Looking Back on 2016 #TBT

Every year around the New Year I get pretty emotional. As silly as just a singular date is marking the start of a new year, I like to take it pretty seriously. But this is the first year I am taking it a bit more seriously as I look back and see how much has changed for me in the past 365 days.

I started my year boarding a plane on January 3, 2016 to Florence. I was anxious, nervous, and had doubts of even getting on the plane. For me, doing things alone has always been a piece of cake, but abroad is different. You are thrown into a new life, in a new place, with a new language, and no one is there to tell you the “right” way to do it. The first 2 and a half weeks there I was lost and didn’t know what I got myself into. The thing is no one tells you about that part. The beginning part, where you don’t want to be alone and all you want to do is have someone make you feel like you’re home. But luckily one day it just clicked for me and I knew I was in the right place.

I learned a lot of things when I was abroad. I know everyone says they do, but for me I truly did. I learned that it’s okay to be fearful and uneasy in another country when other people aren’t. I learned that if you are someone who is a planner and always needs to have organization, that mentality isn’t going to cut it abroad. It’s okay to literally just see what happens and go with the flow. I learned that slowing down is the most important thing to do at our age especially in a city like Florence whose pace of life is ten times slower than here. I learned to not stress over the places I didn’t get to go, because I know I will get to go back.

But the most valuable and harsh thing I learned about abroad was that it is just a fantasyland. Those people you met, in that exact place you lived, at that exact time, will never happen again. If we try and mimic the same experiences when we get back to reality, it’s just not possible. Abroad is a memory and one we need to cherish forever for teaching us lessons and awesome things we didn’t know about ourselves. Or maybe even not so great things we didn’t know about ourselves. I think for me I have the hardest time with change. And once abroad turned into my life, going back to reality hit me harder than I ever expected.

I will never forget my professor telling me before I left for Florence to seriously just relax. He said the more I talked about abroad, the more I was  going to ruin the experience if I keep talking about what I will and won’t be able to accomplish there. He said to me, “Plan some trips and know you won’t do half of what you planned, do something really crazy that you wouldn’t normally do here in America and get yourself in some trouble, and find an awesome romance and know it will most likely come to an end.”

I noticed myself feeling different this past semester, as I felt the organized, structured part of me slowly diminishing, my stress fading away, and my constant looking into the future shift gears into the present. This could be such a bad thing for a lot of seniors in college getting ready for the next step, but for me it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I was finally able to take my professors advice and learned how to act on a word that I never really new how to, relax.

Sometimes I look back at the beginning of 2016 and I wish I looked deeper into the meaning of all of these things then instead of now. I wish I laughed at things I cried about and was more aware of the silly situations that just don’t matter anymore. But then I remember that basic cliché of everything happens for a reason. I think every single day in life if I didn’t go there, do this, and act this way, I wouldn’t be where I was right now. Sometimes that makes me wish I could go back and change things, but then you remember that this is exactly how it’s supposed to be. For me it wasn’t abroad that led me to realize all of these things, but just a time and place for me to put everything together that I’ve always been trying to figure out.

Abroad is over, my first semester of senior year is over, and so is 2016. So now as I said I will take every lesson I learned and make 2017 an even better year. I have the funniest, most beautiful friends in the world, an awesome family, go the best school, and know I only have good things coming my way. So here’s to enjoying my last semester of college and slowly, just living in the moment. Thanks 2016. You were more than good to me, you were great.

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Cinque Terre

If you want to take the best day trip of your life in Italy, Cinque Terre is the place for you! Manarola, Riomaggiore, Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, and Corniglia are the five villages that are considered Cinque Terre. I was only able to make it to three of the five villages when I took my own adventure there, but it was well worth it. The views you will see in Cinque Terre are unlike any other views I have ever seen.

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What should you do in the Cinque Terre?

  • Take an awesome Instagram picture in front of the stacked houses and gorgeous clear waters of Manarola 
  • Get pesto focaccia and fresh seafood at ANY of the restaurants in Vernazza
  • MUST do the awesome hiking trail between Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare (It is pretty painful, but very necessary!)
  • Take an afternoon trip to Portofino and shop at all of the fancy shops

Love Me Now

John Legend recently released a song that I can’t seem to stop replaying. It’s catchy, has beautiful lyrics, and the music video is what makes it even better! It not only features his wife and daughter, Chrissy Teigen and Luna, but also other couples around the world. He presents four locations in his video, which are at the Orlando Pulse Nightclub memorial, a refugee camp in Iraq, Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic, and North Dakota’s Standing Rock Reservation. Legend wanted to show couples representing themselves in other parts of the worlds and symbolize unity and hope. He also shared stories of these couples on his very own Instagram account. Take a look below at this music video and I am pretty positive you will love it just as much as I do! #LoveMeNow

My UDAB Experience #TBT

During my sophomore year of college, I decided that instead of taking an average spring break trip, I wanted to do something different. I just transferred to the University of Delaware and didn’t know that many people yet, so I heard about a program called, UDAB. This program sends students to underprivileged neighborhoods within the U.S. to help with different causes. A few months later after three rounds of interviews, I was told I was going to to Leesburg, Florida to help rebuild their neighborhood. At first, I was upset that I didn’t get chosen to go on the New Orleans trip because I have never heard of Leesburg, Florida. I was a little more upset when I finally arrived to Florida and saw all of my friends on social media bathing in the sun in either Miami or  Mexico. I was regretting ever making the decision to go there and be on a trip with 50 other people I didn’t know.

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It only took 24 hours for me to change my whole mindset on the situation. It took a day of axing a few trees, painting houses, power washing, raking for 8 hours, and spending time with underprivileged students in their school for me to realize what an incredible decision I actually made.

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I spent one week in Leesburg, Florida with 50 strangers that became my great friends. We helped to rebuild the community together and built relationships with so many people that grew up there. I did a community service trip before in Costa Rica, but never in my own country. This made me realize how there are so many places within our own country that need our help and I am so happy that I was able to lend a hand. 

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