¡Estoy en Peru!

¡Hola a todos! I am officially in Peru!! Sorry that I have been a bit MIA lately but this is the first time I have unzipped my laptop since arriving. I figured I would give a bit of a rundown of the first day for this post and then write about my first weekend for another post.

Basically, I woke up at 4:30 Friday morning, got dressed, did my final packing of chargers, books, Fitbits, and phones, downed a Dunkin Donuts iced mocha with almond milk and made it to the airport. I was there 3 hours before my flight(recommended) however, passed through baggage checking and security in about 20 minutes so I had ample time to fill my water bottle, buy some plane snacks and magazines, and use the bathroom.

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Upon boarding the flight, I made my way to my window seat (that didn’t have a window) and waited patiently for the girl in front of me to open hers (she didn’t). I spent the 5-hour flight to Panama with on and off naps, watching friends, reading one page of my book and playing Sudoku on my phone, you know… the typical traveling things.

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breakfast

Upon arriving in Panama, I had to walk the entire length of the airport to find my connecting terminal (which is fine since I’ll be doing the same on my flight back with an8-hourr layover). The Panama airport was nothing like I had expected. It was oozing in glitz and glam. The walkways adorned with Pandora, Rolex, and Louis Vuitton shops and the shoppers matching the ritzy ways of the entire airport.

I took a seat at my terminal, while I awaited the arrival of Marissa, the girl I had spoken to on Facebook. I had only ever seen her in a full face of makeup (profile photos) so there was a girl who resembled her in the airport but I didn’t approach her just in case I would have made a fool of myself.

My window seat on this flight did have a window (which made me a very happy gal) so I was able to see Panama and Peru in all of their glory during my flight. We finally arrived in Peru at about 730pm, to which we made it through a very simple cutstoms process and made our way to baggage claim. After getting all of our bags, seeing quite a few dogs, and exchanging $20 we found our driver and we headed to San Miguel.

Our driver was a very sweet man who spoke little to no Engliah and really likes Salsa music. Speaking decent Spanish myself, I was able to communicate with him pretty seamlessly.

I immediately fell in love with Peru. The cool breeze (which I can now say is not always there), the Palm trees, the colorful houses, and so much more made me really feel like Peru was definitely the place for me. The insane driving, however, I can live without.

Marissa and I arrived at our volunteer house, unloaded our baggage, and were immediately welcomed by Martina, an Italian girl who had already been volunteering in Peru for 3 months, and has three more months to go. She knows the house, rules, bus stops, everything really, inside and out and she was very informative and helpful for any qualm we may have. She gave us a tour of the house, gave us a rundown of all of the rules, and showed us to our rooms. After somewhat settling in..AKA shoving all of my belongings into the small closet and drawer i was alotted, I made my way back downstairs to get acquainted with the space, girls, and wait up to meet 2 more new people.

I tried to stay up with the other girls, but all of us newbies were so exhausted, that I went right up to bed. My bed, doesn’t have a ladder so I basically have to do some aerobics to get up there. It’s not too bad, especially since I am one of the tallest people here, I have definitely gotten used to it. the first 2 days were actually hell though, especially trying to get down.

Once I finally made my way into my bed, I got really nervous. The girls who had already been here were best friends. They talk about everything and they do it with such ease. I sort of felt as if I were intruding on their friendships. I really thought I was making a huge mistake coming to Peru. Trying to put those negative thoughts behind me, I shut off my phone, pulled up my covers, and went right to sleep.

Alicia

Also, If you want to follow my journey more frequently, follow my Instagram: @aliciaheninger

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Final post before Peru!!!

Happy Thursday to you all. In a matter of 12 or so hours I will be on my plane to Peru. I wanted to make one last post prior to leaving just to be like ‘hey, I’m leaving’ and so on and so forth.

For those of you who are new or simply don’t pay attention to my blog posts… I will be in Lima, Peru for the next 4 weeks volunteering in an orphanage(s). Basically, in regards to posting, I am hoping to post 10 posts at the most over the next 4 weeks (but expect a ton of Peru related posts when I get back home). I am not going to say that I will have any consistency in my posting whatsoever (and I really don’t care) and I just really wanted to get that out there.

Yes, I will have down time, however, I may want to nap or explore and do other things besides blogging. I’m not gone, I’m not dead, I’m just out here, enjoying life.

I am super excited for this experience and the next 4 weeks of my life. Until I get to Peru (or my plane) I must logoff because I have to shove this computer into my backpack, along with so many other things. So, hasta pronto mis personas favoritas y hasta pronto Lima

Alicia

10 free things to do in Chicago

Hello friends. I will have no money when I get back from Peru so I have decided to make a list of some things I will be able to do in Chicago. So, if you are like me and have no money to your name, you can also do these super duper fun things with me. Also I leave for Peru in 5 days LIKE WHATTTT. Anyways, let’s get started.


  1. Lake Michigan- There are so many different beaches you can go to enjoy Lake Michigan. From North Avenue to Oak Street there is a beach for everyone! No matter the season you can walk, run, or lay out on the beach and have a day full of fun.IMG_4546
  2. Lincoln Park- Situated on Lake Michigan, Lincoln Park is home to numerous statues, an abundance of grass for walking, laying, playing, etc. sanctuaries, a rowing canal, and so many other fun options. You can spend an entire day at Lincoln Park and still be yearning for more time hereIMG_6046
  3. DePaul University Art Museum- What better way to support your own school than by admiring the art of your peers? This museum is open year round (closed Mondays and Tuesdays) and always has new and interesting exhibits for any art taste.
  4. Lincoln Park Zoo- Home to over 1200 animals, the Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the oldest and last remaining free zoos in the entire country. Enjoy a day of gazing at flamingos wading in water, to giraffes and zebras munching on some hay.IMG_3580
  5. Millennium Park- Take a picture in front of the infamous ‘Bean,’ take a walk around Maggie Daley Park and in the winter go ice skating. No matter the season or day of the week, Millennium Park is full of fun adventures.IMG_5621.jpg
  6. Lincoln Park Conservatory- While winter in Chicago is a sight to see, sometimes the best thing to do is spend the day indoors. At the Lincoln Park Conservatory (situated amongst Lincoln Park) you can admire greenery, flowers, and trees of all sizes and biomes all in one place.
  7. The ‘Mag’ Mile- Chicago is a hub for upscale retail. And, even if you don’t want (or can’t afford) anything, simply walking the Mag Mile is a trip in itself. From Ulta to Chanel, there is a store (or a few) for any shopper.
  8. Oz Park- Named after the Wizard of Oz, here you will find statues of the Wizard of Oz characters, an abundance of trees, critters, and so many dogs who would love a petting or a game of fetch.
  9. Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool- If you are looking for a calm place to relax in the midst of finals season, the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool is the place for you. The only sounds you’ll hear here are the quiet chirp of the ample bird species and the ripple of relaxing waterfalls. It’s a refreshing venue filled with wildlife, stones, and trees, and will make any stressed person feel zen (at least for a while)
  10. Museums (free days)- Chicago is a city known for some of the most amazing museums in the country. While these museums can be a bit pricey (students get discounts), most Chicago museums offer free days on multiple occasions throughout the year. Simply look up the museum you want to visit and search ‘free day’ alongside of it and you’ll be ready for a day full of art or science… or both!Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 2.17.26 AM.png

Peru prep

Hi everyone, I leave for Peru in around a month and to say I’m nervous is an understatement. Obviously, I am excited but nervous nonetheless.

I have met a girl on Facebook who is from New York who will be in Peru at the same time as I and we end up on the same connecting flight in Panama City, Florida, so it will be nice to have a familiar face and it has also been calming knowing someone else is just as nervous/excited as I am. We have requested to room together (her request as I really don’t care who I room with) but it might not happen. If it does great, and if not, just the chance to meet more people.

I went to the doctor last week and he gave me 6 (?) prescriptions for typhoid, altitude sickness, and a ton of other things I may or may not need. I am literally going to have an entire pharmacy in my suitcase. But I’d rather be safe than sorry, especially in a new and foreign place such as Peru.

All I have to do medically is receive my yellow fever and flu shots, which I will be doing this week. As for the trip itself I just have to pay my actual program fee and then I am officially ready to go to Peru. Yes, I have to pack (and unpack and repack), buy some shoes, gifts for the kids at the orphanages, and a few last minute tasks but this is so crazy to me. I am going to Peru, something that a few months ago was just a mere thought in the back of my head is actually coming together. It’s crazy what $1500 and a good puppy-dog face can do.

I never thought I would be going to Peru at all, let alone a month, and I have to keep telling myself that yes, I am in fact going to Peru. I can’t wait to update you all about my adventure as the day I depart nears, and throughout my entire trip. ¡No puedo esperar a Peru!

hablaré pronto

Alicia

Starved Rock Shenanigans

Hi, everyone, last weekend was absolutely beautiful outside (global warming is real folks), so my mom, some friends, and I decided to head out to Starved Rock for some hiking, eagle watching, and apparently a ton of dog petting ( this wasn’t planned but we saw over 20 dogs, so naturally…).

I woke up bright and early, ate breakfast, put a backpack together, and ventured the hour and a half or so to Starved Rock. At about 9 am, we arrived and parked, grabbed a camera, water, etc. and started hiking to see some bald eagles.

After climbing an obnoxious amount of stairs, which my mom complained about the whole time, we stopped at the eagle look out post and waited… and waited… and waited… and waited. And guess what we saw! Absolutely nothing. We waited, and zoomed all the way in with our big lens, and saw squat. So, we decided to make our way around to another lookout point in hope of seeing something other than a squirrel or a seagull.

As we made our way over, we climbed an ungodly number of more stairs (which my mother also complained about) and finally ended up at the lookout point on the opposite end of the park.

We waited then… and waited… and waited… and finally saw a freaking bald eagle! It was so crazy and majestic and beautiful and although we had a HUGE lens on our camera, we couldn’t get a solid photo. But, who cares about a picture, when I got to see my nation’s bird, in the wild, doing his thing?

After we got our eagle fix for the year, my mom got a text saying that the people we were meeting at the other State Park, Matthiessen, had arrived so we finally got to walk down some stairs and venture on over there.

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Driving from Starved Rock to Matthiessen

Tyler and Day, the people that we met up with, brought their dog Annie, who we’ve dog-sat for before, and it my absolute favorite (living) dog. She’s half cocker spaniel and half pit bull and is the sweetest dog.

We started walking down some stairs and everyone started making fun of my for my shoe choice: Converse. I know they weren’t the best shoes for hiking but I’ve hiked in them before and I still don’t have a solid pair of hiking shoes, so, those had to suffice.

As we made our way down 10 or so flights of stairs (nice then but not so nice going back up) we decided to go left towards one of the two waterfalls. The ground was mostly hard, however, we were sinking into the ground a smidge, because the temperature had been rising all day and people had been using the trail for the past 2 hours or so.

As we kept walking, the mud had become slippier, our feet, even despite the traction on their hiking boots, were covered in leaves, so much so that we were basically mud-skating. As we edged closer to the first waterfall, the ground became suuuuuuuper soft, and all of a sudden my mom goes sliding down a hill, I am knee deep in mud, and Tyler completely eats shit and has mud all across the right side of his body. We didn’t let the mud stop us, however, and we were able to see a beautiful frozen waterfall. After some photos, we made out back to where we started and kept walking to the other waterfall.

The journey to the other waterfall was a little more treacherous, but with muddy shoes and clothes we began. There were a lot of little streams (and by little I mean pretty damn wide) with makeshift bridges using logs, 2x4s, rocks, and other random things that we somehow had to cross and not fall in the water. I got mud all over my hands after the first bridge crossing and then just gave up and let my converse be submerged during the second bridge crossing. After that, my solely muddy shoes, were now muddy and soaking.

We finally made it to the other waterfall which was absolutely gorgeous and had some caves of sorts in the surrounding area. Annie thoroughly enjoyed being able to run all over the place, eat snow (not yellow snow of course), sticks, and just to have the ability to be a happy camper.

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After climbing 50 flights of stairs, walking over 5 miles, and having been covered in mud and god knows what else in those creeks, we were finally able to relax with a picnic lunch before driving back home where I promptly stripped off my pants, socks, and shoes, and threw them right into the washing machine.

Alicia

Top 5 Travel Destinations

Hi, everyone. I haven’t been in the writing mood lately but I saw Tasha make a post listing her top 5 travel destinations so since I, and everyone else in the world, wants to travel, why not make a list of my top 5 as well.


The Galapagos Islands

http://forums.chargers.com/showthread.php?t=104631&page=83

When I was 12 or so, I read the book “Top 8” and it was one of the first books ever that I enjoyed and got to pick out myself, as opposed to school telling me what I had to, and it starts with this girl who goes to the Galapagos islands with her family and one guy she meets ends up being her boyfriend. I think I liked it because what girl doesn’t want to meet the love of her life on a boat in some tropical part of the world? A big part of the book ends up being the Galapagos tortoises and I am a huge reptile girl, so I have wanted to go there ever since.


Spain

https://www.wallsauce.com/wall-murals/photo-wallpaper/countries/spain/

I was going to put just one city but I really couldn’t decide so I put the whole country. Since beginning to learn Spanish in 5th grade, I learned all about Spanish culture, Spanish food, Spanish music, dress, etc. I have been in love with Spain as a whole for the past 9 years and I can’t wait until I get to study abroad there (pending that I get in of course)


Helsinki, Finland

http://www.placestoseeinyourlifetime.com/helsinki-a-great-choice-to-visit-this-christmas-finland-14578/

When I was 8 years old or so, I remember watching an episode of “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” on Disney channel and on said episode, there were nuns from Helsinki Finland but they ‘called it’ Hecksinki. Because nuns don’t say hell, get it? Anyway, I have been laughing at this joke for the past 10 years and since then I had to do a report on Finland’s Christmas so I learned a bit about the country and its culture.  So, upon visiting Helsinki, I will kill two birds with one stone by visiting ‘Hecksinki” my first ever favorite meme, and seeing a beautiful city.


Ubud, Bali

http://nandinibali.com/

Indonesia is a remarkable region but if I had to pick one city there, it would be Ubud. The sheer amount of things to do in Ubud, from musuems, to monkey parks, this has my name written all over it. Also, it is so picturesque I would love to stay in a place where I have to pinch myself every morning.


Reykjavik, Iceland

http://landlopers.com/2015/03/30/luxury-blue-lagoon

I follow my share of travel blogs, who doesn’t? And by far, the most beautiful sight I have seen is the blue lagoon in Iceland. My favorite color is blue and as a life long blue lover, I physically can’t die before being able to marvel at this.


What’s on your travel bucket list?

¡Hasta Pronto Peru!

For those of you who don’t know your basic Spanish phrases, the title of this post is “See you soon Peru!”… meaning I convinced my father and mother and I am going to Peru! I leave for Peru March 31st and return home early morning on April 30th.

I will be volunteering in an orphanage in Lima, or just outside of Lima, and will be volunteering amongst others from across the world. I have begun prepping and planning and prepping some more. I have ordered my background check, started paying my fees, and have been on the lookout for the best shoes and packs that I will need. I have my doctors appointment set for receiving all of the necessary vaccinations.

To say I’m excited is an understatement. To say I’m nervous is also an understatement. I’ve never been out of the country, let alone out of the country by myself, however, after reading and watching so many other people’s stories about going on these ventures, I can only imagine that my nerves will subside upon getting settled.

Also, I started a little fund campaign for the trip, I’m not asking for anything, just a little boost for me and a little that I can give to the orphanage. So, if anyone can/wants to spare any money for me/the orphanage, click the link here. As mentioned on the website, any donation is dearly appreciated for not only me but the amazing children I will be volunteering with, whom I have no doubt you will be reading all about during April and beyond.

Can’t wait to embark on this adventure and share it with all of you

Alicia

Peru plans?

Hi everyone. I haven’t been in the biggest writing mood, mainly because I am trying to keep up with my New Year’s resolutions, one of those being ‘get and maintain a solid sleep schedule.” 99% of the time my best posts are written between the hours of 1 and 3 in the morning, and that just isn’t cutting it for my body right now.

So, it is only about 9:30 right now at night and I still have plenty of time before my newly created bedtime.

One of my other resolutions (although I’m not sure if I put it on my list and quite frankly I don’t feel like checking) was to volunteer, more specifically volunteer abroad.

Since something I want to do with my life is teach English abroad, I think it is a smart choice to test out what working abroad is like. Yes, traveling is fun but If I don’t like living out of a suitcase or two for a month, what will it be like for an entire semester?

Basically, I have applied to volunteer at an orphanage in Lima, Peru, starting April 1st 2017 and spanning for 4 weeks. This is something I really want to do, not only to see if I enjoy going abroad, but to be able to give my time to children in need is something so rewarding beyond words.


Phase 1: Get accepted into the program is complete.

Phase 2: Have enough money to fund this trip is almost complete

And finally Phase 3 (yes I know there are so many other things I need to do like get shots, buy proper shoes, etc. but the phases at hand are not those quite yet): convince my parents is a merely 50% complete. I have convinced my mother; she is excited for me and even a bit jealous (going to Macchu Pichu is the top item on her bucket list) however my dad, is a little more reserved and harder to talk to about this type of thing. I brought it up once and he completely grazed over the entire idea, which is, in the least, frustrating.


So, I have an entire google doc of my trip itinerary and budget planned out, and my dad would rather watch Pitch Perfect 2 than discuss the trip of a lifetime with his eldest daughter. So, while I continue to plot how we ever will discuss this trip, Ill be here, saving all of my money and comparing all the brands of hiking shoes there are.

Alicia

Here’s to New Adventures

Good evening everyone. Once again, sorry for not posting on Sunday, my planned post was to discuss my best friend coming to visit me here in San Diego for her spring break, but alas she didn’t leave until late Sunday night, and I spent all of yesterday (after class of course) sleeping. So, here we are now, about to embark in another late blog post about another tidbit of my life.

My friend who came to visit me, is from Arizona, coincidentally she also attends Arizona State University (no that’s not why I’m going there) and her spring break was last week. She visited me for her fall break (I would’ve discussed that on here too but I’m pretty sure I made this blog about a week after she left…) and she decided that San Diego and I were good enough hosts for her to return for another leap of adventure. She arrived in San Diego after my classes and (almost) daily venture to the gym and then after a few hours of watching Netflix and catching up, we went to bed.

Something I was blessed with this semester is not having classes on Thursday’s. Due to this, I do one of two things. 1. Don’t leave my bed until 3pm or 2. Get up bright and early and early and explore my city, always searching for new coffee shops to do homework and escape people.

So, Thursday we hopped on the trolley (sort of like a subway or the L for my Chicagoans) and then transferred to a bus. We ended up taking that bus all the way to its end and ended up at UCSD. Obviously we had no means or longing to be there, so we hopped back on that bus except headed the other way obviously and ended up at a mall where we got lunch. We had been on public transportation for almost 2 hours and had only been to lunch and a bus tour of UCSD. We had no idea what we wanted to do, so we opted to head to downtown La Jolla and just walk around, see the beach etc. so that’s what we did. After eating at a cute vegetarian/vegan place, we got on yet another bus and headed for La Jolla.

Upon arriving in La Jolla, I wanted to see some murals that I have seen on Facebook and heard about through the grapevine. We managed to find one (after walking in the opposite direction for a mile), which was bricks painted in all different colors, however there were cars parked in front of it, so I only got a few pictures. After that, I decided that we could walk to see a few of the other murals. After, once again walking in the wrong direction (thanks Siri) we found a sort of main street La Jolla and took that to find another mural. My friend, Marisa, wanted to see the sea lions of La Jolla, so we made the short walk over to the coast and saw a multitude of them, a few with babies even. We stayed for the Sunset, because what’s better than a sunset on the beach???? After the sunset, we found a few more murals and ended up back at the bus and took it back to Old Town, to get dinner. After dinner we took the trolley back to my dorm and passed out we were so tired.

 

We didn’t do anything on Friday, because I had class and a ton of homework. Marisa ended up visiting another one of her friends who also happened to be in San Diego for spring break, but yeah Friday was nothing special. I slept a lot and did a lot of homework. Grand day.

Saturday was a bit more eventful than Friday. I had wanted to visit a cute cafe that I had seen on a lot of my friends’ Instagrams at Pacific beach, and Marisa had wanted to play mini golf (which there is a course at Mission Beach) so we decided to spend the day at some beaches. There were wayyyyy too many Spring Breakers (not gnarly dude) at the beaches for my liking, however since it was on the colder side (60s) it was better than it could have been. We first went to Mission Beach, where we went to an arcade and I spend about $20 just to leave with a harmonica, duck fan, sticky octopus, eraser, and like some other thing that I literally have no way to describe. After that I creamed Marisa at mini golf. On that note, she was ready to leave Mission Beach to go to Pacific Beach. After taking the bus from Mission Beach to PB, we made it to Rum Jungle Cafe.  Marisa apparently is terrified of fruit and refused to eat the delicious ace bowl topped with mango, banana, pineapple, and coconut. So, I had to eat both of ours (not complaining though because fruit is the bomb). After that we walked around the pier, and around the beach also making it in time for the sunset. Finally about 830 we stopped at Denny’s for dinner. After Denny’s and about 7 trips to the bathroom after inhaling all of the iced tea I could, we boarded the bus again and headed back to campus.

On Sunday, the day Marisa left, we had no idea what we were going to do. Finally, after much debating, I looked at some coffee shops that I had not yet been to, and found some that were somewhat close and decided we would do to them. The first one we went to, called Bird Rock Coffee Roasters, was really good. I got a soy latte and the barista put a cute foam flower on top of the coffee. We didn’t stay too long before making our way to the bus station to get on the #2 bus to be dropped off right by the next shop. Much to our chagrin, the bus wasn’t on time, so we took a different bus and had to walk a mile uphill to get to the coffee shop. Needless to say I had 23 flights of stairs and was not in the mood for anymore hot coffee. We got tea and some cute vegan pasture and sat down, cooling off from our hike up that hill. Once we finally finished there, Marisa and I decided that we would take the bus back to Old town and get dinner before she left. After dinner, we got back to my dorm, I took my mail in ballot to the nearest drop box (#feeltheBern) and then Marisa left.

It was really nice to be able to see her and I can’t wait to be a mere 30 minutes away from each other in the fall.
Alicia

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