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 ūüôā

The Last Bookstore

img_2096Yesterday my friend Jessica and I spent some time exploring Downtown L.A. Honestly, I don’t think people give this city enough credit‚Äď it has its moments! Sometimes I find myself wishing I lived in a bigger, more traditionally structured city like New York or Berlin, but then L.A. pleasantly surprises me with something cool. We spent a large portion of the afternoon in The Last Bookstore, an incredible bookstore in the heart of DTLA where you can buy and sell books. There is a coffee shop inside, couches and chairs to relax, and even a few art vendors. I bought “This Side of Paradise” by F. Scott Fitzgerald to read over Christmas break. Below are a few photos if you’d like to see!img_2099img_2100img_2106img_2107^I feel lucky to have made even one friend like Jessica in this lifetime. I can’t express how much she means to me!img_2108img_2110img_2112img_2114img_2115img_2117img_2122img_2123img_2125img_2126img_2129img_2130img_2131img_2132img_2136img_2138^Christmas is in full swing inside the store!img_2140img_2145img_2146^”The Catcher in the Rye” is one of my all time favorites.img_2148img_2150img_2152img_2154img_2155img_2164^Trying to look intellectual…is it working?img_2165img_2166img_2167img_2168^A tunnel of books…casualimg_2170img_2174img_2177^I’ve been listening to Vince Guaraldi’s Christmas album non-stop, particularly the songs from “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”img_2185img_2188img_2197After this we headed to The Grove, an outdoor shopping area with lots of lights and festivity. What are your plans for the upcoming break? Be sure to get out an explore your own city one of these days friends!

A visit to LACMA

dsc02623Yesterday afternoon I went with my girlfriends Alexa and Sarah to the LA County Museum of Art, or LACMA, in downtown LA. It has a wide array of art, ranging from sculpture to painting to photography and more, as well as from ancient to contemporary styles. Sarah and Alexa are art majors, which is how we met back in the day when I was an art major, so it was fun to explore and appreciate¬†the museum with them! LACMA is known for its unique art instillations like these lamp posts out front‚Äď below are a few photos if you’d like to see.dsc02577dsc02601dsc02616dsc02652dsc02659dsc02674dsc02681dsc02693dsc02694dsc02696dsc02700dsc02711dsc02719dsc02728dsc02729dsc02731dsc02749Have a good one friends!

A Weekend with Alena

img_9227I picked my friend Alena up from the airport on Friday afternoon and we headed to Manhattan Beach to hang out until traffic died down. We became friend in Hildesheim two¬†summers ago, and she just finished a six week internship in Vancouver, Canada and decided to explore the US for a little while before flying home. I always enjoy playing tour-guide when friends come into town, as it helps me rediscover and take pride in my own city! We did a few different things this weekend, below are a few photos if you’d like to see.img_9231img_9244^Personally I think I look a little wacko in this photo, what with the slouchy overalls and blurry face haha! But I never have many photos of myself on the blog since I’m always behind the camera, so I thought I’d include it.img_9250img_9251^On Saturday we went to the beach in Malibu. I went in the water for the first time all year‚Äď I couldn’t let the warm water pass without¬†jumping in at least once! That would be tragic and irresponsible as a native Californian :pimg_9252img_9267^You could say Alena was excited about the beachimg_9290img_9296img_9300img_9325img_9329img_9365^On the way back we stopped by Pepperdine’s 9/11 flag memorial. Every September they place a flag on the ‘front lawn’ for each person that lost their life in the attacks. A Pepperdine alumna was on the plane headed for Washington DC, and both his daughters currently¬†attend Pepperdine. I find the display beautiful and sobering.img_9374img_9385img_9394^On Sunday after church we went to Smorgasburg, the new LA version of the famous food market in Brooklyn, New York. It has only been open since June, and houses¬†booths of food and local handmade artisan goods. It is opened every Sunday from 10am-5pm and is located in at the Alameda Produce Market downtown.¬†img_9399img_9410img_9412img_9419^How cute is this little trailer shop? Never mind that a T-Shirt was like $50…img_9425img_9446img_9450^Weird donuts are my love language…img_9452img_9457img_9464Well friends, have a great week. I’m headed to Texas¬†on Wednesday to visit family!

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.

Seattle: A Short Film

Hey there friends, I hope you had a good Monday (if there is such thing!). I moved back up to school on Saturday and I’m busy preparing for the impending school year. Recently, my little brother and I took a three day vacation to what is aptly nicknamedThe Emerald City- no I’m not talking about Oz, but rather Seattle! I fell head over heels in love with this city, and quickly added it to my ever expanding list of places I want to live someday. I made a short film to capture our experience, and I hope you’ll take a moment to check it out. Enjoy!

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.

Heidelberg Revisited

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Even now, three months later, I remember the day like it was yesterday. I lugged¬†my suitcase down the stairs, said my goodbyes, and boarded¬†the bus. I stared out the window as Heidelberg grew smaller and smaller in the distance, eventually fading from view all together. My year of studying abroad in Heidelberg was officially over, and I didn’t know if or when I would ever return. But instead of feeling sadness, a sense of peace washed over me in that moment. I didn’t cry because this chapter in my life was over, but rather I smiled because it was written in the first place. I felt overwhelmingly grateful for the chance I’d been given, and was glad it had ended on such a high note.¬†I realized I may never live in this city again, but I can always visit and¬†add new memories to the old. And that’s exactly what I did this past weekend!

Since I was given the opportunity to stay in northern Germany this summer as an Au Pair, I knew I had to return to Heidelberg for a day or two. So¬†I hoped on the train Thursday afternoon and made it to Heidelberg by early evening. As I approached the main station, I felt butterflies in my stomach. Would it look the same? Would I have fun traveling alone? I’m pleased to report I thoroughly enjoyed this new experience/version of Heidelberg in every way.

My German teacher from the school year kindly offered to host me for the weekend, and we had the best time talking in¬†both English and German! Two of my classmates who also decided to stay for internships this¬†summer came over for dinner, and we swapped ‘Awkward American in Germany’ stories.¬†The next day I walked around my old stomping grounds, visiting a few¬†favorite spots and bought more unnecessary souvenirs I can’t fit in my suitcase. I just can’t get enough of this town. As I wandered the streets I’ve walked a thousand times before, I noticed new and wonderful details. It is impossible to be bored in this place.
Below are a few pictures from the weekend if you’d like to see.
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I know one thing for sure after this revisit:¬†Ich habe mein Herz in Heidelberg verloren! (I lost my heart in Heidelberg).¬†Or, in the words of Buddy the Elf, “I’m in love, I’m in love and I don’t care who knows it!” Have a great week friends, I miss you already.

Question of the Day
Is there a place you’re dying to revisit?

Five Tips & Tricks for Au Pairs

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Hi there friends, thanks for¬†stopping by to say hello! As you may know, I have spent the last three months as an Au Pair, or live-in nanny, for a Germany family. My main motivation behind this decision¬†was to improve my German language skills and experience German family life first-hand. And although I’ve done my fair share of babysitting and camp counseling in the past, I’ve never been a huge¬†kid person. That is, I’ve never had the burning desire¬†to be a teacher, or felt the urge to hold the baby in the room. I like kids, don’t get me wrong, but they’ve never played a huge roll in my life.

So when this opportunity arose, I was initially hesitant.¬†A million doubts ran through my head. Would I be nurturing and loving enough? Do I even possess the ‘mom’ gene?¬†Will they understand my broken German? But eventually, I realized there were more pros than cons, so I took the leap of faith. And guess what? I’ve loved it! I already know this was one of the best experiences I’ll ever have, and would absolutely consider being an Au Pair again for another family.

Have you ever thought about working as an Au Pair?¬†Do you enjoy travel, learning about another culture up close and personal, and investing in children? If so, then this job may be perfect¬†for you! Today I thought I’d share five tips and tricks I’ve learned through this experience for those of you who have been an Au Pair in the past, are considering becoming one in the future, or are just curious about the lifestyle. Enjoy!
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1. Give¬†It Time.¬†I tend to want everything to be perfect right now. Unfortunately, that’s not usually how life ¬†works. Au Pairing is no exception. The first few weeks were a bit awkward and unfamiliar. I didn’t know the family’s schedule, household rules, or lifestyle. Even though they were incredibly hospitable and accommodating, I still felt like a guest. But slowly, things changed and I began feeling right at home. There is¬†just no way around the fact that it takes time to adjust to a new situation and complete a transition. Be patient with yourself and others through the process!
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2.¬†Communication is Key.¬†This point seems obvious, but I actually really struggled with it for the first few weeks. I wish I had sat down with the parents the first day and clearly outlined my hours and responsibilities. Once we eventually did so, everything felt so much easier and less complicated. When I knew that my hours where 8:00am to 1:00pm and that my ‘household chore’ was to load and unload the dishwasher, I no longer¬†felt guilty about spending alone time in the afternoons or not doing my own laundry. We also keep a weekly calendar of events to help us all stay on the same page. Communicating expectations and needs is key to a healthy and happy Au Pair experience!
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3. Learn How to Discipline. Initially, I was extremely hesitant to discipline the children in any way. I knew when they were clearly misbehaving or testing me, but it still felt strange¬†to reprimand other people’s kids. Again, communicate with the parents about this subject, and ask for some guidelines. Chances are, they will tell you how they usually do it, and trust you enough to make discipline decisions when¬†you see fit. When I found the courage within myself to discipline the kids, our relationship blossomed!¬†They garnered a new respect for me, and I acted with¬†more patience towards them! Discipline is a wonderful tool for everyone involved when used properly.
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4. Protect Your Alone Time.
I am the mother of all introverts. If I socialize for a period of time, I need to recede into my ‘cave’ for some serious alone time. At first, I felt guilty about leaving the kids, so I would sacrifice my alone time to play with them, even after¬†my working hours were through. But eventually I realized that I’m no good to anyone¬†if I don’t take¬†care of myself first. I learned to say no and prioritize time to recharge, which ultimately benefitted everyone.

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5.¬†It’s Okay to Say Goodbye.
As my time here draws to an end, I’ve begun dreading saying goodbye to the kids. Will they think I’m abandoning them? They are too little to understand the situation, they don’t even know what America is! But then I remembered the quote “It takes a village to raise a child” by Hilary Clinton, and realized that I am a part of their village. There are countless people who played a vital role in my upbringing who are not actively involved in my life today, but I would not be the same person without them. I may not see the final product or outcome, but I know I am a vital link in the chain. I have influenced their lives for the better in some way, and that’s pretty dang awesome in and of itself.
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^Selfie attempt number 12 million.

And there you have it friends, five tips and tricks I’ve garnered throughout my time as an Au Pair. This experience is never something I actively sought out or wanted to cross off¬†my bucket list, but I’m so glad it fell into my lap. It has been better than anything I ever could have dreamed up myself. I feel so blessed to have worked with a wonderful family who treated me like their fourth child (probably because I still act like one), and who I know will visit me in California one day. I hope this post was helpful and informative, and don’t hesitate to comment below. Have a lovely week friends!
Question of the Day
Would you ever consider working as an Au Pair? Why or why not?

Hello Hamburg

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Greetings friends, thanks for dropping by! Today I’m excited to share about my recent experience in the german port city of Hamburg. Although it is the second largest city in Germany, it seems less well known than other cities like Munich and Berlin. I myself didn’t know much about it, which makes me all the happier I visited, because it is truly a gem. My friend from home joined¬†me as part of her two month Pan-Europe adventure, which made the weekend extra special. Keep reading¬†as I attempt to convince you to add Hamburg to¬†your next travel itinerary!
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Speicherstadt First thing Friday morning, we took the underground to the Speicherstadt, an area of canals lined with warehouses from the late 19th/early 20th century. They continue to serve the bustling port of Hamburg today, and are as beautiful as they are functional. Confession: I may or may not have pretended to be in a historical romance movie while wandering through the area. Fun fact: Hamburg has more bridges then Amsterdam and Venice combined!

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St. Michael’s Kirche¬†Whenever I visit a large city, I like to climb up to a view point to get a better idea of the layout¬†of the city as a whole. The tower of St. Michael’s Kirche (church) provided the perfect outpost! We opted to take¬†the elevator to the top instead of the stairs (#noregret) and were not disappointed by the panoramic views.
IMG_6549.JPGIMG_6589.JPGIMG_6600.JPGIMG_6619.JPGLandungsbr√ľcken & Blankenese¬†Next, we made our way to the main pier for passenger ships, called Landungsbr√ľcken. It is situated on the Elbe river¬†and is a major point of transportation for many of the city’s residents. We hoped on a commuter fairy because it was the cheapest¬†option, and sailed up river to the neighborhood of Blankenese. Blankenese is the equivalent of Fifth Avenue in New York City or The Strand in Manhattan Beach- ornate, grandiose¬†mansion line the beach front streets, each with a unique style and story. We loved strolling around and looking at¬†the architecture!

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Rathaus & Alster¬†The Rathaus, or city hall, is that incredibly designed building in the picture above. I adore the green patina roof and central clock tower, don’t you? The Rathaus is smack dab in the part of the city called the Alster, named after the Alster river that runs through it, forming two large lakes. The atmosphere in¬†this area was electric- people shopping, eating, and exploring.¬†We did a bit of window shopping, ate at the weekend market in front of the Rathaus, and then took a stroll around the lake to work off said food.IMG_6844.JPGIMG_6750.JPG
Breathing in the salty sea air and having deep conversations with an old friend was just what this California girl needed! Thanks Hamburg, you spoiled us!

So, have I done it? Are you ready to book a flight to Hamburg? I will join you there, because one weekend just wasn’t enough time. Speaking of time, I’d better be off. I can’t wait till we meet here again, have a great week friends!