The Pack http://thepack.unm.edu Student Stories at The University of New Mexico Thu, 23 May 2019 18:25:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.1 71725995 Semester is (Almost) Over http://thepack.unm.edu/miguel-s/semester-is-almost-over/ http://thepack.unm.edu/miguel-s/semester-is-almost-over/#respond Thu, 23 May 2019 18:24:51 +0000 http://thepack.unm.edu/?p=16009 Well, I hope everybody’s summer is going well. If it is summer for you wherever you live or go to school. Because it’s not summer here yet. Technically, anyways. Sure, classes ended on the 12th of May, but here in Spain, following the end of classes, there is a 3 week long exam period during […]

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Well, I hope everybody’s summer is going well. If it is summer for you wherever you live or go to school. Because it’s not summer here yet. Technically, anyways. Sure, classes ended on the 12th of May, but here in Spain, following the end of classes, there is a 3 week long exam period during which time exams are scheduled. I still don’t really know how I feel about it. 

In some respects, the extra time to study in between exams is welcome; the 3 weeks devoted only to preparing and taking exams can really help out at the end of a long semester. But on the other hand, why do I want to drag out the end of the semester for 3 more weeks where I might only have one or two exams scheduled haphazardly during each week. Well, you know what they say about a gift horse. (Cue me shrugging while I write this.)

Classes seem to have all ended on a good note for me (just the actual classes, I am still currently finishing out the exams). Almost all classes in Spain are close to being 50/50 on continuous assessment (homework, classwork, quizzes, etc.) and final exam. No matter what, the final exam is worth a significant, if not the majority of the grade for the class. Some teachers also give out quizzes and midterms as well, but that has not been the case in any of the classes that I have take this semester (only my economics class from last semester had any other quizzes/exam-type assessments. I am mostly okay with this format, in that I like doing projects, presentations, and papers, maybe more than doing exams and quizzes, but at the end of the semester it puts a lot of pressure on the grade for just one exam in a class where you have never taken an test before. So I feel like that also gives me more stress for the exams than normal. Guess I just have to deal with it. 

Exam period and the end of classes can mean only one other thing: the school year is about wrapped up. The semester is over in a little over a week, and in a week I will be finished with my last exam here in Madrid, Spain. My year abroad is coming to an end, and I will soon be returning to New Mexico and the USA (at least for the time being). 

Let me assure you, to anyone that is wondering or who hasn’t ever gotten ready to leave somewhere for a while, it’s kind of difficult. And by that I don’t even mean taking into account saying goodbye to all the people that you have met and spent a year or even just a semester with. In a month or so, so many of the people I have met here in Madrid will have returned to their other homes, and we will be spread thin around the globe. It is hard to say who or when any of us will see each other again. 

I may be eager for exams to be over and to relax for (some of) the summer, but I’m not eager for exams to be over… because it signals the end of a an extremely interesting and fun period of my life. Something like that is hard to just give up, whether or not I am excited to see my friends and family in the USA or not. (I am excited to see everyone again.)

Hope everyone’s May is going swell, and that it’s a little less final than my final month here. 

Un saludo, 

Miguel Sabol

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Summer Livin’ http://thepack.unm.edu/anna-j/summer-livin/ http://thepack.unm.edu/anna-j/summer-livin/#respond Tue, 21 May 2019 23:10:08 +0000 http://thepack.unm.edu/?p=16000 This summer I am staying in the Student Residence Center (SRC) Apartments while I work at a summer internship and take a few online classes. I am not going to lie, when I first stepped foot into the space I was a little nervous. I was previously living in the Redondo Village Apartments (RVA) and […]

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This summer I am staying in the Student Residence Center (SRC) Apartments while I work at a summer internship and take a few online classes. I am not going to lie, when I first stepped foot into the space I was a little nervous. I was previously living in the Redondo Village Apartments (RVA) and really enjoyed it. For me at least, my room was pretty large, and I liked how open the space was since the door opened right into the kitchen and living room. It probably helped that when I moved into RVA the apartment already had wall hangings and furniture oriented in “homier” ways. But when I finally got my key to the SRCs, I walked in the back door and everything was white. The doors were all closed and white, the walls were all white and bare and of course it was later in the day so there wasn’t much natural light not to mention the windows were closed. To say the least, I was really worried.

I was the only one in the apartments when I first moved in. I was told I have three other roommates over the summer, so I surprised I was the only person there at first. A friend of mine helped me move all of my stuff over from RVA to my building. And PSA for the second and third floor apartments: THERE IS AN ELEVATOR! So, I have a lot of stuff and the carts you can check out that I may or may not have held hostage for about an hour longer than I should have only carry so much. We had four trips with the cart, and we did not discover the elevator until the third trip. We lugged all of my clothes and bedding and other lighter things up the stairs through the back door. Once the front door was discovered I felt one a lot better because the actual door does lead into the kitchen and living room area and two there was a doorbell and the room number and everything made so much more sense (and I call myself an engineer for some silly reason).

Getting the rest of my stuff up was a breeze post elevator discovery. About halfway through the moving in process I met another roommate. The best part of this roommate was that she has two cats and I am a huge cat person. Her asking if I was okay with cats roaming around nearly made my entire summer. Side note these cats always are there to welcoming me home from work and love to curl up with me when I sleep so I honestly could not be happier. The next morning, I met my second roommate and we all went grocery shopping which wore me out so much more than it probably should.

After all of my stuff was moved in and I rearranged everything the way I wanted it, the SRCs were definitely not as bad as I first thought. My room is smaller but the window which faces east where I can see the sunrise every morning brings in way more natural lighting and totally opens the space. There is a lot of storage and a smaller space is definitely easier to keep clean. It is really nice to have two bathrooms for four people and mine even has a heating light for after showers. I also really love the kitchen and living area. It is one big open space with three windows. I really like eating and studying from the counter space and once I get an HDMI adapter, I will be able to watch TV while doing homework which may significantly lower my productivity levels but like triple my procrastination skills.

Ultimately, I am pretty happy in the SRCs. It is nice to have my own room and see my roommates every once in a while. I am still trying my hand at cooking but hopefully by the end of the summer I will be a pro (just in time to go back to LaPo for basically every meal). At this point I have lived in three different buildings on campus and honestly, I think they all are pretty nice. While I will miss my own bathroom in the SRCs and RVA when I move back into Hokona, I think they all are really great options for on-campus housing. I do think the traditional dorms such as Hokona are better for the community aspect, but the apartment style housing is really nice if you are set on not getting a meal plan and cooking on your own.

Hopefully you all have an idea for your fall housing plans and are enjoying the SRCs if you are here over the summer!

Anna

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My Summer Plans http://thepack.unm.edu/victoria-p/my-summer-plans/ http://thepack.unm.edu/victoria-p/my-summer-plans/#respond Wed, 15 May 2019 18:09:49 +0000 http://thepack.unm.edu/?p=15960 Here’s a quick video about my summer abroad plans and how it affects you and what you’ll see on your timeline!

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Here’s a quick video about my summer abroad plans and how it affects you and what you’ll see on your timeline!

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The Return http://thepack.unm.edu/devin-p/the-return-2/ http://thepack.unm.edu/devin-p/the-return-2/#respond Wed, 15 May 2019 18:05:55 +0000 http://thepack.unm.edu/?p=15997 It feels kind of strange writing this blog from my home in America. After so many days of writing these blogs from weird places in China and now writing laying on the couch in my living room. Leaving Chengdu was definitely not easy. My last week was not only full of finals, it was full […]

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It feels kind of strange writing this blog from my home in America. After so many days of writing these blogs from weird places in China and now writing laying on the couch in my living room. Leaving Chengdu was definitely not easy. My last week was not only full of finals, it was full of goodbyes and packing. 😥I made many great friends over the course of those nine months. Some that i will definitely still keep in touch with. Everyone was so nice and welcoming. Even when I was leaving, my Chinese friends kept wanting to give me gifts to bring home! One friend bought me a very cool Chinese dress tie, another friend got me a nice pair of chopsticks with my name inscribed in them (in English and Chinese), and then I got a little panda keychain and a bag of dates straight from their families farm. I could not have wished for a better experience while abroad in China. I will no doubt continue studying Chinese and some day make my way back. The last two days i didn’t know whether to be happy or sad. I was sad to leave chengdu and all my friends, but i was ecstatic to come and see my family. I didn’t even sleep the last night, partly because i wanted to be able to sleep during my 16 hours of flying to LA and partly because i was so excited to come home. The two flights were long but the moment i got off the plane and got my bags i couldn’t stop smiling. Vividly remember walking out and looking for my family. I then heard my mom call my name and turned to see her and my brother (my brother taking a Snapchat of my arrival). Hugged them both and walked out to the car where my dad was waiting for us! We went straight to get some American breakfast as promised. The eggs and bacon and corned beef hash hit the spot. Then we went home and waited for my other two brothers to finish rugby practice. Once they arrived i was off on another 2 hour journey to my grandmas house! I felt like i had been traveling for days. But really i had gone backwards in time arriving in America before the time i actually left in China. At my grandmas we celebrated my return as well as my older cousins departure to the east coast for a promotion! I still feel i have much to do since returning, but regardless of how busy I am it is wonderful to be home. Cheers everybody! Have a great summer 

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Niigata and Sailing in the Sea of Japan! http://thepack.unm.edu/isaac-m/niigata-and-sailing-in-the-sea-of-japan/ http://thepack.unm.edu/isaac-m/niigata-and-sailing-in-the-sea-of-japan/#respond Tue, 14 May 2019 16:18:37 +0000 http://thepack.unm.edu/?p=15994 Hey everyone! Hope your finals went well! So, in my last blog I said I was going to go to Niigata. Let me just say, it was definitely an experience to say the least. I will tell you guys the play by play in this blog. So, to start, Niigata is about 165 miles from […]

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Hey everyone! Hope your finals went well! So, in my last blog I said I was going to go to Niigata. Let me just say, it was definitely an experience to say the least. I will tell you guys the play by play in this blog.

So, to start, Niigata is about 165 miles from Tokyo. I and my friend, who is also from UNM, rode the shinkansen, the bullet train, from Tokyo to Niigata. Normally, a 165-mile trip would take about 3 hours, maybe 3 and a half. But the shinkansen is no ordinary mode of transportation. We were able to get from Tokyo to Niigata in 2 hours and 15 minutes! After arriving in Niigata, we then explored Niigata a bit to see what it was like.

The next day, I was able to see and experience a variety of things. I went to the Niigata aquarium and was finally able to check off one of the things on my bucket lists, which was to see the Sea of Japan. Note, I was not able to swim in it because the water was too cold. However, it was still so cool to be able to view such an amazing sight. The Niigata beach is also unique in that along the coast line, there are these giant stone jax looking things. These are put in place to regulate the tide considering there is a lot of infrastructure not too far from the beach. After viewing the Sea of Japan from the beach, I then went to an anime and manga museum.

This museum was really cool in that you were able to not only see in detail how anime is made, but you were also able to see the timeline of manga and anime and how it has changed over the years. The other cool thing about this museum is that one side was interactive where you could try voice acting for characters or make your own manga on a touch screen, and the other was set up like an art gallery of sorts. The art gallery part was really cool because it had the original artwork, and right below it, was a remade digital version. It was awesome to see the comparison. The day after that I then went to Sado Island

Sado Island was so awesome in that it was a cultural experience to say the least! So where is Sado Island? Sado Island is part of the Niigata prefecture and is in the Sea of Japan. In order to get to this Island, you must take a boat from mainland Niigata. The boat ride is about 2 and a half hours. After docking on the island, my friend and I then explored the island a bit. We were able to see a lake and even a few traditional Japanese towns that were never westernized. This in itself was a culture shock, but that was just the beginning. Since Sado Island is so small there are no trains, there are only buses. My friend and I wanted to go to a beach on the other side of Sado Island, so we ended up taking a 45-minute bus ride across the island. This beach, and the surrounding area was amazing! Not too far from the beach, there was a very old traditional Japanese town with no English signs what so ever. This was really cool to see, and it was definitely a culture shock. Also, the entire bus schedule at the bus stops were almost all in kanji with very little hiragana or katakana. The beach itself was such an amazing sight. The water was so clean, that from the pier, I was able to see the sea floor. Considering Sado is off the grid compared to most places, it was also very quiet. It was so peaceful and relaxing to just sit on the pier and look out into the ocean and listen to the sounds of nature. After spending time at the beach, my friend and I explored the surrounding area around the beach a bit more before heading back to catch the boat back to the mainland. The bus ride back was were I not only experienced even more awesome culture shock but was able to see first hand how much my Japanese has improved since living in Japan. While on the bus back to the boat, a local from Sado started a conversation with me. Granted, it was difficult. This is mainly because the dialect and pronunciation are very different than that of Tokyo Japanese, but I was able to do it! Needless to say, I Definitely felt a sense of accomplishment. This was also definitely one of the most enjoyable parts of my trip!

The next day my friend and I headed back to Tokyo on the shinkansen. Only this time, the shinkansen back was a double decker! I was not even aware that there were double decker shinkansens and it was so cool to be able to ride one. Granted we were on the bottom floor of this double decker shinkansen, but it was still so cool to experience it! Overall, I would say that Niigata is definitely one of my favorite places in Japan and I hope I get the opportunity to go back before I leave Japan. It was so cool to see the Sea of Japan and I never thought of the possibility of sailing in the Sea of Japan, but I am so glad that I did! I will be uploading photos of this trip to my Instagram @isaacxmaes soon.

Thank you for taking time out of your day to read this blog and have a wonderful rest of your day. And remember to follow @unmstudyabroad on Instagram and Facebook.

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A Winter Wonderland on the way to Bandelier National Monument http://thepack.unm.edu/anna-j/a-winter-wonderland-on-the-way-to-bandelier-national-monument/ http://thepack.unm.edu/anna-j/a-winter-wonderland-on-the-way-to-bandelier-national-monument/#respond Mon, 13 May 2019 16:33:03 +0000 http://thepack.unm.edu/?p=15962 With my summer internship starting on Monday, I took advantage of my one weekend of summer by taking a short trip to Los Alamos visiting Bandelier National Monument and Valles Caldera National Preserve along the way. I left around noon on Friday a little after my 7:30 am chemistry final. The drive to Los Alamos […]

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With my summer internship starting on Monday, I took advantage of my one weekend of summer by taking a short trip to Los Alamos visiting Bandelier National Monument and Valles Caldera National Preserve along the way. I left around noon on Friday a little after my 7:30 am chemistry final. The drive to Los Alamos was just shy of two hours. I 100% took the scenic route through the Jemez Mountains. This was honestly my first time driving through super narrow and curvy roads. It was especially an experience in a minivan.

Once I turned onto highway 4, it was already super beautiful. While I passed through the reservations, there was such vibrant red rock surrounding the area. One thing that was super fun that I probably shouldn’t have done was go through huge puddles along the way. When I left, it was raining in Albuquerque. It stopped soon but there were a few good ones that got the right side of my car pretty good. The further and further I got into the Jemez Mountains the more and more snow there was. It was a little bizarre to go from 82-degree weather on Monday to snow by Friday, but everyone has told me that if you don’t like the weather in New Mexico, wait ten minutes and it will change.

I am not a huge fan of snow, but this made me smile. It was the good kind of snow where the roads were clear and not icy but makes the mountains beautiful. Something I really got a kick out of was that the roads were actually steaming when it started to snow again. The ground was just too warm to not only melt the snow on the roads but evaporate it. When I got to Valles Caldera, it wasn’t snowing but the road to get into the preservation was a little too muddy to venture too far. Unfortunately, I turned around before truly exploring but I stopped to take some pictures of the winter wonderland in May.

In Los Alamos, I checked into a hotel and dropped my stuff off. I went to this little restaurant called Blue Window Bistro. This was soooo good and I would totally go back. After, I just drove around to look at the town. There are such beautiful views. I was amazed and totally excited to see some trail-heads start in the middle of town. I definitely want to take the short drive to Los Alamos again when the weather is nicer to go hiking or biking.

The next morning, I drove about thirty minutes to Bandelier National Monument. The weather was much better than the day before. The drive to the visitor’s center was a little sketchy for a newbie driver in a minivan but the steep curves down to the bottom of the Frijoles Canyon was no match for my shift into low gear.

I honestly loved every part of the monument. Not only were the ruins that date back 11,000 years so cool but the small cavates and dwelling were so fun to crawl into.

The surrounding vegetation was my favorite part though. The sound of the Frijoles Creek that ran down the middle of the canyon mixed with the smell of the trees and wildflowers made me so happy. I walked around the main loop but there are several more trails I could’ve taken with more time.

Once I left, it immediately started raining so 100% perfect timing. The drive back I hit about two more heavy rainstorms but there wasn’t a time where it was too dangerous, and I felt that I need to pull over or something. It was super cool after a big rainstorm though. The road started steaming even more. I felt like I was in a cloud at one point. I got back mid-afternoon Saturday and the short vacation definitely did the trick to reset after the spring semester. With 25% of my undergraduate college career done I am excited to take on the summer semester on campus and interning.

Enjoy the summer Lobos,

Anna

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Launch: A Concert by Emerging Choreographers http://thepack.unm.edu/anna-j/launch-a-concert-by-emerging-choreographers/ http://thepack.unm.edu/anna-j/launch-a-concert-by-emerging-choreographers/#respond Wed, 01 May 2019 15:45:14 +0000 http://thepack.unm.edu/?p=15931 For the UNM jazz dance course I am taking this semester, I had one more dance concert to go to. This was Launch or the student choreography show. I was looking forward to this one. For the final we had to choreograph our own piece and I was excited to see what others who were […]

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For the UNM jazz dance course I am taking this semester, I had one more dance concert to go to. This was Launch or the student choreography show. I was looking forward to this one. For the final we had to choreograph our own piece and I was excited to see what others who were dance majors, minors or graduate students had up their sleeves that may give me a little inspiration. I went to the Sunday afternoon show. It was a little different than Forefront, the faculty show.

The concert was in the Carlisle Gym which I thought was cool because I am used to passing the south gym to practice but I’ve never seen it all set up. I think the venue was awesome because, while it was small, you could really see every move or facial expression of the dancer. At some parts you could even hear them breath which coming from drill team I really liked. It felt as if you were close enough to dance with them. There were seven pieces and it was around an hour long. I really enjoyed seeing the variety in the dancing. There were two flamenco pieces and several modern or contemporary pieces.

Image from Forefront seen on the Program for Launch

A favorite of mine was a flamenco piece titled “Autumn Leaves: Return Summer.” I really enjoyed it because the choreographer fused flamenco and jazz together. Elliot Skinner’s “Autumn Leaves” offered fun syncopated rhythms imitated by intricate footwork. It was also just a fun piece to watch. The combination of the music and the clear happiness of the dancer just makes you want to smile. Another one of my favorite pieces was “Obligate Aerobe.” This was a duet and I think the song choice “Vesna” by DakhaBrakha provided a driving force for really cool movement across the floor. The piece had lots of repetition that had me wanting to move along with the dancers by the end of it.

I think this was a great break from final studying and gave the dancers a really cool opportunity to choreograph. I am not going to lie, some of the more abstract pieces were still hard for me to completely understand. I am still trying to see what else is out there aside from the competition world where it’s about impressing the judges instead of communicating a message about society or something greater. One of the challenges for me for the upcoming final is making sure it’s not just one trick after another which is what I have grown accustomed to. I’ve been taught there are three parts to choreography, flexibility, turns and leaps. However, my teacher says it’s closer to time space and energy – something completely different from an only technical point of view.

After watching the concert, I tried to incorporate more breathing moments and utilizing more of the space. I hope these changes will help the piece and my grade. It feels weird right now and after years of being taught to transition from trick to trick, it’ll be a learning curve, but I am excited to be challenged in a new way for the final assignment, something I really never thought would happen.

The concert will be performed three more times, May 3rd and 4th at 7:30 pm and May 5th at 2:00 pm. I would totally recommend checking it out to see what’s out there on campus and take an hour break from the final studying. I hope you all hang in there for finals and find something challenging in the next few days,

Anna

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Semana Santa http://thepack.unm.edu/miguel-s/semana-santa/ http://thepack.unm.edu/miguel-s/semana-santa/#respond Tue, 30 Apr 2019 18:56:40 +0000 http://thepack.unm.edu/?p=15913 Holy Week. (That is what the title of this blog means, in case you were wondering.) Holy Week is the culmination of the season of Lent for Christians, especially Catholics, and it is an important if not the most important week during the year. While Spain abolished Catholicism as the official religion in the 1978 […]

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Holy Week. (That is what the title of this blog means, in case you were wondering.)

Holy Week is the culmination of the season of Lent for Christians, especially Catholics, and it is an important if not the most important week during the year. While Spain abolished Catholicism as the official religion in the 1978 Constitution, it recognized the importance of the religion in Spain, and today, the Catholic Church still has influence and power among the people and in some policy areas such as education. In addition, Catholic holidays are also the recognized state holidays in Spain, so, naturally, there is not school during Semana Santa, making it the effective Spring Break of Spain. 

During the last part of the break, I went up to visit my family (host family from 2015) in Valladolid, Spain, which is one of the best places in Spain to watch some cool processions. During the week we watched and some of them participated in processions in the pueblo and the city.

Recreated a photo from 3 years ago with my hermano

Because of the unique history of Catholicism in Spain, it really does make Semana Santa one of the most interesting and best times to get a look at some Spain culture that has endured for hundreds of years. (Or you can just travel around Europe. I mean, it is the only spring-break-type week that we get during the spring semester. I went to France during the first part of the week.) During Semana Santa, different religious cofradías from each church of each city and town participate in processions (similar to parades, but with more religious/ceremonial purposes) through the streets of the cities. In these processions they have bands, people carrying crosses and candles, and a group or multiple groups either pushing or carrying (on their shoulders) some of the statues (called pasos) from their particular church. Besides the showing of religious devotion and adoration, it is also done with penance in mind. (The crosses and pasos are not light. In addition, some of the people in the procession choose to complete it barefooted. (Yes, their feet get very dirty.) 

The combination of the music, the lights (from the candles), the robes, and, of course, the pasos make for an impressive sight. Processions often begin in the evenings and carry on well into the mornings, as they can be anywhere up to 8 hours in length. This Semana Santa I stood to watch one full procession, and it took 4 hours for the entire procession (of 33 pasos and 20 cofradías) just to pass by where I was standing. It was the most famous of the processions of the city of Valladolid, and it was worth it to witness the entire procession. 

Here is a link to where you can watch the Good Friday procession in Valladolid: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44LIxGgMswQ The video is 3 hours long… so I don’t expect anyone to watch it all, but open up the link and see what you think. Skip through it and see a few of the statues. 

I know that these processions may be very different from anything that those of you reading this have seen or heard of, and the pictures and videos of the processions that you may look up might make you think of other, less respected groups, but I just wanted to introduce and seek to explain (in brief detail) a part of Spanish culture. And note that this practice and the robes that they are wearing have been used since before the New World was a whisper in anyone’s mind and the Spanish Inquisition was still a thing. Part of going abroad is learning about these interesting cultural practices and learn more about the country where you are studying, and then showing others and explaining them to others what you have seen. 

I encourage you to research Semana Santa in Spain and their cultural practices during this week further if it intrigues you or let me know if you have any questions (msabol@unm.edu). 

Un saludo, 

Miguel Sabol

In the pueblo

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Sushi, Arcades and Golden Week! http://thepack.unm.edu/isaac-m/sushi-arcades-and-golden-week/ http://thepack.unm.edu/isaac-m/sushi-arcades-and-golden-week/#respond Mon, 29 Apr 2019 16:54:05 +0000 http://thepack.unm.edu/?p=15910 Hey everyone! I Hope you are all doing well and are looking forward to the end of the semester at UNM! So, in the past few weeks from my last blog I have gone to a new sushi place as well as to two different arcades. Also, golden week has started here, and it is […]

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Hey everyone! I Hope you are all doing well and are looking forward to the end of the semester at UNM! So, in the past few weeks from my last blog I have gone to a new sushi place as well as to two different arcades. Also, golden week has started here, and it is a ten-day holiday. The fact that golden week is ten days this year, is a first.

So, to start I will tell you guys about the new sushi place that I and one of the other UNM students here went to. This restaurant felt like a mom and pop, classical Japanese style sushi place in that you had to stand to eat. In addition, the walls were covered with all the different sushi styles you could order, and they were handwritten in hiragana and kanji. What made this experience different than that of a place like Genki Sushi, was that there was only a small English menu. With that being said, I was able to use all my Japanese skills I have learned thus far, and that felt really great! In addition, with my developed/developing Japanese language skills I was able to have a conversation with one of the shop owners. Not only was this sushi restaurant amazing in terms of terrific tasting food at a very reasonable price, and the staff being very welcoming, but the cultural experience was my favorite part.

I know in one of my previous blogs I have mentioned briefly the arcades here in Tokyo and how they are easily one of my favorite places to go because I really like video games. The games they have in the arcades range from claw machines to VR video games. Regarding claw machines though, I have been super lucky and won a few Pokémon plushies from them, on my first try! I won one in Shibuya at the Taito arcade and one at a smaller arcade in Shinjuku. The funny, and kind of ironic part, is I wasn’t really trying. I just thought “eh, why not try it and see what happens” and next thing I knew I won! Winning something in a Tokyo arcade is definitely a different kind of winning experience. Aside from amazing sushi and fun times at arcades, I have also planned a three-day trip to the Niigata prefecture during golden week.   

So, quick history notes. Golden week actually started as a celebration of Emperor Showa’s birthday, but over the years, more national holidays were made on the days following Emperor Showa’s birthday, and it turned into a long holiday. It is also a time in which people think about how to make Japan thrive in later years. So now that the super brief history of golden week is done, I am really excited to go to Niigata! I am going to check out the beach, the Sea of Japan and an Island off Niigata called Sado Island. Sado Island is IN the Sea of Japan! I will definitely be uploading photos of this adventure to my Instagram @isaacxmaes!

Thank you for taking time out of your day to read this blog and have a wonderful rest of your day. And remember to follow @unmstudyabroad on Instagram and Facebook. And good luck on finals!

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GuiZhou http://thepack.unm.edu/devin-p/guizhou/ http://thepack.unm.edu/devin-p/guizhou/#respond Mon, 29 Apr 2019 16:52:55 +0000 http://thepack.unm.edu/?p=15906 As we pulled into the new hotel around 9pm everybody was starving. Our lovely tour guide got the hotel to cook us up some good food even though dinner was already over. After dinner everyone found their rooms, most people stayed in their rooms. Not us. Me and four other classmates were determined to find […]

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As we pulled into the new hotel around 9pm everybody was starving. Our lovely tour guide got the hotel to cook us up some good food even though dinner was already over. After dinner everyone found their rooms, most people stayed in their rooms. Not us. Me and four other classmates were determined to find a 麻将馆 (a place where you can get a table and play MaJiang. We walked around the small town in the direction that the front desk pointed us in. We could not find the one that he spoke of so we decided to ask random people. The first man that we asked kinda thought to himself for a moment and said no that he didn’t know of one. After a bit of talking he mentioned something about his friends store and a MaJiang table, he said he could walk us there. In this small little town the Sichuan dialect was thick making it hard to understand. Right around the corner was his friends tea table shop. They were all sitting around drinking tea and here comes their friend at 10pm bringing a group of five white kids. They were stoked to have us and brought us to the second floor where it seemed the man lived. And there was one room that had nothing but a MaJiang table, just for us. After 2 hours we decided we should get some sleep for another early day. But when we went down stairs, the boss invited us to sit down and have some tea with him. At this point it was just him and we all sat around a beautiful tea table that he made himself and drank tea. This moment was on of the many that have turned me on to tea for it’s beautiful process and serenity. Finally at around 1:30 am we headed back to the hotel. Bright and early it was! I woke up at 7:30 just to get a jump and go for a little walk. The hotel we stayed at was right near the river so I decided to go check it out. The river was lined with squared off spaces that people were farming in. It was so cool to see this public looking farm and everyone growing different things. There were also some old ladies doing tai-chi in a group. Me and my friend decided we should practice our form so we wouldn’t forget it. All the tai-chi ladies turned around and watched us do tai-chi in amazement. At that time we headed back to the bus. Turns out on of our students got sick and was deciding on continuing with us or heading back to Sichuan, so they gave us time to explore more. When the old ladies saw us again they called us over. They knew the form we had done a few minutes earlier and had wanted to do it with us. We got some more students and all did tai-chi together😎. After that we went down to the water and asked on of the farmers to help him farm. After some racking and hoeing we saw a little ferry boat that was meant to take people across to a little town. We only had a few minutes left but decided it was a good idea and hopped in the boat. The little village was pretty interesting and some man even brought us to his home and showed us a fossil he had found. We had to run back to the bus to make it on time. At this point, I had a reputation for being late, but always coming back with a cool story. Now we were headed to the Yao village and on the way we stopped at a little elementary school way out in the mountains. The kids loved seeing us, we played ping pong, basketball, soccer, and just ran around with them for a while. Then we made it to the Yao village! We took a village tour and learned that they build houses with not a single nail, just very complex joints. Then we got to take a famous Yao bath before dinner. A Yao bath is a piping hot bath full of many different medicinal herbs that are supposed to be very good for you. We played MaJiang for a while upstairs betting and causing a ruckus. After the head of the village sang us a beautiful chilling song in his mountain language we were directed by the government man that it was our turn to sing a song. We sang “take me home country road” 😅👌🏼. Eventually, we made it to bed and got ready to head to the next destination. Cheers!

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Dane Smith: The enigma http://thepack.unm.edu/victoria-p/dane-smith-the-enigma/ http://thepack.unm.edu/victoria-p/dane-smith-the-enigma/#respond Mon, 29 Apr 2019 16:51:40 +0000 http://thepack.unm.edu/?p=15872 Ahhh, Dane Smith Hall. You know the building. Almost every undergraduate has at least one class in there. It’s a three-story building with identical classrooms and an aesthetically pleasing entrance.  As a Political Science major, Dane Smith is basically my home. I have at least one class a year in that building, and I’ve always […]

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Ahhh, Dane Smith Hall. You know the building. Almost every undergraduate has at least one class in there. It’s a three-story building with identical classrooms and an aesthetically pleasing entrance. 

As a Political Science major, Dane Smith is basically my home. I have at least one class a year in that building, and I’ve always liked Dane Smith. I mean there’s a little store so you can buy snacks and food before class, and I just recently found out Dane Smith is just as old as me!

But as much as I am attached to that building, I do have a confession to make. Dane Smith is a mystery to me—a literal enigma. Once I think I know that building, I find out that I am gravely mistaken. 

So, the initial mystery of Dane Smith started with my bathroom debacle. Starting my freshman year, I have always had at least one class in Dane Smith, but I could never find a bathroom. I never even found a sign pointing towards a bathroom. For at least two years, a part of me just assumed it didn’t even have a bathroom. 

Until one day, in the cold winter months I decided it was too cold to trek to the SUB to use the bathroom there. I decided to walk around Dane Smith Hall until I found the mysterious hidden bathroom—that was not that hidden once you actually find it.

So, I found the bathroom, and I thought well that’s that I really mastered this building. Then, a couple days later, I was walking to enter Dane Smith on the second-floor level. I ran into an old friend of mine and stopped and said hello. She told me she was going to her class in Good Ole Dane Smith. 

Only to find her going through an entrance on the side???? Okay like I’m not an idiot. I know there legally cannot be just one area for entrances and exits—like fire exists. I thought maybe there would just be emergency exists, but no there are actual doors for use on the side of Dane Smith Hall. 

Because of this, I am convinced that there will always be something about Dane Smith that I don’t know about. 

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Time for a Road Trip http://thepack.unm.edu/anna-j/time-for-a-road-trip/ http://thepack.unm.edu/anna-j/time-for-a-road-trip/#respond Wed, 24 Apr 2019 17:42:22 +0000 http://thepack.unm.edu/?p=15876 This last weekend I went on my first real road trip where I drove. Coming to ABQ, I left my car at home in Idaho, 935.3 miles away according to Google maps. Honestly, living on campus I didn’t need a car. The buildings are close, and I have a full dining plan, so food wasn’t […]

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This last weekend I went on my first real road trip where I drove. Coming to ABQ, I left my car at home in Idaho, 935.3 miles away according to Google maps. Honestly, living on campus I didn’t need a car. The buildings are close, and I have a full dining plan, so food wasn’t an issue either. However, I was able to get an internship for the summer and needed a way to commute to my new job by May 13th. I researched a lot of possibilities of getting a car. I have a really old car, like two years older than me and the main concern was if it would make it the 935.3 miles. I looked at selling my car and buying a used one here. I also looked at shipping my car to ABQ. Ultimately, driving it back was the most inexpensive option.

The plan was to fly to Idaho and drive the car back all in a weekend. I had three days and six states to travel through. First off, flying is always an adventure, but this trip was particularly interesting. Of course, I choose the cheapest flight where I didn’t have to skip classes. So, I boarded at 2:10 pm and had a total of 8 hours of air/airport time. I had four hour or so flights which started to become brutal by the third flight. I love flying but these trips were little hops where you’d get up into the air just to get down. It was also a pretty roundabout path. I stopped in Las Vegas, Nevada, Burbank, California then San Jose, California all on one plane. There was a two-hour layover in San Jose and then one more flight to Boise. I got in at 11:15 pm just in time to wish my family a happy Passover on the first day and fall asleep as fast as my head hit the pillow.

The next day, I left around 10:30 am. I spent less than 12 hours in my home town and went out to breakfast for a pre-Easter celebration. Then, it was time to drive. I am a fairly new driver. I have only had my license for a little over a year and six months were filled with my car sitting on a driveway in Idaho. I brought a friend to switch off with so the first day while there was a total of 9 hours of driving I only did about four and a half. I stopped about twice to get gas and ate dinner in Price, Utah. I also learned my car not only had a cruise control, but I now know how to use it. We had to be really gentle with the car as well. This is a very old car. I never did over 75 mph and made sure to accelerate slowly check the temperature gauge and hope I did not have to call roadside assistance.

Saturday night, I stopped in Moab, Utah. I got there about 9:30 pm and was a little sad it was dark because I knew I was missing some pretty beautiful scenery. Moab, Utah is in a canyon surrounded by beautiful red rock formations. The main reason for stopping here was to go visit Delicate Arch, a 52 ft freestanding natural arch in Arches National Park. I wasn’t entirely sure what it was if I am being honest. I had a loose idea of what it was, but I really didn’t know. Boy was I shocked when I visited. Sunday morning, I left the hotel at 9:30 am and started to stare with my mouth open at how beautiful the town was. Think Radiator Springs from Disney’s Cars but in real life.

Moab is mainly a touristy town in the spring and summer because of the hiking, rafting, rock climbing, mountain biking and four wheeling paths and routes. Delicate Arch also brings international visitors during the warmer months. With that, there’s no surprise there was a line to get in the park. I stopped in the visitors’ center and got some fun postcards. Then, I headed up, like straight incline worried if my car was good incline. During the winding road to get to the hiking path, there were tons of balancing rocks, fins and pre-arch formations. Arches and the surrounding areas are super unique. The combination of weather and the sandstone allows tons of arches and other rock formations to develop over time. While there are other places around the world where arches are formed, the quantity found in this part of Utah is insane.

I was blown away by how beautiful the hike was. The weather was also nice. I was told that in the summer it gets super-hot and when I went there was a really nice breeze letting me just completely enjoy the views. I got lunch in downtown Moab which was a little difficult since a lot of things were closed on Easter Sunday. We got back on the road about 2:00 pm and kept driving until ABQ where we got in around 8:30 pm. This was about a five-hour drive and I got to see some really beautiful parts of New Mexico. There were similar cliffs to Moab that I saw right at sun set and the red rock and clouds above glowed a soft pink.

Sunset in San Ysidro, NM

While this trip was a little bit of a chore, driving my first road trip traveling through Nevada, California, Utah and Colorado and seeing all the beautiful sights along the way was so worth it and made it feel like a small vacation. Monday was rough though when I felt all the travelling finally taking its toll. No matter what though, it was such a fun experience. I definitely need to learn how to make longer playlists because my music looped about three or four times, but I totally see more road trips in my future (probably not as ambitious as 935.3 miles in my ‘98 Toyota though).

It was a nice refresher before the sprint to finals. I hope you all got to do something fun this weekend. Good luck,

Anna

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France & Friends http://thepack.unm.edu/miguel-s/france-friends/ http://thepack.unm.edu/miguel-s/france-friends/#respond Mon, 22 Apr 2019 18:33:10 +0000 http://thepack.unm.edu/?p=15861 Well, I’ve been meaning to get back to France for a while now. And now, I’ve done it. I still haven’t gone to the most mainstream of places: Paris, but it doesn’t bother me too much, as it seems like everyone ends up passing through there at some time or another. I was bummed that […]

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Well, I’ve been meaning to get back to France for a while now. And now, I’ve done it. I still haven’t gone to the most mainstream of places: Paris, but it doesn’t bother me too much, as it seems like everyone ends up passing through there at some time or another. I was bummed that Notre Dame burned up… I was still in France when the news came in, crazy stuff, but hopefully I’ve seen enough huge, old churches to not feel too bad that I didn’t get to see it in all its glory. 

People had been recommending that I visit the city of Toulouse since the first day I arrived in Europe last year, in August. (Literally.) The guy in the seat next to me on the Transatlantic flight was a student from Toulouse and we hit it off well and he recommended that I visited the city in the spring if I could, because that was when it was at it’s potential best. I thanked him for the advice and sat on it, thinking that I had many other places on my list, and if the time was right I would go. The first semester passes and then I hear from a couple of friends from UNM that they are both studying in Toulouse for the spring semester. I was like, wow that’s crazy, now I definitely need to go visit. 

Bridge in Toulouse

In March, my friends Zoe and Melanie (Zoe is one of the other study abroad blog writers) came down to Spain for a visit to Madrid, and I tried to show them a bit of the Spanish lifestyle what Madrid had to offer. And a month later, in April, I made my way to Toulouse to visit the city where they were studying. 

Romance languages are very weird for their speakers because there are many Latin roots for words that make them almost the same in Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese. But then not quite the same. Very confusing. So sometimes you can read Portuguese or Italian or French or even understand the nouns and verbs or get the gist of what someone is saying, but sometimes you can’t understand anything. And you most certainly can’t speak it. Don’t even try substituting words in the language you know into another language unless you are ready for a misunderstanding or a very confused look. It is quite comical many times. I learned during this trip that while French is similar to Spanish in many aspects, I will need a lot of practice with pronunciation if anyone is ever going to accept my French. I guess that will have to be a project for a different day. 

The language barrier made me very glad that I had my “guides” Zoe and Melanie to help me out and do the brunt of the talking that was required during the trip, although I was able to try my hand at the pronunciation (with some coaching) and many people speak a little Spanish or English as well. I don’t really know if my pronunciation got a lot better or not, but I think that ignorance may be bliss in this case. One can only try. 

Well, I can say for sure, that I would also recommend visiting Toulouse if you are in the area, it is quite a nice city with some picturesque views of the river and nice architecture and buildings. I didn’t visit as many of the big and important buildings as I could have, but one of the things that I like best is just looking at the buildings from the outside, walking around the streets, watching people, and soaking up the sun (which my nose and face certainly did). 

Melanie and Zoe were kind enough to introduce me to their Toulousian exchange friends, and we were able to engage in some “typical Erasmus” things which occupied a couple nights. It still stands that one of the most enjoyable parts of my exchange thus far has been getting to meet new people every step of the way across different countries, sharing experiences, stories, and good times. Nice to add to the collection with some other exchange students. 

Cathedral in Toulouse

Since I was there for a few days we decided to take a day trip on Sunday to a city near Toulouse, and we ended up choosing Albi, a little city with some fantastic red brick buildings… or basically the entire city. The really used a lot of bricks on that place. The had a church that basically looked like the bell tower was a chimney because it was entirely made of bricks. (Lots of bricks.) As is typical of Europe, we ran into an American couple that retired to France, and we had a great lunchtime conversation. That’s how I aspire to be when I grow up, just chillin in a foreign country, retired and just talking to whoever you find to share a story and some advice with. 

Albi, France

Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that it was also the weekend before we had to register for classes for fall semester at UNM. It was nice to be hanging out with some UNM students in that moment and having a similar experience with registration. We sat down in the back of a coffee shop in Toulouse with our laptops and got ready to register at 3pm, which was the our time to register, since they moved the registration to 7am in Albuquerque. 8 hours ahead in France. I think I got registered for all the classes that I want. Should be an interesting fall semester at UNM at least. I realized that by the time I make it back, I will have spent the same amount of time studying at UNM in Albuquerque as I have spent at the UC3M in Madrid. So we will see how the next academic year goes. 

While the amount of sleep I received over the 4 days that I was there was very small it was inverse to the amount of fun that I had hanging out with some “old” friends and touring a couple of cities of southern France. Only a couple more months to go before I am heading back, and I hope there are still a few more trips around the block in the future. 

Un saludo, 

Miguel Sabol

The Capitolium

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GuiZhou Continued http://thepack.unm.edu/devin-p/guizhou-continued/ http://thepack.unm.edu/devin-p/guizhou-continued/#respond Mon, 22 Apr 2019 18:31:14 +0000 http://thepack.unm.edu/?p=15858 After spending all night eating delicious local food, playing MaJiang, and jumping in the river we had to wake up and be on the bus by 8:30 am. Now we were headed from the Miao village to Bamengshui for lunch and a museum. The lunch was extremely nice, we ate upstairs in a private room, […]

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After spending all night eating delicious local food, playing MaJiang, and jumping in the river we had to wake up and be on the bus by 8:30 am. Now we were headed from the Miao village to Bamengshui for lunch and a museum. The lunch was extremely nice, we ate upstairs in a private room, all thirty four of us seated at a giant lazy Susan table. After we were all stuffed full of a plethora of different dishes we were headed to the museum. To our surprise when we arrived the power was out. It turns out that a few days a year this village has mandatory power shut downs. The interesting thing was there was not a worker in sight but the museum was still open so everybody went in with flashlights. Not being to interested in the museum I ran through it and decided to go for a walk in the village. I was walking through these big alleys with Chinese style buildings lining the street. The weird thing was that there was hardly anybody there. It seemed like a ghost town. I guess we had come in the off season for tourists. A large part of me was happy about this. What would be full of tourists was now only filled with the people who lived there. Along my walk i ran into some workers hanging out, sitting on their mopeds, chatting and smoking cigarettes (the usual). As i walked by i heard one of them say “oh he is French”. One of my favorite things to do is reply to people who don’t think i can speak Chinese, so i replies back and said, “no I’m actually American.” They were shocked and i laughed with them an talked for a few minutes before i was on my way. I walked for a little longer and completely lost track of time. My program director called me and asked me where i was and that everybody was on the bus waiting. I started to jog back and thought i might as well ask the workers for a ride. Sure enough he motioned me to hop on. To everyone’s surprise i rolled up to the bus on the back of some random Chinese guys moped. Instead of being irritated my program director laughed and gave me a high five. From there we went to Baibei village which was way in the mountains. Our bus couldn’t even make it so we had to wait for an hour on the side of the road waiting for rides up the mountain. While waiting we have this little store the most business they had probably ever seen and we got to try a bunch of cheap and tasty Chinese snacks. When our rides arrived (local people that got paid to pack us in their vans like sardines) we headed up the mountain. If you have ever seen those small dirt rodes that hang over a sheer cliff on tv, that was these roads. At this point i was glad we were riding with the locals. When we arrived we immediately saw a big dirt arena with stone seating. It was water buffalo fighting day!! Men were standing all over the little arena cheering and placing bets. They have these water buffalo fights every 13 days. Sadly it was over soon after we had arrived for the animals had been fighting since 12 that day and it was now around 6pm. As the owners walked their contenders home i got the lucky chance to hold one. They control the water buffalos by a rope that is tied through their nose. As i grabbed the rope i could feel the warm moist exhale from its giant snout directly on my hand. It even shot a booger at my friend while he tried to take a picture. After taking a walk around the very rural village we hopped back in the vans and made our way down the mountain. After an experience i will never forget, we were finally headed to dinner and sleep…. or so i thought. Stay tuned and check out the next blog! Cheers!

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Meow Wolf http://thepack.unm.edu/anna-j/meow-wolf/ http://thepack.unm.edu/anna-j/meow-wolf/#respond Tue, 16 Apr 2019 17:55:51 +0000 http://thepack.unm.edu/?p=15833 The last weekend I went up to Santa Fe to check out Meow Wolf. Meow Wolf is an interactive art museum that is just wild and so much fun, I’ve heard about this place since I got to Albuquerque and have been wanting to go so bad. A friend of mine had family in town […]

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The last weekend I went up to Santa Fe to check out Meow Wolf. Meow Wolf is an interactive art museum that is just wild and so much fun, I’ve heard about this place since I got to Albuquerque and have been wanting to go so bad. A friend of mine had family in town so it was the perfect opportunity to go see it. Meow Wolf has two more locations, one in Las Vegas and one in Denver opening soon. The exhibit that was open when I went was the House of Eternal Return. The exhibit was launched March 2016 and Game of Thrones’ George R.R. Martin helped create it. (There will be spoilers about the museum!)

Santa Fe is about an hour away from campus. We got there around 3:00 pm which was nice because it wasn’t too crowded. Pulling into the parking lot there were three big statues which was already pretty cool. We took a picture with the robot before and the spider after we went throughout the museum.

We walked in and it was already cool to walk around. There was a big hallway with cool murals with bright colors and a cafe. We bought our tickets and could have bought some 3D glasses, but it was still really cool without them. When I walked in, I was slightly confused. It was honestly just a big front of a house in a dark room. I knew going in there was a storyline would could follow. It was some sort of mystery, but I didn’t hunt for more clues.

The first thing we did was go in the front of the house and found a secret passage under the stairs. All of a sudden, we were in some sort of cave with bright colored lights. It was like walking into a closet to Narnia but cooler. There were hidden doors and passages everywhere. After a while of exploring, I ended up back in the house somewhere weird like under the fireplace or out of the refrigerator. You could look through windows and see other people in totally different rooms. Something I thought was odd but super thankful for after like hour two was the random places you could sit. There could be a couch in the ground or pillows in a tree trunk. Towards the end, I started to go from place to place finding seats, half out of laziness and half out of being funny.

A highlight was definitely the secret passage down the dryer. There was a spiral stair that took you from a tree house like setting to a pink cave with stuffed worms hanging from the ceiling. They also incorporated a lot of musical instruments throughout. There was a plastic dinosaur cage with neon lights that you could hit, and they would play notes. There was also a dark room through another weird passage that had vertical red lasers in the center of the room and if you broke the beam path it would play a harp chord.

By the end, I thought I had seen everything, but I am sure there were other hidden rooms that I hadn’t explored yet. It was a lot of fun to run around and find random coves. There were a lot of bright lights and a lot of energy in one place. I totally had an energy crash once we got into the car and went to dinner. I slept so well that night.

If you haven’t checked it out, I would totally go. Meow Wolf opens a new exhibit this weekend and offers a discount for New Mexico residents. It was a great day trip to procrastinate homework and decompress from the week. Hopefully you all were able to get out this weekend and do something that was crazy fun to get through this last heat of exams (at least in my case).

Good luck with the three more weeks until finals!

Anna

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