20 Things I Learned in 20 Years

I have officially survived two decades in this world and in honor of this milestone I wanted to share with you all some things that I have learned:

  1. Waking up in the morning is a lot easier when you’re excited about your breakfast.
  2. No matter how nice you are, not everyone is going to like you and that’s okay.
  3. Being single means you save a lot of money around Christmas and Valentine’s day.
  4. There is no need to be ashamed of or embarrassed by your taste in music.
  5. Spell-check is a wonderful invention.
  6. You can learn how to do anything by watching a Youtube video.
  7. Sometimes you grow apart from people and that’s normal…humans are dynamic.
  8. Never ride a razor scooter while wearing flip flops.
  9. Don’t compare your life to the the lives of others, because everyone has their own path to take.
  10. Watch at least two episodes of a sit-com after watching a horror film.
  11. ALWAYS remove your makeup before going to bed.
  12. You are never too old for chocolate milk or Disney movies.
  13. Procrastination is only good for making your future self hate your past self.
  14. Books are good for the mind and the soul.
  15. Napping is a beautiful thing, but it can also mess up the rest of your day… so nap strategically.
  16. Take advantage of any opportunity to experience a new place (whether it’s a town or country). The world is beautiful place and there is so much to see and learn.
  17. Accept other people for who they are.
  18. There is something really enjoyable and satisfying about piping frosting onto cupcakes.
  19. Mistakes create good learning experiences.
  20. Birthdays are the best, because they are like personal holidays celebrating YOU.

I’m young and I know that I have A LOT more to learn… but I can’t wait to see what those things are in the next twenty years!

I hope you have an absolutely wonderful day! 🙂

I’m Home!

Hello everyone,

I am sad to say that my semester abroad is officially over… it was such a wonderful experience in which I learned a lot. I have definitely ‘caught the travel bug’ and I look forward to exploring more parts of this amazing world in the future! Although I’m sad that my stay in London is over, I am happy to be spending the holidays at home with my family and friends. I look forward to catching up with everyone over the next few weeks!

Happy holidays everyone!

Enjoy this short video blog of my journey home:

 

A Different Type of Thanksgiving

Hello everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with love and great food!

My Thanksgiving this year was a little bit different from any Thanksgiving I have had in the past… Usually the holiday would start with me dragging myself out of bed (later than I had originally planned to) and slowly getting ready for the day. I would then run out the door (later than I had originally planned to), slightly annoyed by the fact that I was interrupted several times with, “Are you almost ready?” while I was trying to apply liquid eyeliner. Seriously though, liquid eyeliner requires extreme concentration. Anyway, my family and I would join my extended family at my grandparent’s house. There, my siblings and I would be forced to take the annual Christmas card picture, those of us in high school and college would try our best to avoid extensive conversations about school, and we would all indulge in an amazing feast that my wonderful grandmother so lovingly prepared (with generous help from the other talented chefs in the family of course). With our stomachs full and our hearts happy, my family and I would then journey to another home to catch up with my mom’s side of the family. As I’ve grown older less of these evening have been spent  playing ‘cops and robbers’ with my cousins, but the one thing that never changes is the amount of delicious dessert I eat. There’s always multiple pie options! Us women of the family would then close out the night by rummaging through newspapers comparing Black Friday deals.

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For Thanksgiving this year everything was a little bit different. I woke up at a fairly reasonable time and spent the day slowly getting ready while watching Youtube videos. I’m used to having a Thanksgiving lunch instead of a Thanksgiving dinner so I had more time than I knew what to do with. At 3:00 I met the rest of the students in my study abroad group for a boat ride down the River Thames. We got off the boat when we reached Greenwich, a sort of sub-town in London. The town is the center of time, as it is the location that all time is measured from. But more importantly is this very location that the climax of the second Thor film takes place! Jonny Depp filmed a scene here as well for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides! We walked around for a little while, admiring the beautiful Royal Naval College, before heading to the restaurant for dinner.

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The whole restaurant was really sweetly decorated, slightly Christmasy because the British don’t celebrate Thanksgiving (obviously). But I really appreciated the British touches, because at every place-setting there was a Christmas cracker! It reminded me of Christmas at home with my cousins! (For those of you who don’t know, a Christmas cracker is a long tube that pops when you pull it. Inside, one would usually find a paper crown, a piece of paper with a joke written on it, and some sort of small toy or gift.) Although, these ones were quite glittery and I’m pretty sure that I still have glitter on my coat even though this happened days ago. Oh well, I like glitter!

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Even though this Thanksgiving was quite different, I was still able to be surrounded by people while eating a delicious turkey dinner. I even topped off the night with a slice of pumpkin pie in true Thanksgiving fashion. I am very appreciative that my program coordinators organized a nice Thanksgiving evening, because otherwise I probably wouldn’t have celebrated (I don’t even think my small oven could cook a turkey).

Ultimately, I am just so grateful for this opportunity to study abroad in this incredible city. I have been giving the chance to see more of the world and I have quickly developed a true love for experiencing new places. Of course I miss my family and friends, all of whom I would have seen if I had gone home for Thanksgiving, but I think missing the holiday will only make Christmas more special. But for now, I will continue to enjoy the rest of my time here in London, because I know I am going to miss this city so much. I just wish I could bring my family and friends here instead… I think that could be a good compromise…

P.S. I’m sorry that this is an INCREDIBLY long-winded blog post…but sometimes I just start writing and I can’t stop… (This, however, is never the case with term papers…the struggle)

The Lion King… Live!

You may or may not already know this, but The Lion King is one of my absolute favorite movies… and last night I got to see it come to life!

London is a hub for theater lovers, hosting endless plays and musicals throughout the city all year long. Yesterday I took advantage of the ‘day of’ ticket sale and scored a front row seat for The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre! It was a great deal and a great opportunity so I was more than happy to wake up early in order to be one of the first people in line at the box office.

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The musical was absolutely incredible! I have always heard great things about the live performance, but I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with it within the first two minutes of the show. The show opened up beautifully with a rendition of “The Circle of Life.” The song, along with a magnificent illusion of a sunrise, set the most wonderful and peaceful ambiance in the theatre. I looked like an overexcited child sitting in the front row with a massive smile stretching across my face…There was a class of probably ten years olds behind me, so I probably blended in well with them.

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The show was filled with the most incredible costumes, sets, and performers. The child in me never wanted to leave. In the second act, during the rendition of “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” I was in my absolute element. It brought back memories of the bus rides to and from elementary school, repeatedly singing it with my childhood best friend, Olivia. Good times, good times…

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I highly recommend this show to everyone (except for my sister, because she’s probably the only human being on the planet who doesn’t like The Lion King… I will never understand). I, of course, saw it in London, but I’m sure that it is just as incredible in New York City and wherever else it is performed. I would not wish to change a single thing about it… it was absolute perfection. Anyway, I will now return to listening to The Lion King soundtrack, thanks for reading about my weird obsession with a story about singing lions. 🙂

Baking on a Budget (Peanut Butter Cookies and Nutella Brownies)

In an effort to meet new people during my stay here in London, I decided to join the King’s College London Baking Society. It’s a super dangerous group to be a part of due to the fact that one night, every other week, I indulge in more sweets than a human being should… but it’s delicious and fun! After all, it’s only every other week, so it’s fine, right?

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I absolutely love baking, an activity I have been doing more frequently over the past year or so (I think it began when I realized how much fun it is to pipe frosting onto cupcakes… yes I am easily amused…). Unfortunately, baking isn’t the easiest thing to do with a small kitchen, few baking supplies, and a budget. But in an effort to be a part of this club I have been researching and trying different recipes that require few supplies and few ingredients.

For the first baking society gathering of the semester I made:

Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients:

1 Cup Peanut Butter

1 Cup Sugar

1 Large Egg (beaten)

1 Teaspoon Baking Soda

  1. Preheat Oven to 350 Degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Line a baking tray with baking paper or lightly coat it with non-stick cooking spray
  3. Combine Peanut Butter and Sugar in a bowl
  4. Mix in the Beaten Egg
  5. Mix in the Baking Soda
  6. Roll the dough into small balls and place on the baking tray
  7. With a fork, press the dough balls flat
  8. Put in the oven for 10 minutes (It will take less time if you have a small oven, like I do.)
  9. Enjoy your delicious, golden-brown cookies and the peanut-buttery smell of your kitchen!

******** I apologize for not having a photo… you’ll just have to send me a photo when you make them!**********

For the second gathering I made:

Nutella Brownies

Ingredients:

1 1/4 Cup Nutella (One Standard-Sized Jar)

2 Large Eggs

1/2 Cup All-Purpose Flour

  1. Preheat oven to 350 Degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Line a small baking pan (8×8 or 11×7) with baking paper or lightly coat pan with non-stick cooking spray
  3. Combine all ingredients and mix until smooth
  4. Pour into the baking pan and smooth out the mixture with the back of a spoon or spatula
  5. Put in the oven for 25 minutes (It will take less time if you have a small oven, like I do. Once you start to smell them it’s a good indication that they’re about done. If you poke it with a fork and it comes out clean, they are finished.)
  6. Let cool, then enjoy your delicious chocolate-hazelnut brownies!

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Lights, Camera, Action (“The Martian” European Premiere)!

London is a beautiful mix of New York City and Los Angeles (significantly older of course). The magic of this city partially resides in the fact that all of the UK entertainment industries are booming in one place, ultimately granting me and all of its inhabitants incredible opportunities such as attending movie premieres in the midst of fashion week. It’s so exciting to see so many big events from varying industries happening at the same time in the same place!

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The Odeon Cinema, Leicester Square

Yesterday evening I took advantage of living in this city by attending the red carpet event for the European premiere of “The Martian” starring Matt Damon, Kate Mara, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wig, and many other talented actors. Of course they were accompanied by the director of the film, Ridley Scott.

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My friend and I managed to get an incredible spot in the front row at the end of the red carpet. We were just a few feet away as we watched several cars pull up, and one by one, each star made their appearance. More excitingly, we were able to watch each star (right in front of us) as they were interviewed by Jim Chapman, one of the hosts for the evening.

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Matt Damon’s Interview
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Kate Mara’s Interview

The entire atmosphere was exciting and glamorous. I was truly amazed to see how genuinely happy the actors were to be there and I was overjoyed to see their efforts to make as many fans happy as possible. For me, the most magical moment of the evening was when Matt Damon was signing a page in my journal. He looked up, right into my eyes, and said, “Hi,” with a huge smile on his face. I will never forget that moment! I also got an autograph from Jessica Chastain who is not only beautiful, but extremely kind.

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Kristen Wig was geting flustered because she was trying to meet as many fans as possible but she kept getting called over to do interviews and take take pictures for the media.
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Jessica Chastain (I lover her gown!)

I’m looking forward to experiencing more amazing events like this during my stay here in a big city, especially the Mockingjay Part 2 premiere on November 5th!

P.S. When Jim Chapman initially arrived before the event officially began, I recognized him immediately and smiled and waved. He noticed me and happily returned a very sweet smile and wave. I’m a fan of his (he is a Youtube personality that I watch regularly), so that was also another nice moment of the evening that I will never forget.

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Louis Vuitton Series Exhibition

London is an incredible city, thriving in countless industries. The fashion industry is extremely relevant and exciting at the moment as we are in the midst of London Fashion Week! This means the center of London is full of models, designers, and fashion lovers from all over the world celebrating creativity, self-expression, and beautifully crafted garments. Of course I do not have any sort of status in the fashion world, therefore I will not be invited to any runway shows nor will I have the opportunity to meet Cara Delevingne (British supermodel). However, there are other ways for us mere common-folk to celebrate the occasion.

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The Louis Vuitton Series Exhibition is temporarily located right next to my campus, so I conveniently stopped in after class. I wasn’t entirely sure what it would consist of but everything that has free admission is worth going to! Regardless, it was so amazing that I would have paid for it (and I’m often quite stingy with money). The entire exhibit was beautifully constructed. The attractions were spread out in a minimalist style, which was perfect because often times exhibits can feel a bit overwhelming. In contrast, the design of the exhibit was so abstract that it was unbelievably captivating. I understand that this might not make sense, unfortunately it is one of those things that you have to experience yourself  in order to truly understand.

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In the end, the exhibit leads to a wall of stickers, each one containing an image of a beautifully designed Louis Vuitton accessory piece. Not only is admission free, but I was allowed to take two accessory stickers and two stickers representing my initials (I will most likely put these on my laptop case). Immediately afterwards I entered the final room in which every inch of the walls are covered in images of models and designs. There, I was given a free poster (also beautifully designed)! I really hope I can fit it in my suitcase without destroying it because I really want to hang it in my bedroom at home…

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The poster would have been too complicated to take a proper picture of….

Maybe it’s just because I am an easily inspired person (despite the fact that I lack many skills), but I found the exhibit to be incredible. If I could draw, I would probably be trying to start my design career at the moment instead of writing this post and if I was tall enough I would probably be researching agencies or something…Oh well, a girl can dream… and dream I will do.

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The runway room created such an exciting atmosphere…all I wanted to do was put on some heels and strut…haha.

My first solo flight!

I successfully survived my first solo flight! For somebody who has very little flying experience this is a very big deal. I am a very independent person so doing things on my own doesn’t normally freak me out, but I couldn’t help but think that I was going to get stuck at security or immigration. Fortunately, neither security nor immigration was a problem and I have successfully entered the United Kingdom! Yay for kind airport staff! Other than those things, I find flying to be an absolutely amazing phenomenon. It’s incredible that these massive machines can carry us high above the earth and take us to incredibly far places in just hours! Ahhh, flying is so cool! Okay, I will stop being a nerd now…

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Anyway, I had a pretty good flight. I was given a little pillow and blanket, the food was mostly edible, the airline had a great game, movie, and music selection to keep me entertained, and I was seated next to a really kind British woman. Unfortunately an airplane isn’t the most comfortable place to sleep so I only managed to take about a 45 minute nap. I did, however, wake up to a beautiful view of the sunrise over a blanket of fluffy clouds.

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After a quick little breakfast, we began descending into England as I endured a terrible earache (truly the worst part of flying, but I’m learning to expect it and accept it).

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I was then greeted by ISA staff with a lovely piece of chocolate 🙂

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Hours later my group and I left the airport and headed to our accommodations. My flat has a great view.

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Today is the Big Day!

I cannot believe that I have finally reached my departure day! I have spent my entire summer thinking about my time in London, but even now that my bags are packed, it still only feels like an idea or a dream rather than my reality. I am so excited to start this chapter of my life; I am always ready for something new and exciting. Of course I am going to miss all of you, my family and friends, but I truly believe that I am going to learn and grow from this experience. I know the next few months will fly by and I’m honestly afraid that I won’t want to return home (I always feel post-vacation depression any time I go anywhere). But I am also afraid that I will get a bit homesick, especially around Thanksgiving (one of my favorite holidays) when everyone is spending time together. Hopefully the post-vacation depression and the homesickness will cancel each other out.

Anyway, thank you all for supporting me. Big events are always better when your loved ones are cheering you on! I will do my best to keep everyone updated and I will be looking forward to sharing every single Harry Potter related experience with you (I promise that is not the only reason I am going but it is definitely a huge benefit)!

Here’s a casual selfie of Brooke and I that she took sometime between our family breakfast at Cackleberries this morning (we miss you Tyty) and leaving for work…

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Where Has the Time Gone? (2 weeks away)

It feels like it was just a few days ago when I broke the news to my parents that I scheduled a meeting with the study abroad advisor at my school (at the time my mom didn’t think I was actually going through with this), but that was eight months ago now. Now here I am, two weeks from my departure and the excitement is increasing rapidly.

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I received my course schedule about a week ago and now it’s all starting to feel real as I imagine what my weekly routine is going be look like during my time in the incredible city of London. For those who are unfamiliar with the university learning structure in England, it is a little bit more self-motivated than here in the U.S. For me that means my classes will meet less frequently (only once or twice a week) and I will not be given many assignments. Typically a final term grade at an English university consists of one or two large assignments. Therefore, I am fortunate that my schedule will allow me to balance my coursework with my many adventures! Throughout the week I will start classes no earlier than 9:00Am and end no later than 1:00PM. I will also have Wednesdays off (a nice break in the middle of the week)!

When this summer started I wanted it to last forever due to the fact that I was a bit nervous about leaving my friends and family for 15 weeks. However, now that many of my friends have already moved in to their colleges and my summer is slowly losing excitement, I can’t wait to depart! But of course, I will be looking forward to seeing all of your beautiful faces when I return in December!