Tuesday, October 8, 2013

For the Ladies (and the men who care): IMAGE

I recently read an article on Yahoo that posed this question: what do women who wear sizes 14+* prefer to be called. In the article, the author references notable 'plus sized' celebrities as role models but claim 'curvy' is a less offensive word choice. Interestingly, they also include a link (Curvy Quotient Quiz) to an interesting poll presented by an advertising agency that works with companies such as Lane Bryant (a store noted for catering to 'plus sized' or 'curvy' women). This poll asks questions about how women deal with their curves.

Upon taking the quiz and using their limited options to answer their questions as truthfully as possible I received the score of 'confidently curvy'. For the most part I do embrace my curves, but as several of my friends, and most definitely my mom, can attest, there are times when I truly loathe them; particularly when bra shopping, it can be such a pain to find the beautiful style/design I want in the style I want. In all honesty though, I am overweight.

There, I said it.

I fully admit that I need to loose some weight and definately need to be more active. That being said, I work every day to make sure that I am confident in myself for one reason or another. Most of the time that reason has NOTHING to do with how I look, and on days when it does I feel GOOOD! You know what I mean, that moment when you look in the mirror before heading out for the day and think, "WOW, I didn't think I could look this professional/nice/beautiful/well-dressed!"

Getting back to the previously mentioned article. I know women who are at a healthy weight, active and have true CURVES and those who DON'T and they're beautiful. I also know women who are somewhat healthy/not healthy, and have curves (Yup, thats ME) and are gorgeous. I also know countless women who are absolutely STUNNING, but are hurting because they allow themselves to fall into a vicious cycle of self-loathing and depression and a number of other issues related to self-confidence. What many, particularly the fashion and entertainment industries, don't understand is that these issues affect ALL types of women, regardless of size!

Self-confidence is a huge factor in a person's life (yes, men have issues too). One thing I have learned is that helps is to find some way to recognize and accept your talents, gifts, or virtues. A few months ago I challenged a friend to look herself straight in the eye in the mirror each morning, honestly, and without blinking say out loud just ONE thing she likes about herself. If she couldn't do it in the morning then she had the day to find something good to say. To my knowledge she didn't accept my challenge but I hope you all will.

So I will leave you with this challenge,

Look yourself in the eyes each morning and WITHOUT BLINKING, say one thing that you truly love about yourself. Be brutally honest, and as you keep striving to find new things, eventually you'll wake up and realize that you are beautiful, confident, and above all.... you love yourself for who you are. Wobbly bits and all!

*This number is not meant to be discriminatory, rather it is the common size definition of 'plus sized'

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Castles, bagpipes and pints

I would like to begin by apologizing for such a long break between my posts. It's been a crazy beautiful last few weeks. So without further ado....

My journey with Erika and Jenny continued in the enchanting city of Edinburgh where we arrived in a bit of a disoriented state, as the helpful tourist info kiosks were closed for the night. Fortunately we were able to find the appropriate bus to get into the city. Our first real introduction to Edinburgh was the climb up to 'Old Town' and our aptly named hostel, Castel Rock (you MUST stay here if you're visiting). It was situated down some stairs and directly across the street from the imposing Edinburgh Castle. 

Day 1
We hit the ground running on our first day, starting with a walking tour of Edinburgh. While meandering around the city we learned some of its history and local tales. Afterwards we were invited by our guide to try some local cuisine at a charming pub off of the Royal Mile. Jenny was the adventurous one and ordered Haggis while Erika and I both got bangers and mash (sausage and mashed potatoes). As good friends and travelers do we agreed to share a bite of our meals and I discovered that inspite of its atypical ingredients, haggis is actually quite delicious. 
 After lunch we had some time to pass before our back to back ghost tour and pub crawl so we wandered in and out of the shops in search of souvenirs. 

The ghost tour was fascinating, it began with a hike up Carlton Hill which was believed to be an entrance to the Faerie relm in the mideval age. From there we descended Jacobs Ladder to learn more about body snatchers, murders, canibals and vampires. When that tour was done we rejoined the living in a pub crawl around some of Edinburgs many pubs and clubs. During the crawl we also reunited with some friends from the earlier walking tour and proceeded to dance and drink the night away. 

Day 2
The next morning dawned with the three of us needing a hearty breakfast and lots of water. Unfortunately our enticing meal was bittersweet as Erika had to leave us and meet up with her parents. After saying our farewells, Jenny and I opted to find some shelter from the snow flurries and do some retail therapy at the local boutiques. She was also kind enough to try on all of the roughly 50 dresses I picked out.

Once the snow stopped we found our way to Hollyrod House, the local Royal residence in Edinburgh. It was a beautiful building and the grounds exemplified the mystique that surrounds everything Scottish. After touring the mannor, Jenny and I discovered an adorable Victorian style tea house where we got some drinks to warm up before climbing Carlton Hill for a photoshoot.

After returing to the city from the climb, we meandered back towards our hostel in search of some good food. We settled on a local pub and dinner of Haggis, a burger, and beer.  It was an early night as we had a train to catch in the morning.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Luck o' the Irish

Last month I undertook yet another travel adventure, this time in the British Isles. Accompanying me were my friends Jenny and Erika. In the next few posts I will attempt to capture the beauty and excitement that is traveling with friends in a few enchanting places, namely Dublin, Edinburgh, London and Bristol.

Herein lies the tale of my exploits in DUBLIN

Day 1

My first exposure to Ireland I feel I can only describe as a sort of baptism. Almost immediately after stepping off the bus from the Airport I was greeted by a gust of wind and pelting rain. Fortunately my umbrella survived just long enough for me to walk to my hostel (the Four Courts, which I highly suggest) and check in. I was not so lucky on my expedition to get some lunch as I was soaking wet and had to wait for about an hour while a tour group left the Brazenhead Inn, one of the oldest pubs in Ireland.
A traditional Irish Beef & Guinness stew!

The wait was well worth it though for a cozy and charming place to warm up and get some traditional Irish food. After lunch I hurried back to hostel, deciding that staying inside and dry was better than tromping around Dublin trying to do touristy things alone. Luckily, while chilling and reading I started a conversation with a semi-local Irishman named Tyrone, who just happens to be a cast member in HBO's Game of Thrones and History's Vikings. He was kind enough to keep me company with movies and conversation for the rest of the afternoon and evening until Erika and Jenny arrived.

Day 2
The rain had stopped during the night so the girls and I decided that a walking tour of Dublin was in order. I've found that doing such a tour is a great introduction to any city as it usually gives you a decent overview of the city's history and some historical trivia gems. For example, the denial of
George Lucas's request to film the Jedi Library scenes in the Long Room at Trinity College led to his using an almost exact digital recreation in Episode II.

 Our guide borrowed my friends camera and took this pic

We then made our way to the Guinness Storehouse to learn about how the famous brew is made. Its an interesting place with cool interactive displays on the brewing process. Despite the crowd you should definitely go up to the Gravity Bar to enjoy your free Guinness and the amazing view of the city. 

Day 3
We started out the day pretty late by having brunch in a charming cafe while waiting for our tour. At our scheduled time we made our way to Kilmainham Gaol, one the most famous prisons in Dublin. During our tour we learned that it was open from the late 1700s till 1924 and housed leaders in the Easter uprising and other revolutionary Irishmen. What I found intriguing was the fact that years after it closed some of the former inmates returned to clean the place up and turn it into a museum.
 We then meandered a bit around central Dublin and met up with Erika's friend who was studying there.
After dinner we had to hurry and catch our group for a pub crawl. We went to 5 different places. The 2nd and 3rd were my favorite as they had live music and the sort of fun atmosphere you'd expect from a traditional Irish pub. We also made some friends over good drinks and singing along to the music.

The Old Storehouse was our 2nd stop of the night, I HIGHLY suggest you go there if you're ever in Dublin

Day 4
We started the day of with a visit to the Jameson brewery. After an informative tour we were given a free taste of the famous whiskey which was delicious, mine was mixed with ginger soda and lime. Erika and Jenny became certified whiskey tasters by trying scotch, Jameson whiskey and Jack Daniels bourbon. We then wandered to a museum on Dublin's history, starting from the time of the Vikings.
It was a fantastic little interactive place with exhibits about almost every aspect of life in Dublin as it developed into the beautiful city it is today. It also included a section on current excavations and how Dubliners are preserving their history.

For now I wish you happy days and will have the next stage of the journey up soon! Cheers


I am a horrible person, I promised ya'll more frequent blogging and I've thusfar failed you. Please accept my sincerest apologies and a promise that the next post will be up later tonight. Thanks!!! 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Brussels, land of Beer and Politics!!

During the first week of March I was fortunate enough to travel with my European Politics class. We went to the beautiful city of Brussels where many of the institutions of the European Union are located.

Day 1: Sunday
We flew out of Copenhagen early Sunday morning. The flight was extreamly short and when we landed there was a distinct air of excitement amongst the group. After taking a bus to our airport and dropping off our bags we had lunch and split into tour groups. Our first belgain waffel was dessert at lunch.
 I chose the bike tour which lasted 3 hours, seeing some of the most beautiful views of Brussels and learning that Copenhagen might be the only city without hills. Dinner that night was on our own so some friends and I meandered in the blocks around the mideval city center. Later we found a bar that our professor suggested to us, and I highly suggest to you; Delirium. There I had my first Belgain beer, called Barbar Blonde, which was delicious!

Day 2: Monday
The day started with a visit to NATO and continued with fantastic food related activities. For lunch we had a traditional meal of mussles at a restaurant just a few blocks from the charming mideval city center.  For dessert we were treated to a lesson in chocolate making, and its history. We learned that there are 3 main ingrediants in chocolate and 4 major providers of the basic formulas. Once they determine their recipie, chocolatiers send their specific recipies to one of those companies with their order. The rest of the evening was spent meandering around Brussels with my fellow students.

Day 3: Tuesday
We visited the European Commission on Tuesday and were treated to a discussion on European Policy and the relationship between US policy makers and their counterparts in the European Union. In their lobby they had a mobile (pictured above) depicting all the different institutions of the EU. Afterwards we split into groups to our interviews of lobbyists. Interestingly, in the EU lobbyiests are more respectful than lobbyists in the US are generally considered. My group interviewd a lobbyist for the agriculture sector in the Netherlands. Their office works to make sure that everyone in the production chain has a voice in EU policy decisions regarding agriculture. Our next tour was of the European Parliament, similar to the US House of Representatives. 

Day 4: Wednesday
The day started with a visit from representatives of the US mission to the EU, which was inspiring since that's where I hope to work someday. Later we split into smaller groups to go intervew permanent representatives from EU member states to the European Council. Interestingly we actually interviewed the public relations/spokesperson for the Netherlands rather than the minister. That being said, the interview gave me some insight into how diplomats must make a clear distinction between their opininons and the official decisions in discussions. After the interviews we went to the charming Magritte Museam. Though they didn't have the most famous paintings by the surealist painter their collection was beautiful and intreguing. That night found me once again hanging out with friends at Delirium for after-dinner drinks, this time I had a grapefruit beer called Pink Killer. It tasted like a Blue Moon, pink lemonade shandy and was posatively fantastic. 

Day 5: Thursday
Sadly this was our last day in Brussels as we were moving on to visiting The Hague. We had a group visit to the European Union External Action Service, essentialy the foreign service of the EU. It was intresting to learn about how and why the EEAS was created and the various complications that arise in working with the individual foreign services of EU member states. Fortunately we were allowed a few hours of free time before we had to load up on a bus and leave. During that time I meandered around and found this lovely sculpture of a Smurf. Prior to this trip I didnt know that the Smurfs originated in Belgum, along with several other well known cartoon characters. 
After leaving Brussels we bussed to a Trappist monistary in The Netherlands. At this monistary they brewed beer in order to help their community and particluarly those with troubled  backgrounds. That night we stayed in a lovely hotel in The Hague. 

Day 6: Friday
We started our last day of traveling with a visit to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. We were breifed on what the lawyers and such have done regarding the apprehending and trying of war criminals. Surprisingly they are currently involved in the final trial of war criminals and will be shutting down as soon as appeals are finished, which they expect will be in 2015. From there we traveled to the beautiful city of Amsterdam! After a delightful lunch at a small cafe we were given a few hours free time before meeting up for our flight. I chose to join a group for a quick tour of the Red Light district and some background information. It was interesting to learn about how the system works with police protection for the workers and how they get their spots or 'windows'. After meandering around near the central station for an hour or two it was time to head to the airport and return to lovely Copenhagen. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013


I must appologize to you, my readers, for not updating this blog in over a month. I just got back from a trip to Brussels and will be updating with that story as soon as possible. Please be patient with me folks.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Exploring and/or Studying?!

So it's been a while since I last posted. Last week I got the oppourtunity to travel to Dyboll, Denmark and to Kiel and Lubek, Germany with my European Politics course. It was pretty fantastic being able to travel around to some places where the importance of the politics of the European Union is shown.
Fortunately, I was also able to do some touristy things on my various stops.

Stop 1: the Baelt Bridge

This bridge is actualy one of 2 completed bridges (of a 3 bridge system) that connects Scandinavia to Central Europe via Denmark and Germany. The section of the bridge in this picture goes between Jutland and the largest island of Denmark (where Copenhagen is located). It's the 3rd longest bridge in the world and was built to facilitate commuting between the two parts of Denmark. On our visit we were allowed to go inside the bridge structure (which was completely enclosed, as you can see) and were told about the economic and political significance of the bridge system. Particualrly how negotiations with the German government to build the 3rd bridge are affected by policy making with the EU. 

Stop 2: Dybbol, Denmark (pronounced, I believe, like do-bol)

On this stop we were shown around on of the battlefields of the various Danish-German conflicts over the Schleswig-Holstein territory. This particular battle marked the end of these conflicts and the loss of about 1/3 of the Danish state. The S-H territory still has strong economic connections to Denmark, as shown by the next two stops. We stayed in this town on our first night and were treated to a beer tasting* and delicious dinner at a local microbrewery. (note: the beer pictured was consumed in Germany, I unfortunately didn't get any pics from the beer tasting)
Stop 3: Kiel, Germany
Here my class got to meet one of the members of the S-H foreign ministry and we learned about how the federal system in Germany interacts with the EU. Specifically, our presenter explained how the three companion offices (in Kiel, Berlin and Brussels) worked together to promote the goals of the state of Schleswig-Holstein within the EU and the German government. 

Stop 4: Lubek, Germany
This was by far my favorite stop of this trip. Not only was I finally able to have some FANTASTIC German food and beer but we were able to actually explore the city thanks to this fantastic tourguide (and his truly EPIC moustache).

  He animatedly shared various stories about the history of this Mideval city, including the history of the Guild hall, and how the Devil (also pictured) helped build the largest church in the town. I later visited the church with a fellow student and discovered that the bells had fallen from the bell tower when the city was bombed during WWII. The falling of these bells was apparently so amazing and unexpected that the city decided to leave them as a monument to the trials and horrors of that attack. 

Perhaps the most famous aspect of Lubek is it's impressive Holstien Gate. It represents the importance of the city as an independent (from Germany until the 1930's) Imperial merchant  center. One interesting thing to note about this gatehouse (that you may not be able to see in this picture) is that it appears to sag in the middle but there is no sign of stress, leaning or wear that one would think could cause this sag. 

After returing home from this adventure my professor took the class to tour the Danish Parliament, guided by a former Foreign Minister and current member of Parliament. She was an impressive lady and inspired me to consider a carear working with the US mission to the EU.

Overall it was a truly inspiring and adventurous week of travel and learning. I am so grateful to be able to see these places and learn about how though they may be historical and 'old' they are still relevant to current dynamics in the European Union and foreign affairs. I leave you now with a picture of my first taste of 'official' Danish fare; Smorbrod (a type of open-faced sandwich) and a hearty meatball (which were absolutely DELICIOUS)

*More on the beer tasting: Please excuse my lack of good beer discriptions as I am still a novice beer drinker. We were given 3 litres of four different beers for 8 people (there were four groups of 8-10 ppl). The first was a very light beer. The second was a fantastic wheat beer with apricot flavoring (and boy you could definitely taste the apricot ^_^). The third was a darker beer that I thought was ok, and the fourth was darker still. Surprisingly I enjoyed the last beer more than most other dark dark beers I've tasted.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Some things are still the same

I was reading through my writings and journals this afternoon and came across this blog post I wrote at the begining of my freshman year of college. In order to get ever ounce of experience from this journey I have adopted the same general attitude presented in this post for my study abroad here in Copenhagen. I hope you find that my writing from three years ago is as a fine wine... well aged.

“Life is a journey, not a destination.”
This short Gandhi saying is on my door, I see it every time I leave my dorm room. Among many things it is simple, inspirational but most importantly, wise. As I begin my college experience this saying acquires new meaning. It reminds me that life is an experience where people should embrace every opportunity they are given. From frat parties to all night study sessions, college students are provided with a multitude of chances to explore not only who we are, but also our aspirations for the future. In turn we are expected to experience all that we can so that as we go through our college years we become well-rounded citizens of this world.  Therefore, life is all about the journey. Its end result is simply to leave a mark on the world and hopefully make it a better place.  At this point you readers are probably thinking “this is optimistic bull” and maybe it is but I am an optimist at heart so bear with me.
 I came to college not knowing what to expect, living with other people and being entirely responsible for my life was new for me. As was having drunken guys waking me up at 2 in the morning, writing 700 word journals for a first year seminar, and getting sick the first week of school. Possibly the most difficult aspect of college life so far has been adapting to a new climate of thinking, or community of knowers.  Transitioning from an area where I know my way around the town and the people around me to an entirely unfamiliar environment has caused me to adapt and change to the climate around me.  Keeping my door and mind open are necessary ways to meet new people and learn new things.  For now I will continue to observe, make friends, do my homework and live my life to the fullest extent of my abilities. So if you are reading this know that the purpose of life is to take advantage of every chance you have and run with it.

Monday, January 21, 2013

New Adventures in an Old City

Jan 15
I cannot say my travel to Europe was uneventful, after losing (then finding) my passport in the attempt to go through customs in lovely London, having a mini heart-attack thinking my bags got lost, finding out that they'd changed the carousel number, and waiting with some new friends for a taxi big enough for both us and our bags, I finally arrived at my housing in Copenhagen.

The first thing one learns here is how truly COLD it is in the middle of winter and how quickly that cold spreads through your body (unless of course you have an amazingly warm, fur lined coat from your more amazing Mom). In spite of this frigid reception, I have been touring around the city, meeting my fellow students, and learning how to not get lost on the winding streets.
 I've been relatively successful at this endeavor in the just over 24 hrs after my arrival and have already found my way back from the town center via the trains. Fortunately, I've avoided the plague known commonly as jet lag thanks to an AMAZING new home on Tasingegade (not quite pronounced how you think it is). The biggest challenge I've faced thus far has been understanding Danish, they have a few extra vowels and some strange sounds (de = el sound).

Jan 21

After about a week of being here I am beginning to appreiceate the emerging nuances of life in Denmark. Like candles. The danish have a concept of a perfect, cozy atmosphere where people gather and have fun called hygge (prounounced similarly to huge but without the e sound at the end). Fortunately I have been able to tap into this with some of my new friends and fellow students through group dinners, explorations and sorites to a nice (but expensive) neighborhood pub.

Furthermore, I have become considerably more at home with the bus system and am well on my way to knowing were I am in the city at a given point, provided I'm able to see some of the more notable spires of the Copenhagen skyline. For example the Marble Church which is the closest Lutheran (no, NOT Catholic) church to their majesty's royal residence.

 It's been about a week here and I'm already getting a strong feeling that Europe it's fantastic cities like Copenhagen are destined to be my future home. As I stated before, I will try to keep a regular schedule of updates for this travel blog but please be patient :) Thanks for reading and feel free to comment with any questions about what I've been up to on my adventure. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Study Abroad

Hey folks,
For the next few months I will be studying abroad in Copenhagen.  I will, to the best of my abilities, keep y'all informed as to my adventures whilst there. I hope you, my readers will enjoy what pictures and stories I share here. Thanks for reading, see ya on the other side of The Pond.