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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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

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.

Life Of A Cops Daughter

Stay Strong. Be Safe. Come Home.”

 

The words above may be simple, but have so much meaning. My dad is a Police Officer and has been for more than 20 years. His dedication and passion can be seen not only while he’s at work, but at home as well. It takes an incredibly strong person with so much determination and compassion to put on that uniform everyday and head to work, knowing he might not come home. He’s taught me how to be strong, how to be kind and compassionate and most importantly how to throw a mean punch and a swift kick to any man’s groin who tried to hurt me.

I always get asked, “How was growing up with a dad who was a Police Officer?”, “Has he ever shot someone?”, “Does he tell you all the cool stories?”. Being the sarcastic person I am, I have to bite my tongue to refrain from getting myself in trouble. To answer those questions, yes my dad has told me stories and no, not all of them were “cool” some were heartbreaking and disturbing, yes my dad has shot someone but only because his and his partners lives were in danger and growing up with a dad who is a Police Officer, I didn’t know any different. He was just my dad and did anything any other dad would do, the only difference being that he worked a range of long shifts and wore a bulletproof vest and badge to work. What people don’t realize is the family I gained because of my dad’s career choice. Those men and women became my aunts and uncles, the people who showed up to my birthday parties, school events, the ones who have attended my graduations and most importantly the ones who have seen me grow into the person I am today and helped solidify my appreciation for those in Law Enforcement.

When I was little I knew that my dad’s job was dangerous but didn’t truly understand what he went through everyday until I got older. My dad has always been my best friend, my hero and my number one supporter. So everyday when he’d get ready for work I would try my hardest to make sure he wasn’t able to go; whether it was clinging to his leg for dear life, tying the laces to his boots together in a zillion knots and on the rare occasion throwing his gun belt into my pool. The fear of something happening to him was always in the back of my mind, and became more prominent as I grew older.  

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Elementary school was a breeze and issues very seldom arose about the fact my dad was a cop. All my classmates found it “cool” that he was a Police Officer especially when he’d show up to school in his uniform just to have lunch with me or for school events. My dad was awesome that way, even though he had work, he always found time to come to my school events and tried to make my childhood as normal as possible. My middle school years were a different story, the kids were less accepting of what my dad did for a living and as a result I didn’t have many friends. Most my lunches were spent eating with the Resource Officer and my weekends were spent with my grandma because my dad was working undercover cases and didn’t know when he’d be able to come home. As I grew older and high school came around it became more apparent the stigma that came along with being a cops daughter and cops in general. They always assumed I was either a “goodie two shoes” or a “rebel who got away with everything,” the truth being I didn’t. I actually was held to a higher standard than most, getting away with lying was absolutely impossible and disappointing my dad was soul crushing. To this day I’m still held to those standards. They assumed all cops are “pigs” and are bad people, the truth being they aren’t. Just like anything else in this world there is good and there is bad, people unfortunately only choose to see the bad and what the media decides to show.

Today I still feel the way I always have and I couldn’t be more proud of who my dad is and what he does. His choice of a career has saved countless lives, and made him not only my hero but one to many others as well. The acts of senselessly killing those men and women in Law Enforcement breaks my heart, it makes my heart hurt for their families, their friends and their fellow Officers. People don’t realize how it feels to have your heart sink into your stomach when you hear there was a Police involved shooting, the sheer panic that goes through your mind and the sigh of relief when your dad finally answers his phone after the 100th time you call him and lets you know he’s okay. You don’t see the look on those Officers faces when they can breath knowing their fellow brother or sister is safe and how it effects them when they find out a fellow Officer has been hurt.

To Law Enforcement Officers – Stay Strong, Be Safe, Come Home.

 

Kilee Stepper