iPhone Photos from Life Lately

33990076_10211495493364304_2748167324363128832_nHello friends, how are you? I’ve been having fun traipsing around Europe with my little brother and our childhood friend who is conveniently studying abroad in Germany this summer. It feels so nice to be able to let loose completely and be around people who’ve known you your whole life. There’s nothing like it. After I spend time with them, I always stop and think why did that feel so different?

Because being known is everything. It is so important and I’ve missed that feeling a bit this year. You don’t realize how much your body and soul needs to be known until you’re placed in a new environment. I’m so glad to share these summer months with them. Below are a few photos from life lately. Enjoy!33745830_10211495460163474_4496772574990041088_nThe neighborhood of Kreuzberg was my favorite spot in Berlin. So funky. So punk. So cool.33778507_10211495461003495_3373443476657012736_nEuro brother in Frankfurt.33924036_10211495461883517_1836779894126673920_nBowling. Reader, I was HORRIBLE. Consistently horrible all ten rounds. My pride is still recovering.33826522_10211495462843541_4306190182983401472_n
At the Heidelberg castle.

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Well, enough said.33847724_10211495459803465_7319151032942985216_nHiking to the petting zoo with a class from school. The bus didn’t show up so it turned into a rather long adventure, but at least the scenery was pretty ;p

Have a good one!

A Weekend in Belgium!

fullsizeoutput_54c9.jpgHey friends! How are you? I spent the weekend exploring Belgium for the first time. And believe me, I ate my fare share of waffles, french fries and chocolate. I was blown away by how beautiful Belgium is. The architecture is so whimsical and unique. Everywhere I turned there was a stunning cathedral or canal or courthouse. We went to Ghent, Bruges and Antwerp. I hadn’t heard that much about Ghent, but honestly it was one of my favorite cities I’ve ever been to. Every street is filled with adorable shops. The whole country smells like sugary waffle dough! Below are a few photos if you’d like to see.fullsizeoutput_54c8.jpgWe were lucky to get a few hours of glorious sunshine.fullsizeoutput_54bf.jpgfullsizeoutput_54c0.jpgfullsizeoutput_54c1.jpgThe main town square. Everyone rode bikes 🙂fullsizeoutput_54c2.jpgJust like Venice except less touristy and much cheaper!fullsizeoutput_54c3.jpgYou know I blew most of my budget on these bad boys 🙂fullsizeoutput_54c4.jpgfullsizeoutput_54ca.jpgfullsizeoutput_54cb.jpgThe view from the top of the castle!fullsizeoutput_54cc.jpgNext we went to the small, medieval town of Bruges, which blew my mind. Every street oozes with charm!fullsizeoutput_54cd.jpgfullsizeoutput_54ce.jpgfullsizeoutput_54cf.jpgfullsizeoutput_54d1.jpgfullsizeoutput_54d2.jpgfullsizeoutput_54d3.jpgfullsizeoutput_54d4.jpgOne last story. We were taking the train to Brussels, where we would switch stations and then take a bus home. I left my camera on the train. I was devastated when I realized about 20 minutes later as we walked to the other station. It is one of the only physical objects I own that really means something special to me. It is my hobby and creative outlet and I can’t afford another one right now. So I decided to go to the travel center at the station we were leaving from. Mind you, this was a different station than the one my train arrived into. And I asked just in case. The lady disappeared into the back and reappeared five minutes later WITH MY CAMERA. I almost cried. It was a modern day miracle. I thank God for the person who reported it and turned it in. It’s like God was saying, “Nope, I’m not going to let this happen to you today, Micah, because I know how much you love photography!”

Miracles do happen, people!!! I still smile every time I look at my camera now 🙂

Heidelberg Through Another’s Eyes

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Ladies and gentlemen, I am beyond excited to introduce my dear friend and fellow blogger Jessica from Further Up and Further In to you to day! Jessica is currently studying abroad in Heidelberg, Germany through the same Pepperdine program I participated in last school year. She kindly agreed to do an interview about her experience thus far, and I’m trying my best not to turn green with envy. So, without further ado, let’s put our hands together and welcome the funny, beautiful and insightful Miss Jessica!

1. Hi Jess, introduce yourself to the amazing Passports and Paintbrushes readers!
Hi Micah! And hello lovely readers. I’m Jessica, a nineteen year old studying abroad for the year in Heidelberg, Germany. Me in a nutshell: little adventures, German pastries, and any piece of fiction I can get my hands on.
2. How did you decide that Heidelberg, Germany was the right place for you to study abroad?
I think I’ve always known the Pepperdine Germany Program was for me. Being the ninth member of my family to call this city of brown and red my home, Heidelberg may very well be in my bones. Not only is it the perfect jumping off point to other European countries on the weekend, but the city is safe, homey, and positively enchanting.
3. What was your first impression of Heidelberg?
My first impression of Heidelberg was the spirit of Disneyland instilled in a city. The European influence of storybook culture is written down its cobblestone pathways and the flowerpots hanging from each windowsill. Heidelberg is famously the City of Romance, and I fell in love with it at first sight.
4. What are a few cultural differences have you noticed between Germans and Americans thus far?
Well. The differences are certainly everywhere. The streets have a hushed feel to them– the restaurants too, for that matter. People draw deeper into themselves, their thoughts and their purposes. You’ll never hear unbridled laughter break out at the next table over. Transparency is a German ideal, but I’ve learned not to confuse that with expressiveness. If you enter the town with the wrong mindset, you’ll draw the conclusion that the Germans are a cold people. I’ve had to make necessary adjustments.
5. What’s been the hardest part about this experience? The most rewarding part?
The hardest part of the experience is juggling time. There are fifty seven friends to invest in here: which ones do I go out with today? There are only so many weekends to travel: where is a priority to me? There are five classes to balance: which takes precedent right now? And when, and where, do I get some quiet time to myself at the end of each day? It sounds harder than it is, but still, the stress always finds a way in.
The reward is certainly worth it all; this may very well be the greatest month of my life thus far. It’s nearly impossible to pinpoint what’s best about it, but I’ll focus on the self discovery I’m experiencing in this foreign place. I’ve been ripped away from my hometown, my country, my family, my previous friendships, my language, even key parts of my religion. It makes a girl think. What’s my identity in this micro-ecosystem of fifty seven other American students? What’s my identity in this foreign place, as a regular fish out of water? I’m learning things about myself through the changes; the facets of myself that transcend country and culture; the values that don’t waver when cut away from family and church; the passions that still take precedent when time is a commodity. It’s a growing experience. Journeys, of course, do not always occur by foot and train.
6. Describe your dream trip while abroad!
My dream trip? Honestly, anywhere in Europe is a dream. It’s not the place as much as the people, pace, and activities done there. Flexible and fun friends, a balance of go-getting and relaxation, and a strand of simple adventures is a magical formula. But, if I have to name a couple places: the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, Santorini in Greece, and Prague in the Czech Republic.
7. Advice for others thinking about studying abroad?
My advice for those thinking about studying abroad: stop thinking. Sometimes you have to jump, and this is one of those times. Trust me, the plunge into this bewildering new world will take your breath away.12065649_994208257298182_503413629337318281_n.jpg
Isn’t she a gem?! I loved her words, “Journeys, of course, do not always occur by foot and train.” Heidelberg is lucky to have her, even though I wish she were here with me. Why doesn’t teleportation exist yet? Her reflections remind me of my wonderful eleven months abroad, and all the lessons I learned through the challenging yet rewarding process. We wish you all the best on your crazy adventures Jess, and we will be sure to check back in in the future.11998939_1003413256367995_8222839048226043113_n.jpg
Question of the Day
Have you ever studied abroad? If you could choose anywhere on the map, where would it be and why?

P.s. Photos from here, here and here.

The Return

Happy Friday friends! Last night I attended an event called The Return here at Pepperdine, where alumni of the different International Programs set up booths to answer the Freshman’s questions and get them excited about applying to go abroad. My Heidelberg group showed up in full force (and Leiderhosen and Dirndles) to convince the world that Germany really is the best program. Above is a video they showed and below are a few photos from the night. Enjoy!11949366_10207341834331670_961381084620797586_n.jpg
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P.s. I’m taking a little break from my Friday Obsessions series, but you can read past posts 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!
IMG_8166IMG_8165IMG_8160IMG_8159IMG_8155IMG_8151IMG_8147IMG_8131IMG_8126IMG_8125IMG_8120Question of the Day
Have you ever experienced Reverse Culture Shock? If so, what is an example?