The Freedom of Four Wheels


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.


Surprise, I’m Home!


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.


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.


Back to Reality


Hi, my name is Lena, and you’re no longer watching Disney Channel! Welcome back to the wonderful world of reality, where wearing mouse ears to hide a bad hair day is no longer sticking to the status quo. It’s been a long time coming, but I’m finally done with the wildest experience I’ve gone through so far.

For those of you unaware, I just finished a 5 month internship at Walt Disney World, where I spent 6 days a week selling bubble wands in front of the castle, and 7 days a week running through all the emotions in the book. It was overall an amazingly unique experience, but I’m still catching up on sleep, and I’ve been gone for 3 weeks.


But all good things must come to an end, so I am back at UCF starting my third semester here, taking a detox from all things Disney. I am finally all settled into my “big girl apartment” and I couldn’t be happier with how things turned out, (so happy that I signed a lease to stay here for at least 17 more months).

Classes are back in full swing and being able to structure my day out and learn again feels so good. (I’m saying this now, but check up on me during midterms when I have 20 credits worth of classes to study for and see if the sanity remains). I am finally taking classes within my major on Rosen campus, which is super exciting. I get to split my week up and spend two days at each campus, so it’s keeping me on my toes.

All of my clubs and organizations are starting back up this week, and it feels so good to get back involved with the activities that helped me fall in love with UCF to begin with. I even started dancing again and am taking a weekly barre class so I can get those #gainz.

All in all, it’s been a busy month ending one chapter and diving into the next, but it’s gonna be a good year, and bringing back my blog will solidify that. I might not be riding rollercoasters everyday anymore, but here’s where I insert a cheesy quote about getting on the wild ride that is life. Yeah I went there, and I’m never getting off.


One Year of Happiness, New Opportunities, and Sub-par Satire

BLOG, Reflections

Happy Birthday to this blog!! It’s crazy that just 52 weeks ago, I sat down with a laptop and an idea, and completely changed my life. A lot has happened in a year; I’ve experimented with many different styles of writing, looks of the web-face, and content to upload, but I couldn’t be happier with where this blog is now and all the the things to come in the future.

When I started my blog, I wasn’t sure how dedicated I would be. I had an idea, but like most, I spent a week devoting all my time to it, and thought it would fall into the void, aka where all my unfinished projects go to die. But I surprised myself with this baby, and I was able to maintain it which surprised myself more than anyone. So here we are with my 52nd post and I’m amazed.

Originally titled Chasing Myself, I had an idea to document my life through one of the craziest and excited times. My transition from high school to college was an incredible one, and provided lots to elaborate on. I truly was chasing myself and chasing my dreams. As the year progressed, I was able to catch up to my dreams, which is an incredible feeling, but left me in a predicament with my blog’s title. Ah, a major millennial crisis. Luckily I came up with an ingenious solution, my name. I know, I know, how does she do it? And thus Lena Dani was born and harbored to hold all of my creative juices.

If you would have asked me a year ago if I thought I were a writer, I would have laughed in your face. But after spending a summer jotting down ironic sentences about my uneventful life, I started to gain confidence in myself. It gave me the motivation to apply to write for an online campus magazine, Her Campus UCF, that is now one of the most important activities in my life. I was able to experiment with different subjects and topics and write about things that other people could relate to. It even inspired me to declare a minor in the Mass Communications field, so that I can use my hobby to help my career.

Creating this blog a year ago changed me for the better. In addition to opening up countless doors, it gave me something to be excited about. Writing has become my number one stress reliever, and running this blog has been extremely therapeutic for me. I’ve been able to meet so many cool people who also love what I love and bounce inspiration off of each other.

Yeah, I might not have a following of thousands praising my every word, but the handful of people those who do read my writing and support me show so much love. I might not take over the internet with my record breaking views on each article, but if I can make at least one person proud, even if that person is myself, I’ve succeeded.

I can’t wait to see what the future brings for both this blog, and the other internet outlets I have branched into to share my work. It’s been an amazing year, and I want to extend more thanks than you could ever imagine to those of you who do read my work. You mean the world to me, and thanks for sticking through the hundreds of typos. I would say “I love Lena Dani” but that sounds a tish narcisistic, so I’ll just end with “I love my blog and I love my fans!”


Son of a Mumford


If you’ve been following along with my life thus far, you might have noticed that I really like going to concerts. I like them enough that I even end up writing about them. Since last summer, I’ve more than doubled my concert count, and each one is better than the next; especially spontaneous ones.

I’ve had my fair share of both preplanned-months-in-advance concerts, where every little detail is planned out and perfected, leading up to the moment the opener steps foot on stage. Yet lately, thanks to my hectic college lifestyle, I’ve gotten used to the luxary of “going with the flow” and taking things as they come. Most recently, that included taking some Mumford & Sons tickets from a friend a mere hours before the concert.

A band I’ve never seen before, at a venue I’ve never been to before, with a girl I’ve deemed my “concert buddy” sounded like an amazing adventure. And with a small price to pay of $25 and dancing our butts off in the rain, I was set.

Steering wheel in hand, I ventured an hour away and shoved that driving anxiety out the window as we jammed our way to the venue. After dealing with the largest parking lot in the world, and one lane of traffic inching its way through, we were ready.

Somehow we made it to the front of the lawn, even though we arrived halfway through the opener. I believe it’s because we are destined to always be barricade, so the concert gods looked down on us and blessed us with good spots. The music began and we let loose.

Overall it was a very chill night, as far as concerts go. I left the glitter at home, wallet in the car, and even watched the show instead of recording the entire thing on my phone, and it was a ton of fun. Mumford & Sons is an amazing group and really brought great vibes with them to the sold out arena…er, field.


Sometimes it’s just as much worth it to keep concert nights on the down low, as it is to hype them up all summer. I’m personally a fan of both actions, and will continue to wait in general admission lines for hours upon end.

It was a great way to start the summer, and I’m excited to see what other adventures await me ahead!

A Letter to my Freshman Year Dorm Room

BLOG, Her Campus

When I first stepped foot inside of these four walls that I’d be spending the following eight months in, I never knew the power that a room could hold. I opened the door for the first time, my name decorated brightly on the outside of it. I walked in and looked around at the blank canvas made up of cinder blocks and neutral carpeting. I began to unpack and in that instant, I began creating memories.

Upon our first encounter, I never knew that you would hold my life in place for a year. You weren’t just a room; you were a home. You became my safe place to hide in when nothing seemed to go right. You became the destination in which my creativity burst in. You became my best friend as all my secrets were held in your four walls. You became more than just a room; you became a part of me.

I turned to you during my sleepless nights to help ease my stress. You were there for me to cry to when things weren’t going my way. You let me take my anger out on you when I threw pillows around and smacked the wall. You supported me through the tough times.

You endured my wild side as I covered you with glitter. You put up with the half-finished puzzles strewn across my floor. You didn’t get upset when I covered you in clothes when I was behind on laundry. You let me eat and drink, and spill food, without a second thought. You binged all my favorite shows right alongside me.

You let me dress you up in photos and ticket stubs. I clothed you with movie posters and inspirational quotes. We made each other beautiful.

You embraced me during the most exciting times of my life. You were there when I got accepted into my dream job. You were there when he asked me to be his girlfriend. You were there when I made countless memories that will be cherished forever.

You created a temporary home for me that I’m not willing to give up.

Soon, you will give me your blessing to pack up and leave you as we both move on to bigger and better things. It saddens me that after I leave, I’ll never be able to step foot in this room again. Gone will be the four walls that house some of the most special moments a girl could have, but forever will be the memories that live on inside my heart.

I’m going to miss those cinder block walls and squeaky furniture. I’m going to miss the fluorescent ceiling lights. I’m going to miss those dang blinds that rattle any time air passes by them. Most importantly, I’m going to miss my freshman year best friend.

Thank you for giving me the world.


First Semester Recap


I did it. I survived my first semester of college. And wow, what a wild ride that was.

The past four months have been nothing but eventful for me as I embarked on this journey that keeps on going. Every day was a new adventure and I am nothing but grateful for all the opportunities that I had and all of the people I have met so far. It’s so exciting to say that I am now officially 1/8 done with my collegiate experience, but it’s also sad to think about. Based on how much of a great time I had this first semester. It makes me sad to think about the end. Although I’m getting ahead of myself because I have barely even dipped my toes in the water of opportunities.

First off, let me start by saying that making friends is hard. It’s slightly easier when it’s the first month of the school year and everyone else is in the same boat as you, but when it comes down to it, finding a second version of you in a sea of 60,000 people is a lot tougher than I imagined. In high school, all my friends were in band. We had a common interest and we all got along and were able to spend so much time together so it just made sense. Going into college without joining band made me nervous because I wouldn’t have that activity to connect me with anyone. But I did what any logical millennial would do, and spent my summer on the internet meeting people. This was very smart of me because I made so many connections before even stepping foot on campus, so my first week was compromised of meeting these people that I already have held conversations with. It made the socially awkward side of me slightly more comfortable so we could avoid the awkward introductions and lead to a smooth transition. This worked for about half of the people I’m currently friends with. The other half involved me being a big girl and actually talking to strangers in class, around the housing communities, or being introduced via friends of friends. Intimidating of course, but the payoff is worth it. Put yourself out there. It works. I promise.

(A collage in which I am shown posing the same way in every photo because I am unoriginal and lame)

Luckily, the friends that I made have cars and were willing to schlep my butt across the greater Orlando area all semester so that I could see and do as much as my wallet allowed. As you know, I gave in and let Disney brainwash me into spending way too much money on an annual pass. Totally worth it though thanks to my weekly excursions to the parks. I call it studying. Gotta experience hospitality at it’s finest in order to be the best dang hospitality major there is right? Either way it’s cheaper than my hospitality courses so I’m saving myself so much money in the long run 😉

Also, Orlando sucked with it’s concert scene up until the moment I got here so I was #blessed to be able to catch a few more this first semester to add to my never ending list of why people need to spend money on experiences instead of objects. The first New Politics, put on by our school during welcome week and wow did they bring the party. 10/10. After that was James Bay in the pouring rain, but honestly if his music were a weather, that would be it so I saw it rather fitting. Bless by the voice of an angel as I shivered in the pit because Floridians don’t know a proper A/C balance. After that I *finally* got to see my fifth grade crush and the guy who helped me discover my love for rock music, David Cook. And I was front row. And it was at Disney World. I think you get the point on how excited I was for, during, and after that moment. Finally we have Fitz and the Tantrums part two. Same tour I saw this summer, but this time with more glitter and a lost voice. Blessed again. I also purchased tickets to see The 1975 but ended up selling them because I’m a quitter. But a quitter who takes responsibility for herself because there is no way I would have done well on my finals if I spent the weekend prior in line at the venue. You win some you lose some.

I promise I did more this semester than just spend money (unless you consider every class I attended adding more and more to my never ending debt of student loans, ouch). Yet a majority of my life savings did end up at Steak n Shake because those 2am runs were my weakness. I totally rocked my school work this semester. Although I don’t have my grades back yet, I know how well I was doing in my classes before my finals and I know my scores went really well so I’m excited to see the GPA I established so that I can move forward with internships and volunteer opportunities. Next semester I plan on challenging myself further by taking 18 credit hours versus the usual 15. It’s all part of my five year plan to work for Disney and take over the world.

My extra-curriculars were also bomb af. If you keep up with my life, you know how amazing Her Campus UCF has been for me and how much I’ve grown through the semester so I won’t repeat myself and ramble. I just get very excited about how well I’m doing and all the opportunities for the future with this activity. I received so much praise for things that I didn’t even know I was capable of and it for sure changed me for the better. My other activity, Campus Activities Board (CAB) is also really exciting to be a part of. It’s so cool to be part of the behind the scenes action for all the fun activities the school puts on each semester. Being on the concert board will definitely help in the future with my goal of minoring in entertainment management. Although these activities provide me with a lot of opportunities, I’m excited to get involved more next semester with groups that will help me in my field of study. There is a theme park publicist group that I would love to join to help combine my hospitality major with my hobby of writing. There is also a hospitality honor society that would definitely be smart to join.

Orlando has provided me with so much and I am so grateful that my first semester in college turned out the way that it did. It definitely had its ups and downs, but you know how much I love roller coasters and I’m in it for the thrill.

I tried a lot of new things and I stepped out of my comfort zone more than I ever imagined I could in 15 weeks’ time. I changed up my hair. I stopped wearing makeup (on occasion). I met people who inspire me to succeed. I found friends who cared and avoided the ones who caused negativity. I luckily didn’t gain the freshman fifteen, but there’s still time and it could happen. I have a new mindset on life and how it should be lived. And I surprisingly discovered that I’m a neat freak. I never would have guessed that in a million years. I’m returning home similar to who I was before but better.

(Left: Me on my first day in Orlando, Right: Me on my last day in Orlando)

I’m so lucky to call UCF my second home and I’m already counting down the days until I can go back (not just because this Pittsburgh weather sucks, but definitely a key factor). I’m an adult now and I have the whole world ahead of me and I’m excited to see where it takes me from here.

Until next timexoxo,

18 Things I Did On My 18th Birthday


As told by Disney because what screams “#Adult” like a collection of my favorite childhood characters.

1. Ate cake for breakfast

2. Caught Pokémon

3. Danced in a car (part 1)

4. Tried a new type of sushi

5. Received the perfect dorm room pillow

6. Drank my *favorite* Oreo milkshake with a shot of espresso. Try it. Your life will be changed.

7. Danced in a car (part 2)

8. Got a new shirt

9. Danced in public

10. Got my lucky charm permanently added to my body (thanks paul!)

11. Danced in the tattoo parlor

12. Took some pictures

13. Danced in the grocery store

14. Hiked through Oakland

15. Sat on a hill for 5 hours

16. Watched Inside Out outside

17. Laughed/Cried

18. Danced my way back home


It was a birthday I’ll never forget. (I couldn’t even if I wanted to, there’s a permanent reminder on the back of my left shoulder 😉 ) Now that I’m an adult and have to do scary grownup things, it was great to have a fun care-free day with my friends before things got too serious.

Thank to everyone for the love and warm wishes on my 18th! Now I’m off to the animal shelter to adopt ALL the puppies because no one can stop me!




Let’s talk about the moment I entered Heaven. It was unexpected at first, but Brendon Urie’s high notes carried me there and I have no intention of setting foot back on earth when all things good and holy are here for me.

Sunday provided me with a religious experience like no other, where for a couple hours music was my religion and nothing else in the world mattered.

Now lets not disregard this as just another concert story because LET ME TELL YOU, this was not just another concert. This was a gift from God himself.

Let me start out by saying that I must be the luckiest child on earth because the series of event that lead me to this night were something I never imagined to occur outside of my dreams.

Let’s set the scene. It was a cold February afternoon and Panic! at the Disco tickets just went on sale. As I prepared to purchase them after school that day, I got the notification no one wants to see: “SOLD OUT!” I was devastated, but determined, and spent every week since then checking on Craigslist, Facebook, and any platform I could think of. I was willing to pay anything because seeing Brendon *freaking* Urie live in the flesh would be priceless.

Panic! Attack Count: 1

Flash forward a week before the concert. It was crunch time. With no luck so far, I began to make plans to just sit outside the venue and listen, because even that would satisfy my need to have Panic! dancing through my blood stream.

Panic! Attack Count: 3

Then a miracle occurred. A mere stranger, or perhaps my guardian angel, appeared in the form of a Facebook message bearing the gift of two tickets being sold for face value. That right there was the quickest purchase i’ve ever made with someone I’ve never met nor built up trust with before in my life. But the risk was worth it.

Panic! Attack Count: 10

Now here we are on Sunday, the holy day. Many Panic! attacks have already taken place on the way there and we have begun taking a running total. Over three hours before gates open and we were stuck in line four blocks from the venue. Hundreds of equally die hard fans were in front of us, but it didn’t matter at that point. We were going to be in the same. general. area. as royalty.

Panic! Attack Count: 15

Just as we were getting settled, another angel appeared. This time calling me from her spot in the front of the line. She asked if we could wait with her stuff while they got food and HOLY MOTHER OF ALL THINGS GOOD IN THIS WORLD it lead me to being just a few steps from this holy land.

Panic! Attack Count: 30

After meeting some new friends and seeing some old, it was finally time to enter the temple otherwise known as Stage AE. Bag check went quick (no gender segregated lines this time, praise the lord) and we were in. We freaking BOOKED IT across the venue and as we passed the huge crowd of people at least five rows deep in the middle, we saw the golden light. The empty area just left of the center with only a handful of VIPs who paid hella money to get in early. And then there we were, mere commoners running into their spots in the SECOND. ROW. 

Panic! Attack Count: 150

This wasn’t real life. This couldn’t be happening. But it was and it did and as more and more people filled in behind us, it finally became real that only one row of people separated us from the greatest gift God has ever given us.

And now after experiencing the greatest adventure of out lives we also get to be blessed with the sound of music for the next five hours? Yes PLEASE.

With three opening bands, every second that I didn’t see Brendon Urie was a second I got more anxious. The first opener, Dorothy, brought the heat and gave the crowd a lot of energy as we waited for a band we actually knew. SWMMRS was a bit much for me. I’m just gonna leave it at that. Then we had YET ANOTHER GIFT FROM GOD. Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness.

I’ve been listening to Andrew for a while ever since we was in Jack’s Mannequin and seeing him live was just an amazing crowd pleaser. Proud to be such a big fan. His story is beautiful and he is beautiful and his positivity is overwhelming. If I wasn’t already peeing my pants with anticipation for Panic!, he would have brought my hype level up so high. Super sad his set was so short but PANIC!!!

Panic! Attack Count: 175

And then it happened. He arrived in his natural and glowing state and serenaded us so hard that girls began flinging their clothes at him. Brendon Urie was a real person and he was only 20 feet away from me.

Panic! Attack Count: 300

I can’t even begin to explain every perfect moment because it was an hour and a half long set and i’m pretty sure I have a word count limit here. But just know that every high note, every backflip, and every article of clothing he took off lead me closer and closer to Heaven and I will never have an experience as ethereal as this again.

I’d like to thank not only God, but Jesus for making this happen and my guardian angels that helped along they away. I stood up. I sang Hallelujah. And I danced until my phone ran out of storage.

(Panic! Attack Count: 400)

This concert opened my eyes to what perfection actually means and Brendon Urie, damn, you are nothing but perfect. But now that I love you, I must let you go.

Panic! Attack Count: 1,000

Until next time,


The Pros and Cons of Working Three Jobs

BLOG, Uncategorized

Three jobs. I know. I’m crazy. But it actually isn’t as overwhelming as it sounds. I work at Rita’s Italian Ice, Coffee Tree Roasters, and PNC Park and somehow I’m surviving the summer.

Summer jobs are always something teenagers roll their eyes at, but I don’t think they deserve the negetive conotation they recieve. I don’t know about you, but I see nothing wrong with standing around talking to customers and co-workers for a couple hours each night and walking out with a paycheck (and tips.)

I enjoy all of my jobs so getting paid to have fun is a no brainer for me. But its not all unicorns and rainbows. Between the three jobs, I don’t get many nights off to relax or hang out with my friends. The tasks we have to do are tedious, and sometimes you just have those days where you spill an entire 10 pound box of sprinkles and want to walk out the door and never come back. It definitely gets frustrating to handle everything that gets thrown at me, but luckily the good outweighs the bad.

Our Rita’s corporation owns all the in-park Rita’s in Pittsburgh, so getting free admission to sporting events, concerts, and theme parks is as easy as throwing on my employee t-shirt and letting a manager know I’m coming. Definitely a huge perk that I’m gonna really miss when I move away.

Coffee Tree Roasters customber base is made up of almost three-quarters of people whoare there everyday. We are able to build up strong relationships with our regulars so that they keep coming back for more. It’s really beneficial to make these connections with customers, especially with my major relying heavily on networking. Although the coffee snobs do come after us every once and a while, it’s ok because I get to spend six hours in a place that smells like heaven.

PNC Park is probably my favorite of the three jobs and it gets me really excited for what’s to come in my future. As a future Hospitality Major, working in huge venues as event coordinators, guest relations, or management positions really interests me. Although I just serve ice cream at PNC Park, the environment is thrilling and there’s never a boring moment. With so much going on around me, I feel like I get to be part of the experience and it just makes me so happy. I have a priceless view of the city, and an even better view while people-watching all the unique individuals that attend a Pirates game each night. I also get the opportunity to do a lot of really cool things (such as participate and CRUSH the nightly corn hole competition).
I’m really greatful for all the experiences and lessons I’m learning through these hectic jobs, (and the paychecks are pretty nice too 😉 ). They might seem like easy jobs to you, but every day is a new learning experience, and I’m just getting started!