America Trip Part 1: Family & Friends

We made it through the wilderness, yeah we made it throuuuughhh!

Obviously, the wilderness is 7 months of basement lockdown and 2.5 years away from home.

Honestly, traveling during the pandemic wasn’t as bad as I expected. We needed a negative covid test, which is a requirement to enter the United States. Plus, when we left for America, we had both vaccine doses, but it hadn’t been two weeks since the second dose, so we weren’t yet considered “fully vaccinated.” This was no problem since testing is free and on every other corner in Munich. Masks were required, which we expected and, quite frankly, liked. The only noticeable difference was the availability of stuff to do in the airport in Munich (most everything was closed), a long line to get to our gate (an extra check for the negative test and a valid reason to enter the U.S. as tourists are still not allowed), and reduced food and drink service on the flight (only one wine for me).

Overall, it was quite easy!

This time, we had about 3.5 weeks at home, split between both families and friends. From this point, this post is basically just a bunch of pictures.


Part 1: The Crosson Crew

The Crosson/Christopoulos crew met us full force as soon as we stepped off the plane… all 15 of them! It was a lovely (albeit slightly overwhelming, no offense, of course 🤪) start to our trip, and they were a great welcome home gang!

After that, we went to a baseball game, tried new restaurants, played on the lake, and basically fit in as much as we could while we could.

Charlotte, NC

Part 2: The Wrights

As usual on trips home, Shane and I were only together for about a week, and he’s really bad at taking pictures. So, it’s a good thing my mother-in-law arranged for some family photos.


Part 3: Friends

As expected, there’s never enough time at home, but we were lucky to be able to fit in a few friend trips.

East Carolina guys (+ a new addition).

Like most, the pandemic gave us time to do a lot (too much?) thinking. We’ve always justified living abroad because “we’re only a flight away.” For over a year, the pandemic dictated otherwise, which made us particularly appreciative of our time at home and the friends and family who made the effort to come to see us or check-in while we were in America.

What have we learned? While we love living abroad, two years away is too long. đź’—


Up next? Chicago!… where we spent our final few days in America.

TschĂĽss,

Whitney

Groningen Round-Up 3 (Plus Some Extra)

So, remember that time we went home for Christmas?

…probably not, because I never actually blogged about it! (facepalm)

In short:

We flew home – we had Christmas with our families – we celebrated New Year’s Eve – I turned 32 (not too keen on seeing that in writing) – we saw as many friends as we could – Shane got to see some of his nephew’s swim meets – time went way too fast – we came back to the Netherlands!

I’ll let the pictures show the details. Presented in chronological order.

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Shane was a mattress shopping assistant.
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Star Wars.
curious kitten. Muffin wouldn't let me get any pictures this trip.
Curious kitten, Abby.
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Birthday!
Birthday, again!

Since we’ve been back, we’ve been laying low. Shane is officially in the final stretch of Ph.D. so there is a lot of writing going on in our house at the moment. There have been a few new developments though.

1. We booked our next trip! We will be heading to Livigno, Italy for a week of snowboarding in March.

2. We checked something off our Groningen bucket list! We FINALLY made it to an FC Groningen match. The best part? The tickets were free (thanks to our insurance ‘healthy points’ rewards program) and we ended up being 4 rows from the field! The match ended in a tie, but it was so nice to go to a live sporting event.

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3. I started a Dutch course! For two hours every Tuesday and Thursday night, I’ll be in class. The group is 16 people, and the people are from all over. Mexico, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, India, Poland, Bosnia and America (me), to be exact. I think it’s so cool for such a diverse group of people to be united over a common goal of learning Dutch. Supposedly, when I complete the course I’ll be halfway to ‘B2’ level, which would be advanced-intermediate. I should be able to have conversations and more clearly express opinions in Dutch without problems. I’ll report back on how it goes.

4. We are fully on the climbing train. Right now, we’ve been going to the climbing gym about twice a week. Our gym does mostly top-rope climbing and has a very small (indoor) bouldering room. We recently found out about a fairly new bouldering gym here in Groningen, so we decided to check it out. Lots of fun!

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5. And most importantly, Meatball got a house for Christmas (had to get the XL version…). Toooooo cute!

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So, I think that’s about all! More to come after snowboarding. 🙂

Tot ziens,

Whitney

A Shwitastic Party !

Hi Everyone!

I’m finally back with part two of our wedding adventure in Banner Elk, NC at the Cornerstone Cabins.

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First, we’ve said it before, but we’re saying it again! HUGE thank you to my mom and sister who were the creative geniuses behind this. Shane and I said we wanted an ‘outdoor, cookout, tailgate-feel party with BBQ’ and they more than delivered.

We would also like to say thank you again to my Dad, Shane’s parents, and the rest of the family who helped execute the vision! We know there was a lot of coordination to make this happen, and we can’t thank you enough for it!

Instead of a lot of chit-chat, I’m going to let the photos do the talking.

The Venue
Our suprise bluegrass band!

Our Surprise Ceremony!

Yep, you read correctly! We know we were a little untraditional, having the wedding just the two of us in Croatia. While Croatia was absolutley perfect, we decided that it would also be a fun idea to share this with the friends and family who traveled to celebrate with us.

We made the announcement about the ceremony, Shane and I ran inside to change & our guests were entertained with bubbly!

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The ceremony was written and officiated by my one and only sister! Sis couldn’t have written a more perfect ceremony. It was a fantasitc balance of thoughtful and funny… particularly when she had me quoting Taylor Swift to Shane as part of my vows.

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Many thanks to my awesome cousin, Linsdey Milani, who took pictures during the party, ceremony & all the group family shots!  Love ya cousin! 🙂

Let the Party Begin!

The ECU crew.

The Family Photos

The Wright Gang 

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The Crosson and Christopoulos Crew

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All in all, we could not have asked for anything better! We went back to Holland looking for excuses to have ‘A Shwitastic Party 2.0’.

Thanks to everyone who celebrated with us in person, and in spirit! We love you all!

Tot ziens,

The Shwits

p.s.- we’re still waiting on the professional pictures from Croatia. Once we have them then we will share! 🙂 ❤

Oh America, how we missed you…

And we’re back!

That’s right, after 4 short weeks traveling the eastern half of the United States, we are back in Groningen.  We technically made it back two weeks ago, but it’s taken some time to get caught up on sleep/work/day-to-day life.  As to be expected, we have lots to share, which means multiple posts.  However, for now I’ll keep it simple and just recap the past month (Whitney will follow with more specific and exciting news).

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Major stops highlighted: 11 diferent states visited

It all started one cool, dark December day in northeastern Holland.  Our story begins in the city of Groningen, in a small, one bedroom apartment just outside of city center.  After months of planning, we were finally preparing to head back to the U.S. (the first time in 18 months!).  However, not everyone in the Wright/Crosson household was so excited…

Don’t worry, she was well taken care of while we were away!

Our journey began with an early morning drive to Amsterdam, followed by flights to Munich, Germany and then finally on to Charlotte, NC.

All told, it is about 24 hours from start to finish.  Despite the long trip, we were warmly greeted!

Way too blury, but I guess that’s to be expected in the excitment of seeing family after 1.5 years.  Whitney jump-hugging her mom, while mine hurries past.

Now I could continue on in chronoligical order of our entire 4 week trip, but that would take forever! So instead, I’ll categorize, mostly sharing pictures.

First and foremost, we got to spend time with family (the following of which is only a sample – aka when we remembered to take pictures)!

We saw friends (and met new additions)!

We spent time in our old stomping grounds, Pittsburgh!

We spent lots of time driving and thus had many unplanned stops along the way (only one of which we have photographic evidence of)!

Whitney had a birthday (30!)….

….and quickly embraced this new step in life.

And finally, we ended back where we began: Charlotte!

Interesting side note: we’ve always wondered if upgrading seats for long flights is worth it.  The verdict? Totally worth it! Sooo much leg room!

So there you have it: 4 weeks of friends and family as told with minimal text and lots of pictures.  To say that we enjoyed our time in the U.S. is an understatement.  We have been looking forward to it since the day we moved and it did not dissappoint!  To all of those that we were unable to see this trip, it’s definitely happening next time! In the meantime, planes also fly this direction….hint hint. We love visitors!

Coming soon: Whitney will follow with a more detailed post of trip specifics.

Looking ahead: 2016 is shaping up to be a fun-filled year. Stay tuned for some new travel adventures and other randomness!

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Did I hear you say more travel?!?

Until next time,

Shane