Friday, March 27, 2015

The End of Everything!

Hey everyone! I just wanted to take a quick moment to give you a little bit of a life update. I usually have a pretty good idea of what I want to write on this blog before I sit down to write, but today I just feel like I need to just empty my brain. There is so much going on in my life, and rightfully so because I'M GRADUATING IN 47 DAYS. (But who's counting?) I thought I'd give you a little peek into what's in the very front of my mind as of late, and will probably be until I cross the stage on May 13th!

1. The #SAsearch is in high gear right now! My fellow GA Brittany (who is also job searching) and I talk about it pretty much every day and have been each other's support crew/cheerleaders which is really nice to have at this point in life. I've applied to several places and have had a couple interviews (which OHMYGODISSONERVEWRACKING) but I know that this process in the Higher Ed world is a whole lot of hurry up and wait so I'm staying positive and trusting that eventually something will work itself out. I'll, of course, update you all when it eventually does and I accept my first professional position!


2. I'm wrapping things up at my Bridgewater assistantship and my internship with Clark over the next few weeks and it's so sad! April is NEXT WEEK, meaning there is programming every week between now and the end of the academic year, which also means time is going to fly. I'm going to be putting on my last major week of events with PC, I'm going to be giving support to all the offices I work with in their end-of-year activities, and worst of all, I'm eventually going to be saying goodbye to the students and colleagues that have been part of my life for the last two years. SO HEARTBREAKING! I'm very lucky that I've had such positive experiences that leaving them is difficult, but GOD does it suck! </3

3. THERE IS STILL SO MUCH HOMEWORK TO BE DONE, but I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel! I am definitely feeling the graduate school version of senioritis and homework is honestly the last thing I want to be concentrating on right now with everything else that's going on in my life. But today, I somehow miraculously fit all of the assignments that I have standing between me and my Master's degree on one single sheet of Filofax paper which is un. real. It's so crazy to be this close to having my Master's when not too long ago I had absolutely zero intention of ever pursuing it. It kind of doesn't feel real!
The FINAL list!

So as you can see, my life offline is consuming my whole attention and will likely be doing so until graduate school is over. It's only a short 6 and a half weeks away, (but again, who's counting?) but apologies if my little corner of the internet gets neglected. I'm going to make an effort to post at least once a week until the summer rolls around, (I still have so many photos and videos to share with you from my trip, as well as a ton of other fun posts that I've been meaning to write!) but if that somehow gets away from me as well, know that it is for a good reason! In the mean time, make sure you're following my Twitter and Instagram as I've been keeping those fairly up-to-date during this crazy time!

 I hope you're all doing fantastic, and I will be writing very soon!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Po' Boys, Pralines, and Parades: New Orleans (Vacation 2015, Part 1)

Hello everyone! I have finally returned from my family trip to the Western Caribbean and after a week to get my bearings back to the real world, I'm ready to share with you all what we got up to! Apologies for the two weeks of silence, but we had such a blast! We did so much and I have so many photos that I'll have to break up my trip into a few different posts in order to fit it all in. This post will be dedicated to day 1 - New Orleans!

Our cruise left from NOLA at 4PM on Sunday afternoon, but since we all wanted to experience the city of New Orleans, we decided that we wanted to spend an extra day exploring. We woke up at around 3:00 AM to make it to the airport for out 5:55 AM flight (ouch) and start our journey to warm weather! We flew Manchester to Tampa, then Tampa to NOLA, where we would meet up with my sister.

Of course, I've never been one to sleep well in moving vehicles of any kind, so I got maybe 30 minutes of sleep on the first flight down to Tampa. When we arrived the sun was up which helped me wake up a bit, and we also found some food in the form of a breakfast burger (scrambled eggs, bacon, cheese, on a brioche bun). My dad and I really wanted an actual burger because at that point we had been awake for 6 hours and we were ready for lunch, but it was only 9:30 so we couldn't find anywhere that was serving lunch quite yet.

We arrived in New Orleans around 11:30 AM (Central Time, meaning it was really 12:30 PM to us... time travel is confusing, as you'll see a few different times in this series of posts!) and met up with my sister at the airport! We all jumped in a taxi and got a bit of a tour from our driver, Big E, who reminded us to laissez les bons temps rouler!

Once we got to our hotel to drop our bags, we were in immediate explore mode. We stopped by PJ's, a Louisiana coffee chain, got a praline with cream coffee, and set off on our walking tour of the French Quarter. In our travels, we stopped by Jackson Square, Cafe Du Monde, tried out some pralines (HOLY DELICIOUSNESS), spent some time by the Mississippi River, and stopped in the Market Cafe for a snack of fried crawfish and gumbo, washed down with some Hurricanes!

After our snack, we ventured down Pirate's Alley, where we came across a wedding! From there, we found Royal Street and Bourbon Street and started to get the real flavor of how New Orleans got the reputation it has. Live music on every single corner, impromptu parades every 30 minutes or so, street performers, hand grenades (the drink, not the weapon), and just people all over the place. You really need to watch my vlog (included at the end of this post) to get a real idea of what it's all about, but it. is. AWESOME. There was so much to do and see and try that you couldn't possibly do it all in one visit.

For dinner we stopped by a restaurant called Oceana where I tried a shrimp po' boy (YUM) and fried gator bites (ALSO YUM). If you're a seafood fan, New Orleans is an awesome place for some unique foods to try. And no worries if you're not a fan of fish, there are so many restaurants that all have a ton of different options that will absolutely suit your needs!

 My dad and I headed out on our own after dinner, and decided to do some after-dark exploration of the city. There is SO MUCH going on on a Saturday night in New Orleans. We walked up and down Bourbon Street and stopped into about 10 different bars with a new band playing live in every one, each one with a different style of music! This city really comes alive with people who are just looking to have fun and enjoy what the city has to offer them, which is always so amazing to experience. It's safe to say that NOLA stole my heart, and I hope to return one day very soon!

We ended our stay in New Orleans with a breakfast of beignets and coffee from Cafe Du Monde, enjoyed in the warm Louisiana sunshine next to the Mississippi river. YUM.

We seriously had so much fun in the short time we were in the city, and I definitely fell in love with everything that New Orleans has to offer. If you consider yourself to be adventurous and love to immerse yourself in unique cultures, then I would 100% recommend a visit to the Big Easy. I can not wait to go back!

Check out the vlog from our stay in New Orleans below. 
The city really is so much better when you can see it in action! :)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Ocean Voyage Reading List

Saturday my family and I are going off on a seaward adventure! (I mean, we're not setting sail until Sunday, but we leave on our trip Saturday and get to spend a night in NOLA - so cool!) I have made an effort to get ahead on my homework so I wouldn't have to worry about it at all on this trip and can just enjoy the sunshine and family time. While we are at sea and visiting different countries in the Western Caribbean, we will be WiFi-less, which will mean very limited technology usage. I'm actually pretty excited to unplug and will be spending a lot of our travels doing what I don't typically get to do since I've been in grad school - read for fun! 

I have five titles picked out for our journey, and while I'm not counting on getting through every single one (I'm a fairly slow reader), it will be great to just have them at hand. I have a lot of lounging around to catch up on. What better lounging companion than a great book? ;) Here are the books I selected to bring along on the trip with me:


1. Where'd You Go, Benadette by Maria Semple | I found this book when I was shopping around in Barnes & Noble with a gift card I had received for Christmas. It seemed like a fun read to take on vacation with me, and when I had posted on Instagram that I had bough it, a few people commented saying what a great book it was! I'll probably be taking this one on the plane with me to pass the time.

"Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.
Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle--and people in general--has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.
To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence--creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world."

2. Wild by Cheryl Strayed | I've been wanting to read this book for quite some time (According to my GoodReads account, I added this to my to-read pile back on Christmas 2012, which is actually when I received my Kindle as a gift!) When I heard that it had been turned into a film, I knew that it was the time to finally buy the book and sit down to read it. I have a feeling this is going to be the perfect vacation book filled with adventure!

"At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her."


3. Love, Life, and Elephants: An African Love Story by Dame Daphne Sheldrick | I came across this book a few weeks ago when I had first found out about the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. Of course, becuase of the work they do with endangered animals, especially elephants, I was automatically intrigued by the story of the Sheldricks and wanted to study more about them! I thought this would be a wonderful place to start. I downloaded a copy to my Kindle and I am so excited to find out more!
"The first person to successfully raise newborn elephants, Dame Daphne Sheldrick has saved countless African animals from certain death. In this indelible and deeply heartfelt memoir, Daphne tells of her remarkable career as a conservationist and introduces us to a whole host of orphans - including Bushy, a liquid-eyed antelope, and the majestic elephan Eleanor. Yet she also shares the incredible human story of her relationship with David Sheldrick, the famous Tsavo National Park warden whose death inspired the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and the orphans' nursery, where Daphne works to this day. From her tireless campaign to preserve Kenya's wildlife to the astonishing creatures she befriended along the way, Love, Life, and Elephants is alive with compassion and humor, providing rare insight into the life of one of the world's most fascinating women."

4. DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education by Anya Kamenetz | Of course I couldn't take a break from professional development while on vacation! This book was loaned to me in the fall by my Director at BSU, Cindy. The title definitely got me interested, as there is definitely a "traditional" approach to higher ed, but I feel like there has been much more unconventional innovation in the field as of late. I can't wait to find out more!

"The price of college tuition has increased more than any other major good or service for the last twenty years. Nine out of ten American high school seniors aspire to go to college, yet the United States has fallen from world leader to only the tenth most educated nation. Almost half of college students don't graduate; those who do have unprecedented levels of federal and private student loan debt, which constitutes a credit bubble similar to the mortgage crisis. The system particularly fails the first-generation, the low-income, and students of color who predominate in coming generations. What we need to know is changing more quickly than ever, and a rising tide of information threatens to swamp knowledge and wisdom. America cannot regain its economic and cultural leadership with an increasingly ignorant population. Our choice is clear: Radically change the way higher education is delivered, or resign ourselves to never having enough of it. The roots of the words "university" and "college" both mean community. In the age of constant connectedness and social media, it's time for the monolithic, millennium-old, ivy-covered walls to undergo a phase change into something much lighter, more permeable, and fluid. The future lies in personal learning networks and paths, learning that blends experiential and digital approaches, and free and open-source educational models. Increasingly, you will decide what, when, where, and with whom you want to learn, and you will learn by doing. The university is the cathedral of modernity and rationality, and with our whole civilization in crisis, we are poised on the brink of Reformation."

5. We Should Hang Out Sometime: Embarrassingly, a True Story by Josh Sundquist | I had heard about Josh Sundquist in the past, but really got to know more of his story by listening to his episode of Ear Biscuits with Rhett & Link. When he spoke about his journey to find out what was going wrong in his romantic endeavors and the book he wrote about this journey as a result, I was very intrigued! I just had to download the story to my Kindle and just indulge while I lie in the sun. Josh lives a very unique and interesting life and I'm very excited to learn more about him through this memoir.
"Josh Sundquist only ever had one girlfriend. For twenty-three hours. In eighth grade. 
Why was Josh still single? To find out, he tracked down the girls he had tried to date and asked them straight up: What went wrong?
The results of Josh's semiscientific, wholly hilarious investigation are captured here. From a disastrous Putt-Putt date involving a backward prosthetic foot, to his introduction to CFD (Close Fast Dancing), to a misguided "grand gesture" at a Miss America pageant, this story is about looking for love -- or at least a girlfriend -- in all the wrong places."

And there you have it! My list of vacation reads for this trip. I can't wait to get lost in these books and just forget about the world for a week. 

What kind of books do you like to take on trips with you? 
Leave some suggestions in the comments! 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Packing for a Multi-Climate Trip

I've mentioned it in passing a few times here, but this weekend my family and I are going on a trip! I'm very excited for this adventure with my parents and sister. We get to explore a new part of the world together, get to try new things together, and most of all just relax together as a family, something we don't get to do very often.

I thought this would be a good opportunity to share with you all what I'm bringing along with me. We will be on our trip for 8 days and will be travelling through several different climates (from snowy New England, to mild New Orleans, to the warm and sunny Western Caribbean), so knowing what to bring without over packing can be a little tricky. Hopefully you will find this plan helpful if you take a multi-climate trip in the future!


Running shoes: For exercising as well as a few excursions we have planned on the trip.
Wedges: For evenings when the dress code will be a little ~fancier~.
Boat shoes: Boat shoes are so versatile and can really be acceptable to wear in any climate.
Sandals & flip flops: These will likely be my go-to footwear for the majority of the trip.


L.L. Bean tote: This will be my carry-on for our flights and probably the main bag I'll take with me to lounge by the pool, depending on how much I want to take along with me. All of the other bags will stay in my suitcase until they're needed.
Backpack: Need something a little more durable to take out on our excursions. This will be great to carry my GoPro and its attachments out with me!
Mint satchel: Something small to take with when we go out at night. Good to throw my camera and wallet in!
Cosmetic bag: Pretty self explanatory. This is a fold-out cosmetic bag I found at Target on sale for about $5. Not too bad!

Climate One: Snowy New England 
(Average Temp: 20-40° F)

Fortunately, we won't be spending too much time in this climate. Outside of walking from the house to the car and from the car to the terminal, we won't be spending much time outside in the cold, so I can get away without bringing my bulky coat and chunky boots with me. I'll be layering a hoodie under a heavier windbreaker for a coat, a scarf and a hat for some extra warmth, and wearing a comfy tee and jeans for the plane ride. I'll also be wearing my boat shoes for easy slip on and off when going through security!

Climate Two: Mild New Orleans
(Average Temp: 50-70° F)

The way our trip worked out gave us the opportunity to spend a night in the French Quarter of NOLA! Even though it's further south and anything above 20° feels like heaven to me at the moment, temperatures won't be warm enough to run around in a tank top quite yet. I'll likely be wearing a long sleeve, some denim shorts and comfy boat shoes to explore the city! If the temperature is on the low end, I'll trade shorts for jeans and bring the lighter coat that I wore on the plane with me.

Climate Three: Warm, Sunny Western Caribbean
(Average Temp: 70-85° F)

This is the climate that I've been longing for! We'll be in the Western Caribbean for the longest amount of time (6 days) but we'll be doing something different each day so I need to pack accordingly! I broke up my choices based on what we will be doing.
Day Wear

We will be doing lots and lots of swimming, snorkeling, and water-based activities, so I'll basically be living in a bathing suit. My day wear will likely consist of a bikini, a cover-up of some kind, and flip flops. If I'm not swimming, a tank top and shorts will be the alternative.

Excursions & Exercise

We do have an adventure-based excursion planned and I do plan on working out while on the trip, so comfortable exercise attire is a must! I'll be packing lacrosse pinnies and other active wear tank tops, athletic shorts, headbands, a hat, and my running shoes.

Night Out

We also have a couple of family dinners planned! My dad and sister will both have birthdays while we're at sea and we are definitely planning on celebrating, so I'll be packing a few dresses, a few nicer tops and denim shorts for more casual nights, and my nicer sandals and wedges to go along with each outfit!

And there you have it! I hope this comes in handy in the future if you're planning to travel across multiple climates in the future. It definitely takes a lot of consideration and planning to make sure you're prepared wardrobe-wise, but as long as you're taking the time to plan a few outfits out and consider every environment you'll be in, you'll be in good shape! Now the real question is if my bag will be under the weight limit...