Seven Memories Abroad

In which Daniel circumnavigates Europe.


To my dear reader,

There’s a certain irony to the fact that, in spite of the grand scale of the adventure, the summer of 215 spent studying music and literature in Milan, Italy, is something that seems so unreal in retrospect. This isn’t to say that it was earth-shatteringly good, yet thinking back on it makes it seem like I might have read about it in a book, or seen a movie, not went there myself. A few memories do float to the top, however, and these are those memories.

  1. The Tree of Life


I’m standing at the World Expo, an enormous fair wherein countries create exhibits addressing a specific global issue – this year, food sustainability. It is fitting given my sophomore year spent as the Director of Sustainability in Puget Sound’s Residential Life. The crowd I’ve joined has circled an enormous statue of a tree which, amid the Verdi opera aria blaring from the speakers, has begun to bloom huge cloth flowers.

  1. Many Boats


At the largest art museum in Milan, there is a small room with one glass window for a wall and mirrors for the remaining surfaces. Blue cloth is piled on the floor with small, antique boats on top, and although there are only three boats in the tiny room, the mirrors multiply the number, and multiply again, until the room seems like an endless fleet of tiny boats.

  1. Verdi’s Café


The proudest moment I have during this time abroad is in Verdi’s Café, a small restaurant near the IES Abroad Center that I frequent. With only two days of the program left, I have become quite proficient in Italian, and as I look around the café, I’m shocked to realize that I can understand the words on every poster in the room.

  1. In the Black Forest


After the program ends, I spend two weeks wandering Europe, and in this time, I end up visiting Shoshana Strom, a fellow Puget Sound student studying in Freiburg, Germany. On one adventure, we arrive at a café in the Black Forest, and it is there that I have the best meal I can remember eating. It is a Potato-Leek Soup, with Black Forest Cake and a Café Macchiato. I have since tried and horribly failed at recreating this meal.

  1. Cobblestones


Salzburg is the Europe that I had dreamt of before coming to Europe, but never received. I unexpectedly befriend two Korean girls that are staying in the same hostel as me, and we stumble upon a tiny tavern together amid the rain in the tiny, cobblestone streets.

  1. Delicate Shades


Vienna is the first city on my free adventures in Europe that makes me realize how homesick I am. The city is so much more crowded than the others I visited, and I’ve become nervous and anxious in the crowds. While wandering the city with two Korean boys I’ve befriended, I find a quiet chapel. The windows seem peaceful.

  1. One Night Town


The last city I visit before I return to Milan for my flight home is Bled, Slovenia, and although it is small, t bustles with life. On my last night there, I befriend a large group of students from around the U.K. and, after buying some pizza, we unexpectedly decide to go on a bar crawl. When we return to the hostel in the wee hours of the morning, we find that someone has stolen my pizza, but left the box. Although I’m not too irked, the group seems irked on my behalf, and I find myself feeling a strange affection for these strangers that bemoan my lost pizza for me.

Does it all mean something? I wouldn’t know.


With all due respect,

Daniel Wolfert

All That Glitters Is Not Gay

In which Daniel takes inventory of some of his most attractive attributes.

11012854_10206110294570399_7965185417526830877_nTo my dear reader,

The most distinct memories I have of my time visiting Freiburg, Germany was that of a friend taking me to my first gay nightclub. It was a great time for all involved, except for the sober people forced to watch drunk folk gyrating to bad pop remixes, and the straight men still uncomfortable with watching men grind on one another, but I’m not counting those people since I wasn’t among them. The only qualm I had with the whole evening was how I felt looking at the gay men around me.

They were gorgeous. They towered over me with their flawlessly casual hair, enormous biceps and definitive jawlines. They were Olympians and I was a little stick figure with twig arms, saying “Don’t look at me!” Any notion of dancing with a boy was eradicated, and although I still had a great time, I couldn’t help but feel like I was having the door to their glittering life shut in my face.

It’s a common stereotype that gay men are obsessed with appearance, going to the gym/spa/salon religiously. For most gay men that I know, this is about as true as myths that the government is comprised of villainous lizard people (READ: only true in a small number of instances).

Yet whenever I’ve seen large gatherings of gay men, it seems that those within this stereotype outnumber those outside. In spite of how much being a gay man has shaped me, I struggle identifying with the larger gay male community because of my physical “deficiencies” – including but not limited to…

-Small stature, standing up at 5’5” and pocket-sized for your convenience

-A rotund tummy which, for a nickel, you can rub for good luck

-A child sized jaw which makes my face look like the moon

-Enormous, lopsided teeth, which I’ve been told are so large that they should belong in the skull of someone that is 6 feet tall

-Wide, flat hobbit feet, which leave behind footprints that are literally just triangles

-Continuous acne that lends me the eternally youthful appearance of an 11-year-old just beginning puberty

-An unconscious resting bitch face that suggests I am any combination of angry, bored, confused and constipated

I would never claim that the self-image challenges men face are worse than those that women and non-binary folk face. After all, I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen a magazine cover with a man covered in oil gently caressing his own nipples with a facial expression that either says “Come hither” or “I’m having a gassy fit.”

Yet every time that I listen to Beyonce’s “Pretty Hurts” or Mary Lambert’s “Body Love,” I can’t help but be a little jealous. Of course, women’s self-image struggles are exacerbated by media and consumerism, but women are speaking – and singing – out against it. Not so with men – I’ll eat my own hobbit feet when I hear a male singer reminding young boys that they are beautiful too.

So keep your height, Glittering Gays of Freiburg. Keep your flawlessly casual hair, enormous biceps and definitive jawlines.  You can have it all, because I have something you’ll never have: definitive knowledge that I am average looking.  While you’re going to the gym/spa/salon religiously, I’ll be over here with my twig arms, in an ugly tank top and flip flops. After all, who’s going to care?

Not me.


With all due respect,

Daniel Wolfert