Say Thank You, It’s Important

I’m writing this blog for a marketing class I’m currently taking and I honestly could not come up with anything I wanted to write about, even after asking multiple people over the past week or so, the writer’s block prevailed.  As it came down to the wire, I thought “I should call my Dad, he always knows what to say.” And then it hit me, why not write about that? Why not talk about my parents? Weird way of getting there? Yes, maybe! But I realized that a shout out to my parents couldn’t possibly be a bad idea.

I’m not generally the most emotional person, or even the most sentimental, but I understand the importance of telling someone how much I love and appreciate them. With that being said, I realized that I really have never said thank you to my parents for shaping me into the woman I am today. So with that, here it goes!

Where to begin? My parents have never been the pushy or overbearing type. They’ve never forced sports or student council or even straight A’s, they simply planted the seeds and watched me do with them what I wanted. I still remember having discussions with my dad in elementary school about becoming class president in high school and how cool it would be to experience something like that. From that moment forward it wasn’t a question of if I wanted to become class president, it was an assumption and a goal. These little seeds were planted over the course of my childhood through casual conversations on the drives home from soccer practices, or nights sitting in my dad’s art studio chatting about politics and the art world. My parents were the best at just letting me be independent and make the decisions I felt were necessary to learn and grow.

Now that I’m away at college, these conversations aren’t quite as common and are definitely more adult in their nature, but they still have the same impact. I call my dad for literally anything school or professionally related. If I’m stressed, or overwhelmed, he always knows what to say to talk me down. He always knows what advice to give me when it comes to that job interview or when I have a breakdown about what I’m doing or where I’m going with my life. How he handles it? I’m not entirely sure! Especially considering I have 3 little sisters he also has to deal with at home. Regardless of how he manages, I can’t express enough how thankful I am to constantly have him there to guide me through life’s challenges.

As for my mom, she’s definitely a cool mom, more of a friend one might say! She’s always there like a mom should be, constantly the first one to ask how my day was and question me about the experiences I’m having at college. She encourages me to take time for myself and to make sure I’m sleeping and eating and all that jazz. She never tells me I’m being a child, even when I throw the occasional tantrum or have an attitude fit for a spoiled teenage girl. I call her when I need advice or guidance in my personal life, whether that’s boy drama or I’m feeling unappreciated and need someone to remind me that everything will be okay. She never fails to tell me how proud she is or to say she misses me and wants to know when I’m coming home. She always knows how to comfort me through my emotional ups and downs and lift me up when I’m feeling depressed from the heaviness of my responsibilities.

So Dad, thank you for always taking the time to advise me, to encourage me and to remind me that the chaos is only temporary. Thank you for constantly showing your support and never ending a conversation without an “I love you.” Thank you for talking with me like an adult and also for occasionally forgetting I’m actually a grown up. I know that’s just a dad thing to do, but it reminds me that even though I’m away at school and living on my own, you’ll always be there to protect me from the monsters in life. Thank you for showing me that sometimes it’s worth it to take risks in order to get the things you want in life. And ultimately, thank you for inspiring me through your hard work and dedication to your career and the obvious passion you have for what you do. And through everything, thank you for never failing to put Mom, me and the girls first.

And Mom, thank you for never doubting me and laughing at my relentless sarcastic comments, even when they’re really not that funny. Thanks for listening to my drama and pushing me to make the best decision and do right by the people around me. Thank you for showing me what it means to truly give your life to your family and your time to your children. Thanks for offering to drive to Missoula when I’m having a rough day and thank you for being positive through the difficult times in life. Thanks for never being afraid to express your feelings and reminding me that sometimes showing compassion and empathy are the best things anyone can do.

These are only a few of the aspects of my relationship with my parents that I’m happy to brag about. But really, thank you Mom and Dad. Thank you for creating balance and stability in my life. Thank you for never pushing, but always nudging me to succeed. Thank you for showing me that I’m really my own worst critic and to lighten up sometimes. Thank you for encouraging me to set my goals high and and my standards higher. Thank you for supporting me and inspiring me every day. I am so appreciative of every ride to practice, every long day spent at tournaments, the academic assemblies, late night phone calls, shopping trips, serious life discussions, gossip sessions, book suggestions, dinner dates, and a whole lot of patience.

I know I used the word “thank you” approximately 212 times and this really only pertains to my parents, but I think it’s important to take a moment every once in awhile to actually express your appreciation for the people who love and care most about you. I’m beyond grateful for the relationship I have with my parents and I’m blessed to have such wonderful role models in my life. Take the time to tell someone you love them, send them a text or leave a simple note, and never forget to say thank you because it’s important! I love you Mom and Dad, thanks for raising me to stand strong and be confident in who I am. I’m forever appreciative of everything you do for me.

Love,

Your Favorite Daughter

Jordyn Kronenberg

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Ser un viajero, not a tourist

 

 

As college students, we talk a lot about traveling the world, experiencing different cultures, and expanding our worldview. How can we do this in a way where we can truly begin to understand a culture? To me, this means to be a traveler (ser un viajero in Spanish), not a tourist. I prefer to travel in a manner that separates me from the typical tourist and allows me the opportunities to experience the types of connections with people and place that begin to foster a deeper understanding.  Here are a few tips that will help you see the true nature of a new place in short time.

Put away the travel guides.

Sorry, Rick Steves and Lonely Planet. Yes, you can find a wealth of information about any city or country in these books. Peruse them for details on must-see sights, but don’t use them to decide where to eat or sleep. You will be directed to places where you will encounter more tourists than locals, and miss the places that carry the true vibe of a city. Depending on a travel guide is like dipping your toes in the surface of the lake, compared to jumping off the dock and diving in!

Moclín, Andalucia, Spain Photo Credit: Rafael Olieto

Use public transportation – and your own two feet.

Taxis are expensive, but even if your budget allows, you will learn more about a place and its people on buses and in the subway. You will need to study maps and the layout of a city, the names of the streets, instead of placing your navigation in the hands of someone else. And allow free time in your schedule to wander and explore by foot, getting lost in the true sounds and smells and colors of the local culture. The best memories I have of Marrakesh are the streets that weren’t full of tourists, walking in the heat, smelling the food being cooked in the homes nearby. Or in Granada, climbing up and through the twisting streets, never knowing where one would end up.

Granada, Andalucia, Spain Photo: Vickie Rectenwald

Talk to strangers. Learn at least a few phrases of the local language.

You don’t have to proficient in another language, but knowing a few key phrases will allow to you to connect with the random person on the street who will send you to his uncle’s corner bar where you will eat the most amazing tapas, or to the quaint little café where no one speaks English but you will fall in love with the pastries and rich coffee. I have been fortunate to have made some great friends just because I was willing to ask a few friendly questions.

Let go of expectations.

You will encounter everyday things that are so different from what you are used to. Paying for the use of a toilet, the lack of wi-fi in every corner, no to-go cups for coffee, and nudity in advertising are just a few examples I encountered in Europe. Suspend your judgement and let go of the attitude that what is familiar to you is the best way. Smile, enjoy the things that force you to slow down and reflect.

Moclín, Andalucia, Spain Photo Credit: Rafael Olieto

Eat the local food.

Even if you do not completely understand the ingredient list, or how to pronounce it, give it a try. American food has found its way into most corners of the world, and you will have plenty of chances to have pizza and burgers when you get back home. But you will regret not giving your palate the chance to explore.  When I was in Spain, I was hesitant at first to try caracoles (snails). I took a deep breath, probably closed my eyes, and hoped I would not make too gruesome of a face in front of my hosts. Surprisingly, I was delighted with the salty, earthy taste. Caracoles became one of my favorite Spanish delicacies, and I definitely cannot find them in Montana!

Caracoles in Linares, Andalucia, Spain Photo: Vickie Rectenwald

I plan to continue to travel to new places and gain insights into other cultures. I hope my list of favorite foods grows and expands. But most of all, I plan to continue making friends around the globe that enrich my life.

I hope you find these tips useful, and I also hope that you can travel and learn in whatever corner of the world pulls at your heart. Thanks for reading, and please share your own travel tips in the comments below!

Vickie Rectenwald studies Marketing, International Business, and the world around her. She lived in Granada, Spain for a year, and has also traveled to Morocco, France, Canada, Alaska, and Hawaii. She will try any food once and can always find something in common with the person she is speaking to. Follow her travels on Instagram @montandaluz.

Clean Eating Habits For The Lazy And Broke

I have always dabbled in finding the right food habits for my body.  I have had serious medical issues my whole life that have restricted my personal control in many aspects of my own life.  I had limits on how much school I could go to, how much time I could spend active, and how much independence I had from my parents. The only place I had control was in my eating. I ate a strict vegan diet for 2 years, but upon getting a job at an indoor farmer’s market and specialty cheese shop, I relaxed my diet to include some dairy products and eggs.  The tiny food shop had one rule: they didn’t carry any foods with ingredients that your great-grandparents couldn’t recognize. That means no fillers, no chemical preservatives and no food colorings.  Even though I left that job 4 years ago, I kept the values that shop taught me and I have eaten clean ever since.  It seems like it is hard and expensive to eat a diet free of processed and pre-made food, but certain easy food habits keep both me and my wallet happy, healthy, and full.

Follow a 90% rule at the grocery store

Have 90% of the food bought when grocery shopping contain only one ingredient.  An avocado only contains avocados, eggs only contain eggs, and so-forth. This makes you 90% sure you know exactly what you’re eating. As for the other 10%, I love pasta and good dark chocolate too much to ignore that longing.  No one is perfect.

Always have sautéed veggies on hand

If there is one thing in my fridge at all times, it is a container of any/all types of veggies already sautéed with no specific spices. It is simple to make in bulk and the veggies will last longer than if they are just sitting fresh.  It’s the perfect filling addition a quick burrito, scrambled eggs, or quinoa stir-fry. This makes it super easy to be healthy and lazy at the same time.  

Be a whiz at lazy food prep

I have never had the dedication to truly meal prep and make cute little containers to eat once a day.  First of all, who has that many leftover containers, and second, who has enough willpower to not eat three of them for dinner? This is where the freezer comes into play. I am all about taking a free Sunday morning to whip up 40 homemade veggie burgers or a big pot of soup to freeze and save for when I don’t want to cook. It is always a small blessing when I have my protein prepared and ready to go.  The key is to be productive so you can be lazy later.

Embrace the trashcan soup (and have a broth bag handy)

Some of the best meals I have ever made came out of desperation-turned-creativity.  When I have a ton of vegetables that are slightly (or very much) past their prime, I will make trashcan soup. Old veggies, any type of beans, quinoa, and broth makes for a pretty awesome meal.  This is where the broth bag comes into play… any part of vegetables you usually throw away can be put in a large ziplock bag in the freezer. It keeps for months and once it’s full, you have all you need to create a broth for your soup! It’s the circle of life.  

Try to make what you usually buy (at least once)

I’m not about to waste my time trying to make my own butter, but so many things you usually buy are much cheaper and tastier when you make them.  Why buy 2 small cans of black beans when you can make a whole pot full for the same price? Same goes for hummus, broth, pasta sauce, and so many other things we usually don’t second guess buying.  Maybe some of the foods will be preferred pre-made, but maybe you will find a new favorite homemade staple.

Yes, it takes average amounts of dedication and willpower to thrive while eating clean, but it takes a lot less than most people believe.  Treat your tummies well, people!

Traveling Europe: Looking Back.

 

 

Last year I made one of the best decisions of my life and decided to take (another) semester off from college and backpack around Europe for two months with my best friend. This was my first time, and hers, traveling outside of the United States. As you would imagine we were overly excited, nervous, and had no idea what to expect before we left for this crazy adventure. Although it was the best experience and trip of a lifetime, there were definitely some things I would have done differently and certain things I wish people would have told us before we left.  So, I am going to share my top 6 tips/lessons I learned that I wish I would have known before traveling to Europe!

  1. Eat EVERYTHING.

And I mean everything. Don’t be worried about gaining an extra couple pounds—you will regret not eating that authentic Italian pizza while you’re in Italy. Like who does that?! (yeah, we did that.. and it haunts me.) Even if you are gluten intolerant, lactose intolerant, I don’t care.. you still eat the pizza.

Another tip along the lines of eating while you’re in Europe; if you want authentic food from whatever city you’re in, don’t eat on the main strips where they have pictures of food on the menu. The rule we learned (almost near the end of our trip) is to get good authentic food, go at least two streets back from the main square. Also, you don’t tip in Europe! Most places. That would have been a very nice thing to know before we left.

2. You Have To Pay to Use the Bathroom.

Yeah, this one was a shocker that I can’t believe no one warned us about. You have to pay to use public restrooms almost everywhere you go in Europe. I mean it’s only a quarter or fifty cense.. but it just would have been nice to know. Oh and FYI, bathrooms are called water closets and you will see neon signs that say “WC” and not “Restrooms” pointing you to their whereabouts.

3. Wear Pants At St. Peter’s Basilica.

If you plan to go to the St. Peter’s Basilica when in Rome.. wear long pants or something that covers your legs. We almost weren’t allowed in because my best friend was wearing a dress and apparently you cant have leg above the knee showing. BUT, luckily she had a blanket scarf to wrap around herself.. so we got to explore. And I’m so glad we did! Also, if you do  go there I would recommend everyone take the stairs to the top.. it’s worth it!

4. Slovaks Love Vodka.

I know this isn’t a stop on most people’s list, but just incase it is.. prepare your liver. My friend had relatives that lived in Slovakia that she wanted to meet for the first time, so we made a pit stop in Jaklovce, Slovakia for a few days. And what no one that had visited there before told us is… every time you meet someone new, they greet you with a shot of vodka and a mound of pastries. And let me tell you.. we met a lot of people. Even on Easter.. you obviously have to celebrate.. so, cheers! We took our first shot at 10 in the morning right after church. Even though Slovakia wasn’t the place we were most excited to go to.. we brought back some of the best memories from it. Since we stayed with her family we were immersed in their culture.. it was so cool and so eye opening. When in Europe, try to get away from the touristy type things and soak up as much of the raw culture as you can!

5. Splurge.

We were college kids traveling across Europe, so obviously we were traveling on a budget. But one of the biggest regrets we had was not splurging just that once to go hang gliding in Austria, or riding horseback through an Italian vineyard. You’re going to come back broke anyway, so spend the money on some kind of experience. And don’t wait for something better to come along or something “more worth it.” Because you won’t find it and end up at the end of you’re trip without doing any of those cool things you wanted to do.

6. Get Lost.

Looking back, I would have had more days where we didn’t have a plan and just walked around, purposely getting lost. I feel like that’s when we came across some of our best adventures and memories. It’s okay to not stick to the plan.

Overall, the trip was a great success and we made some unforgettable memories. These are just a few small tips that I wish someone would have told me before going and hope they can help someone else as they embark on their trip of a lifetime!

 

Post by Kelsey Cowan

 

8 Ways being a Student-Athlete has changed my life

Hey y’all! My name is Hayley Bingham, I grew up in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas in a little town called Rockwall.  I started playing golf when I was 13 years old and realized right away it was going to take me far.  I played competitively and found myself in the position to play college golf so I started the process the summer after my junior year.  I went on countless visits and met with players and coaches all trying to get me to their school.  My last recruitment visit was to the University of Montana about three weeks before early signing.  It was my last chance to really find what I was looking for and I did.  Three weeks later I signed my National Letter of Intent and started calling myself a grizzly.

Throughout my four years of being a Griz, I found that being involved in a sport and trying to play at the next level takes courage and discipline. I had to make sacrifices when it came to friends, family, school and a social life. I found myself using my sport as an excuse to get out of going out with friends or taking 8AM classes, but I also realized that it was the reason I had missed out on a lot of things. This was only the beginning, my four years at UM taught me a lot of things about the kind of person I wanted to be, the kinds of people I wanted to surround myself with, and what hard work and dedication really got me.

So here are the 8 ways being a student-athlete has changed my life:

  1. They tell you that you are a “student-athlete” but often you will feel being an athlete comes before being a student.

On my visit and all throughout my collegiate career, all of my advisors and coaches stressed that I was a student before I was an athlete.  But there were times when I found myself having to pick one or the other just like everything else. At the end of the day, my time and energy went into my sport and everything that comes with being a student-athlete. This is just the way it goes, I had to find a way to balance school and golf.  I can remember always having to do homework after 36 hole days and wondering how any of the information stayed in my head.  To this day, I am still convinced that it didn’t!

  1. Sports in college is one of the hardest things you will ever do!

Becoming a college athlete was one of this best moments of my life but nothing had prepared me for the road I was starting down. 6 AM workouts, 4:30 AM wake up calls to make it to the airport, traveling all day long, waking up to compete and then waking up to compete again.  Doing all of these things while trying to stay up on school work and have a social life eventually starts to wear on your mindset and your body.  I remember thinking nothing could get worse than high school athletics but I was wrong.  It was a whole other ball game in college.

  1. Wanting to move on can be normal

A couple times during my four years I thought about quitting or transferring. Things do get hard and sometimes when it seems like nothing is going your way this can seem like the easy way out.  I had a coaching change after my freshman year and I thought about transferring but I was glad I stayed.  My sophomore year I got injured in the second tournament of the season, ultimately stepping in a hole breaking my foot.  I had a long recovery and got depressed and felt like I battled through it all on my own.  There were times during my injury that I thought about quitting but I was really glad I didn’t! After my junior year I had another coaching change and wondered what else could happen?  I was glad that I stayed for my senior year at UM because it was probably one of the best experiences of my life. So, I argue that anyone who is looking to step away or transfer should remember that they picked this university for a reason.  Yes, things do get hard and everyone goes through slumps during their time as a college athlete but preserver through and it will be worth it.

  1. You never take off that Uniform, everyone knows who you are

I believe that no matter where you go to school, if you are an athlete you are known.  I found this out very quickly once I got to UM.  I would go get dinner with some of my teammates and people would point at our poster and then point back at us.  It was so awkward but people knew who we were.  Even if they didn’t know us by name they recognized us and that made me think about the way that I carried myself.

 

  1. Professors will think you have dropped their class, you missed that much school

For me, I can think of many times where I would miss up to two weeks of classes at a time.  I can remember a specific time where I was in class one day and the professor didn’t call my name on the roll.  I remember thinking it was bizarre but just waited until after class to bring it up.  Once class was over, I went down to the professor and told her that she skipped me on the roll.  Her response to me was that she just assumed that I had dropped the class because I hadn’t been there in almost two weeks.  Everything got cleared up but it was one of the weirdest things that has ever happened to me.

  1. Your team is your family, so embrace it!

No matter what, my team will always be a part of me and I consider them to be family.  We went through so much together: wins, losses, losing and gaining teammates, losing and gaining coaches… the list goes on and on.  No matter what we were there for each other and because of that we have a bond that can never be broken.

 

  1. You will build some of the best relationships of your life

I have made some of the best friends from college golf.  We get to go to so many places and meet so many different people that I have met people from all over the world.  I am beyond thankful that college golf is the reason these people were brought into my life.  If I could give anyone advice, it would be to cherish these relationships and make the best of this experience.

  1. Once it’s over, it is over… there is no going back

College golf is over in the blink of an eye, it doesn’t always seem like it but it is.  If there is one thing I have realized, it is that you have to give it your all, all of the time.  Once you make that last putt on the last day of that tournament your collegiate career is over!  I didn’t completely realize this until after the conference tournament was over and I was on the plane back to Missoula, Montana for the last time.

At the end of the day, college golf is probably one of the hardest things I have ever done, but if I had to go back and change it I would do it all the same.  The experience was unlike anything I have ever been a part of and I will always cherish the memories I have made here.  Thank you UM and thank you to all of my family, friends, coaches and teammates who put up with my crazy self along the way.

 

~Hayley Bingham

Fun loving, golf playing, sweet tea drinking southern girl