Friday, July 19, 2013

Elizabeth Returns!

One of our Member Service Representatives, Elizabeth D., recently returned from a six-month trip to South Africa where she studied abroad and embarked on all sorts of new experiences.  We thoroughly enjoyed following her adventures via email updates and pictures, and now that she’s back we asked her to share some of the highlights from her trip…

The hardest part about leaving SCFCU was…
Leaving an amazing work environment that was a part of my life almost every day and saying goodbye to co-workers for a long period of time.  

My first impression of South Africa was…
How similar it was to the U.S.! I was very surprised at how developed and westernized the country is. I also noticed their slightly British accents, which I loved!

My favorite food/treat I ate while I was there was…
Milk tart! It is a dessert that has a milky thick custard filling poured onto pie crust and sprinkled with cinnamon. Another favorite is Horlicks milkshake. Horlicks is a powder that can be mixed with ice cream and milk to create a malt and tastes like a blend of vanilla and cake batter, it is absolutely delicious. I have the recipe for the milk tart but I am determined to find Horlicks on Amazon.  

The craziest/most adventurous thing I did while there was… 

Bungee jump off of the highest commercial bungee bridge, the Bloukrans Bridge, at 216M.  I went skydiving and jumped out of a plane from 10,000 feet. I also went scuba diving and swam right next to a couple of ragged tooth sharks. 

The prettiest animal I saw was…
A leopard! I saw one for the first time in my life in South Africa at Kruger National Park. We were able to drive around the largest game reserve in Africa and to our luck we spotted a leopard in a tree devouring its recent kill, an impala. It was such a sight and the leopards coat looked absolutely beautiful!

My favorite part about everyday life in South Africa was…
You never knew what was going to happen; every day was a new experience. The people are extremely friendly and I was able to immerse myself into the culture and learn new things every day. I also became very well acquainted with the lingo there by naturally saying things like; ‘shame’ or ‘I’ll be there just nownow’, or ‘that’s dodgy’.  

While I was gone, I really started to miss… 
My car! I had to walk almost everywhere otherwise I would take the cheapest transportation available which were called Kombi’s. These vans were a bit ‘dodgy’ (sketchy) because they crammed several people into one vehicle but were also very fun because they played very loud music. All I have to say is luckily I always arrived to my destination.   

One thing I learned while on the trip was…

To not take certain commodities for granted. Conveniences that I easily accessed at home were sometimes not available in South Africa. I also know that in rural areas the villages lack basic resources such as clean water, a sewage system, and electricity.  

I’m surprised how much I miss…  
Living in Annie’s with the community of international students, the beach, the rugby games, traveling in jam packed cars and driving for up to 36 hours straight, and the South Africans!

The most exciting part about coming home was..
Seeing my baby sister, Avery, again! Prior to my departure she would only roll around and smile, then during my stay she began crawling, growing teeth, and speaking the cutest gibberish! I was extremely happy to see her and happily surprised that she remembered me!   

My words of wisdom now that I’m back are…
A life lesson I learned in South Africa and from the trip itself is that you will never know what you are capable of doing unless you give it a try. I realize now how much the world has to offer and the abundance of opportunities there are that any single individual can accomplish. Always strive for more and never settle for less.  

We are so happy that Elizabeth had a wonderful time in South Africa, but we sure are glad she’s back!  It is nice to have her warm smile and friendly personality in our Sartell office again, welcome home Elizabeth!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Summer Safety

Summer is here and in full swing! Safety and care for our Members and Community are always a priority for us at St. Cloud Federal Credit Union.  Below is a list of 7 Summer Safety tips ...

1. Monitor Swimming Time
An adult should actively watch children swimming at all times.  Even if you’re in a shallow area, accidents can happen and it’s always better to be safe rather than sorry.  For toddlers and smaller youngsters, it’s a good idea for an adult to be in the water within arms reach.  Keep track of how long children have been in the water so that you know when they might be getting tired, or if they need a break.

2. Keep Campfires to a Manageable Size
A fire is a fun way to spend a nice summer evening, but make sure you take necessary safety precautions.  Clear the area of any dry grass or branches so nothing will accidentally become ignited.  It’s also a good idea to check the weather before you begin your fire, so you’ll know if any wind is expected.  To be clear about where the campfire is, set a perimeter around the fire – blocks, bricks, or rocks work.  Make sure to keep your fire to a size that is manageable by an adult; bigger isn’t always better!

3. Apply Sunscreen and Reapply Often
We know there is a lot of praise for that summertime glow, but your skin is worth protecting.  The American Academy of Dermatology recommends applying sunscreen with at least 30 SPF 15-30 minutes before you step outside.  Remember, it is also important to apply sunscreen even on a cloudy day!

4. Store food and snacks at proper temperatures
With rising temperatures, it can be hard to keep snacks, picnics, and camp food at proper temperatures.  Plan out treats and meals wisely so that you don’t have to question whether or not what you’ve packed is safe to eat.  Make sure you’ve packed any raw meat separate from ready-to-eat food and snacks so nothing is cross-contaminated.  A good tip is to use an adequate sized cooler for your food; a fuller cooler stays cold longer than a half-full cooler.  Oh, and remember to bring a meat thermometer for grilling!

5. Use Seat Belts, Helmets, and Life Jackets
We know this seems like a ‘no-brainer’, but it is always a good reminder.  Especially with children, always encourage and demonstrate safety.  Wear your seat belts in any vehicle where they’re present, have a helmet handy when you bike or skate, and always put a life jacket on when you’re out on open water.  They may seem uncomfortable or a nuisance, but if something happens (which we hope never does!) you’ll be glad to have them.

6. Stay Hydrated
Drinking water can help reduce the risk of heat-related illnesses and can keep you properly hydrated. Keep water or sports drinks (for the electrolytes) handy, and remember to take a break for a drink. If you’re starting to feel thirsty, that’s an early sign of mild dehydration!  A helpful rule of thumb when you and the kids are active is to stop for a drink break every 20-30 minutes.

7. Know Your Surroundings

Whether you’re hiking, camping, or just playing in the backyard or nearby park, make sure you know your surroundings.  Summer is prime weather for ticks, mosquitoes, bees, and dangerous plants like poison ivy.  If you’re familiar with the environment you and your kiddos are in, you can dress appropriately and use proper preventative measures with sprays, as well as clean up when you’re finished.

Have a fun, happy, safe Summer, from all of us at SCFCU!

Our mission is to educate, support, and encourage our Members to become Financially Fit.

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