A Different Kind of Mother’s Day

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Happy Mother’s Day to all the mamas out there. I hope you feel love and appreciated not only today, but every day of the year. 🙂 This year, since we’re in isolation, Mother’s Day was a bit different. It was still good, but it was just a little different.

As usual, my dad, sister, and I surprised my mom with roses and some of her favorite chocolates with caramel. My dad also went out and got her some cute cards for us to all sign and a really yummy turtle cake too.

Typically, we go out for lunch or dinner on Mother’s Day, but we couldn’t do that this year, since most if not all restaurants are still closed because of the CDC’s guidelines. I always enjoy going out for dinner because we really get to enjoy quality family time together in a different environment, and my mom doesn’t have to worry about cooking for that meal! Since we didn’t get to do that this year, it was a bit weird, but my mom enjoyed cooking both a really yummy lunch and dinner. We had coconut shrimp (one of her favorites) at lunch and then grilled chicken and mac and cheese for dinner. Both were great meals and my family and I still got to enjoy some time together! 🙂

I spent a lot of today studying for my organic chemistry final that’s coming up on Tuesday. Wow am I SO excited to be finishing up this upcoming week. This semester was long enough already and with the isolation, it has just draaaaaagged on. I’m trying to finish strong, so let’s all hope that Tuesday goes well and that my accounting final goes well on Wednesday too.

I hope you all enjoyed Mother’s Day and got a chance to do something special for your moms this year. They deserve a little extra this year, considering that we’re all crammed in together right now. Hug your mom real tight and tell her you love her tonight! Have a good week and I’ll see you next Sunday.

I’ve Never Been So Mad at a Book

book
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DISCLAIMER: This post discusses a book that contains hardcore 18+ content and while that is typically not something I ever like to talk about, I feel the need to with a book I recently had to read for a class. If you’re under 18, please come back next weekend. I really don’t want you here to read this post. I don’t discuss anything in much detail at all, but this just isn’t something for you to read.

There was this book that I had to read for one of my classes called Justine or The Misfortunes of Virtue by the Marquis de Sade. Never in a thousand years would I recommend this book to anyone nor would I ever recommend you look it up. Learning about it through this post and my experiences should suffice, because I promise you, this book is absolutely horrendous. I have never been more disgusted by a book in my entire life. 

The book was written in 1787 by a horrible and twisted man, the Marquis de Sade. Based on the horrors expressed in his book, the Marquis CLEARLY suffered from a mental illness and most definitely trauma as a result of abuse he suffered from during his childhood. Not only was this man mentally disturbed, but he was atheistic and the ways in which he mocked and poked at Christianity make me sick. Quick disclaimer: I have nothing against atheism or people who believe there is no God, but I do have an issue with people that mock religion and bend its morals and what it stands for to satisfy their own sick pleasures and mock religion. 

I’ll try not to go into any details, but this story is about a very unfortunate girl named Justine. She is virtuous and believes in God while her sister Juliette is not. Following the death of the sisters’ parents, Justine’s virtue finds her in a lot of trouble. She becomes a victim of extremely gruesome and horrendous sexual violence because of her religion. Each of her abusers justifies their actions, stating that Justine must suffer because that is how she will get into Heaven. They also tell her that poor Justine is bringing them pleasure by listening to her abusers and captors, so she is doing the right thing and pleasing God. Absolutely. Horrible.

There are a few things I’d like to say in response to the Marquis de Sade and this disgrace of a book:

  1. To some Christians and their denominations, they believe getting to Heaven involves a life of suffering. The way in which the Marquis de Sade mocks this idea is sickening. No person should EVER have to go through what Justine went through in that sick novel in order to think that a life like that will get them to Heaven, oh my goodness. I was raised to recognize that some have this idea of suffering and how it helps you go to Heaven but more than anything I was raised to recognize that Jesus is my Lord and that God brought him back from the dead. With this recognition, I may have eternal life. In addition, asking God for forgiveness for my sins and surrendering my life to Him may also get me to the Kingdom of God some day. 
  2. If women were treated as poorly as the Marquis de Sade depicted in France during the 1700s, that’s just so sad and so pathetic. Sade very sickly described pregnant women and how they often would lose their babies as a result of the actions of the men in the book and to me, that was just- I don’t even have the words to describe how mad and upset that made me feel. 
  3. Finally, I acknowledge the fact that some books exist today purely for the fact that they are evidence of what literature was like in humanity’s past. In what world though, is a book like this a part of the curriculum for a class, let alone an honors seminar?! This book is potentially triggering to those who have been sexually abused and it is also triggering to those who haven’t been! The amount of detail that the Marquis de Sade puts into the many horrible, horrible events he describes is just so, so, so unnecessarily horrendous. And then to have to try and analyze a book like this to see how the author feels about the world is just an impossible task. I’m so busy trying to stop my body from shaking and get rid of the feeling of throwing up that I have no energy to delve into why Justine was branded with the mark of a thief as opposed to some other mark!!! If a person can feel traumatized from a book, I have definitely been traumatized. 

To recap here, if you’re looking for a good book, this is NOT it. If you’re in the slightest bit curious about Justine, DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT PICKING UP THAT CURSED BOOK, LET ALONE LOOKING IT UP. There are better ways to learn about oppressed artists during the time of the French Revolution and there are probably much better artists to learn about from that time than the sick Marquis de Sade. There are better books to read in general…

Hopefully I can cleanse my soul and try to erase what I’ve read in this horrible excuse of a book… Have a good week everyone.

Some of My Favorite YouTube Channels

favorite YouTube channels
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We’re continuing the trend this week after I broke it last week. This week, we’re talking YouTube! If you’re not big on TV or streaming and binging TV shows, maybe check out the wonderful world of YouTube during this COVID-19 lockdown. I think we’re hitting week 5 now? I’m not really sure. Anyway, here are a couple of my favorite YouTube channels and I highly recommend all of them if you’re bored or just looking for something different to watch. I’ll link one of my favorite videos from each of the channels if you’re looking for a sample too! 🙂

CARLY CRISTMAN– Carly is a big fashion and home decor YouTuber. I really like her aesthetic and sense of style. She also has a daughter who turned 1 in October and actually shares my birthday which is pretty cool.

SIMPLY NAILOGICAL– Cristine (Simply Nailogical) has always been one of my favorites and she’s really funny and also incredibly smart. She recently-ish started her own nail polish line, Holo Taco, and I’m a big supporter of it. 🙂

SCISHOW– This is a more educational channel, and considering that I’m a STEM major, I really enjoy this channel. If you know Hank Green, he’s one of the hosts!

PEWDIEPIE– In my opinion, he’s the king of YouTube. His channel offers a lot of variety and I’ve always been a fan of Felix and Marzia, his wife. His meme reviews are pretty good and I occasionally enjoy his gaming videos.

JENNA MARBLES– She’s just a lot of variety and is just an incredibly carefree, pure, wonderful being. Jenna does whatever she wants, whenever and I just love how little she cares about what others think. If you’re looking to laugh or just feel good, Jenna Marbles is the girl to visit. I’ve got quite a few favorite YouTube channels so far, can you tell? 🙂

GLAM & GORE– Mykie (Glam & Gore) makes a lot of makeup videos and tutorials, some glam and some gore. I find her SFX makeup stuff to be really fun to watch, but I’ve really enjoyed her health and fitness journey which she has shared on her channel as well. She’s just a really bubbly and likable personality in my opinion.

MICHELLE KHARE– Michelle has a series called “Challenge Accepted” where she takes on some big challenge that involves a lot of training and has some show or end test and it’s really cool to see all that she’s done. I really enjoyed her videos where she trained with the FBI, firefighters, and also her video where she trained to become a Disney Princess. She also trained as a professional ballerina for six weeks and that’s a good video too!

JACKSFILMS– Jack’s channel is a variety of things. It’s fun, it’s weird, and he really likes poking fun at a lot of the popular trends today, which I enjoy. If you’re looking for someone who dedicates a video series to grammar (like myself) or if you’re looking for something just a bit more silly, this is the channel to check out.

KAYLEY MELISSA– Kayley Melissa is the hair queen of YouTube in my opinion. She provides a bunch of wonderful and fun and beautiful hair tutorials for all occasions and events and she also provides a bunch of videos on more extravagant hairstyles that come from TV shows and movies, like Game of Thrones. Kayley is an extremely beautiful person inside and out, from what I can tell and her bubbly and lovely personality is a good one to keep up with on YouTube.

SAFIYA NYGAARD– Safiye is another person on YouTube who’s personality is really likable in my opinion. She’s a bit awkward but I feel like her awkwardness and quirks make her an incredibly fun and likable YouTuber. She’s the queen of bad makeup science and if you’ve ever wondered what putting all of the candles from Bath and Body Works into one candle would smell like, Safiya has the answer.

And that’s the tip of the iceberg on my favorite YouTube channels! Beside this list, I’ve also enjoyed videos by CallMeKevin, the Fisher family, the Labrant family, Colleen Ballinger, Anthony Padilla, Brad Mondo, Maddison Bush, Buzzfeed Multiplayer, the Rybka twins, and Tyler Rugge. If you’re interested, you should check them out too! There’s clearly a lot of variety here, so I hope you find something to enjoy from this bunch of YouTubers.

I hope you’re all staying healthy and taking care of yourself this week. See you next Sunday!

I’ll Never Take it For Granted Again

granted

Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all had an okay week and are dealing with the stay at home orders alright. This past week at dinner, my sister asked the question, “After all of this ends, what’s one thing you’ll never take for granted?” It was a really good question honestly and it made me think quite a bit. What is one thing I’ll never take for granted again, after all of the social distancing recommendations and stay-at-home orders are lifted?

There’s so much I have now realized that I am extremely grateful for with my sister’s question. For one, I’m thankful that I have a home to shelter in and complete my school work in for the semester. I have a family to go through these strange and uncertain times with and I also have friends that I can remain in touch with over FaceTime, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams. 

As much as I hate it and struggle with it, I have a way to finish my coursework and a quiet place to complete everything for my classes this semester. Online schooling has been absolutely miserable so far, and I cannot imagine the stress that professors are dealing with as we have transitioned to remote learning. I’m honestly not sure who has been more stressed, students or teachers. I’ve felt really grateful to be able to study in my own room at home and know where everything in my room has been and who has been in my room. I know that I can stay healthy and that those around me are also healthy and that is extremely comforting. As mentioned, I have not been a fan of how many of my classes have been delivered for the remainder of the semester, but I’m thankful that I still have the opportunity to learn even in these strange times. My organic chemistry lab has been extremely accommodating and I’m truly thankful for the amount of work that people like my lab TA and our lab coordinator have put into allowing us to finish our semester strongly and also cut us some slack and understand that learning from home is new, different, and weird for most. With the exception of my organic chemistry professor, things have been pretty okay. 

More than anything, I am truly grateful and will never taking being outside for granted ever again. As a result of this whole lockdown thing, my family has been super duper limited in what we can do and where we can go, as have most of you. My life for the past however many days it has been has included going to the grocery store and taking my dog for a walk. That’s all the outside time I have recently gotten. I’m used to walking to class every day or playing tennis several times a week and this lockdown situation completely changed that not only for me, but for all of us! So many of us are so used to being more active and getting outside, especially here in Colorado. Every little chance I’ve been able to get outside, I take it. I absolutely LOVE going for walks with my family and dog every chance I get during this stay-at-home order and I truly wish I were able to play tennis, but for now, that’s not an option, but when it is, I’ll take it up first chance I get. Fresh air, the warm sun, and a gentle breeze are all I need to be happy after all of this is over. 

So Allyson, to finally answer your question, one thing I will never take for granted is the great outdoors. No, I am not a super outdoorsy-go-hunting-dig-in-the-dirt-kinda girl. But I am the type of girl who loves to go for walks and spend time outside with family and friends. Any chance I get from here on out, as long as the world gets healthy soon, I plan to spend my time reading a good book, curled up in a chair on my patio, hitting on the tennis court with my sister, and just living life to the fullest under the sun. Sunscreen will of course be worn. 🙂 

Going into this week, I want you all to think about my sister’s question too. What’s one thing you’ll never take for granted again, after this lockdown ends? If you want to share, feel free to leave a comment or reach out to me at my contact  page! I’d love to hear from ya. Have a wonderful week everyone! Stay healthy and I’ll see you next Sunday.  

Some Music Recommendations for Your Quarantine

music
Photo by Malte Wingen on Unsplash

Happy Easter everyone! He is risen today so I hope today is a day for rest and celebration. 🙂 I am so grateful for God and his son and all they have done for us. God has given my family health and security and comfort in these uncertain times and I truly hope that He has done the same for you. This will pass. We will get through this. Spend time with family, talk with friends and distant family over FaceTime or Skype. Stay active and listen to music.

On a different note, I enjoyed sharing some of my favorite books and movies and TV shows with you all to pass the time as we go through this quarantine and lockdown due to COVID-19. This week, I decided I would share some of my favorite songs as of right now! My taste in music tends to slide more toward alternative, pop, and classic/light rock. I’m pretty open to most music genres with the exception of heavy metal, hard rock, and rap. I can’t deal with that. So if you enjoy those genres, this might not be the list of recommended music for you.

Whether you’re just looking for some music to listen to while you clean, or as you work out, or even just to create some noise at home, here’s some of the music I’ve been listening to as of now, in no particular order:

  1. No Shame by 5SOS
  2. Nightmare by Halsey
  3. Graveyard by Halsey
  4. 7 Rings by Ariana Grande
  5. What a Man Gotta Do by the Jonas Brothers
  6. Tightrope from The Greatest Showman
  7. Last Hurrah by Bebe Rexha
  8. Paper Rings by Taylor Swift
  9. Lover by Taylor Swift
  10. London Boy by Taylor Swift
  11. Show Yourself sung by Idina Menzel from Frozen II
  12. Lost in the Woods sung by Jonathon Groff from Frozen II
  13. All is Found sung by Kacey Musgraves from Frozen II

Maybe this list didn’t really appeal to your taste, and that’s okay! I also really recommend anything by Imagine Dragons, FUN, and Half Alive. They’re all great groups with great sound in my opinion.

There’s also a lot of classical/instrumental music I enjoy listening to. I really enjoy a lot of the music from Game of Thrones, so if that’s a show that you were into, or really enjoy instrumental music, I highly recommend that! I find that instrumental music is great for studying although I typically don’t recommend listening to music while studying since I find it as a huge distraction. If you’re someone that can listen to music and study, then give classical or instrumental music a shot. If you’re just looking to relax a bit more, music without words is the way to go.

I hope you all listen to some good music and take care of yourselves this week. And as a church in my hometown said, keep praying and wash your hands. And again, Happy Easter! It’s crazy to think that we’re in full swing with spring now and here in Colorado, we’re expecting snow. I mean it is Colorado, but it’s just crazy! See you all next Sunday.

Quarantine is Real- Some Ideas for Free Time

quarantine
Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

It’s Palm Sunday everyone! Not going to lie, I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to post this Sunday, but then I got it. We’re all at home and some of us have nothing to do, so what’s better than a list of recommended movies and TV shows and other things to do to clear up those quarantine blues and boredom that may be growing?

MOVIES

As far as movies go, here’s a couple of movies I recommend. If you’re not really into chick flicks and rom-coms/comedy and Disney movies, this may not be your list. And if that isn’t the case, maybe this is a list of movies that you consider? I was going for a feel-good, happy, something-to-make-you-laugh bunch of movies with this list, so if that’s something you’re looking for, here are my recommendations:

  • Clueless
  • Mean Girls
  • Miss Congeniality
  • Police Academy (1, 2, or 3)
  • Parental Guidance
  • Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter is Dead
  • Bad Hair Day
  • Adventures in Babysitting
  • Storks
  • Boss Baby
  • Wreck-It-Ralph
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet
  • Cinderella (live action and animated)
  • Frozen
  • Frozen II

TV SHOWS

As far as TV shows go, I was going for a similar, feel-good, pick-me-up vibe for the most part. I’m not really all that big of a TV person, considering that school is typically my entire life, but when I do have time for TV, there are a couple of things I watch. If you’re gonna watch a TV show, binge watching can be a lot of fun, but I’d try to limit it to an episode or two, for health’s sake.

  • 9-1-1
  • Game of Thrones– definitely NOT a happy show to watch though, heads up
  • Lego Masters
  • The Good Place
  • Schitt’s Creek
  • Saturday Night Live– I recommend watching older seasons. In my opinion, they were just more funny then.

BOOKS

I’ve been reading a lot more lately, and honestly, I recommend that you all do the same. I’ve always loved reading but school literally sucks up so much of my time and it’s sad how little I’ve read over the past year and a half. This quarantine has given a lot of people so much free time. You are free to do whatever you want with your free time, but I’ve really seen this as an opportunity to develop (or redevelop) some new and more healthy habits, involving less screen time. One of those habits, has been reading, and so I’ll share some of my favorite reads of all time and as of lately that may interest you:

  • The Selection series by Kiera Cass
  • The Siren by Kiera Cass
  • Heartless by Melissa Meyer
  • The Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard
  • The Jewel series by Amy Ewing
  • The Winner’s Kiss trilogy by Marie Rutkoski
  • The School for Good and Evil series by Soman Chanani
  • The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins- she’s making a prequel to the series!!
  • Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling – these are good movies to watch as well
  • Unstoppable by Maria Sharapova
  • Rafa by Rafael Nadal
  • With All Due Respect by Nikki R. Haley
  • Driven: A Daughter’s Odyssey by Julie Heldman

And if you’re looking for something else to read, this blog is another option. 🙂 I’ve been posting for the past five years on this blog and I update it every Sunday, so if you’d like to receive email notifications when I post, you can subscribe at the link below! I promise you won’t receive any annoying emails, just notifications for when the next post goes up!

Make of the most of this quarantine and good health and time with family. Most importantly, I hope you are all taking care of yourselves, friends, and family. Despite the fact that I just shared a bunch of books and TV shows and movies for you to enjoy during this quarantine, I encourage you to get outside if you can and get some fresh air and enjoy nature. We all need it. If you feel like you need someone to talk to or want to see your idea as a blog post, you can always reach me on my contact page and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible. 🙂 Stay happy and stay healthy. I’ll see you all next week.

Spreading Some Happiness

happiness
Photo by Matt Flores on Unsplash

I hope you’ve all had a decent week. Things have been different and intense and strange but we’re all still here and that’s what matters. This week, I’d just like to spread and share some happiness. We could all use some in times like this. 🙂

I talked about this a bit in my post last week, regarding all of the negativity I dealt with at the grocery stores and Costco, but just to say it again, please make sure you’re kind to those around you. Please, pay it forward and be a kind person.

I can speak for Colorado when I say that we’re in a stay-home order, so for most of us, the only people we truly interact with are family members. And it can be tough to see the same people so often in such close quarters. Cabin fever may be setting in, or maybe it already has, wherever you are. If that’s the case, maybe you feel like you’re going a little crazy and you’re starting to feel irritated. I hope that’s not the case but if it is, there’s a couple of things you can do:

  • Talk out what’s bugging you. It’s better to share than ball up your feelings and thoughts. Happiness doesn’t have to be the only emotion you feel, but you also shouldn’t constantly feel frustrated, annoyed, and all of those other negative feelings and emotions.
  • Plan activities with your family. With my family, we’ve been planning walks and movie nights and Just Dance tournaments on our Switch and various other little fun things we can all do together so that we enjoy our time together and have a chance to let loose and burn off any negative feelings or emotions.
  • Find something nice (and genuinely nice) to say to someone or find something you can help with. Cleaning always puts me in a better mood, so if you’re like me, try that! You’ll feel good for sure, and maybe that’ll lift the moods of those around you too. Complimenting and lifting others always improves the moods of others too. We’re here to get through this together, not bring each other down.
  • Going off of the helping thing in the last point, just ask what you can do around the house. If you’re not preoccupied with other things, ask what needs to be done around the house and help take care of it! In times like this, it’s important to be helpful and do what you can to support those around you.

On a more general note, if you have the opportunity to get outside the house and go for a walk, please remember to stay at least six feet apart from others and cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. And please wash your hands for at least twenty seconds with warm water and soap too. 🙂 Say hello to others if you get a chance.

And if you’re not able to go out, hang in there! You’ve made it this far! We’ll get through this together. 🙂

Read books. Hang out with family. Clean the house. Walk. Exercise. Rest. Do your homework. Smile. This will not last forever. Wherever you all are, I hope that you are well and that you are taking care of yourself and your families. This too shall pass and I really hope we all see the light at the end of this tunnel soon. Stay positive, stay in this together, and we’ll see the end of this soon. Spread some happiness, spread some kindness. See you next Sunday. And also enjoy these cute animals while you’re here. 🙂

COVID-19 in Colorado: Our Current Situation

COVID-19 in Colorado
Credits to the artist. 🙂

Maybe you’re all sick of hearing about it by now, but we’ve got a global pandemic on our hands. I think it’s important to stay informed and educated during a time like this and more than anything, I think it’s important to stay positive and driven. Here’s how my story on COVID-19 in Colorado.

As I write this, Colorado is way over 200 cases of COVID-19 and the United States has declared a national emergency. New York, Washington, and New York have been the hardest hit as of right now and I send prayers to all of you reading from those states right now. This whole situation has been unreal.

Colorado is currently in a place where a lot of businesses and services have shut down until late March or April, but I honestly have a feeling that a lot of things are going to be closed for longer. I come from a place of observation, not pessimism when I see this. Seeing how fast the virus has spread in the United States, I just have a feeling that we’re just seeing the beginning of things in the U.S. From what I know, most, if not all schools have switched to holding some form of online classes or provided families with homeschooling content and it’ll be interesting to see what comes from this as far as education opportunities go, once this clears up.

There’s a lot of talk about a stay at home order or shelter in place order. I’m hoping it doesn’t come to that, but if it does, we need to do what we can to flatten that curve. As a biology major, I have been very interested in this entire situation. Of course I’m saddened by the effects this is having on so many people and honestly scared in some ways by the power something that’s not even as large as skin cell can have on the world. I’ve also been so interested in how this virus can survive on surfaces and how it affects our bodies. I’m also really proud to say that my university, Colorado State, has a research center that is currently conducting research to find a vaccine for this little monster that has sent our world into the state it’s currently in.

COVID-19 in Colorado has turned grocery stores into an absolute nightmare now. My family has been trying to find rice and flour for the past week now, and we’ve had zero luck because of all of these people stockpiling their food and additional household supplies. I can understand that there’s a lot of uncertainty regarding our current situation but you do not need the large amounts of toilet paper stashed in your bathroom or all of the frozen foods you can fit in your cart. Trust me. There are some people who haven’t even had a CHANCE to grab any of that and the only food they have is what was in their fridge before this whole mess started, and these stockpilers have left those people with zero options. My mom and sister went to the grocery store this past week and there was this dad there with his son. They were throwing a birthday party and couldn’t find chicken ANYWHERE because so many other people had run in, taken as much as they could, and left. As mentioned before, I understand that this situation is scary to many and new to all of us, but we need to be rational with our decisions and consider others, especially when it comes to what’s available for purchase.

And still on the topic of grocery stores, my mom and I got back from Costco earlier today and dealt with some extremely nasty people. COVID-19 in Colorado has turned some people into monsters, oh my goodness. I understand that this is a tough time and again, it’s scary and new, but no one deserves to be yelled at over barely bumping into someone with a cart. My mom barely caught the heel of this lady when we were getting into Costco and this lady turned around and screamed at my mom, yelling, “WOULD YOU STOP RUNNING INTO ME WITH YOUR CART?!” First of all, that lady rudely asked me before we even entered the store and asked why there was a line. Costco created a 30 person in, 30 person out policy to comply with CDC guidelines. She then proceeded to cut us in the line after we were asked to sanitize the cart and when my mom just barely ran into her, this lady blew up on us. I don’t know what her situation was or what she has been dealing with, but I believe that regardless of whether or not you’re having a good day, you should put your feelings and thoughts aside and be kind to others. No one deserves to be treated with that sort of unkindness EVER and especially in a time like this. Some people were even fighting over the food and stuff available in Costco, which I found ridiculous too. Good Lord, it’s a rotisserie chicken. The sign said that each shopping party could only grab one chicken, so accept it. Those are the rules. And the way that some people treated the employees was absolutely disgusting. The employees are more at risk than anyone because of the amount of people they interact with and you have the audacity to scream at them for there not being any cleaning supplies in stock? That’s just unacceptable.

From this post, my goal is not to scare you or worry you. It is simply to educate you on what we’ve been dealing with in my state. I hope that you all are staying healthy and smart out there. Please take care of each other and listen to what your local and national governments are saying. Stay informed and most importantly, take care of yourselves and stay positive. And in addition to that, we need to be kind. My life quote is “Have courage and be kind.” In a time like this, that is SO SO SO important. We do not have time to be blaming some poor employee at Costco for not knowing where the Naked Juice is. We don’t have the resources to be hoarding toilet paper and napkins and other supplies. We SHOULD be treating each other with respect and lifting each other in this uncertain time so that we can get through this.

So have courage and be kind. Stay healthy too. 🙂 See you next week.

College Life and COVID-19

covid-19
Picture courtesy of the Center for Disease Control

So this past week has been one HECK of a week, let me say that. College life and COVID-19 are quite the combination. I’m now on spring break (thank goodness) but this past week at school, it was very interesting to see how coronavirus (COVID-19) developed and how it has affected everything.

It has been incredible to watch the response to this novel virus strain from the local, state, national, and even international levels. A couple of weeks ago, we received emails here at CSU introducing this current nightmare of a coronavirus. We were told that my university was monitoring the situation and would be updated as new information came up. And that new information came QUICK.

First the virus hit the U.S. and after that, boom. Schools in Washington were deciding to shift to online platforms, and before I knew it, CSU decided to do the same. On Wednesday this past week, our president and executive team made the decision to extend our spring break to March 24th, with classes starting up ONLINE beginning March 25th. We will be in online classes at least until April 10th and as the virus continues to do its thing, my school may or may not continue to use online platforms for learning. We shall see.

On Wednesday, it was very interesting to see the reactions of my fellow students. Some were thrilled classes were moving online and ideas of slacking off and screwing around clearly filled their heads. Others, myself included were concerned. What’s going to happen to my labs? Are all exams online now? Are my exams still going to happen that were scheduled upon return from spring break prior to the COVID-19 pandemic? There are just so many questions we have. Some have answers, but some are still just up in the air.

Now. I keep talking about Wednesday, and now I would like to have a little story time. Wednesday, I was supposed to have an in-person exam for my physiology class, which has become my favorite class this semester without a doubt. I was headed to my accounting class at noon when I received an email that my exam, which was supposed to be at 5 on Wednesday night, was moved to be online and I had five hours to schedule an online exam time. It was a mess and I have absolutely hated working with ProctorU to handle online exams. Read my posts about summer classes to learn more about those experiences. Haha.

And as I now add to this post on Sunday, my university has decided to shut down for the rest of the semester, with all classes finishing online. This will be interesting. Oh boy, will this test the discipline and self-control and focus of students across the country.

More than anything, I want everyone to stay healthy and smart out there. To those of you reading this, please please please take care of yourselves and your family. Please make smart decisions and educate yourself on the current situation. Now, more than ever we need to make educated and well-thought out decisions to keep each of us safe and healthy to the best of our abilities. CO-VID 19 is a fascinating, but clearly contagious and dangerous virus to many people so we need to work together and get through this. I really recommend checking out the CDC page on the virus. I’ll link it for your convenience: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html

Have a good week and stay healthy out there. See you next Sunday!

Guayaquil: The Final Installment of the Ecuador Posts

By now, some of you might be like, “Thank God this is the last Ecuador post.” If that’s you, I’m sorry. I promise this is the last one! Hopefully you’ve enjoyed these travel posts. I always find travel blog posts to be really fun to write and also look back on. 🙂 The final destination of my Ecuador study abroad was the hustling, bustling city of Guayaquil and boy was it different from anything I had experienced so far.

On our way out of Cuenca and into Guayaquil, we stopped at Homero Ortega Panama hats, a place that makes (here’s a shocker) Panama hats. There were a lot of really pretty and well made hats and I’m a little bummed that I didn’t get one, but that’s ok. Now I know where to get a really nice, high quality hat if I’m looking for one! It was really interesting to see the process of making the hats. They’re woven into a pretty generic pattern and then pressed into this machine that forms the actual shape of the hats and then any additional accessories or designs are added after. Pretty cool if you ask me.

After our hat shopping excursion, we stopped about halfway between Cuenca and Guayaquil at this place called Dos Chorreras for lunch and a tour of the little abandoned mountain town up the road. The tour was cool and the city was absolutely tiny! There was a small mine, saloon, church, and maybe like two or three tiny, tiny houses from what I can remember. And each building wasn’t very big either. Imagine a typical college dorm room and maybe cut a fourth of that off. That was the amount of space on the inside of the church. It was really cold when we did the tour so it felt reaaaally nice to go inside the hotel/restaurant and sit somewhere warm. For lunch, we had a choice of trout (as the place had a trout farm) or steak and I went with steak. The dish it was served on was in the shape of a cow too so that was fun! Prior to the meal, there was a really yummy soup served too and of course my meal wouldn’t be complete without blackberry juice. I ate way too well in Ecuador. Way too well.

After lunch, it was another hour and a half (I think?) to Guayaquil and we arrived at our hotel, Hotel Palace, just before dinner. We had time to unwind and relax and then we got dinner on our own. A couple of the other students and I went and got empanadas at a place not too far from our hotel and boy was I glad that I went with other people. There were so many beggars and someone cat-called me along the way too.

Guayaquil

While waiting for my empanadas, this homeless woman stood right at my side pleading that I give her money and on my other side, this nine-year old boy was doing the same. I wanted to help, but I just felt so uncomfortable. My empanadas were ok, but I feel like the experience of the city itself, made them less enjoyable.

There was also this man walking around the empanada stand who had blood GUSHING down his left arm (and when I say gushing, like it was really running down his arm) and it was dripping all over the streets and sidewalks. I’m not sure where he had been or what had happened, but after seeing all of that, I was ready to go hide in my hotel room. I guess that was how Guayaquil welcomed us?

After a unique dinner experience, we went and got ice cream and I got a blackberry milkshake at an ice cream shop across the street from the empanada stand. It was pretty yummy. 🙂 Our night wrapped up with a trip to an iguana park. Somewhere in the center of Guayaquil, there’s this park that is literally just home to a BUNCH of iguanas. Like so many iguanas. They were all sleeping by the time we got there but it was cute to see so many cute creatures. Well, maybe they weren’t all cute. Some of them were though! After some time chilling with the iguanas, we all went back to the hotel and hit the hay for the night.

The next day, we had a wonderful breakfast at our hotel and were all ready for our big business visits to Guangala Chocolate and Tulicorp, another chocolate company. Guayaquil = warm temperatures = optimal chocolate making and eating conditions. At Guangala, we got to tour the patio and learn about the chocolate making process and more specifically, the process of extracting cacao from cocoa beans and preparations for turning the cacao into chocolate. It was hot and WOW was the sun beating down on us and I was so thankful to have a water bottle with me that day. It was nice to have my hat too. At Guangala, I realized just how small the world is too. The wonderful woman that gave us a tour played tennis at CSU and her and I had a chance to talk a little about tennis so that was fun. 🙂

Following our roast on the patios of Guangala, we had lunch at this really cute place that had seafood and really good hot sauce. After lunch, it was time for our tour of Tulicorp, the other chocolate factory. At Tulicorp, we learned about how the cocoa beans are actually made into chocolate and had an opportunity to try a variety of chocolates. Let’s just say that I was pretty chocolate-ed out after this day. There was so much chocolate.

Guayaquil

Now full of chocolate, we headed back to our hotel, had some time to relax and shower and then, again it was dinner time. One of the supervisors wanted to find this placed called Arthur’s Cafe that was about a 30-minute walk away from our hotel and so a group of students and I joined her in finding it. Sadly, that cafe was closed permanently and we didn’t know that until we were standing at the vacated doors of what was once Arthur’s Cafe. We were all pretty hungry at this point so we found some other place nearby that was alright. The service was HORRIBLE and the food was so-so, but at least I got some more blackberry juice out of the deal! After our meh dinner, we made the 30-minute trek back to our hotel and I passed out.

Guayaquil

And just like that, it was January 15th. Our last day in Ecuador. We had breakfast at the hotel and then drove for about two hours to get to Salinas Beach, where we would spend a good chunk of the day. I spent some time swimming, working on a tan (which tends to be VERY hard for me), and doing one other thing that has me permanently traumatized… A banana boat. So some of you might be asking, what’s so scary about a banana boat? To those of you that have been on one and enjoyed yourselves, you’re not human. To those of you that have been on one and hated every second of it, I feel ya. To those of you that are like banana boat????? I’ll explain.

So a banana boat is a giant inflatable banana with straps attached to the top, which is where you sit. One end of the devilish banana is attached to a boat and as you ride along on this banana, the boat driver makes a sharp turn and you fall off unless you hold on for dear life. It’s supposed to be “fun”. Tell me WHERE the fun is, because I don’t see it.

See the thing is, I didn’t know that you were going to be flung off the banana as the boat driver guided us around. I thought we would just hop on the banana, and then get to bounce around and ride the waves. If that’s what the banana boat had actually been, I would’ve loved it. But NOOOOO. I legitimately get chills writing about it. Upon our first turn, we were WHIPPED off that stupid banana and a bunch of the people I was on the banana boat with all crashed into each other. One of my friends got smacked really hard in the head and someone or something smacked my ankle reaaaal hard. We had life vests on, so we weren’t going to drown but the feeling of being flung from a banana and then tossed around in the water and banged up by a bunch of other people was so so so NOT fun. We did this unfortunate banana flipping thing two more times and then it was all over. Thank. God. 10/10 would not ever recommend a banana boat to ANYONE. As I write this, my ankle still feels a bit tender because of the damage that was done on that gosh darn banana boat. Not good. Not good at all.

After that traumatizing experience, I remained on land for the rest of our time at the beach. Some ice cream helped lighten my mood, but wowza was I ready to go home at that point. After our time at the beach, we stopped at a local spot for lunch that had some of the best fettuccine with shrimp I’ve ever had. They also served my meal with a mountain of rice and avocado which was much appreciated.

We arrived at the hotel back in Guayaquil about two hours after leaving our lunch spot and by then, we had to finish up our packing and shower. At this moment, I realized just how sunburnt I had gotten. Yes, I had applied sunscreen, but being at the equator is just so different than being under the sun in Colorado. I was RED. I barely peeled later though, so that’s good!

Guayaquil
Image by Creative Fabrica

Now all ready to go to the airport, we had our farewell dinner at this gorgeous place that had some of the best service we had the entire trip. The food was phenomenal too. If I could remember the name of the place, I would definitely share and recommend that if you’re ever in Guayaquil. It was incredible. I definitely felt under-dressed though, in my leggings and hoodie. It was definitely a more formal eating spot.

And now the fun had ended and it was time to soak in the long lines of customs and airport security. Yippeeeeee. Getting through customs and security took a while, but it was fine. The miserable part came with the six-hour flight to Dallas. My sinuses wanted to kill me and it felt like my head was going to explode the entire flight to Dallas. And to add to that, it was also past midnight and I was trying to sleep. No bueno. When we got close to Dallas, our pilot announced that a storm was over Dallas that prevented us from landing so we had to detour to Austin, sit there on the plane for 30 minutes and then made it to Dallas.

And that was the cherry on top. Our little detour resulted in us missing our connecting flight to Denver, and the people with American Airlines were everything BUT helpful about our situation. No one was helping us get on another flight and I was just feeling miserable and exhausted and just wanted to be home already. Customs in Dallas really sucked too.

Finally, a wonderful woman came to our rescue and helped us all get on a flight back to Denver (even if it was going to put me home two hours later than planned) so we were going to be home. I fueled up with some Starbucks and before we knew it, we were on our flight back to Denver.

I got home around noon and I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to be home. I really missed my country, of course, but I really missed my family. To give up two weeks of my winter break for a study abroad was totally worth it, but that time I missed with family is also important to me and I was a little bummed that I only have a couple of days with them before I had to leave for spring semester to start. Regardless, it felt good to be home and enjoy the time I could with my family.

Guayaquil

Ecuador, you were an incredible, hospitable country, even if I got sick while visiting. Thank you for being the first country, beside the United States for me to visit and explore. I’ll be back and I’m looking at you, Galapagos Islands! 🙂 If you’re a student in college or even high school that is considering studying abroad, I highly recommend looking into some sort of program, even if it is a short two-week thing, because it really gives you a chance to explore a new culture, have some fun, and get college credit while doing it.

I hope you all have enjoyed the Ecuador posts and on that note, I’ll see you all next Sunday. 🙂