an afternoon in Austin

img_2686Yesterday my little brother and I drove down to Austin to explore! It is the capital of Texas, something you can’t miss because the giant capital building is smack dab in the center of downtown. Congress Street leads up to its steps, and is lined with the cutest shops and restaurants you ever did see. Austin has very hip, chill vibes and I couldn’t get enough! Below are a few photos if you care to take a gander.img_2562img_2571img_2578img_2588img_2594img_2597^Inside the State Capital building. It is so beautifully designed, I was in awe!img_2609img_2611img_2622img_2632img_2646img_2647^A few trees hung on to their fall colors!img_2654img_2670img_2679^The Colorado river runs through the city center, and is spanned by several bridges. Fun fact: hundreds of thousands of bats live under the bridge during certain times of the year.img_2687img_2747^EP dropping soon…img_2755img_2760img_2763img_2765img_2781We went to the Hope Outdoor Gallery, where graffiti artists can have a hay day!img_2786img_2794^Lastly we stopped by a famous park in Austin where the popular music festival Austin City Limits is held each summer.

I would definitely recommend a trip if you’re in the area 🙂

My First Time Voting!

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I voted for the first time today, and the significance is not lost on me. How lucky are we to live in a country where we have the power to choose who leads us? In January, the most powerful country in the world will peacefully transfer power from one person to the next, no violence necessary. That is unprecedented in most of history. This election has been particularly divisive, but at the end of the day we should all be grateful to call ourselves Americans. No matter how far apart we stand on certain issues, surely we can unite in our love of democracy and respect for the office of president.

Get out there and exercise your hard-won right! Stay strong, be kind, celebrate this historic moment.

Life State-Side

IMG_4769And just like that, I’m back to life state-side.

I don’t quite know what to say. My brain is still fuzzy from jet-lag and German words keep popping up uninvited in my english sentences. Americans seem foreign and confusing in some ways, yet totally familiar and comforting in others. I moved straight into my house at school and hit the ground running with training for my job at the school newspaper and other fun preparatory stuff. It feel strange to be a senior. I see the bright-eyed, fuzzy tailed freshman wandering around campus and just feel plain old. But it is nice to already know what I’m doing and who my established friends are.

Here’s hoping it’s a great semester!

A Happy List

IMG_8030.jpgHello friends, how have you been? I hope this Sunday morning post finds you well. How have I been, you ask? Well, I am a bit exhausted. I have been rushing for a sorority the past four days, and I find out the final results tomorrow. It has been a fun but draining process, so I thought I’d whip up a little happy list to keep my spirits high and remind me of all the wonderful details in life that I often don’t take time to properly appreciate.

1. The golden sunlight in the hours just before sunset.
2. Brunch! I want to start a Brunch Club, anyone interested?
3. Scrolling through old photos that fill me with happy memories.
4. Writing for the sake of it.
5. Discovering new tunes to jam to in the car.
6. Brushing up on my guitar skills.
7. Bing-listening to podcasts.
8. Grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s.
9. Finishing a project that’s been nagging you for ages.
10. Sending/receiving postcards.

Question of the Day
What is one thing that’s made you happy today?

My Word of the Year

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Recently I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about the idea of having a Word of the Year. A few bloggers I follow and podcasts I listen to have announced their word for 2015- that is, a ‘theme word’ to influence and inspire them this year. I decided I’d like to give this idea a try, so I chose a word that has held deep significance and meaning for my life in the past and hopefully will continue to in the future. And that word is (drum roll please)…
IMG_9279.JPGGentle.
I am striving to be a gentler person this year. Here are a few of my specific goals:

To be gentle with myself. Someone said to me the other day that the nicest people are often the meanest to themselves. That has always been true in my life. I am considered a generally nice person by most people, and I genuinely strive to be a positive influence. But I am So. Hard. On. Myself. I stay up at night over-analyzing everything I think I did wrong during the day and beating myself up over it, when chances are everyone else has already forgotten it or didn’t notice it in the first place! This year I want to treat myself with gentle kindness mentally and physically, which also means not spreading myself too thin or over exerting myself.

To show gentleness to others. I want to be gentle of speech, always thinking before I speak, and gentle in my actions, always aware of the way my decisions affect others. Of course you can’t put others first 100% of the time, but I will aim to be a considerate, thoughtful person as often as I can.

To find strength in my gentle spirit. I used to think my quiet, introverted personality was a detriment, that I didn’t fit in in this loud world and couldn’t make a difference. But with time I’ve come to appreciate my gentle disposition, and how it sets me a part in unique ways. Several people have called me a gentle spirit, a title I now wear proudly.IMG_9309.JPG
Question of the Day
Have you heard of this concept before? Will you choose a word of the year?

P.s. My post Amsterdam: A City Guide is currently featured on the travel blog Route Bliss if you’d like to see it!

A Lovely Labor Day

IMG_9094Hello lovely readers, how are you on this fine Tuesday? I am both relaxed and melancholy. Why, you ask? Relaxed because I had a fun, rejuvenating Labor day weekend, but melancholy because this holiday marks the end of summer in my mind. And this summer was one for the books. Although the weather in Southern California doesn’t change more than a few degrees, and the trees generally keep their green leaves, fall is undeniably in the air. School is back in full swing and life is settling into a consistent routine. Life takes on a faster pace, and my to-do list grows longer with each passing day. But if summer never ended, it would loose it’s magic. So as sad as it is to say goodbye, it was a good kind of sadness. I know summer will visit these parts again before we know it!
Keep scrolling for a  few photos of our summer send off.IMG_9142IMG_9137
My little brother visited me at school for the weekend. We went to an outdoor church, drank delicious coffee, and watched the sunset at El Matador beach. The waves were threateningly large, so we opted to stay on the sand, but the sunset did not disappoint! IMG_9120
^Aren’t little brothers just the best? Most of the time anyways…:pIMG_9116IMG_9096
Monday afternoon we drove to a family friend’s house for our annual Labor Day BBQ! I adore traditions, and this one is no exception. I always look forward to hanging by the pool, playing card games, and eating unhealthy amounts of food.Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 10.09.59 AM.png
^My little brother took most of these photos- is he talented or what?Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 10.10.11 AM.png
And so, dear Summer, I bit you adieu! You’ve been good to me. Until next time.

P.s.
Below I’ve complied a few of my favorite posts I’ve written this summer, I hope you enjoy rereading them as much as I did. Have a wonderful (short) week friends.
A Happy List
Why Children Make The Best Teachers
The ABC’s Of Hildesheim
What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?
A Happy (German) Birthday
Heidelberg Revisited
Amsterdam: A City Guide
Strawberry Picking
Aufwiedersehen Deutschland

Question of the Day
Do you have any Labor Day traditions?

A Happy List

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1. Fresh, crisp sheets.
2. Drinking coffee from my favorite mug.
3. Fascinating documentaries.
4. Saturdays with nothing on the calendar!
5. Evening hikes.
6. When someone’s passion/excitement for something rubs off on you!
7. Singing in the car alone at the top of your voice.
8. Surprise parties.
9. Back to school shopping (never too old!).
10. Moving furniture.
11. Sending/Receiving snail mail.
12. Getting new blog followers (that’s you *wink wink*)!
13. Binge watching Netflix.
14. Cooking a delicious meal from scratch!
15. Unexpected compliments.
16. Reunions with old friends.
17. Labor day. My family alway has a barbecue/swim party.
18. Starting a new book you just know is going to be good.
19. Making my bed (weird, I know).
20. Lounging on the sofa.

Question of the Day
What’s one little detail that made you happy today?

Seattle: A City Guide

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Howdy friends, how are ya’? Today I thought I’d share a little bit about my recent ‘Sibling Vacation’ to Seattle, Washington in the form of a city guide. Continue reading to pick up a few tips and tricks I garnered along the way that might help you in planning your next visit, sprinkled throughout some photos of this beautiful place. Enjoy!
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Why Seattle? If you love hipster, coffee, and striking sunsets, Seattle is the place for you! And honestly, who doesn’t love those things? Seattle has many apt nicknames: The Gateway to Alaska, Emerald City, Coffee Capital of the World, etc. No matter what you call it, one thing is true: Seattle is a place of arresting beauty. That, coupled with its fascinating history and range of outdoor activities, makes Seattle the perfect vacation destination! IMG_8577IMG_8574IMG_8546IMG_8550IMG_8571IMG_8545
Transportation My brother and I flew Southwest Airlines to Seattle Tacoma International Airport, which is located about 40 minutes outside the city center by car. Since we didn’t have a car, we took the Link LightRail into downtown Seattle, which only cost $4.00 for a regular ticket and is simple, fast, and clearly labeled. Plus, you skip the city traffic! Seattle has a great bus and street car system for easy transportation. My brother and I also utilized the ride service Uber.IMG_8192IMG_8203IMG_8227IMG_8218
Accommodations We stayed in an apartment through the website Airbnb, which I used frequently abroad in Europe but had never used in America until now! It was an ideal location downtown on the corner of First Street and University Street, walking distance to main attractions like Pike Place Market and the waterfront. Other great neighborhoods/areas to stay in include Pioneer Square, Westlake, and the area around the Space Needle.IMG_8649IMG_8632IMG_8491IMG_8484IMG_8477IMG_8458IMG_8423IMG_8362
What to Pack Seattle is notoriously rainy and unpredictable, but we were lucky enough to have 75 degree sunshine all three days of our trip, interrupted only by a small shower/thunderstorm one afternoon. July through September is when Seattle experiences the most predictably sunny weather, but I advise you to always pack an umbrella just in case! Oh, and comfy walking shoes never hurt either :pIMG_8369IMG_8352IMG_8347IMG_8340IMG_8336IMG_8332IMG_8322IMG_8320IMG_8317IMG_8316
Must See Spots
1. Gasworks Park-
This park, situated on the north shore of Lake Union, is on the site of a former Gas Works company, and still contains remnants of the factory structures. It offers stunning views of the Seattle sky line as well as Mount Rainier on clear days.
2. Pike Place Market– Opened in 1907, Pike Place is an iconic part of Seattle, and a must see spot for any tourist. It is the oldest continually operating farmers market in the U.S., and is particularly known for its delicious fish and colorful flowers.
3. Bainbridge Island- If you have a bit of time one day, hop on a ferry out to Bainbridge Island, thirty minutes off the coast of Seattle. We took the ferry around seven p.m. and saw the sunset reflecting off the skyline. Once on the island, feel free to walk along the footpaths, explore the adorable town of Bainbridge, and relax at one of the restaurants near the harbor.
4. Columbia Center Observation Deck- Originally we wanted to ascend the Seattle Space Needle, but the line was too long and the tickets were too pricey, so we opted for Columbia Center’s observation deck instead. It is the tallest sky scraper in Seattle, and offers panoramic views of the city and the surrounding areas. Plus, this way you can take pictures of the Space Needle, not just from it!IMG_8389IMG_8381
^The University of Washington campus!IMG_8231IMG_8304IMG_8228
Anything Else? If you’re a coffee addict lover like me, you must make the pilgrimage to the original Starbucks in Pike Place Market, as well as the Starbucks Roastery in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, where they roast and package the coffee beans for worldwide distribution. I promise, both will be religious experiences. #noregretIMG_8734IMG_8738IMG_8709IMG_8706IMG_8686
^Bainbridge Island.

Are you on photo overload yet? I just couldn’t narrow it down- they were all too beautiful! It’s impossible to take an ugly photo of Seattle. I hope you enjoyed this little post and found the information helpful. Please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below! Oh, and don’t forget to watch my video of the trip here. Have a lovely week friends.

Hello Seattle

seattle_kerry_park.pngHey friends, can you guess where I am right now?! That’s right, I’m in Seattle, Washington. I can’t stay in one place too long before the travel bug bites me again and I’m off! Who says you can’t have adventures in your own country? Sometimes the best sites are in your own backyard. My family decided not to take a family vacation this summer like we normally do, so my little brother and I are taking a three day sibling vacation instead.We arrived Monday evening and head home tomorrow morning. We haven’t spent much time in the Pacific North West, but we both love coffee, music, hipsters, and the outdoors, so we are fitting in nicely so far :p
Stay tuned for a Seattle post and video comin’ real soon, and I hope all is well on your side of the computer screen.
P.s. Photo from here.

5 Culture Shocks I’ve Experienced So Far

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1. Bed sheets- The beds in Germany don’t have thin sheets- just a fitted mattress cover and a Decke, or comforter. I stared at my bed at home like What am I supposed to do with this thin little blanket thing? 
2. Driving everywhere– First of all, I think I might have forgotten how to drive after three months of exclusively bike riding! I used to ride my bike or walk everywhere in Hildesheim, no matter the distance. Here, we drive five minutes around the corner to the post office no matter the distance.
3. Louder voice volume- This is a stereotypical part of American culture, but it honestly is true in my experience! People’s average voice volume is louder than in Germany, and as a naturally soft spoken person, I’ve had to crank up the volume a bit to be heard!
4. Being able to understand everyone- In Germany, I could turn off my brain and completely tune out from a conversation if I didn’t feel like trying to understand. But now, I can’t help but understand, so I hear everything everyone is saying! I was sitting in a restaurant the other day and thinking why am I getting so distracted by the people next to me’s conversation?! Then I realized it’s because they were speaking in English!
5. Politics- I watched the GOP debate last night, and felt overwhelmed by culture shock! The political atmosphere here is totally different than in Germany. Not better or worse, just different. This is the first election I can vote in (scary for America, I know) so I tried my best to pay attention. P.s. if Donald Trump is president, I might just move back to Germany… :p

Also, a few photos from the other night at the beach. Love me some SoCal sunsets!
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Have you ever experienced Reverse Culture Shock? If so, what is an example?