Deck the Halls & Happy Weekend

IMG_2540Hello friends! How are you? I am finally home after a long semester, and man does it feel good. Home is always wonderful, but it’s even more so this time of year with all the festive decorations! I helped deck the halls a few weeks ago after Thanksgiving, but wasn’t around to help choose and decorate the tree. It was a fun surprise to walk in and see it twinkling, full to the brim with beautiful (and a few odd) ornaments! Below are a few pictures if you’d like to see:
IMG_2534IMG_2539^I miss playing piano when I’m away at school!IMG_2537^My great grandmothers nativity scene.IMG_2553^I picked this out for my mom at the Heidelberg Christmas market last year!IMG_2555IMG_2554IMG_2559IMG_2542^There she is.IMG_2543IMG_2544IMG_2546^Mine is the red one with the two angels because, you know, I’m an angel :pIMG_2550IMG_2547^Our snowman collection always lives on top of the mantel.IMG_2594IMG_2588IMG_2582IMG_2572IMG_2552IMG_2557^A lovely sunday school ornament featuring my little brother. Wasn’t he cute? What happened? ;pIMG_2567^Presents! Hopefully the big one’s for me.IMG_2608^Even our couch is red! We are always prepared for Christmas.

Tonight I am seeing Star Wars with a friend, so I am avoiding social media in fear of spoilers. What are you up to this weekend? Have a good one.

The Griffith Observatory

IMG_0754Since returning home from Germany three months ago, I’ve set out on a campaign to explore my lovely home city of Los Angeles. Sometimes I find myself longing for the mystery and excitement of life abroad, when every day was a new, foreign adventure. But then I remind myself that there is so much I have yet to explore in my own backyard! Adventure is a lifestyle, not a specific place or time. Getting out and finding beauty and wonder in your surroundings is always an option, no matter your circumstances.

And so, last Saturday, my little brother and I grabbed our cameras and paid a visit to the Griffith Observatory. Without a doubt, the Griffith Observatory offers one of the prettiest and most expansive views of the Los Angeles basin. You can see everything- the hills, the ocean, the skyscrapers of downtown, the Hollywood sign, everything. Although I’ve been here before, the view took my breath away the moment I stepped out of the car. Built in the 1930’s as a work project during the Great Depression, Colonel Griffith wanted to make astronomy accessible to the public, and insisted admission stay free, which it has more than 80 years later! Whether you are a ‘science geek’ or not, I would highly recommend a visit- it is as educational as it is beautiful.

Below are a few pictures of our time, if you’d like to see! IMG_0782IMG_0664IMG_0671  ^Doesn’t the observatory look slightly futuristic in this photo?! It reminds me of Star Wars for some reason… IMG_0771IMG_0752IMG_0792IMG_0745 ^The sunset was out of this world beautiful.IMG_0659IMG_0652IMG_0622  ^There she is, that famous symbol of this great city! gdfs IMG_0829IMG_0677IMG_0728IMG_0721
IMG_0814^I lucked out in the little brother lottery. Gonna miss this kid when he goes off to college next year! IMG_0817IMG_0812IMG_0808Question of the Day
Have you gone on any recent adventures in your home town? Do tell!

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?

A Happy List

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I wrote this little Happy List in the Amsterdam airport the day after I was supposed to be home. That’s right, I missed my flight. I guess Europe just really didn’t want me to leave! Needless to say, I wasn’t feeling too happy. So I jotted down 20 little things in this life of mine that bring me joy, and I felt better almost immediately. Enjoy!
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1. In N’ Out Burgers.
2. Falling into bed after a long day of travel.
3. Church potlucks.
4. Summer camp!
5. Intense card games with friends.
6. Forming coherent sentences in German- haha!
7. Star gazing.
8. Seeing a shooting star!
9. Unnecessarily long showers.
10. A fresh, new haircut.
11. Getting snail mail.
12. Giving the perfect gift.
13. Coffee dates with mama.
14. Summer thunder storms (a German specialty).
15. Reading on the beach.
16. Painting with watercolors.
17. The excitement and nervousness around the start of a new school year.
18. A good conversation with the person sitting next to you on the airplane!
19. Prosecco 🙂
20. Home sweet home.
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Aufwiedersehen Deutschland

IMG_7725Aufwiedersehen.

Translation: Until we see each other again. Today is the day I say goodbye to my home for the past eleven months. As sad as I am to say goodbye to this place, I am infinitely more sad to say goodbye to the people who have made my experience here so worth while.

When I said goodbye to Heidelberg three months ago, I was not horribly sad, because I knew I would return to Germany in a few short weeks for my internship here in Hildesheim. I had a return ticket, a promise that my German adventure would continue, all be it in a slightly different form. But this time, I have no return ticket. Who knows when I’ll be back- a few months? Years? Decades? I don’t know what the larger future holds, but I do know I’ll California for the next two years until I graduate college. So unless someone invents teleportation, this is goodbye for the immediate future. But I am headed to another country I love, filled with more people who deeply care for me. I can’t wait to see my family and friends again! And I will carry the lessons I’ve learned here with me for the rest of my life.

Germany has taught me more about myself in eleven months than school has taught me in fourteen years. I’ve learned how truly competent, capable, and confident I am. I’ve pushed myself further outside my comfort zone than I thought possible. My eyes have been opened to new perspectives, cultures, and ways of life. But the most important lesson I’ve learned is that people are good, no matter where they live. We all have hopes, fears, struggles, successes. We are all just trying to make it in this crazy world, and we must help each other along the way. The friends I’ve made here are the real deal. I will cherish them always.

I can already tell my life has been divided into two distinct parts: Before Germany and After Germany. So thank you Germany. You will always hold a piece of me heart dear country. Aufwiedersehen!

P.s. Enjoy these photos from my week at church camp! IMG_8073IMG_8078IMG_8075 ^This angel is basically my German little sister 🙂IMG_8070IMG_8039IMG_8027IMG_7952IMG_7909IMG_7905IMG_7903IMG_8065 ^Could she be any cuter? No, the answer is no.IMG_7824IMG_7791IMG_7763IMG_7718IMG_7710IMG_7704IMG_7696IMG_7781 ^What a bunch of clowns.IMG_8053 ^I’m obsessed.  IMG_7663^I was more excited about the zip-line than the kids were…

IMG_7668IMG_7677P.s. Just because I’m heading back state side, doesn’t mean this blog is going anywhere! I will keep writing about my adventures and experiences back in good ol’ California. You can’t get rid of me that easily :p