Posted by The Free Spirited Foreigner On 31/01/2017
I can’t stay quiet any more.
After years of questioning my own pride in my country, I had finally become proud to be from the U.S.,
proud to be a representative of my country and what my country can really be.
I am appalled by the recent actions that have taken place and by the hateful people being considered as leaders. I will not be quiet about it. I am terrified by what our country is allowing to happen. People are living in fear. Civil liberties and freedoms are being ripped out of our hands by the people who don’t represent us.
To those of you who are not here in the U.S. to witness the fear, the unrest, the anxiety that all of this is causing: Know that we don’t want this. Our government DOES NOT represent us, thanks to an outdated, unchanging voting system and widespread ignorance.
I have spent the last couple days figuring out what I can actually do to help and I wanted to share it here.
Please, if you are bothered at all, at least take 1-2 actions, if not all 10. YOUR SILENCE WILL NOT PROTECT YOU.
If you are based in NYC or if you are coming for a march or protest, please reach out and I will stand with you in whatever action you will take. It may feel scary, but the thought of not saying anything is so much scarier.
For the whole document, CLICK HERE!!!
Posted by The Free Spirited Foreigner On 30/01/2017
Though I’m not a roller coaster person I decided to spend a day at Gröna Lund, Stockholm’s beautiful amusement park. This is a photo essay of my favorite little moments of that day…
Posted by The Free Spirited Foreigner On 06/01/2017
I almost feel at home here. While Stockholm’s many islands and many extremes make it complicated, Södermalm feels simple. It’s a neighborhood and an island with its own unique identity. It’s like the Brooklyn of Stockholm! Södermalm is all at once trendy, offbeat, classy, and self-aware.
When I looked up the best music venues in this city, I found them all here in Södermalm (Debaser’s 3 locations & Sodra Teatern). Wanna go thrifting? Have brunch made with local, organic ingredients? Check out a shop with totally new and creative concept you’ve never heard of before? Södermalm has it all. But you’ll have to explore it yourself. Here are the gems that I consider must see places in Södermalm, Stockholm, and even a few places I didn’t make it to too!
Johan & Nyström Konceptbutik
This was my favorite place to fika (out of like 7 spots I tried). They have quality, fair trade coffees and teas. There’s something for everyone. The “drop coffee” is a classic here and I also loved their summer special, espresso over vanilla ice cream! Plus, the outdoor seating is adorable and great for people-watching. (I charged up my phone and lounged on their pillows inside).
This place caught my eye and my friend Abbie and I decided to venture on in. Antiques and chochkeys are their game. I wanted everything in here. For real. I even told the shop owner. Twice. If you like timeless design and things from the past, you’ll be in love too!
Posted by The Free Spirited Foreigner On 28/12/2016
I liken every city to a complicated woman. So what kind of woman is Stockholm? She is at times insecure, moody, but bursting with creativity. To me, she is a teenage girl. She is a teenage girl who has impeccable taste, an eye for design, and doesn’t judge other quite as harshly as she judges herself.
Let me explain Stockholm, Sweden as a woman…
She is overly critical of herself
Stockholm has always been under construction (both figuratively and literally). After the world wars rocked the rest of Europe, everyone seemed to be rebuilding and modernizing except for the untouched, uninvolved Sweden. So she was feeling stale, out of date, and a touch less shiny than the other girls. Stockholm therefore decided to demolish the majority of their old and historical buildings to make way for modernity…what remains to this date is underwhelming architecture of the 50s and 60s. Only Gamla Stan (the Old Town) was preserved. Downtown Stockholm feels lacking in personality and character and this is what’s to blame. Those damn teenagers! Always thinking newer is better. Similarly…
She is Always Working on Herself
It’s hard to get a photo without scaffolding or a heinous orange crane cluttering the otherwise gorgeous view of Gamla Stan. While I appreciate and understand why so much is under construction, and especially in the summer, I kind of want to tell this girl to exhale and learn to love herself a little bit more. She’s like that already skinny friend you have who’s always on a diet. Stockholm is a city always working on herself.
She is Explosively Creative
When I hear ‘Swedish’ my mind jumps to tall, white-blonde-headed model types but also to design. That stereotype is not all that off base. Every street from SoFo to Ostermalm shines with innovation. Peeking into window displays of any Stockholm shop transport me to a utopian future where everything is both functional and beautiful. This is window shopping at its very best. The Swedish value creativity and they create opportunities for people to express themselves through a variety of artistic outlets and media.
Posted by The Free Spirited Foreigner On 23/12/2016
Proud to be American?
No one questions whether I’m proud to be American or not. They assume…
It’s not a terrible assumption based on our track record: American flags everywhere, college boys drunkenly chanting U-S-A in bars or college towns, our interest in only our own news, movies, and language, and a fierce positivity when it comes to talking about our own country, or as some like to call it, ‘Merica. (Not that we’re extremely unique in being this way)
Proud to be Irish?
But being in Ireland, I got to thinking. We can’t be the only country where almost everyone is proud. (The irony here is that many Americans say they are ‘proud to be Irish’ despite never having been to Ireland or gotten to know Irish culture. They’re proud to have ancestry in Ireland I guess, but why?) So, anyway, I decided to ask the Irish themselves…
This film, Irish Pride, shows results of the open and the willing Irish people who I asked to share their perspective with me, unrehearsed, on the spot, and often in the street. The famed friendliness and eloquence of the Irish made me think this project would be a cinch! I was surprised by how few people were willing to be filmed answering a single question.
I approached 26 people.
4 people weren’t Irish. Oops! My bad.
12 were Irish but were unwilling to participate… Twelve! Twelve Irish people! It just goes to show that you can’t claim to understand a culture until you delve into it.
That left 10 people who were willing to share their opinions and perspectives with the world!
The question I’m left with is this: What, if anything at all, does it say about Irish culture?
Posted by The Free Spirited Foreigner On 21/12/2016
Colombia = cocaine, jungle, Spanish & gangsters…right?
It seems that many people have not changed their ideas since the drug cartels and rebel groups were terrorizing Colombia several decades ago… but let’s get with the times!
It’s worth noting Medellín’s rapid change from “drug cartel city/ murder capital of the world” of the early 1990s (home of Pablo Escobar) to today’s city of social inclusion and sustainability. Medellín’s success has not gone unnoticed. In 2012 it was named “Innovative City of the Year” by a joint Citi/ Urban Land Institute/ Wall Street Journal contest.
Posted by The Free Spirited Foreigner On 21/11/2016
I travel to meet people like Roberto and Adina.
There I was, in downtown San Jose, ruffling through my pack, organizing the mountains of crap I thought I needed, mostly so I could soak up every ounce of that air conditioned room at TOYOTA Rent-A-Car. I had missed the 12:00 bus to Puerto Viejo, a surf town on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. The next wasn’t until 14:00 (2:00 p.m.).
My new game plan was to find a good spot to have a leisurely lunch in the meanwhile. As I fingered through my long and random list of Costa Rica tips in my iPhone notes, I came across two restaurants in San Jose. I asked the pudgy man in black, thick-rimmed glasses,
“Perdon, usted sabe si estes restaurantes son cerca?”
“Mmm…sí…yo sé ambos, pero no están cerca. Pero Café Mundo es muy rico. Que costaría ocho dolores, más o menos, a tomar un taxi allí. ¿Quieres almorzar??”
“Sí, yo quiero comer algo rico. Que me recommienda?”
“Iré por mi almuerzo en cinco minutos. Mi y mi jefe siempre vamos a un soda por almuerzo. Es muy cerca a aca. Usted puede unirse nosotros si quieres.””
I switched back to English, “Really?! That’s so nice of you! I would love to! I just have a bus to Puerto Viejo at two o’clock, is that enough time?”
Posted by The Free Spirited Foreigner On 25/09/2016
Discovering this hidden gem
Most historical museums bore me. Sorry to be so uncultured, but they probably bore you too. However I love a good story, especially one that’s true. We’ve all had one of those great teachers who make history jump off the page and feel relevant and interesting. It should be more like storytelling and less like reading a textbook! That’s why I was instantly intrigued when I discovered “The Yeats Experience” in Sligo, Ireland. It sounded like exactly the experience I was looking for.
I quickly shed my guilt over not wanting to visit a museum about William Butler Yeats and emailed Damien to inquire about pricing (with my tight budget) and scheduling (I can be both unpredictable and unstructured with my travel plans). He got back to me right away and all was settled. Fine dining with W. B. Yeats for just 30€! Damien was able to squeeze me in for a Saturday lunch!
Posted by The Free Spirited Foreigner On 17/09/2016
Any place you live long-term will take its grip on you and begin shaping you in ways you may never have expected. Am I surprised that living in New York is changing me? No, but I am surprised in some of the ways it’s changed me thus far after my first year here.
I speak up
My first month or two in the city, there were several times where I didn’t say ‘Excuse me’ loud enough, or I ran up to the bus and the doors were closing at that perfect, terrible moment and I had to wait for the next one. Well, I’ve learned to adapt. Now, I’m the girl banging on the bus window yelling “Please!” or worse, “Let me in!” When a bus driver gives me sass, I don’t curl up and blush, I tell him what I’m thinking. This is the way to survive in New York, and it’s working for me.
It takes a lot for a restaurant to impress me now
New York, Brooklyn, and Queens are packed with some absolutely incredible restaurants and I’ve totally gotten spoiled. Not only is the quality of the food high because the cut throat competitiveness you need to ‘make it’ as a restaurant in this city. I won’t say the service is always great, but it is always quick, and that’s so important in this city. When I went to Europe most recently, I was seriously shocked by how long everything took to arrive… and I’m a s l o w traveler! Oh, the irony! But also, living in this city, you could be anywhere and get a craving for soup dumplings and only have to walk 15 minutes to get amazing soup dumplings! I love it, but it makes me a little bit more of a monster.
I walk faster, Usually for no reason
We’ve got places to be! No, but really. Do you know how much time I’ve probably spent waiting for the freakin’ C train to come? …or shown up to have the doors close at the worst moment? Enough whining. Time is precious, as it is everywhere. I think I feel the time passing more here because it really takes time to get around. Not only do we want to rush home from work to maximize our chill time, but we need to combat our late trains and no-show buses…plus I’m always running late. So, I’ve become a pretty fast walker.
Posted by The Free Spirited Foreigner On 13/08/2016
I just stepped out of Galway Town Hall and into the rain after a day of local films. I feel that in two days I’ve learned more about Irish culture than in the previous week and a half. (That’s what happens when you slow down and travel slow!) Each film showed just a sneak peek into a subculture of Irish life and history, which was just the peek I was hoping for…