First of all let me apologize for the appalling lack of updates the past few months, what with exams, and travelling I’ve not had much time to sit down and write. Anyway, I’m back home now so I’m gonna do a bit of retrospective blogging, a memoir if you will.
I’ve combined these two topics because they both involve being scantily clad (it’s important to have a theme). You’ll recall that in my last post I was telling you about the UNC tradition of streaking through the libraries at midnight on the last day before exams. Well, important update: I DID IT (sorry mom). No worries though, I was wearing a Darth Vader mask at the time, so if any future employers somehow happen upon photos or videos they’ll never know! I could not give this experience a better review, honestly 10/ 10 would recommend. The group that organizes it is all about body positivity so if they catch anyone making comments about someone else’s body, they’re out. It’s impossible to feel self-conscious when everyone is naked, and a sort of nude camaraderie develops. By the end of it you’ll be wanting to join a nudist colony I promise you.
Moving on to a more generic but probably more widely enjoyable American college tradition: Spring Break. You probably already have some notions about spring break from American movies e.g. disney stars smoking bongs, topless girls, and binge drinking out of red cups (in Cancún obvi). Although some of my friends’ facebook photos appear to corroborate these ideas, my spring break wasn’t quite so alcohol-soaked, or riddled with criminal activity but it was great fun nonetheless. I didn’t go to the traditional Spring Break destination of Cancún (what can I say I rebel against convention); instead I went to Puerto Rico. For those of you who are unaware Puerto Rico is a United States territory, which essentially means that it isn’t a state but is still part of the US so you don’t need to worry about visas or I-20 signatures for re-entry. Though it’s part of the US, there are some key differences, for example, it has a drinking age of 18 rather than 21. Not gonna lie, this definitely factored into our decision to go there since most of our group were under 21.
We stayed in the capital city of San Juan in an Airbnb apartment, which was great except for the fact that we were eight girls sharing one bathroom. It was a bit of a squeeze as you can imagine. Here are a few of my travel buddies sat at the kitchen table:
The best part of San Juan was Old San Juan, which was, you guessed it, the old part of the city. Since Puerto Rico used to be a Spanish colony, a lot of the architecture has a distinctly Spanish vibe. If you’re missing Europe, which I definitely was, Old San Juan is the next best thing. Here are some pictures to give you a glimpse:
Now I know what you’re thinking, I can get vaguely European looking cities all the time…in Europe. Well, admittedly yes, but can you get these spectacular beaches and views? Break out that bikini because it’s time to hit the beach.
And, this incredibly photogenic iguana:
Sorry I’m just bombarding you with pictures at this point but as the saying goes pictures> words, or something along those lines.
Probably the most amazing thing about the whole trip though (yes, even more amazing) was getting to see a rainforest for the first time. Although Puerto Rico is part of the US it is entirely different culturally, and geographically. It is after all, a tropical island in the Caribbean. Being more familiar with pine trees than palm trees, seeing an actual rainforest was pretty incredible; and because I’m such an artiste with my smartphone you can see it too:
^ I’m not as photogenic as the iguana but I thought I should include a pic of myself in case you’d forgotten what I look like (this goes for family members too, it’s been a while since I’ve seen you).
These photos obviously can’t compare to actually being there. As the saying goes IRL> pictures. I just made that up but you get the gist.
The rainforest is quite a ways away from the city so the best way to get there is probably renting a car, that way you can control where you go and spend as long as you like exploring/ hiking/ swimming. Lacking in drivers as we were though, we had to take an organised tour. This is also a good option because you get a bit of Puerto Rican history from your guide, as well as getting taken to the prime spots. Unfortunately you can’t really linger in many of the places. Our guide was good enough to let us stop for a quick swim but that isn’t always the case, so best take that into account.
Now I know what you’re thinking, what’s all this sight-seeing nonsense?? What about the traditional spring break PARTYING?? Well we did do a bit of that. We went to see a live band performing Puerto Rican music at a local bar, which was great fun:
^ I just had to include that last picture because it’s a personal favourite. The mystery of what Shifra was looking at has never been solved.
Then of course there was St. Patrick’s day, which seeing as three of our group were Irish, we obviously had to celebrate (not that we needed an excuse). We managed to find an Irish bar close by (not that we needed to look very hard), and my Irish friends decided to go all out in a way they couldn’t do back home without being laughed out of the country. Here’s what I mean:
Patriotism’s generally appreciated a bit more in the US…
As it turned out, there was really nothing Irish about the Irish pub we went to except for the name, no lie it was called Patrick’s. I don’t think anyone in there even knew it was St. Patrick’s day. A couple of people actually went up to my friend and asked her why she was wearing the Mexican flag. As you can imagine she was like “bruh” (paraphrasing here). Despite the non-Irishness of the night we had a great time (possibly because we were all steaming). Though they might have been playing Pitbull inside, out in the smoking section we were drunkenly serenading everyone with Fairytale of New York, so I think we did our patriotic duty.
Also, sidenote: you know Tar Heels are everywhere when you find this in an Irish pub in Puerto Rico:
I think ‘Dook’ sucks is something we can all agree on.
This blog is getting interminable, and we all have lives we should be out leading so I’m going to wrap it up here. In summary: even though we have all of April off in Glasgow, we’re supposed to spend the time studying for exams so any fun we have is inevitably tinged with guilt. Spring break on the other hand is a holiday wherein you’re not only allowed to go mental, but you’re encouraged to (this isn’t to say that you have to of course, say no to peer pressure kids). This is one American college tradition that I think we can all get behind, 10/10 would recommend.