I almost dropped one of my classes at the beginning of the semester in fear that the Spanish language level was too difficult. I am happy to have stuck with it and taken on the challenge because I’ve probably learned more in my “Wine in Spain” class than any other this semester.
I just spent four days in Amsterdam, exploring the city and celebrating Queen’s Day. Queen’s Day is a holiday to celebrate the queen’s birthday on April 30. This date is actually the queen’s mother’s birthday, but she kept the holiday in April because her birthday is during the winter and the weather is nicer in the spring for the outdoor celebration. This Queen’s Day was special because it was the last Queen’s Day, for Queen Beatrix stepped down from the throne and her son ascended the monarchy. Thus, next year will be King’s Day, on his birthday, April 27. Queen’s Day differed this year because it included the king’s coronation. I saw the royal family (the House of Orange, which is why everyone wears orange on this day) enter the New Church for the ceremony. Very cool! Then I celebrated with the locals. The festivities reminded me of a mix between Foxfield and Greek philanthropy events in the spring, but on a city-wide scale. All the streets and stores were shut down as people ate cheap yet delicious food and sang and dance to loud and energetic music. It is a day to have fun and celebrate the royal family. Queen’s Day is the only day when locals can sell their belongings garage sale style, so many street vendors sell clothes and goods. Children also sold goods at a local park! They are businessmen in the making.
I am down to my final days in Barcelona (BCN, or Barna as the locals sometimes refer to it)!! Where oh where did the time go? Looking back on my time in BCN, a lot happened in four months, but there is still so much left to do. I will definitely return to BCN and Europe one day soon, both to travel and hopefully work here. Four months is not an adequate amount of time to fully immerse oneself in Europe. There is too much history to learn and culture to explore– food to try; architecture, art, and photography to admire; and languages to speak. In four months I have certainly dabbled in the cultures of several countries, and I feel very comfortable in BCN. But I want more time. I suppose everyone does. (Side note: In my Spanish Art and Culture class I learned that Americans loved Dali’s melting clocks paintings [see picture] because according to Dali, Americans are obsessed with time. They want to maximize their time to maximize their profit.)
How is the food? The most common question I get when I tell people I am studying abroad in Beijing. When asked, I like to break the answer into two topics, the first being taste, and the second being sanitation.
My study abroad experience has taught me many new things that I will be bringing back to the States when I return. One skill I have been able to improve and learn more about is cooking. I’ve always had an interest in cooking and pride myself in my ability to make tasty food for myself and others. Barcelona is not the cheapest city (for dining) but has more markets and fresh ingredients than most American cities. This creates the perfect excuse for me to practice my cooking skills. Not only do I save money, but I improve my abilities, make delicious food at my own specifications, and occasionally impress others.
As I was going through my previous blogs, I realized I haven’t mentioned anything about one of the most popular Cantonese traditions, dim sum. Dim sum is a style of Cantonese food that is served as bite-sized portions in bamboo steamer baskets (think: dumplings and spring rolls). Dim sum is traditionally served during breakfast and lunch hours, and Hong Kong is famous for having some of the best dim sum in theworld.
I have been living in Hong Kong for three months now. Part of me feels like I have been here forever. Part of me feels as though it was yesterday when I stepped off the plane into the “strange” Hong Kong airport (which now feels like home). I thought for this post I would write about the good and the bad about studying in Hong Kong. I am sure this list will change tomorrow, in a month, and three months after I return to the U.S., but for now these are my thoughts.
I have been in Asia for almost 3 months now,and I want to share with you a truly transcendent experience I had last week.
I was always told in kindergarten and elementary school that I held my pencil wrong. I kind of grip it in between my ring finger and the base of my thumb as opposed to the elegant “pinch” of the thumb, forefinger, and middle finger. As long as the words were legible, however, this was never really a significant issue.
I have a feeling this is going to be a recurring theme in these blog posts, but I am so depressed that I am already halfway through the semester in Hong Kong.