Friday, October 14, 2016

Oh The Places You Will Go

It's been some time since I've written and I'm not sure if anyone is still out there, but I thought maybe I would look back and write about some of the things that have gone on in my absence.

At the end of last year I met the most amazing man and we decided to move in together after only two months together. Now, normally I would never be impulsive, although I am prone to impulsive decisions. We are coming up on a year together and it's still just as amazing. As soon as he can save up, he will be buying a ring and I can't imagine spending my life with anyone else. I wish you could see that content smile I get every time I think of or talk about him.

In the middle of March, I went to Colombia to see one of my friends, which, coincidentally I met on the internet when I needed a Spanish tutor about four and a half years ago. I'm sure that also seems like a sketchy decision, but he's become one of my best friends. I would like to say that from here on out I apologize for the volume of photos, but I want to share the experience with anyone still out there reading.

The first photo is from the top of a huge, 675 step to the top rock. The view is absolutely breath taking, as were the stairs, and we had a beer with mango in it from the top. To get to this town we had to take a bus and a truck and I was the only clearly white American around, but the people were really friendly. The weather was beautiful, there were little stands with arrepas (some sort of corn tortilla looking thing that varied in taste from each region) and everything was so cheap. 
This is just one of the street art murals in Bogota, the town that my friend lives. He gives a tour where he tells you about the artist and cultural inspirations for the art work. If you're ever in Bogota, I highly recommend anyone going on this tour, which is donations only. He is extremely knowledgable and passionate about culture. Also, graffiti art is not a crime there as it is in the US and so there are some absolutely beautiful paintings and sculpture pieces around town. 

This is the view atop of the metro cable in Medellin, a huge city where we stayed with his aunt, uncle, and two cousins. I must say, I was overwhelmed by the kindness of his family. My speaking Spanish was almost non existent due to lack of use from being in grad school, but he relayed everything we hoped to say to each other. I think one of my favorite parts of this ten day trip was staying with his family and observing some of the cultural differences, like the woman taking care of everyone first. I tried to help because as most American kids know, if you aren't helping your mom to clean up, you're probably going to get a disapproving look and maybe a snarky comment. Another interesting fact was that the poor and rich lived intermingled in this city, unlike many of the cities that we are all from where there's a clear difference of who lives where. I would also recommend going here because the streets are beautiful. There's an unkemptness to the grass, but the streets and medians are covered in these lush, vibrant plants, flowers, and trees. Dream streets everywhere. 
This is the rock I climbed to the top of in Guatape, where the first picture was taken from. I'm sorry that they are out of order. :)

We went to Cartagena, which was actually my least favorite part of the trip. It's more of a Caribbean town and extremely hot and humid. The architecture was beautiful, but this is the place where I think I contracted something like E coli and returned home to be stuck in the bathroom for ten days. The arrepas were spot on though and the fish served at dinner had teeth still. 
Since Cartagena was not good to my digestive tract, my friend went to the fruit market on his own and brought back a plethora of fruits for me to try. His wonderful mother was there for Easter weekend and she cut up the fruit and showed me how to eat or break into each kind. Love his mom. She gave me the coolest, scariest key chain with a giant ant from Colombia in it and a really neat woven bag from the indigenous people. 

We climbed to the top of a castle in Cartagena, which was extremely hot and where I continued to find that Vans were not good walk wear. 

More street art. 

I put this picture up because while I am extremely sun burnt, I am drinking alcohol by the beach in a freaking pineapple. A real pineapple drink. We also went jet skiing and we found out that when thrown off into the ocean, I'm the better swimmer and would probably last at sea longer. 

I returned home with some crazy stomach anger, but I truly fell in love with the Colombian people. Seriously the kindest, friendliest people. They are also extremely politically minded and while in other places it's not appropriate table talk, it IS there. Also, they're not happy about the cocaine stereotype and they want you to go see for yourself how awesome it is. The showers are weird and when you use hot water you have to have the pressure low, the fruits and juices are out of this world, and if you go, go to Crepes y Waffles for a scoop of blackberry ice cream and then a scoop of guanabana. Seriously. I'm in love with guanabana, which you can't get in the US. Also, I saw an avocado the size of my forearm, which I don't like, but it was still cool. I really learned the importance of language and communication as well and how alone you can feel when a culture is so vastly different. 

I finished out my semester of grad school and I went to an internship interview for a treatment center and then in May I went to Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic for a Holocaust history trip. How am I affording these trips you ask yourself? Colombia is super cheap in every way and I saved for an entire year to go to Europe. Now I'm broke. We'll say I'm rich in experience. :) 

We went to Auschwitz and I can't fully rely how amazing that experience was. You felt such a heaviness and at times wanted to cry or were overcome with anxiety. It was a beautiful, peaceful day, and it almost didn't seem right in that place, and yet it was perfect. This experience will be forever etched in my heart. 
These are actual nail scratches in the gas chambers... :'(

The astronomical clock in Prague! Another check off my bucket list. It was amazing. The people in the Czech Republic were not actually that nice or friendly, which is disappointing as I'm Czech, but the architecture was breath taking. 

More beautiful Prague architecture. 

Krakow at night. We went to a Jazz bar and ate fantastic dumplings and had huge glasses of beer. The Czech Republic and Poland were extremely cheap compared to the dollar and we had amazing food and drink for cheap. 

Me in Prague, just looking at the city and taking obligatory selfies. Sorry these are out of country order. My computer made it too tedious to reorganize. :)

Faces of Warsaw.

Here is just a really cool picture in Berlin. What a cool city. Seriously. Go. 

The Brandenburg Gate!

This was a castle I had homemade peach schnaps at. This place was like the set of a movie. I also walked thirteen miles that day. 

I had too many photos to put here of course, but I rode a train and found out I get really motion sick on trains-shout out to Dramamine-and I've seen the Berlin Wall. I had wonderful candy and food, I saw the Reichstag building and the house the Wannasee conference took place in. I have seen such beautiful and amazing places this year and I'm really blessed. I always wanted to travel not just because of the beauty and culture or the history, but also because I think it's good to be uncomfortable. You throw yourself into a new environment and then you find out how strong and resourceful you can really be. I met some cool people and it makes me appreciate my slower paced Midwest city, free water at restaurants, and free bathrooms all over America. 

After my adventures I started interning, which went from hopeful to not what I thought it was going to be at all. It's now October and I finally have a client I work with with another therapist. I'm nervous that I won't be a good therapist when I get out and I'm still afraid to do solo sessions and everything a therapist has to do in general, but if there's one thing I've taken from this experience, it's learning more about having stronger boundaries and confrontations in group and individual sessions. I can actually confront something and not feel bad or like it will affect them liking me. I still fear that I'm not good for this job and that I don't have what it takes. It's scary to think that I graduate in December and how much I still have to learn, but I really really hope that someday I get there, which everyone says I will after getting more experience. Actually, many professionals I've asked say that it took them at least a year to feel fully confident so at least people I really admire and respect were where I am. 

Thursday I take my licensure exam, which has made me extremely anxious. I'm studying like crazy, I got on depression medicine to get out of the seasonal slump, and while I'm still prone to bouts of sadness and general life anxiety, things are manageable. 

So, there's an update on my life. If anyone took the time to read this thanks. :) Life has been changing and 2016 has been a ride, but I hope that when it slows down I can start to do more creative work.