Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Ending 2014

Hi everyone! Welcome to the Dominican Republic trip day 5!

Today we had our 3rd free day. We woke up early in the morning at 7, loaded ourselves and lunch onto a tour bus and headed out on a 2 hour drive to 27 charcos (27 waterfalls!). We decided to hike up all the way to the top and experience all the 27 waterfalls. Overall the whole hike and waterfalls were 3 and a half hours. 

When we finally got to the top we jumped and hiked through the river to the next waterfall where we slid down the rock slide and then walked down the river to the next and the next. The highest jump was 20 feet into a deep blue green pool of water! And this way we decended down back to were we started hiking. I recommend this for everyone! And anyone can do it! There were elderly and 4-year olds.

Well I hope everyone has a wonderful night. I wish everyone a Happy New Year with much luck, health and happiness!

See you next year!

Clinic Day 2: Reading Hearts

Hi everyone! Welcome to the Dominican Republic trip day 4!

Clinic Day 2
Today we travelled not too far to a little suburb of Jarabacoa called Pedregal. We were stationed at a little concert room. There was a drum set on an elevated platform and a few tables. We disinfected everything and it was my turn to work at the vitals station taking blood pressures. 

Some people had really scary high blood pressures like 150/110. I don't know what the doctors did with those people yet. They might have sent them to the hospital or prescribed drugs. I will find that out when I'm at the shadowing station watching the doctors diagnose and prescribe. Can't wait for that! There are 3 native doctors that we work with. One speaks English and the other two minimally. I think it's a good thing that we didn't bring our own doctors here like other organizations do (like The Medical Birgades). The native doctors communicate really easy with the patients, the patients seem really comfterable with their own country's doctors, and these doctors know what ailments are common in their country and the best way to go about treating them.

There were a lot more kids this time than at Manaboa. The room was full and lively with all of them. There was one family that came in that swarmed us. I think they had about 8 relatives. It was really sweet joking with them about how they filled the house. 

These people are so nice. And they smile and say hello to everyone. These people again were incrediby greatful. One mute woman personally bade each of us a fairwell, touching a shoulder, smiling and waving. 

A much older couple came in together at one point. I will never forget them. The woman had an old red oversized blazer on and a black shin-length skirt. I asked both to take a sleeve of their jackets off so I could read their blood pressures. It broke my heart to see how skinny their arms where. Their hands still had dirt on them from working the land. They both gave me really sweet smiles. I'm almost crying from writing this and remembering them. As they walked out he put his hand on her back and they slowly walked out back to their homes, or jobs. 

We have also noticed that many of these people dress up for the clinic, like the elderly couple above. It breaks my heart even more. I wish I could give them close that fit them, and clean sweaters not stained and riddled in holes. 

When we came back we entered intake forms into the computers.

We honestly don't know how lucky we are, living so comfterable in a first world country. Please be thankful for the most important things like health, happiness, clean water, and a safe warm home.

Till next time,

Monday, December 29, 2014

Clinic Day 1: Learning from the Greatful

Hi everyone! Welcome to The Dominican Republic trip day 3!

Today we woke early for our first clinical day. We dawned our special Loyola University Volunteers Around the World sea blue scrubs, loaded a travel bus with medical supplies and medications and wound through the mountains up an down to the village of Manaboa. 

We were told that this little village isn't as shockingly poor as some of the villages we will work at. I guess it's a good emotional warm up. I felt like jumping from the happiness of helping these people but also crying because of the fact that they even need this kind of help. The medication was free to them because we were there.

And that made all the difference in these people's lives. They were so greatful for us being there and they understood our language barrier. Some even corrected us and laughed with us at our Spanish. I just can't say this enough: THEY ARE SO GREATFUL! Even thinking of it now, it pulls at my heartstrings so bad I want to go out and help these people at 11 at night. I wish I could help them more somehow. One of us even brought this up in our general meeting after our clinic closed. The patients in America many times have this air of entitlement about them when it comes to healthcare and interacting with doctors. I can't even tell you how many times I observered patients back talk to the nurses and doctors in the pre-surgery unit at an American hospital. Since when did American people become so uptight? And I'm not generalizing here. I have met many people who are incredibly greatful for their care in the hospital, but usually these are the people who had experienced either bad health in themselves or their family.

I think that it doesn't matter how progressed healthcare is in a country. Health is the number one thing people should be grateful for and should never take for granted. And EVERYONE deserves to be in good health and enjoy their life. 

Many people at the clinic were diagnosed with either the gripa, parasite in their tummies, or chikungunya which gives flu like symptoms and is transmitted through mosquito bites. The parasites come from the water they drink. And later on when we were leaving I noticed kids and adults drinking water out of Tupperware and white painter's buckets with no covers on them. The pipes that led to their water buckets and sinks were thin white plastic above ground with leaks throughout exposed to the outside. 

Me and 2 other girls worked the pharmacy station today. One if them was a native Spanish speaker. Thank god she was there, she helped a ton. But I'm proud to say that my high school Spanish still stuck with me 4 years later!!! But I wish I could communicate more with these sweet people. These people who walk for miles to come to our free clinic. It just breaks my heart to see them this way, and it makes me incredibly sad at how incredibly greatful they are for a bottle of multivitamins or acetaminophen.

Please, everyone in a first world country, be thankful for your health and your position in life.

Till next time,

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Heat, Natives, Mountains

Hi everyone! Welcome to The Dominican Republic trip day 2!

Last night I fell asleep afraid that I'd sleep through my alarm. That concern shouldn't even have crossed my mind. The second the sun rose, roosters (many of them!) started their cries. Then the dogs started calling out to each other across the city and finally a bit later the motorcycles started zooming every few seconds. Guys, those things make so much noise when they climb up the hill our apartment is on. The windows in the apartment aren't seeled at all. So anything can come in. Anything from lizards (we found one yesterday on our wall!) to the noise of Jarabacoa.

It's always so lively here and happy! People just chilling on the streets. Cars and SUV's with huge speakers in their back seat blaring Spanish dance music. Everyone is so social here. Chicago and Jarabacoa are both city centers but Chicago people are so cold, antisocial and stressed compared to Jarabacoa people. I don't know how to even compare the two fairly.

We go out for ours meals to restaurants that are prepaid and so for breakfast we went to this little outdoor restaurant. Very little eating places here are indoors, at least from what I have noticed. There aren't walls so I just ate my breakfast and stared out into the street. The breakfasts here are nice. They don't make you feel burdened like how some food does. I am absolutely giddy that I get to eat papaya for breakfast every morning. It's delicious!

Today we drove out to the mountains and some of us went paragliding. We were parked in the van for about 5 hours in the heat. I didn't mind the heat, but I did mind the wait. Since it wasn't safe for us to leave our guide we couldn't go anywhere or explore. So we sat...and waited for each little group of us to drive up the mountain and fly down. 

At the end the clouds decended and engulfed the mountain. And that's when that little activity ended. But it was beautiful watching the clouds roll in, and interesting watching the woman and her 2 kids tend to the house and play throughout the day. It's great that the groups that did go could experience it. It was really heartwarming seeing them share their stories about flying down from the mountain and the really funny guides! Even though I didn't do anything, I watched the locals and the landscape. That's what made today a valuable experience. You never know what you're gonna get out of a day! 

Until tomorrow!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

We're not in Kansas Anymore

Hi everyone! The title I used for this post I actually found myself thinking while driving through La Vega, nestled between two fellow travel friends. 

I am in the Dominican Republic! 12 of us Volunteers Around the World girls travelled from Newark to Santiago last night, a bearable 4 hour red-eye flight . I will never forget how that old huge taxi struggled climbing uphill for an hour as we snaked in between vegetation rich verticle hills. 

And when we finally got to the apartments, they were much more than I was expecting to get!  Shiny glass tile floors and new wooden beds with fresh patterned sheets. A hotel couldn't do better! 

Here is a view from the apartment walkway. I apologize for the quality, my phone is pretty old. 

You can see the mountains in the background there!

The air here smells so rich! Not in the way a city smells, even though we are in the center of one, it smells of green things. Palm trees, shrubs, flowers, waterfalls. And not like back at home. The nature here looks like it's taking over the city. It's so comforting.

I hope everyone had a good holiday so far! I'll post more of my adventures soon.

Till next time!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Girl Online

Yes, this is a young adult novel, yes the age range is 14-17, and yes I am 20 years old...but it's a great book. The reading is really easy but the characters are really relatable . There is anxiety, love, and characters trying to get through life. Just like any other human being. The writing is clear and sometimes that's all we need. As I started reading it, there were problems that everyone faces and I have faced too, but having it written so simply and allowing myself to analyze the character's emotions helps me understand people going through these problems and helps me know myself and my reactions to these problems. Online, Zoella's followers have given her much hate for having the book ghostwritten. I think the internet makes interacting with people really impersonal and people forget that they are talking to a real person with real feelings. I have thought about how to respond to this for about two weeks now and let me address this quickly and concisely:
  1. Zoella is not a writer by trade. She wanted to make her first book worthy of reading for her loyal followers so she got help just like a lot of people do for their first times. She is not an expert on grammar and story structure. She does not have a degree in literature like editors do.
  2. Every piece of plot and all the characters are hers.
  3. She approved the book to be published, meaning the portrayal of everything in the book is to her liking and preference and exactly what she wants her audience to read.
I don't understand why people are questioning her character so harshly. People need to understand that there are 6 million people all over the world following her every story and that kind of volume of followers is a big burden just as much as it is a big joy. A huge mass of people judging her is more anxiety and bullying than anyone could experience in their lifetime. If you don't like her videos or blog, don't watch it and don't read it. If you don't like the book because it's ghostwritten, return it. It's that simple. Don't ruin her day. Most importantly, people need to never forget that Zoe Sugg is a HUMAN. She is not a character to be judged on a tv show or movie. She is a real person who is opening up to the world and letting the people know her. Just like any other person in the world, she deserves respect. 

Personally, knowing that I took away someone's happiness, a precious precious thing, makes me feel really guilty. I know I have no right to do that and I try not to do that. So I don't understand people who are so hateful on the internet. 

I know this is a huge thing on the web. What do you guys think? Am I wrong in this?


Thursday, December 18, 2014

The End of a Chapter

Hey everyone! So much has been happening these past few days, one post doesn't seem like it would be enough for everything.

I finished my last final exam at Loyola this Tuesday! Joe (my boyfriend) helped me move out of my apartment that same day and I must say it made me tear up. Seeing my room completely empty, where just 3 hours ago I woke up for my last final, was more emotional than I expected it to be. Throughout the whole day I realized everything that I did that day would be the last time I did it. Last time I watched Grey's Anatomy on my roommate's TV. Last time I washed the dishes in our sink. Last time I had dinner at the dining hall with my roommate. Last time I studied in my favorite Harry Potter room at the library. But then I also remembered my future at Stetson and I got excited again. It was the definition of "roller-coaster of emotion" that day. I will miss my view of the Lake Michigan out of my bedroom window, the shouts of college party-goers at 4 in the morning down Loyola Ave fighting the polar vortex, and of course STAR GRILL...which is the best and worst thing ever. So I braved the 30 degree cold and took a fair well picture with the famous Los Lobos statue.

Goodbye Los Lobos, Goodbye Ramblers, Goodbye Loyola! 

When we finally got home after battling a flat tire for 2 hours, the rim was rusted on like no other, I opened the packages that came in for me. It was like early Christmas! The first package was an Ipsy bag for December. I'll post that soon. The other package was my much anticipated book by Zoella, Girl Online! Yes, this is a young adult novel, yes the age range is 14-17, and yes I am 20 years old...but it's a great book. It's a nice change from my organic chemistry textbook.

Yesterday my boyfriend Joe and I were invited to be on a college panel at the high school we both graduated from. Throughout the day I started to realize things about myself, life, college, and planning. The kids in all the different classes asked really difficult questions that made me contemplate all of those things.

One of the most popular asked questions was "Why did you decide to transfer out of Loyola?". A lot of people have heard about Loyola and they wondered why in the world I would leave such a paradise. This is one questions that I didn't have to contemplate the answer to. I have been thinking about this for about a year now. Here is a complete list for y'all:
  1. The acceptance rate- when I was started a year and a half ago the acceptance rate was around 60%. Now it is 91%. This influences a lot of things. Loyola is in a city suburb so there is little space for expansion. So there is less room for incoming freshman housing. This has not impacted me but many people are stressing about where to live. Also, with more students, there need to be more classes and more teachers. Loyola is behind on that. People aren't getting classes they need for their major. Some very unfortunate souls will even have to stay extra time after the usual 4 years to complete their degree. 
  2. Little opportunity in the biology department- Loyola has a medical school but it is in Maywood so undergrads who are at the lakeshore campus have it really hard commuting there for research and job opportunities. Other universities have their hospitals and professional schools right next to their undergrads and that gives undergrads a mountain of opportunities like internships, research and jobs. NONE of the science professors that I have had do research. In fact, only now Loyola is forming a research panel. I know this because my genetics professor is one of the people forming it. 
  3. The professors are brilliant in their subjects but they are horrible teachers- this is obviously a problem and the students just have to suck it up and deal with it in whatever way they can
  4. The little amount of professors- this is a problem because class sizes are bigger with little personal attention. With a growing acceptance rate, professors teach more sections and become less personal. 
  5. Money- both Loyola and Stetson are private schools and cost the same, Stetson gave me a much higher scholarship than Loyola did, and that's what sealed the deal!
I don't know what it is with the chemistry and biology department, but compared to the literature, philosophy and theology professors, the science professors seem like they could care less just as long as half the class is passing. Loyola really excels at teaching the humanities and I have become a better person thanks to those professors. But I am done with the humanities now and it's time for me to get the best opportunities for my major and my future in medicine. Stetson's biology program, reportedly, is one of the top 5 science programs in the nation. 

I'm ready to make that jump. If there is one thing that frustrates me the most, it's inaction. I have a constant fear that time is against me. I know it's a precious thing and I couldn't bare thinking how I'm wasting it at Loyola. I will be forever grateful that I had enough bravery to do this.

I wish all of those juniors and seniors in high school the best of luck with their college pursuit and applications. Just remember that it is your life and you can do whatever you want with it. 


Sunday, December 7, 2014


Hi everyone! Thanks for finding your way here! Whether you are a friend, visitor, or loved one, I write this for you, to share the things I do and like with you. This blog will primarily be about things I like. So come be my friend!

Let me introduce myself. My name is Monika and I'm finishing up my 3rd semester at Loyola University Chicago. Next semester I'm transferring to a Florida university. So incredibly excited! Watch out for lots of palm tree pics! I'm on a medical track majoring in molecular biology and minoring in art. I've got a long but well worth it road ahead of me. I'll post my life adventures on here as much as I can. There's an equestrian team at my new university! Horsie pics coming too! Let me also add that this blog is just as much for me as it is for you guys. 

Calling all Ipsies: I'm an Ipsy subscriber as well, so I'm definitely going to post some of my ideas on here every month as the new kits come out. For those of you who haven't heard of Ipsy, it's this really cool deal where for $10 a month you get 5 products (some are samples, some regular sized) and a make-up bag. The Ipsy team caters to your preferences from the quiz you take in the beginning and so far I love all the products they sent me. They're great! But this is for another post.

Recently, for the past few months I have been completely focused on my hair. Two years ago I decided to cut my waist-long hair to a pixie cut! Woah, I know! And now I'm all about growing it out and NEVER cutting it again. Part of that, I figured, is keeping it healthy so as it grows out it doesn't turn to hay. And so my veerrrryyy long journey begins. I just finished my second bottles of shampoo and conditioner from Theorie. I've mixed it up and used their Green Tea shampoo and Argain Oil conditioner. I absolutely love it! It smells wonderful. It also doesn't strip your hair of volume like Garnier Fructis does. Believe me I really wanted to love Garnier Fructis' shampoo and conditioner. I just really didn't like how the hair close to my head stuck, and my ends were frizzy. I believe in using the least amount of product in the hair and on my face, so I love Theorie's products. They're very natural.

No propylene glycol, sulfides, phosphate, mineral or paraffin oil or petroleum! Incredible! You can really feel the difference. 

Alright, off I go studying! Good luck to all who are battling finals week. Stay strong, take your vitamins and sleep!