Baltimore form Fed Hill
I officially live in Baltimore! The past month has been a whirlwind of moving (driving up from Florida was an adventure on it’s own – more on that another time), finding a place to live, moving in, and starting my awesome new job. Oh, and also my friend Travis came down from NYC to visit and we went to the Presidential Inauguration in DC! 

But first: Baltimore. I love Baltimore. I have loved it *slightly less* in the past week because it has been FREEZING and snowy and I have been sick. Of course, that’s no surprise because my body has not been in a cold winter in a very, very long time. Two years in Florida, a year in Australia, and four years in South Carolina will ruin your body’s capacity for cold.

However, the city is lovely. Where I live is just awesome. I live on the edge of the popular Federal Hill neighborhood (a hot spot for the mid-20’s to mid-30’s crowd – I am also not accustomed to seeing so many YOUNG people, but it is pretty awesome!). One of my co-workers lives nearby so I have already met a number of cool people through him and even already attended a trivia night – one of my favorite things to do! I also find the Inner Harbor absolutely charming (fitting, for they do call Baltimore “Charm City”) and can’t wait to explore some of the other neighborhoods – to be done when the weather and my health improve.

Of course, also since I’ve moved here the Ravens have gone on to win their playoff games and qualify for the Super Bowl. I am sure this will be a crazy weekend here in Baltimore!

Panorama of Baltimore from Fed Hill - with Travis
I also absolutely LOVE my job. Cultural Vistas is pretty much the coolest company ever to work for. My co-workers are so nice I almost can’t believe it. (Really, I have been constantly surprised by how incredibly friendly and helpful everyone here is.) I love the work I’m doing, there are some great benefits, and it helps that my company is a nonprofit so I can’t help but feel good about my (internationally-focused!) mission.

In case you aren’t familiar with Cultural Vistas, they offer a constantly expanding repertoire of international exchange opportunities. So if you’re looking to go abroad for a really fulfilling exchange experience — particularly an internship abroad or some kind of professional development experience (usually including language learning and some kind of work experience) — you should really look at their offerings. There are a number of fellowships, which means basically everything or close to everything is paid for. The paid programs are extremely affordable; I believe they are all well under $1,000 for generally 3+ month programs. And there is something for pretty much everyone: Americans (high school and college students and young professionals) AND for citizens of other countries looking to come to the U.S. I highly recommend checking it out!

But enough plugging my awesome company that I love love and feel so lucky and giddy to work for. I do feel like my life is really getting on a great track, and I don’t know if I’ve ever felt like everything was coming together and fitting so perfectly. I just feel fulfilled and satisfied with my job, where I live, and the way things are going. I don’t even really mind my commute – and that’s saying something! There have been some bumps along the way — in particular, a continuance to a saga of grief with my car — but overall the good has far outweighed the bad. There is a lot to be said for having a job you like at a company you are proud of with a pleasant work environment and friendly co-workers!

Inauguration sunrise
And as I mentioned, Travis came to visit and we decided to head down to DC for the inauguration. Our awesome USC friend Shannon lives there and previously worked for the Obama campaign, so she actually managed to come across a couple tickets for us! It was an exciting and crazy awesome surprise for us!

Tickets to the Inauguration!Yes, it was cold. Yes, it was a bit of a drag to wake up at 6 a.m. knowing you were going to stand around outside for the next 5+ hours in the freezing cold just waiting. But it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. (Literally, I am not sure I would do it again unless I felt a really compelling reason.)

But I am SO glad I went. Anyone who heard Obama’s speech would have to agree it was nothing short of inspiring. Maybe it’s just me, but I felt that he could finally bluntly talk about some of the issues he’s had to dance around until re-election. There was a definite energy in the crowd that was so cool to feel and experience. I listened to it the next day on the radio while driving to work, and it was a rush to thing I was there, to hear the crowd shout and cheer and know I was a part of that. And we of course greatly enjoyed the musical stylings of James Taylor, Kelly Clarkson, and Beyonce (despite the later drama).

I hope to get down to DC much more – both for work (already a trip planned) and pleasure. It really is so close! I also hope to get up to NYC (again, for work and pleasure) in good time as well. I really can’t wait to get into spring – I am looking forward to a lot of things that will start happening in B’more and around once the weather warms up! (And I look forward to coming home from work and still having some daylight!)

Stay tuned for maybe a little bit more on the inauguration, and definitely more on Baltimore and who knows where else as I get out and exploring!

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