Two top spots – on & off campus

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The following two spots are definitely my top go-to’s; if you like coffee & fantastic gourmet food, this is for you!

First I’ll admit, I’m a coffee fanatic (and my friends might even say that’s putting it lightly). Burlington boasts some awesome local coffee shops, my favorite being Speeder & Earl’s. They have their main location down on Pine Street, a smaller shop (pictured below) on Church Street & we even have Speeder & Earl’s coffee at Cafe Cheray right on campus!

For those 21+, Magic Hat released its (limited time) Hop Drip IPA this fall, made with Speeder & Earl’s coffee beans! Perfect for coffee + craft beer lovers.

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Second on the top two, Our House Bistro in the Winooski Circle. Located only about 5 minutes from campus (if that), Our House has a mouth-watering menu of gourmet comfort food-inspired eats, which they call “twisted comfort food.” There was even a “The Bite” column in the last issue of The Defender featuring Our House! One of my new all-time favorites was what I ordered this past Sunday, their chicken pot pie mac + cheese (pictured below). Everything that makes up a pot pie PLUS creamy mac – so good. I’d definitely recommend it!

weekendsnaps1weekendsnap6One of the many reasons I love Burlington so much – there are so many awesome places around the area to eat & get that coffee fix – check back soon for more of my favorites & suggestions!

-Juliana

Feeling like fall

Our ACA in the 400s brought around tissues and tea to all of the residents – just another reason to love the St. Mike’s community :)

There’s truly nothing like Vermont in the fall. Apart from running around like crazy (classes, internship, etc.), I try to get into town/outside to enjoy this beyond perfect weather whenever time permits….

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Above, left: Stunning fall foliage has taken over the trees on campus, and I’m completely in love with all of the shades of fall. Right: My new vespa, “Mr. Tango,” is the best way to get around while the weather is at its prime – going into town and enjoying the fresh air – I can’t think of anything better.

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Above: The Burlington skyline from three different views – all a perfect depiction of why this little city is a beautiful place to be.

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Above, left: The outside of Arts Riot in BTV (I loved the strung lights and artsy feel of the outside of the building) Right: Enjoying apple cider in a mason jar outside of my house.

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Above, left: Doing work outside with my friend Lauren (one of the handful of times we’ve gotten out of Bergeron and tried to get stuff done while enjoying the fall weather) Right: The first issue of The Defender this semester – my multimedia with Lauren on style in Vermont! Check it out here.

 

5 steps for staying productive

It’s been quite a while since I’ve blogged over here, putting a bit more focus on my personal blog this summer. But after going abroad – exploring and experiencing a new culture – and enjoying the summer at home, I couldn’t be happier being back at St. Mike’s to enjoy this last year as a college student :)

On that note, with classes starting once again, procrastination tendencies always seem to follow. Here are 5 simple tips for staying productive as the semester carries on…

1. Pick your place wisely

My go-to? Bergeron (The MJD building).  It’s basically been my 2nd home since day one – a journalism major’s top spot. You can always count on MJD friends already being there, but not to the point where it’s distracting. If you’re someone that needs more individual space, try the library or a classroom in the academic buildings. I never work at home because of the temptation to waste time, but if that works for you, stick to it!

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2. Take a break outside

Fresh air! Vermont has a ton of it, so take advantage of the beautiful weather while you can! It can get overwhelming sitting inside/in front of a computer screen for hours; take a little break every hour or so to regroup and clear your head.

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3. Make a list/schedule

No list = something will probably get overlooked. Sometimes it’s even helpful and efficient to make an hourly schedule when your workload is at a peak. Also, post-its are probably the most helpful invention to date.

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4. Caffeinate/hydrate

I can’t stay on track without a bit of coffee to jumpstart my day. But if you’re not a big coffee fan, bring water and/or a snack with you while tackling a ton of work. That way you won’t be (as) tempted to leave early/rush. Also, coffee = staying more alert after late night study sessions…always necessary.

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5. Background noise (vs. distractions)

Do: put on instrumental study Pandora radio station if you like a bit of background noise while working. Don’t: go over to a friend’s house while they’re having a movie marathon.

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photo source

 

 

Weekends in SA

Hey all!

I’ve been pretty bad about blogging weekly, so I’ll wrap up quite a few weekends in this post. Over the course of the last month or so, we’ve been doing a lot of traveling and such on the weekends…everything from a road trip getaway to a quick evening event in Kayamandi. I’ll start with the most recent and work backwards…

Today we went into Cape Town with the whole AIFS group to go to Robben Island, but unfortunately the weather was terrible and we couldn’t take the ferry over to it. So instead, we went to the aquarium (I’m not a huge aquarium fan but this one was actually super cool) and we went out for lunch by the waterfront. Overall, we made a good day out of a not so great situation, which is another reason I absolutely love this place :)

Last Sunday, a group of my friends went to Mzoli’s in Gugulethu – Gugulethu is a township in Cape Town and Mzoli’s is a super popular “restaurant”/butchery in the township…they serve a massive pile of meat (which was delicious) on a large platter and everyone just picks what they want from it (which was also super messy but I managed…) and there is music playing & people dancing – such a cool environment.

We went on a holiday (Freedom Day) so it was insanely crowded…we could barely even walk around inside. BUT regardless, it was an amazing and completely different experience from what I’ve already done here in South Africa. I didn’t really get any photos inside because of the space issue and whatnot, but check out the really short video of the crowd that I posted on my Instagram…

Also, here’s a photo that my friend Colleen took of me eating the meat at Mzoli’s…which is how everyone was eating, for the record…

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Last Friday night, a group of us attended a poetry slam in Kayamandi (the township right next to Stellenbosch). I’ve never been to a poetry slam to begin with, and this was actually my first time going to a township to do something other than volunteering – I’m so glad I decided to tag along. The competitors where absolutely incredible – people from Stellies, from the township, even one of my AIFS friends read her poetry…

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Brittany competing at the slam poetry event in Kayamandi!

The previous weekend was a long weekend, so a few of us took a 3 night trip to Hermanus, an oceanside town about 2 hours away. We rented a car for this trip and it was awesome to actually be in control of where we could go for once! (The train is super useful but definitely more limited). Over the weekend we shopped around town, checked out the beach, went out for a dinner & gelato, I got my third tattoo (Ubuntu – see here) and really just had a relaxing getaway.

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More to come soon!

-Juliana

long overdue post on spring (fall) break!

Hey all!

I’m just getting around to blogging about my fabulous spring break (a week and a half later…oops)

We started our journey from Stellies with a long-ish car ride up the coast to Wilderness (yes, the town is actually called Wilderness).

We stayed at the beach backpackers (right on the Indian Ocean!) for 2 nights – ate lots of great food, celebrated Anna’s 20th birthday (& went to a party on top of the mountain) and went kloofing! (Kloofing = walking/swimming through the river & jumping off cliffs)

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Next, we moved onto Antler’s Lodge, where we would be staying for 3 nights. This place was stunning – and we basically had it all to ourselves! During our time there, we explored the Cango Caves, went to Monkeyland, saw leopards/cheetahs/big cats and whatnot, went bungee jumping off the highest bungee bridge in the world (!!!) and FINALLY got to play with the elephants at Knysna elephant park. It was all absolutely incredible…especially the ellies. My god they were SO wonderful…

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dream come true.

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Next, we traveled up to Tsitsikamma National Park to walk along the coast before heading to the Avoca River Cabins where we would spend one night. Here, some of our group swam and canoed in the river before we had a delicious homemade South African stew for dinner (seriously, there was SO MUCH great food on this trip). 

 

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The next day we were up and out early for a safari in ADDO – the day started out really rainy but cleared up just in time to see SO many ellies and quite a few lions as well (among other animals, of course)…

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From there, we were in Jeffrey’s Bay for one day/night (the well-known surfing destination) – we did a little shopping in town and enjoyed a bit of the beach…

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I’m fairly sure we all wished we could’ve stayed in Jeffrey’s Bay for an extra night, but next we were off to stay in this super secluded/stunning “farm” (?) with camping-style cabins. I don’t remember the name of it but the views were unbeatable – we could look down and see the river where we would be rafting the next day (only 2 people per boat, which was totally unexpected but so fun!) DSC_0982 DSC_0989 DSC_0999 DSC_1018 DSC_102210172819_678860138845143_731643528955375959_n

Our last day was spent visiting the southern-most tip of Africa (how cool is that?) and grabbing lunch in Hermanus (which is actually the town I’ll be visiting this weekend with some of my friends)…

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10 days in one short blog post…but I think the photos tell most of the story. This spring break was probably the most incredible I’ll ever go on…from elephants, jumping off the bridge, spending so much time with these wonderful people and just exploring parts of this beautiful country…every day was exciting and unlike any other.

Seriously though, there’s no place like South Africa!

-Juliana

cafes, Cape Town, kiddos…

Hello all!

I’ve been pretty preoccupied with classes these past two weeks, but as always, there’s time in between to explore this beautiful place. I’ll do this post in list form because another 2 weeks gone by is a lot to catch up on…

What’s been going on lately:

1. Lunches with friends. My goodness does Stellenbosch have a wide variety of cafes and restaurants to enjoy. I often call this town “fake Africa” because it looks very European. Wonderful (real!) iced coffee in wine glasses, art-inspired menus, chalk board wine bar tables…

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2. Markets, fresh goods and all things beautiful – last weekend I went to a local fresh goods market with my friend Colleen. We got a bit of food and I drooled over all of the sweet treats, trying not to give in…there was also handmade jewelry and fresh flowers, which in retrospect I totally should have bought. I’m sure I’ll go to another at some point, though!

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3. Outings and evenings – this weekend there was a pool party at one of the private (international students) residences,  which was super fun – meeting more people from all over the world.

4. Cape Town. On Sunday a few of my friends and I took the train to Cape Town at 7:30am to spend the day trying delicious food (lots of sushi!), window shopping and grabbing drinks at this absolutely stunning raised-deck/lounge restaurant thing at the waterfront.

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5. And of course, Kayamandi. The past two Fridays there have been extraordinary – I can absolutely feel the kids opening up to us a lot more – and the smiles on their faces always make me melt. This week’s theme was “summer” so we had them make sunshine masks, and last week’s theme was “healthy living,” so we bought all of the kids toothbrushes and had them brush their teeth outside (which, of course, was VERY messy with all preschoolers). We also had them make fruit kabobs to learn about healthy eating – they LOVED the fruit, which barely even made it onto the sticks!

I still don’t actually know if I’m allowed to post Kayamandi photos to my blog but I’m going to anyways…

(and that’s my teaching partner – Kaeli – in the back! She’s from the UK, I’m super jealous of her accent)

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That’s about it for now. The next post should hold some really fun stuff – stay tuned :)

-Juliana

oh the places we go

It’s been 2 weeks since my last post and there’s so much to tell you all…ahhh!

Let’s start with 2 weeks ago, per usual I had classes every day (my Afrikaans class is definitely my favorite, it’s a classroom with just couches and we listen to songs and do activities to learn the language)…but in addition to that, it was my first week in which I would be going to Kayamandi on Friday to volunteer with the preschool children at Ikhaya primary school.

These children live in the primarily black township which suffers from a lot of post-apartheid issues, like a lack of adequate toilets, water, etc. It was such an interesting and different experience to start working with these children, especially since we don’t have a common language (they speak isiXhosa and are just starting to learn english). The following Friday was even better, but I’ll discuss that later.

There was also the first home rugby game of the season that week, which we all attended in our matching Maties shirts! (Their school spirit is INSANE!)

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Then, that weekend we traveled (only about an hour, or less) to the Kirstenbosch botanical gardens for the Freshly Ground concert! This was the most beautiful setting for a concert, and the band actually played the back-up music for Shakira’s Waka Waka at the world cup! How cool is that?

It was 100 degrees the day of the concert, but regardless, it was an awesome experience…

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This past week, more classes as usual…nothing too crazy there. One night (I think it was Tuesday?) some of us went out to dinner at Cape Town Fish Market for our one month “friendiversary”…I still can’t believe I’ve been here that long!

…I ordered a platter with grilled hake, fried calamari strips and mussels in a garlic/basil/parmesan-ish sauce. SO so good. If you like seafood, this is definitely the place to go in Stellenbosch!

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Then once again on Friday, we drove the 5 minutes to the Kayamandi township with the rest of the 10 or so student volunteers to help out at the primary school. This time, I could recognize the different children in the class and could pick up on their personalities a bit better, which was so incredibly satisfying. The majority of these children don’t come from a stable environment, so school to them is really a safe haven. We sang songs, played some games and had them draw pictures of their bodies because that week’s theme was about learning body parts. It’s so easy to see how happy they are when you give them the direct attention and praise that they deserve..whether they’ve done something successfully in the activity we’re working on or just in general. Going to Kayamandi has become the best part of my week, by far. Not because it gives you that typical satisfied feeling after doing a good thing, but because every second I’m working with the children, I can sense a mutual learning going on. It’s not even something I can put into words.

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Pretty sure we’re not allowed to put pics of the kids on social media, but this one doesn’t really show faces…

About an hour after finishing up at Kayamandi, it was time to leave for Cederberg with our AIFS group. This was one of our “big trips” of the semester…a 4 hour drive to the SandDrif holiday cottages in the heart of Cederberg.

Friday afternoon we got settled in/cooked over the braai, took a short walk, laid out under the bright & beautiful stars, and then got ready for what would be one of the most amazing experiences ever…

Saturday morning, bright at early at 7:30ish, we left our “houses” to begin the 3ish hour climb up Cederberg mtn. We hiked, climbed, scaled the side of the rocky cliffs, wriggled under boulder piles, squeezed through narrow cave passageways, and so so much more. It was breathtakingly beautiful…the view spanned for miles and you could see all of the rock formations scattered below, which looked like burnt orange rock candy chunks bursting from the ground below.

After we climbed back down the mountain (…a couple hours later) we all went straight to the river beside the cottages and jumped in fully clothed! It was the perfect way to cool down and relax after a super long day of hiking.

We then cleaned up, I took a nap under the weeping willow tree right outside our cottage, we went to a wine tasting, braaied chicken and lots of other delicious food for dinner, and then went for a short presentation at the local observatory (the stars appeared brighter than ever in the open Cederberg sky!)

Sunday morning, just an hour or so before departing, I decided to take another quick dip in the river (at 8:30am) while it was still calm and quiet. It was probably the most peaceful experience ever. We then left to go check out the nearby cave/rock paintings which date back 2,000+ years. Mountains, rivers, caves, etc…this was truly an unforgettable weekend.

I absolutely love South Africa.

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