Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day Weekend

Happy Memorial Day! For those of us in the U.S. I hope you're all having a relaxing holiday weekend full of fun, family, and friends. I, for one, had a very laid back weekend. My Friday was actually on Thursday as two of my Friday classes were cancelled and I took the third class' quiz a day early, so I got to take actual Friday off! Brandon's mom visited him in Eugene from Thursday until Sunday so we took a day trip to Florence, Oregon to visit the beach.
Before we left we all met at a pancake house in Eugene for breakfast and stuffed our faces with Eggs Benedict and bacon and pancakes and waffles. The pancake house was super spacious but also very cozy with super delicious food. I'm a huge breakfast fan so this was a good way to start my long weekend! Before heading out we visited Brandon's apartment so his mom could give the cats some treats and new toys which was super generous of her! The cats took some time to get used to the new toys but they haven't stopped playing with them since.
It was a little over an hour drive to Florence which was nice and scenic. Being that all three of us are from California we're always in awe of places that aren't super built up and we loved the green-ness of a state not in a drought. Though I had only taken this drive a few weeks earlier with my sorority, it was nice to see it again. Brandon had never been to the coast and we had all had a nice time walking on the vastness of the sand. Brandon's mom and I were all getting pretty tired, yawning every few seconds, by the time we got back to the car so we stopped by a Starbucks in a Safeway where they were having a rib cookout outside. It smelled delicious and reminded me of how much I miss barbecue and tailgates at the baseball park.
We were only in Florence for a couple of hours and I ended up taking a nap on the way back to Eugene. When we got back we had dinner at Olive Garden, a personal favorite of mine since carbs are my favorite food. We all got way too much food and were absolutely full to the brim by the end of the meal. Of course unlimited breadsticks don't help! After we were done stuffing our faces (including dessert of course) we called it a day. We were all super tired after our long but relaxing day. It was really nice to have Brandon's mom visit and be able to have us all visit the coast and eat some good food. My Memorial Day Weekend started off right!

Friday, May 27, 2016

101 in 1001

Long term goals have always been difficult for me to make so I thought this would be a fun challenge when I saw it on Five Foot and Fabulous. This was also a bit challenging because it isn't a life bucket list, it has to be in the next 1001 days! So I couldn't put down "visit every Disney park" like I really wanted to, I had to be a bit more realistic. I plan on doing my monthly goal posts still but for the next 1001 days, here are my 101 goals!

Start Date: Friday, May 27th, 2016
End Date: Friday, February 22nd, 2019

Blogging (1-10)
1. Reach 10,000 page views a month
2. Gain more friends within the blogging community
3. Work with a large name-brand sponsor
4. Be actively working with over ten sponsors
5. Go to a blogger meetup
6. Reach 5,000 Twitter followers
7. Reach 1,000 Instagram followers
8. Write code for my blog
9. Start a YouTube channel
10. Collaborate with other bloggers/Be a guest blogger

Travel (11-20)
11. Go to Spain
12. Go to Greece
13. Take a real road trip
14. Go camping
15. Visit five more states
16. Go to a fashion week event
17. Take Brandon to Disneyland
18. Go to each continent
19. Visit to midwest and the south since I've never been to either of those regions (unless Florida and Disney World count)
20. Return to Budapest, Vienna, Prague, London, or Paris

School/Career (21-30)
21. Land an internship
22. Land an actual job
23. Get straight A's
24. Go to office hours for each class at least once a week for at least one semester
25. Ace all of my finals
26. Work at Disneyland
27. Earn an income from blogging
28. Work with Make a Wish
29. Study consistently for at least one semester
30. Take a class I don't know anything about

Adulting (31-40)
31. Pay my own bills
32. Rent my own apartment
33. Cook dinner for friends and family
34. Have at least $1000 in savings
35. Host a dinner/wine night
36. Drink enough water for once in my life
37. Meal prep for at least a month
38. Have a spontaneous daily routine
39. Donate to charities every paycheck
40. Keep a consistent planner

Family and Friends (41-50)
41. Travel with my mom
42. Go to Spring Training with my dad
43. Go to an away game with my dad
44. Watch my brothers graduate middle school and high school
45. Travel with friends
46. Have an apartment with friends
47. Call parents once a week
48. Call my grandparents during big events
49. See my grandparents/aunts/uncles/cousins more
50. Go to see my cousins shows/games/work/etc.

Fitness, Health, Style (51-60)
51. Get a massage twice a year
52. Do a push up
53. Eat clean for a week straight
54. Get toned
55. Be able to buy new clothes each month
56. Be happy with my body
57. Go to SoulCycle with my mom when I'm home
58. Go hiking with friends
59. Do yoga at least once a week
60. Expand makeup collection

Food (61-70)
61. Bake ten recipes from Pinterest
62. Be able to cook Thanksgiving dinner
63. Bake some pies
64. Watch Food Network
65. Eat at a traditional Italian restaurant (is this cheating because I'm studying abroad in Italy for two months?)
66. Have a sushirito (even though they look gross, sorry)
67. Take cooking lessons
68. Eat vegetarian for a week
69. Eat vegan for a week
70. Do a juice cleanse

Entertainment (71-80)
71. Work a concert or event
72. Go to Outside Lands
73. Go to Coachella
74. Go to the SHN season each year
75. Go to local theatre shows
76. See my youth theatre and high school shows
77. Be in at least two shows a year
78. Create an album
79. Go to another Shoreline concert
80. Work in a studio

Skills (81-90)
81. Get trained in CPR
82. Become a camp counsellor
83. Be able to sing a high E flat
84. Be able to do a headstand
85. Figure out what the heck my lowest note is
86. Graduate college in 2019
87. Become fluent in one language
88. Learn how to produce music
89. Re-learn how to code
90. Understand fashion and makeup

Personal (90-101)
90. Continue writing yearly letters to self
91. Learn more languages!
92. Do one random act of kindness each day
93. Be positive every day
94. Complain less
95. Bake more
96. Explore in your free time
97. Take risks
98. Stay out late and have one of those deep talks like in the movies
99. Make new friends
100. Finish the Game of Thrones series
101. Go without my phone for a day

This was a super hard list to make and I'm sure I won't be able to complete all of these but I have hope that I will complete most of them!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Eleven Top Eugene Eats

So I realize that the vast majority of my readers are not from Eugene, Oregon, however I am currently in Eugene, Oregon therefore you will read about the amazing restaurants in the area. Then, if you are ever in Eugene, Oregon, you too can eat at these amazing finds.

1. Barry's Espresso Bakery & Deli
I am currently sitting in Barry's so it only seems fitting to start here. The Barry's I am at right now is actually losing their lease here within a few days of this post because a marijuana dispensary is moving in. Needless to say I'm bitter as hell. But good news! There will be a new location. So Google that if you're ever in town and wanting a good study spot and some dang good bakery food. I'm having this chocolate cookie right now that is reminiscent of Rocky Road ice cream. It's great. They have tons of bakery treats as well as soups and sandwiches. I've yet to get a sandwich here because I'm usually in a rush, but their cilantro corn vegan soup that I'm eating right now is bomb and I highly suggest it. I'm not even vegan.

2. Sweet Life Patisserie
In line with beautiful café environments, Sweet Life is a must for anyone in Eugene. They have gorgeously made and delicious desserts. The line is always practically out the door and even though it's a long wait it's always worth it. I'm a huge fan of soufflés and their chocolate soufflé is off the chain.

3. Belly Taqueria
I had not found decent Mexican food in Oregon until I visited Belly. Granted, they have a limited menus (note: it's a Taqueria) but it's really really good food. Their margaritas are also not a drink to be passed on. I tried my friends mini soft shell tacos and I myself ordered some cheese enchiladas. If anyone asks for Mexican food in Eugene I will direct them here.

4. Chula's Restaurant and Cantina
Or here! I'd been wanting to visit Chula's since I got here because I saw it everywhere and everyone in my sorority always talked about it! Some of my sisters actually work there and I always see them whenever I go. Chula's has more than just tacos and it's all really really good. I got chicken enchiladas (are you seeing a trend?) which I highly suggest.

5. Ambrosia Restaurant & Bar
Yum yum yum. This place is in Downtown Eugene and is perfect for a fun and peaceful date night. Their cocktails are really delicious and the food we got was nothing short of wonderful. It's classic Italian cuisine that goes above and beyond expectations.

6. Beppe and Gianni's Trattoria
Another favorite Italian place of mine in Eugene is here. It was one of the first Italian restaurants I heard about from my Italian teacher no less. And she's from Italy so she knows what's up. Everyone I know loves it here, and I go here frequently for birthdays and get togethers. The atmosphere is loud and upbeat which is great for a more lively date night!

7. Elk Horn Brewery
Okay I had been wanting to go here forever. The brewery is right by my sorority house and the outside looks super cool. One of my friends mentioned they had an Elk burger which doesn't necessarily appeal to me but I looked up their menu after hearing that. They have an item called pulled pork mac n' cheese which I was obviously dying to try. After months of waiting to find the right time to go here, I took my mom when she was visiting. To my great disappointment, they were out of their signature beer cheese sauce. Which APPARENTLY means no mac n' cheese. I was devastated but I moved on. I really freaking love beer cheese sauce too. My mom got a burger, I got a meat sampler (served on a board), and Brandon also got a burger. All were good, I just want my freaking mac n' cheese before I leave.

8. Wild Duck Cafe
I went here when my dad visited and also for my friend Megan's (yes another Megan) birthday. I ordered their beer cheese soup that came with a soft pretzel and it was delicious. I wasn't too hungry that night and it was a really great plate for someone who doesn't want to much. The food the rest of my friends got looked great as well and I definitely would love to go back.

9. Board Restaurant
My friend Clarae and I had heard about this restaurant when we were joking about foods being served on boards. Turns on this is the hub for board food. We visited earlier this week and had great service! We got there when it opened and were served right away. I got baba ganoush and she got a vegan hand pie. The atmosphere and decor were really calming and the food (no less on a board of course) was delicious!

10. Tailored Coffee Roasters
Okay I kind of have a bone to pick with this place but it's also delicious. They have really yummy pastries and coffee. I always opt for the peanut butter and honey toast (served on a board) which is really filling and yummy. I've gotten their chai as well as their hot chocolate, both were very good. The strange thing about this place is it takes forever to get your drink and food. Like upwards of ten minutes for a hot chocolate and a piece of toast with peanut butter on it. And it wasn't even busy. The employees also were not the best at answering our questions. So it was a bit of an awkward experience when Clarae and I visited, yet still very very good.

11. Sizzle Pie
GOOD PIZZA. That's all you need to know.

Bonus: BJ's and Applebee's, but there are everywhere. I just really like them. Also Voodoo Doughnut, I'm not the biggest fan, but I'm sure many else would like this place!
Still to visit: Excelsior and Oregon Electric Station. Will keep you guys updated.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Performer Spotlight: Stephanie Chee

I've spent every year since third grade participating in plays and musicals, singing in talent shows, taking voice lessons, acting lessons, and dance lessons. In my time onstage I've met hundreds of talented performers. One such performer will be featured here today: Stephanie Chee. Stephanie, a sophomore in high school, and I met during a production of Into the Woods. She was Cinderella's mother and during her solos my friends and I would literally die. At such a young age, having a voice as strong as hers is such a gift. When I heard that Stephanie was raising money to be able to go a summer training program at Tanglewood in Boston, I knew I wanted to feature her.

As context for those outside of the performing arts realm, summer programs are amazing opportunities that thousands upon thousands of pre-collegiate performers apply to each year and only a select few are accepted to. For those who want to continue on and pursue their art as a career, they are a great resume builder, and obviously the training goes a long way. I could go on about her dedication and talent, but I think this interview should explain everything!

M: When did you first start singing and when did you realize this is something that you wanted to pursue?
S: I can't remember a time when I wasn't singing. My mom says I've been singing ever since I've been able to talk, which sounds about right. Hilariously enough, I started singing Barney songs and Bingo as all children do. I didn't start taking voice lessons until the end of 6th grade. For a while, I only worked on musical theatre because I love performing in shows, but I started receiving simple art songs midway through seventh grade. Ever since then, I've fallen in love with the art. I don't think I fully realized that this was what I wanted to pursue in life until this year. Before that, I was also extremely involved in ASB at my school, so I had leadership also open as a career path. When I wasn't re-elected this year, I was devastated, but looking back on it, this was a blessing in disguise. This year, I've had so much more time to work on classical and grow as a singer. Shifting my focus to music 100% showed me that I was more passionate about this art than anything else and I could do it forever. I believe that careers should be chosen for happiness; therefore, I'm willing and ready to cope with the struggle that comes along with pursuing fine arts.

M: What has been your favorite performance of yours or a moment when it “clicked?”
S: Ooh, this is a hard one. Honestly, my favorite performance change as I grow. I recently competed in the Schmidt Youth Vocal Competition in San Francisco, my first live competition, and received a lot of helpful feedback. Although I didn't win first, I received an Encouragement award from the judges, which was amazing considering I was the youngest in a sophomore to senior competition. At my studio's voice recital last week, I performed my aria, "Una Donna a Quindici Anni" again and applied the critiques. I've had a recurring problem with psyching myself out, getting scared, and not fully performing or acting the song, which is an essential part, especially in an aria. I felt like I really became the character, Despina, in that performance and had the most fun experimenting with different character traits.

M: What is Tanglewood and why do you want to go? What is their summer program like?
S: Tanglewood is an extremely prestigious, summer classical institute for pre-collegiate students. It is held in accordance with Boston University in Lenox, Massachusetts for 6 weeks. I want to go to enhance my abilities as a performer and classical singer. Their summer program is rigorous. They offer classes in Music Theory, Diction, Acting, and much more. All performers in the vocal program perform in an opera scene and have two solo voice recitals. It is a spectacular learning environment.

M: What’s a fun fact about the classical community that people might not know?
Hm, this is a hard one. I can't think of one right now, but I will get back to you on that when I do! Classical singing is a very taxing. It takes many many years to reach peak voice. Classical singers must be very careful in selecting repertoire as doing too much too fast can ruin your vocal cords as can be seen by the great singer Maria Callas. Most singers do not reach peak voice until the age of 35-45.

M: What is your favorite classical piece? What’s your favorite language to sing in?
S: My favorite classical piece is "Una donna a quindici anni." It's my first Italian aria, which is super exciting. I've had it for 1 and a half years, I think, but I still love it as much as I did the first day I got it, if not more. Arias are super hard because you have to work every little section so that it's perfect. I've been working on it for a couple years and its still far from perfect. "Una donna quindici anni" from Cosi fan tutte by Mozart is about a servant who is trying to convince the two women she works for to go out with these two guys by teaching them how to flirt and such. It sounds crazy, but its actually really fun. My favorite language to sing in is Italian, but I also love singing in German and English.

M: What do you like to do besides classical singing? Any other hobbies, activities, etc.?
S: I love love love musical theatre. I have made so many friends to last a lifetime through theatre. In addition to that, I have also played piano for 11 years and danced for 3 years.

M: How often do you rehearse?
S: I warm up every morning and after school. I sing one or two songs in front of the mirror before school if I have time, but usually the bulk of my singing comes in the afternoon. I've had to set a personal curfew for singing at 10pm so I don't disturb the neighbors because I can be really loud sometimes and I'd hate to disturb children at sleep. I practice every day for at least one hour.

M: What would you consider your biggest strength in singing?
S: This is difficult because there are always way to improve in every field. I think my runs are fairly solid for my age, and I'm told I have good line or musicality. My breath support has improved a lot in the past year.

M: What do you want to work on in singing?
S: Everything! [laughs] I really want to work on the performing aspect because its really hard for me to overcome myself sometimes in terms of acting. For technique, my main targets of improvement for the next couple of months to year are fixing diction, expanding or making better use of my vocal resonators, and developing more control over my voice.

M: Why do you like classical music? Why do you like singing?
I like classical music because it is beautiful and conveys so many emotions without the redundancy of some modern songs. I love how every part in the song, the vocals and the separate instrumental parts, all have a wonderful storyline that flows along with them. The emotions that are communicated through the music are

M: Is there anything else you'd love to close off with?
S: Singing has been my passion ever since I was a young child. To pursue a serious career in voice is my biggest goal. I would like to thank my mom, my family, my friends, Peninsula Youth Theatre, Anna Prenares, Amy Heumann, and all of my other supporters for always being there for me and sacrificing so much to help me succeed.

If you'd like to help Stephanie out and read more about her story and path to Tanglewood, consider donating to her fund on GoFundMe. Thank you so much to Stephanie for doing this!

Friday, May 20, 2016

A-List Greek Designs + GIVEAWAY

For those of you who don't know, I'm in Gamma Phi Beta at the University of Oregon (soon to be Chapman University!). I absolutely love the Greek community and cannot wait to continue to participate my next three plus years in school. I rushed my first week of school, so Gamma Phi has truly been a part of my college experience every step of the way so far!

Now if you're in a sorority and you haven't heard of A-List Greek Designs yet you're in for a huge treat. I reached out to the founder of the company, Hope, after seeing her products featured on some of my other favorite blogs. Her pieces are incredibly unique and add the perfect accent to any outfit. If you're in a sorority, this is exactly what you need. I'm also so excited to be announcing Love by Meagan's first giveaway in partnership with A-List Greek! Read to the end of the post to figure out how you can enter!
I was so excited to open my first package from A-List Greek Designs! The packaging is so beautiful I felt like it was Christmas!

I was such a huge fan of everything that I got and have already been sporting the jewelry around town. The cute elastic hair ties were a trend I was behind on so I was so happy to find those in the package. A-List Greek Designs have all of these pieces and more on their website including Marquee Lights and Big Little gear as well as custom jewelry for those not in Greek life! And don't worry if you aren't a Gamma Phi, whoever the winner is will be getting their own custom pieces tailored to their sorority! Thank you so much to Hope for making this giveaway possible for Love by Meagan. Below is where you can add your entries for this giveaway! Each option gives you one entry into the contest, but you must submit your email and follow A-List Greek Designs on Instagram. It's worth it, I promise! Good luck!

Check out the rest of A-List Greek Designs social media at their Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A Letter to Self

I went to a super small private Catholic high school with sixty people in my graduating class (yes 60!). The entire high school was around 240 people with a middle school of 90. It had its advantages and its disadvantages which I'm sure will be well documented as this blog progresses. One of those advantages that I'm going to look at today was our yearly retreats and our letters to self. Because our school was so small (and tuition so high) we had the advantage of taking a retreat each year with our class.

Freshman year was at the end of the year to a retreat center to get to know everyone better and reflect on our first year. Sophomore year we did a service retreat and explored the coast of San Francisco to bond a bit. Junior year was the famed Tenderloin retreat where the junior class did a service retreat in a neighborhood in San Francisco by delivering food to apartments, sorting clothes in a thrift store, and serving food at a soup kitchen. The junior retreat also spends the night and my class was lucky enough to spend ours in a hostel at Point Bonita, a beautiful and secluded part of the coast in the Bay Area. The senior year retreat is something to be coveted. I can't write about it much here because there are many secretive traditions that make the entire retreat very emotional and special, but seniors spend the night at the beach relaxing and reflecting.

One tradition of these retreats that begins when students start going on retreats during middle school is a letter to self. Letters to self are pretty self explanatory. Each year on the retreats, there is time devoted to slowing down and thinking. Students are given an envelope containing a letter from the previous year if there was one. We all open our letters and read them. Many of these letters are emotional and lead to tears or make us nostalgic. After, we are all given a piece of paper and a pen and are instructed to find a space to write. This was always a special time for everyone and something I always looked forward to. I recently was mailed the letter to self that I wrote my senior year of high school. I had completely forgotten about it, especially since I wasn't looking forward to a retreat this year. It was a pleasant surprise and it encouraged my to continue the tradition.

I completely believe that everyone would benefit from keeping a diary or writing a yearly letter to self. Diaries can be hard to keep but writing in one every now and then or writing a yearly letter to self is better than nothing at all. Some people think diaries are silly or annual reflections are just a waste of time, but you'd be amazed at what you forget in a year. You'd be astonished by all the changes that have occurred and surprised by how much stays the same. One of my favorite parts of the school year was opening this letter to self and I am committing myself to continuing this tradition on. These letters are personal, just for you, so I won't be posting my letter to self here, but you bet I'll be reminding you about it a year from now.

Until then, get writing!

Monday, May 16, 2016

50 Facts About Me

So I've decided since this blog has been gaining some decent traction that I would write a facts post! I've been meeting so many wonderful bloggers in the community and I love reading their fact posts and get to know me posts. Without further ado, here are 50 facts about me!
  1. I am eighteen years old.
  2. My birthday is on July 27th.
  3. I was born and raised in Northern California.
  4. I currently go to the University of Oregon.
  5. I will be transferring to Chapman University in the fall.
  6. I am a double major in theatre and PR/Ad.
  7. I want to work in entertainment whether onscreen or behind the scenes.
  8. My favorite book is A Great and Terrible Beauty.
  9. I was the Baker's Wife in Into the Woods.
  10. I speak English, a little Italian, a little French, and a little ASL.
  11. My favorite movies are Singin' in the Rain, Sabrina, Interstellar, Taken, The Kings of Summer, Moulin Rouge, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Peter Pan, The Devil Wears Prada, and The Descendants. But if I had to choose one it would be The Descendants (with George Clooney).
  12. I am absolutely a dress person. I hate having to wear jeans or leggings.
  13. My favorite dessert is tiramisu.
  14. My second favorite dessert is any kind of soufflé.
  15. I love the desert: Arizona, New Mexico, California, Nevada etc. all places I love to be.
  16. I love all kinds of cheese and I have found a recent love for beer cheese.
  17. I know how to ski but I hate skiing.
  18. I went to Christian pre-school, high school, camp, and basketball league but I am not nor have I ever been religious.
  19. My high school had a monastery complete with Benedictine monks from Hungary!
  20. My favorite day was a day when my friends and I went to the beach and a OneRepublic concert.
  21. My favorite places are Disneyland, Hawaii, and my hometown.
  22. Concerts and randomly running into celebrities is my thing.
  23. I love makeup so much. Sephora is my life.
  24. I hate french fries and any other form of potato.
  25. I love most other food and appreciate potato within a dish.
  26. I am very specific about how fondue tastes.
  27. I worked at Starbucks.
  28. I am a Gamma Phi Beta.
  29. My grandma is also a Gamma Phi Beta. Legacy!
  30. My boyfriend and I met while doing a production of Peter Pan at a youth theatre.
  31. I can wiggle my ears.
  32. I've sung with Ed Sheeran.
  33. My elbows and shoulders are double jointed.
  34. My mom and I watched Glee all the way through from the day it began to the day it ended. It wasn't worth it.
  35. I hate having those red notification numbers on my phone so I always read any emails right away and delete ones I don't need, check other apps the second there's a red notification, etc.
  36. My best investment to date has been Spotify. iTunes lost my heart.
  37. I went to Budapest, Vienna, and Prague with my choir in high school.
  38. I went to Paris and London with my mother.
  39. I am a huge San Francisco Giants fan thanks to my Dad!
  40. I will be studying abroad in the south of Italy this summer for two months!
  41. I hate the rain unless I can stay inside by a warm fire watching TV and movies all day with people I love.
  42. I have a dog named Bailey with my family and two cats, Gigi and Rufio, with by boyfriend.
  43. My Starbucks order when I need caffeine is either a dopo espresso or a Starbucks Doubleshot on ice with vanilla.
  44. My Starbucks order when I don't need caffeine is an Iced Passion Tea Lemonade or an Iced Chai.
  45. I want to adopt children.
  46. I've been to every tour One Direction has had.
  47. I won an American Girl Doll from a toy store when I was a kid. Kit Kittredge!
  48. I want to go to law school I think?
  49. I love baking, cooking, anything with food prep!
  50. I was born not breathing!
There you have it now you know absolutely everything about me. This was surprisingly easier than I thought it was going to be. Hope you enjoyed learning a little bit more about the face behind the blog!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Bucket List: Hiking

I crossed off a second item from my Oregon Bucket List this past weekend with my mom! I said I wanted to go hiking some Oregon trails before I left and that's exactly what we did. My mom is an avid lover of hiking and although I am not, I can appreciate it. My mom, Brandon, and I headed up to Spencer Butte on Mother's Day to walk to the summit of the butte. This is one of the most popular hikes in this area of Oregon, so I assumed it would also be pretty easy. Haha good one. It was a pretty short hike but it was all uphill. Every single time you pushed yourself to just go a little bit more and then you'd be at the top...nope. Not the top. Not at all. So if anyone tries to tell you that Spencer Butte is easy, punch them. Anyways! Here's some pictures from the lovely area!
Don't let the smile fool you, I was dying inside
It was so green. A lovely difference from California's desert hikes.
Hiking crew, post-summit
Uphill battle
My lovely mother and I up in the clouds at the summit of Spencer Butte!
It was a great mothers day and a fun though rainy hike. My mom loved it and we had a great Mother's Day all around!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Where You Go Does Not Determine Your Worth

With college decision letters freshly out and official commitment day (the dreaded May 1st) behind us, I've noticed some worry, some resentment, and some disappointment. I felt the need to address that.

Where you go does not determine your worth or your future. Where you go is not an indicator of who you are as a person or how smart you are. I have known 4.0s who didn't get into their safeties and 3.0s who have gotten into their reach schools. Is that fair? Nothing is "fair" (whatever that means to you) in the college admissions process. There are millions of students in the United States and only thousands of colleges. There inevitably is going to be a gamble in a game such as the college admissions process.

Here's the thing: yes. There are plenty of successful people who went to Ivy League schools. There are also plenty of successful people who went to the party stereotyped schools such as Chico State University. There are also plenty of successful people who didn't even go to college. We're in a day and age now where the school you go to is much less important than the person you are.

In the fall, I will be transferring from the University of Oregon to Chapman University. You've probably heard of the first school, but unless you know someone who goes to Chapman or are from the area in Southern California, Chapman University probably sounds foreign to you. I have gotten countless of incredulous reactions to me decision to leave University of Oregon. Despite this, I am 100% fully confident in my decision. I am so happy for those who find potential and success at Oregon. I am not one of those people. Though Chapman may be lower on people's radar because our sports teams aren't Division 1 and we don't have Steven Spielberg donating millions of dollars to campus renovations, I know I will thrive there. Maybe job recruiters will have to Google my alma mater, but here's a secret...

Let me tell you who is successful in this world: driven, creative, innovative, and hard working people. People with a little bit of luck and a little bit of talent and a lot a bit of motivation. So you think going to Stanford or Harvard or a number one ranked school is going to have you set for the rest of your life? Sure, you'll probably be able to get a job just based on the school name on your diploma but is that really all you want? A job? Anyone can get a job if they really try.

Let's take a moment to think of the literal hundreds of thousands of people who have gone to an Ivy or Stanford and aren't CEOs or presidents or Supreme Court Justices. Not to say they're failures or didn't achieve anything, because they have much to be proud of, but they prove my point.

My point is that you are who you are. You define your worth. You will take yourself where you are supposed to go. Just as the college admissions process is a gamble, life is a gamble. You may go to Stanford and end up in a regular old nine to five job. You may go to Arizona State University and end up working in The White House or having a top job at a law firm or a corner office at a magazine publication or any number of jobs. People graduate from everyone and end up everywhere. More and more, we live in a world where you can't rest on your laurels and hope that something appears. You have to continuously work hard and prove to people that you are worth it. Because if you're working this hard, you have to be worth it.

A person may go to Cornell but be lazy and unmotivated. This is not what an employer is looking for. Your dreams are not made by the status of your university. Believe in yourself, not in your college decision letters. Your school will not make your success.

Friday, May 6, 2016

College Spotlight: Pace University

Our newest college spotlight comes from two students at Pace University in New York City!
M: What is your name?
L: Liz Carroll
B: Borna Barzin

M: What school do you go to?
L and B: Pace University

M: Where is Pace located?
L: The Financial District of Manhattan
B: Downtown Manhattan, NYC

What is your major(s)/minor(s)?
L: English Language and Literature with a concentration in writing and literature and Communication and minors in Sociology and Anthropology, French Studies
B: Theatre directing with an Econ minor
M: Why did you choose to go to Pace University?
L: Because of its location, honestly.
B: Pace has an incredible performing arts school, I went there to be in the city while studying theatre.

M: What is your mascot?
L: The setter! A big ol' dog named T-Bone.
B: I have no clue.
M: Does your school care about sports?
L: The New York City campus is very limited on sports but the Pleasantville campus is really into it, but here we have basketball and volleyball.
B: I'm not sure actually, I haven't heard anything about it so probably not.

M: What else does your school care about?
L: The performing arts at my school is HUGE and there's almost always a show to go see.
B: Our school has a big career focus. I'd say more than half of students have an internship and are trying to balance career and school already.
M: What isn't the best thing about your school or what would you change?
L: The cafeteria sucks, the staff is rude and the selection is minimal, and the health code violations aren't cool.
B: I love the location and the ability to work while being in school. Instead of being in a campus school, I feel like I'm a fully functioning, independent adult because I live in the city. I do think they need to improve the classrooms, many are pretty run down.

M: What would you definitely not change?
L: The opportunities, like the internship program is amazing and the resources on campus for students are top notch.
B: The size of the school. I know a lot of kids at my school, which is great. It's like high school in the sense that everyone knows everyone, but there are more people so it's easier to find your group of people you get along with.
M: What is your favorite aspect of your school's campus?
L: There isn't really much of a campus to my school since its so metropolitan. The thing they say about Pace is that "New York City is your campus" so it's hard to say what my favorite aspect is.
B: Location

M: What is your favorite aspect of your program/major?
L: The diversity of class options. I can apply so many different things towards an English major like right now I'm taking a film and screen studies course that is giving me credit towards my major.
B: That all my professors are working in the city and use us in their professional work. By the time we graduate we'll have a lot of professional credits just because our professors use us in their work.
M: What is the best thing to do in your college's city/town?
L: lol (see below)
B: It's New York City, you can do anything you want to do. See a show, go to a museum, see a Mets game, anything.

M: What is the best place to eat on campus and what do you like to eat there?
L: A block away from my school's main building is this street Fulton, that's full of restaurants. My favorite is Chipotle to be honest because I'm basic.
B: The caf sucks, just like most schools. Chinatown is a five minute walk and they have dope dumplings though.
M: What is your favorite class that you have taken so far?
L: I took a really interesting one that was like the History of New York City.
B: I love my acting class so much.

M: What is a class you really want to take?
L: American Sign Language
B: I can't wait to take my theatre directing class next year.
M: Where is your "spot" either on or off campus?
L: Now that it's getting warmer, I like doing homework at the seaport! It has been breezy and cute as heck!
B: Our spot is definitely the caf and maybe South Street Seaport? That's where I do a lot of my homework and lots of students tend to be there.

M: What is the party scene like?
L: There aren't a whole lot of parties for freshman, unless you know upperclassmen who throw down at their apartments. There are a lot of bars that Pace students go to.
B: It is what you want it to be. A lot of kids don't drink or party or anything, and a lot of kids go to clubs and do cocaine all day everyday. Depends on who you are.
M: What is your favorite memory at your school?
L: Guacamole
B: My favorite memory is just hanging out with my friends after a long rehearsal. Going under the Brooklyn Bridge at night and just watching all the lights turn off in buildings, it's a fun time.

M: What makes Pace University unique?
L: Sometimes people call us the dumb NYU.
B: Pace is unique because of its location and its really strong performing arts/business school. Those two schools are filled with really talented, passionate people that are very career focused. It's great energy.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

My Favorite Lifestyle Apps

If you've seen my phone, you'll know that it's full of folders crammed with apps. Apps for music, videos, games, academics, health, travel, and more. I even have a folder dedicated to apps for Instagram. I'm a huge advocate of the technological progress that the world has achieved in the last two decades and think it's all really amazing! Because of this, I'm going to share with you just a few apps that make my world go round! (Okay maybe now literally, but they certainly help!) These are my favorite lifestyle apps! They aren't social media apps or games, simply apps that make my life easier.

If you go to Starbucks even once a week and you don't have this app you are seriously missing out. You can conveniently import any Starbucks gift cards into the app and hook up your credit card to instantly reload money onto the cards so you're ready to pay the second you get to the cashier at Starbucks. There's a ton of great rewards for members including free food and drink and promos all the time.

I absolutely need to meditate or I go crazy. This is the best meditation app I have found thus far and I've tried a lot of meditation apps. There are some in-app purchases but they're completely optional and there's tons of content without having to pay for anything. You put in the feelings your feeling at the moment and the app finds the best meditations for your current mood.

Wells Fargo
And/or any banking app. If you're not on the online/mobile banking hype I don't know what you're doing. You must be really organized because I could not keep track of paper bank statements and credit card statements for my life. Everything is done online automatically or manually (automatically is super useful though, never miss a payment!) and most importantly instantly! You can check at any moment how much money you have in your accounts. Getting your life together starts here.

I do not mean Spotify without premium. Spotify app without premium is pointless. Spotify premium is one of the best investments I've ever made. It's only $10 a month or $5 for students and you can listen to any song ever (except Taylor Swift but like I guess that's her problem right?). I used to spend a ton of money on iTunes and eventually end up with a backlog of songs I needed to buy when I was broke. It was so inconvenient and honestly I know they have Apple Music now, but my music app on my iPhone confuses me to no end and if for whatever reason I decide I don't want an iPhone, I can't use Apple Music at all. Plus, no student discount! Spotify is so easy to transfer from device to device I'd never switch to anything else!

OKAY so I was recently informed that not everywhere has this particular service but go check out the app and see if your area does. DoorDash is an app that has restaurants in your area on it, you order off the app, and someone delivers it to you. Instant takeout from anywhere you want without having to move at all!

Uber or Lyft
This needs no explanation. If you don't have one of these apps at this point, you're asking to get abandoned in the middle of nowhere. Cabs? Mhm, when was the last time one of those showed up on time? Can you track your cab? Can you rate your driver? Do they hand you the aux cord? No.

I totally get why some people don't have Venmo and I'm sure one of these days all of my information is going to get stolen and it's going to be a disaster but until then I will remain faithful. For college students who are constantly going out with friends and sharing bills and checks, Venmo is great for paying friends back instantly or getting paid back instantly! I never carry cash around anymore and never have to remember to pay people back!

Companion is great for people who are out and about alone. Basically, you type in the address of your destination and then choose at least one companion who will receive a text that links them to a map of your exact location. You have the option to call 911 or say you're nervous, so your companion knows what's up all the time. This is especially great for those of us who are notorious for getting separated from groups at parties. Never be alone again when you have Companion!

If you are taking language classes you need this app! It's 100% free (no ads either!) and helps a ton with vocab. No, it's not the best if you're trying to become fluent in a language and have no outside help besides this app, but if you're taking classes or living in a foreign country and trying to pick up the culture and language quicker, Duolingo has your back. My foreign language classes never do quite enough memorization for vocab and I always use this to help before tests!

Plant Nanny
Plant Nanny is an app that my mom and I found right before our trip to Disneyland and it saved us. You adopt a cute little plant that you water whenever you drink a glass of water. It's an easy and super fun way of keeping track of how much water you drink and making sure you're getting enough!

So there you have it! I started this post off with just doing all of my favorite apps and it quickly became too many! So there will certainly be some follow up posts to this one, but I hope you check these out and let me know which ones you like! What are your favorite lifestyle apps?

Monday, May 2, 2016

"Well That's Why the Divorce Rate is So High"

I'm known to frequent the Facebook page Humans of New York. I'm sure many of you also read their posts, and if you've never heard of it go check it out now! I recently read a post about a young man who who was uncertain about his future, particularly in terms of his relationship and getting married. He was scared that once vows were exchanged, something about his good relationship would be ruined or tarnished. It was a truly insightful post, one of many on the photography/story page that I love. A reader commented on the post saying "Stop worrying about the future, live in the here and now. Another day is not promised to any of us." Someone replied saying "Unfortunately, I think that is why the divorce rate is so high. We make spontaneous decisions rather than logical ones."

Although I believe that both commenters are coming from good places, I have to say that the second comment struck me in a really sour way. I've always been one to say that I only want to be married once and I never want to be divorced, so I am guilty of vilifying divorce as much as anyone else, but I think maybe I've been getting it wrong. As much as I would absolutely love to be in one of those long-lasting marriages where we grow old together, the second comment really made me reconsider my views on marriage and divorce.

The first comment captured the essence if not the meaning of life in such a simple yet beautiful way. "Another day is not promised to any of us." It baffles me that someone could then reply with something as statistical as the divorce rate to that. Yes: people get divorced. It is a fact of life. If we sit around, worrying about divorce and the anguish and anger that comes with that though, we will never progress in many ways. The human experience is meant to provide emotions both positive and negative to individuals making this journey through life. No one wants to get divorced, but at the same time no one ever wants to feel sad, no one ever wants to not be happy. Yet, these emotions bubble up sometimes.

If something feels good and makes us happy in the moment, why not go for it? We can never predict where life will take us. Many spontaneous relationships go the distance and many relationships that were thought out for years and planned, relationships full of logically made decisions fail after only a few years. There are many factors to successful relationships but there is no one golden key to succeeding. I believe that a huge factor of leading a fulfilling life is doing what makes you happy. What will the divorce rate matter once we are all gone and part of the earth once again? For all we know, this is the one and only time we will ever get to live life, so live one full of happiness, free of stress, and with lots of love.

If something makes you smile or laugh or jump with glee: go with it. We do not have time to ponder statistics and wonder if what we are doing in love is logical. Love others, love life, and love fully.