Monday, April 26, 2010


I used to dread Sundays in Luxembourg. A day reserved for some serious family time, what's a girl to do when she's so far from home?

Grocery stores are closed, shops are locked-up, and public transportation runs less frequently. For Americans, this can be very frustrating. In our 8-days-a-week work schedules, a day off seems lazy, crazy, if not completely inefficient. I completely, wholeheartedly agreed...

...until I decided to follow the old adage 'if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.'

And now? Sundays are one of my favorite days of the week. It helps that I'm starting to find my Luxembourgish family. And it definitely doesn't hurt that I've found an amazing English speaking church. I get to share in some amazing fellowship...

...after which I stroll through the city, exploring old art book stores (which are miraculously open?)....

...marveling at the snowy magnolia tree, blossoming next to my window...

...finishing the day with these gentlemen (the 'bachelors' of the Chateau) while over grilled chicken, we talk about Jeanne d'Arc, Belgian political nuances, countries bordering the Danube, and anything else you'd find yourself pondering in this small Luxembourgish town in wonderful company.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Expat Book Club

A friend gave me this book for Christmas, and really, I can't think of a better way for it to have fallen into my lap. This is simply because this book is all about sharing literature and the friendship and fellowship that blossoms as a result.

Another reason why this book tugged at my heartstrings is because the central story is about a group of people who find comfort in reading during an unspeakably hard time. I cannot profess to know even one smidge of what these people where going through (we're talking hard-heavy-horrible WWII German occupation stuff), but I can relate to loosing oneself in a good book. And the wonderful comfort that it brings.

"I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them into their perfect readers."

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Under a cloud of, really...

Have you ever wondered what would happen if a volcano in Iceland erupted for the first time 200 years?

If you have ever taken a few moments to ponder this question, you would probably think 'what a bummer for those icelandic folk!' or 'hopefully the surrounding villages are unscathed' without giving a second thought to the state of far, far away continental Europe.

I mean, really, what would ash from an Icelandic volcano have to do with Luxembourg?

As it turns out, it has a lot to do with Luxembourg.

In fact, it has a lot to do with all of Europe. Specifically people wanting to travel to or from the continent. Flights have been canceled, people resorting to all kinds of creative methods to get to where they need to. There are crazy stories of people hiring out taxis to drive them from Oslo, Norway to Brussels, Belgium, trains, ferries, and buses are filled to capacity as all the European airspace remains closed.

Luckily, my plans to leave Luxembourg aren't until mid-May (I'm even worried about that!), but students from the program are stranded in Barcelona, Dublin and Oslo as each newly booked flight gets canceled and pushed back. Tonight we found out that the first flights are starting up on Friday...for now. There's a chance those will get canceled too.

And apparently the last time this volcano decided to awaken and rear it's ugly head, it spewed ash for two years. Two whole years. I am finding myself pleading to this lava mountain 'please, please, please keep it together!'

Interestingly enough, this has been one of the nicest weeks of the semester in Luxembourg. Who would even know above that clear blue sky, ash is wreaking havoc on the atmosphere?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Rekindling the magic

On one of the first truly spring weekends here in Luxembourg, we laced up our boots and explored the Mullerthal, also known as Little Switzerland.

Soaring sandstone ledges, sky scraping pine trees....I fell in love with this little piece of the world all over again.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Belle Vie in Kaz

Remember that one time I went to Kazakhstan? It still seems so unreal that I actually went - that I actually found myself wandering the streets of this crazy central Asian country. And in this relatively unknown place (think about it, when did people in the US even know Kazakhstan existed before Borat?) I found myself thinking how intriguing this ancient culture was.

I tried (read: gagged on) kumis, or fermented mare's milk. My question was, who has the nasty job of actually getting the milk from the mare?

I learned about the incredible Kazakh hospitality from these lovely ladies, Marissa's host-sisters.

I breathed deep the spicy fragrance of a central Asian market.

I was schooled in the latest sparkly scrunchi/hair-clip trends of Kazakhstan.

 We found out that palm Sunday in this part of the world is actually pussy willow Sunday.

We ventured into the mountains with this Kazakh taxi-driver-mineral-water-tester (and his orange shoes!)

 And, very best of all, I got to spend time with this lovely lady!

My camera actually died on day two of this little excursion. The other (picture-less) adventure included dusty, crowded bus rides to neighboring villages, bargaining with a Kazakh taxi-driver (in Russian...alone...), and the glorious banya, or Russian steam room (babushka scolding included)., so, SO very blessed.....

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Expat Book Club

I'm back! These past two weeks have been a whirl of activity, adventure and excitement. It is definitely time for a nap.

Before I go into all the crazy details of spring break 2k10, I wanted to share with you my latest literary obsession.

Given to my by another expat (in Kazakhstan, no less!) it has taken me all of two days to finish this sucker. It's amazing:

Read it.