how are you doing today? Is there an iconic workout or workout place where you live? I’m thinking something along the lines of the 72 steps before the entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art that Rocky runs up and down?
If I had to name such an iconic workout for Cambridge it would clearly be running up and down the steps at Harvard Stadium. Let me elaborate a little bit.
The country’s oldest stadium
People have been running the steps ever since Harvard Stadium was built, in 1903. The stadium consists of 31 levels of concrete seats across 37 sections.
Typically runners ascend along the larger seats and come down the smaller steps. You’ll repeat that 37 times and after having done 1147 steps you’ll be happy you’ve survived. OH YES.
Obviously, Harvard athletes train in the stadium, however, it is also open to the public. It’s really been a cool experience and I think I will definitely go back and try to run the steps as fast as I can (now that I know how it all works).
My main take away was that it’s not speed that matters, but the mere act of getting out and pushing your limits. And finishing something you started. Thanks to my great fitness squad! WE MADE IT!
And I am. If I have a guilty pleasure it has to be watching YouTube. Today’s is going to be about my top 5 favourite YouTube channels.
Yes, I know know. I watch YouTube for escapism reasons (all of my fellow media and communications friends will know what I mean). Anyways, in case you want to relax and just consume something entertaining (because the thought of actually actively doing something seems difficult or watching something too complicated and demanding). So, those are my 5 favorite YouTube channels, maybe there’s something in for you, too. (I just realized that selection might be a bit more feminine, sorry guys).
Well Anna, if you’re ever reading this. I WANT TO BE YOUR FRIEND! While that might make you feel all cringy I think we’d really hit it off. Yes I do. For all of you who are interested in lifestyle, beauty, food and bits of fashion but all in a really cool and easy and not over the top kind of way, this is your channel. Also, can we take a moment to just listen to this beautiful English accent, so nice!
I’ve been following Estée’s channel for a few years now. She’s Canadian but moved to London for love and is now making videos about all things London lifestyle, beauty, interiors, style in general, books and the list goes on. She has also made a few videos on the topics of feminism and the stylishness and the house Estée lives in are JUST ON ANOTHER LEVEL. So beautiful.
I’ve discovered Saida’s channel only a few months ago but really appreciate this nutritionist’s videos on minimalism, vegan recipes and just life tips and hacks in general. You really see the effort she puts in every video and her voice has just something so soothing to it. Don’t you think?
This Australian girl is just so nice. Her accent is, too. She also seems to be super easy going and approachable. Besides showing us the great life of living in Sydney she is all about that healthy fitness and food lifestyle. Check her out if you’re into that!
I don’t know about you but if temperatures are rising like they have around here for the last couple of days I am always looking for fresh and easy to put together food options.
I happy to share some of my favorite suuuuuuuper easy (like REALLY) recipes with you today. We’ve got an allrounder berry chia seed jam or vegan nutella, a fresh salad and a refreshing smoothie for you. Let me know if you’ve tried on of the recipes!
Microwave berries for about 3 minutes. After this, smash the berries with a fork until more juices seep out, but some chunks remain.
Add the chia seeds and juice, and stir to combine. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes for the chia seeds to gel, stirring once halfway. Store in an airtight container and enjoy with toast, on oatmeal, in breakfast parfaits, and more!
Photos: Pick Up Limes
If you’re more into chocolate than into berries, check out the video below for another super easy recipe for a vegan nutella spread. This is definitely one to be tried next.
You can enjoy this jam on toast or oatmeal to naturally sweeten, or in your yogurt or granola bowl for breakfast. It’s loaded with antioxidants, fiber, minerals, vitamins and omega-3 fats from the chia seeds.
#2 Strawberry Avocado Spinach Salad with Poppyseed
I really am missing my blender. I don’t currently own one but used to do one every other day as a pick me up snack in the afternoon or as a breakfast drink. You drink this. You’ll feel healthy instantly. And it also fills you up nicely, give it a try. You’ll find the recipe by Madeleine Shaw here.
how are you today? In case you missed my post “Why I’m going to buy a Harvard Sweater (even though I said I never would)” elaborating (not really) on why I have to have a sweater of said university because I need a physical souvenir as we are leaving Cambridge by the end of the month.
I went through my photo archive and thought it be nice to put my favorite ones together in a post for you, hope you’ll enjoy this virtual walk around the neighborhood throughout winter and summer time with me. Also, let’s appreciate those beautiful flowers and plants, they grow like crazy here in summer as it is so hot and humid and almost tropical feeling.
Why not have a little wander around your neighborhood today, I’m sure you’ll explore and find new little things around every corner.
So very sad. I’m surprised at how nostalgic I’m feeling when writing down those words. Leaving this special place after having lived here for one year seems so difficult all of a sudden. It’s just SUCH a nice place to live in, especially in summer. I have to say, Boston and Cambridge are total beauties in the summer time (makes you almost forget how TERRIBLE winter is here). Maybe that’s a trick this city plays on you. Half of the year it’s the most beautiful place ever and you’re like, ‘cool place’, other half of the year….NOT SO MUCH.
Anyways. Why do I like it here so much you ask?
Cambridge has the feeling and vibe of a small town to it (a little more than 100’000 inhabitants, remember? Not that much after all), the houses are BEAUTIFUL, there’s tree-lined little cute streets everywhere. Still there are tons of things to do everyday (events, concerts, theatre plays, the list goes on), there are plenty of cool (is it still ok to use ‘cool’?) bars, cafés, amazing restaurants and little local shops all around the corner.
The mix of people is diverse and fascinating, there are obviously lots of proud Harvard students around, wearing all of the branded gear and clothes making it clear to everyone on the streets passing them WHO is going to Harvard. They are. You are NOT. Unless you’re a cute tourist buying all the Harvard shirts and sweaters from the Harvard store to pass as a student. I’m sorry to break it to you. People will notice YOU’RE NOT AN ORIGINAL. Still, I will buy a Harvard sweater as an emotional souvenir. And still, it’s nice to have so many young people around. There are also lots of families and people that have been living here for a long time. Aw, I’m going to miss you Cambridge, you beautiful town.
I sound very dramatic I realize now that I’ve read through that last paragraph. Because…let’s all not forget that we’re moving to the city…that is 10 minutes away by subway.
Anyways, I’m in a dramatic mood today.
Still, I’m going to miss the first place I ever called a home in the United States, I’ll never forget. And this eclectic and international mix of people. Ok, going to leave you now. It’s getting worse and worse.
you like food, do you? I have been researching a little and even though we’re already in August, I thought I’d share a bit of the foods and drinks I’ve found to be hugely popular around here. Which of these have you tried already or would like to try?
I’ll be honest with you, I’ve totally succumbed to the Kombucha hype. Have you, too? So let’s start off with what it actually is: Kombucha is a fermented beverage consisting of black tea and sugar that’s used as a probiotic food.
The bacteria formed in the process line your digestive tract and support your immune system, as they absorb nutrients and fight infection and illness. And, since 80 percent of your immune system is located in your gut, and the digestive system is the second largest part of your neurological system this is pretty relevant, right?
I’ve started drinking a bit of Kombucha everyday now and so far, so good!
#2 Pickles and Fermented Foods
Fermentation seems to be one of THE biggest current food trends. It is no wonder that you’ll find tons of pickled vegetables or kimchi and sauerkraut on lots of restaurant menus. Do you like them?
Wow, yet ANOTHER fermented drink to add to the list! It is all the rage in the natural health community as it is high in nutrients and probiotics again and therefore incredibly beneficial for digestion and gut health. Many people even go on to say that Kefir is the healthier and more powerful version of yogurt. And I have to say, if you don’t mind the salty taste you’ll like this as an alternative to yogurt (if you want to switch things up every now and again and feel adventurous).
#3 Thai Styled Ice Cream
I’ll be honest with you, I’ve only heard or seen photos of those beautifully shaped ice creams on Instagram before but they have become hugely popular. Have you ever tried one? Is it also tasty besides looking fantastic?
#5 Milkshakes Gone CrayCray
Again, another one I’ve only seen on Instagram so far but never tasted one myself: The so called Freakfrappés or Freakshakes, you get the gist. They’re milkshakes gone C-R-A-Z-Y. I always love looking at the photos as they are so aesthetically pleasing, still I don’t know if I’d ever want to eat one, what about you?
#6 Veggies as Mains
This is a trend that I hugely support as I love vegetables. A lot of restaurants, especially around here put a lot of veggie dishes as entrées on their menus, which I love. They also get really creative when it comes to new ways of preparing them, I love it!
#7 Purple Foods
This one is similar to food trend #6 yet a bit more specific. Purple produce such as cauliflower, potatoes, corn, asparagus are becoming more mainstream, according to Whole Foods’ 2017 trends and products report! Colors of fruits and veggies indicate which nutrients they possess. So roasting up a blend of both white and purple potatoes, for example, means you’re giving your body a wider breadth of vitamins for optimal health.
I present to you the ocean’s new super food: Alga. Already a staple in Asian cuisine, it starts becoming more and more popular in other parts of the world. Known for its protein, little fat and low calories they can be consumed in a multitude of different ways. Some types of alga can be used as alternative to Tagliatelle, some use it as a base for teas. Have you ever tried it?
#9 Sourdough Bread (aka the fermentation theme is back on)
In times of gluten-free diets this bread (despite being a bread) is one of the best breads for you to consume if you are “gluten sensitive”. Why is that you ask? The tradition of fermenting flour with sourdough breaks down the peptides in gluten that give people trouble. This fermentation thing seems to really be a huge deal as it provides you with lots of healthy bacteria that help balance the digestive system and manage your metabolism.
#10 Portuguese Food
Somehow Lisbon and Portugal in general are hugely popular here it seems so it comes as no suprise that there are lots of restaurants and cafés providing Portuguese foods. Hugely famous are of course the custard tarts, have you ever tried them? You should, they’re delicious. Or why not make them yourself this weekend, they’re not that difficult to make. Here goes a recipe you could try.
What foods have you’ve been liking this year? I’d love to know!
Our relationship has massively changed since I’ve moved to the US.
I’m going to tell you how (if you care that is). It also might change the way you see your own passport. Let us think about that for a second.
If you’re European, you’re living in Europe and reading this, I think you’ll agree with me that you RARELY to NEVER use your passport in daily life. Usually you’ll have your card of identity on you as a means of identification. Your passport, however, will only come out on very special occasions that is when you decide to travel longhaul and go far far away. That’s also why my original association when thinking about my passport back in the day was ADVENTURE, TRAVEL, FUN. It was the times I used to flick through my passport to admire all the stamps I had collected from former travels.
Now that I’m living in the States AND on top of it all in a state that is rather strict in terms of alcohol policy, my passport is my new purse staple that goes EVERYWHERE with me. I see it everday and I hold it in my hands almost everyday. Especially when I go out to a dinner, a bar, a liquor store or to a super market that sells wine and beer.
From seeing each other every couple of months or once or twice a year to almost everyday, my red passport is my constant companion now. There is a concept in social psychology saying that the more you are exposed to a certain object or person you’ll tend to like it more than others you are less exposed to. So in short: I like my passport more than ever, because I think it’s a great little piece of design (way cooler than other passports, have you ever checked others out in the lines at the airport?) and it’s never been more useful if I want to get a glass of good red wine.
Why all that drama?
They will not accept a card of identification. Trying to explain to them that it is an equivalent form of identification. Useless. I’ve once even got a comment when showing my ID (naive me, a few years ago) if I was a member of the Red Cross? Ehm, no.
Oh the funny comments I’ve gotten. The classic, ‘ah Sweden is a nice place’ (People, it is even written on the passport you are holding in your hands that the country is called Switzerland. Come on!) or the requirement to show my passport on the evening of my 30th birthday. No, she didn’t think it was funny to tell her that it was my 30th birthday. She basically didn’t CARE.
Long story to say, appreciate your Swiss passport. It’s a special little thing.
Long time no see. How are you? How has your summer been so far?
I’ve had a great time. Isn’t summer just simply the best time of year? Anyways, we’re back in the US and settling in again.
And then there was August 1st.
A day that I normally don’t care much about. Surprisingly this time around I thought about it a lot. And as it seems, if you’re a Swiss living abroad you think about August 1st more than you would if you were back home (at least I think so).
So what do you do? You attend all sorts of August 1st related events. Yes. AND they all mainly revolve around food as they usually do (which is totally fine with me) so we went to an August 1st brunch at the Swiss bakery here in town (see my post about finding that bakery here).
And it was glorious. Birchermüesli, Weggli, Croissants, Wähen, Röschti, cheeses…the list goes on.
We were talking with some fellow Swiss friends at the brunch about what the holiday meant to them and they said that August 1st was mainly a holiday they spent with family and that they associated it with time spent outside (as the weather is usually really good round this time of year). What does it mean to you? I’d love to know! I felt still connected to Switzerland even though I wasn’t there.
Have a great week and see you back tomorrow with another say Swiss themed post!
another week of June has gone by, another little completed challenge in the books. After waking up at 6 am during the first week of June (see post here) I tried to meditate every day during the second week of the month.
To begin with I always thought meditating was a bit weird (for lack of a more elegant description) as I didn’t really understand how it worked. After reading up on the topic a little I am still by NO MEANS a specialist or anything but I start to see why people like to do it. Bottom line is, it has a ton of good effects (feeling happy and focused, decreasing your blood pressure or getting to know your mind to name a few. I am aware that the last one seems strange but WOW you’ll learn so much about how your mind and brain work). If you’re into finding out more for doing it yourself, keep reading this introductory ‘How to meditate for beginners’.
How to get started
What to bring: I’d recommend you meditate at home first, as you still need to get used to it. Obviously you can do it anywhere you can sit down on a chair or on the floor, with your hands rested on your knees, but I liked to do it at home, wearing cozy clothes.
When to do it: I tried to always sit down around the same time every day, which was in the morning after waking up, obviously what fits your schedule best, will be the best option. However, I’d recommend to keep it consistent so you really have the feeling of having formed a new habit.
What to do: Well here’s where things get interesting, I tried to compile different methods of meditation in own week, you’ll find the plan below in case you want to replicate it. If you’re totally into day 1’s program, perfect, let’s keep that up. I like to vary the exercises from day to day but that is obviously optional. So let’s get stared forreal now.
Day 1 – Breathing
Let’s start with something easy, shall we? I’m not gonna lie, it was weird when I did it for the first time….BUT it will get better, trust me.
What to do: To get used to the experience of being in the present moment, begin by sitting for five minutes, close your eyes. Take deep breaths, rather than short, shallow breaths from your chest. Continue until you feel calm. Let your thoughts come and go, without trying to hold on to them or follow after them.
What I thought afterwards: Wow, that was quick, I could have keep going on for longer. So for the next day I told myself to put the timer to 8min (adventurous, right?).
Day 2 – Mantra Meditation
What to do: Choose a calming word or phrase. Repeat it over and over to yourself silently to prevent distracting thoughts from entering.
What I thought afterwards: 8min went super fast like on the day before, it’s crazy how time flies once you close your eyes.
Day 3 – Mindful Meditation
What to do: Take a break and make yourself acutely aware of your surroundings. Take deep breaths and feel your lungs swell. Allow yourself to think about your feelings, but do so without judgment.
What I thought afterwards: Loved that one too, it hit me how much more you listen to your surrounding’s noises if you’re eyes are closed.
Day 4 – Safe Space Visualization
What to do: Think of a place that makes you feel safe. It can either be a place you’ve visited before, a place you’ve seen but never been to, or a place that exists only in your imagination.
Close your eyes, and start taking deeper and deeper breaths. Picture yourself in that safe space, look around you, and visualize your surroundings. How the sky looks like, how the air smells or what you feel. Build every detail in your mind. Walk around your safe space until you have explored as much of it as you want to. Continue walking until you find your perfect place—the place that makes you feel most at peace. Visualize yourself sitting here, in this place, and begin to breathe. When you’re ready to leave your safe space, slowly open your eyes and come back into the room. Hold onto those feelings of peace and safety, and know that you can revisit them whenever you need to.
What I thought afterwards: I found that one to be rather hard as it requests you to think a lot about a certain space. I guess I’ll have to do it more often in order to get better at it.
Day 5 – Concentrate On a Simple Visual Object
What to do: In a similar way to using a mantra, you can use a simple visual object to fill your mind and allow you to reach a level of deeper consciousness. This is a form of open-eye meditation, which many people find easier when they have something to focus their gaze on.
The visual object can be anything you wish (candles, flowers, pictures etc.)
Place the object at eye level, look at it and nothing else, until your peripheral vision starts to dim and the object consumes your vision.
What I thought afterwards: I found it hard in the first place to find something to look at that wouldn’t distract me too much. In the end I chose to go for a plant, which worked out fine. Still I prefer the closed-eye version to this open-eye one.
Day 6 – Do a Body Scan
What to do: Doing a body scan involves focusing on each individual body part in turn and consciously relaxing it. It is a simple meditation technique which allows you to relax the mind as you relax the body.
Close your eyes and pick a starting point on your body, usually the toes. Concentrate on whatever sensations you can feel in your toes, and make a conscious effort to relax any muscles. Once the toes are fully relaxed, move on to your feet and repeat the relaxation process. Continue along your body, moving upwards to the top of your head. Take as long as you want.
Once you have completed the relaxation of each individual body part, focus on your body as a whole and enjoy the sensation of calmness and looseness you have achieved. Focus on your breathing for several minutes before coming out of your meditation practice.
What I thought afterwards: Good one! Especially when you’re lying down on the floor.
Day 7 – Breathing
I went back to the first exercise of the week, which was the breathing one, which I really enjoyed. I just did it for 15 mins this time and it was great.
Do let me know if you give it a try yourself, have a great week everyone!
how are you? I guess you must be doing well, as it is F-R-I-D-A-Y! Yay! Happy weekend!
Join me today for the second and final part of the interview I did with the phenomenal trio Ly (Vietnam), Fernanda (Brazil) and Mattias (Sweden). We’re going to talk about adjusting to a life in a new country and looking back on their experience in the US. As applied for part 1 if you’d rather like us hear speaking, click on the corresponding audio files below.
Sandra: What was the easiest or the hardest part in adjusting to your new life here in the US?
Fernanda: I’m going to say that the best part of living here is that it is very convenient. Especially living in Cambridge. It has a bit of a small town, suburban feeling to it, still you have Boston close by. You don’t need a car. Also, I really like being able to head down to CVS at 2am in the morning for ice cream. In Rio, shops close very early. On the other hand, things here are very expensive compared to Rio.
Sandra: What do you find to be most expensive, the food, the cost of living?
Fernanda: I wanna say health insurance. It’s painful how much it costs…
Sandra: Yeah, that’s true, I think that both Switzerland and the US are two of the countries within the OECD that pay most for health insurance.
Fernanda: The hardest part was maybe speaking to people. I wasn’t too confident in my English when I first arrived. I’m very shy and have some trouble speaking to people anyway, so talking in another language I don’t feel so comfortable in, was even more challenging for me.
Sandra: What do you miss the most?
Fernanda: Besides my family and friends it has to be the food. I miss being able to go to a café and have something savoury and not always sweet stuff with my coffee for example. I have to do it myself that’s frustrating (laughs). Also, people in Rio are very warm and open and you can basically start a conversation with everyone if you’d like to. It’s not that I particularly like that but now that I’m gone I miss it. Same goes for music. I never used to be into Samba music but for some reason, now that I live abroad, I love it! I listen to it every day to wake up.
Sandra: Does Mattias also listen to Swedish music to wake up?
Mattias: No, not really. Every now and then I will listen to a Swedish jazz orchestra. I don’t do lots of Swedish things I guess. I came here for the American music of course (everyone laughs).
Sandra: Of course. What was the easiest or hardest part for you in settling in here in the US?
Mattias: It was mostly easy to adjust ourselves to the new life here. Having moved a lot and having lived in a lot of countries has influenced us in the sense that there’s only a few basic things we need to buy to make us feel at home.
Sandra: What are those?
Mattias: Something like a good kitchen knife for example, kitchen stuff basically. Back in China and a few other countries it used to be a window scraper. Those are multi tools for getting water away from showers in the bathroom, the kitchen and stuff.
Sandra: Do you have one now?
Mattias: No. In general it’s cooking in a place and then everything will feel at home. That’s how it has been the last couple of times we moved anyway. And in Cambridge everything feels very nice. I really like that it feels like a small place that is connected to a bigger place like Boston. I’d even say that out of all the places I’ve lived I feel most at home here.
Sandra: Why is that? Besides the home cooking.
Mattias: Cambridge kind of feels like the village I am from in the north of Sweden, just bigger. It’s more spread out. The lushness of the trees, the smell of the bushes, how it looks. It kind of reminds me of my hometown that makes me feel a bit nostalgic.
Sandra: What about you, Ly?
Ly: I love to explore new cultures and Boston happens to be such a melting pot of different cultures. So I’ll have Korean food on Monday, Vietnamese on Tuesday, American Food on Wednesday, maybe Swedish next…
Mattias: Swedish fish maybe! (everyone laughs)
Sandra: That’s as Swedish as it can get here (red. Swedish fish is a gummy candy in fish shape, probably not Swedish at all).
Ly: We’ll also have cheese fondue often, even in summer time. We prepare it in our rice cooker.
Sandra: So you like the variety of cultures coming together in one place?
Ly: Yes, that’s right. What I also really like is the wide offer of events and activities in the city. I have pottery and salsa classes, everything is quite close and it’s just so exciting.
Sandra: So you really like the that you find a lot of things to do here.
Ly: What I miss is the Vietnamese language. Maybe because I don’t really hang out with other Vietnamese people. I still text my friends. I also try to listen to more Vietnamese songs. Before coming here, I didn’t like Vietnamese songs too much, they seemed too cheesy and romantic to me. But now I love to listen to them as they make me feel good.
Looking back on the US experience
Sandra: Picture yourself as an old person. If someone were to ask you about your experience in the US, what would you tell them, what would your main take aways be? Let’s start with you Mattias, what would you say as old wise men?
Mattias: How inspiring this is as a place. And how many great people are here and how open they are. They are passionate about what they’re doing and will share that with you. I’ve been also been going to seminars here and people are always so nice. I’d say this is the main take away that is different from other places.
Sandra: What about you, Fernanda?
Fernanda: I think that the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that everybody everywhere in the world is very similar. You don’t have to be afraid to interact with others and start a conversation. It’s fascinating to me how people from different cultures can communicate and talk to each other. They’re just people. And I used to be afraid of that. I have friends from all over the world now and that is something Boston gave to me.
Mattias: That’s the nicest thing I’ve heard so far.
Sandra: That’s so nice. The pressure is on now for you Ly.
Ly: Boston really is kind of a global village. There are people from all over the world here. The diversity is great and it’s just such an exciting and innovative place to be. I also appreciate how open people are and how they will be open to new opportunities as well. They want to make things happen. That’s so different from Vietnam or even the UK. That’s one of the things I like the most, besides living with my husband of course.
I’m keeping the interview mode on until the end of the week and am really happy to share part 1 of an interview I did with three great humans about their own experiences of arriving and living in the United States with you today. Meet Fernanda (Brazil), Mattias (Sweden) and Ly (Vietnam).
Also, if you’re a lazy bum and prefer to listen to the interview instead of reading it (I totally understand, no judgement here), just click on the corresponding audio files below (bonus material included,please excuse the wind in the audio).
Sandra: Do you remember the day you first arrived to Boston?
Ly: My husband picked me up at the airport and I was just so happy to see him. On our drive back home, I was just amazed by how big it all seemed, especially the buildings and how pretty the light was during that time of day. It was in the evening during the golden hour and the sky had that beautiful purple color, it was so romantic. The next day was a different story though. Without the romantic lighting the buildings just looked like concrete.
Sandra: That’s a nice first impression, what about you, Mattias, as seen from a Swedish perspective?
Mattias: I actually had the opposite experience. It started out really bad and turned out to be a really nice experience.
Sandra: How come?
Mattias: When we decided that we were going to come to Harvard, I had actually no idea where Boston was. I didn’t know it was that far up north. And I read that it rains and snows a lot, which I didn’t know. But I thought, ok, it’s going to be fine. The day we arrived, however, it was raining like crazy.
Sandra: What time of the year was it?
Mattias: The 28th of December.
Sandra: Wow, that’s a hardcore time to arrive here.
Mattias: Everything went well, we came to the apartment that we rented and then we needed to go to the supermarket. So we figured out that the closest shop was something called like Trader Joes. So we started walking there, and there were no sidewalks. Even though now we know that there are sidewalks everywhere, just on that particular patch there was no sidewalk. Then there was this sleet coming down, this mix of rain and snow, it was really cold and we came into Trader Joes and everything was super expensive. We were used to Chinese prices (red. before coming to the US, Mattias and his wife were based in China). But if we’ll go back to Sweden we might think s***, everything is so expensive. So on our first evening here, we didn’t really want to buy anything to eat because it was expensive, we came home totally drenched and cold…
Sandra: Did things get a little better the following day?
Mattias: Yes, the next day everything was a lot better. Blue skies, pretty nice.
Sandra: What about you, Fernanda?
Fernanda: When we got here, about two years ago, it was summer. It was my first time in America during the summer. And I seriously didn’t know it could get this hot. I had this idea in my head of Boston being so far up north that it couldn’t possibly be as hot as in Brazil. So I was a little disappointed in a way.
Sandra: Would you have preferred a crazy winter scenario like Mattias had when arriving here?
Fernanda: Yes, I was a bit disappointed but now I enjoy it especially after having spent two winters here. I’ve really learned to appreciate the seasons, which is pretty cool because we don’t really have changing seasons in Brazil, at least in Rio it’s always very hot. It’s been a while since I first got here and so I don’t really remember every detail anymore. I think we were very excited to be here. We had just gotten married, were living in our first home together and were doing everything together as a married couple for the first time. So it was a really special. And I think I associate this newlywed feeling with Boston. It was a good first impression.
Sandra: And if you think back, when meeting new people, what were people’s reactions when you told them that you were from Brazil?
Fernanda: I remember some people finding it strange that I was so pale. Because they have this idea about Brazilian people, especially from Rio, that they are tanned and enjoy the sun. Speaking of Americans, I can hardly say that I’ve met one. Like everyone that I know isn’t from here. I guess the most American friends that I have are Canadians (everyone laughs).
Sandra: Well I don’t know if they’d like you to say that about them…
Fernanda: It’s just very hard to meet locals.
Sandra: What about you Mattias and Ly? Would they know that it is Sweden and not Switzerland for example?
Mattias: Yeah, exactly that’s what I was going to say.
Sandra: No actually, you always win. It’s Switzerland that people here mostly confuse with Sweden and not the other way round I think.
Mattias: Maybe because you’re a woman. I think Americans associate Sweden somehow with women. But like Fernanda, I have only met very few Americans. When I went to buy fabric recently, they asked me where I was from. And then they said, ‘Ah Sweden’, that’s that tiny country with the nice chocolate.
Sandra: That’s so funny, it’s actually the opposite from what always happens to me. They will always end up meaning Sweden and NOT Switzerland.
Sandra: What about you Ly?
Ly: It’s a bit of a similar experience to Mattias and Fernanda. As Boston is such an international place, I haven’t met that many real Bostonians up until now. Most of the Americans I meet are actually my Uber drivers.
Sandra: Interesting, what about them?
Ly: First off they think I’m from China. But when I say ‘No, I’m from Vietnam’, they’ll say ‘Oh, you’re from Vietnam, I love phở’. I think phở seems to be very popular, so everyone seems to know and like it.
Sandra: That’s so interesting, so the first association people have is with phở.
Sandra: From the top of your head, what’s your favorite American food or drink item?
Fernanda: (very fast response) Mac and Cheese.
Sandra: That was very fast. Any other foods?
Fernanda: That’s the only American food I’ve discovered. All the other foods I’ve gotten to know here are not American, like Vietnamese food, which I really like.
Sandra: In terms of drinks any favorites?
Fernanda: Well, something I like is that craft beers are a huge thing here. My husband and I are really into it and it’s very easy to find specialty beers.
Sandra: Nobody says doughnuts, I’m so surprised. You don’t like doughnuts?
Ly: No, not really. It’s quite difficult to tell if a food is American because their cuisine has so many influences from different places. I actually really like Avocado toast.
Sandra: That’s very healthy.
Ly: I’m not quite sure if it’s a special dish but I really like it.
Fernanda: I think it started off as an Australian thing.
Ly: I think they put Avocado on everything here.
Sandra: Yeah, it’s trendy.
Ly: And it’s quite surprising for me. Even though we have a lot of avocados in Vietnam too, I never eat in a savoury dish, like on bread or in a salad, we eat it as a sweet. Normally we prepare it with milk and sugar or in a smoothie.
Mattias: I pretty much always eat at home, so I couldn’t say. The most American I do, is that I drink a lot of Diet Coke, which I don’t do otherwise.
Stay tuned for part 2 of the interview where we’ll cover American daily life. It’s a good one.