This saying is something that I’ve always disagreed. Since I left for college and started making my own decisions people have continually said this to me about a lot of the places I’ve gone and things I’ve done. Once in a lifetime… It holds so much weight in a single decision. Is this really the one time you will have this opportunity? Do people believe this because they believe opportunities are something that only happen when they falls into your lap?
Yeah, I won’t argue that there are certainly some things that can only happen once in a lifetime like your 21st birthday, getting chickenpox, first kiss, your freshman year of college ect. However, there are so many things that most people classify in these categories that really could be done as many times as you can imagine (taking out monetary/legal/physical ability issues). I believe that opportunities aren’t lucky, they are something that you continually drive your focus into. For example, living in a foreign country such as study abroad. The amount of times I heard people tell me “that’s a once in a lifetime opportunity” in reference to my or someone else’s study abroad plans is ridiculous. Of course, I can’t go back with the same people at the same time in the same country but that’s similar to all of life’s experiences. I believe that as long as you work really hard, prioritize your funds and have the desire to do that one thing, it will get done.
Never let anyone tell you it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. If you really want it you will make it happen again.
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My Dad shared a quote by Terry Pratchett awhile back that I wanted to share:
“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”
Every time I travel somewhere and meet new people I end up sharing my stories of the places and experiences I’ve had. It makes me realize how lucky and grateful I am for these opportunities but it also reminds me of who I was and where I am now: emotionally, physically, spiritually and mentally. How I appreciate the person I was before but value the person I have come to be because of the experience I’ve had.
As a teenager and much of the time I spent in PA I slightly took for granite what was given to me that I absolutely did not deserve. However, the more I see the more I am humbled. This has created a calming peace in negative circumstances and an overflow of happiness in positive situations that is invaluable for a joyful life. For this, I am extremely grateful for the time and financial support I have had to leave in the past few years and hope I can continue this practice of openness and kindness for the rest of my life.
This quote also brings up a topic of leaving. I get serious family fomo and as many of you know I live for the moments that my parents, Alex, Lori and I are all together doing things we love (hiking, drinking beer and remising on old memories). Yet, as cha boy Terry puts it it’s important to leave so that you can come back to see your home with a different perspective. I’d like to believe the people who have known me for some time appreciate the person I am now and hopefully I can bring something different into their lives that I couldn’t before. Additionally, it makes those moments of togetherness so much more special as we get to witness how each other has grown in the time apart.
This is why I leave, to find a temporary home and temporary family but always come back to the people who light up my life.
July 5, 2017
This is a story about my grandmother, Alice. It’s a little jumbled but something I’ve wanted to keep in writing and share with you all since she passed at the end of April this past year.
The night she passed away I was at school in Delaware and went to bed relatively late and woke up around 1:30 am to the point where I had to get up and do something. I went downstairs and sat in my kitchen with some unusual peace as I had been struggling with some normal anxiety about school for some time now. 20 minutes later I checked my phone to find she had passed about the same time I woke up and I knew the reason I woke was for her spirit to move through me one last time.
Some of you might know about Pennies from Heaven and their significance in life. For those who don’t I’ll explain briefly but it’s definitely something that’s interesting to google. As some believe, pennies and dimes are used by loved ones in Heaven to send energy to people on Earth. For me, I believe that it’s simply a reminder that they are always there with you no matter where you go.
After a week at home with my family in PA I returned back to school and hit up Grottos with my roommate Erica for some Friday happy hour. We ordered some drinks on my card and I sat there for about 15 minutes before I looked down to find a penny sitting on my leg. It was pretty strange since I hadn’t used cash and I was sitting on a bar stool so it had to have been balancing there for some time. Anyways, this was just my first experience of many pennies to come.
If you read my last post you know that I’m currently living in Charleston, SC. It wasn’t the hardest decision to move to this beautiful city but it did take a bit of courage and was a little nerve wracking. As I started moving my stuff into my apartment two weeks ago I started noticing pennies all over the place. I’ve collected a majority of them but they keep reappearing under my books, next to my makeup, on my counters, my shower(??) and continually on a daily basis I’m finding them. Since I’ve been here I’ve found pennies all over Charleston in the most unusual places which result in some excitement and possibly a few tears that make strangers question my mental stability.
This probably sounds so stupid to some of you but for me these pennies are just little signs from my grandmother that no matter where I end up in life she will always be there with me. It’s so comforting to know that even though the rest of my family might be 700 miles away, her spirit didn’t leave me the night she passed and will always stay with me. She was the most humble and sweet woman I have ever come to know and these little signs from her remind me to continue her beautiful legacy in my own life by bringing love and joy to those around me always.
June 14, 2017
As most of you know I moved down to Charleston for the summer. This came about back in February when I got rejected by some internships that I had applied and interviewed for. I decided that I would use this new found time to adventure somewhere new (as I always do). I’ve been to Charleston twice before and absolutely fell in love with this charming town so why not come back!
Because I have more time then usual and basically no stress I have had a few eureka moments here.
Growing up I’ve always felt that my fate had always been in someone else’s hands for example: college admissions directors, job recruiters or even my parents. As I’m starting to make my own decisions based on what I’m interested and passionate about I have gained so much more power and freedom in my life. However, it can be tough to be able to identify your own strengths and special abilities that make you unique. This can takes a lot of time but reflection is an important part of life that I believe isn’t focused on enough. This time has given me the ability to really look deep into myself to find what I want to do in the future. As I graduated college and even into my freshman year people told me that I would “figure it out” in regards to what I wanted to pursue as a career. I have 4 classes left before the real world and my life could not feel more indecisive.
New experiences, like moving to a new city by yourself, brings soul searching to a whole new level. I hope that this experience brings for me what my time in Africa, London and all the other places I’ve spent time in have brought me. Happiness and understanding.
If you didn’t already know my favorite book is the alchemist and it basically touches on this topic. I found this quote as I’m doing my laundry in a laundromat (new experience Anna, new experiences) and wanted to share with you all (y’all?).
“… we simply let life proceed, in its own direction, toward its own fate. But, unfortunately, very few follow the path laid out for them- the path to their personal legends, and to happiness…”
Would I even be a travel blogger if I didn’t do a 2016 review???? Here’s a quick reflection on my favorite moments of 2016:
- Brought in the new year by coming home from my second trip to Sedona AZ. Determined that this would not be the last time I saw this amazing place.
- Started 2016 experiencing the love and generosity of my friends and family as they funded my trip to Tanzania, Africa. Spent January living in a third world country helping people in remote villages receive free medical care. Hiked Mt Kilimanjaro, hiked through waterfalls, swam in hot springs and spent 4 days camping in the African safari.
- Spent my spring break crashing my parents 25th wedding anniversary vacation in Hawaii. Still feel slightly bad about that but such an amazing trip of kayaking, jumping off cliffs, snorkeling and hiking with my favorite people.
- Traveled up and down the east coast watching my brother finish his collegian baseball career.
- Camped out at Firefly music festival for the third time with some incredible people where I saw my all-time favorite band, Kings of Leon after attempting to see them 3 OTHER TIMES. Got muddy, got hype and got burritos. Successful musical festival to say the least.
- Spent my twenty first birthday in Charleston, SC with my favorite people in the world drinking mimosas, going on ghost tours and stumbling around that amazing city.
- Ended the summer with the fam in Spokane, Washington watching my brother play profession baseball. Felt pretty freaking proud. Spent some time in Idaho on a boat while we were there too.
- Ended the year traveling for the past four months in Europe- UK, Ireland, Netherlands, Germany, Hungary, Czech Republic, Spain and Norway. Did fun stuff like camping at Oktoberfest, EDM music festivals, dog sledding, jumping off mountains, hiking through canyons, biking around the Holland country side and so many other adventures.
- Finally, I’ll bring in 2017 surrounded by my favorite people in the entire world and appreciating their presence more than I ever had.
2016 has been the best year yet and I can’t wait to see what 2017 has coming for me.
My semester in London is over. **Sobbing** I just took my last final exam and only have one more paper to write until I part ways with this beautiful city. It’s been such a whirlwind of an adventure and cannot believe it has gone by this fast. Here’s a quick summary of some of my favorite moments that happened over the last month of my visit:
- My best friend from UD came for thanksgiving break. We went to some islands off the coast of southern Morocco.
- We jumped off mountains, hiked through canyons, ATV’ed up to the highest volcano/mountain in Spain.
- Jumped into the clear ocean with some nudists.
- Got lip tattoos (probably the only tattoo I’ll ever get sorry Mom).
- Overall, it was an absolute adventure of a lifetime. 10/10 recommend visiting Tenerife.
- I went on a solo weekend trip to Tromso, Norway.
- I spent an entire day getting thrown off a dog sled onto a frozen lake through the most beautiful snow covered mountains with purple and pink skies.
- Successfully saw the Northern lights while eating smores around a fire on the side of a lake in the middle of nowhere Norway.
- Stayed out until 6 am with new friends from my hostel and hungout with some of the coolest European I’ve ever met.
- Walked home in a blizzard.
- Spent the next day going to the top of a mountain to see the most beautiful view of the city.
- Best self-discovery experiences of my life. 10/10 trying something on your own for a change.
- Spent Thanksgiving with my roommate from home in the UK.
- Ate the lamest British TG dinner- realized how much I appreciate my Aunt Linda’s mashed potatoes and apple sauce.
- Felt pretty sad facetiming my family as they were all together.
- 10/10 would recommend never being away from your family for Thanksgiving.
- Spent some time in London
- ice skating in Hyde Park, Winter wonderland, touring Tower of London, visiting museums, afternoon tea, Santacon, attending theater performances, exploring as many little neighborhoods as I could
- realized what it felt like to be completely broke and financially dependent on my parents for EVERYTHING
I really can’t believe this experience is coming to an end. Since I was in middle school I have been (not so) patiently waiting to live abroad and explore this part of the world that I was so curious to see. I think that I’m done with cities for a bit now and am starting to crave some nature/ west coast lifestyle to refuel my next year.
When they tell you that studying abroad will change you as a person they aren’t joking. This experience has taught me so much more than I ever thought was possible and I’m externally grateful for this opportunity. Now it’s time to spend some qual time in 2017 with my family, friends and bank account. Peace out London. Hopefully I’ll see ya soon.
December 12, 2016
Holy cannoli. We just had our midterm break and time has been flying by since I got here. My school work has gotten a lot harder and I just have no time for anything recently. For our midterm break my roommates and I went to Budapest, Hungary and Prague, Czech Republic. Budapest was amazing and we had a great time while there. The nightlife was insane and we spent some time in the “ruin” bars. They are basically old houses or buildings that have been abandoned till about 15 years ago when people threw some old furniture in there and called it a bar. In a little room off to the side we watched a few string players perform some traditional Hungarian music while Hungarian kids started dancing along to the music which was so cool to see. We spent the next three days in the city seeing and eating literally anything. I think I gained about 15 pounds at the end of this trip by the amount of cheese, potatoes, and beer I drank. We took an overnight train from Budapest to Prague. It was five girls in this tiny little room with these tiny little beds for about 12 hours which got pretty interesting. We spent about 3 days in Prague and again saw and ate EVERYTHING. The entire week was absolutely amazing but there was something in me that just wanted to come back to London. I always feel like I have some sort of purpose here and somehow feel like a Londoner. There has been a lot of talk about how people can’t wait to go home. I really have no interest in leaving London and wish I was rich enough to live in this city forever. I love my home in America but I truly love my home here more.
ALSO last weekend we went to Amsterdam to see a music festival which was ABSOLUTELY INSANE AND UNREAL AND AMAZING.
November 7, 2016
My mother suggested I write about cultural norms I’ve learned in Europe so if that doesn’t interest you then skip right over this. First thing, most of the time you don’t tip here. This usually makes service suck. No one gives a frack if you get your food in 15 minutes or an hour. Usually you order at the bar and they bring your food out and don’t bring you a check for another 89 hours. Second, you don’t put your dog on a leash and it’s not really socially acceptable to pet dogs but they are ALL SO CUTE. Third, groceries are soooo much less expensive then eating out where in America it’s usually pretty even depending on where you go. This morning I went to the market next to my flat and got 3 zucchinis, brussel sprouts, 3 apples, 8 clementines, garlic, butternut squash, grapes, and a head of broccoli for 4,70 pounds which is about 6 dollars. Forth, I never know where to walk. Like the cars drive on the opposite side so I should walk on the opposite side? No people just walk wherever they find themselves walking. Fifth, don’t talk in the tube. Almost all the time the tube is SILENT (and a bit sweaty). Sixth, they don’t use dryers here. Like I’m pretty sure that even the wealthy people don’t use dryers. Seventh, the UK is super advanced when it comes to bank cards and basically everyone has touchless cards and I’m here still using my swipe card that doesn’t even have a chip in it yet. Eight, the stop lights go red YELLOW green and back green yellow red. It’s weird like a yellow light from the red light just means a green light but whatever. Ninth, there is take away and eat in here. It’s cheaper to take away then to eat in even if you are at a McDonalds where they aren’t serving you. Finally tenth, drinking is so different here. People will drink during their lunch time for work and just go back to work a little tipsy. The drinking culture is just a lot different here and people drink so much more casually then in America.
Dublin is a beautiful city. I really love the little cobblestone roads with Irish flags hanging out the pub windows and the accents that just seem a bit more serious then the English accent that I’ve been used to. My favorite thing about it though is the sound of seagulls in the city!!!!! We spent the day at trinity college and the famous Temple Bar which was absolutely amazing and exactly what I thought of as an old Irish pub. Today we took a train to a small town on the coast about an hour south of Dublin. I really needed to get out of the city life and explore some open fields and fresh air. We walked along the cliffs and ate fish and chips and sandwiches and scones and ice cream. Increasing in pounds (lb’s) and decreasing in pounds ($) all at the same time. It has been a weekend of indulgence and I think this has a small something to do with the fact that I’m reading “Eat Love Pray” by Elizabeth Gilbert. (highly recommend for any travel lover) I’m currently deep into the “eat” part so all I want to do is eat nonstop. I’ve ate literally at any and all times during the day. The best thing about Europe is that they have some different way of counting calories that I have no motivation to understand hence nothing has calories. (Don’t hate me Oprah) Hopefully I pass this part of the book soon or I’m gunna have to buy new pants. We did have a small mishap in Greystones though. We basically missed our first train then watched our second train come and go on the opposite platform after waiting for it for about 2 hours and I stepped in dog shit. But as my great friend Casey Neistat says “the adventure doesn’t begin till something goes wrong”.
This past weekend my roommates and I traveled down to good ole Munich, Germany. As you can probably guess it was filled with beer, pretzels and camping. Yes, we camped. This is how our travels went: took a taxi to the train station, a train to the airport, a plane to another airport, a train to another train station, another train to a bus stop, and a bus to the campground. We checked in and immediately chugged a beer and found our tents. We had an odd number of people so I decided to have a random tent mate. Her name was Luca and she was a darling straight from Mexico. I thought we would hit it off but she didn’t come back to the tent still 6am!!! (SMH Luca) Considering I can’t even look at a beer for another 3 weeks I would say the weekend was a success.
Here’s an update on my normal life now. I’ve been drinking A LOT of tea and I eat about a zucchini a day. I feel like a smoker considering how much second hand smoke I breathe in from these Brits. My roommate and I run a good amount along the Thames river which is sooo beautiful. I really enjoy my international finance class because I feel like I can actually use the material I am learning while I’m over here which is cool (only took 14 years of education to feel that way). Overall, things are going so well and I am absolutely in love with London and never want to leave.