Monday, May 26, 2014


caves ouvertes - a vineyard in satigny, switzerland

i am not quite sure where to begin this time because there was no real break point between exams and starting the internship of my dreams. for those of you who have heard me say this a million times, i swear this is the last time that i will repeat the refrain: my last exam was on thursday, sam's graduation was on friday, i got on the plane on saturday, landed in geneva on sunday and started work on monday. 

so now that i have had my second monday at the office i can assure you all that i feel like the luckiest person in the world. the work that we do every day is incredible. every single one of my projects will ultimately (hopefully) improve someone's life somewhere. the picture below does not do the office justice, for my desk view is an incredible picture of the lake. this time, although i do not have the same "room with a view" from my bedroom like i did in fiesole, i have it a million times over at work.

palais wilson

i will explain in a later post more of the details of the united nation's office of the high commissioner for human rights (OHCHR). i have been learning a startling amount about the UN itself every day, so it will probably be in everyone's interest if i hold off for now. 

what i can tell you about with plenty of clarity is how much fun i had on saturday. all of the interns that i have met at work have been amazingly friendly and welcoming, and this past weekend more than confirmed that for me. i had been dying to do "caves ouvertes" (or open caves) since a friend who lived in geneva had told me about it in february. the premise of the event is simple--you buy a wine glass for 5 franc, and then you go from vineyard to vineyard tasting wines. keep in mind, there were 80+ vineyards participating (!). it was a short 10 minute train to the first vineyard, and seemed like it could be a blast. so i posted in the facebook group for the OHCHR interns and mentioned it at work, but i was not sure if anyone other than my friend and roommate jessie (more on her later too) would show up to meet us at the train station. low and behold, we had a motley crew of foreigners waiting for us when we arrived, all excited and ready for action. 

i wish that the pictures could do the scenery justice, but in sum, we enjoyed a beautiful day in a stunning landscape. at one point, we hiked into the hills behind one of the vineyards. plopping down in the grass to eat our lunch, we went around in circles teaching each other new words in different languages. yet, it felt as though we still lacked the words for describing what we were experiencing. alas, life moves on, and so did we--to the next winery! haha

since the perfect day could not come to an end when the train pulled back into the station, we decided to check out the street fair that we could see from the platform. and what do you know, we stumbled into geneva's weirdest looking crowd. grunge, transvestites and families with babies were for whatever reason all mingling at this random street festival, so we hung around for a few hours, gradually accumulating more and more friends from work and visitors from other countries. fast forward a few hours, and they had finally turned off the music and packed up the speakers at the second stage before we finally managed to peel ourselves away. after our newfound friends convinced us to miss the last bus home, a few of us took the train back to another friend's apartment to sleep on the floor and pass the time in versoix. imagine my surprise to hear that we were mere minutes from a chocolate factory the next morning. if they had been giving tours, we might have had to make a detour on the way home.

i will add more pictures and posts soon. as i said in my previous blog posts though, please remember that i want to hear from you too. i miss everyone dearly already and would love to get updates whenever possible.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

the journey

hola a todos,

i hope that you all are doing well! i write you in the midst of exams, presentations and papers, and yet still find myself with little to complain about. sipping coffee this morning in a corner cafe while listening to some classic american blues i could not help but think about how unlike any other exam period these past few weeks have been (and how funny it was that they were playing american blues!)

the real reason that i am writing though, is because i have been doing a fair amount of reflecting lately. straight up jesuit style. father paulson would be proud! but truly, it has been a rude awakening realizing how little time i have left here. the fact that my eurotrip is coming to an end is a thought that i am simply not yet ready to accept.

i have decided though, in part thanks to my previous departure experience last semester, that rather than fret and sweat, i ought to just try to enjoy my last month here as much as i can without dwelling too much on the sad aspects of it all. so i have been doing my best! last night that meant making dinner with friends, chatting with spaniards, italians and swiss, and like always, meeting cool, new people.

one thing that is fun though, is to think of all of the places that i have been over the course of these past nine months. to even start to begin listing them off is difficult, but i am about to give it a go. forgive me if i leave off a small italian town or two!


cinque terre
san gimignano





czech republic:









la granja

i am actually positive that i am forgetting at least a few little italian towns, but will have to just go through my papers when i get home. what matters more now though, is how i am excited to keep going! if i have learned one thing this year, it is that i love to travel, and never want to stop. so rather than soliloquize and make you all endure cliched reflections, i will list where i will be going next. tengo ganas ya!


a coruña




Tuesday, May 15, 2012

stolen pics

hello everyone!

thank you so much to everyone that forwarded along some serious law school wisdom regarding my last post. i registered for the lsat last night and am ready to get going. now the law school search begins in earnest!

here in madrid we had another puente because today is el día de san isidro, the patron saint of the city. so not only did i not have class yesterday or today, but we got to see a fun music coordinated fireworks show last night over the lake at retiro park. the turnout was absolutely crazy and we could barely move once we got there. what was most fun though was afterward when we ran into a spanish guy from my class. after a more than convivial guitar/sing along session we ended up palling around with him and his greek friends, and still managed to pick up even more people along the way. what is truly amazing though, is how often i have made numerous random friends like that here in madrid. whether it be an evening out or just an afternoon stroll, i more often than not end up meeting some really interesting characters.

for now though, i shall leave you all with pictures both of and from some of my friends. as i have been lagging on my picture uploads, i thought that i would share some of the theirs to supplement my own. it is fun to not be the photographer sometimes!

maddy y yo at the beach in essaouira

scrumptious breakfast falafel sandwiches & the honey covered moroccan toast equivalent

everyone at las fallas in valencia

photo credit goes to ben holtzmuller and kat light. gracias, amigos!

pues, hasta luego!


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

el rechazo

dear friends and family,
i need not tell you all that per usual, i miss you all dearly. i do however, feel that it is necessary to emphasize the fact that this post seeks neither pity nor kind words.

i am writing to tell you all about my desire to go to law school. ultimately, i want to go to the hague and fight for human rights. i want to help bring about justice.

in order to pursue this goal, i applied to georgetown law´s early assurance program. i was rejected.

what does this mean? that instead of getting a pass, i now simply have to put my head down and study like mad for the lsat just like everyone else.

my questions for you all here then, are what advice do you have for me about the lsat? about law school in general? about how to prepare for a big test? if anything, i view this as a blessing in diguise in that over the course of the past 48 hours i have been forced to consider whether or not i would go out west. or whether or not i would head up to new york. earth-shattering questions!

i assure you that i am not trying to jump the gun. all questions are pending the results of that infamous 3.5 hour long test. nevertheless, i am almost positive that unless my score is absolutely abysmal, now that i have the opportunity, i would like to take the gamble. even if i am "below the median" (picture wincing face of advisors here jaja,) i think that i would like to try for the nation´s top law schools. worse comes to worst they reject me. been there, done that.

so this is a please, a por favor, a per favore, you all are the ones that know me well. in fact, sometimes much better than yours truly. where do you guys see me spending three years of my life? what advice can you give about getting myself there? any and all words of wisdom are welcome.

one of my favorite quotes is a winston churchill "if you are going through hell keep going." since i currently feel as though i am waltzing through a blissful vacation, continuining on ought not to be too hard :)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

las fotos: semana santa

my computer crashed right after i uploaded the pictures from sevilla, so i feel incredibly lucky to be able to share them with you. time for a new computer!

semana santa parte dos: sevilla

after a severe bout of culture schock, joelson, margo and i paused for a night in madrid and then somehow caught a bus down to sevilla on thursday. madness then ensued.

i kid, i kid. it was an awesome time though, to state it simply. i absolutely fell in love with sevilla. in between spurts of rain, we were lucky enough to catch a few glimpses of the sun. these pictures come from the magnificently impressive plaza de españa.

among other things, we also went to the alcazar, which is the spanish answer to the linguistic problem posed by a proliferation of royal residences. it is funny too, that the spanish have a word that means a castle/palace/fortress, because alex and i actually had a running joke in italy about trying to figure out what to call the million and one "palazzi" that we saw. 

i only took a few pictures inside because i knew that i could never do it justice. in fact, sometimes i really do prefer to just leave it up to the professionals and procure a few postcards. this was definitely one such instance. the inside of the palace was positively breathtaking, as were the gardens though too! back in the day the catholic king commissioned muslim artists to decorate the palace in the elaborate style using a type of painted plaster, and the results are truly magnificent. i would even go so far as to say that i liked it better than alhambra. blasphemy?

the modern architecture in sevilla was also impressive, and between late night and early morning processions viewings, we popped over to this structure, which coincidentally gave me a taste for waffle fries that haunted me all day.

what were perhaps the most significant parts of this trip though, were the moments that i, of course, do not have pictures of. the hostel that we stayed at, for isntance, was by far the nicest one that i have ever stayed at, and we eneded up meeting some cool spaniards there. i would also hate to forget the nights that we went out and came home with crazy stories each time. the first night that we got to sevilla we saw the some of the biggest processions of all of semana santa. picture hundreds of people dressed up in dark hooded outfits carrying candles and hundreds of pounds worth of ornamentation. the processions lasted hours, and while i still do not think that i fully understand them, it was incredibly powerful to experience them at least for a moment. 

then there was the night that we went out super late, still on tiempo madrileño. after a delicious meal, a few bars later maddy and i had managed to make friends with flamenco guitarists and locals inviting us back to sevilla for feria, another great big spanish party. 

the next night though, was the kicker. i was determined to watch some flamenco while in southern spain, so with a super nice spanish girl from our hostel we set out to do just that. upon asking a local for directions though, we discovered that the better deal would be to see a less "guiri" or touristy deal and just look for a wandering guitarist in the local bars. not more than an hour later, the four of us found ourselves in the middle of a truly neighborhood affair, squeezed into a closet sized bar listening to a singer and her guitarist play some of the best flamenco music that i had ever heard. there were no costumes, no frills or gimmicks, just locals singing the lyrics to the songs that they all knew by heart. it was perfect. it did not take long for us to make friends with everyone there either, as it was readily apparent that we were the only four that did not live within 5 minutes. needless to say, we closed the bar taking shots courtesy of the guitarist who had fallen in love with me. this is chicago blues right?? he asked as he played something not even remotely close to blues. bravo! i replied and smiled at maddy.

the night did not end there though. the fabulously entertaining gay bartenders insisted on taking us to the next bar, which was alright but not exactly the club that i had been looking for. so i sidled up to the bar, and started making conversation with the older man next to me. i liked his glasses. how could i have known that he was one of the most famous toreros in all of spain? it was only after a few minutes of talking that i turned around to realize that everyone was awestruck. he is a famous bullfighter! maddy whisper/shouted at me. so i turned back and jose tomas went on talking about his son and showing me pictures on his iphone.
then we went to a club. jajaja. 

for me though, one of my favorite experiences in spain was walking alone down the river at dusk. there was a true spanish botellón taking place, and for as far as the eye could see, groups of spaniards sat listening to music, drinking with friends, watching the world go by. in this particular instance though, i was the one walking on by. it was that moment that i knew that i would come back to sevilla. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

semana santa parte 1: marruecos

the third largest mosque in the world

watching casablanca at rick´s cafe in casablanca while drinking a casablanca

morocco was unbelievable. i anticipated a mind blowing experience. what little did i know.

morocco was utterly overwhelming. the sights, smells and sounds were enough to take your breath away. snake charmers and monkeys dotted the main square. drumbeats rumbled across rooftops late into the night. snail vendors pitched their fare at while smoke billowed from the grill stands. 

in casablanca, marrakech and essaouira i discovered a world unlike any that i had seen before. riding camels on the beach at sunset, trying delicious new flavors at sketchy looking street food stands and haggling for hours with vendors all proved exceedingly fun. more significant though, were the experiences that sound so much less glamorous and exciting. riding the bus between towns, for instance, felt at times like watching a slow motion horror film. for the first time in my life i saw a population that lives in huts and scrapes by for a living hustling on the side of the streets. i also though, was able to marvel at the beauty that is the moroccan countryside and reflected on how lucky i am to be able to afford to travel to other countries. 

after a day´s rest in madrid, my friends maddy, margo and i migrated south for the rest of semana santa to watch the processions. more to come on that later. for now, shokran! (thank you in arabic)