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.

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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!

Why I’m Grateful I Grew Up in a Shitty Small Town

I was raised in a small town of a little over 200 people called Piedmont, South Dakota. I had to commute to the town of Sturgis (under 7,000 people) for high school where I had a class of 150 kids. I know this isn’t the smallest town anyone has ever been from, but still anytime I bring it up I’m sure I get the same responses. “Where is that? What did you even do? That sounds shitty”. I have always defended growing up in a small town because it is like having an embarrassing sibling, only you can make fun of them. However, today, I am going to stop trying to defend small towns and really list why I am proud to have grown up in a “shitty” small town.

Lacked Educational Opportunities

My high school was small, and the education was great, but we lacked opportunities that other students were exposed to. I have met students that have taken classes in fields of early engineering, business, and accounting all before coming to college. Some of my peers arrived to the University of Montana with 30+ credits already to their name. This simply wasn’t possible at my high school.

  • I cannot say I am glad that I didn’t have those opportunities, but in a way it made me apply myself more. I knew I was going to be applying to colleges against kids that had more opportunity, and that made me realize in order to do well you have to be intelligent. Growing up in a school system of that size teaches you how to work, and work hard enough to put yourself into the position that you want to be in. It taught me how to embrace an uphill battle, and I will always be proud of that.

“What are we gunna do?”

My town was extremely boring and nothing ever happened. Those words could have literally been 60% of all the words me and my friends have ever said to each other. Constantly we were waiting for something to happen. Always it was, “what movie is out this week? or who’s house are we going to?” Because there was never anything going on. It was mind numbing boredom at its best.

  • I am the most grateful for this, and I know that sounds crazy, but it taught me the most valuable of lessons. How to be patient. How to be able to wait for the things in life that you want, and also how to be happy with what you have. Also, because there is nothing ever going on, I came to understand that you have to seize every single opportunity that you have. Living in a small town will give you that perspective.

Living for the Weekend

Like almost every other small town in Midwestern America, the kids would drink on the weekends. There were very little opportunities for everyone to get together other than at a party. I knew numerous people that got tickets for underage drinking, on several occasions. I knew kids in high schools with DUI’s, and kids that probably didn’t know it, but had drinking problems. It has caused a lot of damage, from lost scholarships to lost lives.

  • This one may be a “silver lining in the cloud”, but again I am glad to have grown up in that. All because it allows you to see how “cool” it actually is to be the drunkest person at a party, and how the consequences of drinking can be much more severe than a hangover. I continually meet people who haven’t learned these lessons, and it is sad when they do because it is a lesson usually experienced and not witnessed.

Very Few People Have Made It

Whatever it is you want to do, if you are from a small town, chances are there are not going to be many connections readily available to you. For that reason many people go into what is a “safe and secure” job, or whatever industry is common around them. Doing what you want isn’t realistic because rarely do you know of someone who has “made it” in the industry you dream of. Unless, of course, they moved to a city where there are more connections. More people equals more opportunity. Small towns do not have those opportunities.

  • This taught me that in order to do what you truly want, you have to step outside of your comfort zone and just go for it. If things aren’t happening around you, make them happen or leave. In order to achieve the things you desire in life you have do things that make you nervous or even afraid sometimes. I am thankful for growing up in Piedmont, because I came to understand that if I didn’t leave there would be no point in pursuing my goals. Since first leaving, I have gone to a number of different places in pursuit of my dreams and it wouldn’t have been possible without leaving home for the first time.

For all of this, and more, I am immensely proud to have grown up in my small “shitty” town in South Dakota because it made me the person I am today, and taught me lessons in life that I believe are invaluable. Small towns may not have a lot material opportunity, but I am glad to be from one. I love my hometown, I love the people, and I would do it again if given the chance. GO SCOOPERS (Actual high school mascot).

 

Written By: Jesse Schuster

Jesse Schuster is a senior at the University of Montana, a snowboarding wannabee, and a “Scrubs” fanatic.

How To Make String Art


Are you looking for a cute wall piece to liven up your living room, or a cute meaningful gift for someone that is hard to buy for? Why spend a ton of money at a department stores for decorations or gifts, when you could simply make them yourself!

I have always been one for arts and crafts, and with pinterest constantly filling my head with crafty ideas and do it yourself projects, string art just looked and sounded something cool to do! If you know how to handle a hammer and can tie a knot, this project should be easy and fun.

Here are my steps start to finish to help you to successfully make a beautiful and one of a kind string art project perfect for a gift, or simply as a decoration in your own home. Trust me, people will be asking where you got them.

 

Lets Get Started!

 


Step 1: Tools and Supplies

First you must decide what kind of material you would like to work with( wood, canvas, etc.), and collect all of the supplies you will need. In this project, here is a list of the supplies used:

  • Wood (size is optional, however it must be at least a half inch thick to ensure nails can be        hammered deep enough to prevent them from coming loose)
  • Nails- (16mm-25.4mm long)
  • String (color is optional)
  • Printed string art pattern or stencil
  • Hammer
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Hot glue gun (optional)
  • Wood Stain (optional)
  • Paintbrush (optional)

 

 


Step 2: Hammer Time!

For this project, I chose to print out an outline, and tape it to my surface. If you would rather, you can draw the image straight on the surface, and follow the lines that way. The benefit of taping your outline onto the board is that you can remove the stencil later on and not have unwanted lines left behind. It also makes following the pattern very simple and easy.

As you can see in the pattern above, the lines are quite complex. If this is your first time attempting string art, I would suggest a less intricate stencil, and work your way up to more difficult patterns.

When hammering the nails, space them about 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch apart.

Once you have finished hammering, go back through and make sure each nail is secure. This is VERY important to do to ensure that while stringing, the nails will not be pulled out, or loosen. This is also crucial to do before the outline is removed because when pulling the outline off, nails that are not secure will come out.

After removing the outline, I chose to stain the piece of wood in order to create a more bold background for the string to stand out from. This step is optional, however, it definitely adds to the piece.

 


Step 3: Ready, Set, STRING!

For this project, I decided to do a thick cross string pattern.

Essentially, there is no pattern to follow, simply begin by tying a double knot around one nail, this will be your starting point. Be sure to leave a long tail to connect your end piece of string with. From there, create the outline for your pattern by looping the string around the outer points of the pattern.

Once you have the outline strung up, begin crossing the string through out out the nails and fill in the pattern. Decide whether you want your pattern to look more ‘holey’, meaning the board beneath is visible, or more filled in where you cannot see the board.


Step 4: Finishing Touches

This step is just for tying up all the loose ends. (Literally)

Be sure that the string is tight and you have gotten the look you want. For extra securing purposes, use a hot glue gun to glue the two trimmed end pieces that are tied together. This is of course optional, however it does help the piece to last for years to come.

Katie Buckley is a University of Montana Senior in pursuit of a Marketing Degree as well as a certificate in Event Management. She loves Pinterest and gains a lot of her DIY inspiration from the creativity of others and hopes to share her own ideas projects with the world and inspire others.

8 ways my rescue dog rescued me

Driving home from Moab late at night in the spring of 2014, I was doing what we all do on long road trips: thinking. Something was missing in my life. I had just spent a week backpacking around the desert and had an unbelievable trip, but all I could think the entire time was how it would have been better with a companion. The next morning I took a trip to Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter in Bozeman, MT to “just look”. I don’t know much, but as soon as we caught each other’s eye I knew I had just met my soul hound. Waker has inflicted monumental impact on my every day life and this canine has made me a better human. I like to say I rescued my dog, but really, he rescued me. Or maybe, we rescued each other. The list of the ways he’s shaped my life is limitless, but here are eight lessons that only Wake dog could have taught me.

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  1. “We” is so much better than “I”.
    Waker is an every day constant now and no matter what it is, it’s about us, not just me anymore. Every decision I make is fueled by what’s best for him and he’s taught me that when you have a teammate in life, you must be considerate, selfless and mindful.

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  1. Dog really is the best co-pilot.
    Waker drastically changed my road trip game. We stop for lots of pee breaks and critter hunting in places I never would have explored alone. We have crossed state lines and time zones together, have witnessed the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets. I have seen so much more beauty because of him and for that I am fur-ever grateful.

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  1. It’s okay to put your head in a hole sometimes.
    Waker knows the best things in life aren’t always right in front of us nor are they easy to get. Sometimes we need to dig deep to find what we’re really looking for, just like catching critters.

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  1. You can get by with a little help from your best friend.
    Waker has seen my heart break, has watched me endure loss and has been there for significant life changes. I was on crutches for the better part of our first year together, but he didn’t let me sit around and think about it too much. He made me get up and get out to actually enjoy those days and suddenly, it wasn’t so bad.

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  1. It’s cool to be goofy.
    Waker is my little weirdo. He doesn’t do what other dogs do – he doesn’t play fetch, he doesn’t woof down his food at once and he only wants to cuddle on his terms. He walks to the wag of his own tail. He builds nests for himself all day long, he plays with his toys like they’re his actual friends and he catches more house mice than any cat on the block. He’s made me realize that the best thing to be is yourself, and its even better when you’re a little goofy.

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  1. Sharing your bed is a good thing to do.
    Waker likes to sleep like I do – in the middle of the bed with all the covers. We needed a few nights, but we finally agreed upon sleeping positions that accommodate both of us. That means he still gets the middle and I try not to fall off, but hey, it works for us and we’ve never slept better. He’s taught me that the greatest things, like sleep, are shared, and sharing is crucial for feeling fulfilled.

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  1. Take a look at the things around you.
    Waker wonders about everything he sees, listens to every sound he hears and takes his time to pee on everything he sniffs. Pausing to take a look at the things around me has enhanced my quality of life. Life is full of simple treasures and beauty is everywhere. Waker gets full credit for teaching me how important understanding this is.

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  1. Fall more in love every day.
    Waker makes me laugh, encourages me to remain patient and takes me on an unpredictable adventure every day. My heart is full of happiness because of him and each day I fall more and more in love with that boy.