Quick and Simple
I’m a 24 year old from Illinois currently living and working as a teacher in Germany. Food has always been a passion of mine and after months of reading others’ blogs, I thought it was about time I jumped in as well! I call myself a vegetarian although I occasionally eat fish. My food philosophy is to eat whole, real, healthy food that tastes good and will power my body to get the most out of every day.
Follow my eats, travels, thoughts, and experiences as a teacher learning from life.
For those of you who would like to know more.
I am one of the lucky ones who was born into a loving, supportive, faith-based family. I grew up in the middle of rural Illinois and spent my time playing outside, climbing trees, riding my bike and exploring the creak which ran through my family’s property. As the only girl amongst 3 boys, I learned to play long and hard. Although I was quite a tom-boy, I also loved to do crafts, play house, and cook. I don’t believe my mother has one cookbook that hasn’t been marked with my little make-shift bookmarks sticking out the top. When I was little, I longed for an Easy Bake oven even though the real oven was always available for me to use. I’m really lucky to have a mother that is such a good cook and teacher. My summers were filled with 4H baking contests and unlimited time to be creative in the kitchen.
As I grew up, my love for cooking only increased. I always enjoyed learning about food and what it does for our bodies. I’ve always enjoyed fresh fruits and vegetables and have always unconsciously chosen vegetarian options over the meaty alternatives. I remember asking my parents if I could be a vegetarian but they were of the mindset that I belong to a family who eats together and eats the same thing. Once I was off to college, I decided to test myself to see if I could be a vegetarian. I basically started out of a personal challenge but wanted to do it healthfully. While researching what to eat and how to eat as a vegetarian, I came across so many staggering facts about world hunger and crop distribution that I decided to stick to the veggie life style. It wasn’t until about 4 years later when the animal rights really hit me. I love animals but they weren’t the initial reason for this change. 6 years later, I’m still going strong and can’t imagine ever turning back.
Taste of teaching abroad
When I first started college I was told that as an education major, I wouldn’t be able to study abroad. Well this just didn’t cut it for me. The crazy idea that people learning how to teach children from many cultures couldn’t experience another culture was also absurd for a great professor of mine. On my first day in her class, she announced a trip to study education practices in South East Asia. I signed up. 1 year later, I spent my winter holidays in Thailand and Cambodia observing and teaching in both rich and poor schools. This experience changed me. I’d always known I wanted to live and teach abroad, but these three weeks hooked me.
Photos from Thailand
Pictures from Cambodia
Once back from the 3 week study abroad, I wanted a full semester more than anything. I was fortunate enough to have an amazing academic advisor who was committed to making my dream of studying abroad a reality. She helped me organize all the classes I needed for my major in a way that allowed every gen. ed. course to be taken in one term. I was double blessed to have an amazing study abroad advisor as well. I originally planned on studying in England but couldn’t decide between two schools. I kept praying for guidance but really didn’t feel like my heart was in either of the choices. Well, to make a long and wonderful story short, I had 5 days before the due date for selecting a university, and in these 5 days, some amazing things happened in my life that all pointed to one place- Africa. My university didn’t have a study abroad program in Africa, but when I came to my advisor saying how I wanted a greater challenge than England could provide. She asked me if I’d be interested in pioneering a program with a school in Kenya. Without thinking about it or talking to my parents, I signed my name and was committed to living for 4 months in Nairobi, Kenya.
Could this be love?
I arrived in the middle of the night. It was dark. I was scared. I questioned what I’d done. I met another girl from my university at the Nairobi airport and we were brought to campus. The school had made a mistake and accidently required the international students to arrive one week earlier than they actually meant. We were all alone in the strange place. There were iron grates on the window, stains on the mattresses, and nothing else. We were starving and only had a jar of peanut butter I’d brought along. My first night in Kenya was spent crying over a jar of peanut butter that I had to eat with my fingers. I was certain I’d made a mistake. I had expected Kenya to be warm but quickly found out that night, while huddled in skirts, that Kenya is cold once the sun goes down. In the morning, however, the sun shone brightly and I came to find a beautiful campus and a few more international students. One in particular caught my eye. There were 5 of us. Three from my university, one from Japan, and one from- you guessed it- Germany. Over the course of 4 months, I quickly learned what love really felt like. I joke that Kenya taught me a lot about myself but Sebastian taught me even more. I truly believe that he is the reason my plans took such a sudden change and Kenya- a place I’d never even wanted to go- became my home for a period of my life.
We did every thing together. We volunteered at the nearby orphanage. Traveled to wonderful places like Zanzibar and Mombassa. Went on safari. Learned to speak (a little) Kiswahili. Explored Kenya and our own ability to love.
As the semester approached an end, my heart ached. (I’m already teary-eyed just remembering the way I felt!) I really had no idea if I would ever get to see this amazing person again. I loved him so much and the thought of voluntarily leaving that love destroyed me. To celebrate our once-in-a-life-time-love, we decided to spend our last money on a trip to Egypt. For 7 days, we lived like this love was going to end. When I think back on our time together in Egypt, it’s not the pyramids or history that strikes me, it’s the simple and pure love. The laughter and looks as we wandered together through a foreign land.
The day we returned to Kenya was also the day I had to leave for the US. To this day, nothing has ever been more difficult. I hurt in such a physical, emotional, and spiritual way that I never thought I could recover.
I survived on the excuse of being jet-lagged for about 5 days. I slept. I cried in hiding. I tried to act happy to be with people who had missed me so much for 4 months. I was heartbroken.
Back in Kenya was a German who felt the same way. He scrapped his plans to do an internship, came to Chicago, and proved to me that this love didn’t have to end. 3½ years later, I’m sitting in Germany, writing about this love. Again, thanks to the compassionate and loving Dr. Lora Tyson, I was able to follow Sebastian back to Germany to do my student teaching in a little town called Bonn. I returned to the US to finish my degree and he came with me. The school in which I completed my student teaching offered me a job, and payed for me to live in Germany with the most loving and sincere person I’ve ever met. This is my second year as a teacher at this school and I love every day of it!
When I look over the last 4 years of my life, I am blown away by the coordination and planning of someone greater than myself. I am so blessed and live each day to celebrate these blessings!