U oK? Mini Update 

So here  we are in Edinburgh, Scotland.

You might be wondering why the hell we’re in Edinburgh, Scotland and not in Italy. 

Here’s the deal. During our original planning and researching period, we were looking up visas and the laws about traveling in & out of all these countries, and we came across this thing called the Schengen area. Have you heard of it? No? Well let me fill you in. 

The Schengen area is, truly, a fabulous thing. It allows most of the countries in Europe to function as one big country, more or less, meaning that those with European or UK passports or visas can travel through the area easily. Doesn’t it sound great? 

It is. But not for us rather naive set of travelers. For people with American passports and no visas, it means that we cannot be in any combination of the member countries for longer than 90 days. So we couldn’t be in Spain for 2.5 months, then go to Italy for another month, and THEN go to Iceland for one more month without a visa. They’re all member countries and we would have been there for closer to 150 days, and then get kicked out and banned from entering the area again for five years. 

No thanks. 

So, anyway, we read about this thing early on in our planning, with enough time to apply for and get a visa – had we done that. But we were a little confused about this area and what it really meant for us, so we asked a travel agent friend about it. Through some possible miscommunication and/or general confusion, we somehow came to the conclusion that this thing wasn’t actually going to be a problem for us. 

Oh how wrong we were. 

A few months later, literally days before Amelia and I were set to leave for Spain, we revisited our Schengen research and, not really to our surprise, our original fears were confirmed. Our original travel plans were to be thrown out the window. Since Amelia & I had committed ourselves to these families in Spain, we couldn’t get out of spending 2.5 months in the Schengen, and there was no way we were about to get a visa in time, of course. 

So we were presented with a new challenge, to completely reconstruct our journey. One thing we did do right in this situation was that we only had two tickets purchased – our ticket to Spain and our ticket home from Iceland, but everything in between was open, so we didn’t have to worry about canceling any tickets. 

For me, Izze here, this challenge was more exciting than anything. There was a moment of fear at the beginning when we first discovered our new fate. I wasn’t sure if we were going to be able to do any trip. Plus I felt like a total idiot. But what is a journey without a radical change of plans? Amongst these three jolly wanderers. 

After the brief wave of fear and uncertainty moved over, I got excited. We now had another chance to make our trip into almost anything we wanted it to be. We got to create a new journey with different destinations and possibilities for adventure. How cool is that?

 I’ve always prided myself in being incredibly adaptable. I can sleep anywhere, eat almost anything, and remain content. I find it much better to roll with the punches and see what experiences I can gain from saying YES to things, embracing change, and taking out of it what I can find or generate on my own. (This has created an interesting relationship with myself and my ability to say no and ask for what I want, but that’s another post).

In one of my favorite movies, Across the Universe, there’s a dinner conversation happening between an uncle and a nephew. The nephew is explaining his reasoning for dropping out of Yale, and the uncle is telling him about how that’s a horrible idea and his ruining his future and blah blah blah. Eventually it comes down to the Max, the nephew, saying “Isn’t it about who I am and not what I do?” To which uncle Teddy replies “No, Maxwell, what you do defines who you are.” And Max coming back with “No, uncle Teddy, who you are defines what you do.” After which he turns to his new, English friend Jude and says “What do you think, Jude?” And after being put directly on the spot, he very sheepishly answers “Well…surely it’s not what you do…but how you do it.” 

This interaction can be applied too many parts of my life, and may aspects of this journey, as well, but for now I’ll make it about this adaptability talk.

Basically, I believe that the way which we are inside of a specific situation has much more influence than the situation itself, in terms of how we will experience it and what we will get out of it. The energy and intention we bring into an experience, whether it be a relationship, a new job, a family dinner, a five month trip around the world, literally anything else, is just as important as what exactly it is we’re doing. 

I agree with Jude – it’s not what you do, but how you do it. And I’ve decided to be intentional with the way I am doing this journey. If I am able to bring the energy and values which I want to ultimately get out into a situation, then it has a much higher potential of actually generating that energy and those values. 

This doesn’t mean I have ultimate control of what happens on a day to day basis or of how I will react to something or deal with something. This doesn’t mean that my intentions and values won’t change and alter and shift as the world does around me. But it does mean that I’m conscious of what I am bringing into my everyday life at the beginning of the day, that I am in constant interaction with the ‘how’ of my life. 

And this is what has opened me up to the possibility of intense adaptability. I know that I can be content in many situations because it’s not about what I’m doing, but how I’m doing it. 

So I knew wherever we were, whatever we were doing, I am there to learn, to explore, to expand, to challenge myself, to practice what I had already learned so far in my life, to generate new relationships with others and with myself, and to find out a little bit more about my personal ‘how.’ 

Anyway, this meant that we had to think about some new places we wanted to visit which are also outside of the Schengen area. One of those places is the UK! Good ol’ Great Britain is not a member of the Schengen area, so I chose to bring us here. It has been beautiful and grey, full of music, history, art, and tons of tea.

If you’re ever planning a trip to Europe, make sure you know what the Schengen is and how it works. And if you’re ever planning a trip anywhere overseas, make sure you do better research than we did. 

Shout out! 

It’s been a while (again) since I’ve been here, posting on the blog. Life gets busy. Time is moving a little too quickly and between driving kids around, convincing them to do English with me, and still not working out any more here than anywhere else, time for blogging is rare. 

(Although, there’s time for everything depending on your priorities. Don’t blame it on something else, Izze, c’mon.)

Today I was walking across the bridge between Amelia’s house and my house (what people call the “old bridge”), dreading working with the kids a little bit, and I thought to myself “Okay, Isobel, let’s remember why you’re here, why this tough day is important to the adventure you’ve created.” I believe in the value of traveling, it’s an experience which I’ll remember forever. I’m learning a ton about the world and my relationship with it, and other such things. I’m here because I was tired of the classroom. Phew. Back to walking.

This got me to think about the other people in my life who have done similar things. I often think about how lucky I am to have a great number of these people in my life. People who are adventurous, who take risks, who create opportunities for themselves and take advantage of what they already have, who are living their best lives. People who, over time, I’m coming to realize, have deeply inspired this journey I’m on now. If I didn’t know these people, if they weren’t in my life, I wouldn’t be laying in my bed in a house in Spain. 

So, as someone who values appreciation and acknowledgement, I thought I would give some of these people a shout out, words to say thank you for existing and for, in some way or another, directly or indirectly, contributing to this adventure. And posts to tell you all about some really cool, really special people.  

First post of gratitude & love goes out to my longtime friend Soren Fuchs. 

  

Gotta love that J. Biebs hair cut and cheesy smile. 

I’m sure many of you know the bootylicious blonde I’m talking about. Everyone knows Soren – he’s an absolute people person, and he yells a lot. One cannot forget Soren. 

   

Soren is one of the original homies. We have been friends since we were both in 6th grade at the Denver Center for International Studies. I couldn’t tell you how the friendship started – probably math class. But, through various classes and trips loitering at the mall, we eventually got very close. 

We once flew to Washington DC together when we were 13 to surprise our friend who had moved away. On a fun adventure through the DC mall, Soren left me in a museum by myself, cellphone-less, and I had to use the phone at the gift shop to find him. He felt completely awful when he found me – I’m sure he didn’t want to deal with losing a whole person. 

That’s one of my favorite Soren stories – we’ve all got one. 

Any person is sometimes difficult to describe in words, but if I were to try with Soren, I would say he’s absolutely one of a kind. Soren has a huge personality, he’s big & loud and he loves to have fun. He does exactly what he wants to do, in a (mostly) constructive and determined kind of way. 

If he wants to make money, he wakes up at 4 or 5 am to follow old white men around a golf course for hours in the heat of summer everyday. And then later gets a full ride to the University of Colorado because of it. 

  

Soren & I graduated high school at the same time. From different schools, after he left me to go to East high – a decision I ultimately respect and know it was best for him (even though I no longer had my best friend roaming the halls with me and causing trouble in geometry class). 

After high school ended, most of my friends & I did the classic college thing. A summer of lots of Target shopping trips, reading blogs about being a first year in college, getting out first tattoos because we were finally 18, our parents referring to us as birds leaving nests, and then parting ways for different universities. 

Instead of this classic route, Soren got on a plane to go live in Peru for a year with Rotary. And, well, of course he did. Knowing Soren, it made perfect sense. 

He’s an explorer, he asks questions, he is transparent about the things which he doesn’t know, unafraid of judgements that may come from others, and then he expresses his desire to know them. He never lets a minute go to waste – he ensures that every moment is alive and has the potential to be beautiful, or constructive, or memorable. Sometimes this means he stays out until 2:00 in the morning when he has work at 6:00am the next day so he doesn’t miss anything for something as trivial as sleep. In terms of his year abroad, this meant he took every chance he could to do something, learn something, create something, find something, or even eat something. 

  
At least, that’s how I see it. 

When he came back from his time away, his growth was clear. It seemed as if he took a long, deep breath, and a little more of his identity fell into place. He told the stories of his journey with such a wonderful light. While in Peru, Soren pushed his own boundaries, which were always stretching to begin with. It sounded like he was present, fully & completely, undistracted, simply absorbing the world he was in. 

These are the kinds of things about Soren, about knowing him, and having the privelege to be his friend, which brought me here and which I have brought with me. 

He’s taught me that every moment has the potential to be, and ought to be, alive and full. And wherever you are, be there. Don’t just watch, but participate. 

He’s helped me keep my head on straight when it was shaky, like right before I left on this trip. He told me to enjoy it, to remember it won’t always be easy or great, but it’s all part of the experience. 

So for that, and for a million other things, thanks Soren. You’re a really special human being, always looking out for the people in your life and reminding us to live. 

  
Fuckin’ cutie pie.

“I’m sorry life is so wonderful”

Quoted: my dad, as I was giving him one of the many goodbye hugs. 
What a thing to say, right? But, I knew what he meant. He wasn’t giving me a sassy word, as I would give to those people on the unfortunate show “My Sweet Sixteen.” The ones who get a brand new car for their 16th birthday and it’s the wrong color, or it’s not the right car, or, God forbid, their parents gave them the car at the wrong time – “I wanted my car AFTER my party, MOM! UUGggHHHhHHHEhehhehhhuugg” To them, I often want to say, “oh, I’m sorry your life is SO WONDERFUL, boo-fuckin-hoo.”

That’s not what my dad was meaning when he said that. He was commenting on the fact that on the day I was leaving on this adventure, I was crying. A lot. It’s like when people say “how lucky am I to have something/someone that makes it so hard to say goodbye.” In fact, that’s exactly what it is. 

How lucky am I to have the community of friends and family that I have – one that supports my wild decisions, and encourages risk taking. One that inspires adventure. One that comes over the night before my flight to drink champagne, and have a dance party in the living room that turns into a cuddle-puddle on my couch. How lucky am I to have these people, this love in my life that makes saying goodbye, even for only a few months, so damn heartbreaking.  

Shout-out to them for all that they do (you know who you are).

The other part of that is the adventure on the other side of the goodbyes. I’m scared of this journey. I’m nervous. I’m a lot of things. But, what a wonderful thing to be scared of. 

What a wonderful thing to be scared of; what an incredible community to miss. 

I sit on a bus in London, watching cars drive by on what looks to me like the wrong side of the road. The sky is grey and I haven’t peed since being in the US. Or brushed my teeth (benefits of traveling solo: no one close enough to smell my breath). Aside from an occasional wave of nerves about catching my next flight, I feel lucky and absolutely grateful for such a wonderful life. 

There’s no need to be sorry, Daddy. It’s quite alright.

About Us Page

Hola, Ciao, Halló

We’ve made an update to the About Us page with a little more information about our travel plans and a little bit more about us as students. Take a look!

Welcome to our travel blog! Here you’ll find three different writers reflecting on time in three different places. Our names are Amelia, Evin, and Izze, we’re college students from the United States of America, and by some stroke of luck, we met as roommates during our Freshman year of college. We all have different goals, different passions, different motivations, but we’ve come together to embark on a wild, educational, and adventurous journey to Spain, Italy, and Iceland.

Izze October 13, 2015

Hello readers, this is Izze speaking. Welcome back to our blog. We apologize for the delay in postings – school and life continues to get in the way. But that doesn’t mean we don’t love you!  

Planning is coming along – I’ve found myself trying to schedule school work around my planning for next semester-time. I want to say I feel like it should be the other way around, but I mostly don’t. Thus far I have my passport in for renewal, I’ve got my international driver’s license (necessary because as an Au Pair I’ll have to drive the kids to and from school everyday), I’ve been approved for a leave of absence from my school, and I’ve purchased my one-way plane ticket to Spain. PURCHASED MY TICKET TO SPAIN – ME. I DID THAT. It looks like I’ll be spending New Year’s Eve on a plane – hopefully I’ll find a travel buddy to ring in the New Year with.

So basically, it’s happening. I can officially say that I’m going to Spain – I can, with confidence, decline any New Year’s or January birthday or my usual thousands of Valentine’s Day date invitations because, well, I’ll be in Spain. It’s INSANE – no, wait. Scratch that. It’s IN-SPAIN!! (I guess now would be a good time as any to let you know that all of my blog posts will be full of puns – I would say they’re going to be horrible, but I love puns, so they’re going to be great by my standards.) You might say I’m quite PUN-NY!

Anyway, IN-SPAIN. And CRAZY. And WILD. And MAD. I have always looked up to and idolized and, admittedly, thought the people who make the decision to travel by their own volition are making a crazy choice. People who decide to hop off the standard path and take off from school to travel – but now I’m doing it, and people, including myself, can look up to me, if they feel that way (well, provided that they’re less than five feet tall).

But, as my friend Max said to me today, “a lot of the best things came out of the wild and crazy” or something like that. And Max is right. Philippe Petit didn’t walk across a tightrope between the twin towers because it “sounded kind of interesting, something I’d like to try” or because he was “indifferent about things” or “normal.” He accomplished one of the absolutely craziest things our world has ever witnessed and he’s now known as a legend for his determination, passion, and wild spirit – not to mention his great balancing skills. And Joseph Gordon-Levitt is playing him in a movie. (sidenote: if this part of my life, or any other part, for that matter, for some reason becomes a movie, I want Johnny Depp or Emma Stone to play me. Johnny’s played essentially every role there is to play and then some – he can pull off a 19 year-old woman, even at his age. If for some reason that doesn’t work out, I am basically Emma Stone anyway, and I also happen to be dating Spiderman.)

This journey is a wonderful mixture of wild and unconventional and terrifying, but also full of passion and dream-chasing and curiosity. And isn’t that what some of the best lives are made of?

One of my favorite quotes goes like this: “We want experiences very different from the bounce and rosiness of the happy moments.” I try to think about that everyday, and manifest some of those moments. This travel won’t be void of bounce and rosiness I’m sure, but there will most definitely be some moments that aren’t – which doesn’t inherently mean “bad,” but more challenging, or heart-stopping, or awe-inspiring. And that’s exciting. Those are  the kind of moments I want to have, to experience and live inside of.

So, here I go, to be in-Spain.

A Little Bit (too much) About Us

Hello humans, and welcome to our blog. Here you’ll find everything you might want to know about our journeys – maybe even some things you don’t want to know.

Who is “us”? Well, there’s three of us, Evin, Amelia, and Isobel/Izze. We’re roommates and next semester we’re traveling to Europe for five months – check out our gofundme pages to see a little more about that (IzzeEvinAmelia). As the planning is still in motion, we wanted to start the blog off with a little (too much) about us. So, here it is! Enjoy it. Love it. Hate it. We respect your opinions.

    1. Full name and the story behind it.

Isobel Amber Ketra Thieme – Isobel comes from a song called Isobel by an Icelandic singer named Bjork, in which she puts a ton of emphasis on the ‘O’. My parents went to her concert the night before they found out that I was a bun in the oven, and they loved the song like they love me, so they went with it. Amber is a maternal protective stone that my mom wore throughout the pregnancy and Ketra means ‘pure’ in Latvian. Pure-fect. (Also: call me Izze. Like the soda.)

Amelia Rose Landenberger – Amelia was supposed to be a family name but it was actually pronounced Am(ah)lia. And so my nickname was supposed to be Molly. My christmas stocking (hand knit by my grandmother) still says Molly… I haven’t been called Molly a day in my life. Whoops. 

Evin Brynne Harris– Yes, I’m a girl. My parents wanted me to have the same initials as my grandfather, EB, they thought a boy name for a girl was cute….I’m cute…. Continue reading “A Little Bit (too much) About Us”