Camden Lock


I’ve been home for two weeks, and, along with unpacking, finding a way to wrap up my time in London has been looming over my head. There are enough stories to fill a novel, so here are just a few of the things I’m taking with me.

Take risks and be Adventurous.

It’s not hard when you’re living in a huge city like London. I realized that if something scares you, it’s probably worth doing. Even if something goes awry, you’ll probably still have a great story to tell. There was something thrilling about pushing myself out of my comfort zone, and if I wasn’t up for trying new things, why did I go abroad in the first place? I’ve never been an impulsive person, but it was really fun to just throw caution and expectation to the wind and let things happen. Ciera kept quoting “when’s the last time you did something for the first time?” and we could basically say everyday while we were there. Go. Do. Explore.


Talk to new people everywhere you go.

How else are you going to find out anything about wherever you are? You can read all the guidebooks in the world, but that’s not a way to really experience a new place. Whether it was listening to the “cerebral Australian” with dreadlocks talk about his opinions on the “establishment,” getting introduced to the pub as the “Missouri girls” by a band in Dublin or making new friends while watching the Super Bowl because you know that Coors Light is an American beer, people, both those you’re there with and new ones you meet, help make experiences.


Find things you like doing and do them.

If you like live music, go to open mic night at the pub around the corner with your best friend on a Wednesday. If you like food and shopping, go hang out at any of the fantastic markets in London. Seeing and taking pictures of all the tourist highlights is fun and shouldn’t be missed, but finding and doing things you’d be interested in no matter where you were is the way to make the most of any travel experience.

Being and doing things alone can be really rewarding.

I’ve always thought I wanted to live and work in a big city, but I’d never actually done it. Now, I’m not only certain that I can and want to live in major city, but I also know I’ll enjoy it. I never felt lonely spending time alone in London, and that’s because it wasn’t hard to find something new and fun to do. From visiting a Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit and going to concerts to wandering through Camden Lock or down Oxford Street, I loved being able to hop on the Tube and know I’d find something exciting to explore and see.

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But so can exploring with some of your best friends.

I’m so lucky to have gone on this trip with such a great group. I became closer with the friends I knew before we left and made new ones that I can’t wait to see when we’re all back in Columbia. We shared international trips, karaoke stages and more visits to media companies than I can count, and we’re bound by those experiences. Who else am I going to talk to about using Valirie’s One Direction knowledge to distract us from getting seasick on our ferry from Calais or reminisce with about how long we walked to get dinner on our first night in Paris?

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Learn to like being in transition.

Essentially nothing in my life right now is fully figured out or permanent, and I realized that’s okay. I’m constantly packing and unpacking, and I’m learning to like change and being in the “in between.” Everything is an opportunity for a new adventure if you keep a positive attitude. I’d like to have a solid plan to follow, but where’s the fun (and the reality) in that? I’m not supposed to have all the answers right now, but I’m trying to figure them out. And that’s pretty much all I could ask for.

Thanks for all of your lessons, fun and adventure, London. You were everything. xx


“Can we have a bottle of cote du rhone?” Ten Days with my Parents

Two weeks ago, I was lucky enough to have my parents visit for my spring break (or half term if I’m trying this whole British English thing). Our weekend in London, three days in Rome and three in Paris were filled with sightseeing and enough gelato and red wine to fill a small country. The trips were wonderful, but I think it was most exciting to talk to, not viber text, my parents without a time difference.

We did a lot of the tourist highlights the first time we were all in London, so this visit was more about filling them in on my daily life this semester. So naturally, they stayed in Camden to get a feel for my neighborhood. We did lots of people watching and eating as walked through Camden Lock and along the high street. We did go through the Churchill War Rooms, which I’m really glad we did. I love World War II history, but actual Churchill museum inside was a little too free form and long for my attention span. Thankfully, someone was brilliant and put the café in the middle of the museum.


Inside the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica

After introducing my parents to the heaven in a package that are milk chocolate digestives, we headed to Rome for evenmore delicious food. We spent our first day inside the Vatican museum and St. Peter’s Basilica and dome to avoid the rain. The basilica was absolutely beautiful, but getting tickets to Pope Francis’ Ash Wednesday visit was the highlight of the trip to Vatican City. After some wandering around trying to figure out how to get tickets, my mom figured out we could get them from the Swiss guards outside. Luckily the people in front of me spoke Italian and also needed three tickets, so I just piggybacked off of their request. We left with the tickets and headed to dinner on Piazza Navona. The restaurant had heaters and a cover over the patio, so we were still able to eat outside despite the dreary weather. We had the most delicious buffalo mozzarella and tomato appetizer and lasagna, which, of course, were partnered with gelato and red wine. We saw people walking in and out of a building while we were eating, so we went to investigate. It ended up being this beautiful church of Sant’Agnese in Agone, and was full of fleur de lis.IMG_1033

We woke up early Wednesday to go back to St. Peter’s square for the Pope’s audience. We got there much earlier than we needed to, but we killed some time talking to other Americans that were also on vacation. It’s such a surreal experience seeing the Pope on his first Ash Wednesday with people from all over the world.



We then headed to the ruins. We did a tour of the Collesseum, Roman forum and palatine hill. We stopped for gelato, coffee and wine at a café, and ended up sitting and talking for about two hours. It was so laid back, but probably was my favorite part of the whole trip. I like being able to just chat and catch up with my parents. We walked to the Trevi Fountain and got dinner.


We headed to Paris on Thursday, and I’m so glad I got to go back with my parents. We stayed in the Latin Quarter, so it was great to actually be in the city. Notre Dame, Musee d’Orsay and a night boat cruise on the Seine were all broken up with cups of coffee and people watching. Going to Versailles and taking my parents back to Montmarte was the best day of the trip. The weather was beautiful in Versailles, so we were able to eat outside before going into the palace. It was so opulent and beautiful, and I loved all of the nods to my main man Louis XIV. Montmarte was just as wonderful as the first time, but was way more crowded because of the warmer weather. We actually went into Sacre Coeur, and a choir of nuns added a soundtrack to our tour of the mosaicked church.We had dinner (and a bottle of cote du rhone, obviously) outside at La Bohme before heading back down the hill.



It was such a fun week spending time with my parents. My dad and I decided if this whole journalism thing doesn’t work out, we should open a coffee, wine and gelato shop that people can come to for an afternoon pick-me up. If that’s the back up plan, the future doesn’t look too bad.