Perusing the streets (and past memories) of Paris

With the COVID-19 chaos among us, all I can think of is traveling. Last Monday I was supposed to venture off to Banff National Park for some solo adventuring, yet here I am soaking up some sun on my couch…

While I may not be educating myself on wolf-dogs, tubing down mountains or glacier hiking, I am currently lost in past travels. I recently spoke with one of my best friends who I met while we studied in France, so I’ll continue my French-inspired posts for now.

One of my favorite photos from the weekend…

Carolyn and I spent one weekend in Paris during over summer abroad; for both good and bad reasons, it was a weekend we’ll never forget. I can only explain our weekend mishaps by sharing a piece of my matron of honor speech from September 2019:

“During our time in France, there was only one moment when I feared that Carolyn wouldn’t want to be my friend anymore. We were lost in Paris for a while, wandering the outskirts in the middle of the night. Let’s just say that it brought out the worst in us. Our phones weren’t working and we had no clue how or when we would find our way back.

For once, there were no stories about our significant others, no rants about Veronique and her subpar cooking, and most importantly, no laughter. Thankfully, things went back to normal once we found our hotel, and I’m incredibly thankful for that.

In fact, we’ve had a reunion every year since that summer, and in 2015 we were also lost in Chicago late at night. We laughed while we struggled to find our way back to the hotel, and it brought me back to that hectic night in Paris.”

I hope you’re all staying safe, healthy and happy with your loved ones (and favorite TV series!) ❤️

Celebrating Carolyn

My best friend married her best friend on Saturday, September 28 in Morristown, New Jersey. This was hands-down my favorite weekend of 2019 and honestly one of the best nights of my life.

I’ve been in a couple weddings that have turned out to be disastrous. Let’s just say that I have a little PTSD when it comes to being a bridesmaid…

However, I’m blessed that she asked me/trusted me enough to be her matron of honor.

Carolyn looked beautiful as always on her big day and we all had a great time together. No drama, great music and dancing, and we even took some pictures with horses!

Stay tuned for more photos in the coming months. I cannot stress this enough: this was the best night I’ve had in a LONG time.

Happy International Women’s Day!

Today’s post is for some of my favorite women that I’ve either met abroad or are from another country (or both)!  People are the reason why I love travel as much as I do; it’s about immersing yourself in new cultures and creating strong friendships along the way.  In case you’re reading this, thank you for all of the fond memories, laughs and sharing once-in-a-lifetime experiences with me 🙂

Saskia – friends since 2011 (met through foreign exchange)

image1
Hamburg, Germany – 2012

IMG_6215
Hamburg, Germany – 2016

Carolyn – friends since 2014 (met as roommates in France)

IMG_4172
Aix-en-Provence, France – 2014

Anwar – friends since 2015 (met as coworkers at our SVSU Writing Center)

IMG_9060
Saginaw Valley State University – 2015

Bethany – friends since 2016 (met as exchange students in Sweden)

IMG_5598
Chicago – 2018

Jacomijne – friends since 2016 (met as exchange students in Sweden)

IMG_7038
Arctic Circle, Sweden – 2016

Gloria, Jagoda & Hui Jun – friends since 2016 (met as exchange students in Sweden)

IMG_6609
Lund, Sweden – 2016

Kaila – friends since 2017 (met as volunteers in Chiang Rai, Thailand)

IMG_3204
Bangkok – 2017

Longing for Lapland (March, 2016)

The cold, windy air hitting my nose and cheeks in Michigan reminds me of Swedish Lapland. We visited Abisko and Kiruna, and even crossed the border into Norway for an afternoon. From visiting the ice hotel I saw in Nat Geo as a third grader to sledding in the town after bar hopping, riding on the back of a dog sled, feeding the reindeer and seeing the Northern Lights (three times!), Lapland was probably the happiest week of my life…

Smiling in Stockholm (March, 2016)

It has been nearly three years since I wandered the streets of this amazing city. Our class trip, a cruise around Sweden, Russia, Estonia and Finland, commenced here and we couldn’t get enough!

Study Abroad Reunion: Chicago (March 9-11)

In 2016, I made the best decision of my life: to study abroad in Kalmar, Sweden.

I made THE BEST friends I could’ve asked for!  We all decided to have a reunion in Chicago because Alice (to my right in the above photo) was student teaching in Illinois for one month.  Mitch and Bethany (to my left) are from Colorado, and Taylor (far right) is from Texas.  We HAD to take a selfie at the iconic bean, obviously 🙂

During our first afternoon/evening, we were catching up at dinner, the hotel bar, and even played Uno for awhile in our room.  I hadn’t seen Taylor or Alice since I left Sweden in June, 2016, so seeing them meant the world to me.  Bethany and I, thankfully, have been able to see each other twice since we returned home (once in Chicago in June, exactly!) and will be going to one of my favorite places, Iceland, this May!  Spending time with Mitch is always great, and seeing him meant the world to me as well!

On our only full day together, we went to the Sears Tower (I STILL need to call it that…) and we took some obligatory Sky Deck photos!  It was worth it, but the crowds and heat were too much for all of us.  Thankfully, Giordano’s was right around the corner 🙂

All of us (except for Taylor – he needed a major nap after the deep dish!) spent time near the Water Tower place, specifically at Nike and Ghiradelli!  Mitch and I were OBSESSED with the store.  I have probably been in there at least 10 times and it never gets old!  Mitch, Alice, and I all got ice cream after, which also put us into a food coma, much like our dear friend!

You can’t go to Chicago without going to a comedy show, am I right? I am in love with Second City and Zanies; I have been to both three times I believe.  Bethany and I went to Zanies in June, and I’ve also been there with another friend from studying abroad in France.  I decided on Zanies this time because 1) the tickets were cheaper, 2) stand-up is hilarious and is rarely ever bad (in my opinion), and 3) it’s located on N. Wells Street, where all the best bars are!

Of course, we picked the best night to go!  It was Zanies’ 40th anniversary so we were able to have some mystery shots, more stand-up comedians, and many more laughs! I would tell you some of the jokes; however, they were NOT appropriate for this blog 🙂 Take my word for it: Zanies is the funniest club in Chicago!

Bethany and I are always thuggin’ it on Wells St…

Our coats got switched at Benchmark…oops!

Fun fact: Bethany and I took a similar photo here back in June.  Once we found the same bar, we obviously had to recreate our masterpiece 🙂

This goes without saying, but this was probably the best weekend I’ve had in a long time.  Seeing old friends felt so rewarding and I haven’t laughed that hard in SO long (both from the comedians AND my best friends)!  I can’t wait until our next reunion together.

I can’t wait for Taylor to have a Guinness at every bar he passes, for Alice to be as stereo-typically French as possible, for Bethany and I to laugh over nothing at all, and for Mitch and I to have the best conversations again 🙂