Hello!! This blog still exists!

Hello!! This blog still exists! I’ve been so bad about updating it. I knew it would get this way once I got further into my year. You see, what happens is that the year became more of a life rather than a trip. After a month or so in Bolivia, I developed habits and customs. While life in Cochabamba always, always, always surprised me and was new each day (like finding that trunk full of doughnuts at the market), I found a groove in the city, with it’s people, with my Watson work there. My groove diverted me from writing…

I say “there” because I’m no longer in Cochabamba! After a day of tears, packing, and a wonderful despedida (goodbye party), I boarded a plane (three of them actually…), and headed to London. It’s already been super overwhelming but amazing to be here, but I don’t want to jump ahead and write about London here just yet. Bolivia still deserves more.

This post is going to be about the end part of my time in Bolivia, a short trip I did to La Paz and La Isla del Sol, and the amazing friends I had to leave behind. I want to do another post about my Watson project, a bit more reflective on what I’ve learned. While the two are not separate – my friends and my trips have highly impacted my Watson work – I feel like I need to designate separate space.

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Todo, todo a Torotoro!

Torotoro is a national park about four hours from Cochabamba. All of this was a while ago, but the trip was so much fun and the park was so beautiful, I figured I had to write about it!! A few of my friends, Richie, Barbara, Sandra, Carmelo, and I traveled to Torotoro via minibus on Friday afternoon after work.


The beginning part of the ride was really beautiful – the sun was setting behind the mountains that surround the valley Cochabamba is nestled into, leaving traces of blues and pinks. After four hours of driving along dirt road swithcbacks and gaining a lot of altitude, we arrived in Torotoro. The town is normally quiet, but for a Friday evening around 9:00, it seemed unusually so. We walked, found a hostel and something to eat before going to bed. We had to get up early the next morning!



The next day, we got up and met our guide, Casi, who would be showing us around the park for the next two days. She is the only female guide within the Torotoro guide organization and was the absolute best!! If you ever go to Torotoro, ask for her! We spent the morning walking and hiking. We got to explore caves carved out a billion years ago by water (not that long ago, but I´ve forgotten the facts…). There were drawings on some of the walls, many of which were of the Pachamama, or “Mother Earth” a snake fertility goddess worshiped by people of the Andres region. There was a story Casi told us: once each year, the Pachamama, in her giant serpent form, would visit each house, bringing good luck to the family. Sometimes during her visit, while looking for the offering the family had left, the Pachamama would slither into the bed and on top of those sleeping… the people would just have to lay still, careful not to disturb the snake that would not bite them. I don’t know if I could handle a giant serpent surprising me as I was sleeping, no matter how powerful of a goddess she was haha. Each place or plant we passed by, Casi had a story or some sort of fact to share with us, or she helped us notice details in our surroundings most people would pass by. I normally do not like guided tours while hiking, but it wouldn´t have been half as good if we weren’t with Casi. We hiked for a few hours and eventually ate lunch overlooking a huge mountain range. It was perfect.
















From there, we drove down to another section of the park to a huge cavern called Umajalanta, that is wedged between two mountains. Going into the cavern was probably the scariest but coolest things I have ever done. BUT before we entered the cavern, Casi showed us the second coolest thing of the weekend: DINOSAUR FOOTPRINT FOSSILS. Imprinted into what was one mud, there were footprints of all sorts of dinosaurs. As someone who was a “The Land Before Time” fanatic, this was mind blowing. Think about it… I walked where a dinosaur did; That dinosaur and I occupied the same space; It may be millions of years apart but a dinosaur and I shared that same tiny space in this huge universe; A real, live dinosaur. !!!!! It seems kind of silly, but I was just so amazed. We saw a few more prints that day, and some the next, but these were by far the best ones.




Now, Umajalanta. In total, the trek within the cave took us abut two and a half hours. With no outside light sources and a lot of spots where we could hit our heads, we all wore construction hats with headlamps. The chin strap was the worst, sweaty and hot as we moved through the humid cave, but, damn did I look good…


It was amazing down there. Everywhere you looked, there were stalactites and stalagmites. Casi made sure to point out to us ones that looked like a tree, or some other shape, transforming the calcified clusters into a world of magic. The trek was not easy, and we needed to help eachother to make it through. We would climb up and down boulders, following an exact pattern of footholes and nooks and reaching out to steady each other on the slippery rocks. The whole time we were traveling through, I couldn’t help but think about the first people who ventured into the complete darkness of the cave. How did they know where they were going and that there would be a way out? How did they even remember how to get out??









The craziest part of the whole thing was when Casi told us we were going to have to crawl on our hands and knees for about 5 minutes, squeezing through a crack – you can’t even call it a hole. I am not claustrophobic, and I don’t usually panic in situations like this, but for those five minutes, inching my way along, all I wanted to do was get out. My heart was racing and I had a real sense of panic. I really didn´t think I would fit. But I just told myself “everyone who comes down here does this”; I wasn’t the first person and I wasn’t going to be the last person wedged in there. Somehow, I made it through and we kept moving along the cave´s loop trail.




By the end, we were all dirty, sweaty, tired and accomplished. It felt amazing to think back on all that we had done in just a few short hours. It was suuuuper difficult, but beautiful and gratifying. I am so thankful to have visited Umajalanta. I think it will be one of my best memories of the year.


That night, after fighting over who got to take the first shower, we headed to the town´s market for dinner. It started to rain a little along the way, so we quickly ran under the cover of the market. The market was this big hall where different people cook meals throughout the day and everyone eats together at big, long tables. Just as we were got to the market, it stopped raining and started POURING. The heaviest rain I have seen since graduation!! Haha it reminded me of that day; the rain came so suddenly, and was SO strong. We ordered our food – quinoa soup and chicken with rice – and sat. All of a sudden, the lights went out with the loudest clap of thunder and the brightest lightning I have ever seen. We were all in the pitch black: cooks, locals, visitors, everyone. But it was no problem, we lit some candles and all ate our meal in the dark. It was hilarious. None of us brought our cell phones with us, so once we finished we hurried, arm in arm, back to the hostel, with the blips of lightning as the only light guiding our way.

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Falling into place

It is a wonderful kind of life here. Things move more slowly than they do in the US, and I am beginning to love it. If the arrival time is 8:30, that probably means people show up at 8:45, and that’s okay. There are mid-morning and mid-afternoon tea and snack breaks (empeñadas!). Best of all, lunch is normally 1.5-2 hours. Here, it is just as important to rest and converse with your peers as it is to work.

This is a place where things happen in place. I have been incredibly surprised by the number of opportunities, open doors, lessons, and friends I have encountered from being here. The past year has been full of planning for the next to come. I thought about where I will be going, who I know in that city, and what I will be doing while I am there. Where will I live? What food will I eat? I am a planner and always have been; I like to have a Plan A. My time in Bolivia has taught me that most of the things I want to plan are impossible continents away, over the internet, and mediated by a screen. You have to be in the place. You have to forget about “Plan A” and let things develop as they will – as they are supposed to. Part of me knew that this was an inevitable lesson of this year – I am incredibly thankful to have encountered it within my first 20 days.

The past week and half or so, things have developed and I feel like my project is falling into place in Cochabamba. One of the best things about the Watson, is that we are encouraged to explore and feel the peripheries of our proposal, remaining open to new lenses and facets of our project. With this in mind, I have been busy speaking and working with a few different organizations, wanting to take full advantage of the available opportunities. My time here so far has been divided between working with three organizations: El Instituto para el Desarollo Humano; CUBE; and EnseñARTE/Performing Life.

The most fun has been with EnseñARTE, and organization that aims to help create a better future for children through the arts. Mainly focusing on “social circus”, the foundation provides programming for local children, teaching them circus skills. EnseñARTE provides a small stipend to the families of the kids who attend classes, with the contingency that the money be used to start or support a family business (of any size). While circus is, of course, incredibly fun, the performance, challenge, and creativity that are necessary for circus serve another purpose for the foundation: teaching children social skills. There are connections big and small with social circus: the ability to juggle balls and the ability to juggle/multitask; the self-confidence developed through performing in front of a crowd. My circus skills are horrible, but I am learning! I will be teaching art classes with EnseñARTE, with lessons focused on the same goals as social circus: social and personal development through creativity.

Last Friday, there was a big performance at EnseñARTE for the community, with a delicious BBQ dinner afterwards. The skills and talents of the kids were amazing, with each person/group excelling in a specific skill. There were fire eaters, juggling with fire, trapeze, and unicycles – it was SO much fun!




CUBE (Centro para una Brisa Esperanza), is perhaps the organization most “focused” on my project. Here, I will be working with the on-site psychologists, helping to facilitate alternative-therapy workshops with children who have experienced abuse. I start next week, and will be sure to report back!

Finally, I am also working with El Instituto para el Desarollo Humano (IDH), an organization focused on the prevention of HIV/AIDS as well as various types of sexual violence. IDH provides workshops and lessons for local teachers, who then facilitate lessons to their students. IDH is an incredibly unique organziation, and the largest of it’s kind in Bolivia. The topics the are concerned with are incredibly important to Bolivia, and especially the city of Cochabamba. During my time working with IDH, I learned that about 23% of boys and 34% of girls in Bolivia will experience some kind of sexual aggression before the age of 18, and 75% of those cases reported happen in schools or at home. Speaking with some of the people here, it seems that the topic of sexual violence is something people avoid or sweep under the rug. But with statistics like that, it’s vital that there’s diligent education and prevention work within the community. I am so thankful to have found IDH, whose team is doing just that.

Each year, IDH has a huge event called La ExpoSIDA/Vida. Over the course of a week, ExpoSIDA educates close to 20,000 middle school and high school aged students from Chochabamba and neighboring cities on topics ranging from HIV/AIDS prevention to sex trafficking. There are posters, talks, activities, and even a theater performance! I am lucky enough to be here for this year’s ExpoSIDA! This past week, I have spent each day with the IDH team helping coordinate and facilitate different activities. This year’s main theme: “Violencia Sexual Enamoramiento”, or sexual violence between couples. It’s an important topic for anyone, but it seems especially important here. It seems like everyone is paired off into couples. One of my first days here, someone told me that the love here is “muy fuerte”, or very strong – people fall hard and fast. Educating teens that certain things like, controlling what your partner wears, threatening to hurt yourself if he/she does not do something, “jokingly” insulting your partner, etc., are forms of violence is the first step towards ending a cycle of even greater violence. It’s been a week about ending pluralistic ignorance and identifying falsities in social “norms”. It’s been the best.

Theatro de Prevencion!


So many students!

I am so thankful to have been apart of such an innovative and impactful event within Cochabamba’s community.

It hasn’t all been work – I have been exploring the city and other parts of Bolivia too! The other week, a group from EnseñARTE and I went to El Christo de la Concordia, a giant statue of Jesus that overlooks the city. It was such an amazing vantage point of the city I am really falling in love with.





I also went to Torotoro, a national part here in Bolivia! It was absolutely gorgeous – mountains, caverns and caves, fossils, and more! That trip deserves its own post, so you will have to wait… but here is a sneak peak of some dinosaur footprints we saw!!



Finally: Bolivia


Finally. After over a year and a half of thinking, planning, dreaming, and coordinating, I have begun the travel portion of my Watson journey. It's a little weird, after all of the work, waiting, and celebrating, it almost feels like the Watson has already happened… I know that is ridiculous, and I’m SO glad it’s not true!!

I have been in Bolivia for around 10 days now, having left the US from JFK on July 31st. It took three planes and a night in the Santa Cruz Airport, but I finally made it to Cochabamba, Bolivia: My home for the next three months.

Cochabamba is a beautiful city, with a population a little over 1,900,000 nestled within an valley amongst the Andes Mountain Range. Its weather has been called “Eternal Spring” because it is never really too hot or too cold. It is winter here in South America, but also the warmest months here in Cochabamba. Every day is sunny and clear, warm during the day, and then cool and cold at night. It’s great! In the center of town, the Spanish-style buildings sit amongst plazas and streets where there is basically always something going on: a street performance, a parade, vendors selling delicious homemade pastries…

During my time here, I will be working with several local organizations and doing my own independent work, investigating the relationships and intersections between trauma, violence, and art. One of the best parts of my time here so far is that it is nothing like I thought I would be. I came in with a plan and connections with people here, but those plans have already transformed and those connections have multiplied. Just today, sitting in the courtyard of my hostel on a lazy Sunday, I overheard a woman speaking about the creative therapy foundation she runs here in town. I struck up a conversation with her, and we are going to meet this week to discuss the possibility of me working with her! Karma? Fate? The nature of this year?

I think that the nature of this blog is going to change from what it was when I was in Europe. I don’t really want to do a day-by-day update of my life here. Instead, I’ll set the scene with this post and the update on bigger things: weekend trips, realizations, challenges, etc. I don’t know how much I will be able to update, but I will do my best! I still have to blog about my time in Prague and Berlin at the end of July… but I’ll save that for another time.

For now, here is a little taste of what I have been up to:

I stayed in as beautiful hostel outside of the city center for the first couple of nights. It had a beautiful courtyard and patio, the hosts were so incredibly nice, and there were a lot of other travelers there to make friends with! It was a nice place to ease into being abroad again, and being in such a different place.


I have since moved downtown, where there aren’t any cows along the road as you walk to the market…


Through one of the organizations I am working with, I have made some great friends from both Italy and Spain. Jody (Italy), Barbara, Sandra, and Richy (Spain) all work/volunteer at Performing Life, a foundation that educates and empowers children of Cochabamba through the arts, specifically circus!


It has been really great having them here. They have shown me around a little and given me some advice about the ins and outs of Cochabamba. For example, the giant market down town where you can find the most delicious food. My new favorite: Sillpancho – rice, potatoes, a thin piece of beef, a fried egg and onions/tomatoes.



I arrived in Bolivia right on time for one of the most celebratory times of the year! August 6th was Independence Day here and there were parades all day as well as the night before. Basically every school walks in the parade, all with really great marching bands! It was really fun to spend the day watching parades in the main square.






Well, I think that might be all for now. It is tough to upload pictures and things with the internet in my hostel. Like I said, it’s a lazy Sunday and I am going to spend the evening writing letters, reading, maybe skyping my parents, and enjoying this place where I am so lucky to be.

Miss you all a ton. Besitos.


Woooow. It has been forever since I sat down to write. The past month has been a whirlwind, full of fun and lots of traveling. Over that time:
1. Kirstan and I traveled to Amsterdam
2. I went to Prague
3. It was our last week in Leipzig.
3a.We were busy finishing things up in the studio, were packing and cleaning;
3b. had our end-of-residency Open Studio.
4. Moved to Berlin for the week and did so many amazing things
5. Flew back home!

So I have about 4 days at home in Princeton before my Watson year officially begins and I leave for Bolivia. It finally felt like summer in Leipzig, and was warm every day. It’s definitely summer here in NJ and I have lots to do! We will see how much time I can spend blogging… jet lag has it’s benefits! I’ll be updating more about the past three weeks soon, but today is devoted to Amsterdam.


Amsterdam was one of the top cities on my list to visit while I was in Europe, for many reasons. First, I only ever hear good things about the city, it is where both of my parents studied abroad, and there was a special exhibition at the Rijksmuseum called “Art Is Therapy” I had to see. Looking at all there was to do in the city, Kristan and I planned a rather long trip – we needed it! Every day was full of different kinds of things, foods, and places. I don’t think we would have been able to do it all in less time.

When Kristan and I arrived, we walked to our AirBnB apartment which was in the perfect location. It was in a neighborhood outside of the city center, but very close to Rembrandtplein by tram. I wouldn’t realize it until later in the trip, but it was really nice to stay in a not so touristy section of the city.

20140716-185207-67927034.jpg There was a canal just outside of our door, and I instantly fell in love with the city. We decided to venture to Rembrandtplein for dinner and to walk around a bit – the weather was gorgeous! We found this cute little cafe on a side street where I enjoyed traditional Dutch sausage and mashed potatoes with arugula in them! Yuuum!




The morning of the first full day we had in the city, we decided to go to the Anne Frank House. We thought that getting there right when it opened (9:00am), there would be somewhat of a line, but nothing too crazy. We were wrong! When we got there at 9:00, the line was already an hour and 45 minutes long!

20140717-225709-82629646.jpg I had no reservations about waiting though – this was one of the most important things on my list while we were in Amsterdam. Luckily, it was a beautiful and warm day, and the line moved a little faster than predicted! We were soon in the building.

Reflecting on my time in the the house, annex, and museum, I realize that my short time there left me with surprising insights and questions. It was incredible to pass through the hallways of the house, then past the original bookcase that hid the annex, up the incredibly steep stairs to the rooms whose windows had been blacked out by the sun. The annex is left empty, as per Otto Frank’s request – to keep the space as it was after the Nazi raid. In the darkened rooms, I filed along with the other tens of visitors allowed in that hour. It was a strange kind of parade, passing from relic to relic – a book Otto read, the scrap of wallpaper that marked Anne and Margo’s growth over the years – I got this strange sense of acting in a pilgrimage. All of us there that day, and basically everyone who visits Amsterdam goes to the Anne Frank House. We all make our way, stand in line, and file through the spaces where she lived during years of hiding, where she wrote the diary each of us read at some point in middle or high school. I was surprised by how I felt about all of this. The story of Anne Frank is the story of one girl; one among millions of others with stories like hers that will never be known. Why is she the one that millions of visitors make a pilgrimage to?

I think that I had a hard time with all of this after learning that while she and her family were still in hiding, Anne had intended to publish parts of her diary. Once the Allies arrived, there was a call for stories of those who had been persecuted, that would be collected and published after the war. Anne heard this on the radio they had in the annex, and began to re-write and edit some of her diary. For some reason, this fact made The Diary of Anne Frank lose some of its innocence, and magic for me. I had always pictured her words as ones she only wanted to tell Kitty (the name of her diary); as personal insights and thoughts she needed to express, but did not want to speak. I am sure that some of what we know as The Diary of Anne Frank is that innocent and magic inner workings of Anne’s mind. But knowing that some of it was edited for a larger audience, it made me feel differently about the whole thing. I am not sure if I am explaining it well, or if I can correctly explain it at all. I was just very surprised by this feeling I had as I was leaving the annex and museum.

Thinking more about this kind of fall from grace I had experienced, I realized that I need to visit the Anne Frank House, and I need The Diary of Anne Frank. Through compartmentalizing insane and horrible tragedies that happened to literally millions of people into the experience of one young girl, the unfathomable reality of living through that time and under those circumstances becomes much more relatable. I can recognize with Anne, we all can. Each reader or visitor to the museum can much more easily recognize, identify with, and possibly sympathize with a single person, than with millions or even seven people (the number of people living with Anne in the annex). The Diary of Anne Frank, and the Anne Frank House are entry points; they are footholds into an attempt to understand. I realized later on that Anne’s story, while seemingly incredibly personal and intimate, is representative and large. I am thankful I was able to visit the Anne Frank House.

Later on that day, after a really beautiful walk across the city along the canals and lunch outside, Kristan and I decided to try out the Heineken Experience. We were unsure if we were going to go. We had heard online that the lines tended to be really, really long, but when we got there… no lines! The whole thing was kind of ridiculous. It was a little gimmicky and over the top, but it was cool to get to learn about the history of Heineken and to sample some beer along the way.









The best part about the whole thing was that there was a “free” canal boat we took back to one of the more central squares of the city! I wasn’t sure we were going to get a chance to travel by boat on the canal, and was really glad that this opportunity came up! I loved being on the water and seeing what canal traffic was like – it was really hot so there were a lot of people!




Much of our time in Amsterdam was spent wandering around, looking for places we had looked up on the internet, or that friends had recommended. Brynn, who spent a semester studying abroad in Amsterdam, had some great advice for places to go and hang out. One of my favorites, was the windmill bar we walked to later that day. It is a bar in the bottom of an old wooden windmill! They had really great beers on tap, I had my first IPA since leaving the Pacific North West. We sat, ate cheese, and enjoyed a really great afternoon.



That night, there were World Cup matches on so we went to watch at one of the more crowded bars in Rembrandtplein. It was really fun to be in a crowd of excited and energized people. Leipzig loves soccer as well, but they are a little lacking in enthusiasm. (I’ll explain a little more about soccer culture in Leipzig when I talk about the World Cup Finals!!) Standing in a crowd of cheering people and talking to random other people you were squished in with was so much fun! We luckily had great weather in Amsterdam, so decided to walk around the canals that night – the lights against the water are absolutely gorgeous. I’m not sure if there is something better than summer in this city.


The following day, Kristan and I spent our time wandering through the Rijksmuseum as well as the Van Gogh Museum. I was especially excited to visit the Rijks because of a special exhibition that is running there this summer. It is titled “Art asTherapy”, and directly applies to my interest in the intersection between art and psychology, and directly has to do with my Watson project. Unfortunately, it will stop running before my Watson year begins, but I was so excited that I got to see it now!


Throughout the museum, there were these giant sticky notes next to selected works. The writings and the entire exhibition was inspired by the work of Alain de Bottom and John Armstrong. The writings on the sticky notes are partially taken from de Bottom’s book Art as Therapy, and do not approach the art from an art historical context, but rather how the themes, messages, materials, etc. of the work can be applied to contemporary lives. Each one makes you think about something within your own life, whether it is a struggle you are having with a person who is close to you or your own self confidnce. Because the source for these insights and questions are world-famous artworks within one of the largest museums in the world, some of the sticky notes addressed the audience’s relationship with art. For me, it has always been fun and easy to be in a museum; I want to be there. But I know for a lot of my friends and most people, art museums are boring or intimidating. What’s the point? I don’t know anything about art or art history so why should I go? All of this is way too over my head, I don’t understand. A lot of the sticky notes addressed these feelings, pointing out that it is O.K. not to like art or museums, and that you don’t have to feel guilty for not liking it. While the sticky notes valued and affirmed some people’s disinterest or dislike for art, one of my favorites noted that sometimes the most valuable things are hard and challenging; that you sometime have to work a little to understand. Sometimes interacting with art is hard and confusing. But pushing past that difficulty can lead to incredible rewards and insights into the lives of others and yourself.
The best sticky note of all was in the main corridor, near the ticket office. It something along the lines of, art makes you see what artists loved; makes love what artists love. There is something about that approach and philosophy to art that I really connect with. I love thinking about paintings or any kind of artwork as a documentation of love. Each one is a persuasive argument or a bit of evidence, trying to allure and convince the viewer, or just even call to their attention, that there is beauty and thing to love in the world. I don’t really want to tell people how to go about interacting with art, but the next time you are in a museum, gallery, or even if there is a cheesy painting in your dentist’s waiting room, try to think about them as evidence of something someone loves.

Other than having emotional feelings about what art is and how to approach it… I saw some amazing work around the museum. I was blown away by some of the smaller, less famous paintings, especially those by Rembrandt. The way that he uses small bits of paint, gestural marks, and seemingly intuitive, not over-thought, simple marks to create the illusion of lush fabric and textures is insane. Look at the details of these paintings…. ahh I’m still drooling over what he does with paint.

20140728-074817-28097751.jpgLook at how thick that paint is!!

20140728-074819-28099368.jpgThat black on black detail!! AHH!

20140728-074816-28096934.jpgThe most beautiful.

20140728-074818-28098551.jpgJust a few scribbles of paint and you can feel this fabric in your hands.

People were of course crowding around Vermeer’s Milkmaid and Rembrandt’s Night Watch like they were the only things worth seeing in the entire place.



The craziest part about the Rijks was that I (almost physically) ran into Julia Maltby, a friend from high school I haven’t seen in 4 years!! We were in a small gallery off to the side and there she was with her mom! It was crazy! We talked for a little while and then exchanged contact information so that we could try and meet up to watch the Netherlands play in the Quarter Finals for the World Cup that night! I absolutely love how small the world is sometimes, and how weird forces and circumstances bring you together with people in ways you could never imagine.

Kristan and I also visited the Van Gogh Museum that afternoon. It was INCREDIBLY crowded, and the way people moved through the gallery spaces was like cattle being herded from one food trough to another. Kristan and I tried to jump around and spend more time with paintings that we thought were particularly amazing (which was basically all of them). The museum did not allow pictures, but seeing the way Van Gogh used color was inspiring and such a good reward after fighting through so many people.

That night, Kristan and I headed to Albert Cuypstraat to watch the World Cup Quarter Finals. During the day, this street is a huge market, so we figured a lot of people would be out watching the game on big screens. The Dutch looooove soccer, and were especially excited for their team to be so far along in the tournament.


So, in addition to randomly running into Julia in the Rijks, my friend Lauren Stander also happened to be in Amsterdam that weekend and texted me to meet up for the game!! Lauren and I first met when we went to sleep away camp together (I’m sure this means nothing to you, but we were Green Feather Princesses together – Camp Matollionequay’s highest honor) and then we were really good friends my freshman year at Pitt! This summer, she is and au pair in Spain, and was randomly in Amsterdam for the weekend! I hadn’t seen her in a couple summers, and it was so great to see her!


After a long game, and the nerve-wrecking shoot-out, HOLLAND WON THE GAME!!! The bar we were at went berzerk! Broken glasses hit the ground everywhere around us, and we all started jumping up and down, screaming and cheering. It was amazing. Walking through the streets, the whole walk home, and into the early morning outside of our widow, people were yelling, cheering and just really excited. The atmosphere in the city was palpable. It was so awesome to be apart of such an enthusiastic celebration!!


The next day was our final day in the city, we had a one more night and a train back to Leipzig the next morning. We had been staying in an apartment with Air BnB, but this morning we moved closer to the center of the city, to a hostel. This wasn’t just any hostel. “Shelter City”, located in the heart of the Red Light District is the hostel where BOTH of my parents worked and lived while they studied abroad in college. They both really wanted me to stay there while I was in the city, and it was kind of crazy to be in the same place they were 25 years ago! My parents met because of Amsterdam, so staying at this hostel was really special for me. I think the story goes that one of them had studied abroad in Amsterdam, and another one of them wanted to (I’m not sure who went first). Anyway, someone suggested that they talk about Amsterdam and introduced them. I guess the rest is history. So, in a way, this hostel is one of the reasons why I and my family exist. It was surreal to be there and I am so thankful it was still in it’s original location. My mom recognized the courtyard and new exactly where my room was in relationship to where she stayed. Today (7/29/14), is their 25th wedding anniversary. I’m so thankful for them both and so thankful for Amsterdam for bringing them together. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without my parent’s guidance, advice, and support.





For our last day, we split up and wandered around the city together. I had couple things on my list to do, but I mostly just meandered around. I happened upon an organ concert in De Nieuwe Kirk in Dam Square. It was beautiful to be in such a large and historic church and to hear organ music – I have always weirdly loved the organ, something about it’s range and depth.




It was a kind of rainy day, but I liked the overcast. I found the most adorable french bakery tucked away in an ally dear a canal. I spent some time there writing post cards and relaxing.




For the rest of my day, I took a ferry across the river to the NDSM Wharf across from the city. I had read about the free ferries and the wharf on Lonely Planet, and I am sooo glad that I had the time to check it out.




The Wharf used to be a major port for the city, but has since been repurposed as more of a cultural center. I visited the NDSM hangar, which is known as Kunststad (Art City). Inside this massive space, there was work being exhibited, and there were tons of these little pod-like studios where artists were working. It was an awesome space. It seemed like a place where there was a real community and energy of support. I’m definitely going to keep the Kunststad in mind for the future. Across the river from one of my now favorite cities sits an artist community and wharf dedicated to culture. What could be better?








I walked around the rest of the wharf, had lunch at this resturant right on the water, and just really enjoyed exploring alone. Happening upon spaces like the NDSM Warf made me so excited for what I will happen upon over the course of this whole year.



While exploring, I came upon this blue wall. I don’t know what it was about the wall, but I think it was the most beautiful thing I saw in Amsterdam, maybe even in Europe. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it was just incredible. The size of it, the color of the blue, and the funny way that some of the squares of paint didn’t quite match – I sat on the curb and looked at it for a good while. I got some strange looks, but I just couldn’t look away.


That evening, Amsterdam sent me off with one of the most beautiful sunsets I had ever seen. I saw a pinky color starting to creep in as I was walking by the canals. I followed it and found the most beautiful orange and red sunset I had ever seen. Sitting by the canal with the sun setting was the best way to spend my last evening in a city I had really fallen in love with. I am so glad and thankful I was able to visit Amsterdam over my time in Europe. It taught me a lot more than I had expected, and was more beautiful than I imagined. I know this won’t be the last sunset I see in the city.


Soccer//Fusbol Ping-Pong//Table Tennis

Hello Hello Hello!

So the title of this post will make a little more sense later on in the post… it has been a busy week! Here is a sneak peak of what’s to come.

But first, I bet the anticipation has been killing you… the long awaited blog post about the most amazing eventing I have had in Leipzig so far. Haha, well I hope that it lives up to all my self-created hype.

So a while back now, Kristan and I had just gotten back from Munich and we woke up to a cold Saturday morning. We were anxious to get the to studio after having been away, but also needed to get groceries before the market closed. When we walked to the store, we discovered that there was a street fair/festival happening right on our street, Karl-Heine! We had no idea!! We got distracted from the store and decided to walk a few blocks and check out the festival. It was a strange mix of food carts and tables selling things – people from established stores, flea-market-style tables, hand-made things and a lot of independent artists. What we thought was going to be a quick walk up a few blocks before the market turned into about an hour of window shopping and Kristan buying a beautiful, handmade ring from this Australian guy! We wanted to stay and walk the whole 6 or 7 blocks, but we also still needed to get groceries. So we quickly went to the store. When we got back, I grabbed my things for the studio and left the apartment. Abbie had already left, and Kristan was staying back to make lunch before she left.

Walking around the festival by myself was awesome. I loved getting to look at all the art and things that people had made. Most people spoke English, so interacting was a little easier. There were live performances happening every couple of blocks – folk bands, people singing “La Bomba”, and Capoeira dancers! I got a really good bratwurst with mustard for lunch and took my time walking. My walk to the studio (which normally takes 20 minutes) turned into a really nice and relaxing 2 hours or so – the festival was even bigger than we thought! There was this huge open field that they had cleared for more vendors!

I ended up buying this beautiful, handmade leather wallet from this really nice woman who was about my age! She offered free repairs for up to a year, even though I wont be in Leipzig that long :( My favorite part about the wallet is the screen-printed fish on the inside. I am so glad to have something to take with me that will always remind me of Leipzig, and of this perfect day.


Finally, I got to the studio. Kirstan, Abbie and I stayed and worked for a couple of hours, but went home to make dinner and get ready for the Germany vs. Ghana game!!

So, in Germany, they call soccer fusbol, not football. I always knew the table-top soccer as fusbol, but they call that kicker here… it’s all a little wacky. But, we went off to this really wonderful beer garden on our street that is right by the canal to watch the game.


It was the best way to watch a game. Our friends, Val and Nina, from Halle 14 came and sat with us. The crowd wasn’t too rowdy (I’m used to American sports fans), and the people we were sitting around were all wearing these all-white outfits…. I thought that they might be capoiera dancers from the festival, but during half time they all got up from the tables we were sharing with them and lined up for a performance. They were apart of this percussion group!! There were about 30 or so people in the group, separated into different parts. THEY WERE AMAZING. They had a conductor who was my age or maybe a little bit older, and it was amazing how they all worked together. It was obvious that what they were playing wasn’t an arranged piece, but the mixing and improvisation of the conductor, who led the group to be cohesive and beautiful. They played the whole halftime. Kristan, Abbie and I danced with some other people off to the side, it was a great way to spend the normally really boring half time.

Then, the game ended and the group started playing again! This time it was even more improvised and meshed together than the half-time. It also seemed like it would never stop!! At one point, the conductor had everyone yell “I like to move it, move it”, it was hilarious. Then, all of a sudden, just a few of the drummers kept playing, and the whole group started marching into this back ally behind the garden. I immediately followed – it was kind of like I was in a trance hahaha – I wanted to know where they could be going.

Following them is what led to the most amazing thing that has happened to me on this trip. It seemed like we had reached a dead end in the ally, I was kind of sad that the music and fun was going to stop. But then, the band, 30+ audience members and I squished into this tiny clothing store someone had opened up for us. Because I had been so eager to follow the group, Kirstan Abbie and I were right in the front of the audience. For the next hour (???) or so the band kept playing, and me and a ton of strangers danced our butts off. I have no idea how long we were actually in that store… it kinda felt like time had been suspended and we were all in this magical world where everyone was a stranger but no one was a stranger at the same time. All of us, the band and the audience followed the every command and request of the conductor, dancing low to the ground and then jumping up once “the beat dropped” (I feel so silly using that phrase but I cant think of anything better”; we all yelled out chants and cheers in time with the beats; we all danced without worry. There was this amazing energy I remember feeling in the room – it was the happiest, most random and serendipitous positive glow that I have ever come across. I just remember looking around the room and EVERYONE was smiling. I know I am gushing, but the synchronicity, connectedness, and joy that I felt after a random chance performance after a World Cup game was just incredible. The pictures are terrible, but you can get an idea of the store we were in.



THAT was the best day I have had on this trip. It had everything. Sleeping in, a surprise festival, bratwurst, working in the studio, World Cup, beer gardens, and dancing. The best parts were all by surprise and chance. I hope it was the first of many days like that.

The rest of this week has bee filled with watching the World Cup, working hard in the studio, and a bit of ping-pong, or as the Germans would say, table tennis. Our friend Valerie left this week, and had an open studio before she did! about 30 or so people came, it was great! We played this awesome version of table tennis where there aren’t really teams. Instead, each person runs around the table hitting the ball in turn, back and forth. If you miss it or mess up, you are out and the game keeps going until it is just two people left. Then, the two play until one of them wins a point. It is really fun, but after a while you get tired and really dizzy!!



Also since my last post, we had studio visits with some of the artists in residence in another building on Spinnerei, and it was really motivating for my own work. The people we met are students at the New York Academy of Art and were all working on these HUGE and amazingly skillful figure paintings. It made me want to work big… so I am!! Kirstan and I split this HUGE bunch of canvas. I am not sure how big it was before we cut it up, but I couldn’t get it all in one picture.


I am by no means done with the paintings, but here are a few picture of my work area over the past couple of busy studio days.




For the US vs. Germany game, we went back to the beer garden. We made sure to wear whatever red, white and blue we had!

We thought that people would be really excited for the game and got to the garden early. Turns out, we were a little too over eager. No one was there yet! While we waited, I decided to go to this baked potato place for dinner. Yes, I said “baked potato place”. It is this cute little shop on Karl-Heine that I had been wanting to try for a while. They have all these different toppings! it was really good, except that there was SO MUCH sour cream on it. I swear there is a baked potato, chicken, cheese, and veggies in there somewhere…

We waited outside and enjoyed a really nice afternoon before we finally went in to watch the game! We didn’t get heckled at all, but were pretty sad the USA lost :(

For the rest of the World Cup games, we met our new friends at from the New York Academy of Art at this really great bar that is about a block from our house called the Theater Bar. It was really fun for the Germany game the other night – there were a ton of people! I look kinda crazy in the picture of Kristan and I with our Deutschland facepaint on… but I was just really excited haha.



Last night, we we to the Theater Bar to cheer on the US and wore our best facepaint.

You can place bets on the score of the game, and Kristan and I of course bet for our team to win. The best part about the Theater Bar is that they have their own two dual-announcers commentate on the game. They are these hilarious guys that loved that we were both American, and especially thought it was funny when Kristan and I stood up for the national anthem haha. Most of the time, I have no idea what they were saying, but when I could understand them, it was really funny – it just made watching more fun! Last night, they each had wigs on – one that looked like a Belgian player, and I think one was supposed to look like the (German) US coach, Jürgen Klinsmann.

It was a heart wrenching game, Tim Howard is a hero. At least we still have Germany to cheer for!!!

It has been a really great week or two here in Leipzig. We only have a few left!! Tomorrow, Kirstan and I are going to Amsterdam for about 4 days!!! I absolutely cannot wait. Both of my parents studied abroad there, and it is kind of the reason why they are married (they first met when someone suggested they talk about the Amsterdam study-abroad program at Wheaton. The rest is history). We have planned out each day and they are all going to so busy, there is too much to do! I also cannot wait to be in Amsterdam to watch the Netherlands play in the quarter-finals!!! AHHH!!! I will try and be good about updating the blog each day (or at least typing it all out) so that I can get a post up quick after the trip!!

Until then! xoxoxoxoxo4evr

ps. Here is this awesome neon sign in the pub district of Leipzig. I’m obsessed with it.


München Munich München

Hello!! So.. .get ready for another long post – but the best one yet, I promise! This past week has been my favorite week of the trip, and one that is going to be pretty hard to top.

This week, I had a lot of advancements in the studio surrounding my ideas for the work I am making here. It feels really good to have found a path or a groove that I think will be both fun and interesting to push in the weeks we have left (I can’t believe we only have 3 weeks in Leipzig left!! ah!).

Besides studio work, Kristan and I took a short trip to Munich this week – it was amazing. I don’t think there was a single bad part about the trip. It was relaxing, exciting, and fun; we did the right kind of touristy things and explored some local stuff on our own; we met new people and got to really enjoy one of the coolest cities in Germany. I know, technically, I have only been to a grand total of 4 cities in Germany, but if you are ever here GO TO MUNICH! You won’t regret it.

It was a 7 hour bus ride to Munich, but it was actually the best bus ride I have ever had. The bus was very nice – it had (fake) hardwood floors, internet, a bathroom, beer and food available, and outlets! At the rest stop (which was also very nice – Germany knows how to travel comfortably), Kristan and I decided to treat ourselves to American french fries….


Once we got to Munich, Kristan and I walked to Marienplatz, the main square, to find our way around. It was beautiful!


We got on a subway and went to meet our couch surfing host for the next two nights. His name was Ryan, a student from the US who had been living in Germany for a year! (Another plug – if you ever want to travel and stay places for free, use couchsurfing! It was a really good experience for us. Look it up at here). It turns out that where he lived, one of the student dorm complexes, the largest student-run music festival in Europe, StuStaCulum was happening that weekend! It was such a serendipitous surprise! Here is a picture of the stage that was right outside of our room!

So, as soon as we got there, we met a bunch of Ryan’s friends and played a German-drinking game with them called “Flusyball”. I feel like I have seen versions of it in the US… maybe involving frisbees… I’m not sure how to explain it, but it was really fun! Then, Kristan and I went to a cafe for dinner, where I had currywurst (a sausage with ketchup-curry sauce), and we watched the World Cup game! The inside of the cafe was really cool, it had a theater and little shop.

After dinner, Kristan and went back to the music festival, ran into Ryan and some of his friends, and had a really good night!

The next morning, Kristan and I got up early to go to the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial. This was a really important part of the trip for me, and probably one of the most important experiences I will have while traveling. Dachau is about a 40 minute train/bus ride out of center city Munich. Kristan and I arrived too late to join the guided tour, but purchased audio guides and spent a lot of time in the incredibly curated museum. Dachau was built in 1933, and was the only camp to run for the entirety of the Nazi regime. We learned that it was the model for many future camps and satellite camps. The museum and audio guide detailed the history leading up to the camp’s building, the inter-workings of a typical day at the camp, the history and evolution of facilities and occurrences at Dachau, and how the site eventually became the memorial it is today. Here are some images I took.





The memorial monument that was erected at the site in the 80′s (I think, either that or the 60′s, I’ve forgotten), was beautiful. In multiple parts, it honors and commemorates those who suffered at Dachau. The main sculpture shows abstracted figures among barbed wire, while another monument represents each group that was persecuted, represented by the colored triangle they were forced to wear. It was powerful to stand under the monument and reflect on what it represents. With my Watson year so close, it brought up a lot of what I want to focus on – how art is used in response to trauma. I am interested in an individual’s use of art, but considering what a monument or sculpture can mean or provide in response to trauma is fascinating – especially when you consider what it does for a visitor like me, who has no deep personal connection with Dachau or the Holocaust, but still feels connected through history and the human condition.



It is a weird feeling to recall my time at the Dachau Memorial. I am not really sure if I have processed it all. Being at the physical site of such tragedy was surreal. the Holocaust is something I have learned about in Social Studies and History class basically every year of middle and high school. I “know” what happened, but being there was different. Much like learning about the Stasi in Leipzig, it was a strange feeling to be somewhere that was so historically significant yet so temporally close. Sorry for the tangents and musings, I am just very thankful I was able to visit the memorial.

After a long train and bus ride home (it was a holiday in Germany that day so the public transit was running at off hours), Kristan and I made it back to Marienplaz. We were starving at the point, so decided to go to the famous Hofbrauhaus for lunch! It is a beautiful, famous beer garden in one of the main squares of Munich. Kristan and I got liter beers, I had schnitzel and potatoes, we talked and relaxed, and had a great afternoon!







With full stomachs, Kristan and I decided it would be a good idea to walk around parts of the city we hadn’t seen yet – we had a bike tour through the city that started at 7:30 that evening, so we didn’t want to be too full! We walked to the open air market, but because it was a holiday, none of the shops were open. Still, there was an area with picnic tables and we decided to sit. As we were chatting, I noticed a girl with a large backpacking pack on, walking alone, with a beer in hand. She sat down a few tables in front of us and I said to Kristan, “Look! That is going to be me in a few months”! A few minutes later, she walked over and asked me about the “i <3 nj" shirt I was wearing. Turns out she was from Montclair!! I tried to remember who I knew from Montclair, and I remembered Dan! He transfered to UPS the same year I did, and plays in a band with Kristan's boyfriend. Brit (the traveler from Montclair) knew him!! It was one of those the-world-is-really-small kind of things. I loved it!

We had to say goodbye to Brit because we had our bike tour! This was the most touristy thing we did in Munich, but I am so glad we did. We used Mike’s Bike Tours (plug: they were great!), and did the “Twilight” tour that went from 7:30-11:30pm, during twilight, obviously. The tour was small, just Kirstan, two guys from NYC (Joe and Harry), the tour guide, Bobby, and me! We rode all over the city and learned a lot more history that Kristan and I could have by ourselves.

First, we saw some of the ornate and elaborate architecture from when Munich was apart of the Bavarian Monarchy. The gold-plated details and designs were absolutely gorgeous. In a lot of the sculptures we saw, a goddess-like figure was the main focus, or featured somewhere prominent. We learned that she represents the female personification of the Bavarian empire, beautiful, regal, and powerful.



We continued our ride to the English Gardens, this huge park that runs through all of Munich. I is the largest park within a city in the world! The grounds were originally the sport-hunting grounds for the Bavarian royalty, but were transformed into a park.

20140624-153640-56200526.jpg In order to keep the grounds beautiful, part of a river was diverted so that it runs through most of the gardens. At the beginning of the divergence, you can surf!! It was sooo cool and so surprising! Apparently, the run off used to be very gross and foamy. Then, in the 1960′s, some guy from California (figures) was in Munich and saw the river. Being a surfer and an engineer, he was able to control the water so that it became a continuous, large wave that people have surfed on ever since. It was amazing and hilarious to see wetsuits and surfboards in the middle of the city! The best surfer there could have only been 13 or so… I tried to take some pictures of the tricks they were doing! When the fell, they would just bail, swim to the bank, get out and wait their turn again.



After we left the surfers, we made our way to the 2nd largest beer garden in the world, the Chinesischer Turm, which is in the center of the English Gardens. Kristan and I were still very full, so we just had a beer and pretzels. It was great to sit, relax, and get to talk with the people that were on the tour with us! Plus, the sun was going down and it was beautiful!


Next, we continued our ride and got to see a lot more of the city, seeing The Residency, a building where each Bavarian King lived. Each king would add on a section, and it is now a museum. The Residency is so big, that if you spent one minute at each exhibit in the museum, you would spend 36 days inside…or at least that’s what our tour guide told us! We saw big open squares, and buildings that were the original Nazi headquarters, before they were moved. Riding around the city at night was the best thing ever. it was gorgeous, we didn’t have to worry about knowing where we were going, it wasn’t crowded at all, and we got to see amazing buildings and learn a lot – it was a dream.





This was one of my favorite parts about the tour: what our guide called the “selfie fountain”. You can’t really tell because the image is dark, but each one of the figures surrounding the fountain is holding a fish, in the way that you hold a phone or camera to take a selfie. When you notice it and look at it that way, it’s hilarious!

Eventually, the tour ended and Kristan and I headed back up to where we were staying. The festival was going strong, but we were quite tired from our long day, so we decided to stay in and go to bed. It had been such a good day!

The next morning, we got up early, left Ryan, and headed back into the center of Munich. We decided to walk around without our map, now that we had a little better handling of the city. We wanted to see a lot of what we had passed on bike, just during the day when we could see it better! Here are some pictures of The Residency. One of them, of the outside of the building shows its history. The building, much like many buildings in Munich, were destroyed during the war. Because it was so expensive to rebuild so much of the city, the building is painted to look like what it had before it was damaged! You can see where the original and re-built parts are.


We decided to go inside of the Theatin Church, which we had only seen from the outside on our tour. It was built in celebration of one of the Bavarian kings having a son (things people will do to have a heir…). It was the most ornate and breathtaking interior church space I have ever seen. All of it in white!




Then, we walked to the contemporary art museum, Haus der Kunst. During the war, this building was covered in camouflage netting, so that it looked like it was apart of the English Gardens that sit just behind it. Because of the camouflage, it wasn’t damaged or destroyed at all. It is an amazing space with the tallest ceilings and beautiful old doors. One of the exhibitions, you could walk into and sit around in it! Kristan and I took a break from walking…

20140624-155828-57508236.jpg All of the exhibitions were really interesting and HUGE, but I really responded to the retrospective of Ellen Gallagher’s work. She had these amazing paintings and drawings that were so detailed and so simple at the same time. In her earlier work, she would cut her paper to put even more detail into the image – it was amazing to see! You should look through some of here stuff here.
After the museum, we were pretty tired and hungry. Missing the US a little bit… we went to the Hard Rock Cafe…. Ugh I know, I kind of hate the fact that we did that, and I understand if you do too, but the food was so good and it was nice to have a one-hour “vacation” back in what felt like the US.

After lunch, we had to head towards the bus station to catch our bus back to Leipzig. Here are some pictures from our walk.



We walked through the open-air market, then headed out of the city!



It was such an amazing trip, I am so glad that we went.

BUT, the best part of my week happened in Leipzig when we got back…. this post is already too long, so you will just have to wait for the next update to hear about the most amazing experience I have had so far!!

As always, thanks so much for reading. Miss you all terribly.