Recent Entries by Rachelle  

Exploring Wild Fires

20140406_152453.jpg*A little side note: Guam has essentially two seasons-the dry season and the wet season.

Right now we're just starting to really get into the dry season, so several wild fires have popped up these last several weeks. How do they start? I'm not really sure. Some people speculate that either hunters or someone else is setting them on purpose, or when people burn their garbage ash and debris are causing a fire to ignite. Either way, they can be pretty big and there's really no way to stop them except to let them run their course.

Well, we had a hike scheduled to go to Nimitz Hill this last Sunday to 20140406_163950.jpgexplore a waterfall. On Saturday, I'm driving back with some friends from Captain America: The Winter Soldier (excellent movie FYI) and I see this huge flame far off in the distance. I instantly knew it was a fire. It had been burning all day and you could even see it from the dorms even though it was miles and miles away. I then hopped on Facebook (my only connection to the real world back home) and saw that this was a wild fire on Nimitz Hill. At first I didn't even connect the dots, but then I was like "Wow, hike's going to be cancelled tomorrow" and I was pretty bummed. But, the hike WASN'T cancelled!

For the most part the fire was out by Sunday. There were a couple spots where it was 20140406_152222.jpgstill going strong, and from different parts of our hike we could see those spots, but they were still pretty far away from us. Going through an area where fires had taken out all of the land was a very strange experience. Everything was black and we ended up covered in ash. Even though the fire cleared most of the brush out, it was still by far the hardest hike I've been on so far on Guam largely in part due to all of the ridges. The waterfalls that we got to see where pretty cool, but they weren't very strong considering there hasn't been much rain. The pictures I took definitely don't capture the experience like it was in person, but I hope you enjoy either way!20140406_152940.jpg

Yes you read that right, spam and eggs. Spam, something we've all heard of, most of us have seen it in the can, but only a few of us can say we've actually tried it. Everyone on Guam eats spam, literally! Okay, maybe not every, single person. But, even if they don't eat it, they probably have a can of it lying around somewhere. I was one of those people that has never tried spam. I didn't even know what it was or how it was prepared to be perfectly honest. The most I knew about spam was that there was a spam museum in Austin, MN. Well, I'd like to introduce you all to the newest spam fan, yes, ME! Since it's so easy to prepare (just fry it), spam is very common especially in the dorms, so I've had it quite a bit of times. We usually eat it with rice, soy sauce, and ketchup. You can eat it with just about anything though-spam fried rice, spam and eggs, spam sandwich. The possibilities are endless. It even comes in different flavors like bacon, turkey, and spicy (and I'm sure more). I'm not kidding either. I'll even include a picture in this blog that shows you the leftover spam that I cooked yesterday that's sitting in my fridge as I type this.

Spam isn't the only popular canned food either. Corn beef and canned tuna are also very common and most likely to be found in any house or room. Those too are eaten typically with rice. Speaking of rice, that is another very, VERY popular food. Rice is eaten at almost every meal and can be a side to basically any dish. Chili, noodles, eggs, hamburger helper, mac and cheese, you name it and rice can complement it. A few other very popular foods are Ramen, kimchee noodles, and pancit canton (all of which before I would have just classified as "Ramen," but there IS a difference).

These foods aren't found only in homes either. You can get them at restaurants as main dishes and even at all of the fast food places. I won't say these are the most healthy food choices, but they sure are all delicious!
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Hello everyone!

Man, have I been a busy person here so far! There's always something new to see or somewhere different to go. While I have to admit I have been spending a lot of time at the beach, I've also been spending a lot of time exploring the more unseen hike2.jpgareas of Guam. Every weekend for the past month and a half I've been going hiking with a group of friends. Now, let me say, I wasn't really someone that was into extreme hiking much. But, one day I was just sitting outside of the dorms, and one of the RA's came up to me and told me to keep my schedule clear on Saturday because I was getting picked up to go hiking. My initial thought was "Uhhh...hiking? With strangers?" but I figured why not. Little did I know on Saturday morning that I was about to go on one of the hardest hikes on Guam. It took us a little over 4 hours total, and it was a BLAST. It was by far one of the most physically demanding things I've ever done, but the views were something you couldn't get anywhere else. The hike consisted of all different terrains-rivers, mud (a LOT of mud), dirt, the jungle, and finally a waterfall where we got to swim in the cold, fresh water and jump off into the pool. We had to climb up rocks, run up and down hills, climb ropes, and run down steep slopes from tree to tree. Not to mention I got both of my feet stuck in over a foot of mud and needed 2 people to pull me out. No worries though because I didn't lose my shoes! Overall, It was by far one of the coolest things I've done.

hikers.jpgSince that hike, I've hiked to many different places including dams, caves, coves, and more waterfalls. Sometimes it's scorching hot with no wind, sometimes the wind is blowing you off the trail, and sometimes it's raining. It's always very spontaneous too. We never know where we're going until about a day before, and the group of people is never the same-there might be 3 of us or 20. I think it's safe to say that I've picked up a new hobby! As far as the title of this blog, those are only things that you may come across during the adventures. ;)hiking.jpgcave.jpg

Let's Eat

One of the big barbecue.jpgparts of the culture here on Guam (like many cultures) is the food. It isn't uncommon to hear about or be invited to a fiesta or barbecue. This weekend I got to experience my first two "island barbecue," and they were both fantastic. A fiesta will usually have anywhere from 60 to 100+ people and there's still enough food at the end for everyone to bring a plate of food home. A barbecue is often smaller and there may or may not be any food left depending how long the party goes until (they sometimes go for 10+ hours!). Both of the barbecues I went to were on the beach and had about 15 people at them each. One was more family based and the other was mostly students from UoG. Both were loads of fun, and I got to eat a ton of delicious (and free) food. I even tried my first batch of grilled muscles and had pickles marinated in kool-aid. I'm definitely looking forward to more of these parties!
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Work THEN Play

As much as I wish I was on a four month vacation, it's important that I keep in mind that I'm actually here for a reason and not just to have a ton of fun. This is why I figured I'd share my class schedule with you. My major as I'm sure you know is the health sciences. I have decided to take the track towards health care administration. To better prepare myself I have been working on taking more business-related courses, and while I'm working on earning a business certificate course online through the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, UMR does not offer business classes. At UMR I'm always either in class, studying, working, or volunteering, but here I wanted to give myself some free time. So, keeping a light course load, I enrolled in two business classes at UoG-Principles of Financial Accounting and Management of Organizations-and two classes that I need as graduation requirements-a history class and a literature class. The way UoG works, thankfully, is that typically if you aren't in any science courses then you have Friday's free. So viola! I'd say I have a pretty nice schedule this semester. See for yourself below! I will say though don't let the number of classes fool you; I still have to buy 12 books. OUCH!
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Bring on the Sightseeing

sight.jpgHafa Adai! I was pretty excited that I had a full two days to be able to explore Guam before classes start. While there is typically a group of 8-20 NSE students at UoG, this semester there are only 2 of us-myself and Daric, a student from Colorado. Daric had rented a car right when he got to Guam, found out I had arrived, and knocked on my door one morning asking if I wanted to go exploring with him. Of course I said yes, and we went off on what I didn't know would be a whole day excursion.

Daric and I made it around ¾ of the island's edge stopping at many places along the way. We drove to many beaches and got out and swam at a couple, stopped at some local restaurants where we were able to read up on some history and culture of Guam, hit up a few sight-seeing spots, explored some local shops, and drove through many of the villages (Guam is divided into 19 villages rather than being split into states or cities). The houses here are typically older and have a ton of character, and the ocean is phenomenal (like I've bragged in my previous posts). The sand is white and the water is crystal clear and warm. There's little crabs all over the beaches, and there's stray cats, dogs, and chickens all over the rest of the island. I had such a long day of exploring everything; I can't wait to see more!
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I'm already in love

ocean2.jpgWith the ocean! While I thought I was going to sleep all of Sunday away since I hadn't slept in over 24 hours, I only was able to sleep until 10 am. The night before the NSE coordinator offered to take me to Kmart (there is no WalMart on Guam!), so I called her and she was able to bring me to the store as well as show me parts of Guam. I was so amazed! The island life is much different than the US mainland and much different ocean1.jpg than I expected. I instantly fell in love with the ocean (so far that's what the majority of my pictures consist of), and I already feel that 4 months isn't going to be long enough to explore all of this small island. I'll keep you updated though as I get to adventure and learn more!

Finally on Guam

I made it! After 24 hours of traveling including a stop in Tokyo, Japan I finally made it to Guam. While my flight stayed perfectly on schedule arriving to Guam at 1 am Sunday morning, I managed to get a nasty cold/fever on the plane. medicine.jpgAt the airport in Japan I was able to hunt down a drug store that sold cold medicine, all written in Japanese of course. $12.00 and 2 hours later, I had myself some powdered cold medicine that tasted not too favorable, and I was ready to board my final flight to Guam.

The NSE coordinator at the University of Guam (UoG) met me at the airport and brought me to my dorm. The first step I took outside was wonderful. It was dark, humid, warm, and lightly sprinkling, and I could smell the ocean instantly! She could tell I was sick so brought me to a gas station where I was able to load up on water, and we then quickly headed over to the dorms. There I was greeted by my RA, Stephanie, and my roommate, Blaire. Blaire is a student from Korea who is at UoG specifically to learn English.

campus.jpgOnce I got into my room I basically changed into some shorts and a t-shirt (because it is basically always hot and humid here) and went straight to sleep!


I've already talked about what I'm packing into my carry-on and personal bag, and those seem to be quite do-able. Now onto everything else I'm bringing that I have to fit into my checked bag. The good thing is that the average temperature in Guam is 70-90 degrees year round and has two seasons: rainy and dry. Thankfully, I'll be there during the dry season!

Checked bag
I think it's going to take a lot of creativity to fit everything into my bag, and I'm almost banking that I'll have some spare room in my carry-on or backpack for some of the items. The key to packing less items for longer months is to wear clothes that are versatile and can match with many different things. There's also going to be several items that I'll have to purchase once I arrive.

Clothes: socks, undergarments, 2 pairs of sweatpants, 1 pair of leggings, 1 pair of jeans, 1 pair of dress pants, 4 pairs of jean shorts, 3 pairs of gym shorts, 4-5 t-shirts, 2-3 tank tops, 3 camis, 2 blouses, 1-2 sweaters/hoodies, 1 flannel, 2 swimsuits, 3 dresses, and 2 light scarves

Shoes: 2 pairs of sandals, 2 pairs of walking shoes, one pair of hiking boots, one pair of flats

Toiletries/bathroom supplies: one towel and wash cloth, brush/comb, makeup, hair dryer, straightener, and perfume

Miscellaneous: Umbrella (just in case), sunglasses, a few pieces of jewelry, journal, flash drive, pens/pencils, paper, and bed sheets

Packing for a 19 week trip is going to be quite the challenge, especially for me. I'm definitely that person who over packs for all types of trips. Right away I knew I couldn't take on this task alone, so I turned to good ol' Pinterest to see what sites, videos, and blogs I could come across, and let me tell you I found a ton! After a few solid hours of searching through various sites and comparing them, I think I've created a packing plan that's as good as it's going to get!

The first thing to consider is how many bags I'm willing to check and what the carry-on allowances are. My airline will allow me to bring one personal item (purse, laptop case, etc.) and one carry-on bag onto the plane with me at no cost, and I'm able to check one bag at no cost at well. So, with those three luggage items I will pack my entire 19 week trip! For this blog I'll look specifically at what I'm packing into my carry-on and personal item. It's important to remember that there are weight limits for these, and if they aren't taken into consideration can end up costing a lot of money.

Aside from the items below, I'm also allowed to bring on either a blanket or pillow, so in an attempt to get both I'm going to fold a smaller blanket into my pillow case. I'm also going to have a money wallet that stays on me at all times under my clothes and will hold my cards, student ID, plane tickets, and other important paperwork/documentation.

Personal Item
The personal item of choice for me will be my backpack. At first I was considering putting my purse into my backpack, but I don't feel it's really necessary and might just shove it in my checked bag. My backpack will hold the items that I'll need throughout my plane trip (did I mention it's a 20-30 hour flight?). This will be the bag that goes under the seat in front of me so will be very accessible.

What it'll carry: a book, Chap Stick, headphones, an inflatable neck pillow, a change of socks, my laptop, phone and laptop charger, camera, sleeping pills, pain killers, a water bottle, gum, and a small bag of snacks. I'll also have a folder in here with copies of my important paperwork.

Carry-on
The carry-on will be a small suitcase. Nearly all of the websites I explored recommended using this primarily as a backup suitcase in case my checked bag doesn't arrive to my destination at the same time as I do or is lost.

What it'll carry: a quart-size plastic bag with travel size tooth paste, tooth brush, shampoo and conditioner, deodorant, 3-4 different outfits including changes of socks and undergarments, and a pair of walking shoes.

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