the blog purge: to delete or not to delete?

Holy guacamole.

I just wrote a post about risking it  — you know, being bold in your endeavors, jumping off the deep end when necessary, starting over, finding clarity, yada yada.

On a bit of a whim today, I sat down and realized that there’s a bit more that I’d like to do with this blog. And while I’m still floating some ideas and settling into that game-plan, I did realize that I would be faced with a decision:

to keep the old blog posts?

…or to delete them forever?

And I went a bit back and forth on this for a bit. I have seen countless blogs that I follow, and even people who don’t have traditional blogs, delete a bunch of old content because it was either too angsty [me] too cringe-worthy [also me], too personal, [HA ME hands down], or just straight up not really reflective of what they wanted/want to accomplish.

I will say this– for the most part, I was against purging all those old posts. I could look back on them, look at my angsty self and see the growth unveiled with every scroll right before my eyes. I also kind of took it to heart as a bit of a badge, a smol medal saying “look, I’m authentic!”

But now?

[SPOILER ALERT: I’ll get right to it, I deleted everything before 2014. LOL]

But. In case you’re wondering [which you very may well not be, lol, I don’t gotta justify myself and you don’t either 😛 ] here’s why I did it, along with some challenges I thought about in the process:

Your post don’t have to be gone. I made the decision to just get them off this space. For sure, they could live in some file on my computer if I wanted [though I don’t really feel like doing that.] However, if you do ever want to go strolling down memory lane, then keeping those posts in a separate place could be a nice alternative.

But what about all those likes/comments/followers etc? Meh. I dunno. Over the years I’ve come to realize that this really is my space, the content I have is reflective of myself, and if I lose a few nice words [thank you to all you beautiful blogger friends, btw ♥ ] in the process… well, I will take a moment of silence and then proceed onward. Plus, I don’t really buy into the whole “how many likes??!!???” chaos that just distorts feelings of self-worth anyways.

You’ve changed so much. Why shouldn’t your blog? I can’t tell you how many re-models this thing has had. That being said, this space, like myself, is evolving. I will get new inspiration, new ideas, new skills [that I can actually put into practice here on this blog *YAY*] that better reflect me and my goals.

…and what about authenticity? LOL. So I’m gonna let you in on a little secret here. This blog, which is now an incredible FIVE YEARS OLD [??!!???] literally used to be a virtual diary about my outings, my dying pets, and struggles with productivity. Not like that’s all non-authentic stuff [it totally is!] it was just so full of bad grammar choices, fluff-words, and irrelevancy. I’d much rather have original, raw content that’s written [at least a little bit correct]  well and not accompanied by 2.4 mega pixel photos, ya feel me? 😛 [Though FYI I did leave stuff from 3 years ago because I got tired of weeding some stuff out, I’ll save that for another day].

There is totally such a thing as blogging baggage. And seeing as I’m in a really, really recent realm of “new”, breaking out of old habits and forming new ones, forging connections and blazing paths I previously thought were out of reach… you better bet I don’t want to be reminded of some of the clutter. I’d much rather sort through the clutter, acknowledge its existence, learn from it, and then promptly send it off somewhere to get recycled and transformed into something new. [:
That being said, I’d like to take a more purposeful [albeit personal!] direction with this blog [leaning towards something more relevant to lifestyle…??], so as I’m zero-ing in on what that is, I would love it if you left some comments with ideas, pieces of your blogging journey, things that have helped you find your place as a blogger, etc.! It’s hard because recently I’ve been working on some pretty big things over at stephaniewscribbles.com and I’m just trying to figure out the role this personal blog might play. It’s five years near-and-dear to my heart so I don’t think I want to abandon it *quite* yet… 😛

Cheers to everyone who has been with me since the angsty days of 2013 [you are all God-sends and blessings through the tumult lol] cheers to those who are still going strong, cheers to those who I’ve just recently been able to connect with and explore with, and cheers to those who, like me, are walking a new path in their blogging journey–because that’s dedication, man. [:

xx

 

 

mugs + musings // behind the screens

I stayed up way too late last night, but for good reason [I think, anyway]. I had finally gotten around to getting my Adobe Creative Cloud subscription all set up [as I’d need it for the coming semester anyways] and was having so much fun getting to know my way around the programs. It’s been a while since I’ve had something excite me to the point of not being able to sleep, especially something “work” related.

This resulted in a bit of a later wake-up time, but I needed the sleep. But one of the first things I did this morning was check out a notification I had received about one of the channels I subscribed to on YouTube. One of my favourite vloggers of all time, formerly @IAmJustaMakeupLover, was announcing something related to her account. Fearing she was discontinuing the vlog, I had to watch. What I witnessed, however, was something much different than I’d expected. Olena, the lovely soul behind the vlog, was talking about her dissatisfaction with some aspects of social media, explaining that so often we just see the “highlight reels” of people’s lives and the “behind the scenes” portion that we may not be comfortable sharing with the world are not something that makes it out into the light. It was a really powerful message overall, but some things that stuck with me were this:

1. while social media can be a really freeing thing, it has the potential to make us feel stuck, to put a filter on us and our activities, and a filter on how we view ourselves and others.

2. When we’re caught up in a sea of highlight reels, it’s easy to start the comparison game, and looking at other people’s accomplishments as if they’re taking away from our own, when that isn’t the case.

She talked about how her username, “IamJustaMakeupLover” was the persona her shy, starting out self hid behind, one she used to gain confidence with behind the camera, the name of her alternate personality. She went into talking about how while it had helped her overcome so much of her shyness and whatnot, she wanted to kind of emerge as herself, remove that label of an account name she’d made for herself. I thought about myself and my platforms. Early EARLY on in my blogging journey, what started off as “stephanie says” has evolved into something that is unique to me, my experience, and all of the things I’m learning and am passionate about. I realize that I am plunging more and more on a journey of self-growth and that I can eliminate some of the labels I inadvertantly accept, put on myself, or hear from others. I also realized that the creation of my own “life-canvas” (as Olena refers to it) is my project, and my project alone, and that seeing other people finish their masterpieces or have all these other great opportunities and feeling less accomplished because of that is nonsense. I realized that perhaps I need to rejoice more frequently on my current place, my current progress, my current state of mind, if I ever have the hope to make myself better and proceed in a way that is true to me.

The second thing resonated with me because, while I look to so many for inspiration and ideas, it’s also easy for me to subconsciously compare myself. So to hear her talk about this, and remind us that the accomplishments of others don’t detract from our own, was a really nice thing to take note of. I have control over myself, my goals, and my feelings toward all that is related to those. It was a great reminder to try to stay positive and play the game of racing against myself, not racing against others.

I also realized that I myself have my various highlight reels. I attribute most of this to the fact that I don’t quite want to spew a bunch of negativity or saddening things on the internet. Over the years I’ve definitely become more comfortable with being real with those readers of my blog. And of course, there are some darker, stickier topics I’d rather not mention, some parts that are within myself that have made me me, that push me to keep going, to keep me trying to be better than yesterday. And that’s okay. It’s just so SO important to know that no matter whose highlight reel you’re viewing, it’s important to think of the person behind it as a multi-layered, complicated, beautiful human being who also has their own obstacles, struggles, and scars. I want to try harder to implement this, and take it into account when I’m looking for inspiration or guidance or when I semi-idolize the people I follow, talk with, interact with on the web, etc.

I change, I grow, I learn new things. And I want my media to reflect that, too, especially as I settle into my passions, my goals, and most importantly, myself.

xx

//re-boot: how to be *actually* productive

I did it. I can’t deny it.

I think I actually hit rock bottom a day ago.

In one of my last posts I talked about how run-down I felt. I had no energy, I felt disgusting [just in time for #nationaldoughnutday, lol], and I was mentally exhausted. The next morning, I realized something had to change. So I set out on a mission to re-fuel, re-energize, and re-orient myself for the day, taking in all of the “productivity” hacks I’ve collected throughout the years and just try to set out and do what I needed to do.

One of my all-time favourite books, The Productivity Project by Chris Bailey [I can’t praise this book highly enough], notes that productivity is not a measure of how we can get the most done, but rather, how much we can get done that we actually set out to do in the first place. 

So I made a list.

I had to babysit that day, so that would take up a fair amount of my time. But while the amazing baby was sleeping, I sat down and pressed “go” on a bunch of buttons I’d been waiting around to push.

I know there’s TONS of productivity tips out there– it’s almost overwhelming, and sometimes it’s almost too easy to get lost in just reading about all this productivity instead of actually doing something about it! So. Without further ado, these, I find, are my favourite tips that I’ve been able to put into practice successfully, and will continue to do today because boyyyy do I have a lot of work to catch up on!

//MAKE A LIST. A realistic one. Before you set out to do what you wanna do, make a list. From what I’ve read, it’s recommended that you only have 5 things on the list– this is so you don’t get overwhelmed by a list that’s longer than your arm. It’s okay to take baby steps. Remember, productivity is all about getting done what you set out to do. And checking off 5 reasonable tasks is a whole lot easier than attempting 10 bigger ones. That being said, if you finish all 5, make another 5-item list, and keep chuggin, man!

// TURN OFF YOUR PHONE. Or at least put it on “Do Not Disturb”. I like to put mine off, or on do not disturb across the room from me, so I’m not tempted. All that buzzing and notification noise for who last liked my Instagram post is just going to derail the productivity train.

//GET COMFORTABLE. This includes settling into a comfortable chair, bed, etc. Also do not forget the importance of good posture and hand position [especially when your work often involves your hands slaving over a keyboard, like mine does!] It’s a lot easier to focus once you know you’re physically well taken care of and you’ll be able to stay at it a lot easier.

//DRINK WATER. All day, preferably. Have it next to you and sip often. Your brain needs it to function. As I type, I’m drinking coffee. You can also drink coffee, don’t get me wrong! I am a coffee lover from way back but always make sure to sandwich the coffee break with a water break!

//SLEEP. I feel a bit like a hypocrite because I only JUST got my sleep back on schedule. I’ve been trying to go to bed between 11:30pm and 12am and wake up at 8:30AM so I know I’ve gotten my 8 hours. Honestly though, it’s such an overlooked part of productivity and general wellness. I used to be that person who bragged about “I was up til 4am finishing this blah blah blah”. Yeah, well I also conveniently forgot to include the part about being so sluggish and down-and-out the next day…

 //MUSIC. This one’s a bit of a hit-or-miss for me– some days I’m feeling it, sometimes I’m not. But when I AM FEELING IT NOW MR. KRABS   am feeling it, I try to stick to something that I can have passively play in the background. Unfortunately, this rules out discovery playlists on Spotify, unfamiliar songs, and stuff that’s super lyric-heavy. I can do classical music [that’s gotten me through MANY finals studying sessions!] and I can do some music with lyrics as long as it’s stuff I’m familiar with and can kind of tune out easily. Don’t get me wrong, I am a HUGE proponent of active listening, especially because I love being mindful about what is going into my ears but sometimes I just need noise. And, if music’s not your thing, no problem! There’s this nifty site called “Coffitivity” that literally just lets you play background noises/buzz from inside a coffee shop. Pretty awesome, right?

//EXERCISE! The first thing I did when I woke up besides getting dressed? I went for a run. After being almost a week out of commission I decided I needed to be active and pronto. I finished about 3.11 miles and felt deliciously sore afterwards, and didn’t feel my usual afternoon-sluggishness later! It’s really true what they say, that baffling mystery about how exercising actually gives you more energy. Weird. Gonna keep doing this one, even if I only go for a brisk walk or do some pushups in my room. Anything that gets the blood pumping is worth it.

//TAKE BREAKS. Oof, I’m low-key the worst at this one because I: A) forget to plan breaks into my work regimen OR B) take my breaks for faaaaaaaaaarrr too long lol this post was supposed to happen during a break and it’s taking me a bit longer than expected but it’s fine cuz this is truth that needs to be SPOKEN amirite? But honestly, it’s a lot easier to sit down and focus your mind when you know you’ve got a break coming up wherein you can satisfy your cravings. My breaks include eating sourpatch, doing personal things [like blogging or educating myself on the importance of SEO, taking a sketch/design break, getting a real food snack, a nap, stretching, etc.] ALSO IMPORTANT: give your hands a break. Right now, I can feel my left wrist is a bit tense from typing this post so intensely! Be kind to your hands and give them a break as well when you take a break.

It’s hard because I’m really stubborn and often have to try things before I realize their value, but these are the things that I find help me the most and my productivity throughout my work day, and I hope they do the same for you! I challenge you to try at least one of these [the water one is definitely probably my recommendation (; ] today and see what happens. Or you could also take a break and go order The Productivity Project off Amazon for like, $12. 

Happy productive-ing!

xx

// that time I tried doing YouTube

So with the “adventure a day” mindset, and having this rare boost of energy I don’t normally have, plus being inspired by one of my favourite vloggers/YouTubers [IamJustOlena] I decided to give doing a YouTube a shot.

So LOL, here’s a really shoddy attempt at a makeup tutorial:

Is this something I’ll do in the future [makeup related or otherwise]? Who knows! All I can say is that I *did* have a ton of fun making it and ESPECIALLY the editing [: Just trying to get my video editing skills to a good level before I start uni back up in the fall.

Thoughts?

xx

Blogvember Day 3: If We Date…

What kind of person attracts you? 

You know the old joke about people with “nice personalities”? Like the “he’s not Brad Pitt but aww he’s cute look he’s trying” kind of thing?

Well, I kinda detest that concept regarding personalities as second best to physical features, seeing as a personality is probably the most important thing to me in a person.

If I had to rate what I looked for in the opposite gender, I’d definitely go off of
-personality/sense of humor
-smile
-passions/talents
-character
-looks
…in that order.

For me, looks are only surface deep.  You could be absolutely GORGEOUS but if you cannot make me laugh, handle my awkwardness, get my sarcasm (or throw it right back at me), or hold a conversation, then… It’s not gonna work.  You have to get my interested. And HOLD my interest.
..I get distracted easily XD

They say “if the eyes are the window to the soul, the smile is the front door”, and I believe every word of this. Your smile has to be genuine– the light-up-your-face-and-make-your-eyes-crinkle type of genuine. I’ve smiled for school pictures before– I try to think of something funny so I don’t end up with a fake smile on my face, because I can spot those a mile away.  Your smile has to invite me in, make me want to smile, make me want to talk to you.

One thing that’s SUPER DUPER attractive is the way someone lights up about their passions, unrestricted and unbothered by outside opinion. When someone is into something and you can see it bloom across their face when they talk about it, that’s attractive. I like confidence. I am drawn to ambitious people who do not feel inferior and do not feel the need to make others feel inferior in their own passions.

The only thing better than a well-dressed man is a well mannered man, and one who has a personal code of conduct or set of beliefs.  Don’t be wishy-washy in your stance when hard times come, take pride in your abilities, and do the right thing. There’s nothing more attractive than a decent human being.

I save looks for last, mostly because it’s like the bow on a present. It’s not necessary, but it’s a nice bonus touch (;
…That being said, I find abs attractive, sandy blonde hair, chiseled cheek bones, dimples, and light eyes quite lovely (; Height is a tossup–I like medium to tall guys, but I don’t really care. Then again, it’s not hard to be taller than me, soooooooooooo (;

You know what else I’m attracted to?

People who are just having fun in their lives. Wherever they’re at, whatever they’re doing– if they’re happy about it, positive about it, and glad to be where they are, that’s great.

 

Blogvember Day 2: There’s Me, then… Me 2.0

How have you changed in the past two years?

Wow.

What a loaded question.

So much has changed.

Two years ago today I was a sophomore in high school, still under the deceptive fog that every grade matters and that the biggest goal in life is getting into college.

Two years ago today I was super self conscious about what I wore and how I fit in with people.

Two years ago today I was focused on pleasing those around me.

Two years ago today… I may have smiled more.

Two years ago today… I couldn’t see myself applying to schools and taking almost exclusively AP classes.

Two years ago today my procrastination skills were weak.

Two years ago today I didn’t have short hair.

Two years ago today I was in the awkward stages of a relationship with J.

~

Here and now, I’m a senior. And it feels friggin weird. (Responsibility?! Money?! What is this) …And every grade doesn’t matter. I’ve learned to prioritize. Taking everything as the same importance will kill you. I know now where I can cut corners to save my sanity.

Here and now, I’ve settled into a group of people who are all crazy– like me. And I love them to death. But the best part is? I don’t care what people think. Those weird looks as we scootered around outside the senior patio in the pouring rain on senior spirit day? Yeah. Priceless. Keep those -weird- jealous looks coming (;

Here and now, I’ve learned to make time for myself. I can’t be everything for everybody. No one can. When I need to put myself first, I will.

Here and now, I smile less. I try, but sometimes life is too much. I’m currently in the process of changing that, though.

Here and now, I’ve applied to one school already and am working on my second for a November 15 deadline– go me!! (It’s not that bad and ominous as I originally thought).

Here and now, procrastination is my specialty. I do it often, but I do it well. I can make bullshit look like it came from a cat (;

Here and now I rock shorter locks. And I love it.

Here and now I have settled into a groove with J– and though I do not know what the coming year has in store for us… I’m focused on living in the moment and enjoying everything I can and dealing with things as they come.

So much can happen in two years. And while sometimes I don’t recognize myself… some parts of me I’ve had since forever ago are resurfacing, to blend and merge with the new parts of me. They’re bubbling together to form who I am now. It’s an ever-changing process that is totally unpredictable.

And I’m becoming okay with that.

 

[deleted.]

So today I decided to take the reins.

I deleted all of the social networking sites off of my phone, barring one: Snapchat.

My reasons behind this?

I got tired. It was beginning to get to me. I mean, research has even proven that social media is a trigger for depression. After watching people day in and day out… post their lives, take pictures just to post later, sit on their phones with other people around {guilty as charged…}

It just
Made me realize what a huge lying trap it is.

I have felt so unhappy lately. And while part of it may not be directly related to social media, I think subconsciously, some of it was.

And I just grew sick of everything being so fake. On my Instagram, I’ve tried to keep it real… I posted pictures of what I loved, things I found funny, people I loved, and capped them off with clever captions. I detested “basic” posts or the “typical” Instagram routine, but I was just falling into it. The same went with Twitter.

But then it hit me.

Why on earth
Do I have to prove my life to people?

What is this, a competition?

I want friendships and connections, not likes on a screen.

So I just decided to let it all go.

Deleting things was easier than I thought– A few taps and temptation vanished.

Afterwards I decided to clean my room, and get rid of all negative and cluttered energy within my space that was subconsciously causing a booby trap of a life style.

It was funny– On Halloween I went with a group of German students for a state-wide organization meeting at Busch Garden’s Hall-O-Scream. I ended up losing my phone.

LOL I recovered it though, by some miracle… But even when I got it back, I didn’t take pictures or use it all that often. Mostly because I was lacking space on my device.

However, it made me realize
how much better it is to just experience. You don’t have to record/snapchat/post EVERY FRIGGING THING around you.

It’s soooo much more enjoyable that way.

Another reason I decided to abandon Social Media ship is because of excess expectations and judgement.
It’s like
Dude, I’m on my own track of life now.
I don’t need you
Or anyone
Judging
My life decisions
My favorite things
My dreams
My goals.

So I quit.

And I was left with Snapchat. I was debating whether to delete it when I created a 4 minute long Snapchat story basically illustrating my lack of time for things I love anymore due to a social media vaccuum. {I may post that story here once I figure out how to convert it to a usable vid file….}

***{I think I got it!}***

 

But anways.
Because Snapchat is fleeting in nature and not permanently hanging around for people to see forever, I think I’ll keep it. But everything else? Gone.
It’s the free-est I’ve felt in a while, and honestly, I think I won’t turn back.
xoxo

Honesty Hour: Free of Filter

Hi guys. So I’m thinking I may do this feature… just because let’s be real, the world does need more honesty.  I’m… feeling that more than ever.
A few minutes ago I watched this video of a makeup tutorial… but it was so much more than that.  I personally am not much for makeup tutorials, mostly because I don’t have time for such extensive makeup in my daily life… nor do I find it that interesting to watch other people do it… but this one was different.  (I’ll give a shout-out to VICKYLOGAN, you can check out her YouTube channel here) The vlogger, Vicky, touched on a ton of topics during a “get ready with me” vid, (which you can watch here) But I just got to thinking about some of the things she said about confidence, society’s expectations, loving yourself, and imperfections. She starts the video tutorial with no make up on at all and I have to say… I appreciated that so much.  To see someone in their natural beauty, to see that not all people are somehow china dolls all the time, to see that someone is comfortable in their skin and that they only pop into another one out of personal preference and not pressure or obligation….. It was inspiring.
And she’s totally right about the fact that our imperfections make us…well, us. And that “perfect” isn’t, and should never be, a standard.
So where am I going with this?
To be honest (ha, get it? Cuz it’s honesty hour) I don’t really know. All I can say is that I have felt myself… get caught up in all of it.  It’s so easy to just hop on Snapchat, or Instagram or Twitter or Facebook, see the filtered snapshots of the seemingly perfect lives of others and just feel really, really down about yourself. Or, to just go out there and make you want to be like someone else, or someone you’re not. And, once you do feel that push to go out and completely change yourself… once you have, maybe, what you feel like has been “for the better”.. You can’t help but blast it out there for others to see.  The pictures flow, freely, leaking out to all the platforms screaming “hey! I’m normal!” or “hey! I’m cool!” or “hey I look good!” “wow I’m stylish” “wow I’m this” “I’m healthy” “I’m happy” “I’m in love”…
It all builds up.  To the point where it’s a bit much.  It’s hard to know what any followers think… They’re judging only on pictures.  Your analysis becomes geared towards likes, follows, and favorites. And your perceptions of reality are, well, filtered.
Why is social media such a monster sometimes? Does anyone else feel like it has robbed their soul in one way or another?
I do.
I have to admit, I love Instagram.  The pictures are so pretty and I like how they’re perfect squares and how the feed can be so colorful sometimes… But what I don’t like is that it’s so unrealistic at times. There’s a level of superficiality that comes out and just takes hold and makes it reaaaally easy to compare yourself to other people…

I used to hate “selfies” with a passion… (Just the word makes me cringe…still..) My first reaction is that it was kind of a vain thing to do.  But what do I say now when I post them myself? And even more, when the filters are just piled on?

I compare my older pictures with some from now… they’re different.

And somehow, in one way or another, they’re tailored to other people.  Which shouldn’t be the case.
Why do people seek perfection? Call it artsy or whatever with all the filters (though I can’t judge because I love filters because they can twist a photo so many different ways) but life isn’t… filtered.
And I think you can eventually become addicted. Not just to the platforms, but the content and the content posted to said platform.

I say this, because I think I am.

As much as I don’t wanna be like “oh, I’m addicted I need to stop…” When it gets in the way of my productivity or when it just starts to change your views on things just a bit… it’s a bit much.

That being said… while I don’t wanna take a hard-core hiatus (though that’d probably be a good idea with all of my unproductive-ness as of late) I do want to try something.
Similar to my waaaaaaay long ago post about going “Unmasked” for 3 weeks or so, I’m gonna go unfiltered.  All posts, no matter where, will be free of a filter  Just to gain an appreciation those things that do not need a filter.  Friends, family, nature, and importantly, yourself.
Like Vicky says, everyone has something or some things they don’t like about themselves.  But the crucial part is learning to live with them, embracing them and being aware of them. Because like she says

“…All of that [makeup, clothes hair, imperfections etc.]… at the end of the day, it don’t matter because we all go to sleep in the dark. …Well, most of us– some of us use night-lights…. But when it’s dark and no body sees you… Do you love you?” ~Vicky

She’s very funny and down to earth, I highly recommend her channel.

So, my friends! Head out into this filtered world and just rip the filter off.  Love you, what is raw, what is real, what is most important to you… And I shall do the same. Again, I’m not hating on filters or anything, I just… sometimes I wanna view the world without one for a while.  To keep it in check.

And you’re invited, too! Feel absolutely free to follow me on my unfiltered journey and join me in my #freeoffilter endeavors: @stephaniesaysxo on Instagram & Twitter.

Love always,
Steph xoxo

Right Back At it Again.

^Wow, I never make Day To Remember references… until now, haha.

It feels like I’m just now settling into summer… even though it’s basically gone…

If you recall my last post, I was going off to a German hibernation of sorts, hidden from the outside world.  My earlier hypothesis? It would be “either fantastic or really rough”.

I’m happy to say it was the latter. Times 100.

Being thrown completely into a non-English environment was cooler than cool, even if it was a bit scary at first. I’ll admit, the first week was hard. And I was easily intimidated by all of the fluent or nearly-native speakers.  But it faded after the first week– I was learning so much. The whole experience made me wish my classroom environment were that awesome….awesome in that we had an enthusiastic group of students who found it cool to speak the language and actually wanted to put effort into creating as close to a full immersion environment as possible…

But it was amazing.  I grew close with so many people (what else do you do when you’re around them for 3 weeks? lol) including one of our RA’s– Maria. She’s super into theatre (it’s part of her major), really cute, (short, like me!), has a great sense of humor, AND she does trapeze for fun/exercise. PLUS her German is flawless (she studied abroad in Heidelberg and I am so jealous). I learned so much from her, and what amount of wanderlust I didn’t already have, came from her.  I can’t tell you how much I want to go to Germany (or just Europe in general) now. Annnnnnnd those opportunities may come– my aunt has said words about visiting her brother, and a friend proposed her visiting there and her need for a translator….. :O So we shall see.

I really can’t fit all of my experiences into a single post, so I’ll just say that we lived, laughed, ate, learned, had drama, all in German. I even started to dream in German, which was totally weird but also very fascinating. The day my parents came to rescue pick me up, I could not English. It was a struggle. And hearing the English of my instructors and RA’s for the first time was…. earth-shatteringly weird. Oh, and did I mention I learned Chinese? Only a bit, mind you. Since English

So just because I can, here are some pictures in an attempt to somehow show you guys how epic gov school was.

People + me in a Luray Caverns– the tour was in German! (left to right: Sandra, peep Dylan, Alexa, Marley, Katie & Me in front)

 

Me in cave + RAs Mariah and Meredith (left to right.

 

ME AND LU LAOSHI our Chinese teacher– he was so sweet, so patient…so amazing.
(Lu Laoshi ist Lieben, Lu Laoshi ist Leben)

 

A pic with a huge group of people before the last dance of the German Academy.

 

Our X-treme volleyball team. We were the “Faultier Frauen” (“sloth women”, because Allison’s fave animal was a sloth) later to be mixed with a group of guys… we compromised on the team name “Faultier Fenster” because they had named their team after the window two guys had broke playing soccer in the dorm halls…. XD

 

We’re fierce.

 

Wandern! (German for hiking, but it’s got an added spiritual element to it– it’s not just your average trekking through the woods experience.

 

Washington and Lee has some gorgeous forest and water around it 😀

 

…The mountains are gorgeous too…

 

All of the people in the academy after wandern 😀

 

Dunno why this is black and white, guess my camera was on that mode when the pic was taken, but this is the 4th of July at a street market on the campus of VMI (Virginia Military Institute).  You may not be able to tell but the building looks like a castle prison, and I’m standing with Matt, a good friend I made at the academy. We sang together and he is an insane guitar player.

 

Just me with an inflatable dinosaur.

 

Our attempt to make a star with our bodies on grass. (same day, July 4th)

 

Found a four-leafed clover that day too

 

An unconventional 4th of July dinner with the boys in the academy… Bratwurst inside hotdog buns and Kartoffelsalat.. but we managed to have iced tea! In this picture the boys are imitating Lu Laoshi… he taught us our favorite Chinese words “canting” and “chifan”, which mean “place to eat” and “eating”. We’re strange children.

 

Not far from the university, they had hot air balloons in the sky (this was also the 4th of July) and I pride myself of this artsy shot with the lamp post right in the middle LOL

 

The Wiener Cafe!! You could invite your German teacher to this traditional-style eating get-together in the W&L dining hall– traditional dress was encouraged, and I though all these guys looked amazing, so I snapped a pic 😀

 

….Steve’s shorts in honor of ‘MURICA day… (he was one of the guys who broke the window, btw)

 

I love this picture because Haley (the ginger cracking up on the left) is so amazing… Our last week of gov school we had a “Geheimnesfreund”, a secret person who we’d smuggle gifts or nice favors to anonymously, and at the end it was like a Secret Santa revealing, and you’d give your last present to the person so they’d know who you were, and Haley gave Calvin (the guy in the chair) a picture of a green penguin she drew herself. Just because she’s cool like that.

 

The guy in the yellow shirt and white pants was the bane of my existence.  RA named Lenny. He’s only 19 but he’s.. insane. He fooled all of us with a wig on the first day…

 

Internationales Abendessen! (International Dinner) with the other academies– French and Spanish 😀 The girl behind me spoke excellent French, as did the guy in the red shirt.  The guy in the black is named John, he was another German partner in crime. It was so cool– English was forbidden (like always)– we could speak only our languages…I know only a handful of words in French, the French people knew only a few German words… so we met in the middle and I talked in Spanish with a French girl who knew some Spanish (enough to get by). It was such an interesting experience trying to understand each other.

 

Left to right, our energetic RA’s… Makenna, Leah, Matt, Mariah, Meredith, Lenny.

 

Marley and Me with a mustache (LOL she hates it when people make that movie reference with her name, but I love her so it’s okay).

 

UNSERE DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL MANSCHAFT! (Our German soccer team!) The last week, we had a soccer tourney against the other academies… whoever won the most games was champion. The Spanish academy scored like, 7 goals… we scored 1 and the French scored none.  But the Spanish were cocky as hell so the French rooted for us when we played against the Spanish LOL

 

Pearls of Wisdom from my Economics Teacher

We’re at that point of the school year where classes are uneventful pointless, and everything is due before exams, making it both crazy and hectic.
In my Economics class, however, my teacher shared with us (he was feeling generous) a couple bits of advice for college and the real world, which I found rather humorous.  I wrote them down, and thought I’d share them with you.

Prof. W’s All-Purpose Words of Wisdom to Survive College and Life
  • “You are not a special snowflake. No matter how special and unique you think you are, there will always be someone just like you, even better than you.” Seeing that Prof. W’s humour is very dry and sarcastic, I took this to mean “don’t be overly cocky and think you’re the shit,” because nobody likes someone who is like that.  That being said, embrace you for you and don’t fall into the all-consuming trap of comparing yourself to others.
  • “Do the work, no matter how genius you are.” Again, assuming you’re being cocky, prescribing yourself as a genius who doesn’t think doing the work is required, he’s telling us to calm down. In order to be a special snowflake, you have to work hard and earn it.  No one likes fake snowflakes.
  • “Be nice.” Duh. Short and sweet, and probably the most important and basic things to know.  Be nice to others, be kind, and people won’t hate you.  It’s not hard.  Plus, being able to get along with people is a precious skill in the workforce.  Might as well do it in school and in college, and just everywhere you come in contact with people.  Which is everywhere.  All the time.
  • “If you can’t be nice, be funny.” This is Prof. W’s humour again.  You should always strive to be nice, but he reasons that if you’re funny, you can most likely at least disguise your less-than-pleasant attitude towards people.  However, different from Prof. W’s advice… being funny is different than being good-humoured.  Pick comedy and people may regard you as an asshole, depending on how you pull it off.  Pick good humour and people will find you easygoing and nice to be around. You shouldn’t use humor to cover up your assholiness, just…. work on it (;
  • “Follow your dreams, but always have a plan B.” Man, he sounds like my mother ranting to my older brother.  But it’s true! Do not, for a minute hesitate in chasing your passions. However, that does not mean that you should abandon all sensibility either.  Prepare for change, and have a flexible counter plan handy just in case you don’t happen to get famous, be president, or get a record deal.
xx