Tag Archives: sightseeing

Summer in Cancún, Mexico

By Jasmine Espindola

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3.5 minute read]

One of the most memorable places I have ever traveled to was Cancún, Mexico. It is really upsetting that many people only talk about the more negative aspects of traveling in Mexico and completely overlook the beautiful and amazing places it has to offer.  Cancún is a touristic city in the state of Quintana Roo in Mexico known for its beaches, but it has so much more to offer than conventional tourist destinations, including a vibrant culture and amazing food.

Photo by Gerson Repreza on Unsplash

I took this trip the summer after high school and it was the first time I’d ever been on a plane. I was nervous, but upon landing I was amazed at the beautiful landscape and scenery in front of me. After we checked into our hotel we walked out to the beach and I couldn’t believe the color of the water. It was all different shades of blue and surprisingly warm, which was different from the usually cold Pacific Ocean water I was used to.

We eventually went on a cruise to an island off the coast called “Isla Mujeres” which was amazing. The middle of the ocean looked like a pool because you could see the ocean floor and all of the fish and marine life. It was definitely a unique experience to be able to jump into the middle of the ocean near the reefs and have a ton of fish swimming around your legs without the fear of sharks approaching since the water was so clear.

Photo by Mario La Pergola on Unsplash

After a few days exploring the different beaches, we decided to take a trip to Yucatán, a neighboring state to Quintana Roo, to visit the Mayan temples of Chichén Itzá. On our way there we stopped at a cenote. A cenote is (as defined by dictionary.com ), a “deep natural well or sinkhole, especially in Central America, formed by the collapse of surface limestone that exposes groundwater underneath, and sometimes used by the ancient Mayans for sacrificial offerings.” I hadn’t ever even heard of these rock formations, but apparently, they are all over Central America and southern Mexico, especially prevalent on the Yucatán peninsula. The rock and cave formations were jaw-dropping and it was fascinating to learn about all the things they found there during the excavations from the Mayan Period.

After a quick dip in the water, we were on our way again to the famous Chichén Itzá. Chichén Itzá is one of the 7 wonders of the world and was built by the Mayans around 600AD, a time where they didn’t even have wheels. It was one of the most amazing experiences being next to this wonder and having a small view into the past. I also got to see the place where they would put the decapitated heads of their enemies in the first century AD and their place of recreation. The Mayan ruins are one of the most beautiful things I have seen to this day.

Photo by Carlos Nakazato on Unsplash
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Studying Abroad in Paris

By Autumn Palen

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3 minute read]

Prior to 2020, during one of my spring semesters at USC as an undergraduate student, I studied abroad in Paris and it was a fully immersive experience. All of my classes were in French, the family I lived with was French, and wouldn’t you know it, quite a lot of people I passed on the streets were keen on speaking French. Those handful of months were wonderful. My teachers were all angels, the city was gorgeous, and although I had a relationship dynamic with my host family akin to Harry Potter’s relationship with the Dursleys, I’d say that overall I enjoyed my experience.

First of all, the city is gorgeous. Ridiculously so. I remember my first night there—awake since 5 am, taking a post-dinner trip to the Louvre, walking from the Louvre to the Eiffel Tower, and stopping mid-journey for wine and cheese. The mix of sleep deprivation, jet-lag, numbness from the cold, and walking nearly all day culminated into the sensation that I was drifting through a dream. I couldn’t have actually been there; it was all too much. I thought there was no way this tiny, ovular, romantic city was going to be my home for the next fifteen weeks.

Wine and cheese from a local cafe in Paris, taken from @autumn.palen on Instagram

But it was my home. Every weekday, I took the metro to class. Although admitting my adoration for the Paris Metro garnered weird looks from actual Parisians (mainly because of the general odor permeating the trains/platforms, as well as the occasional muzak cover of Ne Me Quitte Pas), I held strong that I loved the public transportation system. It was so efficient, arriving every 3 minutes, maybe 6 in the worst-case scenario (I understand that Los Angeles is a much larger, more car-based city, but I couldn’t help but notice how much more efficient the Paris Metro was than the LA one).

Photo of the Paris Metro taken by @autumn.palen on Instagram
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