Thursday, April 26, 2012

Ending of an Era

Tomorrow I will attend the last class of my under graduate college career.  I've lately been reviewing my college career and I'm trying to pin point some of the things that I've done well in college and some things that maybe I should have worked harder at.

As far as my major... I could not be any happier.  I am so thankful that I decided to be apart of the college of business.  I have met a lot of excellent professors and I've overall had a very positive experience from BG.  I am very happy that I decided to double major.  I feel like I've gained so much from both of my majors.  I honestly believe that supply chain management was the right choice as a profession for me.  I think that it fits my personality very well, and it comes easy to me.  But I'm also equally pleased that I decided to double major in finance.  Finance did not come as naturally to me as supply chain and it was a lot of hard work, but in the end I think some of the knowledge and basic finance principles that I understand now will help me a lot later in life.

I am very proud that I went to the job fair as a freshman and decided that I needed extra practice interviewing. It led to one of the most monumental events that happened in my life which was getting an internship with Sea World and moving down to Orlando for the summer.  Before then I had never lived on my own without anyone else there to support me.  I had never forced myself to make new friends and make my own dinners at night.  That experience was a life changer.  I not only developed my complete and utter love of Orlando, but I learned a lot about myself and what I was capable of.  Without that confidence I don't think that I could have studied abroad, or had the guts to sign up for a random traveling group across Europe.

I'm very glad that I worked really hard in different student organizations on campus.  I think I learned alot from these organizations, and I think it is a factor that helped me become employable.  I am very thankful that I was able to get my top job choice once I graduated.  It feels so nice to have that security that alot of people don't have.  I feel like I made good choices to help develop my leadership skills.

As I look back I am extremely grateful that I had the opportunity to study abroad. It was an experience of a life time and I realize just how few people get to have some of the amazing experiences that I had. Studying abroad was a risk and it was a lot of work, but I am so glad that I did it.  It really makes me believe that a person can make any opportunity that they want for themselves if they have the drive and patience to get it.

I think that my coop at Bendix was exactly where I should have been.  I learned a lot from Bendix, and it was a good fit for my life at that time.  I'm glad that I was able to spend some time at home after traveling so much.  I'm glad that I decided it was time for me to find a boyfriend during that time.  And I'm also glad that Cody wasn't the first person that I started to date.  I think that I needed a bad relationship... one that taught me not to jump into something too fast.  I think that helped me grow and treat my relationship with Cody different... which so far has worked.

Now looking at some things I wished that I could have done a little bit differently.  The big factor is that I wish that I had made more friends while I was at college.

I had originally intended on joining the business fraternity, Delta Sigma Pi, and I had gone through almost the whole pledging process, and about a week before it was time to pledge I decided that it wasn't for me.  I've wondered more than once if I made the right decision in not joining DSP.  At the point in my life that I tried to join, I was way too busy and I was stretched thin.  I literally had to plan out times in my schedule during the day to eat, or take a shower.  I had no free time because of other organization commitments.  I didn't really realize that in later semesters I wouldn't be so busy and that maybe I would be able to manage it better.  I'm still not 100% sure if not joining was the right decision, but at the same time it was a pivotal choice that I made and that is something I just have to accept going forward.

I've recently realized that I didn't make too many friendships during college, and I've been pondering why this is..  I lived with Hannah for my first two years in college and I guess I didn't really need to make new friends, but still I did make some friends those years.  It just seems like I lost contact with people.  I think a lot of my friends ending up transferring or moving into a new dorm and I never saw them.  I also have a lot of people that I know and that I'm friendly with in class... or school friends, but I never took the steps to develop relationships with them outside of class.  This is something that I'm going to have to work hard on going forward.  I've always taken responsibilities too literally, and I've always been a hard worker... but not really a socializer.  It's hard for me to accept that maybe this wasn't the best approach to things since I have been fairly successful due to my hard work attitude.  But I really need to find a balance.  It's something that I suppose I've always had an issue with.  I remember back in 4th grade there was a math computer game that I liked to play, but there were only two computers.  The first two people done with their work got to play.  So everyday I would quickly do my work while everyone else was talking and goofing off... and everyday I got to play the computer game, but I didn't have friends to play with at recess, and I guess I'm only just now starting to make the connection.  Even when I was playing sports, I was too focused on getting better and working hard that I never stopped to make friends... and this is something that I carried forward with me.  I guess it just took me a long time to realize that being so driven might not be the best thing.  I work really hard towards goals, but I think I didn't necessarily have the right goals at the time and I didn't realize it.  My lack of friends upon graduating college has really driven this point home to me.
Next I wish that I would have cared more about my GPA in the beginning of college.  I started college really strong, but it seems like towards my last finals in my freshman year I had done so well in the class that I thought the tests were really easy so I didn't study much.  It wasn't after I took my final tests that I realized that the tests were only easy before because I had studied hard.  Because of that I got B's in a lot of classes I really should have gotten A's in.  This disappoints me a little looking back on it.  I haven't done poorly by any means, but I think I could have done better which disappoints me a little bit.

There were numerous times when I considered not posting this blog, or making it private or something so that only I could read it.  But then I started thinking about it and overall, I'm very pleased and proud of my college experience.  I think that I made a lot of opportunities for myself during college and I'm very happy with that.  I made a bunch of good decisions, and I'm pleased with where my life is heading.  But I also need to learn from the past and figure out ways to change a little bit going forward.  I was really upset about the lack of friends earlier today, but the way I've always handled any issues I've faced is that its alright to be sad and upset about it for a while, but then after that it's time to make an action plan to fix it.  And now that I realize that it is an issue, I feel like I will be able to do better in the future.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mahogany Bay, Roatan, Honduras


I think that of all the places we went to Roatan was the place that we were least looking forward to.  We had heard a lot of bad things about Hondoras in general, like it was very dangerous and that over 100 Americans were killed there a year, and that there was a lot of gang violence in the area.  The ship told us to only book excursions through them here.  The girls that we met in Cozumel told us a story about how they had gone to Cozumel years ago and a cab driver had taken them hostage.  He took them to an ATM and told them that he wouldn't take them back to their ship until they gave him more money.  They said they all ended up maxing out their credit cards to give him enough money to let them go.

 


So it's safe to say we weren't all that enthustiastic.  We were debating whether or not we even wanted to get off of the ship, but we did end up going off for a bit.  We realized pretty quickly that Roatan is very removed from the rest of Hondoras.  The island was built for cruise ships and its very touristy.  The island is filled with different shops... a lot of them are pretty expensive.  But I did find some nice little places to get a few unique things there.  They don't let locals into Roatan.  They have security guards and you have to have a sail and sign card in order to get into the private beach area.  So it was actually a whole lot safer than we thought.  But we didn't dare step out of that cruiseline/security filled area.

 
Here is Cody while we were investigating the island.


 
And here I am!


Here is a picture of our cruise ship.  You can see people in ski lift types of chairs in this picture as well.  It was a little bit of a hike to walk from the cruise ship down the beach area, but Cody and I were wandering around looking at the different shops along the way.  We had some fun there.



 
I was able to take one of my favorite pictures of our whole trip.  I just loved this picture!!  You can see all of the people at the beach playing around.  We were on a dock looking at everyone.  We considered going out and playing on the beach too but we didn't originally come wearing our bathing suits and I had bought some stuff. So we walked back to our ship to drop it off and get changed.  But it was such a long walk that by the time we got back we didn't feel like going all the way back out there.  We ended up enjoying some of the alone time we had with the pools on the ship.  It seemed like whenever we wanted swim in the pools on the ship it was always too crowded, but when everyone else was on shore this gave us a perfect time to relax on the ship.




Here is a picture of the main square where all the shopping was.  We really didn't end up spending too much time in Roatan, but it was more pleasant than I expected.  I would recommend doing your shopping ahead of time though, because prices in Roatan can be higher than other places.

 

Overall we enjoyed our day and this was our last port.  It was very very pretty in Roatan and I'm glad that we walked around there a little bit.

Belize



Welcome to Belize!  Population 330,000 so a lot bigger than Cozumel.  A lot of people come to Belize looking for a job.  Belize is the size of Massachutes and used to be a British colony so their primary language is English.  A lot of people said that they spoke Spanish as well, but to tourists they only speak English.  Like Cozumel they don't really have traffic rules and no one ever gets speeding tickets.  They say that speed limits are just suggestions.  However, in large vehicles this must not be true because whenever our bus went over the speed limit something dinged.  They have a ratio of about 7 women to 1 man there.  Also they have 4 stop lights but only 3 of them actually work on the whole island.



Here are some average houses in the area.  Houses are between $20,000 and $120,000 here.  All schools are run by the church and kids are required to wear uniforms when going to school in Belize.




Here are some more pictures.

 


This is the Belize currency.  You'll see that it looks very similar to British pounds with the Queen of England on the cover.  Belize has free of England since 1983 but they still haven't changed the currency.  One good thing about the currency is that it has a 2 to 1 ratio in favor of the US dollar... which is just about the opposite if you consider the pound.

 


There is a large Mayan influence in Belize, and after our cave tubing experience I really wish that we had gone on a tour of the Mayan ruins in the area instead.  It woul dhave been really interesting to talk to the locals about what they thought of the Mayan calendar ending in 2012.  But anyway this picture is of the Mayan Mountains.  You can make out the frame of a person lying down.  His face is where the sun rises and sets.

 


The road that we drove down to get to the cave tubing place was FILLED with potholes!!  It was unbelievable how bumpy it was!!  The day before we arrived in Belize it had rained all day and the tours had to be closed because the caves were flooded.  We were lucky that we got to go at all.  As it was the water was 18 to 20 inches higher than they normally are.  Cave tubing was something that Cody and I were looking very forward to during our trip.  It was the first thing that we had both decided that we really wanted to try.

 


Here is Cody getting ready to go!!  We had to put sun tan lotion and bug spray on because we had to hike through the jungle.  Now when they mentioned the hike through the jungle I honestly didn't think we were going to have to walk that long... but it took forever!!



We carried those tubes that you see in the back, a life jacket, and helmet across the jungle.  There were a lot of old people on our tour... which surprised us.  One guy even had a cane and was walking it.  But it ended up taking us a long time to get to the place where we had to cave tube.  Our guide kept stopping along the way to point stuff out to us to give everyone a break and let people catch up... but it was not a positive experience for me.  It seemed like we walked a whole lot longer than we actually cave tubed.

 


Here was the van that we drove in.  The main guy told us not to bring our valuables or cameras because it would get destoryed during cave tubing.  There were a lot of sketchy people hanging out in the parking lot area and we were really worried that something would happen to our stuff... but it turns out everything was alright.

 


So when we started out we had to cross a river.  They had a rope that we grabbed onto and we held onto our tube and we had to get across.  Cody and I went first.  We made it pretty quickly without any problems and then we turned back and we saw that the old people weren't even half way across yet... and we were like oh-uh.  When we were finally able to cave tube we saw a lot of other groups going by us.  They had head rests and they were tied together.  Our group did not.  So it was really hard to keep our head lifted the whole time and we had to hold onto each others feet with our arms.  This was soooo uncomfortable.  Above is Leon who was our guide, and he was not the ideal guide.  I was in front of our group.  It was two older people, Cody, and I going tubing.  Well we started going and I didn't think that a guide was with us...they just let us go, and I couldn't really see behind me well.  First thing we start heading full speed ahead towards some rocks... and I was like oh crap... I'm going to hit right into those rocks!  So I start paddling frantically trying to steer us away from it.  At the last second Leon comes and pulls us away from it.



Here are the people we were connected with.  The rest of the cave tubing was pretty nice. We had a disposable camera that we took pictures with while we were in the cave. We haven't got them developed yet so they aren't in here. It was hard to concentrate during our tour because I was so uncomfortable. My neck hurt and my arms really hurt from having to hold onto Cody's feet. But our guide did mention that the Mayans though caves were the entrance to the underworld and that there are 9 levels of hell and 13 levels of heaven. At the end of the cave we went through the open sky with a lot of trees around. Monkey's are sometimes around in the trees but we didn't see any. There weren't any animals in the caves either.  The only issue that happened was at the end.  We came back to the same rope that we used to cross in the beginning.  Our guide was no where to be found and I was in the lead of all of the tubes... and I didn't know what to do.  When I got to the rope it hit my face and I went to grab it... When I raised my arms I lost grip of Cody's feet and of course the current was just strong enough to carry him down the river!!  I watched in terror as he and the woman that was behind him started floating down the river!  (Her husband grabbed the rope like I did).  I started to scream for him and I considered letting go of the rope and going after him.  There were some other guides down the river and they helped him.  And our guides eventually went after them and brought them back, but I was scared for a second!  It was so stupid that we weren't tied together like every other group was!!  Had we been tied together or if our guide would have been in front of us or given us any type of instructions it wouldn't have happened.  Cody gave me a lot of grief about it later, because I let him go.


After we went cave tubing they took us to their family restaruant.  It was surprisingly pretty good.  They gave us chicken, rice and beans, and coleslaw.  The chicken was surprisingly not spicy at all which I was happy about.  Cody was happy because they had good hot sauce there and he ended up buying a bottle from them.



Here we are after we got done eating!  It was kind of a bummer because overall I don't think Cody and I really enjoyed our cave tubing trip as much as we thought we would.  It was the thing that we were looking the most forward to, but I'm glad that we did it.  Because I know if we wouldn't have we would have regretted it.  It was something we had to experience for ourselves to see how it would be.  Next time I think we'll choose to go white water rafting which is a lot more fun!

 


Here were some of the drinks that they gave us.  They also had alcohol punch that they were offering people.  But neither Cody or I wanted anything to do with it.  Our tour guides the day before told us never to accept alcohol from people that give it to you for free because you never know what it is... and we weren't too keen on not listening to them!

 


This is the cave tubing group we went with.  Cavetubing.bz  they gave a good price, but if you're interested in going cave tubing I would suggest looking into another company.  Particularly one with a head rest that ensures they will tie your group up with ropes.  We saw a lot of other if not all companies did this.

 

Here we are at the end.  We didn't get too many pictures of us during this day with my camera, but hopefully some of the ones we took in the cave turned out good.



Here is a picture of the lead guy that led our group.




Cozumel, Mexico

Cozumel!!!  I think that this was our favorite day!!  Cozumel is absolutely beautiful and we were able to hang out around the beach all day.  We had a lot of options for what we wanted to do in Cozumel, but we ended up going on a bar hopping tour.  It was a ton of fun, because we got to see so much more of Cozumel than we would have been able to if we hadn't gone on the tour!! 




We were lucky because Cozumel was our first port that had a dock.  So we were able to just walk off the boat and we didn't have to take a tender.  We still had to wait a little while to get off the boat though, because they didn't just let everyone stampede off at once.  I was a little bit concerned about how long it would take us to get off the boat, because everything that I had read said that people with Carnival excursions got the first priority to get off the ship first.  And this was true... and not true at the same time.  They split us up into two different seating areas.  The people with Carnival excursions and the people without.  They called individual Carnival excursions and those people got to get off the ship, but they also let some independent people go at the same time too.  So the wait wasn't really that bad.  We didn't have to wait for all of the Carnival excursion people to get off the ship before we were allowed to get off.  I really appreciated this.




It was SO bright getting off the ship!!  As soon as we got off I was blinded and I had to stumble around to get some sunglasses on!!  I had a heart attack at first, because my camera wouldn't turn on at first!!  I had charged it all night long, but it was acting like it was dead.  I was soooo sad, but then magically it started working!!  PHEW!



Here is Cody standing in front of the welcome to Cozumel sign.  We had to walk through a long gift shop before we could get into the city.  We learned a lot about Cozumel while we were there.  For instance Cozumel is located in the Caribbean Sea not in the Gulf of Mexico.  I didn't know that before we went on our trip.  Also mopeds are considered a family vechile in Mexico and it's not uncommon to see a  family of 5 on one moped!  Which is dangerous because people don't need drivers licenses there and they don't really follow traffic signals.  They are considered yield signs at best.  But overall if you want to go to Mexico... I'd say Cozumel is the place to go!  Unlike other places in Mexico, Cozumel is a lot safer because it is it's own island and the gangs haven't made it there yet.  They say that at night you can hear gun shots from the mainland but Cozumel itself has very little crime. 



Here is the Margartaville in Cozumel.  Cody was excited about it so I took a picture from our cab.  I also learned that Cozumel has the second largest coral reef in the world.  I remember years ago when I was getting certified for scuba diving my dive shop was sponsoring a trip to Cozumel to go diving, and it's no wonder... because it's absolutely beautiful there.  I bet it would make great scuba diving.





The reason why we had to take a taxi was that there are several docks in Cozumel, and our ship didn't dock at Punta Langosta which was where we had to meet at.  It was only a short ride there though, and luckily on the way home our tour group dropped us off at our dock so that we didn't have to take a taxi going back.



But alas!  I was as lucky as I could be!!!  I was afraid that we were going to miss the Hard Rock in Cozumel, because the island is kind of large and I thought that it would be more spread out. But I guess it was my lucky day, because the Hard Rock was right next to the Starbucks that we had to meet our tour for!! 


I was able to get my traditional picture out in front of it!! Yippee for things working out right!  Down this area were a lot of shops, and we actually had enough time for Cody to shop around and get his mom a bracelet for her birthday.




About 90,000 people live in Cozumel and a bunch of them live in the projects. The projects are quickly growing, and I don't think that the true reflection of them can be seen in the picture.  Because in person it looks a lot worse.  At first I couldn't imagine that anyone could even live in the buildings, but apparently they do and it's pretty common.  Most families are only able to afford building a house with one room.  Credit has 30% interest on it there so it's really expensive.  So families build one room at a time and as they get more money they just add onto the house.



Here is the first bar that we went to called Punta Muerta.  By the way Punta means point encase you were wondering.  You'll see it alot throughout my blog. 


Aren't the views here gorgeous??  This side of the island is unique because there is no electricity here.  They buy fresh meat and produce everyday to bring in and cook.  All of the bars closed once it got dark out.  Also its not very developed there so the views are really really nice!!  It was enjoyable to see that side of the island.  I'm certain that we would have missed out on it if we hadn't gone on the tour.




At every bar that we went to they gave us a welcome shot.  Here is the "shot" that they gave us at the first bar!  It was in a cup!  It was huge.  They told us that one margarita in Mexico equals about 3 in the US just because of their size and alcohol content.  But that didn't stop Cody from getting one at every bar we went to!




Here we are on the beach!  This was the best beach that we visited all day long.  And actually it was the only bar that had a swimming pool and a place to get a massage.  We hung out by the pool with our feet dipped in towards the end of our hour here.




It was so picture perfect here!  I just couldn't stop having pictures taken.  I think Cody was annoyed because he wanted to enjoy his drink.  One thing that was different about Mexico was that when we had to move on to the next place they gave us a to go cup so that we could take our drinks on the bus with us.



I just loved being by the ocean!  The water was so nice there too!!



Here is Cody... unhappily posing for me.  After this I let him go relax in one of the lawn chairs and I went to play in the ocean.



Finally I got some girls to take a picture of me!!  :)



I love it when I stand in the ocean and the waves bury my feet into the sand!  I remember the first time this happened to me was in Hawaii, and I thoroughly enjoyed it then... and I enjoyed when I was here as well.



Here is the second bar that we went to Coconuts.  I was pretty excited about this place, because I did a lot of research on Cozumel ahead of time... and everything that I read said that Coconuts is the place to go!


Coconuts is at the top of a cliff, and you basically overlook the ocean.  So here we are climbing up!



They had a bunch of funny signs along the way.


Here is another one.




When we got inside the first thing that we noticed was that tshirts lined the roof!  They do this because it is cheap, and hurricanes come every so many years and destroy everything and they have to rebuild.  So they build them as cheap as they can and move on.



Here you can see a section of the roof.  Do you notice that its a light brown color?  I didn't realize that it was dried up palm trees!  So simple but the realization never hit me until my tour guide mentioned how great palm trees were... and that the leaves were often used in roofing.  It was an "Ohhh that makes sense" type of moment.


This picture might seem familiar!  It's my Facebook profile picture and probably one of my favorite pictures of Cody and me during our trip!




Remember how I told you that the margaritas were big here??  Well here is Cody's second one!



Here I am outside of coconuts enjoying the view.  They had several little trails that you could walk around to see different areas.


Here's Cody!



I'm not sure if you can see the flags blowing in the distance but it was definitely windy that day!!




Here is a view from the other direction. We couldn't really get down to the beach from here.  They had nice tables that you could sit at and enjoy the view.  Cody and I ended up sitting with an older couple and chatting with them.



Here is Cody standing in front of Coconuts.  You can really see the palm tree roof that I was talking about in this picture.



When we got to this section I laughed at the little rope and the sign.  Hrmm??  Big cliff right there plunging into the ocean.  Danger??  Couldn't be!!  Haha




Here is the inside of Coconuts.  You can see the cook in the back posed for me.  At first I thought he was yelling at me not to take a picture, and I felt bad.  But then it just turned out that he was being friendly and I started to snap away! 



Here is the cat that was there, Garfield!  He was a sweet cat.  They had a whole bunch of animals walking around there.


Here is the wall of bars and underwear there.  While we were sitting around these guys kept walking up to Cody and giving him photo albums. I was like hrmm... what is this? Turns out that it was girls that had flashed them in the past and they had a photo album of it. 



Haha... Coconuts... I get it.  They had this sign at the top corner of the building.  I almost walked out and missed it, but someone in my group thought it was funny and pointed it out to me.  I think this was the last picture I took there.



Another one of their pets... a crocodile.





Next we went to Playa Bonita.  This is the view from there.  It was amazing how beautiful each bar we went to was.  They were all right on the ocean.  It was so nice.




Here we are!  We really enjoyed our time on the tour.  And we ate some REALLY good food here!  Cody had fish tacos and I had the BEST shrimp!  Ahh it was sooo good!  And they gave me quite a bit of food too!




They sure weren't shy on the portions here!  Look at this margarita!  Holy cow!  It was huge.  They had a small and a large.  This was the large, but it was really funny at how big it was.  They also had guys there that sang to us.  We were all having a good time there and it was a lot of fun.  The two girls in the pink that you can kind of make out in the picture ended up becoming our friends for the day and we hung out with them.



Here is a view of the bar.  It's very open.


I'm so sad that this picture didn't come out because it shows our two new friends.



We were doing good on time so we got to make an extra stop.  They sold something called coco loko here.  Which is "spiked" coconut juice and apparently really good.  Three bars later my Coco was drunk!



He had to go to the bathroom and cross the street.  I felt like a mother hen.  I was so worried something was going to happen to him.  But he stumbled his way across and made it back.



But while he was away... what else could I do but get some pictures taken!  I'm quite a fan of this picture even though I'm holding Cody's drink.




Here he is!  He made it back!



So we looked up and there was the large cliff with tons of holes in it.  Cody points to it and says that we are going on it.  I'm seeing my life flash through my eyes but I couldn't let him go alone so I followed him up.  And it was so windy!  Here I am in mid attempt to try to stop my hair from blowing.


There he goes... starting to walk towards the edge...




Finally I told him that was enough and it was picture time.  He was more than excited to start letting me take pictures now!



Here is the last bar that we went to called Rastas or the Bob Marley bar.  It was a theme of... you guessed it Bob Marley.  They had a little souvenir shop there that was decently priced so I got a cute necklace there.



Here we are with our bus driver!


Here is a picture of the bar.




Once again the roof was lined with t-shirts.  There are our two friends up ahead.



Cody ordering his 4th margarita.



He wasn't happy with me taking pictures of him...




Here is our group sitting outside on the beach




Cody tried to talk me into it... but it wasn't happening!



My Bebesee!


Here we are!



We had to get a picture with Bob Marley.  I was trying to expand my picture poses here... but whenever I do that I end up looking like a nut!!



I sure did here!!  Cody was purposely trying to put his hand on her boob but I didn't realize where my hand was until later on when we were reviewing the pictures!  We got a good laugh out of it.




Isn't it beautiful??  I wish we could go back!


Here is one of our tour guides!  It took us forever to get this picture.  The sun was directly in our eyes.  And the pictures either came out too dark or we were all squinting.  This ended up being the best we could do.



And here we are later on after we made it back onto the ship.  1 tequila... 2 tequila... 3 tequila... floor!  I couldn't help but take the picture of him.  The poor thing we came back and laid out on the deck and he fell asleep... I tried putting suntan lotion on him... but BOY did he get burned up that day!!  He was so funny when he got up.  He was like you fried me up like a lobster!  And he kept saying a whole bunch of stuff like that... it was so funny.