Studying Abroad Adventures

Well I’ve officially been abroad for over a month now, and wow it has definitely been an adventure! There have been many days where I’m in awe constantly at my luck as I walk to class and a handful of nights where the grumble of my tummy for a good ole Jersey Mike’s #7 with some Chick-fil-a waffle fries keeps me up. Overall, I am so, so thankful for this experience.

Since I can remember, I have always loved to travel. I have loved the thrill of hopping in a car or buckling (the seemingly pointless?) airplane seatbelt, as I jet off to a new place. Traveling has always been a way for experiencing new cultures, whether in a new country or state, watching others and trying imagine what living life would look like in whatever destination I was in. Living in Spain seemed like the ultimate dream come true. Until I realized, even living in a foreign place, I still yearn to travel to other places. Thank goodness for weekends!

Since getting to Spain, I have been able to visit Madrid, Toledo, and Sevilla. Sevilla is definitely my favorite – though I may be a little biased. As for weekend getaways, I’ve been able to wander Gibraltar, UK; Tangier and Chechaouen, Morocco; and Lisbon and Évora, Portugal.

Gibraltar

Over the past winter break, I binged watched The Crown on Netflix. Like watched all the way through 3 times binged watched. In the show, they mentioned Gibraltar as it is a British territory. Well me being uneducated I suppose, I had no idea that this territory was located right at the tip of Spain! Despite it’s being a different country, the security to cross the border was quite laughable. I was also quite disappointed that I “needed” my passport to cross the border but did not receive a stamp. While in the city, I was able to see Africa off the coast. It was only 28km away! I was also able to make my way to the of the famous rock to see the (in)famous monkeys! I was warned about the monkeys ability to act as swift thieves by my host mom before going, so I knew to keep my personal belongings close to my body. I made sure to grab a couple of pictures with them as how often do you get to see wild monkeys roaming around the streets casually? All-in-all, Gibraltar was a neat trip, but definitely got me excited to go to London later this month!

Morocco

When I signed up to study abroad, there was a week excursion to Morocco that I was also able to sign up for through my program. But as it was scheduled for one of our two week breaks, I opted to spend my time and money seeing other parts of Europe. I was definitely bummed because to be able to go to Africa while being so close seemed like such a good deal! Well Jesus, as He always does, provided an awesome opportunity for me. I found a local company that takes college students on weekend excursions to Morocco. I got Zach and a couple of friends on board with the idea and off we went! Tangier, the city we stayed in, was very nice and more modern than I had expected. (Thank goodness for traveling, y’all. It’s so important for learning and expanding your preconceived notions.) On our first night, we were able to eat in a big tent made from fancy carpets and eat a traditional Moroccan four course meal and watch a belly dancer and musicians. After I was served couscous and chicken, I was in love! The next day, we traveled to Chechaouen. It was incredible! The streets, buildings, alleys, houses, you name it were all different shades of blue. I learned from our sweet tour guide, Habibi, that the city used to be green until they decided to paint it blue to keep mosquitos away. I’m not sure how accurate this thinking is – but I also did not see a single mosquito while there. On our last day in Morocco, we did as any good tourist does, and we rode camels. I have ridden a camel on OU’s campus before, but riding one on the coast in Africa definitely was a cooler experience!! Overall, Morocco was a great experience filled with yummy food and good friends.

Portugal

My trek to Portugal was the most recent trip I’ve been on. This past weekend, I braved through a stomach bug (which I have since thankfully recovered from!!) to venture to this new-to-me place. I spent most of the weekend in Lisbon. Unfortunately, it rained a great deal of the time making exploring the streets of the city near impossible. I did, however, get to go to the Oceanarium, which until recently, was the largest aquarium in Europe. Now do not get too excited because let me tell ya, I’ve been to the aquarium in Dallas, TX, and it is true, everything is bigger in Texas. Despite it not quite matching up to my idea of big, it was definitely a very impressive aquarium! The most incredible thing about it was the in the center of the building was a series of two story tanks filled with sea creatures. Sharks, manta rays, and penguins oh my! On our way back to Sevilla, we stopped in the town of Évora. There isn’t too much to see city except for a cathedral with a chapel made entirely from 5,000 corps’s bones. Most accurately named, the Capela dos Ossos is a chapel inside of the Church of San Francisco. A Franciscan monk built the chapel as a part of the Counter Reformation. There was an phrase above the door to enter that reads in English, “We, the bones that are here, wait for you.” It was an interesting sight to say the least.

 

This adventure of studying abroad has been too good to me. I am so thankful I still have two months left to learn and explore!!

¡Hasta luego, amigos!

6 Things I’ve Learned in 2 Weeks Studying Abroad

I’ve been abroad for only two weeks, but I have learned so much in this short amount of time. Before I left, I researched for months reading articles and blogs about Spain, Europe, and studying abroad, trying to soak up as much knowledge as I could. I definitely learned a lot, but now that I am living it, I have gained so much useful knowledge.

  1. Exchange your money at bank at least a week before you leave.

I didn’t do this, so I made the mistake of exchanging dollars for euros in the airport and had to pay an $8 fee. Most banks will exchange the dollars and mail you euros without a fee if you have an account with them. Also make sure you ask for a list of partner banks in the countries you plan to go to.

2. Don’t under pack.

I read so many blogs advising people to not overpack for their semester abroad. I took this waaay too seriously and ending up under packing. Sure you can buy clothes wherever you’re studying, but reality is they could end up being more expensive and not fit the same as clothes stores back home. Trust me, 6 shirts is not enough even if they’re cute and layerable.

3. You’re gonna make friends.

Of all the things that I anticipated and planned for making friends ironically was not one. This is partly due to the fact that I knew people coming, but I was also so caught up in other details that it didn’t even cross my mind. Since coming, I have met some really incredible people. I love the friends that I have made here. It’s such a great experience to get to meet people from all over the U.S. on a different continent and become their friend.

8 new friends from 8 different universities
8 new friends from 8 different universities

4. If you have a choice, pick a homestay.

Staying with a family is a great opportunity. You get your laundry done, meals made, and get to experience the culture firsthand. Being in Spain, a homestay has had the added benefit/challenge of not speaking the language of my host mom. Even though it definitely has it’s cons, I think that there is so much to be learned and fun to have if you stay with locals. My host mom is awesome even though we are constantly learning how to communicate with the language barrier.

 

5. Bring the neck pillow and blanket.

I am so happy that I decided to bring the classic neck pillow. It was so nice to have on the airplane to use instead of the flimsy pillow they provide you with in economy. It was also a great companion on the bus rides from to and from the cities our program has taken us to. I wish I had a small blanket though. I love being comfy and sometimes it gets cold. So whether you wanna take the blanket from the plane or invest in an awesome blanket/pillow duo.

6. Culture shock is real, and it will affect everyone differently.

I’m a really independent person, so I don’t usually get homesick. Others though have gotten homesick and have needed to talk to their families more than some. That’s a-okay. We’re still in the beginning of our time abroad, and there are a lot things to get used to. Though I haven’t been homesick, I still have dealt with the struggle of missing the connivence of my life back in the states. Living in a new culture, there will always be a learning curve. New food, different fashion, norms to be learned, strange streets to get lost in, but you’ll survive

 

 

All-in-all, study abroad friends. If you have the opportunity, seize it. It’s so worth it.

 

Essential Oils 101

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What are essential oils?

Essential oils are concentrated plant extracts obtained by careful steam distillation, cold pressing, or resin tapping from farm-grown and wildcrafted plants, herbs, and trees. They oxygenate cells, support the body’s natural detoxification processes, make cells more permeable, and defend against unwanted guests in our bodies. And they have been around for thousands of years.

How to use essential oils

Aromatically:

  • Rub 2-3 drops of an essential oil between your palms and inhale.
  • Use your favorite essential oil in an diffuser.
  • When you inhale an essential oil, it only takes 22 seconds for it to reach your brain.

Topically:

  • Place 2-3 drops of essential oil directly on the desired area and massage in.
  • Essential oils penetrate the skin quickly and reach the blood stream within 2 minutes
  • They travel through out your body and generally have affected every cell within 20-30 minutes

Internally:

  • Place several drops into a vegetable capsule and swallow with water.
  • Add 1-2 drops of essential oil to a glass of water, juice, yogurt, plant-based milk, and swallow.
  • Add 1-2 drops or to taste when cooking.

Why Young Living?

Young Living is the world leader in essential oils with over 20 years of experience growing, harvesting, distilling and bottling their oils. There are so many factors that impact how potent your oil will be, and I couldn’t find another company that could guarantee me the same quality. You can check out the steps of Young Living’s proprietary Seed to Seal process here to see how they produce the best, most authentic essential oils.

How to order

WHOLESALE:  Recommended! By purchasing a Premium Starter Kit, you automatically get a Wholesale account. This gives you 24% off your future purchases, all at wholesale prices. No strings attached, period. No monthly fees, no required orders, no required selling, nothing. Just awesome oils at a great discount.

RETAIL:  You can order as a retail customer directly from Young Living, but you pay full price with no discounts. This can be a way to try one or two bottles, but ends up being more expensive in the long run.

Premium Starter Kit

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The Premium Starter Kit is an incredible value and includes a little bit of everything you need to get started using essential oils. It’s the most economical way to get started. You will get 11 oils, a diffuser of your choice (and they just added a new one that is AWESOME!!), lots of samples and some other references/goodies, 24% off all future young living purchases forever and a team that will support you throughout your journey answering questions and giving you tons of tips and tricks all for only $160! The kits retail for over $300, so this is a huge cost savings!! I checked around when I was researching essential oils, and I found out that not only is Young Living the standard for quality but also has one of the most affordable starter kits. I know it is a lot of money. I was really nervous about spending the money – like to the point where I told my sponsor I was gonna return them. But I am honestly so thankful I kept them. They are so easy to use, and I have seen a lot of benefits in my life from using them.

Interested? Ready to invest?

Message me or comment on this post!

Or go to https://www.youngliving.com/vo/#/signup/new-start?sponsorid=12147499&enrollerid=12147499&isocountrycode=US&culture=en-US&type=member and buy your kit!

Summer Resolution #1: Part 2

As promised, here is an update on how I am using essential oils. I have been using the Young Living Premium Starter Kit essential oils. So a week ago, my kit arrived in the mail and I was completely clueless on where or how to even begin. I unwrapped everything and decided to start researching common blends and everyday uses. WOW. I found a ton of suggestions! I was also able to talk to my sponsor and other people within my supportive team and they explained a lot to me. Needless to say, I have learned a lot in the past week.

So here is how I have the oils in the past week.

 

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Purification: Diffusing this makes my apartment smells WONDERFUL. I love how clean it smells while and after I diffuse this.

Frankincense: I’ve been putting frankincense on my heels and legs each night, and they are so much softer. Also this has been such a mood booster for me.

Lemon: It has helped clear out the toxins from my body. I put some in my smoothie each morning. I also clean produce in cold water and lemon to get off dirt and other toxins.

Peppermint: Using peppermint has really helped me with preventing headaches, suppressing my appetite, and keeping my energy levels up throughout the day.

Lavender: I let my feet soak in tea tree, eucalyptus, and lavender. I felt incredible afterwards and my feet were so clean and soft. I’ve also been putting lavender on the bottom of my feet each night and I’ve noticed I’m sleeping better.

Digize: I’ve been taking it before I eat to help with digestion. With the meals I’ve had that have gluten in them, it helps to keep my stomach from hurting!! 

Thieves: Y’all this is the ultimate headache killer. Plus the smell is absolutely amazing.

Summer Resolution #1

In my Summer: Volume 20 post I mentioned 5 summer resolutions I want to accomplish before the end of the summer. The first of those resolutions is to live a healthier lifestyle. I have struggled with clinical depression for about 7 or so years now. These past 2 years have been very different from one another. My freshman year of college I allowed the depression to almost completely rule my life. I was a mess to say the least. Sophomore year, I was doing much better, but still had to fight hard during the spring semester.

All this say, I know that 1. relying on the Lord in all situations should always be my number one priority  2. Taking my medicine daily is important to getting better and 3. taking care of myself is a must. The past two years, I have not done the best with taking care of myself. I missed many days of taking my medicine freshman year, ate very poorly, didn’t get enough sleep, and wasn’t working out. Sophomore year, I began taking my medicine more consistently, was getting more hours of sleep at night, and ate a bit better.

This summer, I am pursuing a couple important sub-goals with my living healthy goal. 1. I am working out at least 4-5 times a week. 2. Eating healthy. 3. Trying some new, natural products to pursue a healthier lifestyle.

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So how did I go about number three? I jumped on the essential oil bandwagon. I only got my starter kit in the mail yesterday, so this post isn’t a wow-look-at-me-buy-this-product-post. Instead its an honest and transparent beginner post. In fact, the box isn’t even open right now. The day after I ordered the starter kit, I immediately began to regret spending the money. I even told my friend I ordered the kit from that I would be returning it when it arrived. After A LOT of prayer, consideration, and research I’ve decided I’m going to keep the kit and give this oil thing a try.

My goal is to write honest reviews throughout the summer about how I am using them and whether or not I can tell any difference. I promise to be 100% honest throughout this journey. Feel free to keep up with it here if you would like. If not, I’m happy to write just for the pleasure of writing.

Here’s to trying something new and hoping it will work despite sitting here currently wondering WHAT THE HECK AM I DOING??

Scribbles from my Journal

Last night, during my quiet time, the Lord laid this on my heart and before I knew it I had filled 4 pages full in my journal of my thoughts. So I decided I would post it for y’all to read. 

When someone in the Old Testament disobeyed the Lord, the Lord demanded that they be punished. In particular, when they take from the Lord or worship a false God, they are punished with death. Death usually by means of fire, stoning, or some other rather terrifying, horror film death. As I read through these punishments, I usually cringe and catch myself thinking “how can a just God demand the death of one of His children?” But that’s the wrong question. I have to correct my thoughts. “How can someone directly disobey or worship something other than the Creator of the Universe and not deserve to be punished?”
In Romans, it says “for the wages of sin is death”, but do we truly believe that? In the Old Testament, every time Israel sins, they are required to make an atonement. Depending on the crime, they had certain animals they were to sacrifice as an appeasement to God. In our day and age this seems very archaic and honestly to a good amount it even seems outright ridiculous. The Lord holds all authority, so it does not matter if we don’t understand or what we think of His ways. We are still called to obey. Even Democrats who dislike Trump are still required to obey the nation’s laws even though they do not necessarily agree with everything He does. If they don’t they will face a punishment fitting of the crime. Now this isn’t the best parallel, but it proves a basic point: when we disobey authority, there is a consequence. The consequence of our sin is death.

So was the Lord of the Old Testament just an angry, unjust God? No. God is steadfast and unchanging. This means that same God during the Old Testament is the same one in the New Testament and the same one who has invited us to have a personal relationship with Him. So if He hasn’t changed, then what has? The Lord has never stopped demanding our obedience or death as the price for sin. Rather Jesus died as the ultimate sacrifice so our price has been paid.

We get to experience the freedom that comes with a relationship with Christ. Jesus’s sacrifice was intended for everyone, but not everyone chooses to accept the gift. Therefore, they will still have to pay the wage of their sin – death, in the form of an eternity spent separated from God.

All this to say – yes the death sentences laid out by the Lord in the Old Testament can seem extreme at first glance, but when you really take a moment to think about the extremity of the crime committed how can anything else settle the debt?

Summer: Volume 20

While I do not necessarily enjoy the hot weather and inevitable sunburns that come with a Southern State summer, I love the spare free time and adventures.

Some of these adventures include traveling to 9 – hopefully 10 – states and Canada, finding all the best spots in Norman I haven’t yet, and taking weekend trips to surrounding cities to explore. All this to say, I am thrilled for the places the Lord will allow me to see this summer. I am excited for the little trips to OKC with friends, reading new books, and getting the opportunity to work a part time job so I can continue to fund little holidays.

This summer, I have a few goals. 1. I would like to get back into the swing of living a healthier lifestyle 2. Read at least 5 books 3. Enjoy the little things 4. Test out of two classes at OU and 5. Do well in my summer courses.

Hopefully, I will get around to posting more on here with my various thoughts and stories. Here’s to the 20th summer I get to spend on earth.