Looking back on the year


And with that last Canvas submission I have completed my junior year of my undergraduate career. Recently I have been really, really scared. “The real world” is right around the corner, and I have very little confidence in the direction my life is headed. But on top of being scared, I have also been thinking a lot about how amazing this past year has been. A lot of things happened. Some were good, some bad – some amazing.

If you’ve ever read my blog posts or seen my Facebook or talked to me for more than like 20 seconds, I have most likely talked about Camp Kesem in some way or another. Have I tried to get you to donate? Probably. I am rounding out my second year as a Development Coordinator for Camp Kesem at UofM this summer, and it has been a wild and rewarding ride. As of last weekend, we have raised over $100,000 for camp this summer. That is almost all of our 210 campers, and it’s only April.

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I’ve met truly met my people through this organization. Like classic Grey’s Anatomy “my person” type of person, except there’s several of them and I cannot be more thankful that I have these incredible humans to travel the rest of my crazy life journey with by my side.

We’ve had our up’s and down’s this year. There were so many successes that came along with their fair share of failures. There were tears. There was laughter. There was love and loss – but I wouldn’t choose anyone else to go through all of this with. I know for sure that no matter where I end up after graduation next May, I will always look back on this incredible group of people as my people and the most inspiring and loving human beings. Thank you for teaching me what I am worth. Thank you for loving me and teaching me how to love.

I really began to find my passions this year. I served as a group leader for a course called Project Outreach in the Psychology department where I spent my second semester in a row going to Monroe County Youth Center every week to lead art workshops for the juveniles in detention there. From this course, I received an internship with the Washtenaw County Juvenile Court and spent this past semester helping to start a creative arts workshop for the juveniles on probation in this county as well as working alongside probation officers in the sexual offender treatment program at the court. I can really see myself doing this kind of work for the rest of my life, and that is the most confident I have ever felt in anything about my career probably ever.

In addition to all of this, I have traveled to some pretty amazing places this year. I spent a month traveling around Europe with two of my best friends. We visited 9 different countries in less than 29 days, and it was absolutely incredible. We had a bonfire in a valley town in the Swiss Alps. We swam in the Italian Riviera in the most picturesque coastline towns in Italy. We picnicked with wine and baguette sandwiches under the lights of the Eiffel Tower. We casually saw the Queen and the Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. We learned how to make sangria and Paella in Barcelona. It was the most amazing month, and I still talk about it almost every day.

I spent a pretty awesome week on a cruise with my family and my grandparents in the Caribbean. We zip lined over a water park in Costa Maya. We swam with dolphins in Cozumel. My dad, sister and I spent a way too long day shopping in Belize City. I practiced my Spanish to perfection after snorkeling all day in the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef (the largest Barrier Reef system in the world)!

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I took a cross-country road trip with my best friend and showed her everything from my home state. We ate so much food our stomachs were in so much pain. We drank hurricanes on Bourbon Street and Cajun danced our hearts away.

I could go on and on about the incredible things I’ve done this year, but most importantly, I have made new friends and traveled the world and learned to cope with loss and grow from it. I have learned so much about my abilities, my passions and myself as a person. I look forward to my summer – an internship at a really awesome Detroit-based organization and traveling the state with my friends. Cheers to another year of learning and loving and exploring!

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On Love and Learning


There’s something interesting about the word ‘LOVE.’ It’s something that’s developed and changed over time. We learn more about it as we learn and grow in other ways. When I was younger, I always said “I love you” back to my parents, and I heard about love from storybooks and movies. That was always the sort of love that I knew I would find when I was older. That was always something I was certain would just happen once I hit a certain age. I was sure of it.

Well, obviously, I was wrong. I went through high school too occupied with myself and the future to be focused on love (and boy did that bite me in the butt mentally and emotionally). I got to college – in a new place and absolutely terrified – and was still too invested in other things to think too much about love. I zombie-walked through my freshman year hoping desperately that someone would spot me across the room and fall in love with me just like the movies. That’s how it happens, right?

No, it’s not. And I learned that very quickly and in a very not-fun way. Fast forward to sophomore year – I think it can be dubbed as the year I learned how to love, how to not love, but, more importantly, when to love and not love. Really vague and daunting, I know. Let me explain (or try to).

I was swept off my feet by a boy – absolutely stunned that someone finally actually liked me (like like-liked me, you know?). So blah, blah, blah lots of stuff happened and anything that went wrong or didn’t feel right, I just brushed it off. Eventually, this relationship that I had pretended was so perfect came to an end. I was crushed – not only because it was over, but because it taught me too much about myself. [Not that I don’t want to learn about myself, merely because it all sort of hit me at once].

For one: Love isn’t like it is in the movies. The boy doesn’t always fall for the girl – (sometimes a girl falls for a girl or a boy falls for a boy, but that’s a completely different story). Don’t expect to actually be swept off your feet. Don’t expect the picture perfect relationship from all the romance novels – it’s not going to happen that way and you’re just going to be disappointed.

Second: I love a lot – sometimes too much. I easily love and I very easily give love. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Actually, I consider it one of my redeeming qualities. BUT this relationship made me realize that sometimes I give way too much of myself to other people and that can sometimes lead to me being stressed, overwhelmed and worn out. For too many months, I gave a lot of myself and always felt let down when it wasn’t reciprocated.

Finally: Love isn’t just something simple. It’s complex and tricky and you don’t just figure it out immediately. It has so many different facets and you feel/express it in so many different ways. It can be for your mom, for your dog, your best friend or a romantic partner. Love is complicated and you’re not going to figure it out on the first try.

“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.” 
― William Shakespeare, All’s Well That Ends Well

Estoy Saliendo de Guatemala


It’s so sad to think that my time here in Guatemala is over. I absolutely loved every minute of it, and as I sit in the airport in Guatemala City with a sunburn on my shoulders and hopes for some internet soon, I can’t imagine having a much better week than the one I’ve had.

From the second our shuttle from the airport dropped us off at the volunteer center, I absolutely loved everything about this city and this country. I spent my mornings strolling around Antigua with no agenda, nowhere to be, a few Quetazles in my pocket and no need to rush anything. I spent my afternoons volunteering, spending time with some of the most loving children I’ve ever met. 

So since I didn’t get a chance to write yesterday, I should write about my last day at my volunteer placement. I had to go to Dueñas alone since my other volunteer friends were out of town on a weekend trip. I hopped on the chicken bus alone and walked down to Vida for my last day. Carlos, one of the guys who started the organization, asked if I could spend my day in the classroom with the older kids because their teacher was home sick for the day. I absolutely loved working with them. When it was time for me to head home, I went to say goodbye and the teachers presented me with a huge posted signed by all the younger kids and individual cards from all of the older kids. I was crying. It was so cute. 

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I then said goodbye and all of them were screaming my name and hugging me and kissing me on the cheek. There were lots of “Te queremos! Te queremos!” and “Adios Sydney! Hasta luego!” It was beautiful. When I got home, I read the letters and notes from the kids. It made me realize how much of an impact I had on them even though I’d only seen them for 5 days. It was such a good way to end my stay here. 

Then came my last day in Antigua. Saturday morning we got up and spent the morning sipping coffee and reading on our terrace at our house. We eventually ventured out to climb up to La Cruz with an astounding view of Antigua.

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Then we went around to grab some lunch and head over to a hotel with a beautiful poolside bar and restaurant. “Just pretend we’re staying here. We’re white. We look like we belong.” – the motto of the kids just trying to spend a warm day by the pool with daiquiris and nachos. It was beautiful. After resting the day away in the sun, we headed back home in a tuk tuk (such a far walk ugh) and got ready to head up to San Cristobal – a restaurant with the best view of Antigua. 

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We caught a shuttle up to the restaurant and I honestly had to blink tears out of my eyes as we took in the view. It was one hundred percent the best view I have ever seen. You could see all three volcanoes surrounding the city with clouds sitting delicately on top of them. They grow all of their own food for the restaurant on the property, so we wandered through the greenhouses and gardens then settled down for some glasses of wine and some appetizers overlooking the city.

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It was honestly the best possible way to spend my last day in Antigua, and I am going to miss this place and these people so, so much. This was such an incredible week, and I could not have chosen a better way to spend my Spring Break. I can’t wait to come back to Antigua soon. It’ll always hold such a special place in my heart. So thank you to all the volunteers I was able to share my week with. Thank you the volunteers and kids at Vida, because you have changed my perspective on so many things. Thank you to the staff at Máximo Nivel for helping me to feel so comfortable in a foreign country alone.

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Until next time, Guatemala – Hasta luego.

On Moving Away


Moving away from family and friends is terribly hard and incredibly humbling. During my senior year of high school, I applied to eight different schools and I remember receiving the letters from all of them inviting me to study with them. After visiting Ann Arbor in February of 2013, I knew that I wanted to live here. It was new and different. It was beautiful and perfect. Shortly after returning home from my visit, I decided that the University of Michigan was where I wanted to be. It was a crazy decision. I would be moving to a state I had only been to once. I would be living with two girls who I had met on Twitter. I would be leaving behind everything familiar and everyone I loved. Most importantly, I would be moving away from Community Coffee, gumbo and SEC Football. (What even is the Big Ten?)

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The culture in Michigan was completely different than what I had grown up around for the past 18 years. Most of the people I meet have no idea how to peel a crawfish or what to do when it’s hurricane season. The number of times I have had to explain how and why drive-thru daiquiri places are somehow legal where I live is exponential. I remember one of my first nights in Ann Arbor, a girl I was talking to at a party said “Oh my gosh. You just said y’all. That is SO cute.” I knew immediately that I was in a completely different world. There have been a countless number of times that I have had to explain that, contrary to popular belief, there are lots of cities in Louisiana other than New Orleans, and that I actually don’t really live near it. The first time I heard a Michigander refer to Coke or soda as “pop” I think I almost cried. I still refuse to eat the “gumbo” and “po-boys” that the dining halls attempt to make for dinner. And don’t even get me started on the snow.

I miss Louisiana every single day, but living here has been life-changing. After that first visit last February, Ann Arbor has held a special place in my heart. I can remember being here during my first week, walking down East Liberty and seeing Michigan Theater in all of its beauty and thinking “Wow, I have GOT to Instagram this,” but also more sentimental thoughts like, “Wow. I cannot believe that I actually live here.” This perfect little town continues to amaze me and I fall more and more in love every day that I’m here. Sometimes I think about how I got here, and what made me finally decide to leave the familiarity of Lafayette. I think back on my last week there in August and how I had such a strange mix of emotions that I don’t think I even cried about leaving. I was excited and terrified, but also sad and so very happy all at once. Being in a new city all alone forced me to humble myself to ask for directions or even just ask for help. Living on a campus where I knew no one forced me to join clubs and to go out and socialize. Doing that allowed me to meet people from different states and even different countries. I’ve met some of the best people in the world here, and despite how much I complain about just wanting a Turtle Mochasippi (extra shot and whipped cream please) and an entire King Cake to myself, I would not trade the experiences I am having here for anything in the world.

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So if I am trying to make a moral out of this story, it would be: just DO it. If you are considering it, DO it. If you want to study in a different state or a different country for a semester, DO it. If you want to use your spring break to go somewhere new, DO it. Life is short (no matter how cliché that saying is), and there is so much to see and experience before it’s over. I know you’ll miss home. You’ll miss familiar faces and you’ll miss your mom’s good food every night (Mom, please send me red beans and rice), but you will never regret doing something different and learning something new. Home will always be there for you when you want to come back, but the world is just waiting for you to venture out and experience it.

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“It may be the satisfaction I need depends on my going away, so that when I’ve gone and come back, I’ll find it at home.” – Jalai ad-Din Rumi