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Travel Reflections: Cultural Immersion in Lovely Airbnbs

By Suha Choi, IV Form

Travel Reflections: Cultural Immersion in Lovely Airbnbs

This June, when sunshine and the early hints of summer were slowly surrounding us, I was very lucky to travel to Europe with my family! This trip was the first time my sister and I visited Europe. We traveled in a rental minivan around many cities and sites. The route included Milan, Florence, Rome, Venice, Nancy, Paris, and Lucerne. I am extremely glad that I had a chance to visit countless sites of human history and landmarks! In this reflection, instead of simply listing the places I visited, I am going to recount a few moments that remain the most memorable to me. 

Culture lies everywhere, in the lifestyle and daily bases of people. It is embedded in the restaurants we go to, in the streets we walk, and on the faces and in the words of people we meet. But I believe that there is no place like home to reflect the cultures and lifestyles of people so precisely. What kind of food they eat, how many security locks are set in the door, what kind of books are stored on the shelves, and what time they turn off their lights and go to bed are the small details and factors that define identity and form a culture. During my trip, because our family chose to stay in Airbnbs, which are actual houses rented from the local people, instead of in regular hotels, we were able to directly experience the lifestyles of the people in Europe. Of the dozen of Airbnbs we have been to, two still linger in my heart, and I wish to share them. 

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Cross Country Running: A Lesson in Collaboration

By Kendall Sommers, III Form

Cross Country Running: A Lesson in Collaboration

Running is like a weight being lifted off your shoulders, pushing through boundaries and working through physical and mental obstacles.  The first day of cross country, I fell in love with the sport. The sweat dripping off my face after a half hour of the most intense cardio I had ever done. The feeling of cool water refreshing my parched throat. But best of all, the mutual feeling of accomplishment among my teammates and me. It was eighth grade, last year, and I had never been on a team for running before. In fact, I had never run more than in my middle school basketball games or during gym class fitness testing. But nevertheless, I was drawn into the sport after hearing how rewarding it was from friends. And those friends were right.

Running is powered by individual ambition, but supported by a team. Having never run on a serious, all-girls, competing team before, coming to Saint Mark’s I did not know what to expect. Arriving at preseason, I could tell right away that it was the type of team you could join having run a half marathon over the summer or half a mile, and still feel important and valued as a teammate and friend. The captains launched us right into stretching and warming up and then into running. We started by running for thirty minutes without stopping, and that grew to a challenging sixty minutes by the end of the season. I hadn’t realized how perfectly simple the sport of cross country was. Lace up your shoes. Hit the pavement. Work hard. Repeat. So I repeated, every day for ten weeks. Slowly becoming faster, slowly becoming closer to my teammates and quickly adjusting to life at Saint Mark’s. (more…)