December 25, 2018

1 Week in Costa Rica

Howdy, everyone! This post has been a long time coming, but don't worry, the long time away is because I am now a world traveler. Yup, you read that right, I have traveled the world this year. 10 countries to be exact! I've always wanted to travel and since my freshman year, I was determined to make that happen.  I am so blessed that my University offers a variety of study abroad programs for my major. While I knew about the semester abroad in Germany (post on that coming really soon) when I transferred to Texas A&M, I had no idea about the week-long trip that is offered to juniors to Costa Rica! Best part? The school pays for the trip!!!

  So did I go to Costa Rica in May? Why yes, yes I did!

The experience was nothing short of magical! Costa Rica is beautiful.  In fact, it hosts 5% of the world's biodiversity on a relatively small landmass. One week in this beautiful country was hardly enough time to really appreciate how amazing and wonderful it is. Not to mention every person we met was also incredibly kind.  Overall, it was a group of six girls (myself included), one of my favorite professors, and the worlds greatest academic advisor (honestly, she goes above and beyond to help people)  that went on the mini-study abroad trip to Costa Rica for a week.

While it is hard to summarize an amazing adventure into one blog post, I wanted to give a rundown of the top itinerary activities we did in case you ever find yourself wanting to explore the rainforests of Costa Rica.

Hiking Through the Rainforest:  This is going to sound really cheesy, but when I was in Kindergarten I got sick at school and my mom had to pick me up early.  That same day my sister's fifth-grade class had a presentation on the rainforest and eco-responsibility and since I was out sick, my mom had to take me with her.  Considering I still remember it 18 years later, it made a lasting impact, and since then I love learning about the rainforest.

In Costa Rica, the University's facilities were right in the heart of over 250 acres of rainforest. We had an amazing tour guide who took us on both a daytime hike to a waterfall and nighttime frog hike.  He knew the answer to literally any question you could possibly think of and was just an overall great person!

The hike during the day to the waterfall was breathtaking (literally, as previously mentioned, I gained weight last year due to mental health reasons and an unhealthy coping through food and I was not ready for that hike), everything was so green and gorgeous! We saw strawberry dart frogs, eyelash pit vipers, and a lot of other insects and creatures.  The nighttime hike was really nice because of the sounds and Tree frogs! Tree frogs are so cute!!

We also went to a park where there were suspension bridges to walk across and gave a view of the rainforest from above. While the views were awesome, the best part of that excursions was hands down when my friend got poop thrown at her by a monkey.

Ziplining:  Ok, I thought I was going to hate this, and by hate, I mean so terrified I'd pass out!  While ziplining HUNDREDS of feet in the air is very terrifying, it's also super fun! I even kept my eyes open to see the tree canopy below. Now, this was my first-time zip lining ever and what I didn't know is how hard breaking is. The first line I did, I came in so fast because I couldn't figure out how to break... But by the last one, I got it, so it's all good! If you make it to Costa Rica Ziplining is a must!

La Fortuna:  So the university facility we were at was about an hour from La Fortuna.  La Fortuna was definitely a touristic town, and we went there to primarily get souvenirs, but the town center is also very nice.  The square in the center looked like a tropical take on the quintessential Hallmark old town movie square. Of course, I can't forget to mention the beautiful Arenal Volcano that you can see from the town center.  We actually got to hike one of the old lava flows of the volcano.  The view was out of this world gorgeous! My photos really don't do it a lick of justice. Don't worry though, the volcano is dormant.  We were lucky though because there wasn't any real cloud coverage so we could see the tip of the volcano!

Baldi Hot Springs:  Y'all, hot springs are amazing!! Like the definition of relaxation happens there. Hot water, drinks, and tropical plants, does it get better? We went to Baldi Hot Springs & Resort after one of our hikes, and it was fantastic.  It started to rain while we were there and that might sound like it would make the experience less wonderful, but the cold rain mixed with the hot spring water was the perfect combo.  I didn't take my camera with me for the hot spring (because water and all) so these photos come from Baldi Hot Springs website:

Bonding:  Bonding with all the other people on the trip definitely the highlight.  At the end of the day, human connection and social conversations are what make a trip so amazing. We played card games, decorated journals, talked about deep conversations, and light-hearted laughs.  At the Soltis Center, there is a tradition of painting the dining halls walls with a design for every group that shows up.  We painted "Pura Vida" in block letters and painted our group inside! I love how it came out!  Oh, and of course we did all this while doing a project!    "A journey is measured in friends, rather than miles"- Tim Cahill.

Project: I know with all the fun activities I've been listing you might have forgotten this was actually a school trip! Don't worry, we did do a project.  Our task was to develop a concept for a master plan for the Soltis Center where we were staying.  It was a lot of fun to develop the concept! We didn't have much more than paper and colored pencils, so our final result was sketchy, but for a week of work, it was fun! We added ropes course, natural pools, hammocks, and entrance enhancements.  This was one project that was zero stress and a lot of fun!

Overall, this was the perfect trip to kick off my year of travel! Costa Rica gave me my first stamp in the passport (If you're an old reader and remember the trip to Canada, they did not stamp my passport) and a once in a lifetime adventure! I didn't even mention the best part: The school paid for the trip! 

December 23, 2018

24 Hours in Corpus Christi

Howdy! This past June I took a 45 min flight from DFW to Corpus Christi, Texas. And if you're thinking to yourself "Wow, Michelle, don't you have to get to airports 2 hours before flights and your flight wasn't even in 45 mins?!" then you'd be correct.  Texas is big and weekends are small. Thankfully, my boyfriend's family is super sweet and flew me out to visit him one weekend this summer.  He went home to Corpus Christi after the Spring semester and I started my internship in Frisco, Texas. Basically, two opposite ends of Texas! So seeing each other was a little tricky!

Going to visit him was my first time ever going to Corpus Christi, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! Noel honestly made it sound not nice, but that was a lie because it was a very enjoyable weekend trip! If you're like me, and maybe have no clue what all there is to do in Corpus, then let me give you a fun 24-hour itinerary for Corpus Christi!

Coffee Waves: If you like a good cup of joe in the morning to help you get energized, then forget Starbuck and check out Coffee Waves in Corpus Christi!  Noel took me here to meet his best friend, and while his friend is seriously super cool (like really cool), the coffee also did not disappoint! If I lived in Corpus, Coffee Waves would 100% be my go-to coffee spot. Also, as previously mentioned I was going to Coffee Waves to meet Noel's childhood best friend, so I didn't bring my camera, so this photo is from Coffee Waves website.

Corpus Christi Art Museum: Y'all know I love art! I mean I went to an art school for a hot minute even (if you really dig on this blog you can find several posts about that)! So when Noel suggested we go to the Art Museum, I was totally for it! It was free other than donations which certainly makes it an even more attractive activity. If its free, it's for me! The art is mostly modern art, which if I'm being honest, isn't my favorite, but they did have this one section that was all Aztec and Mayan artwork which made the entire museum a big win for me! Fun Fact: I was obsessed with Aztec and Mayan legends and culture when I was younger. 

Selena: If you're not a fan of Selena, then what the Bidi Bidi Bom Bom is wrong with ya?! For those who don't know first of all go listen to Spotify, secondly, Selena Quintanilla is the iconic Tejano singer who was murdered. Selena is from Corpus Christi, and there is definitely a lot to see in reference to her within the city. There is the iconic Selena statue along the sea walk, the Selena museum where you can see her personal items, and Selena's memorial.  Noel recently updated me that now the Selena Statue plays music, which is pretty cool!

Walking Along the Seawall: I may have forgotten to mention, but Corpus Christi is along the bay and has the Gulf of Mexico right at its doorstep.  Like with most coastal towns, there is a pretty nice seawall to walk along and enjoy the sea breeze and watch the waves crash against the rocks.  There were even playgrounds, sailboats, and even a solar system exhibit along the wall. I'm a sucker for any place that gives me the sea breeze so this would be a must on the itinerary. 

Whataburger: Finally, after so much activity, you're bound to be hungry. Luckily, Corpus Christi is the home of none other than Whataburger! Whataburger is the iconic Texas fast food restaurant! You can't go to Corpus without seeing the two-story Whataburger by the bay! I totally suggest trying the taco they sell, its an under appreciated item on their menu, oh and the spicy ketchup is a must.

24 hours isn't a lot of time, but hopefully, this gives you a good idea and rundown of some top items to check out if you make it down South to Corpus Christi! If you're from the area and have more places of interest to suggest feel free to leave a comment below and let me know what else people should check out while visiting! 

December 21, 2018

Fitness Journal

Howdy! So last school year was very stressful for me, and unfortunately, I am a stress eater. Needless to say, I gained weight I didn't want.  Luckily this past semester I was really able to get my eating habits more under control and lost half the weight that I wanted to! Small wins! But I still have halfway to go! To help keep me motivated on my progress I decided to make a Fitness Journal!

I basically found a lot of different layouts and designs for bullet journals on Pinterest and choose the ones that I thought were the most aesthetically pleasing, as well as would help me organize my workout progress. I also researched a lot of different workouts to just jumpstart my journal, and give me some on the go workouts to do in case I don't know what to do. The best part is there are still so many pages left to fill out so as my healthy living journey continues I can always add more pages with new and different topics.  For example, I really think a recipe section and a mental health section would be good additions.

Speaking of which, I think it is very interesting how our metal well being is linked to our overall health, and how different issues that we suppress can manifest themselves in physical ailments.  While I feel like there has been such a push to recognize mental health and self-care, I still feel like there aren't many solutions offered to help alleviate them.  This is a whole topic I would love to dive deeper into with my journal.

I would love to start a Friday Fitness day post just to keep both y'all updated as well as keep myself accountable.  Not sure exactly what those posts would look like right now but I am very interested in the idea.  Let me know what y'all think! Feel free to comment down below. If you have any good workout or journal page ideas let me know!