It all began in Switzerland… European Adventure Part 1

July 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

I am so excited!!!!

I cannot wait to tell everyone all about my European adventures from Summer 2010.  As I mentioned before in the little bit of background about me, I travelled to the Dominican Republic in 2005.  It was my first real taste of international traveling… I immediately fell in love with it.  There are hardly any words to describe the delight I have in traveling.  It is this delight and love that pushed me to raise money for four years to study abroad.

Studying abroad will always be one of the best experiences of my life.  It was without a doubt unforgettable.  There were so many choices to be made in order to  study abroad– should I go for a summer, a semester, an entire year?  Where should I go?  When should I go?  Should I try to travel while I’m there, etc etc.  My mind was constantly changing on what I should do.  I finally decided that I would study in Florence, Italy for an entire month during the Summer of 2010.  Knowing that a meager four weeks would not be nearly enough for me, I recruited a travel partner [a fabulous one at that] and we planned a European excursion for the 2 weeks before the program.  I will admit that planning this trip basically consumed my life for the months prior– but it was completely worth it in the end.  I will leave our route a surprise as I recapture the experiences of the trip.  I hope you enjoy my stories, advice, and pictures [note that I did not have that great of a camera].  And as you may notice by the title… our first destination was Zurich, Switzerland.

May 16, 2010

Our plane left around 1 pm for Zurich.  Because they are 6 hours ahead, we would be landing in Switzerland around 8:30 am.  I remember being on the plane… furious because I couldn’t sleep.  Anxious to get there.  Nervous to be away from home for 6 weeks… away from family, friends, my church, and of course, boyfriend.  I remember thinking at one point, is this the right decision?  Obviously it was too late for second guesses.  I blame most of this worry on my mother [naturally] because she she is a worrier by nature [usually for good reasons].  But more likely it was sparked because at that moment I was entering an entirely different world from my own.  And while this truth is incredibly exciting, it is also equally intimidating.  I was about to go backpacking around Europe with a girl I barely knew and I was admittedly a wee bit scared.  However, all of that changed the next day…

May 17, 2010

To me, this picture is the perfect description of Switzerland and the way it makes me feel.  Completely beautiful, natural, clean, happy, lovely… basically any positive adjective that you can think of.  

Alyssa and I safely arrived in Zurich without any problems.  We were able to take a [very expensive] taxi to our hostel and check into our room several hours early.  It was nice to be able to put our stuff down, change out of our nasty airplane/airport clothing, and freshen up a bit before hitting the streets.  Alyssa and I agreed that we would not have jet lag– we knew we couldn’t afford to waste any valuable time sleeping.  So despite only getting 2 hours of sleep on the plane we made a full day of exploring the streets of Zurich together.  We grabbed a map, a coffee, some Swedish bakery treats, and were on our way.  Deciding to ramble our way into the main city, called “Old  City,” was probably one of the best decisions we made during the entire trip.  We wondered through neighborhoods, alleyways, walked along the waterside of Lake Zurich, and saw some of the most beautiful scenery we otherwise would have never seen.  Like the picture above.

Alyssa and I made a pretty great team.  We were both interested in doing and seeing the same things.  Plus, we were really able to get to know each other throughout the whole trip.  There was hardly a silent moment between us during the two weeks that we travelled and we became great friends.  I would travel with her any time, any day, any where if she asked me!

After about a 30 minute walk from the hostel we finally reached “Old City” and I think both Alyssa and I were taken back, not only by the beauty of the city, but by the realization that we were in Europe– it was super surreal.

One activity that Alyssa and I made a habit throughout the trip was climbing to a very high point in every city.  In this case one of the church steeples– Grossmünster– which is the church with the double steeples on the right.  

Once again, doing this every where we went, was absolutely amazing, and definitely worth the hike up all those stairs.  Once we got to the top we could see everything more clearly and for miles and miles.   It was amazing how the view from the top completely changed the perspective of the beautiful churches from the street.  It was so much easier to appreciate their beauty when you could see all of the architecture.  The day was absolutely perfect.  We enjoyed every second of walking around… taking it all in.  By the end of the day… after running on 2 hours of sleep… we were exhausted.  I think we both fell asleep by 9:30 pm.  It was the most incredible day to start our adventures and it really set the stage for the rest of our trip.

Keep a look out for Day 2 of my fantastic adventures in Europe coming soon!!

Bethany

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Background: Humanitarian Spirit

July 20, 2011 § 3 Comments

Here at Project Rejuvenate, we not only want to rejuvenate your spaces with fun decorating ideas and DIY projects… we also want to inspire you to see the world and give back to the world! 

Ever since I was a little girl I’ve had an inner desire to help those around me.  I remember one year I gave all my birthday money to the Duke Children’s Hospital Drive.  I don’t say this to brag, I am just pointing out that God has deposited in me such a deep yearning to reach those less fortunate that even as an 8-year-old helping sick kids meant more to me than buying the latest toys.  Every desire in my heart comes from Him.  This desire grew when I was a teenager and pushed me to become involved in international relief.  I can’t pinpoint the exact moment that I knew helping people in developing countries was what I wanted to do with my life but I know it revolved around 4 events:

  1. I travelled to the Dominican Republic right after I turned 16 with a local church.  While we were there we worked with kids and traveled to many different villages ministering to people.  My eyes were opened to different cultures– I loved being immersed in a place that was so different from my own home.  This trip sparked my interest in travel, but it also showed me how people live, maybe survive is a better word, in the developing world.  I was so moved by it I started to try to find ways that I could get involved… which leads to #2
  2. I read this amazing book called Mountains Beyond Mountains which followed Dr. Paul Farmer’s journey helping impoverished Haitians by providing medical care.  What started as such a small [yet amazing] project turned into something much, much larger.  Now Dr. Farmer is recognized and respected on a global scale.  His impact has reached much further than Haiti and now practices in many countries.  This project turned into an amazing and inspiring organization called Partners in Health, check out more of what they do here.
  3. Also around that time I watched the DVD, Invisible Children.  The DVD followed children of Uganda, victims of civil war –Either forced into becoming soldiers at such young ages or orphaned and living on the streets with no supervision.   Watching the DVD completely broke my heart and it made me realize that there is so much going on in the world that we are not even aware of.  [Maybe it’s not a small world after all?]  Invisible Children as an organization has grown a lot since then… but I’ll probably talk about that more later.
  4. The fourth event was that I learned about Blood:Water Mission— perhaps the first international relief agency I ever knew.  This organization was so inspiring to me at that time I even did school projects based off the organization.  I loved what they did and how they did it.  Which leads me to my next post… look out for more information about Blood:Water Mission tomorrow.  I’m so excited to share with you about this amazing organization and perhaps the easiest way in the world that you can get involved.

I hope this helps explain where I’m coming from and gives some background to where I’m going.  It’s my deepest wish to be able to travel and see more places around the world– and to be able to learn about ways to help in a positive way.  When those days come you better believe I’ll inform you on my journey!   

Bethany

P.S. Do you remember those defining moments in your life– ones that would impact what you do for the rest of your life?  Do you believe God has deposited in you a deep desire to do / be / have something?  Share with me in the comments below!

Dog Days of Summer

July 19, 2011 § 2 Comments

Greenville, North Carolina: Home of the East Carolina Pirates! Arrgghh!!

One of my recent facebook statuses said “I have the travel bug. bad.”  My sister responds– “Come to Greenville”.  I’m thinking to myself, yea, Greenville, Europe, Africa… they’re all basically the same… so hey.. why not!

But on the real, my sister and her [new] husband live in Greenville.  Her husband is a professor at ECU where he teaches students how to fix athletes when they get hurt… or something like that.  They have just recently bought a new home, which is sooo neat, um…cool, er… AWESOME!  They found an absolute steal of a home in a great neighborhood in an awesome part of town.  Its perfect for them with a lot of room for their yellow lab, Scout, to run around and play!  

Since their wedding in mid-June, they have finally started getting their ‘estate in order’… putting up curtains, decorating the mantel, etc, etc!  They have really big plans for their new home and are saving up the mula [$$$] in order to do a lot of projects!  I will try to keep you updated on how their house transforms as they grow together as Newlyweds!  Next big purchase on the list: A Weedeater [how exciting!!!] and a sectional!!  I can’t wait to see their cute little house grow… especially with a few additions… maybe even a baby in the next few years!?!?!  [if I cross it out maybe they won’t see it?]

So I travelled the hour and a half on Friday afternoon to see the newlyweds.  We had an awesome time spending time together… as I’m getting used to having a new older brother!  Plus, it was my Mom’s birthday weekend so my parents also came down for the day on Saturday and we had a huuuge, delicious meal to celebrate Mom’s big day.

I don’t know where Greenville ranks in comparison to some of the most beautiful and enchanting cities in the world… it probably  settles somewhere in the top 10.  While it may not be the most exciting place, I’ll always love going to visit with my sister… and that certainly makes it worth the short little drive!

Check out more pics from the weekend below:

Oh yea, remember [yesterday] we were talking about how great porches are during the summer time?!

Have you visited family recently?  Or has anyone close to you recently bought a new home?  I’d love to hear about it!

Happy Tuesday!

Bethany

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