Field Trip – Ogunquit, ME

Welcome back to the United States of America! I already talked about New York City a couple of weeks ago. In 2015, I spent two weeks in Massachusetts and in New York.
I stayed with a host family near Boston for ten days and went to High School with my host sister. It was very interesting to go to class with her, since the school system is partly completely different in comparison to the German school system.
However, we were a group of German students and beside going to school with our host brothers and sisters, we also visited certain museums in Boston and also explored the city.
Additionally, we went on a field trip to Maine which is upstate Massachusetts.
Today, I will be showing you some pictures of Ogunquit, a small town which is part of the Portland metropolitan area. In the indigenous Abenaki language, „Ogunquit“ means „Beautiful place by the sea“ – Nomen est omen
The weather was bad, it was april.

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The bus driver opens the doors of the great yellow school bus and a fresh breeze is blowing outside. I tighten my scarf and look around. It is foggy and cold.
What I see is stunning.

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The little town reminds my of Twin Peaks, a television programme from the nineties where a young woman was murdered and found by the river „wrapped in plastic“.
Even though Twin Peaks was filmed near Seattle in Washington, the moody and gloomy atmosphere is the same.

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Mist is lying on the water, it’s so foggy that I can barely imagine that Ogunquit is located directly by the Atlantic Ocean. Yellow and grey houses perfectly match the grey troubled water and the yellow-orange grass.

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I take a deep breath, the air tastes salty and my cold fingers can’t stop taking photographs of the sea, the houses and the empty streets. I’m freezing, my body wants to go back to the bus but my soul yearns for more. More fresh air, more deep breaths. 

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My feet are cold but I won’t stop walking down the abandoned streets.
I wonder how this beautiful place may look in summer, when people are coming out of their houses, embracing the beauty of their town and the shore.

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I fell in love with this town.

 

Have a nice week,
Sophie

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Fort Worth, Texas – Participating in the International Leadership Academy 2016

A year ago I returned home from Fort Worth, where I was a participant at the „International Leadership Academy“ which is an international issues forum where students from 8 countries meet and discuss a certain topic.

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Before the actual program started, we visited the Texas Rangers Baseball Stadium with the Swazis.

These countries are Mexico, Italy, Hungary, China, Japan, Swaziland, Indonesia, Germany and of course, the USA. Only Fort Worth’s sister cities have access to the program.

All the people I got to know are very important to me now. I text them almost everyday and I am very glad that certain social media platforms make it possible for us to keep in touch.

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„ILA“ is a great opportunity to meet people who are highly interested in social activities, politics and international friendships. We had two sessions every day where we worked on the topic „Building a Culture of Health“, which was selected for ILA 2016. Additionally, we did many activities together for example helping at a community center and visiting a center where they collected food for homeless people and families who could not afford groceries. We also went to different malls and to the historical district of Fort Worth which was great! I will later write a blogpost about the city and its sights.

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Me fooling around, unfortunately my friend who took the photo cut my feet off.

Generally, all the friendly, open-minded and caring people- including Facilitators, Delegation Leaders and Program Participants made the program very special and I assume that there is no other program in the world where everyone is so passionate about and engaged in working together.

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The campus is huge! It is like a little student village.

Additionally, I really liked the topic „Building a culture of health“ because I think in course of the globalization which is followed by more work and also stress, it is very important to care about other people’s cultures and about oneself. Also stress should not be underestimated because people have to be healthy in order to deal with it appropriately. Furthermore, it was great to do group activities and especially visiting business companies in Fort Worth. Thus we got a brief insight into their work and how they help society.

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This is the Football field where the Horned Frogs play American Football. We used to go running every morning at 6am and did some stair running in the stadium. We had to go running very early because breakfast was at 8 and we even had 28 degrees in the morning. (38 degrees in the afternoon)

In addition, I had the honor to interview three very inspiring business people with two other boys of the program. I am very glad that I had this opportunity because I learned a lot about these people, about their work-life-balance and how two deal with too much work and stress.
At this point I would like to thank Sister Cities for offering me this great opportunity!

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Me and the „Horned Frog“

We stayed at the TCU (Texas Christian University) Campus for two weeks but we also spent a weekend in a host family. This weekend with my host family was probably the best weekend in my life so far. They were very friendly and hospitable. They brought me to all the great places in- and around Fort Worth. It was great because they introduced me to activities they also like to do at weekends and I was able to do „typical american things“. They planned the weekend and also asked my what I would like to do, for example going to the Kimbell art museum where I was able to see some of my favorite paintings by Piet Mondrian or Michelangelo. We also went to the rodeo which was very exciting for me because we do not have similar things in Germany. Additionally, we went to a Drive-In movie theater which reminded me stereotypically of the movie „Grease“ – it was great! But these were only three of many activities. They were also very interested in German Culture and in my everyday life. There was always something to talk about.

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The entrance to the Football stadium 

Participating in the International Leadership Academy was the best decision of my life and these two weeks were the best weeks in my whole life so far. I would appreciate coming back 2018 or 2019 and hopefully one day I can say „I’ve been to all the Sister Cities countries and I was able to meet all my friends there!“!

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They even had a huge food court, a Starbucks and the Recreation Center (Fitness Center with an indoor track field, 3 Basketball fields, a climbing wall, a gym and two swimming pools) on campus. There were also Beach Volley Ball fields in addition to the Football stadium and the Basketball arena.

Looking at these pictures makes me really sad because I really miss the time and all the people I got to know there. I miss the hot sun in Texas, I miss candy shopping, I miss dancing salsa with my Mexican friends in the evening in front of our dorm, I miss having pool parties and swimming with my friends from Swaziland and I really miss my host family. Actually it is really hard to write about this experience because my eyes are almost filled with tears.
But I should not be whining because I am grateful for this experience and furthermore, I will be starting my next adventure very soon!

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Me posing in the heat, 100 degrees Fahrenheit 

Have you ever participated in a similar program or have you ever experienced something so great that you actually feel miserable thinking about it because you really miss the the people and the place? Let me know in the comments!

Love,
Sophie

Things I love about New York City

We finally made it to the end of my New York City series! I have already shared pictures with you of the Brooklyn Bridge, the Empire State Building at night and of the Staten Island Ferry. I also talked about What to do in NYC and informed you about things I’d love to do if I went back to New York one day.
Today, I will be sharing with you my favourite reasons why we should all visit this stunning city at least once.

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Cultural Diversity

I really enjoy having conversations with people from all over the world. I love exchanging experiences and I like to listen to other people’s stories. If you are interested in exploring different cultures and if you are into talking, you will love New York City!
I have never met so many people from different countries before. Of course you will probably meet some Chinese people in China Town and Italians in Little Italy.
But many other people from foreign countries are working in NYC, for example as tourist guides or waiters and waitresses in restaurants. It is definitely worth it to just talk to people. I also met many Germans, they probably noticed my german accent…(which is hopefully not that bad anymore :D) Anyway, it was just a great experience.
Besides, we met a lot of Hispanics in Union City. On our first evening we went to a nice restaurant and had Spanish and Mexican food which was simply great! They were so kind and in a very good temper. I would highly recommend visiting the other quarters of the city, since Manhattan is not the only nice spot in New York.

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The food

Oh yes the fooood! I have never been to a city where you find so many different food trucks and restaurants. Besides the common fast food places (very thrilling for us Germans) like Chipotle, Chick-fil-A and Dunkin Donuts, New York offers, as commonly known, many great places to have delicious food!
I have to admit that at first, I was a little afraid of the great variety. But later on, after I survived the cultural shock, I discovered some nice places to have breakfast, lunch and dinner.
At the beginning of our trip, we made sandwiches and took them with us, but they were so gross because the bread tasted like paper in comparison to the German bread. (We probably just picked the wrong brand) But then we went to a restaurant near Fifth Avenue where my friend had a delicious stake and I had a vegetarian dish which was also amazingly tasty. To be honest, I am neither able to tell you the name of the restaurants we went to, nor can I tell you what dishes I had. It is just that I went on this trip two and a half years ago and at that time I did not know that I will write about it one day.
However, do not be afraid to try new things in New York, you will love the variety of foods offered on the streets and at restaurants!

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Its changeableness

I do not even know if this is something that militates in favour of the City, but to my mind it is astonishing how multifaceted New York is when it comes to housing and environment. In Manhattan for example you will find many office blocks in Midtown, while the Upper East and West Side are more known to be the residential district for more prosperous people. You probably know the Upper East Siders from Gossip Girl :P.
On the one hand you have the quarters where Manhattan’s elite lives and on the other hand, quarters like SoHo, Little Italy and China Town. There is such a great variety and you will definitely not be bored.
Furthermore, Brooklyn used to be a tricky place to stay but today, this is completely different. I loved Brooklyn, it is just a little bit more calm and not that crowded. Wasn’t it Miranda Hobbes from Sex and the City who said that Brooklyn is the new Manhattan?
To be honest, I am not able to evaluate this statement but I feel like it is true. I would love to live in Brooklyn one day!

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Now, this is the end of my New York posts. I really hope you enjoyed reading them and especially the photographs.

What do you think about New York City? Do you like crowded metropolises or do you prefer the countryside?
Feel free to comment, I am always interested in other people’s opinions and thoughts!

Stay tuned,
Sophie

 

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NYC #7 – Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge, as well one of the most touristy places in New York.
No caption needed, I just hope you like the photographs of this architectural masterpiece. Additionally, you will be happy to hear that my New York City Photography series comes to an end and there is only one post left.

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Stay tuned and have a great week!

xx, Sophie

NYC #6 – Almost touching the sky

We bought our group ticket from a local tourist guide and decided to climb the Empire State Building on the spur-of-the-moment. It was 10pm and we were very excited.
Having arrived at the building, a woman guided us to a huge elevator. I was wondering how long it would take to get up onto the platform on the 86th floor.
The answer was, just a few seconds. My ears were aching, my heart sank into my boots – I was afraid.
As soon as we arrived at the 86th floor I became excited. My friend and I stood in front of the glass door which separated us from the terrace.
„Ready?“ she asked, „Break!“ I answered. (It’s an American Football thing, we used to play Ladies Football)
We opened the door, a strong breeze was blowing through our hair. We stepped out on the terrace and walked to the fence. What we saw was beyond words.

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