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Leiden: Holland’s Secret City

This semester I am lucky enough to be studying abroad in the beautiful city of Leiden, The Netherlands. ‘Where’s that?’ you might ask and I wouldn’t blame you…  For me and, I think, for many others, it came as a rather a surprise that The Netherlands consisted of more than just Amsterdam since this capital city, with its concentric canals and neon red lights, has rather monopolised the presentation of Holland to the outside world.  But there does exist a land outside this city and, amongst the flat landscape, tulip fields and windmills, nestled somewhere along the West Coast, 45 minutes from Amsterdam and 15 minutes from The Hague, the pretty city of Leiden bustles along, a largely undiscovered and untarnished gem.

Adventures in Alaska

At least my death will probably make the papers: maybe not CNN, but definitely my hometown’s Libertyville Review ‘cause I’m tragically adorable enough. These were the thoughts running through my head as the small-enough-to-see-the-cockpit, rickety “plane” jerked and dipped its way through the roaring polar winds towards our destination somewhere north of the Arctic Circle. Peering fearfully downwards through the biting sheets of icy flakes, I gulped at the jagged, white peaks pointed threateningly up towards us like the teeth of a terrifying snow monster; being eaten by a creature of ice was not exactly how I envisioned this trip going.

WorldWide ZooGuide

I worked at the National Zoo in Washington DC this summer, and three years ago I picked up kangaroo poop at Australia Zoo near Brisbane. I realized that I have prowled around more zoos as an adult than I care to admit, so here is my zoo guide to the best five zoological parks you should visit before you die. Zoo Lovers unite.

The Hypnotist

Last Saturday, a gaggle of friends and I were on our way back from Edinburgh with a trainload of drunk rugby fiends. The inebriated despair made itself known in drunken moans and heads hung sadly over Echo Falls Rosé. The North American Scum that we are (double points if you get that reference), none of us really cared about the rugby as much as we did for escaping the bubble for a few precious hours to go shopping and lollygag with a bunch of strangers instead of the two hundred people that knew every sliver of our lives. Exhausted by all the city excitement, I face planted on the little dining table in our train cubby. I woke in Lochgelly to the screeches of a strangely discordant London accent.

The Hottest New Band Out Of Iceland

My Facebook stalking has finally reaped a reward. I had no idea that Of Monsters And Men existed until last week, when one of my friends posted it on their wall, raving about them. I listened and fell in love.