Halfway through 2019

2019 has been a year of turbulence and exhaustion as opposed to the year of happiness and fun that I was hoping for. But I’m going to look at my worn-out, busted glass as half-full…

This year has been filled with:

Jazz music

Quality time with the ‘rents

Concerts

Trevor Noah

Quality time with my best friend and my Little Sister

Selfies with the pup

A sick honeymoon

Bark in the Park

Carolyn’s amazing bridal shower

I’m hoping that the rest of 2019 is full of weekend getaways, more quality time with loved ones and music!

And if not…

“Let’s raise our glasses and lower our expectations” – Geoffrey Zakarian – Cate Spader

First Day in Lima, Peru (June, 2018)

I’ve been missing my mother-daughter travels and have been holding off on posting photos from my Canon Rebel.  Early this morning I’ve finally uploaded them and am ready to share them with all of you 🙂

My mom and I were in no rush during our first full day in Lima; we decided to walk in gardens and explore off the beaten path.

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We admired how bright and colorful everything was!  We truly knew we were in a new place that was very different from life in Michigan.

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After visiting a local garden, my mom and I chose to walk toward the coast and visit some parks.  It was the perfect day: not too hot, not too cold, not too bright!  Seeing families and dogs at the Parque del Amor (Park of Love) reminded us of Chicago.

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Although the colors at the park were admirable, the architecture was also impressive.  I was never able to visit Barcelona when I was in Spain, but I felt like I was at the famous Park Guell!

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Even though Parque del Amor was surrounded with romance, I am thankful to have shared this experience with my mom.  We both enjoy walking around and soaking in new culture, which made Lima a great destination!

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Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, Chiang Mai 

This weekend, I participated in something extremely spiritual and heartwarming. I visited an elephant sanctuary with my friends from the Mirror Foundation. Mind you, we didn’t ride the elephants, nor do we condone that behavior; however, we fed and bathed them! 
Riding elephants, no matter how “well cared for” they are, is awful. It’s an exploitation of Thai culture, as well as a form of animal cruelty that I won’t even get into. The bottom line is this: always educate yourself on animal treatment, as well as cultural acceptances, when researching zoos and animal sanctuaries!!! 
The experience was incredible. A songtaew picked us up from our hotel in Chiang Mai, where we met three Swedish girls. I recognized the Swedish instantly, and it turns out they lived in Kalmar, where I lived for five months! Small world! 
When we arrived, we immediately changed into matching shirts to wear over our clothes. We had an educational lesson about elephant sanctuaries, which ones are proper, and how to feed/behave around the elephants. 
Feeding them was beyond what I thought it could be. They didn’t even need the bananas to be peeled for them; the only one who did was the seven month-old male named Ronaldo! How cute!!! We held the bananas behind our backs and fed them one by one. I absolutely loved the experience, even if my hands became muddy from their thick tongues! 
Throwing mud at the elephants seemed like an odd task, but we all had so much fun getting messy and the elephants were enjoying themselves! Bathing them off with buckets of water was probably my favorite part, because we could really get up close and personal with the elephants. 
My words and photos don’t do the experience justice. Visit the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary if you’re ever in Chiang Mai! 

Volunteering Abroad: Life in Thailand

I’ve been here since April 17, and I can already tell you that my life has changed for the better.

I’m living in a camp/”commune” like setup.  I have been living in a room with a mosquito net above my bed, have been taking cold bucket showers, and have been eating a low-protein, high-carb diet (opposite from home given that I’m a celiac). 

This experience has been humbling, and to say that is an understatement. 

I am currently teaching English at a local orphanage. The children are so grateful to have us there, teaching them and playing with them of course. I have always wanted to adopt children, and my time here has shown me that I’m meant to do this one day. 

I will be volunteering until May 13, and I am beyond thankful that I have made this decision. I will aim to not take things for granted when I come home on May 21. I want to live like the villagers here: having less and making the most out of life (always having smiles on their faces)! 

Denmark in a Day

Sorry I haven’t been keeping up with posts lately; each day has seemed to come and go too rapidly. I am out of Michigan and now Sweden for the next five months! Studying overseas taught me so much about myself and other cultures, and I know this experience has already done the same. I haven’t even been here one full week!

I began my travels in Canada; Michiganders have the opportunity to fly out of Toronto for affordable prices! From there, I went to Iceland where I only had a one hour layover! Thankfully the airport is small and I’ve been there before! The semifinal destination was Copenhagen where I spent the night and enjoyed the city for a little bit.

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Things to do in Denmark: get lost because it’s a beautiful city, visit the Queen’s Palace and the Little Mermaid statue.

Things not to do: get too lost when you are freezing, it is dark, and you are trying to find your way back home!

All in all, Copenhagen brought out so much of Denmark’s beauty and I would definitely go again in a heartbeat!