Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Swahili Summer

Hey Everyone!!

Just wanted to let all of you know I'm leaving to teach in Arusha, Tanzania tomorrow and will be blogging again. My new blog is

Would love for all of you to follow me again!

Happy Summer :)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Hello from the USA! I'm sure most of you already know, but I finally arrived in Washington, D.C. last Thursday. I was supposed to get in last Wednesday, but my flight was straight up canceled (technical plane problem). Although I was extremely upset because I was thrilled to get home, I was put up in a super nice airport hotel, and I got to explore some of the Christmas markets while having all my meals paid for by the airline.

When I arrived in DC I couldn't have been happier. I got home around dinner time and was quickly greeted by my amazing friends. The next day most of you probably saw that we got a snow storm on the East Coast. In Williamsburg we got about an inch which is a lot for our town sadly. However, when I was driving home I saw people playing touch football in the dark while the snow fell, but had lit up the field with all of their car headlights in a row. It doesn't get more American than that, and it definitely made me happy to be back.

Since this is my last post, because my study abroad is now over I wan to thank everyone who read my blog, and who contributed to my time abroad with comments, suggestions, and help.

I had the most incredible time abroad, and feel grateful for every experience. I learned just a couple days ago that I'll be spending my next summer in Tanzania, so expect I another blog soon! Plus, I'm thinking about starting an everyday type blog also.

Please keep me updated on what all of you are up to.

With love. Always,

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Goodbye To Athens

Today is my last day in Athens. I have my last final in one hour, a farewell dinner this evening, and then soaking up the last hours of Athens with my roommates before catching a cab at 5am Wednesday (tomorrow) morning. I land in Washington, DC at 3pm tomorrow. I am beyond excited to be back in the States with friends and family. I have missed everyone so much. But leaving Athens is also incredibly sad. I have had the most incredible semester, and have learned so much about many wonderful places around the world and about myself along the way. Athens has been a wonderful home for the past 4 months and I will miss Greece/Athens so incredible much. It is such a wonderful country.

Things I will miss (the highlights, since three is a lot to no particular order):

-my incredible roommates
-waking up to the noise of the gypsies selling things outside
-using the Acropolis as a direction marker when walking around the city
-lunches at my school
-Greek food
-Celia, the little girl I tutor
-pitchers of wine at tavernas/tavernas in general
-the relaxed Greek culture (aka people work when they want to)
-lemon fanta
-the beautiful Greek towns around the country
-how when a big soccer game is on in European cities/town everyone gathers in cafes/bars to watch them
-blocks of feta
-the incredible farmer's market
-Greek people, they are the nicest people
-learning a language that nobody around the world speaks (officially)
-Greece/ Athens as whole, and every god/bad thing about it

All the places I went this semester....
Athens, Greece
Santorini, Greece
Istanbul, Turkey
Crete, Greece
The Peloponnese, Greece
Paris, France
Barcelona, Spain
Shanghai, China
Cairo, Egypt
London, England

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

More Barcelona Photos

Christopher Columbus statuea beautiful building along the port
Park Guell
love this lizard

Park Guell, one of the super cool bridges
A club we went to on Friday night
The highest point at Park Guell
Some of the amazing buildings at Park Guell
The super busy (yet, super delicious) tapas restaurant we went to
The fresh juice mango and orange mix
Christmas markets!


For my last trip of the semester, I had a whirlwind tour/visit to Barcelona. I sadly had class last Friday, so I couldn't leave until Friday afternoon. And sadly, the only flight that made sense economically and with time, was at 9am on Sunday--so it was a really short trip.

Friday: Direct flights to Barcelona were super expensive, so I had to fly through Geneva, Switzerland. However this was nice for two reasons: 1. I got to fly over the Swiss alps, which were beautiful 2. I got to fly Swiss airways, which is known for being on time and the food was quite food (and they give you Swiss chocolate). I arrived in Barcelona around 7:45pm. Luckily, Austin was visiting a friend and his flight landed at the same time, so we were able to metro into the city together. After about five minutes of navigating once outside the metro, I was at my friends' apartment (was visiting Guillaume, Ben, and Evan). By the time I got to the apartment, it was about 10ish. We hung out for a bit, then went to an Oktoberfest style bar for Kevin's birthday. We stayed at the bar for awhile, while trying to finish bucket-like quantities of beer, while also soaking up the atmosphere of Barcelona. We then headed to the area where the Olympics were, because it has no turned into a club area. We went to two clubs and danced the night away until about 4am. It was a lot of fun, and I also ran into a couple other Dukies who are studying abroad in Barcelona.
Saturday: We all started to wake up around 11am, and got our act together before a busy day of touring. At about noonish we mobilized towards the metro to head to our first stop--Park Guell. For those of you who don't know, Barcelona made the brilliant decision to hire an architect named Gaidi to design many buildings in the city. His architecture is the most surreal thing, basically only pictures can explain it. The park is this beautiful, tropically landscaped area filled with Gaudi's unique designs. The weather was about 66 degrees and sunny, and basically the perfect way to start the day. The park was also filled with bohemian artists and many musicians, it was really cool. After exploring the park for a couple hours, we took the metro to a very popular tapas place called the Champeria. They have amazzzzing sandwiches for all less than four Euros, and have champagne bottles for 4 euros. However, the place is extremely popular and was beyond packed--but nonetheless a delicious, cheap meal. We then walked down the most famous street in all of Spain--La Rambla. The street is filled with street performers, markets, and artists. It was extremely busy, and a really cool strip. To the side of La Rambla was a market that had fruit, fish, meat, wine, spices, and just about everything you can imagine. The best thing, however, was the fresh juice bar. I got a cup of fresh mango and orange juice mix, it was incredible. By the time we got our fill, we walked to our last stop--the Gaudi church called Sagrada Familia. The church looks as if you built a church out of wet, dripping sand. The design is so intricate that it has been under construction for 100 years aka. it is still not finished, and is not expected to be finished for quite some time. After staring at the building in awe, we walked through some of the Christmas markets. It made me beyond excited for home, and Christmas. Can't wait! We then went back to the apartment for a little siesta before heading out for dinner. For Kevin's birthday we decided to eat at a tapas restaurant with a bit of an American flair. I got a salad, which was super exciting because I hadn't had a salad since August (except Greek salads but they don't have lettuce) . For the rest of the evening we explored the city of Barcelona some more, I got to see a Gaudi designed apartment which was unsurprisingly beyond cool.

Saturday/Sunday: Sadly, I had to wake up around 6:15am to head over to the airport for my early flight back to Athens. Overall, I had an amazing last trip in Barcelona. It is such a beautiful, cool city. The whole atmosphere is just really hip. Plus, my friends were amazing hosts, and it was beyond great to see all of them. My flights were luckily all on time, and got to see the Swiss alps one more time. However, once returning to Athens, I was also returning to the anniversary of the student riots from last December. Some of you might have seen it one the news, but if not check it out:

Things are still mostly safe, the city for the next week or so is just busy with protests and mini riots, so it will be interesting to see how things turn out.

Also, I have ONE WEEK left in Athens aka. I land in Washington, D.C. at 3pm on December 16th....I cannot believe it one bit.

Today is my last day of classes in Athens. also unbelievable

can't wait to see everyone SO soon.


Monday, November 30, 2009

Photos of Cairo

lounging on a camel
all of the girls

A mosque next to the marketI thought this was a interesting looking little chapel
view from the Hanging Church
koshary=extremely tasty Egyptian food

Visiting a mosque in Coptic CairoSaqqara's step pyramid--the oldest man made stone structure
inside a pyramid/the tomb room
The sphinx and the pyramids

Our youngest guide around the pyramidsMy camel, who I named Larry (because I thought he looked like Larry David), but sadly Larry threw a fit 1/4 of the way and they had to take him away
Sheep being taken away to be sacrificed for the Muslim holiday the next morning

Friday, November 27, 2009


What an experience.

Thursday: Thanks to the people who complained at my abroad school before me, we now have a Thanksgiving break. I immediately knew where I wanted to go--Cairo. Thursday Laura and I casually got ready for our 1:30 flight with no hassles or delays. It wasn't until the extra intense security at the Athens airport for the first time ever that it sunk in we were going to Cairo. The flight was only two hours, but within those two hours we got a decent airplane meal and made friends with a guy from Cairo who lives in Athens for business. The flight coming in was wonderful. We could see a major city literally on the edge of a never ending desert. The city itself looked like it was covered in dust--welcome to Cairo. We could even see the Nile and its never ending branches. We smoothly landed in the new Cairo airport, which apparently opened in 2007. In order to enter Egypt you must by a 15 USD visa at one of the banks before you go through customs. This all went well, and we even got a marriage proposal from the banker--welcome to Cairo. Our only setback came when we had to wait for our luggage to come on the conveyor belt for almost an hour, but luckily it did eventually arrive. Thanks to our hostel (The Australian Hostel), we had our free airport driver waiting for us with a sign with our name on it. The driver and the drive was crazy. We based beautiful mosque upon mosque, listened to Egyptian pop music, made friends with the driver, and experienced first hand the craziest driving ever. We arrived at our hostel around 5pm which is located in the heart of Cairo. At the hostel we experienced its infamous elevator which doesn't have a door, so when you go up past non-walls you could basically plummet down--welcome to Cairo. However, the hostel is really quite nice and the staff is very helpful. Laura and I have a cute double room that is very spacious (not bad for 10 dollars a night). At the hostel we met up with three other CYA students (Kellyn, Aimielisa, and McKenzie). After getting settled, Laura and I wandered around the city to get our first taste of Cairo. We wondered the packed streets (apparently 22 million people live in Cairo, wow), and looked at all the stores and shops, along with getting a few cat calls, but oh well. We as tourists, honestly stick out like sore thumbs. If you aren't from Egypt, its nearly impossible to look like you are. After feeling out the streets, we went back to the hostel to meet up with the other girls before heading out to dinner. We ended up eating at a place that sold a sort of burger like patty in a fried pita (was told the name in Arabic but I don't remember the exact name). It is very common in Cairo for restaurants to specialize in one thing and only sell that one thing. The burger/pita was really good, but nonetheless we were excited for sweets. I had heard from people who had visited before that The ABD bakery is amazing, and that GAD has amazing Egyptian pancakes...I was on a mission. We found the bakery with ease, but it took us a bit of time to find the pancake place, but was it worth it. Walking to streets of Cairo is quite an event. You can take you 10 minutes to walk one block, because there are so many people. I got an Egyptian pancake with only sugar (cost me 3 egyptian pounds, which is like .80 US dollars), and it was huge and DELICIOUS. soooo good. incredible. By the time we finished our pancakes it was midnight, so we headed back to the hostel to get sleep since we had a 7:40 wake up call for a full day trip to the PYRAMIDS!!!!!

Friday/Pyramid Day: What a wonderful, long, memorable, incredible day. I got up at the early hour of 7:40 and got ready for what was to be a big day. The breakfast at the hostel was what I was craving--bread, strawberry jelly, cheese, and a hard boiled egg. Yay free breakfast. Then at about 8:30 we met up with our driver for the day. He was a really nice man who knew so much about the pyramids, Cairo, etc. On the way to our first stop, the Giza pyramids, we stopped for a photo-op at the widest part of the Nile River. crazy. As we approached Giza, I nearly died when I first saw the Great Pyramids, they really are the most incredible things. We then as a group decided that we wanted do see Giza by camel. Greatest decision ever. Within half an hour we were all on camel back. This was the first time I have ever ridden a camel. I know my dad is afraid of them, and now I can understand why. They are kinda grumpy, show teeth, and spit, oh dear. Our tour started with hiking up the hills of the desert towards the pyramids. At one of the highest peaks we stopped for a photo shoot, however, when we stopped my camel (who I named Larry because I thought he kinda looked like Larry David), he threw a crazy camel fit to the point where they took him away. So, for the rest of the trip I had to ride the tour guide's horse while he trekked through the sand. I can't even begin to tell you how picturesque it was. There were men dressed in traditional garb galloping on camels on the desert hills--looked like it was straight out of a movie. We then made it to the 2nd tallest pyramid, where we went inside. In order to get inside you have to crawl down a tunnel (Being John Malcovich stye), down a wooden plank with little metal divots so you don't fall all the way down. You then have to crawl up a wooden plank to get to the main tomb area. The tomb itself was pretty cool, but the walls over the years have become blank unfortunately. After a thorough investigation of the tomb, we climbed back out. Our next adventure was to climb the pyramid. Now, you aren't supposed to climb them, but if you give the tourism police a little bribe, you can basically do whatever you want. A part of me was sad because I felt that as long as there are people to bribe and who take them, the pyramids will not be preserved like they should be. However, I'm not gonna lie that climbing the pyramids is an incredible experience. We climbed up a bit, and then had a bit of a photo shoot. Afterwards, some money was slipped into the hand of the police and we were on our way to the major tombs and the sphinx. I think the sphinx is one of the coolest things ever, and to actually see it in person was just surreal. Seeing the Great Pyramids is just incredible. We then met up with our driver again at about 2:20 , a famous perfumery. Being a group of five girls it took us about an hour or so to sample all the wonderful oils. It was definitely a unique perfume shopping experience. The perfume bottles themselves look like something out of Aladdin. We then hopped back in the van and headed to the oldest pyramid which is the oldest stone building made by man in Saqqara. When we arrived, we first went to another tomb which this time had incredible wall hieroglyphics and paintings. We then had to rush over to the step pyramids, however, because the sun was starting to set and the site was about to shut down. We made it just in time and got to experience our final, amazing pyramid. We then hoped back in the van and headed back to our hostel. By this time we were starving, so Laura and I decided to get traditional Egyptian food called "ko-shary. It has rice, noodles, a tomatoey sauce, crunchy won-ton like pieces aka. something that is extremely hard to describe but super tasty. After an incredibly filling meal we went back to the hostel to relax. After everyone was full and clean we watched Almost Famous in the hostel lobby with some of the other guests. We met a guy from Canada named Ben, and a guy from New Haven, Connecticut. Small world. Was a great ending after an incredible day.

Saturday: We woke up around 9:30 to get ready and eat breakfast. However, our hostel had run out of breakfast food, so they rand down and got us some sort of traditional Egyptian breakfast that involved a pita with beans inside. Was actually pretty tasty. Our first stop was Coptic Cairo. We decided to take the metro because it cost 1 EP which is .18 US cents. wow. We first went to the Hanging Church, where it is believed to be the place where the Virgin Mary hid. As we explored the area, we visited a synagogue (where extra security was in place, even a metal detector to get through), a beautiful Greek orthodox Church, and another church (where there was holy well due to the fact it is believed Jesus went into hiding there). Our final stop in Coptic Cairo was one of the oldest mosques. In order to enter we obviously had to cover our hair, but they also gave us full length robes to cover every inch of our body. The mosque was not touristy and quite peaceful, was a wonderful place to relax and reflect. Then I had my first Cairo taxi experience. What you do is flag down one of the riggity old taxis because they don't have meters, then you arrange a flat price before getting in the car. For a good distance you should pay 15 EP which is 2.75 USD, once again not bad. Along the way we took a short cut from the traffic down a small street. We saw tons of sheep skins from the millions of sheep sacrificed the day before for a Muslim holiday. It doesn't get more traditional than that. We also saw tons of children playing with toy guns running around barefoot, quite a sight. We took the taxi to the Khan El-Khahlily market, it was so much fun and incredible. I have started to really like bargaining and working on making deals, its kind of like a sport. It is especially a great place to do some Christmas shopping. After exploring the windy shopping streets for two hours, we took a taxi back to the hostel to relax for about an hour before going on our Nile dinner cruise. The dinner cruise was nice, but not quite to par for the price we had to pay for it. We did have some traditional Egyptian music and belly dancing as entertainment, but the best part by far was sitting on top of the boat watching the city lights pass us by (plus its pretty sweet to say you took a boat along the Nile River, not bad at all). The cruise ended around 10ish, so we then went back to the hotel to relax before our last day in Cairo.

Sunday: The other CYA students who met us in Cairo had their flight back to Athens, so for our final day it was just Laura and I. We woke up around 9 and headed towards to overwhelming Cairo Museum. The Cairo Museum has an incredible (extremely large) collection of Egyptian antiques, however, since it is in Cairo it is unlike any museum I have ever been too. The lighting is quite bad, and probably only 1/3 of the items are labeled (and if they are labeled, they are labeled on memo cards of loose leaf paper, not kidding). The museum is also not really "organized," so it can be a bit chaotic. Nonetheless, the collections is incredible. My favorites were by far the mummies (which were an extra 60 egyptian pounds, plus the 30 egyptian pound entrance fee). You could still see the person's hair and teeth. It is crazy how preserved the bodies are. My close second favorite were the huge Egyptian statues, especially the ones of the heretic ruler Akenaton. Laura and I are proud to say we saw the ENTIRE museum, and it took us a grand total of FOUR hours. Yes, a huge museum. We then decided to explore the streets of Cairo. We found some shops ideal for Christmas shopping, and went to the famous El ABD bakery (which was super pact and quite the experience in itself). For our final night we decided to get all of our favorite foods from the weekend (koshary, egyptian pancakes, and goods from El ABD), and feast while watching Love Actually and the Prince of Egypt. The perfect ending to a incredible trip.

Cairo at a glance:
-they don't have/use toilet paper (sometimes) so you should always bring a role with you
-everyone seems to wear sandals
-egyptian food is tasty
-don't drink the water
-if you are a tourist, people in the streets with tell you "welcome," have been told more times than I can count (also everyone seems to love Americans (or wherever they think those who speak English are from), if they know you are from America they will say "howdy"
-people are quite helpful
-at night the city lights up and the streets are flooded with people (have never seen so many people in my life, can take 10 minutes to walk one block)
-the Nile is quite polluted unfortunately
-the pyramids are breathtaking/incredible/a must see
-you must ride a camel
-experience the sunset, it is blood red
but overall, I love being in Cairo

**home in 2 weeks and two days!!! :)

I miss you all so much