How Lake Placid, NY Stole My Heart

Over the Mountains and Through the Woods, To Lake Placid We Go

How a weekend with friends was the highlight of my summer

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I'm not very into nature. I like to look at nature, but through a window from indoors where I'm not constantly being bit by bugs. However, when a full weekend of being in nature in Lake Placid, NY came up, I reconsidered my dislike for being in the outdoors for two reasons. One, a good friend that I don't get to see that often was going to do a triathlon which was the whole reason for this trip. Second, some of our friends were going and I didn't want to have FOMO. So I decided to go on the trip.

I have a bad habit of getting too ahead of myself when plans with friends come up. I also get really anxious about forgetting things so I overpack for every trip. So this combination kind of annoyed my friends when we were getting ready for this trip. As if texting our group chat every day saying, "I'M SO EXCITED" wasn't enough, I had packed and repacked my suitcase at least a hundred times in the month leading up to leaving. Yes, I am aware that's really annoying and yes I know packing a suitcase a month in advance is pretty ridiculous. Thank god I have friends who are very patient with me.

My boyfriend Andrew, myself, and our friend Klo decided to take the 6 to 7-hour drive to Lake Placid together. The ride was full of great music and my horrible dance moves in between stopping at rest stops along the NY highway. The rest stops there surprised all of us. They were so clean and HUGE and looked so so nice. Pennsylvania really needs to step up their game.

Driving through mountains and thousands upon thousands of trees on either side of the road really took my breath away. I felt so small but in the best way. Getting closer to Lake Placid, we went through a stretch of road where people would pull their cars over onto the shoulder and get out and explore. There were small lakes and streams and waterfalls on the side of the road and everyone was laughing, exploring, and just enjoying their time outdoors. Seeing all this before we even got to our home for the weekend definitely made us all super excited about what was planned for the weekend.

The house we stayed in was beautiful. A huge deck out front and surrounded by wilderness, we had such a peaceful little spot on this Earth. We sat around the couch laughing at funny videos on YouTube, laid on the deck in the mornings with our coffee, and counted how many bears were incorporated into the decor of the home. Although the home was beautiful, there was so much to explore and discover that we didn't really spend a whole lot of time there.

The ultimate reason for going to Lake Placid in the first place was to see our friend, Creamer, finish his first Ironman. An Ironman, if you don't know, is an insane triathlon consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and a marathon at the end. Yeah, my jaw dropped too. He's been training for this for a long time and he really wanted all his friends and family to be there with him for this experience. The morning was a little hectic as it was very early and we didn't really know how the shuttle system there worked. So all of us, decked out in our matching T-shirts courtesy of his family, anxiously stood in a gravel parking lot waiting for a shuttle and praying we didn't miss the swim portion of this race.

Although we didn't get to see him dive into the lake for the swim, we did get to see him complete the swim and hop on his bike as we screamed our heads off cheering and ringing cowbells. After he hopped on his bike we went back to the house to grab a quick nap as it would be several hours before we would see him again. By the time we got to his family's home base along the race route we really got to see the sheer amount of people who were doing this race. Sitting there for a couple hours, we got to witness people of all shapes, sizes, ethnicity, all striving for the same goal of completing the race. It was very motivating. We all made several jokes about how ridiculously out of shape we are compared to the people going the triathlon.

We all were at the finish line for a good chunk of time before our friend finished. That was the best part of the whole weekend. Getting to see people who were cancer survivors, people who traveled across the world, ran in memory of someone else, and teams who trained together for months maybe even years, cross the finish line was very emotional. There were so many friends and family at the finish line screaming, cheering and some even crying was truly a moving experience. We screamed so loud and jumped up and down and basically just kind of lost our minds for a few minutes when Creamer crossed the finish line. We were all so proud and felt so so happy for him to complete a bucket list goal.

All in all, this trip was the best trip of my life. We swam in lakes and streams that were crystal clear, laughed so hard our sides hurt, hiked, explored, ate our body weight in delicious food, met a lot of great people, but most importantly we all had a great time just being together and cheering on our friend. This trip was something we all looked forward to for a long time and something we'll definitely talk about for many years to come.

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11 Must-Go To Day Trips In North Carolina

For the wanderers and curious...
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It's finally summer, classes are out! There are so many things to do in this beautiful state. There are many small towns to visit. These towns are perfect day trips. From the mountains to the beach and everything in between, there is something for everyone! Pack your car up and get ready for a summer of adventure.

1. NoDa

This is a small hipster district right outside of Uptown Charlotte. Music and art paint this town and it has a very creative energy flow. Amelie's Bakery, a 24/7 french bakery, is located in this district. There is always something fun and new to try in this cute, artistic town!

2. Asheville


This town is known for the beautiful scenery and historic importance. The Biltmore Estate is located here, and it is open for tours every day of the year. It is the biggest estate in America. The downtown area is very artistic, and the mountains make for a gorgeous hike. This is definitely an adventure you don't want to miss.

3. Boone

This small town has a lot of outdoor activities. It is perfect for hiking and whitewater rafting. If you love nature, this is a must see. It is a college town where Appalachian State University is located. The downtown area is very old school and for modern hipsters.

4. Crowders Mountain

This is located in Gaston County. Once you reach the Pinnacle, the peak of the trail, with clear skies you can see for miles. It is a quick four-mile hike for the short one, the view is amazing.

5. Wilmington

This city is known for the beachfront. It makes a perfect day to hit the waves. There are many beach fronts to visit, such as Carolina Beach. Cape Fear Ocean runs through this city. White sand, waves and the boardwalk. If you are a fan of One Tree Hill, it was filmed here.The small restaurants and characteristics give this town a vibrant energy.

6. Serendipity House

This house is from the movie Nights In Rodanthe located on a beach in Avon, North Carolina. It has been remodeled, but the amazing characteristics of this make it a sight to see.

7. Linville Falls

This is located in Linville, North Carolina. Attractions close by are also the Blue Ridge Mountain. To get to the main fall, it is about a mile hike.

8. Outer Banks

Small beaches on the outer banks of North Carolina have wild horses. Corolla Wild Ponies run free, and you can even take a ride on them in the water.

9. Sliding Rock

Located in Brevard, this rock is actually naturally made from a small waterfall. You can actually go sliding down it. It is in Pisgah National Forest also near Asheville.

10. Devil's Tramping Ground

This is located near Bennett. It is a 40-foot circle that cannot grow life. If you leave something or sleep in the circle, the rumor is it will be outside of the circle the next day.

11. Land of Oz Theme park

Located in Beech Mountain, this theme park that was once full of life is now closed and for the most part abandoned. It comes alive for one night a year for an event. This is definitely a place to take a night adventure to...

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Abroad 'Grew' Me

Change can not even begin to describe it

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"Abroad changed me."

It's the cliche, all-encompassing, slightly asshole-ish phrase that any student returning from a study abroad experience is bound to let slip at least once. As ironic and annoying as it may sound, especially when repeated 100 times, it's definitely not false. However, I believe it best gets its point across when modified slightly.

The one slight correction that can be made to this statement is the word "changed". I know for a fact that my study abroad experience opened my eyes to new cultures, new perspectives, and new possibilities. I was able to branch out and pursue areas of interest I had never imagined. However, I am still me. I did not morph into a new person or lose anything I once had before I boarded that plane. If anything the correct phrase (although not grammatically proper) should be "Abroad grew me". The path I followed in my experience, every twist, turn, and bump that hit me along the journey, helped me to become something more of myself.

My problem-solving, communication and overall interpersonal skills have become so much stronger than those which I left JFK Airport within early September. All of this combined, my confidence has grown tenfold. In terms of my self-confidence, I have never felt more validated or reassured of who I am, what my values are, and what I want out of this life. All of these things are due to the situation I was put into, but I would not call them changes. Because the word "change" insinuates I never had any of these skills or characteristics before.

Being brave, for example, is not something I typically would label myself as. But when you are lost in the streets of Morocco, frantically running in circles to find a blue building (in what is known as the "Blue City") when your bus is leaving in under 5 minutes, the act of going up to a complete stranger and getting your Spanish to somehow coincide with their Arabic is not just a show of bravery, but a necessity. It is how you survive. Although I quickly learned that after a few too many travel fiascos, I also came to realize how much better life can become when you let this bravery into other aspects of your life - not just the emergencies. The little parts like trying new foods, volunteering to make a fool of yourself and flamenco dance, stopping at the street corner to converse with the woman selling flowers, these are the small things that shaped my entire experience. And these are the biggest things that helped me to grow. This bravery was something that I always had, just never to the extent at which I tapped into during my time abroad.

Yes, coming back from studying abroad I feel like the world around me and my normal life have changed. I never could have expected it to stand still just because I was absent. However, I do not feel that I have "changed" from who I was before. A desire for a challenge is what led me to go abroad in the first place and I am extremely blessed to be able to say that my wish was fulfilled. With each new experience, I expanded my horizons, and piece by piece I watched myself morph into what I would now call a confident and well-rounded individual. This growth has brought me to where I am today, but it is only the starting point on my adventure to further explore cultures, the world, and where my place is in it all.

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