My Experience at the Cape Coast Slave Castle

Visiting the slave castle was one of the main sites of importance that I was looking forward to experience. As many know, I did my AncestryDNA test a few months ago and I know the origins of my ancestry. While majority of my ancestry comes from Central Africa, going to the castle still meant seeing what my ancestors endured and somehow survived.

I probably could’ve stayed in the museum portion of the castle alone. I like to read every word of each description when I go to museums of historic importance. When I saw the shackles, ropes, and branding I was in shock. Those tools were just the beginning of what one faced during captivity. It was sad to see how the other parts of the Triangular trade reaped so much from slavery yet in the end and in the present, those same African countries face more challenges and economic struggles. One of the displays showed what was traded for humans, ivory, and gold and it was irons, glasses, and guns. It confused me to see simple things like plates and cups being traded for the valuable assets of entire humans and ivory. Plates and guns were way less influential in building an empire like America, but still the trade was in tact for centuries.

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I wish I had more of an emotional reaction going to the castle but it just didn’t happen. I think the constant conversations during the program in the efforts to prepare the few African American students for the castle, somewhat distracted from actually getting the experience. We were told to prepare for tour guides that may make somewhat inappropriate or joking comments during a matter we felt were serious. We were told that surrounding the castle, there would be shops and markets around. We were told that the same coast that was the last bit of Africa that slaves would sea, was now used for fishing and that there would be boats all around the coast. Apparently, Ghanaians had moved on from slavery in a way that African Americans hadn’t. And so being told this several times throughout the trip, somewhat took away from the experience for me to figure it out and process it on my on. I think that’s why I just went in without really being able to think about its importance, in an effort to not become upset at the way the site appeared to be treated. Maybe if I had visited the castle by myself, or perhaps the Elmina Castle, I would have had a different experience.IMG_5009.JPG

It still was powerful to step foot in the actual slave dungeons. It was dark, stuffy, and I immediately felt claustrophobic just after 5 minutes inside. Feeling claustrophobic was so minor compared to everything that happened in there. And people were in those dungeons for MONTHS. All of the things I take for granted now like being able to drink as much water as I want, food, water, and basic humanity were ripped away from my ancestors who had to endure slavery. I can only thank God that he gave them the strength to make it through such a long lasting nightmare.

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The castle is strongly beautiful with the waves rising against the shore, its wild to think so much pain and suffering happened in those premises. There was even a church built on top of one of the dungeons. People would actually worship right in the midsts of their own evil doings. They still thought they were holy. They saw nothing wrong with what they were doing. It made me think about the times we are in now and how there’s so much that society turns their head to. People really can be so dark and cruel but I just hope that the world will get better and learn from their mistakes.

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The Vivid Volta Region: A Warm Welcome

Volta Region

It was about a 3 1/2 hour drive and I made sure to load up on snacks and podcast downloads for the road. I had conducted my first interview in Ada, and I was excited to continue with my research. We stayed at Freedom Ho hotel, which was one of my favorite locations of the program. By this time during the trip, I was completely over eating chicken, which was the central theme of my dietary challenges for the following weeks to come. For the next few days, I was ordering tuna and club sandwiches, with a side of French fries.

Ewe Language and Culture Classes

In Accra I had daily language and culture classes for Twi. I was feeling quite confident with my ability to interact with people at the markets and for general greetings. In the Volta region, Ewe is the most common language and so I had to shift gears and attempt to learn a new set of words. In short, the main phrases I picked up on were “woezor” (welcome), “akpe” (thank you), “in dii” (morning), and “neon yen ye” (my name is).

Mafi Gborkope Village

Most of the time was spent in the village of Mafi Gborkope. When I got off of the bus, I was welcomed by the entire community. There were drums playing, and several people dancing in the center of the meeting. It was a welcome ceremony of over 100 people that were excited to welcome students into the community. Groups from our program had come to this village in previous years, so this community knew we were going to be doing interviews and other activities to learn about their culture. When we stepped off the bus, all eyes were on us and I was told that we would be dancing. I didn’t know what to expect but the atmosphere was very lively and welcoming. There was a village chief who sat directly across from my group. He gave a speech in Ewe, which was then translated by our guide for the trip. He prayed and gave thanks. A tradition of pouring out alcohol was then conducted and wen were officially welcomed by the chief.

One by one, dancers would pull people from my group to dance in the center. I wish I had a recording of me doing the dance but I was killing it lol. After the dancing, all 9 students received a bracelet symbolizing that we were welcome into the community at any time.

The village had basic resources for people to survive. Coming to this village was a different perspective of Ghana and showed me the drastic differences in resources that people have or don’t have. The houses were very simple, with an outside kitchen that I used when helping prepare a meal. The bathrooms were all outside and consisted of a concrete type room and a concrete ground with an opening at the bottom so things can just run down to the soil. Nobody was even checking for wifi. Yet everyone was just living their life and going about their day. The living conditions were very different to me but the people I saw were laughing with one another, playing games, talking, and still living. They still had what they needed and were a community that was there for each other.

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Greeting from community members
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Official welcome from the chief
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Jumped right in during pottery making class
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Look at my baby bowl!
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Homes

Volunteering

Our volunteer project was helping lay the foundation for a new community library. One of the hardest things I did was balance water on my head. I don’t know how people go back and forth between the lake and the construction site, but ya girl was TIDE. I’m pretty sure I only did 2 rounds, but that was more than enough for me lol. I was trying so hard not to drop the buckets. I think I was more successful at shoveling the rocks from the huge pile and putting them in the wheelbarrow. I had to stay in my lane. I also collaborate with someone to move sand from one area to another, and carry other materials to the site. It was hard work honestly.

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After a long day (a few hours) of work
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Just a lil break

Cooking

I helped (or so I think I did) prepare dinner for one of the families. It was a traditional meal called Banku with tilapia soup. The entire process was a lot of work. And to think, these women cook full meals like that every single day. First of all, just cutting the okra took me three times as long as the women who was guiding us. I was so used to a cutting board and didn’t want to cut my hand, but I look next to me and the woman had finished a whole handful of okra in the time it took me to cut one! To cook the food required the use of coal, a sturdy pot, and water. The cooking oven was made out of what seemed to be clay, and was mounted to the ground. It was very hot to be near the fire and took a lot of energy to stir the banku, which was a doughy type of food that needed to be consistent churned or else it would burn. I stirred with all of my might and my arms sure got a good workout. The crushed peppers and onions sure looked like it would be an amazing salsa, but it was mixed in with the chopped okra, and fish. It was a full meal that could feed a family of 4. It looked like a nice meal and it was cool to see the outcome look tasty and filling when tools were used that I had never used before.

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The kitchen

Batik Making

I saw just how intricate fabric design making could be when I was able to see the batik making process. Batik is the use of oils and wax to create patterns and designs for fabrics. I’m very proud of my headwrap that I made. Ir really just picked out a stamp design and the color, but it was still a success.

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At the Batik shop
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A pattern is created once a stamp is selected. The stamp is then placed in a hot wax. The hot wax dries up on the fabric and represents where the color won’t be able to show.

Yam Festival

We happened to be in Ho during the annual Yam festival.  It’s a festival celebrating tghe cultivation of harvests, particularly yam. Everyone in the Ho region came out onto the streets dancing and singing. It was like a Ghanaian carnival. I went to the nighttime celebration and they were playing all of the hits. By this time, I had a few favorite Afrobeat songs and could sing along a little bit. The fireworks were a site to see and it was just great seeing everyone hyped and dancing.

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Ho was an interesting place and I learned a lot from the people in the village. I wanted to share the academic part of my trip and so I’ve copied my field report below. A field report is basically to summarize what you did in each region and your findings.

What was your goal for the period? 

My goal for the interviews in Ho were to speak with several women entrepreneurs in the village. It was my first time working with a translator and with this new aspect, I wanted to strengthen my communication skills and ability to think on the spot.

Type of Prep Work?      

After my first interview experience in Ada, I prepared for the next set of interviews by revising my interview questions. There were several questions that weren’t useful for answering my hypothesis and so I cut those questions out. From my experience in Ada, I recalled that there were a few intro questions such as ” when did you start your business” that made the interview flow smother. I wrote those questions down to be a permanent interview question.

What I Actually Did

 I was surprised that I got to interview 5 women in one day. The questions that I had revised and prepared had to be reframed once I learned that that none of the respondents owned smartphones. Since smartphones were central to my research topic, I had planned several questions relating to what the smartphone was used for. I changed certain questions to find out what the women used to do things are normally the role of smartphones. My next step would be to write down the alternative questions to ask if a respondent doesn’t  own a smartphone.

What I learned about my research topic and research process      

I interviewed 5 women who were all selling food. 1 selling goods, 2 were cooking and selling kenke, 1 preparing fish, and 1 preparing various warm dishes. The use of mobile phones were present but not smartphones. These mobile phones were used to call and text customers. I also learned that word of mouth was used to market their goods and face to face interactions with customers and other sellers took place at the market. An aspect of my research is examining views people have regarding women entrepreneurs and in this community, the women said that what they produce is needed to feed and this necessity doesn’t allow for biases to be held against them as entrepreneurs. The women are the ones making food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The community wouldn’t have meals if it weren’t for these women who are taking the time to cook and sell what is needed. I learned to be flexible with the interview stage of the research process because some settings and situations may not be ideal. For example, about 4/5 women I interviewed were busy actually making the meals or selling to others as I was trying to ask questions. With the interviewee who wasn’t busy, I still had the awkward setting of about 10 other people surrounding me as I was asking questions. I tried to ask the most relevant questions and made sure I thanked them for their time because I could see how busy things were.

 

-POP

Self Care Trip 2017 | I Think Things Will Be Okay

Greetings Daizies,

I was on a roll in August with frequent uploads until I went to Ghana. It was a jam packed program and I’ve basically written tons of posts in my head lol. It’s crazy that it’s almost October and I’ll be starting my final year of college. Right now I’m in Portugal on a well needed self care trip. I needed a buffer between Ghana and going straight home. When I study abroad, I find it hard to go straight from an active, adventurous, and fun program filled with exploring to the rigorous demands of school, life, and rainy Seattle. It can truly be depressing. My intentions with these 3 days in Portugal is for reflection, rest, and to get into the right mindset to go back home.

I could feel myself getting anxious during my last week in Ghana. I would wake up with my heart beating fast and feeling like I wanted to cry. I had literally just woken up and nothing had happened yet. That’s how I knew I was just generally nervous and anxious, when I was just waking up and already sad. I strongly related to Solange’s ‘Cranes in the Sky’ when she said “I tried to run it away
Thought then my head be feeling clearer
I traveled 70 states
Thought moving round make me feel better” because when I’m away from home I can just leave my worries, problems, responsibilities, people, anything really at home. I feel free and I’m learning when I’m gone. But the sudden reality that this was my last study abroad program and around the corner was real life, kept running through my mind. Everything is different regarding a lot of things in my life compared to coming back abroad from Italy and the UK. I just don’t know what life is going to be like with the change of dynamics in personal relationships. The closer my departure came, the more anxious I became. I didn’t want to necessarily stay but I knew I didn’t want to go home just yet. This is what my trip to Portugal is for.

I’ve been in Lisbon for just a day and I can say I haven’t felt anxious or sad. I took a long nap when I arrived and then explored the area until I found live music and some food. Along the way I went shopping and bought a couple of cute pieces for my new fall wardrobe. Going solo travel is so fun because I’m on my own time and can literally do whatever I want and go off schedule depending on my mood. Most of the time, people want to just go go go as soon as they land. It’s like every minute needs to be occupied or its considered wasting time. But when its just me, myself, and I things are planned according to my mood and interests. A 3 hour nap was needed and some shopping in between occurred just because I wanted it to. And right now, I’m just blogging and have a  general idea of what time I want to leave the house, but there’s no set time or another person I have to be mindful of. It’s just what I needed right now after a whole month of organized activity and being with a group.

I know that this won’t be forever but I want my relaxed mindset to last a while. I’m going to do some sincere journaling to brainstorm solutions to problems I can control and ways I can be at peace with things I have no control over. I know I would rather be happy than sad. But there’s just days where I don’t know how to start my day because my mind is overwhelmed with every possible problem and challenging scenario in the world. It always seems to happen when I’m about to start a brand new day or go out somewhere. But when I get moving and start my day, I don’t have time to think about the reasons why I felt numb waking up. I want to work through whatever that is and not just keeping myself busy an avoiding it. I know I briefly looked into therapy but I put it on hold since I was about to travel. I might resume that search when I get back. Maybe it’ll be a rewarding experience. I’ve heard it’s lit lol.

I’m going straight into my career search when I get back home. It’s crazy to think this entire chapter of undergrad is about to come to an end. I think the idea of being in a full-time job is scary because it’s not just a 2 or 3 month internship, but you’re really there…every weekday…forever basically.  I think for a while I tried avoided this reality because I know my overall goal is to have my own business. I would have thought that I would already be a business owner right now at 21 and that hasn’t happened yet. Not being where I want with my goal as an entrepreneur was very stressful probably earlier this summer but now I’m in a different place. When I look at the age 21 typed right now it actually is quite young lol. I guess I’m saying this to just reflect on an ongoing reality that I’ve put myself at ease with so that I can help myself realize that I can make peace with my current problems as well. I know going on dozens of interviews is nerve-wracking but I’ve been on dozens before and I just want to get this done and secure this bag. I won’t loose sight of having a business and I will continue to build my brand, take action on my ideas, and make progress step by step (and daibydai).

By now I have almost devoured an entire box of grapes. Grapes were so rare in Ghana an d just 10 large grapes were equivalent to $3 USD. So you can guess that I refrained from eating grapes. On today’s agenda I plan to go to the Castelo de S. Jorge, Museu Colecao Berado and Bario Alto. We shall see how the day goes. And at night, I will be doing some sincere journaling, reflecting, and slowly getting into the productive mode of facing my responsibilities.

When I look at my life now, I know that I am exactly where I wanted to be 5 years ago. I’ve actually gone to so many places I dreamed of. I made it into my major. I’ve passed all those classes that I thought I wouldn’t. I made it through back to back interviews and had some interesting internships. I finally have the fro I always wanted. I think I’m doing just fine and I’ve made it so far. Maybe there’s nothing wrong with the reality I’ve been so reluctant to face but right now I’m just thinking to myself and I think I will be okay.

 

View from the Castello S. Jorge

 

 

-POP

An Accradible Week in Ghana

Greetings Daizies from the Motherland!

I’ve been in Accra now for 6 days and it feels like I’ve always been here. I haven’t been able to post blogs as frequent since I’m busy with the study abroad program and the wifi isn’t as strong in our lodge area. But I wanted to share how things are going so far!

I arrived in Accra on Friday night. The entire trip here felt like the longest trip ever and I was so delighted to finally land. It took a long time (almost 45 minutes) for both of my bags to arrive on the conveyer and some time to get through immigration. The first night I stayed in an airbnb. The host was gracious enough to give me a ride from the airport. I couldn’t see much in the dark but I noticed the women walking on the sidewalks carrying crates and products on their heads. Prior to arriving, I didn’t know if that was still something that was done here but I’ve been amazed at the amount people can balance on their heads here. After having only about 4 hours of sleep within the 24 hours of flying and traveling, I prepared for bed quickly and slept.

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(airbnb in Adenta region)

Jet lag was something else because I woke up bright and early at 6am and couldn’t fall back to sleep. I could hear the roosters rising early as well. Saturday was the day I met with the rest of the group for my study abroad program. I haven’t yet talked about the program I’m in for school so I’ll take some time to share a little bit about it. I’m in Ghana for a 4 week program studying communication technologies in Ghana with a focus on research. I’ll be doing field research to answer a research question of my choice. From the very beginning, I knew I wanted to learn about women in entrepreneurship in Ghana. I want to become an entrepreneur and I wanted to discover what it is like for women here in Ghana as entrepreneurs. I know back home in the US there are challenges that women face when starting businesses and I want to examine what the experience is like for women here.

The airbnb was located in an area called Adenta, and from Adenta to the Legon region was about a 35 minute drive with traffic. Our program takes place at the University of Ghana for the first week and later we will be moving towards cities and rural areas in northern Ghana. After settling in the guest house dorms on campus, I took a nap and had dinner shortly after. Saturday was a short day mostly moving from one area to another, so I consider my first full day to be Sunday.


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(University Guest House)

After finally getting a sufficient amount of sleep, I was ready for a full day of exploration. We had an hour long language and culture lesson first thing in the morning. We are learning the Twi language ( pronounced like tree) which is one of the most prevalent languages in Accra. Our teacher is a nice Ghanaian woman full of energy. I know how to say simple things like “good morning”, “how are you” “my name is Daizha”. Something new I learned is that each person has a name based off the day of the week they are born and if they are a boy or girl. My name is Akua (pronounced like Akreea) since I was born on a Wednesday.

Food
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I love the fresh fruit here and can’t get enough of it. There’s a night market at the University of Ghana campus where there are outside stands of fresh fruit and hot food. I’ve gone there almost every day since arriving in Accra. My favorite fruits are the juicy watermelon, bananas and pineapples. You can get a medium sized bag of fruit for 2 cedis which equals about 50 cents! I feel like I’m eating a lot healthier here lol. I drink tons of water and way more than I did at home.

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I’ve had lots of jollof and fried chicken and I’m liking plantain chips more and more. I also like a Ghanaian dish called Plasava (not sure of the spelling) but it’s like a spinach type dish usually eaten with meats.

Surprisingly I like fish now. I never ate fish back home. I would even put a blanket  at the bottom of my door when tilapia was being cooked because just the smell of it made me nauseous because we had it for dinner so much. Here in Ghana, the tilapia was cooked with onions and peppers. The fish was very soft and falling off the bones. It tasted amazing and I’ve had it a couple of timesz

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Today (Thursday) was the day my craving for American food hit me strong. I had to make a trip to Accra Mall for some Pizza Hut to satisfy my craving of cheese. It tasted like the best pizza I’ve ever had in my life.

People

There’s a calmer and more relaxed feeling of being in Accra. I felt like I adjusted easier to Accra than many other cities I’ve visited. I love seeing an abundance of melanin everywhere I go. I notice that even though I’m also black, when me and my other African American friends are walking, tons of heads are turning to look at us and people are often starring. I was wondering if I would blend in here but it’s like the people here can tell I’m American before I even open my mouth. Nonetheless, people have been very kind. When shopping, getting food, or many interactions in general, people have been pleasantly surprised when I’m able to say a few words in Twi like  “madaase” (thank you).

Site-seeing
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I learned a lot at Kwame National Memorial and from visiting the museum inside of the memorial area. The story of the fight for Ghana’s independence is truly inspiring.

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A few days ago, I stumbled upon the Museum of Science and Technology and saw dozens of beautiful artifacts and art pieces. The museum featured more art than anything with a mix of modern and traditional art pieces.
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It’s always fun going to the markets and each day I’m restraining myself from buying every cute thing I see. The Art Center and Osu market areas were vibrant areas for shopping and this weekend I’ll see what the nightlife looks like in Osu.
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This blog post is probably longer than I expect since I’m writing all of this on my phone. I just had to share my experiences in real time as they’re happening. There’s so much more that I want to write about but I’ll make notes of all of the cool things I’m learning in Ghana and he sure to make posts sharing more about my time here.

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You can follow my Instagram @divadaizha for more frequent picture uploads!

-POP

10 Things You Probably Forgot to Pack + Full Study Abroad Packing List

Hey Daizies! If you’re getting ready to head somewhere, I’ve compiled a packing list that I hope you’ll find helpful. Starting out I listed 10 things that you know you need but might end up forgetting. Then in sections I’ll list out things you should bring. As I’m writing this, I’m keeping in mind things I needed when I studied abroad as well as for my next trip to Ghana! I’m trying to pack as light as possible as always.

10 Things You Probably Forgot to Pack

Portable phone charger
Flip flops
Umbrella
Eye mask
Adapter
Sunglasses
Advil/Tylenol
Swimsuit
Headphones
Neck pillow

Clothes

1 pair of jeans ( no matter what the current weather may be, you never know how soon a rainy day may hit)
3 sun dresses ( one that can easily turn into a club outfit)
2 pairs of capris
5 dressy shirts (for pictures)
3 club outfits
Tank tops (easy ways to switch up your outfits)
2 pairs of shorts ( dark or denim)
TONS of underwear (doing laundry in foreign countries can be a hassle)
Socks
T-shirts ( Like the free ones you get from events)
Lounge shorts (for workouts and to sleep in if that’s your thing)
Walking sandals
Comfortable gym/tennis shoes
Combat boots or booties (if traveling for 3-4 months during colder months)

For the Plane

Small over the neck purse ( easy access to your phone, passport, and wallet)
Hand sanitizer
Hair wrap
Sunglasses
Vaseline (lip balm)
Lotion
Neck pillow
Headphones
Phone charger
Empty water bottle
Health
Advil/tylenol
Emergen-C packets (immune system boost)
Peptobysmal

Face & Body

Earrings &a jewelry
Deodorant
Face cleanser
Vaseline
Toothbrush
Toothpaste
Floss
Sunscreen
Bug spray
Nail polish
Your favorite makeup (the right concealer shade is hard to find

And for hair, don’t forget to check out my What Should Be in Your Natural Hair Travel Kit?| Checklist for Packing blog post!

-POP

A Queen in Cabo| Spring Break 2017 in Mexico!

It’s been a long time, I shouldn’t have left you… without a dope blog to step to…

After one of the most stressful quarters ever (mainly from having to adjust to the fast past academic lifestyle post-study abroad) I was hyped to get out of the country for spring break vacation. Since being back from Italy, I wanted to explore more of the beautiful places close to home. Spring break in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico was the ideal choice because I could experience a new culture, enjoy great beaches, and spend less than $400 on a round trip plane ticket. For 6 days, I got to relax and enjoy the beautiful city of Cabo!

Arriving in Cabo

Figuring out transportation from the airport was a little tricky at first. Prior to departure for Mexico I had done some research and discovered that there’s a bus from Terminal 2 that will take you into the city and the downtown area where the hotel was located. It worked out to where the bus stop was visible right outside the Terminal 2 exit of the Cabo San Lucas Airport. We were allowed to pay in either pesos or the $2.50 USD equivalent.

Getting Around & Things to Do

Cabo was a lot smaller than I imagined. Within the first day, I saw most of the city and could figure out how to get around anywhere by foot. With perfect weather in March, it was desirable to go on a stroll to the Santa Maria beach, which was about a 15 minute walk from the hotel.  The Santa Maria Beach was the main party and tourist beach with Mango Deck being the main attraction for springbreakers. Near the Cabo Wabo area was Destiny Massage, which offered a 70 minute massage for only $20 which is unheard of in the USA. It was so amazing and I felt very relaxed afterwards.

 

Nightlife

The clubs in Cabo were all located in one strip and were F-R-E-E THAT SPELLS FREE! With free entrance, it was easy to hop from one club to another. The notorious El Squid Roe was super active and had multiple floors that were all open. It reminded me of several music video scenes. The music wasn’t always popping because it was heavy on pop and EDM type of music but as the night went on there were several sequences of songs that were popping. Sunday night surprisingly was the most lit.

I had looked up clubs before arriving of course, and Pink Kitty was one of the top results but fell short of its status. It was fairly empty but I still had fun dancing to mid 2000s throwbacks with other springbreakers. The club next to El Squid Roe was a top contendor with a more sophisticated layout and with a more variety of songs on the playlist. La Vinquita was another club in the area that played more Latin beats and it was fun to show off my bachata skills!

Food

I could not get enough of Mexican food. I literally almost had fajitas every single day. There was this restaurant near the Marina called Sharky’s. They served delicious fajitas with rice, beans, and chips and salsa for only $7.50. This was also the place where they served liter margaritas for $6! Deals, Deals, Deals! I ate at this restaurant for half of the nights I was in Cabo. The other meals were from various authentic restaurants and I was always satisfied.

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Beef fajita meal at Sharky’s 
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Frida Kahlo photo

Activities

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Fish pedicure

The activities were my favorite part of Cabo! The last two days of the trip were day-long activities of snorkeling and then zip-lining. It is best to book activities in person, as they are much cheaper than online and you have the chance to bargain. Never settle for the first offer or even the first vendor. At the mall, the prices for zip-lining were much higher and for a less inclusive deal.

The snorkeling adventure was super fun because I got to see the Arch of Cabo up close and relax on the way to snorkeling. Because I know how to swim, I expected snorkeling to be easy right away. However, when I jumped into the sea I realized it would be such a workout to literally keep my head above the waters! The water was super cold and it was hard to breathe through the snorkel tube because I was out of breath and heart was beating fast at first. Once I relaxed and slowed my breathing down, things became a lot easier. I could see the tiny fish swimming below my feet! All together, the adventure was 3 1/2 hours long and a time well spent!

Zip lining was the most adventurous activity I’ve done so far! This activity was through a company called Cabo Adventures and featured 7 different zip-lines, including the longest zip-line in Mexico. I can’t believe I glided across mountains in Mexico and even had the nerve to do it upside down! That’s right, I zip-lined upside down. There was one obstacle called the pendulum, where I stood at the side of a cliff while harnessed, and then jumped off like and was swung to the other side. I totally underestimated how high up I really was because as soon as I left the edge, my stomach dropped and I just started screaming. It felt like I would never stop falling! I loved seeing the nature and experiencing the beautiful outdoors. I’m excited to do more outdoor activities in the future!

My goal this year was to travel to another country/content and I’m so happy I’ve been able to accomplish traveling to another country and in the summer will be headed to Ghana!

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Living life!

What’s Life Like Now That I’m Back?

What a beautiful day for a snow day Daizies!

I’ve always dreamed of a day between Sunday and Monday where I could just and my dream came true today! Hoping for a day off shows just how drastically different things have been since coming home. Compared to my 4 months abroad, it is a more intense workload filled with a packed schedule that used to consist of traveling most weekends with school for just a few hours.

Missing the Days of Getting Out of Bed Only for Gelato!

I forgot how hectic school life can be. I have actual weekly assignments, labs, work, ongoing internship search, and midterms to prepare for. With so many responsibilities, I find myself on campus for an average of 8-11 hours per day for 4 out 0f the 5 days per week. Getting back to this routine made me miss being abroad so much. I knew when I was there, that it would be the most stress-free semester ever. I could not open a textbook for 2 weeks and still not fall behind. Can you imagine having no stress for 4 months? I had time. Every hour of my day didn’t need to be organized and planned. At Bocconi University, I had one class each day from Tuesday through Thursday. In total I was on campus for about 7 hours each week. Now, I am on campus 6 times as much.

I miss planning my next weekend expedition. After a week in Milan, it was off to the next place. My weekly tasks consisted of booking hostels, Airbnb’s, writing down directions of getting to and from airports, and planning my day in either Barcelona, Athens, Rome and other amazing places! I miss having an abundance of time and being stress-free.

Dealing With Stress

With time, I have accepted the fact that I have to stay ahead so that I won’t fall behind. Whether, I’m ready for the full workload here or not, I must do the absolute most with studying for certain classes. I am making the effort to read chapters before lectures, go to tutoring for Operations Management, and do the best I can academically. Stress is a natural thing and I realize I am more vulnerable to it when I feel I don’t have enough time to finish what I need or even relax. It can arise from feeling anxious about interviews, graduating, and deciding on a career path. 4 months away from having to encounter such demands was a break well needed. I use the experience of overcoming the anxiety of leaving to go abroad to calm myself down when I’m feeling anxious about future interviews, tests, etc. I recently thought to myself “Is this the hardest thing you’ve done?” If the answer is “no”, then I can get through this next task as well. Leaving on the exchange was the scariest thing I’ve done so far and I use that accomplishment of my fears to find strength that I will make it through whatever is next. Also, taking deep breaths are very effective at all times of the day.

Continuing With Healthy Habits?

Getting exercise and eating a balanced diet have also helped me in transitioning to a healthier lifestyle. I noticed that I never once got sick when I was abroad. Normally, I would get a cold every quarter, especially during midterms and finals. Your body is more susceptible to colds and other viruses when you are stressed, not getting enough sleep, or enough nutrition. I knew this was especially true when I found myself with a cold(and later a fever) literally one week into school. I really hate being sick and need as much energy as I can get. I now take daily multi-vitamins to help boost my immune system. I talked about how great grocery shopping was and how healthy I ate in Italy. I can proudly say I haven’t eaten a frozen meal or cup-of-noodles since I’ve been back and don’t plan on it either! I relied heavily on TV dinners, microwavable lunches, pop-tarts, fast food fruit snacks, and cup-of-noodles as my main source of food throughout my college life prior to the exchange. But since I couldn’t find these foods at grocery stores in Italy, my diet changed and I began to eat more meals that I had to prepare and less sugary foods. With this new habit, I don’t crave sweets as much and usually eat fruit as a snack. I tried eating KFC when I got back and couldn’t even finish my plate. I used to be able to eat 5+ chocolate chip cookies at a time, and now it doesn’t taste as good or pleasurable as it used to. It gets hard sometimes to make dinner after a long day and on these occasions I end up ordering Jimmy Johns!

I often would jog around the park behind the dorm when I was in Milan. I continue this now that I am in Seattle when the weather isn’t too rainy. Going to the gym is a lot harder than I expected but I do enjoy a brisk walk every now and then. I still do yoga every morning which is something I’ve been doing for the past 11 years!

Can’t Stay Still!

Once the travel bug hits you it is hard to stay in one place for too long. Studying abroad has been an exciting part of my college experience. While I have only a few quarters left of college, I hope to study abroad again this summer on a 4 week exploration seminar. In the very near future, I am excited to go to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for Spring Break wooohooo!!! I enjoy traveling so I want to do it as much as I can. Seeing new places and cultures brings so much joy and memories forever.

Thrive.

I am officially back and on the grind. I want to not simply make it through each day but I want to thrive while doing so. I believe positive affirmations each day will help me to have the mindset to make the most each day. I put post-it notes next to my bed with positive notes written on them. It’s great to remind myself “I am successful” ” Good news is coming soon” or “Do not worry” throughout the day. I also am setting out personal time for myself each day.It’s important for me to find time to destress and have self-care. It’s okay to take a nap, indulge in your favorite tv show, and get sleep!

It’s great being home with friends and family as well as having access to amazing sandwiches each day. Adjusting to the hustle and bustle of reality was a challenge, but I with God’s help I am making it just fine. I hope to enjoy the little things of life each day no matter how busy life may be.