Wanderlust In A Time of Limited Travel: Film & TV Show Suggestions

Though it may be a time of minimal to nonexistent travel, that doesn’t mean that we have to stop dreaming about our future travels. While they may not be in the near future, there’s no reason not to indulge in some wanderlust through media! Most recently I created a post of my book suggestions for travelers who love to read. While books are my favorite way to immerse myself in learning about and partaking in the stories of places far away, film is also a beautiful medium for stoking wanderlust, as we all know the feeling that blooms in us when a film shows us a sweeping Irish landscape, a villa in Italy, or some other landscape or cityscape that takes our breath away.

Here are some of my favorite travel related films and TV shows. Thankfully, most of my favorite films are either foreign language films, set abroad, or have some element of travel, so this list wasn’t very difficult to put together! I also include some that may not be favorites of mine, but might just capture the beauty of their setting or put me in a traveling mood. And it should be no surprise that some of the films or shows on this list may overlap with my book suggestions, as some of those books have been made into beautiful films.




The Secret of Roan Inish:
Set in Ireland, this film tells the story of a young girl who solves a family mystery while staying with her grandparents near the tiny island of Roan Inish. It involves Irish mythology and it has been one of my all time favorite films since I was a small child. (The first country I ever visited outside of America was Ireland, and this film is part of what started that desire!)

Call Me By Your Name:
This movie is the most beautiful film I have ever seen and I am madly in love with it and the book that it is based on. It’s a story of love, summer, family, and loss. I cannot recommend it enough! Also, it’s set in a villa in Italy, so how could I not love it?

Under The Tuscan Sun:
I don’t think it’s possible to watch this film and not feel inspired and in desperate need of a visit to Italy. A woman leaves the ruins of her life behind and buys a villa in Italy— the dream!— where she learns to love herself, redefine home, and heals from her previous life. This film is nearly perfect in every way.

Set in Paris, this film tells the story of a painfully shy woman who wants to spread happiness to those around her through small, secret acts of kindness. This film is difficult to describe other than to say that it is visually stunning, the protagonist is lovely, and that it will make you want to go to France. It’s one of my favorite films and always puts me in a good mood.

Pan’s Labyrinth:
This film is directed by Guillermo del Toro, and is originally in Spanish (though subtitles in English are available). This film is a cross between a fairytale and an adult drama and is set in 1940s Spain. While it is a rather dark and intense film, it is— in my opinion— a cinematic masterpiece both in technicality and the storyline. But be aware, it will likely make you cry.

Midnight In Paris:
It is a difficult decision for me to decide if I should include this film in this list or not, given the very serious allegations held against the director. While I feel that is worth mentioning, the film itself is magical and makes you feel like you really are in Paris. For a history lover like me, it is especially magical and I can’t help but to feel good after I watch it.

Mama Mia!:
A musical set on a small Greek island that celebrates friendship, family, and love. It’s not possible for me not to feel good after watching this film.

The Grand Budapest Hotel:
Wes Anderson makes films that are sweet eye candy. This is a film set in the Grand Budapest Hotel in the 1930s, and is a story of love, friendship, mystery, and an attempt to avoid the imprisonment of an innocent man. It will make you laugh and awww, and it’s a bit quirky like all of this director’s films.

This film is based on the best selling novel, and while they are not quite the same story, I enjoyed both the book and the film. If you like strong female characters, magic, and food, (as well as Johnny Depp), you’ll enjoy this film.

The Phantom of the Opera:
I am referring to the 2004 version of this film, which was the first musical that ever truly caught my interest. Mainly set in Paris in the late 1800s, there is a magical feeling to this film that always makes me want to visit The City of Lights.

Any of the Hayao Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli films:
Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli are masters at world building and creating animation that is beautiful and inspiring. Most of the films harken to Japan, while others seem to be set in a parallel world between Japan and Europe. Some of my favorite films are The Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, and Kiki’s Delivery Service— though Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, and others are also worth watching.




Other Films by Genre


Cartoons, Children’s, Young Adult

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants



The Princess Diaries


Romance (Romcom)

The Holiday

Leap Year

Pride & Prejudice

Bridget Jones’ Diary

The Last Holiday

Moulin Rouge

Only You





Murder on the Orient Express

Self Discovery

Eat Pray Love


Indiana Jones

The Mummy

The Da Vinci Code


Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown:
This show focuses on the crossroads between food, culture, and travel, and I suggest it to everyone. I feel that many travel shows do not have the heart and conviction of this show and I have to say that it is by far my favorite travel or food related show.

Dark Tourist:
I have a tendency to find the macabre or unusual particularly interesting when I travel, and this is a fun show to watch if you want to learn about interesting and often undiscussed sights around the world.


Those are a few films and shows that have inspired my travels or that I just enjoy watching between one adventure and another. If you have a favorite travel related film I would love to hear about it!

I hope that you are all staying safe, healthy, and entertained during these difficult times.

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Wanderlust In A Time of Limited Travel: Book Suggestions

It is no secret that the world is quickly changing and in some ways shrinking for many of us during the current global crisis created by the Corona virus. As travelers, just two weeks ago we were seeing massively discounted flights, and now we are watching flights being cancelled or banned, the borders of many countries closing, and what may be the (at least temporary) collapse of the travel industry as we know it, even after the threat of the virus has declined.

Many of us are undergoing self isolation, while others are having to continue their work due to various reasons. Regardless of your situation, I think it’s safe to say that we are all experiencing some stress created by what is happening in our world right now. While I am a traveler, I am also an avid reader, and I have not found anything I love to do more during a day at home than read a good book. Since many of us will be spending the next days, or weeks, in mostly a state of seclusion, I felt like this may be an appropriate time to suggest some wonderful books for those out there who also love both travel and reading.

I decided to create a list of some books that either inspired me to travel or that I just truly enjoyed. I also included some that may not have affected me so deeply that I still think may be worth reading for others. I hope that you find something that sparks your interest!


Novels That I Loved

American Gods by Neil Gaiman:
This book is what I consider a modern “hero epic”, written to allude to the epics of demigods such as Gilgamesh and Heracles—but set in modern day America. In short, this novel tells the story of a man who find himself a key player in the war between the Old Gods (Odin, Kali, Anansi, etc) and the New Gods (Internet, Media, and others). The story takes the reader across America and also harkens to the ancestral homes of many of the Old Gods. It’s a book that combines mythology with modern fantasy elements while centering around a very human, everyday charter. It’s one of my favorite books and worth reading! (Neil Gaiman is my favorite author and he has many other amazing books— including Neverwhere, which will take you to a fantastical, underground version of London!)

The Robert Langdon novels by Dan Brown:
This includes Angels & Demons as well as The Da Vinci Code. These are the only two titles I have been able to read of his so far, but I adored them! Suspense, adventure, travel, and lots of fun for lovers of history.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon:
An excellent historical novel set in 1940s Barcelona. The prose is enchanting and the storyline as well as the characters are engaging and fascinating. If you like a bit of romance and drama, as well as mystery and history, this is a great novel that I suggest to everyone!

Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman:
This is one of my favorite books, and not just because it is set in Italy (though that helps). This is the story of young Emilio falling in love with his family’s summer guest over the course of a summer. It is raw, is heavy in heart-struck inner monologues (which I personally love), and captures the beauty of the setting and characters in a way that stays with you long after the book is finished.

Chocolat by Joanne Harris:
This book is set in Southern France, and tells the story of a woman and her young daughter, both of whom are touched with magic. This book ruminates on family bonds, human nature, and the crossroads of everyday living and pleasure. The descriptive powers of the writer— of food, scenery, and everything in between— is stunning. If you like strong female characters, magic, and food, this book is as good as it gets.


Travel Books: For Your Future Travels

Vagabonding by Rolf Potts:
I found this book when I was working at a secondhand bookstore in my hometown. At the time I was desperately craving a sign about what to do with my life, and then it appeared. It is one of the books that truly spurred me to leave home on a solo trip that lasted nearly four months. This book is full of travel tips but also quotes, advice, and encouragement. It makes great fuel for any future travel plans you may have.

How to Travel the World on $50 a Day by Matt Kepnes:
The author of this book runs a great travel blog called Nomadic Matt in which he details his adventures and gives people advice on how to make their travel dreams come true. This book was a great extension of his blog, and has various lists of resources available to travelers. It helped me a lot on my travels.

From Excuses to Excursions: How I Started Traveling the World by Gloria Atanmo:
This book is also written by a successful travel blogger. She is my greatest traveling idol— also being a black woman who loves travel and had to overcome many boundaries both real and imagined to live the life she is living. She gives great travel advice and is just generally inspiring both in her book and on her blog.

Lonely Planet’s Where To Go When:
This book gives a great outline on the best places around the world to visit at the best time of year. It outlines some of the must-sees in those areas, and includes so many beautiful pictures that it is bound to bolster up hope for your future travels.


Other Books Worth Mentioning:

Tangerine by Christine Mangan:
This book surprised me. I read it recently and though I wouldn’t venture to say it is one of my favorites, it was so enthralling a read that I’m still thinking about it weeks later. The two main characters are both women, who share a mysterious past, and who meet once again after a year long separation, in Morocco. At first it did not seem like the sort of novel that would hook me, but after the first chapter I was not able to put this book down. I can’t say too much without giving too much away, but if you like mystery and suspense, and are interested in hearing beautiful and haunting descriptions of Morocco, this book is worth reading.

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert:
Nearly everyone has heard of this book. It tells the true story of a woman outgrowing her life and going on a life-changing journey to find herself and where she belongs. It’s something that can resonate with nearly all travelers on one level or another.

Letters from Paris by Juliet Blackwell:
A woman who has always wanted to outrun her “small town life” in Louisiana travels to Paris with hopes of finding a new life and solving a family mystery. It’s an interesting and entertaining novel filled with soul searching, some mystery, a little heartbreak, and hope.

The Summer Book by Tove Jansson:
This is a compilation of short vignettes that peer into the life of a grandmother and her grandchild living during the course of a summer on a small island in the Gulf of Finland. Most of the stories are told through the eyes of a young girl learning about nature, family, human behavior, and mortality. It’s actually a great book for light summer reading.


These are just some of the books that I have read in recent years that really stirred the wanderlust in me or helped me in my travels. If you have read any of these books I would love to hear what you thought! Or, if you have some suggestions of your own please send them my way! I am always looking for more books to read. I hope to create a similar post for films within the week!

I hope that you are all staying safe during this time. To everyone closely affected by this crisis— you are in my thoughts.

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New Year, New Adventures: Vienna, Austria

It’s officially a new year, and I’ve been fortunate enough to already have been on some adventures. To celebrate the new year and get out of town for a while, my husband and I decided to spend a couple of days in Vienna, Austria.

Some of my initial thoughts while planning this trip were:

Wow, the architecture!
Oh, thank goodness they speak German (so my husband can translate).
I want to know if this famous cake everyone keeps mentioning is really that great.

We decided to drive from our home in Southern Germany to Vienna, which took us somewhere around seven hours. We stayed in a very cute Airbnb outside of the city in a little town called Bad Vöslau, which upon leaving, we both regretted not exploring more. I would suggest looking in this area if you’re also someone who doesn’t want to stay in the rush of the city but wants to have quick access to the sites!

We only had two days in Vienna, and so we did not get to see everything on our list. Regardless, we had a beautiful time and I want to share some of the highlights of our time there.

The State Hall of the National Library of Austria

When one thinks of Vienna, I think most draw up an idea of opulence, intricate architecture, and awe-inspiring sights. The State Hall Library encapsulates this perfectly. Of course, I am a library lover, so nearly any room with books is likely to impress me to some degree. But this library was truly awe-inspiring. After walking the full length of the room— with its soaring painted ceiling and seemingly endless shelves of books— I just sat and stared in awed contentment.


While this room is an amazing thing to witness, I want to be forward about the fact that entrance was rather expensive— though I found this to be the case with nearly every tourist destination in the city. Entry to this room cost 16 euro per person! So as a library lover, this was a location that I prioritized and therefor splurged on the entry. If you’re someone who loves the visual beauty but doesn’t have a particular affinity for libraries specifically, there are plenty of other breathtaking sites in the city that you may prefer instead!





It was freezing when we were in Vienna. The sky was white with a light sprinkling of snow, and the breezes that whipped across the large open city squares were chilling. Stepping into the large glass building that contains the Schmetterlinghaus felt like a blessing.


For those who may not know, schmetterling is the German word for butterfly. Being from a tropical climate, paying to see butterflies is not usually something I would do, but a wonderful traveler friend of mine highly suggested it, so we figured it would be a worth while experience. Thankfully it was more affordable than the State Hall, at 7 euro per person. After buying our tickets we stepped through the large glass door, and pushed through the plastic blinds that separated the humid glory of the butterfly room from the rest of the world. It was just like suddenly stepping foot back in Hawaii— it was warm and full of flowers and even a waterfall at the center of the glass domed building.



All I can say is that if you’re in Vienna, and want a few minutes to relax somewhere beautiful and warm, the Schmetterlinghaus may be the stop for you.

The Belvedere

The Belvedere is actually a set of palaces and the connecting garden. Both palaces have an art gallery inside, and tickets can be bought separately or as a pair which would allow you to see both palace galleries for a discounted price. My husband and I decided that we were only interested in seeing the Upper Belvedere due to the costliness of the tickets— which were 16 euro per person for the Upper Belvedere alone— and because this was the gallery that contained most of the work we were interested in seeing, such as Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss, as well as paintings by Monet, Munch, Van Gogh, and other illustrious artists.



The Belvedere is said to be the most visited art museum in Austria, and from the length of the lines and the crowds, I would say this is not a false statement. If you are an art lover and would like to visit, I highly suggest that you get your ticket online beforehand to avoid the lines. I also suggest this approach because the Upper Belvedere uses time slots for entry. You buy a ticket for a particular time slot and can only enter the gallery when that time arrives. Sometimes this time can be set for hours after you arrive, if you haven’t ordered your tickets online beforehand. So don’t make the mistake that we did! (Though honestly I don’t regret it because we spent our two hour wait in a Greek restaurant eating pasta, listening to the many languages being passed back and forth, and embracing the warmth.)

Inside the Belvedere was all you would imagine an Austrian palace to be— chandeliers, marble, intricately painted and carves walls and ceilings, and an overall feeling of opulence. I would say it is worth the admission price as you could spend an entire day in this gallery, and we pretty much did.


A heads up for my backpack travelers— if you enter the museum with anything more than a small purse you will be forced to check your bag in with the coat check or use a locker located in the basement (which takes one euro which you will get back upon returning the key to the slot of the locker). I personally did not feel comfortable with this, so I feel that others may have a similar feeling.

Friedhof der Namenlosen (The Cemetery of the Nameless)

This is not a tourist site but was one of the highlights of our time in Vienna for me. Located outside of the city— and rather difficult to get to without the use of a car— this cemetery was originally created for those who drowned in the nearby river or committed suicide. As suicides were not traditionally allowed in most religiously affiliated cemeteries, this plot of land was put aside to honor those who lost or took their lives. Many are nameless— hence the name of the cemetery— but all graves, those with names and those without— have graves decorated with a cross and candles, plants, and other forms of silent acknowledgement.


I thought that this was beautiful. When we arrived it was lightly raining, and as we neared the graves we saw that many of the candles on the graves were lit, flickering in the gloom. On site there is also a small chapel, which was closed while we were there. If you are a sentimental person interested in things out of the ordinary, I believe that this is an excellent place to visit and pay your respects.

I must add a note that this is a cemetery, where people actively mourn the loss of those who have passed. If you choose to visit, please be respectful and aware of your presence there.

Other Spots Worth Mentioning

If you want to avoid some of the heaviest tourist crowds but enjoy Vienna and what it has to offer, I suggest visiting the gardens, cafes, tea shops, and chocolate shops.

The gardens at the Belvedere were impressive even in the winter, and Vienna is known for having many gardens, those affiliated with its many palaces (such as Schönbrunn Palace) as well as public ones.

Demmer’s Teehaus— recommended to me by the same lovely friend that recommended the Schmetterlinghaus— is a tea shop with several locations in Vienna. One of these shops was a wonderful little place on the same road as the well known Naschmarkt, where we were able to pick from a wide selection of loose leaf teas for adorable prices.

We passed more than one chocolateria with vibrant window displays and racks brimming with delectable goodies. Confiserie de Vienne caught our eye, and stepping inside was similar to that candy shop scene in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The woman who owns the shop doesn’t use preservatives in her chocolates, and has wonderful flavors. I tried a pomegranate-white chocolate truffle and I can say with certainty that this stop is worth a visit if you’re a chocolate lover. (Though a heads up for those who may be thinking about buying these as gifts— since there are no preservatives these chocolates are meant to be eaten within a couple of days, so enjoy!)

Cafes are also abundant in Vienna, and are worth visiting if for no other reason than to get yourself a Sacher torte! We stopped by Demel, a fancy little café in the shopping area of Vienna. The cake was delicious, but be aware that this seems to be a very popular spot and the lines can be insane. Thankfully we just ordered a piece of cake to go, as the line was nearly out the door and there was a 45 minute wait minimum for a table!

Final Thoughts on Vienna

Vienna was gorgeous, busy, and expensive. The streets and buildings were works of art. The tourist attractions were all much pricier than what I am used to and extremely crowded, but as I joked with a friend of mine, I just chalked it up to being the tax you pay for all the breath-taking sights all around you.

If you are planning on visiting Vienna, research the places that you are thinking of visiting beforehand and see if you can get tickets online, as they may sometimes be cheaper and you can avoid the long lines that seemed to be absolutely everywhere. Even places like libraries and churches have entry fees, so budget accordingly.

Upon arrival I expected everything to be in German (or the Austrian equivalent) but I came to learn that Vienna is a very multicultural place in terms of culture and language. It seemed that every customer service representative I interacted with could speak at least German and English. Italian and French also seemed to be widely spoken.

The city itself was very confusing for me geographically, but many of the big tourist destinations are in a walkable distance. For the things that are not, Vienna has a pretty good intercity transportation system. We were able to get a 24 hour ticket (which included busses and trams) for less than 10 euro per person.

Lastly, I tried the famous Sacher Torte, the cake that Vienna is famous for. A chocolate cake with a thin layer of jam, often decorated with a little chocolate topping, I thought that the Sacher Torte would be a real treat, and it was amazing. Spongey, and not too sweet, it was a lovely way to end our time in Vienna. If you have the opportunity to pop into a café and try one, I highly suggest it!

There are so many places I wanted to visit that we didn’t get to this time, such as Prater, Café Central, and Schloss Schönbrunn . If you’ve been to any of these locations please feel free to leave a comment— I’d love to hear about your experience!

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2019 Reflections

It’s officially the last day of the year, and though I’ve been rather absent for the last few months, this year has been full of new experiences, love, and more travels.
2018 was a bright, shining, adventurous year.

I visited Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, and Spain. I was traveling for nearly four months and by the end of it I was quite literally a different person. I finished that year by attending the wedding of one of my dearest friend’s and by returning home to a place that suddenly felt way too small for me.
2019 began with a lot of change.

I had to shift my entire world view. I began taking better care of my body by changing my diet (I became vegetarian) and brought yoga and meditation into my weekly routine. I began to reframe my situation from “trapped” to “on my way”. My new romantic relationship bloomed and I decided to move from my home in Hawaii to Germany. On my way, I stopped to spend a week with my best friend in LA. This was one of the highlights of my year.

By April I was in Germany, trying to adjust to life in a new country where I don’t speak the language or know the culture. It took a lot of trial and error, questions, awkward moments, and a bit of feeling utterly hopeless, but I finally had the experience that I had long dreamed of— living abroad.

In June, I did something I never expected to do in all my life, and got married! It was private, intimate, and perfect for us. The next day we headed out for Italy for a mini-family vacation, to the place where we first met. I spent my birthday looking out over the Atlantic Ocean while sipping espresso, eating pizza, swimming and lounging on the Italian seaside, and we had a beautiful dinner of pasta and chocolate cake.

In September I headed back to Hawaii, and spent a week with my aunts in Miami on the way. A wonderful week of family time, delicious food, and Miami sunshine. My time back in Hawaii for the visit was filled with so many emotions. Leaving your family behind is never easy, and for me it was nearly impossible in some ways. While I was there I embraced every moment— waking up at 6 am to watch the sunrise, tending to my tiny garden, hours of snuggles with my fur babies, and most importantly, seeing friends that I had missed and spending precious time with my loved ones.

While I was in Hawaii we also took a trip to Maui, an island that holds so much nostalgia for me sometimes it makes me want to burst. Maui is the island where I was born, where I was raised, and where so much of the “what ifs” in my life reside.

Finally my time back home came to an end, and I set out on an exciting nightmare of an adventure to somewhere I had always wanted to visit— Edinburgh. After five flights, one of my airlines not allowing me on my flight, and much running from one busy terminal to the next, I made it to Edinburgh. I plan to write about my time there in greater detail in the near future, but I have to say that it was magical. If you are thinking about going to Edinburgh, do it!

Then, finally, after nearly two months apart, I returned to my love here in Germany. Since then, I have begun a German language integration course, been to a satisfactory amount of Christmas Markets, and celebrated my first Christmas and New Years without my loved ones on the other end of the globe.

This year was so fulfilling, and sometimes frustrating, and other times a little lonely. This year felt like a stepping stone, a breath between one great adventure and the next. I am so thankful for this year, and I am beyond excited for the next.

I’m ready 2020– may you bring me (and anybody reading this!) many travels, growth, and happiness.

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Adjusting After The Move: A Hawaii Girl Living in Germany

I discuss my adjustments to living in a new country.

Germany was never a place that I thought that I would live.

My dreams of moving to Europe most often included fantasies of working in publishing and riding the underground daily in London, working at a bed and breakfast and eating pasta every day in Italy, or maybe even running an animal sanctuary in Greece. Germany— the supposed land of bratwurst, beer, and of course with an infamous history— never really crossed my mind.

Then I fell madly in love, and here I am.

Coming from Hawaii to Germany is perhaps one of the biggest jumps a person can make, culturally and physically. It’s taken some definite adjustments. Here are some of the major changes or thoughts I’ve encountered in my daily life since moving here.

Basic Geography: Where is the ocean?

Most of Germany is surrounded by other countries, with the exception of part of the northern coast. I’m currently living in the south, the saving grace of which is Lake Constance, a large body of water that separates Germany from Switzerland. Of course there are various rivers running through the area, but being from Hawaii, I need a large body of water nearby not to feel like I’m utterly lost.

In Hawaii, a person’s sense of direction has much less to do with the cardinal directions and much more to do with landmarks and of course, the sea. On the island, I have a general idea of where things are based on if they are mauka (towards the mountain) or makai (towards the sea). When we were driving towards Frankfurt recently, I realized that if I had needed to find my way home I probably would have died in the forest somewhere. It’s a strange feeling coming from somewhere where the chances of getting lost and staying lost permanently are rather slim, to being in a place where hundreds or thousands of kilometers could theoretically stand between me and civilization.

Of course, I’m also just a water baby, meaning that water is my safe place. Coming from a culture that is based in an appreciation and acknowledgement of the sea, to a place where the drowning statistics are often reported on the news during the summers and the water is heart-stoppingly cold for much of the year, is a serious adjustment for me.

So those stereotypes: Lifestyle Changes

There is a general idea in America that Germans are very orderly and somewhat gruff in nature. They are portrayed as annoyingly efficient and sticklers for the law. This is… a stereotype that is not necessarily completely true, but may hold some serious weight. If you spend an hour in a German grocery market you’ll see what I mean. The most poignant example of this that crosses my mind is their seriousness about recycling. Other countries in Europe may also have a similarly stringent recycling process, but all I can say is that in Germany it is serious. Plastics must be recycled separately from natural products and paper is also recycled on its own. The recyclables are then picked up once every week or every other week, but if you do not separate your recyclables properly then they will refuse to pick them up. A stray bottle or banana peel in the wrong bin could leave you with overflowing trash and recyclables for several weeks. I think that this is great in theory, if a bit intense. If the whole world was so serious about recycling, then maybe our pollution issue would be a fraction of what it is now.

This general way of being— and by this I mean the actual existence and enforcement of laws and social rules— is a very different experience from being in Hawaii. Most laws in Hawaii are viewed more like general guidelines and over all people are pretty laid back. Island life, beach culture, whatever you want to call it, does not put an emphasis on one’s ability to follow the rules.

I’m conflicted about this. I’m a rule follower, but only when the rules make sense and are ethical. Hawaii and Germany are on completely opposing ends of this spectrum. In Hawaii I wished people were more capable of following basic laws and social expectations, while in Germany there have been some cultural or legal rules that have me wondering “why would anyone abide by this?” So I’m still working on finding my balance.

Multiculturalism: Where are all my brown people at?

I am thankful to say that I have been treated very kindly by pretty much everyone I’ve met since arriving in Germany. That being said, it’s odd going from a place brimming with people of all kinds of ethnic backgrounds to being in a predominantly white (European) country. Of course, there is diversity present. Germany has brought in many immigrants and there is also a large Turkish presence here as well. While this is great, it has also served as a source of contention for some of the more “right wing” groups— much like how it has in America.

I have been fortunate enough to grow up in a place where I didn’t have to spend too much time thinking about my skin color or the ideas that may come attached to it. All I can say is, so far so good! I feel much more accepted here than I do in mainland America, even if I do occasionally wish to see more than one other brown person in the supermarket.

Language: Why didn’t I learn German?

I do not speak German. I had a sucky American public school education (which left me with next to no options for learning another language proficiently) and that aside, I never thought that I would need to know German. French, Spanish, maybe. German? It never would have crossed my mind. And yet again, here I am, in Germany, wishing I had learned some German.

I am fascinated by language. I have studied English in depth my entire life (I even went to university for it). I have to say, I love English. It’s messy and the rules don’t always make sense, and it’s a little presumptuous, but I like English. It’s the sound of home and my inner monologue. So I have to say, German is kicking my butt. There are sounds my mouth literally refuses to make. ( I’ve got the scratchy hacking sound down though.) I will see words and memorize them only to realize they are pronounced nothing like they are written, and then I feel like I’m starting from scratch again. German is a language that sounds strong and sturdy until someone uses the slightest negative tone at which point it sounds immediately like a dastardly threat. It’s a difficult language to read through tone alone, unlike the “romantic” Latin based languages which seem to make so much more sense to my brain. English is mainly comprised of two branches of language— the Germanic and the Latin. That’s why we have words that are so similar to some German words, like apothecary (apotheker) and others that are more similar to languages like Spanish, such as collection (colección). Of course, language is much more complicated than that, but those are just some general ideas that I’ve noticed in my attempts to learn another language.

I also have to mention that there is also the process of learning not only the literal language but also the common language— the terms, sayings, and the words that have evolved past their textbook definition to mean something completely different in everyday language. The learning never ends! (In short, I need to get back on my Duolingo game!)

In conclusion…

There have been dozens of little changes that I’ve had to adjust to since moving. Everything from speaking and being misunderstood, to realizing it’s crazy difficult to get English books here, to trying to figure out the ingredients in something in the market when nothing is in English, to learning how to use the super European washing machine with too many buttons, it’s all been a learning experience. Sometimes I feel really stupid. Sometimes I feel a little frustrated that my brain and my education have failed to make this experience more seamless for me. Sometimes I get really excited about learning a new word and go around babbling it like a child. Sometimes I get to see something I’ve never seen before and just feel overwhelmingly thankful.

It hasn’t all been easy, but I have loved my time here. I feel like I am learning and improving in some small way every day, and I’m happy to do it in a place where I am safe and loved.

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