Why You Should Go Up In a Hot Air Balloon At Least Once In Your Life

Why You Should Go Up In a Hot Air Balloon At Least Once In Your Life

It's an experience of a lifetime.
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Not a lot of people get the privilege of riding in a hot air balloon. If you ever get the opportunity, don't pass it up. Trust me! I have now been on three hot hair balloon rides and all three have been amazing. Now this may sound cliche, but my first ever balloon ride was life changing. It caused me to view the world a lot differently, not only literally viewing it from a higher perspective, but it made me realize how beautiful this planet we live on actually is. This is why everyone should go on at least one hot air balloon ride in their lifetime.

What you actually see while you're up in the air is breath taking. At first, you can't help but looking down. No matter how scared you may be of heights, you're safe in a basket, so most of the fear goes away. You can't help but wave to the people that are on the field where you took off. You watch them get smaller, the cars get smaller, everything get smaller as you're flying into the sky. Then, you take in the sky. You're now a part of the sky. Whether you're flying in the morning, afternoon, or evening, the sky is astonishing. My favorite is the morning flights where you watch the sun rise to then light up the earth. Then, you look back down. You see all of the scenery that you have never seen from this point of view before. You may think that it would be the same as flying in an airplane, but it isn't at all. You're much closer to the ground and you get to see all around you, not just through a window. You see house roofs, cars that now appear as toys, depending on the season you see hay bails that look like marshmallows, beautiful creeks and waterfalls from a birds eye view, etc. All I can say is, cherish the moments when you are in the air, it is truly a feeling you can only create when your in the basket.

Then you realize how HUGE the world actually is. It made me realize that there is so much more than the life I live in. You catch a glimpse of a bigger picture of the world that exists. It's a point of view everyone should have at least once in their lives. It's as if you're observing the world. How it works, who and what exists on it, all of the nature that is actually being taken away from us. Weird analogy, but it's kind of like you're an alien that isn't a part of this world and you're just outside of it looking in. The flights give you time to step back (unless you're the pilot). You don't pay attention to the time, you kind of forget about your life, the people in it, all of your troubles, and you just take in the beauty of the earth from a point of view you can't create unless you're in a hot air balloon up in the air.

All of what I just wrote about was going up in a balloon. If you have been on rides before or are deathly afraid of heights, or just want to get more involved with ballooning, a perfect way to still get some of the experience or expand what you've already done, is by balloon crewing. Balloon crewing these past 4 years for me have been amazing. I've met some pretty awesome people that have ended up meaning a lot to me. You're a team that work together to put the balloon up, chase it (unless you're in the basket of course), and take it down. And you have a lot of fun while doing it. Even if you only do it once a year, like me, it's still worth it. I look forward to it every year. I only see some of crew once a year, too. But we're still a strong team and a close family. Also, balloon rallies and festivals are definitely not as cool if you're not a part of them.

To wrap things up, if you ever get a chance, attend Letchworth State Park's Red, White and Blue Balloon Rally that takes place every Memorial Day Weekend. This is where I have flown every year. This park is so beautiful. Not to brag for it or New York, but it is indeed the best State Park in the whole US, AND one of the most scenically magnificent areas in the eastern U.S. That definitely isn't a lie. So when you add the beautiful scenery with the balloons that fly over the gorge, it sure is a wonderful sight to see. If you're lucky enough, a balloon ride through the gorge is definitely worth wild. If you're REALLY lucky, you may even land in the gorge. (Trust me, it's amazing).

Cover Image Credit: Taylor Rapp

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A Senior's Last Week Of High School

The bittersweet end.
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Well, this is it. This is what we've worked so hard the last four years - who am I kidding - basically what seems like our whole lives for. This is the very last week we will set foot as a student in our high school's hallways. As most schools are getting ready to set their seniors free at last, it all begins to set in - the excitement, the anxiousness, and also the sentiment and nostalgia.

For seniors, the years since our first day as a freshman at the bottom of the high school totem pole have seemed endless, but as we look back on these last few weeks, we realize that this year in particular has gone by extraordinarily fast. It was just yesterday that we were sitting in our classrooms for the very first time, going to our 'last first' practice, and getting our first taste of the (very real) "senioritis". With all that's going on in our lives right now, from sports and clubs, finals, and the sought after graduation ceremony, it's hard to really sit down and think about how our lives are all about to become drastically different. For some it's moving out, and for some it's just the thought of not seeing your best friend on the way to fourth period English; either way, the feels are real. We are all in a tug of war with the emotions going on inside of us; everything is changing - we're ready, but we're not.

THE GOOD. Our lives are about to begin! There is a constant whirlwind of excitement. Senior awards, getting out of school early, parties, and of course Graduation. We are about to be thrust into a world of all new things and new people. Calling our own shots and having the freedom we have so desperately desired since the teenage years began is right around the corner. Maybe the best part is being able to use these new things surrounding you to grow and open your mind and even your heart to ideas you never could before. We get the chance to sink or swim, become our own person, and really begin to find ourselves.

Things we don't even know yet are in the works with new people we haven't even met yet. These friendships we find will be the ones to last us a lifetime. The adventures we experience will transform into the advice we tell our own children and will become the old tales we pass down to our grandkids when they come to visit on the weekends. We will probably hate the all night study sessions, the intensity of finals week, and the overpowering stress and panic of school in general, just like we did in high school... But it will all be worth it for the memories we make that will outlive the stress of that paper due in that class you absolutely hate. As we leave high school, remember what all the parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors are telling you - this are the best times of our lives!

THE BAD. The sentimental emotions are setting in. We're crying, siblings are tearing up, and parents are full-out bawling. On that first day, we never expected the school year to speed by the way it did. Suddenly everything is coming to an end. Our favorite teachers aren't going to be down the hall anymore, our best friends probably won't share a class with us, we won't be coming home to eat dinner with our families...

We all said we wanted to get out of this place, we couldn't wait, we were ready to be on our own; we all said we wouldn't be "so emotional" when the time came, but yet here we are, wishing we could play one more football game with our team or taking the time to make sure we remember the class we liked the most or the person that has made us laugh even when we were so stressed we could cry these past few years. Take the time to hug your parents these last few months. Memorize the facial expressions of your little sister or brother. Remember the sound of your dad coming home from work. These little things we take for granted every day will soon just be the things we tell our college roommate when they ask about where we're from. As much as we've wanted to get out of our house and our school, we never thought it would break our heart as much as it did. We are all beginning to realize that everything we have is about to be gone.

Growing up is scary, but it can also be fun. As we take the last few steps in the hallways of our school, take it all in. Remember, it's okay to be happy; it's okay to be totally excited. But also remember it's okay to be sad. It's okay to be sentimental. It's okay to be scared, too. It's okay to feel all these confusing emotions that we are feeling. The best thing about the bittersweet end to our high school years is that we are finally slowing down our busy lives enough to remember the happy memories.

Try not to get annoyed when your mom starts showing your baby pictures to everyone she sees, or when your dad starts getting aggravated when you talk about moving out and into your new dorm. They're coping with the same emotions we are. Walk through the halls remembering the classes you loved and the classes you hated. Think of the all great times that have happened in our high school years and the friends that have been made that will never be forgotten. We all say we hated school, but we really didn't. Everything is about to change; that's a happy thing, and a sad thing. We all just have to embrace it! We're ready, but we're not...

Cover Image Credit: Facebook

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Valuable Takeaways You Will Get From Studying Abroad

The things you'll remember most won't be the "crazy parties", but memories much more meaningful than that.

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Everyone who studies abroad always comes back saying the same cliche things, such as how study abroad absolutely changed them or how they feel like they just belong in the place they studied in. Others will boast about skipping all their classes and partying every other night, which in a way, are also unique experiences. After 4 months abroad, I can assure you that although there is some truth in all of those statements, the reality is more of a mild mix of all of them. You will create unforgettable memories with friends and spend time partying it up in the city, but you will also come to genuinely appreciate your city for its small quirks instead of the major touristy activities. Regardless of your experience, however, here are some lessons everyone will have taken from their time abroad.

1. More Independence

No matter how well traveled you were before starting this semester abroad, when you're thrown into a foreign country with no one familiar, you'll be forced to grow up quickly. From figuring out how to interact with your non-student neighbors to figuring out meals every single day, studying abroad will help you grow up quickly. This may be the first time that you'll be away from everyone you know for more than a few weeks, and you'll have to find ways to cope with it.

2. New Perspectives

After spending more than 10 years in the American education system, learning about events like World War II and the Global Financial Crisis from a non-American perspective can be extremely eye-opening. Interactions and discussions with international students from other countries will leave you baffled at how many major things in history that your public high school education back in America never taught you. Picnics with your classmates will reveal new foods that you have never been exposed to, but that you now love and must eat once a week. The world is a diverse place, and it required you to get out of the country to truly realize it.

3. Travel opportunities

In the US, you could drive 7 hours from Los Angeles and still end up in California. In Europe or Asia or any other place, transportation methods under that same time can get you to another country or even multiple countries. Instead of a weekend trip to the mountains in the same state, you can take a train from Paris and end up in London a mere two hours later. With different countries so close together, take as many chances as possible to explore as much as you can. That being said, don't forget to travel within your own country and thoroughly explore the place you're living in!

4. Lifelong friendships

Even if you're an introvert, you'll find someone you can get along well with while abroad. Slowly but surely, you'll make that study buddy, gym buddy, boba buddy, or whatever-else-you-do buddy. Realistically, you won't be able to meet up with these people anytime soon after your time abroad, but you'll become so close to them during these few months because you're all on your own for the first time. Every few years, you'll still be compelled to meet up and catch up with them. Every time you visit a country, you'll be able to hit up the friend you made while studying abroad who lives there.

Everyone's study abroad experience will be different, but as long as you put yourself out there and make the most of your time abroad, you will come home with some of the fondest memories of your life.

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