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January 2014 Archives

The Winter is Coming...

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I am here in Minneapolis, Minnesota, THE coldest city in the United States. This is the place where the average temperature is so low, it is only rational to walk into the freezer to stay warm. This is the place where it is only natural to be afraid to step outside. For people who are not used to such harsh winter like this one, this is the time of the year when they start to ask themselves why they had moved to Minnesota. I am no exception.  However, as frosty and painful as the winter is here, it is very beautiful, and there are many fun, wintry activities that make Minnesota one of a kind. Surviving Winter in MN, contrary to popular beliefs, is not so difficult!

Never have I ever blown a bubble and held it in my hand to watch it freeze nor sled down the frozen waterfall as an entertainment before I came to Minnesota. If you are, however, looking for something more conventional, there are countless ski resorts for winter sports and activities like snowboarding and dog-sledding that will make you forget about the cold instantly. Surprisingly, winter is a great season to embrace the nature and explore the winter landscape. With some preparation and know-how, mountain-biking and hiking can be year-round pursuits in Minnesota.

It is also very important to stay warm at all time and keep yourself healthy. Minnesota winter is no place for a diet; you need as much wholesome and hearty meals as possible. A nice hot dish would be wonderful. Do whatever you have to do to make yourself cozy--a pair of wool socks, a down comforter, and a box of hand warmers would be smart choices. 

I am not going to lie. 'Harsh' is the easiest way to describe the wintry weather in Minnesota, and most of the time, I just want to stay home and watch Netflix, sipping a cup of tea, but if you try hard enough, you will never find yourself bored in winter and remain healthy and sound. In fact, there are close to 400,000 people living in Minneapolis alone; surviving winter in Minnesota should not be too bad, right?

Back in the States!

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Having spent an amazing 5 months in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the feeling of leaving was bittersweet. Bittersweet because of how much I wished I could stay and because of how excited I was to return home. My time in Brazil was a learning one, as I soaked up a new language, culture, history, and method of business. I also learned the difference of living in a developing country versus a developed one, and at times, that learning curve was steep. The experience was amazing, the people I met, incredible, and the memories I made, unforgettable.

However, after those five months to say I was majorly homesick was an understatement. We landed in the US airport, running around chattering excitedly in English to whoever we could get to listen, singing off-pitch patriotic tunes through the lines at customs. We marveled at the free waters, coffee refills, and grade-A plumbing. In the plane to Minneapolis, we stared out the window to the flat expanses of snow, so different from the lush mountainous territory we had seen twenty-four hours earlier. Meeting my mom again for the first time was an experience I can't even describe, full of tears and a lot of squealing. Returning back had me seeing everything with fresh eyes,enjoying many things I had taken for granted before Brazil. The sheer splendor of a Target Superstore had me gawking with awe, exclaiming over and over that, "It's just so BIG."

As amazing as it was to absorb the amenities of the developed world again, that excitement paled in comparison to seeing my friends. I stayed overnight for a week at the University of Minnesota, chatting with my housemates, distracting friends from finals, sharing pictures and memories, and doing my best to catch up on lost months of face time. I am not sure if I have ever felt so happy or so complete. I had completed the greatest adventure of my life thus far, and still had this amazing community of friends to return to. The homesickness I felt in Brazil wasn't about my physical home, but rather, the people I had left behind. The community that surrounds me here at the Carlson School is so unique and tightly bound that returning back was one of the best feelings. Because every Carlson student studies abroad, everyone understands my experience or is eagerly awaiting their own adventure. 

This week marks the beginning of my last semester of junior year. As I run across friends in classes they eagerly ask me about my fall semester and make jokes about how quickly my tan has faded (rude). I am so very grateful for the opportunity I had, and similarly grateful that I get to come back to such a great school. As much as I currently miss Brazil, I know that this is my home, and this is where I am happy to be.