What I Learned On My Service And Justice Experience

What I Learned On My Service And Justice Experience

How being the "token freshman" is shaping my college experience.

I go to college only about 45 minutes from home. If I want to see my family, I can. So, when my first fall break came around I took the opportunity to go somewhere a little farther away for a change.

During freshman orientation, I heard that Villanova has "Service and Justice Experiences" over fall break through Campus Ministry. Figuring "why not?" I applied without putting too much thought into it. I told my mom I was applying, but that my chances of being chosen weren't great so I would probably be home for break anyway.

Luckily for me, only a few weeks later I received a cryptic, gif-infested email which informed me I was selected for a SJE, and I needed to go to the first meeting to learn the location of my endeavor and to "awkwardly bond while sitting around in a circle." When I attended that first meeting, I had little clue what a huge impact this trip would have on my first semester.

Just like that, I learned I was going on an international service trip to Costa Rica - and it was only a few weeks away!

I was the only freshman in the group, and am honestly still getting use to college as a whole. However, I just sort of jumped in feet first, and definitely didn't regret that decision!

Over fall break, myself and fourteen others ventured to Mastatal, Costa Rica in partnership with Ecoteach, an organization which provides students with hands-on conservation opportunities in the rainforest. We lived on a sustainable ranch called Rancho Mastatal, where we were able to learn about permaculture, natural building, fermentation and other practices integral to a sustainable lifestyle.

The bounty of knowledge and experiences I gained in just one week was incredible. The most impactful facet of the entire endeavor, however, was definitely the people.

There we several different groups of people I got to know throughout the experience, and each gave me a little more perspective into myself.

First, were the people of the ranch. Rancho Mastatal hosts a number of people from all over the world each year who wish to gain insight into what it means to live a permaculture lifestyle - one in which land and people coexist in a mutually-beneficial relationship. Some stay for a year, some for three months, and others dedicate their lives to this project. In doing so, they bestow a wealth of knowledge in each and every person who comes to volunteer. Each night before dinner, they all join hands and give thanks for each success of the day. These people are not indulgent, but rather endlessly give to their environment, yet they still take time each and every day to be thankful for the positives.

The people of Mastatal had much to teach as well. Mastatal is a small rural community in Costa Rica, just seven miles from the Pacific Coast. With only about a hundred and fifty inhabitants, the people of Mastatal have an extremely close bond, both with their environment and one another.

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to stay with a host family for two days of my trip, getting an opportunity to practice my nonexistent Spanish skills and to immerse myself in the rich culture. The people of the community had a lot to teach, for I found they were content with everything they had and didn't need much to be happy.

At one point, our guides Marcos and Jenny were asked where their dream home would be, and they stated that they already live in it - a mindset that greatly reflects the people of the region.

Finally, the other Villanovans with whom I embarked on this journey had a lot to teach me as a well. As the only freshman, and the only person who was new to the college experience, I got a chance to glimpse the future, as well as make new friends I never would have met otherwise.

Thanks to my Service and Justice Experience, I was able to meet people who I know will continue to shape my college experience, both from near and from afar.

Cover Image Credit: Emily Scheuring

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30 Places Every Millennial Girl Needs To Travel To BEFORE She Turns 30

Live your best life, all around the world.

I am a travel enthusiast. There is nowhere I do not want to go.

Traveling the world is one of my biggest goals in life and I am determined to make it happen. The world is so big and I would love to see every inch of it at some point or another.

However, if I can travel to these 30 places before I turn 30, I will feel as though I have accomplished more than enough.

1. New York City, New York

2. New Orleans, Louisiana

3. Grand Canyon, Arizona

4. Las Vegas, Nevada

5. San Francisco, California

6. Los Angeles, California

7. Nashville, Tennessee

8. Honolulu, Hawaii

9. Walt Disney World, Florida

10. Chicago, Illinois

11. Nassau, Bahamas

12. Cozumel, Mexico

13. Cancún, Mexico

14. Bridgetown, Barbados

15. Basseterre, St. Kitts

16. Philipsburg, St. Maarten

17. Montego Bay, Jamacia

18. Christiansted, St. Croix

19. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

20. Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

21. Tortola Baths, Tortola

22. San Juan, Puerto Rico

23. Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos

24. Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

25. Oranjestad, Aruba

26. Mykonos, Greece

27. London, England

28. Paris, France

29. Barcelona, Spain

30. Rome, Italy

Okay, so these are 30 places I want to go out of like, a million. I have traveled to some of these places and would not hesitate one second to go back.

Every new place is like a new adventure, and traveling will forever be so exciting and intruiging to me.

Cover Image Credit: Maisa Teat

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6 Unforgettable Summer Adventures To Plan With Your Friends

Instead of splurging your cash all over the summer you can set a goal to save a specific amount of money throughout the week and knock off a bucket list item that you always wanted to do.

Have you thought about your summer plans? Summer is a few weeks away and some college students have already left to travel back to their hometowns. What is the best way to accomplish bucket list items and where do you start to make sure you have an action full of family and friends this summer? Here is the perfect list for you and your friends to make sure your summer months are full of excitement and adventures moments.

1. Travel Where Your Heart Desires.

All the piggy bank money that you have been saving since you are 1 is the perfect opportunity to splurge on your self to travel the world. If you chose sites similar to Air BNB you are able to save money and travel destinations that you have been dreaming of. Travel to Thailand, Paris, Italy, Bora Bora, California, Japan and so many other cities and countries! Start your bucket list early in life and nail the cultures that you have been wanting to experience since you were little!!

2. Visit Friends/Family.

Not everyone has the luxury of visiting their family and friends whenever they please. One way to fill your summer full of happy moments and exciting adventures it to pack a suitcase and visit your best friends/family. It's always great to catch up with friends and see what is going on in their life and it can motivate you to achieve your own goals just as your best friends are accomplishing.

3. Create a Bucket List.

Instead of splurging your cash all over the summer you can set a goal to save a specific amount of money throughout the week and knock off a bucket list item that you always wanted to do. For example, go bungee jumping, skydiving, swimming with dolphins and horseback riding in the mountains. Start by saving $50 dollars a week and by the end of the summer you could have plenty of money for multiple bucket list items!!

4. Sunny Days at the Beach.

Where is the nearest beach to your location? 3, 5, 12 hours away?? Well with the help of house rental sites you are able to achieve an amazing beach weekend with friends and family. Split the costs and pack your bags for a sunny, pina colada-sipping weekend!

5. Wild Amusement Park Weekend.

Six Flags, Busch Gardens, Aquariums, Disney world, Water parks: all of these amusement parks can give an exciting weekend for all ages! A money saving tip is that certain amusement parks in specific locations have deals throughout the summer and the states that you live in can even give you a deal that would give you and your loved ones an amazing treat this summer!

6. Unforgettable Lake Days.

Similar to Amusement parks (and much cheaper) you can plan a log cabin getaway on the lake with family and friends! Rent waterskis, wave runners, boats, floats and much more with a relaxing getaway with friends. Instead of purchasing food and drinks at an Amusement park pack a cooler full of your favorite drinks and food to splurge on with your family! Having a nice picnic on the lake is just as relaxing as enjoying a wild time at an Amusement park!!

The start of your action-packed summer starts by creating a plan and budget. Once you have figured out where and how much it is, it's all fun and games from there! Whether you are hanging out with friends or enjoying time with family your summer is sure to be full of fun with these six adventures this summer!

Cover Image Credit: Sasha Belaya

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