Overweight in a Weight-limit Society

I ran tonight. Hard. Heavy breathing. Thick, sticky air. Sweat slithering down my face within the first minute. Legs aching. Heart pounding: thug-tap-tap. Half mile, nonstop. My shirt clung to my back. And as I rounded the corner to my halfway point, I allowed myself a break that my body craved. I shouldn’t have stopped, but my lungs were on fire.

As I walk out this stretch, I begin to think: why am I so obsessed with my weight? I wasn’t always this way…

My obsession started in middle school. As a girl from a low-income household, and living in the the country on top of it, I wasn’t the most popular around. I had a few friends. But more so than friends, I had many students my age that intimidated me, and a few girls who taunted and ridiculed me because of my clothing style: big hand-me-down clothes that were not exactly new looking. I’ve even had a few people call me “fat” or a few other mean names because honestly I wasn’t a size 1. I struggled. A lot. Struggled with eating food. I purposely skipped breakfast, and then forced myself to skip lunch claiming I was too full from breakfast.Then when I got home I’d eat a very, minuscule supper. No one knew. It was my personal well-hidden secret.

It took me an entire school year to finally overcome my obsession. Eighth grade went by fairly well, I managed to eat more. I thought I had overcome completely the obstruction that was blocking me to a happy teenage life. Then high school rolled around, and my obsession only grew. I spent one summer, avoiding soda and sweet things, running and walking at least 2 miles a day, sleeping in a sweatshirt every night (yes, it was hot!), and when I watched TV I did so while using an elliptical. I shed several pounds and inches, and was probably a size 10/11, but I was never satisfied with the number on the scale, it was always “too high.”

I slowly overcame my problem with the help of very good, intimate friends, and learning how to love myself the way I was because Jesus loves me no matter what. As I went through college, I completely was lost in a non-judgmental sea    ok, not completely judgement-free zone…but students would talk to me based on classes or personal interest, not many knew my background, not many cared that I was overweight. Honestly, college was a eye opening scene, as students came in all shapes, sizes, and heights. And most strived for one thing: to be accepted and to make friends.

And then, as I came home throughout my final college year, my mom would hint around at how being fat is unhealthy. And I’d have to correct her and say, “Being fat does not necessarily mean that one is unhealthy.” And I’d feel like I was like a potato all over again. Why are Americans so concerned about one’s weight? Why does a simple number on a scale matter? Why aren’t people more concerned about children who think they need to diet to feel adequately accepted because they watch models that are only accepted as size zero. Why aren’t people more concerned about those who aren’t “fluffy” that binge and purge because they’re told if they get “too fat” that they’re imperfect. Why is our society a weight-limit society. Why do we have to be 5’11” and 100 pounds, and why do guys have to be 6’0″ with a six pack and muscles to boot. Why can’t our society and culture circle a “come as you are” mentality, and be okay with all body types.

As I step on the scale that has shown I haven’t fluctuated much in the past month except maybe losing two pounds just to gain it back, I always cringe thinking “Ugh, why can’t I be like so-and-so?” But then God gently reminds me that if I weren’t me, I wouldn’t be an original. It’s good to be healthy, and to eat right    not being gluttonous    but it’s not good to over-think and over-analyze every tedious detail about weight and all that related jazz.

I might be overweight, I might even be class 1 obese on the BMI scale, but I’m me. I’m willing to be used by God, no matter what size I am.

Peace. #bless


Post-Graduation: Not getting that Job

I click the “attach file” button in my email, and scroll through my Word Documents until I get to my “Resume” file. Click. Upload. Then I add my cover letter. As I type up a short email, jitters shiver through my hands and into my heart. I hesitate before pressing the send button, quickly re-checking for spelling and grammar errors for the millionth time. Then with a click of the mouse, I send in what would be my first resume for a post-graduation job.

I’ve mentally prepared for this exact moment for months, perhaps even a few years. I was procrastinating the actual  work up until a few weeks prior. It all started when I attended a Graduation Resource Fair, and it hit me, “Hey, I graduate in a month. I needed to start applying for jobs months ago.” See, I’ve been so caught up in this semester, that it went by much faster than I anticipated. One day it was January 25, the next it’s all of a sudden May 1. Where did the time go?  It practically slipped out of my hands.

That email with my resume and cover letter was for a Social Media Internship at Equity Cooperative. It sounded like a great opportunity, even if it was simply a summer job, because it was a stepping stone towards what I want to do as a career. So for the past week as I gnawed my fingernails down to bits, and picked my cuticles down to bare tissue, I was a little disappointed to receive an email from the director of human resources:

“Thank you again for your interest…we are proceeding with another applicant at this time…”

Then tonight, as I told Bethany, my dear youth leader and basically my mentor, I was reminded that I’m not in control. Bethany told me, “I prayed that if it wasn’t meant to be that God would close that door.” Sometimes, I wonder if she realizes how inspirational she is. Sometimes I wonder why I was so blessed to have her in my life. But I know that people are put in my path for a certain reason, whether it be for my sake or for their sake, or for even both of our sake.

As Mark Batterson wrote, “If you keep in step with the Spirit, God is going to make sure you get to where He wants you to go” (In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, pg 30). I realized that despite my disappointment in not receiving this opportunity, I know that it means there is one open door that I’m supposed to walk through. It’s not always about me, and what I want, it’s about what He wants and where He plans to put me. I may not know what lies ahead, but I do know that I have a God that will provide, and that’s enough for me.

I graduated….now what do I do?

On Saturday, May 14, I did something. I had to wear a special ‘dress’ and a very uncomfortable hat. For 3 hours. Standing and sitting. Sitting and standing. Up and down. Squished between people. Walking forward. Across. Then down and around. People watched. People clapped. Many smiled, A few cried. And as I was given my official green book and told “Congratulations” several times, I couldn’t help but reflect on the journey I’ve taken to get here.

My cousin, her two children and me

Starting Route to Green Bay

It was a hot and humid August day when I turned onto the half circle called Walter Way. My would-be roommate had already moved in a week before, but she was out of town until the first day of classes (which was 5 days away). Before I set out to unload my car that I had strategically packed like a game of Tetris, I went to the Community Center on campus to check in.

It was officially official since I checked in that I was attending UW-Green Bay, a mere 3 hours away from the place I called home. After I finished unloading my old, red Corsica, and sprawled everything of mine across the floor, I stretched my body across my mattress that lay bare of anything, even a simple pillow.

Thoughts flooded my mind.
This is it. College. My room. No dog. No cats. No turtles. No horse outside. The closest people I knew were a good 45 minute drive away. Needless to say, I was scared out of my mind. “What have I done?” I thought to myself.

After some time of unpacking, my RA (Resident Assistant) Andrew knocked on my door to tell me that I am to be in the lounge downstairs for a meeting within the next few minutes. So I headed down, walked in, and stood fairly close to the door. The room was full, and I was so shy around new people. Then a few minutes after me walked in a girl with red hair with blonde bangs. She avoided eye contact and stood next to the door. The beginning of the meeting we were told to turn to the person next to us and chat with them.
“Hi, I’m Angel.”
“I’m Cynthia.”

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Forever my favorite picture of Cynthia and me

I didn’t think we’d be friends for long, because I kind of suck at making and keeping friends. It turns out, she was just as awkward as me. Cynthia was my first friend, and as time went on, our friendship blossomed into a stronger bond. After our first year, we roomed together for the next three years. Our friendship soon turned into weird and sarcasm 99% of the time; she truly was, and I’d still consider her today, my best friend. In the end, I think I needed her as much as she needed me.

The first friend in college is always important. It might be a roommate, but not always. I’ve met a girl who pretty much hated her roommate. However chances are, a first friend will be a lifelong friend. Cynthia taught me that.

The Struggle was Real

Let me just come right out and say it: my faith was consistently put on trial. College was the craziest experience of my life because I was afraid of being judged, and I hated having to answer questions like why didn’t I cut hair or why did I always wear skirts. Some days I felt confident in who I was, while other days I debated about changing myself to look more “normal.”

Then, my relationship with my ex was starting to become more rocky. We fought more. I felt insecure with myself which often caused me to react to certain situations in a very negative way. My insecurities lead him to be more insecure which caused a rift in our communication. After dating and fighting for three years, we decided to go our separate ways. Honestly, I think we’re both happier now.

These challenges taught me that I wasn’t being honest with myself and those who truly cared about me. I didn’t tell people I was struggling. I barely asked for prayer. I pretended I was a faithful servant. It’s easy faking. It’s hard to be real.

Fish are Friends (and we like Food)

I was privileged to befriend several people throughout my time. Carrie was my first friend I made in a class. We met in Spanish. I also met Andrea in Spanish. Both turned out to know each other and I can say they are very close friends.

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(L-R) Carrie, me and Andrea

I met Skyler in an English class. They are definitely one of my best friends. We’ve had so many adventures that it’s hard to pick which is my favorite…ah the memories!

Skyler loves their chickens!

Faith and I were just meant to be. From small town Albany, one of her best friends, Natasha, moved to the Dells while we were in high school, and of course I knew Natasha. So when Faith became my RA, and we discovered this link between us, we became fast friends.

Faith and I







I’ve met so many wonderful people like Abby, Marie, Andrew, Amber, many Emily’s, Shane, Danielle, Rosie, Scott, Haley, Kim, Brad, Ashley, Brigitta, Rachel, Olly, Kyle, Aaron, many Amanda’s, Trevor, Katie’s, and several other people whom I can’t name at the top of my head. From coffee dates, to casual chats, to classroom friends, to hanging out, to school trips, to eating pizza because we like food, friends are vital for emotional support and just overall keeping the stress levels to a minimum.

Ending Route in the Future

Two most popular questions for me as a college student: “What are you studying?” and “Oh English, aye, so do you wanna be a teacher?” Why no, because I am not a teacher. Patience? Yes. Capabilities? No.

13224347_1163884066989632_1716097687_oJ.K. Rowling once said, “I was convinced that the only thing I wanted to do, ever, was to write novels. However, my parents, both of whom came from impoverished backgrounds and neither of whom had been to college, took the view that my overactive imagination was an amusing personal quirk that would never pay a mortgage or secure a pension. I know that the irony strikes with the force of a cartoon anvil now.” I know that I enjoy writing, reading, and editing. If Rowling can overcome her childhood, I think I can too.
Though I do hope to someday, I don’t know if I’ll ever get to write a book. I don’t know where I’m supposed to go, or what I’m supposed to do, but I do know that I have a God who will show me and provide a way for me to head towards the future.

Westward: Like the Setting Sun (part 4)


Sunlight plays peek-a-boo through the yellowed blinds, and shutters my body awake. I let out a silent groan thinking “I want to sleep,” but my mind keeps wandering to the day plans. I clamber out of bed to go fill my grumbling stomach with a bagel. Then Skyler, Ashley, and I go out to explore the grounds a little more. Behind the school we see a dome shaped green house and an old looking building with chipped white paint which is probably used as a storage shed. A couple yellow-orange buses are parked, with the words “Red Cloud Indian School Pine Ridge, South Dakota” gleaming in shiny black paint on the side, dried mud is splattered across the the bottom part.

DSC04253Being considerate of our time we play on the playground a bit before heading back towards our rooms so we could get started with the plans for the day. First on our agenda is to stain a deck and the skirting of a trailer for a local woman named Robin. In the previous year, the group had helped with fixing up the home, but it was a surprise to hear that she still had yet to actually move in.

After some time into our work, Robin comes by to introduce herself to us; her daughter and son-in-law, Daisy and Nolan, also come to visit along with their five children. We decide to take a break and have lunch together. Lola, one of the girls, is coloring with Ashely. Although she is super shy at first, soon her chipper personality bubbles out. After some time, we say our goodbyes and go back to finishing the little bit of work we had left. Then we head back to Red Cloud before our departure to the other school.DSCF4427

Painting horses, a Game of Ninja, and a Skateboard

I start out in the painting room again, and sit next to Twila. She doesn’t say much in the time she sits next to me, but I can tell that she is intrigued by my painting. I glide the paintbrush with brown paint over the paper, making curves and lines until at last I have a horse. I see her hand copying the same motions. Then I goop some black paint to make a mane and tail. She makes her paintbrush do the same. At last we both finish our bay horses, “Wow, that looks really good, Twila! You’re an artist!” A smile slithers across her face. I smile back.


We head to dinner, and then play a game of Ninja afterwards, a game that I have yet to master to this day. Then we shuffle off to play Bingo with the kids and some of their family members. I don’t win anything, which I am definitely ok with, because I would find it hard to decide on which kid I’d give the prize to. There is a young man sitting diagonally from me who gets a Bingo and wins a skateboard. He is super excited to be able to share it with his best friend.

A Hospital Far From Reach

 We travel to the one and only hospital on the reservation in Pine Ridge, and a lady who has been here for 11 years now gives us a tour and talks to us about the hospital. One hospital and two health care centers on 3,469 square miles of land. To put that in perspective, that’s one hospital and two health care centers for 3.32 Rhode Island’s, or 1.78 Delaware’s.

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To put in perspective how far away each city is, here is a map with the three cities on the reservation marked in green as well as the proximity of where Rapid City would be.

As the lady is talking to us she mentions how there are two health care centers located in Kyle and Wanblee, and there is one ambulance being utilized because they are extremely short staffed. For some people, it can be a 2 hour trip to the hospital. The next nearest hospital is located in Rapid City another 2 hours away. It made me think of how we as Americans can easily take for granted what’s given to us, and quickly become oblivious to problems right in front of us. We’re too blessed and that has made us spoiled.

The more I hear the woman speak about her family and how much she actually enjoys her job and just wishes there were more people willing to help, the more my brain rattles on about how I have to come back. Someday.

To learn more about the Native American Health Services here.

Westward: Like the Setting Sun (part 3)


My phone buzzes me awake. It’s 6:30 a.m. I grumble as I turn over and get out of bed; I slowly get dressed to head out on a hike with Skyler.

We head outside, there a light powder of snow dusts the ground and rocks, and a chill clings in the air. I feel as if I never seen snow before! Skyler and I explore and wander for a good hour, and talk about life. It feels amazing to be out in the ‘mountains’ where time doesn’t matter.

We traverse back to the dining hall to begin our day, and get everything together for our week ahead of us. The van hauls us to Pine Ridge Reservation.
On the way, we spot several Bison on the side of the road, so we stop and gander at them.

Photo Credit:Brad Fischer

A School for Red Cloud’s Children

For the next few days we will be staying at Red Cloud, a K-12 “private” school (it’s really public, but works in a private school sense). The building is composed of old red clay brick, and has stood here for over a hundred years. Being built in the late 1800’s, it’s actually the oldest school on the Reservation. One part of the building has “face wall.” In front of the school stands a church, replicated from the church that burned down in prior years.

The “Face Wall”

On the school’s left and split between the road is a cemetery covered in old weathered gravestones, and yellowed grass dead from the winter and most likely unruly in the summer.There is a small fenced space reserved for Chief Red Cloud and his wife. Chief Red Cloud had a desire to build a school for the children, so he set out to do it. DSCF4351.JPG

A School, Kids, and a Fog

It’s around 2 p.m. when we arrive at the Pine Ridge Public School. Here the children stay throughout the week, and then go home on the weekend. We are going to set up board games, an area for painting, and we have some outdoor equipment ready to play with the children. It wasn’t too long after our arrival that we were given the distraught news about an 8th grade girl who committed suicide only three days earlier. Then it hit me, there is a musty fog in the air thickened with depression, and these kids are stuck in the midst of it all. They can’t escape as easily as we can, because the eleven of us are only here for three days.

I stick myself in the painting room because it is the one area I could easily work and make connections. I sit down at a table with a few young ladies who are making “R.I.P.” posters for the girl who committed suicide. It’s sad to see, but at the same time it’s good that they are coping and healing with the tragedy in a healthy way. I feel a connection with a girl named Tristiana, she is sweet and petite. Her straight black hair is a tad past her shoulders; her bangs are brushed to the side. Other group members make a bond as well    Skyler with Twila, Lacey with Diamond, Kim with Dillonte, and Ashley with Natalia and Mystic. Another girl named Espy made this amazing anime art piece    she truly has an amazing gift. DSCF4368.JPG

At dinner time Tristiana saves a spot for me. I ease myself into a seat next to her. I am really amazed with the children because they all finish their food; they are grateful for their food. We finish eating and then go back to continue our activities until it’s time to go. The end of our first day at the school is a success!

Ken the Volunteer

Back at Red Cloud, we are introduced to Ken, a volunteer of two years. He talks about his time that he’s spent here, and how he is a gym coach. He truly puts his heart in his job. I only wish that there was a more awareness of this treasurable place that is treated just as poorly as a third world country, and a deeper understanding of what it truly means to give time and love to our own brothers.

This trip, so far, is a real eye opener; it’s one thing to read articles about suicides, or about the poverty-stricken land, but to feel and breathe and live it is a deeper comprehension.

You can read more about the history of Red Cloud Indian School here.

Westward: Like the Setting Sun (part 2)


It’s a brisk and chilly walk towards the dining hall for our morning meal. I walk with a few of the students in my group, while some were still getting ready. I set myself down at a table next to Skyler probably my closest friend in the group. The rest of the group trickles in.

After we finish breakfast, we pack ourselves a sack lunch for our climbing adventure later that day. Then, Mary, Larry, and the eleven of us squeeze ourselves uncomfortably into the Great White Beast, who I decided to call Moby Dick. We set off for Rapid City to talk to Kristin, a Native American lady from Montana, and a local pastor; their goal is to inform us about Bear Butte and the prayer cloths that are found along the steep trail.

The interview process was nerve wracking. I was motioned to come in the interview room, and I plopped myself in a seat across from Ashley and another lady named Abby. Both ladies asked me questions such as what experiences I’ve had with children, what would I get out of this trip, how would I be an asset to the group, etcetera.  I fidgeted in my seat, peeling away my already peeled away cuticles      a nasty habit of mine because my hands always need to be doing something. My voice stuttered at times because my mind works faster than my mouth. I was nervous that I wouldn’t be deemed good enough for the group. Then all of a sudden two weeks went by and I got an email: “You’ve been accepted for the Alternative Spring Break Trip.” My lips slowly curl into a smile of excitement.

The Praying PlaceDSCF4297

Moby Dick takes us closer and closer to Bear Butte. Everyone is talking about this wonderful place and how it provides a sort of comfort to those praying. I’m filled to the brim with a sort of excitement because I’ve never gotten to go hiking before. Little did I know about the adventure that I was about to endure.

DSCF4301We arrived probably a little before noon, and were welcomed by many signs explaining the rules and a bit of history on this sacred place. Soon we set out on our quest towards the top. It’s a steep, rocky climb. My breathing soon becomes heavy. Everyone surpasses me, except Skyler who staggers behind with me. I remind myself that it’s not about winning a race, it’s about going as far as one is comfortable with. My goal is to make it at least halfway. My fear of heights is slowly starting to creep upon me.

“Everyone surpasses me…”

We hike about a mile before taking a short break for lunch and resting the weary legs. At this point, we’re approximately 3,500 feet. The view I got was not short of incredible and amazing. I was proud of myself for making it as far as I did, and accomplishing my main goal. The rest of the group hike onward to the top, while Skyler and I want to stay there and just admire the view before us. My phone had died earlier that morning, so I truly do not have a sense of time. It feels wonderful no not have to worry, and to feel like I am in a place where time does not matter.

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“The view I got was not short of incredible and amazing!”                         Photo Credit: Brad Fisher

Once the group returns from the top, we all start our way back down. The descent is always easier and faster then the climb up, but nontheless it’s still a difficult climb. Rocks still clutter the same parts of the path, the ground lays uneven, and I’m still slow like molasses in January. “This is what many months of smoking does to a person.” Brad breathes heavily as he walks past me. I smile, having heard that phrase all too often. we finally make it back down to normal elevation, and thirteen tired adults squeeze themselves into Moby Dick as he roars to life with more energy than we have.

The incredible adventure on Bear Butte resembles my spiritual journey. It was a steep climb to get to where I am now, and sometimes I yearned to just turn around and go back down. If it’s one thing I learned, it’s easier to climb down than go up. But I’ve made it halfway, and I still have a lot of climbing to do.

Dancing to the Rhythm

We are welcomed by the Native Americans as we enter the big gymnasium. There we see many people getting ready and anticipating for a Pow Wow. I am engrossed as their feet keep to the beat of the drums. It’s so beautiful to watch.

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Photo credit: Brad Fisher

Then we are invited to dance. I am extremely nervous, because I’m a very self conscious person. What if I screw up my footing and fall or run into someone? What if someone looks at me funny? But when I step out into the dancing circle I’m shown how to dance with my feet and keeping to the drums.

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Photo Credit: Brad Fisher

As I’m going around the circle following other kids in my group, there are other dances going on around. It’s like being a part of an “organized chaos.” Women are doing their own thing, while children do a different dance, and then men will perform a more active dance. There is spinning, hopping, and gliding, and yet no dancers crash into one another. These individual dances create one beautiful melody. One rhythm. One beat. One Spirit.

After a few hours of watching and being a part of this amazing experience, we gather our tired selves and head back to Outlaw Ranch.

Westward: Like the Setting Sun (part 1)

Midnight. The outside is engulfed in a darkness that would make it next to impossible to see if it weren’t for the light pole that spilled an orange glow on the sidewalk. Midnight. The beast roars to life as ten students and the designated driver Brad squish themselves in the white oblong body. Minute past midnight–the beast begins to chug along. The journey begins. I take one last glimpse towards my school, momentarily wondering if this trip would truly be meaningful like I had promised myself it would be.

I saw the poster hanging on the big tackboard outside of my classroom. In big black bold letters: Want to go on an Alternative Spring Break? Then a few brief details about a service trip. South Dakota. Pine Ridge Reservation. Spring Break 2015. I ponder at the thought of going to a Native American Reservation. It sounds rewarding and like a once in a life time deal. But as I walk away my mind begins to clutter with Chemistry. 

The trip starts out a bit uneasy for me. I sit on the edge of a seat big enough for three, but really only comfortable enough for two. “What am I doing?” I question myself. Stoppit I yell at myself. This trip isn’t meant for me, it’s about those kids. “Hang on kids, please.” my mind wanders, “We’re coming.”

At the first stop I find myself moving to sit in between two other girls. Our journey goes on as we continue to drive on I-90. The darkness fades into a light haze.  Time goes by, pole after pole, tree by tree, cornstalk to cornstalk.

I day dream as I gaze outside. It’s flat. Cornfields claim the majority of land from the road to as far as I can see. And where the cornfields don’t touch, giant metal telephone poles claim. Silos show signs of where a farm resides, some are giant and silver, while others have that “old-style” look to them. New farms are planted with a bright painted barn, while the old farmsteads are laid out with an old and faded barn that is often broken with age. All I can think of the entire time is how peaceful it looks out here.

DSCF4242.JPGOur first stop in South Dakota is in Oacoma at a small diner combined with a store called Al’s Oasis. There we discover a giant bison statue across the street. There we take a first of many group pictures to come, and the selfies to follow. DSCF4229.JPG


A few days passed by, my mind was still occupied with Chemistry. School. Bills. Money. Work. I had a Spanish table talk thing that I needed to attend as part of my participation grade. I was nervous. I wasn’t good at talking to people especially in a language I was barely getting the hang of. So I sat down next to a girl I recognized earlier as the girl next to me in the coffee line. Her curly red hair touched her shoulders. Her personality bubbled out of her like a light bulb in a lamp. “Hola.” she said to me, “¿Comó te llamas?” I smiled and said, “Angel” and asked her what her name was. She replied that her name is Ashley. 

I bumped into Ashley again a few days later, but this time at the booth to promote the trip to the Pine Ridge Reservation. Her energy poured out of her and into me. Her enthusiasm gave me an itch to want to go. So I took the application with a plan to set out on a journey to the West. I didn’t know it at the time that the trip would shape me into more culturally diverse person. 

As we further Westward, our journey goes past the Badlands. DSCF4245.JPGWe stop and stretch our legs a bit. Filled to the brim with excitement, a few of the other students make their way to as close to the edge as they dare to venture. DSCF4258.JPGMeanwhile I try not to think about the possibility of what could happen if I were to fall. I almost miss the sign about rattle snakes.

It is about 5pm when we pull into the driveway of Outlaw Ranch. Our chaperons Mary and Larry greet us with warm, friendly smiles. They lead us to a dining hall where a light meal was waiting for us. Upon entering through the tan door, an aroma of soup and oatmeal bread overpowers me. My knees want to buckle, and my stomach lets out a grumble in response. We all willingly eat the first of many delicious and new dishes that are prepared for us.

After supper we are shown the way to where we are to be staying. We all scramble our way to unpack our luggage, and make our way to a bedroom of our liking. I pick the first bedroom I come to. There I find my friends Danielle, Rosie, and Lacey all unpacking their belongings. I was excited for the next upcoming week.