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Chicago, TAKE TWO

Well, it's official... I've decided I'm moving to Chicago. This past weekend, I went back to Chicago to introduce my boyfriend to the city and convince him to move here with me after graduation. This trip was better than last time because it actually didn't rain!

PRAISE! 

This past weekend was chaotic because of the Chicago Marathon, Obama was in town and Kanye West was here for the PABLO tour. At some point, Chicago PD ended up shutting down Lakeshore Pkwy for the President. Plus I was woken up at 5am from the sound of cowbells along the marathon route.

Overall, this was a great trip. I pretty much only checked out potential graduate schools, caught up with a friend and showed my boyfriend around various neighborhoods. 

If everything goes right, I may be moving here as early as June 2017.  

Where the hell am I?

Recently, I took my first trip to Phoenix. It was an interesting experience. I expected there to be horrible, humid weather but there wasn't. Although it was 106 degrees, it only felt like 70-75. I never thought I'd say this but, I loved being outdoors. The whole city is surrounded by mountains! There were cactus everywhere! There were a lot of modern art sculptures! ...And they make cool designs out of various colored rocks! 

TELL ME THIS DOESN'T SOUND COOL.

While I was there, I took a trip to the Grand Canyon with my boyfriend. The trip took about 3.5-4 hours (which we didn't expect). We wanted to get there by sunset, romantic, I know, but by the time we actually got there it was too dark. We could still see in the canyon with our eyes but it was too dark to take any pictures.

So imagine, you're looking into a, well, grand canyon, attempting to capture any sort of image, then you turn around and you're standing in the middle of the dark. There are no lights anywhere; you hear howling coyotes and other animal sounds; your Google Maps stops working and you're stranded. This was my Grand Canyon experience. It was scary but still good. 

My plan is to visit the West Coast again next year. 

 

CHI-town

This year, I spent spring break with my friend Brinker in Chicago. We met while on study abroad in London. Although it wasn't as glamorous as being in Barcelona, I still had a great time! This was my first time in the city and actually... I think I might want to move here. The city reminds me of London... which is sort of a cleaner, smaller version of New York City (Chicago, not London). 

While in Chicago, I went to a friend of a friend's gallery party. There were photographers, artists, rappers and slam poets. This is what I love about being in big cities! There's so much art and culture to submerge yourself in. 

Also, I had deep dish pizza for the first time...

IMMA LET YALL FINISH BUT NEW YORK HAS THE BEST PIZZA OF ALL TIME

Basically, my time in Chicago consisted of wandering in the rain through various parks and eating more food than I probably should have. Until next time Chicago ✌🏾

Also, check out Brinker's blog

Views From The 6

This past weekend my friend Lena and I went to Toronto. It was everything you would imagine and more.

The food: AMAZING! The people: AMAZING! The views: GODLY!

I love traveling because it allows me the time to live in the moment and find my inner peace. When I'm out-of-town, I don't stare into my iPhone screen; I don't watch tv, check the news, or my email. Being that carefree is honestly one of the most amazing feelings in the world.

Canada, specifically, was cool because it was my first time being back since I was a kid.

(Well, I flew to Heathrow from YYZ but I didn't actually get to experience the city.)

Literally only a few miles after crossing the border, Lena and I looked at each other and simultaneously agreed:

"Holy shit--Canadians are so fucking awesome!"

How, you ask?

Well for one thing, they're some of the nicest drivers ever!

I mean, where else in the world will people happily let you make a left hand turn during traffic hour?!

Disclaimer: I am from New York so road rage and fighting the urge to beat someone with a snow brush is just a part of everyday routine.

This trip, like many of my other recent trips, was spent at an Airbnb. We stayed in a small, cute, studio near the beach. The place was located on the lower level of a home owned by a European couple. The woman and their child had moved back to Amsterdamwhile the husband stayed behind, finishing up the house sale. Honestly, the amount of times Lena and I said the place was cute this weekend is unfathomable.

We were clearly high off of the Canadian cuteness and kindness.

Our adventures included a boat tour of the Toronto Islands, brunch at The Starving Artist, stocking up on wine from a local grocer and getting drunk-- legally, of course, dinner at Gabby's Tavern, exploring the city center, attempting to hunt down the address of the week's Twitter beef... tweef?... Champion: 6 God aka Champagne Papi aka Aubrey Graham aka Drizzy aka Drake. Unfortunately, we were only in town for two days so the last quest was unfulfilled... for now.

DRAKE, WE WILL BE BACK FOR YOU!

Next time I visit Toronto, indoor skydiving, Casa Loma, the CN Tower, partying on one of the Toronto Islands are all must-dos.

 

Spring Break in Barcelona

Last week, I celebrated spring break in Spain!! Of course every trip has it's ups and downs but I truly had the most amazing time in Barcelona. While in Barcelona I visited La Sagrada Familia, Park Güelle, and explored the Gothic Quarter, Plaça Catalunya, and of course---the beach!

I was excited to go to Spain because I have become so much more interested in architecture and art. Let me tell you--- I was not let down! Barcelona's architecture is beautiful. Honestly, the beauty cannot be captured in images. La Sagrada Familia was intense. I am not a religious person whatsoever but it left me speechless. The amount of detail engraved into the exterior and interior of the cathedral is mind-blowing. Not to mention, it isn't expected to be complete until 2025. There's already so much work that has been put in, I can't even begin to imagine what's to come next.

I have to say, my favorite thing about Barcelona-- by far--- is the food! Maybe it's because I've been living in London for the last five months so I've gotten used to bland UK food and it just seemed to much more appealing, but it truly was.

Iberian ham is life. Tapas are life. Spain is the dream.

The Spanish know how to eat! 

Prior to this trip, I didn't know much about Barcelona other the typical facts from your basic travel show and social studies class. This however was not the case by the time I left Saturday morning.

The stretch of land from Barcelona to Valencia is called Catalunya. Catalunya has for years been trying to secede from Spain. In fact, they already have their own flag and language. In this area, they do not primarily speak Spanish, instead it's Catalan (which is a mix of Spanish and French). However, if you have a decent amount of knowledge of other languages you'll see that it isn't that hard to navigate the city. Also, Spanish in Spain is not the same Spanish taught in the U.S. So don't travel to Spain expecting to understand everything perfectly.

Nonetheless, I had a great time and I am planning on traveling through Spain next year. 

Camden Town

Today I spent the day in Camden. Camden is a borough downtown central London. It's most known for its markets. I'd been to this area earlier in the semester but it was in the middle of the night for a party at the Camden Proud which used to be a horse hospital but has been turned into a burlesque night club. Fun stuff!

Anyway, today I visited a few of the markets along the streets. The markets in this area of town are most known for art, clothing and collectors items; in contrast with Borough Market which is popular for it's food. I plan to go to Borough Market this Saturday! I'm really excited to try Scottish eggs.

This area of the city definitely made me feel like I was back in New York City for a moment. It was extremely crowded. There were lots of shops, vendors and "street noise." It was nice.

It was honestly just a really great day. The weather was in the high 60s and to me it felt like summer! I know. I know. 60 degrees isn't usually considered  summer weather but let's keep in mind I'm from Western New York, where we're known for our brutal winters, and I've been living in London for almost 5 months, where it's always damp and chilly.

It felt nice to get out and enjoy the outdoors.

Hip Hop Karaoke @ The Social

Yesterday was the last day of the semester for me. I still have two more assignments to work on but they aren't major. To celebrate, I went to Hip Hop Karaoke at The Social in Oxford Circus. The Social is so much fun. It's an urban club downstairs and a bar upstairs. I really like it because it's so much fun to watch people rap and sing songs that aren't rock or pop which is what you usually get at normal karaoke. This night they had karaoke from 7p-1a then a normal club until 3am.

I recommend everyone who visits London go there! London's clubs are a lot different from clubs back home. Which is a good thing!! It's hard to explain. I guess it's just something you have to experience for yourself...

While waiting line to get into the club (which is called the queue), my friend Brionna and I met a girl from Brazil. She's was super cool! We ended up hanging out with her all night. After the club, it was rainy and cold but we went out in search of food. So, here's the thing I really hate about London... EVERYTHING CLOSES SO EARLY!

[BRUH: I once considered taking a cab across town to the only 24 HR McDonalds]

We ended up catching a bus from Oxford Circus to Piccadilly Circus (which is walking distance but ain't nobody have time for that). We wandered around Piccadilly and Leister Square until we found somewhere that was open. Basically it took forever but we finally found this little cafe.

At this point in the night, it was about 3 or 4am and the tube wasn't back up running so we went in search of a bus stop to get home. This simple task was a struggle because I was the only one whose phone had service, my battery was dying then my phone got wet. But eventually after dealing with creepy men (who I believe tried to kidnap us), we found our way.

From central London to where I live in Harrow, it's about a 1-2 hour bus ride, depending on where you are. Usually that annoyed me but I was so cold and wet from being out all night that I was happy to just be on the bus. 

On the bus, Brionna and I met this man named Anthony who was a slam poet. The man was clearly insane but he reminded me so much of home, I couldn't help but entertain the madness. He talked and performed for us the whole way home, featuring some minor arguments between us. (To be expected from an NY and NJ native)

By the time we finally got home it was 6am and my hair was wet; my feet hurt; I was freezing, but it was the best night I'd had all month! 

First Month in London

This post is just going to be taking a look at how it's been living in London thus far...

I like it here. I like it a lot. But I am starting to miss home.

When I first got here I kept telling everyone I would be fine. London is just like New York City, just cleaner and they drive on the other side of the road. Now that it's been a month, I realize this place is a lot less like New York than I thought.

London is very diverse! In fact, that's probably my favorite thing about being here. I love that there are people from all over the world. Everyone is so friendly and open minded. I have yet to experience any type of discrimination or racism since I've been here and it's great. I feel safe.

I really like my school. I'm studying at the University of Westminster's Media, Arts and Design Campus in Harrow. This school has truly changed my opinion on higher education. Back home, I didn't feel like I was benefiting from college. This school has so many opportunities that RIT does not offer.

This school truly brings students who are from different backgrounds together. There's a radio station, TV station, TV/radio production courses, art galleries, music production, journalism (all platforms). We actually have newsrooms and TVs in the halls/forums so that students are constantly aware of what is happening in the world.

I love it here and I've actually considered dropping out of RIT to become a full-time UK student at the University of Westminster.

The food isn't that great; the currency exchange is stressful; and the money is confusing. But overall London is a nice place to be. I'm happy to have this opportunity.

I can't wait to see what the rest of the London/Europe has to offer!

... And we're off

Last night I hung out with a bunch of new friends and had the most amazing night!

My friends Brionna and Brinker met some cool brit guys (who are actually German but I digress) that go to our school and we all met up to hang out. They took us to this really cool club in Oxford Circus called The Social that hosts Hip Hop Karaoke every Thursday. I had so much fun! We danced all night and Brionna even tried to get me to go on stage with her to rap.

Well, she wanted me to rap so she could be the hype-man. 

I was terrified. Maybe next time though!

After we left The Social, we took the last train of the night over to The Camden Proud in Camden Town to go to a party. The party was one of the fresher's events that the University of Westminster was throwing. That was fun too. They played a lot of what I call Jersey Shore type music. The Camden Proud building was very interesting. It's like a building hidden behind some bars and shops. On the inside there are horse stables... with stripper poles... then you walk in further and there were pictures hanging on the walls like it was an art gallery. Very odd place but it was definietly a lot of fun!

Tonight, we took the buses back to Harrow and it was painfully long. It took over two hours to get home but we made a new friend named Chan at one of the bus stops who also goes to Westminster and she told us about the Undercroft Bar on campus which hosts Messy Mondays every week.

I definitely have to check this out! How awesome is it to have a bar/club on your school campus!!!

Hello? RIT step it up!