A New Chapter

To anyone who meets me or spends a little bit of time talking with me, it will become immediately clear that I am irrevocably, undeniably, and utterly in love with Europe. The culture, the people, the style, the food, just everything. I'm constantly dreaming about visiting the continent with a refreshed amour for the culture, an empty stomach for the delicious food I'll gladly intake, and a clear suitcase for the new clothes. Perhaps the latter two is a glamourous exaggeration, but my admiration for the continent runs deep. But the longer I visited anywhere in Europe, the more I longer to live there. It simply wasn't enough to visit for any considerable amount of time; I wanted to be there. I considered study abroad programs many times just so I could be there (but sadly, not many psychology programs offer programs that are compatible with what I plan to do with my major). I simply felt that I connected with the European culture more than American culture. (Again, my own thoughts and observations for my personal experience.) So when my family moved to Europe in November of 2013, my first emotion was jealousy. I so longed to live there, and they get to live out my dream. So not fair. But that didn't stop my constant dreaming of one day living in Europe.

This summer, just like my previous summers, I spent in Romania, exploring other parts of the continent, and indulging in my love for Europe. I knew that even before leaving for Romania, it would be difficult to leave the beloved country and return to the States for school. Every time I visit Romania, I leave a bigger piece of my heart there, making it more and more difficult. I just didn't fit back at school anymore. I felt like foreign body. During my stay in Romania, I realized that I couldn't go back. Not out of a desire to not face what lied ahead, but rather, I physically could not leave. I thoughts of multiple  ways to prolong my trip, but the eventual result that I would eventually have to go. In all of this, I took into consideration that my family was very far away. 3000 km away plus a 7 hour time made things harder. Finally, I proposed, largely out of exasperation, that I could finish my last year of university online. That way, I could still finish school and be where I longed to be. Thus began a rapid and swift transition from becoming an international student studying on-campus to an online school. At first, it was very exciting--I get to live in Europe, I'll be exposed to more things than I was before, and I get to enjoy seeing my family every day. Then, a few weeks after I made my decision public, the emotions began to sink in. I wouldn't see my friends there anymore. What I dreamed my senior year to look like certainly won't look like that anymore. Will I walk for my graduation? Oh my goodness, I have to get all my stuff back. I am literally moving halfway across the globe. OMG. 

And so this is where I am currently. I am living in Europe. I am officially living my dream. However, my dream doesn't stop there. I plan on visiting every single place where I marked on my massive map of Europe that I hung up for the last 2 years. That being said, with the 3 months of summer and now, month of transition while getting adjusted and acclimated, it isn't as cracked up as I thought it would be. Moving was an extremely (although that is a grand understatement) and painfully stressful experience. And I had to do it by myself. I really wouldn't wish it upon anyone: to move halfway across the world in 10 days. Being the observant and judicial person that I am, I have noticed crucial pros and cons regarding this important and significant change in my life.

1. I obviously live in Europe. I need no further elaboration. (Do you desire one (or five)? I get to expand my mind being surrounded with people that are different from me in comportment, thinking, and cultural norms. I do get to indulge my taste buds with the robust decisions of delicacies, pastries, and dishes. I constantly filter the street style wherever I go, so my wardrobe somehow expands. Meeting new people is strongly encouraged, especially in foreign countries, since it allows you to make new experiences and new connections. I get to live in Europe).
2. I am closer to visiting the places I've only dreamed with my eyes closed. Paris, Barcelona, Dubrovnik, London, Rome, Cinque Terre, Florence, Zakynthos...they are closer than they ever were before. Plus, a few hundred euros is easier to obtain than multiple thousand of dollars. So visiting them is slowly become obtainable.
3. My mind and worldview is constantly being challenged in a good and healthy way. When we get too comfortable in our culture, our worldview takes a back seat. When you encounter new people with a different way of seeing the world, it forces you to not only defend your mindset, but also compels you to analyze many things, prompting necessary change. It is such a liberating and diverse feeling. Talking to people who've had a particular upbringing usually comes in conflict with an upbringing from a different culture, thus prompting interesting conversation and perceptive observations.
4. I've made many meaningful connections with people here. While I do tend to romanticize things, I like to think that the people I've met in Romania were truly a godsend. Such a fascinating collection of people, with different ways of thinking, with different ways of acting, with different mindset...and yet, mixed together, we all manage to complement each other.
5. The relational education I received, especially in the last 2 years with being a leader on campus, has been absolutely vital. Only now do I realize the magnitude. What used to be second nature and came into contact every single day with multiple people is a rarity here. Having a different frame of mind allows me to see things differently, perhaps so differently, that it is culturally offensive. What was considered normal at school is a clash in culture. The differences in culture helps me develop, but it's also making me realize that what I received has a much larger scope. It has a bigger purpose that I originally thought, and I'm only beginning to see a few glimpses here and there.

1. I miss speaking English so often. While I thoroughly enjoy expanding my Romanian and revelling in the fact that I can finally communicate in Romanian, I do miss English. It is my dominant language and sometimes, I don't know how to say something in Romanian, and I can only explain it in English. But then I have to translate and the translation isn't always the same. Sometimes, I do miss speaking in English and people understanding exactly what I'm saying, without the need of a translation. On the same note, sometimes, there are times when the English language is lacking and the only word that comes to mind is in Romanian. Constantly being between two languages is frustrating sometimes.
2. English book stores. I so miss this from Canada and America. The feeling of walking in a Barnes and Noble and knowing that every single book in the store in English was glorious. If I had known those feelings were numbered, perhaps I would have cherished them more. Most book stores do carry some English books, but it's not the same. I can't just go and pick up a book and start reading it in Romanian and French. My level of Romanian and French is not at the level as it is in English. Especially if it starts using elevated vocabulary, I have to use twice the amount of energy to understand something whereas I could read something and I would immediately comprehend it.
3. Things work differently here, so I have to get used to the fact that what I've known is not what it is anymore. Things worked a certain way in Canada and USA, but that's not how it necessarily works in Europe. There are no Wal-Marts, no Targets, no Costcos. You cannot go to one store and you'll find everything you need. You have to go to two or three different stores to find something. Some things are not easily accessible.
4. The clash in culture. It really can so aggravating sometimes. The way some things are done are not what I'm used to and just because that's how it's done there doesn't necessarily mean that it should be that way. The way older think about the newer generation, how we should act, what Christianity should look like...a myriad of thinking that is different. Let me iterate that this is not necessarily a bad thing. It's just when the country as a whole thinks in a certain way that is different than what you have grown up thinking, it can difficult to ask if it's just a cultural issue or a familial thing.

What I'm really trying to say in all of this, with too many words to count, is that I'm blogging again. If you care about what I'm doing with my life and what I encounter, please feel free to follow me on my adventure. My chronology of my life, so to speak. Typically, a weekly post will be the norm (or bi-weekly if I'm feeling really ambitious). Life is certainly taking me on an interesting ride.

(the view of Istanbul, Turkey outside the plane window)



During Christmas break, I had the extraordinary pleasure and privilege to go to Spain for a week. More specifically, visit the Madrid area for a week. Spain had always been on my list of places to visit and I was convinced that I would one day see the beautiful and exotic country. One day, I thought, in the future. Even when Spain won the FIFA World Cup, I told myself, you will go there one day. I had never thought that I would be able to go there more quickly than I had originally anticipated. At the same time, Spain is a not a country you visit by yourself. It is a destination that you discover with your closest friends, your spouse, your lover...whomever, but it should be with someone. Fortunately for me, it just so happened to be my best friend. While spending a semester abroad near Spain, we had discussed that it would be absolutely amazing if we were able to see each other in Spain (she lives in Spain, I live in America; we have a long-distance friendship). Excessive talking, constant dreaming, but that's it: we could only talk about it. However, realizing that all this talking would soon turn into a reality, we shifted gears from having to be patient until December and planning to do as much as we can in the time that we have. Fast forward end of December and I would spend a week in Spain with my best friend.

Landing in Madrid-Bajaras Airport, everything became visceral--I was actually in Spain. Hearing Spanish, all the signs in Spanish, and seeing my best friend for the first time in 5 months. It suddenly dawned on me that this is actually happening. That night, we had a belated Christmas dinner with two other individuals that she knew during her time in Spain. A cold meats platter, chicken, stuffed mushrooms...I inhaled every moment and all the food. The next day, we visited Alcala de Henares, a city 20 km outside of Madrid, also the place that she lives and coincidently has the largest Romanian population in Spain. Which means, delicious meats and cheeses. Exploring the lovely and under appreciated beauty of Alcala, we walked the streets, admiring the cobblestone alleyways (which are cleaned every morning). Touring one end of the city to the other, we had arrived to the town's square (Centro) that was all decked out in holiday glamour. The lights were all lit and hung, the large Christmas tree was decorated, and everyone was outside skating under the gloriously decorated skating rink. Alcala's centro is beautiful in an obvious sense: vivid colors, grand architecture, and lucid history. And yet, there is a tantalizing beauty, in a sense that there are passerby's that neglect to envelop the beauty of Alcala. Taking in the surroundings is like lying in the ocean on a warm summer's day: it's an experience belittled if constrained by simple words. By eating a chocolate churro, making bargains at the market, and taking in the local culture is merely part of the adventure. 

The next day is when my energy vamped up, my excitement grew, and I was ready to leave the flat and take the train from Alcala to Madrid. That's right: I get to explore Madrid. When we exited the train, we switched transportation and took the metro. I really wasn't quite sure what to expect, but the sheer amount of people is certainly something I did not expect. There was people everywhere and for a couple of seconds, I was overwhelmed by the population of tourists desiring to explore the grand and illuminated capital. Puerto Del Sol, the centro of Madrid, is where we got off from the metro and there was an overwhelming sense of awe instilled in myself. People, decoration, beautiful architecture, and this urgency filled the air. My romanticized view of Europe quickly evaporated as we inaugurated our exploration of Madrid. We first explored Plaza Major, a massive market with all kinds of things: meats, toys, hats, candy, and a myriad of entertainment. It was quite a perplexing and fascinating scene since you are unsure at which to look first. Making our rounds to all the souvenir shops, we progressed on Calle Mayor, a long strip with old buildings with all forms of shops--tapas, souvenirs, ice cream shops, etc. We stopped at Plaza de la Villa to take a couple of photos and justified selfies. Plaza de la Villa is an old building situated in the middle of Calle Mayor, reminiscent of 18th century Spain. It was a painfully vivid reminder that Spain has centuries of history and the adjacent shops are only recent, a mere baby in comparison to the century-old buildings towering the horizon. Continuing on the path, we arrived at Catedral de Santa Maria de la Almudena, a basilica in Madrid constructed in 1993 that resembles the Neo-Gothic architecture that would give anyone reason to believe that it was built 4 centuries before. Directly across the Catedral is Palacio Real, the residence of the Spanish Royal Family. Taking countless photos (entirely on my part), we slowed our pace and simply continued walking throughout Madrid, eventually making our way to Templo de Debod, the Egyptian Temple. Then, slightly west to the temple is a park that overlooks part of the city. Fortunately, our timing was impeccable as we managed to catch the sunset. The warm hues of orange, yellow, and smokey pinks touched the roofs of the buildings and the sun glowed with a hazy orange, one that kisses the skin. Taking a well-deserved break and admiring the lovely sunset, we walked back to Calle Major. With the sun down and nightfall dawning, the lights came on and the city was light up with its holiday lights. Plaza Mayor was bright with its white, bubble-like light fixtures that delighted even the child at heart. Meanwhile, Sol was swarmed with people as its Christmas tree was light up and Centro shined with its various decorations: garlands on buildings, wreaths, and holiday lights hanging in the streets. It was delightful.

The very next day, we took the train and metro once again to Madrid, but having a much looser schedule. Since we were exhausted from our intense day of walking through Madrid the day before, our fatigue transferred, making our pace a little slower. We started the day by taking the metro to La Latina, the quarter of the city that hosts a massive flea market open only on Sundays. The market is filled with unique, one-of-a-kind finds such as knit sweaters, knit cowl scarves, sequin skirts that resembles traditional Spanish boleros (all of which that I purchased). There were also local photographers selling prints of their photographs, leather goods, jackets, parkas, albums, vinyls, t-shirts, and a lot of knitted accessories. It was pandaemonium, since there was as many people as there was in Sol the night before. It appeared that everyone is on the hunt of a unique find or simply a good deal. Knitted sweaters for 15 euros is a bargain, especially when the quality is unmatched and the style is very similar to something you'd find at H&M or Sfera. Taking the metro again back to Sol for a quick lunch break, we explored Plaza Callao whilst enjoying a Starbucks drink in the heart of Madrid. (It is tradition to have a Starbucks in whatever city we are in.) The last item on the list was to see Edificio Metropolis. I have pinned many photos of Metropolis, but to go the very building was something I have been looking forward to ever since I found out I was going to Madrid. Paying the entrance fee to terrace that took us to the roof adjacent to Metropolis, we overlooked the other part of the city. Again, with the sun setting, it was a scene unable to conjure with words. This is where my writing fails me: I simply cannot begin to describe how I felt at the top of that roof, overlooking Madrid, looking at Edificio Metropolis...It cannot be summed up in words. It is one thing to see the building at sunset, with the purple, red, and pink hues cloaking the city. But once nightfall came and the lights came on...It was magical. With the whole city light up, everything was illuminated, and it was an experience I carry with me. The moment itself was not grandeur; but it is one of those moments in life that I will recall vividly that is profound. My best friend and I just kept scanning the city with an immense sense of awe and magnificence on our lips. We kept saying, "Wow, it's so beautiful" over and over again, and perhaps that seems trite, but there was really nothing else we could say. It really is so beautiful. I would visit the place countless times, with my best friend, with other comrades, with my boyfriend, with everyone I hold dear to me. If there is one moment that I will treasure from my trip, it would certainly be being on that roof, overlooking the city, a hazy blur of lights wherever your looked.

The next morning, after 2 full days of exploring Madrid, we were entirely tired. Our feet ached, we were sore, and we were tired. Taking a day off, we simply stayed in my friend's flat and watched films, ate whatever we wished, and chatted. With New Years Eve the next day, we had our list of festivities. Shopping for groceries at the local Carrefour, we spent the rest of the afternoon getting ready for a classical concert at Teatro Salon Cervantes, Alcala's theatre with a New Years Eve party afterward at my friend's peer's flat. Spending the night and early morning laughing, having fun, and making lasting memories, we explored Alcala at night. With no one in sight, we rang in the New Year with each other, accompanied by a Spanish tradition of eating 12 grapes, signifying 12 months of fruit (both literally and figuratively). New Years Day was my last full day in Spain and we spent it savouring the sights and unspoken beauty of Alcala, as well as eating tapas. I couldn't leave Spain without having tapas. Having a rich experience of Spain, I had a heavy heart regarding my departure since I was not ready to leave. I had to bid Spain adios, but I didn't think it would pass by so quickly, with so much happening, and experiencing so much.

Saying goodbye to the people I just met was incredibly difficult seeing as they made part of my trip. Travelling is not merely the sights I saw or what I purchased as a token of my trip. It is rather the experiences I made and had while being abroad. This certainly illuminated and brought to remembrance many things I want from life, and while being in a foreign country, it was truly fulfilling. This was my first time in Spain, but it is certainly not the last. I will come back and each time, I will see things through a fresh perspective, a new way of thinking, a different way of seeing the world.



Hello, my beloved readers! I apologize profusely and indelibly for my lack of writing, activity on my blog, and posts. I proposed that I would be more active on my blog and it's February and it's my first post in 2014. Epic fail. The truth of the matter is, resolutions are always great at the beginning, but then when they start to lose their stigma, so does the determination to keep up with them. Alas, this brings me to February and my first post in 2014. And yet, I didn't want to immediately jump on writing what the new year can bring and everything I plan to accomplish because I wanted ample time to reflect on 2013. What I did, what I lost, what I gained, what I learned, what I appreciated. I wanted to reflect the previous year with an eminent respect so that I can begin 2014 on the right foot, with the right mindset, and with the right perspective. When looking back on the previous year, I can make adjustments, start over, or continue. Thus, falling off the grid socially can be therapeutic and remedial.

A constant message surrounding 2013 is the ubiquity of change. Change is everywhere; change occurs ceaselessly; and change occurs slowly yet rapidly. And I would be remiss without mentioning style. But before I delve in my world of style and fashion, let me start by saying that it is much deeper than that. Beginning in July, I began an intense workout regime and dietary restrictions to lose weight. Prior to this, I was solely motivated to lose weight on the account that I would look good, I would be slimmer, and appear more attractive. While all those are true, I wanted to lose weight because I wanted to look the best that I can, without vain ulterior motives. Since then, I have 12-13 lbs and I have dropped a dress size (and a half...technically...). My self-esteem and self-confidence has increased greatly, but to be honest, I'm not seeking validation from others, if I look good or if I'm slimmer. It's what I think about myself, and finally, I made peace with my body. A positive repercussion of my weight loss allowed me to discover new regions of fashion that I was otherwise inhibited since it wouldn't flatter my body shape or I simply couldn't pull it off. I found myself wearing prints, styles of skirts, and colors that I otherwise would not have worn. Brief pause. I want you to understand that my weight loss was not motivated by selfish desires or by vanity. It was the simple fact that my body can look better and I wanted to do that, for my body's sake. I finally could wear clothes that I've always wanted to wear and that's when it occurred to me that clothes are a mere representation of our mental, emotional, and social growth. A person who is growing mentally and emotionally will not wear the same clothes that she wore a year or even 2 years ago. Likewise, just as my style and personal fashion sense evolves, so does my mind and interpersonally. When a woman begins to change her style, it is a sign of intellectual maturity as well as interpersonal growth.

They say that travelling opens your eyes to the vast world and introduces you to the bigger picture. It comes to no surprise that I absolutely adore traveling. The changing of planes, the grabbing my suitcase, looking outside the window and realizing that I am in a new country, a new continent, a new place absolutely thrills me. Naturally, I do romanticize travelling a tad since it is often not quite as luxurious as I describe it, but the actual experience is something I thrive in. I was fortunate enough to spend my entire summer in Europe, an entire 3 months submerged in a culture unlike the one I am accustomed to. I ate the same foods, shopped at the same stores, walked the same paths, and spoke the same language (albeit with some hesitancy), and saw the same sights. However, when my summer was over and I returned to my once comfortable place, I immediately recognized that I was not the same person. The person that left North America and left Europe are two different people. Reconciling this fact proved difficult as I struggled to embrace my experience in Europe in America, since many of the social and cultural norms in Europe are foreign, alien, and even quietly dismissed. Thus, I found myself in an inner qualm: how do I continue my life without feeling the pangs of my experience? I couldn't separate the two--I was no longer the same person when I had left for Europe. Seeing the expectations of people who assumed that I would return the same with seeing beautiful scenery was not the case. I was truly transformed mentally, emotionally, and even culturally. This revelation reached its peak when I returned to Europe for a month in December. It was strange that I was longing for a place that is not immediately familiar yet bizarrely fitting. The way of life, the type of people, the style of communication...Learning lessons and priceless advice from the people that I've encountered. You cannot put a price on an adventure learned abroad. To this, I have one thing to say: Travel often. As much as you can. Whenever you can. Don't just travel and see things, take pictures, and return. Experience it. Traveling does indeed make life richer.


Living > Existing

The desire to step outside the boundaries, to venture out of the familiar and known, and to tantalize the fine yet primitive line distinguishing between my self and my identity. There is an incorruptible impulse to be a part of something much larger than myself, to cheat oblivion, and to waltz with the provocative paradigm of living. Existing is a heartless existence, through which it forces you with the idea that going day to day with mundane and repetitive occurrences is a formidable pattern that is worthy of imitation. It is a flirtatious thought that does not ceases to entice you with a lugubrious lifestyle, one that smiles with promise, yet dances with infidelity regarding its possibilities. You can view yourself through a glass mirror, reflecting the thoughts and actions previous, doomed to be on the repeat button, and skipping over the best part of the song. The simple yet visceral motive to be is one that strikes the cord of every individual that breathes, that has blood flowing through his veins, and has a heart that beats.

Day after day, month after month, year after year. Time is nothing but a force that inherently reflects our nature, the characteristics that express our inmost being. Time is also the looming presence that reminds you of wishes unfilled, potential gone to waste, desires unmet, and goals withered to nothing but a mere vacuum, representing the black hole of life. It is a vivid recollection the dreams you painted in your youth that has collected to dust during the times of adulthood and responsibilities. It expresses the tangible but void impulse to ignite the passion that has been lost, the fire that has gone out, and the drive that was once present. Time is untouchable, yet its of quality of permeability is unparalleled.

What causes an individual to stop and smell the flowers, to revel in the beauty of memories, and to smile? When the conscious caution that there is no garden to enjoy the lovely and pixelated aromas of the tulips, roses, and gardenias, the perfume lingeringly in the air; its presence lightly kissing the sense. When the alarming reality that few memories exist where they play on an endless loop, experiencing every thought, every feeling, every moment, and every action as vividly as it occurred. The dismal actuality that smiling is an action that connects the emotions with the mouth, indicating a joyful moment or occasion. Smiling is also an instinct; it is done unconsciously. Such a time is so rare that recalling it akin to remembering moments as an infant. It is a painful reminder that much time has elapsed, but little living has been done.

Living is essential to the human soul. It nourishes the core of human essence. Living is essential to an individual's existence. Living is necessary. It is absolutely necessary.


Autumnal Ennui

Transitioning from one season to another can often be an exciting thing, but more often than not, it can be mundane going from one chapter to the next. It can be analogous in life, as seasons often mirror the mental, emotional, and physical evolution of the self. When a person is constantly evolving, moving from summer to fall inspires new aspirations, ambitions, and dreams. And yet, since we are human and not impervious to fall into a pit, it may not always be the case. If summer provided wonderful opportunities and amazing new experiences, fall can be perceived as a graveyard for what once was. Perhaps that may be a tad histrionic, but that is what is can honestly and viscerally feel like. The meaning behind the word ennui derives from the language to mean lifelessness due to a lack of excitement. In succinct prose, it essentially means a lack of drive in life originating from boredom or inspiration. In fact, as I will continue on this tangent, it can be easy to lie in the ennui and let life pass you by, becoming a character in your story that you read about as opposed to experiencing it firsthand. If life is akin to a story or novel, rereading the same chapter over and over and over again induces nostalgia and boredom. Likewise, life shouldn't revisit things past. That is not to say to appreciate what has occurred or learn from the past, but don't live in it. So, the question I pose is how to get over this autumnal ennui? Surprisingly, there are simple things that you can do that not only brighten your spirits, but also inspire you in a way you never would have imagined.

1. Build upon your wardrobe by purchasing fall-esque pieces.

This is not to sound petty or completely materialistic, but buying a new top or skirt can put a smile on your face. Plus, if it a wardrobe staple that can function in the fall as well as other seasons, it can be extremely versatile. Also, mixing and matching pieces in your closet is a fantastic way to go shopping in your own closet. Pairing pieces of clothing together that you already have creates a different look every single time you step out of your room. In the meantime, the effect of a compliment paid to a person largely beneficial. Who doesn't like hearing something nice about themselves, particularly when it's about how you look? Precisely. I must add that it isn't about vanity; rather, it is the recognition that humans being the sociable creatures that we are like hearing nice things about ourselves (particularly if it's true). A boost of confidence is always a great thing. So go ahead, buy those heels you've been eying and the skirt you've lusted for some time now. Wear it proudly. 

2. Rearrange your room/apartment/suite/dorm

Rearranging your room or apartment or wherever you live is such a simple thing to do, but it can do so much more than merely moving around pieces of furniture. It can create new space, it can remove clutter, it can provide locations for old things to leave and for new things to take its place (my apologies for the profuse use of insightful metaphors), and to add little knickknacks here and there. Purchasing an ornament in your favorite color can provide a burst of color in your room, a sense of vibrancy, and a pop of color stimulates the mind. Adding lights can create a peaceful and contemplative ambience. Starting a library of your own is always a great place to start. Maps are a fantastic way to inexpensively decorate the room. (Plus, glancing at the map can inspire you to travel and see the world.) Adding throw pillows to liven up your bed spread. Lamps are always a good idea. Simple suggestions that can ultimately change the entire mood of your room. 

3. Flowers

I have this recent obsession with flowers. I'm not exactly sure and I'm not sure if I can explain why, but I can't stop looking at pictures of flowers and flowers in vases. Whether you prefer to have real flowers from the supermarket or fake flowers, it really doesn't matter. It's all a matter of preference. But I will add, having real flowers does smell nice...It adds color to the room in addition to providing a sense of femininity. Putting them in vases is the real fun, though, because the possibilities are literally endless. You can put them in tall vases, short vases, wide vases, lean vases, etc., etc., etc. At the end of the day, having flowers are a minimalistic way to add a certain je nais c'est quoi to your room. It not only looks nice, but it can also smell nice, if you get real ones. 

4. Read. This isn't some literati post that is supposed to tell you that reading is a wonderful way to tell you the world of literature. The world of Austen,Tolstoy, Dumas, or Fitzgerald. While I can very much that literature is a strangely dazzling yet marvellous realm, I'm suggesting reading for an entirely different reason. Rather than reading for your classes or because you're assigned to, read a book for leisure. Read about travel. Read about what makes you happy, sad, passionate, or peaceful. Regardless of the reason, read for the simple sake of experiencing the emotions of that novel. Experience the protagonist's delight, heartache, and accomplishment. Vicariously time travel to Vienna in the '70s. For whatever reason, just read. 

5. Gain variety in your makeup. As a college student, I don't have a lot of time in the morning to develop extravagant makeup looks and I migrate towards a particular look. But quickly, I realized that I entered into a makeup rut. I always had the same look, the same application, and even the same colors. Instead of doing what you routinely do, try new colors, try a different look, wear a different color lipstick, wear a lipstick for a change. Try something different. Having a different makeup look every day enhances your features in a different way every single time. You express a lot of yourself through your makeup, so let your palette do the talking. Be the woman that when you walk through the room, all eyes are on you and question who you are. "Who is that woman?" everyone whispered to each other with urgent curiosity. Wear eggplant eyeliner, wear maroon lipstick, wear plum eyeshadow, highlight your lips. Doing something different with your makeup can really boost a woman's self-esteem and confidence. But it really showcases your beauty because when you do something different and yet people still can't stop looking at you...It's not because of the products. It's because of the beauty and radiance that precedes the cosmetics. If you are aware of the plethora of talent in the Youtube world, then you also know that it can be the perfect canvas for experimenting with makeup and hair and other things. Among the endless list of beauty bloggers, my personal favorites are ZoellaTanya BurrPixiwooChloe Morello, and Fleur

6. Take a weekend trip. With an unquenchable desire to travel, even going somewhere for the weekend is a good place to start. Anywhere within 6 hours is the perfect time because it provides ample car time for jamming out to tunes, chatting with your road trip companions, and experiencing the stops along the way. Whether it's NYC, Boston, Charleston, or Philly, enjoy it for the weekend. Have the 3 days away from whatever it is that you return to on Monday. See new things, try new foods, and meet new people. Go out and experience the world. 

7. Go for coffee dates.

That may include actually going out to a coffee shop, but it can also include making coffee and going to someone's room or dorm and spending the hour discussing anything other than routines and assignments. If you decide to go to a coffee shop, go with people, go with someone else, or go by yourself. Soak in the atmosphere.  Bring a book to read. Talk to someone near you. You never know what might happen...If you decide to stay indoors, talk about ambitions, goals, travel plans. You can surprise yourself where the conversation may lead. Above all things, enjoy yourself. 

I certainly hope that this post has inspired you in some way. It may not even necessarily be anything that is on this list. It can be to see that indie movie playing at the local cinema, baking a new recipe, or taking up dancing. It can be anything. Whatever it is that you enjoy or can frighten you (in the best way possible). Enjoy this season. It will be the only Autumn 2013 you will ever have, so enjoy it and make it memorable. 



Seasons are a part of life. The seasons naturally transition from summer, to fall, to winter, to spring, and the cycle begins anew. The leaves fall, the trees are barren in the winter months, the trees blossom with vivid pastels, and the air with damp with moisture during the summer. Nature depicts a cycle that is incessant, constant, unchanging. Yet, while these seasons promise sameness, a quality that life remains the way it was, it also glistens with change, with a metamorphosis, a sense of a foreign wind on the horizon. Change is a part of life, and while change is uncomfortable, it allows us to grow more comfortably in our skin. When a season of change, of difference, of alien territory enters my life, it a struggle, a plight that often overwhelms me and would rather ignore. That is something that I very much wanted to happen when I was in Europe for the summer.

When I was told that I would spend 3 months in Europe, I was beyond elated. Scared and frightened what I could encounter, but excited nonetheless. However, when I was informed that I would spend time in Romania--my country of origin--suddenly I wasn't so excited anymore. I didn't want anything to do with the people, the culture, the country, nothing. I wanted to distance myself from everything I would eventually encounter. The first 2 weeks of settling in Romania was extremely difficult, and that it not something I say lightly. Personal matters have exploded and combusted that sent my family in a slight state of turmoil, augmenting our difficulty to adjust to the culture. Shortly thereafter, it was as if an obstacle was removed from our path, an obstruction no longer present. I found myself eager to get the place from where I come, the people that would have been neighbors, and the way of life. I wanted to get Romania. I began to drink in the culture, discovering the music, taste, scents, and sounds that made up this fascinating country. I began to recognize people, their mannerisms, and their characteristics. I began to dress myself as a European, no longer lusting over European vogue via Pinterest, but actually getting inspiration from the streets of Oradea, Timisoara, Cluj, Sibiu, and Brasov. I wanted to experience Romania. That was a massive turning point because before that, I would have bartered something to have as little to do with it as possible. And in hindsight, I held some prejudices solely based on a person that embodied everything I disliked about the country. Once that individual left the picture, suddenly, I began to see Romania for the first time in my life. I really began to see. As I would travel to the country and mountain regions, I would encounter different kinds of people in comparison to the ones I would see in more cosmopolitan regions. The deeply set wrinkles all tell a story of hardships, effort, and sacrifice, while the frivolity of the young generation angers the older generation. The people, places, things, lifestyles, and attitudes became part of my experience. I had finally allowed the experience to change how I saw things, how I did things, how I thought regarding particular topics. My taste palettes had matured, my thought processed matured also, my eyesight and perception had gone through a metamorphosis, the way I touch and view touch has changed, and how I hear had changed. All of my 5 senses had irrevocably changed. For the better. I saturated myself in a culture that began to show me clearer images of who I really am. Instead of distancing myself, I drew myself closer to it, inevitably allowing me to change for the better.

It has been nearly 2 months since I've returned to America and the experiences, smells, sights, sounds, and people are as vivid as though I experienced it yesterday. I had returned to my 3rd year in college as a completely different person. I left Canada to Europe for the summer as one person and leaving Europe to go back to school in America as another. I see, think, smell, touch, and hear things completely different than that of 3 months ago. I simply cannot have such an enriching experience and then continue as if it had not changed me. I would be lying if my time abroad had not changed me, not simply for the locations and places that I visited, but rather the experience of saturating oneself in a culture different that what is known or comfortable. This made adjusting to college life (and American life) much more difficult than I had anticipated (but that's another topic, altogether). Before, I felt that I was stuck between 2 worlds--Canada and America--but after this summer, it's inclining toward me being misplaced.

Seasons come and go. But they always return at the same time every year. In this season where the leaves are changing and the temperature dips, I find myself in an inexplicable place where things are not the same yet nothing has changed. Growing into myself and growing in the world around me is not necessarily an easy task, but yet, there is some element of unpredictability that I simply cannot resist.


Carpe Diem

I do not find this the least amount of surprising, that I have not worn out the effects that Europe has on me. In fact, if anything, I emphasize it here during my time in America. When someone experiences a different way of life, how to do life, it's difficult to shake that experience off. It is hard to unsee or unexperience things once they have been seen or experienced. Gaining a lot of my personal style from Europe (particularly Britain and France), it's not a surprise when I try to implement that on my school campus and my own personal style. Thanks to the invention of tumblr and Pinterest, I receive daily inspiration, augmenting my European vogue. A very popular trend is the headscarf. It is something I have wanted to do for a very long time, yet it was something I could not achieve. For whatever reason, I just didn't do it. However, I envied people who could pull it off and could wear it well. 

So finally, while perusing Pinterest and lusting over several blogs, I finally got the courage to pull it off. Taking a couple of tries and several missed attempts. I have finally pulled off the headscarf trend. Deciding to not go along the whole hipster, edgy alley, I veered towards a very European look. It seems a little trite to share this rather mundane news with the people of the internet, but this is quite an achievement for me, since I very rarely do anything with my hairstyle that doesn't include bobby pins or hats. So this, is very much, seizing the day. 



I'll be very honest with you--I was never much a fan of autumn, mostly for the reason that I never got to experience it. Many lust and lavish in this wonderful season by experiencing the leaves change color, indulging in coffee shops speciality drinks (ahem, the pumpkin drinks available at Starbucks), and dressing in comfy knits. Growing up in Canada, we don't experience fall; we experience winter and summer. So fall is literally only a few weeks for me. As a result, I never got to experience wearing the comfy knits, laying up in cute vests and jackets, wearing chic boots, and literally wrapping myself in scarves because when I would be able to, the season to wear such clothing would be over. And then winter would come. So, ever since living in Virginia, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that fall is a full season--a good 2-3 months. Imagine that! It was then that I was able to discover seasonal drinks at Starbucks, I could invest in light yet fashionable jackets (a woman can never have too many jackets), and buy three-quarters sleeve shirts. And so with autumn on the horizon, I am quite ready for autumn weather and fashion. Akin to be reunited with an old friend, these are several things I am waiting for upon the arrival of fall.

1. Jackets. I am very much a jacket aficionado. My roommate once linked me to Blair Waldorf (a huge compliment on my part), since I owned so many coats. In my defense, I hardly thought that owning 10 different types of jackets was a lot, but nonetheless, I was quite flattered by her connection. Due to my upbringing in Canada, I do, in fact, own quite a lot of jackets. However, some of them serve a purely aesthetic purpose. Simply because it is cold outside does not mean that my fashion sense needs to suffer. I enjoy wearing all types of coats: trench coats, double-breasted jackets, bomber jackets, peacoats, and blazers. It is such a staple of fall fashion: it is a vehicle upon which individuals can express their individuality through coats. That is why jackets serve a much higher purpose that merely a practical one. Yes, jackets are supposed to cover you up and keep you warm in cold temperatures, but they are also supposed to be very stylish.

2. Darker neutrals. Spring is all about soft, muted neutrals, whereas autumn is about darker, smokier neutrals. Colors such as oxblood, maroon, burnt orange, and gray are popular, some of which I am particularly excited to wear. Color palettes darker, resulting in more frequent fashion risks. Darker colors elicit a more confident, more adventurous, and more exciting vibe. Wearing these colors can perhaps prompt you to do things that you never though you'd do, such as calling that guy who gave you his number, flirting in a more blatant manner, and going to different places. Colors, speaking from a psychologically point of view, can also illustrate how a new season of life is on the horizon.

3. Tea. More opportunities for tea. Rain, cold temperatures, sleep days. Those are all opportunities for tea. Vanilla rooibos, earl gray, chamomile, chai, etc. It is essentially the perfect season to indulge in teas, buy more teas, and take more trips to Starbucks.

4. Leisure reading. Although fall is often when the school semester amps up its reading and assignment load, there are moments when Netflix, Pinterest, tumblr, Twitter, instagram, and any other social media does not satisfy leisure time. Rather, I find myself scanning my bookshelf for the next novel to read, the next world to enter in, and the next plethora of characters I will encounter. Recently, I am planning on finishing Emma, and then go on to read Jane Eyre.