European Union Embassy Open House Day

IMG_2042A few weeks ago my friends and I went on a little trip to Europe without even leaving DC! The European Union Embassy open house day in the capitol allows the public to visit different embassies around the city and experience different parts of their country or culture. Many places had samples of food or drinks, information about technology and companies that originated in their country, dance showcases, sport demonstrations, and house and ground tours. We were only able to get to a few embassies since they are spread out over a couple of miles and the lines to get in were very long, but we had fun experiencing the countries we got to go to. It felt a bit like spending the day at an amusement park where you stand in long lines to then only spend a few minutes on a ride. There were definitely some countries that were more exciting/worth the wait, but it really is a gamble deciding which to go to. You can’t know until you get inside what a country has to offer or how long the wait will be so you just have to pick and choose and hope for the best.

IMG_2026 IMG_2005We started off the morning with the British embassy since it was near where we parked and it was the one I was most excited about getting to. Even though the line was long we buzzed right through because they had a good system down for bag check and security. Britain was definitely a good start to the day since they had lots to see and do within the embassy. We got to meet the British ambassador and his wife, see part of the garden and residence, look at fancy British cars, take photos in crowns and knight masks, and talk to different people who worked at the embassy. They also had booths with all sorts of information about the UK, with everything from tourism to economy information. We spent a good hour in England and (at least I) thoroughly enjoyed it

Winston Churchill’s statue outside the British Embassy.IMG_2037

The dining room and morning room in the Ambassador’s residence. IMG_2011 IMG_2013

Wes, Megan, and I having fun with the Shakespeare-inspired photo booth.IMG_2021

Next we headed towards Italy (because obviously), but we saw that the line there was really long so we decided to go up the street to Denmark first. We couldn’t tell how long their line was so we just hopped in and decided to wait it out. It ended up taking us over half an hour to get into Denmark because they only had one person doing security. By the time we got in we were all super tired and getting quite hangry so we decided to take a break and sit in the shade for a bit. I bought a fresh squeezed juice from a juice bar they had set up which had pineapple, orange, and spinach in it and was super delicious! It was the perfect energy boost and so refreshing on a warm day. We also got to try the national dessert which was sort of an extra fluffy, vanilla marshmallow covered in chocolate, and yes, it was as delicious as it sounds!  After our short rest we walked around the Danish court yard a bit, tried charging our phones on a stationary bike that connected to a charger, and read about some of the ways Denmark is improving on clean energy. There was a lot of cool information and the booths we visited we interesting, but none of us felt it had really been worth the long wait we had endured for it.

Breaking a sweat while trying the phone charging bike. Can you imagine what great shape we’d all be in if we had to exercise to keep our electronics charged?!IMG_2041

After Denmark we walked down the street towards Italy, but decided not to stop there since the line was even longer than when we had gone by before. We voted to head for Ireland instead since that was Wes’s top pick, but it turned out to be quite a walk. We stood in line for a while again there, but this time we got a bit of entertainment from some local step dance groups that were performing outside with a live Irish band. The inside of the Irish embassy was pretty small and they didn’t have a lot to see, but we got to learn about the sports of camogie, hurling, and Irish football which are all super cool (I totally want to try playing camogie now!), and on the way out we got to grab samples of some delicious cheese and scones.

Outside the Irish embassy.IMG_2048

By the time we finished Ireland it was getting later in the afternoon so we decided we would start heading back and only stop at another embassy if the line was really short. We were also starving so we were on the lookout for anywhere with food (there is NOwhere to get food close to the north side of Embassy row). We passed the Islamic Center of Washington and ended up stopping there because they were having a bizarre in the courtyard and it looked like they had food inside. We ended up getting some great, homemade Middle-eastern food which cured all the hangry vibes, and ate out on the front steps of the center. The building is absolutely beautiful outside and Wes said the mosque inside was even more amazing. Megan and I didn’t go in since you had to take your shoes off and have a certain amount of skin covered (Meg was wearing shorts), but we still got to enjoy the courtyard. As we were finishing up outside it started to rain so we decided to head back to the car and call it a day. Turns out our car was 2 miles away, and the light drizzle quickly turned into a steady rain so by the time we got back we were all soaked. Luckily it was a warm rain so even though we were dripping it wasn’t too cold!

The beautiful Islamic Center from the outside.IMG_2049 IMG_2050  IMG_2052

Final Conclusions on the day: Embassy open houses are definitely a cool experience, but the whole day can be a bit overwhelming. I would certainly recommend doing it, and we will most likely go again next year, but I think it would be better to have more of a set plan than we did. We went into the day assuming we’d just go wherever the shortest lines were or what looked the best, but nowhere had a short line and you cannot tell until you are inside whether the wait will be worth it. I think the best way to do the day is have everyone pick one place they really want to go, deal with however long that line may be, and just do those places. Even if they turn out to be disappointing, it is better to stick with a plan than try to go with the flow for this event (and this is coming from a girl who is ALL about the flow). And definitely bring snacks and water or else you too will be very grumpy come early afternoon! But all in all it was a fun adventure to try and one we look forward to doing again. Next year we will have to try out the non-EU embassies too!

Have you ever done an embassy day? How did it go for you? Do you have any tips on how to make the day more successful? Let me know in the comments below!

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Where is Home?

A while ago I decided I was tired of staying in one place – I needed to get out and explore the world, find out where I belonged. I always loved growing up in New England, but I never thought that would be where I’d end up long term. Sure it has a lot of great things to offer, but I needed something different, I needed a change. I was determined to travel and wander in search of a place that would instantly feel like home the second I arrived.

As it turns out, the more I travel and see new places, the less I begin to wonder where I belong. Being away from New England has actually made me realize that it is the only place I have ever felt at home. I have been to some amazing cities in fabulous countries, but the farther I go and the longer I stay away, the more I see that home is the place I have always lived. It has taken being away for me to realize how much I love those small New England towns with white church steeples and old mills. How nowhere does the four seasons quite like we do – with bright, brilliant autumns and perfect winter wonderlands and warm, fresh springs and long, hot summer days. How it is always just a short drive to the beach or lake or mountains. That Boston is one of the best cities in the entire world. And even more than that, how all my friends and family are there.

I was standing next to a lake in the highlands of Scotland looking at the beautiful landscape painted in front of me when I noticed how much it looked like New England. It was in that moment I realized exactly where home was. Home is the place I grew up, the place I know best of all, the place where my life is. New England is a part of me, and it is a part I’m not ready to give up. Sure I will continue to travel, and maybe as the years go on I will find another place that could also become home, but the Northeast will always have my heart, and as I now know, it will always be home.

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Vlog 11- London for a Day

Before heading to school for the semester my Mom and I took a trip to explore one of the most amazing cities in the world – London. There are so many things to do and see; it is simply loaded with history and beauty! There are so many places to go that we were only able to hit a few of the top destinations. We went to Harrod’s Department store, Wellington Arch, Constitution Hill, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London, and Tower Bridge. I now understand why so many people love London because I too have had my heart captured. I can’t wait to return to this incredible city and have the chance to explore even more of it!