Tag Archives: travel

5 Things Learned from a Weekend in New York

IMG_7568
I’m the girl flying on a swing in New York with an everything bagel in one hand…and a reckless disregard for limits in the other hand.

The California kid who is young, wild, and maybe a little too free for her own good. The spontaneous traveler who has a Mary Poppins bag. The wanderer who doesn’t race against time, but right along with it.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Can we talk about New York City? IT’S WACKY. But ahem, good wacky.  A chaos of urban mankind that is (dis)organized just so. It has an energy about it.

And I’m hopelessly smitten.

IMG_7533

That makes total sense, if we don’t think about it for too long. Cut me some slack, and let’s do this Sunday thing:

1. /// We talked a lot about passion & purpose this weekend.
About discoveries found and love lost.

Don’t freak out about this! We’re allowed to be human. The sum of these conversations shows us how a person can be your anchor and axis. But also how the absence of such a person can throw you off balance. It’s true – we’re all just trying to make it! To keep our balance, in spite of the curveballs up life’s sleeve. To feel like what we’re doingwhat we love in some way, shape, or form.

For me, short trips are a subtle reminder of all this. It’s a hint at what and who matter most to us. The urgency of time means that conversations tend to dive beneath surface level chatter. I hope you know how much I appreciate these conversations.

I left New York City today, smiling but also wistful and wondering if this was the one that got away.

If this feels a lot like vulnerability, that’s because it is. The truth is bonkers scary! Let it be.

IMG_7544

2. /// It’s hard not to compare San Francisco and New York.

I’m particularly guilty of this, fo’real! The two harbor similarities, which make it easy to pit the cities against one another.

Butttttt it’s still all sorts of apples : oranges. To compare them is to compartmentalize two anomalies.  Well, tits man. We can do mo’bettah :)

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
3. /// A bit about career & the job world. 

Everyone I know seems to be hunting for a job or starting a new one. I feel you, friends! Naturally, this is a hot topic ‘on the noggin. It’s a whole lot to wrap your head around! I wrote Chapter One-and-a-Half  as a sort of response to the question, “So what are you doing with the rest of your life?” I wrote because I was feeling the pressure of uncertainty and discomfort that comes with not knowing what comes next. New York, I’ve begun to realize, is a magnet for those figuring out what’s next.

Note: The only thing I purport to know certainly is that I don’t know anything for certain. It’s like we’re all looking for that singular “right answer” — only to realize there is no one right answer. To all on this Struggle Bus, here’s a few other pieces of perspective I’ve found helpful:

IMG_6937

4. /// I’m a go-getter who likes to get to the go!

{skip if you don’t care about places to go in NYC}. Before leaving for the weekend, I asked friends near and far for their go-to grinds in the Big Apple. I traipsed around NYC both solo and in good company. In case you’re headed to the city soon, here’s my own shortlist of awesome:

  • Brooklyn Waterfront, Pier 2 (Brooklyn): My new favorite place in New York. On Sundays, Smorgasburg is held here. It’s nature x kickback, design x big-kid-at-heart playgrounds. And on a sunny day, I promise you that there is abso-freaking-lutely nothing better. Good vibes through the roof!
  • Brooklyn Bagel Co (Chelsea, multiple locations): I’m a bagel snob. And I’m here to tell you that this Everything bagel + cream cheese is  the best bagel in NYC. It’s a game changer. And would I lie to you about this? I think you know the answer to that.

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

  • The High Line (Chelsea): The walk I’ll never tire of. It’s a wonderful place to wander. Or a choice locale to hangout with friends.
  • Num Pang (Midtown East, multiple locations): Order the coconut tiger shrimp banh mi sandwich, if you know what’s good for you.
  • El Almacen (Brooklyn): My first ever Argentine restaurant. Ambiance to write home about. Meat lover’s paradise.
  • Long Island City Waterfront (LIC) – Best kept secret. Take the ferry and go at night — it’s a breathtaking view with a million twinkling lights.

{{Continue New York City recommendations HERE}}

5. /// Have friends, will travel.

This is one of life’s magical bottom lines. High fives to the homies who got your back, no matter where you go. “Making the effort” is a big time player on the F*CK YES list.  Appreciation is easier said than done for most. So to all the friends who housed, helped, hi’d, hey’d, hungout with, and hugged me this weekend — thanks for being RAD. You’re totally the real deal.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

I hope your weekend was super swell and that your Monday isn’t too daunting!

This week might get a littttttle out of hand. And that’s okay. We might struggle a bit to find our balance — our person, our career path, our whatcha-ma-callit…chill time?! The humanity of New York can attest that we’re not alone in trying to figure it all out.

Let’s just take this whole dang enchilada one day at a time. And remember that anything is possible with an everything bagel in hand.

IMG_7534

1 Comment

Filed under Reflection, Travel

The State of September

922754_10151686100432868_1463882507_n

Can we admit that we’re totally doggie paddling through September? I can’t find a #2 pencil to save my life. Chipotle is turning into a food group. Oops-I-did-it-again 3am bedtimes are, well, oops. And then there’s this maniac muffin bender.

I mean, if honesty is the best policy, let’s just throw it aaaallllll out there. Really, I’m not above it.

This is the State of September. Reporting live from Senioritis-ville, USA.

I hope this pops over to greet you on a mellow Wednesday. If you’re reading this, consider us friends. Because we can! If you’re reading this, I hope you give a holler. That you tell me what’s up and give me the lowdown.

IMG_7384

I might call you after this, or you might send a message using what many’a Mom/Dad keep calling “that texting thing.” They might send it in ALL CAPS or with 10 pictures of Uncle Hank’s new goldfish or with their signature at the end “-Mom / -Dad.” Just in case you forgot it was them.

Okay, so we may all be doggie paddling. Mom/Dad included.

Embrace this hot mess of a mid-week night’s dream. Tell me about yours.

Here’s mine:

IMG_4601

A year ago I was in France. And now, I’m officially a French minor. Which may or may not be translated as a sign to future people-who-care that I speak “croissant” fluently. It’s a fact, but I still Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.

IMG_5179

Nomad is fast becoming my middle name. I’ve moved back and forth 14 times in the past 3 years. Exploring is my nirvana! But being in a constant state of on-the-go makes permanence of place feel elusive. Everywhere is new and exciting but never truly yours. After 7 years, I finally made a room my own.

room

It’s not so much defined by place as it is by the essentials – the salt and pepper of my life. Ya know what’s a mind-bender? Figuring out what your personality would look like if boiled down to a design. Mine is minimalist, green and verdant. Vaguely reminiscent of the borderline between Earth and ocean. Like the outdoors…but indoors.

peaches

• You know by now that the Farmers’ Market is my happy place. Yo, wanna know a secret? Food-loving as I may be, it’s not the food that gets me. It’s the universal language behind it. Do you see those smiles on other people’s faces? That’s why I’m smiling.

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

panorama

• My voice straight PEACED out this weekend. Losing my voice is aggravating and infuriating and inefficient…but oddly welcome.

Real talk: Losing your voice may very well be the universe’s clue to shut up and listen. Because that’s how the cookie crumbles. Life is lived and played both silly and reckless. Jumping into traditions and throwing in a come-to-Jesus every now and then for good measure.

• I’m hit by a craving of real intellectual engagement. That’s not a snub to Georgetown, as this article might suggest. It’s just me…doing me. I’m considering learning Spanish via Duolingo. And maybe a crash course in coding via Code Academy too. Heyo!

247514_10151686329762868_2128299040_n

• Songs? Song for Zula (Phosphorescent) and this end-of-summer mixtape

•  I’m reading Me Before You. (Kindle is a gamechanger!) The book reminds me of this. Because scary as death appears, it reminds us how to live.

Wednesday just got 10 feet deeper. Just keep swimming?

I’ll be the girl rightttttt over thereeee. You know — the one doggie paddling right there with you.

love & other hugs,
l

2 Comments

Filed under Reflection

Dream Big But Never Sleep

bw

Adventure (n). It’s safe to say I spend half my time thinking of ridiculous things. And the other half actually doing them. An impromptu, whirlwind tour of the East Coast for the week(end) constitutes both the former and latter.

Solo? You betcha. Fear is not a friend of mine. Plus, I have an uncanny habit of making and finding friends along the way.

Going to a Jesuit university has its perks, namely five sweet days of break that feel just too good to be true. High fives to the Easter bunny. Unceremoniously wedged between Spring Break and finals, it’s a catch-breath before finals pulls a berserk attack. I’m starting to dream of those hot summer nights on the horizon.

But hot dang, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. April stands for adventure (n.) – so we’re doing just that. Genius is as ingenious does. Run with it? I thought you’d never ask. We’re going places!

New York City strikes me as grit disguised in big dream glory. Even with its brisk, fuggedaboutit tone, New York has always been a bit of a dream. You see, it paints bright-eyed girl with dreams too big for baggage (guess who?). It’s the endless and constant supply of doing that tempts a hopeless doer. And it’s the challenge to make it big where and when the changes seem so small. I’ve warned you that I’m a hopeless dreamer, with an eye for the unlikely.

I’m hanging around NYU, right at the intersection of Banker St. and Hipster Ave. I’ll likely be found at Moth Slam with M or walking through the Village with no particular destination.

Yale seems downright collegiate. While their bulldog mascot is sadly nowhere near the caliber of Georgetown’s (ha! ;)), I’m excited to see the place that high school best friend SC has shown me only in ridiculous stories.

Columbia | Barnard: Rumor has it that all students must be able to swim across a pool before graduating. I dig that sort of crazy creativity, meaning I’m already a fan. I’m seeing friends S and N. Waffles are a given.

Happy Wednesday, friends. It’s time to meet the city that dreams big but never sleeps. Funny, that city sounds a lot like someone I know? Oh right, that’s me. -L

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

What Nobody Told Me About Study Abroad

(Note: Reposted from the article in Georgetown’s newspaper The Hoya, which can be found here with stylistic variations.)

Immersed in the crisp autumn air of a Parisian night, I realize that this is kind of a funny story. 

I look up at the million shards of light that dance before me and breathe deeply, taking in the speechless grandeur of the Eiffel Tower. Pausing, I think to myself: “This is it! This is what I will tell people about study abroad – the revelatory feeling of discovering what only existed in dreams…”

IMG_6343
And then abruptly, I stop. It’s true that this is dream-worthy, but it doesn’t tell the whole story about studying abroad. As I enter my fourth month in France, I reflect on this question often:

What will I tell people when they ask about study abroad?

I think about this because I remember asking the very same questions about study abroad myself.  As a Hoya, a student, and a dreamer, I have valued my time abroad at its fullest. However, I know that much of the remaining value exists in being able to translate this experience to life on the Hilltop—to both my life and that of others.

It is with this realization that I want to share something immensely important. Something I am quite frankly scared to share. I want to tell you what I wish I had known, but perhaps what you may not want to hear.
I want to tell you what nobody told me about study abroad.

Strap on your seat belts, and grab a chair. Let’s do real talk.

IMG_4830

Like many people, I had dreamed of study abroad since coming to Georgetown. I decided early-on that languages are bonkers cool; traveling is all sorts of amazing; and exploring a new culture is downright jazzy. So as junior year approached, I carefully filled out the applications and tackled the painstakingly atrocious VISA process. I chose to study in Nantes, France (the country’s 6th largest city). And six months later, I stepped off the plane. Wide-eyed, awestruck, and wondering if I was in the famed Genovia.

Fast forward to one month later, and my life as seen by most people is nothing short of a French fairytale.

IMG_4771

I’ve met my host family and learned that my dad is a semi-famous French chef.  I’ve made some awesome friends, many of which are among the 40 other American students with whom I’m spending the semester. Dublin, Paris, Munich, Bologna, Rome, Florence, and the French Champagne region dot my travel itinerary. I’ve immersed myself in the French language and started rapidly climbing the learning curve. The world’s best pain au chocolat is a daily staple. And I’ve discretely stepped into life as a femme française, forming a newfound identity as the Princess of Better-Than-Genovia.

This story illustrates the highlights of my time abroad, which has been undoubtedly magnifique. It reads like a flawless fairytale, a dream and a half, a casual frivolity. It depicts a tale without bad days or trips on the Struggle Bus. And it evokes an easy-breezy-beautiful-Covergirl sort of mentality.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

But what nobody told me about study abroad is that it is not just about the highlights. It is not always “easy.”

I don’t mean just physically, emotionally, socially, financially, mentally, or personally. I mean, every single bit of it. When I first remarked on these tiny ebbs of subtraction, people were quick to respond, “BUT YOU’RE IN EUROPE. YOU CRAY?” like they were shouting the final answer to Jeopardy. As if being abroad automatically means you can’t feel anything but flower-crown-adorned happiness 24/7.

But bad days and personal struggles exist abroad just like anywhere else. Perhaps even more strikingly, being that one stands beyond the sureness of a comfort zone.

There may be days when you struggle with always feeling like the outsider. When your country, your culture, your language, YOU are now the minority rather than the majority. When you feel like classes are either an unbelievable “joke” or a believable impossibility. When the loss of a community of intellectual engagement leaves you without any raison d’être as a student.

1239275_10201435077215280_1052181659_o

It feels like the moment when the ground was yanked like a rug beneath you, and you promptly ended up landing on your tailbone. HARD. But even with a bruised ego, it’s as if it’s sunny and raining simultaneously: the rain smacks ya grandly with all it’s got, but the bright moments put the starry-look back in your eyes.

Maybe or maybe not you’ll feel that nobody “gets you” in the inexact precision of your personality. You may be confronted with the loss of all things familiar, including familiarity itself. In venturing to the likes of Facebook/ Instagram/ Twitter/the Interwebz, you might be greeted with FOMO (fear of missing out). For some, maybe the lessons in solitude will manifest as lessons in loneliness. For others, there is the trying emotional investment of having a loved one elsewhere—of figuring out how to live feeling like the other half of you is elsewhere. For you, perhaps being understood in full is the simplest wish and the most unattainable desire.

IMG_6350

In talking with others abroad this semester, every person remarked that they thought study abroad was “supposed to be easy.” Though most described the overall experience as positive, nobody described the semester as easy. And in fact, not a single person ever recalled hearing about these trying lowlights of study abroad beforehand.

Yes, I will tell you that study abroad is magnifique and for some, life-changing. That you can pursue the extraordinary and find life unlike the one you’ve lived. Yes, I will tell you that I believe it is 100% worth it and that you’ll never forget it.

But yes, I will also tell you that study abroad is not just plain easy.

IMG_6358

For most, it’s not an endless parade of glamour and ease—a 4-month-long vacation of stars, rainbows, ponies, and absolutely perfection. I tell you this not to complain about a “hard knock life,” to lament an epic 1st world problem, to be negative, to be discouraging, to scare you. I tell you this because it’s what nobody told me. Rather, this is what I wish I had known so as to avoid feeling caught off guard or as if these sentiments were unique to me.

For me, study abroad has been nothing like I expected but far beyond anything I ever could have dreamed. Plans rarely go directly according to plan. Sass frequently goes through the roof; hair gets tangled; and life gets messy on the daily. It’s not cute.

But you learn to make it your own. Through it all, life abroad paints the world in colors you’ve scarcely imagined. And the complete picture is one of highlights, lowlights, and everything in between.  It’s rarely perfect but always as it should be. It’s a whole lot of organized chaos, a whole lot of faith in yourself, and the reminder that, well—

It’s kind of a funny story.

Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset

By: Lexi Cotcamp, MSB ‘15: Reposted from The Hoya‘s (Georgetown’s newspaper) article found here, with stylistic variations.

4 Comments

Filed under Study Abroad

A Glimpse at Paris

We’re totally going to talk Paris. About how all alone in the city of love & lights, I was rarely alone.

It’s a conversation and a half, and it’s headed your way in a jiff. “Why not now?”
8 AM classes, homeskillets. Like whose gameplan was that? Don’t remind me.

Let’s do pics…it’s a total mellow Tuesday move.

IMG_6272 copy

{ best friend A & I casually strolling near Le Tour Eiffel}

IMG_6289

{The Lumineers concert in Paris!}

IMG_6220

{Macarons from the master himself, Pierre Hermé}

IMG_6223

{Locks of Love & Cathedrale Notre Dame}

IMG_6251
{place de la république à paris}

Now who wants to go to an 8 AM class?

…That’s what I thought.

-lexi

3 Comments

Filed under Study Abroad, Travel

Florence, You Sexy Beast

I wish I could tell you I’ve been off honeymooning in Fiji for 10 days with Italian pop star Paolo. Or Italian sandwich star Pino.

There would be coconuts! Turquoise water tip-toeing! Exclamation points! And palm fronds gently fanning.

Reality check: no palm fronds. Unless you count the tree branches that decided to assault my face during the last 7 days of unrelenting rain in Nantes.

Not funny, Mother Nature.

Italy? Let’s talk about these dang adventures already.

Along with friends K & E, I spent 5ish days in Italy for our Fall break. The break was the longest of the semester, and we booked our tickets for Italy pronto within the first week of arriving in September. Italy was a done deal for us. We had roughly no idea we wanted to do in Italy, except just about everything. Yes, gelato was a big part of “everything.”

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset
So what happened? 5 days of abso-freaking-lutely, smokin’ hot mess.

Totally not kidding. With a little veritable truckload of help from our friends (new and old), we managed to make organized chaos look nothing short of awesome. After a night’s layover in Bologna, it was off to Florence!

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

It would probably be an A+ idea to tell ya’ll that our fantastic time in Florence is deserving of a special shoutout. Longtime pal and Stanford grad M, who previously studied abroad in Florence, sent me the most ridiculously thorough declassified guide to Florence. Monuments, gelato, spectacular sights, tourist traps, declarations of love (and hate), gelato, local gems, and warnings (of fake gelato) were all scrupulously detailed on a Google map. And because he’s a gold-medal doofus, there was also a warning command that read, “If you go here, I’ll kill you. Go somewhere that is less like a Nightclub version of Applebees.” 

Clearly, he’s a keeper.

After around 8.56 bajillion miles of walking, we managed to see just about all of Firenze as guided. Including…

IMG_5888

Piazza Michelangelo, home of the best view in all of Florence. Beautiful view, meet my best friend ‘bottle of wine’ and good company too.

IMG_5797

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Not one, but two melt-your-face-off amazing trips to Salumeria Verdi — or more fondly, “Pino’s”. This man makes the best frick frackin’ sandwich that will ever meet your lips. For 3,50 euro, you receive a mindblowing lunch AND a new best friend; Pino is the bomb.com and a Firenze legend.

IMG_5927

Classy sights like the museum housing the famous David sculpture and a surprise meeting with friend AC.

IMG_5940

Followed by a trip to Fiesole, with a sweeping view of all of Tuscany.

Excuse me while I make my way down from Cloud Nine. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the chance to have gelato.

Processed with VSCOcam

Jokes on jokes. Zero gelato? Meatballs are more likely to rain from the sky (that would be cool?).

This was a trip to Vivoli Gelato, which we decided was the best gelato in central Florence. Tiramisu for this kid. Like the gods of Italy decided to throw a double dessert whammy all up in this shabang.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Badiani Gelato. Which must be pronounced with sweeping hand gestures and a boisterous Italian accent that is rolling in the deep. You were right (again), M.

(You’re still a goober though.)

IMG_5943

Kickin’ it with the Medicis in Fiesole.

We’re super casual bros.

IMG_5906

Hey ho, ya spiffy Duomo. (center of Florence)

santa croce
Piazza Santa Croce. With colors that look like they splashed off the ground and onto the buildings + sky.

Florence was heavenly. The perfect blend of culture, Pino, history, accidental penthouse apartments, adventure, janky buses, toils of getting pooped on by a bird, beautiful views, carbscarbscarbs, students of all sorts, Tuscan sun, and gelato as a first language.

Like palm fronds and Fiji.

Only much, much better.

-lexi

p.s. Rome to come!

 

1 Comment

Filed under Study Abroad, Travel

This Couldn’t Be Me

1017420_10152096524497868_116872522_n

I look out the window, and my breath catches.

The freccia train that spryly runs from Florence to Rome beats onwards, whisking through the Tuscan countryside.

Italy.

I want to telephone the higher powers (?) and tell them they have the wrong girl. That this luck should be shared with someone else. That this couldn’t possibly be me sitting here.

1385997_10152096524512868_824260650_n

Softly, I raise the goblet of champagne that has appeared beside me to my curious, smiling lips. I watch the little, wide-eyed Italian toddler as he dawdles through the aisle, staring at the world. I think, this couldn’t possibly be me.

I absentmindedly nibble on the Italian  fennel-laced biscuit in front on me. The chorus of Californiacation fills my ears, and my smile grows a little wider with the stroke of happy memories. I hear English, see Italian words, and write un petit essai in French.

I want to tell you that I feel so very lucky and that I haven’t forgotten the importance of that. I think of you and me and this endless world we’ve set out to see.

And then I think again, this can’t be me; you must have the wrong girl.

1 Comment

Filed under Study Abroad