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 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!

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.

Quote of the Day

It was raining all day, and it reminded me of one of my college friends texting me asking if I wanted to play in the rain. Amused, I thought it was cute at first, but it really is a great mindset to have.

You can dwell on the negatives of a rainy day and stay in bed all day (which isn’t necessarily that bad when you have coffee and Netflix) or you can appreciate the days that aren’t so sunny.

Quote of the Day

Rather than just dropping in a quote, I’ve been elaborating on why a lot of these quotes really speak to me. Yes, this one might be simple, but I think a lot of people have a hard time grasping this concept.

In fact, I’m sure a lot of people misinterpret this. Expectations and standards are two different things, and I think people get confused by the two. When you have standards, you know what you want for yourself and you attract based on the energy and the mindset you give back to people. That’s where appreciation comes in. Positive things happen to positive people, and I can attest to that.

When you expect certain things from people all the time, you’ll likely be disappointed constantly. When you imagine a situation playing out in an exact way, you’ll likely be frustrated when it doesn’t come to fruition.

When it comes to expectations, you can only control one person and that’s yourself. You can choose to stay frustrated because life didn’t go as planned, or you can try to learn from mistakes or mishaps. Life sort of just happens, but your character is more so defined by how you react.

Summer Profile: Zhenya Hutson

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Meet Zhenya Hutson! She earned her degree in Retail Merchandising and now works in Product Development for one of the largest retailers in America. She has had her style and beauty blog for 10 years and you can check out her website here: http://beingzhenya.com/

I got to do a little interview with her, and her blog alone was so aesthetically pleasing, so I was stoked to find out more about her.

1) How would you describe your style? 

My style is rather eclectic, I like to mix and match vintage and thrifted pieces with high end accessories and shoes. My style also changes season to season and can be rather unpredictable. I’m very easily entertained and I find inspiration everywhere. One day I can be channeling 70s boho chic and another day I’ll look like I’m headed to an afternoon tea.

2) You did a couple capsule wardrobe posts on your blog. What’s your biggest advice for someone trying to limit their wardrobe to a capsule?’

I did write about capsule wardrobe, but I’m only 60% there. I started seriously cleaning out my closet about 6 months ago, realizing how much I had, but I always reached out for the same pieces. When I moved to Chicago, I hung all my clothes and turned the hangers backwards. If I wear the item, I then rotate the hanger the normal way. At the end of every month I assess what I haven’t worn and either donate it or take to a resale shop. It does take a lot of discipline, but my husband helps keep me in line. I also would rather spend money on home decor and set up my new place, so I haven’t bought new clothes in a while.

3) Who is your fashion icon and why? 

I don’t have a fashion icon, never have really. I’m inspired by art, movies, songs, cities. I just came back from a 2 week vacation in Europe and it has inspired me to be even more unique and different when it comes to style.

4)What is the coolest place you’ve traveled to? 

The coolest place was definitely London, second coolest was Split, Croatia! The city I want to spend more time in is Paris! I’m already planning my Italian vacation next year, and I can’t wait.

5) Why did you start your blog and what have you gotten out of it since you started? 

I started my blog 10 years ago. I met some of my best friends through the blog and that is hands down the coolest experience ever! I also landed my most recent position thanks to my blog, so that’s neat too!