10 Things I Learned This Semester

Thursday, December 10, 2015

| 10 Things I Learned This Semester |

1. the power of a planner.

this semester was the first time I truly committed to using my planner. I make to-do lists unapologetically. I color coordinate my due dates in a way that makes logical sense to me. though it may seem contradictory, surely enough, it is this strict organization that helps me to live in the moment.

2. it IS possible to finish a journal.

I finally finished the journal I’ve been writing in since my senior year of high school and rewarded myself by getting a nice new one (though finding the perfect one may have taken an absurd amount of time).

3. everyone should have to be made aware of their privilege.

honestly, let’s make “privilege awareness education” mandatory. let’s make it a gen ed requirement, or even a mandatory Wellness (a la Alcohol Edu). we really can’t live in a world where a white, conservative male, from an upper-class family, attending a private university honestly believes he doesn’t have privilege.
*side note: everyone should consider taking an intro anthropology class. I think it’d really change the way we look at and talk about the problems in the world.*

4. not going to church makes a huge difference.

I’ve really been slacking on my church attendance this semester and I can tell that it’s taken its toll. going back more consistently is definitely on my to-do list for the spring semester.

5. set some limits (even if it’s awkward)

this lesson is two-fold: first, I learned to set some limits of what I would tolerate from others and what I would tolerate from myself. secondly, I learned how to verbalize exactly what I expected from my relationships with people (and the importance of doing so). these two parts of a very important lesson reminded me of my personal power during a semester when I felt like I really had next to none.

6. it’s okay to want to be left alone, and it’s okay to not.

there’s a difference between being “lonely” and being “alone.” it’s also super okay to want your momma. I never really understood homesickness as a freshman, but I’ve been dealing with it a whole lot this semester.

7. be kind and be human.

this is basically a reiteration of my last post. I think that far too often it’s easy to feel like we’ve been wronged and hold a grudge and let our mean flag fly when we don’t mean to. which leads me to my next point:

8. forgive.

forgive others, and forgive yourself. so yeah, sometimes we’re wronged, sometimes we wrong others. forgive them as best you can, and forgive yourself even if they cannot.

9. loyalty, and the way people understand it, is a funny thing.

I don’t really get it. that is all.

10. New Girl actually can solve a sad day.

no matter what kind of day you’re having, this show can restore my faith in love and relationships (I just finished the second season which has me reeling on tears of joy). and even on episodes where love isn’t the center of attention, I honestly can’t make it through a full 20 minutes without a good hearty belly laugh. which I would argue is one of the best medicines.

Happily yours,


Frankenstein and Other Monsters

Monday, November 16, 2015

"What seems like a charmed life never is because we all are strengthened by our trials."

woah... hi mom, that's not what I was expecting from you. 

In this simple text from my mom she recounted a conversation with a woman she'd had lunch with  woman whom, we both had assumed for the longest time, had her entire life together, and never had a hair out of place. 

"At 8 She was driving in her fathers car when they were hit head on. He died the next day; she was called Frankenstein by other kids for all the scars on her face."

Excuse me? WHAT ON EARTH COULD A LITTLE 8-YEAR-OLD HAVE DONE TO DESERVE THIS?! I'm sorry, but no. Whose parent forgot to scold them for being mean? This story served to summarize how utterly cruel we can intentionally be. What this girl really needed was a hug and to be told that it was all going to be okay. She had just lost someone near and dear to her heart ― she was suffering and mourning and instead of finding support was ridiculed for something she couldn't control and honestly probably wished she could've changed.

This blog post is probably going to be shorter than what every article about building a following says, but I don't care. Here is the basic message of this post, courtesy of Yes and Yes:

The world is filled with nice people, if you can't find one, be one.

Life is rough sometimes. Let's be nice to one another, because honestly it's really not that hard. Set your limits, talk about your feelings, and then keep going. There is no reason to be intentionally harmful or cruel or manipulative. I'm not sorry because, honestly, life is hard, the sophomore slump is too real, and we all just want to feel like we belong.

Lovingly yours ,

#SongCrushSunday: Tracks I'm Fallin For

Sunday, October 25, 2015

God bless the changing leaves, the changing of seasons, and Spotify's Discover Weekly playlists. Something about fall just reminds me of everything that's still good in this world. It reminds me that because change is inevitable, a fresh start is always around the corner. Another unexpected blessing has been absolutely incredible music suggestions from Spotify every week on their new Discover Weekly playlists. Not totally sure that there's anything that super ties them together except they all were suggestions, but let's see if we find a common thread as we go.

1. "Back to You"  Twin Forls

Joyful folk I first heard on "Reign," Season One.
Notable lyric: Follow the signs right back to you / Back to you (back to you) / I know they wind right back to you

2. "Chivalry is Dead"  Trevor Wesley

Literally so suave it hurts. I personally think this song is ridiculously hilarious, too.
Notable lyric: Just 'cause I'm a gentleman don't mean I ain't taking you to bed. (also, check this video out.)

3. "Cold Cold Man" Saint Motel

In case anyone was at a loss for what to say to the person they're fallin for.
Notable lyric: You're the only one worth seeing. / The only place worth being. / The only bed worth sleeping's / the one right next to you.

4. "Lay It All On Me (feat. Ed Sheeran)" ― Rudimental

Super pop-y Ed (who is perfection anyway) so this is just genius.
Notable lyric: If you're scared when you're out on your own / Just remember me / Cause I won't let you go.

5. "Ten Feet Tall" ― Afrojack, Wrabel

Sucker for electronic male ballads, #sorrynotsorry.
Notable: [general fan of the way he sings the entirety of the chorus]

6. "Safe Place to Land" ― Christian Burghardt

Let's rethink love and being consoled. You could definitely interpret this song to be about a significant other, but honestly, I took it as a reminder that my friends will always have my back – something they've proved so many times this last month.
Notable lyric: I'll always be your tried and true– / When your wings give out on you, / I'm always gonna be your safe place to land.

7. "Ain't Nobody (Loves Me Better)" ― Felix Jaehn, Jasmine Thompson

tbh this song will forever remind me of Queen Latifah and Steve Martin in Bringing Down the House. Easily one of my favorite scenes.
Notable lyric: And now we're flyin' through the stars / I hope this night will last forever.

8. "Postcards" ― James Blunt

Makes you believe in the beauty of love again. Makes me excited to be totally in love with someone.
The notable lyrics are the entirety of the chorus: I’m sending postcards from my heart, / With love for a postmark and then, / You’ll know that you make me, / Feel like we’ve been caught. / Like kids in the school-yard again. / And I can’t keep it to myself. / Can’t spell it any better: / L-O-V-E forever. / I hope you know that I’m, / Sending a postcard, I don’t care who sees what I’ve said. / Or if the whole world knows what’s in my head.

9. "Higher Education" ― Will Dailey

One of those songs that just surprises you with everything it has to offer you.
Notable lyric: I learned to dance / From a girl who could dance / Far better than I could even breathe

10. "Heart's Content" ― Brandi Carlile

The perfect way to wind down this playlist: sweet, soft sounds that close the night out leaving you to ponder how love will find a way.
Notable lyric: Maybe we hurt / Who we love the most / Maybe it's all we can stand / Maybe we walk through the world as ghosts / Break my own heart before you can.

Happily yours,


An Apology

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Let's talk about mistakes.

And loving yourself. 

And taking care of yourself, despite your mistakes.

If I've learned anything about blogging from every article ever posted about starting a following, it's that your posts should be consistent and engaging. I know that I have definitely not been as consistent as I'd like to be, and for that, limited readership, I'm sorry.

And trust me, that is the easiest apology I've had to make in the last month. 

I recently made a huge mistake and am having to deal with some pretty ugly ramifications.

According to a super awesome leadership retreat I went to in high school, I could move forward in several different ways. I could blame, shame, quit, or own up. Because of who I am, I chose the latter. From how I see it though, if you've been unkind, you can at least be honest. As my brilliant classmate, Meredith, writes:
Always being nice can be difficult, and sharing is hard when you really love your cookies, but being honest is theoretically the easiest thing you can do. It’s what makes us trust each other and end up being able to be nice to others, what makes us want to share our cookies. Lying is a deliberate, deceptive action you have to take. Being honest is the core of everything. Integrity is how people operate, and once you violate integrity, it’s what’s remembered about you.
So, even though my mistake was a huge gap in my character and a display of an utter lack of integrity, I chose to be honest and show integrity in the way that I followed up with the person I'd wronged.

And honestly, it has sucked. Looking someone in the eye and telling them you did them wrong has to be one of the hardest things we, as loving but flawed people, will ever have to do. Of course, we want them to believe the best in us, and maybe even forgive us, but maybe that's not always possible. Maybe our mistakes hit a central tendon in their emotional make up that makes us unpardonable.

Maybe that's okay. Maybe it's okay to cry for longer than people think you should. Maybe it's okay to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and say, "maybe that's for the best." Maybe it's best to learn from our worst mistakes so that we know why we can't ever repeat them.

And now, on loving yourself. Life is a series of growth spurts. And just like we get physical growing pains, we can get emotional ones too. And just like we ice our pains, we must acknowledge that it is okay to lick our wounds. To draw into ourselves and regenerate before moving forward in daring steps. To snuggle with the most incredible suitemates and friends you could ever ask for. To breathe.

And finally, I think it's most important to realize that just because you're loving yourself doesn't mean that the mistakes will end. In the last month, I've forgotten major assignments, said hurtful things, ignored important calls, and totally ruined a roll of film for my photography class. I ask myself what it would be like if I could just catch a break. And then I watch an episode of How to Get Away with Murder or New Girl, and I feel better. Not "okay," not "good" by any means, but better. Making mistakes literally blows. There's nothing worse than looking something in the face and being able to say "this could have been avoided if only I..." I know. And making repeated mistakes or compounded mistakes feels like there's a huge weight on your chest like how the atmosphere feels when it's about to rain. 

At this point I'm convinced my little cloud has just been condensating and gathering little droplets and at some point, when it's healthy and safe to, everything will spill out and the scorched earth will be washed clean. 

10 on 10: 10 Things I Love About Being Back on Campus

Thursday, September 10, 2015

[the beginning of a new series]

~~~Welcome to the first 10 on 10 post!!~~~ 10 on 10's are a way of jotting down ten awesome things about any given topic on the 10th of every month. So, even though I loved my month at home, I couldn't be happier to be back in Richmond. Which leads me to *drum roll please:*

| 10 Things I Love About Being Back on Campus |


After a year living across the hall from these lovely ladies, we finally get to live together in our own suite (no hall bathrooms #blessed).

2. This view:

Hello lake. Hello you beautiful, beautiful home.

3. The Redhots:

MY TEAM. In case it wasn't already obvious, I love these people.


4. I love having Pi Phi sisters.

Already, our pledge class has hung out so much. We are getting ready for our annual Lip Sync (#PiBetaPhilanthropy), which is Middle School Jams themed, which basically means we're going to get up and make fools of ourselves for literacy. We love to see that.

5. Aileen:

Sweet sweet Aileen was gone last semester and even though it flew by, I am so so so happy she's back.

6. RVA:

The University itself is great, but the city of Richmond is just as cool. Honestly, I am so amazed every time I leave to adventure it.

7. Lodges:

Life is a lodge and my big is the dopeness. I mean, they open tomorrow, but the hype is TOO REAL (especially because it will be the first time Haley and I go to a lodge together -- so so so ready).

8. DHall breakfast:

#blessed by triangle potatoes and short wait time in the omelet line.


Oh my goodness there are so many little things running around campus that still don't know the difference between Theta and Theta Chi (precious) and look lost in the library and the ones on the frisbee team (appropriately named frisbabies), are the cutest things EVER.

10. My classes

I know this might sound ridiculous, but I honestly love all the classes I'm taking. I got to switch into a higher level Spanish class than I initially thought I would be in and we're reading Spanish poetry which is just beautiful. And all of them are already starting to tie together which is literally my favorite thing about a liberal arts education (shameless plug).

Happily yours,


Summer Reads that Made Me Happy

Thursday, August 27, 2015

[the one where I share my favorites.]

“It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it.” ― Oscar Wilde

Hands down, one of my absolute favorite things about college is no summer reading. Sure, you probably have a job / internship / volunteer opportunity / family / craft / Netflix series you could be devoting that time to instead, but there is something so liberating about getting to choose what you want to read for. your. self. 

1. Bossypants Tina Fey (autobiography, comedy)

Let me start off by saying that I think Tina Fey is a perfect person. This book makes you laugh, cry, contemplate your life choices, and really stop to think about human nature. Part biography, part life guide, Fey couples her expertise as a writer with her comedic genius to create a light-hearted but entirely profound read. Pairs well with road trips, airplanes (even though it makes you giggle), lazy days, sharing with friends.

2. How to Start Something that Matters ― Blake Mycoskie (autobiography, social entrepreneurship)

I laughed when I saw what Google considered to be this book's genres. To me, more than anything, this book was a how-to guide: how to run a company / movement that makes the world a better place. Mycoskie blends his own experience with stories of charity: water, method, and FEED projects to create a compelling narrative about companies that have a mission to improve the world, and how they manage to get others to join their movements. Pairs well with a sense of enthusiasm, a desire to make the world a better place, business majors and non-profit studies*, and how-to-guide-lovers.

3. The Smartest Kids in the World: and How They Got That Way ― Amanda Ripley (education reform)

As someone who is uber passionate about global education, this book was immediately fascinating to me. We were supposed to read it for one of my classes this spring semester, but alas, it fell to the wayside. I want your feedback on any of these reads, but I'd love to hear from you about this one in particular!! Pairs well with an analytical mind, an active sense of social justice, and any kind of interest in comparative education.

4. Brave New World ― Aldous Huxley (dystopian fiction)

Was I the only one who never had to read this as assigned reading? I guess so, but that didn't stop me from picking it up and absolutely loving it. It is a little confusing, so reading the Sparknotes to supplement what you already understand definitely enriches the whole experience. "Like other dystopias, this novel doesn’t simply show us a world that is different from our own, it shows us a world that is a mirror of ours, with the worst features of our world drawn out and exaggerated." Pairs well with, a stormy afternoon, a clear mind, a love for utopias-gone-wrong.

5. The Maze Runner series James Dashner (young adult, post-apocalyptic fiction)

Following the dystopian-future trend, this series grabs your attention from the get-go, and holding it to the every last sentence. I'm not kidding you when I say that I finished the first one in the middle of an airport and ran to the nearest bookstore to see if they had the sequel (The Scorch Trials, brilliant, really). Another perfect example of the movie not doing the book justice. If I were you, I would hurry up and read them before they decide to make the rest of the series into movies as well. Pairs well with an extended period of time, free of any commitments so you can read as much as you possibly can in a single siting.

6. Loving Frank ― Nancy Horan (biographical novel)

I think if you ask most people what their favorite book is, a handful of titles come to mind -- at least, that's how it was for me for the longest time. This book changed all of that: this novel is easily my favorite book of all time (*dramatic silence*). Although it's fictional in nature, Horan based the story on the lives of Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick Cheney, his mistress. There are many hints and connections to Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House, and for those of you who have read it, I would say that this novel picks up where the play leaves off. It is a beautiful but utterly tragic story of womanhood and dealing with the ramifications of our choices. Pairs well with a sense of adventure and rebellion, a stormy afternoon, a break up, a road trip, literally anything because it's lovely.

Happily yours,


*To be fair, I am neither of these, but I feel like it would sit well with these audiences because it's a light read, but a super profound narrative-turned manual. 

#SongCrushSunday: After A Few Weeks at Home

Sunday, August 16, 2015

This playlist doesn't really have a theme. It's more a compilation of songs that I picked up along the last few weeks that I've spent at home and with family.

1. "La Mer"  Chantal Chamberland

The French version of this Sinatra classic is absolutely stunning. Pairs well with a relaxed atmosphere.

2. "Cucurrucucu Paloma"  Lila Downs

This is a cover of a beautiful Celia Cruz song, with so much passion and emotion bleeding into the music. Gotta love beautiful Latina soul. Also, apparently, when Downs announced that she was going to record this track, musicians from all over the world flew out to record with her. Pairs well with a sense of drama.

3. "Chivalry is Dead"  Trevor Wesley

This kind of jazzy-Broadway, pop-blend came up on one of my Spotify "Discover Weekly" playlists, and it was an immediate hit. Love it! Pairs well with a need to feel suave.

4. "Ain't Worth The Whiskey"  Cole Swindell

My heart honestly breaks for the narrator of this song. I just want to belt it out and cry and console all at the same time. I love country #sorrynotsorry. Pairs well with feeling feelings.

5. "21"  Hunter Hayes

I like country part two. Hayes is such a cutie ― I'm very much a fan. A nice alternative for captions to T-Swift's "22." Pairs well with chasing the sunrise like we're wild and young, kids on the run.

6. "Cecilia And The Satellite"  Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness

This is probably the song that best encapsulates my taste in music. Don't really know what to say about it, but it's kind of odd, kind of fun, but definitely lovable ― me in a nutshell. Pairs well with wanting to learn lyrics and belt them out on a car ride.

7. "Come to Me (feat. Lauren Chandler)"  The Village Church

Since I've been missing church services from Richmond, my mom and I listened to Redemption Hill podcasts this morning. I played this song for her this morning in remembrance of the services there. I love Jesus, part one.

8. "Great Things (Worth It All)"  Elevation Worship

"I am weak, You are strong // You will always be my hope // And my soul will sing: 'You have done great things!'" I love Jesus, part two.

9. "Fix My Eyes"  for King & Country

The radio stations have changed a lot since the last time I was home, but K-Love has stayed the same, which means it was on in the car a lot. I love this song. Pairs well with an awesome sense of wonder and hope. I love Jesus, part three.

10. "Blessings"  Big Sean, Drake, and Kanye West

180 degrees from the last three songs and the country ones before those, but this song's how I bond with my brother and Haley and let loose. Pairs well with a thug attitude (or love for rap lyrics).

Happily yours,


What My First Summer Internship Taught Me

Monday, July 27, 2015

[the one about my internship at a local hospital.]

Who: Yours Truly.
What: A Summer Student Internship that focused on inviting and enrolling patients to the Health System's Patient Portal.
When: 40 hours a week, Monday through Friday, Memorial Day though last week. 
Where: Virginia Commonwealth University Health System (VCUHS) ― more specifically outpatient clinics.
Why: I am recovering from ACL-reconstructive surgery and I wanted to stay in Richmond and finish with the same physical therapist, and I needed a way to finance living away from home.
How: My physical therapist, Rebecca, handed me an application two hours before it was due ― a phone interview and a few weeks later, everything fell into place.

Let me just start off by saying that I have absolutely no interest in medicine. None. Zilch. Nada. I still cry when I see needles ― I know, you're probably thinking why on earth I ended up working in a health system (I know I did for at least two full weeks of work). That being said, I have definitely learned so much from this internship that I probably wouldn't have otherwise.

1. How to show up

I know this doesn't sound like much, but I think it's a lot more understated than it should be. Sure, as a student we show up to classes and club meetings and practices and things like that, but, for the most part, our attendance only really affects us.* When you are expected to show up somewhere and do your job, there is so much more importance on your attendance and accountability.

2. How to wear long pants in 90 degree weather (+ humidity)

For someone who is not at all used to southern humidity, learning to wear long pants all summer was a serious change. In the bigger picture, though, this translated to learning how to dress in a professional environment. When we "dress-to-pin" for chapter and other occasions, the dress code is supposed to be "business casual," which most girls have simply translated to "nicer that what you would wear to class." I love the way the Health System defines this dress code ― "business casual is simply a comfortably relaxed version of traditional business attire with no sacrifice of professionalism or personal power" ― and think it's something my chapter could definitely start implementing.

3. You may not always know best (and that's okay)

When I came in to this experience, I thought that my feedback and ideas would be invaluable to the projects and task at hand. I'm a smart, hard-working, determined young woman, so why wouldn't they be? Well, sometimes logistics are stacked against you ― fret not, there are worse things in life that not having your advice considered. The point of internships is to learn. To expand your horizons. At the same time, you can't expect someone to hold your hand throughout the entire process, so make independent choices, and take responsible for the fall out (positive or otherwise).

4. That I definitely underestimated a 40-hour work week

Sure, I had a desk job that involved mainly customer service related issues, and sure I was inside all air-conditioned and not doing anything super labor-intensive, but a 40-hour work week was exhausting. I would get home ready to take a nap until dinner. And then I would remember that if I wanted to have dinner I had to make it myself, and that the same thing went for lunches. Not to mention laundry, dishes, and general house-keeping. If nothing else, this experience gave me so much respect for working parents every where. *snaps for you*

5. "There are far, better things ahead than any we leave behind."

There were times during this internship that I really struggled and felt discouraged because I felt like I wasn't helping anyone (even though I definitely was). This experience taught me that I'm the kind of person who wants to be able to see the fruits of her labor ― it was hard to know that anyone was enjoying their access to the portal because it really wasn't something that most patients volunteered. When I got discouraged I really had to remind myself that this was temporary. That my reasons for being here were to be close to Rebecca, and that I needed to focus on getting better and getting stronger so I could go back to the sport I love. Summers have always been a transition period for me, but this summer was especially. I felt myself transition from teenager to young adult. I got to go on adventures independently to places I'd never been to before. I got to learn how to take care of myself ("adulting").

I also learned a whole bunch of things about the clinics I was working in (pediatric gastroenterology especially), but mostly I learned how to function in a new setting, a work place, like a young adult. That being said, I could not be more excited to be back home with my family, taking a break from this whole "adulting" thing.

Happily yours,


*I recognize that team practices and discussion-based classes may seem like an exception to this rule. #sorrynotsorry

A West Coast Girl's Guide to Living in the South

Thursday, July 23, 2015

[the article I wish I had been able to find a year ago]

There’s something difficult about leaving home when the state song literally declares “home means Nevada to me.” Nonetheless, as the college application process began, I knew that I wanted to go out of state, and preferably to the East Coast. I pictured myself somewhere with a global worldview: Washington D.C., New York City, anywhere in the Boston area. Never did I think I would find a school in the South, fall in love at first sight, and quickly apply Early Decision. Thankfully, financials fell into place, I was accepted to a Living-Learning Community, and I survived the Hunger Games aspect of class registration! 

None of this, however, could prepare me for the total change in cultures from the West Coast to the South. I tried to prepare myself by researching on Pinterest, Instagram, endless blogs, and anything else the internet had to offer, to little avail. Most of the articles I found were tips for Yankees moving South of the Mason-Dixon Line, or Californians moving to the Northeast. So here it is*, as a hope that it can help others making that same major move!

Embrace the great things about this culture:

The South and Southern way of living has so much to offer especially in terms of hospitality and nice weather. Be open to experiencing the beautiful things that this move will result in.
  • The food here is perfect in every way: loaded with butter, salt, and sugar and worth every single calorie. Tater tots are served for breakfast like, hellooooooo – what an age to be alive. Enjoy both cookout and Cookout. (Here’s your first lesson about Southern vocabulary: What we might call a barbecue is called a “cookout,” “barbecue” is the food you eat at a cookout.) A cookout, of course, should never be confused with Cookout, the restaurant which the South is #blessed to have. We may have In-n-Out, but nothing compares to the beauty of Cookout. Their milkshakes –which they call “Fancy shakes,” because they’re really just so fancy, you don’t even know– and their hushpuppies… like wow. Nothing quite like a milkshake that takes your full mental effort to get up the straw.
  • The only thing here sweeter than the sweet tea is the people. Total strangers will smile and ask how you are, hold the door open for you even if you’re far away, and yield to you even if they have the right of way fantastic habits to get into. Also, PEOPLE ACTUALLY SIT ON THEIR FRONT PORCHES. It’s not necessarily applicable to college dorms, but it’s the cutest thing to see lil’ old folk sitting out drinking sweet tea and smiling at passersby. On campus that might manifest in picnics, or studying outdoors (yes, just like you saw in the college brochures).
  • People here also dress up for football games excuse me, what? Yeah, that’s right: long gone are the days of needing to bundle up for a home football game, now replaced with bow ties and sundresses. Local families and alumni will come hours before to tailgate and dress their children in the school’s colors. It’s kind fun and really quite sweet after you get over the initial awkwardness of realizing this display of hometown pride is not a casual venture to be taken lightly.

One of my favorite events with one of my favorite people.

Dressing up for football games is part of the next step to overcoming West-to-South culture shock: Understand, at the same time, the quirks.

  • Very quickly you’ll learn a lot about geography. For example, Northern Virginia is hardly Southern, and Florida isn’t at all.
  • Other than dependable humidity, the weather is predictably unpredictable.
  • Boat shoes are waterproof: which means they work for your rain storms and occasional inch of snow. (If it’s more than an inch of snow, most opt for Bean Boots.)
  • God is everywhere. “Good Lawd,” is a commonplace phrase, all the best restaurants are closed on Sundays, and church is as much a social experience as it is religious.
  • The only people who wear more pastels than Southern belles are Southern gentlemen.
  • SO. MANY. MONOGRAMS. Seriously, on tumblers, on backpacks, on boots, key-chains (or “key fobs,” as some of your new peers might call them), and literally everything you didn’t know could be emblazoned with your given initials.
  • A year ago Lilly Pulitzer didn’t have her connection with Target, so I had never heard of her, nor did I much less, own anything in any of her prints. I didn’t totally understand Jack Rodgers (until I bought a pair of flats and omg, life changing). But here, these are not only brands, but household names.
  • These kids have gone to Washington D.C. every year since the first grade, so seeing the monuments doesn’t sound like an exciting way to spend a Saturday to them but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think it’s the coolest thing you’ll do this semester! (Which, of course, it won’t be, but be excited about it nonetheless!)

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

That being said, the South has a complicated history: even amidst current controversy, Confederate flags still fly, and the Civil War is still called “the War of Northern Aggression.” DO NOT LET THIS SCARE YOU. Please note that the header of this section says to understand the quirks of this region: as a transplant, it is important to consider the valuable aspects of this complex history. Take the time to ask people about the way they were taught about the Civil War without casting immediate judgement. Which, brings me to my next point:

Bring your unique perspective and experiences to the table.

Chances are, you’ll be one of the first (if not the first ever) West Coaster your new classmates have met. Embrace your uniqueness and use it as an interesting facet of conversations.
  • People on the West Coast talk about going to Coachella in all seriousness, but in the South it’s more of a fantasy in a far-away land (and, to be fair, three-thousand miles and three time zones makes it just that).
  • On the note of snow: most people here haven’t grown up skiing. At even the news of the mildest now warning, Southerners flock to grocery stores. It doesn’t matter if you need more of whatever you’re actually buying; it’s a matter of principle.
  • Laugh when you see quinoa advertised as “adventurous,” and then pride yourself in explaining the beauty in a food that tastes like rice but is packed with protein.
  • Be prepared to encounter people who can’t stand to drive for more than a couple of hours and are shocked to hear how long it takes to traverse Western states. “Yes, I have driven the entire Californian part of the Pacific Highway. No, it wasn’t torturous. No, I don’t think a ten hour drive is the end of the world.”
  • Pride yourself in being from the Best Coast and don’t be afraid to make it your caption on Instagram when you find other West Coasters because you will, and you will bond. Mostly about being so far from home, but hey, you’ve gotta start somewhere.
    West Coast, best coast

Ultimately, allow yourself to become an amalgam of both cultures:

College is about ~~finding yourself~~ or ultimately, creating yourself and defining the person you want to be. Allow this person to be a healthy blend of both cultures. “Y’all” will slip into your lexicon. Don’t fight it. Embrace it. Let it naturally happen in conversations with friends from home without thinking twice about it. (Your autocorrect will get used to it, too, if you just give it time.) Realize that it’s okay to call home to be reminded what familiar things feel like. Acknowledge that the Mexican food will always be better at home, but that you probably would never have a new-found love for Cuban pastries or authentic barbecue without coming to the South.

Little Stony Man, Shenandoah National Park

Join in on the chorus:

This goes for the college experience in general: get involved! The biggest change, regardless of where you’re going to college is the fact that there’s a whole new academic and social landscape. Yes, it can be as terrifying as offering the world your heart on a silver platter, but at the end of the day, it’s a matter of getting involved. Don’t be afraid to start small hanging out with the people on your hall or from a class. I don’t know if this is particularly a Southern thing, something we do at my school, or just a college thing in general, but this is my piece of advice: when “Sweet Caroline,” or “Wagon Wheel” begins to blare, regardless of the social setting, join in on the chorus and do so unabashedly.

Good times never seemed so good.

Happily yours,


*This started as a student blog post for Unigo, in which I used the same aforementioned points to talk about college-associated culture shock more generally. That piece can be found here.

#SongCrushSunday: Summer Roads

Sunday, July 19, 2015

There's nothing like the summer to make you want to roll your car windows down and blast the stereo. Inspired by the trending hashtags, #ManCrushMonday and #WomanCrushWednesday, my friend Ruby came up with #SongCrushSunday, the perfect way to start a conversation about the songs that make us happy. After taking a few road trips this summer (to D.C. and then New Jersey), I decided to compile a short list of my favorite songs for a summer drive.

1. "Summer in the City (Yites Remix)"  Sunbathers ft. DJ Yites

This song is perfect for when you just want to jam out and have a dance party without having to think too hard about the lyrics. Pairs well with road trips or late nights with friends.

2. "Tongue tied"  Grouplove

Following the electric feels from "Summer in the City," "Tongue tied" is great for car dance parties, with moments that feel like you're at a live concert. Pairs well with dance parties (personal or group setting).

3. "Hold Back the River"  James Bay

This song is ready to be belted out at the top of your lungs ― even if you only sing in your car and / or shower (hey, I don't judge). Pairs well with a good attitude on life.

4. "Jackie and Wilson" ― Hozier

I was first exposed to this song by the Redhots' annual mixtape. If you're looking for more sounds from the man that so desperately wants you to take him to church, this song can help you imagine just what a future with said man could be. Pairs well with a thoughtful drive, full heart, and a blustery afternoon.

5. "The General" ― Dispatch

You know those songs that are more of a story than just a poem or really wicked set of instruments? That's this song in a nutshell, which I fell in love with after hearing it at an a capella concert in the spring. Pairs well with an ambitious determination to learn and in turn spit all the lyrics, and sunshine.

*full disclosure the second half of this list is country because the genre is practically synonomous with summer and sunshine.*

6. "House Party" ― Sam Hunt

Work blues got you down? Feeling like you just wanna curl up into a ball and pretend that you don't need to see people in your free time? Alternatively, are you so ready to see everyone you love in a single moment and have the best of times? Here's the summer anthem for you. Pairs well with driving home after work on a Friday night, and then at any given weekend festivity (especially if it's a house party). 

7. "Why Don't We Just Dance" ― Josh Turner

This song will forever remind me of Narae, which basically means it always leaves a giant smile on my face. (The music video is worth checking out, too.) Pairs well with a good mood (or anyone in need of being put in one), and dancing feet. 

8. "John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16" ― Kieth Urban

What Rolling Stone calls a "genre-jumping" track is perfect for your ride home from work, or to or from anywhere, really. Name dropping three important Johns, Urban creates your country-encompassing anthem. Pairs well with a young soul and good time.

9. "Crushin' It" ― Brad Paisley

Ever feel like you just can't catch a break? In this song, Paisley reminds listeners that "every week has a weekend," and that's the truth of the finer things in life. Pairs well with sunshine and summer drives.

10. "Wagon Wheel" ― Darius Rucker

Intentionally saved for last, "Wagon Wheel" is a classic whose chorus can be belted out with the windows down, or appreciated for it's gentler verses. Don't forget to join in on the chorus. Pairs well with anything, everything, the moment is always right.

Happily yours,