Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Summer Camp for College Students

Yesterday, the orientation group I am in for this extravaganza came up with the idea that orientation is essentially summer camp, in that every second of our day, and almost all of it is compulsory. Granted it is very fun, but we are herded from one place to the other without stopping. However, it is extremely fun! There have been quite a few interesting experiences, including an entertaining game of Ninja and a debate about whether one thing can stop a revolution.

Oh. The whole premise behind orientation, and part of the reason that we all started calling it summer camp, was that we were all separated into districts, Hunger Games style. Yours truly was a part of District One! Whoo! I had quite a few friends in the group with me, and also a pretty cool O-leader. I actually think I want to be one either next year or the year after.
Just kindly ignore the fact that I look a bit odd with a bandana. It took me about an hour the next day to finally get it figured out. Too much curly hair does not a bandana wearer make. I felt kind of like one of those strange people on tv with the bandanas on because of the hair. I turned it into a headband for the rest of the night. 

The next day was meant for basically whatever we wanted to as it was advising day. I wore my human ingredient shirt, because I'm a nerd like that. Here's the view I get as I walk to my dorm in the morning from the tech center. 
And here is my new home, aka the science building. Graduating in three years with a degree in biochemistry means I get to legit live here for the next three years. 
What with all our free time, we decided it might not be a bad idea to wander around looking for our classes. Here's a look at all the wandering we did. 
Oh yeah. Fun stuff. After an afternoon of just chilling in the lounge, we went to glo-ball. Oh yeah, dodge ball under black lights. It was great. I'm not very good at dodge ball, but I had fun so ya know there's that. 

On the final day of orientation, we all got into our districts and went off the activities we picked to compete against a each other. I picked trivia, and I did awesome. My group loved me, as I have a great memory when it comes to book trivia believe it or not. Oh right I did get my hair to not look weird with a bandana on!! 
Oh yeah. Side braids are awesome. Sometimes. Most of the time. Anytime it's really hot. After we got done, a couple of us went for a walk around the lake to check out our new hometown and met some adorable mallards! 
Ducks are pretty cool when they're being nice. Then, we decided it was time to attempt laundry. Yeah, no. Until we get new dryers laundry is going to be a long day. No fun. To compensate, we all decided to get super cute for Blastoff, aka the activities fair. I found so many clubs I'm interested in, and just need to pick less than the ones I talked to. Also, I got my stereotypical picture with Mocsie because, ya know, it's not college without a picture with your mascot. 

My hair was somewhat misbehaving, but ya know whatcha gonna do, this is Lakeland, it is hot, and that room was also hot. 

In conclusion, college is going to be awesome, classes start today, and I can't wait to get involved. Isn't that what living in a dorm is all about? 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Home is Behind You

...and by you I mean me. Almost twenty four hours later, I have moved into my dorm, ate a meal in the dining hall, gone to a (very fun, orientation ice-breaker type, university approved) party, slept in a bed raised way off the ground and didn't fall out, and used a pretzel stick to stir my coffee. I know, I know, that last one doesn't make a lot of sense, but hear me out: there was so much running around yesterday, I'm not at all surprised I forgot that I needed coffee stirrers. I am so happy with my new home, I don't know what to do.

My journey to my new home started Friday morning, bright and early, packing the car with all my essentials, and running last minute errands. Who runs errands at eight in the morning? My family, that's who. Of course, as you may or may not know, it's not a trip anywhere if we don't forget at least one essential thing. The things we forgot lead me to my current hypothesis about the world: eight in the morning is just too early for math, even simple math like counting pins needed for a bookshelf. My mom went off to do one thing while my dad and I ran off to pick up hardware for my bookshelf. We managed to only get enough for one bookshelf. Whoops. Anyway, we met back up with mom and she laughed at us. But, like I said, eight is just too early for math; there's a reason I scheduled my calculus class for the early afternoon.  We also managed to forget my lamp too, so there's that.

Lo and behold, we finally managed to get underway, with a little twist: I drove most of the way in my car with my dad while mom was in her car. Yes, we had to take two cars, but one must remember that the two cars we took are both not exactly suited for moving. Travel, absolutely, moving, no. Because it is Florida, we ran into a pretty intense thunderstorm, and clearly I'm writing this so we're all fine. Florida showers are strange things. Anyway, we made it to Lakeland and got settled in the hotel. Bedtime was supposed to be early, what with moving in and everything, but that didn't happen. It never does, does it?

Alright, alright, alright! Let's talk about moving, shall we? It was a lot of fun! Sort of. It only took about an hour, and then we were off running errands, picking up things like coffee and a Swiffer. Of course, we forgot coffee stirrers but that's beside the point. When I got back, it was time for a hall meeting with the RA which was interesting. We went around, gave our names/hometowns/majors, listened to all the rules, and played Two Truths and a Lie, which I think is a pretty cool ic e breaker if I do say so myself. Can you guess which of my three facts is the lie? I said: I love reading Shakespeare, I hate the color pink, and music is my favorite thing ever.

After that, it was time for cleaning my room up (siwffering, organizing) and dinner. I'm not going to lie, the dining hall was huge and intimidating. But, I'm not one for being timid and I was quick to find someone I recognized from Advising Days and strike up a conversation. Hooray college! Then, the real fun started. We went to the auditorium to meet up with our orientation groups and get this whole thing underway. Just saying, being an O-leader would be something I'd love to do. I wonder how one gets involved with that. We went to small group, got to know each other (good grief at the ice breakers- for future reference my favorite tree is the weeping willow), went over the orientation schedule, then were set loose to go to the "headphone dance party" as they called it. It was quite entertaining. More people, strange games, and dancing like absolute idiots. It. Was. Awesome. I have to say, orientation is starting to seem a lot like summer camp for college students. There's no telling what today has in store.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Celebration Time: Grad Bash 2014

     Wow! Grad Bash was an interesting experience if I have ever had one. It was a great time, mixed in with some not so great times I have to say. Our school left bright and early hat 9:15 in the morning, actually fifteen minutes ahead of schedule, and arrived at our resort (I say resort because was most definitely not a hotel but it was quite clean. Maingate Lakeside Resort if you're interested; it's for people just needing a place to rest their heads, not much more). Then it was time to go to Universal for Grad Bash (proper). We arrived around 5:15, just the Blastoff Party was getting started. We were ushered into the night club area for two hours to eat, listen to music, dance, and just hang out before being let into the actual theme park side of things. My friends and I went into all the clubs, including the Bob Marley one, and just kind of hung out for a while. Then all the seniors there (including us) were ready to go into the theme parks; by that I mean we all congregated outside in the walkway, contained by security, and started all manner of chanting to get the rope dropped so we could move on (unsuccessfully).

     The theme park was awesome, especially since we had the park to ourselves. I myself am not much one for roller coasters, but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy myself. Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios look pretty cool at night. The only downside to this part of the weekend? The fact that it was raining off and on all night. We walked all around the entire park twice, I rode Flight of the Hippogriff (yes it is a kid's ride, but that didn't stop almost every senior there from riding it), drank Butterbeer, and then we all went to Universal by way of the (quite sketchy) pathway between the two parks that's open during special events. They rode the Mummy, the Transformers ride, and the MIB ride; I didn't, again I don't like roller coasters or simulators. Then we all decided to go back to Seuss Landing to ride the train. It was pretty cool; the theme of the decor is the book about the Sneetches (you know, with the beach and the con man and the green stars; spoiler alert: by the end they don't care about the stars). It was super fun, and a great way to rest our feet while not having to sit on wet park benches. Then, it was time to go congregate at the exit so we could leave. When I got back to my room, ten minutes later I was in my cot and asleep. I slept like a corpse in a cheap coffin on my cot: dead to the world, but not resting in peace; it was uncomfortable. 

     Five hours later, it was time to get up, get on our swimsuits, and go to Typhoon Lagoon! Do you remember the first time you walked into Magic Kingdom, or Epcot, or any other Disney park? I had one of those experiences where it's like "whoa." My thought process basically went, "Wow! So this is what a water park should look like!" It was fantastic.
We started our day in the wave pool, waiting on the huge waves to come. I have to say, I'm a strong swimmer but not strong enough to handle that. I was sitting in the shallows when the first wave came, and it carried me five feet away from where I was sitting; that was not a wave, that was a tiny tsunami. Then it was time to catch Castaway Creek (their lazy river) around to the first slides. We didn't know where the landing where you could get floats was, so we just kind of floated along swimming in it until we got to the first slides, the ones where you go down either individually or as a "family", aka Keelhaul Falls, Mayday Falls, and Gangplank Falls. These were awesome!! They also weren't as intense as I expected them to be. Then we made our way to the two body slides: Humunga Kowabunga and Storm Slides. I didn't go on HK because a five story almost-vertical drop doesn't really enthuse me. My friends rode it and thought was not as fun, because of the water rushing up at the very end. Then it was Storm Slide time! This was my favorite sliding experience of the day! There are three different slides you can pick from, and we went on all of them. I can't tell you which was my favorite, because they were all fantastic. We were wandering around, trying to figure out where to put in to the Creek at, and stumbled across the Shark Reef. This was where they have little leopard sharks and fish swimming around in ten feet of (cold) salt water, just cruising around and hanging out while the people snorkel across, not disturbing the surface above. It was pretty awesome but I have to say if I'm not allowed to kick my feet I need a flotation device (oops).

Then, it was time to cruise around the Creek (twice) to get to lunch. We were all pretty hungry, and we all enjoyed our lunch greatly, in a way that people who have spent all day in/on the water understand. As luck would have it, we still hadn't gone on the Crush 'n' Gusher. This was my second favorite experience of the day. It was so much fun! Of course it was terrifying the first time through because I wasn't expecting so many drops, but it was a great time. Warning: if you're going in a three person float, beware the grating on the drops. It will hurt your lower back if you don't do a half bridge while going down the drops. Of course then you have to worry about lifting off the float during said drops, but that just adds to the fun! Then it was time to hit the slides one more time, get dried off, and make our way back to the buses.

     This was one of the greatest experiences, but it was mixed in with some not so fun times. I took a nose dive off my float into the Creek and got a nose full of chlorinated water. It immediately gave me a massive headache, but it was okay. Then we were on the way home and I still had a headache, but honestly it didn't get me down too badly. What did was the wreck we saw on I-75 going home. It was a horrible one, and is the reason why I-75 scares me so much. If you're on this interstate, please drive safely and don't get in a hurry. At highway speeds, getting in a hurry leads to a medical examiner being called to the scene of crashes. Anyway, I got home, I said hi to my mom and dad, and I went to sleep. That was Grad Bash, and honestly I will never attempt to walk around a theme park for nine hours again, but it was still fun. If you get a chance to go to Typhoon Lagoon, go! It is an amazing water park! Until my next adventure,

Saturday, April 12, 2014

And the Winner Is...

Ladies as gentlemen, boys and girls, it has been a long time coming, but I've made the decision. I will officially be attending Florida Southern College in the fall. A lot of you may be wondering what made me make this decision, but honestly it comes down to this: I care more about being able to get into medical school more than anything. They made me an offer I couldn't refuse and now I will be a FSC Moccasin. The tuition is less than I could have ever hoped after scholarships and my one loan I'm allowed to take out, they have a monthly payment program, and they have 100% placement into medical school. It also helps that when I call the admissions office, the lady I talk to actually knows my name. I'm not just a number or a statistic to this school. The only thing I am unsure of is the mascot. What is this thing?
No, seriously, what is this thing?? I don't know. Anyway... FSC has a beautiful campus too. I haven't gone to see it yet, so stay tuned for my first look at Frank Lloyd Wright architecture! 
So that's my story and I'm sticking to it. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Oh boy oh boy it's St. Paddy's day! Of course for me that means wearing green and going about business as usual. It's Spring Break for me! Well... Okay it's sort of Spring Break for me. I still have my dual enroll classes in the afternoon/evening but that's not too terribly awful because I get the mornings off. This also means that next year's spring break will be absolutely amazing, if only for the fact that I (mostly) get to go do what I want. 
Anyway! What are you all doing for your holiday and/or Spring Break? Tell me about it! If I wasn't in school, and money wasn't an object to be concerned about I would probably try to be in Ireland for this holiday, but of course I am a student, I am broke, and I am not in fact Irish at all. So, the extent of my celebration was having a kiwi with lunch today. 
So, that's what's up for me this green holiday. Enjoy yours, and don't do anything too stupid that you may regret tomorrow. Until next time,

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Good Morning, America! Today is Saturday, March 15, 2014

The day, the day is rapidly approaching! You know what I'm talking about, don't you? That's right...
State is just under three weeks away! 
So for those of you who are reading this and are in JCL with me and are getting ready for state, I hope you're all super excited about it and are studying! Or, well, that you're practicing your Christmas-treeing at least. For those of you with speeches: please don't let them slip away from memory! For those of you who will be attending state for the first time, it really will be the best time. Just... don't do anything stupid. That would be bad. 
Any post about state would not be complete without an annual list of Do's and Don'ts. Please, for the love of all that is good and classical, please don't make me add to it this year. It makes me sad to do so. 
  1. Bring your toga. It is very important.
  2. Bring enough clothes
  3. If you're going on water rides at the theme park, suitable clothing is needed.
  4. Cheer LOUDLY at spirit
  5. Come up with a cheer or two (School-appropriate please)
  6. Teach said cheers to us!
    1. Study categories, keep speeches fresh in memoriam, practice your buzzer fingers if you play certamen.
    2. Listen to your upperclassmen! Unless they're attempting to do something wrong...
    3. Help at bazaar, take your tests, wear your name tag, and do your best.
    1. Move hotel furniture
    2. Sass your compatriots.
    3. Mistreat your roommates. Just don't. 
    4. Wander around without a buddy. 
    5. Lose your name tag
    6. Wader off campus. For the love of all that is good and classical, if you do this we will be kicked out of FJCL for no less than a year
    7. Forget things at the hotel. 
    8. Forget to call your parents to check in
    9. Get lost in the theme park
    10. Not have an awesome time. 
    Well, that's just about it. Soon your teacher will be handing out final papers regarding state. Pay attention to the papers, be ready to leave when the day arrives, and look forward to a great time. 
    Until later,

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Today is March 11, 2014...

...and the game is on! No seriously this week begins the two week wait until colleges are supposed to start reporting statuses again. Awesome, right? Right.
I suppose you can call this a status report for here too! I suppose it would be prudent to start counting down the days until my next adventure! So without further ado...
There are 3 weeks and 2 days until STATE!
Yes yes there are 23 days until state, ladies and gentlemen. It is going to be quite the experience, especially since I will be rooming with new people this year. When it comes to state, the most important things to consider on this trip are going to be

  1. Bringing things to Latin with- a sheet to make a toga with, face paint, and my club shirts
  2. Making sure that I have a change of clothes for after spending all Saturday at the theme park
  3. FOOD. Yes you read that right: food. The hotel food is expensive and questionable at best. So, we bring our own food and call it good.
So, for now, I will be practicing my speech and studying my category and getting ready to try for a trophy at the state level. Until after state,

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Basic Travel Tips Part Two: Traveler's Guide to BYOB

First off, BYOB stands for Bring Your Own Blanket.

Second off, I am probably neither the first nor the last traveler to posit that the 24 hours before and first 12 hours of a trip are among the two most important time frames when it comes to a trip. These 36 hours set the mood for a trip, quite probably predict the smoothness of, and may very well be the most hectic interesting wackiest part of the trip outright. Of course, as people who I have traveled with will tell you, when you stay up until three in the morning doing nothing but talking, conversation quickly goes from philosophical to goofy to downright weird.

Moving right along, this is a magical time for younger travelers, filled with excitement and anticipation for what adventures are to come. The same can be said for anyone for that matter, if of course this isn't the dreaded College Road Trip that could potentially have things go from bad to worse in the blink of an eye. Trust me when I say: been there, done that, bought the pen and key chain, do not ever want to have that happen again.  But if you're here, this more than likely isn't what you're planning for, and with great planning even a college visit trip can be enjoyable.

Back to excitement!

Encourage your own excitement and that of the people around you. It will just make the time that most dread some of the best, before you even hit the road! Talk about what you're excited about, express any apprehension about things that you may have, and allow others to soothe said qualms.

Next, unless you're only going away for the weekend or a night, I'm going to assume that you've followed your packing list to a T and that you're ready to toss in your last minute toiletries and load up the car. Here's my next piece of valuable advice that I really should take myself: Invest in travel toiletries and a bag to put them in. When I say bag, I mean a real shower bag with plastic pouches to individually stow items and the like. It's a lifesaver. Also, when I talk about travel toiletries, I'm not talking about tiny bottles that barely hold enough conditioner for one hair washing. I'm talking about fully sized ones that you put in that bag and leave in there. I don't mean run out and buy one more of everything you own, but a bottle of shampoo, conditioner, face wash, a tube of toothpaste that you replace when you should, a bar of soap (or three if you're going away for a long while) and an extra shaving device if you are so inclined. This way, when you're running around on the day of travel and tossing things like mousse or shaving cream in your bag, you're not worried about sopping wet shampoo bottles getting everything damp in transit. Which brings me to my next point:

Unless you are going by air and have to put your shower bag in your suitcase, pack the car the day before. This can save you all sorts of hassle up to, and including, wondering if that one thing is in the car or not. As you pack, remember to check off things from your list, and keep said list handy the day of travel so you don't panic.Packing the car the day before means less hassle and more time for coffee, breakfast, and road time if it's a road trip. This, of course, can mean not having to wake up as earl for air travel, or even getting to catch an earlier flight.

This, of course, brings me to the title of this post: bring your own blanket! I do not care who you are, how you are traveling, or how old you are, bring one! If you're anything like me or even my mom, it's easy to get cold while making a journey somewhere, but it's difficult to get warm again. Having your own (clean) blanket can help combat this. It also can help you bring a piece of home with you if you're traveling far away. Me having my Delta blanket with me while I was in Germany was nice because it was soft, fluffy, and kept me from being homesick. Of course my sock monkey Fonzo (see my blog about flying overseas for more on him) helped too; this ties into letting a younger traveler bring their plushie with them. It combats homesickness! Believe me when I say that when I went to Boise to shadow I had to have my dad send me Fonzo to help me feel more relaxed while being far away. A plushie and a blanket can go a long way. A blanket will offer all these things (comfort, function, home) and then some, even if you're not a child/teen/young traveler.

Moving along, one of my last tips is know your schedule. I don't just mean dinner reservations and flight times, I mean know when you're leaving, when you're getting up, when you're supposed to get there, when your check in time is at a hotel, when your transportation is going to be there to pick you up if you aren't driving. It's all very important, and can be the difference between a good trip and a bad trip. I have an anecdote for this as well; when we went to Baltimore for my very first college visit, I had to make sure that I knew what we were doing, when we were doing it, and who would we need to talk to if we couldn't make it happen. Even parking! We had to get to the garage at a certain time so we could get and not have to pay since we were in the Early Bird Group to avoid the summer heat.

Lastly, breakfast is key. If you are following these tips, this shouldn't be difficult, but even then if you're not a big breakfast eater, it may still be hard. There is not enough that can be said about how important breakfast is in every day life, but it's even more important when traveling. It keeps you awake, keeps you focused on your day, and even can make you have more road time because you don't have to stop two hours down the road for food.

Well, that's the skinny on the 36 hour window from 24 hours before departure and the first twelve hours of it.  Keep excitement in the air, pack the car the day before, invest in travel toiletries, bring your own blanket, know your schedule, and breakfast! Until the next segment,

Monday, February 10, 2014

Basic Travel Tips Part One: Packing

      So, I'm a little bit bored and decided that since I'm writing on a travel blog, maybe I should share some of the madness that goes through my mind when I'm getting ready to leave home for any overnight sort of trip, or even just an extended day trip that will take me further than about and hour and a half from home. The first thing I will tell you is that a packing list is important, but generally only for trips lasting more than one night, and even then only when you are traveling further than about an hour from home. To make these lists (or just to make sure I have everything I need), there are several questions that I ask myself, and these may be helpful to you too.

  1. How am I traveling? These may seem like an oddball question, but what I mean is what mode of transport am I taking? Am I going by car, plane, bus, or train or some combination of the four? This determines how you are going to pack, in terms of the number of bags you can take, what you can take, and perhaps most important do you need to leave room in your suitcase for toiletries. 
  2. Where am I going? This determines what all you will have to pack, and also what you will pack for clothing. For instance, if I'm going to spending the weekend off the grid, then I am going to need to pack absolutely everything, from shampoo and conditioner to food as well. This is what I have to do when I go to State, as the hotel food is expensive and questionable, and it's just generally easier to pack most if not all the food I will need; I also have to make sure I don't forget toiletries as I can't just go somewhere to buy things I forget. However, if I'm going somewhere like Orlando with my parents, forgetting something isn't quite as big a deal, simply because I know my mom will have a replacement. 
  3. How long will I be gone? This is another what will I pack question. However, for this question it is a matter of am I going to be packing one outfit per day, or will I be packing a few essentials to mix and match to create new outfits for an extended period of time? For something like State, there are certain things I have to wear each day, and it is in April so I have to pack a pair of pants for each day as well. But if I'm going somewhere for, say, three weeks like I did last summer, I pack generally five bottoms, five tops, a dress, and five sets of pajamas (or three, depending on if it is cold or not). 
  4. What will I be doing? This is simple. If you're going for business, pack a majority of professional clothes with some casual pieces mixed in. If you're going for pleasure, vacation clothes and maybe a nice piece or two just in case a fancier occasion (like, say, Christmas). In terms of shoes, if you're going for business, nice shoes are a must; if it's pleasure you seek, comfortable footwear is a must.
     And that's it! These four questions are the basis for packing my suitcase for all my adventures. Stay tuned for part two of my Basic Travels Tips series. Until then,

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Journey's Will Continue...

Just not quite yet. It's really interesting how adventure comes in waves. At times, it's all around and one just can't seem to get away from it and relax. Then at other times, like these past few weeks, it just doesn't seem to be anywhere. Last weekend, my family and I made our way to Walt Disney World for one last hoo-rah before our annual passes expire. It was also a way of introducing me to the next wave of adventure to come.
Now about Disney...
We left early Saturday morning (as in so early we were there by 11:30).
Of course, we went straight to the hotel, got checked in, all that jazz, blah blah blah. Then the real fun began. We stayed at a new hotel this time, the Swan & Dolphin Hotel to be exact. It was super nice, and was in walking distance to everyone's favorite place, EPCOT! 
We had a bit of time to kill before our lunch reservations at Le Cellier in Canada at Epcot. First off, this restaurant is one of the most difficult to make plans for. We always wondered what was up with that, but, then we ate there. Hands down, it is the best meal I have ever had. I would recommend it for anyone going to Disney who doesn't want to dine with characters. It's a prime steakhouse, and a bit on the pricey side, but if you're looking for a great meal to treat you and your family to, this is an excellent place. There's also The Seas at Epcot too, but, that's another story for another day. 
We got to ride Soarin', one of our favorite rides there, as well as Journey Into Imagination with Figment, and even Spaceship Earth with minimal wait. I take that back, there was hardly any wait at all thanks to the new Fast Pass+ that Disney is introducing. We were able to plan our days in advance, which really takes the stress out of a Disney vacation. We were even able to squeeze in riding Test Track before it was time to go find a place to watch fireworks! Look at me and my mom, aren't we adorable?
If you're looking for the best place to watch Illuminations: Reflections of Earth, I highly recommend both the bridge between France and the UK, as well as anywhere in Canada. Also, if the moon is rising when the show first starts, watch it. It will look like it is under water. However, this mirage cannot be caught on film; believe me I tried my best. 
After the fireworks, it was a short walk back to our hotel and we even stopped by a bakery at the Boardwalk Resort for a little pick-me-up after walking off our amazing lunch. We went to sleep early in preparation for day two of our adventure. 

You see, there's this thing in my family: nobody likes to sleep in any later than about 0830 in the morning, and when we're on vacation that time becomes 0700. It never fails; we don't sleep in. I suppose it has to do with the fact that we generally like to get as much into one day as we can. It didn't help that we only had two days. We were up, packed, and on our way to Magic Kingdom in absolutely record time. Until FP+, we really didn't like Magic Kingdom, because we never got to ride any of the rides. Now, it and Epcot are my favorites. 

One of my favorite things about Magic Kingdom? Why, getting to meet Merida of course! I don't think anyone except for curly-haired people understand what it's like to finally see a princess with truly curly hair, in all its unruly glory. Anyway, yes I got to meet her and yes it was in fact magical. 
hey look new hairs
Yes, here we go, meeting Merida!
Now, people usually guess correctly when the say that I am a Disney nut. We had some time to kill after lunch before going on the Little Mermaid ride, so what did I do? I went to meet Ariel of course...
Sadly, the weekend came to a close and we headed home again. Now, I'm enjoying a Snow Day in Florida (yes, yes, snow day, nobody knows how to handle cold and ice and bad road conditions). This is more than likely the only snow day I'll ever manage to get, seeing as moving north means cold and snow and ice are not such a big deal. I'm enjoying my day and also getting ready for Region Latin Forum this Saturday. Until the next adventure,

Friday, January 3, 2014

Day Nineteen and Twenty: That's a Wrap!

Sadly, my time in Deutschland is over and I am back in the ever wonderful United States of America. I know that I love Germany, but it is so good to be home. I never thought I would be so happy to hear an airport worker say "welcome home" to me as I was having my passport checked. January the 1st was excellent I must say. We had dinner at another traditional German restaurant, supper at the hotel again, and spent a good portion of the day packing and then with my great-grandmother. It was sad to say goodbye, but I was ready to be home.

Yesterday started early. I mean early. My mom was up at 0430, I was up at 0450, and my Oma was up at 0500. It was crazy busy, because my cousin's husband was coming to pick us up at 0600. It was a whirlwind morning, because when we went to sleep the day before my suitcase was still not all the way packed and locked shut. We threw in the shower bag, opened the gusset so my coat would fit, and zipped it shut and made sure it was underweight just in time for the knock on the door to come early. Needless to say we were halfway to our on-ramp when my mom and I realized our freshly toasted brotchens were still on the stove (the oven wasn't on, but our bread was in fact left behind). Of course, I managed to remember the gigantic water bottle.

We made it to Frankfurt in amazing time, giving us a whole extra hour to get through security and to our gate. Now, German security is much different from American security now. The Germans do not have the new machines where it goes whoosh and they either have to pat down the masses that show up on your body or you're free to go. Oh no. Not at all. The Germans have a metal detector and agents carrying wands. My mom and Oma beeped and had to be wanded and patted down and it was just uncomfortable to watch; I can't imagine how it was for them. To my great surprise, I didn't beep at all and was waved through to collect my carry-on bags. This was, of course, after having gone through

  1. Bag drop with Delta where we were asked security questions
  2. Boarding Pass Control
  3. Passport Control
And then, after we were through main security, we had to go through another checkpoint at our gate. We had to show our boarding passes and passports again. It was strange because the gates are all cut off from the main area where you can buy things to eat and drink and souvenirs. To get out and back in (even just to take a bathroom break) you had to show your boarding pass and passport. Serious business I say.

By the time we got to our gate, we only had to wait about a half an hour for boarding to begin. We waited and waited and finally were in our seats with our bags stowed in the appropriate places. We were among the first in our zone to board, so obviously we had to wait a while before we pushed back. However, I did not realize that we were actually delayed by about four minutes thanks to a few passengers being late to the gate. I don't fault them however, because of the fact that I watched so many people get pulled away for further searching at security.

This flight took 10 hours(ish). Again it's weird trying to keep track of time when there's so little to do. I watched three and a half movies and that still only got me to where we were four hours out. I took another hour and a half nap, then stayed awake the rest of the time listening to music. I have to say, my favorite parts of the flight were landing, and flying over Greenland. The sky was so clear over Greenland that it seemed as though you could reach out and down and touch the ice and snow covered mountains. Of course this is irrational as we were 36k feet in the air. Here's how clear the sky was: we were able to see a boat in the water on the coast from our windows.

Here's a little something that nobody except me paid attention to: we were flying due south into a 200 mph head wind. Then, we turned in the sky to the southeast and had a tailwind of 200 mph. This completely changed the arc on the map, so my mom didn't believe me when I said we flew over the Great Lakes. We were supposed to come straight(ish) down from Michigan to Ohio to Georgia. I know I'm leaving out states but those were the big ones I remember. We ended up coming over Kentucky and Tennessee before turning to the south again to get us to Georgia and start making our approach. I don't think I've ever been so happy to hear a pilot say, "We are beginning our final approach into Atlanta. Please remain seated with your seat belt fastened for the remainder of our flight". I was a happy girl.

Something interesting about our flight: we had a fantastic pilot. There was a cold front moving over Atlanta when we were making our descent and he warned us that it would be a bit bumpy. But, we only bumped around a bit between 12k and 11k feet and all was well. I was not excited to be landing because I was scared, but because I was excited to get through passport control, baggage claim, customs, and to see my dad. I missed him a lot. I told my mom on our last day in Heidelberg, "I love it here and don't really want to leave, but I miss my dad". It made my day yesterday to come through customs and out into the arrivals gate and see him there. Random: I felt like Harry Potter trying to get all of his things to Platform 9 3/4 on the trolley luggage cart because I was wheeling four suitcases and two carry-on bags. That cart did not handle short, sudden stops to say the least.

Anyway, I got the first hug from dad (hooray!) and let him take over pushing the cart, as it was hea-vy. We made our way to the car, and I must say I don't think I've ever been so happy to see my mom's car, like, ever. We got out of the airport, out of Atlanta, and into another city. Don't ask me to remember the name, because all I know is it had a barbecue restaurant and I had ribs and I was so happy for American food. We then finished our five and a half hour drive (thanks traffic, that swell of you to add an hour) and got home. My cat Bellatrix met us at the door. That was a bittersweet moment because my dog Luna passed while we were in Germany. However, I was happy to be home no matter what.

This was an awesome experience, one I want to have again one day, Of course, next time I'll be able to pitch in and help pay for an American hotel. I want to do more international travel. My passport has two stamps in it, and I want more. There's so many places I'd like to visit! I want to visit the UK for sure, and hopefully Salzburg in Austria the next time I go to Germany. So many places to see! What's more, before my current passport expires, I will have the letters MD permanently affixed to my name. It's odd to think about, but it makes me super excited. This means that I might be able to do some more traveling post grad before I have to renew this thing.

Not sure if I'm going to keep up with this blog outside of travel, but perhaps I'll talk about the adventures I have. I know I'm going to have some unrelated to travel as I prepare for high school graduation. Maybe I'll make a campus visit to my top choices to see if any of them pull ahead in the rankings behind Hopkins, but that remains to be seen. Until next time,

Day Six and Seven: The One Where We Go Home

Tuesday saw another early start, as we had plans to be at Chena Hot Springs Resort. The reason we had to leave so early is that the road to...