Hello everyone! I don’t have anything as exciting as going to New York to talk about, but I have been doing some fun stuff!

Last week my photography class was invited to Jacksonville Zoo so we could attend a seminar held by a National Geographic photographer! Being able to ask Joel Sartore questions was so insightful and I loved hearing his tips and tricks for capturing different animals. After the talk we went with him to photograph small animals like lizards and snakes; he showed us how to set up the lighting and backdrops to get the best quality photos. I can’t say I loved being so close to a snake, but I survived…just. Once the session was over, we had free entry into the zoo, and I didn’t expect them to have so many different animals! I don’t necessarily agree with the concept of zoos but the animals there were very well cared for and it was lovely to see elephants which are my favourite animals. So cute!

At UNF there is an Osprey Rewards app for students. Going to sports events like basketball games are worth a couple hundred points and the app tracks your progress. Once you have enough points you can redeem them for gift cards or UNF merchandise. A few days ago, I picked up my new UNF Christmas bauble that I had been saving my points for. I’ve also been getting some of the nicest baubles from Walmart and Target; no idea how I’ll manage to get them home, but I can’t wait to put them on my Christmas tree! There’s still quite a language barrier between the Americans and me, at Target I asked a worker where the Christmas baubles were and they were like what is a bauble…now I know to only call them ‘ornaments’!

We have a whole week off for Thanksgiving which is so nice! I had originally planned to go home but flights were so busy so I wouldn’t have been able to. It was really sad because I was looking forward to seeing my family but I’ll be home for the holidays in a few weeks anyway. Some other students decided to travel this week to places like the Bahamas or Cuba but I’ve decided to stay in Jacksonville and explore places I still haven’t been to. I also need to get a lot of studying done because finals start straight after the break. It’s really stressful because classes are so much harder here than Richmond, I really don’t like how all the exams are multiple choice because I find the questions too confusing. If you need me, I’ll be at the library…

I went to the beach yesterday and a flea market and we have some other stuff planned so the break isn’t just filled with studying. I had my first Thanksgiving meal last week and I loved it! It was exactly like my mum’s roast dinners which is something I had seriously been craving. We just had payday so I’m excited to go Black Friday shopping and get some of my Christmas presents sorted. Can you believe some of the stores open at 6am? My friend, Cristina and I booked to see Ariana Grande on Sunday, exactly a week away! I’m really excited despite how it may or not be the night before one of my exams…

My study abroad experience is almost coming to an end and I can’t believe it! It doesn’t even feel like December considering it’s 30 degrees outside. I’ll send another update during finals week!

Until next time,

-Zara