Winter Journal of Yokoyama 2013

Erica Yokoyama (UWC AC ’11-13′)

2013 winter break; following the last winter break in Netherland, Italy and Turkey, I enjoyed one-month travel to Belgium, Norway, and Macedonia, visiting my friends. Here, welcome to my travel journals.

My first stop was Brussels, Belgium. It was just 2 hours from London St.Pancras by Eurostar. Laurens, my 2nd year kindly offered a cool tour for me, and I enjoyed a lot of ‘artistic’ sightseeing there. Cathedral of St. Michael, Rune Magritte museum, Atomium, both inside and outside looked elaborated in those attractions. Walking around the gorgeous Grand Place, I could see a lot of Belgium chocolate shops and famous Mannekin Pis. EU parliament was one of the places I had to visit as the student studying in Europe. Also, I visited Brugge, a traditional town in the North. River and old streets were very pictures! Including Belgium food such as Belgium waffles or mussel meal, buildings and mountain of art, everything in Belgium looked very elegant. The view from the top of military museum showed me Brussels both side; beautiful green of royal palace and a lot of constructions going on as many urbanized cities do. I would like to appreciate ‘Romantic’ Belgium, at first.

Then, my 2nd stop was snowy Scandinavian country, Norway. I visited Heidi, my co-year from Oslo. I experienced the biggest Christmas celebration in my life with her family. I really love Norwegian Christmas with a mountain of presents, huge parties with entire family, nice Christmas songs and dance around the tree. I was also fascinated a lot by the Norwegian family ‘game’ culture. In Norwegian party, they play the creative ‘games’ almost all the time. I played Jelly-man stretching game, body language game and almond in rice porridge with her family. I think those games are one of the things which make Norwegian family closer, and hopefully I would like to bring this culture to my home. After Christmas celebration in Oslo, I went to Heidi’s cabin in Scobu (‘o’ is Norwegian letter with circle on it) I learnt cross country skiing on the natural snow for my first time, and it was awesome. Everything was so white, looking holly. I felt how happy I was to experience all of these. I now appreciate ‘warm’ country, Norway.

Finally, my last stop was Macedonia. I visited Mile, my 1st year with my friends Zoey and Francesca. Actually, how many of you know where exactly Macedonia which became independent 21 years ago? But Balkan culture is so unique that you should not miss them. I attended the New Year party with Mile and leant how young people enjoy themselves in a special moment of the year. People there were extremely cheerful. (could be influence of party culture?) I really do not think they will bore you even a second. We went to Ohrid, a city with beautiful lake, and Krusev, a historical city from 19th century. In particular, Krusev showed me how Macedonian people went through their hard time under Turkish control. And we mostly spent our time in Skopje, a capital of Macedonia. Skopje was now under the construction called ‘Skopje 2014’ and I could see the tremendous amounts of statues around the main square. I heard that Skopie owes the most statues among capitals all over the world, and it was so true. Experience here was unforgettably unique. Also, the orthodox Christmas in January 7th was so beautiful and interesting, too. I now would like to express gratitude for ‘powerful’ Macedonia.

Life is journey, as we know. We will end in the same direction in the end. But where we go through and stop is different. I am so glad that I could stop at many stations in my life. Oops, my next stop is Atlantic College last term. The little Japanese girl with pink back pack and pink suitcase now started walking towads her next destination.

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