A Camping Trip Where It Didn’t Rain (What?)

So growing up myself, my adopted grandmother, my brothers, and her actual grandchildren would go on a camping trip every summer. And every summer, it would rain the exact days we’d be out in the wilderness. It didn’t matter if it was a weekend, the middle of the week, two days, three days, northern Indiana, western Indiana, central Indiana…it rained. Always.

So when I had the opportunity to go on a camping trip disguised as a women’s retreat part of me was like, oh yay strong female relationships! and the other part of me was like damn it I know it’s going to rain I just know it plus, you know, spiders and dirt.

But I did go in the end. I knew two people on the trip (Liv and Nina you guys are my rocks and among the greatest human beings I know) and precisely no one else out of the 11 others who went.

That weekend was so good for everything. As you all know from my post earlier in the semester, I’d been struggling a lot with being home, but also being away from home, trying to stay in the moment my senior year, but also being in a long distance relationship (Side note: 47 more days!!). This retreat was all about being “Unedited.” About not hiding the struggles, asking for help and advice and guidance from God, yes, but also strong women who are also going through their own struggles. It was about lifting each other up in prayer and with being social and meeting new people and also fireside worship complete with Famous Amos cookies and s’mores (never underestimate those).

Also it was in a beautiful location (Brown County State Park!):


This retreat was a great decision and I loved every minute of it (even that moment when Nina told me she almost didn’t move a spider that was about to crawl into my mouth while I was sleeping but then did it anyway. You’re a true friend).

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Senioritis…It’s Real

Senioritis is real and it is on full force in my life. I have zero motivation to do anything at all ever. I just sleep. And think about what I should be doing and then finally do those things. Eventually.

This video posted below makes me cry from laughing so hard every single time I watch it. I hope it brings as much joy to you as it has to me in this season of senioritis and finals.

{Insert language warning}

Learning and Listening While Walking Backwards (But Not Really)

Campus Visits has given me so much over the last three years. In part, this includes public speaking skills, six free shirts, many free meals, the ability to walk backwards, and some of my best friends.
In our office especially, a huge emphasis is placed on “shared experiences.” That is, sharing our IUPUI experiences with guests in such a way that they feel it could also be part of their experience one day or can imagine themselves as part of our community.
Little did I know when I started that the guests would sometimes be sharing their experiences with me and I’d learn more about my community and environment surrounding my college bubble than anywhere else.
Campus Visits has also given me invaluable insight in the various school systems of Indianapolis and Indiana in general as well as insight into the minds and hearts of kids of all ages. I’ve given tours to township elementary schools, IPS middle schools, Carmel/Fishers high schools, and every possible iteration of the above.
As you can imagine, the feel of these tours is incredibly unique depending on the demographics of the group in question.
As such, I’d like anyone who struggles with stereotyping and preconceptions to take over our job for awhile.
Because yes, in general the inner city IPS schools are a little more rough around the edges. In general, the middle school kids are the hardest to keep control of. In general, the elementary school kids have a much shorter attention span.
But in all three of the above groups, OFTEN they are far more interested in what I am saying, have better questions, and are more enthusiastic about college and the information they are intaking than the more “desirable” groups from better areas. Or the high school seniors who should care but don’t and actively show it with their lack of eye contact and stubborn silence.
I would take a group of rowdy middle school kids who ask good questions and laugh at my jokes over quiet high school kids who stare at me with blank disinterested faces any day.
I’d also like to encourage anyone who has an issue with dismissing kids or ignoring them as “stupid” to go on a tour.
Last week I had a group of elementary students (5th/6th grade) that was probably in the top three tours I’ve ever given bar none. Elementary kids are difficult to plan a tour for because they’re not old enough to care about things like the FAFSA, but you want to give them a good idea of what college is like and all about so that that impression sticks with them until they start thinking about it more their junior/senior year of high school. I wish I could’ve taped this particular tour so you all could see the excitement on the kids’ faces as they heard about possible majors they had never heard of before. Or as they marvelled at the fact there’s a Chik-fil-a on campus (it really is the little things).
I wish you could’ve seen the little freckled girl with glasses. And that’s not just because she was basically my twin from when I was younger. I wish you heard her ask me throughout the tour when we were going to see the library and then as we walked through it, seen her wide-eyed gaping at everything and hear her (what seemed like) a hundred questions about the kinds of books we have and where you can read on campus etc.
I wish you could’ve heard the boy (who had been diligently writing down notes the entire tour) quietly walk up beside me and ask if bullying was a problem at college because, “I have ADHD and I’m smart which is two strikes against me.” This is a statement I never want to hear from A TEN YEAR OLD ever again. I about lost it but I was very proud to inform him that no, college and especially IUPUI does not have a bullying problem and we love smart people around here.
I wish you could’ve heard another kid tell me he wanted to be like his mom and study at the Herron School of Art and Design here. THAT’S the level of excitement and innocence that makes up for a thousand pissed off/moody teenagers from privileged neighborhoods, who take for granted the fact they get to wear their Ugg boots on tour (YES THAT HAPPENED IN SEPTEMBER WHAT IS WRONG WITH FASHION THESE DAYS) and complain that they’re hungry and then go back to their top-tier education they’re blessed to have simply because of where they can afford to live.
Or the tour today for a gaggle of 5th-grade girls from (that is the correct term right?). When I asked them who liked to write (this is usually an iffy prospect at best), nearly the entire group of 30+ shot their hands in the air. We had a million questions about everything from how to become a doctor to if the teachers are nice. The fact that this is a concern among 5th graders is also somewhat disturbing. Whereas many parents and older students scoff at the renovations going on in the Natatorium right now, these girls were amazed at the size of the facility. They saw the big picture, not the current griminess and I loved it.
I’m a tour guide. It’s stressful. It’s hard work. It’s mentally and emotionally exhausting. I’m an orator. I am, in some ways, a teacher. I’m a fount of knowledge (that’s probably the most pretentious sentence I’ve ever written). I’m also a glorified babysitter at times.
College in general is eye-opening and expands your horizons. But my job has given me access to a part of Indianapolis and Indiana that I don’t think I ever would have experienced in such a unique way anywhere else.
So in addition to the above, contrary to my entire job description that requires me to talk for two hours on end, I am also simply a learner and a listener.

London: Day 1

Hi all. Do I win the award for Worst Travel Blogger Ever? Probably as it’s now been two months since this trip.

Free travel tip: If you’re traveling on Virgin Trains from Birmingham to London and buy your regular-coach ticket online, on the day you travel, you can go by the office at the train station and upgrade to first class for only 10 pounds.

Jess and I did so because, I mean, first class.

Free snacks and a comfy two-hour ride later, we arrived!

After dropping our stuff off at our hotel (only a few minutes walk away from the 2012 Olympic Park), we headed off into the city.

We were starving by that time, so we headed to Burough Market.





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While we did not buy any squid (no fridge in our room unfortunately), we did get some other delicious items to share and try.


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After lunch, we walked along/took the metro down to the waterfront. We wandered past some iconic and historic London sites:

Something Old–Oldest cathedral in London
Something New–The Shard


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cute little guy in St. James’ Park
Look! There’s Big Ben!

Finally we returned to visit the London Dungeons. This was Jess’s idea and while I’m terrified of haunted anything, it was something I hadn’t done the last time I was in London so why not? No pictures because it was too dark and I was honestly not thinking much past not having a heart attack. Jess can confirm the amount of screaming I did.

With that and some yummy dim sum by our hotel, Day #1 was a success!


Being Home

The number one question I’ve been asked is, “How was Spain?”

My standard answer: “It was amazing.”

Because how else can you summarize seven months of living a dream?

The number two question I’ve been asked is, “How is it to be back?”

My standard answer: “It’s nice to see everyone but I don’t like it.”

And that’s the most honest and concise answer I could possibly give without crying.

I don’t want to be here. In all honesty, I highly resent the fact that I have one more year of school left and thus, didn’t have a choice. I had to leave.

It makes for an interesting situation these days. Most people hype up senior year as the ultimate of life experiences. Senior year is supposed to be full of fun and excitement. We’re at the top of the totem pole, so to speak. We get classes in our specialties. We know what we’re doing and we’re confident.  And then, after May 2016, it’s all downhill into the workforce and drudgery of adult life.

So what am I supposed to do when in my head, the ultimate of life experiences already ended on July 31, 2015?


Now before everyone starts going in on me about all I have to look forward to this year…I know.

Believe me, I know. Because I repeat them to myself daily to remind myself that it’s not all bad.

I’m on the student boards of two organizations I’m highly passionate about. I have classes I (mostly) like. I get to start writing again. I get to dance again. I get to see my family and friends whenever I want.

And I know I have a lot to look forward to afterwards. A job back overseas (probably? hopefully?). Being a completely autonomous adult. Etc.

But I’m struggling a lot.

Most people assume it’s because I left a boyfriend behind. I do miss him a lot. An intercultural, intercontinental long distance relationship isn’t easy. So in one sense, they’re right. This period of adjustment and reintroduction to the U.S. and my old normal would be made slightly easier if I didn’t have that connection.

But I miss Spain. I miss Sevilla.

I lived in Indianapolis for 20 years but it took until college for me to feel any kind of deep attachment to the city.

I was in Sevilla for about two weeks before I told my mom point blank that I didn’t want to come home.

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I knew from my time in Mexico that coming back from Spain would also be hard, especially because I’d desperately wanted to go for so long. But in my head, it was a rainbows and roses vision of trying not to preface anything with, “When I was in Spain…” and then telling all my tales of going out with friends and traveling etc.

It’s not all rainbows and roses. Or unicorns.

It’s thunderstorms and thorns. It’s trying so hard to recapture that perfect senior year mindset and attitude so that I don’t look back with regrets on this year. It’s simultaneously missing a particular city and people. It’s having a few hours open up yesterday afternoon and having my first thought be, “I wonder if Ale is free?” before remembering that no, he’s not, because he’s not even on the same continent. It’s giving my Universidad de Sevilla ID card to the lady at IUPUI Parking Services. It’s ordering my coffee in Spanish several times before realizing that the baristas aren’t stupid, they just literally don’t know what I’m saying.

It’s also little things.

It’s trying hard to get used to non-Costa iced coffee. It’s remembering to check for my driver’s license not my metro card. It’s refusing to ever eat broccoli again. It’s missing all my fellow CIEE participants. It’s running through various routes to get to the Fabrica in my head while knowing I most likely will never have to know those routes again.

I’m getting ready to do a study abroad panel/event in a few weeks and there I’ll give my spiel about how much fun Spain was, how I came home basically fluent, how I got to travel a ton etc. I’ll also tell them that it is hard to be dropped into another country. To be prepared for the cultural and linguistic barriers. I’ll give my stories about going to class at a local university and traveling on my own. Basically the same type of stories and spiel I received prior to arriving.


But I wish someone had told me that sometimes returning home is as difficult as leaving. That reverse culture shock is a very real thing and that the one paragraph about it in your pre-departure materials has not adequately prepared you for the very possible reality of feeling completely lost on your return home.

It’s getting better a tiny bit every week. Being in a routine with classes and work helps. I’ve gone back to the “normal” I knew before January. My brain can’t focus constantly on what I don’t have. So I really can’t blame it for not being the normal I really want back, the normal I had found in Sevilla.

So for now, I’ll drink my Americanized tinto de verano, relish the moments in class when I get to speak Spanish (something I once dreaded), and finally never stop encouraging other students to study abroad. Because despite all of this and the struggles to readjust, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

As the infamous Winnie the Pooh said (really A.A. Milne said it let’s be real):

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”