Looking to Save Money Studying Abroad? These Scholarships May Apply To You!

SUNY Oswego offers many international scholarships to its students for various study abroad programs. Many of these scholarships are awarded to multiple students every semester. I personally have applied for the GETGO Scholarship and was awarded $500 towards my quarter course trip. The requirement for this was a 20 minute presentation about my trip abroad. All international scholarships have different requirements but it is worth looking into and applying! Below is the link for all of the international scholarships SUNY Oswego offers:

https://www.oswego.edu/international/scholarships

 

Good luck applying!

Bloggin’ Bonn: Introduction to Studying Abroad in Germany

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Hey everyone! My name is Michael Kaefer and I am a senior currently studying abroad in Bonn, Germany! I am studying a Bachelor’s in German Language and Literature as well as European History. I’ve been shooting video blogs since I’ve arrived here in September and when I found out that SUNY Oswego had a blog page, I knew I just had to share to everyone about my experience abroad. From Oktoberfest to the Christmas Markets, and my adventures throughout Europe, I want to share with you what my life is like living in Germany for a full year. I know I’m late in the game (I come home in August and I just started publishing my blogs here, even though my video blogs are on YouTube) but that doesn’t mean they won’t be relevant to anyone studying abroad in the future. You can view my older vlogs on my YouTube playlist at http://www.blogginbonn.tk or whenever I post a new one, it should be here on Oswego’s blog page. Here are a few of my personal favorites, as well as videos of what show how the past few months have been for me in Bonn.

Bonn is a wonderful city- just the right size, not too big and not too small- and I can easily go to the larger Cologne thirty minutes away (a.k.a. where the fun is) whenever I want. I’ve met tons of wonderful people (and you will see that through my videos) and have learned and gained so much from my experiences. I just got back from Poland last night, and I’ve already been to various cities in Germany, Austria, and I’ve been in Dublin AND met up with some Oswego students there! Pretty cool. Next week I am researching my genealogy in southern Germany for a few days and then my second semester starts here.

I’ll leave my videos to explain a bit more, hopefully by giving you the ability to visualize, see my personality, and see how I’ve changed since I started vlogging in May, four months before I left, and now. Please leave your comments and suggestions in the comment section below! I would love to hear what I can add, make a video of, and just your questions and whatever. I am very willing to hear from you all!

These are some of my favorite videos:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for watching-  I am currently working on my videos for a third trip to Munich, Austria (Vienna and Salzburg), and Poland (Warsaw, Krakow, and Auschwitz). Stay tuned for more!

 

Having Two Names

Hello,

I saw this video and i thought it will be good to add my experience as well as sharing this video. This video is made by Chinese students at Columbia University. Chinese students protest against ‘xenophobia’ which is defined as ‘fear or hatred of foreigners, people from different cultures, or strangers.’ They explained meaning of their Chinese name.

I usually stay in America from September to May and in Korea from June to August. I live in two countries with two names. My Korean name is Ye jin Lee. Ye Jin is first name, Lee is family name. Ye Jin means ‘Be pretty and honest.’ I have three sisters and their names are Ye Seul(Be pretty and wise), Ye Hyeon(Be pretty and sensible) and Ye Ji(Be pretty and intelligent). Like this, Korean name have their own meaning like Chinese. Their names are made by their parents or grandparents.

I also have American name Kelly. When i introduce my American name, people ask me how i picked this name. Honestly, there is not a specific reason. When i was 6 years old, in English language school, i had to make an American name. There was a list of the name and i just picked Kelly. I’ve been Kelly for a long time, which means i get used to be called Kelly. That’s why i keep using my American name in here.

Another frequent question is “why do you use American name, even though you have Korean name?” Personally, I think “Name” is for the other people not for me. Although there is a meaning of my name, it really doesn’t mean to me. Definitely, i try my best to be pretty and honest, because that’s what i think important, not because of my name. I think i am the one who makes meaning of my name. Name does not make who i am. Regardless of my name, i just want to be memorable and easy to be called. It is easier to use American name in America. Just i want to make my life easy. It does not mean i do not like my name, just i don’t put my name at the first place.

Enjoy your spring break!!

The Flamenco

I have never been more proud to be living in Spain until this moment. On March 8th (International woman’s day) I had the opportunity to see the unbelievable Sara Baras dance Flamenco at the Nuevo Apolo Theater. We stood outside the polished theater, show lights sparkling, wondering what awaited us inside. We sat in red velvet seats surrounded by native Spanish flamenco lovers; our American ignorance was all over us. The lights dimmed and a single spot light appeared on the stage showing the one and only Sara Baras in a beautiful dress, she started off very slowly, taping her feet and swinging her dress. But as the energy and anticipation grew, she got faster and faster and as the music grew stronger our faces brightened. The crowd was silent, except for the occasional Olay, but rightfully so, the performance was breathtaking.

She danced many different types of Flamenco, some with big dresses that she spun around, made shorter or longer and used as if it was part of her. She danced tango with a man, Jose Serrano, that depicted love and hate all at the same time. But what was most interesting to me was the dynamic between the dancers and musicians. They cheered each other on during their individual performances and when Baras did an interpretation (making her dance up on the spot) the musicians were right on cue with what she was going to do next, making sure the music and feet matched. The dancers used the different types of Flamenco in a special way that allows for them to show their own identity and interpretation but also keeping the traditions from generations past. That is one of the most important things about the dance, remembrance. During each dance style change, a recording was played from different famous flamenco dancers expressing their feelings about flamenco and why it is so special.The dance originated from gypsies living in Spain (also has roots from the middle east) to express the oppression they felt at the time. Throughout the dance, you can see the mix between the feelings of romance and desperation to freedom and suffering. The emotions embedded in the dance are what make it so powerful.

Dare I call myself Spanish for living in Spain for 3 months… no. But the feeling I had walking out that theater was nothing less than Spanish patriotism… Olay!

 

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Life of an American in Australia

“You got out of America just in time didn’t ya?” Speculates strangers in a cafe, referring to the recent appointment of President Donald Trump. I was amazed how blunt Aussies can be when discussing politics. In Australia, it is compulsory by law to enroll and vote in federal elections; everyone in Australia has an opinion and wants to know your opinion. At first I was taken aback- but I came to appreciate how much everyone cares about politics, as they are forced to be informed. Whereas in America, an alarming amount of citizens believe politics to be rubbish.

Politics are not all that locals care about; Australians thrive off of a good coffee or dessert. One of my favorite aspects of Australia would have to be the strong and smooth java. Every cup of coffee is specifically pressed to your order – no pots of coffee sitting on a burner all day. I love strong coffee, so a long black (a double-shot of espresso served over hot water) can always suit my taste. However, if I’m craving a something a little sweet I recently discovered the piccolo (an espresso shot topped with warm, silky cream). But, if I have a particularly strong sweet craving I can always find a yummy dessert at any cafe or restaurant on any corner. Many places here use Nutella, the nutty rich dessert spread, in an array of their desserts. A few friends and I recently went to a restaurant, Tella Balls, for a Nutella milkshake topped with a tellaball (donut ball filled with Nutella). I was in my happy place; the chocolatey excursion was well worth the food coma we experienced later in the night. We also found a new love for the scrumptious Australian cookie, Tim Tam. Tim Tams come in many different flavors, ranging from white chocolate, creamy caramel, and mint gelato; my personal favorite are the double coated Tim Tams. We recently heard Tim Tams are coming to The States in select Target retailers, so we wont have to fill our suitcases with our favorite flavors on our way home.

Another aspect of Australian culture I have come to love is the Aussie slang. For some reason, Australians like to abbreviate everything – and when I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING. Here are a few abbreviations and slang I’ve picked up on thus far:

  • Brekkie – breakfast
  • Maccas – McDonalds
  • Straya – Australia
  • Tradie – tradesman
  • Heaps – a lot of
  • No worries! – no problem (in response to ‘thank you’)
  • Sheila – a woman

Lastly, my classes and academics are very different from my classes back in Oswego. In Australia, everything is very laid back. My roommates and I joke that we are nervous to go back to class in The States because of the work load we experience back home. Don’t get me wrong, we still have work and exams here but there is a lot less busy work. My classes are composed of weekly discussions that are to be completed online before class, a midterm and a final exam. I was shocked when I found out my midterm and final exam in my international economics class are both online exams. Sometimes I feel as though I am behind on work, even though I am not, just because I am so used to being busy with homework in the Penfield Library every day.

After being immersed in the culture here for about a month, I feel as though I am almost fully adjusted. I am now starting to think about the reverse culture shock I will feel when I come home, and let me tell you – I don’t know if I am ready for it. Next weekend my roommates and I will embark on the most exotic trip of our lifetimes; we are off to Denpasar, Bali for our Spring Break! Stay tuned and thanks for following me along my journey abroad.

 

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The Best of Brussels and Ghent

Brussels is a city that is extremely underrated! I mean how can you go wrong with a city thriving off of beer, waffles and fry’s! A statue of a peeing baby is their most famous tourist attraction and it has over 300 outfits… what’s not to love?

To know before you go!

  • Euros are used here (YAY!)
  • You will never feel like a foreigner, the city is made up of foreigners (half the people are Dutch and half are French!)
  • Everyone speaks either French or Dutch, English is a little harder to find!
  • **WARNING** don’t call the fries French fries! Just don’t do it, very sensitive topic.
  • 2go4 hostel has a free walking tour I totally recommend. We saw all of Brussels in 3 hours then we got to go back and explore what we wanted!
  • There is a legend for everything!
  • Never try the same beer twice!
  • Waffles are meant to be eaten plain! Maybe with sugar, but everyone will know you’re a tourist if you get the one with 10000 toppings (though they are tempting.)
  • There is a certain type of glass for every beer. All the tourist tries and steal them (I wish I did) but you will get in trouble if caught.

Hostel

2go4- Very nice! I stayed in a room with 3 twin beds and our own bathroom, which is perfect! The location was walking distance from the Grand palace and also the train station. The lobby was very vintage looking and included free coffee in the morning! Again free walking tour that I recommend!

The Sites

Grand palace

  • Beautiful old buildings in a square with city hall towering over you is deff a site to see! Each street has it original market name for example cheese street, coal street, meat street. One of the buildings is where Karl Marx lived and wrote the communist manifesto during his exile. This is a quick thing can be done in 30 mins or so.

Manneken Pis

  • Biggest (and lamest) tourist attraction in Brussels. It literally is a little baby peeing into the fountain. Legend has it that when Brussels was under attack a baby saw a piece of dynamite in the city, so he peed on it so it would not explode. Thus the manneken pis was born. In the 80s two college students stole it and the city went into chaos! Eventually the police located the statue and thieves and as a punishment they had to make hand-sewn outfits for the baby. There’s a schedule of when the baby is wearing an outfit and everything.

The Atomium

  • Think giant steel balls in the sky. Literally that’s all this is. They say its brussels version of the Effile tower, not as grand in my opinion. We went at night and saw them lit up which was pretty cool but did not do a tour or anything. Type of attraction you take a pic and then call it a day.

St Michael’s Church

  • Beautiful from the outside but I wish we did a tour of the inside.

Museum row

  • Really cool buildings from the outside but each building was a different museum. There was the modern museum and the fin-de-siècle which we went to for 3 euros… these were pretty boring to be honest but if you’re a fan of fine art this is the place for you! There is the museum of music which I was told was really cool plus there is a restaurant at the top that had a view of all of Brussels!

Jeanneke pis

  • Manneken pis sister… or girlfriends, depends who you ask. This is located right near the Delirium café and was put there to simply attract tourists to that area…. Smart.

Ghent or Bruggs

  • Both these city’s are close to Brussels and are a must if you are staying in Brussels for long. We went to Ghent and it was awesome, filed with young people and a beautiful river that went through the city. We took a boat ride (not worth it) but the streets are so cute and old! You can get to these cities from the north station for cheap!

To Eat/ Drink

Tonton Garby

  • MUST GO! I cannot rave about this place enough. At first glance it is a little hole in the wall deli-looking store with a big display counter and 2 tables. But the second you get to talk to Garby you’ll see that place is a gem. They serve sandwiches specializing in cheese! Don’t be afraid to order wrong because Garby will explain the whole menu to you, if you like sweet, salty ,or spicy he will come up with a sandwich that will blow you away. He was the warmest most genuine person I have met so far in Europe… definitely what we all needed from being away from home for so long. You will miss out if you don’t give this place a try, it is truly spectacular.

Delirium café

  • Guinness world record for having the best and most variety (over 3000) of beers. Such a tourist attraction but worth it! My friends and I shared 3 different types of beer that were all very different and amazing! If you don’t like beer you have never tried a strawberry flavored one before.

Flores Bar

  • Absinth bar…. I repeat,  Absinth BAR! Deadly…. Worth a try… but deadly (right across the street from Delirium.)

Dulle Griet (Ghent)

  • This bar is so much fun. When you go you have to get a Kwak, which is a giant glass that is held in a wooden stand. They make you pay the price (your shoe) so that you can’t steal the cup! The boot goes in a bucket that’s attached to the ceiling and a bell is rung once you get your boot back! So much fun!!!img_7385

The Best of Budapest

One of the locals said it best “everyone comes to Budapest for 3 things, booze, art and… well you can guess the last one” and he was right! I traveled to Budapest for 5 days and 4 nights which was great… but a little too long (if you have ever had Palinka you know why.) Budapest is fully of history, culture and freezing cold temperatures, but being from Oswego that didn’t stop us! In this post I want to share some travel tips and cool spots I found along the way!

To know before you go!

  • Budapest is split into two sides divided by the Danube River. Buda and Pest (pronounced peshed)
  • If you stay at the Wombat DON’T go down the street with all the Christmas lights right across from the hostel. Biggest tourist trap! The restaurants are pricy and the food is mediocre!
  • There currency is the forint so when you switch from euro to forint you get more for your euro but trust me that money goes quickly.
  • Ask the locals! For the first day my friends and I had no idea where to go or what to see, all we had was a map and our curiosity.
  • Try and do a hop on hop off bus tour. It may be cheesy but it’s the best way to see the city in the least amount of time. Plus with Budapest’s harsh winter weather that bus comes in handy just to warm up a bit.
  • Don’t take the cabs! Will charge you a lot when they know you’re not Hungarian!
  • Metro is your best friend! Its super easy and cheap and sometimes they don’t even check to see if you have bought a ticket.
  • Beware if the Palinka!

Hostel: The Wombat

  • We stayed at the wombat all 4 nights and it was great! The front desk was super nice and helpful (especially the woman from England with the red hair!) They helped us to book tickets to the baths and gave us great advice on where to eat for cheap. Best thing about the Wombat… the BAR! So much fun and great way to meet fellow travelers (plus they give you 2 free drinks at check-in). My two friends and I shared one room with a full bed and private bathroom, there was plenty of space plus we saved some money.

The Sites:

The Grand Synagogue

  • Incredibly moving if you’re Jewish or not. We did a tour of the synagogue and was one of the highlights of the trip. The tour guide was fun and funny while sharing his extensive knowledge of the Hungarian Jews and their struggle throughout the world wars.

Central Market

  • This market is filled with not only Hungarian culture but also traditional Hungarian food! My friends and I went to different stands and sampled everything we could get our hands on; chocolate, olives, dried sausage, fruit, candy, cheese! On the top floor there are different booths selling traditional Hungarian tapestries and items for tourists (pricy.) It was great for lunch plus right outside the market is a bridge leading over the river and it is beautiful at sunset.

St Stephan’s Basilica

  • Very cool cathedral! It was huge and the inside was gorgeous with old painted ceilings, old bells and children singing as you entered. I wish I did a tour here because I would have liked to learn more about it, but a site to see for sure!

Liberty Square

  • We stumbled upon this square as we were looking for the parliament building! Very nice surprise! The first thing we saw was a bronze sculpture of Ronald Regan that faced the US embassy! I was curious why it was there so I goggled it and apparently Ronald Regan helped liberate the Hungarians from the Russian rule during the First World War. We took some cool pics with old Ronny.

Parliament Building

  • Amazing! When you’re on the Pest side you can’t see how big the building really is but here you can do a tour of the building. But I suggest walking the chain bridge from the Buda to Pest at night when parliament is lit up. It is breathtaking. The parliament building costed the Hungarians so much that they could have built another city for the same price! I didn’t do a tour but I’m sure that would have been so cool!

Shoes on Danube

  • These are located right on the water next to the parliament building. There are 80 pairs on iron shoes on the wall next to the Danube that represent the Hungarians that were shot into the river during World War II. The only remains of these people were there shoes of all different sizes, from high heels, slippers, work boots and children’s slippers. A site I will never forget.

Cave Tour

  • We booked a cave tour through bus 2 alps for 30 euros. Well we had the hardest time trying to find the cave (Buda side) plus when we got there the tours were half the price we paid going through bus 2 alps. But the cave was very cool defiantly a once and a lifetime experience. **WARNING** Do not do if you are claustrophobic! At one point we were army crawling though an opening that you could not even hold your head up right through! **WARNING** do not do this if you’re hangover…. I did and it was terrible (no bathrooms in the caves.)

Buda Castle funicular

  • The funicular was like a little cart on rails that took you up to Buda castle, which gives you a view of the river and city. You have to pay to ride in it, I suggest only riding one way because the view was cool but not as great as we thought. But this is one of the oldest funiculars in Europe.

Mathis’s church + Fisherman’s bastion

  • Both sites were cool and very close to each other, which was nice. But I wish I did a tour because I didn’t really know what I was looking at! Nice buildings and views but deff try to get on a tour!

Hospital in the rock Museum

  • This museum was in a cave that originally was a hospital and safe zone for the Hungarians during the cold war and WWII. The museum was cool; it had replicas of the different rooms and the equipment they used at the time.

Szechenyi thermal baths

  • A Budapest MUST! We went at night that was cool because you saw the steam coming off of the giant hot baths! Think giant Jacuzzi with 100 of your closest friends. Make sure to bring a towel (or they charge you) and some sort of slip on shoe (walking from bath to bath on frozen concrete with no shoes is no fun.) We stayed for 4 hours and it was so relaxing!

To Eat/ Drink

Breakfast

  • Mosaic – right next to Wombat hostile, very good for a big cheap breakfast!
  • Zoo Café- SO COOL!!! It’s a café that has waiters bringing different animals to your table! I’m talking chameleons, snakes, rabbets, toucans, parrots, Guiney pigs, turtles, cats, bearded dragons and much more! I do not suggest eating here, but the ambiance was so fun.
  • Chimney cake!! You can find one of these on any corner in Budapest! It’s like a lemony churro that is shaped like a cone (or chimney) and covered in sugar and cinnamon! I had like one a day they were great!

Lunch/ Dinner

  • Langos Papa – cheap and you get a lot of food! We got Hungarian goulash, pate and a langos (think of a funnel cake with sour cream, garlic and cheese…. Interesting but worth a try!)
  • Kiado – This pub is definitely not a tourist trap! Very original Hungarian bar. Which was a little intimidating walking into. But the food was great! I got the duck and it was delish!
  • Gerbaud Café – Pricy! But absolutely amazing food! I got the sauerkraut stew and it was the best thing I had in Budapest!

Nightlife

  • We went on a bar crawl with the hostel for 15 euros with entrance to 3 bars and a club. This was fun at first, but the group split up from each other towards the end. Some highlights of this was the bar Retox! This bar made me feel as if I was in Oswego, they had drinking games (beer pong, flip cup) plus the best part the owner was from Scranton PA! He told us to call him Shmike (his Hungarian name) and he gave us some great recommendations on where to go to get the whole Hungarian experience. If you are lost and don’t know what to do, go to Retox and ask to talk to him! He literally saved us from all the tourist traps and made us feel right at home.
  • Instant club- it was very fun deff recommend!
  • **WARNING** There is a very popular Hungarian liquor called Palinka, the alcohol content goes from 40-87%!!! Deadly! Naturally I bought a bottle to bring back to the US, but be careful a couple of shots of this you’ll be seeing stars (trust me.)

Budapest was one of the best trips I have ever been on I 100% suggest making your way to the “city of baths.”img_7207

Sal y Ven or Sal y Sue?

Let’s get one thing straight. The majority of students who study abroad are young, don’t speak the language and don’t know anything about living in a foreign country. This being said, when SUNY Oswego recommended that we find housing through an agency called Sal y Ven, we blindly trusted that would be the best thing to do. Well we were wrong.

We were placed into an apartment that previously had problems with the student tenants who lived there the semester before us. Those same students had warned us that the landlord was rude and that the people living in the apartment complex gave them a hard time. We took this warning with a grain of salt; those students could have been loud and maybe didn’t speak Spanish so communication could have been hard. Again we were wrong. From the moment we moved in there were rules, no socializing in the kitchen past 11pm, no using the water past 11pm, no visitors, no noise, no mail can be received to the apartment, no locking the bedrooms etc. We accepted these rules and moved on, living as quietly and respectfully as possible. Then the complaints started. The landlord received two complaints about us; one was that we threw a party… on a weekend that the four of us were in Budapest. The second complaint was to the agency Sal y Ven that said that the people in the building were going to sue the landlord if we did not move out of the apartment.

When we were told we had to move they included that it was not our fault it was the fault of the landlord. Well if it’s not our fault then why are we the ones being punished? We signed a contract to live in the apartment until May, no one, not the landlord or Sal y Ven should break that. The agency knew that there were problems in the past with this landlord so we should never have been placed there to begin with. Don’t get me wrong, we did not want to live the way we were in that apartment, but moving after we had just settled in was a big burden.

We got over the fact we had to move and went to go see an apartment that Sal y Ven said we could move right into. They had said that this was the only available option for us if we wanted to stay together. We were shocked when we saw the place they wanted us to live. It was 1/3 of the size of our other apartment and had no kitchen. HAD NO KITCHEN! They expected us to pay the same rent and live in an apartment with no kitchen for 4 months. It was rude that they even sent us to see that apartment.

That’s when we decide to take things into our own hands. We wrote an email to all party’s involved, SUNY Oswego study abroad advisor, the director in Spain and Sal Y Ven. we explained that we felt that we were being taken advantage of and it was not fair for us to have to move. It was not our problem that the people in the apartment complex did not like our landlord and we wanted some compensation for having to leave. Sal Y Ven wrote back explaining it was not their fault and that we could go live in another apartment for one month until they could find us another place…thus moving twice in 2 months. This was the best/ only option for us so we agreed.

We never heard back from SUNY Oswego, not even after the first move just to make sure everything was okay. That was the biggest disappointment, they were supposed to be on our side and let us down.

Moral of the story, do your research, ask questions, don’t blindly go into anything especially if they have had problems in the past. Don’t trust everything the school tells you and stick up for yourself because when we finally did it was too late.

Live in Hart, Do the IST

Hello, How is your new semester going?

Today, i want to talk about the IST! If you are a resident in Hart hall, probably you heard about it.

IST is the class which you MUST take, if you want to live in Hart. If you don’t? You will be kicked out from the Hart.

As you know, Hart hall is the global residence hall. There are many international students from lots of countries. I worked as an international Orientation Leader last month and there were about 60 new international students in this spring semester. (In the fall, usually there are more than 100 new international students in SUNY Oswego!)

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Thus, it is essential to understand diversity. IST is the program that helps to learn cultures of other countries with a credit. To take a credit, you have to handle 6 essays and 10 hours of community hours until the end of semester. For 6 essays, you can participate many kinds of discussion programs, presentation programs, and documentary programs. For the community hours, 10 hours of participation at the both on-campus and off-campus activities are required.

It sounds difficult to do, but it is not. The average grade of the class is A. There are many interesting programs signed up for this course, so you just need to go, listen and write an one-page essay. Even though you are not living in Hart, still you can attend the program.

Do you want to know what kinds of programs there are? Here is the IST calendar!

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https://acquia-prod.oswego.edu/hart-hall-global/ist-events-calendar

Broken Abroad

After about two weeks of painfully walking around beautiful Sydney, I decided it was time to get a ct scan. And well it’s official, I fractured my heel.

I’ve been making the most out of this series of unfortunate events, however. This past weekend, CAPA rallied up the students to feed happy kangaroos and pet a furry koala at the Featherdale Wildlife Park. I’m so glad I decided to go rather than stay in my room sulking; feeding that roo was the coolest thing I’ve ever done. Afterwards our group was carted over to The Blue Mountains to see the iconic Three Sisters. I wasn’t able to hike the trails but I was able to appreciate the amazing views from lookouts and the railway cars. I am grateful CAPA has been so accommodating and comforting in this overwhelming time.

I am trying to be as positive as I can be while paired up with crutches and a boot. It’s hard, especially since I’ve been to the doctors more than I’ve been to the beach. BUT the sunshine brings me comfort and the salty air clears my mind. Only three more weeks with my hardware and then I’m a free woman!

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