Friday, December 9, 2016

An Afternoon Tour of Amsterdam

Vendredi, 9 décembre

Several months ago, I took an impromptu trip to the Netherlands with my friends. We wound up skipping over the big cities and instead spent our time petting wild horses in Nijmegen and sitting on the (very cold) beach in Domburg. It was a blast, and I detailed all of it a blog post appropriately titled "There's More to the Netherlands than Amsterdam." At the time, I wrote about how I'd never much been interested in Amsterdam: from the Red Light district to the seedy coffee shops, there just was not much about the Dutch city that I had ever found appealing.

Fast forward to December, when I got the opportunity to travel up to Utrecht and Amsterdam for a work event with the Dutch Fulbright Commission. After a morning of meetings, I decided to spend the afternoon on a free city walking tour. I think I may owe Amsterdam an apology...

Sunday, November 13, 2016

What the Presidential Election means to this American Abroad

Dimanche, 13 novembre.

It wasn't supposed to be like this.

Wednesday was supposed to be a good day. I was supposed to wake up bright and early to celebrate with Americans abroad as the seemingly inevitable results trickled in. I was supposed to spend the day at an outreach event, speaking to Luxembourgish students about study opportunities in the United States. I would have sneaked glances at my phone, pausing to retweet quotes from Clinton's seemingly inevitable victory speech, to like images whose captions boasted of the work of Nasty Women, and to dash off quick texts to friends abroad with a series of patriotic emojis. It would have been a long day, but it was supposed to have been a great one.

But that didn't happen. Like many Americans abroad, I  slept fitfully on Election Night -- dozing off for 45 minutes before waking up to look at the news and check in with family. I panicked briefly when I woke up to find that my home state of Virginia was proving closer than anticipated and fell back asleep once certain that it had, in fact, stayed blue. When I finally got out of bed at 4:00 a.m., it was with a growing sense of dread that I refreshed Twitter and watched the results come in. An hour later, what I had envisioned as a triumphant celebration felt uncomfortably like a vigil. I sucked down coffee and made small talk, laughing too loudly at feeble jokes while keeping one eye on the CNN screen. Too close to call. Too close to call. Until suddenly, it wasn't.

As an American who has been living outside of the U.S. since the early chapters of this crazy story, I now feel more out of touch with my country than I ever thought possible. When a reporter asked if I had lost friends during the election, I admitted that I couldn't think of a single close friend who had expressed support for Trump. I have since identified a few likely suspects on my Facebook news feed, but the overwhelming majority of the people in my life were, albeit perhaps reluctantly, with her. I doubt that I am alone in this. Whether intentionally or subconsciously, we surround ourselves with those who share our interests, personal beliefs, and political convictions. (Don't believe me? Check out this study from PRRI, which found that white Americans' self-reported social networks are 91% white.) For most Americans, this bubble is briefly punctured -- by yard signs, television commercials, and bumper stickers that force us to acknowledge the exclusivity of our normal interactions. In my case, however, this bubble has only been strengthened by my geographic separation from the States. As an American abroad, the only social contact I have with Americans is my (often virtual) interaction with a select group of friends and family. Even now, I remain baffled by Trump's popularity, as I can find little to no evidence of it in my own social network.

With an indefinite job contract and no immediate plans to leave Belgium, I have received a lot of messages and comments within the past few days from friends, family members, and coworkers about my future. "So I guess this means you'll be Belgium for the next four years, huh?" "Please look for a bigger apartment so I can come live with you." I get it. Trust me, I get it. I have never felt more tempted to raise a particular finger, shout a particular word, and peace out of my country until the next general election. But leaving is not how you affect change, just as quitting is not how you win. In the words of Slate's Will Oremus, "Don't move to Canada ... move to a swing state." Moreover, what these friends may not realize is that while renewing their passports and hopping on a plane may seem like the easiest way to avoid negative consequences of the next four years, being an American abroad under a Donald Trump presidency is going to be hard.

As the token American in many conversations, I am often called upon to defend such trivial things as my country's affinity for fast food, our monolingual culture, and our insistence on mixing peanut butter and jelly at the lunch table. Even when the topic of conversation remains lighthearted, this task is not always fun: one of the darkest days of my year in Luxembourg was the afternoon I spent trying and failing to explain s'mores to my disgusted European housemates.

Americans abroad now face the daunting task of explaining much more than strange food pairings. When asked about the election over the course of the past year, I have done my best to defend my country, promising everyone that the hateful rhetoric spewed by campaign supporters, surrogates, and not infrequently by Trump himself is not representative of the American people. Now, I am faced with irrefutable evidence that it is. This realization feels like a betrayal, and an embarrassing one at that -- like a beleaguered wife realizing the spouse she has publicly defended for years has been keeping people locked up in their basement the whole time. ("Oops! Guess I didn't know him as well as I thought.") And it has already begun. On the morning of the election, one of this year's English Teaching Assistants asked, in tears: "What am I supposed to say to the Syrian refugees in my class?" Another friend texted from France, where she is teaching in a secondary school, to ask how she was supposed to discuss election results with her students when she could hardly process them herself. The following day, when I met a hijab-wearing girl in my hotel in Luxembourg City, I hesitated when telling her where I was from. Would she ask me about the election? About the anti-Muslim policies proposed by the now president-elect? And if she did, what would I say?

And this brings me to what I feel like I need to get off my chest.

One of the most devastating parts of this loss for me was the fact that instead of electing its first female president, our country seems poised to take a giant step backward with regards to gender equality. I do not look forward to the consequences of this election when it comes to reproductive rights, maternity leave, and equal pay and treatment for women. However as a white, heterosexual, Christian, I am aware that I belong to a privileged demographic that is likely to suffer the least over the next several weeks, months, and years. While I feel confused and betrayed by this week's results, I truly cannot begin to imagine the levels of hurt, frustration, and fear being felt by those of a different color, religion, or sexuality.

Over the past few days, I have seen a handful of messages -- even in my little bubble! -- encouraging Democrats to begin the process of healing by remaining respectful of and tolerant toward the opposing side. One viral image touted the "beautiful, inspirational people" who supported candidates on both sides and ended by arguing: "Don't think less of people because some of their beliefs don't align with yours, and don't lose quality people in your life because you chose hate over love." And I'd just like to say ... hold up. I agree that we should respect one another, despite our differences, and I am sure that some otherwise pleasant people cast their votes for Donald Trump on Tuesday. For many of these voters, including those who saw the Republican nominee as the solution to a changing economy that has left their communities behind, I am willing to believe that Trump's inflammatory comments about Mexicans and Muslims were the last thing on their mind as they cast their ballots. But impact is more important than intent. In choosing to support a man whose political campaign was based on messages of hate and intolerance, voters implicitly endorsed his agenda and sent a message to the populations he has marginalized: "I do not care enough about you to vote against a man who has demeaned your humanity and threatened your existence." If that's not choosing hate over love, I don't know what is.

So what am I going to do? For the time being, I'm going to stay in Belgium. (And once I get a bigger apartment, you're welcome to come visit.) I'm going to spend the day in my pajamas and I'm probably going to watch Kate McKinnon on SNL and cry a couple more times. But then I am going to do my best to foster positive change in my country by donating my time and money to organizations that will continue to fight for the rights of women and minorities, no matter who is sitting in the Oval Office. (Want suggestions? This article from Jezebel has a few.) I'm going to let my congressional representatives know how I feel when it comes time for them to vote for or against upcoming legislation. (Want to get in touch? This interview with former staffer Emily Ellsworth explains how to effectively make your feelings known.)

And when it comes time to do this whole Election Day all over again, I'm going to work as hard as I can to ensure that it turns out the way it is supposed to.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Autumn Colors in Parc de Woluwe

Mercredi, 2 novembre.

Hello from Brussels, where I'm in the midst of a mid-week weekend, as the Royal Library of Belgium has been closed in honor of All Saints' Day and All Souls Day. (But tell me more about how it's the Americans who don't have a separation of church and state, okay Europe?) Though I'm a little skeptical about the secular origins of these vacation days, I've been taking advantage of my first time off to catch up on things like fresh air and sunshine and I have to say ... I. Am. Loving. It.

Located in the suburb of Woluwe-Saint-Pierre, the Parc de Woluwe is one of the city's largest parks, filled with over 180 species of trees -- the vast majority of which have burst into color over the past couple of weeks. So what better place to spend a November morning off?


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

... Three Months Later

Lundi, 11 octobre.

I moved to Belgium three months ago.

And, for all intents and purposes, promptly forgot about this blog. (Whoops!)

In my defense, it has been a busy three months. In the last ninety days, I started a new job, moved into a new house, spent a week visiting family in the U.S., went on my first business trip, organized my first major work event, and bought two new pairs of sneakers. (Shout out to Nike, official sponsor of my descent into European-ness.) The whole thing has been a whirlwind of faces and names and forms and numbers and in a way, it's surprising that a whole year hasn't passed by without me knowing it.

But if I'm being honest, the real reason behind my radio silence hasn't been the number of things going on in my life, but rather the lack thereof. While the past three months have in many ways been a wonderful tornado of change and professional development, they've also been, well, pretty uneventful. Since moving to Brussels, I've spent most of my time working and going about the unglamorous business of daily life. And while I've developed a pretty efficient grocery shopping schedule, that doesn't exactly make for a riveting blog post. Of course, I am beginning to make friends (and plans that don't revolve around groceries), but it's slow going.

It doesn't help matters that, as an employee of the Fulbright Commission, I'm constantly reminded of exactly what I was up to a year ago. I can't deny that those adventures -- a house full of friendly housemates, weekends spent hiking and exploring castle ruins -- felt distinctly more exciting, interesting, and blogworthy. In comparison, my life in Brussels is like 70% work, 30% Netflix ... and who wants to read about that?

Nostalgia, personified.

As things begin to feel a little less strange and I begin to feel a little more Belgian, I promise that this blog will become more of a priority again. Stay tuned for posts about moving to Brussels. my day trips to Flanders and Wallonia, and -- everyone's favorite topic -- the experience of an American abroad during the 2016 presidential election. (Just kidding.)

Sunday, July 31, 2016

A Magical Afternoon at the Harry Potter Exhibition

Dimanche, 31 juillet.

As July comes to a close, I'm celebrating my first three weeks working in Belgium and -- as of yesterday -- being fully moved in to my new home away from home! Two of my friends drove up from Luxembourg yesterday to bring the last of my belongings and to visit for the day.

Lucie and Dikra have both been to Brussels a couple of times, so instead of hitting up the usual tourist spots, we decided to check out something a little bit different...


That's right, folks. Harry Potter: The Exhibition.

Never heard of it? This travelling exhibit features props, costumes, and set pieces from the Harry Potter film series -- sort of like a moving version of the Warner Brothers Studio Tour. Since 2009, it has been to over a dozen cities, including Chicago, New York, Tokyo, Paris, and now Brussels. Guests to the exhibition walk through reconstructed sets and rooms featuring everything from moving portraits to screaming mandrakes. And uh, yeah. It. Is. Awesome.

We got tired and decided to grab a seat in Hagrid's hut!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

It's Not Goodbye. It's ... Äddi!

Samschdeg, 23 Juli.

Today is my last full day in Luxembourg. Tomorrow, I'll get on the train to Brussels. And then -- poof -- I won't be a temporary Luxembourger anymore. No more teaching English to trilingual sixteen-year-olds. No more hopping on Bus 4 to Belval and hoping that the driver remembers that they added a stop at Cité des Sciences. No more picnicking on abandoned castles in tiny villages on sunny afternoons. No more walking to the animal park after Sunday morning brunches to check on the raccoons.

Leaving Luxembourg two weeks ago was not easy -- not least of all because a délai indéfini between Esch and Luxembourg City threatened to make me miss my train to Brussels -- and I know that tomorrow, my final departure will be even tougher. It is hard to explain why. It was difficult to say goodbye to my students, to the teachers who have supported and mentored me all year, and to the housemates who made my year truly amazing. And yet, in the perpetually-connected 21st century world in which we live, I know that no "goodbye" is permanent. This will not be the last time that I hang out with my friends, or meander down the Chemin de la Corniche, or eat an ice cream cone in Place d'Armes. (Which is, side note, the best place to eat an ice cream cone.) And yet, something feels particularly finite about my impending departure. Whether or not this is the last time I see my friends, and whether or not it is my last time in Luxembourg, it is clear that this chapter of my life is coming to a close. This setting, these characters may return in later stages, but the story will never be quite the same again.

I visited Luxembourg's Museum of Modern Art a couple of weeks ago and saw Fiona Tan's "Island." The installation, which was first created in 2008, features a fifteen-minute black-and-white video with voiceover narration. I was watching, more than a little skeptical (... modern art, ya know?), when the narrator said something that stuck with me.

"When she leaves, she will fold up this place and put it in her pocket for safe-keeping."

And that's exactly what I am going to do.

Lest you feel the need to reach for a tissue, let me assure you that -- of course -- it's not all sad. In fact, it is mostly happy! I am absolutely thrilled about moving to Brussels and love life in the city so far (even if there are a couple hundred thousand more people than I've become used to). And after a week and a half at my new job, I am so happy with my decision and feel genuinely excited to go to work every morning.

And so, despite the fact that I am 99.9% sure I will cry on the train tomorrow, it feels more like a time for celebration than sadness. I'm spending this last weekend in the Grand Duchy packing, relaxing, and doing some of the most wonderfully Luxembourgish things I can think of. Sunbathing at the Remerschen Lake -- because after ten months, it's finally warm enough to think about swimming. Baking cakes and marathoning "One Tree Hill" with my housemates. Watching movies at the Open Air Cinema. And, of course, taking the brand-new Pfaffenthal Elevator. (Seriously, this sucker has been under construction for six years and it finally opens on my last day in Luxembourg? It's fate, I tell you.)

So Luxembourg, it has come time for us to part. But remember -- it's not "Goodbye." It's "Äddi!" ;)

Monday, July 4, 2016

Musée Méindeg: Roman Villa Echternach

Méindeg, 4 Juli.

One of the first places I visited after arriving in Luxembourg was the historic town of Echternach. Since then, I've returned almost a dozen times: hiking, travelling with friends, or even visiting the town's medieval Christmas market. If you've visited me, chances are we went to Echternach. (If you've visited me and we didn't go to Echternach ... awkwaaaard.) Anyhow, despite all of these visits, there is one major Echternach highlight that I'd never managed to see. Until last week, that is!

Today's Musée Méindeg post is taking you to the Roman Villa Echternach! The remains of this third-century Roman villa were discovered in 1975, during excavations for an artificial lake. It has since been named one of the most important Gallo-Roman sites north of the Alps!

The sizable villa was located in a suburb, so to speak, of the massive Roman settlement in modern-day Trier. Today, it's hard to imagine the network of residential villas and military fortifications that once covered this region! Still, the excavated and semi-reconstructed site goes a long way to helping you imagine what life might have been like for these ancient Luxembourgers. Given the climate (with temperatures just *slightly* cooler than in Italy), I was particularly amazed at the number of outdoor courtyards and open-air colonnades.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Hello Châteaux: Picnicking at Bourglinster Castle

Mëttwoch, 29 Juni.

With just under two weeks left in Luxembourg, I have been frantically trying to cross as many things off my bucket list as possible. Today, that meant paying a visit to one of Luxembourg's many castles: the adorable Château de Bourglinster.

Bourglinster Castle is, to put it simply, old. In the thirteenth century, the castle was the property of the noble family of Linster. (Get it? Bourglinster ... Bourg Linster?) It passed from family to family over the next eight hundred years, gradually being transformed from fortified fortress to Renaissance castle. Click here to learn more via Visit Luxembourg.

Despite its advanced age, Bourglinster looks pretty great! The castle has been fully restored and boasts a fresh coat of (baby pink?) paint on its tiny towers. As you might remember from my visit to the Musée de Maquettes des Châteaux et Châteaux Forts du Luxembourg, the majority of Luxembourg's châteaux forts are no longer in great condition. Those that are not in ruins tend to be privately-owned or have been restored for some specific purpose. Bourglinster Castle is no exception: today, it is home to multiple restaurants. (Click here to check out their website.) You can even book the castle for your wedding!


Although the castle itself is not open to visitors except for previously-arranged private tour, the castle grounds -- including the ruins of some of the oldest parts of the property -- are free to be explored. We found a particularly sunny spot and plopped down for a picnic.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Sorry Europe -- You're Not Getting Rid of Me Yet!

Samschdeg, 2 Juli.

I first arrived in Luxembourg a whopping 295 days ago-- bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and ready to jump into nine months of adventures in the Grand Duchy. As the year went on and the prospect of leaving my new international life became all too real, I hemmed and hawed about finding a way to stay in Europe. ("Just find a job here!" my housemates counseled me, blissfully unaware of the challenges that face a non-EU citizen trying to enter the European workforce. Hello, work visa!) However, the plan -- as evidenced by the round-trip KLM tickets I purchased back in August 2015 -- was always to return to the United States and to the Washington, D.C., area after finishing my grant in July.

But you know what they say about plans. Namely, they change.

And so, instead of returning to the United States in July, I will be moving to Brussels (!) to begin a full-time job (!!) as the new Fulbright Program Manager and EducationUSA Adviser with the Fulbright Commission (!!!).

I'm not exaggerating when I say that this has been my dream job since day one. While I am sure that this new experience will come with its own unique set of challenges (not least of which being the continued absence of Target and authentic Mexican food in my life), I could not be more excited. I cannot express how lucky I feel for the opportunity to continue my involvement with Fulbright, to learn more about the field of global education, and to live in a city as beautiful and dynamic as Brussels.

I will be starting work in just under two weeks, which means that I'll be leaving Luxembourg ten months -- to the day! -- after I arrived, way back in September. Although I won't be moving very far away, I know that it will be difficult to say goodbye to this wonderful little country and to the people who have made the past ten months so wonderful. Instead of dwelling too much on our upcoming departure, my friends and I have decided to make the most of our last couple of weeks in Luxembourg by doing all of the things we've intended to do, but somehow never got around to. Stay tuned for nine days of indulgent bucket list fulfillment -- and, more than likely, a handful of weepy blog posts! ;)

Friday, June 24, 2016

What Brexit Means to an American Abroad

When I went to sleep last night, it looked like it was all going to be okay. The earliest reports indicated a narrow margin of victory for Remain, buoyed by a dramatic pro-Remain response in Gibralter. Even Nigel Farage, the bombastic face of the Leave movement, had come close to delivering a concession. When I woke up this morning, the world had changed.

I'm not British. I'm not even European. But the announcement that the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union has huge implications for me.

When I first arrived in Luxembourg in September, it seemed like everyone -- my housemates, my students, my lycée coworkers -- found nothing funnier than asking their new token American about the upcoming presidential election. "So," they would whisper conspiratorially, "how do you feel about Donald Trump?" I would roll my eyes and play along: "Great. Love him. I'm so glad that's what you associate me with." Sometimes, the conversation would turn to politics, with me attempting to explain the concept of primaries and caucuses (or, 'why my country's election is dominating your country's news 13 months before it happens'). Sometimes, we'd discuss our fears about the sobering rise of xenophobia and far-right parties in our respective countries. But most often, we'd move on. Because, you know, it wasn't actually going to happen.

Over the past ten months, things have changed. Within the Republican Party, seventeen candidates has turned to one and politicians who once scoffed at Trump's candidacy are now making their own reluctant endorsements. Meanwhile, the friends who teased me about Donald Trump have now watched and responded in shock as far-right movements gained traction in their own countries. The Luxembourgish coworkers who once began conversations by asking "So ... what about Trump?" have fallen silent on the issue. (Are they worried that I'll burst into tears if forced to confront my country's failings?) And my response has changed. I no longer laugh off references to the November 2016 election and to the increasingly contentious, nationalistic, and xenophobic rhetoric that accompanies it. Because it's not funny anymore.

When I first heard of it, Brexit seemed like nothing more than a fringe movement -- a crazy idea with a crazy name, brought forth by the radical right and destined to attract little attention before failing. Much like the concept of Donald Trump as the presidential nominee of a major political party, it seemed truly inconceivable. I shrugged it off. Even as it became clear that a Brexit was a legitimate political concern, I didn't let myself worry. Given those who opposed it in the UK and abroad -- President ObamaJ.K. Rowling! John Oliver! -- it seemed evident to me that cooler heads would prevail, that the obvious merits of Britain's EU membership would outweigh the criticisms, that the UK would ultimately decide to stay. In discussions with students and housemates, where it became an increasingly popular topic of conversation, Brexit was almost a joke. Because, you know, they weren't actually going to do it.

But they did. This morning, it has become all too painfully obvious that Brexit is not and, in fact, never has been a joke. The result of the referendum -- 17,410,742 to 16,141,241 -- was read aloud on the BBC. The value of the pound plummeted overnight, dropping to the lowest rate in over three decades. David Cameron announced his resignation, perhaps inevitable under the circumstances, as Prime Minister. Political groups in Scotland and Northern Ireland, where citizens voted overwhelmingly to Remain, have called for new independence referendums. The implications, for citizens of both the United Kingdom and the European Union, are numerous and I have no doubt that the next days and weeks will bring a number of major changes to the political and economic landscape.

In the meantime, however, I want to make things about me.

Of course this referendum has implications for Americans abroad (including those planning more-affordable-than-ever trips to London). But we should all be paying attention. Because Brexit is about so much more than membership in the European Union. At its core, Brexit is proof that cooler heads do not always prevail. It is proof that fear is a powerful motivator and nationalism, a powerful manipulator. It is proof that an idea that seems radical, crazy, and downright impossible can, under the right conditions, become reality. And it's definitely not funny.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Musée Méindeg: Bastogne War Museum

Méindeg, 20 Juni.

Today's Musée Méindeg takes us outside of the Grand Duchy to the Bastogne War Museum. Located just across the Luxembourg-Belgium border, the museum is within easy driving distance of Luxembourg and makes for a popular day trip destination.

History buffs will surely recognize Bastogne for the strategic role it played in the 1944 Battle of the Bulge, an event that was immortalized in the 2001 miniseries Band of Brothers. (Haven't heard of it? Ask your dad.)

Just a few months after being liberated by Allied Forces, the town of Bastogne became the site of the one of the most dramatic events of World War II, when it was attacked by the Germans in December 1944 as part of Hitler's last-ditch attempt to recapture Antwerp and change the tide of the war. The siege lasted for a week, during which time the town -- and the small number of American soldiers defending it -- suffered many casualties. At one point during the Battle of Bastogne, German troops at succeeded in fully encircling the town and even gave the Americans the opportunity to surrender ... an offer to which General McAuliffe famously responded: "Nuts!" Ultimately, Patton's Third Army came to the relief of the exhausted forces: within a few weeks, the battle was won and the town of Bastogne re-liberated. Given the historical importance of the Battle of the Bulge, it's no wonder that Bastogne continues to be defined by its role in World War II.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

When Moms Come to Visit: Leslie in Luxembourg

Donneschdeg, 16 Juni.

I'm officially feeling like the luckiest duck in the world. After listening to me brag about Luxembourg for the past nine months, my mom finally got to come check out the Grand Duchy for herself. She arrived last Friday morning and we have spent the past week exploring some of my favorite corners of Luxembourg.

Selfie time after an obligatory excursion to the Casemates du Bock!

In addition to Luxembourg City and my hometown of Esch-sur-Alzette (après neuf mois, je me considère comme une vraie Eschoise...), we spent a day exploring some of the more distant corners of Luxembourg. I loved having the opportunity to revisit some of my favorite places from the past year, including Larochette Castle. It rained on us a bit during our second day, but we didn't let the bad weather dampen our spirits. And hey, at least my mom got to catch a glimpse of the famous Luxembourgish weather! 


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Notes from the Classroom: "Hamilton" in Luxembourg

Denschdeg, 7 Juni.

Today, I began my lesson with the 4e students at my lycée by asking them to take a trip back in time to 2009. Seven years ago, President Obama had just been elected, no one had yet heard of swine flu, and I was a fresh-faced student in an AP U.S. History class. We had been studying American history for a semester when a particularly timely video went viral: Lin-Manuel Miranda's performance of "Alexander Hamilton" at the 2009 White House Poetry Jam.

A theatre geek, I knew Miranda from his hit musical In the Heights, a musical to which we were rumored to have secured tickets on an upcoming school trip. (Spoiler: We did not see In the Heights. It's okay. I'm fine.) I don't remember if we watched the video in school, or if it just filtered down to me through the news feeds and wall posts of my classmates. I do, however, remember that Miranda's pop culture approach to history had a big impact on our end-of-year projects. While no one succeeded in creating a hip hop musical, I do vaguely recall a musical version of the life of Teddy Roosevelt...?

Either way, while the video was at once intriguing and inspiring, I eventually forgot all about it. It was only relatively recently, as hype began to build about a new off-Broadway musical, that I even remembered watching the 2009 video. Needless to say, Hamilton has been a runaway success. But although it seems like everyone in America is going ham for Hamilton, the musical is -- to my knowledge -- relatively unknown outside of the United States. But not for long. Enter Elisabeth, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant and fan of musical theatre / alternative historical narratives.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

To Germany and Back Again: Hiking in Vianden

Sonndeg, 15 Mee.

Ever since coming to Luxembourg in September of last year, hiking has become one of my favorite ways to spend a weekend. I first went hiking in Vianden way back in November, when we took friends visiting from Belgium to hike and see one of the country's most famous castles. Because of the cold, we only did a section of the trail and I've been dying to go back ever since.

Before Madeleine heads back to the USA on Tuesday, we decided to squeeze in a visit to Vianden to revisit the trail and check out one of the Grand Duchy's most scenic spots!