4 Things to Do in the Fall in/near Winston-Salem

It’s been a while since I’ve written a post on travel! I used to write them more often when I studied in Europe, but I haven’t done a whole lot of traveling since then. I’ve been in North Carolina for a few months now and have really been wanting to write about my experience here. Before moving, I looked up things to do in Winston-Salem and put together a list of places to visit and events to go to. However, there were some events I discovered that were not mentioned online. Even some of my friends from the area did not know about these events! If you are planning on visiting Winston-Salem, North Carolina in the fall, be sure to check out these events!

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Apple Fest

Apple Fest takes place at Historic Bethabara Park in September. It’s free to the public and very family friendly! If you’re into shopping, there are cute little shops set up where you can get homemade goods, whether it be soap, clothing, or food. Of course, you can find a variety of caramel apples, funnel cake, and fresh apples to take home with you! Be sure to check out the little petting area with goats and other animals!

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Representing my Spanish and Panamanian heritage

FIESTA is an annual street festival in downtown Winston-Salem that took place the weekend after Apple Fest. Like Apple Fest, you can find cool shops with crafts and clothing, plenty of food, and various musical (and dance) performances. It’s a really fun cultural experience and is the biggest fundraiser for the Hispanic League. I recommend checking it out as it only happens once a year.

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Dixie Classic Fair

The Dixie Classic Fair was one of the annual events that I did find out about online before moving to North Carolina. It takes place around the end of September to the beginning of October. Since I didn’t go to fairs often as a kid, I really enjoyed visiting this one. From gum (yes, gum) to candy bars, you can find a lot of fried foods. If you’re not into that, then you can try the different flavors of cobbler and caramel apples. While walking around, you will see many animals, fair games that are almost impossible to win (at least that was my experience), and rides! I personally didn’t ride anything, as I get sick and have heard too many stories about ride accidents, but you can still have lots of fun whether you ride anything or just walk around and see some racing pigs.

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The Tanglewood Festival of Lights is not in Winston-Salem, but is only a 20-30 minute drive away and is totally worth seeing. The festivities start in late November and end January 1st. Both this event and the Dixie Classic Fair are not free, but highly recommended. You get to spend an hour driving through beautiful light displays and end up at the Gift Shop at the Red Barn, where you will find even more cool, homemade things, including some holiday products from Dewey’s, which is a delicious bakery!

Before moving to Winston-Salem, I had no idea what to expect. I knew it was the home of Krispy Kreme, and that it was a city, but that was about it. I didn’t know how big of a city it was, where all the best hangouts were, or much of what there was to do. Whether you are studying here or just visiting, check these events out, as well as more photos below!

 

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The Joy in “Ordinary”

Recently, I’ve been asked my favorite childhood memory. It took me a while; I’m terrible at choosing favorites. However, every idea that came to mind was not an extraordinary moment, but rather some sort of repeating action: playing video games with my dad, watching Spanish shows with my mom, going to the park, sneakily trying to play with dolls at night with my sister, talking on the phone all day until all the phones in our house were dead… I can go on. It wasn’t one defining moment that brought me joy or shaped my childhood. Instead, it was the ordinary, daily activities with my loved ones that I ended up holding the closest to my heart. Even now, ordinary moments easily get overlooked, but still end up being my most cherished memories later on. Don’t wait until years later to enjoy what is happening now. Enjoy the moment!

Happy 2018!

An Exercise in Gratitude and Intimacy

The new year is almost here! While it is important to be thankful in all circumstances, all year round, it can be so easy to lose sight of the good in our lives because of how busy we are, especially during the holiday season. One one hand, holidays like Thanksgiving can be a great reminder to be thankful, but other times, we get wrapped up in preparing meals or hosting parties. It’s times like these where we need to be deliberate about our gratitude.

Almost a year ago, my boyfriend told me that he wanted to share with me more. This resulted in a daily activity that we have been faithfully doing together. He suggested that at the end of every day, we tell each other one thing that made us happy. It could be something as small as having nice weather, or something as big as celebrating a milestone. To further the impact of the tradition, I suggested that we write down what made each other happy each day, and at the end of the year, we would read them to each other.

The nice thing about this activity is that it can be done both alone or with someone else, whether it be a significant other, friend, family member, or whoever you want. If you choose to do this activity with someone else, it will surely get you talking, and by the end of the year, you’ll learn more about what brings them the most joy in their life and what is truly important to them. This is a great way to both draw closer to somebody and make you more aware about what makes you happy personally. Sometimes, life gets so busy that we forget to do things we love and look at the positives. Try this out and see if it helps you be a little more grateful and happier in the midst of wherever you may be.

 

Photo Credit

Spend a Day in Boone

One thing I love to do at the end of a long semester is mellow out to cheesy rom-coms on the Hallmark channel. After watching just a few, I got hooked. Eventually, I started to wonder if cute, little towns like the ones on TV existed. I come from a small town, but I would definitely not compare it to what I have seen in the movies.

I am currently going to school in North Carolina and have not seen much of the state. Fall break was coming up and one of my friends told me that her co-worker recommended visiting a small town called Boone and a place called Blowing Rock. I was open to doing anything and was excited to hear that we would be going to a small town in the middle of the fall season. As soon as we pulled up to Boone, I could already tell from all the little shops and beautiful architecture that I would love this place.

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There are several cute, little shops that I would recommend visiting such as Boone Belles, Lucky Penny, and my favorite, Mast General Store (which I later found out is also in Winston-Salem). Some places even carry local products, which I thought was very cool.

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My friend found a restaurant on Yelp called “Proper” with great reviews. It was a little bit hidden, but still had a great view and nice atmosphere.

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The food was delicious! I tried southern fried chicken for the first time and would highly recommend it, as well as the restaurant’s special homefries. They gave a decent amount of food for the price, at least compared to the North. The best part was that everything we ate was homemade and not frozen!

While digesting, we took a walk around Appalachian State University. It will definitely give you a workout if you decide to roam the entire campus. At the time, students were on their fall break as well, so we didn’t see many people. However, taking a walk and seeing the colorful autumn scenery was spectacular. There was a lot of school spirit in this town as every store I went to had ASU merchandise.

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The last stop we made was to the Tanger Outlets in Blowing Rock. I like to look up things to do before going to a place, so that I know what to see, and some other blogs had recommended going to an ice cream shop called Kilwin’s. They sell a variety of chocolate-covered desserts, ice cream flavors, and fudge. As soon as you open the door and the smells seep out, you know you’re making a good choice. I ordered cake batter and chocolate caramel cashew ice cream, no regrets! Although I wanted to eat everything there, I knew that I couldn’t. There is good news though: there is a Kilwin’s in Winston-Salem, so I will be back!

Some people prefer bigger cities because they feel that there is more to do. Even so, if you are looking for a day trip, try these small, charming places. I know you will not be disappointed!

Embrace You

Autumn is here! From colorful leaves, to bonfires, to pumpkin patches and corn mazes, how could you not fall in love with fall? It’s a beautiful season that marks the beginning of many celebrations until late December, including an unofficial but enthusiastic celebration of the Pumpkin Spice Latte. Even though it has been around for years, I had never tried one. I don’t usually like pumpkin flavor and I cannot drink coffee without feeling sick for the rest of the day. For the longest time, I had been wanting to know what the hype around this popular drink was. Would it live up to that hype? I recently tried a Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino. The worker who took my order at Starbucks was kind enough to make me one without coffee. Despite the fact that I’ll never get the full Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino experience, due to the fact that I can’t have coffee, I at least got a taste of what most Americans really enjoy.

However, I’ve noticed that as pumpkin spice becomes more popular (there are cheerios and other cereals, oatmeal, and even more products), it has become more controversial. Every time I hear the drink mentioned, or even the flavor, it is usually tied to a stereotype, namely the adjective “basic.” Some people that I know won’t try pumpkin spice because they’re “not that basic”, others drink it because that’s what people do around this time of the year. I’ve come to wonder how many people order the drink because they actually like it and how many people won’t order it out of fear of being labeled. Pumpkin spice is not the only trend that people will shy away from or embrace because others are into whatever the latest cool thing is. I have seen it with coffee in general, different fashions, different hobbies, and more.

Why can’t we just be ourselves? Why do we have to try so hard to be different from others for the sake of being different or avoiding a label (which makes you like many others who try to be different)? Why do we try so hard to fit in? I say, if you like Pumpkin Spice Lattes, then order one! If you don’t, then don’t, but don’t give people a hard time that do. If you are into mainstream music, great! If you are into a genre no one has ever heard of, that’s also great! Don’t force yourself to be into something you don’t like just because other people are into it or you want to be viewed as different.

Embrace you!

Using the Weekend to Your Advantage: University and Grad School

There are two types of students that I come across: those that study all the time without taking breaks and those that wait until the last minute to do their assignments. It is very rare that I find someone who can balance both work and play. If I do meet someone who is balancing both, usually they are in the beginning stages of trying to find what works for them. I fall under the first category, and while I am still trying to work this out myself, I have gotten into a weekend routine that has been helpful in lightening up the workload for the week.

Some students may think that they cannot get homework done over the weekend because they want to spend it having fun and relaxing. Because of this, homework doesn’t get done until Sunday evening. For some, this is great as they work well under pressure. For others, the stress of Sunday night gets more familiar every week. There is a way to get homework and projects done over the weekend while still being able to enjoy your time off.

One of the strategies that I use that has helped me save time and stress is getting homework done when you know people won’t be looking to hang out. This can vary from person to person. In my experience, people don’t usually look to hang out on Friday afternoons. Some of my friends may be in class, be working, or be busy in general. Usually people prefer to do something on Friday nights, so you can get a head start on your assignments before the weekend has really begun, without having to sacrifice your Friday evening. Another prime time to get homework done, if you are an early riser like me, is Saturday morning. Many people I know have the ability to sleep in. Since I have trouble sleeping in, this is when I get most of my homework done, as well as laundry and other tasks. You can have a very productive day by lunchtime and still have most of the day to do what you please.

When I am doing homework, I try to get as much as I can done over the weekend. I still go out and have fun, so I am not missing out on anything, but I do this so that I can make my week a little bit easier. Usually I work on whatever homework assignment is due first, or whichever assignments are the shortest. Working in chronological order is helpful. Say that you have a busy weekend and you can only get homework done for Monday. On Sunday night (or Monday morning), you won’t be scrambling to get that homework done, provided you work on it ahead of time. Typically I try to get my homework done through Wednesday, so that I can have less of a workload during the first few days of the week. If you are afraid of forgetting what you had to read for class, take notes and read them closer to when you have class so that you can refresh your memory.

One last tip I have is to learn when to say “no.” I did write a blog post on this, so I won’t elaborate too much, but once in a while you find that you have too much work to do. It’s okay to say no if you need to. Sometimes it means saying no to doing something with your friends, other times it means saying no to doing homework and taking a short break. It isn’t always easy, but you will feel much better when you start learning how to balance your life.

What are your homework habits? Have you tried these strategies before and if so, have they worked out for you?

Ways to Combat Homesickness

Moving away can be hard, no matter what stage of life you are in. Homesickness can hit you at any point, whether you have crossed an ocean or you are a 12-hour drive away from home. I have decided to treat my time in North Carolina like my year in Europe. Because I know I will only be here for a year, I want to see as much as I can and take part in local, everyday life as much as possible before packing up and leaving. Homesickness is inevitable, but having this mindset has really helped me combat negative feelings.

Although I do not use pinterest much, I would recommend looking for things to do in the area where you are staying or visiting. I had written this in a previous post of mine, but I suggested it under a different context. It’s as simple as doing a quick search: “Things to do in X”. You never know what you may find, or what others have already found.

Once I read enough articles or blog posts online and learn a little bit more about the area, I take that information and compile a list of things to do. I have a list of coffee shops, local events, and tourist attractions that I really want to visit during my year away from home. In just one month of being away, I have already gone to several festivals and events at school and around town. I tend to keep an eye out for posters advertising free events both on campus and in town, on my way to class.

People like to poke fun at me for this one because of how ridiculous this might sound, but I always try to plan something fun at least once a week. Whether you are a student or working full-time, it can be extremely difficult to find time for anything. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in staying on top of work, and even trying to get ahead, to the point that I feel like I am running on a treadmill; I do a lot of work, but in the end, there’s always more. At the end of the day, what I want to remember about Winston-Salem is not all the nights I spent in my room, stressing out over homework, but rather the times I had getting to know my classmates and hanging out with friends. If your schedule doesn’t allow you to be very spontaneous, planning activities ahead of time can help you always have something good to look forward to, instead of another long day.

My last piece of advice is what has helped me the most since moving away. It is super important to get involved in some kind of community. Get involved with a group that is near and dear to you. For you, that may be a volunteer group, a fraternity or sorority, a club, or a fitness class. For me, something I knew that I absolutely had to do was get involved in a church group. If you aren’t going to school and are finding it challenging to meet new people, I would highly suggest doing this. Even if you only see these people for an hour at first, it can turn into more time together as you form friendships with those around you.

Homesickness isn’t always a bad thing. However, dealing with it isn’t easy, and it may never completely go away. In the end, you may not be able to control when a wave of it comes crashing down on you, but it’s up to you to decide what you do with those feelings. Will you make the most of your time away and turn it into a great memory or will you count the days until you go home again?