tucson

Back from Summer 2014 Adventures

IMG_2728

[Photo taken near Jackson, Wyoming]

Wow! The summer has been extremely busy and I’ve only had a short break! I’m already back on the road of life onto my next chapter. Ecuador and the Galapagos were amazed and I have stories and pictures to share soon! I also enjoyed visiting Utah and Wyoming. They’re both full of beautiful landscapes and friendly people.

Right now, I’m currently in the midst of resident assistant training at my university, which is why I unfortunately don’t have the time to write about my adventures this week. I’ll go back to posting once a week but I may not be able to upload the pictures from my trip and write the stories in detail until the end of August or beginning of September but don’t worry, I’ve got exciting stories and interesting lessons I learned to share with you soon! Stay tuned!

Running with thirst busters to Sabino Canyon in Tucson, Arizona

sabino canyon

[Photo credit: Charles Miles on Flickr]

“What the… Did you see that, honey? Those two boys were running with large fountain drinks in their hands? They looked like high schoolers. I wonder why they’re in such a hurry that they have to run with their sodas! That’s so strange. Guess kids are different these days than when we were kids, huh honey?”

“Yes, honey, times are different now. Everyone’s always on the run nowadays.”

That’s the type of conversation that most likely occurred on Tuesday afternoon while my friend Andrew and I were running to Sabino Canyon.

On Monday, Andrew asked if I wanted to run a trail or two in Sabino Canyon this week since it was finals week and we had lots of free time. I replied with enthusiasm,

“Yeah! I miss running in the mountains! But neither of us have a car and I don’t have a bike?”

“That’s okay. I heard the bus runs close by so we could take it and then jog to the base.”

“Okay! I’ll figure it out and let you know.” I said, trying my best to hide my initial skepticism with this whole bus idea.

I figured out the bus routes and we headed out on our adventure Tuesday afternoon around 4.

After waiting for about 20 minutes at the bus stop near Del Taco on a street called Broadway, we hopped on and our journey began. We took the bus as close to Sabino Canyon as we could and managed to put ourselves approximately six miles from our destination.

We ran the six miles at slow pace- probably 10 min/mile pace and enjoyed the run there.

About a mile from the canyon, our mouths were as dry as the desert dust we decided to take a pit stop at the Circle K(local convenience store) and hydrate ourselves with Gatorade. Obviously we grabbed the largest drink size, which happened to be 44oz, filled up our cups, paid the 84 cents and jumped back on the road to finish our victory mile.

Even though we had these large 44oz styrofoam cups filled with green and orange Gatorade, we awkwardly ran with them and battled out the pain in our quads to finish the last 1609 meters.

Then we saw it. We saw this:

sabino canyon area

 

[Photo courtesy of Google Image Search]

“YES! We finally made it!” I yelled out feeling triumphant. Then we took a short break before disappearing onto the beautiful dirt trails of Sabino Canyon.

I inhaled the smell of mesquite and paloverde trees and let nature fill me with fresh air. Stones scattered on the surface of the trail made contact with my feet as we trailed along the paths. I love this feeling. The only thing I heard was the pounding of our feet as we zoomed in around around bushes, over beds of rocks and through arches of trees.

We ran for about 30 minutes before heading back to the entrance of the recreation area where Andrew’s parents met us to pick us up. I felt thankful we had chosen this time and day to run because his parents had just arrived to Tucson to move him out and were conveniently in the area. We headed back to the university and that concluded our adventure.

If you’re ever in Tucson, Arizona, I highly recommend checking out Sabino Canyon! It’s a beautiful area and there are multiple paths to choose from for hiking, running or biking 🙂 Feel free to share any thoughts or comments below!

Why it’s important to never forget being a kid


Molino Basin Tucson Arizona[Photo from top of a mountain near our campground at Molino Basin]

This past weekend, I attended my first camp with an organization called Camp Wildcat and it made me realize something- I forgot what it was like to be a kid.

In my opinion, society tells us to grow up and learn to be mature as soon as possible. For me, that meant right around freshman year. I still acted immature obviously but that’s what I feel like I was told to start acting older because soon I would be an adult.

Now, I’m a second-year college student and after going camping with Camp Wildcat, I feel like everything is so serious. I am 20 years old and I am an “adult.” I have to act “formal” and “appropriate” just about all the time.

I’m not saying that it’s detrimental for society to expect us to act like  adults(we should, for the most part) but if society never gives us room to act like kids, then it’s easy to forget what it’s like to be one. If we reflect back on being a kid, we can remind ourselves of important life lessons that we shouldn’t lose sight of. Camp Wildcat was the catalyst that I needed to remind me what it was like to be a kid and here a few lessons I learned after reflecting back on my experience from this weekend:

Don’t afraid to losen up and be silly

After high school(and usually during high school), we’re taught to be serious and appropriate all the time that we forget to act silly and losen up. At least for me, I know I forget to be silly sometimes and the activities at Camp Wildcat reminded me to let go and have fun.

One of my favorite parts was the reactions we gave to the “skits” performed by different groups based on movies and expressions. In between activities, different groups would perform skits of random things and afterwords, the directors would ask what we thought about the skit. We responded with either some sort of expression or movie reference. My favorite was called the James Franco which was a Spiderman 3 reference from a scene where James Franco is eating pie. The waitress asks how it is and he responds, “So good.” We’d choose one like James Franco and then in unison say, “SOOO good.” They were all silly like that and it was a lot of fun. Overall, it just reminded me to have fun and losen up.

Don’t let your creativity and imagination ever die

Similar to the idea of always being “serious,” we sometimes find ourselves in positions where we aren’t asked to use our creativity and/or imagination. Yes, sometimes a project or homework assignment will have an unexpected turn and we have to be creative their but what I really mean is using your creativity and imagination on it’s own like an art.

A large part of the camp was performing “skits.” All camps have themes and this one that I went to over the weekend was themed Camp Disney so as you can imagine, everything revolved around Disney. Before eating a meal, the counselors made each group perform a skit with another group before they could receive their word. These skits forced us to be creative and use our imaginations.  The experience reminded me that I shouldn’t ever let my creativity and imagination die out.

Never stop wishing, dreaming and believing

This lesson is one that I believe is the most important- never giving up on your dreams, wishes, and beliefs. There are several times when society tells us to settle for a job that pays enough to start a family, start a family and live your life until you die and that’s it. Period. People tell you not to have dreams to high because you might not accomplish them or make them come true. I say that’s bologna!

At the conclusion of Camp Wildcat on Sunday morning, we did an activity called Wish Bracelets. The way it works is you and another person get together a make wish bracelets for each other with the provided string. But wait! There’s a special process:

1st- you make a wish for the other person and tie a knot and they make one for you and tie a knot

2nd- you make a wish for yourself and tie a knot and they do the same

3rd- you make a wish for the world and tie a knot and they do the same

Then you tie it in on their wrist and they tie one on yours and you two finish with a hug. You can make as many bracelets as you want too!

It’s a warm and loving activity and awakens that fuzzy feeling inside your stomach that makes you feel good.  The activity in general is fantastic because the point is to make you think about what you care about the world and reminds you to always think about others(and yourself)!

Just remember this- even though we’re told to be serious the majority of the time in life, we shouldn’t ever forget what it’s like to be a kid 🙂

###

*Side note about Camp Wildcat:
“Camp Wildcat is a student-run, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization at the University of Arizona devoted to improving the lives of Tucson’s youth. Over 100 dedicated volunteers provide cost-free activities for fun, friendship and to portray college as an attainable goal for everyone!”

Sharing Arizonian culture with SUSI exchange students from South America

joel vega y thomas de bolivia y peru

[Photo of Thomas on the left and Joel on the right from cultural presentation]

Tomorrow, Joel and Thomas, two new friends, along with 18 other exchange students from South America will head to the East Coast to and to Washington D.C. for two weeks after having spent the last three weeks learning about the culture in Arizona and attending classes here at the University of Arizona.

The 20 students are participating in a program called SUSI(Study of the U.S. Institutes) for Student Leaders. They come from Bolivia, Peru, and Paraguay and range in age from 18-26. None of them knew each other before coming here and they all come from different places.  The programs are sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with the purpose to “promote a better understanding of the people, institutions, and culture of the United States among foreign students, teachers, and scholars.” The University of Arizona regular hosts these programs twice a year. The students visited Nogales, Flagstaff, the Grand Canyon, Sedona and a few other parts of Arizona, I believe.

I happened to find the opportunity by chance during winter break when I received an email from one of the directors of the program here at the U of A who was looking for mentors. I remembered I had signed up for the Latin American Undergraduate email list and that was the reason the email landed in my inbox.

I received a spot as a mentor and was paired with Joel from Bolivia and Thomas from Peru for the three weeks that they spent here at the U of A.

We hung out together a few times in Tucson, maybe once or twice a week. I introduced them to friends here one night and brought them to my dorm one evening to show them what it’s like living on campus.

My favorite part was showing them around Phoenix last weekend. Since my car is broken, my dad let us drive his Polaris Ranger. I brought them to my high school and my elementary school and also around that neighborhood to show them where I grew up as a kid. I think they really enjoyed it because they could compare what they saw in movies to real life and see what an “American” high school and elementary school actually look like.

I also introduced them to Arizona burritos(an extremely delicious fast-food burrito from Federico’s), horchata(a sweet drink made of rice), AND Girl Scout cookies-specifically “Thin Mints” that take your tastebuds to heaven. My mouth waters just thinking about pulling one out of the freezer at home and munching on it-MMMM!

From participating in this program as a mentor, from my own experiences and from what I’ve learned at the university, I have realized that the media misrepresents the United States and other countries around the world, which is why first-hand cultural experience is so important and valuable. By learning about a culture for ourselves, we deconstruct the generalizations and presumptions that we hold within ourselves as a result of listening to the media, or one story.

I hope the U of A continues to host these types of exchange programs so I can contribute to improving the cultural experience for the students to come. I also recommend to anyone, student or non-student, to check out the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Exchange Programs website because there several ways to get involved with these programs or to even visit another country as the exchange student. It’s a great way to open up your mind and even learn a little bit more about your culture and yourself 🙂

###

Post Study-Abroad: New Appreciations at the University of Arizona

photo of the university of arizona

On Monday, I moved back to Tucson to start my second semester as a sophomore at the University of Arizona. I decided to live on campus again in the dorms because I loved my residence hall(Árbol de la Vida) last year. Even though I’ve only been here for two days, I’ve already noticed these once forgotten appreciations of living on campus and going to a large university compared to my experience in Buenos Aires. Here’s a few:

Having a roommate is fantastic(especially one that is Argentinian ;))

While living by myself was enjoyable, I really appreciate having a roommate once again. I always have someone around to hangout with or chat and it’s always a pleasure to start a new friendship.

Living in a residence hall and being a member of a community

I remember appreciating it my freshman year but being here only two days reminded me of how awesome it is to live two minutes away from my friends. Even more so than living with friends, I’ve met lots of really nice and interesting people on my floor and around the residence hall. I enjoy being a member of a community and love how well a residence hall fosters the community aspect.

Access to over 500 clubs and organizations and the recreation center

Now my university in Buenos Aires had a few clubs here and there but they weren’t nearly as boundless as the 500 clubs or more at the U of A. I just joined a new club called Camp Wildcat and will be volunteering to help provide cost-free fun activities for the youth here in Tucson! Furthermore, the excellent recreation center and gym on campus because I can go play a pickup basketball game just about whenever I want and it’s only a 10-minute walk away.

The classes I can choose from are ENDLESS!

I hadn’t thought about this really until this week but attending a large university like the University of Arizona has priviliged me with the opportunity to choose from an immense amount of intriguing classes. This semester, I was lucky enough to find seats in fascinating courses such as The Structure of Spanish, Major Works in Latin America, Heritage Photography, Spanish Phonetics, and Wording Pictures.

Well, hope you enjoyed this week’s post! See you next week 🙂

###