Raining in the Desert

Chronicles of a Student Traveler

Sunday was my favorite day of the entire excursion, even though we did not have the best luck. We arrived for lunch in a small city near the Algerian border. This border is actually one of the three borders in the world that is closed due to tensions. After we ate, we climbed into SUVs and drove straight off of the road towards the desert.

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The SUVs drove quickly through the dry lands outside of the desert. Out one window was the sand dunes, out the other mountains. The view was gorgeous.

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The SUVs experienced some trouble navigating the puddles that filled divots from the rain that had hit the dry lands the week previous. It is important to note here that the rain never reached the desert. At some thrilling points, the only way to get passed the puddles was to drive through them.

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My car had the best…

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Olof in a North African Medina

Being a white girl with dark blond hair traveling with two extremely blond haired girls and a brunette is rather difficult. Especially when you are in North Africa where the average skin tone is what my skin would look like if I spent every day of my life tanning. Therefore, we made the coined the analogy that walking through the medina was equivalent to seeing Olof (from Frozen) in the medina or at the beach. We stick out.

Well, while we were in Casablanca we definitely felt the eyes of all who passed us by as well as the call from shopkeepers to check out their shops. We have gotten really good at ignoring their calls. However, there is a Moroccan hospitality that is difficult for us to avoid without offending and sometimes you want to just embrace it. This is particularly true when asking for directions. When you ask for directions in Morocco, it is normal for them to offer to walk you there to ensure that you do not get lost. However, this led to us falling into the Moroccan Shopkeeper’s Scheme.

1. Offer Directions

We were trying to find Rick’s Cafe and a man overheard us and offered to walk us there after giving us shotty directions. I am not one to accept an offer to walk me to a place from a man, I would rather walk in circles until I find it myself, but the group I was with wanted to embrace this instance of Moroccan hospitality.

2. Take to Shop

He said he wanted to show us his shop first. This is also pretty customary. Shopkeepers being nice to tourists to get them to come to there shop and buy things. Again, I would have liked to say no. I mean, how do you leave the shop without buying something? We went to the shop. It was a lovely, large shop with hand carved wooden house pieces and other very Moroccan furniture. The second room was completely dedicated to carpets and tapestries. There were carpets hanging on all of the walls, folded on shelves, and leaning against containers. The middle of the room was empty with a couple of long benches running along the wall.

3. Offer Mint Tea

The shopkeeper steered us into that room and then asked us if we wanted sugar in our tea. The drink of choice in Morocco is tea. The man would NOT take no for an answer at any stage of this despite our pleas. However, we were all intrigued to see how this would turn out. We didn’t have sugar in our mint tea, which just showed me why its normal to put sugar into your tea.

4. Get Tourists to Sit

Well, at this point we knew we were in for the long hall. He got us to sit when he gave us the tea. It had been a long day of walking so sitting felt good even though there were concerns from the don’t talk to strangers campaign ringing in my head.

5. Show Rugs

When he had us seated and drinking his tea, the shopkeeper and his team began to lay out rugs for us as he explained their origins, how it were made, and what type of hair was used. He would fill up the entire floor with overlapping rugs and then have us tell his if we liked it or to take it away and then off our preferences he would bring our more rugs and repeat. This probably took an hour. Myself and one of my friends were not going to buy a rug so did not want to humor him. However, the other two girls got into the exercise and began to pick which ones they liked.

6. Sell Rugs

They ended up buying two small rugs made in the High Atlas Mountains by hand with camel hair. They spent about $200 dollars each and probably bartered the initial price in half.

7. Sell Other Stuff

The man tried to sell us argon oil massages and other things after we finished buying the rugs, but we were stern about leaving.

Even though we definitely fell for his scheme, it was an experience I have never had before. People my age are rarely treated as legitimate buyers when we enter a store, so that a man basically got us off the street to buy rugs from him was pretty cool. Also, the whole sales pitch  dynamic is much different here so it was awesome to experience it first hand. The man did end up walking us all of the way to Rick’s Cafe.

Revelations

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Last week I had a mental break down. I realized how monotonously tedious my college life is and temporarily decided I was done. I decided I felt like school was suffocating me without educating me. I thought about how much more knowledge I gain at a quicker pace from self teaching, or traveling. So, I decided that if I got the WHI I was going to try to get a job there and stay in DC. This does not mean I want to give up my degree or anything, I still want to graduate from college and all, it just means I want to feel like I’m doing something with my life WHILE continuing my ‘education.’ I think I have just outgrown this place, which I believe is totally acceptable.

However, I think this revelation was to just allow my mind to accept that there are other doors to success. There is a whole nontraditional route that I think fits my personality much better. Once again, please do not freak out thinking I am trying to throw my life away because I am bored, that is simply not the case. Once of the paths that I have discovered since this revelation is Nepal. (What’s in Nepal? you ask) I can travel to Nepal for a small sum of money and teach English to Buddhist monks/nuns, help teach children, empower women, and learn Nepali. These are only a few of the things I would be able to do in the program I am looking at. I have been fixated on Buddhism for quite some time now and where better to learn it than in the home of Buddhist monks/nuns? I think this experience would be overall completely life changing.

Honestly, I think my revelation was really there to just remind me to live my life. I’m 19. I have a huge world in front of me that I am really interested in.  I have no true strings to anywhere and a really supportive family. There is a realistic head on my shoulders that believe that doing these things now will not stunt my future, but help it form. My life is mine, I need to stop living it the way that is traditionally done if I want to step out of the box. I think I will never feel fulfilled without following these random opportunities and seeing where they bring me. The idea of leaving and experiencing brings me joy. I am happy with my life, I just think I can spruce it up a bit.

A Little Motivation

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Sometimes we all need to be reminded that we are here, we exist, and our outlook is our own. Today, my normal optimistic view on life was gone and I did not really enjoy it. Nothing felt fulfilling. I forgot to smile at people and that they have struggles, too. I focused only on me instead of the whole. This video, hopefully, got me back on track. If not, it at least motivated me to get back on track.

 

 

I hope you all enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Stress Mondays!

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Mondays are No Stress Mondays. I self declare every Monday a no stress Monday. On Monday, I like to remind myself that everything always works out the way it is supposed to. I like to go through the motions of the day without stressing out about anything. I think everyone needs to unravel every once and a while and see that it works out and stress is not really necessary. For many college kids, Mondays are the most stressful because you have a whole week of due dates ahead of you. You’re still a little nostalgic/hungover from the weekend and are probably regretting some of the decisions you made during the weekend. So Monday is where your week and weekend clash and that causes extra stress. To avoid that tired-eye Monday trend, I call No Stress Monday. The weekend happened, it was great, silly things happened. Monday happened, the week is here, homework is on. Monday is a time to focus and set goals for my week to achieve the ultimate happiness.

I woke up this morning a little broken. I had a big Rugby tournament this weekend, Ruck for Cancer. I played for three 40 minute games. I tackled a lot. I ran. I had a blast. We won our first game and gave up on our third game. I bonded with my team and showed my commitment to the sport. My parents came out to support me, which was fun. I definitely enjoyed it. BUT, Rugby is an intense sport and I can barely move today or yesterday.

Another cool thing that has happened to me this past week is that I had an interview with the White House Internship.  There are a couple of rounds to get the Internship, but I believe I have completed round 2. This is really exciting, but very surreal. I am hoping to be preparing to move to DC in 2 months!

It is crazy how quickly semesters fly by. I do not want this semester to be over, I love where I am at in my life! The only place where I need improvement again is my diet. I fell into a sugar rut. I have been eating WAY too much sugar. I need to stabilize and then I think I will be happier with my image.

 

Everyone enjoy your No Stress Monday!

Back on Track!

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My excuse that I was telling myself for not blogging was that my blog was no longer relevant. That I was at a different stage in my life and had different thoughts than those typically displayed on my blog. Then I thought, “Run, Study, Succeed.” Running.  I still encourage myself to run as much as possible. Actually I have had success in running in the past 2 months. Running is still relevant. Studying. Well I mean I am still at school. I am still immersed in  constant studying. I am looking into my study abroad. Studying is still relevant. Succeed. Success, which is a very objective word, measures how close to my dreams that I get. I am still dreaming. I am still shooting for the stars. Success is still my goal. So really, my lame excuse for why I haven’t blogged is completely invalid. My title still defines my focus in life.

I also like how my blog is tracking my changes in ideas. I am at a place in which my expectations for my life is constantly evolving to fit the dream of the day. I am slowly narrowing my vision on what career place will make me most happy. Where do I want to go and what do I want to do, so its cool that my blog follows this change because I can hardly keep up with it.

So I am back. I am strong. and I am happy. I am focused.

 

For new followers, My name is Kait. I am a sophomore in college trying to stand out and grow. I am naturally overweight, but still in good shape. Shaking off a couple of extra pounds would be great! I am a vegetarian. I am really into politics and international affairs. Last year I started my own after school program for elementary and middle schoolers. It’s called STAR. My blog is simply my way of reflecting on current events in my life and on my internal thoughts. This helps me track my progress and stay focused. Enjoy! Back

Back At School

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The last 2 weeks of summer dragged by. I was bored and felt super unsatisfied with life. It was difficult to stay busy and motivated to work towards my goals. I retreated to eating and watching west wing. Lethal combination for me. I mean, I ate an entire gallon of ice cream in just a couple of days. Yuck. This degression of my lifestyle caused me to gain 9 pounds all summer.

So, I was ready to go back to school. I had the opportunity to move back into school 4 days early. I am an ambassador (someone who gives tours at Siena) and we move in the Freshman so had to be back before them. We also had a couple of meetings during the day the following days. Overall, it was nice. School provided me the lifestyle change I desperately needed. Not only did I completely change my diet, I started running again. I have ran 15 miles since I got back to school 2 weeks ago. I mostly eat protein Luna bars and a banana with natural peanut butter after runs and almonds or frozen grapes when I am hungry. I have roughly 2 meals a day and I normally grab an extremely small plate.

STAR, my after school program, is thriving at Siena. As of Friday, we got 70 names of people who are looking to volunteer! We are almost done with all of the curriculum for the year. I am unsure if any kids have signed up though, which is my next project. In 2 weeks I will be going to the school to recruit. We also am in need of donations, but we are working on getting them from local law firms and such. STAR now has a Facebook page to receive likes and everything!

Today, I started working in the Writing Center. I have not worked with a student yet, but I definitely will. I have 10 hours a week:) As a sophomore, going out is a lot more chill and a lot more common. It isn’t as excessive as it was before and the risk of getting written up is a little less. So, I have gone out a couple of times since going back to school. It has overall been a lot of fun. My classes are not that hard because I am mostly taking my core classes, which is the basic courses of English, Science, Math, and Religion. I also am taking two Political Science classes, because that is my new major.

 

Overall, coming back to school has been great! I love my friends, I love this atmosphere, and I am excited to see where this year takes me. I promise I will do a better job keeping up on my life. I slacked during summer because nothing really was going on!

Have a great week!

I Am Back

I am back! I am super sorry to all my readers for falling off the blogging world for 2 months.

 

Camp was fun. There were a lot of ups and downs. It was basically one giant roller coaster that flew by. I spent 8 weeks in Maine. I had 5 days off where I explored. I had the same 9 campers the entire time. There were moments where I was so frustrated with them and moments where I could not imagine ever leaving them. Overall, I enjoyed myself. I made some really good friends and learned some super intense life lessons.

I am proud to say I did not gain a lot of weight while at camp. They expect you to eat 5x a day, so this was impressive. I made good choices and learned new diet tips. For example: Wheat is really bad for you. It cannot even grow on its own anymore! It is what causes tummy fat. So, halfway through camp I decided I was going to be as wheat-free as possible. Which meant cutting out the oatmeal I was eating every day for breakfast. Since I am a vegetarian, meals became very difficult, but this forced me to eat more fruits, veggies, and salads. The hardest part was definitely all of the dessert! I tried not to eat it every meal, but it was delicious. I definitely compensated well though!

I worked out as often as possible. I was the gymnastics instructor so I was always in the gym. The Gymnastics room and the work out gym was one in the same, so whenever I didn’t have a class I was lifting weights. I spent a lot of the summer using dieting and exercise tips I had learned in the past couple of years.. They worked. My muscles are so much stronger than when I left for camp.

While I was at camp, other parts of my life progressed. My after school program now has a school to use it at for next fall. Monday I am going to Albany for a meeting with the principal of the school. I believe it is a low privilege catholic school. I am excited to go through all of our curriculum and such! I will definitely keep updating on how this progresses.

I spent my free time all summer keeping up with Washington and politics. My professors finished my letters of rec for the White House Internship, I just hope I get it! I cannot wait to send in the application completed and hear back. I truly hope I get the privledge of interning in the white house in the spring.

Next summer I will not be returning to camp, so I think I am going to try to stay in Albany and intern with Hillenbrand and take classes. I cannot wait to get back to school with all of my friends!! Right now I am sick, so I am just trying to make it through the next couple crazy days!

Camp Check In

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I have been at camp for almost two weeks now. The first week was only orientation. Orientation basically got us adjusted to the camp schedule without the kids. We did not need to focus strictly on the children, rather it was a selfish week. I was able to relax when and how I wanted to. I got the call the shots for selfish reasons. Also, we got nights off every night so by the end of the week I went to a local bar which we refer to as pool hall to mingle. My initial group of friends really enjoyed it and we became good friends with a group of guys. I did not really enjoy myself, but really like our guy friends.

We got last Friday off, the day before the children came. A few friends and I went to Monsters University (highly recommended!) the beach, then shopping/dinner with the guys in Portland. This was a really fun and relaxing week. I genuinely enjoyed myself and was asleep early as everyone else went to the bars.

The kids came Saturday. I have 9 girls in my bunk. I have two co-counselors: Mikey and Morgan. The way camp works is that there are 5 activity periods during the day that each staff has activities to run and the divisions move amongst them. During that, there is a rest hour and there is a shower hour. After dinner, there is activities that can range from being division-based to camp-wide. Another thing the girls really enjoy are the socials: this is when a guys camp comes and mingles at a dance with the girls. My division had one last night and I was on, so I got to enjoy there 12 year old screeches as boys asked them to dance and they prepared for the dance. It was a blast. The counselors either have off during rest hour or from dinner until 1 am. Also, each counselor has off once a week for the full day. Today is my full day off.

For my day off, I went to Mount Washington in the morning, then we went to the outlets. I was with my initial friend group. They decided they wanted to go to the movies, but it was a movie I wasn’t really interested in, so I chose to not go and go back to shower. I went back to camp, spent a little time with my girls, then I drove to Portland. I am currently sitting in this really cute cafe: Local Sprouts. They get all of there food from local, small farms which are mostly organic. The food is delicious, even if you’re paying a little extra. There is live music playing and really friendly people sitting about doing their own thing. I feel quite at home here. Being here really reminds me that I want to live in a city so places like this can be at my fingertips.

I have also been reading this book lately: Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. Its about the internal  and external strings holding women back from taking top positions in the world. I really hope this book helps me break through those strings to reach the top. She is spot on about the double standards of attitudes of men and women. She also highlights one of my fears and made me realize I was silly to even be scared of it. She talks about how girls are scared to become both parents and powerful because they don’t think they will be able to balance because they are always told horror stories of parents who are powerful and neglect their children. I have contemplated postponing children for awhile because of this balance thing, but she words her message in a way that makes you feel silly for even using that as an excuse to hold you back. I am only on chapter 3, but I love it already!

Okay, back to camp: I love my girls. I am not going to name them all because that feels wrong, but each one of them is a shining star. They are all so unique and different, but have such chemistry with each other. Camp is such a care free place. I have felt all external pressure disappear these past two weeks. I have a little more than a month left, so I am just trying to soak up all of the magic I can while I am here in Maine.

I have real work to do, but I hope to check back soon!

Daily Recreation of Me

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I read an interesting article on the New York Times that basically said that what you concentrate on and who you spend your time with is what you become focused on/a part of you. For instance, if you spend a lot of time with a particular person, pieces of their personality become a part of you. The same with if you focus of volunteering, then you become a volunteer machine and forget about other aspects of life. This article, in sum, was showing the negative side of philanthropy and focusing on things that were not tangible, but for me it had a completely different meaning. This article was a mirror to my personality this summer and the changes it has endured since leaving school.

My friends and I refer to the transition from school to home as coming back from our new world to our old world because everything is different. At school, I had been focused on studying, learning, and my future; at home I have been consumed by social gatherings, a pathetic attempt to stay focused, and sleeping. My life has taken a complete 180 from motivated to not. It has been hard to do this things that I had planned that I needed to do (like STAR) because I am in summer mode, but also I am around different people. I connected with this article because I have seenmy personality alter to include my friends’. I have also noticed my drive evaporate and it take extreme effort to do things that at school I would jump out of bed 4 hours earlier than my first class to complete.

I think all of this is interesting and I liked how the author of the article tied this phenomenon to science and the human brain. What I had experienced was changes in my brain. Actually, every single thing we do changes are brain, so after every moment we are a completely different person.. How cool!

Sorry for the rant I just thought this tidbit of information was interesting and oh so relaviant to my life, so I had to share. Below is a link to the article I referenced in this post that is much like some of the papers I wrote for school. These past few days I have felt my school side redeveloping, which is good because I like that side a lot better.. it is much more productive!

The Way to Produce a Person