Creating Awesomeness in the World

Today the sun shined for more than 30 minutes, which is the first time it has done so in several months. I was so ecstatic that I walked to the train station instead of taking the bus, just so I could absorb any amount of Vitamin D. I was just so happy that I could see bits of blue sky and actual rays of sunshine! I have truly missed the sun! I feel re-energized and ready to tackle the crazy week ahead of me!

Anyways, the real reason for this post is that I want to share  this video with everyone. I had seen it on Facebook recently, but never watched it. For some reason, I decided to watch it today. I think the pep talk really spoke to me. I think it’s a rather inspirational and cute video. Bravo to the creators!!

Here are my two favorite quotes:

“It’s everybody’s duty to give the world a reason to dance!”

“Create something that will make the world awesome!”

To everyone that has been an encouragement in my lie, THANK YOU!!! I’m grateful for your presence in my life!

For those of you that watched it, what are you favorite quotes from the video? Don’t forget to pass it along!

Ringing in the New Year, Vienna Style

For New Years, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to travel to Vienna with my friend and fellow Fulbrighter, Austin. Overall, the trip was amazing and I’m glad that he asked me to come with him on the trip. He has become such a great friend to me so I was glad to be able to ring in the New Year with him. We used the same car sharing website that I used to get to Switzerland because it was the cheapest and quickest way to get to Vienna. We stayed with his friend, Juli who has become a friend of mine now. Juli is originally from Hamburg and studies at the University of Vienna.  She was a wonderful host and I’m so glad I got to know her.  For the sake of keeping this post as short as possible, I will not rehash the entire trip because we spent like 6 days there!

On New Years, we traveled to the middle of nowhere Austria, Stotzing, where Alex, who is Juli’s roommate’s boyfriend, lives. I have no idea what the are looks like because when we arrived it was dark and when we left it was also dark. However, the party was wonderful. We met lots of really cool people. Although, the Germans outnumbered the Austrians at the party even though we were in Austria. After the official countdown, we walked out into the freezing cold to watch some fireworks. As I stood there with Austin, I couldn’t help but think about all the great things 2012 brought and all the great things 2013 will bring. I had to keep telling Austin that 2013 would be awesome because he hates odd numbered years. I must say though, I couldn’t have imagined spending New Years in any other way.

Once we returned to the city, we did lots of exploring and touristy things in the city. In 2008, I had the opportunity to visit Vienna in the summertime with all the other Rotary Exchange Students., so I had seen most of the city. However, it was Austin’s first time so we revisited everything. Even though I had been there before, it was nice to return to the city, this time just as a regular tourist and not in a huge tour group. Plus, the city looks different in the winter. I much prefer the city in summertime though. It was just so windy, which made the cold almost unbearable. I made several friends over the course of my time there and I hope to see them again sometime.

On our last night in Vienna, we stood in line for standing tickets to the Opera, which only cost 3 Euros. It was quite the experience!! My feet were killing me by the end of the night. We stood for 3 hours, mainly listening to the action because we picked the wrong place to stand. All of the action was on the right side of the stage and that’s the side we sat on..so it was blocked. Despite my feet hurting and not being able to see very much, I’m still glad that I went to the Opera, not very many can say that. I would recommend it for anyone who is traveling to Vienna on a budget.

To tell the rest of the story, I will show some pictures:

Dang it...almost caught him sleeping on the train to Stotzing

Dang it…almost caught him sleeping on the train to Stotzing

Austin, me and Juli on New Years!

Austin, me and Juli on New Years!

The lovely New Year's Party!

The lovely New Year’s Party!

Meet my new friend, Jan!

Meet my new friend, Jan!

Saying goodbye  to 2012 and hello to 2013!

Saying goodbye to 2012 and hello to 2013!

Bleigiessen....a German New Year's tradition that tells your future!

Bleigiessen….a German New Year’s tradition that tells your future!

Belvedere Palace, where I saw the Klimt Exhibit! AHHMAZING!

Belvedere Palace, where I saw the Klimt Exhibit! AHHMAZING!

Stefansdom at Night

Stephansdom at Night

Rathaus aka City at night

Rathaus aka City at night

Of course, you must eat Schnitzel when in Vienna.

Of course, you must eat Schnitzel when in Vienna.

Hanging out with everyone at an Irish Pub!

Hanging out with everyone at an Irish Pub!

Austin, Eva, Juli and I at the Irish Pub!

Austin, Eva, Juli and I at the Irish Pub!

Hofburg at Night

Hofburg at Night

Coffee at Cafe Residenz at Schönbrunn

Coffee at Cafe Residenz at Schönbrunn

A fountain in the city

A fountain in the city

The Architecture in Vienna is breathtaking

The Architecture in Vienna is breathtaking

Stefansdom during the day

Stefansdom during the day

Inside of St. Stephans Church! The colors were special for the Christmas season! It was soo gorgeous on the inside!

Inside of St. Stephans Church! The colors were special for the Christmas season! It was soo gorgeous on the inside!

The gorgeous Vienna sky

The gorgeous Vienna sky

The main shopping area in Vienna

The main shopping area in Vienna

Tex Mex Night!

Tex Mex Night!

Enjoying the delicious tacos/burritos!

Enjoying the delicious tacos/burritos!

Enjoying our Tex-Mex dinner!

Enjoying our Tex-Mex dinner!

The Donau in the morning!

The Donau in the morning!

The Donau in the morning!

Those boats are actually schools! It would be so cool to go to school there!

Schönbrunn Gardens

Schönbrunn Gardens

Making the infamous face at Schönbrunn

Making the infamous face at Schönbrunn

The University of Vienna was founded in 1365 and one of the oldest Universities in the German-speaking world.

The University of Vienna was founded in 1365 and one of the oldest Universities in the German-speaking world.

At the University of Vienna, this where the students receive their diplomas. The picture doesn't do the room justice.

At the University of Vienna, this where the students receive their diplomas. The picture doesn’t do the room justice.

The required jumping picture at the University of Vienna

The required jumping picture at the University of Vienna

Riding trams!

Riding trams!

The Vienna State Opera!

On our last night, we went to the Vienna State Opera!

The building was amazing.

The building was breathtaking!

The Vienna State Opera

The Vienna State Opera

I had to try the apple strudel this time!!

Afterwards, we went to Hotel Sacher and I had to try the apple strudel this time!!

Weihnachten in der Schweiz

Since I wasn’t able to fly back to the States to spend Christmas with my family, I decided to spend Christmas in Switzerland with my “family”. For me, i feel as though my friends and host families there are actual family. They mean so much to me and have played an important role in my life. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to spend another Christmas in Switzerland.

In attempt to save money, I decided to use a car sharing website that a friend told me about. It’s like a formal way of hitchhiking. You create an account and you can look up if someone is driving to or near the city of your choice. At first, I was a bit hesitant to try it. But then I thought…when in Europe…why not!? I ended up finding someone that was driving from Frankfurt directly to Burgdorf, which is exactly where I wanted to go. Not only that, buy it only cost 25€ for the whole journey which it would have cost twice as much with the train. All in all, it was a great experience. The driver and his wife were really nice plus they drove a fancy BMW which made for a comfortable car ride. I never felt afraid or anything. I didn’t have to worry about anything, so I was just able to read and sleep. It was rather pleasant. I think it was a great experience and plan to do it again for future trips!

When I arrived, it was snowing and quite magical. I stayed with my friend Debi and her family, who showed me such wonderful hospitality. They are amazing people and I’m glad I’ve gotten to know them. Even though I never lived with them or anything, they’re always willing to host me. While I was at Debi’s, I ate lots of delicious food and enjoyed some good fellowship. I made chocolate chip cookies as gifts for my families as well as Debi’s family. They were a huge success. On my last night at Debi’s, she surprised me by having a Tex Mex dinner! It was so wonderful!!

On the 23rd, I went to stay with my first host family. They celebrate Christmas on the 24th  with a delicious meal, singing and presents. I really like the way they do presents. You only buy a present for someone if you find the perfect gift for them. My host mom had a present for me but I wasn’t allowed to open it until the next day when my host siblings girlfriend and husband were there too. The whole evening was wonderful and I even went to the midnight church service in the town church.

On Christmas Day, we went to my host mom’s sister house. For lunch, we had raclette which is one of my favorite meals. It’s so much and delicious. After lunch, I was finally allowed to open my present. My step mom had made me pajama pants with cute little frogs on them! I really liked them. My siblings and their partners received matching pjs with hearts on the butts. They were adorable. I’m thankful that I was able to spend time with my wonderful host family for Christmas.

On the 27th, I rode the train to see my third host family, who moved to Neuchatel 3 years ago. I had yet to visit this family, so I was excited to see them. After a few mishaps, I finally made it to their new home, which has one of the best views of Lake Neuchatel. Anyways, I spent a couple of days with this family. It was almost as if nothing had changed. There was so much going with so many different people coming and going. It reminded me of my time with them. I really enjoyed spending time with them, especially my little host sister, Aurelie.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take very many pictures from Switzerland, but here are a few from my time there:

Meeting up with an old friend and making a new friend!

Meeting up with an old friend and making a new friend!

Playing Eile mit Weile with my host mom!

Playing Eile mit Weile with my host mom!

My host mom makes the best Christmas cookies! She usually makes around 12 different kinds!

My host mom makes the best Christmas cookies! She usually makes around 12 different kinds!

The amazing view at my third host family's house.

The amazing view at my third host family’s house.

The amazing sunset on the way back to Germany.

The amazing sunset on the way back to Germany.

My Blog in 2012

Word Press created this for me and I thought it was cool. Thought I would share it too!!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,000 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

December in Deutschland

December was filled with lots of Christmas markets, joy, numb fingers and toes. I am truly blessed to have had the opportunity to spend Christmas time in Germany. It was quite a magical time. If you have ever visited a real German Christmas market, you know what I’m talking about. It’s almost indescribable.

Almost every city and town has their own Christmas market. Each one is unique in its own way. Some are compact and on one square of the town. Others are more spread out along the streets. Some are small and some are quite large. Some have their own unique name. Overall,  I visited about 6 or 8 different Christmas markets. Visiting christmas markets usually involve Glühwein, shopping/browsing and sometimes Currywurst or Bratwurst. I collected mugs from the different Christmas markets I visited because they were all unique. I think it will be a good keepsake for me to have when I am back in the states. If you ever get an opportunity to travel to Germany during Christmas time, you should definelty take the opportunity!

Koblenz was one of my favorites, but I think it had to do with the fact that it had snowed. The snow added a whole new depth to the atmosphere of the Christmas market. In fact, snow makes the cold so much more bearable for me. Everything is just so magical when its covered in a white blanket. According to my roommate, Mainz experienced quite a bit of snow for December. I wasn’t complaining though! I felt like a little kid each time it was snowed. It was weird seeing the same snow the next day, because that never happens when it snows in Texas. I’m aslo getting used to the numb feeling due to the cold weather. I don’t even think about it anymore.

All of the Mainzer ETAs did a secret santa gift exchange to celebrate the holidays. Its nice to have such a great network of other ETAs in the area. We all gathered on a sunday afternoon to exchange the gifts before everyone left for the holidays. We had hot chocolate, coffee, tea and lots of yummy treats!  It was lovely to have everyone together in one place. In my opinion, everyone received the perfect gift. I think everyone was happy. I am truly blessed to have such a great support system in Germany.

Here are few pictures of December in Deutschland:

Mainzer Weihnachtsmarkt Glühwein Stand

Mainzer Weihnachtsmarkt Glühwein Stand

At least I got a good picture of the Mainz mug!

At least I got a good picture of the Mainz mug!

Mainzer Weihnachtsmarkt is much pretty at night because of all the lights!

Mainzer Weihnachtsmarkt is much pretty at night because of all the lights!

One of the teachers gave me an Advent Calendar as well as an Advent Wreath. It was very nice of her!

One of the teachers gave me an Advent Calendar as well as an Advent Wreath. It was very nice of her!

First day of snow!!!!

First day of snow!!!!

Making American Chocolate Chip Cookies for my students/teachers!

Making American Chocolate Chip Cookies for my students/teachers!

The Nativity at the Mainz Christmas Market

The Nativity at the Mainz Christmas Market

Another view of the Mainz Christmas Market

Another view of the Mainz Christmas Market

Koblenz Christmas Market with Katherine and Austin

Koblenz Christmas Market with Katherine and Austin

Merry Christmas!!!

Merry Christmas!!!

Such a fun picture!!

Such a fun picture!!

We had snowball fight in the  middle of the Christmas market! Such a blast!

We had snowball fight in the middle of the Christmas market! Such a blast!

Walking along the Rhein at night!

Walking along the Rhein at night!

One last picture from Koblenz Christmas Market with Austin and Katherine

One last picture from Koblenz Christmas Market with Austin and Katherine

Berlin Hall Reunion! I was able to meet up with 4 of my old residents in Koblenz (got to go twice!)

Berlin Hall Reunion! I was able to meet up with 4 of my old residents in Koblenz (got to go twice!)

Adventure to Limburg with Austin

Adventure to Limburg with Austin

Limburg Cathedral

Limburg Cathedral

Stuttgart Christmas Market had a really cool nutcracker!!

Stuttgart Christmas Market had a really cool nutcracker!!

Stuttgart Christmas Market with city hall at night

Stuttgart Christmas Market with city hall at night

Mainzer ETA Christmas Party

Mainzer ETA Christmas Party

Our little Christmas Tree

Our little Christmas Tree

Mainzer ETA Thanksgiving

With all the bustle of the holidays, I was horrible with updating this thing. Anyways, I’ve decided to at least talk about my second Thanksgiving celebration and then I will sum up my December in some way.

Enough of that, so I was lucky enough to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving TWICE! I got to celebrate with my Mainzer Fulbright Family plus some Germans. It was truly a wonderful experience! It was a potluck, so every American was required to provide something. Maelia, one of the ETAs, was nice enough to host the event for us. Her apartment was the perfect place for our celebration! The evening was filled with lots of laughter, good food, wine and good times! I’m really thankful for the “family” I have here in the Mainz area. Also, everyone made sure I chewed my food well and didn’t have a repeat event!

Here are some pictures of the event:

Preparations for the Dinner!

Preparations for the Dinner!

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Making bread stuffing for the first time!!

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Our lovely dinner table!! so many yummy treats!!

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Heidi and Me!

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Playing charades!!