My Ecuador Journals: Summing Up My Time in Ecuador

I’m back! And oh boy does it feel good to be home. I really enjoyed my time in Ecuador but after getting food poisoning and catching a cold toward the end of my study abroad program, it sure feels good to be home. For my business minor, there was a two-week course offered through my university that would give me credit for the capstone business minor course. There were no prerequisites so it seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to go abroad for my first time and also get some college credit while I do it! I’m planning on posting more detailed stories of my time in Ecuador in weeks to come, but for this weekend, I decided to share the journals we had to write as our assignments for the class. They might be boring, they might be interesting. Hopefully you enjoy!

Ecuador journals

QUITO
Everything we experienced in Quito has surpassed my expectations. I expected Quito to be a busy and modern because it is a big city and the capital of Ecuador, but I didn’t expect it to be as fun to explore and beautiful as it is. If you wanted a quiet afternoon to sit in the grass and watch people, you could do that and have a panoramic view of the entire city. If you wanted to go out with friends and have a good time at a bar and sing some karaoke, you could do that too. You could also just wander the streets of downtown Quito and look through all the shops and see all the beautiful architecture that makes Quito so special. Honestly, the food has been the biggest surprise to me too. There has been so much food at every meal and it has all been so unique and delicious too. The food is all so filling too. 
When looking at what makes Ecuador and the United States similar, obviously the currency has been similar and that has been so convenient. There have been a lot of differences. The food has been so good here and the process of each meal has been so different. Meals are so long here and it’s interesting that lunch is the prioritized meal here and that they really value family time at meals too. In the US, I feel like meals are important and valued but not to the same extent that they are in Ecuador. The driving has been so different here too. Being in the bus, there were so many times where I was concerned for people driving or walking around but they all just made it work! It was cool to see how polite all of the people were when driving for the most part too. Even when someone cut someone else off or a person didn’t like what they saw on the road, they would honk quietly and move on with their day. 
Out of everything in Quito, I feel like being at the school had the biggest impact on me. I truly didn’t realize how scary it is to have a bunch of people around you that speak a language I barely understand. I took a decent amount of Spanish in high school but I felt so overwhelmed by how fast the kids spoke Spanish and I couldn’t keep up. It was also amazing to see how happy all of the kids were with their simple life. I was inspired by them for that. They would find reasons to smile and giggle and act goofy in any situation! And when they were playing, it was also so crazy to see how aggressive and rough they were with each other. What truly shocked me was their ability to just get right back up and get back to what they were doing after being knocked to the ground or get knocked in the head with a soccer ball. Now those were some resilient kids. What I really enjoyed about the school was the curiosity of the kids and their desire to communicate with us even if we had our language barrier. The kids would try so hard to find other ways to get answers out of me if I didn’t understand what they asked the first time and it was and I admired their persistence. They were also so curious in what we were doing and I loved it when some of the boys came over and tried to help weed. They were adorable. I hope that what we did at that school helps the teachers and nuns and kids feel good about the place they work and play at. I hope they are able to use that space to grow more food and continue to be super self-sustaining and helpful in the lives of all of those kids. 
Quito was a fun, beautiful city and I feel so lucky to have been able to experience everything we did. Quito will always be special to me now because it is the first city I visited on my first time outside the US.  I hope I get a chance to come back!

Ecuador journals

OTAVALO AND THE NORTHERN HIGHLANDS
Since leaving Quito, the trip has only gotten better. When we went to the Cochasquí Archaeological Park and got to see all of the llamas, I had so much fun. That was such a unique experience and that place was so beautiful. The tour guide mentioned something about the energy of that place I believed in it fully. That park was super cool. I really enjoyed learning about the information that is known about the people that lived there. The whole thing about cutting your hair at the full moon to help it grow longer was fascinating. Their ability to track the stars and understand their environment based on the patterns of the sun, moon, and stars was fascinating.
When we arrived in Otavalo and finally had the opportunity to go to the market, I think that became my favorite part of the trip. While the previous days had all been incredible, I feel like I was able to immerse myself into the culture even more and engage with the locals more which is something I have looked forward to this trip. Bartering was a new and fun way to shop and I was able to use some of the Spanish I know to make some pretty good deals. $15 for a pair of silver earrings just seems insane in the United States, but that was a deal I was able to make while at the market and I thought that was pretty cool. There was a man toward the back of the market that sold jewelry and by the end of our time there, I would say I made a friend at the market. We were his first customers of the day and he even gave us free bracelets for being his first customers. It was really cool to see all of the different things that people had made and how proud they were to display their goods. The work with the jewelry and wool products was especially impressive.
After our time in the market, I really enjoyed going to Nanda Mañachi, Peguche, and the town of Cotocachi. Each stop we made had something so unique to it and I loved the emphasis on tradition. Especially with Peguche, I loved seeing parts of the traditional processes in making the beautiful wool scarves, sweaters, blankets, and tapestries. Other big companies that make wool products may have more perfected wool, but at Peguche, there was clearly so much passion and love for the work and culture which means so much more to me than precision and perfection with creating the wool yarn to begin with. After visiting Peguche, I don’t think I’ve ever actually felt softer wool.
Between Quito and the cities of the Highlands, I feel like I’ve liked Otavalo and the Northern Highlands a little bit more. I did enjoy the modern, big-city feel that Quito had, but I feel like Otavalo and the other smaller cities we visited here expressed so much more culture and tradition which I enjoyed seeing and being a part of. Just thinking about the way that people dressed in Otavalo already was so different from Quito. Most men had long, braided hair and wore some form of a hat. The women all had very long hair and I can’t recall seeing a single woman that wasn’t wearing a skirt. It was all very traditional here and there was clearly so much pride with it too. I liked to see that. Every little town we visited specialized in one thing or the other which was cool too. Like with San Antonio, they specialized in wood carvings and you might be able to find some of that in another city but not to the same extent. In Quito, there was no specialization like that. It was mostly modern, and you could find a variety of things everywhere.

Ecuador journals

BAÑOS
Baños was an incredible little town and I’m glad that it was added to the program. There’s so much to do there and the town itself has so much variety in its geography and it’s in a good location for adventure tourism. Baños is surrounded by volcanoes and mountains so that makes it a prime location for adventurous mountain climbers, mountain biking, and also for hot springs. It has a lot of waterfalls and rivers that create opportunities for whitewater rafting and other water-related activities. Baños is just in a great geographic location and that is part of what allows it to support so much tourism in general but especially the adventure tourism, as I mentioned. Tourism in general definitely has a positive impact on the economy in Baños. It was clear that Baños relies on tourism and the money it brings to the city based on all the souvenir shops and touristy experiences like ziplining, bike tours, and the swings off the mountainsides.
Out of everything we did in Baños, my favorite thing was the zipline because the views were just so beautiful and I enjoyed getting to be around so many other people that were excited to do fun, adventurous things like ziplining. I’ve ziplined before but it was just such a unique experience getting to be strapped in face down and experience the canopy as if we were flying. That hike was not so fun though when we needed to get to the second platform to come back. That was intense. Regardless, the views were great and I really enjoyed the zipline.
In comparison to Otavalo, Baños just had a lot to do and was clearly a town geared toward tourists. From the goods that were sold to the appearance of the shops to the way locals interacted with everyone, Baños was clearly a tourist town. Baños just had so much variety too. There were the Andes and the Amazon rainforest and rivers and waterfalls and hot springs. Otavalo, on the other hand, was more geared toward its own people. The market was more of a tourist attraction but it still appealed to the locals. They were still very involved in the market and the overall culture of the market.
When we visited Rose Success on our drive to Baños, I really enjoyed getting to see the process of growing the roses, picking the roses, and ultimately preparing them for shipment to their various locations. It was interesting to learn about the specific requirements for roses going to specific places. Like for roses going to Russia, the stems need to be quite long. And I was also shocked to see some of the roses that were deemed unfit for export. They looked gorgeous to me! It was cool to see that roses that aren’t selected for export at least make it to the markets and stands throughout Ecuador. That’s a much less wasteful way to run a business, especially a flower business.
Overall, Baños was a fun town to explore and experience. It has so much to offer and I know for a fact that everything we did in Baños will not be forgotten. I’m excited to see what programs in the future have the chance to experience in Baños!

A BUNCH OF SMALL STOPS
Our visit to Rodrigo’s home and the Urbina Estacion was really cool. I liked the art on the walls in that room we were in that displayed each of the volcanoes and big mountains in Ecuador along with the surrounding cities. That really put everything in perspective when looking at the geographical layout of Ecuador. I loved hearing Rodrigo’s stories too. He was such an interesting man and clearly has a lot of experience with the mountains and volcanoes of Ecuador. If he comes out with a book in the near future, that’s something I would be interested in reading so that I can learn even more about his life and support the exciting work he does.
The lava rock dinner following our visit to Rodrigo’s house was so fun and a super unique experience. The hacienda we ate at was gorgeous and it was cool to be in the same building Simón Bolivar once stayed in. Getting to grill my own food was a fun experience. All of the food was so good that night and if I had to pick a favorite part, I would definitely say the flan. It was delicious.
When we went to Riobamba, I was honestly shocked by how nice it ended up being. When we initially drove in, I was honestly quite sketched out by everything we drove past but when I could finally see everything the next day, that opinion changed. The hotel was very nice and had really good strawberry-blackberry juice and the downtown area was actually quite cute. When we visited the Guamote community while in Riobamba, I really enjoyed getting to try and teach English again. The class we had was much more shy than the class that I had at the school outside Quito, but they were so cute and I loved watching them try to follow along when we sang “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”. The guinea pig preparation was honestly rough for me to watch but I was happy to see how humane the process was and I was impressed by how fast the women killed and cleaned the guinea pigs to prepare them for our meal later. When we finally had lunch, I was surprised by the food, honestly. I expected it to be bland and was going into it thinking I wasn’t going to eat very much food at all but I had a decent amount of potatoes and corn. The food was pretty bland but it was fresh and I did enjoy eating it when there was seasoning and hot sauce provided. I even tried a tiny piece of guinea pig but I think after that experience, I probably won’t try guinea pig again. One of the biggest take-aways I had from our experience in that community was that you don’t need much in life to be happy. Living a simple life doesn’t mean you live a sad life. That was quite the opposite in the Guamote community and it’s something I plan to think a lot about and apply to my own life.
The Devil’s Nose train ride was the first train ride I’ve actually ever taken and for my first one, I’d say it was pretty good. I enjoyed the views and was glad that Effy could do some explaining and pointing out for me because the tour guide on the train was extremely difficult to understand. When we arrived at the mountain community, I really enjoyed getting to see the dances. I loved the bright colors and really loved the skirts the women wore. I wish that we had a chance to wear those and dance around in them but the dancing we did was still very fun. Before and after the train ride, it was fun to explore Alausí. It was a cute little town. The food was pretty good and extremely cheap there as well. I spent $6 on a meal for a huge glass of blackberry juice, a bowl of chicken soup, rice, chicken, and a salad. It was a good deal and I’m still so shocked by how cheap food is here. In the US, a meal like that would’ve easily cost about $15.

Ecuador journals

INGAPIRCA AND CUENCA
The Ingapirca ruins were cool to see, especially when looking at the fusion of Cañari and Incan culture and tradition in the way the different structures were built. It was interesting to compare pure Cañari-built structures to pure Incan-built structures and then see how they came together, especially with that one room that was supposedly where the Incan king and Cañari princess stayed. These ruins were more of what I expected to see when we first visited the ruins on our way to Otavalo. It was interesting to see that the moon was another important god to the Incans and Cañaris. That has been something consistent throughout many of the indigenous and ancient communities we’ve learned about during our time here.
Our time in Ingapirca was extremely short but I enjoyed the time we spent both at the hotel and the ruins. Cuenca was another short visit, but I also enjoyed the time we spent there. Cuenca had a very different vibe to it than any other city we visited. It was busy and moving, but the dominance of the Catholic religion definitely played into the tone of the city. I remember Effy telling us that no building can be taller than the Catedral de Cuenca and that goes to show how powerful religion is in that city. I loved getting to go in and see what that cathedral looked like. It was an incredible building and the feeling I got from standing inside it was truly powerful. The beauty of the churches we passed and got to see clearly demonstrate that people in Cuenca care deeply about their religion. From the three baby Jesus parades I saw, I also realized how important community and that sense of religious belief as a community is to people in Cuenca. The fact that mostly everything was also closed on Sunday demonstrated how seriously people in Cuenca follow their religion, once again.
On our way out from Cuenca, stopping at Homero Ortega was a fun and interesting trip. It was cool to learn about the process of making Panama hats and I truly feel confident saying I’ve never seen that many hats in my entire life. There was so much variety in the size, style, and color of each and every hat that came out of that company. I was impressed by the care and quality that went into creating each hat to make sure that something wonderful was made. The quality surely pays off when looking at the customer base that Homero Ortega has, including Princess Diana, Julia Roberts, and Johnny Depp. It was crazy to hear about the one man who paid $40,000 for ten hats and the process that goes into working with clients to create the hats in demand. I just don’t think I’d ever spend $4,000 for a single hat. They were great quality though and they had a bunch of fun, cute hats that might be worth it.
When looking at Ingapirca and Cuenca in comparison to a lot of the other cities we’ve visited, they’ve definitely been more on the indigenous side of things, like Otavalo. There were more businesses that appealed to locals and the traditions of the people there as opposed to tourists. There was a small town feel to both Ingapirca and Cuenca that reminded me of Otavalo, just because neither are truly big tourist towns. Truly though, it’s hard to compare these cities to past cities we’ve been to during our time here because we haven’t had the same amount of time to experience them as we have with cities like Quito and Baños. Ingapirca also just didn’t seem like a very large city and a majority of things in Cuenca were closed due to the fact that it was Sunday while we were there. Regardless, both were great little cities and I enjoyed spending time in both. Hopefully students next year will get to enjoy a more lively Cuenca!

GUAYAQUIL AND SALINAS BEACH
The visits to both chocolate companies were interesting. I enjoyed seeing the process of creating chocolate from the bean fermentation at Guangala to the actual molding and making of chocolate at Tulicorp. At Guangala, I loved seeing how knowledgeable Rafaela and Jimmy were about their work. They were also clearly very passionate about the work they do and I appreciated the sustainable aspect of their business as well. It was very clear that Guangala considers the environmental impacts their work has on the world around them and that sets them apart from other cacao processing companies. There was also a very clear positive relationship between management and the workers. The way that Jimmy and Rafaela both interacted with workers on the patio was very positive and encouraging. It was good to hear that Guangala is set on educating their employees too. From what it sounded like, Guangala makes sure its workers are educated on matters from different diseases cacao plants can get to how to properly harvest cacao pods and prepare them for fermentation. Continuing education is important in all fields but I found it very interesting that Guangala invested so much in it for their workers. It shows that they want high-quality products and employees who know a lot and care a lot about their products.
At Tulicorp, I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the company. Everyone working while we were there was focused and working hard but they were clearly enjoying themselves. The conditions were hot and it was somewhat dark in there, but they were completing their tasks and smiling while they did it. That that they enjoy what they do. Happiness at the employee level comes from a strong management team and from what I could tell, Tulicorp was well run and has a fantastic family running it. It was cool to see that there had been four generations of cocoa business owners at Tulicorp. The passion for cocoa ran in the family and it very clearly continued and was displayed in the work we got to see and hear about. Tulicorp had a small business feel, but everyone there knew that they were an important and powerful company that worked with a lot of big names and companies like Trader Joe’s.
At both places, I was surprised by how involved management was with the entire process. It was cool to hear that Jimmy, Rafaela, and people at Tulicorp regularly visit the cacao farms to see the workers and their plants. They are so much more involved than I ever expected them to be and I feel like that helps both Guangala and Tulicorp stand out in Ecuador. In terms of regulations, I was surprised by all the sustainability regulations that both Tulicorp and Guangala held themselves to. To me, the biggest surprise came from the sustainability regulation aspect of the chocolate industry. It’s not something I would have initially considered to be important but it definitely is and it’s great to see such successful chocolate businesses working so hard to take care of the environment. I wasn’t too surprised by the amount of regulations otherwise though. It makes sense for a high-quality product to have a lot of regulations. In order for something delicious and desirable to be produced, there has to be a process that regulates everything from the qualities of pesticides and insecticides that protect the cacao pods all the way to the machinery and maintenance of that machinery that makes the chocolate.

And with the end of that journal comes the end of this extremely long post. I hope some of you are still around to see this, haha. In the weeks to come, I’ll highlight each major stop we made that was reflected by each of my Ecuador journals. I had a lot to say with my journals but there is just so much that we did and covered during my two weeks in Ecuador and I can’t contain it all to one or two blog posts. So if you’re into travel blogs, that’s what this is going to become for a bit. Have a wonderful week everyone! 🙂

Reflecting on 2019

reflecting on 2019
Photo by Chinh Le Duc on Unsplash

This year was quite the year. A lot happened. A lot always happens, but I feel like this year was especially good and also especially sad and hard. With that said, I’m reflecting on 2019 and looking back on the year I had.

January: My family and I rang in the new year from our couch and I got to play a lot of tennis with my dad, sister, and friends that we’ve made at the Ranch Country Club. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to play at such a nice facility and have courts year round to play at. Does anyone remember my shrimp project for ecology last school year? That happened in late January too. 🙂

February: I went to a dinner to celebrate my academic achievements for my freshman year. We also celebrated my mom’s birthday. Marty was starting to get pretty sick around this time but he was still a happy, wonderful dog.

March: School was definitely in full swing again and I got to celebrate my sister’s 18th birthday. Her birthday was during the week, so I didn’t get to be home for it, but we celebrated over the weekend. We also had those two big bomb cyclones in March. I got school off twice so of course I remember that! 🙂 My aunt also came to visit during spring break and we had a great time at the Denver Art Museum (at least outside it), touring Regis, and eating at BurgerFi.

April: Boo turned eight in April and I got to watch Allyson at a couple of her high school tennis matches. She was 1 singles so of course I had to be there to be her cheerleader! Allyson also had her senior prom and I had so much fun helping her get ready. She looked beautiful. 🙂

May: Bobo turned two and I finished out my first year of college. Allyson also graduated from high school and my aunt and uncle came to spend some time with us around then. We had a wonderful party for her at the Ranch and it was so good to be around so many friends and family members to celebrate her. We also sent Allyson to Hawaii then!

June: Allyson started working at Build-A-Bear, so I was one proud sister then, haha. We also spent a lot of time at the pool and on the tennis court for leagues, tournaments, and just some good family fun. My grandma also flew back to Georgia in June and my summer classes were in full swing. Woohoooo.

July: Boo rang in July with his big dental surgery. He needed a bunch of teeth extracted so that was his way to celebrate our nation’s independence. In July, I played a lot more tennis and explored Colorado with my family. We went to The Inventing Room, saved a bunny from our window well, and Allyson and I won a couple of tournaments. I also visited one of my best friends from school in California. We had a lot of fun. 🙂

August: We celebrated my dad and aunt’s birthday as well as Marty’s tenth birthday and then shortly after Marty’s birthday, he passed away. 🙁 I still miss him so much. If I’m being totally honest, I’ve struggled more than I thought I would with his loss. Beside that, I started my sophomore year of school and we also made a trip to Farmington to see my grandpa, aunt, and uncle before school started. My family and I also went and saw Anastasia in August and it was a beautiful show.

September: My dad and mom went to New Mexico for my dad’s high school reunion and while that was happening, I was in full study mode already. Organic chemistry and physics were an intense combo! Despite our distance, we also celebrated my uncle’s birthday. 🙂

October: I turned 20! We also celebrated my grandma’s birthday. My family and I went to Phil Collins’ concert when he was in town and I also competed in the Miss Colorado USA pageant.

November: My family and I went to the Denver Art Museum for a project Allyson needed to work on. Early in November, my grandpa passed away too. 🙁 It was tough and still is tough to deal with his death. Over Thanksgiving break, we went to New Mexico for Thanksgiving at my great aunt’s house and we also celebrated my grandpa’s life at his memorial service. My sister and I had the honor of speaking at it. We also visited the Salmon Ruins while in New Mexico. This year, one of the things that I truly took to heart is that family is the most important thing to me. I don’t know who I would be or where I would be without them.

December: The last few days of 2019. We spent Christmas at home this year and it was different, but it was good. We had my great aunt’s famous cheesy potatoes on Christmas morning and that was fun. Different, but fun. We also went to Gaylord, the new hotel/resort out by DIA and saw their ice display. It was really cool. I’ve enjoyed a lot of time with family while I’ve been home since winter break started and I finished strong with my sophomore season at CSU.

So that was my year! I know there are still a couple of days, but I felt like reflecting on 2019 now was a good idea. This year sucked in a lot of ways but it was also an incredible year. There will always be good and there will also always be bad. With every new year, I just remember that and see how I can improve my responses and attitude toward new challenges, obstacles, successes, and downfalls. I hope these last few days, you all spend some time reflecting on 2019 and enjoying the last days of this decade. I’m looking forward to 2020!

I won’t be posting for the next two weeks due to a study abroad I’m doing in Ecuador, so I’ll see you all in the new year when I get back. Have a great week and again, Happy New Year!

I Survived This Semester

I survived this semester
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Oh. My. Goodness. I don’t know how I did it, but I did it. This semester is over and I actually did decent. I survived this semester.

There was one class (my evolution class) which was the one class I didn’t do as well as I had hoped to, but I still did decent enough. My organic chemistry class was my favorite by far, and I did extremely well on the final and with the help of my professor, I got the grade I was shooting for the entire semester. 🙂 My physics final was HARD, but I snuck by with the grade I wanted in that class too so I was proud of myself for that. And then for my honors seminar, I never had any concerns for that class, it was always just a lot of busy work.

And you might notice that I never distinctly pointed out any grades in that last little bit of this post. To be quite honest, I hate sharing my grades with others. My grades are my business and in college I’ve learned that people either are like me and prefer not to share their grades, or they share their grades and make it all about a competition. There’s no need to make comparisons and compete to see who’s doing the best. We all have our own plans and goals and we all need to stick to those plans and goals.

Sorry for the little tangent haha. Anyway! The past two weeks have honestly been so intense. I studied so much and for organic chemistry, I don’t think I’ve ever been as dedicated in my entire life. I also don’t think I’ve truly ever felt as interested and passionate about something in my life. And so now this is going down in writing… If dental school doesn’t work out for me, I think I might pursue organic chemistry as a career. Whether that means a masters or PhD in it, I don’t know, but I love organic chemistry. What a nerd I am!

I’m honestly still in shock and have no clue how I did it. I legitimately was worried that I would burn out, considering how many credit hours I took this past summer. But I didn’t! I pushed through and I survived this semester. 🙂 I hope those of you with finals had a decent finish and that you’re all enjoying winter break now, because I sure know I am! Have a great week, Merry Christmas, and I’ll see you all next Sunday.

Take Care of Yourself

take care of yourself
Photo by Tim Goedhart on Unsplash

Finals week is upon us everyone. It is finally here. Thank. Goodness. Finals can be an extremely stressful time for some people. For those of you who got lucky and only have one final this semester, I WISH I was in your shoes. That sounds like such a pleasant finals week. I’ve got three. And I have some friends that have four or five finals! During this stressful time of the school year, it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself.

For those of you that go to school with me or live with me or even just talk with me every once in a while, you are more than aware of the fact that I absolutely despise my intro to evolution professor. He’s a creep. The final for that class is tomorrow and I’m THRILLED to be done with that class and never see that man ever again. With that mini celebration aside, I’ve also got two tougher finals, one for physics and another for organic chemistry.

I’ve a pretty dedicated student and already spend a lot of time studying and doing homework because I want to do well and I want to truly make sure I understand the content of the class I’m studying for. While I do go hard on the studying, I also think it’s SO important to take care of yourself and give your body and mind a break.

Whether you’re just going for a walk, doing some yoga, going to the gym, or taking some time to play a sport, I recommend getting up and moving around. Your body gets tired from sitting and studying and most people develop some sort of weird posture or their spine gets out of alignment from sitting at a desk and studying all day. I’ve had it so I know. Getting your heart rate up and moving helps clear your head too. You make yourself happier and your mind tends to focus on the task at hand as opposed to studying, so you can stress less.

Other than physical activity, I also try to get more sleep than I typically do around finals week. Most people would say, “But Ana, that’s time to study!” I get that, but I also recognize that I’m putting my mind through a lot throughout the day and the stress I already have isn’t great for my body. To prevent myself from getting sick and give my brain the best break it can possibly have, I get at least an extra hour of sleep. I try to stick to the same wake-up time, but I go to bed earlier, and so far, last year, I know that helped me feel much more productive in the mornings, so we’re going to stick to that this year too.

It’s also SO important to stay hydrated and keep your body fueled during finals week. I have some friends that say “I don’t have time to eat. That takes away from my study time.” And to that I say, you’re a fool and your body is actually going to crash on you. Take care of yourself! It’s not that hard to grab a snack if lunch takes up too much of your time. At least that’s something in your body!! Your body NEEDS energy and your brain especially does. You also need water to keep your body functioning properly and prevent yourself from getting headaches related to being hungry or dehydration. Without food, you become cranky and discombobulated anyway, so what good are you doing for yourself if you’re not eating?

So to all my fellow college kiddos out there, please take care of yourself. Please shower, please eat, and please get some sleep. You’re more prepared than you think if you’ve been studying hard and working hard all semester, so you can dedicate just a little bit more time to yourself. Of course I still want you to study hard and give it your all, but take some more time for you. 🙂 Have a good week.

Frozen 2: Currently My Favorite Movie

Frozen 2
The Walt Disney Company and Walt Disney Animation Studios

I actually went and saw Frozen 2 the day it came out, but I decided now was a good time to post. It would be an easy blog to write and I need an easy blog right now because finals are coming uppppp. Part of the reason I decided to write about Frozen 2 now is also because I wanted to write this after a lot of the reviews had gone out and hopefully more of you have seen it by now. This post will be spoiler free (for the most part) for those of you that haven’t seen it, so with that said, I’m gonna talk about my favorite movie right now. 🙂

The plot with Frozen 2 was incredible. I loved the maturity of the film and I really feel like I grew up with Frozen so to see to characters be six years older too was a really cool connection. I think I was in 8th grade when the first one came out and I was obsessed with it then, so here I am now as a sophomore in college and not much has changed in regards to my love for Frozen or Disney. Haha.

The end was not at all what I expected it to be but it was also better than anything I would’ve ever fantasized the ending to be. Just incredible and oh so cute. I really appreciated what Disney did with Elsa. She hasn’t needed a love story and I’m truly happy that they decided to stick with her story as a strong, independent queen who doesn’t need a man to feel good about herself. The story of her discovering the origin of her powers was extremely powerful and her continuing journey of self-discovery was so fun to follow. Her transformation toward the end and her outfit with her hair down is my favorite of all time. Anna’s dress in the end is also very pretty. Disney crushed it with the design of the characters and the animation for this movie in general. Wow, just wow.

Frozen 2 Anna and Elsa
The Walt Disney Company and Walt Disney Animation Studios

I really enjoyed the message too. Or at least, there were certain things that I took from the movie, that I really appreciated. Elsa was so dedicated to figure out where powers came from and her dedication and determination to what she wants. Her courage to venture into the unknown and discover herself is something that I hope to have. That kind of drive is something that I hope to have in life. I strive to be a courageous and kind person and I see that through Elsa. I hope that little girls who’ve loved Elsa, as well as Anna, see that in her too and want to be same way. And with Anna, she was persistent in her goals throughout the movie and even when she thought she lost her sister, she wanted to do what was right, even if it was tough. She put herself at risk to free the enchanted forest, even if that meant she may lose her home. And with Anna and Elsa, their bond and their relationship as sisters is something that I hope all girls out there with sisters see and strive to have. Elsa and Anna are so good to each other (for the most part) and they’re so protective, supporting, and loving toward each other. It reminds me a lot of my relationships with my sister. 🙂 Love you Allyson!

The music of Frozen 2 is also incredible. I liked the music in the first movie, but this music was also just more mature and more in touch with what I like. Currently, I’m listening to the soundtrack too! Haha. My favorites are “Into the Unknown” (which is now nominated for a Golden Globe!) and “Show Yourself”. Both are beautiful songs. I also really like Anna’s song, “The Next Right Thing”. Kristen Bell CRUSHED it.

The new characters in Frozen 2 were a good fit and I feel like there wasn’t anything truly unnecessary that was added. Often times, I see that sequels are worse than their predecessors because they add a bunch of poorly-developed, weak characters in an effort to just take advantage of the market for the movie. Frozen 2 didn’t have any “bad” characters in my opinion. I really liked Bruni, Elsa’s cute little salamander, that was introduced in this movie. SUPER CUTE.

On an unrelated note from the movie, I really hope that Disney cuts it off at Frozen 2. In the end, Elsa herself says something about being all done, so I hope that that was Disney’s way of saying goodbye to making anymore Frozen movies. If there are more shorts, I wouldn’t mind those but I feel like the ending of Frozen 2 was the perfect ending. Nothing more is needed.

So will I go see Frozen 2 in theaters again? If anyone wants to go with me, I’d love to. 🙂 Will I be getting Frozen 2 on DVD when it comes out? Absolutely. Frozen has always been something very special to me because the bond between Elsa and Anna reminds me of the bond that I have with my sister. It’s kind of freaky how similar Allyson and I are to the royal sisters of Arendelle. I love it though. I hope you all have a chance to see Frozen 2 at some point. It’s a fantastic movie with a great message and incredibly talented people. Have a great week everyone.

Here’s to New Beginnings- Thanksgiving Break 2019

new beginnings

My laptop works everyone!!! You might not think it’s that big of a deal but I sure as heck do. I’ve needed it to do some homework, which is now done by the way, but oh my goodness, wowza, I’m so happy. Anyway, I hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving and have had safe travels getting to and from places if you traveled for the holiday. I shared this in a recent blog, but some of you may know that my grandpa passed away recently. This past week, we held his celebration of life and my sister and I had the honor of speaking at it. My family and I have always enjoyed Thanksgiving with my grandpa in addition to my aunt and uncle, but things were different this year. Things are going to be different now. Different is never bad, but it can be a little scary going into the unknown. Regardless of that, here’s to new beginnings.

My family and I left for Farmington, New Mexico on Thanksgiving day and roads were good for travel. Thank goodness. My sister and I passed the time napping and talking with our parents. There was no radio because my mom’s car decided to lock us out of the radio so that was a fun time. We saw a lot of snow on Wolf Creek but regardless of that, the trip was great.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner at my great aunt’s house and it was great to get to spend time with them outside of our traditional Christmas morning breakfast. It was strange though. It was different from what I’ve been used to around that time. It felt good to be with family of course but it just wasn’t the same. My grandpa wasn’t there. Marty wasn’t there either. Losing family is hard.

After our incredible meal, we went back to my grandpa’s house where my dad and aunt have been doing a lot of packing and moving of things. The house was practically empty when we arrived earlier in the day and it would continue to get more and more empty throughout our time in Farmington.

On Friday, my family and I attended my grandpa’s memorial service. It was incredibly touching to get to meet all of the people that had the pleasure of getting to know my grandpa. He was a wonderful person and it really warmed my heart to see how many people he had an impact on. Getting to speak on behalf of some of the teachers that worked for him was also such an honor. My sister also crushed it up there when she spoke, so I’m very proud of her. The service was great and the food following the service was also great. Olive Garden catering is thebomb.com let me tell you. The rest of Friday was spent packing up and cleaning up around my grandpa’s house.

Saturday was also a lot of cleaning and moving things. It was also a day that I did a lot of homework that I hadn’t finished earlier in the week. I promise I don’t procrastinate it’s just that I had a horrible cold earlier in the week and sleeping was more important to me than homework. Priorities! We also visited the Salmon Ruins which is about thirty minutes from my grandpa’s house. It was SUPER cold but it was still really nice to get out, walk around, and revisit a place that I had been to when I was younger. I’ve also always really enjoyed learning about the history of the Anasazi people and ancient civilizations (this place isn’t exactly what I would call ancient but I hope you get what I’m trying to say here haha) so this was fun.

Sunday we left and spent a wonderful TEN HOURS in the car. Kenosha Pass was closed which resulted in a two hour detour for my family back through Colorado Springs. New beginnings = ghost towns through desolate parts of Colorado? Haha. It also did not help that I had a HORRIBLE headache today. Fun fun. But now, we are all safely home and I will be heading up to finish out this semester in the morning.

As I said before, different is not bad but different can still make you feel bad. Maybe bad is the wrong word. Sad maybe? I’m not quite sure what the word I’m looking for is yet. I’ve spent a good portion of my life in New Mexico visiting family, living in my grandpa’s house, climbing the trees in his backyard, and calling Farmington practically a second home. So many traditions, so many memories.

What’s next though? I honestly hope that my family and I continue to visit New Mexico because I’m not sure what I’ll do without the three to four trips we make to New Mexico yearly. I want to continue to see my family in New Mexico and Durango. I want to continue our traditions and even start new ones. Things have changed, but that doesn’t mean that everything has to change. Of course I’m still struggling with the death of my grandpa and also Marty, but with each of these endings, there are new beginnings.

If any people reading this attended my grandpa’s service, thank you so much for being a part of his life and thank you for also being here. As I said earlier, I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and I hope you also have a great week. Here’s to new beginnings. See you next Sunday.

A Tale of A MacBook: My Struggles with Technology

MacBook
Photo by Dmitry Chernyshov on Unsplash

It can be a MacBook or PC, it doesn’t matter what it is. I run into some form of trouble with it at some point. So there’s a lot of really tech-savvy people out there and surprise, surprise, I’m actually not one of them. Despite the fact that I’ve helped a professional organization manage and maintain their website and the fact that I also have been running my own website and blog for five-is years now, I SUCK at technology and truly have zero patience for it.

My MacBook, which has been a handy-dandy little friend of mine since I started college just recently started having issues. Sad thing is, it’s only two years old. The battery has been refusing to hold charge. You might be asking yourself, “Then Ana, how are you writing this blog?” I’ve gone back to my old ways… my iPad.

Within the past two weeks, I’ve been on the phone with Apple Support, who has been incredible and extremely supportive by the way, for a total of five hours, trying different resets as well as diagnostic and maintenance repairs. I also took my laptop into Genius Bar and we were able to get my laptop to hold charge when plugged in. That was the happiest day of the past couple of weeks for me. And then literally right when I got back to school and had used my laptop for a couple of hours, it needed charging, since it had only gotten up to around 30% when we were cleared to leave the Apple Store. And guess what, IT REFUSES TO CHARGE AGAIN.

I have never been so stressed out or frustrated by a device so much in my life. I’ve taken incredibly good care of my MacBook and I love it so so so much and I feel so upset that it’s decided to jump into the deep end on me like this. I’m taking it into Apple again and hopefully we can get the issue resolved because let me tell you, college is ROUGH without a laptop, wowza!

I hope you all have a good week and I wish you all the best with all of your technology. And if anyone has any idea what might be going on with my laptop that refuses to hold charge when plugged in, please let me know. See you all next weekend and Happy Thanksgiving!

Videos that Make Me Smile

I feel like I could use a laugh and need to smile, so if you’re also feeling like that’s something you need this Sunday, then this is the blog for you. So on that note, I’ve decided to collect a couple of videos that I know that make me smile and share them with you all. Enjoy. 🙂

Minecraft anyone? Here’s something really cute that I randomly found one day. It always makes me happy. 🙂 So here’s some dancing parrots from Minecraft.

This next video comes from a dance I had to make for my honors seminar last spring. That was a really fun class and by no means was this meant to be something super serious. We were messing around with some more traditional dance moves as well as many of the modern moves seen in pop culture. See how many you can find! Haha. I’m the one in the blue shorts.

Another bird video. This one is just cute.

I’ve always been a fan of Jenna Marbles and this is one of her older videos but the music they create in this video just always makes me laugh. It’s a loud video and it’s an obnoxious video, but I love it.

For those of you that remember Vine, here’s a compilation that contains a lot of the classics and many of my favorites.

And if you’re still looking for something to make you laugh or smile, I highly recommend looking at cat videos (yes, I’m that person), or dog videos. Sometimes a video from FailArmy makes me laugh. I don’t enjoy watching people get hurt but some of the stupid stuff that people do does make me laugh. Bird videos are always really cute too. Just look up whatever animal you’re interested in and I bet you something funny or cute will pop up.

Sometimes, it’s good to just spend some time talking with other people too to smile or make yourself happier. Exercising or just going for a walk to get some fresh air and space to think is good too. I hope something from this post made you smile today and I hope that you all have a wonderful week. See you next Sunday!

In Memory of My Grandpa

grandpa

First off, I would like to say thank you to the people who have reached out to my family with their prayers and thoughts regarding my grandpa this past week. We have really appreciated your support and your kindness. This past week, my grandpa passed away, and it has put a damper on the family that’s for sure. I don’t want to feel sad but I know that it’s okay too. Regardless of that, I’ve decided to dedicate this post to him and remember my grandpa for the wonderful, incredible husband, father, son, friend, teacher, principal, and grandpa he was.

We have pictures of my grandma and grandpa coming to visit my home when I was very little. I don’t remember much from their visits to my hometown, but I very faintly remember him helping build a pink and purple tricycle that I got for my birthday one year. Without him, who knows if I would’ve even been riding a bike today! Haha, I kid, I kid. I remember them being in Colorado for little league softball and baseball games. It was so cool to have my grandparents there watching.

I remember catching grasshoppers with my grandpa when I was little too. We went hunting for those quick, rascally little guys in his backyard in the place where they grew corn. That was a lot of fun. When I actually caught one, I went in to show my grandpa and he was asleep! How was I supposed to prove anything now?

My sister and I both recalled this memory not too long ago. There was a parade in Farmington one time when we were there and my grandpa insisted that him and Grandma take us to Wendy’s for food. Allyson and I were definitely still planning on getting food from the kids’ menu but Grandpa decided that Allyson and I were moving up in the world and upgraded us both to full size meals. As a 10 year old, a full size burger with fries and a large soda was a DREAM COME TRUE. He told us not to tell our parents about that, but I guess the secret is out now!

Puzzles were a big thing we would do together. My aunt would always find the most beautiful puzzles for us to do when we came to visit the whole gang over Thanksgiving and Christmas break. My sister and I would work with our grandpa to put together the massive puzzles. I remember there was one time where the three of us stayed up til like 12:30 am to finish a puzzle one time. Grandpa was feeling dedicated on that one! It sure turned out pretty too.

My sister and I were also known as my grandpa’s little tree monkeys. He has a couple of trees in his backyard and Allyson and I decided we were going to climb them one summer. From then on, we were the tree monkeys. We helped get the peaches down that way too. He always had a lot of good food come out of his garden.

Just this past Christmas, I’ll never forget how funny it was when we pulled out all these funny Christmas dress-up prop things and my grandpa thought it was the most hilarious thing in the world. I know I thought it was pretty funny too! He always had the warmest and best laugh. He was good at making people smile.

My grandpa was always such a grateful person too. Every meal we had together, he would mention how great and pretty all the food was. It was always really good. I loved his outlook on life. He was always so thankful and I hope that I can be half of what he was.

Those we love don’t go away. They walk beside us every day. Unseen, unheard but always near; still loved, still missed, and very dear.

Unknown

Every visit with him in New Mexico was a gift and every little bit of time together was wonderful. Even if we had an hour to Skype with him while my aunt and uncle were in Farmington, it was time well spent. Even if it was a quick weekend trip, my grandpa was a wonderful, gracious host and we loved every minute we had with him and family. Every Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, and even a couple of Independence Days were well-spent with my grandpa. Every ride up to the airport, every tour of Tibbetts Middle School (with the 360 degree view on the top floor), and every story that was told or wisdom that was shared was a gift. I wouldn’t trade anything in the world for my time with him.

My grandpa was a wonderful man with such a good, caring heart and I know that a lot of people will miss him. I sure do! He always wanted to go to Colorado State University to go to vet school, and while that’s not my aspiration in life, I still feel like I carry a piece of him with me while I’m here at school. He will always be an honorary ram in my books.

Heaven gained one heck of an angel last weekend. Please say hi to Grandma, Abner, Peppy, and Marty for me, ok, Grandpa? I love you very much.

Have a good week everyone and I’ll see you next Sunday.

I Need to Rant

rant

Alright. I have an issue. This typically isn’t the place I would go to rant, but on Thursday, some crap happened in my physics recitation and I am officially over it. There are these two people in that class, who I will not name, and all they ever do is leech off of other people for answers and work. THAT DOESN’T DO ANYTHING FOR YOU.

If you don’t understand the material of a class, ask for help. I’m the type of person who is more than willing to help someone understand something if they just ask. I will walk you through something, step by step if you need it. I will briefly explain something to you if that’s all you need.

But these two girls. Oh. My. Goodness. Every single time they wiggle their way into my group it drives me up a wall. “What did you get for the answer?” “What equation are you using?” “What are the units on that?” They literally just ASK for the answers. I never see either of these two ever do any work and all they do is sit there and expect the rest of us to get them through the class. UGHHHHH. And the one that sits next to me when she actually comes to class always awkwardly leans over to see my paper and at that point I just ask if she needs anything and she’s like, “Um, so what are we doing?” PHYSICS, DUH!

I truly feel bad for these two every time they’re in my group. I wish that they would just put in the hard work to actually be able to understand what’s going on. I wish that they would get off their lazy bums and figure out the class. You can only go so far in life leaning on others to help you get through school and life in general too. If you’re struggling with something, JUST ASK. There’s absolutely no need to fake that you understand something when you clearly don’t. You get on the nerves of the people around you and you’re not benefiting yourself by using others.

I hope you all keep that in mind and remember that hard work does pay off. It helps you understand things better, it helps you feel better about yourself, and it also prevents others from wanting to go insane. Thank you for coming to my TedTalk. Also let me know if you don’t mind the occasional rant or two. Honestly, writing this has made me feel a lot less annoyed and irritated. A rant or two every once in a while might be kinda fun and not that bad of an idea.

Have a good week everyone. See you next Sunday.