December 2013
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Monday, December 23, 2013

A New New York

Christmas at NYU's campus...
A good message...

Then there is the time when home stops feeling like home. Well, at least second homes. New York City adopted me during my college years, complete with favorite restaurants, familiar streets, and friendly faces. This time around, however, things were a bit different.

Walking down University Place, it was like a different journey from the one I once took between Union Square and Washington Square. Amorino was selling gelato, “Fine European Food” was splashed on a new store front, a new upscale supermarket replaced the one I remember, and other details masked the street I once knew. Different.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

(Re)Discovering Christmas in Brussels

La Grande Place decked out...
Even Manneken Pis celebrates...
Christmas cheer – it’s harder to find when you’re not circling Lego sets and dinosaur action figures in a catalog to drop hints for Santa. Paris doesn't always make it easy either. Sure the windows are up and the trees are, well, kind of there, but it’s not the same as home for an American expat.

While the carols hardly started playing chez Pirolli this December, I took a trip to Brussels for an academic conference and to reconnect with a friend from the US who has expatriated there some time ago. Little did I know how much a trip to the city synonymous with tiny cabbages could ignite my Christmas furnace.

First, the displays. A real Christmas tree in the Grande Place trumped the mess of a tree in front of Notre Dame. As we walked through the square, onlookers stood in awe as the lights around the old guild buildings beamed with some sort of post-apocalyptic soundtrack. Very festive, indeed.