An Ode to Winter: The ten best things about winter

Winter… There’s something truly magical about this season. I think it has to do with the snow? For some reason, I get hypnotized by the beauty of this specific winter wonderland feeling – often linked to Christmas. Of course, I’m from Denmark where it really snows a lot at times and you occasionally get a day or two off school or work when there’s too much snow for the state to handle. But walking outside in the snow, taking in the fresh air and clearing my mind is something I really enjoy during this specific season. …And is there anything better than cuddling up in front of the Television with a cup of tea or hot chocolate or the occasional glass of wine? I don’t think so…

Snowie landscape

There are many things to appreciate about this season. My favourite ones are the following ten:

  1. As a Game of Thrones fan, I get a thrill out of just saying ”winter is coming”… (I know…)
  2. Comfy clothes
  3. Winter fashion – especially scarfs
  4. Spending time indoors without feeling guilty for doing so
  5. Tea/ hot chocolate and/or a glass of cold white wine
  6. Snow(!)
  7. Making snow men, snow angels and sledding
  8. Snow-free days off school or work
  9. No humidity
  10. Soup!

What are your favourite things about winter?

xo P!

 

Picture
Google's search engine

Social Media: Keeping in touch with friends and family as an expat

When you live abroad, it can be challenging keeping in touch with friends and family back home. However, thankfully we live in the 21st century in which technology plays an increasingly part of our daily lives. As such, the Internet opens a world of opportunities to stay connected as an expat.

Social Media

Personally, I use Skype and Facebook Messenger for texting and calling friends and family from. They are two easy and reliable programmes to use, which allow direct contact. I know some of my expat friends also use WhatsApp, however, I haven’t really tried that yet as I don’t really need anything but Skype and Facebook to keep in touch.
In this sense, though, social media is priceless to me. It allows me to keep in touch with my beloved ones without actually talking to them. Right now, where I’ve just moved to Amsterdam, started a new job and trying to acquire insight into the culture and build up a social circle, I don’t have much spare time. Therefore, social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and SnapChat allow me to receive updates from friends and family while at the same time allowing me to send updates as well – without direct interaction. Sometimes, this is the perfect way to keep updated as the time is not always there.

Do you, as an expat, have any other ways to keep updated with friends and family? Any apps or programmes I should try out?

xo P!

 

Picture
Google's search engine

Taking Responsibility: Helping planet Earth

Global warming

No-one can no longer deny the fact of global warming. It’s a serious and important issue to consider – not just for politicians around the world and people as well as companies in power, however, also for us, normal people. As such, I find it extremely important to highlight this issue and stress some of the small things that people can do without changing your entire lifestyle – step-by-step changes, so to speak. I’ve made certain adjustments in my lifestyle as I’ve become increasingly aware of ways to improve my responsibility towards the environment:

  1. Sort trash
  2. Recycle
  3. Cut back on water consumption
  4. Cut back on electricity consumption and use LED light bulbs
  5. Use public transportation
  6. Eat organic – as much as possible
  7. Decrease meat consumption
  8. Decrease clothes consumption

These are the things I consider on a daily basis. Of course, there’s always more that can be done! And I’m fully aware that I can do a lot more than what I’m currently doing – but I’m working on it, and that’s my point exactly: Step-by-step changes! For example, I’m really bad at taking a shower under 15 minutes. So instead of forcing myself to start my day on a bad note, I no longer shower every day, however, every second day. That way, I feel as if I’m compromising with myself. Moreover, regarding eating organic, I would like to switch completely to organic food and clothes in the long run. For now, though, considering my salary, I focus on buying as much organic food as possible within my budget. The organic clothes will eventually be part of my lifestyle – until then, I’ll cut back on my clothes consumption instead. Again, step-by-step changes that doesn’t affect my lifestyle too much but compromises it. Eventually, all these little steps will lead to big changes, I believe.

What do you think? And what do you do to take care of the environment and live up to your responsibility towards the Earth? Please, do enlighten me – I bet there are many things I can learn from you.

xo P!

 

Picture
Google’s search engine

Wonderlost Wednesday: Mackinac Island (guest post)

Hello there! Melanie here. My dear blogger friend, Pernnille, asked me to do a guest post on her blog, Wanderlust, because I hail from the United States of America, a place she has yet to travel. Now, you may be expecting something about a big city: Chicago, L.A., New York. However, I would like to discuss a much smaller place because it’s near and dear to my heart.

My family was never one for traditions. However, one vacation we took every year was to Mackinaw City for Labor Day Weekend. This is the last weekend of the summer before school starts back up in the United States and it’s also the only time of the year that the Mackinac Bridge (the bridge that connects the upper and lower peninsulas of the state of Michigan) is open to pedestrian traffic. We walked the five-mile-long bridge almost every year. (Some years it was windy, and/or raining, which is not fun to walk through.) This was the highlight of our trip and the main reason we went. However, it wasn’t the only reason.

1

In the middle of Lake Huron, one of the five Great Lakes of North America, stands Mackinac Island. It’s not a very big island. In fact, one of the many things we do while on the island is ride our bikes around the perimeter, which is about 8 miles(12.8 km). The paved road that takes you around the island winds along the edge of the lake with the rocky cliffs jutting up on the other side. It’s a gorgeous scenic ride. In addition, there’s plenty of places to stop along the way to take breaks, take pictures, go hiking. In fact, along the way you’ll see a few of the beautiful houses of the full-time residents of the island peeking through the trees.

2

Why do we ride our bicycles and not take a car, you ask? Why because motor vehicles aren’t allowed on the island. Motor vehicles (excluding emergency vehicles, service vehicles, and snowmobiles in winter), were prohibited back in 1898. For that reason, bicycles have become the preferred method of transportation on the island. Of course, walking is allowed and horses are allowed on the island, as well. In fact, taking a horse-drawn carriage tour is another of the attractions offered on the island, or perhaps a horseback-ride through the middle of the island.

3

Or perhaps you’re a history-buff, someone who enjoys history? Have no fear! The island is rich with history! In fact, on the top of the island stands Fort Mackinac. Built in 1780 by the British during the American Revolutionary War and later used in the War of 1812, it now remains a top tourist attraction. Here you can see what daily life was like, watch reenactments, and listen to music of the time period.

4

If history and bike-riding aren’t your thing, you’ll have plenty else to do on the island with the countless unique, eclectic shops, a butterfly house with dozens of butterfly species from around the world, putt-putt golf by the beach, visit the Grand Hotel, plenty of open grass areas for catching some (sun)rays, playing Frisbee, or flying a kite.

5

Remember that peak tourist time is Labor Day Weekend. So be careful not to run any pedestrians over with your bike in the jam-packed Main Street. :p For a better look at the scenery of Mackinac Island, check out my flash fiction series :
Across the Lake (part 1); 
Across the Lake (part 2);
 Lake Huron;
 Fog;
 Day to Night.

New Beginnings: Settling abroad

Step-by-step, I’m settling here in Amsterdam, Holland. My new room in a shared apartment has been filled with furniture with a little help from IKEA, and all the official paper work has been sorted out. Furthermore, I’ve landed myself one of those 9-17 jobs… One that I’m really excited about as it combines previous work experience with my degrees – it seems like the perfect match. Moreover, my colleagues seems warm and welcoming, which is highly important to me as I’m quite the social type – a friendly and positive work environment is vital to me!

However, although having lived here for a little over a week now, I haven’t had time for what I enjoy the most due to practical matters: Exploring the city.
I guess, I shouldn’t be too worried about that for now as I’m going to live here permanently for an undecided period of time. This means that, if all goes as planned, I’ll have years to get to know the city and all it’s hidden treasures – but it’s not like me… at all! The previous times when I’ve relocated abroad, I was out exploring from day one. Maybe that’s because all the practical matters had been taken care of before moving? Anyway, at least I’ve had time to figure out the most basic things: Where to grocery shop, how public transportation works and where the green areas in my neighbourhood are.

IMG_3429IMG_3434

 

 

 

 

 

In this sense, though, I’ve come to wonder: What do I expect of my time in Amsterdam besides having a good time and it to be a positive experience? After some serious thinking, I’ve come to the following conclusion. In the big picture, I’ll work towards 1) Acquiring insight into and understanding for the Dutch culture; 2) Making new friends from all over the world in this highly international city; and 3) Settling in at work, befriending and getting close to my new colleagues. To me, these are the things that truly matter – especially the social aspect of it all.
Besides this, I’ve set myself certain goals to reach within the next five years. No rush, though – I’ll take it as it comes. It’s important for me not to get hung up on achieving certain things – as long as I work towards something with determination and it feels right, I’m on the right track, I’m sure.

xo P!

Lazy Sundays: My top 10 favourite Television series

We all have them. …Lazy Sundays. Sundays where you just want to stay in bed recovering from a busy week. And on Sundays, that one day a week (especially in winter), it’s more than okay to stay in bed and netflixing with snacks without feeling bad for doing so – at least in my opinion.

Lazy Sunday

…Yes, today is one of those days for me – it’s been such a busy week as a result of my recent relocation to Amsterdam, Holland. As such, I’m all cuddled up with a hot cup of tea and some nuts watching Friends – because that Television series just never gets old! And that’s normally what I do on lazy Sundays: Stay in watching my favourite Television series. I thought I might share my favourite series with you:

  1. Friends
  1. Big Bang Theory
  1. Modern Family
  1. New Girl
  1. How I Met Your Mother
  1. Game of Thrones
  1. Peaky Blinders
  1. The Blacklist
  1. Bones
  1. Rejseholdet (or ’Unit One’ in English)

What are your lazy Sunday’s Television series? Anything I should be checking out? …What am I missing out on – yes, you always need new series as backups, right!?

xo P!

 

Pictures
 Google’s search engine

New Year’s: Goals in a jar

Happy New Year, dear reader!

It’s that time a year again. New year’s… This year, it marks a new beginning to me, as I’ve just moved abroad permanently to start my post-graduate life as a grown-up (…ish) with a 9-5 job. I cannot wait for this next chapter of my life to begin! It’s been a long time coming, and I’m more than ready for this next adventure in Amsterdam to take off.

With new year’s and new beginnings, though, comes new resolutions. I’m not one to set myself unreachable goals – I like to keep it realistic: What changes in my life are important for me to make, and what can I actually work on within a time frame of a year? As such, I’ve set myself three goals for the upcoming year of 2016: 1) Eat more organic and cut back on my meat consumption, 2) become increasingly economic responsible and 3) acquire insight into and understanding for the Dutch culture and its history.

Goals jar

Besides these three resolutions, however, I have made what I call a five year goals jar. In this jar, I have put multiple goals written on small notes for me to reach within the next five years. And over the next year, I plan to not only follow up on these goals in order to ensure that I’m right on track on reaching these, I also want to add further goals during the period.
For me, it’s important to set myself certain goals to reach. Then, I have something to work towards – things I can accomplish, which have been carefully selected. It’s not necessarily important per se if I reach these goals within the next five years. What’s important is to work towards reaching them. As such, if I don’t reach them, it’s not a failure but a learning process – maybe I’ll even change my mind along the way on some of these goals…

These are my plans for the following year of 2016. Do you set yourself certain resolutions and/or goals? Why/why not? If yes, what resolutions do you have for 2016?

xo P!

 

Picture
 Google’s search engine

Wonderlost Wednesday: Berlin

For six months this year, I lived in Berlin. Here, I took advantage of every free moment there was from writing my MA thesis to explore this lovely metropolis with all its delights. However, even having lived in Berlin for a longer period of time, I don’t feel as if I’ve explored and experienced it all – however, that’s just a good excuse to return, right!? Because fact is, there’s just so much to do in this modern metropolis.

IMG_9791IMG_1329

 

 

 

 

What I like most about Berlin besides its diverse scenery is its cultural diversity – and not only people-wise, however, also area-wise. Each area is characterised in a different way from your high-end to alternative neighbourhoods. No doubt that there’s a lot of history to be explored here as well as (and implicit) culture. I do highly recommend visiting the typical tourist sights such as the Wall, Brandenburger Tor, Berliner Dom, various museums (especially the Wall Museum, which gives a comprehensive insight into the division of Berlin during the Cold War) etc. And although a tourist trap, I must recommend visiting the TV Tower! The view from the top is absolutely stunning. Furthermore, it’s a good way to get an overview of the metropolis and its areas from above. However, you can also do this from Die Welt, which is an air balloon close to the old boarder from west/east Berlin). Also the Jewish Memorial at Brandenburger Tor is a nice place to explore, walking around in between the many stones.

IMG_1250IMG_1840

 

 

 

 

 

Besides from all the typical tourist sights, I quite like just exploring Berlin – it’s always fun when you get lost because you come across places and things you didn’t expect. …I could spend hours walking around in my neighbourhood, Kreuzberg, which was a rather cultural diverse and arty area in which street art was highly visible. Here and in Friedrichshain, you can explore street art from well-known artists from all over the world – it’s rather fascinating!

IMG_0169IMG_1324

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food-wise, Berlin is perfect! Because of the many different cultures living in the city, there are a lot of various and different cafes and restaurents where you can dig into the cultural diversity, so to speak. I, especially, grew found of Alarabi Lounge in Friedrichshain, which is a cute and cozy Turkish restaurant that serves a delicious brunch!
These many variations of cultural foods can also be explored at flee markets around Berlin. I quite like Mauerpark Flomarkt, which is a rather big flee market with everything from furniture to clothes to technical gadgets to jewellry and music etc. Beside the flee market, there is a little park where people hang out every Sunday and street artists play music and perform.

As you may or may not know by now from previous posts, I quite like green areas where you can relax, enjoy the fresh air and get away from the noisy big city for a moment. On that note, Berlin is perfect. The city, namely, has a lot of parks. I suspect the most well-known park is Tiergarten, however, my all time favourite is Viktoria Park in Kreuzberg. This park is absolutely stunning: It’s located on a hill and has this amazing waterfall in the middle, which you can see when you enter the park – beautiful, especially, in the summer time. Besides this, there are also some sand beaches located around Berlin, which are open during summer time. These, a friend and I visited a few times, and we quite enjoyed the atmosphere there: It was like visiting an exotic place – in the middle on Berlin! It was the perfect way to have a little vacation away from the MA thesis.

IMG_1823IMG_1766

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re into the typical big city feel mixed with a lot of ’personality’ and cultural diversity, then Berlin is the perfect place for you to visit! And if you visit, don’t forget to stop by one of the many photo booths around Berlin – it’s the perfect souvenir to bring home with you.

xo P!

Roomies: The roommate rules

Since I moved away from my parents five years ago, I’ve been living with roommates. All sorts of roommates – some where friends, even close friends, others were just roommates with whom I shared a laugh and a nice meal with every once in a while and one in particular was definitely not a friend, on the contrary.

Having moved to Amsterdam now, I’m sharing an apartment with two other lovely ladies – one of which is a dear friend of mine, the other I didn’t know beforehand but look very much forward to getting to know. Although I have wondered if it would be a good idea to move in with my friend, fearing if it would eventually lead to an ending of our friendship, I’ve come to following conclusion: Why not!? We’ve been friends for almost a decade now and are both up-front and straight-forward people who handle situations as they come and are more than willing to compromise for the better good of our friendship. As such, I think we have a good basis for developing into good roomies as well. However, my situation has made me think: Are there ways in which to prevent clashes between roomies?

Roommates

In my five years of roomie experience, I’ve come to believe that rules can prevent clashes between roomies along with compromise and a general consideration of each other. In general, I think you come a long way with respect and common courtesy. As such, there are certain basic rules I find important to discuss when moving in with roomies:

  1. Noise: At what hours is it for example okay to wash/dry wash your clothes, hear semi loud music, argue with a boy/girlfriend or, simply, just vacuum your room?
  1. Personal privacy and space: What privacy needs do your roomies have and when it is okay to disturb them?
  1. Personal daily routines:When are you cleaning, cooking, showering?
  1. Guests and boyfriends: Is it okay to just bring people over to the apartment? Or should you let your roomies know in advance? What if people are staying for an extended period of time?
  1. Parties: You should probably ask for permission to throw parties anyway. However, what about rules for parties? And party guests? Is it okay to invite friends of friends? Can they sleep over in the living room? Who cleans after the party and when?
  1. Kitchen: There are many rules to be set in the kitchen… Cleaning after cooking, dishes or dishwasher, personal fridge and cabinet space, meal routines etc. Also, do you share your food? Is it okay to dig into your roomies supplies?
  1. Cleaning: How often, what rooms, when during the week and how much cleaning?
  1. Decoration of joint areas: Joint areas are joint – should you ask for permission from roomies before decorating?
  1. General behaviour: The passive aggressive thing – not cool. Always treat others the way you yourself would like to be treated, and remember that you come a long way with respect and compromise.

What are your experience with roommates and rules? How have you dealt with clashes? Please, do share – advice is always well received!

xo P!

 

Picture
 Google’s search engine

Travel Tip: Get lost

It’s, of course, important to plan and organise a trip in order to know what exactly there is to explore and experience, when to do so and if there are certain areas to definitely explore or avoid. However, when all the touristee things are explored, I find it extremely important to just get lost. …Get lost in the streets. …Walk around, meet people, eat at random cafes and/or restaurant. Simply, get involved in the culture and its people.

Get lost

…It’s nice to have a map, however, it’s also nice to make time to get lost too. …Forget about the map for a time and just allow yourself to wander around. You end up experiencing such amazing places and meet interesting people along the way.
Some of my personal all time best abroad adventures has started with me just wandering around different nabourhoods, exploring. Talking to strangers asking where and what to explore. I’ve met interesting people and even, as a result, been on a few innocent dates with local guys. For me, it’s truly the best way to acquire insight into the current culture of a country, maybe even learn a bit of the country’s history from a local with ancestors in the country. …You can always do the touristee stuff – maybe just set aside one day to getting lost…

xo P!

 

Picture
 Google’s search engine