Tuesday, August 30, 2011

“I hoped that the trip would be the best of all journeys: a journey into ourselves” - Shirley MacLaine

So, ladies and gentleman, this is it: tomorrow I officially embark on my journey to India! But before I reflect on self discovery and all that nonsense, it would be extremely rude if I failed to introduce you to my new best friend for the next four weeks, Sandy (see us together above). Yes, Sandy is a backpack, and she is a husky lady about half my size in height and weight, thanks for asking. She has been entrusted with the ever-so-important job of carrying all of my belongs, including a week's worth of clothes, toiletries and other random necessities, as well as over 20 energy bars (have I mentioned spicy food is not my strong suit?). Vital items like my passport and cash will be stored in my straight from the runway couture money belt/fanny pack - I hear those are among the latest trends in India. Kidding, right?

Now on to said nonsense, the past few weeks have been full of emotional ups and downs preparing for the trip. By day, I am excited and running around like the Tasmanian devil trying to make sure I have what I need and that it fits in good-ol Sandy. But by night, terror strikes and I have nightmares about falling off cliffs, being attacked by monkeys, and getting trampled on by elephants (thanks Ross). I liked the quote I found today because I think it is a valuable concept. As awesome and different as India will be than America, part of the point of the trip is to take time for self-reflection - to think about where we fit into the world as people, and of course for me, as a (near) future social worker. 

I decided to take the trip because I felt like it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I am going with positivity on my mind, excitement in my heart, and a huge smile on my face! 

If I have internet I'll try to post while I'm abroad, if not, I shall see you upon my return at the end of September!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

"All the world is a laboratory to the inquiring mind." - Martin H. Fischer

Today I got an early birthday present: a new fancy-schmancy camera! It is a Nikon Coolpix L120, and maybe it's not fancy-schmancy on the grand scheme of cameras, but for me, this is a huge upgrade and I'm in love.

On this beautiful Saturday afternoon, I took myself out for a walk around Audubon Park to see what my new baby could do before I take it halfway across the globe to India. I tried to play with angles, scene settings, zoom, and coloration, so I want to share some of my favorites:

Close-up of a tree swing in Audubon Park
Flowers at the front entrance of Audubon Park
Bird Island in Audubon Park
A view of the trails in Audubon Park 
Playing with the macro setting inside the trees
Looks so relaxing, right?
I love this adorable little squirrel! Little guy's munching on a graham cracker.

The bark on this tree was stunning
Stately homes line the perimeter of the park
Details from the park's surrounding homes
Beautiful architecture and coloration on this home
I'll be practicing more this evening at New Orleans Mid-Summer Mardi Gras, and then tomorrow night at my boyfriend's gig on Frenchman street. The more I practice, the more confident I will feel that I can capture my upcoming trip in photos as well as memories!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

“Success always comes when preparation meets opportunity” - Henry Hartman

Hi everyone!

Thanks to all you faithful readers who have been asking about my blogosphere return. It's been a long summer filled with many highs, and many deep lows, so I haven't even known where to begin in keeping up the blog.

My circles above on the map are tiny, but I'll be in those regions
Yet, I've decided to start again due to this grand opportunity that presented itself several months ago: a one month trip to India! Now, the time has come to make real preparations, as I leave for the adventure on August 31. I'll be flying into Delhi, spending my 24th birthday hanging out at the Taj Mahal in Agra, then traveling to the North to spend the majority of the trip in Dharamsala. The focus of the trip, is neither purely academic, nor missionary, but as I like to call it: a cultural exchange. I took a class that included reading books and writing papers over the summer, which left room for pure exploration and observation while in India. We will be taking in the sights, sounds, and yes, even smells, of a country that is so different from our own. I have also been partnered with a Tibetan pen pal, who I will get to know while spending time with her in Dharamsala. I hear rumors of meditation and yoga, a trip to Tibetan Monks' caves, tea plantations, and coloring with children in the Tibetan Children's Village. The itinerary is "flexible," so I am keeping an open mind about where we stop and the activities that we will be taking part in while abroad.

For now, my focus is on packing (read: shopping). Yup, for those who know me, I made the jump. I traded my 5 inch heels for those bad boys over to the right. I mean, just look at that big 'ol rubber toe. No Himalayan Mountain, nor rabid monkey for that matter, is messing with these feet. I also acquired more cargo capris than any one person should own, as well as my very own hand-made sleep sack (thanks mom!). And, just like any inner-eighty-year-old wouldn't dare leave home without: crossword puzzles and a book light.

Who's ready for India? This girl.

Maybe... kind of... okay not at all... but I've got 6 days to get there!

P.S. I'm taking requests for email updates while abroad, so leave a comment if you would like to be included!