5 days in the Dominican Republic: Day 1 Santiago

5 Days in the Dominican Republic: Day 1 was Artsy AF

Santiago Carnival is artsy af, just know.

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This past Spring I had the opportunity to visit and experience the Dominican Republic- in a very non-touristy way.

The first day was in the city of Santiago. Santiago (de los Caballeros) is north of the Dominican Republic. I was really happy to walk the streets of Santiago a little bit, and just enjoy the energy around us.

The day started at 8am.

Our first stop was Hotel Colonial in Santiago. We had breakfast and took a typical tour of the neighborhood- where the corner store was, what the monument meant, the closest place to change money, etc etc. All the things that make us stand out more than we already did.

In relation to the history of Dominican Republic, it's crazy to think I visited one of the towns that experienced The 1937 massacre. Granted, Santiago wasn't the primary area where the murders happened- so I may just be overdramatic- but that kind of had me shook. The details of this massacre are limited but what is recorded is still horrifying in itself. Armed forces, along with armed civilians, used machetes to kill Haitian immigrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent in Santiago and so many other parts in the Dominican Republic.

(After learning and experiencing the Dominican Republic for a week, it wouldn't surprise me if darker-skinned people were murdered all around this part of the island.)

Under the Trujillo regime, people killed any and everybody that didn't fit their own perception of Dominican-ness. The reasoning and execution behind this massacre is boneless, reckless, and full of hate; Trujillo was never held accountable and nobody was ever brought to justice.

After the tour, we visited a small little gallery showcasing Dominican culture via past carnivals. Carnival is very well known in the country and worldwide. To me, this small space highlighted the Santiago culture and history in a very artistic and private way. It was a beautiful depiction of blackness, celebration, family, love and pride.





The small gallery was the perfect preview to what we were going to experience next; the carnival. The carnival was my favorite part of Day 1. We got to relax, (try and) blend in, and just embody the culture of Santiago. Blending in wasn't so hard for me, coming from a Haitian family. But for others... it wasn't so easy. So naturally, it wasn't easy for me either because my internal similarities to my peers outweighed my external similarities to the locals. There was a parade with different costumes, music, tricks, dance routines, etc.


Kennisa Ragland Kennisa Ragland


Kennisa Ragland

Our day ended in a pretty... bizarre way- to say the least. We were chilling, watching the parade, vibing out. Then, some people started running. So, naturally, we started running too. We didn't know why we were running but that didn't stop us. We ran all the way back to familiarity, safety- and called it a night.

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19 Things Wisconsinites Say And Do Differently

Wisconsinites are a breed of their own.
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Wisconsinites are a breed of their own. They are used to living in the frozen tundra for multiple months out of the year, they are the only state to have an NFL team owned by their fans, and they're surrounded by nature. To say they're a breed of their own is an understatement! Here are 19 things Wisconsinites say and do that have to be explained to people that aren't from around here.

SEE ALSO: 15 Signs You Go To UWGB

1. "Bag"

My mom, who lives in Illinois, always teases me about how I say the word "bag." Us Wisconsinites say bag like how it's pronounced in the word bagel, but pretty much any other state says it with a short a sound, like in the word "sad."

2. Packers Game Day is Serious Business

3. We Measure Distance in Time, Not Miles

This is especially true for people that live in rural parts of the state because the closest town is so far away that it's easiest to measure distance in the amount of time it takes to get there, rather than the number of miles away it is.

4. "Up North"

"Up north" isn't a specific town or location, but we all know what it is. When someone's talking about going up north they're usually talking about a cabin in the woods near a lake somewhere in the northern part of Wisconsin. If you were to draw a straight line across the state from Eau Claire to Green Bay pretty much anything north of that is considered "up north." Your definition of "up north" depends on where you live because the people that live in Eau Claire's "up north" is probably going to be further north than the people living in Madison's "up north."

5. "Ya Know"

I don't really know why we are the only ones that say "ya know", but whenever I say it when I'm not in Wisconsin I get called out on it.

6. Rifle Season is a State Holiday

In Wisconsin, you either go deer hunting, or you know someone that does, so it's not a surprise that the week of rifle season (the same week as thanksgiving) all of the hunters take off work to go hunting. Opening weekend is known as widowers weekend because it's when all of the husbands go off hunting and the wives have the house to themselves. Many stores also have special sales and events in preparation for rifle season.

7. Going to a Home Packer Game is on Your Bucket List

It's on everybody's bucket list to go to a home Packers game, but going to a home game can be kind of pricey. But once you've been to one it's so worth the money. It's definitely a once in a lifetime experience.

8. Friday Night Fish Fry

Wisconsin is the only state I know of where a Friday fish fry every Friday are a normal thing. Pretty much everywhere else they only have a fish fry during lent, but Wisconsin took this religious event and turned it into an all year tradition.

9. We Have Town Names That Are Hard to Pronounce

If you're not from Wisconsin you probably have a hard time pronouncing names like Oconomowoc, Ashwaubenon, Sheboygan, and Weyauwega just to name a few. Trust me, we've all been there!

10. "Soda"

Our neighbors to the south call it pop, but we call sugary carbonated beverages soda.

11. We Are Too Nice

Whenever my mom comes to visit me at school she always asks why the people in Wisconsin are so nice. I can never come up with a reasonable explanation, but it's true. Wisconsin is filled with nice people. You can be talking to a stranger at the grocery tore, but feel like you're talking to a friend.

12. "Brett Favre"

If you bring his name up in conversation in Wisconsin there's sure to be some controversy. Wisconsinites either love him for everything he did while playing for the Packers, or they hate him because he left the Packers and played for two other teams, including our rivals, the Minnesota Vikings.

13. "Bubbler"

Since I was raised in Illinois I'd never heard of a bubbler until I moved here. What I'd call a water fountain, Wisconsinites call a bubbler.

14. We Are The Nation's Dairy Land

California might say they make the most milk, but we all know Wisconsin is our nation's real dairyland.

15. Brats Are Better Than Hotdogs

If you haven't had a brat you have to try one!

16. The Winter Doesn't Stop Us

Since winter usually lasts for five months or more in Wisconsin, we have to get used to the cold in the snow. We've dealt with it so much that it doesn't stop us from going about our day. Many of us even enjoy winter activities such as snowmobiling, skiing, or ice fishing. When you have winter for such a long period of time like we do you have to learn to deal with it.

17. We Take Our Beer Very Seriously

There are over 100 breweries across Wisconsin and they all offer a unique taste to their beer. You can probably find any type of beer you can think of in Wisconsin.

18. And Our Cheese

I've never been to another state that has so many different varieties of cheese. Pretty much anything you can think of they at least have it somewhere. If you've never tried fresh cheese curds it's a must! Squeaky fresh curds are the best!

19. We Could Never Imagine Living Anywhere Else

The most important thing about us Wisconsinites is we love our state and we never want to leave!

This state comes with its own unique set of traditions and mechnasisms which help it stand apart from other states. Wisconsinites are definitely one-of-a-kind, and we would not want to have it any other way.

SEE ALSO: 17 Undeniable Signs You Go To The University Of Wisconsin

Cover Image Credit: Flickr

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A Letter To My Friends When I'm Abroad

To some of the most important people in my life

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Dear Friends,

I'm sure you know that studying abroad is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, especially for me. The ability to immerse myself in a different country with different people, culture, and lifestyle will enable me to grow tremendously. And while you know how exciting this can be, it also causes me to feel a lot of confusing emotions. Don't get me wrong, I am ecstatic to study abroad next semester, but as my departure date gets closer and closer, the reality of leaving also sets in. It is starting to hit me that I will be gone for an entire semester. It means that I won't be there for every wonderful thing you will experience in the fall, from movie nights to lunch dates to nights out.

In the next couple of weeks, I will have to exchange some goodbyes "see you later"s with you. And before the summer is over, I will be living in a new place for three and a half months...5,800 miles away. A part of me wonders how I will be able to handle the time and distance apart from you since you are some of the most important people in my life right now. Realistically, it may be difficult to communicate sometimes, but I hope this does not affect anything. I still want to hear about all your crazy stories, including funny stories from class, interesting questions you were asked on a tour, and whatever interesting events are happening on campus. Make sure to keep me in the loop. I hope you never forget that I am always a text away, and I expect to have some quality FaceTime sessions with you, no matter wherever you are in the world.

Although I know you are also upset to not see me for an entire semester, you are constantly supporting me. Just so you know, that support means the absolute world to me. Even though I may feel sad to leave Villanova for a semester, you keep me grounded, reminding me that studying abroad will be an amazing experience. You encourage me to live my best life abroad, and I know you will always be rooting for me despite the oceans that separate us. Just as I will be cheering for you nearly 6,000 miles away, ensuring that you too are living your best life.

Thank you for always believing in me.

With love,

Juliana

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