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10 Things to do in new mexico

Okay, so maybe every state’s nickname is a little biased, but New Mexico dubbing itself the “Land of Enchantment” happens to be extremely fitting. Between the diverse landscape, great food, rich history, and stunning sunsets, it is hard not to fall in love with our neighboring state. The state line is just over 6.5 hours away and two major cities, Albuquerque and Santa Fe, are both within a 12 hour drive. If you have room in the budget to fly it’ll definitely cut down travel time, but no matter what your mode of transportation is there is plenty to do once you get there. Here are my top 10 picks for things to do in New Mexico.

Take a Ride on the Sandia Peak Tramway

Photo by Courtney Smith

Located in Albuquerque, the Sandia Peak Tramway is the longest tramway in the Americas and offers amazing views. A round-trip ticket costs $25 for adults, but there is also a student ticket option for $20 for those aged 13-20. The tram runs every 15-30 minutes but once you’re at the top you can spend as much time as you’d like taking in the view, dining, or hiking on one of the many trails. Plus it’s cooler at the top of the mountain which is a bonus when trying to beat the heat. This was probably my favorite thing I did in Albuquerque and I can’t recommend it enough. More information and tickets at https://sandiapeak.com/.

Take the Train to Santa Fe

Photo courtesy of Rio Metro

The Rail Runner Express is another way to take in some of the scenery New Mexico has to offer. A day pass from Albuquerque to Santa Fe costs only $9 and this online schedule easily gives you departure times and information. Taking the train is a good alternative to driving or using a rideshare because it’s cheaper and allows you to see more of the state. While you’re there, check out The Shed for delicious New Mexican food! 

Visit White Sands National Park

Photo by Courtney Smith

Anyone who has been on Pinterest has likely seen photos of this exquisite landscape. The white gypsum sand dunes seem never ending and offer a great backdrop for photos, sledding (yeah, sledding!), and hiking. Although White Sands is about 10 hours from Austin, it is a quicker day trip from destinations in New Mexico such as Ruidoso, Albuquerque, or Carlsbad. If you’re traveling solo the admission is $15 but loading up your car with family or friends will cost only $25. 

Ride in a Hot Air Balloon

Photo by Courtney Smith

For the adrenaline junkies out there, going up in a hot air balloon will get your heart pumping while allowing you to take part in a true New Mexican experience. This was at the top of my list the first time I went to New Mexico and I was blown away by the experience! Most balloon experiences happen really early in the morning or at sunset, so either way you’re guaranteed a gorgeous view of the sunrise/sunset. If you’re really into hot air balloons or prefer to see them from the ground, check out the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta! It is an annual event that takes place in October and allows guests to witness hundreds of balloons taking flight. Tickets to attend are also easy on the wallet, where a flight itself will usually set you back around $250-300. 

Meow Wolf

Photo by Courtney Smith

Meow Wolf is another Instagram popular spot in New Mexico. Located in Santa Fe, this unique and interactive art experience is wildly fantastical – and even that is an understatement. The easiest way to describe it is the mixture of a fun house, art exhibit and LSD experience. Student tickets cost $25. More information can be found here.

Go Shopping

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Shopping in any new place is a great way to see more of the culture and trends in the area. New Mexico is no different! Old Town in Albuquerque is a cute area to bop around in if you’re looking for souvenirs and in Santa Fe all you have to do is head to the plaza to find gift shops and Native American goods for sale. No matter where you are in the state there are fun curio shops and local stores that are easy ways to knock out souvenir shopping while beating the heat.

Tour the Historic Churches of Santa Fe 

Photo by Courtney Smith

Downtown Santa Fe is full of churches that are not only architecturally stunning, but also affordable to see. The San Miguel Chapel calls itself the “Oldest Church in the United States,” with origins reportedly dating back to 1610. Another chapel, the Loretto Chapel, features a famous spiral staircase that has mysterious history due to its perfect smooth design. There are a plethora of other churches to visit as well and most still hold services for those who are interested. 

Get Far Out in Roswell

Photo by Courtney Smith

Whether you’re a believer or not, visiting the International UFO Museum and Research Center in Roswell is a must do while in New Mexico. The museum has an admission fee of $5 and for that price you have the opportunity to take pictures with alien sculptures, look over historical documents, and check out the gift shop. The museum itself is pretty small so while it is an entertaining stop, I recommend visiting as a stop in your trip to another destination. 

Explore Carlsbad Caverns

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

If you don’t know the difference between a stalactite and a stalagmite now- you will once you visit the caverns. Carlsbad Caverns National Park is the home of over 100 caves and on your way into the park you’ll be greeted by the natural beauty and diversity of the desert. These caverns are absolutely huge and, because of this, cave enthusiasts will likely be able to spend an entire day here. Ranger guided tours are offered but must be reserved in advance and most of them are an additional fee on top of the $15 entrance fee. With the entrance fee alone you can go on a self guided tour of the Big Room. An elevator will take you directly from the ticket counter to this portion of the caverns but you can also opt into taking the Natural Entrance Trail for an added workout. I explored Carlsbad Caverns while road tripping back to Texas so for time’s sake I only explored the Big Room, but I feel like that is plenty if you’re wanting to experience Carlsbad without too long of a time commitment. More information can be found by clicking here.

Eat at El Pinto 

Photo by Courtney Smith

Established in 1962, El Pinto is both an Albuquerque must and a New Mexico favorite. It is the largest New Mexican food restaurant in the state and seats over 1,200 guests in one of their nine different dining areas. On a good weather day, enjoying El Pinto salsa on one of the patios is a must! Their menu is expansive and features everything from margaritas to stuffed sopapillas. If you look carefully on the walls you’ll see El Pinto is a popular spot for celebrities who are visiting the area, too. This family owned spot is a must if you’re looking for tasty local cuisine and a good atmosphere. 

For these 10 things to do and more, New Mexico should definitely be on your travel bucket list. Amazing food, beautiful sunsets, and fun activities for art enthusiasts and outdoor lovers alike make this a great and (fairly) close travel destination for Texans. Let us know if you try anything on our list or what your favorite things to do in New Mexico are in the comments below. 

A Beginner’s Guide to Espresso Drinks

An espresso machine hums behind the sounds of chatter and clicking keyboards. The smell of coffee lies heavy in the air, while people sip beverages and twirl spoons. People mutter words like “macchiato,” “americano” and “cappuccino” to cashiers behind counters. 

Coffee shops can be the ideal location for many events. Maybe you have a big test that you need to study for, or you’re meeting up with a new friend for the first time. A coffee shop is the perfect place to go, because it can be casual, cozy and relaxing. However, if you have only ever consumed coffee at Starbucks, local coffee shop’s menus can seem confusing. 

Although coffee jargon might seem advanced, coffee orders are simpler than they sound. Here are some basic espresso drinks that will help you find your dream caffeine.

1. Lattes

Photo by Jesus Angel

A latte is a deliciously common drink because it is customizable to your likings. At its core, a latte is 1 part espresso and 3 parts steamed milk with milk foam on top. 

 Beyond that, a latte can take many forms. You can order an artistic hot latte with a poured design, or a refreshing latte over ice. You can also alter your milk preference. Most lattes are made with whole milk, but feel free to ask for a non-dairy substitute like almond or soy milk.

 If you prefer your coffee sweet, add pumps of flavored syrup to your drink. Some flavors include, vanilla, caramel and hazelnut, but be sure to ask the barista what syrups they keep in their store.

2. Mocha

Photo by Jesus Angel

A mocha is very similar to a latte, because they share the same milk to espresso ratio. However, mochas are much richer. A mocha has an added chocolate powder or syrup, blending together hot chocolate and coffee for a cozy drink of your dreams. 

Mochas can also be altered in their milk contents, temperature and  sweetness. If you are already a fan of mochas, try making your order a little more festive with a pump of peppermint, cinnamon dolce, or pumpkin spice.

3. Cappuccino

Photo by Jesus Angel

Cappuccinos are great for people who enjoy the natural taste of espresso, but still want the richness of cream inside of  their coffee. A cappuccino is 1 part espresso and 2 parts milk with foam at the top, making it a little lighter than a latte. 

It is not very common to add syrup to cappuccinos, but mixing the drink with a cube of brown sugar makes the perfect blend of sweet to bitter, and thin to creamy. 

4. Macchiato

Photo by Jesus Angel

Unlike a latte or a cappuccino, macchiatos don’t have any milk foam. A macchiato is 2 parts espresso and 1 part steamed milk. This drink is perfect for people who want a drink even lighter than a cappuccino but richer than an americano. 

This is a great drink to pair with a slightly sweeter cookie, danish or scone, for the perfect afternoon snack.

5. Americano

Photo by Jesus Angel

An americano is a drink for the brave and bold. An americano doesn’t bother with cream or sugar, but rather relies on the rich flavor profile of the espresso itself. An americano is composed of espresso and hot water only, and the ratio is dependent on your order. Some people prefer a stronger coffee taste and will order a double shot of espresso, while others will order a single shot. 

This guide to espresso drinks is just a start to the endless amounts of coffee combinations available to you. Don’t be afraid to ask your barista for recommendations or try something new on a whim.

The next time you’re ordering at a coffee shop, remember to stay calm, stay creative and most importantly, stay caffeinated.

Featured image by Jesus Angel.

Weekend Getaway: Magnolia Market

Exploring new places isn’t always easy on a college budget with constant deadlines and org meetings, but luckily there are so many places that are worth a day (or even weekend!) trip from campus. Recently I decided to go to Magnolia Market in Waco to see what all the hype was about- and to see if only HGTV fans would be there thanks to Chip and Joanna Gaines’ show that inspired the marketplace. Below are my tips and review of the infamous Waco weekend getaway. You can look at the overall scores for each of the things I’ll be covering (right), but keep reading for a more in depth look at the trip.

Getting There

One of the best things about getting to the market is that it’s only an hour and a half away! I stayed in Waco from Friday to Saturday afternoon, but it’s close enough to do all in one day. Magnolia Market also has free parking which is a huge bonus compared to, well, pretty much anywhere. You have to either get to the market early in the day or late to snag a spot, though. If not, Waco also has a FREE trolley system. Either way, getting to Magnolia Market (and parking) is overall quite easy and inexpensive.

Insta Worthy Moments

All photos by Courtney Smith

Given that Magnolia Market was literally designed by an infamous design and house remodeling duo, it’s no surprise that every inch of it is super aesthetic. The grounds themselves have flowerbeds, cute lawn chairs, and plenty of eye pleasing white walls for a photo backdrop. The shops are also just as instagrammable and include a home decor/souvenir store, garden shop (check out the mini greenhouse for a cute picture) and a bakery. All of that on top of the picturesque food options make Magnolia Market a top notch place for photographers and amateur influencers alike.

Food

One of the most important things about any trip: food. Luckily at Magnolia Market there was equally as much thought put into the food as into the design. There are several food trucks at the market itself and, out of those, I definitely recommend the tea from The Alabama Sweet Tea Company. For $8 you get a 24oz souvenir mason jar with a reusable straw and some great tea- plus it’s only $2 for a refill. It seems pricey, but the reusable factor and the size makes it an okay value. The Magnolia Table food truck also is at the market and features some of the same items from the actual sit down restaurant, The Magnolia Table, but with less than a third of the wait time. I got the avocado toast from their food truck and while $8 is a bit hefty, it was also the best avocado toast I’ve ever had, TBH. So take that however you want. If you have the time/desire to wait for a seat at The Magnolia Table, it’s worth it. You can technically leave the restaurant while you wait (check out Spice Market downtown or go back to the market!)  which makes the long wait bearable. You absolutely must get there early if you want to eat there- the waitlist often is closed off by noon. The Magnolia Table also has a takeaway market with some of their products and grab-n-go food which makes a picnic or road-tripping back home easy and delicious. At the restaurant I ordered the skillet oatmeal and it was super satisfying. The pancakes, pastries, and hash-browns are all also worth ordering and very tasty. If you’re looking to grab food somewhere else in Waco, the Health Shack (definitely a sarcastic choice) and Bubba’s are two good options nearby that are also pretty budget-friendly.

Cost

Visiting Magnolia Market is definitely worth it, but it isn’t exactly the cheapest. While admission and parking are free, souvenirs and food in the market itself can set you back quite a bit of money. However, if you plan ahead and eat some meals/snacks outside of the market you won’t spend as much on food. Buying souvenirs at Spice Market is also an alternative to the pricier items at the shops on the market grounds. That being said, whether you’re a mega-fan of “Fixer Upper” or just looking for an eye-pleasing couples/friend getaway- Magnolia Market is definitely worth it.

How to Keep a Positive Mindset in the Face of Stress

If you’re like me, not only are you a full time student, but you’re also juggling a job, being involved in organizations, homework, creative projects and somehow finding the time to have some iota of a social life. College, really just life in general, is rough and the stigma around mental health makes it all the more difficult to face. In case you’re unfamiliar with the topic, mental health is somewhat taboo in most social situations so people tend to put it on the back-burner.

To quote the words of a popular Vine, “That is not correct”. Our mental health is just as important as our physical health, if not more so. We all have issues that we’re doing our best to conquer on our own. (And you go, queen, you’re doing great.) But just in case you think you need some advice or help from someone who is struggling through the same thing, here are some tips that help me to get through those especially rough days.

Make a list; of things that matter and things that don’t, of things you’re thankful for, of things you know you want to change.

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I know it sounds cheesy. But I did this my freshman year, when I was feeling especially overwhelmed for the first time and it helped me to take a deep breath, both mentally and physically. I made a list of all the good things in my life and all the things that weren’t going too well for me. Then I went through the latter list and wrote out why they weren’t important or how I could make those things better. This could go downhill very quickly so be sure to pay more attention to the happier list and not put too much importance on the troublesome list. Or, better yet, only make a happy list. I’m personally more of a realist so I like to consider both sides but if you’d rather look at the optimistic side of things, you do you, boo.

Take some time for yourself

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It’s hard to get away from responsibilities. For some people, i.e. me, it’s hard to say no when people ask you to do things so you end up with too many rolls on your metaphorical plate. However, it’s important to take care of yourself as well as others. Take some time out of the day, or at the very least once a week, to do something for yourself. It could be as simple as taking a break from homework to having a bubble bath and reading your favorite book while a face mask soaks your skin with all kinds of moisturizers. Is it obvious which one I’m fantasizing about more?

Surround yourself with things you love

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Because so much time out of the day is dedicated to schoolwork/things we have to do, I think surrounding yourself with things you love when you can becomes even more important. By this, I mean that you should find things that bring you more joy than anything else. If you’re stuck in an organization that only stresses you out, maybe it’s time to find another place to spend your time. If you’re in a relationship that doesn’t make you happy, maybe it’s time to move on. And this doesn’t have to involve people; in fact, sometimes the things you’re surrounding yourself with aren’t people at all. If you want to go to your room, close the door and read books for hours on end, then that’s what you need to do. Not wanting to be around people is completely normal and is something I find myself wanting often. Although, it is important to note that you should be careful not to push away people that care about you. There are ways to be alone that don’t hurt those who want to spend time with you. It’s all about communication and letting them know that it’s not them, it’s you. Unless you’re breaking up with someone…then you should never use that line.

Exercise, exercise, exercise

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Trust and believe that I know how awful this sounds. I hardly have time to exercise, let alone want to. My mom always told me to do this in high school and I blew her off due to the simple fact that I didn’t want to. However, now it’s one of the most effective strategies I use to battle anxiety and stress. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, exercise and other physical activities reduce fatigue, improve alertness and concentration, and enhance overall cognitive function. It doesn’t even have to be as time consuming as going to the gym; meditation, going for a walk, even just taking a really deep breath is enough to release those sweet, sweet endorphins. One of my best friends does yoga right after she wakes up and she swears by it. It’s not about having the time but about making the time.

*My Chemical Romance voice* Sing it for the boys, sing it for the girls…

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SINGING! Jamming is the best form of self-healing. Unfortunately, I don’t have any reliable statistics to back up this theory. But I have years and years of personal experience that I could share, if you cared enough to ask. Blasting your favorite songs and belting out the lyrics either in the car, with your friends, or whilst performing in the shower is one of the easiest and most fun ways to occupy your time and your mind. Or, if you ever need a good cry, create a sad playlist (or you can use mine) and cry out every failed test, dead pet and broken heart you’ve ever had. You’ll feel much better afterwards. My roommates think I’m crazy for suggesting it but it’s therapeutic to me.

Find some time to get sh*t done

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It sounds simple but it’s really not. We get overwhelmed and flustered and then, next thing we know, our eyes burst open at 2 o’clock in the morning because we forgot about that essay that’s due tomorrow. So, find some time in the day to sit down and feel productive. It can be as easy as sitting in the Union and cracking out a few emails or writing your thesis for that paper you’re dreading. Hopefully this will make you feel more confident in your work and inspire you to continue your progress when you get home. But, if not, it’s a way to justify binging Game of Thrones when you should be working on homework.

Watch your favorite movie/tv show

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I’m a film major so I’m fairly biased when it comes to this. However, transparency aside, it’s hard to overthink when you’re not thinking about anything at all. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, sit down, put on your favorite movie and let the actors take you away. My particular favorite is when you decide to watch a movie from your childhood. That’s when the nostalgia hits you in the gut. But it’s a love punch so it doesn’t hurt.

Find healthier outlets that don’t involve mind-altering substances

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You know the saying: say nope to dope. This is definitely not to shame anyone who decides to partake but if you’re dealing with stress or anxiety, it’s really not a good idea. A popular myth is that some drugs, such as marijuana and alcohol, help you to forget about your problems and just make you feel g o o d. The truth of the matter is that these things can make you feel better for a short period of time but in the end, you just feel worse than before you started. It may be tempting but it’s always better to just say nay. Instead, have a talk with some friends or try any of the other tips on the list before resorting to this option.

Write

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Again, I have no statistic to back this up and this is completely a subjective opinion because I personally use the title of “writer” to describe myself. However, there is a reason that every cheesy teen pic has a character that keeps a diary. Writing out your feelings helps you to sort out your inner workings. Not to mention, writing is fun. Keep a daily journal, either by writing or typing, and chronicle your day in the life. You can write about anything you want, from what you had for breakfast to which professor you have a crush on this semester. What better person to vent to besides yourself?

Find a puppy. Or a cat. Or a giant lizard.

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Finally, there is my personal favorite: PUPPIES! If you’re like me, you had to leave your dogs back at home and from time to time, you go through dog withdrawal while at school. The easiest cure for this is to find a pup to love on in their absence. You could find a family member or friend to dog sit for or you could even volunteer at a local shelter, if you have the time. Regardless, it’s hard to be upset when you’re loving on a cuddly mammal. Dogs are support animals for a reason. Of course, not everyone is a dog person. This is also applicable to cats, birds, hamsters and, if you’re like my roommate, giant lizards. Animals are almost always better company than people anyway.

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As much as I want them to be, none of this advice is foolproof. Life is hard and sometimes it takes more than advice from a 20-year-old to help you feel better. Please, check out these links if you’re going through a rough time and are in need of professional help. Remember: you are not alone and you are loved. You’re doing the best you can.

Suicide Prevention Hotline

Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

National Institute of Mental Health

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Featured image courtesy of  Pexels