Gothenburg

Gothenburg was stop #3 on our journey. The city was easy to navigate and had plenty to do and see. I think that visiting would have been a bit better in the warmer months, purely because there was an amusement park here – Lisenberg – that looked super fun. Also, we found a kind dry cleaners owner who offered to have her husband wash and dry our clothes from the washing mishap in Oslo.

What we saw:

Haga Neighborhood – Historic streets filled with the cutest shops and buildings.

Gothia Towers – These iconic buildings house a luxury hotel where the sky bar Heaven 23 is located. I wish we had the money to have stayed here.

Feskekörka – Translates to fish church in Swedish. This historic fish market is in one of the prettiest buildings in Gothenburg and the building really does resemble a church.

Universeum – By far one of the coolest museums I have ever been to. There are 8 permanent exhibits and 1 temporary exhibit. We weren’t able to make it through them all since we were limited on time, but we made it to the rainforest – complete with real exotic animals, the aquarium, and the space exhibit.

Gothenburg Museum of Art – I loved this art museum. There were pieces by Picasso, Monet, and my favorite – Van Gogh, as well as many sculptures, paintings, and interactive pieces by Nordic artists. This was one of my favorite places we visited on the entire trip.

What we ate:

Wrapped Burrito – Right down from the Museum of Art was this yummy burrito bar. It was by far one of the cheapest meals we had during the trip.

Heaven 23 – The views from this bar are incredible. The drinks and food are definitely waaaay overpriced but this was a fun spot to splurge during our trip. The cocktails were all amazing, and I loved the crème brûlée.

Cafe Husaren – Located in the Haga neighborhood, this cafe is so cute and offers a variety of pastries and desserts with coffee. The cinnamon rolls are supposed to be amazing here, but unfortunately they were sold out by the time we made it.

Verdict:

While I loved the art museum, and would have loved to visited Lisenberg, I’m not sure if I’ll visit Gothenburg again. This is primarily because I would rather go see somewhere new over re-visiting this spot. I am very excited that I added this pit stop to our itinerary.

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Oslo

Our second stop on our spring break adventure was Oslo, Norway. The experience we had here was one for the books. After getting in extremely early from a night spent on a long, uncomfortable bus ride – another memorable story – we powered through our exhaustion to explore the city for most of the day. Unfortunately, we realized after getting to our Airbnb we had been scammed by the host. The place looked nothing like the photos and after attempting to run the washer, we ended up with a flooded bathroom, ruined clothes, and discovering that the bathroom pipes were being held together by an intricate duct tape job. Our soaking wet clothes traveled in a plastic shopping bag after our night here until we could find a dry cleaners. The city itself was nice though.

What we saw:

Damstredet – Charming small neighborhood thats filled with well-preserved wooden, colorful houses from the 16th and 17th centuries.

Karl Johans Gate – this street is the main street of Oslo. It houses lots of shops, Hard Rock Cafe, Parliament, The National Theater, The Royal Palace and lots of other neat sights.

City Hall – This was my favorite place in Oslo. Leading up to the entrance along the outside walls on both sides are engraved wooden art pieces by famous Norwegian artists. Inside, you can walk around the bottom and top floors to see all of the preserved historic rooms as well as be in awe as you take in all of the paintings on the walls done by famous Norwegian artists, including Munch. I read that is where the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony is held.

Munch Museum – home to a lot of Munch’s famous works, including The Scream – however it was on tour when we visited – but there are a lot of great pieces from similar artists from the same time period.

Frogner & Vigeland Park – these two parks are a 2-for-1 deal. They are filled with over 200 *very interesting* sculptures by Gustav Vigeland. If you’re in Oslo, this is a must.

Parliament – there are guided tours at 10 and 11:30 am, which we skillfully missed, but the building is located at the end of Karl Johans Gate and was a cool sight to see.

Royal Palace – this is by far the most laid back *still active* palace I have visited in Europe. It was a beautiful, bright yellow and surrounded by a park with a playground with fun pieces of art. There was also a frozen pond that we walked on because when in Norway why not? (also, yes we tested the thickness of the ice very carefully before getting on it mom)

What we ate:

Rice Bowl – thai restaurant with large portions at decent prices (for Scandinavia) we we all super hungry and decided to each get our own plate, but we definitely should have just split because the portions were huge and kept us full all day.

Espresso House – This chain is located primary in Norway, Sweden, and Finland and is the best. It’s kind of like a Starbucks but with delicious coffee, fresh baked pastries, and more.

Verdict:

I’m glad we made this stop. Looking back now at all of the mishaps we had with things being closed and our airbnb issues makes me laugh, however, I don’t see myself venturing back to Oslo.

Copenhagen

For spring break this year I wanted to travel to somewhere new and *hopefully* not as touristy. I ended up with the idea that it was time to venture to Scandinavia. I talked with my a few of my friends and asked if they would be willing to trust me and go on this adventure. Thankfully, they did, and I was able to find some great deals on flights, accommodations, and buses. Our first stop on the trip was Copenhagen, Denmark.

What we saw:

The Round Tower is an experience you don’t want to miss. We walked up the spiraling path to see the breathtaking views of the city and learn about its history as the oldest functioning observatory in Europe. Though, it’s only used by amateur astronomers now, it used to be used by many famous scientists during the 17th century.

The Rosenborg Castle estate was a bit dismal since it was winter and nothing was in bloom, but it was fun to imagine how magical it would look in a few weeks once new life began springing up. The castle itself was a neat sight and was surrounded by a moat, which I loved.

The Little Mermaid Statue – Walking here from Rosenborg we were able to see a lot of off-the-beaten-path Copenhagen. Seeing the statue itself was really exciting for me since Ariel is my favorite Disney princess.

Kastellet – right next to the statue – is one of the best preserved sea fortresses in Northern Europe dating back to the early 17th that now houses military barracks and offices.

Amalienborg – home of the royal Danish family – is made up of Christian VII’s Palace, Christian IX’s Palace, Fredrik VIII’s Palace and Christian VIII’s Palace. Here we were able to see the royal guard and dream of living the royal life

Nyhavn, home to the famous rainbow colored buildings and Nyhavn Canal. We were able to overhear a tour guide explaining the buildings were intentionally built specific sizes and painted various colors to allow sailors to remember where they parked their boat when visiting Copenhagen.

Strøget, a large pedestrian street filled with independent shops like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Lush, Sephora, and Illum Shopping Mall that was very much like a Nordstrom’s. My favorite store we visited was Søstrene Grene. I wish I could have shipped home half of the store.

Where we ate:

Gorm’s Pizza – offers delicious thin crust pizza with seasonal, local toppings.

Coffee Collective – coffee shop company that begin in Copenhagen offering delicious, ethically sourced cups of hand crafted coffees, lattes, and more

Torvehallerne Food Market – located right next to Norreport Station this food market houses many stalls serving everything from local, handmade dishes to fresh fish, produce, and flowers

Tivoli Food Hall – located right next to Tivoli Gardens this food hall is open year round and into the later hours (which is unusual for Denmark it seemed). The different stalls serve less local, more traditional foods such as sushi, burgers, mexican food, chinese food, and more

Verdict:

Copenhagen one of my favorites. There was so much to see and do. I would love to go back some day in the Spring or Summer to experience everything in bloom, Tivoli Gardens, and more of the local food stands.

Study Abroad Reflection

Originally written in April 2018.

I think that it’s really easy to get discouraged when I feel that there are multiple things not going my way or are just different than what I’m used to. Enter the bright-eyed Annie who in high school dreamt of living abroad and making a point to never give up her dream of studying abroad. In fact, one of the reasons I chose my university is because of its mission to see 1 in 2 students study abroad.

Here I am now, with just 2 1/2 weeks left of my time studying abroad, and I have so many mixed emotions to be completely honest. Studying abroad has been full of challenges. The first and probably most real one being that I am allergic to pork, so living in Europe, especially in Spain has not been an easy task when it comes to finding a good source of protein. Oh right, did I mention I don’t like fish? Never have I missed grilled chicken so much.

Outside of food struggles, let’s talk about one very obvious aspect: Culture. I hadn’t done much research about the country I’d be living in before stepping onto my flight to leave (silly me) but have learned that Spain is really quite opposite of America in many ways. In contrast to the States, Spain is very laid back, life moves a lot slower, and there is no rush to get anywhere. A Spaniard from one of the local universities told me, “I’m not sure why Americans try to get everywhere so quickly. We’ll all get there at some point.” This manifests itself in everyone walking really slowly on sidewalks (on whichever side of the sidewalk they like). Next up: Siestas. In my ignorance, I was excited about this before coming to Spain. I thought I wouldn’t have to be in class and could use this time to relax. Unfortunately, this has not been the case, siesta is actually just a 3-5 hour span of time in which businesses shut down. Also on Sundays, about 90% of the places are closed due to the heavy influence of Catholicism. Coming from the land of Walmart and Whataburger, this definitely has been something I still have not gotten used to. The last difference (and the easiest to adjust to for me) is meal times. Arriving in Spain, my stomach was appalled that it had to wait until 2pm for lunch and then 10-11pm for dinner. Back home, my bedtime was usually 10:30, so getting adjusted to eating at that time was really difficult. Thankfully, my tummy quickly adjusted.

All that to say, neither one of these cultures are superior to the other, however, I think right now I prefer the American culture (maybe I’m biased from 21 years of living in the US). Despite this, I think that living in Spain has had some really great benefits and has been one of the greatest adventures of my life.

Studying Abroad Adventures

Well I’ve officially been abroad for over a month now, and wow it has definitely been an adventure! There have been many days where I’m in awe constantly at my luck as I walk to class and a handful of nights where the grumble of my tummy for a good ole Jersey Mike’s #7 with some Chick-fil-a waffle fries keeps me up. Overall, I am so, so thankful for this experience.

Since I can remember, I have always loved to travel. I have loved the thrill of hopping in a car or buckling (the seemingly pointless?) airplane seatbelt, as I jet off to a new place. Traveling has always been a way for experiencing new cultures, whether in a new country or state, watching others and trying imagine what living life would look like in whatever destination I was in. Living in Spain seemed like the ultimate dream come true. Until I realized, even living in a foreign place, I still yearn to travel to other places. Thank goodness for weekends!

Since getting to Spain, I have been able to visit Madrid, Toledo, and Sevilla. Sevilla is definitely my favorite – though I may be a little biased. As for weekend getaways, I’ve been able to wander Gibraltar, UK; Tangier and Chechaouen, Morocco; and Lisbon and Évora, Portugal.

Gibraltar

Over the past winter break, I binged watched The Crown on Netflix. Like watched all the way through 3 times binged watched. In the show, they mentioned Gibraltar as it is a British territory. Well me being uneducated I suppose, I had no idea that this territory was located right at the tip of Spain! Despite it’s being a different country, the security to cross the border was quite laughable. I was also quite disappointed that I “needed” my passport to cross the border but did not receive a stamp. While in the city, I was able to see Africa off the coast. It was only 28km away! I was also able to make my way to the of the famous rock to see the (in)famous monkeys! I was warned about the monkeys ability to act as swift thieves by my host mom before going, so I knew to keep my personal belongings close to my body. I made sure to grab a couple of pictures with them as how often do you get to see wild monkeys roaming around the streets casually? All-in-all, Gibraltar was a neat trip, but definitely got me excited to go to London later this month!

Morocco

When I signed up to study abroad, there was a week excursion to Morocco that I was also able to sign up for through my program. But as it was scheduled for one of our two week breaks, I opted to spend my time and money seeing other parts of Europe. I was definitely bummed because to be able to go to Africa while being so close seemed like such a good deal! Well Jesus, as He always does, provided an awesome opportunity for me. I found a local company that takes college students on weekend excursions to Morocco. I got Zach and a couple of friends on board with the idea and off we went! Tangier, the city we stayed in, was very nice and more modern than I had expected. (Thank goodness for traveling, y’all. It’s so important for learning and expanding your preconceived notions.) On our first night, we were able to eat in a big tent made from fancy carpets and eat a traditional Moroccan four course meal and watch a belly dancer and musicians. After I was served couscous and chicken, I was in love! The next day, we traveled to Chechaouen. It was incredible! The streets, buildings, alleys, houses, you name it were all different shades of blue. I learned from our sweet tour guide, Habibi, that the city used to be green until they decided to paint it blue to keep mosquitos away. I’m not sure how accurate this thinking is – but I also did not see a single mosquito while there. On our last day in Morocco, we did as any good tourist does, and we rode camels. I have ridden a camel on OU’s campus before, but riding one on the coast in Africa definitely was a cooler experience!! Overall, Morocco was a great experience filled with yummy food and good friends.

Portugal

My trek to Portugal was the most recent trip I’ve been on. This past weekend, I braved through a stomach bug (which I have since thankfully recovered from!!) to venture to this new-to-me place. I spent most of the weekend in Lisbon. Unfortunately, it rained a great deal of the time making exploring the streets of the city near impossible. I did, however, get to go to the Oceanarium, which until recently, was the largest aquarium in Europe. Now do not get too excited because let me tell ya, I’ve been to the aquarium in Dallas, TX, and it is true, everything is bigger in Texas. Despite it not quite matching up to my idea of big, it was definitely a very impressive aquarium! The most incredible thing about it was the in the center of the building was a series of two story tanks filled with sea creatures. Sharks, manta rays, and penguins oh my! On our way back to Sevilla, we stopped in the town of Évora. There isn’t too much to see city except for a cathedral with a chapel made entirely from 5,000 corps’s bones. Most accurately named, the Capela dos Ossos is a chapel inside of the Church of San Francisco. A Franciscan monk built the chapel as a part of the Counter Reformation. There was an phrase above the door to enter that reads in English, “We, the bones that are here, wait for you.” It was an interesting sight to say the least.

 

This adventure of studying abroad has been too good to me. I am so thankful I still have two months left to learn and explore!!

¡Hasta luego, amigos!

6 Things I’ve Learned in 2 Weeks Studying Abroad

I’ve been abroad for only two weeks, but I have learned so much in this short amount of time. Before I left, I researched for months reading articles and blogs about Spain, Europe, and studying abroad, trying to soak up as much knowledge as I could. I definitely learned a lot, but now that I am living it, I have gained so much useful knowledge.

  1. Exchange your money at bank at least a week before you leave.

I didn’t do this, so I made the mistake of exchanging dollars for euros in the airport and had to pay an $8 fee. Most banks will exchange the dollars and mail you euros without a fee if you have an account with them. Also make sure you ask for a list of partner banks in the countries you plan to go to.

2. Don’t under pack.

I read so many blogs advising people to not overpack for their semester abroad. I took this waaay too seriously and ending up under packing. Sure you can buy clothes wherever you’re studying, but reality is they could end up being more expensive and not fit the same as clothes stores back home. Trust me, 6 shirts is not enough even if they’re cute and layerable.

3. You’re gonna make friends.

Of all the things that I anticipated and planned for making friends ironically was not one. This is partly due to the fact that I knew people coming, but I was also so caught up in other details that it didn’t even cross my mind. Since coming, I have met some really incredible people. I love the friends that I have made here. It’s such a great experience to get to meet people from all over the U.S. on a different continent and become their friend.

8 new friends from 8 different universities
8 new friends from 8 different universities

4. If you have a choice, pick a homestay.

Staying with a family is a great opportunity. You get your laundry done, meals made, and get to experience the culture firsthand. Being in Spain, a homestay has had the added benefit/challenge of not speaking the language of my host mom. Even though it definitely has it’s cons, I think that there is so much to be learned and fun to have if you stay with locals. My host mom is awesome even though we are constantly learning how to communicate with the language barrier.

 

5. Bring the neck pillow and blanket.

I am so happy that I decided to bring the classic neck pillow. It was so nice to have on the airplane to use instead of the flimsy pillow they provide you with in economy. It was also a great companion on the bus rides from to and from the cities our program has taken us to. I wish I had a small blanket though. I love being comfy and sometimes it gets cold. So whether you wanna take the blanket from the plane or invest in an awesome blanket/pillow duo.

6. Culture shock is real, and it will affect everyone differently.

I’m a really independent person, so I don’t usually get homesick. Others though have gotten homesick and have needed to talk to their families more than some. That’s a-okay. We’re still in the beginning of our time abroad, and there are a lot things to get used to. Though I haven’t been homesick, I still have dealt with the struggle of missing the connivence of my life back in the states. Living in a new culture, there will always be a learning curve. New food, different fashion, norms to be learned, strange streets to get lost in, but you’ll survive

 

 

All-in-all, study abroad friends. If you have the opportunity, seize it. It’s so worth it.

 

Essential Oils 101

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What are essential oils?

Essential oils are concentrated plant extracts obtained by careful steam distillation, cold pressing, or resin tapping from farm-grown and wildcrafted plants, herbs, and trees. They oxygenate cells, support the body’s natural detoxification processes, make cells more permeable, and defend against unwanted guests in our bodies. And they have been around for thousands of years.

How to use essential oils

Aromatically:

  • Rub 2-3 drops of an essential oil between your palms and inhale.
  • Use your favorite essential oil in an diffuser.
  • When you inhale an essential oil, it only takes 22 seconds for it to reach your brain.

Topically:

  • Place 2-3 drops of essential oil directly on the desired area and massage in.
  • Essential oils penetrate the skin quickly and reach the blood stream within 2 minutes
  • They travel through out your body and generally have affected every cell within 20-30 minutes

Internally:

  • Place several drops into a vegetable capsule and swallow with water.
  • Add 1-2 drops of essential oil to a glass of water, juice, yogurt, plant-based milk, and swallow.
  • Add 1-2 drops or to taste when cooking.

Why Young Living?

Young Living is the world leader in essential oils with over 20 years of experience growing, harvesting, distilling and bottling their oils. There are so many factors that impact how potent your oil will be, and I couldn’t find another company that could guarantee me the same quality. You can check out the steps of Young Living’s proprietary Seed to Seal process here to see how they produce the best, most authentic essential oils.

How to order

WHOLESALE:  Recommended! By purchasing a Premium Starter Kit, you automatically get a Wholesale account. This gives you 24% off your future purchases, all at wholesale prices. No strings attached, period. No monthly fees, no required orders, no required selling, nothing. Just awesome oils at a great discount.

RETAIL:  You can order as a retail customer directly from Young Living, but you pay full price with no discounts. This can be a way to try one or two bottles, but ends up being more expensive in the long run.

Premium Starter Kit

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The Premium Starter Kit is an incredible value and includes a little bit of everything you need to get started using essential oils. It’s the most economical way to get started. You will get 11 oils, a diffuser of your choice (and they just added a new one that is AWESOME!!), lots of samples and some other references/goodies, 24% off all future young living purchases forever and a team that will support you throughout your journey answering questions and giving you tons of tips and tricks all for only $160! The kits retail for over $300, so this is a huge cost savings!! I checked around when I was researching essential oils, and I found out that not only is Young Living the standard for quality but also has one of the most affordable starter kits. I know it is a lot of money. I was really nervous about spending the money – like to the point where I told my sponsor I was gonna return them. But I am honestly so thankful I kept them. They are so easy to use, and I have seen a lot of benefits in my life from using them.

Interested? Ready to invest?

Message me or comment on this post!

Or go to https://www.youngliving.com/vo/#/signup/new-start?sponsorid=12147499&enrollerid=12147499&isocountrycode=US&culture=en-US&type=member and buy your kit!