Studying Abroad

Collonge

This summer I am going to the Seventh-day Adventist college in Collonge, France to fulfill my university language requirement. I am going with my sister and my cousin. We will be attending classes for six weeks to learn French. In addition to that, we will be taken on field trips in the afternoons. I am so excited for summer to come! Almost everyone I’ve spoken with who has gone abroad to study says it’s a wonderful experience, but they don’t learn the language as well as they could. This is because they are comfortable with speaking English and don’t push themselves as hard as they can. Do you think I should try to seclude myself from English speakers and really focus on my French?

Rough Patches

I’ve been having some bad days recently. An adventure that I loved dearly came to an end. 

Yesterday afternoon my dog, Sidney, passed away. She was old, so it wasn’t a total shock, but it still affected me a lot. Sidney was a German Shepherd mix. The father is thought to have been a retriever of some kind, or a coyote. She looked part coyote. When she was little, her ears would stick straight up. She was black and beige and the most gentle dog you could ever meet. This sounds harsh, but usually I think people who make a big deal over an animal dying are too sensitive. Especially if the animal wasn’t very old. But having experienced it, I see it a little differently now. I remember getting Sidney when I was in first grade. I was so excited and she was so little and soft I just loved her so much. She grew up to be gentle and protective and the best dog my family has ever had. 

I’ve realized that death is never a timely thing. Even though she was 15 years old and had slowed down a lot, I wasn’t ready for her to go. I don’t think I would have ever been ready for her to go. Yesterday was a hard day for me. Today I noticed her absence when I walked through my backyard. It’s going to take some time to get used to. And it’s made me think about a lot of things. Life is precious, and I strive to always treat it that way. 

Observing LA

For a belated Valentine’s day date, Pablo and I went to the Griffith Observatory. (Have I mentioned that Pablo is my boyfriend?) I had never been before and I was really excited to go. We left Saturday afternoon and arrived a little while before dusk. We walked through the museum part, reading and interacting with the hands on stuff. I really wanted to see the show, but the ticket booth was closed when we got there. We went up onto the balcony at the top and took in the view. It was hazy out, so the city silhouette was barely visible. When it got darker though, the lights were spectacular. I definitely would love to go back when its clearer. Maybe hike up to the Hollywood sign too.

photo 1

photo 2

photo 5

photo 3

photo 4

We left the Griffith and went to a restaurant we found by searching Google. Grub is a house-turned-café in a sweet little neighborhood. Strings of lights were hung on the fence and over the tables on the patio.  Pablo ordered the tuna sandwich (named best in LA!) and I ordered a veggie sandwich. I regret to inform you that we dug in and devoured our food before I remembered to take a picture. Sorry guys! You’ll just have to go see what it tastes like for yourselves 😉

photo

photo 1

photo 4 (2)

 Here’s a blurry photo of Pablo drinking their basil “lemonade”

We were total fatties and made two more stops. We grabbed macarons at Bottega Louie and headed to Urth Caffe. Urth is one of my absolute favorite coffee shops. I’m so bummed they’re located so far from me. But whenever I’m in the area, I stop by. My favorite drink is their Spanish Latte. It is to DIE for. I could drink those all day. Pablo got his favorite drink, the honey vanilla latte. It was a perfect way to end a well-spent day.

photo 2 (2)

Milk + Honey

School has been really busy lately. I haven’t had time to just spend a fun weekend doing girly things in a long time. This past weekend I was finally able to squeeze in a sleepover (no, you are never too old to have a sleepover), with my best friend, Kylie.

We went on adventure to Costa Mesa to one of our favorite cafes, Milk & Honey. We sipped lavender lattes and split a chai shaved ice (SO good).

photo (3)photo 3

After our coffee date we ran to get Kylie’s ear pierced. We both got our cartilages pierced last spring, but hers closed up over the summer. They are back and looking cute as ever.

Kylie

This here is my partner in crime. She’s loads of fun and I was so glad to be able to spend time with her this weekend. She has a pretty rad blog. Follow her at 

kylieteele.wordpress.com

Missed Opportunities

This summer my church is doing a humanitarian trip to Zimbabwe. I have been on six mission trips with my church, all to South and Central America, or Fiji. I have been waiting for a trip to Africa my whole life. This summer I am going to study abroad in France to complete my university language requirement. I am thrilled, but I am also disappointed that the Zimbabwe trip is at the same time. I have felt a longing to visit Africa for as long as I can remember. The timing is horribly coincidental. But the more I think about it, the more I’m coming to the conclusion that Africa might not be as safe as I had thought.

Our church usually stays in hostels or camps. There are usually around six people to a room, sometimes more. We mostly eat local food that is prepared for us by either some of our church members or the local cooks. While it’s nice to be submersed in the culture, sometimes people get stomach bugs from the produce. I remember on one trip we saw one of the ladies who was cooking for us crack raw eggs and stir them into one of the drinks. There was definitely a potential for sickness there. There is a possibility that the locals won’t wash the food or cook it thoroughly. A lot of the time our immune systems are used to what we know, and simply the water can make people get a bug.

Another thing that could be dangerous is all of the diseases that are in Zimbabwe. They have hepatitis A, hepatitis E, typhoid fever, malaria, dengue fever and yellow fever, just to name a few. For some trips, my church requires shots in advance. I don’t know whether or not they have required any for this year, but I think it would be a wise idea. But getting all of those shots would be pricey.

That brings me to my next point. It is expensive to fly to Africa. My church gets a deal because we have groups of about 40 people going every year, but the cost is still high. I think this is one of the most expensive trips we’ve ever offered, costing around $1,500 per person (without the two-day extension). The flights usually cost anywhere from $1,800 and up to fly to Africa. On top of traveling for over 24 hours, which is miserable, it’s expensive. The lodging will also cost a pretty penny. There is two day retreat tagged on at the end for anyone who wants to go. This year it will be an extra $600 to go on a safari. While that is one of the main reasons I really want to go to Zimbabwe, the extension is half the price of the week-and-a-half long trip. It seems very overpriced.

Lastly, I think going would be unsafe because there is a lot of social unrest in Africa. Caucasians and travelers alike are more likely to be robbed or attacked by locals looking for money. Although we would be in a group for the most part, I think it would be one of the more unsafe countries my church will visit.

Regardless of these things, the trip sounds very fun and I’m really sad to miss it. It seems like the opportunity of a lifetime, but as I thought about it more, I realized there could be some dangers. I will keep these things in mind if I ever get the opportunity to visit Africa again.