Homecoming – Visiting Tobias Community

Almost exactly one year later Sarah and I went back to the USA. We both decided to go back in June 2015 as this was the most suitable time for both of us! I was counting the days until we finally left Switzerland/Germany for the US. My first stop was Sarah’s house because we took off from Germany. I was really excited to get to know her family because I only saw them on Skype when we were doing our volunteer service. The next day Sarah’s father and her brother took us to the airport in Frankfurt. We were both so excited and happy to go back. Our plane left with a delay which was terrified for us as we had a connection flight in London to catch! In the end we had 15 minutes left to change planes. Luckily there was a woman who picked us up and took us to the plane.

Seven hours later we landed in Boston, MA! It took us hours to get through the whole security and stuff. The ‘new’ volunteers from Tobias picked us up and together we drove to the Community in New Hampshire. It was such a good feeling to be back again although we couldn’t really realize it. It was pretty late when we arrived at Tobias Community so all we did was taking a shower and moving our stuff in our room. The next morning (Sunday) we said hello to the residents, which was just heartwarming. I almost cried I was so happy to see all of them again. They were happy too and most of them recognized Sarah and me which was just amazing! Later we went out with Dusti, a coworker,  and Fadime, one of the ‘new’ volunteers. It was SO MUCH FUN! She took us to the outlet center, then we went for sushi. Afterwards we visited another coworker, Tonya, who just got her baby and in the evening we went to the movie theater with two other volunteers (Pitch Perfect 2).
On Monday we went for coffee with Cynthia, another coworker. We had a superb time when we were volunteering. She was like our american mom 😉 In the afternoon Sarah and me drove to Boston for just strolling through the city and the park. Unfortunately the weather was not that good as we wished it was. It was raining the whole day but we didn’t let the rain ruin our day in Boston. We had a good time! We went to Harvard University, to the Boston Public Garden, to the shopping streets, to the prudential center and last but not least we had a GREAT dinner at the one and only Cheesecake Factory!
On Tuesday Sarah and me spent some time with the residents and said hello to Bertam, the supervisor of Tobias. He was also really happy to see us and was very welcoming! In the afternoon we went for a coffee and to the mall as New Hampshire is the only state of the USA which is tax-free 😉 In the evening we went over to the Orion House, where Tonya was doing her overnight with cute Isabella (her baby girl). We ate chinese food together and enjoyed being together again!
As time FLIES (!!) we had to leave Tobias Community on Wednesday morning, which was kinda heartbreaking AGAIN! I wished we could have stayed there forever! I love the residents! Fadime took us to the bus station in Nashua where we took the bus to Boston.
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 @ Tobias Community                                        Isabella

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Boston, MA                                                    Harvard

In Boston we took the bus to NYC, which took us 5 hours (TRAFFIC was HORRIBLE!!). When we arrived in NYC we were so tired. We moved our stuff into the room, which we rented over ‘airbnb’ and went directly to Times Square and later for dinner to Whole Foods at Columbus Circle. The nights in this apartment were horrible because it was sooooo loud. I mean of course it’s the city that never sleeps but it was really loud. The next day, it was my 21st birthday! I was so excited to finally turn 21 and happy that I could spend my (big) day with Sarah in the USA! We went to Soho, 5th ave, Central Park, Times Square etc. In the evening we went out for dinner right in a restaurant at Central Park. It was DELICIOUS! After our fabulous dinner we went to a Sky room bar (roof top bar) where the view was absolutely AMAZING! You could see whole Manhattan including the Empire State Building. So as you can imagine my birthday was pretty much amazing! Thank you Sarah ❤

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@ Times Square


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Columbus Circle                                                           21st birthday in NYC 😉
The next day we were off to the JFK airport! CALIFORNIA was calling! It took  us approximately 6 hours to LAX. When we finally arrived in Los Angeles we had to take a shuttle bus to the car rental center where we picked up “our” car! Within a short drive we arrived at ‘our’ house in Venice Beach, which we also again rented over ‘airbnb’. We had a private room and bathroom and a shared kitchen. The house was typical american and looked amazing! The host lady was very kind and helpful in every way. We also had another roommate. First there was a girl from San Francisco for like two nights and then there was one from South Africa.
We did a lot of things in California. If I list everything it’ll probably end in a huge post. So I’d better just share a few pictures with y’all!

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Venice Beach                                                               Hollywood Hills

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UCLA campus                                                              Universal Studios, Hollywood

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Santa Monica Pier                                                    hiking @ Runyoncanyon Park

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La Jolla – cove                                                         @ San Diego Zoo
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car selife with Sarah & Jonathan 🙂                            drinks with these guys in Hollywood 😉

As you see we had an amazing time in our second home country! We enjoyed every single second and we are sad to be back in Europe again. Time went by way too fast and there is still so much left to do! I’d do anything to go back soon!

America, for me, has been the pursuit and catching of happiness!

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Six months back in Switzerland

hello folks!

I didn’t plan on writing another post in ‘my american dream’ – but sometimes things just happen, right?
I was just in the middle of scrolling through my posts and I realized what a great time I had – and moreover what an opportunity and chance I had to do a volunteer year abroad!
Since I’m back in Switzerland a few things changed again. I started University which is a huge change because I wasn’t going to school in the States, I was working as you might know. Believe me or not but I really had problems to concentrate during my lectures and not to forget to take notes. Another difficulty was to listen to a german-speaking-prof! I miss the english language so bad! But luckily most of our books are written in English – so I’ve got at least some English to keep it up! 😉
My daily life was back! University – workout – homework – work . . . .  but there was no day without thinking of the States, my life over there and of all the wonderful people I’ve met. I’m happy that I’m still in touch with them! And of course I’m also still in contact with my lovely Sarah – I think this is really important and helps us a lot. And moreover I’m really happy that we’re actually living really close; we’re only like 2-3 hours apart, so that we just met a couple of weeks ago which was just amazing, like we’ve never been apart:))

Two or three weeks ago I “had” to meet a girl who is just starting a six months volunteer service in the States; it was kinda my job to prepare her for her journey. I told her my american story – my tips and tricks and just things I thought could be helpful. In the end I showed her a few of my personal favourite moments in pictures. At this moment I realized again how much I miss it … even though I can really say that I’m okay with being back again – I mean it’s my home and one can have two homes right? 😉
I’m really happy that I could share my story and my experiences with her and I really hope she can take advantage of it and make it a perfect stay!

I apologize for this weird and unstructured post – it’s funny what comes out if you’re just typing without really thinking about what you’re just typing lol!

Xx kristina

Goodbye USA & Hello Switzerland

Goodbye Tobias 

As you might know time has arrived and I left Tobias Community for my home country. In the last few weeks I just waited for this day to come – I thought I was soooo ready to go home. I mean I really liked it in the US and I love my residents but I had the feeling that I’ve seen enough and I’m ready to go back to Switzerland again. During the last few days I didn’t really realize that I’m gonna leave for good. I couldn’t pack my suitcases because I just didn’t feel like doing it. Something in my head was against doing it. Anyway I tried to enjoy my last days in the States and especially at TC. I worked until a day before I left and to my surprise my supervisor and coworkers made a little surprise goodbye party which was really cute! Normally there is a typical american cake with ice cream but as you might know I’m not a huge fan of those american frostings etc and of course they knew it and made a fruit salad instead (of course Sarah made it) – that was so cute!! It was also my last day on duty so I also got my certificate :))
In the afternoon I was off so Sarah and me went to our favorite coffee shop again! They have the best coffee I’ve ever tasted and their Soy Latte is just aaaaweeesooome! I’m gonna miss it so much! As it was our last night we went out for dinner – Chinese food 🙂 I remember when Sarah told me she doesn’t like Chinese food and now she’s absolutely in to it – i love you Sarah 😉
At night it was time to pack my suitcases even though I still didn’t feel like doing it, I had to.. I had two huge suitcases and one carry-on. To my surprise I had enough space but they were soooo heavy! At 3 a.m I was nearly done and went to bed. I slept like a baby – normally I’m so nervous that I don’t get any sleep but this time it was totally different. In the morning I got up – printed my tickets and said goodbye to the office people and my supervisor – it was quite awkward. I was done with everything by 11am so I had plenty of time to paint my nails – haha! We planned to leave TC at 1pm. Before we left I had to say goodbye to all the residents which was probably one of the worst things ever. I really didn’t think that this would be so hard for me. It literally broke my heart! They looked into my eyes and asked me why I leave and when that I’m coming back – I tried to explain and they tried to understand. At this point it was really hard for me to leave – I mean I really love them and they became a part of my life. But what can I say – as hard and stupid as it might sound – life goes on, it has to – somehow. 

Before we headed to the airport we stopped at A&E Coffee again for our last Soy Latte! Aww I really enjoyed it. Afterwards we drove to the Burlington Mall for a last minute shopping and an early dinner at The Cheesecake Factory. Time unfortunately didn’t stop and we had to leave for the airport. When we arrived I got so nervous. First of all because of my luggage – I was 100% convinced that it was too heavy! And I was right but I think the lady at the desk already felt sorry that I had to pay $100 for my second bag, which was good because I had 6kg more than I was allowed to have – that would have been expensive. So far so good my bags were gone and I was still there. I got more and more nervous and I just wasn’t ready to leave. It was time to say goodbye though. We were standing face to face and we couldn’t say a word. We were both not willing to say goodbye. But yea how it is we had to. We both ended up crying and it was awfully hard for me to go.

It was extremely terrible for me to wait until it was boarding time; it just didn’t feel right and I was kinda lost. I felt like a little piece of nothing in a mass of thousand people. I was sitting at the gate, waiting for boarding with tears which just didn’t stop. When it was finally time for boarding I felt like I’m coming back really soon – like in January when I went to Switzerland for a few days and came back to Boston. But on the other hand I knew that this wasn’t the case and I’m going home for good and this was kinda strange!
The flight was calm which was good – I mean it wasn’t good but okay. I felt the same way as I did when I left my family last year for the USA – I wasn’t expecting this. Now I know that I left my second home – to be honest, I never thought that I’m gonna say this and mean it 😉
When the captain was ready for landing I got so nervous and frightened. I didn’t know how to control my emotions and feelings. On one side I was looking so forward to seeing my family and my boyfriend and on the other hand I could have cried the whole time because I was/am so sad. In the end I was overwhelmed by emotions. They were waiting at the arrival gate with a ‘welcome sign’ and flowers 🙂
On the way back (from the airport to my house) I just couldn’t control my emotions and cried – cried because I didn’t wanna be here.. back in Switzerland, because I missed my residents and Sarah and just everything.

When we arrived at home I only unpacked the gifts I brought home for my family – I was not in the mood to unpack my whole suitcases. I don’t know why but I just didn’t feel like unpacking it because somehow there was still hope to go back. I know this sounds really weird but really I wished it so bad!
On my first night I didn’t do a lot, I went to my boyfriend’s house and we stayed home. I was really tired and just not motivated to go anywhere. But I really enjoyed being with my boyfriend again – finally! In the next few days I met one friend after another 🙂 Although I was really happy to see all my friends again I still couldn’t feel comfortable back home. It’s like a huge piece is missing even though I’ve got everything back I was longing for such a long time. I guess this is what they called ‘reverse culture shock’ and never in my furthest thoughts have I thought this is gonna happen TO ME! but here we are, in the middle of it.
What can I do against it? well, the same thing like one year ago – just here instead of there – ADAPT! I had to adapt in the USA and now I have to readapt back home – back to my routines – but in a different way. I can’t ignore my new experiences but I have to adapt my new parts of my personality to my life here. This takes time.. and that’s why I’m probably gonna write another post in a few weeks – just to let you know how it goes 🙂

Final statement

To do a voluntary year in the United States was the best decision I’ve ever made! And again: I never thought I’m gonna say this but now that I’m back I know it’s true. I’ve experienced so many new things – good and bad – that I wouldn’t have experienced at home. I met new people, wonderful people – traveled a lot and saw beautiful places I never thought I’m gonna see. I made experiences with disabled people, their personalities and their diseases which was really helpful for my final decision (University). I could list you a lot more ;))
Anyway if you ever have the chance to do such a year – do it! You’ll never regret it. At this point I wanna say thank you to every single one who made this happen to me. A huge thanks goes to my mother and my grandfather who were always behind me and helped me wherever they could. Important to name is – of course – my boyfriend! It’s not self-evident that someone is waiting for you for one year. Another thanks goes to all my swiss friends who always motivated me and cheered me up when I was down. Last but not least: United Planed & ICYE Switzerland! Without those amazing organization nothing would have been possible – whenever I had a problem/question/request – they were there with a solution/answer – thank you!

your kristina.

 

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Work experiences at Tobias

In my last post “The Sunshine State” I promised to write about my work experiences :)) That’s exactly what I’m going to do now.
You might know that I’ve been here for – let me think … 10 months now. It seems impossible I know.
In these months I had the opportunity and chance to learn a lot of different things.

Let me start with my “job” as a volunteer at Tobias Community. Those who read my blog know that TC is a facility for disablead people who struggle with their daily life. We have six residents with different disabilities and personalities. During my work I’m responsible for the residents, which means I have to occupy them, take care of them and their hygiene and simply be there whenever they need me. We often go out to public parks (not during the winter :P), libraries or they also like joining the coworkers and us for the food shopping. At the community itself we have a weaving room and a wood workshop. Different residents like to join these classes twice a week. I have to add that I really can’t stand the weaving classes. Seriously I could cry every time they call me in. I’ve never done something so annoying and nerve-racking like weaving before (I’m sorry if anyone does like it ^^)! So here’s my first experience: I know now that I’m not going to weave ever again!
During the past few months I made a lot of experiences in the spectrum of working with disabled people. I learnt how to communicate with our residents, how to take care of them, how to react if something happens (seizure, tantrum, discrepancies ect.) and I learnt to be patient.
The first thing I’ve mentioned can be really hard in the beginning. First of all the fact that the previous volunteers are gone can be a barrier for your relationship to the residents. The residents were used to them and lived with them for a year and now they’re gone – why? Why are there new girls and boys? It needs to be explained why they are gone and why new volunteers are here to take care of them now. When they understand the new situation and get familiarized with it you can start trying to communicate with the residents. In the beginning they won’t let you help them with everything/ let you do everything. I experienced that during my very first days. I remember my first day on duty: I came to the living room sat down in a chair without thinking of anything. So far so good. Suddenly a loud and aggressive voice shouted through the room “NO NO NO NO – THAT’S MY CHAIR, GET UP”. I was totally shocked and of course I didn’t know that this certain chair belongs to a certain lady. I got up and apologized for taking her chair but she didn’t even look at me. At this moment I thought “what on earth am I doing here – I can’t do this, I wanna go home!”.
Another story was when I asked the same lady if I could clean her fingernails and paint them. She literally screamed at me like “NO YOU CANNOT DO THIS”. A previous volunteer used to paint her nails and now that she’s not here anymore no one is allowed to do it.  Like I said they have to get familiarized with the new situation and the new volunteers and that’s why it’s hard to get their attention and trust in the beginning.

After 10 months  I’m happy to tell you that I’m allowed to sit in her chair plus to paint her nails 😉 It didn’t take me a long time to get along with her and also with the other five residents we have at TC. I’m getting along with everyone and I’m really glad about that. Of course every single one has other needs and strengths and you as a volunteer/coworker have to be aware of it. What I wanna say is that you can’t communicate with resident x like you communicate with resident y. It’s normal that in the beginning you have to try out what works best for you and resident xyz. It’s really a kind of “Learning by doing” – they let you know if they like the way you interact with them or not. I’m glad that I’ve got my ways to communicate with each and everyone! 🙂 I really like our residents – it’s like we’re a little family!

This was actually just a small post about my work – but as time flies, I’m leaving the US next week and I’m going to write a final post which is probably going to be huge anyway!

 

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disabled people are like children – they cheer you up when you are down

The Sunshine State

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Miami Beach – Everglades – Key West 

Yes – we traveled again. You might think ‘is she working at all?!” The answer is: yes I am 🙂 I just didn’t really write about my work because it’s always the same – but after this post I’m going to write another post about my woking experiences. Well yeah, this was our last trip and what else can I say than: TIME FLIES! I can totally remember when Sarah and I were sitting at the kitchen table planning our trips for the whole year and now we just came back from our LAST TRIP!

anyway back to our trip!:)) This time it was time to go somewhere warm – so we decided to go to Florida ( also called the sunshine state).

Our journey began with traveling to the airport in Boston where we took the plane to Miami! How exciting does that sound? Due to my fear of flying and being on a plane in general I felt awfully bad this morning. I didn’t feel like this in a while, I don’t know why it scared me so much. So you can imagine how happy I was when we finally landed in Miami.

The adventure started as we took the bus to South Beach where we stayed in an apartment. I was really proud of us that we didn’t get lost and found it at once! We were both amazed of this beautiful aparment. Everything seemed to be pretty new and the location was great too. There was a ‘Whole Foods Market’ just around the corner and it was only a short walk to ‘Ocean Drive’ 🙂 what else do you need? Right, nothing.

ImageOn our first day we went straight to the beach. It was a little bit cloudy but still really warm. We stayed at the beach for a couple of hours before we headed back home. On our way back we went to a tour office where we booked a tour to the Everglades and a day-trip to Key West! I was already so excited. In the evening we had dinner at our apartment – I’d say it was a cozy first day at Sobe!

The next day was a little bit more exciting 😉 Of course we went to the beach again – I mean that’s the reason why we went to Miami Beach isn’t it?! – We enjoyed the wonderful sunny day lying on the white beach of Sobe 🙂 Afterwards we walked back home on Lincoln Rd where all the shopping stores are. On this day we decided to go out for dinner – Sushi! We went home – got ready and walked back to Lincoln Rd for dinner. It was absolutely delicious. After dinner we arranged to go for a coffee with someone – who is it? You’ll see it on the following picture 😀

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angiiiii!👭 Since she’s in Miami Beach for a few months we absolutely had to meet! I have to say I was kinda nervous. When we were standing in front of us I just couldn’t believe my eyes. It was definitely a moment of pure happiness for me. I can’t even describe how I felt – but I know I was happy 🙂 We enjoyed a coffee at Nespresso and had a nice evening.

On Sunday it was Sarah’s birthday. She turned 20!:)) We went out for a nice nourishing breakfast at the bakery called ‘PAUL’ – it’s from Paris. I love that place. Afterwards we went on a ‘hop on – hop off – bus tour’ through Miami. It was pretty cool to see all the different districts Miami has to offer; such as ‘Little Havana’ / ‘Coconut Grove’ 🙂 Since it was Sarah’s birthday we went out for dinner. We went to a street called “The espagnol way” 🙂 We had a huge mexican dinner consisting of Guacamole, Salsa & Fajitas. It was yummy but omg tooooo much!

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The next day we went to the Everglades! The bus picked us up at 9:50. When we arrived, our bus driver gave us all the important instructions to the park. Off we went! With a so called airboat we cruised through the everglades. I have to admit; it was scary! I never thought I’m gonna do that. But hey it was worth seeing! The nature out there blew off my mind. Of course we saw some pretty aligators 😉 After the airboat ride there was an aligator show – which didn’t really impress me. There were just four huge aligators with a man in a cage & he was telling us how friendly the aligators are. I’m not a huge fan of these things. Anyway after this show we could walk around in the park and capture a few other nice spots!

ImageAfter our trip the day before we decided to enjoy the day on the beach. There’s not a lot to write about a beach day: sun – sea – fun! In the evening we went out for dinner with Angi 🙂 & afterwards we went to an outdoor movie theater in a park. This was actually pretty nice! They played ‘Hungergames 2’ – of course I didn’t see the first part but I could follow the story 🙂

ImageUntil Friday there was not much happening except for lying and tanning on the beach!:)) but on Friday we were off to Key West! Since it’s a long ride the bus already picked us up at 6:00 AM! When we arrived in Key West everything seemed to look so ‘caribean-like’ – I really liked it! We first walked along the cute streets before we headed to the beach. It was a really hot day so we were not really in a mood for long walks 😉 We really enjoyed our day in Key West and I definitely wanna go back for a longer time.

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ImageAfter our amazing trip to Key West there was only one day left before we had to go back to Boston 😦 We enjoyed one more time the stunning blue sea and the sunny weather. We also met Angi to say goodbye – normally I hate saying goodbye but now I knew it’s only for a month until we see us again! Wohoo! I’m so ready for it ;-))

Since it was our last evening we went out for dinner. I had a delicious vegetable salad.

all in one sentence: I can’t even tell how happy and thankful I am that I could see and enjoy Florida! It was a pleasure to meet you 😉 

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Family time!

A few weeks ago my mother and my brother came to visit me in New York City! I was so excited to see them and couldn’t believe that they’re already coming. It seemed so far away and now they’re already back in Switzerland.
I took the week off and spent the days in NYC. It was so much fun to be there with them. Luckily our hotel was in a very good location, so we were already in Manhattan.
Since I’ve been there two times before I knew already a lot about this city and its attractions and so did my brother. It was time to show all these amazing things of the sleepless city to my beloved mom.

On our first day we started our sightseeing tour with a delicious brunch at – guess where? – yes of course at Le Pain Quotidien. I mean I had to introduce my favorite bakery to my family right? 😉
Afterwards we walked up to Central Park and rent a bike to cruise through the greener part of New York City ;)) We really enjoyed it but on this day it was quite warm so it was a little bit exhausting. In the evening we went for dinner to a Japanese restaurant near our hotel.

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During the rest of the week we went to different districts of NYC and enjoyed our time together. A special trip was the one to Washington D.C. – it was so exciting to see another city, well we didn’t really see the city itself but the historical attractions and of course the White House!

Like always the time went by too fast and I had to go back to work and my brother and my mum back to Switzerland. At this point I really want to thank you for everything we could experience together. It surly sweetened my stay in the USA!

Pictures say – as it’s well known – more than a thousand words: 

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Las Vegas – Grand Canyon – Los Angeles

TRAVELING TIME
Finally the day arrived. Sarah and I are traveling again and leaving Tobias Community for a couple of days. We were both so excited to leave the cold weather which we still have over here. Our journey started at 5 am – we drove to Nashua where we took the bus to the airport in Boston. Of course I forgot my international driver’s license so that we had to go back. We missed the first bus which was no big deal because we could catch the next one. At the airport everything went well and we caught our flight :)) The next stop was: Dallas, TX! Off we go – yes I thought so too but of course our flight was delayed. We got nervous because we had a connection in Dallas (and only 1.5h in between!!). When we finally took off – about 40 minutes later – I was released but the next thing was the bad weather condition in the air. I was so afraid. But we made it and I was so glad to be back on the ground again – but not for long haha. Our next plane left about 30′ later – off to Vegas! We were really excited..

When we finally arrived in Vegas we were just tired. We took a shuttle bus to our hotel which was located on the strip 🙂 We were really surprised about the good room we got because we didn’t really pay a lot for it 🙂 So that was a good deal! We quickly changed and then we walked all the way down the strip and admired all the huge buildings and casinos. It’s really amazing and I still can’t believe that we were there!

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Las Vegas 

The next day in Vegas started in the early morning – 5 am again. We booked a bus tour to the famous Grand Canyon in Arizona! That was actually our only reason why we stayed in Vegas for two nights. The bus company was supposed to pick us up at 5.50 am. We went down to the lobby 10 minutes earlier because we wanted to make sure that we don’t miss the bus. We waited and waited and waited… no bus. Another couple was waiting for the same bus and so we called the bus company. On the phone we found out that the bus company was at our hotel and waited until 6am – but the thing was, we were waiting in the wrong spot. I thought that must be a bad joke but that’s how it really was. They told us that the only chance to catch the bus for the tour was to go by cab – and that’s what we did because we had no other choice.. After this little morning activity we could finally enjoy the tour. Our first stop was at the ‘Hoover Dam’ which was quite impressing.

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Hoover Dam, Nevada 

 

After our short stop at the ‘Hoover Dam’ we continued our journey to the Grand Canyon National Park. It took us another 3-4 hours. When we arrived we had time to explore and admire this natural wonder. I can’t find the words to describe this to you but what I know is: it left me speechless! I think you just have to see it with your own eyes to understand what I mean. Seeing pictures of the Grand Canyon can leave you speechless too but it’s definitely not comparable with seeing it with your own eyes and to stand in front of it. Nevertheless I’d love to share my captures with you.

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Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

After our one day trip to the Grand Canyon our time in Vegas was over. The next destination was lovely Los Angeles, California! I can’t tell you how happy I was to go back to L.A. 😀 Our flight from LV was scheduled in the early afternoon and took us only 1 and a half hour which was great because I’m not a flight-lover.

When we arrived in L.A. we took a shuttle bus which got us to the car rental center right at the airport. Sarah and I were both excited because of the car. We rent a car for 5 days and I’m glad we did it because it’s really difficult to get around in L.A. without a car. We got a ‘Chevy Malibu’ and I have to say we both loved it. It’s not comparable with our piece of **** at home in New Hampshire 😛 haha.
So there we went, off to the motel in our fancy dancy car. Everything went pretty well and we could directly go into our room which was nice and cozy. We didn’t do a lot on our first night in sunny California. We just went to the supermarket – WHOLE FOODS ❤ our absolutely favorite grocery store in the US! – and to lovely Venice Beach for a walk on the beach.

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Chevy Malibu  – Whole Foods Markets   –   Venice Beach 

On the next day we planned to go to the Hollywood Sign, Rodeo Drive & Beverly Hills and to the Farmer’s Market. Before we started our sightseeing tour with our lovely car – I have to mention the car all the time because I was so in love with it, haha – we went to our favorite bakery to have a late brunch. The weather was wonderful so that we could enjoy our brunch in the californian sunshine. Nourished with good organic food we started our tourist tour. For me it wasn’t new but for Sarah and she was really excited to see all those spots. I enjoyed the day and was happy to see all the touristic attractions one more time.

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Brunch @ Le Pain Quotidien, Lerchmont St

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Rodeo Drive – Farmer’s Market

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Griffith Park, Hollywood Sign

On our second day in Los Angeles we went for breakfast in Santa Monica. Luckily there was a ‘Le Pain Quotidien’ 😀 Of course we enjoyed a wonderful breakfast. Afterwards we went to the Getty Center which was a short drive away. I’ve been there before so it wasn’t new to me but it’s always beautiful to go up to the Getty Center. The view from up there is insane – you can see the whole city! Due to the good weather we could really enjoy our stay up there 🙂 Our next destination was Malibu Beach!!! This was finally new to me too – I was really excited 🙂 We drove about 40 minutes – all along the coast.
We parked the car right at the beach and went for a long walk on the beach. It was really windy but still beautiful. I was so happy to be there.
Of course we had a lovely dinner at Whole Foods Market and went to bed 🙂

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Getty Center 

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Malibu Beach

Monday was our ‘beach day’ :)) We drove from one beach to the next – all along the coast. We started at Manhattan Beach, where we had breakfast at our favorite bakery. I’m so glad that there are so many of them. We walked along the beach and enjoyed the nice weather. We saw a lot of surfers – they really made me feel like I wanna try it too. Our next stop was Long Beach. I was amazed of this place – everywhere were those huge palm trees. I’m so in love with those palms! Like on Manhattan beach we took a little break and enjoyed this stunning view! The next beach was the famous Huntington Beach which is sooo huge! There we had a coffee and walked through the stores and of course we sat on the beach for a little while.
Amazed of all those beautiful beaches we drove back and visited the Angel’s Gate in San Pedro. The view was stunning! But it was so windy up there. But still… I really enjoyed it.
We ended our day with a yummy italian dinner in Santa Monica.

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Long Beach – Huntington Beach

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Angel’s Gate Recreation Center

On Tuesday it was supposed to rain but we had good luck and it was sunny and warm like the days before. We started the day with a breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien like always ;-)) But this time we went to Downtown L.A. which was of course  – in my opinion – not as beautiful as  Santa Monica or Manhattan Beach. But I mean if you’re here you just have to take a look at L.A.’s skyscrapers and of course at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. We didn’t stay for a long time. Instead of that we went to a huge outlet. After a little shopping and a froyo we visited the Walk of Fame which is –  for me – not that special. To be honest I don’t like that place – it’s full of tourists like no other place in L.A.

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Downtown L.A.   –   Hollywood Walk of Fame 

Wednesday was our shopping day – yiiiiiha! We went to the 3rd St. Promenade in Santa Monica. I think we spent the whole day in Santa Monica :)) In the end of the day we had dinner at our motel – like almost every evening we bought our dinner at Whole Foods. Their salad bar is just so amazing that we couldn’t resist. And I have to admit that I really preferred going to the salad bar instead of going to a pricy restaurant. So… Wednesday was over and our last day came closer..
On the last day the sun was shining again and the sky was all blue! We couldn’t have had better weather for our last day in the golden state! We decided to rent a bike so that we could ride from Santa Monica Beach to Venice Beach. It was fabulous. I almost cried it was so beautiful! In those moments I really thank my mum and my family who made this all possible for me – it’s just not self-evident.
As we reached Venice we’ve parked our bikes in a spot and strolled through the streets. Everywhere were little shops and cafés and not to forget a lot of crazy people who were really funny to observe 😛 I really enjoyed that day and it was really worth the money to rent those bikes. Unfortunately time goes by and we had to leave L.A. for Boston again. But that’s how it is, everything ends but fortunately all the good memories stay in my mind!

All in one: I cannot really describe how amazing this trip was but what I definitely can say is that I’m gonna go back to California! That’s for sure because you know, I DO LOVE IT!

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lots of love Kristina :))

Mid camp in Boston

Last week we had our middle evaluation camp back in the office of United Planet in Boston 🙂 Finally! Why?
Believe it or not the camp was actually scheduled in January! But because of those numerous snowstorms it has been rescheduled for two times, which was quite annoying. But hey we finally made it 🙂
Back in Boston Jae (volunteer from South Korea) and I waited for Seoyeon another volunteer from South Korea. She’s volunteering in North Carolina that’s why she had to take the plane to Boston. Jae and I could travel by bus which I’m really glad about!

I looked forward to meeting Seoyeon again, we had a really good time in August (Orientation Camp). When she finally arrived we were reunited – all three, it felt like last summer – but that was 7 months ago.
After putting our stuff in our rooms we went shopping and for a coffee. In the evening we went to the Prudential Center where we spent time on the Skywalk. It was beautiful to see Boston from above.
The next day we met at the office of UP – we talked about our past six months. For example if our project is like the way we’ve expected it or if there are any differences we weren’t prepared for etc. It was fascinating to hear what Jae and Seoyeon have experienced so far.
In the afternoon we went to the John F. Kennedy Library with Kate. It was wonderful – I really did like it 🙂 The weather was perfect – even tough it was really windy at the harbor – and the museum was really interesting.

On our last day we met at the office again. We spent the morning with Li. We talked about volunteering in general and about our sending and hosting organization – in my case ICYE Switzerland & United Planet USA. She asked us if our sending organization has prepared us well enough etc & if our hosting organization is supporting us during our stay etc. At lunch we went to a thai restaurant with kate and it was fabulous. I had a mango-curry 😀 I definitely have to come back before I leave!
After lunch we had free time until 3pm. Seoyeon and I went shopping again. Back in the office we had our presentations in front of the whole UP team. We had to present our project – in my case Tobias Community and my work 🙂 I really like all the UP people so it was a pleasure to hold my presentation.
After the presentation the middle camp was over which meant ‘Goodbye Seoyeon’. I really hope to see her again – we had such a great time; back in august and of course this time! At this point I wanted to thank you for the great time we spent together. I wish you all the best for your last few months in North Carolina! :-*

Summary: I really enjoyed the mid camp and it was a pleasure to meet everyone again! 

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Visitors from Switzerland

It’s been a while since I last wrote about anything that I experienced over here 😉
A few weeks ago two of my best friends visited me in Boston – I looked so forward to it and I could not believe my eyes when we were standing in front of us :))

We spent 4 days together and it was absolutely amazing to spend time with my girls. We went to NYC for 2 days which was very exciting except for the snowstorm which made the whole thing a little cold and wet but we still had a looooot of fun! And I honestly have to say we didn’t really mind to stay another night in NYC (our bus back to Boston was cancelled).

The day after the big snowstorm we could take the bus back to Boston. Back in Boston we spent another afternoon/evening together. After dinner it was time for me to go back to Tobias Community. My friends went with me to ‘Boston South Station’ where my bus departed.
Time to say goodbye again – how I hate ‘Goodbyes’!

At this point I wanna say thank you to those two wonderful girls who took this long journey just to visit me here in the States! Those few days were ones of the best in my whole time here ❤ I really enjoyed being with you.

“True friends stay with you no matter the distance or time that seperates you from them.”
Lance Reynald

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Switzerland

Two weeks ago I had to go to Switzerland for a few days. Sarah and Lea drove me to the airport 🙂
The flight was alright but as you already know I’m not a big fan of flying. When I arrived in Switzerland I was nervous and excited to see my boyfriend and my family. I got my suitcase and followed the ‘EXIT’ signs 🙂
When I arrived at the ‘Arrival Hall’ I saw a man in a military uniform – my boyfriend! I was probably the happiest human being in the whole world! Besides my boyfriend, three girls were standing next to him. My beloved girls came to pick me up! It felt so good to be in Switzerland and I hardly found any words – I was just happy. After the train ride from Zurich to Biel my mother picked us up. My two younger sisters joined her. And again a moment of happiness overloaded me.
The first thing I did when we arrived at home was running to the coffee machine and press the ‘coffee’ button! How I missed real good coffee. The coffee in america is really bad except the one from Starbucks of course. Then I went into my bedroom and admired my room – everything was so clean and tidy! I really miss that kind of room and accommodation.
Of course I had lots of presents for my family and friends – they were all really happy about it and liked everything I brought them home and so was I 🙂
In the afternoon I went to the city center with my boyfriend. It was wonderful just to walk through the stores and have a coffee with the one you missed the most over the passed five months. In the evening we went to a chinese restaurant for dinner – it was delicious 🙂 Afterwards we met our friends in the city for a drink. Of course everyone had lots of questions. It was a wonderful evening and I couldn’t really realize that I was there. It felt just incredibly wonderful to be there.
On Sunday my boyfriend and I went for a little walk at the lake and later we had dinner with his family – I missed those sundays! Unfortunately my boyfriend was supposed to go back to the service on Sunday night which meant ‘Goodbye again’. I went to the train station and said goodbye – it was harder than the first time.
The next few days I met a few friends and my brother and his wife, which was great too but I already missed my boyfriend like hell! When Wednesday arrived my mood changed into a nearly depressed mood. I really didn’t wanna leave again. Everything was just so perfect at home and I couldn’t understand why I decided to go away for one whole year! But that’s what it is.
Sarah sent me pictures from our residents who already missed me and in a way I missed them too and I looked forward to seeing them again and of course Sarah:)

All in one sentence: Home is where your heart is – and mine is definitely in Switzerland! 🙂

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