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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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Location: Norwich. Time since arrival: One week. Status: Alive and thriving. I am in England.

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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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It’s Wednesday night and I’ve just had a long but great day. I and a few other people got tickets to the Warner Bros Harry Potter Tour! To say that I used to be obsessed with Harry Potter is probably an understatement. My room was plastered with posters, I knew every tiny little fact and would take online trivia quizzes to prove I knew every little fact, and I’ve definitely read the books more than once. I was always convinced (okay, still am) that my Hogwarts letter had just gotten lost in the mail.

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I finally experienced a typical rainy day in London yesterday. Our class had a day trip to Stonehenge and then to Windsor Castle. It was a bright and early wake up to be outside on the bus at 7:45 am; or I guess I should say dark and dreary. It was lightly raining as all of us zombie walked onto the bus.

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It’s New Years Day! Last night I went to Piccadilly Circus to watch the fireworks and they were pretty spectacular. This year was the first year London ticketed their NYE fireworks, but I figure that was more for crowd control rather than for profit. Only those who wished to see the fireworks across from the London eye down by the River Thames were ticketed. Someone told me that last year all of the tubes had to be shut down because of too many crowds.

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On December 9, 2014, Joan Kjaer and her WorldCanvass guests discussed Gender and Identity. The program explored the sometimes evolving nature of self-identification, activism to create community and promote LGBTQ rights, and the ways in which LGBTQ individuals navigate their identities in different locations and cultural settings. This is a ReCap of the event with access to see and hear the full program.

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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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