by Michelle Hockenbrocht
Just 10 weeks ago I moved to Orlando, Florida to intern at Market Colors. I really thought I’d become a member at the local library and spend my nights alone, reading. I prepared myself for a simple summer of reflection and I was okay with that. I thought that maybe I was supposed to learn to be content with few plans and solitude, a vast difference from my busy life at college. But actually, the very opposite happened. I was forced out of my a-safe-life-is-a-good-life mentality to experience life to the fullest. So, I stepped out of my comfort zone, meet some great people, and had so many chances to try some “firsts”. Because of the people I met, I enjoyed a summer full of experiences that I will never forget. I remember telling the Market Colors team that I wrote my social events with a pink pen at the beginning of my journey here. Now I look back with a grin at a pink-filled calendar trying to figure out how I fit all that I did into one summer. I’m thankful for the past 70 days of new, unexpected, and “laugh ‘til you cry” adventures. Here are a few of my most memorable experiences from this summer:
1. Went to a yoga class with Lizzie (let’s just say the instructor had to correct my less-than-graceful form at least once).
2. Danced the Bachata (a type of Latin dance) at a community center we found when walking around Lake Lilly one night.
3. Knocked on the door of a random apartment in hopes that a Young Life group was meeting there that night.
4. Learned how to cook from my wonderful host mom. Note: Put Zatarain’s Garlic & Herb Seasoning in anything and it will taste good.
5. Watched the premiere of the movie “The Song” coming out September 26th!
6. Went to Cru at UCF every night during their kick-off week. We ate cookie dough pancakes, played kickball, and sand volleyball.
7. Drove to DeLeon Springs and canoed alongside plenty of turtles, birds, and snakes in what appeared to be a forest out of Tarzan.
8. Flipped blueberry pancakes at the Old Spanish Sugar Mill. They definitely lived up to my expectations and were well worth the 3 hour wait.
9. Swam in two freshwater springs. Now, this is significant because I am not the best swimmer and these springs are DEEP and cold.
10. Hiked in Wekiwa Springs while it was pouring down rain. Although we got temporarily lost and completely drenched, it was a blast.
11. Sped to make the 4 o’clock boat tour around the lakes in Winter Park. We made a few Polish friends on the tour and saw the house where Mr. Rogers was filmed!
12. Zoomed in on the map on my phone and found Black Hammock. It is located on Lake Jesup with the largest alligator population in FL. My “let’s go for it” friend insisted on trying their famous fried alligator. With a smile I agreed (although secretly hesitant), I tried it. Surprisingly, it was pretty good!
13. Dressed up like a cow (my outfit included a black shirt, jeans, a white trash bag as a skirt, and black paper spots) on Cow Appreciation Day and got a free Chick-Fil-A!! Being from the North where we are deprived of Chick-Fil-A, this is a delicacy.
14. Blew a tire on the side of the highway and learned from that whole ordeal how to change a tire and that if you don’t have the right car jack, call for some help.
15. Touched a few stingrays at an aquarium and saw two bald-headed eagles.
16. Climbed the 203 steps up the Ponce de Leon Lighthouse to watch the sunset.
17. Drove to Tampa with my mentor and her kids to pick up my (third) car of the summer!
18. Explored multiple Disney Resorts and saw the fireworks every night we went (this was a weekly event on my calendar).
19. Watched my first comedy show at the Sak Comedy Lab in Downtown Orlando.
20. Became a regular at a pizza place called Lazy Moon after eating there at least 10 times with various ministry groups from UCF. Who knew that dipping pizza crust in honey is good?
What’s crazy is that these stories are only a select few from this summer. I never made it to the library. But that’s ok because I met new people, tried some amazing things (some not, but a good story), and had fun along the way. Thanks, Orlando, for the memories!