Page 3 of Yasmeena Travel Blog Posts

Europe » France » Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur » Menton February 19th 2012

Thanks in large part to a generous donation to the University of Chicago Paris abroad program, a group of two dozen students (twelve from the University of Chicago and the rest from Sciences Po in Paris) were graciously invited to accompany Professor Lisa Wedeen in her lecture to the south of France, for an overnight stay in Menton- a beautiful town nestled in the sands of the Mediterranean, by the edge of Italy. Upon arrival, we were warmly welcomed by the students and program director of Sciences Po in Menton. From the many experiences I have had while abroad in Paris, I must say spending time in Menton was the most wonderful adventure of all. The view from Sciences Po was completely breathtaking. Not only were the facilities new, the reception room where we were hosted ... read more

Europe » France January 18th 2012

Last weekend, collection of us were rounded up and transported to the Loire Valley- one of the most spectacular things I have yet seen here. We spent the day exploring castles, dining, and traveling throughout the French countryside. These castles, namely Chateau d’Amboise and Chambord, were a relic of the past that symbolically narrated French history.It was a two hour bus ride from the south of Paris, where many of us students are residing, to the Valley itself. Hazy for most of the ride, our bus swam through a sea of fog. We left early in the morning, and one of the most striking things about Paris is that the sun does not come up until well past eight in the morning. So when we boarded the bus, the moon was still out… Our first destination ... read more
Entering Chateau d'Amboise
Loire Valley 1-13-12 006
Town of Amboise

Europe » France » Île-de-France » Paris January 3rd 2012

Hello my friends! Here I am, in the City of Light! It is considered the fashion capital of the world, epicenter to cultural intellectualism and artistry, and home to the most sophisticated standard of high living and propriety. I am in Paris, the grandiose capital of France. And I am here for the next few winter months on a mission to discover an entirely new society of being. The last time I was here was fifteen years ago, when I was a little girl. I don’t remember much other than the Eiffel Tower and that surprise drop in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland. I have heard from so many people that Paris is one incredible city with no other like it, and I will spend the next ten weeks trying to ... read more

North America » United States » Illinois » Chicago October 15th 2011

I'm back (home) to Chicago, after too long an absence away. This fall has been particularly beautiful, and leaves are turning alluring shades of yellow, orange, and bring red before floating gently unto the ground. When viewed collectively, it is quite a break-taking sight. Those of you from the East Coast and Midwest may laugh at me marveling at the simple concept of leaves turning color before the cold winter months, but this is my third autumn in Chicago, and I still cannot get over how amazing this phenomenon is. Fall became my favorite season after I saw and felt how beautiful the atmosphere is supposed to be. What's more, temperatures cool significantly in the fall and the mugginess of summer evaporates. Trips to the lake (Michigan) become a favorite pastime for bikers, runners, joggers, and ... read more
Jackson Park
University of Chicago

North America » United States » California September 12th 2011

I have returned to California for the remainder of my beautifully long summer vacation. It was very strange jumping from one reality that is the Middle East into another- within a matter of hours. The truth is I had the more culture shock returning to the States than when I went to Syria! When I arrived home, I went around my house just touching things and marveling at our home’s “grand” size. Southern California is unlike any other part of America. It is remarkable in that sprawling cities, such as Los Angeles, are nestled among miles and miles of coastline, mountains, and desert. Within a matter of hours, a drive in any direction will take you to a completely different environment. Many people here enjoy recreational sports such as water skiing, snowboarding, horseback riding, and dirt ... read more
Disneyland at Night
A creek
A hiking trial overlooking the dusty suburbs

Middle East » Syria » South » Damascus August 24th 2011

I came to Syria at a time of uncertainty, a time when most people and analysts around the world were unsure of what was happening. There was a moment in late May where I had to decide for myself whether I should continue with my plans to visit Syria. I could have taken a job on campus, lived with friends, and had an easy summer. There is no doubt that I would have loved to have done that! But there was something unsettling about the whole idea- it felt like I was turning away from what was important to me in exchange for the assurance of security. And I thought, since when had anything I had ever done went without risk? 2012 is an election year, and I want to be in Chicago for it. ... read more

Middle East » Syria » South » Damascus August 12th 2011

Shame on me for waiting this long to write about such an important topic. The cuisine in Syria is absolutely delicious as it is diverse and satisfying. One of the best ways to get a taste (literally) of Arab culture is through its food. The food holds a deep representation of the traditions, history, and culture of Arab society. It borrows and shares its flavors with the Greeks, Turks, North Africans, and dare I say, Romans, because after centuries of conquest and civilization, food from around the Mediterranean hold similar flavors and bases. The flavor around Syrian cuisine is based off olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper. The staples in every lunch table are grains like bulghar wheat, rice, and bread. A typical meal will consist of salad, beef or chicken, and some “focal point” (or ... read more

Middle East » Syria August 4th 2011

August 1st marked the beginning of Ramadan, the holy Muslim month in which followers fast from sunrise to sunset. August is also the hottest month in Syria, and many countries in the Middle East, so fasting continues on for hours. Fasting in this definition include the abstinence of any food or drink during daylight hours. It begins at around 4:00 in the morning and continues until 7:40 at night. Ramadan began when my father and I were in our village two hours north west of Damascus. I met a farmer (also the village mayor) who had been working on his fields and fasting at the same time. The amount of water lost just standing outside in this humid area is enough to cause dehydration, and yet here he was talking to us as if it was ... read more

Middle East » Syria » South July 27th 2011

It's two o'clock in the morning here in Syria, and like many college nights I spent tossing in my bed wide awake with thought, I have found that the same awful habit has followed me here. So here I am writing my thoughts down. I took an Arabic course at Damascus University, and met some pretty remarkable and brave Europeans. Most had been here far longer than I had, and are genuinely enjoying their time in Syria. They are not afraid to travel and take charge of their lives, and for that I greatly admire. I had been toying with the idea of taking a train to Boston or flying down to Savannah, and yet I am meeting people not much older than I taking buses (buses!) around Syria. Syria is my home, a part of ... read more

Middle East » Syria July 15th 2011

No doubt American and Arab societies vary greatly, but what I am finding is that no matter what the differences, the same elements, such as love, trust, and friendship, remain the same. I will explain the process of courtship in Syria that may seem a little different than the process of courtship in the United States. I find that in America, people “accidentally” get married- if I ask many of my college friends now, very few have the intention of getting married in the near future. Indeed most of them will, but perhaps sometime down the road. Most are focused on educational advancements and their careers. Marriage is something that comes along later, after we’ve “found” ourselves, we seek to find someone else. But in Syria, the process is different. Whereas in the West the person ... read more

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