It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere

I have definitely said this about a thousand times over the past three weeks, but I absolutely love Milan! I’m sure my family is growing tired of the repetition, but it is true! I never take my days here for granted and try to make the most of every moment. Prior to living here, when I thought of Italian cuisine, great wine and fresh prosciutto came to mind. While I certainly am indulging in my fair share of Italian wines, meats, and cheeses; there are a few food related differences in comparison to the United States.

First off, the quality of food here does not even compare to the United States. I have never tasted lemons so vibrant, tomatoes so juicy, and bread so soft. I don’t know what the United States adds to their food, but they should take notes from Italy because Italians know how to do it. A perfect example of this is the gluten in Italy compared to the gluten in the states. In the United States my body cannot process gluten containing ingredients and foods. While I do not have Celiac, I do have a mild intolerance and, thus, eating a slice of bread would leave me bed ridden for at least a few hours. I am unsure what the exact differences are, but here I am able to eat a brioche in the morning, pasta in the afternoon, and bread in the evening. I really cannot complain! I saw on TikTok that Italian products are more locally sourced and less processed than products in the United States. I truly believe this because, in the past, if I even so much as looked at gluten the wrong way, there would be a full on war in my stomach. For all those who have a gluten intolerance, have no fear! Make the journey to Italy and eat all the pasta to your heart’s content!

Not only is the gluten game impressive, but so is the coffee game! Italians take their coffee very seriously. I thought the states have a big coffee culture, but boy was I wrong! Italian coffee makes American coffee seem like a joke. I’m embarrassed to even admit that I used to indulge in the occasional Venti Brown Sugar Shaken Espresso with Oatmilk. Here, I strictly have a cappuccino with soy milk in the morning and plain espresso throughout the rest of the day. One crucial element of Italian coffee culture that is different for me, is the utilization of bar counters. When Italians have a quick coffee in between their daily tasks, they usually order a single shot of espresso, stand at the bar counter, finish it within three to four sips, pay, and then leave. To-go cups are much less popular here than in the United States, which I suppose is a good thing considering the current pollution problem. Also, as someone who regularly spills their coffee, the lack of to-go cups keeps my clothes and belongings stain free! In all seriousness I do prefer to drink my espresso standing at the bar counter, and do not plan on reviving my old coffee order upon returning to the states.

Another important element of Italian cuisine that I have been taking advantage of is Aperitivo. This is to Italians as Happy Hour is to Americans. However, there really is no comparison between the two because Aperitivo is much better than American Happy Hour. Aperitivo usually takes places between 4:30pm and 7:30pm at most restaurants, just like American Happy Hour. But, when you order a drink during Aperitivo, customers usually get free potato chips, olives, and maybe, if you are lucky, some circular crackers! No but seriously, these crackers are delicious and I cannot even describe how good they are. Also, during this time most restaurants have stuzzichini or “small hors-d’œuvre” that one could order for a special price. In my opinion, a glass of wine and light snacks are all I need to survive. So typically I am content! But the good thing about Aperitivo is that the possibilities are endless! If snacks simply do not suffice, some restaurants offer Apericena, which is similar to Aperitvo but with a dinner buffet instead of nosh. What makes Aperitvo so special are the intentions behind it. Happy Hour in the United States attracts a lot of people because it is an opportunity to pay less for more booze. Conversely, one does not pay less per drink during Aperitivo. Instead, one pays a little bit more, in order to get stuzzichini or buffets. Consequently, Italians do not view Aperitivo as a time to get wasted, like the drinking culture in much of the United States. Rather, Aperitivo is more wholesome. It is a time to meet with friends or coworkers and converse for a couple of hours. The Milanese tremendously value this time together and is, by far, one of my favorite ways to socialize in Italy.

The final food adjustment that I’ve had to make, thus far, was grocery shopping. Let me set the scene. It was my second time at the grocery store. The first time I was completely unprepared, with no list, meandering down the toiletry aisle trying to differentiate between shampoo and conditioner. I must have spent twenty minutes testing the viscosity of various hair products. I without a doubt looked insane. For my second attempt, I still had no list, but at least I knew my soaps! Hey, progress is progress! Anyway, growing up my mother always went to the grocery store on Sunday mornings. She would have an idea of what recipes to make for the week and would spend accordingly. I am aware that not everyone grocery shops this way, but this is how I was raised and I’ve gotten this far shopping with this mentality. Where my mother and I differ is that I do not exactly know what I want to make. On my second attempt, I knew I needed some sort of chicken and pesto, but that was about it. The rest was up to spontaneity! But as one could imagine, spontaneity gets you in trouble at the grocery store. The next thing I know, I am pushing the shopping cart up and down the aisles grabbing anything that looks somewhat appetizing. Reflecting back on the situation, I wish I had been more mindful of my surroundings. No other customers were pushing a grocery cart or even carrying a basket in their hands! I eventually moseyed over to the checkout line, where I was greeted with wide eyes, staring at myself and at my grocery cart. As the stares intensified, other customers kept joining the line with only a couple of items in their hands. I am not an unreasonable person and kept letting them cut in front of me because I had a huge cart-full of groceries. At this point one would think that the sirens would start going off in my brain, but instead there was only radio silence. After about 10 minutes of waiting, it was finally my turn to get checked out. I moved up to the cashier and shyly said Ciao. Before I could even finish the last syllable the cashier looked at my cart and then switched spots with manager. I had so many things that the MANAGER had to ring me up and that’s when it hit me. I am only supposed to shop day to day. My face turned bright red as the manager mumbled criticizing statements about me to her coworker, in Italian, of course. The sirens were definitely going off at this point, fully blaring! After what felt like an eternity, I paid for my things and packed them into a large re-usable bag that I brought. While packing, I realized that not everything was going to fit and my friends had to put some of my things into their bags. Shamefully, I walked out of the grocery store like a dog with its tail between its legs, and carried my heavy bags all the way home. Note to self, only buy for what you NEED for each day and not what you THINK you will need five days down the road.

Today, my professor told me that besides soccer, the national game that Italians enjoy playing is called “Let’s Guess the Foreigner.” I can attest to the accuracy of this statement, but at the time of the grocery store fiasco I was utterly confused. While I wish the transition to Italy could have been seamless, I never would have altered my habits without some sort of uncomfortable interaction. Plus, I have a fun story to tell! Interestingly enough, some of these newly developed practices are so ingrained in my daily routine that I will have a hard time giving them up. The important thing to remember about this process is that daily observations are necessary to adequately adapt to ones surroundings and, in my case, look LESS like a foreigner and MORE like an Italian.

Here’s to culture shocks and scaring Italians at the grocery store!

Salute,

Ben 🙂

Exploring My New Home

As I finish up my second week in Italy I am amazed by all of the beautiful things I have seen. I took some time this week to finally get adjusted to living in a big city and seeing what Milan has to offer.

I did venture to the Duomo in Milan which is one of the most incredible things I have ever seen. I did manage to take the metro there alone which was definitely a fear of mine before I got here. The duomo has beautiful different statues all along the outside and I have heard there are many more inside. There is a statue of Vittorio Emanuele the second who was the king at one point and was the first king to unite Italy (or at least that’s what a sign outside the duomo said) I was not able to go inside just because there were many tourists visiting that day. 

This week I also took a short trip to Lake Como with some of my friends. Which was beautiful. The houses built into the side of the mountains overlooking the lake simply looked like a dream home. The clouds fit into the sky perfectly as if they were a cartoon and everything was fitting in the proper place. There were many small shops, restaurants, gelato shops and many more little things to see. We did not take a boat tour just because of a lack of planning ahead of time. In the future I do hope to go back and take a boat to bellagio or one of the other parts of lake como. The lake seemed so big it felt like I was looking out to the beach. 

I completed my first week of an Italian language course which is a lot harder than I expected. The class is very helpful. I do find I have been able to get around slightly better because I can understand important words here and there. I can now order a restaurant or say excuse me on the metro which are just a few basics I did not know when arriving. However, by no means would I say yes I know the language or I can understand it. My vocabulary consists of the phrases “Hello” “Goodbye” “How are you” “May I please have” “Thank you” and the word “snail” (I have no idea why thats the one other word I was able to retain lol). The teaching style in Italy is very different than at schools in the United States. In Europe it is necessary to ask permission before leaving the classroom, it is also extremely uncommon to see a student on their phone in class. It is possible that I am just surrounded by highly motivated people but it is very different from a classroom in the United States. 

Here are some pictures of other things I have been up to this past week!

Ciao!

Gianna 

The cutest gelato shop
The locals enjoying Lake Como
The Duomo at night
A local flower stand

Home Sweet Home

Well, I haven’t gone home yet, so I guess one could say that I’ve officially made it! The first couple of days here were filled with a sense of urgency. I immediately felt the impulse to set up my apartment, meet as many friends as possible, and try every restaurant within the a few kilometer radius. As one could imagine, I burnt out quickly. But all I needed was one day to rebound and the story continues!

I will say, I absolutely love where I’m staying! I live in a two year-old apartment building in Milan, fully equipped with a laundry room, elevator, front gate, concierge service, and AIR CONDITIONING. To say the least, I live like a king! In Italy, air conditioned spaces are few and far between. Now whenever I walk into a cool place, I tend to stay lot longer than I normally would. While there are a plethora of benefits to living here, not everything is as glamorous as it sounds. The concierge service is a nice perk, but I am finding that most Italian services and stores have a loose interpretation of what business hours are. It is almost like when one operates on vacation time, without actually being on vacation. This definitely adds a certain level of spontaneity to my day, but at times can become quite frustrating. Thankfully, I have not required much assistance yet and will report back if I do. Perhaps I need to loosen up more and adjust to this lifestyle, as this is experienced country-wide.

Although, I really cannot complain because everything else is wonderful. I feel very secure coming home at night, walking through a safe neighborhood and punching in a code at the front gate. Also having the nicest room amongst all my friends is an added bonus, but I could be biased. In all honesty, New Paltz pulled through when negotiating my housing contract. I live in a three bedroom, two bathroom apartment with a full kitchen, living room, and dining room. Specifically, my room contains a full size bed, a giant wardrobe, and two double windows. Most of my other friends that live in this building also have a full kitchen, living room, and dining room, but only have one bathroom and one bedroom which they share with someone else. Also instead of having one full size bed, they all have two twin size beds, one double window, and I believe, a shared wardrobe. Whatever the reason may be, I am very fortunate for what I have. So thank you New Paltz!

Prior to living in Milan, I could not conceptualize its size and am now learning that it is a massive city. To travel most places, public transportation is necessary. The commutes from my building to either school or the city center are about thirty-five minutes. While I do wish I was more centrally located, other students that live closer to school have compromised the quality of their housing. Consequently, the closer one gets to the center, the older and more outdated the buildings become. Thus, finding housing with air conditioning, large windows, and full size kitchens becomes increasingly difficult. Besides, many people in cities commute and I am no exception. I would rather take a thirty-five minute commute over a cramped, un-air-conditioned, and old apartment any day of the week! It is never good to compare your situation to others, so I will simply turn a blind eye and continue doing me.

Interestingly enough, even though I am from New York State, I had never used the subway system prior to my arrival in Milan. Leave it to me to use public transportation for the first time in a foreign country. In the past I assumed that navigating through Italian metro and train stations would be challenging. However, all the signs are colored coded which makes traveling more accessible for those who cannot read Italian. Good thing I’m color blind and cannot tell the difference between the green and yellow lines. Needless to say my first time transferring between stations was an adventure! Luckily I can follow the arrows displayed next to the signs and find my way just fine. Without them I would be late to everything, making pitstops in all the wrong places. Who knows, this might be a great way to tour the city! All joking aside, maneuvering through the stations are incredibly straightforward and going in the wrong direction is harder than going in the correct one.

Now that I am a metro pro, traveling has never been easier and I can visit just about anywhere! In the coming weeks, I hope to begin traveling to nearby destinations and learn all about Italy’s cultural diversity.

Updates to follow,

Ben 🙂

New York Meets Milan

In sixth grade when everyone chose a language to take for the upcoming year, I excitedly ran home and told my mom that I signed up for Italian. She frowned disappointedly and said “why aren’t you taking Spanish? You’ll get more use out of it. No one we know speaks Italian.” And I responded “well I want to visit Italy one day, so I am going to take it.” Nine years later here I am, living my best Italian life!

Anyway, hello! My name is Ben, I’m from Long Island, New York, and I am currently studying abroad in Milan. The journey to Italy has been a roller coaster of emotions, fatiguing yet fulfilling.

First off, I do not know how to part with my clothes. I can justify keeping almost anything, so packing was a big struggle. I had such a hard time choosing what to leave and take, that even my mom grew frustrated from watching me. I knew I was in trouble, so I called in the big guns. My grandmother. She has travelled to Italy in the past, and knew exactly what I needed to bring and what needed to be left behind. Due to her prior knowledge and speedy quick folding, packing only took me one day. It also helps that she can be tough when necessary and once she started cracking the whip, packing became a breeze. I truly could not have done it without her.

My flight with Emirates to Milan was actually nice and I was pleasantly surprised at how cohesive everything went. It was my first time flying internationally and for someone who has acute plane anxiety I think I did very well. It does help that my friend from New Paltz, Gianna, is also studying in Milan too. Besides her, the only other thing getting me through was the fact that I could listen to music through the plane’s infotainment system. Rex Orange County was on full blast the whole time. The person next to me definitely thought I was going through something, because my music was insanely loud and I was gripping the arm rests for dear life. Yet, after a few hours I settled down and almost did not want to get off the plane. They were treating me too well! I had two meals, a snack, and some apple juice. In fact, Emirates is very considerate of people with dietary restrictions and allow passengers to request a special meal a few days before taking off. Since I am gluten free, I did seize this opportunity and request a gluten sensitive meal. The airline staff was very knowledgable about gluten intolerances and even brought out the special meals before the normal ones! Despite one of the meals being Codfish with gravy and mashed potatoes, everything else tasted good and was very filling. I guess the fish was a flop on their part, but I just ate around it.

After flying for eight hours, I finally landed in Milan. I stumbled off the plane very sweaty, jet lagged, and a little bit cranky. I knew I was looking for a representative from the housing service to transport me to my apartment, but I had no idea who I was looking for. It could have been anyone! I was giving some very intense looks to the people around me. But don’t worry, the feelings were mutual on the strangers’ behalf. When I finally hobbled outside, I saw a man holding a biker helmet in one hand, a freshly rolled cigarette in the other, along with a sign that said “MIL Service.” In that moment, I knew I was in the correct place.

The transport to the apartment went smoothly as well. I was chauffeured in style, with a blacked out Mercedes van and felt very important. Unfortunately this taste of luxury went straight to my head and I would not shut up about it for the rest of the day. In the van, there were other American students who are studying in Milan, and I immediately began talking with them. Since we were all in the same position I felt comfortable, and by the time we arrived at the apartment we all became friends. Then the concierge showed me to my room and that was it. I put down my things and, of course, sent my family an apartment tour. After that, I settled in and started to unwind from the trip. At this point I had technically been up for over thirty-six hours, and probably could have slept anywhere. But I pulled myself together, met up with Gianna, and walked to the grocery store. We bought some salami, mozzarella, and a bottle of Prosecco to celebrate the successful trek. It was the perfect way to close out such a stressful day.

Now, four days later, I am almost fully settled in and have made quite a few friends. I am beyond ecstatic to start this new chapter in my life and look forward to the four months ahead!

Below I attached some pictures from the airport, plane, and first day for reference. It helps to set the scene.

Until next time,

Ben 🙂

Heading to Milan

Cheers to new friends and lost keys

Hello! My name is Gianna and I am officially an international student. I arrived in Milan Italy a week ago but it feels like I have been here for a lifetime. In the past week there has been so many challenges and pleasant surprises that I never thought would occur. 

I was very nervous about making new friends and finding people with the same interests as me, I am so happy I did not have that problem once I arrived. Our little traveling friend group has been together everyday for days and it seems like I have been friends with them forever. Other than the really amazing food, my favorite part of Italy so far is talking to so many new and different people. So far, I have met a lot of people from the states but I have also spoken with some people from Canada, France, Australia, Germany and Norway. It is slightly difficult to speak with other Italians because regular classes have not started yet. Hopefully that will change, and more Italian students will be staying in my residence hall. Everything is so beautiful, the buildings, statues, churches and even the little water fountains with fresh water for the public. 

I thought everything was going so smoothly until last night. Some of my new friends decided to make a nice potluck dinner and drink some wine. The entire night we were switching back and forth between apartments so naturally I lost my key. Where is the key? Still not found. I am currently writing while waiting for the custodian to wake up. I was lucky enough to have a friend let me stay with them but otherwise I am not sure what would’ve happened.  I came on this trip as an absolute beginner in Italian which has proven to be slightly difficult. Yet, I have been able to get by just fine with a smile, the word ciao and google translate. Hopefully, the custodian will be willing to work with me. I know he does not speak English very well. 

With all that said I have already faced many difficulties that have proven themselves to be minor inconveniences. I have been struggling when trying to use the metro. Although I have been getting better at it with time, it is very similar to New York City except all of the signs are in Italian. Or that it is seen as impolite to be loud at any restaurant, even if it is outside. 

I can not wait to see what the rest of the semester has yet to bring! For now here are some pictures of orientation and the potluck dinner made by all of my international friends. 

Ciao 

Gianna <3

One month in Australia- I’m practically a local now.

Today marks one month since I arrived in my new home away from home which is absolutely crazy! Part of me feels like I have been here for so much longer, but the other part feels like it has only been 2 weeks.

Within my time here, I have met so many people from all over the world. Most of my roommates are from North America, so I do not see too much diversity within my apartment, however as soon as I step into the hallway, everyone around me is from all over. My peers are from Germany, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Australia, and so many other countries. It is so cool that I am being exposed to Australian slang as well as slang from various other countries.

When it comes to food, there is a little of everything within the towns from Footscray into the city of Melbourne. Footscray has a wide variety of Vietnamese places to eat which I have unfortunately not checked out yet (I am a very picky eater, BUT I have gotten better since I’ve arrived). Within Footscray there are also burger and pizza places. We went to a burger joint called Burgertory and it was AMAZING. My burger had chicken, bacon, cheese, and a sriracha mayo inside of a waffle with maple syrup. The burgers may be good, but sadly, the pizza here does not compare to the New York pizza I am used to. There are also a lot of vegan options. I went to a vegan cafe and had pancakes with ice cream and fairy floss. I was very impressed.
There is also a Vietnamese bakery that sells donuts for a dollar and I think they are my favorite thing about Footscray.

Grocery shopping isn’t too different for the most part, however, the cereal and snack isle is not as exciting as the ones at home. I miss my American cereals and snacks so much already. I am accepting care packages full of general mills cereals and any type of snacks:)

When it comes to style, I was definitely worried that I was going to stand out. Fortunately, everyone dresses so differently from one another, especially in the city of Melbourne. Some people are walking around in suits which others are passing by in active wear. The only way that I feel as if I am sometimes standing out is by wearing a tank top when it is not necessarily tank top weather. I packed for very warm summer weather, however, I really should have packed more short sleeves and long sleeves instead of a million tank tops. Thankfully, my mom is coming out to visit in about a month so I will be able to switch out some of my tank tops for sweaters.

Within this last month I have adjusted pretty easily. Homesickness finally set in a little bit due to a few personal things going on, however I have worked through it and am so thankful to be here in Australia.
My burger from Burgertory
Dollar donuts right outside of Flinders Station
Salted caramel ice cream is one of my favorites, especially when its homemade!

A grilled cheese with mac and cheese from a food truck at a festival!

I am not a big coffee person, but it is definitely great over here!
Pink waffles! And they’re VEGAN!

Through the alleyways…

What I love about where I live, is that there are so many secret passageways that only a true Londoner would be able to point out. Every day on my way to class I pass through a long twisted alleyway that is covered with ivy and slate stone. If you look up you see a lonesome window that unfortunately does not have much of a view. You have to walk fast because all of the locals on their way to work use this passage to cut through the street just as I do!

There were definitely a lot of things I wasn’t aware of when I came to London. I honestly didn’t think it would be that different from New York City… and in a few ways I wasn’t wrong. In London, everyone uses contactless cards. That means rather than MetroCards you can just tap your cards or phone against the reader and it will automatically go through. There isn’t that pesky chip card that you have to insert everywhere you go. You also aren’t really supposed to tip in London, a kind tip is maybe one or two pounds as opposed to the standard 15-20% that we leave in New York. The waiter brings the credit card reader to you when you are ready to pay for the check, rather than you giving them your card and they do it for you. So cool! Everything is so much easier here and already thought out. There is no wait, no underdevelopment. It is as if everything is just made for the people. The humor here is also different. I went to see Matilda on Broadway and it was so interesting, there were certain jokes that were made that everyone else in the audience laughed at, while I was sitting there so confused… Another thing about London is that the cars never stop for pedestrians, that’s just not “the norm” there. I’m being serious when I say that they will literally run you over if you’re not careful. People also are pretty aggressive when walking on the street and not mindful of others. Everyone is just going so fast all the time. 

People immediately flock to the pubs after work and they are usually crowded from around 6-11 which is when almost every establishment shuts down for the night. Almost all bars or pubs close at 11 and when they are closing they ring a bell. I’ve never seen that done in America! Drinks are pretty expensive but also, everything is really expensive. It’s hard to find good deals because everything is just expensive wherever you go which has definitely taken a toll on my bank account. I really like grocery shopping and they have all these cool deals at the local grocery stores such as “Tesco”, “Sainsbury” and “Waitrose”. I really like grocery shopping for myself here and I’ve cooked up some really great meals. 

Missing Colombia

I AM BACK AT NEW PALTZ! I am excited to be back but I definitely miss Colombia. I am surprised because I did not think that I would miss Colombia like I do.

While I was in Colombia, I had a great time learning about the culture and conducting research. I did have minor problems that I blew out of proportion when I was in Colombia. I was homesick for the most part. Not homesick that I missed the United States or New York or Queens but I missed the people I had left at home. I was seeing my family and friends and talking to them but it was not the same. Every day that I was there I wished that I had my friends in Colombia. In hindsight, I realized that I should not have focused on that and should have enjoyed being where I was. However, something good came out of missing my friends. My friends and I have decided that within the next two years we will be visiting Colombia. I am excited because I will get to show them the culture and the places I was shown!

Now, I miss all the beautiful places I visited and the people I met. I also miss the daily life of Colombians and their great food. My advice for those studying abroad that miss family and/or friends is to remember that they will be there when you get back but this opportunity won’t be. Take advantage as much as you can. I am extremely glad that although I was home sick I pushed myself to meet new people and explore new places.

I find myself talking about Colombia any chance I get. I have become the study abroad that only talks about their study abroad experience. I can’t stop talking about it because Colombia made me realize what I am capable of and made me so much more interested in research around the world. Lastly, for anyone considering studying abroad please do so and consider Colombia. It’s a great choice!

Alone but not lonely

So far, this trip has already taught me how to be okay with being alone.

I have always liked meeting new people and making new friends. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been that easy for me to do that here. It’s not because the people are rude or anything. Everyone here is really friendly. I just can’t seem to find people that I can relate to. I feel like I keep having the same small talk conversation over and over, just with different people.

“Hey my name is Angelina, I am from New York. Where are you from? Awesome. What are you studying?” ..it gets repetitive and tiring.

I feel like this has caused me to become more introverted but that’s okay. I have been spending a lot of time alone and I am learning more about myself. It’s okay to enjoy your own company.

I actually pushed myself to go out on a hike with a few people from my hall to the Wind Turbine in Brooklyn. Yes, there’s a Brooklyn in New Zealand!

…but it didn’t go so well. They were walking up really fast and it was hard for me to catch up. I often felt left out which caused my anxiety to kick in. I ended up leaving the group and having to find my way back down and to my hall. It took about an hour but I made it back safely!

Honestly, I enjoyed myself a lot more by taking that adventure alone! I was able to go at my own pace and really appreciate the views. I don’t need friends in order to have a good time here and I am finally accepting that. 🙂

Homesick already?

Today marks my third week here in New Zealand. Time is flying!

I have yet to make the amount of friends that I imagined I would have by now, but that’s okay! Although, it does make me miss my friends back home.

They warn you about getting homesick and you don’t really worry about it until it starts to happen. I find myself spending a whole lot of time in my room watching Instagram stories of my friends back home in New York enjoying their hot summers. Meanwhile, I am here in “Windy Wellington” with random rain.

As much as I would like to be in a pool somewhere soaking up the sun with my best friends, I have to remind myself that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I am on the other side of the world! I am blessed to be here!

By shifting this mindset, I was able to go on my first hike up Te Ahumairangi Hill!

By doing so, I was able to meet three sweet young women who are also studying abroad. I now have some friends to go on random hikes with! 🙂

Also, the hall that I live in has a dog named Millie that you are able to go on walks or hikes with whenever! She is the cutest hiking buddy.

I am hoping next week I can push myself past my comfort zone and meet more people who I can go on more adventures. This is an opportunity of a lifetime and I want to make the most out of it!