Overwhelmed Beyond Belief

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“Hey how’s it going?”, “What have you been up to?”, “How have you been?” Hi, My name is Lena Daniels, I’m 20 years old, and my answer to all of those questions is “I’m overwhelmed. Always.”

As you may or may not have been able to tell by my lack of blog posts, I have been the busiest girl in the world, and I honestly love it. This semester has been kicking my booty in the best way possible, and I have no complaints— so far. The infamous “they” told me that junior year of high school was the year to fear. With SATs, college tours, and the most important GPA year, I thought I rode the struggle bus and was able to get off circa 2015. Yet junior year of college has proven to give my just as much of a challenge so far.

While this semester I am taking the least amount of credits thus far in my college career, I am focusing on my minor, mass communications, so all the coursework is completely new information. I am loving all of my classes so far, but I had to manually switch my brain off hospitality mode for a little bit in order to process all the new knowledge I’m filtering in.

Luckily for me, my new current internship came at the perfect time. I am working on the Public Relations team at a local agency, Six. I’m able to use everything I’ve learned in class so far and translate it into my job. I’ve been creating social media posts, pitching to the media, and planning events for our clients in the area. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever done before, but it combines all my interests, so it was definitely the perfect fit for me.

And of course, you know all about how Her Campus is taking over my life. Let me tell you, managing a team of 80+ girls is the most insane thing I’ve done, and it brings me so much joy. We’ve accomplished so much as a chapter in such a short period of time, and I’m so excited for the future of this organization.

Oh yeah, and a social life? She’s still going strong. I’m now a Universal Orlando annual passholder, which means my theme parks days are back in action. I never thought I’d cheat on Disney like this, but I’ve been having so much fun exploring these new parks with Josh, who finally gave in and committed to the AP life as well. I’ve also finally been able to attend the UCF football games again, which I am beyond excited about. Having to miss every game of last year’s undefeated was really disappointing, but with they way things are looking this year, we might have another amazing season (knock on wood!)

It’s been crazy, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Being bored is my least favorite thing ever, so I think I’m safe from boredom at least for a little while! Also, if you didn’t catch the exciting news, I am now the proud owner of my very own domain! Out with the old .wordpress domain, in with the fresh new website that’s 100% mine. I’m so excited to finally own my own little corner of the world wide web.

Time to got back into blog hibernation for a little while, while I continue to be the busiest person in the world. If I survive this semester without a gray hair, I’ll call it a success.

Until next time,

xoxo,

 

Hello, Junior Year

BLOG, college, Lil Life Updates

So my junior year of college starts tomorrow, and thinking about it makes me want to hurl. Like I know everyone says college flies by, but seriously how did this happen so fast? I haven’t experienced a fall semester since freshman year since I spent last year running around Disney, so I feel like my time has gone by even faster than I thought. It’s crazy to be sitting here getting organized for the first day of classes, knowing that at this time next year, it will be my last time. I love growing up, but now I’m just wishing time would stop.

Looking forward to this year, I have a lot of amazing opportunities coming my way. I am finally *finally* back to only taking 15 credit hours per semester, which will be a huge sigh of relief after spending the past few overloaded with 18-20. This semester specifically, I’ll be focusing on my minor, mass communications, which I recently declared. With this extra time on my hands, I’ll be able to focus on leading the best dang Her Campus chapter the world has ever seen (hopefully).

I also have an exciting new internship in store. I will be starting work with an agency in Ivanhoe Village, called Six, and I’ll be doing all sorts of fun things with them. From social media to PR writing to event planning- you name it! I’ll be gaining experience in both of my fields and combining all of my interests.

As much as I wish I could press the pause button on this semester, I already know it’s going to fly by. I’m really excited for all that’s happening in the next few months, and I can’t wait to share all the adventures along the way.

Until next time,

xoxo,

 

What Really Happened During My Summer Internship

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“How would you describe your LEAD Internship to a friend?” I was asked by my coworker who sat behind a large camera. As I leaned back in the large chair that overlooked our resort’s 75,000 square foot pool from the presidential suite, I finally took it all in. How do I even begin to describe one of the most eclectic experiences of my life so far? For starters, I’m being interviewed by a film crew for a promotional video, in addition to jumpstarting my acting career by poorly recreating some of my favorite memories of the summer. Who else can say they spent their last week at work doubling as a movie-star-in-training? But it’s just one of the many, many, many hats I was fortunate enough to wear this summer during my program. My time at The Fountains was short, but the memories I made will last a long time.

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Ever since I began my path in the hospitality industry, I knew I wanted to focus onthe tourism industry. I wanted to harbor that excitement one feels when embarking on a vacation and keep that momentum going forever. Specifically, I knew I wanted to work at a resort. Yet I was always posed the question “What part of the lodging industry do you want to work in? What do you want to do at a resort?” and that’s where I always drew a blank. I knew I wanted to work in such an uplifting and exciting environment, but I never knew what specifically I wanted to do there.

When it came time to start searching for summer internships early last winter, I stumbled across the Bluegreen Vacation LEAD Internship. It was a company I never heard of, so I decided to read further about what it was. “Through hands-on training and mentorship with resort staff, interns will participate in comprehensive rotations focusing on operational procedures, advanced systems, and customer service across a range of disciplines including guest services, food & beverage, resort maintenance, housekeep, resort activities, and more”. So basically I had the opportunity to spend the summer trying out anything and everything involved in making the resort run, in order to find what I really enjoyed the most. It was the perfect program for me to finally have an answer to the question of what I wanted to do at resorts.

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After rounds and rounds of interviews, I was accepted to be one of the two interns at The Fountains resort in Orlando, and I was beyond excited. As summer came around, I was expecting to begin my rotations, and just spend a week doing work in each department. To my surprise, this internship was so much more than just doing work.

On Day 1 we were given a binder with all of the departments we would be shadowing during the program. What I didn’t expect to see in the binder were all the learning elements that we were able to participate in. After coming from an internship where I basically did manual labor for minimum wage, I wasn’t really expecting anything crazy, but just seeing that we had the opportunity to learn while we were here made me so excited.

Each week, we would take on the role of a different department, doing a mix of hands-on work, shadowing managers, and learning the behind the scenes of what makes each operation successful. In addition, we had weekly meetings with our mentor, the resort’s assistant general manager, to talk about both our experiences in the program, as well as the department’s strengths and weaknesses that could be adjusted. I like to call this part of the internship my experience as an Undercover Boss, because we were able to see each department with fresh eyes, and help the resort leadership team fix any errors that they might not have even noticed.

We also were able to participate in weekly video conference calls with the 10 other interns located at Bluegreen properties all over the country to compare and contrast our experiences. During these calls, we were able to network with each other, take classes on Timeshare 101 and Financial Acumen, as well as have inciteful Q&A sessions with the company’s executive members, creating amazing opportunities across the board.

Additionally, we were tasked with creating a capstone project highlighting three ways the resort could enhance the guest’s experience. Over the course of the summer, we were able to pinpoint problem areas and figure out ways to find a solution, in order to better the company as well as better ourselves. At the end of the program, we presented to all of the resorts leaders, as well as the regional manager, and the company’s learning and development team. It was an incredible experience to have my ideas heard and praised, and I look forward to seeing if they’ll be implemented in the near future.

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This internship program was more than just a job where I went to work, did my tasks, and went home. The LEAD Program quickly became the biggest surprise of my young 20-year-old life, as I was able to grow so much in 11 weeks, and open so many doors to my future. I was constantly asked by friends and family what I was doing and how I was enjoying it, and it was just so hard to put my joy into words, so I hope this does the trick.

I was amazed by how welcome I felt every time I stepped on the property. As I rotated through the 9 different departments, I was able to meet almost every employee that worked there, and they always made sure to say hi and talk to me after I moved on to the next rotation. The maintenance department was the best, as they would always greet me with “Good Morning Boss!”, and it went straight to my head. The goal of Bluegreen Vacations is to “share happiness”, and after a shaky few months of not knowing whether or not hospitality was the right field for me, I can confidently say that I am more than happy in this industry, and I thank everyone at the Fountains for helping me feel confident in this role.

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Don’t worry, this isn’t the end of my Bluegreen journey! Next summer I will be going back to The Fountains for a second internship, but this one will focus on one department the whole program. I will learn a more in-depth view of the department I select, and have the opportunity to work as a supervisor in that role. I already know which role I’ll be taking on, but I’ll keep it a secret from you for a little while longer so you have the excuse to visit my blog again in the future.

I am so beyond grateful for all the experiences I’ve been able to have so far, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store!

Until next time,

xoxo,

Hello, New York

BLOG, TRAVEL

So should I start this post with “concrete jungle where dreams are made of”, “the greatest city in the world”, or “I want to wake up in a city, that doesn’t sleep”? All cliche, but you all know exactly where I’m referring to without even mentioning the name of the city. The big, the bright, the beautiful, New York City! *cue the kickline perfectly synced to big band jazz*

Now, I didn’t come to New York expecting to be a star, but instead, I was here to be wowed by the stars. Just not the ones in the sky, because the light pollution there is astronomical. I made my way to The Big Apple for my first time ever, for a weekend of girl power that shined brighter than anything in the sky. And at #HerConference 2018, I definitely needed to wear shades, because these killer ladies showed us that our future was just as bright, if not brighter, than Time Square at 2 am.

Our trip started off early, as we touched town in LGA just in time to make it to Central Park for lunch with a view. We rented paddle boats and enjoyed the sunshine, before eating authentic New York dogs from an award-winning (probably) cart on the street. After watching our fair share of jumping men that scammed Nicole out of a crisp five dollar bill, we were able to head to our hotel, that was dressed head to toe in all things Marilyn Monroe. Rumor has it she stayed there like, once, so naturally, the whole building was an ode to her. I wouldn’t expect anything less.

After a quick rest to sleep off our non-existent jetlag, we got into the real nitty gritty touristy stuff: Time Square. Starting off the night in the cheesiest, touristy attraction ever, we dined in style at Ellen’s Stardust Cafe and were serenaded by the best of off-Broadway’s talent. Karaoke rendition after karaoke rendition of songs I’ve never heard of before was the perfect backdrop to a milkshake and a night on the town. After combating our way through crowds busier than Main Street USA after the fireworks finish, we took the classic Time Square picture and called it a night.

The next morning we started off cultured, by heading over to the Museum of Modern Art. Seeing so many famous paintings in real life was so surreal, and my elementary art teacher would have been proud. We continued our day by hitting up every basic New York attraction out there. Rockefeller Center? Check. Washington Square Park? Check. Macy’s? Check. What else was left to do but see a Broadway show of course! So to continue our day of being cultured, we chose the best of the best, Spongebob The Musical. And honestly, it was one of the greatest shows I had ever seen.

The next two days were spent at Her Conference, becoming inspired by the greatest women to grace this earth. We heard from speakers of all different backgrounds talking about how to really succeed in life. Over the course of two days, we were able to network with influencers and Her Campus members from all over the country, and it’s an experience I wouldn’t trade for the world. Already counting down the days until next year!

Following the second night of the conference, we decided to head downtown to SoHo and Little Italy for dinner, which was an incredible surprise. Eating cannoli from the “Cannoli King” himself while musicians played on the street created such an incredible environment that I can only imagine Italy is nothing like.

On our final day, we made it to Battery Park to see the Statue of Liberty from across the river. I’ve only seen Lady Liberty twice, and both times it was cloudy, so it looks like I’ll definitely have to go back to see her in all her glory. We were also able to see the 9/11 memorial, Wall Street, and the church where Hamilton is buried.

To finish up the trip, we headed over to the High Line, a park created on old trolley tracks, and Chelsea Market. I made sure to buy handfuls of New York candy to take home before heading back to the airport.

We were able to squeeze so much into such a small amount of time, and I was so happy we made it work. Until next time, “let’s hear it for New York, New York, New York”.

Two Years are Better Than One

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A year ago, I woke up and had a beautifully typed out blog post ready to be published, celebrating the ups and downs of creating my first blog. June 10th, 2017 marked the one year anniversary of stepping out of my shell and trying something new, and that something just so happened to change the entire way I view life. This morning, I woke up and went through my daily routine, and noticed on my Timehop, that today, in fact, was June 10th, and the day I get to celebrate my blog turning two. Just goes to show you, no matter how hard you plan your life, somethings just sneak up on you. Unprepared, and with my eyes still adjusting to the light of day, I just wanted to take a moment to reflect on “Lena Dani” and all that has happened these past two years.

When I created this blog after high school graduation, I wasn’t sure where it would take me. I just wanted to keep busy for a day and try something new. In my first year publicly writing to a small audience of family and friends, I was able to discover the power of a post, and how many people actually do care about my small adventures in life. Rounding into this second year, I embarked on some serious journies (i.e. my Disney College Program), and my posting fell near the wayside (i.e. non-existent). No worries there, because I brought her back to life in January to fill in all the blanks.

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During this time I was able to perfect my leadership skills and eventually be offered the role of incoming President for Her Campus UCF. I also was given the opportunity to write for the employee section of our Bluegreen website for the internship I am currently on, all because my managers discovered this blog. I truly believe I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am without the creation of this blog.

I recently have also been given the opportunity to work with several different promotional campaigns over social media as well as here at “Lena Dani”, that you can look forward to seeing soon! I accepted invitations to join Influencer Collectives, and go to meetups with fellow Orlando bloggers. I’m even heading to New York City this summer to attend a conference dedicated to girl bosses in the media.

So yeah, you could say that this blog has done a lot for me. I know sometimes that I get too caught up in life to document everything that I experience, but having the opportunity to just highlight on a few different aspects is the reason why this is such an amazing outlet for me.

Cheers to two successful years of “Lena Dani”, and here’s to many, many more!

xoxo,

What is “Her Campus”?

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So if you follow me on any form of social media, I’m sure your feed has been clogged with a multitude of articles I’ve been sharing the past couple of years. Most probably scroll past without a second thought, but some of you might be curious as to why I’ve been spamming your timeline with stories ranging from the best lipglosses to wear each season to the feminist agenda.

Her Campus is the number one online magazine for college women, that is made up of writers from all over the world. There are over three hundred chapters worldwide, hosted at colleges and universities ranging in all shapes and sizes. We write about nearly everything under the sun and love to share that work in hopes that readers can relate.

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Writing is our base, and what we specialize in, but over the past couple of semesters, we have been able to expand as a chapter and create a name for ourselves on campus. In addition to writing our weekly articles, we have hosted multiple women’s empowerment events, worked with the national chapter to put on a tour hosting multiple sponsors, such as L’Oreal and Aeropostale, and created a team that exhibits professionality and poise.

I got started in Her Campus UCF before my freshman year even began. I discovered the website late senior year of high school when I spent zero time studying and procrastinated all my work away by scouring the internet in ways to prepare for college. A simple search for the best study spots around UCF’s campus (hah, can you see the irony), lead me to find this host for incredible articles to get me ready for such a large transition.

I continued reading these articles sporadically throughout the summer and followed their Facebook page for updates on new ones being released. I didn’t even think to join the organization until months later, after I started my blog, and discovered it might be the perfect fit. So I found the new member applications, applied to be a contributing writer, and the rest is history.

Well actually, not quite history, since I’m still living in it. As freshmen year progressed, I began writing more and more than I ever had in my life, discovering my love for this newfound hobby. It wasn’t until my articles were continuously shared by HC’s national chapter that I thought I could be semi-decent at this.

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Towards the end of Freshman year, I nominated myself to be the social media director, on a whim, because I wanted to get more involved in this activity than ever before. I completely surprised myself, and earned the position, and began to learn the ins-and-outs of HC better than ever.

Through my position of the social media director, I learned how to promote events, schedule content, work with sponsors, design graphics, and more, all while completing a full-time internship across town. This role gave me so much more exposure to the interworkings of online marketing and promoting a brand, and I fell completely in love with that aspect, on top of all the writing I’ve been contributing.

I began translating these skills into my own personal brand when curating an aesthetic for my Instagram and reformatting my blog for the billionth time. After all, successful websites are constantly evolving and growing.

Come this past January, our current President and Editor-in-Cheif asked me, and my other blogger/girl boss of a best friend, Nicole, to take over for her next year. It was a crazy big honor because I had fantasized becoming President and Campus Correspondent (HC talk for a leader who corresponds with the national chapter’s office each week) my senior year, and here I am, an incoming junior with this position under my belt. It felt extra special because as much as I have been putting into Her Campus UCF the past two years, I’ve been getting that much and more out of it. It didn’t just act as a club that I went to once a week, but it became something that has shaped the way I have been living my life.

 

So as of right now, Nicole and I have finished our onboarding and training, and have officially assumed our roles as co-Campus Correspondents of Her Campus UCF. Her, taking up the role as Editor-in-Cheif, and me as President.

It is beyond exciting to be spending the next few semesters helping our team grow and fostering that special feeling I felt when I joined the team a few years back. So yeah, unfortunately for those of you who follow me on social media, you will continue to have your timelines be filled with all the wonderful articles from our writers that I have been sharing. And you should click on them and check them out too, as it’s incredible the words that have sprouted from our team’s keyboards and been uploaded onto our website.

I can’t wait to continue growing through this organization and hopefully inspire others to follow similar journeys as well. We don’t just write, we soar.

HCXO!

xoxo,

May the 4th Be With You

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May the fourth be with you. No, I’m not a Star Wars fan with a horrible lisp, just a Star Wars fan who loves to celebrate arbitrary holidays. Happy Friday, but more importantly, happy Star Wars day!

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I’d like to thank start off by thanking Star Wars for existing. As a kid, I never really understood the franchise, as I wasn’t wielding a lightsaber in the womb. Although I wasn’t raised on the ways of the force, like some, I grew an appreciation for the iconic movie series at the perfect time in my life. Late high school, where I could wear the “nerd card” on my sleeve and be proud of it. I mean I was already in marching band, so how much worse could my social suicide really get?

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Fortunately, I didn’t care and was able to fall in love with Han Solo, Lando, and Chewbacca. I instantly took a liking towards the rebel alliance, and when Disney acquired Lucasfilm, I knew I was destined to be a Star Wars geek from here on out.

 

Thanks to a galaxy far far away, I’ve been able to bond with so many different people and create friendships to last a few light years. I’ve discovered that a Chewie hug can make any problem disappear. I even spent this past Christmas with my old roommate watching the Star Wars Holiday Special that we like to pretend doesn’t exist. And my newly acquired box set will always provide the perfect date night with my equally geeky boyfriend.

 

Proud to wear my love for Star Wars on my sleeve, and to be binging episodes one through eight today to celebrate the holiday.

Have a nerdy Friday, and may the force be with you, always.

xoxo,

Sophomore Year Recap

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And just like that, I’m halfway done with my undergraduate career here at UCF. Wait, what? Where did the time go? Honestly, I wish I knew so that I could tell it to stop, take a breath and slow down. It feels like just last week I left Pittsburgh and jumped into my life here in Orlando, but that fact that we are coming up on my two year anniversary of moving here is absolutely bonkers. Yet sophomore year flew by faster than I could have ever imagined.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know that my I spent my fall semester interning at Walt Disney World as a participant in the Disney College Program. With that under my belt, the first semester of my sophomore year flew by. Upon being reenrolled as a student at UCF, I wasn’t expecting the next four months to occur in the blink of an eye.

I started out the semester strong, maybe too strong. I enrolled in 19 credit hours because I clearly enjoy making myself suffer. The average for students here is 15 credit hours per semester, and most opt to take 12. The maximum you’re even allowed to take is 17, so why I thought to override all the rules to take 19 was a good idea is beyond me. But I had to make up for spending a semester riding rollercoasters, so six in-person lectures and one cooking lab it was.

After a five-month hiatus from learning, it was time to kick it into high gear and take this semester by storm, all while getting adjusted to new living habits and extracurriculars. Three days before the semester began, I moved into my first big girl apartment, with my own bedroom and bathroom (!!!). I decorated to my heart’s content and renewed my lease so it will be my permanent home in Orlando at least until July 2019, if not longer.

Living near campus again meant I was finally able to get back into the swing of things with my extracurriculars, Campus Activities Board, and Her Campus. As a member of Her Campus UCF’s executive board, I was really able to let my leadership flourish this year. By the end of the semester, I was even appointed to be next year’s president and co-campus correspondent. I am beyond excited to lead my favorite organization down a path of success, as it has been one of my goals since my very first meeting freshman year.

After so many great things began happening to me here in Orlando, it was my mission to find a way to stay here through the summer. Thus, the job hunt began. Fortunately, I discovered an incredible internship opportunity early on in the semester to apply for. I spent a few months applying and going through multiple interviews before hearing the amazing news that I earned one of only two positions available. So this summer I will be working as a LEAD Intern for Bluegreen Vacations, a timeshare resort company, at their Orlando resort, The Fountains. I’m so excited to have the opportunity to work in hotels and resorts, as it’s been one of my main goals within the hospitality industry. This program will give me the opportunity to rotate between six or seven different positions in the hotel, to learn what I have a liking towards so I can prepare for a management internship in that role. On top of that, the resort had discovered my writing and knack for social marketing and asked if I could work on doing some of that for their website, and of course, I was beyond excited to be offered the opportunity to combine two of my passions into one.

And a full-time job in Orlando means I needed to begin the car search so I could actually get to work each day. So thus began the stressful process that was buying a car in Florida, while my parents were still in Pennsylvania. But we survived, and I now have a beautiful baby girl to drive around town in, and I finally feel like I’ve made this city my new home.

So this semester consisted of murdering my sanity with way too many classes, working extra hard on extracurriculars, and becoming a real-life grown up. Too much adulting, if you ask me, but it had to be done. My social life? Hah, yeah it was basically non-existent, as you can tell, but taking a semester to advance and improve myself, was much needed, and will ensure a future full of opportunity down here.

I’m looking forward to a blistering hot summer like no other, and for it to go by as slooooowly as possible because the thought of being a junior in college is enough to make me want to puke. But if time has to move so quickly, I’m just overjoyed that I found the perfect place to live it in.

xoxo,

The Freedom of Four Wheels

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Who would have thought running errands was something I’d soon take for granted? In high school, I was lucky enough to be my family’s personal errand runner and an eager one at that. Hopping in the car to pick up some veggies for dinner, meant 30 minutes of freedom that I never thought would be something I cherished.

Flash forward to starting college, when I shipped myself across the country with no friends and no car, and somehow tried to make things work. Not to toot my own horn, but I survived pretty successfully too. It was definitely difficult to live my life without the luxury of a car, but thanks to some reliable friends and my part-time chauffeur, otherwise known as my boyfriend, I was able to make it work.

Yet all I did was make it work. I was able to get groceries when needed. I had someone take me to the mall if I needed clothes for school. I became a pro at finding Lyft and Uber discount codes. But what I wasn’t able to do without a car, was be free.

Sure, my friends were always around to help me out when I needed to be dropped off somewhere, but I lost that independence that I took for granted when I was able to drive myself places. I couldn’t apply for my number one job choice. I couldn’t sign up to volunteer at events that would boost my resume. I couldn’t grab an ice cream cone when I was feeling down. I always had to cater my schedule around someone else’s, and I even experienced a tinge of guilt, always asking the same people for rides.

Yet getting a car isn’t as easy as walking into the store and buying one. My family and I had been working on this process for what felt like years. And it was a long time coming, but this past week, I was finally able to drive home my newest found freedom, in the form of a 2018 Honda Fit.

Ever since moving to Orlando, I knew how important having a car would be, and how much it would be able to improve my future, be it with reliable transportation to new job opportunities, or the availability to always go above and beyond in volunteering to drive for my different organizations.

This past week, I’ve been able to gain back that independance that I’ve missed so much, and it’s incredible to believe that I finally have a car of my own.

I’m so excited to keep on growing down here in Florida, and this car is just a small step towards my success. I am so grateful that the time has finally come that this dream has become a reality, and of course blessed that I can swing through the Taco Bell drive-thru any time I want.

This new baby, that I have graciously named Luna, and I are prepared to make some memories, thanks to our newfound freedom, and the future ahead of us is an open road.

xoxo,

Surprise, I’m Home!

BLOG, TRAVEL

As spring break was quickly approaching, my mind filled with the thought of rest and relaxation for 9 days straight. Finally, time to lay around and do nothing, because I had no stressful obligations holding me back. Except for one important factor: I would be stranded alone in Orlando for that time.

Okay, okay, I know what you’re thinking, being in Florida for spring break sounds like a dream. And I agree, I love everything about this wacky state, and the sunshine and warm weather is nothing but perfection. yet as I was gathering my thoughts about how I would spend the week, I realized I had no car, no money, and no friends in town to hang out with. That simple math told me I’d be spending the week in my apartment, and that just didn’t sound appealing.

So I stealthily checked my bank account and my family’s schedules for that week and booked a flight home to Pittsburgh to surprise everyone. My mom was in on it, of course, because I couldn’t figure out how to pull it off alone. But for three weeks, I secretly made plans and packed my bags for the winter weather, and before I knew it I was home.

Now let me just take this moment to advise you never to leave sunny and warm Florida, for windy and cold Pittsburgh between the months of October-April. It was a culture shock, and my body was not prepared. But as soon as the weather started to numb me, I was able to warm up from hugs from surprised loved ones.

Crosby came first. I hadn’t seen my favorite pup since July, so eight months of belly rubs and cuddles came flooding back as he excitedly jumped all over me. One of the hardest things about college is being away from the puppy love that kept me sane growing up.

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After that, my sister walked in the door, completely dumbfounded by the fact that I was not 800 miles, as she expected. Not sure if that was a positive or a negative surprise for her, but none the less, I was back home stealing her stuff and eating her food.

A few hours later my dad came home and stopped immediately in his tracks. I think he was speechless, but I don’t want to flatter myself. He wasn’t planning on seeing me until this coming September, so I knew I caught him off guard in the best way possible.

Later in the week, I was able to surprise all of my grandparents, and none of them were expecting to see me. It’s not always the easiest to stay in contact with them, but I know they were excited to see me.

Despite the frigid weather, this trip was worth it just to see the look on my families faces. Although I don’t plan on coming back to Pittsburgh until the weather hits at least 65 degrees, I am glad I was able to make it home this spring break and make the most out of my time off from school.

xoxo,