Wrapping up the Semester

Wow! The semester flew by, and writing this post is a little bittersweet. I had never blogged or considered blogging before. Everything was new and challenging; from learning to get to my blog from the main page to copying the right links in order to submit posts as assignments – which I sadly learned the hard way. Having my own blog was definitely a fun experience, and I didn’t expect to enjoy it so much. At first, it was really intimidating to feel as if I was talking to a blank screen, but then seeing people commenting on what they had read and how they related to my experiences was awesome. It was fulfilling and at the same time, slightly terrifying to realize that I had bared my heart to anyone willing to read what I shared. This vulnerability is kind of great and kind of scary at the same time, it definitely requires courage. I have gained even more respect for bloggers! I also enjoyed the assignments we had to complete on our blogs. I mean, reading a book you picked is a lot better than other assignments I’ve had.

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Anyway, though I really enjoyed it, I’m not sure if I will have the time to post things regularly and therefore, this might be my last post…but we’ll see. If I continued to post anything after this semester, it would probably be about what I’m learning. Yeah, I’d probably write about the process of becoming a nurse or maybe about what God is teaching me.  Maybe I’d write about things I’m passionate about, such as serving the poor as a part of Hope worldwide, or cats, or my friends, or books I’m reading. Maybe I would share about my perspective on life in the States after living in a different country. By the way, the picture I posted is from the salt-flats in Bolivia. We’ll see!

 

 

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Boundaries Review

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“If [God] has let you down or it seems that he has never done anything for you, allow him to start now.” Henry Cloud and John Townsend p. 267.

Hi, everybody! As I had mentioned on my previous post, I started reading the book “Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend a couple weeks ago. Reading this book was bae’s suggestion, and it seems fitting considering that I am latin and therefore, obviously lack the typical “American boundaries.” Since I started reading this book, I have realized that it is true that Latin American families are extremely intertwined, and have difficulty saying no to family or creating space for individuality, I guess. I can understand where the authors are coming from, and it has been interesting to see what this looks like for society in the States, where people seem fiercely protective of their rights and independence. Something else that was interesting about this book was learning more about what the Bible has to say about boundaries.

To be honest, it was difficult to get through the 302 pages in less than a week due to the depth of the content the authors were discussing. It is clear that they are very knowledgeable and eager to help people live a fuller, more satisfying life. They include many examples and areas in which boundaries are nonexistent, though desperately needed, and explain the negative consequences this has in the emotional, physical and spiritual areas of life. The book thoroughly deals with boundaries in friendships, dating relationships, work, marriage, raising children, and much more and gives practical advice on how to develop them. It is a good thing that there are more books that explain some of these areas – dating, marriage, children – in a more specific way, since just one chapter could hardly be as effective. It was hard to really grasp all the concepts and try to apply them to my life while trying to finish the book as quickly as possible.

What I liked the most about the book was how comprehensively these psychologists assessed each person’s situation not only psychologically but also spiritually, and therefore were able to help them in specific ways instead of providing a general solution that doesn’t necessarily help everybody. I also appreciated their honesty; they never claimed establishing boundaries is easy and quick, they actually insisted it was quite the opposite. Nowadays, people are attracted to easy ways to get what they want without having to wait of put effort into it, but these authors didn’t sugarcoat their product in order to sell it. If you are interested in learning more about yourself and how different interactions have shaped your personality and interactions with people, you’ll probably like this book.

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It’s Monday, and I’m not freaking out.

Hi, everybody! It’s Monday and I’m exhausted. If I was not this tired, I’d probably be freaking out about all the homework I have to do… Has it ever happen to you that you know you need to get things done but your level of motivation is dangerously close to 0%? This is how I’m feeling right now. After a fun and busy weekend in Merritt Island celebrating bae’s birthday: walking along the beach, eating junk food and playing volleyball (he did while I watched) until way too late, I am ready to be back home and take a nap. Celebrating him is always great, not sleeping enough not so much (worth it though). Ever since we started dating, he has lovingly flooded me with book recommendations (he loves to read which is fitting since he is starting med school this summer and his life will be reading). I appreciate the gesture as well as other people’s suggestions, but I just don’t have the time to read all of the books I’d like to. Anyway, last week our English Professor told us we could pick any book we wanted to read for our book review and this is the one I picked:

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“When parents teach children that setting boundaries or saying no is bad, they are teaching them that others can do with them as they wish.” Henry Cloud and John Townsend  p. 24.

The book “Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend was intimidated at first. I was reluctant to read it for many reasons. It sounded like a self-help book which made me react defensively, “I’m not helpless. I can say no if I want to.” It also seemed selfish to set boundaries and do what I wanted instead of helping someone else or doing what needs to be doing. Though the quote might make it seem like a parenting book, it’s not. Now that I am on page 49 out of 302 pages, I feel like this book is very useful to anyone who wishes to be respected and respectful. I see it more as a psychology book that can help you not be pushed around more than just feel better. The fact that it’s based on scriptures in the Bible that are not misused helps me lower my guard and listed to these people. I’m really looking forward to finishing it and sharing what I have learned!

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Prisoner of Azkaban Review

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During spring break I watched the first five Harry Potter movies as I read through J.K. Rowling’s third book: “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.” This is the story of a brave boy who tragically lost his parents as a baby and grew up being mistreated by his mom’s sister’s family. Harry is a loyal, friendly and brave boy who has a soft heart and works hard to be his very best as a friend, a seeker for his quidditch and a student. In these 435 pages we find out more details of his parent’s childhood as we get to know unexpected friends and we also learn more about the night they were murdered by Voldemort because of Harry’s interaction with horrible creatures called dementors, which suck all the happiness out of a person leaving him or her only with their darkest, saddest memories and thoughts. Throughout the school year, Harry manages to be a good friend despite some bumps, pass his classes and learn very useful spells.

“You think the dead we loved ever truly leave us? You think that we don’t recall them more clearly that ever in times of great trouble? Your father is alive in you, Harry, and shows himself most plainly when you have need of him.” Dumbledore, p. 427.

I think that this book is really original and connects many details within the series seamlessly. Rowling does a wonderful job at making us feel invested in the story. I also thought that the unexpected turns were very impressive and also have a deep message: don’t assume you know everything, have an open mind.

My only negative comment about this book is that I think that Harry and Hermione could have done much more than just sit around once they were told they were allowed to use the time-turner in order to save innocent lives. Had they just performed a petrificus totalus on Petigrew at the Shack, the following four years would have been very different. At the same time, I think Rowling’s story development is very realistic. If we are completely honest, life just is not perfect and not everything can go our way no matter how hard we try. This doesn’t mean we should stop trying, it means the exact opposite.

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Mockingjay Review

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Closing my eyes doesn’t help. Fire burns brighter in the darkness. Katniss Everdeen, p. 210

Today I finished Suzanne Collins’Mockingjay.” As I mentioned before, I needed some closure so I couldn’t just put this book down and ignore Katniss’ struggles. In these 232, Collins does a great job of keeping us on our toes with her unexpected turns. Collins, once again, impressed me with her character development and her thorough provision of detail to the storyline. The book starts by recounting the destruction of District 12 and the capture of Peeta and other victors. As if this isn’t tragic enough, we learn about Katniss’ internal turmoil and confusion as she faces the reality that she is the face of the Rebellion and will have to submit to the authorities of District 13 if she wants to give Peeta a chance of surviving. As we have already learned, Katniss has never been good at following instructions but instead is defensive and overthinks situations. These two traits cause a lot of trouble and many injuries. Despite all of this, I can’t say I blame her because, in the end, she had all the right to be suspicious. As if this isn’t enough, she goes on to describe a world in which there is no compassion, no empathy, and no limits – only endless fear, hatred and vengeance.  As in every war, death is expected, but some of these deaths are so unwanted, unexpected and heartbreaking that I can confidently say I don’t think I’ll read this book again. Though I already said this in a previous post, I’ll say it again: this is my least favorite book of the series. I was wondering if reading it again would help me like it more than the first time, and it did, but I still feel betrayed, shocked and indignant.

 

*** SPOILER ALERT ***

The true reason I dislike this book is Prim’s death. WHY!? This is so cruel and unnecessary. Maybe, in reality, it is a great plot twist, and I am just biased because I have a little sister I would volunteer for, but if you ask me, Prim’s survival was the only reason this whole journey started in the first place. Everything else is meaningless. Even though it is the most tragic part, there is a lot of emotional commotion outside of Prim’s death too.  I still can’t believe Peeta was high jacked! It is heartbreaking that all of Peeta’s sweet memories of Katniss are corrupted and distorted. On the bright side, there is a deep sense of satisfaction when Peeta recovers and returns to Katniss. Finnick’s death is despicable as well as the thought of his son growing up without ever knowing him. Even with all the unpredictability, the fact that Katniss and Peeta get married, have kids, and manage to have a life full of hope and love despite all the challenges seems like an overwhelming victory to me. I guess it’s pretty obvious I have a weakness for happy endings.

 

 

 

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It’s Monday, and I’m not freaking out.

Hello, everybody! It’s Monday again… yay. Last week was nice though, so I am not freaking out… for real this time. For Valentine’s Day, bae took me out to swing dance, and it was a lot fun! He also got me flowers and CHOCOLATE, which I can say with no shame that I had the chocolate as breakfast and lunch for a couple of days. Anyway, now I’ll tell you about food for the mind.

If you have read my previous posts, you will probably think this is super predictable. I have a couple things to say to you:

  1. I am sorry! I had to.
  2. There is something… unpredictable about predictability, don’t you think?

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In order to have some closure, I decided to read Suzanne Collins’ “Mockingjay.” This one is my least favorite book in the entire series, but after the cliffhanger in “Catching Fire,” I just HAD to. I know it will make me upset. I know it will make me have a tiny existential crisis. However, there is a chance I might change my mind and not find it so shocking considering it has been years since I first read it, and it will be in a different language. So, I’m crossing my fingers, and this far – 59 pages in – I have not been disappointed.

I told you we should have rescued the boy first.  President Coin, p. 11.

 

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On another note, I set as a goal for this year to read something spiritual every day. This far it has being going really well. Yay! I am almost done with the book “Back on Track: A 40-Day Journey to Spiritual Renewal” by Jimmy Allen. Today was day 39, and I can wholeheartedly say that this book has been a wonderful investment and has challenged my perspective in many areas, such as fulfilling promises to God, trustworthiness, and praying with faith. Once I am done with this book, I might pick back up “The Screwtape Letters” by C.S. Lewis though I don’t think I’d read it every day. I am planning on starting a chronological New Testament reading plan, and I am really excited. Since I have previously only read the New Testament in Spanish, reading it in English feels as if I am reading it for the first time, which is really special.

 Sometimes I think I am radical because I compare myself to the religious people around me. God’s standard is not that. Jimmy Allen, p. 38.

 

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Catching Fire Review

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In that one slight motion, I see the end of hope, the beginning of the destruction of everything I hold dear in the world.  Katniss Everdeen, p. 75

Suzanne Collins’ second book in The Hunger Games series is “Catching Fire,” and like I had previously mentioned, it is my favorite. This 212-page-long book is about life after the Games: the political and romantic consequences of Katniss’ desperate actions as she struggles to save her life and Peeta´s. After getting back to her hometown, Katniss faces the magnitude of her defiance to the power of the Capitol by being threatened and manipulated into trying to pacify the anger of the districts that are eager to break free from their misfortune. Katniss finds herself trying to please the unforgiving President, subdue the violent districts, protect her loved ones no matter the cost and as if this wasn’t enough, pick between Gale and Peeta, who continuously drive her crazy with their mood swings and love declarations. Throughout all the events and parties, Katniss struggles to find a solution to her dilemma until finally, either by chance or as punishment, she is faced with something completely unexpected that hadn’t occurred even in her worst nightmares. She is going back to the arena.

Collins, once again, meets our expectations by developing the characters even further, providing a little more of Haymitch´s background and giving the audience a clue of who he really is – when he´s not drunk, of course. Reading this book again, I was surprised to notice how much content Collins managed to provide without compromising the detail and emotional depth.

As a Peeta fan, something else I had previously been unwilling to acknowledge is that Gale is a pretty good choice as well. It feels wrong to write this, but it is true. I had failed to see Gale as a passionate, loyal, selfless and brave man who is willing to fight for others to have the freedom he could seek for himself if he just ran into the wilderness with Katniss like she asks him to. That’s pretty cool. I still like Peeta the most, though.

Contrasting the book and movie was similar to the comparison in my first review. The most important parts of the book were included in the movie but had some slight modifications when it came to where things took place and the scenes that portrayed more of the Capitol than the book. On the other hand, details such as the extravagant clothing, makeup, decoration, feasts and even the shallowness of the Capitol’s citizens were very accurately represented. Although Katniss and Peeta´s romance wasn´t developed as much in the movie as it was in the book – some important romantic scenes are cut out – it was definitely more thorough than the first movie. In my opinion, the biggest weakness of the movie was the lack of Katniss´ internal monologue. Her perspective is what draws us and makes us feel invested in her battle when we read the book, but when we watch the movie, she sometimes just comes across as quiet, indecisive and cranky.

Overall, Collins did a great job of keeping us glued to the book with the unfolding of her creative and exhilarating story and faithful character development. The movie summarized the main parts of the book dependably, and the actors and actresses did a great job at portraying the characters´ personalities and struggles.

 

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It’s Monday, and I’m not freaking out.

I don’t think anyone’s favorite day is Monday. Seriously, if anyone has figured out a way to be positive about the end of the weekend, let me know.

It’s sad to think about the freedom and flexibility of the weekend being over so quickly. It has become especially sad this semester since every Sunday has been darkened by weekly due dates for different subjects. In the midst of homework, quizzes and exams, it is not uncommon to experience a few breakdowns. Anyway, today I’m writing about one of the least unpleasant assignments college offers!

What I’m reading for school:

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Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

I can’t fight the sun. I can only watch helplessly as it drags me into a day that I’ve been dreading for months. Katniss Everdeen, p. 3.

(Don’t you appreciate how Katniss feels the same way about this day as we all do about Mondays?)

I decided to re-read this book because I just love Peeta! This is my favorite book of the Hunger Games series, so I thought, “why not!?” I know some people like Gale the most, but in all honesty, I like this book the best is because of the interaction between Katniss and Peeta. Come on, people! I mean Gale is cool and a loyal friend to Katniss, but Peeta has unconditionally loved her since she was five! So cute! Anyway, I am still on page 35 out of 216 pages. This far I have not been disappointed. Collins doesn’t fail to develop characters thoroughly and make us love or deeply dislike each one of them. I am really looking forward to seeing more action though.

What I’m reading for myself:

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Back on Track: A 40-Day Journey to Spiritual Renewal by Jimmy Allen

Halfheartedness doesn’t work in male-female relationships, athletic competition, academia or anything really. It certainly won’t cut it with God. Jimmy Allen, p. 66.

I started reading this a little over a month ago and I try to read it every day. For those of you who are looking for a deeper, more sincere relationship with God, this is a great read! It has really changed the way I see myself. In just 102 out of 169 pages, I have learned about joy, consistency, prayer and much more.

 

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Did The Hunger Games reach its true potential?

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I won’t close my eyes…As my last act of defiance, I will stare her down as long as I can see…I will not cry out, I will die, in my own small way, undefeated.  Katniss Everdeen, p. 164

Suzanne Collinsbook The Hunger Games” is about the dystopia into which North America has transformed after war and natural disasters. The country of Panem is divided into twelve districts and the Capitol. Collins narrates that the once thirteen districts had rebelled against the Capitol and lost, resulting in the obliteration of District 13 and a yearly celebration used as a reminder of the districts’ impotence against the power of the Capitol. This celebration consisted of a girl and a boy between the ages twelve and eighteen being presented as tributes by each District. All of the tributes had to fight to the death until only one victor remained and was granted a lifetime of comfort and fame.

Our main character, Katniss Everdeen, a sixteen-year-old girl becomes the female tribute and leaves behind her mother and sister to the care of her friend Gale. From the start of the book, we learn that Katniss is a skilled hunter, and this gives her friends and family hope that she might return. The other tribute from District 12, called Petta Mellark, is the son of the baker. We quickly find out about the history of our tributes as a romance starts to develop. After a couple ceremonies, the twenty four tributes are delivered into the arena. From the moment they arrive, the massacre begins as Katniss struggles to survive in the arena, not being able to differentiate acting from real feelings toward Peeta.

I read this series in Spanish back in 2012 when the first movie came out. Reading something in your second language gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the details that the author meant for you to understand. These details can be easily ignored when reading in your first language because, somehow, we become numb to our words and assume we know the meaning because of the context, when often enough, we don’t. I watched the movie before I read the book, and I thought that the details in the book gave life and depth to the story and the characters of the movie. I really liked how detailed Collins was in describing Katniss’ inner dialogue and how vulnerable and real Katniss is. In the first book, Katniss is this portrayed as a protective, loyal and brave sister and friend. We learn how life has made her tough and taught her to be aware of her surroundings wherever she is. She shows her compassion, humility and loyalty continuously. But she is also real. She is hurt, confused, angry, unfair, afraid and deceitful. She is not a perfect role model; instead, she is flawed and messes up. Another thing I think is outstanding is that the story was unpredictable. Collins gave her readers a real ending to her first book. She didn’t make it all good and perfect, but she also didn’t come up with a miserable, tragic ending. I think the ending is more indicative of reality. Life is rarely extremely good or extremely tragic. Collins did a good job helping the audience connect with Katniss and immersing them in her world where fear, hunger and violence are the sad reality. In only 212 pages, we learn about her everyday routine, her experience in high school, her family situation, her relationship status, her convictions and her interactions with her acquaintances. In my opinion, even the romance between Peeta and Katniss is well developed and even more convincing because of the conflict.

 

After reading the book, I realized that the constant inner dialogue Katniss has is essential for the audience to empathize with the gloomy main character and her situation. This makes the rhythm of the movie become slow and maybe even boring if one ignores the internal battle Katniss is going through. The scenes in the movie that show the Game Makers in the control room manipulating the arena’s conditions and traps are wasted, in my opinion. Instead, they should have invested this time in developing the relationship between Peeta and Katniss, which is almost overlooked in the movies. Another thing that is significant in the story-line but ignored in the movie is that the people from the districts are starving. The actors don’t look like they have starve their whole lives. Only a small comment is made about the hunger that District 12 faces on daily basis as the tributes walk into the train after the reaping. After observation, this struggle is disregarded.

Altogether, I think this is a good book that describes the challenges Katniss goes through in a realistic and vulnerable way. In my opinion, the adaptation to the movie lacks the emotional depth and detail the book offers. Overall, I think this was an entertaining book that can be used as food for thought and the adaptation was as faithful as possible in such limited time.

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Ten Things You May (or May Not) Care to Know About Me

My name is Cami, and on this first post, I’m going to tell you ten random things about me.

1. I am from La Paz, Bolivia. This is a beautiful city at 12,000 ft. of altitude in the middle of the Andes. After I tell people where I’m from they often look puzzled and say, “Nice! Where in Africa is that?” If you are wondering why I’m bringing this up, it’s because Bolivia is in South America. Not Africa.

2. I love cats! I think cats are the funniest and sassiest little fluffy creatures God has created. I know some people don’t like them. That just makes the world a sad place. Some say that cats are mean and conceited. They probably never had a cat, or they terribly annoyed the one they owned. Cats are sweet, loyal and charismatic. Everyone should own a cat. Seriously. They make you a happier individual. (If you are allergic to cats, it’s okay. I am too, and it doesn’t stop me.)

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3. I am a Christian. I love Jesus. I am ALWAYS eager to talk to whoever about him. I’m amazed at his character and the way he interacted with those around him. I think he is awesome and worthy of getting to know.

4. I don’t enjoy eating spicy food. I do not understand why people would choose to make eating the food that is supposed to nourish them a painful process. Seriously, people. Why?

5. I love chewing gum. It helps me not eat out of anxiety and not worry about the calories. It’s the best of both worlds!

6. I am an ESFP. I have taken the Myers&Briggs personality test more times than I can remember trying to prove it wrong. ESFP are supposed to love the spotlight and live for the audience. This couldn’t be less accurate for me. I enjoy loud conversations that include a lot of laughter, but I would be perfectly happy wearing an invisibility cloak as well. I know a lot of people feel the same way. They’re told they are an extrovert or an introvert but they don’t feel like one all the time. It’s like being stuck in between.

7. I got married to my best friend in the whole world six months ago. I can be very cheesy and I’ve learned that that’s okay.

8. I have grown to love carbonated water in the past couple of years. I know it tastes weird but now it just tastes like fun water. I like to think that the tears produced by its gas are tears of joy.

9. Coffee doesn’t help me stay awake. I know. It’s tragic.

10. I overthink things. I overthink them to the point of paralysis. I plan everything (even the way pots and pans are supposed to be arranged in their drawer), notice that things are not going according to the detailed plan, and completely abandon the mission and just let things fall into place (literally).

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