Wednesday, May 27, 2015


Ahoj! Pronounced 'ahoy', informally meaning hello. Possibly the coolest part about the Czech language.

My brother-in-law Phil, my sister
Rachel, and Me
This summer I will be interning and studying abroad in the Czech Republic, specifically Prague. I'll be taking the course "Games People Play in Business" at the Anglo American University (this class starts around the middle of June when non-intern students arrive) while also interning at the Prague Shakespeare Company as a Production Assistant. I have a house right outside the city I'm sharing with four other girls (We all have our own rooms thankfully). I've had to repeat those words so many times to so many people, it doesn't feel real. But I'll be in Prague in less than twenty-four hours.

Brighton Pier on the beach in Brighton, England
My journey began ten days ago when I first left America. Since then I have been in London, England, visiting my sister that lives here for Grad school. Its been a week of sibling rivalry, lots of shows (including my favorite show of all time, War Horse), and weird reality television (I didn't know it was possible for reality tv to get weirder than the American show "Little Women: LA", but England did it). So far, I've loved it. London is spectacular, as is the rest of England. We took a trip to Brighton for a theatre festival and to see the beach. I even got to go to an Amusement park on a pier (Just like in The Five People You Meet in Heaven)! Mostly, though, I've just loved starting a new journey. Before I left America, life seemed to reach a new low.

Got lost finding this fellow
From losing my relationship to losing a fellow Maryville College student, I faced a lot of grief. There was no time to grieve, however, with my bank, passport and medical insurance doing everything in their power to keep me from going abroad. But after the worst week of my life, I made it here. After getting violently ill on a plane, I still made it across an ocean and got here.

Real Banksy around the corner from
my sister's flat
Since then, life has not only been looking up, it's been brand new. Everything has been a new start for me exactly when I needed it. These last ten days have helped me move in a new direction. But as great as London has been, I'm very much ready to get off my sister's blow up mattress and be in my own space. I'm especially ready to go somewhere that my money is worth something (I don't know how anyone affords to live in London).

I'm ready to fall in love with the city of Prague! Goodbye England, hello Czech Republic!

Fin..... Of the Semester....What is to come?

Well the end is in reach and I still have no idea how I feel other than stressed.  Finals are this week and I have already taken two with two more to go tomorrow. Then I am getting ready to head to Germany and the Czech Republic for 6 days then back to Milan to get ready to go home. I am excited to see my family, but sad to leave this beautiful country that I have come to love.  I cannot wait to hug my best friend and my mom and cuddle with my dog. I am slightly nervous for the return trip though. It is longer and seems to be different because it’s during the day this time.  Bring on the Steak and Sweet Tea!! I am craving steak.  I miss my dad’s grilled steaks and Bbq. Ugh, I cannot wait to taste some of it. I also want to see how much the town I live in, where I go to school has changed in four months.  Any way it has been a week or so of final goodbyes for me and some new friends and favorite places.  I said goodbye to the Milano Duomo this weekend and saw some Italian Indians. Realized the pride Italy has for their flags and culture.  I said goodbye to the international students of spring 2015 at UCSC.

 I said goodbye to two of my classes and professors on very happily I might say. I said goodbye to more money as I bought souvenirs and presents for people. I really said goodbye when I applied for a job for the summer. I have prepared my goodbyes for the sights of UCSC as I finish my semester abroad tomorrow. I am in the middle of saying goodbye to my experience here, so it is a crazy time for me.  I am going to miss walking down the street for homemade pizza, and good gelato. I will miss the fact that cars are unnecessary here. You can’t go anywhere without a car in the U.S. except major and heavy populated cities. I have begun the packing and hoping to fit everything in the bags that I have here with me and them fit the restrictions coming home. I am excited to see Germany and grab a German beer or two. As well top see the Lennon Wall. My life has been so great lately the only things missing are my mom, best friend, and my dog.  Why hasn’t a teleportation device not been created yet? Someone should work on that like yesterday.  Man this is crazy to believe that my time is almost up. I can’t even believe it yet. I am going to be on happy girl in 9 days and I can be with my family and my dog (he is sleeping in my bed that night hope my parents realize this). 
Then its 11 days until I see my best friend after 4 months. I honestly am so excited right now, but sad a well. Mostly excited to get back home and see what my senior year has to bring. By this time next year I will have already graduated college. What?! This is not real, tell me its not real. Any way 9 days and counting……

Ciao tutti!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

We Are the Heroes of Our Time: Cumpleaños, Bailando, Brunch, Gala, Eurovision, and Nacimiento del Urederra. WOW.

Me exploring things and making use of my Chacos 
Every time that I think that a weekend cannot get any better, one like the past few days comes along and I am amazed.
With the approach of the end, time seems to go faster, but the friendships are getting stronger and the fun continues to grow.

I have 2 presentations(done now, yay!), 5 exams, 8 classes,  a paper, and one project standing between me and what is going to be the best summer of my life. I cannot believe this semester has gone so fast! 

I haven't talked about my courses very much because that's not very fun, but there have been some that I have really enjoyed. For example, my Basque class has been by far my favorite. It is probably the class that has been the most difficult for me, but I have loved it. I'm not sure if its even the course material. I struggle with the language and it makes no sense to me, but the professor, and above all, my classmates have made it a course that I look forward to every week. I am so thankful for the other students who have helped me along the way and who have been beyond supportive of me throughout even a 20 minute presentation in Spanish. As excited I am to be done with courses, this is one that I will miss. 

When I was writing in my journal about the weekend this morning, I was amazed at how much happened, it was truly full of some of my greatest memories of my time here in Pamplona. 

¡Feliz cumpleaños Mia!
But really... We're the best.
Thursday was the birthday of my friend Mia, we all gathered in her piso in the evening. The night was full of laughs, stories, and singing songs before we headed out to dance the night away. She is one of the most amazing people that I have met here in Spain and I am so honored to have her as a friend. I know that sometimes when you host a party you don't fully get to enjoy it, so I organized a surprise birthday brunch for her with some of our friends the next morning, she was truly surprised. We enjoyed the (late) morning with fruit, crepes, tortilla española, pigs in a blanket, and cheesecake (Zoe might make the best cheesecake that I have ever had in my entire life). It was so nice to enjoy food and laughs together. 

After brunch it was time to get ready for the Erasmus Gala! We were all so excited to get dressed up and spend the night together, people are starting to leave and I think we all knew that this event might be one of the last that everyone can make it to so we wanted to do it big. As usual, the mentors made it a night that was truly unforgettable. We all looked stunning, everyone had put on their best clothes and we all clean up pretty well if I do say so. The night consisted of awards, jokes, and a video/photo collaboration that naturally had me in a fit of tears. I am so glad that the people here mean so much to me and this night really made me aware of just how much I am going to miss not only this country and this experience, but most of all, these people. 
Wowza... we are an attractive group! 

My People.
Can you tell how into it we were?
Saturday morning, I went to Maja's piso and sat with her, Tarah, and Zoe. We shared stories from the night before, ate pizza and had a true girls day singing along to and watching the videos to all of our favorite hits from the 90's! It was an experience for sure haha! Later that night we all met up with Scott, Edward, and Jerom to watch Eurovision. Let me just tell you US friends that have never seen it, it is an experience. It was a great night but I don't even know if it was the competition or rather  the silly dancing, photo taking, and playfully joking that made the night, maybe it was a combination. Either way, it will be one of those nights that I can always look back on fondly and with a huge smile on my face.
No caption needed.

Time's not slowing down, and so neither are we. The next morning Zoe and I woke up early and joined our friends Pablo, Isabel, and Gustavo for a day of exploration and fun at a really cool place called Nacimiento del Urederra. IT WAS SO PRETTY!!!! The water was crystal clear with lovely waterfalls and all framed in a sea of green trees. I loved getting to spend the day out in the fresh air and with great companions.

The best people to pass a Sunday with
To finish my weekend right I made it to the library and then had movie night with Zoe and Scott. I love that even the little things here feel like the world.

Yesterday I had 2 presentations and to celebrate finishing one of our classes, a group of us went out to this place here called 100 Montaditos, they have a great deal every Monday and so we had to take advantage. Dinner turned into a night that turned into a morning spent laughing, talking, solving riddles, and playing on playgrounds in the night. I may be a bit tied today, but it was worth it. I love that I have experiences and memories like this on a regular basis and I am so going to miss these people, because they have become, "my people".

Friday, May 22, 2015

Stateside Again

He's a graduate!
It's been about a week since I've been home in good ole Tennessee.  I wish I could say that my first few days home were relaxing.  NOT!

My brother graduated from high school, so MY HOUSE WAS FULL OF FAMILY MEMBERS FROM ALL OVER THE COUNTRY!  It was absolutely insane!  By the second day of having 20+ people in the house, needless to say I was feeling extremely overwhelmed.  But it was 100% worth it because I got to see my kid brother graduate!  It was a proud moment for all!
Missing them!

Other than a hectic graduation weekend full of parties and food and people and nonstop talking and laughter, it's been really quiet around the house.  THANK GOD!  I've seen a few friends, and it's been wonderful to see them all!  I missed everyone so freaking much!

It's been nice to be home and settle into a routine where I can do whatever I want, which usually consists of Netflix with Mom and some work and school related stuff.  Not too stressful.

My humongous family!
Next week, I start back at Boys and Girls Club!  I did, however, have to get a drug test because I was gone from work for over three months.  IT CAME BACK CLEAN I SWEAR!  Haha!  I'm just excited to see all the kids again and have a good summer!
What a beautiful mosque

So..the hard questions:

Do I miss Morocco?  YES
Do I miss AUI?  ABSOLUTELY least not the school work
Do I miss my friends from abroad?  INCREDIBLY
Have I changed as a person?  YES...I'm just not sure how yet
Have my friends here changed?  MORE THAN's pretty inevitable
Have I registered all the changes yet?  NOT A CHANCE...but I'll try to keep you updated on it all


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Spring Break Pt 1: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

This part of spring break could very easily be entitled “The Time We Almost Missed Every Thing.” My three roommates and I started off early Wednesday morning in a rush for our hour long bus ride to the airport. As soon as we reached our bus stop, we had the most unfortunate realization we had very narrowly missed our bus (and also had not allotted ourselves the time to wait 30 more minutes for its next run). Panicked, we began to weigh the options of paying upwards of 60£ for a taxi (a terrifying proposition for four broke college kids) or trying to run 20 minutes with giant loads of luggage to a tram pick up spot with the hope it would miraculously make it to the airport on time. Just as I reluctantly began to check my debit card funds, a miracle appeared before my eyes. A damn bus 35 pulled up fifteen minutes behind schedule. We were saved! With a sigh of relief we settled into our seats, anxious the bus would make up for lost travel time.
In our experience, Ryan Air tends not to leave on the dot, so when we arrived one hour before our flight our worries were at bay (only shortly). At security, two of us had our bags pushed into the random check line setting us back a precious 45 minutes. At this point, all of us were all sweating. We had less than fifteen minutes before our flight was to depart and we were all too aware that our gate was probably closed. Once finally through, we grabbed our heavy bags and began to run allllllllllllll the way to the last terminal of the airport. To my horror no one was at the gate. I circled in confusion until a Ryan Air employee instructed to me run outside, the plane was departing. I’m screaming to my roommates that are lagging behind to book it. I scramble outside and my heart drops. The back stairs are already wheeled away and I see the flight attendant’s hands in the distance reaching down to pull the front stars. I yell, and thank the gods she hears me. Annoyed, she motions me over and I throw myself up the stair panting pretty damn hard. My roommates make it a few precious moments later. We made it. This was top ten most relieving moments of my life.
We arrived in Belgium ready to buy our tickets for the bus to Brussels’ train station to find Marina and Julie’s cards won’t work from some reason. We spot them the cash and load on the bus we again almost miss due to the most recently mentioned problem. We load onto our train and sit back, ready to unwind from our mentally and physically exhausting day of traveling. After an hour we approach our stop and unknowingly pass it. It’s now 10:20 PM and dark outside. We have no phones, no Wifi, and no way of contacting the place we’re staying. The four of us hop off at the next stop after realizing our mistake. Nowhere is open, no one is around, and nothing is in English. We desperately hope on the first train going back where we came from and by the grace of some higher power we make it to our stop after much freaking out. We made it! On our ten minute walk to the place we’re staying a black cat crosses our path and we can only laugh. It had a white foot and pretty ironically represented the almost bad luck we had had all day traveling.
Moral of the story: be punctual. 
This is the only picture, from the infamous Herentals' train stop, that has any
significance. Of course we didn't have time to take any other picture during
this anxiety ridden time.  

It’s the Final Countdown…..

In more than one way. Finals are literally 5 to 7 days away since I have them on 2 days. Then 15 days until I am Home Sweet Home.  It is starting to get to me too. I miss home! I have taken to making sweet tea here because I miss my momma’s sweet tea. I have been listening to music that my mom plays around the house. I have been listening to a video my puppy howling. I have missed so much already. Congratulations again to all my now Alumni friends from Maryville College. It is approximately 4 days until my best friend gets married to her true love. Congratulations to y’all wish I could be there with you for your big day.  Know that my thoughts are with you from Italy. So my life hasn’t been to interesting lately with the upcoming finals fast approaching and planning my trip before heading home.  I am getting ready to travel to 5 cities and 2 countries in 6 days. I’m heading to Germany (Munich, Heidelberg, Dresden and Ending in Berlin) and to the Czech Republic (Prague). I am excited and ready to see some beautiful sights. 

Another way to see it as it’s the final countdown to how much time I have time with the people on my hall (they are not my biggest fans). As well it’s the final countdown to when I will get to see some of my friends. Miss y’all! I cannot believe we are close to starting our senior years at MC.  It will be a great year! Also it is the final countdown until I get to see my favorite Country star (Luke Bryan) in concert this summer.   Although I am sad I have so much to look forward to that makes the fact that I am leaving Italy a little easier.  My family has helped with this aspect as well. We have an annual fish fry the Sunday after I get home so I can see half of my family. Then it is time to get ready to work and make some money for my senior year. My Study-cation is almost over. We all know that this wasn’t my hardest or craziest semester that award goes to last semester (Emily you know the crazy parts). My senior year is looking to be a hard one as well. Full course loads, Mentoring (which I love to do), President of the Loud Scotsmen, Fulfilling scholarship requirements, and possibly volunteering in the International House. It is a good thing I like to be busy and to organize everything.
I think I will miss the fact that Italian art can be misguiding and take time to understand. Seriously it took me 3 months to realize this statue/sculpture thing was a needle and thread.  I will also miss the surprise rain showers that are freezing cold.

My life changed this past February and it changed me in a good way.  My life will change again this June and hopefully change me to be an even better me. I cannot wait to hug my family and cuddle with my fat puppy. Also I will come bearing gifts and treats. I am too nice sometimes. I miss y’all and love y’all! See you soon!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Excuse my lack of French, but I love France!

Sunday night, I logged into my computer and watched the graduation ceremony live from my room in Spain. I think this is one of the first times that I've been here that I really wished I could go back. I realized as all of the names were read, the number of graduates that have a special place in my life. I am so proud of all of them and I am so excited to see how they are all going to shine in their perspective careers and studies. It also was a huge wake up call because when I get back to Maryville, I will have only one year left. I have learned over the past three years that time flies all too quickly and I know that I have to take advantage of every moment next year while I have the opportunity to.

Living abroad has really influenced the way I look at my future in general. I am not sure which direction I want to go in after Maryville, but if I know one thing, it is that my passion for cultural differences and the opportunity to share these is stronger than ever. I love the challenge and the difficulties that come with living in a new culture and its the type of challenge that I want to continue to face throughout my life.

Thinking about all of this is a bit overwhelming, but I am also making sure to take advantage of the time and experience that I have now. Maddie and I have set, our travel dates, bought our tickets, and the next leg of my European journey is on the horizon! As of a week ago, I had only spent my time abroad exploring different parts of Spain but it was about time for me to venture a bit more into Europe!

Rooftop views of Toulouse
With this in mind, this past weekend, I embarked on a journey to Toulouse, France with a group of friends. It's pretty cool because we realized that the five of us represented, 5 native languages and countries and 4 different continents. Me, the USA and English obviously, but we also had Mia, representing French and France, Gustavo with Brazil and Portuguese, Eduardo, Mexico and Spanish, and Eikichi Japan and Japanese.

One of my favorite memories is of all of us sitting in a park next to the river in Toulouse. We each took a turn sharing a story or a joke or a song in our native language. Experiences like this are to me what studying abroad is all about. We were able to connect and enjoy a bit of each others' culture, even with language differences. It was also interesting to see that many of us knew the same stories with minute differences such as the names of the characters.

It was all sooooo yummy! 
Toulouse was beyond gorgeous and we were lucky to have great weather and beautiful skies. I enjoyed getting to see the city from a local's point of view and Mia really knew the best places to go and all of the must sees. She was a great city guide and an even better host. I am so thankful that her family was so welcoming and made us truly feel at home. It was really nice to be in a house and with a family for even just a weekend. I also didn't mind that Mia's mom is a fabulous cook and there really is nothing like waking up to fresh french baked goods and warm crepes!
The weekend crew

There is a lot happening in the next few weeks and I could not be more excited and sad at the same time. The end always is the most fun, but it also goes the quickest. I'll continue to report on the adventures that come at me!

Monday, May 11, 2015

The End Is Near! :'(:

Well for some the semester and school year is over. For me it is getting near the end. I have approximately 24 minus how many days it has been by the time you read this.  I am getting ready to finish my last 2 weeks of classes and 2 days of finals I have coming up.  But enough of the boring stuff no one wants to talk about.
I had the best weekend despite getting sunburnt to a crisp Crabtree (joke insert real laugh here).  I went to Cinque Terre (translation 5 lands) this weekend and it was beautiful.  I got to meet some wonderful people and hang out with them and let loose from the stress of school and life. I was free to be young and enjoy a different place where people work, but have fun working.  Cinque Terre is the place I could retire and live in for the rest of my life. It is so homey, and stress free. I actually saw a t-shirt that said Cinque Terre No Stress on it and found it very fitting.  Besides the atmosphere there is so much to see and do. It has hiking trails and boat rides, trains between villages, fresh caught seafood, history and the locals are nice and friendly.  I started my trip on Saturday by visiting by train Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, and Vernazza. My favorites were Corniglia and Vernazza, because they were neighboring villages and complete opposites in my opinion.  Corniglia was a homey, more of a locals spot and Vernazza was the tourist spot. I had some amazing gelato in Corniglia and met some cool locals. I had a margarita and found a hidden beach in Vernazza, that most tourists would have walked and did walk right by.  It was so amazing. It was amazing that evening I had a dinner with one of the ladies from the Hostel where I was staying and it was good and a great end to the long day.  On Sunday, I and one of the people I met from the hostel went for the ferry ride to Porto Venere and the islands off the side of Porto Venere. It was so beautiful to see everything from the water instead of right up close.  I got to see a different side to Italy. The way locals see it in a sense.  I saw so much from the boat and the ferry. We saw a statue in the middle of the ocean/bay, castle, church, old school tower, and many sail boats. 
Plus just seeing the villages from the water is amazing.  It gave them even more definition and color. Which the villages are very colorful in general. After leaving Porto Venere we rode the ferry all the way to the farthest village from there which is Monterosso al Mare. Where we walked around a bit then crashed on the beach for a bit and I swam in the Italian Riviera for the first time it was cold, which it could have been because I was burnt already. It was a wonderful experience and so refreshing. I loved it so much I could have lived on the ferry.  After more gelato and a nice rest before the shuttle back to the hostel we talked about our trips and what we would do here and there.  We returned to the Hostel too relax and get ready for the next day which is when I was leaving.  Later when the resident chef got there we had some amazing salads and bread that he made. He is an amazing chef and I will miss his cooking as well. He was a happy guy every time you saw him. Plus who doesn’t like a cute Italian chef that gives you free Prosecco and water? My weekend was amazing only to have it end with having to come back and type up part of a paper for one of my classes. Save me or really just take me back to Cinque Terre.
I am mixed emotions about my impending departure from Italy and excited to come home and see everyone I miss. As well as eat some steak and drink sweet tea. I miss those too. So to all of my friends in bocca al lupo (good luck) on your finals and Congratulations to those who are graduating too! Miss y’all and love y’all!

Vi amo tutti!

I want to be forever young...

Beach babes
Today my Maryville College community is in mourning. We lost the life of an international student and though I did not get the chance to meet or know him as I am here in Spain, I can say that I can only begin to imagine the pain that his friends at Maryville are feeling because I can say from experience, that the friendships that you make in a semester abroad are special and different than any others in the world. I extend my deepest sorrows and a heart open in hoping that they will all be able to find some solace in the joy of getting to know such a special life that ended entirely too soon.

Smiling but
we're close to tears
When I heard about this tragedy all I could think of was how fragile life is and how vulnerable we all truly are. It is so easy to feel invincible abroad, to feel like life is not "real" because every moment is kind of like a dream. But life is real and in that manner, I have realized that I need to be more conscious of not only my choices, but my interactions, and in letting the amazing people who I have become so close with know just how special they are to me. Life is not a guarantee, its a gift and we have to treat it as such.
Yeah... We're pretty tough 

Yesterday I said my first official goodbye and though everyone likes to say its only a see you later, that's not good enough. As true as I know it is, because I WILL travel more, and I WILL make an effort to see these people again, these thoughts do make the end of this dream world any easier. Walking home last night I truly felt the weight of how important these people have come to be in my life in the past few months. They are my family and my friends, we have grown close because of our similar situations and we have been able to share whole parts of ourselves and I have realized how amazingly different and yet similar we are. We all have a passion for life, travel, and now for this experience, and that alone has been enough to make us closer than I can describe.

Camo swag
This weekend was long and I am exhausted and a bit sun burnt, but I am so filled with joy and memories that I am lucky to have. We started off the weekend with an animal themed party at Alexia's. The night was passed on the balcony crammed close together, talking, singing, and laughing to the point of tears. You know that laughter that goes so long and is so deep that by the time everyone is done laughing no one remembers why they were laughing in the first place? That was us in that moment and it could not have been more beautiful.

Saturday was a long day that started early with paintball!

Chelsea makes good fires
We woke up and made our way out to the field. I am covered head to toe in bruises (and they hurt!), but it was the best thing ever! We got so into it and  I'm so glad that I got to do it with all of them. We also looked pretty cute (scary and tough also, duh) in our paintball suits and the pictures make my life! Naturally Angela, Zoe, Sara, and I painted up with stripes on our faces before starting!

"To forever and love and Erasmus and happiness"
After an hour and a half of "war" we were exhausted, but the day had just begun! We rushed home, showered, packed, and hopped on a bus to San Sebastian for a girls camping night! We roasted hot dogs over the fire, ate wannabe s'mores (sin marshmallow because we couldn't find any), and talked the night away. It was such a cold night and we definitely didn't sleep well but it was a great night and an interesting experience to say the least!

Vamos a la playa
We woke up the next morning, packed up camp, and headed to the beach. The day was PERFECT beach weather! The water was a bit cold, but the best part was just lying out, taking in the sun, and talking.

By the time the bus made it back to Pamplona, we were beat but that couldn't stop us from heading out to one last dinner with Jose before his bus this morning. Needless to say, I slept really well last night haha!

These experiences are what really make this time the best time of my life and I can't wait to spend this last month here living the life and loving every moment. As the mentors have said "Once Erasmus, always Erasmus" and though Erasmus is only Europe, the idea is still the same, and I know that the sentiment could not be truer.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Trains, strikes, and cold sores.... Oh my

Okay, so yes, I'm terrible at blogging... My days just are not as exciting as everyone else! I'm in a school with kids from 8-4 daily and then all I want is to eat and sleep... But when I do get the chance I try to explore! 

Just recently we had a long weekend for May Day! My friend Jordan and I met Sarah and her friend Sophia in Amsterdam for a beautiful weekend!! The weather was perfect, and it was just a great relaxing time! Until this massive sore appeared on my chin. 

I know I know, that's gross... Trust me, I look at it everyday! This is the first time I've just wanted to be at home.  I know this sore should not ruin my time, but right now it's growing and spreading and hurts. Also, in Germany people don't really get when they're being rude/ everyone stares and ask what is wrong and they just get all up in my sore, whose name is Bart.  Totally perfect name because Bart means beard in German. That what it feels like!  So usually I would probably be able to get this under control in the states, but here is sooooooo complicated.  I don't know what medicine to get so I have to translate everything... And hydrogen peroxide ( you know, that stuff you can find EVERYWHERE in the USA even gas stations) is only sold in an Apotheke behind the counter.  So now I'm stressing because I can't find stuff easily and I hate going out in public. This just sucks. 

Oh well, I started teaching this week......I have one class that just stares at me and doesn't remember how to do anything!!! Ugh, so that adds stress trying to get them to participate. Also, being late 3 times in one week has not helped! 

Germany has lovely public transportation but they also have annoying unions who decide they want 5% more pay so they go on strike.  Trains run once an hour (usually every 20 minutes) they're never on time or leave to early... UGHHHH  this week has not been my best week. 
I want to crawl in my bed at home and cry.