the photos 🙂