I just tried to write this post 3 times and deleted everything because I don’t want to publish what I want to say.

– I don’t want to leave (although I AM very excited about spending the summer in Tacoma in my own house with all my besties and seeing family again, etc.)
– I’ve hands down had the best times of my life here
– Right now I don’t know what kind of games the world is trying to play on me but it’s pretty cruel
– If we want me to get home at the scheduled time, not only does the volcano have to stop erupting but British Air has to STOP striking… all my friends flights (who are all a week before mine) got changed. I would really prefer if I didn’t have a FOURTH layover because of this mess
– I’m going to miss these kids:



currently listening to: “painting by chagall” the weepies

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BECCAAAAAAA

May 6, 2010

This post is dedicated to the one and only Becca Peiser.

Happy 21st birthday, Becca!!

I am so lucky to have Becca in my life. Becca is honest-to-goodness the most wonderful person in the world. Yeah. I said it. Becks is just awesome 100% of the time – never a downer, always looking out for others, and is a hoot. Becca has the best laugh I’ve ever heard… so great that whenever I hear it I just start asking “what happened? what’s going on? what was so funny?” Becca and I share many late nights together, gossiping and giggling, bonding over our mutual love for Chris Cabrera of Dashboard Confessional and talking about everyone else on our program, while missing the finer things in life like Taco Bell and lament the fact that our favorite vegetarian restaurant, Maitrea, is not open 24/7.

I’m lucky to have Becca around because she is the type of friend who is there when anyone is feeling down. She’s sort of the mother hen of the group in the best way possible. I’m so grateful to have such a caring, genuine, sensitive, friendly person in my life. I remember how we first bonded in London after Wicked with Alex and Kacy and we all got pizza together. I instantly knew I wanted to be around her this trip! Clearly I made good choices as she’s been stuck with me ever since.

So, Becca, now that you’re either crying or rolling your eyes at me as you read this, let me just tell you and your parents and whoever else is reading this how grateful I am – and how humbled I am – by being your friend and I am SO FREAKIN’ EXCITED to wake up with 3 hours (yeah) and spend the ENTIRE WEEKEND in Berlin with you.

I hope your birthday is half as wonderful as you are. The world is lucky to have people like Becca around. I can’t wait until October when y’all (the Texas-ness is rubbing off on me) come visit me in Washington.

❤ you lots.

p.s.
WHEN I GET OLDER I WILL BE STRONGER
THEY’LL CALL ME FREEDOM
JUST LIKE A WAVING FLAG, SO WAVE YOUR FLAG, SO WAVE YOUR FLAG

Paris and May Day

April 26, 2010

Hello! Happy May Day from Praha. The city is full of colorful flowers, Euro men wearing short shorts (thumbs down to man thigh), and increasing prices for everything. Guess it’s Springtime!

PARIS
Let me first recap my trip to Paris. I went with my good friends Alex and Becca, and we met up with their friend Lisa who is studying abroad there. I’ve never been to France before, and to be honest, I didn’t think I was going to like it. I’d had several friends who told me they didn’t like it, so it was never on my priority travel list. But I got a really cheap ticket and decided to just join Alex and Becca on this trip! We arrived early early Friday morning and spent the beautiful sunny day walking around the Marais (which was my favorite part) and just down the river Seine enjoying the sun and the Parisians.

We saw Notre Dame, falafels sold by the Israelis, gypsies in the street, pastry shops, sat on the bridge over the Seine and went to Musee d’Osprey. We then had a really, really fancy dinner and I had the most amazing lamb I’ve ever had. We passed out in our hostel with the tootsie-roll pillows that were attached to our bed and passed out. I don’t really care what anyone says – Parisians are super nice. Plus, in Paris they give you free bread AND endless water with meals (something I miss extraordinarily so).

The next morning we walked through Marais again and got a breakfast of croissants and coffee for me and Alex decided he’d only consume baguettes for the entire day (ps – he succeeded with the exception of some Heinekein the size of my hand – Paris, step it up!). We walked down the Champs d’Elysees and saw the Arc de Triomphe and made our way to the Eiffel Tower.

Becca and I being silly

Absolute perfect weather. We explored Musee d’Orangerie which had fabulous fabulous panoramic Monet paintings and I dragged everyone to the Longchamp store (I practiced unforeseen restraint whereas Becca bought two bags haha) and Lisa showed us the best macaroons in Paris. That’s about when we heard about the Polish president’s death and we went back to Lisa’s apartment before having a late late Italian dinner and going to a wine bar.
We had such an early flight out of Beauvais airport (2 hrs away from Paris) that we didn’t bother paying for a hostel for a night since we’d have to wake up around 3:30am. So we found a pub in Champs d’Elysees and took over the basement with our backpacks and camped out with a deck of cards and crossword puzzles (in between watching drunk people stumble downstairs trying to find the bathroom) and we were relatively undisturbed. At 4:30am we left to catch the 5am bus to the airport. Needless to say, when I arrived back to the kolej at 10am I crashed.

Paris was amaaaaaazing, I’m really sad I didn’t get to see the Louvre or the Eiffel Tower sparkle at night though (we were there a grand total of 48 hours). It was for sure worth it, though, even with the lack of sleep.
But I know I’ll be back to Paris in the next few years, so I’ll experience it then (hopefully longer than 2 days this time).
So, to keep track:
Paris? Definitely number 3 on my favorite cities I’ve visited this semester (Amsterdam being #1 and Vienna #2).

Okay, now for a more recent update…
Today was May Day (aka Labor Day/Welcome to Spring!!! holiday) and yesterday was Witches’ Night. My friends and I decided to celebrate the festivities at Kampa Park – the park right near the Vltava river on the Mala Strana side – where they had a giant bonfire. Basically, pálení čarodějnic – which means “burning witches” – is centered around the idea that you burn witches in a giant bonfire. This holiday, from what I’ve experienced, is a combination of Halloween, drinking pivo, and pyromania. It was FANTASTIC!
They had a huge bonfire pit, stands selling weiners, skits of pirates (??), mock swordfighting which was EXCELLENT, fire dancers, and musicians. Mostly people were just sitting around in the grass with their friends. We wandered around, watched the performers, drank our bottles of wine, and roasted marshmallows on the mini bonfires (thanks for the  marshmallows, Kacy’s madre!). It was definitely one of the most enjoyable nights I’ve had here in Prague and it really feels like Spring is here (even though right now it’s raining and I have about five papers due in the next week).

With that… I have only one month left. This is indescribably depressing. I’m not ready for this to be over and I’m just trying to focus on living it up while I’m here. None of my friends are really talking about leaving yet – it’s too sad.
I would just like to say that the friends I’ve made here – Jenny, Celia, Becca, Alex, Walt, Kacy, Paulos especially – are some of the closest I’ve ever made. It’s incredibly difficult for me to explain how much my time with them means to me, and I’m so very sad that we have only a limited time together. Of course we’re going to visit each other but as most of them go to school in Texas or on the East Coast, it’s pretty miserable.
So… when you all ask me if I’m ready to go home?
I’m not. I’m not ready for my adventure to be over and I’m addicted to the adventure and traveling and experiencing new places. One semester was not enough. But we’ll deal with that in one month’s time, I guess.
And it’s not that I’m not excited to be home and see everyone again – it’s just that my lifestyle this semester really suits me and I don’t like that it has an expiration date!

In an attempt to leave this blog post on a positive note, I go to Berlin next weekend with these kids and the weather is getting to be AMAZING and I’m feeling good and working out and just discovered a new FANTASTIC vegetarian restaurant I’m obsessed with and am reading up a storm and finally don’t have to go to coat check when I go out to clubs and having my friends sleep in my room for the hell of it and always needing to wear sunglasses now and am nearly all caught up on my TV shows and am still discovering new people and places and markets and parks and there’s live music everywhere along with new spring menus and the weather is muggy and will be raining but the next it’ll be 70 degrees and sunny and taking jumping pictures and the Golden City is finally showing me its TRUE spirit of Spring.

currently listening to: “you and your heart” jack johnson

alex’s birthday!

April 21, 2010

Today, Alex C. Horn turns 21.

This is a pretty big deal. This kid, right here, has been described as having an innate awkwardness* but as he gets upset about that, we shall not mention it.

This is Alex falling into the River Seine in Paris.

Alex is pretty awesome, but I’m on Team Celia regarding certain behaviors over the last weekend in Krakow. (Alex was mean to Celia all weekend, making fun of her green hair – which she got due to the minerals in the water here – and kept being annoying). There is nothing that Alex likes more than pivo and fist pumping, which is why we’re going to Karlovy Levne (5 Story Club) tonight to help Alex expand his dancing horizons and maybe if he gets lucky, remember flashes of the night.

Alex is one of the funniest, nicest guys I know. He is always on Creeper Patrol, protecting his lady friends from the sketchy Czech dancers whenever we go out. He has also been described from my sister as a good dancer and is 100% a ladies man, since it’s always like 5 girls and Alex when we go out to dinner. Alex’s hobbies include being as annoying as possible (such as singing “Like a Prayer” at 7am when we’ve pulled an all nighter to get out of Paris and while we’re waiting to board our flight out of France), drinking beer, ice cream cones, showing everyone “the Situation”, saving damsels in distress, Taylor Swift, and hanging out with his bros Ry, John, and Walt.

This is Walt dragging Alex wrapped in the kolej’s duvet cover out into the hallways.

Since tonight I have made a vow to Alex to save him from a certain female entity, I will not give him many gifts (I mean, the gift I’m giving him tonight in protecting him from certain girls is a pretty big deal), but if I could, I would give Alex this gift:

Happy birthday, buddy!! I’m sorry Walt and Kacy and lots of your other friends aren’t here to celebrate with you!

*may or may not have been described by me

vienna!

April 8, 2010

I’m sorry about not updating! I’ve been so busy with trips and the fam visiting and midterms I’ve been slacking.

Anyway! Onto my trip to Vienna with the program!
Vienna was absolutely beautiful. We left Friday morning and took a bus to Austria (stopping only at Excalibur, the most amazing over-the-top amusement park/pit stop ever) and arrived in the afternoon. After settling in the hotel and grabbing coffee, we went on a walking tour to the city centre, where Z and Jana (our program directors who take us on these trips) left us and Becca, Jenny, Celia, Sarah, and I wandered around a bit before having dinner at this authentic schnitzel (I LOVE SCHNITZEL) place.

The weather was variable, and while it was gorgeous when we arrived it got cold and the following days it was largely cloudy with bits of sun in there.

in front of Parliament
Since our hotel was so far away from the city center, we decided to stay out for the evening (aka go to bars/clubs). We hung out and ate gelato and then met up with some of our friends at a bar. On Saturday we woke up early to go on the 10am walking tour, but I had these godawful blisters on my feet and I couldn’t go on the 2pm tour. Instead I met up with my friends at 3:30 to tour the Imperial jewels of the Habsburgs! It was insane… they had a nail and a piece of wood from the True Cross (personally I think it’s BS but whatever) and an 8ft. Narwhal horn (that the Habsburgs claimed was a unicorn horn) and it was pretty cool! Tired, we headed back from our long day of walking to the hotel, and had dinner around the corner at this epic restaurant called Centimeter.

We ordered two Meters of beer (about 5l. of beer in each one) for our table and my table split a SWORD of schnitzel.
The only way to adequately describe is via photos:

My favorite picture from the trip

This is what a meter of beer looks like

This is me and all my girlfriends in front of the Hundertwasser Haus, a piece of  interesting 1980s architecture in Wein.

Sunday we went to the Hundertwasser Haus and the Summer palace of the Habsburgs and toured inside since the weather was crappy and rainy and cold. It was really awesome!
Conclusion:
Vienna was AMAZING, beautiful, wonderful, and I wish I could’ve had at least a week there so I could explore all the museums I wanted to see. But since we were able to have two meals of weinerschnitzel and test out the best apfelstrudel, and saw some of the most important sites, we had a fantastic time. Seriously, though, Wein is my second favorite city I’ve been to since I’ve been here after Amsterdam.

Best quote from the trip came from a snarky Walt on the 4-hour bus ride back from Vienna:
“Tom, you’re a Hufflepuff if I’ve ever seen one. ‘Cause you’re a huge bitch and nobody cares.”

Sorry this was sort of rushed, but I felt the need to post something asap!
Tomorrow I leave to go to Paris with Becca and Alex for a quick 48-hour trip. It’s going to be exhausting but the weather is going to be really beautiful!

Today Obama came to Prague and we stalked the castle for two hours but didn’t get to see him. 😦 sadness. But we spent the day in the sun since the weather is so nice and I’m now about to go to a Mexican place called Cantina for margaritas and some fajitas. =]

I’m in great spirits and am hoping this Spring weather is here to stay!!
Miss you all, probably a lot more than you know.

currently listening to: the beatles, “dear prudence”

mini post

March 21, 2010

1) WORDPRESS SUCKS. STOP DELETING ALL MY BLOG POSTS ABOUT AMSTERDAM.
I’ll post about Amsterdam soon, but I’m too annoyed to write it for the 3rd time.
2) I just booked Paris after an impromptu discussion with Becca, 5 minutes after hearing about under $100 prices. I love spontaneity. April 9th-11 is going to be great.
3) I just finished the last of my Oreos. This is hard.

I’m at the Globe, which is this awesome bookstore/cafe/restaurant that caters to Americans (I know this because I am surrounded by Americans right now and they serve brunch items like chocolate chip pancakes, Western omelettes, and huevos rancheros) doing homework.

Weather actually turned nice this week, I believe it’s about 60 today (!!!) and I’m excited that Spring is coming!

Last night we went to the Sparta Praha hockey game, but there weren’t enough fights to keep me interested and so I left in the third period. I’ve been taking it easy all weekend due to the events of St. Patrick’s Day and its after-effect.

Next weekend is the AIFS-sponsored trip to Vienna, which I’m SO EXCITED about! It’s going to be great!

Tuesday I’m going to see the Plastic People of the Universe play at a club, I’m really stoked because we’ve been learning all about P.P.’s role and fight to make music in the communist era.

I’ll post more soon! But for now I leave you with one photo from the weekend:

blizzard in praha

March 8, 2010

another quick update….

view from the room above mine at 6pm

I really, really, REALLY can’t wait for Spring.

(photo courtesy of walter lengel)

currently listening to: andrew bird, “a nervous tic motion of the head to the left”

hallelujah!!

March 8, 2010

Just tackling a quick blog post to let you know that I:

a) survived* Amsterdam

b) found Mac’n’Cheese at an American food store in Amsterdam

Please note the expression of sheer ecstasy on my face.
Although you might be distracted by my hippie headband, sorry about that.

Additionally, do not think that my two boxes of Mac’n’Cheese = happiness. I still expect those boxes from home to come on the plane with you, Mom.

*as in, had the time of my life, gained 10lb at least because of all the amazing food I had, and even though I am physically exhausted at this point, I am pretty sure my heart still resides in Amsterdam

currently listening to: strange euro music in this cafe

Ahoj. Right now I am trying to make a cover letter (or seven) and I don’t like doing it so I’m going to blog instead.

Last Thursday, my roommate Paulos and I decided to go to Dresden, Germany for two days. Why Dresden? Well, it’s only two hours away and is the closest German city to us. We just wanted to go away for a couple days without flying somewhere, and I’d also heard that Dresden is really beautiful.

Now, Dresden is known for two things –
The first being the USA bombing the crap out of Dresden one week before WWII ended (bad move, USA). Dresden completely rebuilt the entire city though and all of its historical buildings because the Germans are hardcore.
The second is for doner.

Doner is like a gyro, but way better and I’ve been craving one ever since I left.

So. Delicious.

The first day we got there, after taking a 3 hour nap (we had woken up at 4:30 am to catch the bus at UNC Florenc) we toured Neustadt, which is the “new city”. Neustadt reminded me a lot of of Portland, actually; it’s the punky, younger, hip area of Dresden and it was really fun to walk around. Paulos and I had this awesome map that our hostel gave us that was aimed at young backpackers and they took us to all these places in Dresden we would not have seen otherwise.

this was this awesome rain house in the area called the Kunsthof Passage, where after the fall of the Berlin wall everyone in Neustadt went crazy with paint. Kunsthof Passage is a colorful courtyard with hippie stores and amazing themed houses and murals everywhere of giraffes and monkeys.


After exploring Neustadt and eating cheeseburgers (mmm), and then getting ice cream sundaes (mmmmm), and discovering Oreos in this random market (mmmm!!) we went to eat some more for a late dinner at 10pm. These nice German guys next to us recommended this music/bar lounge around the corner – because everything in Neustadt is around the corner – and we listened to these young guys jamming and playing jazz for a couple hours. It was pretty wonderful.

This is my touristy backpacking picture, on the bridge over the Elbe River.

Augustus and his ill-proportioned horse

The last day we trekked with our backpacks from Neustadt to the historical district to look at all the rebuilt churches and buildings and went to the Alte Meister’s Gallerie – the Old Master’s Museum. We saw works by Raphael, Rembrandt, Vermeer, and hundreds more.
All in all, Dresden was great! Two days there was PLENTY enough. Paulos and I pretty much demolished the city with our walking and saw everything we wanted to see.

It’s also been confirmed that I need (NEED) a hammock. Our hostel was Australian themed and called “Kangaroo-Stop” and not only was it really clean and wonderful, they. had. hammocks. Paulos and I literally spent two hours swinging around in them the night we arrived and it was very awesome. I’ve decided I need one on our porch, Stefano. Don’t you just want to swing life away on the deck while Misty looks at us confusedly and will undoubtedly eventually try to eat the hammock? I do.

Wasn’t our hostel cool?


Paulos and I got back from Dresden Friday night and after a debacle of being locked out of our room (thanks, maids!) we slept in and on Saturday went to Bohemia Bagel and to the Sparta fotbal game.

Celia’s friends were in town, visiting from Rome, and so we decided to go to the Pub Crawl. It’s pretty touristy and somewhat pricy but pretty wonderful in that we get to see clubs, drinks are on them, and you get a free t-shirt that says “PUB CRAWL: THE BEST NIGHT YOU’LL NEVER REMEMBER”. Well I definitely remembered. I fell in love at the Pub Crawl. Let’s leave it at that. 😉

On Thursday, myself, Paulos, Crispy (Jenny), Celia, Becca, and Elyssa are all going to Amsterdam! We’re really excited, even though the hostel is about twice as much as I was hoping to pay. Not happy. I’ll of course update about Amsterdam after we return, but I do know we’re planning on going to Anne Frank’s House and the Van Gogh museum at least once and weather pending we’ll rent bikes. However, the forecast predicts SNOW so we’ll see.

Have I mentioned that I really, really crave Mac’n’Cheese? Not that I’m hinting or anything, Mom… (I want the dinner-style kind. The Cheesiest Original. None of the easymac crap, I don’t have a microwave. There should still be two boxes in the cupboard. FYI.)

Today I slept in, am meeting the AIFS program director and a few kids on the program at Cafe Slavia. Marketa (the program director) does these on-AIFS cafe outings to famous cafes all around Prague. Of course I’m signed up for three of the 5 of them so far. After that, I have my 5pm Central European Politics class, and after THAT, we’re going to see Imogen Heap tonight in Prague! I’m so excited. This might be my only concert that we get to see in Prague so we’re going to enjoy it.

currently listening to, “PBS NewsHour Podcast – Millenials Study Captures Snapshop of Young America”

21 years ago on this day, a certain Sarah Crisp was born. One minute later, Jenny Crisp entered the world as well.

Now, I have never met Sarah Crisp, but I”m sure she’s awesome.
But this post is dedicated to the one and only Jenny Crisp (aka Crispy).


Now, a little about Jenny Crisp. She goes to Salisbury in Maryland, which I’d never heard of, and apparently I’m one of the first Californians she’s ever met. Clearly I’ll have made quite an impression of the kind of girls come from California and the West Coast. 😉 She is the only Delta Gamma I’ve ever met, but also likely the only DG I’ll ever like. 😉 She’s the Ariel to my Rapunzel, and the awesome to every social situation. Probably the sweetest girl you’ll ever meet, with some sass mixed in. We truly bonded when we sat next to each other at Wicked in London (and I kept whispering to her the entire show because I’m annoying like that), but the ultimate mark of the beginning of our friendship was  not only when we first met when she told me she was glad she met someone else who was small, but when we were in Kutna Hora together and experienced the Bone Church together.

This is us at the Bone Church, a church where there are over 40,000 human skeletons on artistic display. No joke.

Jenny recently had a horrible dorm experience involving a rotten banana under her mattress. This sort of thing would only happen to Crispy. But of course she handled it with grace and came out with all-new everything in her dorm room. Jenny is just so easy to get along with and one of the most genuine people I’ve met. I honestly don’t think anyone can say a single bad thing about this girl. She’s also very much a team player and recently “took one for the team” (haha). And even though Jenny can’t wink, and I’m always stuck after her when we play Nelson whether it’s in Munich or at the Tiki Bar, she’s honestly one of my very favorite people I’ve met on this program.

Have an amazing 21st, Crispy, and enjoy your day! I’m sorry you can’t spend it with the Twinsie, but at least you can spend it with your other favorite people, aka Team Sara(h), Celia, Becca, Kacy, Alex, Walt, Tom, etc. etc. etc.

Jenny punching “the situation” after midnight on her 21st bday

Much love!