Tomorrow is a new day

Not every week or day can be wonderful, in any situation, even while exploring abroad (so I just learned). I’m thankful to have my health, my loving friends and family, and all the opportunities that have been given to me. That being said, this week was kind of a let down.

Not all of it though! I went to the musical, which was interesting to watch and fun to experience. It was more of a theatrical choir maybe? Definitely something similar to what a college theater/musical group in Portland might come up with.

Then, we went to the soccer game! Which was super fun to watch and participate in! Ecuador won against Uruguay, even with three injured players, so as of right now we are in the number one spot for the world cup!

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It was a lot less crazy than I expected. At least where we sat, it was a total family affair! We even made friends with the 4 year old boy in front of us, who decided he liked us so much that he would spend the whole game on our laps (especially Lauren’s, she seemed to be a fantastic human jungle gym). And of course the parents definitely didn’t mind getting a couple hours of alone time to watch the game, while we got our face paint poked at and Becca got her beer dumped. Haha

Speaking of snacks, tons of vendors walked around offering foods of all sorts. You didn’t even have to get up. So for $5.50 I got two epenadas, a big bag of popcorn, and like a 20 oz beer (still can’t bring myself to like that stuff–bleh).

On Thursday I also said goodbye to Doctor Palacio and the great people at the dermatology clinic.

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Every Thursday meeting is finished off with a fancy (and FREE) breakfast of fruit, yogurt, granola, bread and jam, eggs, coffee, tea, and some sort of sweet. So I pretended like it was more of a going away party for me ūüėČ

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Unfortunately, this is where the great times seemed to end. On Friday the 13th the girls and I loaded onto a bus to Riobamba, a city about 4 hours South of Quito. Here we spent one of the scariest bus rides we’ve been on in Ecuador, and unfortunately passed fatalities on the road as we went by. These scenes were yet to be dealt with, so images of dead bodies on the road were in our minds as we swerved along to our destination.

One of the reasons we went to Riobamba was for a train that brings you around a boulder/mountain called the Devil’s Nose. When we went to buy tickets for the train later that day, we were told: 1) the price had gone up, and 2) there was construction, so the bus would ACTUALLY be departing from Alousi, a town 2 hours south, and the bus fair to get there was not included. We bought the tickets anyway, figuring we had already made the trip. At this point Becca’s brand new hiking boots had disappeared from her backpack as well, and we were not able to get any information from any of our bus or taxi drivers about their possible location. Maybe we should check eBay.

After a somewhat exhausting day, we got pizza at a little diner, which comfortingly turned out to be the best pizza I’ve had here (still nothing like the US). As we left the restaurant, it had gotten dark and we talked about going around to check out the night life of the city. However, in this short walk we all had begun to feel uneasy about our surroundings and the people paying attention to us on the streets. Not to mention passing a fatal car crash as we went for ice cream. And right as we decided to head back to the hotel instead, someone tried to pick-pocket me. Luckily, we have been on high alert since Lauren was robbed, and honestly he was just incredibly obvious, so he didn’t get too far before I caught on.

After what we thought was the ending to the terrible turn of events, we came back to our room to hear about the shootings in Paris. And by that time, I felt very defeated. I can’t even really explain the vulnerable feeling you get when something terrible like that happens in the world, and you are over 4000 miles away from all your loved ones. The entire world was hurting and being effected by this act of terrorism, and I couldn’t even hug my parents or my boyfriend. I’m going to be frank: it really sucked. We went to bed eager for the day to be over.

The next morning we went to Alousi, a town much cuter than I expected.

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And here was where I got to take my first train ride ever (unless you count the mini train at Oak’s Amusement Park).

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Which brings you on a 45 minute ride around Ecuador’s beautiful scenery, and then to the previously mentioned boulder/mountain, El Nariz Del Diablo:

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This outing went well, and was even accompanied by coconut ice cream. After heading back Riobamba we had dinner and a girls’ night in the hotel to try and make up for the last evening that didn’t go so well. By 6 am all of us were woken up by our neighbor vigorously hacking up something from his throat for at least 10 minutes. (Who needs an alarm clock when you have flem?)

Sunday we visited a town called Guano before making the trip home. Although small and not much of a tourist destination, I think it was worth visiting (However don’t come here if you’re interested in hearing a talented church chorus):

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Leaving Riobamba we were thankfully some of the last people to secure seats on the bus to Quito. However, here we passed more death on the side of the road, and it was where Lauren’s seat partner tried to rob her while she was sleeping (we’re smarter than that now people, come on).

Next, in Quito, we took a city bus back home. This was where Becca dropped a copy of her passport, and intelligently, I reached my leg out to try and swipe up the passport with my foot. Unfortunately, this left my leg and a terrible position, and then the bus came to a screeching halt, which caused my knee to buckle and I got to feel what it was like to have your patella pop out of the socket and then right back into place. This is why I am sitting on my bed at 1 pm writing this blog post instead of scrubbing in on awesome surgeries. I’m still mad enough I really don’t want to go into more detail.

And lastly, as I crawled into bed thinking that this weekend couldn’t end any worse, I found out a former classmate of mine, who just graduated June 2015, was killed in a hiking accident in the Redwoods. My love and condolences go out to the friends and family of Henry Nittler. He was always so kind, and dedicated to so many different activities. He will be missed by the entire North Eugene High School community, I am sure.

Sadly, this is where the blog post ends. I am desperately hoping for a better week ahead: for me, my loved ones¬†back home, and those suffering across the world. Tomorrow is a new day. And now, after getting all the ugly events off my chest, I’m going to try and look towards the positive and make an effort to end the bitterness I’m harboring. Bad things happen, so now I just can’t let it ruin the short experience I have left here.

Love and appreciate everyone so much, I really should say it more.

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Lisa goes to Ireland: week 11

Sick in a foreign country alone… Not exactly something I ever prepared myself to experience, nor did I want to.

About a month I started to have severe eye pain ¬†and blurriness of vision, so I called my doctor back home and scheduled an appointment for when I got back, thinking that I would be fine until then. The pain continued to increase so I finally made an appointment with a general practioner here in Limerick. That was scary in itself, as I’m a skeptic when it comes to most doctors that aren’t my own. After seeing the GP she said I needed to go to the emergency room immediately. I begged and pleaded with her, hoping there would be some other way to get this resolved, but there wasn’t so I took her advice. The hospital is pretty far from the city centre where I normally go, so I called for a taxi and headed off into the unknown.¬†

I walked into the emergency room and I can’t think of a time where I was more scared. I was in a foreign country, I didn’t have my mum, and I was about to get medical attention from a doctor that I wasn’t familiar with. I waited in the emergency room for five hours before they finally called me back. Luckily, I met this darling old couple who stayed with me the entire time. It was comforting to have someone there to “look after me” so to speak. After seeing the doctor who performed an eye exam, he told me I was fine but that I needed to see an optometrist. I figured I would just suffer through the pain for another few weeks and would deal with it when I got home. It had just been too long of day. I headed back to¬†to my apartment and wasn’t planning on stopping anywhere, however I knew that I had a sinus infection and should probably stop at the pharmacy. Reluctantly, I stopped at the pharmacy and much to my surprise, there was an optometrist… they closed in 15 minutes but were willing to see me anyone. Within 15 minutes I was in and out of there with a diagnosis and a pair of glasses and what a relief it was!

I’ve since been in bed since, as I have a terrible sinus infection/ flu.¬†Being sick has certainly made me more homesick though. It’s tough being alone in a foreign country without anyone to take care of you when you’re sick.

If there’s one thing this experience has taught me though, it’s that I am capable of doing far more than I think I can. I live alone back home so I’m already use to doing things on my own, but it’s different because when I get sick, or when something goes wrong, I know that my family and boyfriend are but an hour away. It was scary in that the only person I could rely on getting me better was myself. It was a good experience in that I learned I am very capable of taking care of myself, even when I have no one else to fall back on.¬†

I’m off to Edinburgh, Scotland this weekend and I could not be more excited. Until then, I will be in bed.

Cheers!

Dublin, Ireland week 7 – Hard times traveling the UK

(I’ve had problems with photos and uploading so this sounds outdated, I wrote it Nov. 6 – sorry)

We’re in the middle of reading week, a class-free midterm break, and it’s been off to a very interesting start. Nathaniel and I traveled to Scotland and London, which was really exciting, but we cut our week long trip by four days after we learned some things about international travel. Personally, I learned that I have too organized a personality to be spontaneous when it comes to travel, my stress levels are high when traveling and it doesn’t take much to throw me off balance, and that, because I’m new to traveling sort of alone and to international travel entirely, it’s okay for me to have not learned all the important things about both overnight, as I must have expected I had after living in Dublin for a month.
We talked about traveling Europe during our free reading week for awhile, but only just decided on a schedule last week. Then we didn’t get anything booked till Halloween, and at that point I knew I was going to regret something, if nothing else but that I was only going to get four hours of sleep that night because of our Halloween celebrating and early morning flight. I did later regret not planning this trip weeks before. Through the course of our three day trip and our one day of prebooking, we made four calls to the bank because of a declined card, accidentally bought two sets of tickets for the same flight, had a night train (with beds) cancelled and instead had to take an overnight, nine hour bus ride to London (no beds), got moderately harassed by a crazed, flower-wielding Londoner, missed a bus, missed a plane, and paid probably over three hundred pounds more than necessary and still didn’t make it to Paris and Italy as we originally planned. But that was just the bad stuff. I learned some other things too.
I learned that Scotland is beautiful, and there is a lot of it to explore. We decided to do one of those day tour buses, which I have mixed feelings about because I despise the idea of “photo stops” which feel like the epitome of tourism, but at the same time, I love being able to see so much of a place in just a day. We saw several castles, of which there are 70 in Scotland, and got to explore Doune castle where they filmed some of Monty Python’s Holy Grail. I really enjoyed being able to openly explore that castle and have the audio guide to get more information where I wanted. I tried to imagine living in that castle, sleeping in those cold stone rooms and navigating the narrow spiral staircase in a big dress, being short enough to comfortably fit though the small doorways, and looking out at the gorgeous fall scenery. Two of my other favorite places in Scotland were these two small towns on lochs (lakes) called Inverary and Luss. Both were neat, quiet, and beautifully serene. I would love to stay at either on holiday, twenty minutes at each was not nearly enough.

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London, I learned, does not quite meet the idolized standard everyone seems to hold it to in America. Like Paris or Rome it is endlessly romanticized, and so especially after getting there from our nine hour bus ride, it would have taken a lot to meet or exceed my expectations. It wasn’t bad though, and I’d certainly give it another chance to go see more that may interest and impress me. While there we saw two excellent plays, Photograph 51 with Nicole Kidman, and The Woman in Black. Not only were they both excellent shows but they were very reasonably priced. After Photograph 51 we talked with a writer from the New York Times looking for Americans to get insight into differences between European and American theatre. He might use some of our conversation for his travel section article in mid-December, so that was fun. We saw some of the sights in London, the London eye and Big Ben, and those were neat, and found a beautiful park and went to the Natural History Museum. The museum, which was huge and really interesting and where I got to see dinosaur fossils for the first time, was free, and we thought that was wonderful. Museums have always seemed like such a strange thing to pay admission for, and I wonder if that’s just a common American practice.
So, we cut our trip short and headed back to Dublin to relax and watch a lot of the X-files before getting ready for our program trip to Belfast this Friday. Even though we don’t get to go to France and Italy, at least we’re getting to see more of Ireland just like we wanted, and thank goodness this trip is already planned and paid for. Traveling is exhausting.

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Week 8 London 2k15

Hello again!

I cannot believe it is already week eight. I have spent the last week(ish) in Italy and have just gotten back to London. Thus, I am now writing this post!

Italy was amazing! I had such a wonderful time. I went to both Rome and Venice. They were both beautiful in their own ways. The weather was also a huge bonus as it was in the mid 70s the whole time I was there. This time a friend went with me and that was really really great. I enjoyed having someone to talk to and to have meals with. The food was definitely one of the best parts. Although, I think I gained at least ten pounds.

The culture in Italy is much different from London. You almost never see someone eating alone, unless they are a tourist. People in Italy always seem to go out in large groups. Also, basically everyone drinks wine. I do not remember seeing one beer the entire time I was there. People in Italy are MUCH more social than people in London. It isn’t that the people in London are not nice, but they wont just strike up a conversation with you on public transport or in a restaurant. Italy is the exact opposite. At just about every meal the people sitting next to us tried to speak to us. Sometimes they only spoke Italian and a little English so the conversations were minimum but they would still smile at you during the meal and say goodbye when they leave.

One thing I did not like about Italy was all the people around the big monuments who were trying to sell you things. They seriously refuse to leave you alone. You try to ignore them, but they are quite persistent. We had one guy basically chase after us for two blocks before he finally gave up. It made wandering the streets not very nice. Sometimes we would go into a restaurant or shop and look around for a bit just to get away.

Overall though the trip was wonderful and I would love to go back someday. There is much more of Italy I want to see, but didn’t have the time. I leave for Scotland tomorrow for a few days and then in a little over a week my boyfriend is coming to visit. I am so incredibly excited. I hope you all are enjoying your adventures.

Cheers!

 

Relaxing week

This has by far been my most relaxed week in Quito. In fact, so relaxed, it has made me a little stir-crazy. We have been non-stop going almost every second since we’ve been here, so having time to sleep in and even finish a book I’m ready felt strange.

Wednesday, we ate cuy: Ecuador’s fanciest dish and also known as Guinea Pig in the United States. No, it was not good. I even sort of had high expectations for it. At this point I have tried guinea pig, goat, cow’s blood, cow intestine, cow stomach lining, and pig skin. I don’t think I’ll ever eat any of those again, but I did it and I didn’t die either.

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Thursday evening the girls and I went out to a Salsa club that is known for having a clientele of professional dancers and choreographers. I’ve never seen such beautiful dancing in my life. That includes anything I’ve watched on TV or youtube. These people looked like they had practiced dancing together for years, but the majority of them had never even danced together before. If you want to see some real talent, might as well buy a plane ticket to Ecuador right now. After a while us girls were asked to dance, and thankfully the people asking us knew what they were getting themselves into. But that didn’t even matter, our dance partners were SO good that we were doing moves we had never learned before, all from how easy it was to follow them (and if you couldn’t follow them, well they would just move you themselves and somehow make it look natural). It was by far one of the funnest nights out I have had here, and even though these were the best dancers I’ve ever tried to salsa with, they made me feel the most comfortable. YAY.

On Friday we took a cable car (called the Teleferiqo) up one of Quito’s highest points, to 13,000 feet altitude. Here, you’re supposed to be able to see out over Quito from dangling in the air. However, just our luck, a thunder and lightning storm hit just as we were about at the highest peak, but not close enough to get out of the cable car. We panicked as the cable stopped the cart we were sitting in, and waited for a good ten minutes, watching the storm around us while dangling in the air. Finally, we were taken to the top and got out, where we spent over an hour in a cafe watching the lightning. It wasn’t how we envisioned the outing, but it was pretty cool getting to see it from a warm chair with hot chocolate and chifles (plantain chips). You could even pay to have some flavored oxygen.

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I didn’t have a camera at the time, and I probably wouldn’t have thought to use it while suspended 13000 feet up during a storm, so here is a google image of what the teleferiqo looks like on a sunny day (also here is the link so I don’t get sued:¬†http://www.deanmyerson.org/files/photo%20archive/foreign/ecuador/146%20teleferico%20above%20Quito.jpg) :

146 teleferico above Quito

Friday was also my three year anniversary with Christopher, so I got to spend my evening as perfectly as possible while in separate continents: skype date!

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Saturday started out fantastic. The girls and I went out to breakfast, then Ejido Park, where we got to stroll around and look at stands of Ecuadorian hand crafts. Here I bought the final two of my three oil paintings I will be bringing home with me, and am very in love with all of them:

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Then I was able to buy a decent amount of gifts all at the same craft stand, and I dropped enough money that the man I was buying them from was shaking and thanking god as I handed him the well-deserved money. It feels really good to see how something as simple as buying someone’s handmade work can make an impact. It was a mutually benefiting transaction, and we both left extremely happy campers.

Unfortunately, that feeling didn’t last on the way home. My dear friend Lauren got her wallet stolen on the trole. This was frustrating for multiple reasons, but one of which was that we did everything we were supposed to in order to not become targets. We stayed close to each other, we had our bags in front of us, at least one hand on the bag, AND kept an eye out. Sadly, the bus was packed and a lady snuck up behind Lauren and was able to cut her wallet out of her bag with a knife. Even more aggravating, sweet little Lauren felt someone touching her bag and was was worried she might offend them by acting as if she was worried they were robbing her, so she just moved her purse to the other side of her body, where they couldn’t reach. But it was too late. I realized a lady next to us, who had JUST gotten on the bus at the same time as us, was getting off at the next stop and making a run for it. Then Lauren saw her slashed bag. We had been targeted even before we stepped on the trole (which hadn’t been more than a minute, if that).

Here’s the good news: at that point in the day we were all very broke, and had chosen not to go to the ATM that far away from the house. So the lady only made off with $10 and a debit card, which Lauren immediately canceled. And we think since Lauren moved her bag, the lady knew she was about to get caught, and didn’t bother trying to steal the camera that was also in her bag — thank goodness. Also, lets not forget she had a knife. Thank goodness it was only used for a dang purse. This was also a lesson-learned. We can’t get comfortable and lazy even though it’s been 7 weeks. Even if you follow all the rules in the book, if someone wants to take advantage of you, they will find a way to do it. Especially if they’re desperate. We just have to hope that $10 was put to good use.Which is a reason this blog post is lacking in pictures after Saturday: I have yet to bring a photo-taking device out of the house with me since this incident.

Sunday we went to Papallacta hot springs, 2 hours north of Quito. We ended up taking a taxi to the wrong bus station, over an hour and a half away from the station we were supposed to go to, so we splurged and paid a taxi to just take us all the way to the springs — that way we didn’t waste an extra two hours. At this point in the weekend, I think we were all needing a little TLC. At Papallacta they have 7 pools filled with natural mineral water, 6 of them with varying temperatures of heat, one of them ice cold. We spent a good four hours hopping from hot water to hot water, enjoying the mountains and river in the distance, and basking in the ability to actually have water warm enough to bite your skin again. We would have likely stayed a couple more hours if it weren’t for the thunder and lighting that hit. Sitting in a hot pool with cold rain feels amazing, but not amazing enough to risk being electrocuted. Here is a google picture of Papallacta, since our belongings were religiously locked up the entire day (http://loveecuadorliving.com/wpcontent/uploads/2014/03/1.1273165345.hot-springs.jpg):

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This week¬†I went back to the dermatology clinic, and had a wonderful time. The more I stay there, the more I am interested in this specialty. It’s also nice to see the differences in practice when it comes to addressing the patient and prescribing medication. ¬†The doctor I am¬†shadowing is very stern about the concept that the patient is more than a medical problem in need of a diagnoses. He encourages small talk, wants us to know their full name, where they grew up, if they have children, etc. He lectures about small talk being one of the most important parts of the consultation, because it could give you necessary incite on the problem their facing that you might otherwise miss if you’re solely concerned about the symptoms. Dermatology is also a business where you potentially have to deliver bad news, and no one wants to receive bad news from a stranger. I love and appreciate his perspective. He also is very interested in making sure I understand what is going on 100% of the time, which I appreciate, because I’m sure it would be much easier to be bitter that someone came to a country to learn without even knowing the language fluently.

It’s hard to not feel like you’re a burden when you can’t fully understand someone, or express exactly what you want to say. I am so grateful for the kindness Ecuadorians have shown me in this department, and it hurts my heart to think that students in my same position in the United States are much less likely to receive the understanding that I have been given. I hope one day my country can be more accepting of cultures or customs outside of our own personal practices, and be compassionate towards people struggling to make ends meet in a place that is so foreign. I can’t imagine the difficulties someone would face in the US if they just moved there, are trying to work or go to school, AND all of a sudden be expected to be fluent in another language. Sheesh.

Working in the clinic has been a blast, and I can’t wait for the next few weeks of experiences, but I can’t help but miss my job back home. I have loved being a CNA more than I ever imagined, and already two months away from my residents and Valley West has made me excited to return to them. It’s difficult going to school in a town an hour and a half away from your favorite job. Hopefully the things I learned at clinicals here will improve my work back in Eugene. Or at the very least provide me with some entertaining stories to share.

Yesterday we went to my favorite restaurant: Crepes & Waffles. (pronounced Cray-pays-eee-wah-flays). Lauren and I make a solid effort to drag Rebeccah here at least twice a week. Who knew the reason I’d go broke in South America was because of all the gourmet ice cream I shove down my face?

Tonight I am headed out to dinner, and then to a Musical! I have no idea what it’s about, but we’re going with some girls we met at the beach who live here in Quito, and I’m sure it will be a fantastic experience.

Thursday we are going to a futbol game here in Quito: Ecuador against Uruguay. This is a BIG DEAL because both teams are in the running for the World Cup. We are painting our faces and going with our Spanish teachers as security guards, because apparently the crowds can get PRETTY wild. I don’t know what would be worse for my safety: if we win or lose.

I have learned that I am incredibly bad at “besos.” Which is when you greet or say goodbye to someone in Ecuador, and you lean in, put your cheeks against each other, and kiss the air. Almost like kissing each other’s cheeks at the same time, but not quite as intimate. One would think that I would have mastered this by week 7, but here I am, never failing at making the situation awkward. I am either excited I remembered, and seem very eager to kiss this new person. Or I don’t remember, and people lean in as I’m walking away. Or someone catches me off guard, and it doesn’t register that this person leaning close to my face is not in fact trying to kiss me on the mouth. In that situation, which has happened multiple times, I do the classic “duck and retreat” followed by a look like “whoa I just met you and you’re like 30. What do you think is going on here?” Hopefully the fact that I’m whiter than their lab coats is explanation enough for my ridiculous behavior.

With my free time this week I finished up the book “My Year With Eleanor” and started Amy Poehler’s book “Yes Please.” Both were incredibly thought provoking and literally laugh-out-loud funny. If anyone is looking for a feel good book to read, I recommend both. (Especially Yes Please if you like very blunt honesty in a hilariously vulgar way).

We have yet to come up with some plans for this weekend, but we BEST be doing something because time seems to be running out! I will officially be home in one month, all ready to start celebrating the holidays. Woop Woop.

Alright, I’ll be in touch soon! Hopefully with more news to share and pictures to post! Chao.

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Week 10: Lisa Goes to Ireland

One of the great things that I love about CISAbroad, the program that I’m studying through, is that the program includes trips and excursions {though it’s the least they could do for how much the program costs!} This last weekend they took us on a trip to Belfast in Northern Ireland it was a very different experience. Belfast is enriched with so much history; it was fascinating to learn about it, however it was also rather depressing. There was a huge war that happened in 1969 between the Protestants and Roman Catholics. 48 walls were built in order to separate the two groups. There were bombings and fires. Though I absolutely loved learning about the history, it was rather very sad. There also wasn’t a lot of pubs or nightlife. In fact, on our second night the nearest and only pub to our hostel closed at 6pm. It was a great opportunity however to relax and appreciate the beauty in Ireland. One of my favorite things about traveling even within Ireland is seeing all the greenery and castles as we drive by. ¬†During my time in Belfast I also visited Giant’s Causway, which was¬†beautiful, I felt like I was back home as I walked along the beach. Lastly, we visted Kings Road which is where parts of Game of Thrones is fillmed, and also The Titanic Experience where the Titanic was build. ¬†I’ve finally reached the 30-day mark until I come home and I am very excited. I miss my friends and family, and am ready to celebrate the holidays with them. At the same time, I can’t help but be sad that this journey is almost over. It’s truly been a life changing experience.

 

Giant's Causeway Beach

Giant’s Causeway Beach

Replica of the Titanic

Replica of the Titanic

King's Road

King’s Road

Part of the graffiti  on The Peace Wall.

Part of the graffiti on The Peace Wall.

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These murals were painted all over Belfast to commensurate the war.

These murals were painted all over Belfast to commensurate the war.

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Sunset along Giant's Causeway

Sunset along Giant’s Causeway

The Peace Wall- Just one of the many walls builds to separate  the two groups.

The Peace Wall- Just one of the many walls builds to separate the two groups.

My study abroad program.

My study abroad program.

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The bullets that were used during the war-made of plastic and rubber

The bullets that were used during the war-made of plastic and rubber

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Updates!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Due to the stress of midterms, the excitement of fall break, and the fact that I have never kept a blog or journal in my life up to this point, it recently occurred to me that I just might be a couple weeks behind on my posts! Oops. So, long story short, I have quite a lot of catching up to do! With the exception of fall break, the last few weeks have been fairly uneventful. Due to midterm preparations and the anticipation of fall break expenses, I traveled very little. I attended the Perugia Chocolate Festival, and during fall break I was delighted to be able to travel to London, Edinburgh, Dublin, and Brussels! Below I will include my favorite pictures from fall break, though some of these places I visited (Old Town in Scotland, The Cliffs of Moher, London as seen from the top of the London Eye) are simply so beautiful and breathtaking that no picture could do them justice! To truly experience the beauty of each of these places you must see them for yourself!

 

Enjoy!

-Alexis

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EDINBURGH:

2015-10-27 15.47.24-12015-10-28 00.28.492015-10-27 15.47.24-12015-10-27 12.06.342015-10-27 13.42.352015-10-27 10.09.142015-10-27 11.45.33

DUBLIN:

2015-10-28 13.48.432015-10-29 09.55.032015-10-29 11.16.092015-10-29 11.45.582015-10-29 11.46.362015-10-29 12.44.312015-10-29 14.23.022015-10-29 15.39.352015-10-29 16.02.462015-10-29 16.24.292015-10-30 09.45.47

BRUSSELS:

2015-10-31 14.46.332015-10-31 20.11.142015-10-31 16.37.242015-10-31 16.28.272015-10-31 16.38.412015-10-31 13.26.39-12015-10-31 13.20.452015-10-31 12.09.172015-10-31 11.43.482015-10-31 11.11.372015-10-31 11.00.302015-10-30 19.51.55

PERUGIA CHOCOLATE FESTIVAL:

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Beaches and Clinical Rotations

The week has gone by so fast I can’t stand it. I’m hoping the others slow down, I can’t bare to believe that by this weekend I will only have one month left here. It’s physically painful.

Last Thursday I said a bitter-sweet good bye to my babies. One little boy even started crying, saying I could get a job as the school doctor, and that I didn’t need to go shadow in the hospitals. How can I not tear up at that?

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That night me and the girls boarded a 10 hour bus ride to Montanita, a beach town known for its shops and surfing, but quite possibly more famous for its non-stop partying. Although we had somewhat of an idea of what we were getting ourselves into, I think it’s safe to say we were a little clueless on this town’s idea of parties. I’ve never been to Vegas, but I’m going to go a head and make that comparison.

Our days were mostly overcast, but don’t let that fool you: we lounged in 80 degree weather the majority of the time, and none of us escaped without some sunburns.

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Our hostel was probably the nicest place we’ve stayed in so far, besides maybe the tree house in Mindo. It also had a bunch of Hawaii signs and sayings, which was fun to see. According to our neighbor from Peru, many Hawaiians come to Ecuador and Peru’s coast to see what “real surfing” is.

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And although the night clubs (discotecs), banana coladas, and general night life were fun to experience for a short while, we found it much more enjoyable to be doing other things, like riding bikes through the sandy streets, looking around shops, and reading on the beach.

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Shocking enough, the coast is famous for it’s seafood (who would guess?). And while here, I promised Chris’s dad that I would try one of Ecuador’s most famous seafood dishes: Ceviche. It’s like a cold soup, with (usually raw) squid, fish, shrimp, and shellfish, along with a sauce similar to pico de gallo: tomato, onion, peppers, cilantro, and lime.

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Although tasty, I think it was a bit much at 11 am (locals swear you have to have it before noon), and I couldn’t help but feet like I should be eating it like a salsa with chips, instead of straight with a spoon. Either way, it’s probably safe to say I had one of the best and most authentic versions of the dish.

We also managed to find bowls of at least 8 types of fruit, omelettes for $2 that were twice the size of our face, and coconut juice that would make you buy a plane ticket to Ecuador just to come back and have again (have I mentioned how much I’m going to miss the juice here when I have to leave?).

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After 3 nights in Montanita, including being mildly impressed by the Halloween activities and making friends with multiple street dogs, we took a bus an hour and a half north to the beach of Puerto Lopez.

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Here we took a 1.5 hour boat ride to La Isla De la Plata , an island off the coast of Puerto Lopez that is said to be similar to the Galapagos Islands. I was NOT one of the two people who got sea sick on that trip (Thank goodness for Dramamine).

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On our way to the island we saw a whale, which is a really big deal because the majority of them make their trek to warmer waters (is that possible?) in mid August-September.

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Once there, we snorkeled the coral reef where we saw a sting ray, sea turtles, and other exotic fishies. (That picture is of a sea turtle) And little sand crabs!

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After snorkeling we hiked to the highest point on the island and along the way saw some lizards, but more impressively: some birds literally called blue-footed boobies. Their feet, legs, and beak become a darker shade of blue with age. Their nests are lined all over the island, and we were lucky enough to see them not only sitting on eggs, but to also see them hatched with day old baby boobies.

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On the way back we lounged in the sun and ate water melon (life is hard, isn’t it?).

We spent the evening enjoying Puerto Lopez and the festivities that commenced for El Dia De los Muertos, the second of three holidays this weekend. However, the fiestas were not so intriguing when the music was still blasting at 3 am and we had to be up at 4 am for a 12 hour trek back home to Quito. (By trek I mean annoyingly long bus rides) We did, however, get to share a hostel and dinner with two girls from the Netherlands, which was fun!

Today, Wednesday, was my first day in clinical rotations. FINALLY.

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My first rotation is at a dermatology clinic instead of general medicine (which seems to be just a lot of prescriptions and medication checks). I was in HEAVEN today (some of you may know I’m considering dermatology as a specialty). I worked along the side of 7 Ecuadorian medical students and a fabulous doctor who cared a lot about teaching us. (Also, a little perk, most students and staff at the clinic could speak a decent amount of English, so when I had trouble understanding something, they could clarify!)

First, the doctor showed us pamphlets they give patients, and forms doctors fill out during the consultation. Then he showed us their most commonly used tools. They have a scope you use to look closely at problem areas, like moles or acne, and that scope can attach to an ipad, where you take a picture. With that picture you can discuss the diagnoses with multiple doctors or students, get second opinions without the patient present, save it as a reference to see the progression of the skin issue, and email it to your patient for their own references. When we had downtime between patients, the other students and I would zoom in on each other’s freckles, moles, and other skin abnormalities. Which was extra fun because the doctor showed us how to label moles based on their color, size, symmetry, and density, then rank it with a point system, and determine if it the mole was possibly problematic or needed further evaluation.

Once we were more comfortable and sat in on a couple consultations, the doctor would have us do an entire appointment in pairs. We’d interview the patient, collect medical and family history, even do a physical consult (in simple situations), then come up with our best diagnoses (the patients knew we were students of course). After that, the doctor would come in, go over our notes, give us advice on how to improve them, then do his own consultation and diagnoses, and compare it with ours. After his diagnoses he would explain his recommendation/prescription to both us and the patient, then after the patient leaves we would have a discussion about the appointment. I got to be a part of four of these and saw everything from fungal infections, to warts, to contact dermatitis, to skin ulcers. On patients ages 4 to 84. IT. WAS. AWESOME.

Due to the week being so short, I will get to spend another week at this clinic and I’m incredibly excited. After that I will spend a week in surgery, a week in maternity, and a week in pediatrics (then a week in Peru, then home! What?)

I was incredibly nervous for my first day today and am so happy I left with a huge smile. I made friends my age (all on my own, with a language barrier) that are interested in the same fields and live in Quito as well. The doctors were beyond friendly and welcoming, and the patients were even more encouraging than I expected. I couldn’t be more thrilled. Tomorrow, the doctor asked us if we could come in early, but he’s buying us breakfast to make up for the inconvenience. I mean what the heck, is this real life?

Alright, I have to get to bed if I’m going to do anything productive with my day tomorrow (rumor has it we are eating cuy, also known as guinea pig in the United States).

Yo Escribire mas adelante! :) Chao!

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Scotland and Halloween

Since my last post I traveled to Scotland for a weekend and it was absolutely beautiful! I went with the same program I went to Paris with called Somewhere New which is specifically for students studying around London. I knew I would like my tour guide from the start because when we met him outside the train in Edinburgh he had brought his dog with him. His dog’s name was Bonnie and if you know me at all you know how much I love dogs so needless to say I was thrilled to play with her. She was so well behaved and got way too excited every time she saw our tour guide. Our tour guide was a Scottish man who is at least, I don’t know, probably mid-fifties, early sixties. He had the rudest sense of humor of anyone I’ve ever met but he was hilarious and I really enjoyed getting to know him.

The first night we stayed at a hostel in Edinburgh which was the first time I’ve stayed in a hostel. It was really nice and even though I went on this trip knowing no one, I made friends with a group of girls who actually go to my school here in London. I love them to pieces and am very thankful to have met them and gotten to have roomed with them. During our evening of free time in Edinburgh we went to a pub and had delicious food for dinner (plus they gave us a student discount so my whole meal was only 5 pounds!) We also went on a walking ghost tour which I was expecting to be more scary than it actually was. The only time I got scared was when the ghost tour guide jumped out and said “boo!”

The next day we began our drive through the Highlands and stopped at many different locations to take pictures. We stopped at this restaurant/cafe in the middle of nowhere to eat. Our tour guide recommended us to try cullen skink which is a traditional Scottish soup made with potatoes and fish. It smelled delicious as we walked into the restaurant so of course I had to try it. It was so delicious! I would go back to Scotland just to have another bowl of that yummy soup! After I had finished eating I went and ¬†looked around the gift shop near the cafe when I saw two young girls freaking out to their parents. I asked them what was going on and they told me that Shaliene Woodley was in the restaurant part of the cafe and that they had just met her. I went to find my friends to let them know but by the time we got back into the area where she was, she was gone. Some of the girls on our tour said they saw her walk right past our tour bus and into her own bus so I know that the little girls weren’t lying to me.

We ended up staying at a hostel near Loch Ness which was also in the middle of nowhere then we made our way through the rest of the Highlands then back to Edinburgh the next day. Everything about Scotland was so gorgeous and I would definitely recommend everyone to go visit there at least once. I honestly didn’t think I would enjoy Scotland nearly as much as I did. I would love to go back for a few days before I come home in December but my schedule is very full until then.

On the Friday before Halloween my school threw a Halloween dance that I never made it to even though I bought my ticket. I was hanging out with my friends before hand and by the time I made it to the dance the security guard told me that they had run out of wristbands so he couldn’t let me in. I honestly didn’t really want to go anyway so I wasn’t too mad but I still want my money back. Regardless of not being able to get into the dance I still had a really fun night with my friends and getting to know some new friends which is all I wanted to do anyway. On Halloween night me and two of my friends from Iowa went to this club in Kingston to meet up with some of our friends that don’t go to school with us. It was fun too but while we were waiting in line some people dressed as scary zombies kept creeping me out. I don’t like scary things so I seriously considered leaving before we even made it inside.

In less than two days from now I am leaving for Rome and I’m very excited!12191977_10207780361256584_4920397728638574225_n 12189120_10207780483539641_6587576272647343617_n 12043104_10207780351376337_2952250326033604023_n 11250996_10207804469339271_6551381377331360861_n 10408789_10207780361776597_3711768077521172318_n

Week 9: Lisa goes to Ireland

How is it possible that it’s already week nine and my time here is almost over? It seems like it just began. I apologize that it’s been a few weeks since I’ve last written, some weeks there just not much to report on.

When I made the decision to study abroad, I was prepared to just stay in Ireland. I didn’t have any expectations of visiting other countries, that way I wouldn’t be disappointed if I didn’t. I wanted to fully submerge myself in Ireland and soak up every piece of it before I even began to think about traveling. However, I did take a trip to London this last weekend and it was phenomenal. On the first day in London my friends and I saw all of the touristy things such as Big Ben, London Tower Bridge, London Bridge, and Buckingham’s Palace. The second day my dream came true and I saw the performance of The Lion King at the famous Lyceum Theater in London. I could have died that day and been a happy woman. Later that evening we met up with my friend’s cousin who lives there and he showed us some of the less touristy parts of London. It was a great experience to see the best of both worlds. We were there for two full days and I really feel like we covered a vast majority of London. Standing in front of these famous places didn’t seem real. I’d spent so much of my life seeing these monuments on television, hearing, and reading about them that to finally see them in person was surreal. There’s so few words to describe what it was like to see those monuments, the only thing I can say is that it really did not feel real: it was phenomenal.

The two things that took some adjusting two in London was the transportation and currency. I’ve almost mastered the bus schedule within Ireland, however public transit in London is a completely different story. They have trains, the tube, busses, etc. It was a chaotic mess. I’m thankful to have been with friends who have traveled internationally before and actually understood how it worked. The currency was also a bit of an adjustment. I’d finally gotten use to ¬†Euros when all of a sudden I had to switch over to pounds. The exchange fluctuated between 1.5 and 1.9 during my time there, which made everything¬†so expensive.¬† All in all though, it was an incredible trip!

When I left to study abroad I left my boyfriend behind. Because of that, I’ve spent the vast majority of my time counting down the days until I’m reunited with him. I think that I’ve been very preoccupied with the idea of coming home, that I missed out on otherwise fun opportunities. I’m thankful for great man who I have in my life, but sometimes I can’t help but wonder how different this experience would have been if I didn’t have one-if I wasn’t so focused on coming home.

I’ve had incredible adventures and opportunities while I’ve been here, but looking back on the last 9 weeks, I don’t think I’ve taken as full advantage of the experience as I¬†necessarily “should” have.

On a less depressing note, I have not managed to get sick while I’ve been here which is an absolute first, seeing a last year along I had the flu 3 times. It also hasn’t rained NEARLY as much as I expected, in fact, it’s been clear skies almost every day. My red rain boots¬†won’t be coming into use after all. I also booked a trip to Scotland AND I changed my plane ticket to come home a week earlier as I’ll be done with finals. Two things I’m very excited about.

Here are a few pictures of my trip to London

Buckingham's Palace

Buckingham’s Palace

I'm probably the only person who thinks this, but I aboslutely hate hostles. Instead we used Air bnb and got this adorable little room. For three nights it was only 64$ for each of is.

I’m probably the only person who thinks this, but I absolutely hate hostels. Instead we used Air bnb and got this adorable little room. For three nights it was only 64$ for each of is.

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Buckingham's Palace

Buckingham’s Palace

Big Ben

Big Ben

London Tower Bridge

London Tower Bridge

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As mentioned earlier, trying to understand the tube was aboslutely chaotic. I think I'll stick to my car.

As mentioned earlier, trying to understand the tube was absolutely chaotic. I think I’ll stick to my car.

Lyceum theater where I saw the performance of The Lion King

Lyceum theater where I saw the performance of The Lion King

If there was one thing I was missing more than Starbucks and my boyfriend was Chipotle. I made it my mission the moment I stepped off the plane to find one AND I DID! It was the best 17$ burrito I've ever had.

If there was one thing I was missing more than Starbucks and my boyfriend was Chipotle. I made it my mission the moment I stepped off the plane to find one AND I DID! It was the best 17$ burrito¬†I’ve ever had.