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  • Travel

    Driving Offensively and Defensively

    If you have your driver’s license, then you know how scary the roads can be when you are not the only one responsible for keeping yourself and your passengers alive. It comes down to how each person on the road drives. I had an experience in my sophomore year of high school where I was riding with a friend to school, and we were struck by a large truck. The whole experience could have been prevented if everyone had worked together to create a safe driving environment.

    My friend and I had stopped at a local gas station before heading out to class one morning. A supply truck had parked parallel to the highway, which blocked the view from an oncoming curve of cars. Other vehicles had parked illegally next to the road, blocking the view from the other direction of the highway. As my friend pulled the car forward towards the road, we waited patiently until we thought the road was clear. We had been blocked in so there was no way to back up and go out a different entrance. Our only option was to wait and miss class or take a chance and pull out onto the road.

    We should have waited until the truck, or the other vehicles had left. It would have been worth missing the first few minutes of class to avoid being hit by another car. There were different ways to avoid being hit, we just felt cornered and chose poorly.

    As soon as we pulled onto the road, a large Ford F-150 truck punched through the driver’s side of the car. My friend and the other passengers exited the vehicles to get out of the road. There was now an oncoming eighteen-wheeled truck nearing my side of the car. My seatbelt and door were jammed. Everyone had to move out of the way to keep anyone else from getting hurt. Fortunately, the eighteen-wheeled truck was able to move onto someone’s driveway to avoid hitting me.

    Had the second truck not taken measures into his hands to avoid hitting me, then I would probably not be here today. Had my friend and I waited to pull onto the road, we would not have caused the wreck in the first place. Had the other drivers not parked irresponsibly, then it could have also been avoided.

    My point is that paying attention to your surroundings and not relying on the other drivers’ ability to drive responsibly can be the difference between having an accident and not. Here are some ways to drive both offensively and defensively:

    • When merging into another lane, check your mirrors and through the windows, multiple times. Let your blink go for more than a few seconds to be sure that no one from another lane is merging at the same time. Merge slowly.
    • Do NOT break check people. If someone is riding too close to your bumper, slow down to below the speed limit. They will likely get the message. Do NOT ride close to anyone’s bumper. A car length space between you and the other vehicle is the law.
    • The far-left lane on the interstate is the “passing lane.” It is illegal to drive on this side of the road unless passing other vehicles. If someone is driving on your tail or is flashing their lights at you, move into another lane.
    • Driving Safety Tips: https://www.nationwide.com/driving-safety-tips.jsp
  • Travel

    Interpreting What you Experience While Traveling Abroad

    BY: Maya Kitchens

    I have just gotten back from a two-week trip to Africa. It was very eye-opening. I have been to Africa before. I have been to Ghana, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, and now on this most recent trip Zanzibar (an island but still part of Tanzania), Kenya, Zambia, Botswana, and South Africa again. I do travel a lot. Everywhere that I have traveled to has been different. For example, India is different than Ghana, which is different than France, which is different from Brazil. It is common knowledge that America is different from these other countries, but how different really is it?

    The cultures/mannerisms are completely different. Kids are running in the streets at 10 or 11 pm. Traveling is very eye-opening. People sit out on the streets waiting for you to come into their shops. In some parts of Africa, an elephant or a hippopotamus is your next-door neighbor. Where we stayed in Botswana, you had to have an escort walk you back to your tent because there could be elephants or lions on the trail. We are not used to that. I talked to someone who worked at the camp. He grew up in “the bush,” which in Africa is known as the wild. He moved to London as a twenty-one-year-old for college but dropped out and moved back to Botswana because of the culture shock.

    While in Nairobi, Kenya, we visited the largest slum in Africa, Kibera, which has about one million people living there. Our guide, who lived in the slum, said “Kibera is a city within a city.” I saw so many little kids who had very little but had huge smiles on their faces. The roads were filthy with trash everywhere. I honestly did not know what I was stepping in. There were community bathrooms that you had to pay to use that were open from 9:30 am to 6 pm. If you did not have the money, you could not use the facilities. At the highest point in the small part of the slum we were in, you could see the skyline of Nairobi. It was beautiful however, it was hard to enjoy because these people living in Kibera were living so poorly. After being back for a week, I realized that I was only at Kibera for two hours and then left to go back to our nice hotel, fly home, and go back to my normal life. Those people do not leave. Those people’s normal is the possibility of not taking a shower or not having food to put on the table or not having clean water.

    My final thought to share is this: no matter how bad you think your life is, someone is worse off than you.

  • Articles, Travel

    Life Oriented Journey

    Life Oriented Journey

    by Farah Hemdan

    Farah Hemdan is a dreamer, a visionary, and a summer intern with GirlSpring. A native of Egypt, she loves travel and finding new ways to discover herself. 

    My life oriented journey, that didn’t take me to people, cultures or streets, but took me to details, corners, words and seconds.. Seconds of life.

    I spent my last hour in this place reading a book by Rebecca Campbell called Light is the New Black, where she shared her most intimate experience with a 50 year old woman that she can’t even remember the name of and whom she had known for ONLY 5 minutes.

    And that, I was left questioning how seconds and details can change people’s life while others are searching for extremes  just to feed their souls? How a whole city can be built upon corners and people’s worlds can be turned upside down in minutes, while we spend years and cross borders just searching for breathtaking moments that have always been there, within every element of the creation of OUR world.

    But what I remember from this place answers this question.

    I remembered the sudden ear pressure on the road that makes you realize that you’re being uplifted towards the sky, the dust following a maroon jeep car seen through cactus, natives singing for 60 year old couples in the rain, ice cream in coconut shells, the places I’ve visited with no clue till now whether they were houses, restaurants, galleries or studios but regardless any terms of definitions, it was just full of life.

    Every second and corner that participated in shaping my journey in this place is existing in every detail of our world but it’s all about the perspective of visioning , I believe this place need to teach the world how to see life!

    So let me introduce you to world’s best city of 2018! San Miguel D’allende, Mexico.

    The city of details.

  • Travel

    My First Trip Abroad

    BY Sohpie Herrington

    My First Trip Abroad

    My junior year of high school, I became friends with Tella, a foreign exchange student from Gothenburg, Sweden, who spent the year at my school in Mobile, Alabama. We were determined to maintain our close friendship, so she visited Mobile again the next year, and I decided to take my first trip outside of the United States to attend her high school graduation.

    I made it to Sweden to watch my friend graduate on June 7, 2018, and the experience was much different than I anticipated. While graduation in America is a more formal ceremony, Swedish graduation is a 24-hour celebration. Each class at Tella’s school ran along a red carpet onto a stage to dance and celebrate their accomplishment. The students wear white dresses and sailor caps rather than a cap and gown. Family also ties items such as flowers, champagne, and stuffed animals attached to string around her neck. This part of their graduation is called utspring.

     

    After utspring, Tella and the rest of her classmates are driven around the city cheering before attending parties for the rest of the day. One party is celebrated with family and friends, and the last party of the night is celebrated with all of the graduating classmates.

    Aside from Tella’s graduation, my adventures in Sweden included swimming in the Atlantic Ocean for the first time, eating a giant cinnamon roll, visiting the famous amusement park –Liseberg, and many more! We spent my last day on the island, Galterö, which we nicknamed Sheep Island due to its high sheep population. Sheep Island had a notebook in which travelers could write about their personal experiences on the island, and we were happy to contribute our own.

    I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to visit Tella in Sweden. She has had such a positive impact on my life, so it was important to me that I was able to help her celebrate her graduation. In our friendship, distance has been no more than a physical separation, and we won’t let it keep our relationship stagnant. I highly recommend doing what you can to maintain friendships with the obstacle of a little distance. Tella and I can’t wait to plan another trip together. Here’s to international friendships!

     

  • Articles, Travel

    What Thanksgiving Looks Like Outside of America

    Emily Bach is a regular staff writer with Girl Spring from Washington, DC.

    As the leaves begin finish falling and the temperatures continue to drop, thanksgiving feels as if it’s right around the corner. For some of us, the holiday feels like a convenient excuse to visit our relatives and eat warm pumpkin pie, but in other regions and cultures celebrations can look wildly different.

    1. Mid-Autumn Festival
    Rooted in Chinese tradition, the Mid-Autumn Festival typically falls in late September, or the 8th month of the lunar calendar. The holiday celebrates the end of the autumn harvest, and is believed to be the day with the brightest shining moon in the lunar year. It’s most widely recognized for its enormous celebrations and mooncakes, which are traditional pastries reserved for the festival. The tradition has since been adapted to other Asian cultures, most notably in Japan and Vietnam. As explained by 15-year-old Morgan Pham, “The Mid-Autumn Festival is a cultural event that holds a special place in my heart. As a minority in this country, traditions that are from Vietnam are hardly noticeable here. Because we live in the US, we basically only get to experience American holidays. Being able to visit family and see that we aren’t alone while celebrating it makes us feel closer to home, especially at a time in this world when foreign ideas or cultures aren’t always welcomed with open arms.”

    2. Erntedankfest
    Traditional to Germany, this festival feels very similar in purpose to American ones. It’s most notably recognized for its grand parades, complete with dancing, crops and music. The celebration begins in a church until it ultimately moves to the streets where the majority of the festivities take place. As a German American, I asked my parents about the significance of the celebration in their lives as children. My mother explained, “Since I largely grew up in America, the presence of the celebration wasn’t as prominent as it would have been in Germany, but we still made an effort every year to recognize it. Sometimes my mom would cook a more authentic meal, other times we would just listen to the music. It wasn’t ever really a true celebration, but it made us all feel a little closer to our roots, which I think in the end is what holidays are meant for anyways.”

    3. l’Action de grâce
    Celebrated by Canadians, the traditional American version of Thanksgiving seems to be one existing in other countries as well. Their holiday began in 1578, when English explorer Martin Frobisher gave thanks for his fleet’s safe travels. Since, it’s celebrated very similarly to ones recognizable in America, and consists of large turkey feasts, accompanied by stuffing, mashed potatoes and cord. It makes sense that the holiday would be so similar, given l’Action de grâce directly translates to, “Thanksgiving”. As explained by former Canadian resident and 16-year-old, Shritha Mandava, “the celebrations in Canada are largely similar to those in America, except that they tend to be a little bit scaled down and consist of some miscellaneous french terms. They’re also less shopping focused, and for obvious reasons celebrate different things.”

  • Articles, Fun, Portfolio, Tips, Travel

    10 Activities to Do This Summer with Your Family

    Ideas for Summertime Adventures with Family

    Summer is the time for unwinding and relaxing. We all love summer because it means no school and no responsibilities for a few months. However, sometimes we may wonder what we can do with all of this time that we now have on our hands. One of the best things you can do this summer is to spend time not only with your friends but also with your family. Here are some activities you can suggest to your family that you can do together this summer. You will have fun and bond with those you love.

    1. Go hiking – This is a fun way to get out of the house and explore nature. You can unplug for a little while and see beautiful sights that you wouldn’t see every day.
    2. Go kayaking – Kayaking is another excellent way to get out into nature. It can be relaxing at times and other times it can be scary and exciting.
    3. Visit your favorite amusement park – Everyone loves amusement parks. It is one of the best places to go as a family.
    4. Go fishing – Warm summer days are the best and most enjoyable times to go fishing with the family.
    5. Visit a museum – Museums aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but, if they are, then going to a museum is the perfect family-friendly activity for the summer. It can be especially fun if you have younger siblings to take with you.
    6. Go on a short road trip – Summertime is the time to get out of the house and explore. Whether it is as far as your backyard or to the beach 6 hours away, getting out and going to places you haven’t been before will create lasting memories.
    7. Go camping – If camping is something you like doing, then summer is the time to do it and enjoy the beauty of nature while doing something you wouldn’t usually do.
    8. Watch a movie at a drive-in movie theater – Whether you are going with family or friends, everyone loves drive-in theaters during the summer. It isn’t expensive and is fun for everyone.
    9. Go swimming – This is the most obvious one, but you can go swimming in more than just a pool. You can go to a river, a lake, or even a waterfall. Everyone loves swimming because it is the perfect way to cool off on a hot summer day.
    10. Make s’mores by an outdoor fire – Whatever you decide to do with your summer day, the best way to end it is by a fireside with hot s’mores and friends and family by your side.
  • Articles, Travel

    Women Run the Grand Canyon!

    Since I have just gotten back, I can testify that the Grand Canyon is, in fact, one of the most beautiful natural places in the world. It is full of rich geological history, stunning wildlife, and home to some of the most amazing birds in the world: the peregrine falcon(the fastest bird AND living thing on earth), the raven(the smartest bird on earth), and the condor(the bird with the longest wingspan on earth). A pretty impressive place! What is even more impressive is that I discovered that the Grand Canyon is a place that women have ruled- both in history and in nature!

    Let’s start with the history- with a lady named Mary Colter. Since the field of architecture was thought of as a field that only men could do, Mary Colter was one of the very few female architects in her day. She was the designer of many buildings for the Fred Harvey Company and the Santa Fe Railroad, her most famous being located in the Grand Canyon National Park. Colter created several astounding works in the Grand Canyon South Rim including the Hopi House, Hermit’s Rest, Lookout Studio, Desert View Watchtower, Bright Angel Lodge, and Phantom Ranch buildings at the bottom of the Canyon. I had the amazing opportunity to go inside of her work Hermit’s Rest; apparently back in the day, c. 1914, it was used as a rest stop for visitors traveling to Hermit’s Camp. She handpicked every rock used in the making of it! Nowadays, it is still a rest stop, but now with an addition of bathrooms, a bar, and a gift shop.

    And now on with nature! As with most aspects of nature, our next female exhibits some qualities that are a little harsh. Our next lady is the female tarantula hawk, and what she does is both gruesome, and a little awesome. Despite the name, tarantula hawks are neither hawks or tarantulas. They actually fall mostly in the wasp family. Male tarantula hawks are rather small and harmless and provide no greater purpose than mating with the female tarantula hawks. The female tarantula hawks, on the other hand, and big and colorful and very aggressive! But what is most unsettling about the female tarantula hawk is how she plants her larvae. She preys upon an unsuspecting tarantula – usually three times her size – and then attacks it, stings it, and paralyzes it. Once the tarantula is paralyzed, she creates a hole in the tarantula’s abdomen, and lays a single egg on it, and flies off. After a few minutes, the tarantula is free to walk around and live again freely, for about a week, until the egg within the abdomen hatches. Once the egg hatches, the larvae within the tarantula eats all organs except the vital ones, to keep the tarantula alive as long as possible. After several weeks of this, the wasp becomes an adult and emerges from the tarantula’s abdomen to continue the life cycle. A terrible end for the tarantula. Many other species in the Grand Canyon exhibit female dominance in the Grand Canyon. For most birds, mammals, and insects, the female sex tends to be the most aggressive, strong, and big in size, which just goes to prove that women run the Ol’ Gran’ Can’!

    I cannot wait to one day return to the Grand Canyon, and discover more of both history and nature’s powerful women!