Saturday, December 31, 2016

My Trip to Hawaii 2016: Maui

Hey everyone! Since I never showed you all photos from Maui back in August, I decided on the last day of the year to do a post about it. Over the Summer, I was in Maui, Hawaii for four days.

One day, my family and I went to the top of a mountain at around four in the morning to watch the sunrise. When we first got to the top of the mountain it was dark out and you could see a ton of stars. We stayed on top of the mountain for about three hours.

The mountains looked like they were from another planet, and I thought that was pretty cool. There was a pit below I from where I was standing and it's known as the world's quietest place.

After seeing the sunrise, we went on a bike tour down a mountain. It was such a cool experience to be able to see Maui from so high up. 

My family and I posed on top of the mountain with one of the bikes.

After our bike ride, we got a breakfast/lunch at a truck that sold burritos, and such.

The next day we went on a 110 mile round trip on the Road to Hana. This excursion is by car, and there are many fruit stands, small shops with banana bread, and incredible views on the way. Hana isn't super special, but the journey there is more amazing than the destination.

The blue bracelet is made with a type of seed that is in Hawaii and can be used as beads.

At one of the overlooks tree was a small shrine to a few surfers that most likely died around there. I thought the shrine was very pretty, but it was hard to get any closer to it.

On our way to Hana, we passed a catholic church in a small neighborhood.

One of the small places we passed on the road was a store that sold jewelry and tie-dye shirts.

Here is a picture of me in front of a Black Sand Beach. I used this photo for my Christmas card.

One of the stops on the road was a smoothie shack, and they had advertised all of their super fresh fruits.

After our trip to Hana, my family and I stopped in a small town called Paia. We ate in a Mexican restaurant, and I had one of the best fajitas ever in this restaurant. I also had a virgin piƱa colada, which was also very good.

Paia is a beach town, and it has many bathing suit stores, restaurants, tattoo pallor, and cute boutiques.

My family and I stayed at the Grand Wailea, which is a very beautiful hotel. The resort contains so many pools, and had a beautiful view of the water.

Question: Where did you travel this year?

                                                            Christina Madeleine

Friday, December 30, 2016

What Am I Watching? *December 2016*

Hey everyone! So, I've been on winter break for quite a while now, and while I've been on this break I've watched a lot of television. I wanted to share with you guys some shows and movies that I have been watching during this break.

1. The Office
Wikipedia Synopsis:
This U.S. adaptation -- set at a paper company in Scranton, Pa. -- has a similar documentary style to that of the Ricky Gervais-led British original. It features the Dunder-Mifflin staff, which includes characters based on roles in the British show -- and, quite possibly, people with whom you work in your office. There's Jim, the likable employee who's a bit of an every man. Jim has a thing for receptionist-turned-sales-rep Pam -- because office romances are always a good idea! There's also Dwight, the co-worker who is successful but devoid of social skills and common sense.

I currently am on the final season, the ninth season, of The Office and I love this show. Steve Carell is one of the main characters for the first seven seasons, but there are also other amazing actors in the show like Mindy Kahling, John Krasinski, Ed Helms, Rainn Wilson, etc. Each episode is about 20 minutes long and is a very good distraction when you're stressed or sad. I recommend starting from season 2 if you start the show, and by season 3/4 you'll become absolutely obsessed. 

2. Reign

Wikipedia Synopsis: 
Queen of Scotland Mary Stuart travels to France with four ladies-in-waiting to secure her politically strategic engagement to the king's son, Prince Francis. Mary and Francis share a mutual attraction, even though he has reservations about the wisdom of an alliance with Scotland. Complicating issues is Bash, Francis' illegitimate half-brother whom Mary finds herself drawn to in spite of herself. The French Court is also full of less romantic challenges for Mary, who finds her engagement -- and life -- threatened until she finds an ally in a mysterious shrouded guide. With all that she faces, Mary rallies, readying herself to rule and trying to find a balance between the demands of her country and those of her heart.

I started watching Reign over the summer after my cousin recommended it to me, and I watched the first two seasons so quickly. The show may sound not super interesting at first glance, but it's an amazing show. Th costume and set design is absolutely stunning. The main actress, Adelaide Kane, looks beautiful in all her dresses because she dresses like a queen. The show takes place in fourteenth/fifteen century France, and it's filled with the drama that comes with running two countries. This is such a good show to become invested in because it doesn't disappoint.  

3. Silicon Valley 

 Wikipedia Synopsis:
Partially inspired by co-creator Mike Judge's experiences as a Silicon Valley engineer in the 1980s, this comedy series follows the misadventures of introverted computer programmer Richard and his brainy friends as they attempt to strike it rich in a high-tech gold rush. They live together in a Bay Area startup incubator loosely run by self-satisfied dot-com millionaire Erlich, who lets them stay in his house rent-free in exchange for a stake in the projects they invent there. But when Richard develops a powerful search algorithm at his day job, he finds himself caught in the middle of a bidding war between his boss -- whose firm offers Richard an eight-figure buyout -- and a deep-pocketed venture capitalist.
This show is on HBO, so it's slightly more adult than many of the comedies that I have watched. I find this show hilarious because of the dry humor on it, but also because it takes the situations of many technology entrepreneurs today. The show talks heavily about coding, programming, and running a business in technology. I am a bit tech savvy, but I don't know as much code that I would like, but I have learned so much about the technology industry through this show. If you like "nerdier" types of shows, this is a good show to watch. 

4. Love Actually

Wikipedia Synopsis: 
Nine intertwined stories examine the complexities of the one emotion that connects us all: love. Among the characters explored are David (Hugh Grant), the handsome newly elected British prime minister who falls for a young junior staffer (Martine McCutcheon), Sarah (Laura Linney), a graphic designer whose devotion to her mentally ill brother complicates her love life, and Harry (Alan Rickman), a married man tempted by his attractive new secretary.
The first thing I want to say about the movie, the cast of actors is great. This movie has Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman, Thomas Brodie Sangster, Emma Thompson, Keira Knightley, Denise Richards, Martin Freeman, and Liam Neeson.  This movie is a very cute, Christmas-y movie about finding loved ones during the Holiday season. Everyone was telling me to watch the movie, and I finally gave in to it. The only thing that I don't like about the movie is that all the male characters had great, high up jobs, and seemed very important to everyone. The women were housekeepers or assistants who just happen to work for the men. That was the only thing that kind of bothered, but overall I liked the movie.
Questions: What have you been watching during the Winter? Have you watched any of these shows or movie? 
                                                       Christina Madeleine

Thursday, December 29, 2016

My Exchange to Barcelona: A Reflection

So it's been about nine months since I did an exchange to Barcelona. I could go on and on showing pictures about specific events, but I want to be a bit more real about my experience. I have had months to think about my exchange, and trust me I have thought about it frequently.

I've always wanted to do an exchange since I was about 10 years old, when my neighbor did an exchange with a girl from France. There was something about leaving my country for weeks and meeting all new people that sounded intriguing to me. I have never been able to shake the idea of going somewhere by myself. When I entered high school, I was able to skip a year of Spanish and enter a harder level. I struggled a lot that year with learning the language until it started to click. My teacher asked me if I would want to do an exchange to Barcelona for my sophomore year. I wasn't even that good at Spanish, but it hadn't hurt to apply so I thought "why not?". After doing the application and interview, I was so scared I wasn't going to get it because even though I thought I wouldn't get it, I didn't want to face the rejection. On May 8, 2015 (my fifteenth birthday) I received an email that I will be hosting a girl from Spain in the fall, and then the following March I would be going to Spain for three weeks. This email has changed my life because it taught me by taking a risk, many things will happen.

Fast forward to that fall, my exchange sister, Ana came an stayed with me for three weeks. In those three weeks, my friends and I took her around New York City. I've heard so many people who didn't get exchange students who they got along with it, but Ana and I became friends almost instantly. We would hangout in each other's room at night before we went to bed. She is such a fun person and it's like I knew her for years before I even met her. I cried when she left New York, even though I knew I would see her a few months later.

 March is when my life changed. On March 12, 2016 one girl from my grade, four from the year above mine, and I boarded a flight to Barcelona. I'll always remember my first day. The six of us got through security in Barcelona and got our bags. We were all excited but a bit scared, and we sat in a circle with our bags just laughing because we were nervous about the next three weeks. We've came all this way to do an exchange, it felt like a dream. After the six of us separated, my host family took me to their house to drop off my stuff and get changed. I packed so many summer-y clothes thinking that Barcelona would be very hot (I didn't look up the weather). Afterwards, we went to a mountain so I can see all of Barcelona. It was truly beautiful because the city is within mountains by the water. After going back to the house and having a lunch (my host mother was such a good cook), I took a siesta. This might sound so boring but what happens next I will always remember. Ana woke me up and told me that her friends were coming over in five minutes. They were coming in five minutes! I tried to make myself look like I haven't been sleeping for two hours and then grabbed the first book I could think of, which happened to be a Stephen Hawking book.  I was so nervous because what if her friends didn't like me. What if they didn't speak much English and I couldn't communicate with Spanish? There was honestly nothing to be scared of. Her friends were super sweet to me, and I felt so welcomed by them. They showed me Plaza Catalunya (I have posts all about these places up on the blog), and a few other very pretty places. We talked about the three weeks ahead of me, and how they heard so much about me. These Spanish girls and boys have a special place in my memory because even at the school they showed such kindness to me. I was so scared for nothing because everyone was so nice to me, and helped me through all my problems. I spent more time with my new spanish friends than I did with the other americans that came on exchange with me.

Throughout the three weeks, I got to visit beautiful churches such as La Sagrada Familia and Montserrat, visit Costa Brava, go clubbing in a discoteca, watch movies in Spanish (Spirited Away and My Big Fat Greek Wedding), go to school in Barcelona, and just be immersed in a new culture. I am usually very shy around new people, but on my exchange I threw my usual persona out the window and did whatever came at me. I tried new foods like duck intestine sushi, and I went to so many people's houses and had dinner with their families. My friend Cathy and I went shopping on our own to stores, and even found a place where they sold iced coffee (apparently it's not that common in Europe). I was able to take this new place and culture, and become accustomed to it. My exchange was one of the best things to happen to me. For two months after the exchange all I did was talk about the things I did, and think of  the people.

This post is a reflection because my exchange program has influenced me in different ways. When I think of "cool" things I did in my life, this is number one. This trip made me realize how badly I want to be able to speak languages besides English, and visit places all over the world (especially in Europe). I have a better appreciation for other people's cultures and I now realize how hard it is for people who don't know a certain language to move to a new place. Going to Barcelona on exchange was an experience that changed my thinking and I am so thankful that I was able to participate in it.
If you are ever in the position to travel to a new place, I fully recommend taking the opportunity to pursue it.

Here is a picture of my host sister and friend, Ana, and I in Barcelona on my last day of school there. She is one of the best people I know, and I wouldn't have known her if I hadn't participated in an exchange program.

                                                            Christina Madeleine


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Pearl Harbor + Honolulu 2016

Hey everyone! Today is the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii and I wanted to share some pictures from when I visited it. In August, I went to Honolulu and Maui. While I was in Honolulu, my family and I visited the Pearl Harbor memorial. At Pearl Harbor, there are memorials for the USS Arizona, USS Oklahoma, and the USS Utah, which were destroyed beyond repair during the attacks of December 7, 1941.

The USS Arizona lies in Pearl Harbor where it had sunk. The memorial is built over the ship, and visitors have to take a minute long trip on a boat to the memorial. The USS Arizona and the USS Utah are able to be seen by visitors because the remains of the ship lay on two different sides of the harbor. The USS Oklahoma had huge hole, and sunk a few miles from its brother ships. The memorial for the USS Arizona is the only one I saw, but it was such a nice experience because the memorial is a truly beautiful. If you closely into the harbor, you can see the oil that has continuously leaked from the ship for 75 years, and there is no way of knowing when it will ever stop.

The memorial is seen as a sacred site in honor of all the people who died on December 7, 1941. For survivors of the USS Arizona, when they die they have the option to have scuba divers put their ashes into the sunken ship. Currently, there are only six veterans from this ship alive.  On this sign, it talks about how when the divers put the ashes into the ship, it's like the soldiers are returning home to their fellow soldiers.

At the memorial, there is a list of all the people who died on the day of the attack from all the ships. The whole wall is filled, and it has the first initial and last name of the soldiers.

Pearl Harbor also has two museums about World War II, and the involvement of the United States during the war. Also, the museums had artifacts from the ships, letters from soldiers, old uniforms, stories, and so much more. It's like walking into a time capsule of this event, and it's so interesting. I loved reading about the people who gave their lives to their country. Also, going to the memorial and the museum made me more connected to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and it made everything more real. There's a difference between reading about an event, and actually seeing the faces of the fallen, and the place where it happened.

Other Pictures from Honolulu ( Oahu):

Honolulu is so far away from New York, but once I go to the Island I was so happy. It seems like everyone is just so happy and friendly. Oahu is the most populated island of Hawaii, and is filled with tourists from the mainland and Japan.

 I lived for all the fruit that was accessible to me in Hawaii. All the fruit is so fresh, and almost everywhere has at least one smoothie option. For breakfast one morning I had a pitaya (dragon fruit) smoothie bowl with strawberries, bananas, mangoes, coconut shavings, and blueberries.

My family and I went on a bus tour around Honolulu, and the views were spectacular. I also got to see the veterans cemetery that is filled war heroes, celebrities, known and unknown soldiers. Hawaii is a place with such a rich history, and I was so glad to be able to experience it.

Right when I took this photo, the tour guide pointed out that Obama grew up in Honolulu. Since I have never been to Washington D.C, this is the closest I have been to something that is connected to the president. Although there are tons of beaches and palm trees in Hawaii, Honolulu is a metropolitan city.

If you have ever seen Hawaii 5-0, you might recognize this building... :) In reality, this is a government building, and there is an older, identical building right across from it that was also in Hawaii 5-0.

I obviously had to post some picture of me from Honolulu, so here is a picture of me when I learned how to paddle board  in the lagoon at my hotel. Coincidentally, people were filming for Hawaii 5-0, when I got out of the lagoon.

On my last day in Honolulu, before I went to Maui, I went on a walk to try to get to a mountain. After walking about 1.5 miles and then realized  that the mountain was very far away. The walk was very nice because of the view of the clear water and all, but since it was August, the sun was blazing hot.

 I hope you liked my post about Pearl Harbor and Honolulu. This month, I will be posting about my Maui experience, but I felt it was appropriate to post about Pearl Harbor today. 

                                                              Christina Madeleine


Sunday, December 4, 2016

Three Things to Look Forward to in December

Hey everyone! It's officially December, which means the holiday season is upon us even more. It seems like all the channels have Christmas movies, and advertisements about shopping. The last few years I haven't been that excited about the holidays, but my perspective has been changing this year. I have compiled a list of three things to look forward to this month.

*also I am using all photos from google for this post *

1. Food

Is it just me or does food taste just so much better in the winter? It's so cold in New York during the winters that it is hard to go outside or be very productive if you do go outside. December isn't too bad when it comes to the weather, but it's very unpredictable. Last week, it rained for two days straight, was in the thirties for a day, and the next day it was in the sixties. That's besides the point, though. In December, it seems like everyone has cookies, chocolate, or candy lying around for your pleasure. Also, between going to see family or just going to restaurants, there's just so much food at your disposal.Once January hits, many people start their "new year resolutions" by trying to eat healthy, so December is the time to eat good food.

2. Clothing

If you live in a place where it gets cold during the winter, than December is usually the time when people start dressing in even more layers. In November, people (including me) tend to believe that it's still warm out, and try to wear a light jacket with jeans. December is the appropriate time to put on your ear muffs, scarves, and gloves. I, personally, love wearing winter clothing more than summer clothing. I love wearing dresses with boots, tights, and cardigans. I also love to wear jeans. December is a time to be very festive, and where as many colorful dresses and skirts that you want. There are so many sales in December because of the holiday season, so it's so much easier to get warm, cute clothing at a decent price.

3. Decorations

No matter what your religion is, December is a time of joy. The year is coming to an end, and people are celebrating about an array of things. I find that Christmas decorations are my favorite thing about December. I don't know if it's because I live in New York City or because my mother completely covers my house in decorations, that I love it so much. This month, there will definitely be a post about all the Christmas decorations in the city. I think that decorations is such a great thing to make everything more festive. How can someone look at lights on a house or on a tree, and not feel some type of way?

I know this was a quick post, but I am so excited about this month. I am not able to do Blogmas this year because of my schedule, but I am going to try to post as much as I can.

Question: What's something you are excited for this month?

                                                              Christina Madeleine



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