I’m Leaving the Country in 3 Weeks

Someone please tell me how we are already at the end of July? How? My summer has been a mash-up of work, studying for the MCAT, volunteering as an interpreter for a free medical clinic near my house, along with boring other errands and doctor’s appointments. Luckily, I have been able to spend a little time with both my high school and college friends, so my whole summer has not been work. Some friend highlights include getting “The Beast”—a 10 scoop sundae— at a local custard shop and going the first of my college wedding.

However, with all of this hoopla going on, I have seemed to forget about something… Oh yeah, I’m leaving the country in three weeks to study abroad in Ecuador. The past few days have been a wave of emotions. First, I was straight-up overwhelmed and anxious. I started making an extensive packing list, and I still have not really started tackling this list. For the record, I hate packing. It is so overwhelming that in the past I have usually ended up shoving random clothes into a suitcase just so that I can be done with the packing process. I probably should not take this course of action for this trip, though. The anxiety came from not knowing who my host family was. I was so nervous to know who I am going to live with for the next 4 months. Will they accept me and embrace me as one of their family members? Will they be kind and welcoming? I just kept praying and praying that I could get matched with a loving family.

Now, I am in a more positive emotional state. I am still overwhelmed with packing. I do need to take a bit more care when packing to go to a third world county. I need to think about what medicine to bring, ways to purify water, and other items that might be necessary to have for my overall health and well-being. I am a lot more excited, though, because I now know who my host family is. They are a family of 4, including two children in their 20’s. My host sister and mom have already been in some contact with me, and I am getting the sense that they are very kind, safe, and welcoming people. I still do not really know who they are because the first time I meet them will be at the airport in August, but I have a good feeling about this family.

So in a nutshell, I am excited to meet my host family, packing is overwhelming, and I’m slightly concerned that I will get sick from the food/water at some point. Oddly enough, I haven’t been that concerned with the idea of speaking Spanish the whole time. I guess I will see how that goes once I get there.

¡En tres semanas, estaré en Ecuador!

Hasta pronto,

Hannah

Maine: A Must-see Gem of the Northeast

For years, I have wanted to travel to Maine because of its seafood, outdoor activities, and balance between city and scenic. Finally, I got the opportunity to visit Maine with my family this past week. We spent 2 days in Portland, and then 3.5 days in Bar Harbor. This trip was one of the best vacations to date, in my opinion.

Sunday: Cycling and sailing

Sunday morning, we kicked off the day by renting bikes as a way to explore Portland. Our first stop was The Holy Donut, a very cute donut shop that makes unique donuts from Maine potatoes. We went to The Holy Donut twice on our trip; I recommend the following flavors: chocolate sea salt, Maine blueberry, blueberry lemonade, and chocolate cinnamon sugar. I’m not a donut person, but I loved these creations. We spent the rest of the day biking near the coast. In the evening, we took a Schooner for a sunset cruise in the bay. The views were gorgeous, and it was fun to be in a sailboat, witness the masts go up, and feel the boat heel due to the wind.

Monday: Cape Elizabeth

Monday, we took a road trip down to Cape Elizabeth. We first took a pitstop at Fort Williams and then proceeded to Crescent Beach. I loved exploring the coastline at the beach, with its unique mix of sand, greenery, and unique rock formations. For lunch, we ate at the famous Lobster Shack. After a long wait, I had a lobster roll meal and shared some mini blueberry pie. I’m sure we could have gotten this meal for a cheaper price, but the experience of eating at cute, red picnic tables by the coast was quite memorable. For dinner, we went back to Portland and ate at an amazing new Thai restaurant—Chee vit dee.

Tuesday: Drive to Bar Harbor

We took scenic route to Bar Harbor from Portland. I really enjoyed making a pitstop to hike Mt. Battie in Camden Hills State Park. For dinner, we ate at the Chart Room, which had a good variety of food for good prices. The best part of the night was getting ice cream downtown. Disclaimer: we ate ice cream every night on this trip, both in Portland and in Bar Harbor, so we tried a few places out. One of our favorites was Jordan Pond. They don’t have as many flavors, but we could get a single scoop of ice cream for $2.50, while every other place was serving up one scoop for nearly $5…I know, it’s outrageously priced.

Wednesday: Acadia Day 1

Wednesday was dedicated to hiking the beautiful, and very difficult hike up Southern Bubble to see Bubble Rock. The views were stunning, but warning, this hike is a hybrid of hiking/climbing over some rocks. It is not a smooth path. For lunch, we ate at Jordan Pond House, which is famous for their popovers and strawberry jam. The wait was worth it. The food was delicious (I had a lobster Nicoise salad) and the popovers were heavenly. It was my first time having popovers; I am a fan of how light they are in comparison to biscuits and scones.

Thursday: Acadia Day 2

My favorite day by far! We woke up at 3:45 am to see the sunrise over Cadillac Mountain. Come early if you plan on doing this yourself because parking will be a challenge, even at 4:30 in the morning. It was the most beautiful sunrise I have EVER seen in my life. There are no words to describe it. For breakfast, we ate at Great Maine Breakfast. I loved their oatmeal toast with homemade strawberry rhubarb jam 🙂 Later, instead of hiking through the park, we biked—this time on some of the Carriage Trails to see some stone bridges. These trails were extremely hilly, probably the toughest bike ride I have ever done. Needless to say, after lunch, we took the bus back. The bike ride was super fun, but we were beat.

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Friday: Exploring more of Mt. Desert Island and Acadia Day 3

In the morning, we ate breakfast at Two Cats, where I got a delicious cappuccino and a bagel and lox (We also ate there Saturday morning too!). The little breakfast place used to be and inn, and it is so charming and quirky on the inside. Afterwards, we drove around to some less visited parts of the island—Northeast Harbor, Southwest Harbor, and Bass Harbor. To be honest, I don’t think people are missing much by not seeing these areas. I personally liked being in Acadia more. Later, we went back to Acadia to hike Mt. Gorham. For dessert, we went all out and got 2 scoops each at Udder Heaven. It was $5 for the 2 scoops, but the flavors (and there are more than 40) are delicious and the scoops are HUGE—well worth the money.

Saturday: Travel chaos

We had to drive from Bar Harbor to Portland to fly home, Unfortunately, our flight got delayed numerous times due to thunderstorms, and we even got delayed and stuck right on the runway. It was an exhausting night, but we did make it home around 3am.

This was one of my favorite trips for many reasons, from the food to the adventure. My favorite part, though, was getting to spend quality time with my family. I truly enjoyed the moments we spent looking for sea glass together, exploring this odd shop in Bar Harbor filled with rocks, fossils, and preserved specimens (Why is this shop there? Beats me.), or eating copious amounts of ice cream in the search for the best deal and quality of ice cream. The trip was not perfect, but I felt so happy and peaceful here in Maine. I hope you all get to experience Maine someday too.

Lots of love,

Hannah