Going to School Abroad in London: My First Few Weeks

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It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, and immediately after vowing that I’d blog more, I got so caught up with getting settled in London.

School: Going to school in London was a big risk, and the week that scared me the most was the very first session because I wondered if I made too much of a leap. I was stressed over being stressed for classes. How silly does that sound? The first week was exhausting and the transition from undergrad to master’s was so apparent to me. The workload and expectations seem higher, but I also think that’s a good thing. A lot of my friends didn’t pursue a master’s degree, which is totally fine, but it made really feel this enormous pressure to do well and prove that I needed that extra year. It’s definitely not easy, and it’s a big step up from my undergrad, but it’s a good push for me. When I was deciding what school to go to, my friend who came from Europe to the US said I would regret not leaving the United States, and he was completely right!

Transportation/ City Life: The culture shock is definitely something to get used to. Paying with predominately coins is so strange to me, and I still forget to bring my grocery bags with me so that I don’t have to pay for plastic bags. It’s all an adjustment, but it’s so worth it. The city of London is so beautiful. There’s so much to see, and I’m so happy that I’ve befriended people just as adventurous and in awe of the city as I am. One of the prettiest areas was near St. Paul’s Cathedral. I went to a rooftop bar nearby and the view was stunning.

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Nightlife/ Social Scene: When I was in school, I always told myself not to get too comfortable, but I did. I went to the same bars and clubs all the time. I was with the same friends drinking the same drinks, eating the same food, and it felt pretty great at the time. The only time I actually remember going on adventures was when I’d venture to Montreal or Vermont. While I loved my college experience, I’m so glad I decided to go to London and pursue my master’s instead of staying in New York, which was arguably way more of a safer choice in terms of being near to friends. However, every day, I meet people all over the world in areas I’ve never been before. The other day at Oktoberfest, I befriended the DJ and sound guy who were both from Germany. I have friends from Morocco, Ireland and Rome now. Everyone I meet has their own interesting story, and it’s challenging me to grow as a person as well.

 

 

 

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The Incredible Jessica James Review & Talking Diversity in Rom Coms

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I’ve been binging romantic comedies all summer, and while I’ve been enjoying them more now than ever, I find myself seeing the same female leads. I remember watching The Spectacular Now and completely identifying with Shailene Woodley’s character. That was back in 2015 when I watched that movie. She played the shy Amy who slowly came out of her shell through the eyes of her love interest, which reminds me a lot of Lara Jean from To All the Boys I’ve Loved. And while I adore these female leads, I find myself not relating to them anymore, mostly because I’ve grown out of that phase of not truly knowing myself yet. Now bring in this little gem of a movie starring a black female who knows she’s dope but for whatever reason doesn’t have her life figured out quite yet. Jessica Williams shines as she plays a total bad ass whose insecurities are shown through actions and body language rather than talking about it. Not only is this the perfect display of showing rather than telling, but it really does emulate what twenty somethings are going through.

Everyone is all about talking about what they’re passionate about, but at the same time, everyone is struggling to pursue that same passion. James works at a nonprofit and wants to pursue play writing, but the movie itself is more or less about her trying to get over a breakup. She meets Boon played by Chris O Dowd who is totally opposite from her but also getting over a breakup so they begin a weird relationship, including a pact to follow each other’s ex. It’s a story we’re all familiar with, but it’s a more modern take. Chris O Dowd brings the same charm he had in Bridesmaids and it really works because he feels much more like a real human being instead of a Prince Charming. He makes mistakes and doesn’t make some sort of grand gesture for them. Instead, the two leads talk through their shit like normal adults would, and it’s refreshing to watch. In addition to the romantic elements, there’s a great side storyline that shows James interacting with one of her students. It’s simple but a great display of why Jessica James pushes some of her students so much to pursue their dreams.

Overall, I really loved how realistic this movie felt, and I love seeing more interracial couples come to screen lately. Growing up, a lot of my friends assumed I liked people with skin like mine, and it really upset me when I was younger but I couldn’t quite pinpoint why so I kept my mouth shut. I remember my friends in 5th grade asking me if I liked the only other colored person in my class and I couldn’t express back then why it was so wrong of them to say that. However, when I saw the backlash with To All the Boys I’ve Loved with some people saying they should of casted an Asian male lead to play Lana Condor’s love interest, I resonated so much with the actress’s response.

“You are being racist unknowingly and continuing to put us in a box that we don’t need to be in. It’s really unfair. People should be able to love who they want to love. It’s offensive to me — you’re continuing to promote tribalism. So I can’t be with who I want to be with? These are probably the same people who have an issue with the LGBT community. It’s the same thing — you telling me who I can love is unfair,” Condor said.

Anyway, I went off on a bit of a tangent, but my point is that I love that we’re seeing more diversity because growing up all the love stories seemed to happen to people that didn’t look anything like me, so I hope young women and men are inspired in a way that I wasn’t able to be when I was growing up.

Visiting an Alpaca Farm in the UK

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I recently visited The Alpaca Shop, where I walked the cutest alpaca. When I first arrived in the UK, I needed a few days to shop for university, so with the shopping and traveling that I’ve been doing, I was feeling very stressed out. This was such a therapeutic experience and the whole thing was one of a kind for sure. There were alpacas when we first stepped foot on the farm and they were a little daunting at first, but we had a great tour guide who explained the rules as we continued to see more and more of them on the farm and how to approach them. These animals are so dang cute and have their own little personalities, so I slowly feel in love with them as we continued.

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We walked them a descent amount along a path as each adult got to walk their own alpaca, while children had to share one with their guardian. I think that’s pretty appropriate too considering some of the alpacas were larger. As we walked together, our guide was attentive and made sure we all stuck together. There were times when the alpacas wanted to do their own thing. Mine was named Rosa, and she was constantly pooping and stopping to eat, so it was pretty funny to pick up on her cues and habits. Overall, I loved the experience, and anyone who knows me, knows that I’m obsessed with alpacas and llamas, so this was extra special for me. Apparently, these are popular in the UK, so if anyone ever has a chance to check out one of these farms, know you’re in for a very unique trip.

Also, the coat I’m wearing is from Boohoo, and it was 50% off online at the time, so I scored it for $30. It’s perfect for London weather. The scarf I’m wearing is from a thrift shop from Burlington, Vermont, but I don’t have any other details on it.

 

Visiting Maryland & Thoughts on Traveling

I got to spend the weekend in Maryland for the past weekend, and I loved it. I really want to talk about my little weekend vacation because it made me remember how much I love traveling and writing.

While I was in college, I somehow lost my desire to write about my travels even though I had some pretty fun adventures in places like Jamaica and Montreal. I got to attend Igloofest, which was one of the coolest events ever, and my phone died before I could capture what it was even about. That’s not usually like me. Traveling is something I’m sure all 20 somethings want to experience, including myself. If you have the opportunity to do it, plan it before it’s too late. So many people my age are settling down already, and while not that’s not necessarily a bad thing by any means, I think everyone can agree there is so much of the world to experience.

This weekend, I went to the The National Harbor. It was such a nice spot to relax, eat some great food and shop around. It definitely had a boardwalk feel to it, as the harbor was surrounded by unique shops and tons of seafood eateries. The first spot we checked out was a restaurant called The Walrus Oyster & Ale House. There were a ton of seafood options along with a great selection of drinks to choose from, including a separate Happy Hour menu with $7 frozen mojitos and margaritas.

Oysters are one of my favorite dishes to eat, so I was excited to try different types of oysters for $2.50 each. The oysters are divided into three categories: sweet, briny and salty. I chose one from each category, along with a single crab cake as a side. Even though I love oysters, I’ve always thought they all tasted the same. However, the sweet one was buttery and light. The briny one had a nice savory bite to it, and the salty was my favorite, so it’s interesting to see how my opinion shifted once they were divided on the menu.

Next, we went to Ben & Jerry’s for something sweet and decided to go on their ferris wheel. The view was beautiful, and we were able to go around four times to really appreciate it.

We walked around after, and that’s when my brother found The Pepper Palace. This place is so cool. You walk in and it’s sample heaven. There’s a ton of different salsas, dips, and BBQ sauces to try for free. Additionally, there’s a station to try their hottest pepper called The End (there was another to try but I cannot remember the name). I was hesitant, but I also wanted to say that I tried it so we signed their book, got our stickers and tried their pepper sauce. They put a single drop of sauce on a little plastic spoon, and that kind of scared me even more.

We tried it, and at first, it wasn’t that bad. It felt more like an instant spice, but then it faded. However, there was a pain in my stomach that I couldn’t explain. I thought it would go away, but it didn’t. I tried to down some milk, but that made it worse because I don’t usually eat or drink large amounts of dairy at once. I’m not going to get into detail, but the pepper upset my stomach so much, that I ended up puking behind a Rita’s Italian ice truck. Do I regret it? Kind of. I assumed tons of people try it, so I could too, but it did not agree with my stomach at all. Moral of the story: Be careful when doing some of these food challenges.

Anyway, those are a couple of the highlights from our trip, and tomorrow, I leave for London for a year! So with that being said, I plan on writing about all my experiences. Hope you enjoyed this post!

Reflecting on My College Experience

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I will be moving to London for my master’s degree in journalism, and I am so excited that this article I wrote got published on Thought Catalog. It’s the perfect little goodbye to my undergaduate studies and experiences. It’s a reflection on everything from friendship to academics to my own personal growth, so I’d love for people to give it a read. You can check it out here !

Also, if you want to see more college related posts, leave a comment or DM me please!

Quote of the Day

I will be leaving for London next week, and I am so nervous for this new adventure that I’m embarking on. At the same time, I’m so excited to see the growth I’ll have as I adapt to living there.

All of my travel experiences have definitely left me with tons of fun stories to tell people. I always live my life with the mentality that if something doesn’t work out, at least it’ll make a story with some sort of lesson at the end of the day.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before Review

Starring Lana Condor , Noah Centineo and Janel Parrish, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is a teen romance about a girl named Lara Jean who writes five letters to all the boys she’s ever liked. Mysteriously, they get sent out to them, and drama ensues when one of the boys, Peter, strikes a deal with Lara Jean to fake a relationship so that he can get back together with his girlfriend. On the flip side, Lara Jean wants to fake a relationship so that her neighbor doesn’t suspect her feelings for him.

I really liked this movie. When I watched the trailer, I thought it would be cute and man, it was so stinking cute. I have to hand it to the actors because for me, the way they craft the characters and dialogue is what makes this movie so likable. If it weren’t for Candor and Centineo’s chemistry, I’m not sure if I would have bought them as much as the central couple, but there is a ton of chemistry between the leads. I’ve always been a fan of Noah Centineo because I religiously watched The Fosters every week, but I’ve never seen Lana Condor before, and I think she really carries the movie whether it’s her innocence coming across at a party full of mean girls or talking to her dad about missing her mother. It’s all very awesome stuff from this actress.

I also adore Janel Parrish and thought she was fantastic as the outgoing older sister to Lara Jean. But the little sister to Lara Jean and the father are also quirky and total scene stealers too.

The plot is pretty predictable. That’s probably the weakest aspect of this movie, but the movie makes up for its lack of originality with the conversations the characters have. I also like that in the main conflict, it’s not so much about the guy messing up and then making a grand gesture. It was always about Lara Jean and her internal struggle. It feels fresh and authentic, and I’m pretty content with the way it ends as well.

There’s a lot of sentiment in this flick, and it’s definitely a pretty solid movie for its message of taking risks in life. I remember being in high school and reading novels where I would imagine myself as the main character, so I completely related to Lara Jean. But just like me, she learns that she can keep reading or watching fairytales, or she can go out and create her own.