Monday, August 21, 2017

Weekend in Austin, Texas

My twin sister, Jeanette, and I spent this past weekend in Austin, Texas to celebrate our birthday. It was my first time in Texas and it was everything and nothing I expected it to be. The heat was overwhelming, the BBQ was hearty, and the nightlife was unlike anything I've ever seen.

As soon as landed, at the recommedation of our older brother, we headed to Franklin Barbecue. Franklin Barbecue is probably the most famous BBQ spot in all of the US right now and it has the line to prove it. We arrived a little after the 11am open time and were greeted with a three hour wait time. The first people to get in line that Friday arrived at 5:30am. Anyone that knows me well, knows that I don't eat meat often, let alone beef and pork. But, when in Rome. We went for the ribs, but they sold out as soon as we got to the counter to order, so we ordered pulled pork, brisket, and sausage -- we waited three hours, we had to try it all. 

Look, I don't know much about meat, but you did not need to put any barbecue sauce or anything on this. It was all so flavorful on its own. Well worth the three hour wait. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Nike Air Society Chicago

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of spending time with some badass women at the opening of the Nike Air Society here in Chicago. The weekend kicked off with a bra fitting and Air Max event at the Nike Chicago store, then carried over into the events at the Air Society.

At the Air Society, there was a closet (read: decently sized room) where you could chat with women designers from Chicago and even try on some of their digs, a braid bar, henna tattoo station, manicure stations, kitchen with tasty and healthy snacks, and a totally sweet rooftop patio. Throughout the day, there were organized panel discussion and roundtable talks with women changing the game in Chicago and elsewhere. And, of course, this wouldn't be a Nike event if fitness didn't figure into the equation: there were rooftop yoga and high intensity training classes you could join. The coolest part of the event was seeing a diverse group of women come together to just hang out, have a good time, and embrace their bodies.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Summertime Chi

Welcome to the good life! (Did you catch the reference?)

If you have never spent a summer in Chicago, you're missing out. Of course, I am romanticizing the city a bit, but summer has always been the time when I get to reconnect with friends and spend more time with my family. It's also the time when the weather is more consistent and Chicagoans can count on some sunshine.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Graduation Pictures

With graduation fast approaching (gasp!), my mom wanted to send out announcements to our family and friends. Just wanted to quickly share a few of my favorite shots from the mini photoshoot I had. My dress is from J.Crew, my shoes are from Banana Republic, and graduation cap was generously lent to me to by my dear friend Liz. Of course, more pics from my actual graduation to come. June 10th can't come fast enough!

Monday, January 23, 2017

5 Food Tips for Study Abroad

So while Angelic is letting y'all know how you can get thick fit, I'm just gonna let y'all know how you can get thiiiick. Pick your poison.

Study abroad is great, but I think one of the greatest difficulties is acclimating to a new diet in a new place. This is especially difficult when you're doing a homestay and eating meals prepared by the family. Unless you're a total butthole, you eat what is given to you so as to not seem like the rude American, barring it's something you're allergic to, health reasons, etc. Even common dietary restrictions in America, like being a vegetarian, can put a relative strain on your host family for any number of reasons -- veggies can be expensive and sometimes not as readily available as they are stateside.

For me, it's been difficult transitioning to a diet that where meat is a staple. Back in Chicago, I just about never cook or eat meat -- the rare occasion is when I am cooking for friends and roommates, or eating out. But I'm a broke boy anyway, so eating out doesn't happen often. My host mom has been gracious enough to not serve me any beef or pork, and only makes dishes with chicken, turkey or fish. I also get lots of fresh veggies everyday, which is so great, but also not common when speaking to other students in my program.

This is my second time doing a study abroad program and along the way I have picked up a few things about living and eating in homestays. Oh, and some pics of what I've been eating in my homestay are included, too.

1. Eat all your veggies + fruit! And eat some more! This is the most elementary rule from when you were young. Bring it back and say it over and over again as your scarf down the broccoli and squash you haven't liked since you were six. Here in Mexico, the vegetarian options I have encountered in restaurants tend be dishes with mushrooms...mushrooms are great, but a diversity of veggies is even better and nutritious. So, when you get the veggies at home, just eat 'em. Fruit is easy because it's sweet, but eat that, too. It's rare to see fruit available at restaurants here; it's sold widely on the street, but as with street food anywhere, you have to be careful.

Breakfast: Quesadillas filled with cheese and turkey ham, tomatoes, beans, and fruit cup of watermelon and pineapple

2. You can ask for more or less food. There is nothing wrong with letting your host parents know that they give you too much or too little food. Nobody is tryna waste food or go hungry. In Spain, I sometimes asked for more food, but here in Mexico, I asked for less food. My host mom here is like the grandmother who is always worried you're not eating enough, so she gives us *lots* of food. But, in the end, it's better for everyone when there's less food waste. It might seem weird to ask for less or more food, but your host family wants you to be well at the end of the let them help you be well.

Lunch: Chile relleno filled with chicken, rice, beans, and tomato soup with veggies. Not pictured: Salad
3. When eating out, split dishes with friends. Think about when you go out to eat in the US, do you always, always finish all of your food? I sure don't. Sometimes we split one dish and that helps save a little money, and sometimes we order a couple dishes and split them to get a taste of a more than one dish on the menu. I don't know why I'm so concerned with food waste, but sharing dishes help cut down on that, too. And it's not like you're about to carry your leftovers to the bar after...

Breakfast: Empanadas filled with cheese, pico de gallo, and beans. Not pictured: Fruit cup

4. If some food in your homestay consistently upsets your stomach -- say something. Don't suffer through meals knowing that you'll be sitting up all night with an upset stomach. If you know there are foods that you are particularly intolerant to or allergic to, let your host family know as soon as you get there. Maybe you get there and realize that that one thing always makes you feel bad, let your host parents know right away. Like I said, they want you to be well. Give yourself a week or two to adjust to the food. You're in a new place, there's new and different bacteria, let your body do it's work, but if you're still getting sick -- say something. Chances are, you're not your host families first student from another country, they might even have some tips for dealing with the changing diet.

Lunch: Taquitos filled with chicken, topped w beans, lettuce, cheese and a side of rice and avocado 
5. Be adventurous! Study abroad is the perfect time to try that one food you wouldn't try back home, or you've never even heard of back home. Yesterday, my host dad poured some sort of salt into my hand. Only after I tasted did I find out it was a salt mixture of ground up maggots and maguey plant. And guess what?? I survived. I am alive and well. Sidenote about the salt: it's the salt that you use when taking shots of mezcal (think tequila but smokier, dryer and very, very popular in Mexico); the particular maggot is one that feeds on the maguey plant that mezcal is made out of -- circle of life or something, amiright? Now, back on topic...try new foods. I have yet to try chapulines, which are grasshoppers, but one day very soon, I will try my first grasshopper. Get over your mental blocks and embrace the culture that you'll be participating in, even if just for a short time.