Thursday, January 21, 2010

--- Is your quaility of life doing ok? Did you have a bad day? ---

Some days I wake up and get 'stressed' because I dont know what to do with my life. In all reality, it is because my blessings are so abundant and I have so many options. I should never complain about opportunity. Here I am, living in Europe, with a roof over my head, fresh food every day, reading and writing as I wish, with very supportive friends and family.I can move abroad and teach, apply to graduate school, work, or travel. I am the most fortunate girl in the world, and it is my goal of 2010 to never forget that. Every day is SUCH a beautiful gift.

Here is a breakdown of the world around us, it helped me with perspective....

If we could shrink the earth's population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all the existing human ratios remaining the same, it would break down on a per person scale accordingly... There would be:

* 57 Asians
* 21 Europeans, 14 from the Western Hemisphere, both north and south
* 8 Africans
* 52 would be female 48 would be male
* 70 would be non-white 30 would be white
* 70 would be non-Christian 30 would be Christian
* 89 would be heterosexual 11 would be homosexual
* 6 people would possess 59% of the entire world's wealth and all 6 would be from the United States.
* 80 would live in substandard housing
* 70 would be unable to read
* 50 would suffer from malnutrition
* 1 would be near death; 1 would be near birth 1, and ONLY 1 would have a college education
* 1 would own a computer

When one considers our world from such a compressed perspective, the need for acceptance, understanding and education becomes glaringly apparent. The following is also something to ponder... If you woke up this morning with more health than are more blessed than the million who will not survive this week.

If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation ... you are ahead of 500 million people in the world.

If you can attend an idealogical meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or are more blessed than three billion people in the world.

If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to are richer than 75% of this world. If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace ... you are among the top 8% of the world's wealthy.

If you can read this article of perspective, you are more fortunate than over two billion people in the world that cannot read at all. Of course, as I see the world today, perhaps that's not such a bad thing.

Friday, January 8, 2010

6 Countries, 800 photos, 4 layers of gloves, 1 backpack, and a cheerful New Year

Hello Friends!

Happy 2010! I hope you all had a warm and festive holiday season, and are kicking off the new decade with a nice BIG smile!

I just wanted to give a small over-view of my holiday excursion through Europe, and include a few photos!

**To begin, I flew to Bratislava, Slovakia. A few people ask me why I decided to venture there, and my answer was: Ryanair. It is an economic low-fare flight service, and I got my ticket from Brussels to Bratislava for just 12 Euro. Bratislava was very interesting. I was expecting a big city (since it is the capital of Slovakia) but it definitely had the small town feel to it. Petr, a friend from Germany, and I went to look at a famous castle in the nearby location, however it was closed for “bad weather” during the winter time, and since it was -17 one night, I would claim that as bad weather. Otherwise, it was a nice trip, I was able to use my new camera and test it out. The Christmas market there was lovely, and we went along the Danube River to see the sights of the city.

**Next stop: Vienna. I took just a one hour train ride from Bratislava to Vienna (they are the two closest capitals in Europe) and was greeted by snow and more freezing temperatures, but just put on another layer of socks and gloves, and went out to see the city. I went to Museum Quarter, a beautiful location in Vienna, and went to 2 art museums and the Natural History Museum, which was by far the best museum I have been to. It was all about evolution and the history of micro-organisms and sea creatures and all that other fun science stuff! In Vienna, I also took the tram to a small part of the outer city, where I purposely got lost (I think that is the best way to see a place). I saw gorgeous churches, the parliament building, 2 snowy parks, and oh wait… another Christmas market. GOSH I LOVE THOSE! Hot mulled wine and some fresh pastries are perfect for a cold day. I was only there for 2 days before….

**Prague for Christmas! I met up with Dani Cosme there to celebrate Christmas, and we actually had “nice” weather considering that it was so cold the previous weeks. We walked around the city and took a free walking tour, and learned SO much about the history of the Czech Republic. We saw the only astrological bell tower, visited the historical Jewish cites, walked along the Prague Castle, saw Christmas Carolers, and ate more food at the Christmas market. I stayed in Prague for 4 days (which was the longest part of my trip where I stayed in 1 location) and it was really nice to get to see the city more.

**Next stop: London to see Amy Buchmann! After a long travel day for Amy, I met her in the airport at 7am with a cup of coffee and pastry in hand, and we hit the town. We did our own walking tour of London and I was able to be her tour guide since I studied there for a part of a summer 3 years ago. We went to the classics like Westminster abbey, Big Ben, London Eye, Tower Bridge, etc, and then just grabbed some warm coffe and caught up on life. We stayed in a 21 bed hostel with bunk beds stacked 3 high, it was hilarious and fun!

**New Years in Dublin! Amy and I got to Dublin at midnight on the 30th, so we had 1 day to sleep and see the city and rest up for the evening. We did a free walking tour (again), GOSH those are so valuable, and learned all about the history of Ireland. Again, we saw many of the famous cites in Dublin, and it was super helpful to have such a wonderful tour guide. On New Years eve we went to a pub crawl to the different bars around the city center, and ended in a club, and at midnight, it started to SNOW, so Amy and I ran outside quickly to get a picture! The next day we went to the Guinness Factory and took a tour, followed by lots of beer drinking. Gotta love the Irish!

**Amy and I came back to Brussels for a few days and she was able to see my “home town” in Europe. On Thursday we went to Brugge and walked around the city and took a lot of photos. Overall, it was a very relaxing and enjoyable way to end the vacation, and I now have to save up money again to take my next venture around Europe!

As for now, my host family is doing well and the kids are back in school, and I am now just settling back in and trying to figure out my next step in life. I am still studying for the GRE’s and have my TFA interview in March. Other than that, I am still studying French, as well as planning new trips with my friends here in Belgium.

Again, thank you for taking the time to read my blog, and please keep me posted on updates in your life!

Hugs and kisses, Chrissy