Hi! My name is Ilana, and I am a second-year student at Grinnell College in a small town called Grinnell, Iowa–a town very different from my hometown, about 50 minutes outside of New York City. I am incredibly excited to embark on this adventure of both self and world discovery in Stockholm! I’ve always loved to travel, as I enjoy exploring varying perspectives. That’s also why I’m an English major–I love delving into the seemingly infinite points of view. I cannot wait to take part in my literature core course: “Embodying the Other in European Literature”. From spacial/temporal to cultural to socioeconomic to racial, gender and even species differences, every individual has a different story, a unique voice–yet we are all essentially the same.

That concept easily brings me to my passion for yoga! Namaste, probably the most commonly known Sanskrit word in the Western world, can be translated as “the light in me sees and honors the light in you.” That radiant light is what we all have in common; it is the reason why a 21st-century, 16-year-old white girl from an affluent suburb can deeply connect with and embody a nineteenth century woman from the rural Hunan province of China for 257 pages–why a DIS student can embody the “other” in European literature!

Not only am I excited to share my passion for literature with my community in Stockholm, but I greatly look forward to sharing my knowledge about and passion for yoga, health and wellness. In turn, I look forward to continuing to learn more about myself and the world around me from this same community. One of the most valuable lessons I have learned from YTT is the importance of having a kula. My teacher’s translation of this Sanskrit word is “the community that you choose”–in other words, a group of like-minded individuals who come together with the shared purpose of growing and supporting each other. I cannot wait to find the extension of my kula in Stockholm, both in the yoga community and in my peers and neighbors.

I’ve been in training five days a week, eight hours a day (no, we weren’t doing yoga the whole time). So I’ve been preparing for Stockholm in the free hours in between training and reading and sequencing assignments. Last weekend my mom and I went in for the big haul and completely finished packing, desperately attempting to fit everything into one bag–eliminating probably half of what I initially thought I would take! We had to get it done early because on Monday I started my last week of training and had to prepare for my final practicum (teaching an hour long class). Then on Saturday we promptly left for our annual family beach vacation at 4:00am.

So I’ve realized I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I’ve been mulling over this post for the past two weeks trying to think of the best way to express myself, and only on August 15th–two days before takeoff–am I finally sitting down to write. Writing this blog, and of course, moving to a completely new country, will serve as great exercises in letting go–surrendering to what is instead of attaching to what “should” be. Not to say that I won’t continue striving to reach my goals, but that my goals will not be stringent and stubborn; they will flow with the tide of reality.



“When you come to the edge of what you know, you can be sure of two things: you’ll be given ground on which to stand, and you’ll be given wings.”

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