A day in the life...

Friday, October 28, 2011

Members of IU Students for Life with Dr. Alveda King
Tuesday was a pretty typical day...had a few interviews for jobs I'm not thrilled about, played Words with Friends to stay awake through classes, oh and I had dinner with Martin Luther King, Jr.'s niece, Alveda King. No big deal.

At the end of sophomore year a friend and I started a pro-life club on our college campus. I spent the first three semesters at IU wishing someone would start a pro-life club...then I realized I am someone! It took almost a year to get the club rolling despite our best efforts. Last fall the members of a local pro-life group approached us to collaborate on bringing a national speaker to Bloomington. They wanted to bring Dr. Alveda King, niece of MLK Jr, to speak on abortion as the civil rights issue of our time and my generation. Alveda works for Priests for Life (though she is not Catholic) in their African-American outreach.

Now here we are a full calendar year later, and I just had dinner with MLK's niece! A few times at dinner she referred to MLK casually as "my uncle." At first it didn't register with me exactly who she was talking about. Alveda has traveled all over the world speaking to advance the pro-life cause...even to Ghana! :) Alveda herself has had two abortions that she now regrets, including one D&C that was performed by a doctor without her consent.

The most interesting topic of conversation at dinner was about the award Planned Parenthood "gave" to Martin Luther King, Jr., who was absolutely pro-life according to his niece. In 1966, Planned Parenthood gave MLK the Margaret Sanger award for "his courageous resistance to bigotry and his lifelong dedication to the advancement of social justice and human dignity." That's terrible ironic considering Margaret Sanger was racist and a proponent of eugenics (which is basically what Planned Parenthood is doing now - PP will even accept donations to fund the abortion of black babies). Sanger wanted to assist the human race in the elimination of the "unfit" through birth control and other means. It's also ironic that Planned Parenthood lauded MLK for his advancement of social justice and human dignity despite PP's blatant disregard for the dignity of the unborn child.

MLK did not want to receive the award and did not go to ceremony to accept it. However, his wife Coretta Scott King went and accepted the award. According the Alveda, Martin and his wife were both of different Christian denominations and of different philosophies. She believes Coretta had a full conversion before her death. Furthermore, MLK did not write the acceptance speech his wife gave - someone else did. Of course the Planned Parenthood website says both that Coretta accepted the award on his behalf (not true) and that he wrote the speech she delivered (not true).

After dinner Alveda King presented a talk entitled "How Can the Dream Survive? Abortion - the Civil Rights Issue of Our Time." We had 160 people in attendance, including two rows of protestors who were for gay marriage or something. I don't know what they were protesting or what point they were trying to make, but they eventually gave up and walked out.

If I haven't convinced you of the evils of Margaret Sanger and Planned Parenthood check out the connection between PP and Girl Scouts (including PP distributing sex-ed brochures encouraging young Girl Scouts to masturbate) and the connection between PP and the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Komen donates money to Planned Parenthood, who then distributes birth control that in turn increases the risk of breast cancer. Planned Parenthood is evil. I rest my case.

Pumpkin spice & everything nice

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

9:00am is way too early to already be having a bad day, especially when I should still be in bed for another 90 minutes before I have to leave for my first class. I had a job interview at 8am with a bunch of curveball questions, I'm averaging 4-5 hours of sleep a night, & I'm waitlisted as a senior for all the classes I need to graduate in May. I've been on the b-school grind for 9 weeks and still have another month until I get a break - I'm burnt out :( Yeah I know, first world problems...

I went to Starbucks for a little caffeine therapy and ordered a venti pumpkin spice latte in which to drown my sorrows and buoy my energy for the rest of the day. Starbucks was out of lids for grande and venti coffees so they said I could have two tall lattes for the price of one. Alright, fine. Then I handed over my card to pay. Declined. The manager comes over and says I can just have the two lattes for free.

"Be faithful in small things for in them your strength lies." -Mother Teresa 

Today my strength is in two free pumpkin spice lattes and knowing that God's grace is enough to get me through the rest of the day :)


Bloomington ♥

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I could easily list 1001 reasons why I love love love IU and Bloomington and why it is hands down the best school in Indiana and possibly the USA ;) One of the top reasons is how beautiful our campus is. I am seriously sad that next year I will not be walking through these scenes on a daily basis! Recently we were named one of America's most beautiful college campuses by Travel & Leisure. 

Iconic wooden bridges in the heart of campus
Wells Plaza
Jordan River
I don't care if our football team loses every game and if the basketball program hasn't won a national championship since Bobby Knight (legend!!) left - I bleed cream and crimson :) And yes, my campus is more beautiful than yours.

This Time for Africa!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I've been waiting to blog about this until I was officially accepted, but now I have some exciting news! Though my globetrotting ways are currently on hold, they are soon to be continued. I'm studying abroad again, this time in Ghana, Africa!!!!!!!!

The "travel bug" bit me hard in summer 2010 when I spent ten days in Italy. As you know, that eventually led me to Hungary and all over Europe. Leaving Europe left me thirsting to see even more of the world, especially the obscure and ignored parts of the world that most tourists would never venture to. A year ago, I was terrified (and excited) about moving to Hungary. Leaving the comforts and familiarity of the US for a post-community country was challenging enough, and I never would have considered a developing country. And a poverty-stricken third world country? Forget that!

This summer a friend from home went on a trip to Kenya with his university. After hearing about his experiences and seeing his pictures...I had the intense desire to go to Africa and mentally added that to my life bucket list.

Now cue the Kelley School of Business's Emerging Economies program. Kelley offers a class each spring to study global emerging economies. The class includes a 10 day study tour of an emerging economy over spring break and is very competitive to get into. Initially, I didn't think I would have room in my schedule my final semester to take a class I don't technically need. Because my study abroad advisor is a miracle worker, she found a loophole allowing me to take 12 credit hours next semester instead of the 18 (while still finishing both of my majors on time) I had previously planned on taking. That left plenty of room for 3 more credits for the Emerging Economies class.

I applied a few weeks ago and ranked Ghana as my top choice, with Chile, and China following. I can tell you for sure that a year ago I would have ranked China #1 and would have had no interest in going to Chile or Ghana. I found out Monday that I was accepted into the program and was placed on the Ghana trip! In addition, I received a scholarship covering 1/3 of the cost and am applying for a second scholarship that would cover another 1/3. Major kudos to IU and the Kelley School for being wonderful promoters of international experiences and enabling students to study abroad through a multitude of scholarships and for making this small town girl's travel dreams come true...twice!!

I've been listening to the song Waka Waka (This Time for Africa) by Shakira on repeat :)

Next Small Town Girl adventure....AFRICA!!

It's good to be sick...in the US

Friday, October 7, 2011

I'm currently sick with a head cold and was reminded how much more "comfortable" it is to be sick in the US than in Hungary! I had the foresight to bring a small supply of medicine with me to Budapest but by the second time I got sick I had exhausted my supply of cold pills and soft kleenex. I went to DM, a German-owned drugstore that is common in Europe (and one of the few places where plastic shopping bags are FREE!) to look for any type of cold medicine. It turns out that in Hungary you have to go to the pharmacy to get any kind of medicine, even things that are over-the-counter in the states, such as ibuprofren. And even then each box only has a few pills in it. Until recently even vitamins were behind the pharmacist's counter.

Typical magyar patika, identified by a green cross
I went the the patika or pharmacy (which are separate stores, not like Walgreens, only with a counter and then a few pharmacists behind the counter) and attempted to explain to the pharmacists who spoke German, but very little English, what I needed. But oh no, you can't just tell them what you need, you have to explain all your symptoms so they can "diagnose" you first. To make a long story short...there's no such thing as Nyquil, Dayquil, or cold pills in Hungary. The pharmacist offered me all sorts of strange drugs that I declined and then finally I saw a word I recognized - ROBITUSSIN! It even came in a glass bottle - how weird is that? One of the benefits of socialist healthcare is that medicine is really inexpensive. At one point my roommate was really sick (it got to the point that her parents had to mail her drugs from the US...which arrived like 2 weeks later despite the hundreds of dollars her mom spent to next-day the package), and filled several prescriptions from the private, English-speaking clinic for around $30. Hungarian hospitals and health care is a whole other scary story...thank God our program covered visits to a privately owned clinic. Being in that clinic was probably the only time when I actually felt like I was in the US and not in Hungary.

While I was sick I also couldn't find Kleenex with lotion (or any type of softer tissue) or vaseline for my chafed nose. Oh and Tylenol also does not exist. I wrote down all the active ingredients, took it to the pharmacist and she came up with nothing. My roommate and I found out later from a Hungarian doctor at the clinic that they have a drug that is similar to Tylenol, but with different ingredients (or whatever you call the stuff in medicine). It's called Panadol.

There was ONE good thing about being sick in Hungary though - drinking tons of the hot sugar lemon tea that I could get at the school bufe for like 50 cents. However, I am still baffled as to why steaming hot beverages are served in thin plastic cups because a) hot beverages in plastic cups scald your hands and b) hot beverages melt plastic cups.

I'm glad I got sick and remembered all these strange little differences between Hungary and the USA! And praise God for the two aisles at CVS with endless choices of cold medicine!! :) Now because I'm getting a little Hungary-sick...here's a picture of the street I lived on in Budapest. I walked this way every day to and from class, to go to grocery store (the large gray building on the right, behind the green newsstand), or the Ferenc korut metro stop. Éljen magyarország!! Long live Hungary!

Raday Utca, home sweet home for 4 months!

Festa di San Francesco!!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

St. Francis
If you are a Catholic nerd like me you should be very excited for the spate of heavyweight feast days this month: the Archangels, St. Terese of Lisieux, Our Lady of the Rosary, St. Teresa of Avila...and the list goes on! Today is the feast of arguably one of the most well-known Catholic saints - St. Francis of Assisi! I have a bit of a soft spot for St. Francis and the Franciscans because a) there are Poor Clare nuns (a Franciscan order of cloistered nuns) in my hometown, b) my dear friend is a Franciscan sister, and c) I'VE BEEN TO ASSISI!!!

St. Francis was not just a Birkenstock-clad hippie saint, who frolicked through fields and hugged trees and bunnies. Here's a very brief biography of his life that leaves out some of the fun details - like St. Francis stripping naked in the town square!

Don't be fooled by Hippie Francis!
Francis Bernardone was born the son of Pietro di Bernardone, a rich cloth merchant in Assisi in Italy. He led a wealthy and privileged life, wearing clothes made of the best materials and was well educated. With a future guaranteed in his father's business some of his youth was misspent. His experiences as a soldier, during which time he was a prisoner of war, led him to a more sombre and religious life. He undertook a pilgrimage to Rome and returned to Assisi following spiritual visions and mystical experiences. He decided to devote his life to the Christian faith and renounced all of his wealth preferring to lead a life of poverty. His evangelical preaching inspired others to follow him and in 1209 Francis and his first followers went to Rome to ask permission from Pope Innocent III to found a new religious order. The pope agreed and Francis d'Assisi  became the founder of the Franciscan Order of Preaching Friars. He was said to have preached to birds and animals which explains his association with nature and all of God's creatures. Francis of Assisi is also famous for the Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon. Saint Francis of Assisi died in 1226 of natural causes.

Assisi is quite possibly the most beautiful and peaceful place I've ever been. Visiting Assisi is like stepping back into a time warp. It's a perfectly preserved medieval town. It's nestled in the sunflower covered hills of Umbria, next to to Tuscany. St. Clare (Francis's cohort) and St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows are also from Assisi. No one really has a reason to visit Assisi unless they are Catholic, so it keeps the disrespectful/crazy tourists to a minimum, unlike in the sacred places of Roma.

Let's take a walk down memory lane and re-visit my trip to Assisi :) Celebrating feast days of saints whose tombs/towns I've been too is so wonderful - I can picture everything so vividly and recall what is was like to kneel down and ask their intercession literally right THERE in front of their body.

Alexa reading at Mass on St. Francis's tomb
Basilica of St. Francis
Franciscan-ized shrubs! That's the Franciscan "tau" cross
View of lower Assisi from the Basilica
Real doves hovering near a statue of St. Francis
Franciscan Monastery & Basilica

San Damiano crucifix Francis received the stigmata from
Possibly the best picture known to man...me making the "Fr. Ted face"
while the man and legend himself makes the face!
Franciscan sisters at San Damiano
Our quaint hotel in Assisi :)
Good morning Assisi!
Castle at the very tip top of Assisi! We hiked up here to pray.
Love love love! With the Father D's
Assisi & St. Clare's Basilica 
Umbria landscape 
Praying the rosary on top of the Castle hill
Best friends in Assisi then...
...and now as a Franciscan sister!!! Sister Mary Grace, OSF
Mass on the tomb of St. Clare of Assisi
St. Mary of the Angels church houses the Portiuncola where
Jesus appeared and told St. Francis to rebuild the
Church! The most sacred place for Franciscans!
The cell where St. Francis died was in this church also