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I have been in Spain for roughly two weeks and have spent 25% of that time lost. Maybe this is an exaggeration since many of my meanderings, as Tolkien might say, were spent with intention. However, this was definitely not true of my first day. My first experience of feeling misplaced was immediately upon arriving in Madrid. The second (third, fourth and fifth ad infinitim) have been in Bilbao, a clean and beautiful city whose streets seem to snake like tributaries of the Mississippi river even though I’ve been told by everyone who lives here “it’s so small it is impossible to get lost.” In every Spanish city I have visited so far I’ve found it very easy to lose my way, and the only difference between my first day and today is that now I do it on purpose.

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I don’t know how to answer the questions you’ll ask me about being abroad for four months. You’ll ask if it was amazing, and then you will ask me if I miss it. And I will say there are a few things that I miss in particular – getting to see mountains every day, and I honestly miss hearing the Icelandic language. The landscape is surreal, so I miss that, too. What I could do without is missing my friends and family in the United States. But now I just miss the friends that I made abroad.

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Getting off the plane at O’Hare was surreal. Was I really back in Chicago? Costa Rica felt like a dream and I had just suddenly awoken to the brisk winter of the Windy City. To be honest I wasn’t excited to be back, not as excited as I should have been or excited as my friends were. I had found a sense of happiness in Costa Rica that I was scared I would lose the moment I stepped back on to U.S. territory. But as I walked through the airport, I promised myself I would hold on to that happiness and optimism I had gained in Costa Rica and carry it with me wherever I went.

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The next WorldCanvass will explore the complicated and controversial issues surrounding the legality and use of tobacco and marijuana with a special focus on the tension between personal liberty and the public good. Host Joan Kjaer will moderate the conversation with guests from the fields of dentistry, psychiatry, pharmacy, public health, and law. The February 3 program begins at 5 p.m. at FilmScene and is free and open to the public

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After 28 hours in airports and airplanes – with little to no sleep – I made it not to home, but to a nice comfy hotel. Little did I know when I was buying my plane ticket home back in July that I would get caught in Iowa’s first big snowstorm of 2015. Had I gone back a day earlier or a day later, I would have gotten home just fine!

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Are you heading to China for business, interested in learning the basics of Chinese language, or just want to try a new form of exercise or relaxation? Consider enrolling in one of the many community courses offered by the Confucius Institute!

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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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