Back & Blue

Des Moines is really cool, don’t get me wrong. It’s one of my favorite places in the world. But it’s so weird being here after being abroad. 

I’m sure a lot of my fellow returnees are feeling this same way… It’s not that I’m not happy about being home. I love seeing my friends and family again. But after the magic of being abroad, being back is just sort of… average. 

I can’t grab Starbucks and walk to the beach to enjoy it. 

I can’t make friends with ANY street dogs. 

I can’t practice my Spanish (read: embarrass myself) as much. 

I can’t watch sunsets over the Pacific. 

My only solution was to throw myself 110% into my first semester back. So far, having real classes, i.e. classes that don’t allow for as much travel, and classes with real homework, have been alright for me. I can tell being back will be more challenging. But I’m ready for it. That along with work and kappa and other responsibilities will be more than enough to make me forget what I’m missing out on in that beautiful country 14 hours south of here. 

I’m still missing my abroad experience a ton, and already planning my next abroad adventure… That’s what J-Terms are for, right? 

xoxo

Things I wish I knew my first day of freshman year, with quotes

1. “Kris made a list of all the children and the toys they wanted. He checked it over once, then checked it over twice.” –TV Movie Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Re-check your schedule. Classes may have moved. My freshman year, I walked out of my first class and double checked to see where my next class was at. It had moved to a building I had never even heard of. I was that freshman standing in the middle of the path with a planner map in my hands and a frantic look on my face. There might have been a lanyard involved.

2. “Lol lanyard, freshman.”Every Drake Upperclassman

Don’t buy a lanyard. You look like a freshman. 

3. “If you don’t take risks, you’ll have a wasted soul.” –Drew Barrymore (Very Wise Actress)

Try new things. You’re not going to like your meal plan if you don’t pop out of your bubble. You’re not going to make any friends if you don’t talk to new people. You’re not going to learn if you don’t challenge yourself in your classes. College is your time to expand your horizons and grow as a person, and stepping out of your comfort zone is the first step. 

4. “I get a thrill meeting kids who are into alternative music.” –Kurt Cobain (Musician)

Introduce yourself to your professors. They’re on your side. 

5. “Forgetfulness is a form of freedom.” –Khalil Gibran (???)

But don’t forget the first day essentials. Your laptop. Your writing utensils. Paper. Your ID. Thirst for knowledge. Just come prepared. 

6. “Time is not measured by the passing of years but by what one does, what one feels, and what one achieves.” –Jawaharlal Nehru (again no clue)

The year goes fast. So all those things on your freshman year bucket list that you think you have months to check off? You don’t. Do them now. 

 

Scooter’s Coffee House Review

I tried Scooter’s today, the café that moved in where my beloved Starbucks (RIP) used to be.

My Professional Review of Scooter’s Coffee House:

Scooter’s Coffee House was a delightful experience all around. Walking through the door, I could immediately smell the delicious aroma of freshly brewed coffee. I felt welcomed not only by the baristas behind the counter, but by the fellow guests as well. The vibe there was both comfortable and relaxing, with a hint of productivity. 

I let the cashier know that I had never been there, and was given suggestions on their best drinks. I ended up ordering a turtle latte because you can’t go wrong there. After ordering, the cashier mentioned a deal they were having where you receive a free drink if you purchase a $25 gift card. Knowing that I’d be back, and being unable to pass on anything with the word “promotion” in it, I purchased the gift card. Well done, Scooter’s marketing team. They then gave me a punch card where for every 5 drinks you purchase, you receive the 6th one for free. As a Starbucks gold card member, I have been used to a certain standard of rewards programs. This blew theirs out of the water. Again, kudos to Scooter’s marketing team. 

My drink was handed to me with a smile, and after one sip I was smiling as well. I sat down to read my book, and continued to enjoy the relaxing ambience of the soft music and warm smell of espresso. 

My Not As Professional Review of Scooter’s Coffee House:

The coffee was great, the vibe was even better. It’ll be the perfect early morning pick-me-up on my way to class, or study spot later in the evening. Yay for coffee, thank you Scooter’s for bringing moderately priced espresso drinks back into my life. <3 

 

http://www.scooterscoffee.com/

A Week on the East Coast

I got to travel to the east coast this past week for both a training in Stamford, CT, as well as kind of a vacation in Boston (Duxbury), MA, and an hour or two of wandering in downtown NYC.

The training was awesome. I got to learn more about promoting study abroad, met some awesome people, and the food wasn’t half bad either* (*the food was incredible). AIFS is an awesome organization.

The highlight of my trip, however, was seeing my favorite person in the world again, after a month and a half without him.

We only spent a little while in downtown Boston, where we got to see a breakdance crew, an alpaca, and the shops and restaurants of Faneuil hall. We also got to experience the traffic struggles of a big city, and were able to grab brunch at this amazing restaurant next to the Garden. This is where I got to try fried oysters for the first time; they were delicious.

Down in Duxbury, I got to see what small town New England life was like. The beach was incredible, and the views of the ocean and the coast. I got to witness my first sunrise over the ocean and ride in a sailboat (on a windless night, but still kinda cool). After spending a semester in a coastal city and coming home to land locked Des Moines, I had forgotten how much I loved it. Any time of day or night, you can take a dip in the ocean. People who live in coastal areas I think can take this for granted sometimes, but count your blessings. I miss the beach every day.

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After a 4 hour bus ride back to NYC from Boston, I wandered around the city with my luggage looking for Grand Central. NYC is not all it’s hyped up to be. It’s messy and busy, which is usually where I thrive, but this time it was just too much for me. Their skyline, though, is one of the most amazing things to look it in the world (Des Moines… yours is nice too..).

This trip also reminded me that while I love to pretend to be independent, public transportation is annoying and I love my car. After multiple planes, trains and <buses>, I’m finally home, enjoying my last week of the summer to the fullest. Next week, I move in to kappa and get to continue the adventure I started two years ago, as a Junior at the best uni in the world.

xoxo

Things I Miss

Things I miss about the best experience of my life:

>>>The beach. The beach at sunset. The beach 6 blocks from my home. The beach whenever I felt like sunshine and sand. The beach dogs and beach gypsies. The beach with my best friends.

>>>My host family. My beautiful, caring host family that took me in and took care of my every need, want, craving, question, costume party outfit crisis… My host family that taught me the meaning of selflessness and graciousness. My host family that cried when I left, which led me to do the same. My host family that made me feel like part of their country, part of their culture, and part of la familia.

>>>Completos. Completos and churros de manjar. Completos and churros de manjar and empanadas. Completos and churros de manjar and empanadas and jugo de manzana. Completos and churros de manjar and empanadas and jugo de manzana and sushi. Completos and churros de manjar and empanadas and jugo de manzana and sushi and nescafe (even nescafe).

>>>Adolfo Ibanez. Adolfo Ibanez, the university with a view. Adolfo Ibanez, the school that provided me an in-depth look at Chilean history and Latin American economics. Adolfo Ibanez, where the intercambios play soccer every Monday and Wednesday, and are so good they can beat the locals. Adolfo Ibanez, where the international department houses the best resident advisor in the world. Adolfo Ibanez, where I got to attend classes with some of the coolest people I’ll ever meet.

>>>Tercer Tiempo. Tercer Tiempo, where we watched Chile beat Ireland in the last friendly of the season. Tercer Tiempo, where we met our first Chilean friends. Tercer Tiempo, where we spent some of our last moments. Tercer Tiempo, where we accidentally ordered too many terremotos but that was okay. Tercer Tiempo, where we didn’t order a big enough chorilliana, and that wasn’t okay.

>>>Traveling. Traveling to Pucon and seeing a volcano for the first time in my life. Traveling to Saaaaantiago and seeing some amazing sights, along with Lollapalooza with one of my favorite kappas. Traveling to La Serena and stargazing with my best friend on the roof of our hostel. Traveling to the Atacama and witnessing the hottest, driest desert in the world covered in fresh, soft powder for the first time in 40 years. Traveling to the coastal cities right next door and seeing Pablo Neruda’s homes, the sand dunes of Con Con (often confused with the beautiful city of Cancun), and eating the best sushi of my life in Renaca.

>>>My friends. My friends of Chilean descent. My friends from the southwest. My friends from the midwest. My friends from the northeast. My ricky friends from Canada. My friend from Boston who turned into more than just a friend. My friends who experienced new things with me. My friends who shared the same homesickness as me. My friends who are now experiencing the same lets-go-back-chile-was-amazing attitude as me. My friends who I will see again before I know it (reunion planning ahora).

>>>My relaxation. My relaxation which led me to learn yoga and the art of zen. My relaxation due to my lack of organizational involvement and the absence of the 4 jobs I have now. My relaxation that will hopefully tie me over until my next opportunity. My relaxation that led me to learn more about myself- who I am, who I’d like to be, and what I’d like to accomplish in the next few years.

Most of all I miss seeing some of my favorite people every day, and it has finally hit me that while a reunion is VERY possible, we can never go back to those four months. That was it. Just like that it was over. I’m lucky enough to be at a training for an AIFS ambassador program right now where everyone loves to relive their experiences, and to hear about mine as well. This is as close as I will ever get to going back, and I am slowly coming to terms with it. If you have read any of my posts and are still on the fence about whether you’d like to go abroad during your four years, I’m questioning your sense of reason. So be reasonable- just go. Have a life changing experience. Relax a little. Learn a lot. Assimilate. Grow. Be independent. And let your abroad experiences change you. When you come back, you’re gonna miss it, but you’re also gonna be pretty happy with the new you.

xoxo

Things to do in Iowa: I Cubs

The Iowa Cubs are one of the greatest things Des Moines has to offer. Minor league baseball is arguably better than major league (really though come argue with me I <3 the cubbies). The stadium is just minutes from my house and attending games was one of my favorite memories growing up. As an adult (lol) it's still fun, except I can't win tickets from being a nerd at the nearest PLDM all summer.

My dad, stepmom and I went out Saturday evening to catch the double header against the Memphis Redbirds. We only stayed for one inning of the second game. Baseball games are so relaxing, and they have the best food. Our tickets sat us next to a loud group of fans ready to cheer on our I Cubs and like ten feet away from former all star Manny Ramirez. He's old now.

According to my dad, a die-hard Pirates fan (go bucs), the I-Cubs are supposed to be really good this year and next, as the cubbies are looking to improve their major league team by working harder down in the minors to bring up good players. I didn't ever check the stats to back him up but the games we saw were pretty good. In both, they started out the first inning with 3 runs. Not a bad way to kick off a game (although they lost the first and idk about the second.. not important though.. they played well).

If you come visit Des Moines for the summer, you'd be missing out not to come to a game. Especially on an evening like last Saturday- such a nice way to wind down after a busy workweek.

Go cubbies!

Things to do in Iowa: Raccoon River Beach

It’s not the ocean. But pretty close. Main differences: water color, water movement or lack thereof, the sand, the people, beach treats, the animal sitch… So a lot of differences.

Despite the brown, still water, which you only get into if you a) desperately need to cool off or b)don’t mind swimming in mucky river water (who r u), the beach is kind of nice. Don’t get your hopes up when I say beach, because the sand is like playground sand. Sorry Iowa doesn’t have white sand beaches, idk what you were expecting. The people are also different- no surfers mainly. As for beach treats- I can’t imagine the ocean offering anything better than tro sno, the most amazing snow cone on the planet. The last downfall are the bugs. Do oceans have bugs? I wanna say no. There are plenty of nasty insects to ruin your day at the coon river. And there are no seagulls so that’s lame.

Take those pros and cons as you will- I LOVE the Raccoon River Beach. Free sun, that’s all I really want. You literally can’t get that with the shade at my house (from all of the tall skyscrapers in Des Moines that tower over the south side). And it’s chill for a cute date (we witnessed one and were very jealous). However please be aware that the water carries every word you speak out to the sandy sunbathers. Just keep that in mind. Also you really don’t need to bring your children though, unless they’re adorable and/or quiet. Do bring your dogs (not on the beach though I think that’s illegal).

Other beaches in DSM: Gray’s lake. That’s it. There’s more on the outskirts but not worth the drive.

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Things to do in Iowa: Summerfest

So Summerfest is held in Ankeny (like 25 minutes north of Des Moines… 15 if you’re a good driver) and is basically the only thing that happens there all summer (besides a 3 v 3 soccer tourney that’s kinda fun too). As a result, every living being in Ankeny attends Summerfest at least one time in the 3 day time period.

It’s a carnival. So if these Ankenites try to gush to you about how great it is, they’re exaggerating. It’s exactly the same as every other carnival you’ve been to. It’s the iowa state fair on a smaller scale, just missing the livestock, but equally equipped with enough life-threatening rides and food items to satisfy the whole family.

That being said obvi it’s fun. I went up Saturday night because they have a praise & worship concert that my dad plays in. He plays the keyboard. And he sings. I tried to get him to wave to me but I guess that’s bad stage etiquette and also he was playing the keyboard which requires two hands. Then last night I headed back up to watch the fireworks with a few friends. One of my friends had just returned from her study abroad in Australia and was in need of a good ole’ American fireworks show. Ankeny didn’t disappoint there, it was great. Iowans are the best at being American #TheHeartland

Next year if you have nothing else to do Summerfest weekend you should check it out! There are corn dogs so…

xoxo

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^^ finale, which I missed mostly, because I was trying to get this picture

Drake’s Approach to Globalization.

International Business at Drake doesn’t get enough recognition. I’ve learned more our rapidly globalizing world being in this program than I would have anywhere else, I’m almost positive. (I have also learned from my studies to keep a more open mind when it comes to the opinions of others. So if you have the wrong opinion that maybe, I don’t know, Creighton has a better International Business program, I now have the capacity to hear you out and quietly chuckle at what must have been a slip of the tongue.)

Here’s why the International Business Program at Drake is, let’s try to be PC, ‘better than most’ (the best)(PC isn’t my strong suit).

I’ve learned so much about being a responsible global citizen, which happens to be right on Drake’s mission statement. Because this is a part of our mission statement, Drake is extra focused on making sure we are exposed to as many global opportunities as possible. Through different events I’ve attended (such as the the panel on the expansion of the Islamic financial sector) and groups I’ve gotten to be a part of (like the DU Young Scholars International Business Research Program… a program whose faculty advisors are too busy researching to come up with a shorter name…), I’ve gotten to see the world from so many different angles. In a world that is becoming increasingly globalized, I have learned how to approach international issues not as a United States citizen, but as a global citizen determined to understand as many other cultures as possible.

Aside from the events and opportunities provided by Drake and the The Principal Financial Group Center for Global Citizenship, this program also has the classes and professors that are needed to sculpt young globalizing minds such as my own. This can be said not only of the I Biz program but of the business school in general. All of my classes have been challenging and stimulating, with small class sizes and professors that leave their doors open in order to help you where you’re struggling. They take their teachings seriously, which is perfect in a university where the students take their learning pretty seriously as well.

Along with these things, Drake makes it so easy to study abroad. This isn’t specifically about the International Business program, as anyone in any major at Drake can study abroad. It is made especially easy if you choose to do the certificate program in your language of choice (the certificate replaces a language major or minor at Drake, and its course outline can be found here: http://artsci.drake.edu/wlc/certificate), as they do a pre-study abroad course to further prepare you for your big trip. My study abroad was the most internationalizing experience of my time at Drake, and was only made possible through the help of the business school staff, (specifically Karen Pomeroy who made sure my classes would transfer) my advisor (@MattCMitch), Jen Hogan in the International Center, and many other professors and administrators who gave me advice along the way. To have a group of mentors so set on having you succeed is a truly incredibly thing, and something I am so grateful for.

My hope is that if you’re reading this and you currently attend Drake, but are in decision mode about which major you’d like to pursue, you’d really look into this as an option. If other cultures and business practices outside the U.S. interest you, this could be the right path to take. If you do not attend Drake (yet, because I’m sure you’ll eventually come to the conclusion that, although this isn’t the Duke University page you originally thought you had clicked on, it’s a pretty sweet school afterall), I’d also encourage you to look further into this program. Feel free to comment with any questions, or if you’d like to talk to a real live professor, Matthew.Mitchell@drake.edu and Jeffrey.Kappen@drake.edu could probably give you some further insight into the DU IBiz program.

The Other Side of the Street

My grandmother is in a nursing home. She is a very sweet and very practical woman. At my sister’s high school graduation party in 2008, she told me (14 at the time) that while she would love to attend my graduation party someday, she may not make it that far and she wouldn’t want me to get my hopes up.

She did, in fact, make it to my graduation party in 2012. Much more quiet than she had been at my sister’s, but her vibrant spirit still shone.

This week, I got to visit my grandma for the first time in a few months. Her memory isn’t doing well, but she did remember a walk she went on recently. At her nursing home, you aren’t allowed to take a walk by yourself. But she did. Which she brought up at least 5 times in our half an hour together. “Apparently I took a walk this week!” “It was only a few blocks.” “I took a walk yesterday, such a beautiful day.” It was almost as if she were a little proud that she broke the rules and escaped for a bit. (We aren’t exactly sure for how long, or where she went, as the report was lacking a lot of information) She had wanted to go out and enjoy the sunny day, so she did. I can only hope I’m half as defiant and determined when I get to be her age.

Among her multiple recounts of the walk, she said something that, although said offhand, had a really cool meaning for me. “You never see what’s on the other side of the street until you look.” My grandma has been holed up in this nursing home for a while now, and has missed exploring, missed stepping out of her bubble to see what else the world has to offer. I’ve been back for just a week and already am feeling the same way. There’s more out there to explore, I just have to get out there and find a new adventure (and maybe break a few rules, since I’m taking a page from Grandma Florence’s book).

While her life is drawing to an end, my grandma still has plenty of wisdom to offer. Her mind may be going a little (when I brought up what used to be one of her favorite topics, the squirrels outside her window, she told me she hadn’t noticed any squirrels at Sunnyview, which completely broke my heart), but she is much more like me than I gave her credit for. She asked if I had caught the travel bug while I was away. Which yes, yes I have. She turned to my uncle Bill and told him she regretted that they hadn’t had these same opportunities when they were young.

I wish my grandmother had gotten to see more of the world. But it’s just another lesson that we shouldn’t take for granted the opportunities we have in today’s world. Many people don’t have the option to visit foreign countries (although Drake makes it way easier with their study abroad opportunities), but we all have the option to cross the street. To explore, to discover something, to learn something new every day. That is what my grandma was after, and that’s what I want to do as well. I will not be taking for granted the opportunities I have anytime soon, and I don’t plan on ending my traveling or exploring anytime soon. Thanks gma Flo for your words, I’ll be back again soon <3

xoxo