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Farewell Maastricht!

The Beautiful Maastricht Skyline

These past few months studying abroad have been somewhat like a dream. I had the opportunity to travel to multiple countries. I got to experience and appreciate very historical artworks throughout Europe. Works of art that I would have never thought I would be able to personally experience so soon in real life! I have definitely been blessed with the opportunity many dream about. It was soooo amazing to immerse myself into the culture of the different countries I had the privilege of visiting; rich with their traditions, way of life, bomb local food and the lesson to be learned from my experiences there. 

Although in the beginning of my study abroad experience in Maastricht it was a bit rocky and emotionally challenging, in the end Maastricht kind of grew on me. I will miss this little medieval town with its cobblestone streets, winding roads, fresh clean air, bikes everywhere and bomb authentic Italian pizza at Piano B! I am truly thankful I had the opportunity and privilege of studying Psychology and Neuroscience at Maastricht University. Aside from traveling around to different countries and experiencing different cultures my highlight of studying abroad was the actual studying.

At the Center for European Studies at Maastricht University

Learning about the different underlining mechanisms of the development of the human brain I feel has left the most impact on me.

I grew up experiencing extreme poverty, trauma, violence, adverse effects from incarceration and solitary confinement, being drugged with psychotropic medications during the crucial time in my development, learning to navigate the juvenile justice and foster care systems, and learning to overcome the challenges that come with rebuilding my life after leaving the system.

It all has shaped the pathways of my brain which in return influences my behavior, the way I perceive the world and how I conduct myself in it. Learning about the development of the human brain, specifically experience-dependent and experience-expectant processes, has really inspired me to journey deeper within to uncover the unhealed parts of myself and to begin to really do the work in understanding my psychological, emotional, and behavioral processes so that I could begin to heal and correct myself where needed, put the conscious effort to forming new neurological pathways, and really embracing the intention of learning to transform all the negatives of my life into something positive not just for myself but also to help others find healing, purpose, and passion.

I strive to heal myself and gain all the knowledge I can so that I could help others find healing and I can create a comprehensive art therapy treatment plan that will really help to address the deficits in neurological development due to experiencing complex traumas among other adverse childhood experiences and learning to rewire neurological pathways.

For my Developmental Neuropsychology class I chose to do my final research project on the effects of solitary confinement on the developing brain; which has really motivated me to continue to research in this area.

I feel compelled to contribute to the understanding of the effects of incarceration, solitary confinement, trauma, and other adversities on the developing brain. I plan to continue to conduct research in this area which will help me to better understand myself, others, and manifest healing, compassion, resilience and understanding.

Streets of Maastricht

Being abroad and viewing everything that was going on back home really also helped to put things in perspective for me. It’s hard to really grasp society in the states when you’re in the thick of it but being abroad and kind of having this new perspective from the outside really helped me to reflect on the world we’re living in back home in the US.

Being abroad I could see how people could live in peace among each other. Now I do understand the majority of the culture is homogenous but little differences like the police treating people with respect and humanity, the lack of unnecessary policing, the lack of violence, the collective environmental consciousness, this collective purpose to growth, understanding, kindness and compassion. It’s beautiful but it also made me realize how chaotic it is back home, how divided we are and continue to be, the raising violence, the crucial need for unity, change, education, humanity, understanding, kindness, respect and compassion.

Experiencing this revelation has really helped to add fuel to my fire, it has really helped motivate me to continue to be the change I wish to see in the world, to continue on this path, putting in the work, being the example that it’s possible to heal, to change, to grow, to defy the odds and make it out the hood, to learn, to be resilient and empower oneself and others.

It really helped ignite my light to burn brighter to fight for what is right, to fight for a future where we live in a world of acceptance, understanding, compassion, diversity, inclusion and treating each other with common humanity. I believe this is a possible reality and I will continue to fight for this, beginning with my own life and branching out to others watering eachother’s seeds along the way.

It’s definitely been a growing, learning, introspective, challenging, educating, free, fun, live in the moment, once in a lifetime experience out here.

I am excited to continue to evolve on my path in life, growing everyday into the person I am meant to become living the purpose I am meant to fulfill with the impact I am destined to make.

Thank you for joining me on this journey abroad, so much more to come as I now head off to Washington D.C. for a quarter where I will study International Development while interning at the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth learning the political side of the Juvenile Justice System while contributing to the abolishment of life without parole sentences for youth.

I am forever grateful for these experiences. Thank you to all who has supported me on this journey, thank you to the higher power that is greater than myself, thank you to my love ones, thank you for this purpose in life for the opportunity to transform all the negativity into something positive not just for myself but for all I cross paths with.

Farewell Maastricht!

Adventures in The Netherlands (Holland)

Entrance to the Magisch Maastricht holiday event

Magisch Maastricht!

This week was full of adventure! My study abroad friends and I got to check out the holiday event celebration that they hold every year here in Vrijhof. They are so festive out here and when I say festive I mean FESTIVE! Lights everywhere when I say lights I don’t mean just multicolored Christmas light I mean intricate structures with lights wrapped around them. Arches made of lights through the streets, a huge tree in the middle of the Markt, and at the holiday festival they had a huge star made of lights, one of the entrances had a huge ornament ball structure made of lights! The little festival was like a Christmas fair there was a Ferris wheel with a beautiful view of Maastricht and surrounding areas, I got to snap a beautiful picture of the sun setting from the top of the Ferris wheel. There was also ice skating which we got to do it was kind of different than the ice skating back home mostly tho because there was a huge Christmas tree right in the middle of the ice rink. It was actually really cool though because there was also these little animal sleighs so I was pushing my friend on one while we skated around it was so fun! 

We all got some hot coco and hung out enjoying the moment and our adventure coming to an end soon. It has been such an awesome adventure and it’s not over yet still some time left to enjoy!!

Amsterdam Light Festival!

I had the opportunity to travel to the beautiful city of AMSTERDAM for the Light Festival! If you can’t tell by now I am a BIG fan of lights!! I love lights so much and sculptures made out of lights is even better!! This years theme is extra special as artists made pieces that depict the ways in which humans are disrupting our natural environment. The name of this years theme is DISRUPT! There was a piece called Atlantis which consisted of different little constructed buildings from some of the biggest cities in the U.S. It wasn’t just the structures themselves that made it interesting. The structure was constructed literally in one of the canals as if the little mini city was slowly becoming submerged in water, a fate that is all too real with the rising in sea levels due to climate change. There was also a piece constructed in a canal with submerged structures of cars and street lights as if the canal was once a street that had become flooded and now was abandoned submerged in water. My favorite was a piece called Nothing Holding Us Back it was a bunch of LED light tubes arranged in a way that made it look like it was an explosion of light! It was so cool it was also raining that night so the water particles in the air was soaking up the light it made it look even more explosive! I really loved that piece. There was another piece called Order/Disorder it was different hoses constructed to look like rings of Saturn or Jupiter rotating like the delicate processes of an atom. It was really cool I loved the construction and tho it did move when the wind was blowing unfortunately it wasn’t working as planned so the rings were not rotating regardless it was cool!

I really admire all the pieces they were so beautiful and I loved the theme it was an overall good experience, check out the pics for the other awesome light structures I got to see!!

Brain Dissection Before a Weekend Adventure in Copenhagen

Outside gate of one of the Maastricht University buildings where I have my classes

After spending a few days super sick I finally am able to share my adventures from last week!

Sheep Brain Dissection

Sheep Brain Dissection

After spending a few days super sick I finally am able to share my adventures from last week!

This week for my Developmental Neuropsychology class we had a field trip to the Neuroscience labs for our practical. The practical consisted of the dissection of a sheep brain where we were able to see the different structures inside the brain and learn how to make different incisions and different “slices” of the brain.

I really love my Developmental Neuropsychology class, the brain to me is such an interesting part of the human body that makes us uniquely highly intellectual beings the way that we are. The brain is such a beautiful organ and just the whole electrical and chemical processes within these structures that make up our movements, cognitive processes, physiological responses, emotional response and just the overall function of our bodies is amazing.

Learning about the brain has been both empowering and a bit discouraging at the same time. My class is about the developmental processes of the human brain and its functions as well as learning about the different ways the human brain can be altered or adversely affected.

I have decided to focus on the effects of solitary confinement on the adolescent brain mainly how solitary confinement can alter the structure and function of the human brain. I will go more into detail about this when sharing about my final project.

Adventures in Copenhagen

Me and Green George in Christiania, Freedom Town

This past weekend I had the opportunity to take a solo trip to explore Copenhagen. I was drawn to this beautiful city to venture out and find the Forgotten Giants which are works of art constructed entirely out of recycled wood by Thomas Dambo and volunteers. This giants are dispersed all around the different municipalities of Copenhagen. I was able to find one Forgotten Giant in this trip, Green George, as they are all very spaced out from each other.

I LOVE ART and the different artistic creations made by different people from all different walks of life. This big guy Green George I feel represents the beauty and distraction of nature at the hands of humans and the power of Mother Nature.

Freedom Town: Christiania

The big art lover that I am always inspires me everywhere I have the opportunity to explore to always try and find the art scene. The art works made by local artists and the expressions of their souls manifested through a physical representation for others to connect with and admire.

The beautiful neighborhood of Christiania also dubbed Freedom Town was just that a town so free and full of art I felt so at home!

There was art of everywhere! Art filled buildings inside and art there was a beautiful art gallery that I visited and picked up a few art pieces at. I loved Christiania so much I visited 3 different times! I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to explore and really get to experience and immerse myself in the Danish culture. I hope to have the opportunity in the future to visit once again beautiful Christiania!

Night Adventures in Tivoli

The night before my departure I visited one of the most beautiful amusement parks I have ever been to!

I am a BIG FAN of lights especially when the whole amusement park was FULL OF LIGHTS everywhere on buildings, the rides, the hallways it was such a magical experience! It really felt like the holiday spirit just embodied in that little piece of heaven!! 

Not only did I get to venture around exploring this beautiful park but I got to capture such beautiful moments with my film camera that I am looking forward to developing back home!

It was great being able to take a weekend to explore before beginning on my final projects next week and getting ready for my last final exams here in Maastricht before heading back home. 

Came across this beautiful work of art on a busy Copenhagen street

More to come next week!

Always Transcending

On the Charles Bridge in Prague, Czech Republic

Right now I am on a bus on the way to Brussels Charleroi airport heading to Copenhagen, Denmark. Studying abroad in the Netherlands, Maastricht specifically with it’s ideal location, I have had the opportunity to travel to places I only dreamed of when I was growing up.

This whole experience has also allowed me the space to grow more deeply. I’ve been here for about 3 months now and I have 1 left to go. I think about now I am a bit adjusted to living and going to school out here but interpersonally I feel the distance and solitude has propelled me into deeper depths of my soul. Combined with the neuroscience classes I am taking, the power of this knowledge is transitioning me to the next level of my growth.

Though I cannot attribute the magnitude of this inner journey to solely my new experiences here.

The impact of growing up incarcerated, being in solitary confinement before I was even a teenager, being drugged with psychotropic medications, locked in camps and group homes, and surviving on the streets all when I was just a little kid has its affect on who I am and who I am growing into being.

Everything I experienced growing up really impacted my brain that now as an adult I am beginning to understand just how severely it all has affected me and my development.

Studying neuroscience and the brain has affirmed what I can physically feel, my development and brain has been altered resulting in my brain functioning being altered.

With this knowledge comes both sadness and happiness.

Sad, because I hurt for my young self in having to endure all I did which has left my brain to function not as where it could have been if my development wasn’t disturbed.

Happy, because I am finally putting a cause, an understanding on why my brain is the way it is, why at times my past comes back to torment me, why at times I relive the trauma so vividly as if it just happened, why I feel everything so deeply and extreme, why I feel this deep immense pain, but also the key to begin to free myself from these negative life changing effects of growing up the way I did.

In the midst of all these revelations and moments of transcendence I’m hit with the guilt and pain of not being able to be with and help my family right now.

Since being abroad I’ve lost a childhood friend to murder, my aunt just passed away last weekend, and my cousin is missing. I’m so far from home as all this is going on all I can do is talk on the phone and provide any support that I can.

I feel helpless and triggered by everything that is happening in real time back home, with my family and love ones as I’m out here traveling the world living abroad, studying here and making the most out of my experience.

I have mixed feelings about where I am right now in my life.

I’m so proud of myself for taking all the negatives in my life and transmuting them into something positive. Something that’s not only amazing in my own life but inspiring to those who come from where I come from. That change is possible, that redemption, healing, growth and transcendence is possible.

It just takes a lot of hard work, dedication, sacrifice, passion and a deep belief in yourself and your worth to make transformational change really happen that inspires others to do the same.

Now on the other hand I feel guilty, alone, and I hurt for all my love ones that are still tryna grow up out of the concrete, all my love ones I’ve lost to the streets and the system while I’ve been defying the odds on so many different levels.

I remind myself that my purpose in life is for a purpose that is greater than myself. There’s a reason I made it this far, a reason why I have the kind heart, open mind and strong soul that I have.

I must live, learn, grow and flourish for those who never got the chance to and lead the way for those still trying to find their own.

In order to manifest real change we must first change within ourselves and as we heal and change it’s imperative that we help those around us heal and evolve as well.

Only then can we really break the cycle that statistically tries to define why I shouldn’t be where I am today but against all odds here I am.

Just a moment of reflection.

Adventures in Pula

Pula Arena

This week I joined some of my fellow study abroad mates in an adventure to Pula, Croatia! We took the trip to celebrate a birthday and ended up on an excursion.

When we were first arriving in Croatia still in the plane high above the clouds we could see so much of the land. Alarming though was as we got closer to the airport we could see in the distance what looked like a black island a bit offshore from the mainland.

Unfortunately, that was not a black sanded island but it was actually a huge collection of oil. So sad as I realized it was an oil spill I was actually looking at. My heart felt for all the life forms effected by that spill. Theres no telling how long that spill has been going on I could only imagine what negative effects this has been having on the beautiful land. It was like a reminder to the realization of the effects of climate change and he role humans have played in not only our contribution but in the acceleration in its process. 

I find myself traveling to this beautiful land with only positive thoughts in mind coming to the realization that want makes this land so beautiful we are slowly winning by our bad contributions. 

I couldn’t help but think about all the animals that were suffering tremendously because of this spill and in return the neighbor people who call this area their home are suffering as well.

Not going to lie this weighed heavy on my mind for most of the trip and still is weighing heavy on my mind as I am back in Maastricht now writing this.

Countryside Stays

After we landed and made our way to our accommodation which was in a beautiful part of the countryside a little town called Vinkuran. After getting settled in we got ready to venture out into the land around us immersing ourselves in the culture of Pula. 

Pula at Night

Our first stop was the colosseum influenced by the Roman arena that has been around for centuries. We decided to take a little tour of the arena and their underground museum where we learned that the arena itself has been standing for longer than 2000 years! Making it the oldest of its kind! It’s amazing that structures like this one has survived this long and is a constant reminder of the history of the people and the land.

We also found other historical sites as our night adventure continued.

Kayaking Around the Island

The following day we had planned to go kayaking around the island of Pula. We came during the off season so there was not a lot of people around. As we ventured off to explore the surrounding area of the island we were greeted by a group of beautiful dolphins. The dolphins took their time swimming by us it was truly a beautiful sight. Our guide for the excursion let is know that it was a rare sighting to see the dolphins there and it was interpreted locally as being good luck. It was truly a beautiful experience that I will always remember. It was a reminder how beautiful our earth is, how beautiful life is, how beautiful that moment was and just to be thankful for all my blessings. 

We continued to our destination which was a beautiful cave which we kayaked through it was so cool. The water was so clear and serene and a breathtaking experience.

Farewell Croatia

The next day before flying out we took one more excursion through the city center to pick up a few souvenirs and we came across this really cool store that was selling handmade masks as an artist I love supporting other artists and contributing to their craft so I bought one for myself and a matching one for my partner. 

It was a beautiful weekend adventure a nice break from all our hard work as we get ready to go into our first round of finals.

I feel absolutely blessed to be able to travel and share these experiences with other awesome people. 

Ciao Italia!

The View of Roma from the Medici Villa

This past week my friend and I had the opportunity to travel to Italy. Such a beautiful city filled with so much history, culture and beauty!

It always amazes me how cities like Rome have been able to preserve their culture and architecture from the ancient times. It was definitely an awesome experience to immerse myself in this culture that was so unique. Everyone was showing love and had this lighthearted vibe about themselves. It was really awesome to travel, explore, and vibe with other awesome kind hearted souls.


We spent our time in Italy traveling the streets of Rome immersing ourselves in the unique Roma culture.

As we ventured through the narrow cobble stone streets of Roma we set out on an adventure to experience all the historical landmarks like the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain.

The Colosseum with its massive perimeter was actually less exciting than I would have imagined it to be. I couldn’t help but think of all the countless people who were murdered for sport or the countless people who died fighting for their freedom; literally the grounds we walked on stained with their blood.

As I walked around thinking about what it was like to have lived during the time of this great Roman Empire I thought to myself its quite interesting to reflect on the people, myself included, that flock to sites like this one just to get a glimpse of something that seems more real in our imagination than in real life. It was definitely urging me to really think about what is important in life. Funny I would be thinking of that at that point in time but it just really made me reflect on human capability to manifest both good and evil. Our potential to create positive innovation if we focus our energy towards doing so.

As night fell we found ourself venturing towards the Trevi Fountain a beautiful sight I would recommend visiting at night when it is all lit up! Truly breathtaking and yes I threw in a coin and made a wish!

Roman Forum

Next to the Colosseum was the great Roman Forum. This site to my surprise was actually quite amazing compared to the Colosseum itself. The area itself was massive and to me it was like what was left of what was once a great Roman city. Most of the buildings which were built hundreds of years ago still stood almost complete, though the majority was still in ruins.

As we explored the ruins of this once great city I couldn’t help but reflect on human technological advances. It’s amazing how advanced our civilization is today compared to the times of the Roman Empire. I was standing on land that in a different time was where people would flock to voice their opinions, to debate, to converse with other like minded individuals; it was a place where ideas were explored and advancements were created. Today, most of us walk around with a mini computer in our pockets connected to a World Wide Web where we can voice our opinions on many different platforms at the touch of a button. It was just amazing to think about how far we have evolved as a human civilization.

It is amazing to think about human capability and where human creation can take us.

The Vatican

Visiting the Vatican in real life is a completely different experience than seeing Vatican City in movies or in pictures. The Vatican has a more preserved sense of culture than I expected. It’s like this little city has remained the same for the majority of its existence.

The one place we spent the most time in was the Vatican Museum where we were able to admire a variety of artworks. We got to see centuries old paintings, tapestries, some of the first maps created, and sculptures that lasted through many different battles. It was definitely a unique experience the Vatican Museum is so huge and very intricate. Nothing compares to the ceiling art of the Vatican SO AMAZING! It’s unreal to think how the art within the walls and the art of the building itself has lasted as long as it has. It was just breathtaking.

The highlight of the museum was at the end when we exited the museum through the Sistine Chapel. Now that was truly more amazing to see in person than in pictures. The art on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel cannot be described to its honor it is an experience that must be lived in person. I can say that I am truly thankful to have been able to experience the art and history preserved in the walls of the Vatican Museum.

Villa Medici

The last place we visited while in Rome was the Medici Villa. Now that place was crazy huge I honestly cannot believe there’s a family that owed all that property and had such an influence on Roman life for so many years. All throughout the property there was marble stone carvings of statues of members of the Medici bloodline. Though I will say it was quite interesting to see the craftsmanship of the statues reflected through the different eras in which they were created.

On the way back to our accommodation my friend and I grabbed some dinner at a little place on the corner of what seemed like a busy intersection. I ended up befriending a man who was experiencing homelessness and lived on the streets of Rome. We had a long conversation in three different languages: French, Italian and Spanish. At the end of our conversation I ended up buying him dinner and he reminded me of our common humanity how no matter what country, class, race we are from we are all different souls having a human experience. We are all connected in someway and we all have the power to make an impact in each others lives. That is why it is so important to strive to make a positive impact always you never know what effect may come out of being a good human being in the world and to each other.

Roma was definitely an experience I am thankful to be apart of. The more I travel to different countries with completely different cultures and way of life the more I feel a growing understanding of our unique differences and how we all together make contributions that create the human race; that is humanity.

Queer in Maastricht

Diverting a bit from my usual posts about my academics and travel adventures to talk about something a little deeper which has unexpectedly helped contribute to my growth here while abroad.

The first few days in a new place, let alone a new country, are always a bit uneasy feeling like you’re a bit out of your comfort zone. Well when I first got to Maastricht I of course had those feelings but when I began to explore the town more over the last few weeks I realized there was more to this uneasiness I was feeling.

I realized my queerness in a small town like Maastricht wasn’t something people encountered everyday. As I walked around the town exploring different stores sometimes it would be a face made at me and other times it would be the complete non-acknowledgement of my existence. At first I thought maybe it’s because people can tell I am not from the area but the more I encountered the same responses even with other international students I realized it was deeper than that.

Not going to lie when I began to realize this it was as if I was coming out again like it was the first time in a very long time that I felt uncomfortable in my queerness.

The time spent in that uncomfortable place processing things actually prompted me to do some self-reflection on why people’s judgements were even bothering me. Why was I worried about people’s judgements, people who I would probably never see again in my life.

This reflection helped me to look deeper into parts of myself that haven’t fully healed yet. It wasn’t about what people were thinking of me it is about what I think of me. It was about being unapologetically who I am because I know that I am a good person with a good heart and good intentions for others. If people want to make negative judgements of me because of what I look like or any other aspect of me they can because that doesn’t matter.

To me what matters is that I remain a good person to myself and to others. To keep manifesting my dreams and inspiring others to do the same because in life there are always going to be people who judge us, look down on us, who don’t believe in us but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that we believe in ourselves, we love and accept ourselves, we forgive ourselves for the mistakes we make, and keep striving to be a better person than we were the day before.

I write about this now because I feel I am in a place where I have processed and grown personally from my experiences so far both negative and positive. I want others, who might read this and relate, to know they are not alone in their journey, their struggles both internally and externally. We all can learn and grow. I am thankful for it all.

Everything we go through in life makes us who we are and I feel like it’s up to us to have a perspective on life that allows us to do so in a positive way.

Mindfulness Retreat and Bonjour Paris!!

Meditation Retreat

This week was a change from the normal class routine since we had a field trip for my positive psychology class. We attended a meditation center in Maastricht for a meditation retreat. It was actually very helpful not only in my studies but personally as well. We spent the class duration practicing meditation, body scanning and sharing our reflections bringing us back into the moment. I really liked how our instructor wanted us to go on a field trip to practice meditation. I feel it helped to support what we were learning on mindfulness practices and third wave therapies to really solidify the knowledge on this new approach. I feel attending the retreat also helped with centering myself and being able to take a moment to reflect on my journey this far and really just be in a state of immense gratitude for everything, for my life, for my love ones, for my purpose, for all my blessings.

I really enjoy this more holistic approach to the field of psychology. I feel positive psychology and third-wave therapies really give this room for creation for innovation in utilizing positive psychology in both the clinical setting and in our own personal lives.

Exploring Paris

One of the awesome parts about studying in Maastricht is that it is so close to so many other countries making it really easy to get around! This week I was able to travel to the beautiful city of Paris! Growing up you see the iconic Eiffel Tower and hear all these stories about Paris but it’s a whole different experience to really travel to Paris and explore the city yourself!

When I travel to places I love to sightsee, explore nature and admire the unique artworks in the local museums. Paris is like a city full of gold, for art, so many beautiful museums with SO MANY works of art. There are so many that it would take at least a whole day to really explore all the artworks in one museum.

Starting off on the journey to explore Paris’ museums the first part was learning to ride the transit system. Very similar to New York Paris has a metro system that can get you to almost every corner of the city first stop the Picasso Museum.

Picasso Museum

The Picasso Museum was full of more artworks by Picasso than I have ever seen in my life. Growing up I loved the artworks by Picasso I loved the way his work was depicting an imagine but in a sort of distorted way. Unfortunately, after learning more about Picasso’s history I came to learn that a lot of Picasso’s artworks were not unique to his mind, a lot of his work was adopted from traditional African art with his own little twist on it. Now I am all for being influenced by others but credit needs to be given where it is due and I feel that Picasso did not honor that in taking something and naming it to be from his unique creativity.

So it was cool checking out Picasso’s art but even more to learn a deeper history and a new perspective on art and cultural appropriation.

Musee du Louvre

The Louvre was such a HUGE museum this is one of those museums that you need a whole day to really explore and see all the different exhibitions and take in all the history of the art. I didn’t get to see the whole museum because of time constraints but from what I did get to explore it was really cool to experience works of art in person that I learned about growing up. Artworks like the Mona Lisa and the sculpture of Aphrodite growing up you hear the history of these works of art and the artists who created them it was a bit nostalgic to be there in person physically experiencing these works of art. It is always so amazing to me how these works of art are still here for the world to see after hundreds of years.

I would definitely have to come back to really explore the whole museum. A trip I look forwarded to making in the future!

Immersive Van Gogh Art Exhibition

The Van Gogh immersive art experience was definitely the highlight of my museum adventures. I am a HUGE fan of Van Gogh I connect with his artwork on so many levels, I can really feel the emotions in his texture brushstrokes that’s why his art has been such a big influence on me as a person and as an artist.

This exhibition was AMAZING to say the least so many Van Gogh artworks were projected on the walls in this pitch dark warehouse room. Not only were his artworks projected but they were also edited to come alive and move simultaneously to the music of choice, mostly classical, it was definitely an amazing experience and opportunity I can’t wait to see more artworks by Van Gogh while I am out here. Van Gogh was a dutch artist so studying and exploring his homeland is definitely a great privilege for me.

I look forward to exploring more of the different European countries and immerse myself into the different cultures that come with the experience of exploring Europe.

I feel I have grown so much since being out here both in my academics and in my personal life. Being out here and exploring other places has given me this time to really reflect on my journey, where I come from, where I am going, and the unique beauty of differences that is needed in the world. It’s like the world is a big masterpiece and all the different people with their different cultures, traditions, way of life paints a beautiful unique painting that without the diversity would not make it what it is today: humanity. Feeling blessed!

You can’t travel abroad without traveling around!

Venturing through neighboring country Belgium

So far my study abroad experience has been quite the adventure! Not only have I started my academic program at the Psychology and Neuroscience Department but I have also had the opportunity to travel to Belgium this week.

I feel like one of the best things about studying out here in Europe is their transit system. The transit system in my opinion is way better than back home. I was able to travel to Brussels, Belgium for the day, explore around and travel back to Maastricht way smoother than I was expecting.

Journeying through Belgium

On the way to Brussels we must first stop in Liege, Belgium; well actually if you plan to travel anywhere south or east of Maastricht you have to transfer through Liege.

Liege is actually a beautiful little city with a river running right through the middle. We actually stayed while and walked around Liege. Liege is full of intricate structures and reminds me a bit of San Francisco with all the modern architecture. Definitely looking forward to exploring more of Liege next time I stop through soon way to travel to a new place in Europe!

The Grand Plaza of Brussels Central

Made it to Brussels Central! After a nice train ride through the country side we made our way to the heart on Belgium!

Brussels is such a beautiful place! Unfortunately we came on a day where all the museums were closed but it did not stop us from exploring around checking everything out. The architecture in Brussels is so beautiful reminds me of Gothic style architecture with a bit of Roman style architecture it was all quite beautiful. We passed by this huge beautiful church that was actually one of the oldest churches in the area! Inside was so beautiful and the stained glass windows amazing! Definitely a treat to check out the beautiful art hidden within the city. We also traveled through the narrow roads checking out all the different restaurants and little shops we even stopped to enjoy a traditional Belgium meal.

We explored around the grand plaza through the heart of Brussels and WOW it was so beautiful! It was really amazing to see all the history preserved in this beautiful little piece of Belgium. It was really awesome to explore and experience the Belgium culture traveling through the cobblestone paths taking it all in. Next time I will have to come back when all the museums are open so I can check out the beautiful Belgium art!

Before heading back to Maastricht we stopped at a lil chocolate shop to pick ourselves up some yummy Belgium chocolates. They are so good! The truffles are my favorite. I will definitely be making a trip back to Brussels before heading home so I can bring back some yummy Belgium chocolates for my family and friends. Have to share this awesomeness with others!!

I look forward to exploring more of Brussels and Belgium next time I travel out this way! I definitely need to come back and travel more maybe even stay a night!

The Beginning of my Journey at Maastricht University

Made it through introduction week at the Psychology and Neuroscience Department at Maastricht University! Introduction week at Maastricht University was definitely not like introduction week back home! In the first welcome meeting with all the psychology and neuroscience students they put on a show for us! A professor came out in a full dutch culture outfit and proceeded to entertain us while welcoming us along side a pianist who would occasionally play a song about psychology and the brain definitely a treat! It was definitely a welcome I was not expecting. For the rest of the welcome week we had various learning sessions about using the library and student portal but the core of it was learning about Problem Based Learning which is how they learn here in The Netherlands. It is completely different than back home where students become the teacher in a group atmosphere.

This is definitely going to be a learning and growing experience both academically and personally. Let’s go!!

Semester Courses: First Block

As part of the psychology and neuroscience program here at Maastricht University I have the opportunity to choose from a list of various psychology and neuroscience courses that many are not offered at my home institution.

My favorite course so far is my positive psychology course with an awesome professor who is such a beautiful human being! The positive psychology course is actually one of the courses that drew me to participating in the psychology and neuroscience program out here Maastricht. I am looking forward to learning more about third-wave therapies, mindfulness practices, and different theoretical approaches that contribute to the growing field of positive psychology.

I am VERY passionate about positive psychology. Growing up as a ward of the court I spent my whole adolescence learning to navigate the juvenile justice system, the child welfare system, and learning to navigate through and understand the trauma I endured from growing up in the streets and experiencing all that I have been through. While in the system I was subjected to various psychological evaluations starting at age 13. After the first psych eval I was court ordered to take psychotropic medications to “fix” a diagnosis I was labeled with after only a 3 hour evaluation. A label that would follow me throughout my time in the system and beyond. I was looked at as if I was broken that my very essence was something that only needed to be fixed. I underwent extensive therapy that was only aimed at “fixing” the disease, at “fixing” the broken parts of myself. I was court order to participate in so much of this “fixing” therapy; group therapy, individual therapy, family therapy you name it I most likely did it.

Now I am not knocking therapy when I was first released from the system, now an adult, I sought therapy to help me work on my inner troubles, to start my healing processes and it really helped me to begin my inner work on healing myself from generational trauma, from the trauma I endured growing up how I grew up in the streets and in the system and I began to learn to love myself, love my struggle, and manifest this desire this passion to transmute all the negatives in my life into something positive to help others.

I have been drawn to positive psychology because it is rooted not on combating disease, not on only trying to “fix” what is perceived to be broken, but on acknowledging and strengthening the positives attributes, character strengths and unlimited power of our minds that we all possess. I really love this more spiritual holistic approach. Using the power of our minds, the power of mindfulness practices, the healing powers of art therapy, the beauty in unlocking our endless potential in learning to love ourselves, and learning to really build ourselves up has a power that I want to share with as many people as possible but first I must learn to do it in my own life.

The second course I am taking in the first block is Cognitive Enhancement I have actually never taken a course like this one but I feel that is all apart of this experience to be able to learn new material and utilize the courses I would not be able to back home. I am really looking forward to learning more about the brain and about the different techniques to enhance cognition.

This is still just the beginning of my adventure here in Maastricht so much more to take in and experience!