Saturday, January 1, 2011

Vegas baby!

When asked how I welcomed in 2011 I will be able to reply "Why, I was dancing on the Strip in about you?" And yes, I will get a kick out of that no matter how many times I am asked. That's right people, I was dancing up a storm on the most famous street in the City of Entertainment - and probably one of the most famous streets in the world: Las Vegas Boulevard. I have been to a good number of street parties in my life, but none as big and crazy (and cold! desert my ass. pfft.) as this one. Since we are all students and couldn't afford to whip out upward of 70 dollars to get into one of the nightclubs, we joined the people's party and froze our student bums off instead. Luckily there was good music blaring up and down the strip, and lots of space to dance. And that is really all I need to have a good time. I was jamming hard and enjoying the crazy crowds and vibrant atmosphere. But most of all I was thriving off the awesome company: a bunch of international students that I have spent the last semester with at Willamette. We like to call ourselves the United Nations, and considering we represented seven different countries (South Africa, England, Germany, Columbia, France, Japan and Finland), I think the label is fitting. It was lots of fun jamming with this mixed bunch of people. My own highlight was shouting the countdown along with thousands of people, only doing it in French along with my French friend Romain. Then came the fireworks! Woweee. They were epic. A Happy New Year it was!

The night before New Year's Eve us girls managed to get ourselves onto the guest list for the Playboy club in the Palms - just by standing around and looking pretty really. We were thrilled that we didn't have to pay the 50 dollar entrance fee into this rooftop club to attend the 21st birthday party of skater boy Ryan Scheckler (ja, don't worry, I hadn't heard of him either - although you may have heard of the MTV show 'Life of Ryan') and see Snoop Dog perform. It was awesome! The view from the top was unreal, the music perfect for dancing and watching Snoop Doggy Dog perform all his classic songs a meter or two away from me was pretty darn cool.

Other Vegas highlights included a trip to Hoover Dam and Lake Mead. An engineering feat of note, Hoover Dam is massive! The coolest part about this little expedition was that we were able to walk into the state of Arizona and find ourselves in a different time zone for a few minutes. Now I can add Arizona to my list of states visited in the States. :-) Lake Mead is gorgeous and the views of the desert from both of these wonders was quite breathtaking indeed.

Tomorrow I drive to Los Angeles along with a couple of the students. New adventures await!
Happy New Years Day!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

the REAL africanamericanadventure!

I shudder when I look at the date of my last blog post. Over a month ago! Shock and horror... I know, I know. And I could whip out all kinds of excuses, but I'll spare you the time to read them, and myself the time (and energy) to come up with them. Just know that my last month at Willamette was awesome and went by very quickly. I was able to visit the pretty little town of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho for Thanksgiving along with my friend Scott and two girls from Rhodes. We built a snowman, made snow angels, and ate LOTS of good food. I also went to an NBA game and watched the Portland Trail Blazers versus Utah Jazz. That was lots of fun. Otherwise the last month just involved lots of work, last-minute organizing and admin, and one farewell party after the next as we all prepared to leave Willamette.

But, forget about all of that. The bottom line folks, is that I am in San Francisco, California - in the midst of the REAL African American Adventure. I spent last week in the extraordinarily beautiful state of Colorado. A couple days in Boulder (a quaint, artsy town that is said to have the fittest and happiest people in all America) with the family of my friend Nicky from Willamette University, and then on to Vail where I visited fellow Rhodent Paul Harris, and had an absolute blast. I spent my time hiking and running in Boulder, and being generally welcomed and spoilt by Nicky's awesome (and I mean freaking fantastic) family. On Wednesday evening I arrived in Vail at the last minute and took myself (bags and all) into the nearest pub (since Paul was still at work) where I grabbed dinner and had about 3 guys offer to help me with my bags upon entry... gotta love being a traveler... AND having an accent. :)

Vail is basically a ridiculously pretty winter-wonderland-fairytale kinda place where people with lots of money come to ski and spend Christmas. I enjoyed walking around the cobble-stoned streets (which are heated of course so that the snow underfoot melts...duh) and browsing the shops (the operative word being browsing). But the highlight of my Vail experience has got to be skiing for the first time in my life. Not only skiing mind you, but skiing surrounded by the snow-covered Rocky mountain range... beauty is. It would probably be more apt to say attempting to ski, than actually skiing - I mean, it was my first time ever. Paul took me out on the first day, which basically involved lots of falling and hysterical laughter. And the second time I went out wasn't much different from the first, only I think I fell harder this time since I felt marginally more confident in my skiing ability and so would be moving at quite a speed and then wipe out at that same speed. I even skied into a pine tree once. I had an unforgettable time in Vail though, and got to party with lots of South Africans... seriously, just about every shop and restaurant I went into had a South African employed. It was awesome meeting so many South Africans after meeting nearly none in the past four months.

I have had a great time in San Francisco too... visiting such landmarks as the Golden Gate Bridge (the world's greatest suspension bridge) and Pier 39 - from where I could see Alcatraz. The highlight of this leg of my trip though was meeting up with a very special highschool friend who I have not seen since highschool! We had dinner together with her younger sister in downtown San Francisco last night - a truly amazing and surreal experience. It was awesome catching up on the last four years and being together again. Lots of love to Huguette and Sabine Brink!

Tonight I fly to Vegas baby! This is where I will be spending New Year's Eve together with a bunch of European students I met while at Willamette. It promises to be wild. :) From there I go on to LA for a couple of days, and then return to Salem to go on tour with the Willamette Singers in Oregon and California. This should be a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience. I will leave the tour early and fly to New York city, where I will spend my last few days in the States before returning home. Exciting stuff! I can't believe the great adventure is nearing its end. But it's been incredibly memorable and I still have a few more weeks in which to make more memories and have more unforgettable experiences!

Merry Christmas and Happy 2011 to you all!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sleepless in Seattle

Ah yes, the weekend of the 5th to the 7th of November did indeed find me (not-so-sleepless) in Seattle. What a fantastic city! An awesome downtown vibe, interesting shops and restaurants/cafes, fun things to do, culture, culture and more culture... did I mention just how fantastic it is? I was joined in this exciting experience by my friends Moritz (yes, that German guy) and John (yes, the JOHN WULF of previous blogpost), and...wait for it... my lovely and amazing sister-in-law Joanne Barry! Hooray! She had been attending a conference in Seattle and so we got to hang out and catch up for a whole weekend. Sigh... happiness is. :) Don't you just love meeting up with people you love in random and unusual places? If someone had said to me this time last year that in a year's time I would be kicking it with my sister-in-law, an American and a German in Seattle in a year's time... I'm not sure what I would have done exactly, but you get the point.

Did I mention how much I love Seattle? Our accommodation was humble (read: borderline unsavoury), but located right next to the Space Needle (think the little sketch that is drawn in the sitcom Frasier) and very close to downtown Seattle, which meant that we could walk everywhere - what a pleasure! Our activities included:
* Going on Seattle's Underground Tour - which featured a hilarious host, a history lesson and exploring the ancient Seattle underground.
* Visiting Pike's Place Market where we were able to grab some good food and witness the famous fish-throwing. Um... just think, big, fresh fish being thrown from one big male to another?
* Stepping into the ORIGINAL Starbucks! What a thrill.
* Attending an AMAZING Jason Upton worship session / concert - WOW! What anointing! The presence of the Holy Spirit was THICK.
* Going up the famous Space Needle and being greeted by an awesome and beautiful 360 degree view of the city below.
* Taking a ferry out to Bainbridge Island, which also greeted us with an amazing view of the city as we pulled out of and returned to the harbour. We were also able to walk around and have lunch on the quaint little island of Bainbridge. Hey, why not?

So yes, all in all, a superb weekend. I got a chance to meander around the streets of Seattle on my own for a while; visit a bookshop, have a solo cappuccino and ponder the mysteries of the Hanna-universe. :) Spending time with Jo was also an absolute treat - especially since I last saw her and my dear big brother in January. It was great catching up on their new lives and hearing all about how wonderful a husband my brother is! Go James! :)

As usual, the past ten days have passed by with the same unnerving speed that has characterized my entire exchange experience! Next week is that great American holiday - Thanksgiving! I look forward to this sacred celebration, and will be spending it in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho with my dear friend Scott who was on exchange last year at Rhodes. I'm sure it will be a fun, family and food-filled time!

Happy Holidays to all my Rhodes friends who are finishing exams and leaving our beloved Grahamstown for good! Thinking of you all the most. Viva Rhodes University! Viva Gtown! What a treasure that place will always be for us purple-blooded Rhodents.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Shopping and a Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte...

I love trying new things. But I especially love it when the risk of trying a new thing turns out successfully! And today held such a gem. I stopped by at the Ike Box on my way to work (the Ike Box is an awesome coffee shop/non-profit situated conveniently close to the Statesman Journal) to grab a warm beverage. I was thinking a cappuccino - my default - but then decided to be brave and try their Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte. Since I was feeling extra brave (and maybe also just needed a couple extra calories since I hadn't eaten enough today, maybe) I threw caution to the wind and got a 16 ounce cup, instead of my usual 12 ounce. As it turns out, I now LOVE Pumpkin Spice Chai Lattes! 16 ounces of warm, tasty, sweet-n-spicy-all-at-the-same-time, goodness! Well done me for trying new things. And thanks to Halloween for everything pumpkin!

In other news, I spent two hours this morning searching the closest mall for a pair of boots. I have NO decent shoes, and the winter is coming thick and fast - bringing rain along with it! I started off feeling optimistic about my shopping endeavour, almost, dare I say it, excited to shop, which is in itself amazing since I am a hopeless shopper who does not usually enjoy shopping (go figure). Unfortunately, when I had still not found a suitable pair of boots after a good 90 minutes of hunting (a lot of time for me to spend shopping, okay), I resigned myself to my former anti-shopping attitude and took myself back to campus for lunch. Sigh... On the up side - I'm a size 5 to 5 1/2 in the States (unlike my usual size 3 in SA)...although this small victory is made up for by the fact that there aren't many size 5s in these stores (unlike the strange abundance of size 3s in South African stores). But I hold out hope! Watch this space!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A roadtrip, a Halloween and an American election...

...yup, that's right...THAT much has happened since I last blogged! dang it! Once again two weeks has flown by and I've barely had a chance to catch my breath, reflect, BLOG, think, smell roses, BLOG, write emails, sleep late, BLOG... you get the picture. Thus, in the interests of everyone concerned, I am going to write the following blog in...(drumroll please)... bullet points! Shock! Horror! Gasp! *Choke*! I'm not quite sure how well this will turn out, or whether or not I'll have an anurism before I manage to finish (bullet points? really? I do NOT think in bullet points!)... but here's trying! (I'd like to give a shout out to my friend James Meiners, who came up with this genius  (well, let's suspend our judgement) idea.

ROADTRIP: (I'm even using sub-headings! This is serious folks.)
When? About two weeks ago: We had a mid-semester break and so had Friday off.
Who? Me (duh) and 4 girls. One German (Bianca), one French (Stephanie), and two English (Cassie and Sarah)...all in all a motley crew! 
Where? The GREAT NORTHWEST of course! Mt. St. Helens (an inactive volcano), Multnomah Falls (huge waterfall), Columbia River Gorge (my personal favourite...a MASSIVE and stunningly beautiful gorge...apparently the bridge over it was used in one of the Twilight films...just saying).
Highlights?: Not having a plan! Literally, just driving around for 3 days in a hired car and deciding spontaneously where to eat, where to sleep and what to visit. What bliss! Roadtripping rocks I tell you. (and yes, I did drive an automatic for the first time on the right-hand side of the road, and am very proud of myself for said accomplishment).
Seeing the beauty of the Northwestern countryside was another highlight - it is really beautiful! Expansively so...wide open spaces...fresh air. And gorgeous Autumn colours everywhere...this little Southern Hemispherer (?) is loving experiencing a genuine 'Fall' season. What a treat!

When? This past weekend.
Who? Everybody and their cousin's aunty's brother's dog. It's a BIG DEAL.
Where? Everywhere.
Highlights?: Well, I attended multiple little Halloween parties, recycling the same outfit for the most part. I attended some live music on Saturday night - a male a capella group from campus (quite a few of the guys are in the Willamette Singers with me), as well as a band from Portland played. GREAT music and a fun party afterward at one of the singer's houses.
Partying at my friend John's house on Sunday night with a bunch of church peeps was also a hoot. And since he lives in a really nice neighbourhood, there were STACKS of kids trick-or-treating! ADORABLE! I got to answer the ringing doorbell and hand out candy to the little terrors. I loved my job. And of course I had a camera in one hand and was snapping pics all the way...probably to the grave suspicion of the parents who would stand on the street and watch their kids go from house to house. "Why is that strange lady taking photo's of our children?". Haha.

When? Last night! (hey, for once I'm telling you something just after it happened...don't get too excited though, it probably won't become a habit).
Who? Americans! (but let's be honest, probably not as many people as Halloween).
Where? The United States of America!
Highlights?: Being in a newsroom during election night, and so experiencing first-hand election buzz! Yes, indeedy... I worked at the newspaper I'm interning at (read my blog if this is news to you), from 8pm to 11pm calling numbers out to someone who was then typing them into a results page-thingy. Talk about breaking news! There was even a live news cast from the newsroom happening on my right. It was exciting! Not least because it is a reallly big election.

...................A WEEKEND TRIP TO SEATTLE! Hooray! Yay! Yippee! AND.................SEEING MY SISTER-IN-LAW WHILST I'M THERE! Hooray! Yay! Yippee!
When? THIS coming weekend!
Who? Me, John, Moritz and Jo.
Where? Seattle! (...and a small town called Enumclaw where we will be worshiping with Jason Upton on Saturday night).

Look out for that exciting blog update!
I hoped you liked the bullets as much as I did, and actually read all the way to the end this time. ;)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

An Update! Finally!

So this time it really has been AGES since I last wrote on my blog! Gosh. I seriously need to take a leaf out of my cousin Gail's book - who updates her blog DAILY. And writes the most awesome-radical-cool stuff ever. She is like so funny, and so hot right now. Hi Gail! ;) Ahem...anyway...I'm sitting with some international students in the Bistro (a gorgeous little coffee shop on campus), with a cappuccino and a white-chocolate and cranberry cookie in hand, ready to write!

As I'm sure you can guess, the past few weeks have been an absolute whirlwind of activity! I have been super busy, with barely a minute for myself (or my blog fans). My internship at the Statesman Journal is in full swing and proving to be a wonderful experience. In fact, I think my first 'real' story was published today! Hey, that's pretty historic. Up until this point I have just been doing short briefs for the business section in the paper. I still need to get my hands on a Sunday paper so that I can read it and actually see my own little name in the byline - what a great feeling that will be! :) The story I wrote was a feature on a downtown business that celebrated their 100 year anniversary in June - they have been in Salem for the past 100 the same family. Pretty hardcore. The business is a hardware and plumbing store called Saffron Supply. It was a great story to do because I got to meet the owner - a lovely man who must be in his late 60s/ early 70s, and his son, and also the staff (some of whom have been working there for 23 years!), as well as some quirky customers. I even got a tour of the workshop area and learned that they still carry brass fittings (or some such thing) - which I think are no longer made anymore or something. So all in all it was really fun! (Dane, you would have been in your element. haha). ;)

So yes, loving the internship - although it is the main culprit of my busyness! I am there for about 12 hours a week, making my days long and hectic. I also went to an investigative reporting conference last weekend with one of the reporters from the Statesman. It was AWESOME! Completely inspiring and all that great stuff. Hosted by the Society of Professional Journalists, the conference took place on the University of Oregon campus in Eugene - a town roughly the same size as Salem about an hour South (I think). UVO is a much bigger university than Willamette - around 20 or 30 000 - so it was great to see the campus, and explore Eugene a bit. Eugene is definitely a more, how shall I say, 'culturally developed' town than Salem is - lots of funky little shops and restaurants, and definitely more young people, so it's got a cool vibe.

This weekend has been Parent/Family weekend at Willamette, and so there have been all kinds of things on the go. One of these 'things' was the Jazz Night on Friday evening - at which the Willamette Singers performed. Hooray! It was absolutely fantastic! We were dressed to the nines (all the girls wearing the same dress and shoes! yes, you heard right - talk about a co-ordination nightmare. And the guys wearing the same shirts - probably a lot easier to co-ordinate!) and looked pretty darn gorgeous (if I may say so myself...for the ladies: us girls were wearing LBDs and sizzling hot red heels). We sang a great programme and all in all had a super concert! (grrr...blogspot doesn't like the way I'm spelling programme! Since I've started writing for a newspaper, I've had to adopt American spelling - shock! horror! - please don't disown me family! So I'll take what little victories I can get. Programme! Programme! Programme! Programme!) Ha.

Otherwise there is not all that much activity to report on - I really have been that busy with work (for school), work (at my internship) and work (at my on-campus job in the theatre box-office)...all in all a lot of work! And then of course all the partying and general antics that one gets up to as a student. :) The weather has actually been holding out beautifully the past few weeks (for the most part), with this weekend being particularly gorgeous. Chilly air but stunning sunshine and clear blue skies - I'm savouring it as much as possible before the rains come! Apparently they stick around until March...ouch.

I hope that all YOU wonderful and good-looking people are doing well. I miss you all a lot - really and truly! (Well, not those of you who are in the States and I see on a regular basis...obviously I don't miss you guys. duh).

Here's to another week! Who knows what it might hold?
Lots of Love!
Hanna Beeeeeeeeeeee

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Portland baby! And JOHN WULF.

Once again, I am behind with my blogtivity! Darnit! I always have such grand plans to write more frequent blog posts, but  they somehow seem to remain grand plans. Hmmm...So, in my efforts to not have you react with an "ag, (or as my American friend JOHN WULF would say "uck") this is too long to read!", I will try to keep this as BRIEF as possible. The past two weeks have been super busy and filled with all kinds of activities, but alas, I will not give you a complete rundown of EVERYTHING that has been going on - just some highlights.

Saturday night saw the international students venture into the city of Portland for a night on the town. Can I get a woop woop!! Yes, we were going clubbing! Downtown Portland is really awesome and well laid-out: all the bars and clubs are in the same area (how convenient), so there is a great vibe on the street as people walk from one place to another. We went in a couple of cars and got taken to a club called 'dirty' - and yes, the name really does say it all. But hey, the music was good and I was keen for a dance. I also met up with some friends from church (JOHN WULF included), and went to a bar nearby for a chilled drink. After that, I returned to the club to continue jamming with the Europeans. As the night neared its end, we began to move towards the exit of the club, only to be most rudely interrupted by a freaking DRIVE-BY SHOOTING! Right outside the club! Really? I mean, I felt quite at home, but still, it was rather a shock. I wasn't yet outside the club, but some of the other students were, and so they had to do the whole get down on the pavement thing - so crazy. Many of them had never heard gun shots before, and so at first thought that it was fireworks (seriously). So ja, that was our eventful night in Portland! And apparently that kind of thing seldom happens in Portland (although they say that gang violence is on the increase). Obviously it would happen when all the Europeans are there. Murphy's Law.

It was my roommate Ally's birthday yesterday. Yay! I woke her up in the morning holding two muffins with a lit candle in each muffin (a 1 and an 8 - she turned 18, duh), as well as gifts and the happy birthday song (it seemed appropriate). That was fun. The two of us went out for dinner last night and discovered a GREAT sushi place, that is really close to campus and really cheap too! C'mon! It even has a sushi belt and everything. We are both pretty stoked and plan to return soon. We then took a li'l walk to Safeway and bought an ice-cream cake (or ice-cream pie I think). Ally loves them and I had never tried one before...they are good!

Just after we got back from Safeway there was loud knocking (well, banging really) on our door. Four girls from one of the sorority houses on campus had arrived to present a formal invitation to me to join the Alpha Chi sorority house. I was invited there for a little Meet&Greet on Monday night, got a tour of the house and met a bunch of the girls who lived there. And they have now invited me to join! Sororities and fraternities are quite a big deal here, but I'm not quite sure what this would entail, since I don't think that I would actually move in to the house. Anyway, more on this later... watch this space.

What else? Hung out with friends from church last night, which is always fun. I am making good friends in the church I am going to, and think that that, more than anything else, is probably why I feel so settled here. JOHN WULF and his housemates were a part of the party, and they were my chauffeurs (or chaperones?)  for the night (thanks JOHN! (and Ryan and James) Lol.

Hey, our first performance is on Saturday! (The Willamette Singers that is, and not the band of circus midgets that I recently joined). We are performing in a Choral Leadership Workshop. I was chosen to sing the solo in one of the songs, which means that I will be singing solo parts in two songs (fun!), and playing piano on one of the songs too.

The other really important event of this week was the commencement of my internship at the Statesman Journal - a local newspaper. Apart from the fact that it totals my afternoons, and leaves me an ever-decreasing amount of free time (as it adds up to 12 or more hours per week), I am LOVING it. They have thrown me right into the deep-end and given me stuff to write, as well as a business feature story to cover (as of today). Can I get a woop woop!! for journalism experience and a significantly enhanced CV (otherwise known as a resume - to all my American friends out there, like JOHN WULF).

Ok, I'm going to stop! We all know that this is already long, so I'm not even going to try and qualify it (other than by saying, "What can I say? I have a lot to say!"). hehe. Thanks for reading though! (if indeed you are reading this sentence, which means that you have actually read all the way through).

PLEASE NOTE: JOHN WULF was not harmed during the making of this blog post.