Tag Archives: travel

I’m Sending You a Postcard

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I’ve always wanted to be the kind of person that sends postcards. The globetrotting kind that sends a visual message-in-a-bottle from really rad places and with effortlessly cool handwriting.

The thing is though, I’m notoriously terrible at remembering to buy, write, or send postcards…the essentials, more or less. I also have a thing for technology. And I hate my own handwriting.

This combination does not = postcard kind of person.


So instead, I’m sending you a postcard here. If you’re taking the time to read this, I probably would have sent you a postcard (if I was that kind of person). To you in New York City who always secretly laughs at all my bad jokes.

To you in Washington D.C. who is headed to Jazz in the Garden. To you in San Francisco who never hesitates to remind me of our crazy first date. To you abroad, eating all the delicious things. To you in the world who always takes the time to say, “What’s up?”

You! I’m sending you a postcard. With too many 1 cent stamps. And probably a gelato stain. No postmark, but it’d probably be late if there was one.

I’m sending you a postcard from..

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London – Cheerio! London town was full of proper rollie pollie cabs and grey skies. And as an American, I felt like everything seems familiar but foreign. A collision of cultures, if you will. The mushy peas are wildly overrated. But those “digestive” biscuits?! Man, oh man. Lord, save the queen.

Amsterdam – If there ever was a way to make a maniac on a bike feel right at home, this is it. Life lesson: Dutch apple pie puts American apple pie to shame. The same could be said of beer. It’s wacky, but aren’t we all a little?

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Paris – Oh Paris, je t’aime indeed. I love speaking your language, be that French or butter. It’s unclear which of those is the real native tongue. One day (not today, but like…the year after tomorrow), I’ll be back to call you home. That’s a little bold. But then again, this is me we’re talking about.

Lisbon – You remind a girl that life is meant for living. Truly, Lisbon was my favorite of the trip. Laid-back but charming and filled with friends who have the same natural zest for life. Here, there was an art to doorways — to inviting people in with cordiality and sending them off with warmest wishes. We’ll go back! Oh yes we will.

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Barcelona – Naps and nightlife — was there ever a more accurate description? Barcelona was a laughable realization that it’s a small world after all. Notably in the middle of a club after far too much liquid courage. No new friends isn’t really our style anyway.

Prague – Castles with charisma and monasteries with home-brewed beer. All the way with the panache! Bohemian gems and a hint of old world charm. We also tried Czech food for the first time. And maybe the last time too…

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Berlin – You embody good vibes and great food. The main squeeze. As a bonus, your street music is the best I’ve ever heard. The kind of sounds that I wish I could capture in a bottle and save for a rainy day. You’ve got spunk, brimming with a sort of unidentifiable vitality.

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Greece – In one word: janky. The notion of sidewalks eludes you, but your sunsets more than make up for it. You’ve got the views down-pat. Not to mention the gelato, the beaches, and the kindest Greek people. The European Union (ECB) is like “B*tch better have my money,” and you’re just like, “How about a postcard?” Points for audacity.

After wandering across a continent, home is a welcome destination. I’m doing a whole lot of nothing here, and that’s the most refreshing adventure of all for a constant doer.

Currently:

Listening to – Little May – Boardwalks (remix). It sounds like summer!
Playing – Ben E King  & Kanye West on guitar. Clearly,  don’t understand what “genre” means.
Watching – Orange is the New Black & Good Will Hunting (my new favorite movie)
Reading – The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
Learning – How to do: Elementary Spanish, html code, and peacock pose (pincha mayurasana) in yoga

Doing – Nothing. Well, except sending a few postcards.

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The State of January

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So can we agree that January is just a lot? Snow is far less sexy when battling blizzards is required for participation in life. Good intentions to drink more water and eat more vegetables are easily confused with more beer and more pizza.

And ahem, someone better have a really compelling reason why it’s inappropriate to wear a Snuggie to class/work.

(Equally compelling is the fact that we can ignore any reason the world gives us.)

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We’ve got a fair shake of people telling us How to do a Juice Cleanse (and be really miserable); How to Be a New You (because Old You is so out); How to Resolve to Do Everything Ever (but not actually do it) or How Not To Set New Years Resolutions Period (because *shrug*).

It’s all a complicated beast, really.

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I don’t have any miracle gluten free diets to recommend or get-rich-quick schemes to share. But it’s my 21st year in this rodeo, which is secret code for the fact that I know a whole lot of a something about a whole lot of nothing.

I mean, 21 years is older (& wiser??) than Facebook, Buzzfeed, and skinny jeans all put together. Heck, 21 years is older than the entire Internet! Boom clap.

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2015 already, ma? Ya gotta be kidding me. I hope you got ready, got set, and got to the go. I hope you’re still hoarding the last few goodies from Mom/Dad’s care package. And I really hope that you’re planning on inviting me over to share them.

I’m mostly kidding about that invitation. Unless Mom/Dad sent  homemade brownies or cozy socks or a piña colada, in which case I’m totally not kidding. Priorities of friendship.

14 days into the year, and topsy turvy is already the name of the game. We may be back to doggie paddling, but the rest of the world is right there with us. We’ll call it somewhere in between sink and swim.

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The world for me comes bursting at the seams this year. Hey world, slow your roll!

So far, we’ve crossed off a cruisin’ trip to Los Angeles; a masquerade ball best described as “soooo college” by every parent ever; and an unhealthy/healthy amount of New Girl.

I’ve also taken to teaching myself guitar and am borderline semi-pro. Or more accurately, I’m superbly mediocre and thrilled about it.

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In the works, there’s upcoming trips New York City trips and a roadtrip to Mardi Gras. There’s old skool hanging out and a birthday or two. There’s capstone classes and a spring break jetset to Cozumel where guacamole is the imperative word (or is it margarita?).

There’s a finale of Georgetown and all the holy $h!t moments of impending graduation (let’s not talk about it). Perhaps a European adventure on the docket and a return to home base. There’s moving to San Francisco and starting at Google full time. And who knows what else. Cheers!

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Between now and then though, we have plenty of awkward moments, crazy hair days, and oops-we-did-it-again moments to enjoy and endure. I mean, it’s all part of the master plan, right? *wink wink*

Meanwhile, let’s get our priorities straight and resolve to find a really compelling reason as to why Snuggies should be school/work appropriate.

Because that’s a New Year’s resolution I can get behind.

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5 Things Learned from a Weekend in New York

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 :)

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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:

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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.

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  • 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.

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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.

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The State of September

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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• 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.

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• 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!

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• 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

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Dream Big But Never Sleep

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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

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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…”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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{The Lumineers concert in Paris!}

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{Macarons from the master himself, Pierre Hermé}

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{Locks of Love & Cathedrale Notre Dame}

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{place de la république à paris}

Now who wants to go to an 8 AM class?

…That’s what I thought.

-lexi

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