A Year in Salt Lake City

My name is Aarti and I am currently participating in the National Student Exchange program attending the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.


Ask me anything  

I woke up this morning, feeling not so great, and realizing that I had developed a lovely cough/cold, and to make the day a little more down, two of our amazing translators were heading back to Quito to go home, but I was definitely NOT going to let that get me down! Today is the second to last clinic we will be visiting, which seems completely unreal to many of us brigaders. We head out on a 10-minute bus drive to our next site, Mushuk Allpa, where I am working in pharmacy once again. Apologies, I was so busy working in pharmacy that I couldn’t/forgot to take pictures of the site myself, so I stole a picture or two from my sister, Avni (you should also follow her blog!). The site today is a slightly more special location because the buildings where the clinic was held were part of a family’s home. These specific people are very close to the people of Timmy and have even housed a Timmy (he wanted to learn Spanish, so he completely isolated himself from English).

We set up in a small room, which was unfortunately cramped, but we had an adorable pooch hanging around to take away all the craziness of pharmacy.

Overall, it was a normal, crazy pharmacy day. It was a long day, but it also went by fast. We had also developed our own system to prevent complete mayhem. Each of us would circle the patient’s number then fill their order, then let the pharmacist review the order and give the patient their medicine. Once a patient gets their meds and is clear to go, we would “x” out their number and we would be off to the next patient. We saw over 120 patients today in the clinic! Which also means several tired pharmacy volunteers, but, in the end, it’s all worth the work to make people happy. We even got a few handshakes and hugs, and a “gracias” here and there. At the end of clinic, we said goodbye to one of our doctors, leaving us with two for tomorrow. At this point, it started to hit us that the end was coming closer than we would have liked. 

The Final Days…

So, my time in Salt Lake City have come to an end! The time went by so fast, it seems unreal. The worry over exams took away the time I had, but I still found time to enjoy the last few days as I was packing up. 

Overall, I really enjoyed the time I spent in Salt Lake. It was good for me to get out of South Carolina for a bit, and experience a new environment. The only thing that I didn’t really enjoy was all the work that I put upon myself! My recommendation: if you go through with this program, arrange your college schedule around to where you don’t have a heavy load of studying and classes on your shoulders, and take some time to enjoy the city or town and all that it offers. I think that was my biggest regret during the program (but I had to do what I had to do, unfortunately). Despite being worn down by classes (what seemed like all the time), I did take the time to meet some new people, go to different parts of Utah and enjoy life as a Ute. 

If you are looking to choose the University of Utah as one of your options: There are some things that you may want to look into. If you are okay with smaller-sized cities (like the size of Columbia), then you may like Salt Lake. It is a little more metropolitan than Columbia, SC, but don’t expect it to be New York City. Even though it is the capital, it still has a large Mormon community, so the city is pretty quiet most of the time and things shut down early, and on Sundays, completely. Saying that, though, Salt Lake is a pretty safe city to live. Because of the strict Mormon laws, the city is relatively safe, but you should still walk with a buddy no matter where you are! Probably one of the biggest factors that will affect your experience here: the weather. If you like snow, then Salt Lake has the best snow in the world! It is light and powdery, it truly is the best! If you can handle longer and colder winters, that’s great (and honestly, one “real” winter is truly not that bad)! Also, if you love the outdoors, it’s paradise here! Salt Lake is known for their ski and snowboard resorts, and have much more than just that to show off! They have all kinds of outdoor fall, spring and winter activities just waiting for anyone and everyone. It all just depends on what you like. I took a snowboarding class and learned on one of the best ski resorts in Utah. I also went to Arches National Park in southern Utah on a school trip (which I won’t talk about much, but if you are ever in the region, go! It’s definitely worth $10 to see and hike up to all the different arches). And if you don’t want to leave the area to get the outdoors, the U is on a mountain, which, if you go behind the University grounds, has multiple trails that go up and beyond the top of the mountain for the public (and trust me, the view is phenomenal)! If you don’t have a car, they do have public transport via train or public bus to certain ski resorts, but it takes a bit of time.

As I said, overall, I really enjoyed my experience. I want to go back for sure, but only time will tell. Lastly, if you have any questions about Salt Lake City or the U from the perspective of a NSE student, feel free to contact me! 

Thanks to NSE for this amazing experience!

-Aarti 

Here is my group (me on the left and two students from South Korea) and my instructor (right), and get this, our instructor Morgan is from Charleston, SC!

Here is my group (me on the left and two students from South Korea) and my instructor (right), and get this, our instructor Morgan is from Charleston, SC!

Spring Break!

Okay, so a lot of time has passed, and it is now Spring Break!

Luckily for me, my sister has come over to stress me out (just kidding, we had a lot of fun). We basically did all that we could in three days. We went into downtown and saw both malls (one is a brand new mormon mall which is actually really lovely and the other is a more outdoors mall), we hiked up the mountains (which is easily accessible since it is right behind the hospitals and the university) and last and almost most importantly, we dined like queens. My sister is vegan, and in South Carolina, there aren’t too many “vegan friendly” restaurants. We figured out that Salt Lake City is one of the best places in the States to be vegan, so this was a delight to us both! And I understand if you are reading this and cringing your nose, but as a new vegetarian, it’s honestly not that bad! It’s a great meat substitute and I will definitely be going back for some more before I have to head back home.

Now to do some catching up…

I think I mentioned that I took a snowboarding class (if I didn’t, well, I did!) and it was great! By no means am I calling myself a professional, but I can now snowboard more-so than I could a few months ago. The first few lessons seem really difficult and annoying, since most of it is trying to balance and get used to falling on every part of your body, and you WILL be bruised and sore like crazy, but after you get the hang of it, you will start to snowboard (even if it feels like you are slowly sliding down the hill)! For most of the lessons (there were about 7-8), I stayed on the little “bunny” hill, which is the training hill, just to get used to the speed, the ice and to learn how to turn and stop. The last day, though, my instructor encouraged me to push myself, and I am glad I did! We went up to the top of the mountain and went all the way down, and it was a rush! Yes, I face-planted several times, and was scared out of my mind, but I felt so accomplished! We went on some slopes that were a little too big for me, but I managed to get around without severely injuring myself or anyone else. I am happy that I got to do that, and I highly recommend it to someone who has never snowboarded and wants to learn. It really makes you want to keep up with it, and hopefully, I will!

Now… Back to School

So… it’s been a while. So here is the condensed version of what has happened to me. 

Classes basically took all my time. Exams were pretty intimidating, and the studying seemed to take over everything. But you gotta do what you gotta do. I was relieved to come home for the holidays (including Thanksgiving; though it doesn’t seem worth it to go back for a few days, it is DEFINITELY worth it). I think that I took too much at once, not to mention all of them were science classes, so lesson learned. Next semester, I am only taking 12 academic credit hours. But, I remembered that I needed to do something I wouldn’t be able to do in Columbia, or South Carolina for that matter, so I decided to take two outdoor classes, which I am thrilled about! The first one is beginner’s snowboarding, which I have considered, but never done before, and since Salt Lake seems to have some of the best snow around, why not? I am also taking a weekend-long hiking trip to Arches National Park in southern Utah, which should be awesome as well. 

I guess that is all for now, I hope everyone had a happy and safe holiday, and wishing the best for the new  year!

-Aarti

Again… SORRY

Hi everyone! I am sorry again that I have not been posting. I do realize it has been ages since I have put something up on here, but I am trying my best. I have been bogged down by exams and work (did I mention that I have an exam every week since September?). I will update whenever I have a break, so again, sorry!

In the meantime, I have started my volunteer shift at the Primary Children’s Hospital. It is really great! Although, the application and acceptance process took quite a while. I volunteer every Friday night from 5-8 pm. It’s not all that bad, despite it being a Friday night. 

School, as explained before, is going. It’s a pretty heavy load, and I will definitely not be taking as many credits as I am now (I have learned my lesson haha). Lots to do in what seems like so little time. Speaking of which, the semester is almost over! About 4 1/2 weeks left of school and then exams! Time flies!

The weather has been surprisingly pleasant, thought we did have a week where the temperature dropped and it SNOWED! I was so surprised… in a good way! I took some pictures, so maybe I’ll put some up later. 

On that note, I have some work I need to get done. Hope everyone is doing well! And again, thanks for your patience!

-Aarti

Sorry…

Hi everyone! I am sorry for delaying these posts. I know it’s been over a month. I am okay! Just keeping very busy.

And unfortunately, I cannot post for too long. My room mate and I are heading to LA today! Extremely stoked!

Hope everyone is doing well!

Third Week Already!?

My sister reminded me the other day that I was slacking on the blog. Sorry (as if my life is really that interesting). I decided that I would just do a week in perspective. By the way, I can’t believe that I have already completed three weeks of classes! Time flies, and before I know it, it will be Fall break!

Overall, it was a pretty normal and boring week. This last weekend was Labor day weekend, and naturally, I did not do too much “laboring” aka I slept in, partly because I had a ton of work to do and the buses and trains were not running that day. I also realized that I have a ton of exams and papers coming up next week and the week after that (better get on that). As for classes, they are going well. Some are interesting, some, not so much. But, considering the subjects are pretty grueling, some of the professors make the class much easier and enjoyable. My developmental biology teacher, for example, pools points for participation describing and answering questions from published scientific papers, which are pretty… intense. But she explained that she was the shy student in her class and she thinks we are “awesome” (her exact words) for trying to answer her questions. Pretty much made my perspective of the class better. Hopefully, everything goes swimmingly over the next few months.

Besides classes, I finally got some decorations for my room and the dorm! Unfortunately, my room still looks pretty boring and empty, and hopefully it will soon change. Sophie and I got some posters for the dorm living room, and we plan on getting some christmas lights around the windows too (that should look quite nice during the holidays!). I’ve also been cooking up some meals for myself (thanks mom for teaching me), so I haven’t really tried any food on campus. I guess I’d better change that so I can tell you guys about it (I do know I can say there is a Papa John’s on campus in the Union (aka the equivalent to Russell House)).

In other news, I am officially a volunteer at Ten Thousand Villages, which is a lovely store promoting fair trade of goods manufactured by many people around the world. The things in this store, they’re all amazing! Beautiful jewelry, colorful scarves and accessories, a massive amount of cultural goods (like hand woven baskets and dolls and home decor) and some of the coolest kid’s toys I have ever seen (I am definitely taking one home with me!). I greet customers, work the cash register and spread the word about the goods and people who make the items. It’s almost like a job, except I’m not getting paid. It’s great though. I also am officially a volunteer at the Primary Children’s Medical Center. I am working as a volunteer in the Emergency Waiting Room assisting patients and families. I am really excited about it and am sure it will be a rewarding experience!

That’s it for now! I’m off to (try to) bake some almond cookies (Sophie’s never had anything almond flavored, so this must happen)! 

Thanks… and ask me anything!

-Aarti

NSE Meeting and Crimson Night!

This first week of classes have gone by fast! All my classes seem like they are going to go well and luckily for me, I don’t have to trek all over campus to get to all my classes (I simply take the shuttle to the president’s circle, where I have all my classes). This Thursday, we had our NSE meeting to go over the basics of the U. It was really cool to meet people from all over the country! Some of the students came for a new environment, some came for a difference in courses (like me), and some came simply for the skiing and snowboarding in the winter. We all went to one of the malls for dinner afterwards. Overall, a great night.

This weekend was also Crimson Night, an event held at the Union (which, for USC, is the equivalent of the Russell House). There are only 3 of these parties per academic year, so this was one that everybody went to. My roommate Sophie and I went a little after it got started, and it looked like a huge hit already! The party had many things to do, from a large dance floor to a battle of the DJs, a giant slip and slide, carnival games, a photo booth, robo-surf, massages, henna tattoos, rock climbing, and of course, free food. It was a fun and exciting night! And now for the weekend…

-Aarti 

First Day of Class

My first day of class was yesterday (the 20th), and truthfully, it was not as bad as I thought it would be. Granted, I have a pretty grueling schedule (Physics and Lab, Organic Chem, Human Physiology and Lab and Developmental Biology), but seeing how friendly the professors were made it a little better. The scariest part of the day was actually getting to class because, after practicing the routes to class with my mom a few days in advance, I still managed to get lost on campus (luckily, I made it to class with a few minutes to spare). It looks like it will be a tough semester, but a great experience to come. In the meantime, enjoy the sweet reward U of U has in store!

-Aarti