Big Orange Country: GO VOLS

15 08 2013

I heard this quite a lot today considering today was day one of Welcome Week Leader Training! I’ve missed hearing Rocky Top [not for long] and feeling this awesome Volunteer pride! /cheesy I’ve moved back into Vol Hall and honestly feel perfectly at home for the first time in quite a while!

Although much hasn’t happened, I felt the need to express just how HAPPY I am to be back here in Knoxville. This town is amazing and exciting, and I can’t wait to express all this enthusiasm to the incoming ‘first-years,’

Although I don’t want to say too much about it right now, I’m working on a special opportunity to travel back to Europe in the spring. Pray it works out!

Tot ziens!

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Top Five Memories of Europe

4 08 2013

HONERABLE MENTION: London with the Tennesseans

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Although this was pretty great, it didn’t make the list, mostly because I spent a lot of the time talking about internships/practicums, classes and UT things. But I did get to experience London with a group of people that kept it interesting, so it definitely warranted mention.

NUMBER 5: Alone in Prague

selfie with castle

This was probably one of the scariest things I did [besides actually going to Europe by myself]. Although I did travel to Europe by myself, the second day I was there, I met friends to hang out with. In Prague, I was completely on my own, fending for myself in a city and doing whatever I wanted. It was my first trip completely on my own and kind of a turning point for me. This trip helped me realize I could do travelling and maneuvering on my own without a guy to defend or a girl to accompany me. Much as Emma had preached to me, travelling alone was a liberating experience and eventually became enjoyable and easier [NOT easy, easier]. Travelling alone also gave me an immense freedom by not relying on someone else’s feelings or wants while travelling. I did what I wanted when I wanted to and had an amazing time.

NUMBER 4: Eiffel Tower at Night

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I won’t lie. Going to Paris by myself had me worried not because I was alone, but because I didn’t have anyone else to experience such a romantic city with. Let’s be real, Paris is the kind of city you want to go to with a boyfriend and do all the lovey-dovey things. I was missing one thing: the guy. I was worried the trip may not be as enjoyable. But as I mentioned before, Emma’s determined lecturing on the point of a woman’s individuality was again correct. I had probably a better time in Paris by myself than I would have with a companion. Luckily, I did meet and see different people throughout my visit, including an old theatre friend. After we had dinner, we got a couple of bottles of personal wine and sat on the lawn of the Eiffel Tower and waited/watched for it to light up in the hour. It was calming and definitely something I can look back on and enjoy remembering about Paris.

NUMBER 3: Living in Utrecht

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The Netherlands is arguably one of the best countries in Europe. The people are pleasant. About 93% of the population is fluent or near fluent in English. The architecture is stunning. And as much as people may agree/disagree, it is a much different experience living in what I think is the most liberal country in the world. The lifestyle was something that was just so different that it was hard to not love it. Okay, so about 95% of my time riding a bike was spent complaining about riding on said bike, but some days you couldn’t hate biking through a park during lovely spring weather. Going down to the city centre and getting coffee may seem mundane to some, but for me it was always a fantastic experience, sipping on my cappuccino from Coffee Company and walking down the Oudegracht. Or maybe it was riding on a train. Or maybe it was being up early enough to walk through the centre and see the Dom in the dawn. Or walking to the SPAR while on de Uithof campus and getting one of their amazing chocoladebroojdes. Or going to Tivoli with my friends and having a fun time. Obviously, I could go on and on and on. It was simply a great experience.

NUMBER 2: Last Night in Berlin

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Uhm, yeah. So those involved only really understand what made this night so memorable. And to be honest, I think that is the perfect word to describe it: MEMORABLE.

[Insert Drum Roll]

NUMBER 1: [Not So] Secret Bakery of Florence

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OKAY, SO THIS JUST REALLY EXCITES ME. Maybe because we were ‘technically’ breaking the law? Or maybe because I am a huge, huge fan of bread. I’m not sure. But this story always comes to mind when people ask me about specifics about Europe because it is just so ridiculous. Because pastries are the last things that come to mind when you tell people you were in an alley at 1 a.m. in the morning and knocking on a translucent door. Were you illegally buying drugs? Nope, just getting an apricot pastry.





But There’s No Place Like London!

4 08 2013

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Well, hello internet world! I guess it is about time to write about my experiences in London, my final stop in Maggie’s crazy European adventure! Unfortunately, I don’t have my notebook with me that details everything I did to a tee, so I’m just going to hit the highlights!

Goodbyes

Yes, I said my biggest goodbyes to all of my amazing friends in Utrecht. It was tough. I teared up on a couple of occasions mostly because IMG_2950these people had become such a big part of my life. I mean, I LIVED this experience with them. That’s pretty bonding. I wish I could have brought them back with me, because they are the only people who really understand how much this changed my outlook on life, travel and functioning for the first time as an adult. I really should thank them for that! I miss them all so much and I really owe a big shout out to Emma, Marissa and Lisa to putting up with me during literally the hardest time of my life thus far and still being the ones to reassure me and remind me how lucky I am. I miss you all so much! Come visit!

American-hating Europeans

Okay, I was extremely, extremely lucky. I didn’t encounter ANY of these types of Europeans [that didn’t act like it to my face]. At least I didn’t until I was trying to leave Brussels to go to London. Brussels Border Control pretty much told me that I was ‘illegal’ in Europe [the 600 euro (app. 800 dollar) visa that I IMG_2917paid for begs to differ]. In addition, they told me that ‘just because I was American, I wasn’t exempt from the rules.’ It was pretty rough and I thought they were going to DEPORT ME. Luckily, they let me though and I made it to London A-okay.

Reunion

Finally I was reunited with some Tennesseans in London! I was super excited to see Rilwan and Butch once I arrived in London. I had missed UT interaction so much! Even better, I got to know the five girls that were there on study abroad as well and they were super nice about letting me tag along with them! A big thanks to Caroline, Kelsie, Catherine, Chloe and Christie for letting me hang out with you guys and doing all the more girly things with me! Although London would have been a great experience on my own just as Paris had been, I was so glad I had some familiar faces and accents to be around during the trip! Also, I was really lucky to meet back up with one of my friends I made during my trip to Paris, Lachlan! We had been temporary roommates during our trip and it was nice to hang out and have him show me around some places of London!IMG_3071

Sight-Seeing

You can’t go to London and not see all the really big sights. Although I didn’t get to do everything, I did get to do a lot during my short time, including seeing Big Ben, Parliament, London Eye, Tower Bridge, Shakespeare’s Globe, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar and Leicester Square and King’s Cross with Platform 9 3/4! I also did some unique things like a rock and roll pub crawl [I learned A LOT] and seeing a West End show! Caroline, Kelsie, Catherine and I saw Once, and I was blown away! I also got to spend a couple of hours inside Herrods, the craziest department store I have ever seen! I hadn’t even heard about it until getting there and was so glad the girls invited to me explore it with them!

Packing

platformI like to think that I have become quite a connoisseur in the packing department. I’ve had quite a bit of experience the past six months and now it’s not so terrifying to pack a week’s worth of clothes into a backpack. Luckily for me, this packing luck crossed over when I was finishing packing for home. It was not nearly as bad as I had first imagined it to be and obviously, I made it home with [almost] no incident.

Now…

Now, I begin a new adventure: my junior year of college! This year is going to be full of fun, firsts frantic episodes. I’ll be a Welcome Week Leader, telling all of the newest volunteers about all the opportunities they can encounter while at UT! I’ll be doing a practicum as a News Intern for WBIR, Knoxville’s NBC television affiliate. I’ll be taking three upper level journalism classes. I’ll continue to have my amazing job working in Neyland Stadium [how much longer until football season?]. I’ll be applying to work for UT’s television station, TVC. And I’ll be applying for an AMAZING opportunity through the journalism department. I can’t wait to see what amazing adventures this year will offer! Although they may not be as ‘glamorous’ as travelling Europe, I’m sure they’ll be just as memorable.

Tot ziens!