Inspired by...A Cause I Support

I’ve already blogged about Smart Girls Group, and what I do as part of the Smart Girls Sisterhood, but let me explain exactly why I am so obsessed with any and all things SGG:

Smart Girls Group is something that, had it existed back then, would have made my entire middle school and high school experience so much better.  I felt so fundamentally different during those long six years, and while I’ve struggled with feeling this way for most of my life, it became most profound during this lovely point in my life.  Some of it had to do with being an introvert and not liking what apparently everyone else liked.  In middle school, I was the girl who could spend hours in her room reading and not think twice about it, wore skirts and dresses all of the time, swam instead of playing soccer, hated sleepovers, and listened to the Annie and The Sound of Music soundtracks instead of the Jonas Brothers (#2008Life).  In high school, material-wise, I wasn’t quite as different from everyone else, but I was still this old soul introvert-type, and I constantly felt on the fringe of the general population that was my age.  Add that to being smart and nerdy, and you’ve got a recipe for a social disaster.  Mind you, things have gotten so much better as I’ve gotten older, but something that made it all click has been Smart Girls Group.

 

Smart Girls Group’s mission is to unite and empower ambitious young women, but for me, it goes so far beyond this.  It is such a positive community of bright and engaged women who are spreading sunshine and smarts wherever they go.  Smart Girls Group encourages you to live your best life and be smart in whatever it is you are smart in.  The way I’ve conceptualised it is that in Smart Girls Group, everyone is unique, but no one is “different.”  I was the girl who was different and liked what no one else liked, but that doesn’t matter with Smart Girls Group, because everyone is different and it’s encouraged and celebrated.

Their various social media platforms make my day so much brighter whenever I come across a post or a tweet or a picture, the website is full of articles and content from girls who want to help you live your best life, the newsletters that I put together not only give me something fun and non-academic to do, but getting them in my email inbox is just as fun as putting them together is.  Not only have I made some incredible friends from being a part of Smart Girls Group, but I am learning to be the Smart Girl that I wish I had been years ago: one who is different, smart, unique, whatever she is, embraces it, and shares it.

Inspired to be,

Katherine 

Inspired by...Munich! (Muenchen)

My train to Munich left at 8 am so it wasn’t as early of a wakeup as a few days before.  It was also a much shorter trip.  By the way, Munich is called “Muenchen” in German which is just so much more fun to say :)

I was meeting my friend from high school (the one studying in Florence) for this part of the trip and it was nice to have a familiar face after solo travelling for the past few days.  We were starving but nothing was quite open for lunch yet so we took a walk along the river a little ways north of the city centre.  We came back and had lunch at a lovely healthy cafe near the city centre and started a walking tour of the city from my book.  Like my first day in Salzburg, it rained and poured during the tour, but we didn’t mind too much.  What’s interesting about Munich is that it was completely devastated by the bombing campaigns during the war, but they chose to rebuild exactly the way it was, unlike Berlin which started from scratch and modernised.  My favourite was easily the New Town Hall in Marienplatz which also has a famous glockenspiel.  This one has more movement than the one in Salzburg since it reenacts a wedding scene between a duke and duchess from the 16th century, so it’s fun to watch.  From there, we moved on to St. Peter’s church and climbed 306 steps up to the top which was completely worth the hamstring workout because check out these views!

After climbing up all those steps, we went to the Viktualienmarket where we got a German specialty: giant pretzels!  Nothing makes you feel German like a giant soft pretzel, right? :)  The rest of the walking tour was mostly churches and a huge synagogue, which were gorgeous, and a very strange monument to Michael Jackson.  When Michael Jackson would visit Munich, he would stay at Hotel Bayerischer Hof, and after he died in 2009, some of his fanatics started putting pictures of him and candles below a statue of the composer Orlando di Lasso.  They still maintain it, actually, but Hannah and I thought it was a little weird...

We finished off the day by going to the Hofbrauhaus which is one of the most famous beer halls in Germany.  It seats about 5,000 people and you have to seat yourself, so on a Saturday night before Easter, this was a little tricky.  We eventually found seats and ordered a German classic: Hofbrau beer served a litre-size mug.  WOW, right?  Hannah somehow managed to finish hers and another pretzel, but I couldn’t quite finish my mug — I was already feeling lightheaded haha.  

The next day, we took a day trip out to Bavaria so we could see Neuschwanstein Castle!  This is the castle that inspired the Disney one, as well as the castle from the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang movie (we were both in the musical our junior year so it was a must).  It was a long trip — about 2.5 hours by train — but it was absolutely breathtaking and it was snowing!  Once we got to the site of the castle, we had to walk uphill through the snowy woods for a bit, but it felt quite festive.  We didn’t go inside because we had seen quite a few castles and didn’t feel like paying 12 euro to get in, but we had just as much fun taking pictures on the outside.  We finished off the day with apple strudel and coffee at a nice cafe near the train.

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Hannah left the following morning, so I took a shorter day trip out to see the Dachau concentration camp.  It was a short ride on the S-Bahn and then a 15 minute bus ride.  I didn’t take any pictures since I just couldn’t a) out of respect and b) a picture wouldn’t capture it anyway.  Not only can you walk around the grounds of the camp, but there’s also a very powerful museum that talks about the history of the Third Reich and the people held in the camps.  Dachau was one of the first camps of the Nazi regime and this is what makes it interesting because it served as a model for all of the other camps.  It was mostly a camp for political prisoners, Gypsies/Roma, communists, and a small number of Jews, which I hadn’t known.  There’s memorials from the Jewish, Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox faith traditions on the grounds, as well, and it was both peaceful and eerie.  Pretty heavy stuff for my last day, but I’m glad I went.

It was Easter Monday which is actually a big day and not just a Catholic school thing like I had thought, so almost nothing in Munich was open.  I walked around some more and saw the churches again before I headed back to the hostel to get ready to leave.  I had an evening train to Prague and I wanted to be ready!

Inspired to be,

Katherine