What Studying in the Eternal City did for my Faith

As you can tell by the title, this is more of a personal post, but I figured this was the best place for this post to go. I can’t really describe what Rome is like to someone who hasn’t been there, especially after being there for five weeks. But something I can try to explain is the presence of God in that city. Whether you were practically born with a cross in your hand or you’re like me and have been questioning/not believing for the majority of your life, you really can feel it. Almost every other building is a church, and all of them have a vast history. Some of them have existed since the 4th century, from right after the persecutions of Christians ended in the Roman empire. Being in an art history class and a class focussed on the early history of Christianity took me to some of the most sacred places in Rome, many of which are not on your average sight seeing tours. Some of the most beautiful and historic churches have average facades and wouldn’t attract your typical tourist. I am a history nerd and a firm believer that unless you know the history of something you can never truly understand or believe in it, and that includes religion. So if anyone reading this who considers themselves Christian doesn’t know who Constantine is or about the early persecutions of Christians, I urge you to research it. If it can take someone wobbly in their faith like me and make them believe, imagine what it can do for someone who is already firm in their faith. This isn’t something I came to by myself, even though I was in Rome technically alone in the sense that no one I knew from home or school was there with me. I have to give credit to people who took the time to discuss faith with me and were the examples of truly beautiful and kind Christian people. So if Alex Hammersley or Lizzie Digiovanni are reading this, thank you. Alex, you took me to church for the first time since I was… oh gosh 13 probably. You are the sweetest person on this planet and you truly do devote yourself to helping others, and I know you’re going to do amazing things in this life. Lizzie, I don’t get attached to people quickly or make true friends quickly either. But your love of cheese and wine and your willingness to walk home with me every day and just talk about things really had an impact on me. Especially talking about struggling with your own faith. It really made me want to figure it out so I could be more like you. I am in no way perfect in my faith yet. I don’t go to church every week and the only bible I own is smaller than my iPhone. But I’m getting there. And Rome really helped me solidify all the questions about what I believed that I have been struggling with for years. So thank you Rome, and thank you Italy. Studying abroad had such a huge impact on my life, and even if it wasn’t sunshine and rainbows every day, it showed me that I can handle anything and that God truly does love me and have something amazing planned for me. So if you read that huge and somewhat sappy post, here are some pictures of the beautiful churches I saw during my trip to reward you. (And yes, that is Bernini’s Extasy of Theresa. I was two feet away from it and I almost cried)

Last Full Weekend Abroad: BERLIN!

I don’t even know how to describe how full my heart is after spending a weekend in Berlin. I have never felt so much love for a city and been so intrigued by its history. I’m so thankful to have gotten to explore the entire city, try currywurst and (AMAZING) German beer, walk along the Berlin Wall and learn about its history, see the University where Einstein taught and where the Nazis had one of their first book burnings, stand 10 meters above Hitler’s bunker, see the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, and see the Reichstag. It truly was one of the most incredible weekends of my life, and I wouldn’t want to walk over 50,000 steps in any other city.

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Sorrento, Capri, Vesuvius, and Pompeii! 

This weekend was absolutely amazing! I started off my journey down to Amalfi by hiking to the top of Mount Vesuvius! It was on this hike that I finally was truly grateful for all the hikes my grandparents took me on while I lived in Arizona. It is extremely hot and straight up steep slopes of almost two miles before reaching the top, but the view is absolutely incredible and it was a great workout! From Vesuvio, I made my way to the beautiful town of Sorrento, which sits on cliffs overlooking the sea! This is the heart of limoncello production, and it is full of great shops with really reasonable prices! Saturday I took a ferry to the island of Capri, where I spent the day relaxing on the beach, exploring the port area of the island, and having the BEST pizza I have ever had! On the way back to Rome, I took a tour of Pompei, which has been a dream of mine since childhood. It is amazing and haunting to see a city so beautifully preserved by such a horrific event. Italy is quickly capturing my heart, and toning my thighs with its hundreds of stairs!

Firenze Travel Diary

Hello, everyone! This past weekend I was in Florence, Italy, and it honestly was one of the best weekends of my entire life. I learned so much about really famous paintings and sculptures, got to see the Duomo, experienced haggling the leather markets, and climbed roughly 350 stairs to see the sunset from one of the highest points in the city! On top of amazing food, and creating my own Magnum ice cream bar! On Sunday I got the privilege of exploring a vineyard and learning a lot about the wine making process and got to have an AMAZING food and wine tasting! The balsamic was the best I’ve ever had, and the price tag definitely reflected that! I may take my international business major on over to Tuscany and work with one of my new favorite things: WINE!! Here are some highlights from a weekend I will always treasure!

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Sightseeing: Rome Edition!

Ciao! I have just completed my first week in Rome and I have had the chance to see a lot of beautiful and historical sites such and the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and the Trevi Fountain! I still have 4 weeks here in this beautiful city, so I’m sure there will be more photos to come! For now, enjoy Rome through my eyes!

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What’s in my carry on: ROME edition!!

Today’s post is extremely exciting for me because tomorrow I leave for my month-long study abroad experience in Rome, Italy! Italy has been my dream destination since I was little, and I am so excited! I am going independently through the ISA program, and I plan on doing a post about my experience with them once I get home, as well as many posts while I’m abroad! But for now, here’s what’s coming on the plane with me!

  1. The bags: My (very well loved) Longchamp bag and my North Face backpack. I didn’t want to bother with another rolling suitcase, and everything fits perfectly between the two, with room to spare!

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2. The essentials: I figured I’d start with the boring stuff first! I have my prescriptions, Advil, tissues, all of my liquid makeup, plus my toothbrush, face wipes, deodorant, and perfume! fullsizeoutput_1253

3. More essentials!: I have my powder makeup and makeup brushes in a cute makeup bag from Toss Designs, two books (one from Kate Spade, one from Walgreens.. literally) for beach and plane reading, my hair brush, and an umbrella! fullsizeoutput_1252

4. Doesn’t everything in my carry on fall under the “essentials” category??: I have my wallet with ID cards, credit, and debit cards, plus cash. Then I have my passport (DUH) in an adorable case from Ban.do, two converters, my glasses, sunglasses, and my keychain from Moon and Lola so that I have a place for my apartment keys and the key to my safe!

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5. School stuff: I have two Kate Spade notebooks: the blue one is for note taking in class and the yellow one (which is very fitting for Italy) is for journaling and keeping photos and tickets from my trip, my planner (it’s the old Lilly agenda so they don’t have a link for it anymore), my pencil case, and my water bottle from S’well!

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6. Electronics: I have my Polaroid camera, a calculator for my online math class, a tripod for my phone, a phone charger, portable battery, two pairs of headphones, a little mini fan that you can plug into your iPhone, and my 13″ MacBook pro (stickers are from RedBubble)! Not pictured: the charger to my Mac, but I promise I won’t forget it!
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This is everything that I’m taking with me on the plane! Except for some things I have printed out, like the address of my apartment, ID cards for travel insurance, photocopy of my passport, etc. but who really cares about all of that stuff? I hope this helped you figure out what to pack in your carry on for a study abroad trip or long vacation! If anyone wants to see what I brought in my checked bag, let me know in the comments! Can’t wait for my next post in ROME!!!

My Advice to Incoming Freshmen

Hello, everyone!

Now that it is officially Summer for us college kids (woohoo!) all the seniors are on the road to graduation, and have committed to a college! This is the craziest, most nerve-wracking, exciting time of your life. So many things will happen this year, including moving away from home for the first time, possibly joining a sorority or other organizations, and starting one of the most academically challenging years so far! Not to mention balancing new friends and social events! I have thought of the most valuable tips that I heard before starting my first year at university, and I found them to be very true by the end of it! Here are my tips to incoming freshmen!

  1. Make the most out of every class, club, and person that surrounds you! College is full of opportunities, and the more that you take advantage of during that first year, the more fulfilled you will feel once summer comes. Those people, classes, professors, and clubs are what make college feel like home!
  2. Going along with this, get involved! Whether it be going greek (which I highly recommend), joining clubs, student government, or anything you like! Seriously, my college has a cheese club! There’s something for everyone! 
  3. Get a part-time job! Even if you only work one day a week, your parents will thank you for having some of your own spending money, and jobs look great on your resume! Employers today care so much more about your experience and what you did in college more than having a 4.0, so do something to build up that resume!
  4. That being said, definitely work hard in school! I thought my honors, AP, and even community college classes had me prepared for the rigor of university, but I had no idea how difficult my classes would be. You have to keep on top of things otherwise you will not get the grades you want. Most scholarships and greek organizations require a 3.0 to maintain those privileges, so you can’t slack off! 
  5. Make sure you take the time to go out with friends, go to social events, sisterhood/brotherhood retreats and get involved with your organizations! Those memories are what make your college experience! My favorite memories are from the social and philanthropy events I participated in with my sisters and best friends! 

Hopefully, this has helped someone feel less nervous for their first year of college! Let me know what other posts you want to see this summer, I can’t wait to post helpful and inspiring content over the next few months!

I’m back!!

Hello, blogging world! I’ve missed you! I took a hiatus for Spring semester to focus on school but I just submitted my last final and it’s officially SUMMER! I will be studying abroad in Rome, Italy for a month in June, and I cannot wait to create content while I’m there! I plan on writing a real post right after this, but for now, I wanted to share a piece of writing that I am really proud of from this semester! It’s an opinion editorial about a case of censorship! Enjoy!

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2016 Highlights!

It’s finally hitting me that it’s actually 2017 and a new year, which is crazy to me because 2016 was such a big year for me! 2016 was one of the best yet hardest years of my life so far, and I thought it deserved a blog post, so here are highlights from every month of my 2016!

January

I finished high school and started community college!

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(Nothing exciting happened in February.. oops)

March

I turned 18 and went to accepted students weekend at the College of Charleston!

April

I voted in the primary elections and helped direct Mr. West with my best friends for the last time

May

I went to my last high school dance ever, Senior Prom. I also finished my first semester of college, but I don’t have any pictures to commemorate that, so you’ll just have to believe me

June

I FINALLY graduated high school after six months of waiting super impatiently! I also went to orientation at CofC six days after graduating, can you tell I was ready to leave?

July

All I did was work all summer but I did get my hair done! #treatyoself

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August

August was probably the craziest month of the year. I packed up all my stuff into my mom’s car, moved into a dorm room (the first one anyway), went through recruitment, joined a sorority, and started my first semester at CofC!

September

Nothing all that exciting happened but I did begin to realize the difference between community college and university very quickly, so I was in the library a lot

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October

October was the month that I got my big (Hi Katie if you’re reading this!!), weathered my first Charleston-style hurricane (evacuation and all) and experienced my first college Halloween (which is actually a full weekend here)

November

In November I attended a dinner for Beatty Scholars (basically everyone who had gotten the same scholarship as I did), got initiated into my sorority, and attended my first college football game! GO TIGERS #ALLIN

December

In December I finished up my first semester at CofC, made it through finals (barely), flew across the country back to Arizona to visit friends and family, went to Universal Studios with my best friend, had early Christmas at my grandma’s, and had Christmas day with my sweet boyfriend and his family, and prepared to move (again)

My 2017 New Year’s Resolutions

As 2016 comes to a close, I want to take a moment to reflect on the past year and also look forward at the year to come. 2017 is going to be a year of amazing opportunities and experiences, and I honestly cannot wait for it to get here. Every year most people sit down to write their New Years resolutions, but many people don’t stick to them. This is why I’m putting them live on my blog: to hold me accountable, and give me a written list of things I want to do and get better at during the year. It also gives me something tangible to reflect upon. So here are my 2017 New Years Resolutions/Goals, I hope you enjoy and this can help you create your own!

  1. Stop saying “No” to things I actually want to do. I want to take every opportunity that presents itself this year, so as long as it is within my abilities to do things I want to begin saying yes. Whether it be something simple like getting a coffee with a friend or something beyond my imagination, I don’t want to have “what ifs” at the end of the year.
  2. Work on my organization. As far as planners go, I’m an organization god. As far as my room… well, we won’t go into detail but since I’ll be living in my first apartment (EEEEK!!) I want to be proud of my space. I’ve realized that having a clean room really improves my stress levels, so this year my goal is to do a full clean once a week and 15 minutes of tidying a day. 
  3. Save my money. I’m studying abroad for a month in July and while I absolutely cannot wait to be in my dream destination of Italy, I know that going there with no money saved won’t be very fun, and I want to experience as much as possible. I also want to be able to have a sizable amount of money saved at the end of the year so I can either get a car or start paying my own rent (cross your fingers, mom!)
  4. BE HEALTHY. Okay, I know this is literally every human being’s resolution at the start of the New Year, but I’m serious about it this time. I used to be the basic white girl who only bought organic peanut butter and had a smoothie for breakfast every day. I was healthier and happier than I’ve ever been, and I want to get back to that point. I don’t want my insecurities to get in the way of things this year, and my goal is to look amazing for my mom’s wedding in October!
  5. Get straight A’s. Okay, I’ll accept a B in Biology because it’s been a while since I had it, but I’m going to aim for all A’s! Spring semester is usually my better semester, and while my 3.4 from this fall isn’t bad, it doesn’t compare to my 4.0 from last spring. I want to know that there’s absolutely no more effort that I could have put into my grades at the end of the semester.