2014 Study Abroad Blogger

So you’ve made your list of things to do in Iceland, and nestled in between subjecting yourself to eating fermented shark and witnessing the original geyser, Geysir, spout is a trip to the Blue Lagoon. You’ve heard about the unlimited supply of a relatively important resource that is hot water and the ways in which Icelanders utilize and enjoy said resource.

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Not only has she funded all of my travel expeditions we've gone on, but she's also one of the only people who knows me fully and knows how to deal with me at my best and worst times. That's the perfect travel companion, I think! She and I have been on a lot of expeditions, inside and outside the United States, with or without other family members or other friends, but I think no matter what we always have a fantastic time, and it's hard not to when you're sharing an experience with someone you love.

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I never saw Thanksgiving as a very special holiday. I don’t know why I’ve always felt indifferent on Thanksgiving, perhaps it was my excessive pickiness as I child but Thanksgiving just wasn’t that big of a deal to me. I never looked forward to it and it was never hyped up as much as other holidays in my household. Despite this, I guess the saying “you never really appreciate something until its gone” really applies here because for a holiday that I never paid much attention to I suddenly find myself missing now that I’m not at home to celebrate it with my family.

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It was a rainy and cold weekend for Thanksgiving this year, but that's probably nothing to the snow and cold poor Iowa got! Spending Thanksgiving here was definitely an experience, if only because there really wasn't an experience. Or we had to make our own experience, because while there is Black Friday here (completely commercialized), there is no Thanksgiving. Which makes complete sense, because Thanksgiving was all about the native Americans and pilgrims making friends (or so our kindergarten teachers tell us!).

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Here’s how it works: you buy a ticket online and then you wait. You wait for November to arrive, you wait in line to get your wrist band, you wait in line to get into venues, you wait in line to see a particular band and then you wait for the crowds to subside so you can wait in line for the next show. If you are an impatient soul who despises large numbers of people, Iceland Airwaves is not for you. If you’re a music enthusiast, avid reader, “orch-dork,” party-animal or all of the above, Iceland Airwaves will be one of the best weeks of your life.

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Last weekend I spent a day in San Jose, the capital city of Costa Rica. I’ve technically been to San Jose many times while in Costa Rica but it has only been to hop on a bus for one of the many weekend trips my friends and I have taken. I have never taken the time to explore. I only live about 30 minutes away by bus from San Jose and I’m sad to say I have neglected visiting the city as much as I thought I would.

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It sounds anti-social to prefer traveling alone, but so far that’s been the case. I haven’t left Germany. I cancelled a trip to Prague to avoid the annoyance of the Deutsche Bahn train strikes, but beyond that all my travels have been day-trips aside from one sleepover in Berlin.

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During my walk to class this morning I really took in the sights around me, looking back and remembering the time all of it was so strange and new. It was a huge accomplishment if I made it to class without getting lost. Now I try to get lost on purpose (not on my way to class though) so I can find the unfamiliar parts of town. When is the point in time where the strange and different becomes familiar, becomes home? Not only has my perspective changed, but I also feel different. In a very subtle way, like how your hair gets longer but you can't tell until you see pictures of you with short hair (my hair is in desperate need of a cut.)

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I'm going to start off by telling everyone it's 60 degrees outside, and I am FREEZING. This cold is giving me flashbacks to the polar vortex and -25 degree wind chill. Except it's 60 degrees. I am an Iowan in and out, 20 years of living with Iowa winters, and I have become soft. This place has changed me into the person that says, "Que calor!" At 80 degrees and "Que frio!" At 60 degrees.

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A couple of weeks ago, I went on another trip through my study abroad program. It was full of many once in a lifetime opportunities, and I think this would be a good time to delve a bit more into what IES European Union is all about. My program is made up of 66 students from universities all over the country. While most of us are political science or international relations majors, there are also economics, business, and environmental majors here. We each take five classes. Each student is enrolled in a German language class as well as an EU integrative seminar.

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