Reykjavik, Iceland

In April, my dad and I ventured into Iceland (the land of fire and ice, as it is often referred to). Below is an account of our week in Reykjavik!

Day 1

We arrived early at our hotel, and spent a few hours eating breakfast and resting. After some rest, we decided to walk to Hallgrimskirkja, a large iconic church in Reykjavik. It’s on many postcards, and we were able to take an elevator to the top and get a lovely view of all of Reykjavik. We then meandered over to the harbor for a photo op – it was absolutely breathtaking to see the clouds, mountains and sea all at once. By then, it was time for us to check in, so after a quick shower and a nap, we headed out again! This time we ventured into the city center and checked out a few souvenir shops. When we left the hotel, it was fairly gray and cold, but within 15 minutes, in classic Iceland fashion, a blizzard descended upon us and we ducked into a café for tea and a snack. My dad ordered the cream of asparagus soup – I’d like to pause here and sing the praises of Iceland’s diary products. The cheese, yogurt, buttermilk, butter and cream are among the most delicious and high-quality dairy products I have ever tasted in my life. You can bet your bottom dollar there is no rBGH in sight in Iceland! After our snack, we headed back to our hotel to rest up for the next day.

Day 2

One of my observations in Iceland was how much ethnic cuisine there is! Nepalese, Thai, Indian, and even a “Chuck Norris” grill were along the streets of the city center. We started off our Monday morning with the Harpa concert hall, which is an incredibly beautiful and jaw-dropping work of architecture. There were hundreds of irregular hexagons and pentagons all over the façade of the building. When we first entered, there was a sign at the information desk informing visitors that the desk was “closed for a family event.” Another pause here to discuss Icelandic culture – it was lovely to note how much emphasis the culture puts on life outside the workplace. In the United States, everything is always open on time, regardless of the personal life. However, in Reykjavik, many stores opened later, around 10, and closed fairly early (with the exception of some particularly touristy stores) in order for families to have time to buy groceries and be home in time for dinner. How nice it would be if the US put some more focus on other aspects of life and less on workaholism.

After Harpa, we headed to the Saga Museum, which I highly recommend to anyone who visits Reykjavik. It is a wax figure museum with an audio guide that explains the history of Iceland. Did you know that Icelandic is the closest to the original Nordic language, as it has been isolated from the rest of the world (unlike other Scandinavian countries whose languages have changed with other European influences)? Also, Leif Ericsson found America almost 500 years before Christopher Columbus did (take that!)! After learning lots of lovely facts, we strolled over to a Catholic cathedral, and then stopped for a warm drink, as the weather continued to change every 5 minutes. After some light shopping, we stopped in a beautiful restaurant for lunch (which turned out to be one of the oldest buildings in Reykjavik). I ordered the fish stew, which came in a deceptively small bowl as I couldn’t even finish it! This was rather disappointing to me as it had some wonderful Icelandic cream and cheese in it, but alas, the stomach can only hold so much. After lunch we went back to Harpa concert hall for “Iceland Encapsulated,” a 360 show that briefly showed many different parts of Iceland. Unfazed by its mediocrity, we pushed on to do some more shopping and stopped in a cozy bookstore and had some more coffee (anticipating seeing the Northern Lights that evening). We then returned to the hotel to find out that the Northern Lights tour had been postponed due to the weather, which was disappointing (especially since we had had about 3 cups of coffee throughout the day at this point). However, our whale watching tour for the next day was not cancelled, which did brighten our spirits. After a delicious meal at a Thai restaurant, we proceeded to remain awake much later than we wanted before finally drifting off.

Day 3

After breakfast, a light stroll and a stop at a grocery store, we were picked up by a van to go on our whale watching tour! It was a very stormy day, and extremely cold, and there were full-body overalls for everyone to wear to stay dry and warm. The water was incredibly choppy, but there was no way I was going to go whale-watching and risk not seeing one! It was hard to see, but we did spot a humpback whale feeding and doing its signature tail flip above water.

After a very choppy and cold ride, we warmed up with an evening “lunch” of delicious noodle soup and went back to the hotel to rest until the Northern Lights tour. Our van came to pick us up around 9, and after collecting some others, we got on a larger bus that took us out into the middle of the Icelandic wilderness, where we waited some time before, luckily, seeing one of my major bucket list items. The lights are incredibly beautiful in person! They are most commonly green and blue (red and purple are extremely rare), and are in the shape of arches when there is no wind. Camera photos (such as mine) portray different colors, so though there are different colors in the photos, the lights we saw were actually light green and yellow. At the very end, we were incredibly fortunate to witness this amazing aurora borealis in the form of a dome above our heads. It was truly breath-taking, and, accompanied by gasps, oohs and aahs from all of the spectators, a magical experience.

Day 4

This was a fairly mellow day as we took a bus to Hafnarfjórdur, a fishing village outside Reykjavik. Unfortunately, all of the museums were closed (keep in mind that our visit was during the off-season), but we were able to peek into an exhibit at the fine arts museum. The exhibit was called MEN; it was about men and their changing roles in society. We also went to the “elf garden,” where visitors are supposed to try and find hidden people in the rock formations. After our morning in Hafnarfjórdur, we headed back to Reykjavik for soup and a sub at the Lobster Hut, and some walking around in the city center accompanied by a Belgian waffle with nutella gelato and hot chocolate. We spend the rest of the day strolling, resting and walking by the waterfront, ending it with delicious Thai soup for dinner.

Day 5

This day was spent doing the Golden Circle tour, which includes Pingvellir park, the Gulfoss Waterfall and a geysir. We started with a visit to Pingvellir park, where the Althing (the world’s first Parliament meeting) took place. For all of you Game of Thrones fans, yes, this is where some of the series was filmed, and the tectonic plates make for a beautiful setting for a walk in the drizzling, misting rain. After that we headed to the Gulfoss waterfall. It was pretty, but (and I know I am spoiled with wonderful travel experiences when I say this) not as jaw-dropping as Iguazú in Argentina! We then moved on to the original geyser (called Geysir), the first geyser ever found and named (the etymology of the word is actually Icelandic), and popped over to the original Icelandic national cathedral, ending with a visit go a geothermal power plant.

Day 6

Our final full day in Iceland was spent at the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spring. Everything was bright blue (think the color of toothpaste), and we could see the steam coming up off of the water! There were also warm hotspots around the lagoon, and buckets of silica mud masks which made your skin taut but was a nice exfoliant. It was cold outside, so we soaked in the water for about an hour and a half before exiting to shower (where algae and mineral shampoo and conditioners were provided). We had Thai food again for lunch, and finished up some souvenir/gift shopping before a nice dinner at a restaurant called Harry’s café where I had a delicious filet of grilled salmon. The next morning, we packed up and left Iceland! All in all, it was a lovely trip. If any of you ever choose to go there, I would recommend just 3-4 days in Reykjavik, and the rest of the time spent traveling around the rest of the country during the summer or winter (so that you either have beautiful views of snowy mountains or grassy knolls; we ended up with sort of a brown, muddy view of everything).

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Many of you know of my recent excursion to Turkey! I find that the best way to post about this is to post all of my adventures on one post, one day at a time, including our very short time in Amsterdam, since I journaled each night on what little paper I could get my hands on. Here goes!

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Day 1 (Thurs, 4/10)

We got off the plane to an insane line in customs, but once we got through, we enjoyed a scenic shuttle ride to our hotel, with the Turkish driver using his broken English to point out a fish market, remnants of the old wall of Constantinople, the Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque and (at last! at long last!) the Hagia Sophia – which we stopped directly behind, as that’s where our hotel was. In the Ritz, you find chocolates on your pillow. At the Ottoman Imperial, you’re greeted with a fresh glass of hibiscus tea and Turkish delight on your pillow. Turkish delight, people. So far, I love Turkey!

After settling in to our hotel, we had a light dinner and attempted conversation with the kind-faced Kurdish man who worked there. As we walked back to the hotel, we passed a shivering young boy on a doorstep in the rain. Even the most exciting of trips don’t allow anyone to tune out those in need.

We returned to a front seat view to a huge group of Egyptians chanting about something or another, just in time to hear the 9:10 call to prayer, which was extremely exciting for me!

Day 2 (Friday, 4/11)

First, we had breakfast in the hotel. I had a delicious black olive spread, fresh figs, börek (a cheese pastry), coffee and menemen, a dish with egg, red pepper and green olives. Next we went to the Aya Sofya, what I’d been waiting for ever since I started my work in Religious Studies! I was ecstatic, and we spent 1 1/2-2 hours admiring the exposed mosaics and relishing the history of the church-converted-mosque-converted museum. Upon exiting the museum, we accidentally tried to enter the men’s side of the nearby hamam (Turkish bathhouse)…whoops. We stopped in a mausoleum and went shopping in the Arasta Bazaar, experiencing the full extent of Turkish hospitality, from sampling literally every kind of Turkish delight they had, then leaving all of our spices, teas and goodies in the shop while we received a restaurant recommendation, where we ate a ridiculously enormous meal consisting of fresh stuffed grape leaves as meze (Turkish starters/appetizers/tapas), lentil soup, a kebap for my mother, and a seafood salad with fresh and perfectly-seasoned seafood. After some complimentary tea and baklava (YUM), we stumbled on to our waiter’s cousin’s store (seriously, everyone in Istanbul seems to know each other…Turks are phenomenal sales people!) and bought some more treasures. Next, on to the Blue Mosque and Kücük Aya Sofya (Little Aya Sofya) and then back to the hotel to drop off our things, have dinner and walk around some more.

Day 3 (Sat, 4/12)

Another delicious breakfast of eggs, ekmek (bread), olive spread, figs, Turkish coffee (which I actually enjoyed!) and kiwi. We took a cab to the Western District to see the lovely Chora Church, followed by a long, adventurous walk through the winding streets, getting different directions from 3 different people, until finally coming upon the church of St. Stephen of the Bulgars, which was closed, and ending at the Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarchate. After this, we headed to the Grand Bazaar, which was a sensory overload experience of epic proportion, and then the Sahaflar Carsisi, the Book Bazaar, where we bought some art.

We braved the public transportation of Istanbul (which was actually phenomenal) and had tea and baklava right outside Topkapi palace before entering and seeing the palace and harem quarters. We went to the hotel, stopping at a small handicrafts store on the way, and took a quick rest and journal break before dinner. We went to a small, lovely jewelry and antiques shop near the restaurant where we ate lunch yesterday (Friday), and then went to the same restaurant where we had a very long meal – a few hours spent at dinner, where we were then joined by our new friend from yesterday (the one who owned the store where we bought some lovely things) for tea. Exhausted, we finally went back to the hotel for a good night’s rest.

Day 4 (Sun, 4/13)

We thought we’d head over to Aya Eirene for mass (a small church on the grounds of Topkapi Palace), but it was closed! A wild goose chase ensued via public transport, ending in mass in English at the cathedral of St. Anthony of Padua in Beyoglu. After mass, we took the Marmaray (an underwater metro to the Asian side of Istanbul) to Kadiköy, a gorgeous coastal area where we had a delicious lunch and wandered around fish markets and outdoor bazaars. After returning on the ferry, we went to the Cemberlitas hamam, where we encountered and experienced a hot marble room, lots of scrubbing, being covered of at least 2 inches of soap and a soak in a hot tub. After stopping at our hotel to moisturize and deodorize, we went back to the same shop as yesterday to spend some more time, where I bought a few souvenirs. We had a quick dinner and packed to leave the next day (Monday) for our 5-day Aegean tour!

Day 5 (Mon, 4/14)

Please excuse how short the following posts are – there was not much time to write on these days, so I essentially just wrote a list of everything we did!

We were picked up by the bus at 6:30 am at our hotel, and joined by the rest of our group shortly thereafter. First, we went to Gallipolli, stopping to see various trenches, sites and monuments, as well as the Anzac memorial. When we went to the Turkish site, a group of Turkish girls (let’s say early high school age) approached me and mimed with their camera. As I reached for it, they pulled away, shook their heads, and pointed at me. “Oh, you want a photo with me?” I asked/mimed. Yes. Safe to assume it’s because of this crazy curly hair of mine? We took many, many photos, and, satisfied, they wandered off to their somewhat frustrated teacher.

At this point, I am learning how the letters in the Turkish alphabet sound, so during the long bus rides between stops, I’m reading everything I see! Alas, I don’t know how to use various characters on the computer to write in Turkish here, but these are the English equivalents of the words I learned in Turkish:

Hello. Good morning. Please. One water, please. Numbers 1-5. Thank you. Thank you very much. Where is…? I do not understand. Bread.

Pretty good, eh?

Day 6 (Tues, 4/15)

After breakfast, we left Hotel Iris to go to Troy. Not the most exciting trip, but interesting to be there anyhow. After an incredibly long drive following Troy, we stopped for lunch and headed to Pergamon and the Acropolis which, as I wrote in my journal, was amazingly wonderful – it was beautiful and we had views of the entire city (although the amphitheater was so high it seemed dangerous). After much more driving, we got to another hotel and had a quick dinner before bed. While riding in the bus, it was interesting to reflect on how many minarets I was seeing as opposed to steeples. It was a different experience to be in a country where there are more mosques than churches, often 2-3 in a 5-10 block radius.

Day 7 (Weds, 4/16)

We started out at Ephesus on this beautiful morning and saw many temples and the enormous library! We also got to talk about some mythology, both Greek and Roman, including the stories of Hermes and Medusa. We stopped at a women’s carpet-weaving cooperative, where the government sends women from remote and poorer villages to learn to weave carpets by hand, a lost art form. We saw some women weaving beautiful carpets, on different-sized looms and with various threads. We also saw how silk is made, from the cocoon to how it is spun and then dyed. Followed by this, our entire group enjoyed some rolling around on various carpets made from wool, cotton and (our favorite!) silk.

For lunch, we had gözleme, a sort of Turkish crepe filled with vegetables and/or meat (mine had potato, spinach, onion and Turkish feta cheese). After having way too much gözleme, of course we had to have ice cream – so we went to the village of Sirince for shopping and dessert. The ice cream we had, dondurma, has orchid seeds in it (the ice cream is not crunchy), which makes it very chewy. It was pretty good – I had a chocolate and vanilla cone. The most interesting part about ordering this ice cream is that the vendor scoops it with a long metal pole with a small spatula on the end and lifts it in the air, often waving it on the street. It looks like a long chunk of taffy is being stretched out. The vendors also love to play tricks on those who buy it, pretending to put ice cream in their cone and then snatching it away, or attaching a rubber band to the cone and then yanking it before the person can eat it; a young boy on our our experienced this, but he had a great sense of humor about it and we all enjoyed the show.

After dessert, my mother and I headed to St. John the Baptist’s Basilica and then the grounds where the Virgin Mary most recently lived, where there is a small chapel now. There were few people as it was the end of the day, but it was peaceful. After returning to the hotel, we went to a Turkish supermarket, tried to see the sunset (failed finding the harbor), attempted to pick oranges off of some trees (again, failed, as I was not tall enough to reach even the shortest-hanging orange) and had dinner at the hotel before tucking in.

Day 8 (Thurs, 4/17)

Our day started with a “fashion show” at the Baggio Rossini leather factory. As a vegetarian, I was less than impressed with the lamb leather coats and clothing, but it was interesting to see that these manufacturers supply for much larger, famous labels such as Chanel and the like.

For lunch, we had pide, which is like the Turkish version of a pizza – or so they claim. In reality, it was a pita-like flatbread with toppings, no sauce, and only cheese if you asked for it, which I foolishly did not, so I ended up with a salad on top of pita bread which I desperately tried to season with chili, red pepper, salt and finally some slabs of Turkish feta cheese (which is incredibly delicious and, in my opinion, better than the Greek feta that is sold in the US).

On our way to Hierapolis and Pamukkale (where we saw hot springs and terraces where even Cleopatra once bathed!), our tour guide told us about Turkish marriage customs. Way back when, women used to put glass bottles on their roofs when they wanted to signal that they were ready to get married. Sometimes, these bottles might indicate something about the women (a short, round bottle vs. a tall thin bottle…maybe this was our tour guide making fun, but I’ll never know!). When a man and woman want to get married (and I believe this is what happens today, but it also might be something that mostly happened in the past), the bridegroom’s family goes to visit the bride’s family. The two eldest members of the family do most of the conversing, and everyone continues asking, “How are you? How are you? How are you?” for a very long time, after which the eldest member of the groom’s family asks the eldest member of the bride’s family for the bride’s hand in marriage for the groom. At this point, the eldest member of the bride’s family asks the groom various questions (about gambling, drinking, salary, etc.). Once the family agrees to the engagement, the bride brings in coffee (normal, European coffee for everyone), but with an especially disgusting cup for the groom. Think back to those times you were bored in a restaurant and put all sorts of seasonings and sauces together to make “witch’s brew.” Now add coffee. Essentially, that’s what it is – and here’s the catch: the groom has to drink the entire cup without making any faces or sound, as a reflection of how he will act during the marriage. HA!

After spending some time at the terraces and wading in the warm water, we headed back to the hotel for a belly dancing show and dinner. At this point, I am still loving Turkey more than ever!

Day 9 (Fri, 4/18)

This day was filled with mostly driving. We did make a few stops, one for a delicious dinner at a place where yogurt is made (apparently, Turkey made the first real yogurt, which is quite different from the yogurt we eat here and in Europe). After this, we stopped in Bursa to go to a silk bazaar and another bazaar before heading back to Istanbul.

After a very long drive (about 11 hours), my mother and I finally reached our hotel, where we got about 5-6 hours of sleep before waking up at 3 AM for our flight to Amsterdam.

Day 10 (Sat, 2/19) – Amsterdam

Upon arriving in Amsterdam, we exited and airport for our 4-5 hour layover and proceeded to get very lost and end up in Zaandam. Not Amsterdam Centraal, which was where we were trying to go. Literally, everyone in the city speaks beautiful English and was very kind in helping us get to our destination. We braved public transport yet again and got to the Anne Frank house, located behind the Westerkerk Church. It was about 10:30 AM at this point, and we joined the line (which was possibly the longest it has ever been – seriously, that’s what the tram driver told us) and waited. And waited. AND WAITED. For hours. About 3 hours, to be exact. This was broken up by me and my mother leaving in shifts to wander around the church, buy coffee, see a few shops nearby, etc., but it didn’t change the fact that by the time we got in at around 1:35 PM, we had about 25-30 minutes total to breeze through the Secret Annex to make our flight in time! Despite the long hours spent in line, it was still an amazing experience. Finally, I got to see what I’ve been reading about for so many years, including the pictures that Anne put on her walls as decoration when she was living there. Unfortunately, photos are not allowed, but I don’t think I’ll be forgetting what I saw anytime soon.

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On to the next one

If you want to check out the next chapter of my life, see the following blog:

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from Argentina, with love

So here I am. Sitting in my house, packing for Elon, and listening to my “Argentina New Music” playlist. It will be two weeks of being home tomorrow, exactly on New Year’s Day. And yet I cannot believe that it’s over. One friend told me that being abroad turned into some sort of dream after a while of being back at school, but that she didn’t think it would happen to me because I had such a strong connection to my host country.

I love Argentina. No matter where I go or what I do, I constantly compare it to the Buenos Aires Way (yes, it deserves a capital “W”) that it’s done. The first thing we did when I got home was head straight to the grocery store. That was a bad choice. Two words: sensory overload. The bright colors, free samples, shiny wrappers, music, and loudspeakers were too much for the little Argentine in me to handle! Soon, getting a new phone, and getting started on things for Elon, I started adjusting a little bit more. Luckily, there were no more breakdowns after the first few days. The first three days back were probably the hardest. One of the biggest challenges is seeing friends who were not abroad, and who are excited to see me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly happy to see my friends again, but at the same time, I’m not, because it means that my semester is over.

No doubt, as time passes, I’ll stop remembering the negative things about my experience, and remember only the “fun stuff.” But hopefully when this happens, I’ll have the good sense to look back at my blog and remember the highs AND the lows. I have the answer to the common question, “How was it?!” Whenever somebody asks me this, I simply answer, “I learned a lot.” And that, somehow, encompasses everything that this experience held for me. I learned a lot. It means that, literally, I learned a lot of academic information. But it also includes my cultural, social, and self-learning that I took part in during my semester. It also excludes the bubbly, happy answers that most people expect to hear, for which I am glad, because it often encourages others to ask me about my semester (which is NOT a “trip” – I’ve also realized that it bothers me when people call it that) and actually care about the answer that they get.

There are so many reflections about this experience that I’ll continue to make as my new semester and the New Year begins. Luckily, I have another journal, so that not everything has to go on this blog, but I’m glad to have the audience I do, reading and following as much as they do.

(Also, I know I promised a full album of dulce de leche photos, so, as promised, it is posted below!)



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don’t cry for me, Argentina

Because the roles are reversed and I’m crying for you. The truth is, I am leaving you SO soon. So here we are. At last. After months and months of tears, stress, pure joy, challenges, highs, lows, and in-betweens, it is my last day in Argentina.

I never imagined this day would come. I mean to say, I wanted to come here my entire life, and I never imagined that not only would it happen, but that I would have to say goodbye to this amazing country. Studying abroad has certainly been one of the most challenging experiences in my entire life. After spending so much time in Argentina, there is no doubt that I share strong feelings towards this country.

Although there are plenty of things that I will not miss (piropos, being on a stuffy subway, traffic, the annoying sidewalks that squirt water on you out of nowhere), there are so many more that I will long for every day (kioscos, bakeries with an endless amount of cakes and desserts, the amazing ice cream, my host family, my friends here, my room, my house, my favorite tostadas that my host mom makes, with honey and cheese).

My last few days here have been a constant flow of emotions. At any given moment, the tears begin (at lunch with my friends, alone in my room, on a tour of the Casa Rosada – oh yes, it happened). Anything can trigger my overactive tear ducts. I already feel an aching pain in my heart where Argentina has its own special place. Even though I am a United States citizen, I feel like Argentina is my patria. And the learning has just begun. There are so many more aspects of the culture I want to learn. Although I am raving about Argentina, I must be honest with myself and admit that this experience has not been as “phenomenal” and “happy” as I may have, at times, made it out to be. There were times during this semester when I hated being here and wanted nothing more than to be at Elon. But regardless of that, even at my lowest moments, I still knew that this was the most awesome experiences that I would ever have – and by awesome, I literally mean full of awe.

Although I am looking forward to having good American Chinese food, sleeping in my big bed, and being able to get good rest without the sounds of my neighbors and the city disturbing me, the roller coaster of emotions will not end when we touch land in the United States. I know that this journey is not over – I have a long road of re-entry shock, tears, and silent moments ahead of me. I can only hope that my friends and family back home will be as supportive as my friends and family here have been as I go through more changes and challenges being back home.

As my host mom said to me this morning, “La separación de la familia nos agranda; no nos divide.” Separation makes families bigger; it does not divide us. Mónica gave me the wise information that I now had yet another home in another country. And even though I promised myself that I wouldn’t cry until the moment I say goodbye to my family, I have a strange feeling that there may be an afternoon of tears in front of me. Luckily, I have the promise of ice cream awaiting me as the last Argentine thing that I eat here.

Mi Buenos Aires querido. You’ve been so good to me. Gracias por las memorias, las experiencias, las oportunidades que me has dado. Por el acento, el ruído, la cumbia, y la historia. Gracias, Argentina, por los paisajes, Mendoza, Iguazú, Bariloche, y Jujuy. Gracias, Uruguay, por dejarme visitarte. I cannot imagine myself without this experience under my belt, and there is no doubt in my mind that I will be back here someday, very soon. 

Thank you to all of you who have followed my experiences throughout this amazing and crazy adventure! Thank you for those of you who have been a great support system, even from so far away. There are still photos that need to go up, so expect a few more updates in the next week, as well as a follow-up blog about my reflection on being back home. Thank you, thank you, thank you, a million times over. For reading, for supporting, for following, and for loving.




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girls just wanna have fun

This post is dedicated to my wonderful friends that I have here. I know all you readers see is just names and a few pictures without much description, but I think, because of my last few days, they deserve a little recognition in my blog (although they will probably protest the photos I chose…but I wanted to get some personality in there as well)! So, without further ado, meet some of the cheeks (short for chicas – oh yes, I went there) who have totally made my experience in Buenos Aires (sorry, Sam, this post is girls-only).


This is Abbey! Sweet and silly, we traveled far and wide together, to destinations including Mendoza and Bariloche. Favorite pastimes together include long bus rides, cooking meat, being strange and quirky, and getting MUCH too excited about anything grammar-related, especially subjunctive and “si” clauses.


This is sweet Amber! From the day we bonded, power-walking frantically to our subway stops so we’d get home before it got dark, we’ve been inseparable! Put two, long-haired, ethnic, and silly girls together and you will certainly never be bored. We’ve done more things together that can be counted, but memorable moments include making bad, burnt brownies, constantly sucking down 1/4 kilos of ice cream, trying to force photo shoots, and playing unforgettable games of subtle ugly.


Sassy Amy is most definitely the grandma of our group! With hilarious and witty little comments, there was never a dry moment with this one. If she wasn’t being a grandma, she was probably telling us about the grandma she lived with. Favorite pastimes include discussing our grandma-ness, housewifery, and making strange faces in public places.


Oh, funny Eri (I didn’t forget the “n”)! I guarantee you she is not happy that this photo is on here, but it seems to capture everything that is this tall, spunky friend of mine. Complete with full musical ability and what I’m told are amazing tap skills, this funny one certainly knows how to spice up a dull situation. Memories include singing for 3 hours on a bus ride, dancing for a few more hours on a different bus ride, being extremely late to a Ricky Martin concert, reviewing Spanish vocabulary, and singing, “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” in Spanish in a public place.


This curly girl is probably one of the quirkiest and most ridiculously hilarious girls I’ve ever met in my entire life. At any given random moment, Patty will bust out with an unbelievable story involving burgers, Starbucks, or ambidextrous experimentation. Constantly keeping us entertained, and making us laugh until we cry and stop breathing, Patty’s personality certainly lives up to anyone’s curly-girl expectations. Ridiculous memories include a morning at the salon, a plethora of curly-hair-don’t-care photos, and excessive amounts of sunscreen on our faces.


She may look sweet (and she is), but Sarah is also one sassafrassy chick! Bonding over the similarities between Georgetown and Elon and sassiness, this Californian friend of mine always has a sassy addition to the conversation. In case I didn’t use the word “sassy” enough, favorite pastimes of ours include being sassy (and sometimes a bit bougie), speaking Spanglish, and laughing much too hard.

So, there they are! This group of spunky ladies has certainly added to my experiences here, and given me so much more than laughter and fun trips – they have been a support system. From sunning to salon-ing to always eating, we’ve spent so much time together, and they’ve definitely added to this most amazing experience to remember. ¡Las amo!



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music to ashes, chocolate to dust

Certainly one of the most eventful trips I’ve had this semester (although I must admit that there haven’t exactly been any uneventful trips). I’ll go about organizing this post as I did the one about Uruguay. Again, sorry in advance for the novel, but here we go!

Thursday, December 8 (a.k.a. Too Much Ash To Handle)

After a fairly comfortable bus ride to Bariloche (despite the war movies on the bus), we settled in to our hostel and had lunch after making a quick grocery store run. With half a day to go, we took a bus to the Lago Gutierrez, where we spent a few hours walking around. The ash from the volcano in Chile was definitely visible in the air. While on our nature walk, we encountered lots of large, irritating, flies, a friendly dog who we named Fluffybutt, and a cascada, not quite a waterfall. After having enough of the ceniza (ash), we headed back to cook a delicious taco salad dinner. We then played a card game that Abbey taught us which involved lots of hand slapping. As we played the game and passed around our mate, we befriended some Colombian women who were traveling together, and Titán, the night worker in the hostel. We headed to bed satisfied with a comfortable arrival and ash-ridden day under our belts.

Friday (a.k.a. Rebels With A Cause)

Early rising and breakfast in the hostel followed by a bus up to Cerro Otto, one of the peaks in Bariloche. We took a gondola up to the top of the mountain (during which I was most nervous due to my fear of heights) and took some photos. We sat in the rotating café at the top and had some snacks, and once the rotating got the better of us, we headed outside to take a self-guided “hike.” Our hike involved us asking for information about the hikes and what we were allowed to do, and sneaking under a roped-off area (that we were given full permission to do by the staff at Cerro Otto!) to climb to the top of the peak. We were quite rebellious, with our goal of seeing a beautiful view fulfilled. After seeing some natural beauty, we decided to head down to the center of the city to check out the chocolate we’d been hearing so much about. We went to get ice cream at Rapa Nui, a café and chocolate shop that soon became our favorite. We walked around after ice cream (we sampled ice cream made from the Calafate berry, named for Calafate, in Southern Argentina), went shopping, and had more than a few chocolate samples at each chocolate shop we walked into! After Abbey was stalked a little bit (half-kidding!), we cooked a delicious pasta with broccoli for dinner and played Bananagrams into the night with Joe, a friend that we made in the hostel, who was staying in our room (there were 6 people in the hostel room total).

Saturday (a.k.a. The Music Man[sion])

On Saturday, Erin, Abbey, and I took on Llao Llao National Park! It was quite a brisk day, but we brightened the mood by singing throughout the entire hike (classics were “Be A Man” from Mulan, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” from The Lion King, “Build Me Up Buttercup,” “Defying Gravity” from Wicked, “Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas, and a steady stream of “Misery” – the Glee version). As lunch time neared, we were struggling to find public lake access to eat our lunch at a picnic area. As a car drove by, we stopped to ask the driver where we could find access. The driver was an older man, 50s or so, who told us that we could go on in to his own backyard! We soon found ourselves in one of the most amazing backyards I have ever seen in my entire life. Martin (the driver) lived in an enormous house, with a huge green lawn, a pool, and a beautiful private view of the lake. We were speechless as we ate our lunches with our own private view of the lake. We were even more surprised when, after taking refuge under a large tree when it started to rain, he came outside and pointed us into a pool house with tables and chairs inside. We sat inside for a while more, then, after saying goodbye and thanking Martin (whose house was being turned into a lodge), went on our way home. After a quick stop at the hostel to put on pants, we enjoyed hot chocolate at Rapa Nui (the most delicious, rich, hot chocolate I’ve had yet!). After delicious stir-fry for dinner, we played more Bananagrams with Linda, another friend, who is from the Netherlands.

Sunday (a.k.a. Goodbye Bari)

We tried to head to the Chocolate Museum, but unfortunately the factory part of it was closed since it was the weekend. We eased our disappointment by having MORE hot chocolate (this time, dulce de leche flavored). We then spent a while walking around to different chocolaterías to go “chocolate shopping” for friends and family. After a delicious and much-too-filling lunch, we got on the bus to have the worst bus ride back in history (no movies, 21 hours of uncomfortable air temperature, and a snippy attendant). Never have I been so glad to get off of a bus!

Erin and I celebrated surviving the bus ride by a trip over to McDonald’s, where we enjoyed joy and happiness in the form of fast food before heading back to our respective homes. Pictures follow!



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