Road Tripping With Friends: An Adventure Of A Lifetime

Road Tripping With Friends: An Adventure Of A Lifetime

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It's brought up time and time again. Someone in your friend group suggests that you go somewhere during the summer for a little road trip. Everyone nods in agreement and starts dishing out potential destinations and activities. You discuss the topic for a few days, but no headway is ever made on the matter. You forget about it about a week later and it probably won't be brought up again until the end of the summer when you look back on it all.

However, there are some circumstances in which your friend group actually executes the plans they make. A trip with your friends is unlike any other vacation you've ever taken. It can be to an amusement park a state away, or to a beach on the coast. Going away with your group of friends not only provides memories and pictures to last a lifetime, but the experience itself can strengthen your friendship when any sort of difficulties arise.

Being away with your group brings everyone closer because everyone is at their worst when they wake up super early to meet at the local gas station before you embark on your journey. You debate over who brings what snacks and what you're going to do first when you arrive at your destination. However, those little bickers are what takes your bond from one of friendship to one that resembles a family.

Exploring unknown territory with your squad can be an experience of a lifetime. It's an escape from anything going on at work, home and school. You can rely on your friends to take your mind off of the negativities in life for a few days while you grab some gas station food before venturing to the ocean and getting sand in places you didn't even know existed.

When you go on any sort of vacation, you typically go with people you consider important to you, whether it be family or friends. You wouldn't go away with people that you didn't really like or care about because you're allowing them to see you at your groggiest in the morning, your sleepiest in the evening and everything in between. Going on a trip with friends you hold dear symbolizes trust and strength in the friendship for that reason.

You can look at them as dependable when discussing the logistics and finances of everything, even if it doesn't always go according to plan. Vacation doesn't have to go according to plan. It's all about taking the moment and making it into a memory you'll forever hold close to your heart.

So grab your group and pack your bags, and make sure the car has gas because you definitely don't want to run out in some remote area. Or maybe you do, and you'll laugh about it years from now when you look back on what was one of the greatest adventures of your life.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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This One’s For Africa

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Read through to the end for an amazing Toto reference.

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It's now been a week since I stepped foot on the African continent for the first time in my life. I first visited Johannesburg, where my dad and I spent a day on an 'apartheid tour.'

This tour consisted of visiting Shanty Town, one of the poorest communities in South Africa. The living conditions were indeed different. They had to steal electricity through homemade wires connected to the telephone poles. They had only a few porta potties for ten families to share. They had several spickets to obtain fresh water from. There was no heating in the houses, which were made from pieces of painted aluminum.

Such inconvenient circumstances have come from years of oppression towards black people in South Africa. It was incredibly sad to know that these problems still exist and that apartheid only ended so recently.

On the other hand, the people showed very little anger. Despite their living situations, the people of Shanty Town were so kind and welcoming. Everyone we passed smiled and waved, often even saying hello or asking about our wellbeing.

It brought some serious warmth to our hearts to see their sense of community. Everyone was in it together, and no man was left behind. They created jobs and opportunities for one another. They supported each other.

The next part of the day included a tour of Nelson Mandela's old house. We then made a trip to the Apartheid Museum.

Overall, Johannesburg did not disappoint. The city contains a rich history that human beings as a whole can learn a lot from. Johannesburg is a melting pot that still contains a multitude of issues concerning racism and oppression of certain cultures.

After two days in Johannesburg, my family made our way to Madikwe game reserve, where we stayed at Jaci's Lodge.

The safari experience was absolutely incredible. Quite cold (it's winter in Africa right now), but amazing enough to make up for the shivering. We saw all my favorite animals: giraffes galore, elephants, zebras, impalas, lions, hyenas, wildebeests, rhinos, you name it. While my favorite animal will always be the giraffe, I don't think any sighting could beat when two different herds of elephants passed through a watering hole to fuel up on a drink.

Finally on June 1st, I flew to George to start my program with Africa Media in Mossel Bay. On Sunday, we went on an 'elephant walk.'

The safari was certainly cool, but that makes the elephant walk ice cold. We got to walk alongside two male elephants - one was 25, the other 18. They were so cute!! We got to stroke their skin, trunk, and tusks. They had their own little personalities and were so excited to receive treats (fruits and vegetables) at the end of the journey.

My heart couldn't be more full. Africa, you have become my favorite continent. And it sure is going to take a lot to drag me away from you.

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