Saturday, October 25, 2014

Woven Together

Taking pictures of wildflowers at Versailles.
If I could tell eighteen year old me one thing it would be: yes, dreams are big, and sometimes they seem impossible, but with God, anything is possible. This is a poem I wrote almost 10 years ago:

My dreams are so big
that sometimes they come spilling out-
and beg to find a comfy nook to curl up in.
Nice and warm,
a lovely place for waiting until the day
that I can actually allow them to take root in my mind-
twisting and winding round the edges of my consciousness.

But until that day-
I'll package them up,
in the familiar pages of a well-worn book.
Where they shall be kept nice and safe,
their magic strengthened by far-off adventures
in Wonderland, Pemberly, & Neverland.

And on particularly dreary days-
when I chance to look upon them,
they shall see
that we are woven together
like the notes of a perfect aria,
which is more than Alice, Lizzie, or Peter 
could ever wish for.

Friday, October 24, 2014


This afternoon I set out from my apartment intent on enjoying the lovely fall weather; I feel I should clarify by stating that it's been a very steady, blustery 40 degrees for the past few days, so any proper girl from South Georgia would most definitely place this temperature into the "winter" column. Umbrella, hat, scarf, jacket, wool socks, boots. The rain dripped a steady beat on my umbrella and piles of burnished leaves squelched under the feet of those intent on discovering the city no matter the weather.

I walked and walked- turning down side streets yet unexplored, buying túrós táska (sweet cheese pastry) and meggyes rétes (sour cherry strudel) from a newfound bakery, and admiring all of the handcrafted leather boots that have taken over store window displays. And I'm sure that people kept wondering why this odd girl kept twirling her umbrella and smiling and splashing through puddles. But how can a person not smile when confronted with all of the beauty that is this city. I know I've said a million times how magical and lovely and brilliant Budapest is, but man oh man, sometimes when I'm out wandering it just punches me right in the chest. This place is beyond any pictures I could take or words I could write. It's more than the monuments that gleam on the Danube at night, like a myriad of lighthouses beckoning wandering souls to come and explore. And it's more than the little ivy-covered church tucked away in the heart of Budapest's labyrinthine streets. More than the restaurant that you can't help but return to because the smells and tastes contained within are the epitome of comfort. Budapest is not defined solely by her architecture and cuisine. She is a city exemplified by her people- individuals that played parts in a history which is equal parts tragedy and triumph.

So when I catch my breath at some new wonder discovered, it's with the realization that this incredible city has persevered. That despite everything and everyone who tried to shatter the very soul of this place- Budapest is a city that has stayed the course. While streets and buildings may change, the true history of Budapest is written in the hearts of all those- past and present- who have lived and loved and fought for their beloved city.

Thursday, September 18, 2014


Sometimes my time in this magical city feels like a dream. I wake up in the morning to the sounds of Budapest bustling around me. My daily walks are filled with the smells of frying bacon, baking bread, and a little too much cigarette smoke- I've never seen a city with so many smokers! The buildings look like they were created as the set to some splendid fairytale or mostly accurate BBC historical drama. I've finally started to get my footing here. Perhaps the hardest part for this extrovert was realizing that it's okay to be alone, to savor the moments, to not have someone to talk to every second of the day. Of course, I'm never truly alone; more than anything, this season in my life is teaching me to trust in God more fully and completely than ever before. Proverbs 3:5-6 has been my constant during this time: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths." And really, isn't that one of the hardest lessons to get into our thick, self-centered skulls? This journey that we're on hinges on such a small, yet powerful word: faith.

It is in this season of learning what it is to be faithful that I find myself. I don't wake up in the morning with the same strange, heavy-hearted feeling of loneliness that encompassed my first month here. And with each new day, I feel so grateful that I have been given this time to draw closer to the One who makes me whole. His grace and majesty are undeniable; they are present in the kindness of strangers- now friends- at my new church home, in the sunlight that glints just so off the cupola of Szent Istvan's, and even in the notes of Brahm's compositions that pay tribute to this resilient nation.

So you'll have to forgive me for my infrequent posting. You see, I'm taking this adventure a little differently than all the others. Each day is a new discovery; a study in getting lost and absorbing the sights, sounds, and smells- whether they be large or small- of this lovely place. I know that my time in Budapest will come to an end all too soon, and I'll be leaving a piece of myself with the city that has so thoroughly captured my heart. And even though this thought makes me wistful, I look forward to seeing what great adventure God has in store for me.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

St. Istvan's Day

Every year on August 20th, the Hungarian people celebrate St. Istvan's Day (St. Stephen's Day- In English). It's their "Fourth of July," so to speak. The celebration actually starts the day before with a lots of food, which you know I'm totally down with. In Buda, near the castle, the street that runs along the Danube is closed off to trams and traffic, and food vendors bring all kinds of Hungarian staples and delicacies for people to try. There's stuffed cabbage, wine, cheese, pastries, goulash; I could go on!!!! People come from all over Hungary to sell their farm-fresh items, and there are various artisans selling lace and other Hungarian things. It's pretty amazing.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Hungry Hippos

I suppose I promised you guys a zoo post, and I may have said I'd make it happen about five days ago. Oops. But, better late than never, right? Really, I just wanted a reason to write about the hippos. Because who doesn't love hippos?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Snapshot IV: District VI, Budapest

I might be a little biased, but I think I live in the most beautiful district in Budapest. The following are pictures of the Hungarian Parliament building, which is right up the street from my apartment, and a few other random shots from a walk around my neighborhood. Cheers!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Little Things

Szia Adventurers,

Today I've hit the one-week mark here in grand old Budapest. Before I get into the exciting where I've been and what I've seen bits, I just wanted to take a moment and let you know how deeply grateful I am for the prayers and long Skype conversations everyone sent my way after that last post. I have to say that today is the first day I didn't wake up with the odd feeling that I'm in some place I don't quite belong- this isn't to say that I've assimilated over night- simply that things are starting to make a little more sense, and I've stopped worrying over every little thing.

I'm slowly making my way round to different sections of the city. Budapest is really quite walkable, and once the weather starts to cool down, I'm sure I'll enjoy it infinitely more than I do now. In the past few days I've: gone to my first internship meeting, visited the Nagy Vásárcsarnok (Great Market Hall), hung out with a hippo at the Budapest Zoo, and finally braved the Budapest Metro System.

The internship with Corvinus is going to be quite different than expected- but in the best way possible. Instead of going into an office for a set amount of time every day, our group will meet every other week to receive a new "project." Currently, the Cold War History Research Center is creating a timeline for all events that occurred during the war, and my present task is to copyedit the work done on a specific section of that timeline. Seems this is one of those instances where being a "native" English speaker will come in handy. So, as long as I get the work completed within the set time frame, I'm free to do what I will during the day. This is fabulous news, as I've got a few friends planning to visit, and this will give me more free time to play tour guide.

It just so happens that Corvinus is conveniently located next to the Great/Central Market Hall- that's the Nagy Vásárcsarnok in Hungarian. I'll do my best not to go total fangirl while writing about this place, but I can't make any promises. It's a foodie paradise! The bottom floor is where local vendors sell fruits, veggies, honey, homemade yogurt/cheese, meat, and paprika, of course. Everything is straight from the farm, and so much more affordable than farmers markets or organic co-ops in the States. The second floor is where you'll find the more "touristy" items like Hungarian lace and pottery, as well as super delicious, prepared Hungarian food. The gulyás (goulash), you guys! So, so good! In fact, I'm already desperately hunting recipes that are "authentic," so that I'll be able to indulge my craving once I come home. There's also the orange juice guy- who is totally going to know me by name. I told my Dad that one of those old fashioned levered juicers is a necessity once I get home. Oddly enough, there are quite a few Market Hall naysayers on TripAdvisor- a place I normally trust for travel advice. Don't listen to them! If you ever find yourself in Budapest, the Market is a great place to mingle with locals and fellow tourists- you can buy things to create your own meal, or get something that has already been prepared. Definitely a fun little slice of Hungarian culture!

That's all from me tonight. I just finished my first load of laundry, and I've got to go hang it up to dry (the joys of European living!). I'll be back tomorrow with lots of animal awesomeness, and a few helpful tips on traversing the Budapest Metro System- because I know you're all dying to come see me, in which case this information becomes highly valuable!

Much love,

P.S.- I promise I'll start taking more pictures with the real camera soon- it's simple too hot to lug that bad boy around right now.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Wandering and Wondering

Dearest Adventurers,

It would be remiss of me to sit here and type that everything has been unicorns and puppies and sparkles since I arrived in Budapest. Over the past couple of days, I've found myself wandering this beautiful city and wondering why I decided to move halfway across the world. I'll admit that I've always prided myself on my adventurous spirit. So why, then, have I felt so alone? The chance to live in a foreign city is finally mine, and here I am missing family and friends and the pups and home. Who is this girl with all these FEELINGS and where has her aforementioned spirit of adventure gone?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Hungry in Hungary

Jó estét,

That means good evening in Hungarian. (For those of you wondering, it's pronounced: yaw (long a) eshtayt.) Today was my first full day in Budapest, and I had such a weird night, that I didn't really leave my apartment until one in the afternoon. My jetlag was quite a bit worse than usual, and I just couldn't make myself get out of bed. So when you add a crazy case of jetlag, plus the nerves that come from knowing you're going to be living in a new country for five months, you get a girl with no appetite. But, let's get to the interesting stuff...

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Hej and Bonjour!

The Danish Crown

I haven't forgotten you all! Since arriving in Geneva, things have been a little crazy, and we don't have the most reliable internet connection. Things are going well here. It's nice to finally spend some time with the people I spend the majority of my life with (online, that is). So far we've met with the World Health Organization, Doctors Without Borders, United Nations High Commission for Refugees, and the International Committee of the Red Cross. To say it's sort of surreal to be in the headquarters for such big, well-known organizations would be a bit of an understatement. There's not much I could tell all of you about our sessions that wouldn't, most likely, bore you to tears, so you'll just have to take my word that I'm learning lots of great things!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Two For One

You guys get a two-for-one today. I’m going to be writing about yesterday’s trip to the South Shore and our final day in Reykjavik, which we spent horseback riding and wandering around downtown. I’m going to bullet-point it out for all of you, because I’ve got some packing and sleeping to do in order to be ready for tomorrow’s flight to Copenhagen. Let’s get to it:

Monday, May 5, 2014

On Hákarl and Other Adventures

Horses at our first stop, the farm.

It's twenty past midnight here in Reykjavík, which means I should most definitely be in bed. But, I know if I go to sleep now, I'll forget to write about some crucial part of yesterday's trip. I'm going to attempt to keep this much shorter than yesterday, but we'll see how that goes.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

It's Not An Adventure Unless Someone Gets Hurt

Downtown Reykjavik

Hello, hello!
While this is the first day I'm posting, it's technically day two of the trip; someone, who may or may not go by Linda, slept most of the day away yesterday. In her defense, she was heavily medicated due to airplane jitters. But, it all worked out because yesterday was the windiest, rainiest day EVER. Anyways... On to the good stuff.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Twenty-Eight Before Twenty-Eight

Since my birthday falls so close to the New Year, I've taken a page out of my friend April's book... Instead of making those often not kept "resolutions," I make a list of however many things I'd like to do/see/accomplish before my next birthday. Despite my best intentions, I didn't make it through many of the things on my 27 before 27 list. I'll make no excuses except to say that I let myself get too caught up in the craziness that was 2013. Now that my life has some sort of direction (graduate school), at least for the moment, I'm hoping 2014 will be a little more cooperative than last year. So, here's my 28 before 28 list, may the odds be ever in my favor.

1) Pick a classic novel that you've never read and go for it!

2) Go to a Renaissance Fair.

3) Travel to a new country.

4) Take a sewing class.

5) Re-read a favorite book.

6) Blog more often.

7) Host an outdoor movie party.

8) Make a music playlist for every month this year.

9) Give up soda.

10) Attend a Yoga class.

11) Successfully make yeast bread.

12) Donate to a charity.

13) Go to tea in London.

14) Eat a macaron in Paris.

15) Finish an entire New York Times crossword puzzle with no help.

16) Go star-gazing.

17) Send more "just because" letters to friends.

18) Enter a photography competition.

19) Try a weird and unexpected food.

20) Attend a fencing match.

21) Practice my German language skills.

22) Have an Indiana Jones movie marathon day.

23) See a movie at a drive-in theatre.

24) Fly a kite.

25) Throw a surprise party.

26) Take a PhotoShop class.

27) Give up all forms of social media for one month.

28) Finish and graduate from Grad School!