the little things…


the little things...

… in life are what it is really all about.

Now back in the states for just over two weeks, I start working full time again today. for the month of May though, I was traveling, transitioning from place to place and country to country, catching up on reading, writing, reflecting and spending time with family and friends. In the two weeks since I have been back in the United States I have taken many walks and hikes through nature reserves, along the beach and up Mount Wachusett. I have found these moments where I am completely surrounded by nature and a few others who I am with or who also have taken the chance to embrace the natural beauty that surrounds us all, to be a great reminder of how it really is the little things in life that are the most important.
It is the quiet moments in between conversation with friends, a cup of tea after a busy day, a great book to read and get lost in, it’s hugs from that those matter most, it’s the looks that express what words cannot, it’s those walks that can be taken without a specific end destination, it’s meals shared together with those I love, it’s the innocent laughter of children, it’s the sunshine breaking through on a cloudy day or the soothing sound of rain as it hits the roof, it’s learning a new language and laughing along at the mistakes I make, it’s following my heart and letting life take me where it leads …

I feel particularly lucky to have traveled as much as I have. Since 2010 I have left my comfort zone and immersed myself in the language, food and culture of those in other countries. Intentionally leaving the tourist trap locations behind, (after checking some of them out, of course), I have had the chance to explore and learn what normal traditions are in the other countries and what daily life looks like for those living there. Throughout all this I have come to find that my desire to travel and experience all the cultures, different flavors and viewpoints that our amazing world holds are like an itch that I will never be able to fully scratch. …
The more I travel though, the more my belief is confirmed that it is the little things in life that are truly important. So I cherish them as I do every moment …
Today I start working again for adults who are handicapped and non-verbal, it is through the little movements, body language, and eye contact that we communicate… it is the little things that make a difference in my line of work … having the patience for the speed of others, believing in all that they can be… makes the world of difference… here’s to another summer on the job… full of moments of appreciation, humility, growth, love and learning.




let the events of life flow naturally… do not resist…

Of course this seems easier said than done, but the truth is that it takes more energy both emotionally and mentally for us to resist the changes that occur in our lives, than to allow them to be. Life itself is a journey of change from one journey/chapter of our life to the next… These changes whether they be positive or negative, are to be addressed in their own unique way. The above quote speaks so much truth, when we resist the natural changes of life, sorrow can follow, when we allow them to simply be, the changes of our lives are given the chance to surprise us, enlighten us, perhaps make us uncomfortable, teach us and most importantly provide us space to grow.

Looking back on my life, which I realize in years is not too much, but in experiences I feel that a lot has taken place; I have been able to see that the hardest times in my life were those when I resisted the changes that life was presenting me. Resistance is like friction, it is not smooth. Changes are not always smooth even when we do not resist them, so I have been thinking, why resist the changes of life, if that only adds to the activity that change involves?

Returning home from living in Germany for the past nine months definitely has me confronted by change. Change of pace of life, change of living situation, change of language, culture, food, scheduling, transportation and so much more.  I personally do not believe that it would do me any good to focus on the differences of the two countries where I lived because each country is different as it should be. Comparing countries to me is like comparing apples to birds which are clearly two completely different and incomparable things. I have been back in the states for six days now. I have noticed the differences, I have felt the effects of change. At moments I have wanted to resist the change and by this I mean that I have had moments where I have wished I could deny the reality that my time living in Europe is over. Doing this though, would not help me or anyone. I believe it is best for one to embrace change, letting it play out and blossom into all that it can … I am back in the United States, a country different than Germany (as it should be), where the next chapter of my life is beginning to unfold… I look forward to seeing what it has in store. 🙂



On Thursday night at 7 pm my flight from Germany landed at Logan Airport in Boston. As we made our descent down towards the runway, the beauty of the Boston Harbor came into view. This is a view that I have now seen several times from this exact perspective and yet somehow this time as I looked out my window, it was as though I was doing it for the first time all over again. Boston, Massachusetts is still the same city that it was when I left the United States last August with only a one way ticket to Germany and no set knowledge of when I would be flying back home. It is still the same and yet for me, all of this from Boston to my smaller hometown are changed. My perspective has changed, thus causing my outlook towards the place that I call home to change as well. 

Transitioning back home is something that I am allowing to happen day by day, moment by moment. I feel no need to predict or prepare for the oncoming of emotions, thoughts, or awareness of differences in the way that I see the space around me. These physical places have not changed since I left, but I have and truth is the people that fill them have as well as life events affect us all. While abroad, I have had my eyes opened up to the thought processes and perceptions of many, many other people from the United States and abroad. I have had some of my views challenged, while others have been strengthened. I have learned to fully embrace change, seeing the beauty in each new setting, moment, and conversation.

It feels different now to be here, back in the United States than it did when I left for Germany nine months ago and I believe that is good as it is a sign that growth took place within me, thanks to my time abroad and how I approached it. Many people have been asking me how it feels to be back home. Truth is, it feels surreal still. I feel as though I may only be here temporarily.. While I know this is not the case, it is how I feel as the past nine months of my life were filled with changes, travel, exploration, long nights out, and deep discussions… perhaps life is one big transition, from one day to the next… 

Being back in the United States is honestly bittersweet. My time abroad was incredible, an experience that I highly recommend all take advantage of. Being home is also incredible as I get to finally see family and friends again, face to face, in person and not simply over Skype or Facetime, which while wonderful are simply not the same as being in person.I think that it is best that my feelings towards being home are bittersweet because that word and feeling reflects the truly amazing time that I had abroad, while also acknowledging the wonderful feeling of being back home with those that I missed.


from foreign to familiar…


from foreign to familiar...

Today, appears to a blogging day! Two weeks ago I moved out of my apartment that at first was so foreign, existing in a new land with a different language and that now was home to me with a language that had become strangely familiar. With a short trip to the Netherlands in between it all I am now at my aunt and uncle’s house in Germany until Thursday when I fly back to the United States. The United States, a country that I still call home along now with Germany. A country that was once so incredibly familiar, now feels a bit foreign… the transition back home will begin soon… just as we can change places, places can also change us as Berlin, Germany certainly has for me… Auf Weidersehen Berlin! until next time =)

Look Up!


I believe that as humans we are constantly changing, never really finished growing mentally, spiritually, emotionally etc. Our growth can end earlier if we shut the door to acknowledging it, but life changes us. The circumstances of our lives, impact us in small or monumental ways depending on the occasion and setting. I personally know that my time in Germany has left me, a changed person in certain ways. I will not elaborate too much on that, but I know that I have grown more confident and have relearned how to embrace and love time spent alone. I have also relearned a very important lesson and that is, how to put my phone down, not only physically but mentally, letting go of the worry that I may be missing somehow while away from it. 

I found the attachment to one’s cellphone to be less in Europe than in the United States. This is changing, but the intense need that one feels to be connected both to the physical and virtual world within the same moment is far greater still in the United States than here. I do hope that it will not increase greatly here in Europe, as the attachment and need to be so virtually connected that people feel in the United States is a loss not a benefit to our social interaction and well-being. 

While here in Germany I still had my iPhone fully functioning, internet and all. I could take it with me wherever I went and escape into the virtual world, that we all seem to now also have, if I felt the need. The beautiful thing is that with time, while I was here, I stepped away from those behaviors and stepped into new ones. A few years ago, my old iPhone was stolen outside of the gym that I went to. I remember feeling like a part of me had been stolen, truly, as silly as it sounds now, that is how I felt. I was so upset and felt rather uncomfortable not knowing what was taking place on Facebook, and not being able to react to text messages right away (etc). In a way I think that our love for technology, (for some, I realize that I am making general statements, and that what I say does not necessarily apply to all) has transformed into an obsession with technology. 

I used to almost always be on my phone, talking or texting while walking. On public transportation I would text, send emails, work on reports, etc. all from my iPhone. While there is great convenience in this, I feel that I used my iPhone too much. There were times that I realize now, that I was physically present in a place and moment, but not mentally and emotionally because I was trying to be in two places at once and really, that does not work well.

At my home university in the States, I remember walking into a classroom for the first time ready to meet new people, only to find them consumed with interest in their iPhones, iPads, or laptops. When I attempted at creating conversation, it felt as though I was disturbing them and the far more important things that they had to attend to such as Facebook, Twitter, amazon shopping etc. These things can of course be fun and do serve a purpose too, but we need to put them down sometimes. In Germany I walked into the classrooms to find all the other American students chatting away, quickly getting to know one another, making memories all the while. I learned to “look up” literally from my phone and take part wholly in every thing around me, truly being in the moment with everyone else there. It was and is a wonderful feeling!

One thing that has changed about me, my connection to my cellphone and technology. I greatly enjoy using them, the escape they can provide, the information that is so readily available through these devices now and the ease of communication that they gift us with no matter how far away our family and friends are, but I believe that there is a time and place for their use. I also greatly enjoy being in the moment,100%, physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. I enjoy meeting people that I may have otherwise walked past. I enjoy random unexpected encounters and conversations that lead to great discussions and adventures. This is a changed behavior that I want to and plan to carry back to the United States with me. This is a behavior that I encourage us all to look at, evaluate and explore. 

My dad, last week, in a regular weekly email that he sends to his congregation and anyone interested shared this important video:

It is a well-made video that I strongly encourage everyone to take a moment to watch. The message is true and clear. Look up, it is amazing what you will see. We only have one life, one incredible and finite life, why not experience all that it has to offer in the physical world more so than the virtual world because that is where we truly exist anyways. 


My living journal


It appears that I have been blogging for just over a year now. I had not been keeping track of this, but WordPress sent me a thank you for my loyalty, which was an interesting thing to be made aware of…

When I started blogging I thought that I was doing it for you, the readers. Truthfully though I am blogging for both of us. Blogging has provided me with the chance to reflect, sort out my thoughts and share this incredible journey called life that I am on! Thanks for taking part in it with me. Through this webpage, my blog, I have shared stories and pictures of my travels, thoughts, gratitude and favorite quotes. It has been a wonderful gift to be able to share it all with you. I thought that through my blog I would only chronicle my time abroad, but I personally have found such benefit from this that I will continue to blog even once back in the states. One journey of my life, one chapter as some say is soon coming to a close, which for me comes with a bundle of emotions and of course the beginning of another chapter. Looking back at my posts throughout the past year, I am present to a change in my writing style and in some regard my thought process. In one year, so much has changed and taken place for me, as I know it probably has for everyone. In the seemingly-short nine months that I have lived in Germany so much still has radically changed. 

A couple nights ago, after dinner my cousin and her fiance, my aunt and my uncle and I were all sitting around chatting. We got to talking about how surreal it is that I am leaving on Thursday. One person then mentioned that it still feels surreal that I had moved to Germany and have been living here for nine months, as five years ago they never would have dreamed that to be a reality. They are so right! If someone asked me five years ago where my life would be at 23, I may have said, married with children, working on a degree or working full-time. I don’t know exactly, but I do know that five years ago I would not have seen myself as the confident, go-getter, world-traveler that I am today. I cannot imagine my life any other way though now. I used to plan out of everything and for every plan, I had a back up plan too (just in case). This is not me anymore, I have guidelines, ideas to lead me on the way, but most importantly I have “my light” shining so brightly and I have my heart full of passion leading me in many wondrous directions. I have faith in the unknown and not angst in the unknown. I am honest with myself and others and through that honesty I have shed the feeling that I  need to please those around me. Through my happiness, I spread happiness. Through my joy, I share joy. Through my faith, I carry on to the next chapter without worry, but with trust and delight. How I once imagined, five years ago, that my life would be now, now seems so foreign and out of reach. While this is indeed OK, it is still interesting to note. 

Through this blog and the process of blogging I have found that I have created and continue to create a living journal. This blog, for me at least, serves as a place where I can go back and read what took place days, weeks, months ago… I know that I do not post daily or weekly at times for that matter because I post when I feel the urge to. So, at times I have noticed, I am purging post after post, thought upon thought onto this webpage while at other times, my blog remains untouched for a bit of time. When I started blogging, I thought that in order to “do it right” I had to blog daily or weekly, in some manner that was regulated, but as I can tell through some of the earlier posts, at times my writing was more forced and less fluid. It is fun to be able to see and read about the adventures that I have had. It is humbling to look back at how fortunate I am with all that I have done. I hope that you, the readers, have also enjoyed virtually taking part in my adventures. It has been a fun ride for me, as I believe it will also continue to be!


typisch Emily


No, I don’t usually name things after myself and I actually didn’t this time either… One of my best friends this past semester, who also studied at FU-Best for the whole year would laugh a bit and comment by saying “typisch Emily” at the end of a story that he swears if anyone else told it, he wouldn’t believe it perhaps, but since it’s me, it must be true.
We all have our crazy stories and we all have our special ways of telling them… Mine are just silly I think for the most part. I personally feel that the end to my night is a “typisch Emily” type of story… My friend will have to be the real judge of this of course…

After a beautiful morning lake side reading, people watching and wading through the water at Krumme Lanke (pictures below), I went onto my last day babysitting in Berlin. After a ten hour day with the girls and now staying at a friends house my journey home already felt like an adventure. You see, I used to live a 15 minute walk from where I babysat. My friends apartment is a 45 minute ride with the s-bahn and bus away from where I was, more so tonight because of how late it was by the time I finished working, which really was not a problem. Now I’m tired though and bed is calling… So after a 25-30 minute ride on the S-Bahn the handy-dandy, ever-trustworthy BVG app is telling me to take the N40 bus to my final destination… The question that I had was “where the heck is the bus stop for the N40?” I followed the signs… I supposedly was at the right street intersection… I walked up and down all four of the intersecting streets and still saw no bus stop and time was really ticking now. Desperate to get home, which meant I had to find this bus stop, I yelled out (nicely) to a man cycling by, asking if he could help. He helped as he could with what turned out to be both of our broken German language abilities and by offering me the most complicated way to my friends apartment that must exist. He then asked me what time it was and when I answered “it’s 1:07” … All I could think was shit! … That’s when the bus is supposed to come… Refusing to take his suggested route because of course the American who has lived in Berlin for nine months knows Berlin streets better than the man biking everywhere (I’m really just stubborn and felt that right then my way no matter how unfeasible it was beginning to feel, had to be better than another) … I rechecked the BVG app and then scanned the streets in one last hopeless attempt for who knows what: a bus stop to magically appear or low and behold the bus I need! … There it was driving towards the intersection I was standing at, but where would it stop?
I had no time to wonder or think, only to not just “Deutsch dash” but legitimately sprint, trust me, It’s been a while since I’ve sprinted so fast. I sprinted after the bus for three and a half blocks, almost giving up along the way… I knew the driver had noticed the crazy lady aka me running alongside/after the bus, but I just had to make it! … But he wasn’t stopping, I wondered if he would … I was tired and determined though to make the bus and to not change my route for how to get to my friends apartment.
Tired me stopped sprinting for all of five seconds, simply slowing my pace really and noticed that the bus had also stopped! It stopped! (That bears repeating, natürlich) so with all the energy I had left I really sprinted this time, pushing myself through the home stretch.
While doing so, I began to laugh at the ridiculousness of all this and myself … 🙂 My persistence paid off though.
The bus driver didn’t know what to make exactly of my extreme Deutsch dashing and decided that the least he could do was wait about thirty seconds for me to “cross the finish line” (aka get on the bus). I walked onto it a bit out of breath, completely flustered and a bit overcome with unexpected emotion because really I’m going to miss this crazy city! The driver laughed a bit and said “I had to wait because you’re so nice, you wanted this bus so badly that you ran fast for it!” ( all in German of course but this way you get the point )
I sat down as two people clapped and I laughed, caught my breath and wondered why I’m so determined sometimes but decided that it’s worth it: I got a good story from it all AND made the bus! Now time for sleep… Guten nacht 🙂



C’mon people I am tryinggg to live in the moment …


C'mon people I am tryinggg to live in the moment ...

The question of this week has been, “What will you miss most about Berlin?” To this question I feel like my answer is always insufficient because really here is my complete answer… Berlin, I will miss everything about you!

I titled this post as is because here I am in Berlin trying to live in the moment as best possible during my last days here after nine amazing months and so many people keep asking me, “what will you miss?”. This is a very valid question, but it is also one that I was feeling like I did not want to think much about yet. I am aware that once back state-side all that I will miss about Berlin may hit me hard. Massachusetts, while also a wonderful place to be, just simply is not Berlin.

I am thankful that people have asked me this question though. At first I felt like it was taking away from my “living in the moment”, but then I realized that is was doing the opposite by simply allowing me a chance to reflect on all that has taken place while I have been here and all that I have fallen in love with about this city and its people.
Instead of taking me away from the moment, I think that the question posed has in fact allowed me the chance to step more into the moment. It has done so by reminding me how amazing Berlin is to me and as can be seen from the people here, to many others too!

… Above is a photo that I took at Mauerpark two Sundays ago now. On Sundays at the park, which is located right next to a stretch of the Berlin wall (Mauer) that is still standing,  artists spray paint the wall, others hula hoop, play basketball, picnic, sing, search for treasures at the flea market, kick it with friends and a beer or two, enjoy some good food and karaoke! Here in the photo I snapped you can see hundreds of people loving life as they listen to other people who are also loving life down on stage singing their hearts out! Whether great or not all the singers kill it on stage with their energy, enthusiasm and sheer happiness! Want to know one thing I will miss about Berlin?

Here it is… Sunday afternoons with friends at Mauer Park, a cold beer, good food, and fun music, what more could ya want? haha 


My Surreal Life

Right now, my “international life” is feeling a bit surreal… turning perhaps for a moment into “my surreal life”.

I have now been living in Berlin since mid-August of last year. I flew over without a ticket home and the opportunities ahead seemed endless, they were and they still are… that has not changed. Now though, I have a ticket back to the United States for the 15th of May, which is, of course right around the corner! When my plane landed  in Hamburg, Germany last August, I won’t lie,  I cried tears of excited nervousness. I was overwhelming excited for all that was to come, was nervous because I did not know what all of that was, and the reality that I had just moved to a country where I did not know the language suddenly struck me as a a bit terrifying! … I had just taken on one huge adventure. Looking back, I would not have it any other way. My time abroad here in Berlin has been nothing short of incredible. The journey has not been a smooth, emotionless path, it has instead been full of ups and downs, challenges (aka moments for growth) and its share of twists and turns. It has been a wonderful adventure none the less. 

I used to be the type of person who made countdowns for everything: a new job start date, my birthday, a vacation, my time abroad etc., that is no longer something I do. By making countdowns I take away from my ability to live completely in the moment. When I  countdown time, I am half in the present moment and half at the end date of my countdown which is not as much fun as just 100% being in the moment. I have no doubt that I will miss Berlin, the people here, the culture, the language, the “blue laws” (aka having stores closed on Sundays), the S-Bahn, U-Bahn, tram and bus travels, the history, all that gives Berlin its unique flavor I will truly miss it all… Berlin will stay here though, and just because I am leaving Berlin, does not mean that Berlin is leaving me.

I know now when I am going home so I suppose I could make a countdown, but that just seems silly now. I am thrilled to know that soon I will be seeing my family and friends that have been state-side this whole time. I feel conflicted though because I also do not want my time to end here, hence “my surreal life” as I cannot seem to fully grasp the reality that my time here is in fact ending in the next few weeks. I have today though and then when tomorrow comes, I have that day and so forth and so on… so why count down when life does that for me anyways!? 

For all those who encouraged me to overcome my financial worries, my initial feelings of homesickness etc… Thank you!!! What began as excited nervousness for a place that was foreign has transitioned into excited sadness as I look forward to seeing those I love again in person but also feel the sting of not wanting to leave a place that I now call home. Instead of being sad though I am focusing on being grateful for my time abroad in Berlin, Germany where I have met some of the most amazing people, had some incredible never to be forgotten experiences and grown personally in many ways as life continued to move forward while I was here.

My Surreal Life…