I haven’t posted since I left school, and a lot of things have happened since then. So… I think it only makes sense to make a list of the top 10 things that made my summer really awesome.
I was fortunate enough to be able to travel abroad this summer with my roommates (who happen to be two of my best friends). And in the process, I was able to visit my cousins, Duane and Shannon, who were amazing hosts by letting us stay with them for a week and taking us to really cool places. We started our trip in Belgium, where Duane and Shannon live, and for that first week we traveled to Aachen, Germany; Maastrict, Netherlands; Brussels, Belgium; Brugge, Belgium; Amsterdam, Netherlands; Luxembourg; and local places where they live. It was so great to see them (and the doggies!) Brugge has become my new favorite city and I would absolutely love to travel back there again!
We then joined a tour group, EF College Break, and with our tour guide, Darren, and about 35 other people, we traveled from London, England to Paris, France to Barcelona, Spain. It was awesome getting to see some of the worlds most amazing cities. I was a big fan of Paris, and while there we climbed the Eiffel Tower and put locks on the Love Lock Bridge (among other things). I would love to go back to both Paris and Barcelona.
2. Spending time with friends and family
I have so many wonderful people in my life that I don’t get to see often enough. This summer, I was able to see everyone I love and care about at least once! Right before leaving for my trip I was able to see Erika, my best friend, before she set off to be a camp counselor for the summer. Then, I also went wine tasting with Krissy, Megan Y, and Alexis at a local vineyard. I even got to see Tanner, who was home from working in China! I had lunch with Malene last week (who for the last few summers I saw every day of my life!). And very frequently, Megan C, Emily and I would meet up for lunch or dinner, and it’s always awesome to see them. Also, now that we have a backyard at Tim’s, we were also able to have some friends over to play games (Scott, Karyn, Mike, Strauss, Jeff).
It was also nice to be able to frequently see my parents, sister, and grandparents. I wish I could see everyone on this list more often, and hopefully when I’m finished with school (which will be soon!) I can make that a reality.
3. Interning with Planned Parenthood Keystone
I interned with PPKey at their York and Lancaster branches as an education intern. My boss (and now amazing friend) Kelly, is a sex educator for PPKey and travels all over central PA educating others on a variety of topics. She also leads a LGBTQ youth group called The CURVE, which meets on Thursday evenings at the York office. I was in attendance of all of the CURVE meetings (and met some wonderful people there as well). I helped Kelly set up and facilitate the meetings, and one week I was able to present a stress and time management program that I usually teach at school. Also, one of the CURVE members invited me to present about sexual assault at a safe zone training for the Pennsylvania Student Equality Coalition. Kelly and I also went to Lancaster and Harrisburg Pride, as well as York’s first Equality Fest. We tabled there, which means handing out safe sex supplies and educational materials. I was also able to observe Kelly teach in a variety of settings. I learned so much from working with her, and I now know that I would love to someday be a sex educator (I thought I already knew that, but this confirmed it even more!)
4. Presenting at the Adolescent Sexual Health Conference
Earlier in the school year, I had approached my boss. Dr. Kimberly Chestnut, at the Wellness Resource Center on campus if she would like to present at Temple Harrisburg’s Adolescent Sexual Health Conference. She was such a wonderful person to help with my first conference presentation, and I don’t think I could have done it without her! (Thanks Kimmy!) We presented on “hooking up,” and the three motivations behind it; we also wanted to give the educators a new model to talk about sex and hooking up with their students, which we did by presenting them with Al Vernacchio’s pizza metaphor. I met some awesome people at this conference, and would love to present again next year!
5. Building a patio
Tim and I took on a massive project this summer, which was to remodel both the front and back yard. We started with the front of the yard, which the grass was on a really steep angle. So that Tim wouldn’t hurt himself trying to mow the yard, we dug it out (with the help of Mike) and made a tiered flower bed. It looks really great, we just still need to plant flowers.
Secondly, we wanted to fix the parking spot off the back of the alley behind the house. In order to do that, we needed someone to come jackhammer some concrete and fill in a pit with more concrete and stones. My dad’s friends company, M. Webster Construction was an amazing help to do this! We can now successfully park there (instead of on the street).
Thirdly, we wanted to build a patio. So, while the construction team was there, we asked them to help dig out the ground where we would build it. We had stone and sand delivered, and after attempting to make it level, Tim and I began laying the brick pavers. It has taken quite a while to get to the point where we are (who knew it would be so difficult!?). We are almost finished, but I think it’s looking pretty awesome! I cannot wait for next summer when we can relax and enjoy our backyard!
6. Visiting the Jane Addams Hull House
While in Chicago, the main thing on my list was to visit Jane Addams Hull House. For those that don’t know what this is, it is where the start of social work happened. Jane Addams was an amazing woman who started the idea of settlement social work, and paved the way for many other social workers. I was overwhelmed with feeling when we walked in to the original Hull House. I could feel all of the energy of the wonderful things that had been accomplished in this space. It was so perfect to go there right before starting my senior year of school because it gave me that push to remember to fight for what you believe in and to never give up (no matter how cheesy that sounds). It really is important to advocate for others, and that is exactly what Jane did. Fun fact, in 1919, the US government deemed her one of “the most dangerous women in America.”
Chicago is one of my favorite cities, and after we had gone last year to visit Tim’s brother and sister-in-law, Ben and Ashlea, we of course wanted to visit again! It is such a beautiful city, and I love how there is a combination of architecture and water all in the same place. This year we went to a really cool Mexican restaurant and had some great food and margaritas. We also went and checked out Navy Pier during the Air and Water show (we didn’t see much, and it got canceled the second day when we were planning on going). Overall, it was nice to take a trip right before school started to one of my favorite places, while also getting to visit Ben and Ashlea (who we don’t get to see very often!). Thanks for being great hosts!
8. Learning how to use the grill
Since Tim now has a grill, we used it a lot this summer. One night I wanted to surprise Tim with dinner, so I attempted to use the grill myself (Tim had taught me how prior to this). I originally gave up because the flames and heat scared me, but after giving myself a little pep talk, I went back outside, and made some amazing chicken with peach jalapeno glaze! With white rice, and grilled peaches, it made for the perfect meal!
Now that I am 21, and have had some time to see what kinds of drinks I may like, I have discovered that I actually really like beer. And when I say beer, I don’t mean the typical kind you can find at any bar. But real, awesome, craft beer. The whole thing started in Belgium (land of the best beer) when we tried some authentic dark Belgium beer. And since then, I’ve been hooked. I don’t want anyone to think I’ve turned into an alcoholic, but I now have an appreciation for quality beer, and it’s been fun sampling them occasionally.
This is the first summer in while where I haven’t worked two jobs. In the past, I had been so busy that there was never any time for me to relax or to see friends and family. So, this year I only worked at the Quentin Tavern (mainly on weekends) and between that and my internship, I had just the right amount of time for me. I’ll admit, I spent a lot of time lounging on the couch watching TV, but when I think about it, that was the last summer that I will ever be able to do that. It also gave me time to actually see Tim as well, since I usually work nights (and he works normal days), we were able to actually spend some time together during the week.
I have had an amazing summer, but now it is time to get back to school. As I sit here in my apartment in Philly, I am looking forward to this last year of my undergraduate education. But at the same time, I am really ready to graduate and start working (I know I will have a year of grad school immediately after this). But because time seems to go so fast these days, I am going to make sure that I appreciate all of the time I have left in this awesome city with some really wonderful friends.