Posts tagged learning

Ups And Downs at Harvard Stadium (aka Getting Very Sweaty)

Hi friends,

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.

The workout

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! 

Have a fantastic last week of August!

My 5 Favourite YouTube Channels At The Moment

Ok, so I promised to be real around here.

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).

#1 The Anna Edit

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!

#2 Estée Lalonde

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.

#3 Pick up Limes

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?

#4 Sarah’s Day

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!

#5 SORTEDfood 

It’s all about the food. Need I say more? Cool (is it ok to still use cool?) and inspiring channel, check it out yo.

And last but not least, my all time favorite not needing to be in a top 5 because it is just the best…is…..you might have guessed it: Yoga with Adriene!

Let me know what your favorite channels are if you have any!

Cheers!

Saying Goodbye To Cambridge

Hello everyone,

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.

Have a great day!

Winter

Winter (soft version, see that clear blue sky?)

Winter (not so soft version)

Spring

Summer

Wanderlust 108 Boston: The Report

Friends!

How was your weekend? Mine was pretty pretty AH-MA-ZING. Why you ask? Because I kind of met someone really special. I met Adriene. Adriene from Yoga with Adriene. YES,  I know. It was just such a beautiful day. But. Everything in order.

Wanderlust 108 – What it is

Wanderlust 108 is full day celebration in support of the mindful movement, featuring a triathlon consisting of a 5K run, an outdoor yoga flow class, and a guided meditation. Following the triathlon, you can take one scheduled activity, such as acroyoga, walking meditation etc. There are also local vendors offering organic food and crafts, and charitable organizations making an impact in your local community.

Photo: Scarlet Roots

The experience

My buddy Sophie and I started off the 5K along the Charles River feeling strong and motivated, which led me to finish at my PB of around 25 minutes. Thanks for the great vibes, Soph!

We then had a quick wonder around the market, tried some foods, chilled and had a coffee before going to the yoga class that I was looking forward so much to (see further explanation down below as to why I was excited for it). While the morning had been a bit cloudy and fresh the morning and afternoon turned out to be sunny and warm.

Adriene and me (insert heart eyed emoji here)

Awww, where to begin. So first off, if you’ve been around from the veeery early beginnings on you might remember my American Bucket list (if that doesn’t ring a bell, check it out here). I stated in said list that I would love to get a photo with Adriene and if you scroll down you see exactly that. A photo of Adriene and myself. Still can’t believe it. She is genuinely just the nicest person and I want to be her friend.

She did such a good job, she was funny, kind, intelligent and generous. Just an awesome yoga teacher and an even more amazing person in real life.

I was really sweating after all day spent in the sun, running and doing yoga so I think I first apologized to her for being sweaty (cool move, Sandra…NOT). Some ‘how to…not small talk’ insight for you right there.

Do NOT talk about how sweaty you are.

Still, the amazingly kind and warm-hearted person she is, she asked me about my name, how my day was going so far. I must have said something (everything is a bit of a blur to be honest because I was so E-X-C-I-T-E-D). Anyways, that’s boring for you. What I’m trying to get across though, always believe in achieving your goals or dreams, someday they will become a reality. Would I have thought 6 months ago that Adriene would hug my sweaty self? Nope. See?

Wanderlust coming to Europe?

Fellow European readers, I’ve got good news for you. There will be Wanderlust events coming to Switzerland and Europe as well, check all the details out here and be sure to let me know how it went! You’ll enjoy it I’m sure. Let’s go!

Namaste beautiful people!

Why I’m Going to Buy a Harvard Sweater (Even Though I Said I Never Would)

Kids! We’re leaving town. We’re leaving Cambridge.

 

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.

Have a great day!

American Food Trends 2017

Hello friends,

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?

#1 Kombucha

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?

#2 Kefir

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

purple cauliflower

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.

#8 Alga

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

Portuguese

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!

Cheers,

Sandra

August 1st as an Expat

Friends!

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!

A Weekend in Vermont

Hello dear friends,

time for a flashback to a weekend in April that we spent in lovely Burlington, Vermont. Anyone ever thought of visiting this state up north? If you haven’t yet, do it, it’s a beautiful beautiful place! Hope you’ll enjoy the photos and little tips for a weekend’s visit.

A few facts about Vermont: The state in the northeastern part of the country is the second least populous. Vermont is the leading producer of maple syrup and is generally known for their farming products such as cheese and milk. It was also ranked as the safest state in the country in 2016. And it has been/still is Bernie Sanders territory. A good place, isn’t it?  

The nature

There are so many places to visit in Vermont be it summer or winter time. Whether you’re into hiking or skiing there is something for everyone. It’s truly a nice change to the city life seeing all those picturesque small villages, farmland and mountain. One of our personal highlights was biking along Lake Champlain, it’s the best thing you can do on a sunny day I think. There are bike rentals everywhere, we were lucky enough that our hotel gave bikes away for free rental.

The food and drinks

After all that biking we were STARVING. But fear not, Burlington has got you covered. There are a multitude of restaurants and craft breweries awaiting you. We opted for American Flatbread, which was recommended to us as a local’s favorite and it was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G, hands down one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. Probably being super hungry/hangry might have influenced me in that judgement. As for beers just try what they will suggest to you, they actually have a brewery (Zero Gravity) that’s part of the American Flatbread restaurant and it was really really good as well. Overall a place I’d highly recommend you go.

For coffee and breakfast breaks I’d suggest you go visit Monarch and the Milkweed. It’s a beautiful little café (right next to American Flatbread actually) where they have a small but nice menu on offer with a beautiful pastries collection as well.

And no culinary Vermont experience would be complete without having tried Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. They have a big shop on the main street of the city and it’s just dreamy. Really tasty ice cream. If you’re a hardcore ice cream aficionado you can take a guided tour in their factory close by (more info here).

The hotel

We stayed at the Hotel Vermont, which is located right next to the lakeside and the city centre. It was a truly nice experience sleeping there for a night, as they try and work with local brands when it comes to decorating their rooms (can you spot that cute flannel sheet?) and products by local producers. The brunch at their Juniper Café, which is open to the public as well, is an absolute gem. Had great pancakes and egg benedicts there. And tried an Earl Grey Latte for the first time, was delicious!

Have you ever visited Vermont? Have a great Tuesday! 

#ChallengeMeJune Week 3: Paying a Compliment to Someone Every Day

Hello everyone,

how has this summer been treating you so far (besides being boiling hot)?

Welcome to this third report of my #ChallengeMeJune series. This time I tried to pay a compliment to someone (to people I knew or to people I didn’t know) at least once a day for one week. I have to say that Americans are pretty great at giving compliments. They will stop you on the streets to compliment you on your shoes, your scarf or your hair (they will, trust me, happened to me before). I usually give people compliments anyway but thought it was fun to be more reflective about it for a week.

Read on more about why paying compliments to someone is a great thing and why you should give it a try (in case you’re not a professional compliment giver already, in that case you’re dismissed and don’t have to read this).

Why should I pay compliments to someone you ask?

#1 It takes the focus off of you

That might sound complicated at first but hear me out. If you’re having a bad day, paying a genuine compliment to someone can make their day a little nicer, and you will feel better than before as well.

#2 It makes the person you pay a compliment perform better!

Study researchers in Tokyo trained 48 adults to perform a task that required them to tap items on a keyboard in a specific pattern. Then the adults were split into three groups. One group received personalized, individual compliments from one of the administrators of the study. Another group was forced to watch as other people received compliments. The third group was simply meant to evaluate how they did, as participants, on the test. When the participants returned to the testing facility the next day, all of the participants were asked to perform the finger test once again. The group that received personalized compliments performed better on the test that day than either of the other groups. Researchers believe that the compliments made them perform better.

The researchers were able to find scientific proof that a person performs better when they receive a social reward after completing an exercise. There seems to be scientific validity behind the message ‘praise to encourage improvement’. Complimenting someone could become an easy and effective strategy to use in the classroom and during rehabilitation (see source here).

#3 Compliments build trust

Each one of us walking this planet has the desire to be acknowledged. When someone else notices even the slightest thing about another person, it can shout to that person, “Hey!  Someone noticed me!!” Your daily compliments to “the shy one” at work whose name no one knows can help her break out of her shyness and, who knows? turn her into the best friend you’ve ever had. We all need someone in our lives we can trust, and the more we build up others the more we’re also building up ourselves.

#4 What goes around comes around

When you give a compliment, you’re more than likely going to get one in return. As simple as that! But obviously don’t go around paying compliments expecting that people must return it.

Who I payed compliments to during this week

Day 1: To a 2 week old baby of friends I’ve visited. I just said how perfect he was and how cute his hands and fingernails were. To what the new mother replied they were quite dangerous as they grew so fast and the little one would scratch himself. Still, they were cute. 

Day 2: To an old man (he was with his lovely wife, don’t you worry) at the line before checking in at the airport. We did small talk about where we were flying to. They turned out to fly to Athens to visit family. I then said that I loved Athens and the food. He seemed so happy about it and kept on telling me about all the foods he was looking forward to eat. 

Day 3: Told Philipp that he is a great human being (just in general)

Day 4: Told my grandmother that she looked really well and fresh.

Day 5: Told my pregnant friend how relaxed she seemed.

Day 6: Told a friend how good she looked.

Day 7: Told a friend how lovely her shorts were.

I obviously didn’t limit myself to only one compliment per day, the sky is the limit if you will. I was just a bit rubbish at remembering them (should have written them down but…no). Anyway, there is no such thing as too many compliments, as long as they are genuine of course. So give it a try! You will feel better and the person receiving them, WIN-WIN! 

Try it! Be nice to someone right now and see what happens.

#ChallengeMeJune Week 2: Meditating Every Day

Hello friends,

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! 

Meet Fernanda, Ly and Mattias (Part 2)

Hi people,

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.

Settling in

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.

Happy weekend everyone!