Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year, New Goals

Tomorrow is the New Year and I've been thinking hard about what my New Year's resolution(s) will be. The past semester at uni was a tough one for me. With getting back into the flow of American uni and multiple demanding courses, many things in my life were pushed to the back seat. When deliberating about what my resolution would be I found many things weren't necessarily resolutions. They were simply things that I want to move back to an important place in my life with a less challenging semester on the horizon. In the end I found three things that I want to accomplish this year.

1. Take more pictures! I realized towards the end of this year that I barely took any pictures. Part of this has to do with the fact that I took SO MANY pictures in Japan. Now that I am back I simply am not doing as many fascinating things each week. However, I would like to try to bring my camera with me no matter where I am in case I find something that is worth documenting. 

2. Stay on top of my tasks. I realized this year that I had gotten into the habit of working right at the deadline. I would respond to emails weeks after receiving them, turn in forms right at the due date, and finish a paper a few hours before I had to turn it in. While I still managed to do well in classes and I didn't miss anything important, this led to much more stress and less time to do things that I wanted to do. This year I am going to do my best at getting my required items done early. That way I will have more time to blog, watch movies, read, chat with friends, and other fun things ^_^

3. Be more adventurous with my blog! I've had my blog for almost 2 years (!) but I don't think many more people read it than did at the beginning. I think I expected that without putting in any effort to publicize my blog it would just magically gain readers. Obviously, this hasn't happened. In 2015 I want to work hard to make my blog what I dreamed it could be when I first made it. I don't want to be super pushy with my blog. However, I do want to put more effort into maintaining and publicizing it. 

What are you guys going to do to chase your dreams in 2015?

P.S. the tea of the day is oprah chai ^_^

P.P.S. sorry for the lack of pictures in these past posts! I'm going to write another post soon showcasing some of the pictures I have taken over break. 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Virgin...A Book Review

Welcome back to my blog! I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season with their family and friends. I am having a fantastic time laying around my house not doing anything productive! I have just started my fourth book since being at home (#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso) and therefore have not had much to write about which explains the lack of blog posts. 

If you remember my last post (which can be found here), I discussed some of the many things that I planned to do while I was home. I said I wanted to read Virgin by Radhika Sanghani and I've done it! I liked this book a lot and I felt is covered some important topics. I hope this glowing review will get you to read it as well!


Virgin is the story of a 21 year old university student in London who has not lost her virginity. She feels embarrassed and out of place, not feeling comfortable telling anyone about her virgin status and feeling increasingly desperate to find a guy to deflower her once and for all. 

My original misgivings when I started the book changed as I continued reading; it started like a cheesy teen romance where the girl doesn't fit in and the super cool rich guy falls for her, gives her life a makeover, and makes her finally feel confident enough to accept herself. However, as I continued reading I found this was not the case. The book, although centering on a girl losing her virginity, was not so much about the romance. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was more about accepting yourself as you are and making bonds with friends (girls or boys) who love you and accept you for who you are. 

Here are a few of the things that I took away from the book:

1. Virginity isn't that big of a deal. Yes, your first time is special and you should only start having sex when you feel comfortable. However, we all need to find our own reasons to either lose it or keep it. Who cares if your friends have all had sex, in the movies people have all had sex, or those with their virginity are seen as "losers". If a girl or a guy is not ready to have sex for the first time, no one should be able to pressure them into being able to do it before they are ready.

2. If things feel strange with a friend, ask what is going on. In the book the main character, Ellie, gets into a fight with one of her best friends. They don't speak for a while and Ellie takes this as proof that her once good friend now hates her. However, she discovers later that her friend was dealing with some other, bigger, drama in her life and didn't know how to tell Ellie. Everything was just a misunderstanding but their friendship almost ended. If things are tense with someone for reasons you think are silly, don't just ignore your friend and wait for them to make the first move. Reach out to them, you never know what might be happening in their lives.

3. Accept your body! Ellie is more curvaceous than most of the girls she hangs out with and she can never accept that she looks as good as they do, simply different. After much pain and many attempts at transforming herself, Ellie finally realizes she looks good the way she is. I think this is one of the most important points the book tries to teach its readers. We are all different, but that doesn't mean that we aren't all beautiful. 

This book is quite short, 294 pages, and it is spaced quite generously. For someone who loves reading Classics (think your high school reading list) it wasn't as intellectual as some of the books I am used to reading. However, I found that this coupled with the humor consistent throughout the book made it incredibly easy to read. 

I would definitely recommend this book to all girls in their 20's. It doesn't matter if you are a virgin/not a virgin/curvy/thin/blond/brunette whatever, this book has a little something for everyone. I wouldn't recommend this for anyone younger than late teens though, since it can get pretty graphic in some areas! 

P.S. the tea of the day is citrus lavender sage ^_^

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Winter Break Lists

Now that my fall semester is officially over and it is winter break, I will be spending my time holed up in my room catching up on all the reading and watching that I wasn't able to do during the semester. Here's a list of some of the things that I will be getting into!


1. This summer I started reading Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin and I absolutely love it! I haven't had the time to enjoy it as much as I should, so I'll be finishing that up over my break.
2. Ever since I read Anthem by Ayn Rand in high school I've wanted to read more of her works. This summer I bought The Fountainhead and I'm so excited to finally be able to dig into that.
3. Kate Mosse is one of my favorite authors and she came out with a new book, Citadel, relatively recently. I'll finally be able to enjoy that!
4. When I was home for Thanksgiving I bought Virgin by Radhika Sanghani. This book looks funny and very relevant for people in their 20's. I'm excited to see if it's as good as I anticipate it to be!


1. I watched the trailer for Before I Go To Sleep a while ago, but I haven't had the time to go see it. Hopefully it's still in theaters by the time I get home!
2. Grand Budapest Hotel! Words can't express how upset I am that I still haven't seen this film.
3. I think I'm going to drag my whole family to see Into the Woods while I am home. What can I say? It has Johhny Depp.
4. I've heard lots of good things about Interstellar and I really want to go check it out for myself


1. I absolutely love Downton Abbey! I haven't been able to watch Season 5 yet, so I will have to speed through that before the new Christmas special comes out
2. I've heard too many amazing things about Orange is the New Black not to watch it. 
3. I watched the first episode of American Horror Story a while ago and it was pretty interesting. I don't usually like horror things but I'm going to give this a try. It could be a terrible idea or it could be great, we'll just have to see
4. I haven't had time to watch the latest season of Game of Thrones yet, so I'll be spending a bunch of time getting caught up on this show.

I'm going to pretend I have enough time to do all these things while I'm home. Between spending time with family and friends and looking for a job it might not happen, but you never know! What are you guys looking forward to doing over winter break?

P.S. the tea of the day is limeade twist...again ^_^


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Why I Hate Final Exams (It's Not What You're Thinking...)

I mentioned in my last post that I've been pretty busy since it's finals week. Well, I was working the closing shift at the library last night and after observing some of the people I decided to write a post about why I hate final exam week.


Disclaimer: I didn't have anyone particular in mind when I wrote this post. It's just things I've picked up during my years at uni and I'm sorry if I offend anyone.

Reason 1: I dislike the structure of not having class. All throughout the year I schedule studying, friends, partying etc around class time. There are set times when I have to be somewhere and do things. This all goes to crap when final exam week begins. Finals week makes me so unmotivated because I have nothing scheduled all day except one test. I have no structure in my day which makes it very difficult for me to work up the motivation to do things.

Reason 2: Everyone is super stressed and cranky. Sometimes during finals week all I want to do is lay around and take a break from studying. I feel like anytime I do this I get glares and cynical comments from people and it makes me sad. 

That being said, I've compiled a list of my suggestions for people during finals week.

1. Don't leave all your work until the last minute! Finals week does not need to be super stressful. If you do your work throughout the year you won't have so much to do during finals. Put in the time during the year to read the chapters, go to class every day if you can, and do the assignments. Then, when it comes time to take your finals or write your paper you will have a better understanding of the material and the exam or paper won't seem so daunting.


2. Breathe! I've found that when people get so stressed for a test they can turn nasty. I've had a lot of people get annoyed at me or snap at me since they are so stressed. To those people I say: calm down. It's just a test. If you believe that you can do it, you will be more likely to do well. If you stress out and think you will fail, you will get stressed and have a greater chance of doing poorly. Just breathe, you can do it!


3. Get a good night's sleep each night. I don't care what people say, I really don't believe anyone works better when it is late at night and they are keeping themselves awake with caffeine. If you go to sleep at a decent hour, wake up early and fresh, you will have enough time during the day to do your work. Maybe you can't do an extended lunch with a friend, but you will feel a lot better in the long run.


Those are just a few things I've learned during my time at uni, both in America and Japan. What do you guys feel is the best way to prepare for finals? Do you have any suggestions for people?

P.S. I'm not sure exactly what the tea of the day is! I received the most adorable box of tea from a friend for Christmas. Each tea dangle has a quote from a novel/author on it. The one I had today said:
"Books had instant replay long before sports" -Bert Williams
Anywho, long story short it doesn't say the type of tea. I think it's what Japanese people call "straight tea" which I think is just plain black tea. Whatever it is, I love it ^_^

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Things That Made Me Smile


Just a quick post this week! My final exams start Tuesday and I've been busy all week and weekend preparing. I will be so happy when I can say that this semester is behind me...just 5 more days! Since this week was so long and difficult I thought I would make a post of the things that made me smile ^_^

1. Twinkle lights: I have some twinkle lights in my room year round, but we just decorated the apartment for Christmas and now we have so many more and I LOVE IT!

2. Chai tea: OK, I have a confession to make. I had chai tea for the first time about 1 week ago. I'd always been scared by chai tea since it has such a strong flavor. I'm so comfortable with my herbal teas and I was always scared to try something that seemed like the coffee of tea. I decided to give it a try the other week now and I can happily say that I am now obsessed. 

3. Letters: If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you might have seen that this week I received a letter from my friend in the UK. One of my absolute favorite things is receiving a letter in the post and it was so great hearing from her I had a huge smile on my face the rest of the afternoon

4. Mugs with snowman faces: I got a snowman mug this weekend from a friend and it's the best thing ever. I can't stop drinking out of him! I might have to give him a name...

I hope that you had an equally happy, smiley week! What made you smile this week?

P.S. the tea of the day is ginger tea ^_^

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Last Tuesday was the start of our Thanksgiving break, so I went back to Minnesota for a few days. I had a great time at home just hanging out with my family, taking a silly amount of bubble baths, and not worrying about my homework (maybe not the best idea since next week is finals week!). Now that I'm back in Illinois and all settled in I thought I would share a few of the pictures I took throughout the week!












I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend!

P.S. the tea of the day is limeade twist ^_^

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Solitude

The other day I was sitting in the cafeteria at school by myself. I was there grabbing some lunch and studying. However, when I finished studying I continued sitting there. I was just drinking some tea and thinking about random things. One of my friends approached me and jokingly made fun of me for sitting alone like a loser. While I know it was a joke and I was by no means upset with her, it did make me think.


After she had left I began looking around the cafeteria. Almost everyone was there with either a friend or a group of friends. There were a few people like me who were alone, but they all had books out and were studying or simply pretending to look busy. 


Now I'm wondering why we have such a fear and stigma against going places alone. Nobody wants to do anything alone for fear of looking like they don't have any friends. Even the simple act of eating a meal out is "unacceptable" to do alone. 

Anyone who knows me knows that I have no problem being alone. Sure, there are times when I would much rather be with my friends. On the other hand, I absolutely don't mind being by myself. I find that being alone gives me time to think. I can think about what has happened during my day/week, consider problems I am having in one of my relationships, or plan a new blog post or my weekly schedule. 


I also find that being alone lets me become comfortable with myself. Being solitary allows me to understand how my mind works and enables me to form my own ideas and opinions about different situations or issues.

Finally, being alone lets me have some time without any pressures. I can do whatever I want without worrying about pleasing someone else. I find it very relaxing to not have to worry about what someone else might want or need from me for a time.


I think everyone should spend more time alone and we should have less fear of being alone. Being alone doesn't mean you don't have friends, it just shows that you are comfortable and secure enough in your own skin to be able to enjoy your own company. 

What do you guys think? What are your reasons for enjoying or not enjoying being alone?

Check out http://www.worldofwanderlust.com/ to see the blog of my inspirational "solitary" person!


P.S. the tea of the day is strawberry grapefruit green tea ^_^

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Rambling About Life

I recently received some advice from one of my good friends. We were hanging out, just talking about life, and he said something along the lines of "no matter what the situation is, before you make your decision be sure you are OK with it." While this seems super simple, it was so profound for me at that moment. 


I feel like so many times we make decisions based on how we think other people will react or what we think is good for us. For me this leads to a lot of doubt about the things that I am doing and fear that people won't react in the way that I want them to.


My friends advice made me realize some things about myself. After coming back from studying in Japan for a year I thought I was completely comfortable in my own skin. While this is true in some respects, I understand now that loving myself is a process. It's something I have to constantly work at each day as the circumstances and people that surround me change. Happiness won't find me magically; I have to actively seek situations and people that make me happy or I could find myself in a place that isn't what I want.


I also realized that I let other people make my decisions for me too often. I need to learn to be more selfish. I should stand up for what I want and how I want my life to be. If I just let people guide me through a life that they want for me I will just end up unhappy. I think we could all be a bit more selfish when it comes to dictating how our lives should be led. 


Apologies on the large gaps between my posts. The student life is getting to me and I feel like I have no time for anything but studying. However, after reading this post from Zoella,I felt inspired to write more and create my own happy space on the internet. I'm going to try to write at least one post a week, even if I have nothing super exciting to talk about. Hmmm, maybe a new notebook will help to motivate me to brainstorm ideas ^_-


P.S. the tea of the day is limeade twist ^_^ I've been drinking this constantly lately, so I think when I go home I'll have to ask my papa to buy me some more!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Fall Break Trip











A few weekends ago we had Fall Break. This shouldn't even be counted a real break since we only get one extra day off from class, but hey, I'll take whatever I can get. Since I live out of state I usually just stay at school while all my friends go home for these breaks. However, this year I actually went somewhere! I went with one of my roommates and best friends, Amy, to her family's farm in Mt. Carroll. 

We spent the weekend hanging out with her family, exploring the adorable antique stores in town and riding around the property looking at the beautiful fall colors! Even though it was only a few days, it was really nice to get off campus. Since coming back from Japan my travel bug has been itching like crazy! I don't have a car so it is difficult for me to get away when I want to. Fall Break definitely helped with that!

I had a super fun time at the farm, but I realized once again that I am definitely not a country girl! As if I needed reminding ^_^

P.S. the tea of the day is ginger tea ^_^

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Slowing Life Down








Sometimes it's good to just take a minute and slow down. I've realized recently that I feel like my life is going nowhere. There is so much pressure on uni students to excel in everything we do. We get so much work that all we feel like we do is study. During our junior and senior years at uni we are also supposed to get internships or jobs that could be related to our future. At the same time there is this pressure to join the clubs that could be connected to our future. Additionally, we are supposed to have this amazing social life, spending every spare second we have building lifelong friendships. Can someone please tell me where in this we are supposed to have time for ourselves? 

For me, this all just started to add up and I really didn't understand what I was doing. Sure, I do well in school and I have an internship now, but I haven't even thought about taking the GRE and I have absolutely no idea what to do when I graduate. After coming back from Japan I wasn't in any clubs so I tried to find one that would be perfect for me. I was also trying really hard to spend as much time with my friends as I could, even if it meant spending a night out when I really just needed to relax.

 This really started to cut into my life. I stopped practicing yoga, something that has kept me grounded since I started doing it a few years ago. I didn't read for pleasure, which is something I use to de-stress. I wasn't thinking about future blog posts, one of my favorite hobbies since I started blogging last year. I became very moody and I took offense to many things people said to me, even if they didn't mean it in a bad way. I just didn't have the time or energy to process what they were really trying to say to me. 

So, to all the uni students out there, SLOW DOWN. Yes, you want to do your best in school, but don't kill yourself for all A's. If you have a job or internship, work a feasible amount of work time into your schedule. If you want to join clubs, do it! However, if clubs aren't your cup of tea, don't worry about it. As for friends, your friends will understand if one night you just want to hang out at home. If you have a few solid friendships, that's all that matters and those people will understand if you can't make it to the party one night. Something I think we should all do more is just take some time for ourselves. It will make us happier and more successful people in the long run. 

P.S. the tea of the day is ginger tea ^_^

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Coming Home

It has been almost a month since I returned home from my time studying abroad in Japan. Before I left Japan I was extremely worried about coming back. I thought that it would be so difficult and that I would hate it. While I'm not saying that the transition has been easy, it has definitely not been as difficult as I was anticipating. Coming back to the states, staying with my family for a few weeks and then returning to my home university, it all seems strangely normal. Everything looks the same, peoples habits are all the same, and it is so easy for me to fall into my old routines. At the same time I feel like everything is different. I compare everything to the way it was in Japan and it is hard for me to connect to the conversations people are having. The normalcy of my life here in the US is very disarming. Everything about my life in Japan, although I can remember it so clearly, seems so far away. The people I met in Japan and I are all in different time zones now and when I see posts of what they are doing in whatever countries they are from it seems so bizarre. I have no connection to this life that they have back home, so if I want to talk to them about things it is hard to find the time and what to say. Going to Japan was really easy because I knew that I would see everyone again. There was a fixed timeline of how long I would be away, so even if we drifted apart a little bit, I knew everything would be normal once I returned home. With my friends I made in Japan there isn't that certainty. I don't see myself going back to Asia or taking a tour of Europe any time in my immediate future, and I know everyone's schedules are just as busy as mine. Even though it's scary to think that some of the people I met I might never see again, I know that it will be fine. I will find a way to see the people I became closest with again, even if it takes a few years for that to happen. Thus, while it is strange being back in the US it feels nice getting back to a more normal place for my last year in uni. My year in Japan really gave me a lot of direction for my future, so for now I am happy to be here. There are a lot of things I need to do before I can travel extensively again. I know the memories I have of Japan and everything I learned will be exceedingly helpful in my future endeavors. 

Now that I am home I won't be doing any travel blogs for a while. I hope to still update my blog frequently though, so keep an eye out for more posts. I'm not positive what I will write about but it will be an adventure for everyone as I figure that out. 

P.S. the tea of the day is strawberry grapefruit green tea ^_^

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Kyoto Day 3

Our first stop on the last day in Kyoto was Sanjusangen Temple. The actual name of this temple is Rengeo Temple, but everyone just calls it Sanjusangen. This Buddhist temple did not seem very well known by anyone other than Japanese, but it is definitely the best temple I have ever visited in Japan. This temple is dedicated to the Bodhisattva Kannon. You are not allowed to take pictures on the inside of the hall, but I stole a picture off the internet so you could see! The main attraction of the temple is a huge Kannon statue covered in gold leaf. In the room that she sits are also 1,000 other small Kannon statues, also covered in gold leaf. In front of these statues are other Buddhist deities set to protect all the Kannon's. This temple was so amazing due to the sheer amount of statues in the building. I would definitely recommend anyone going to Kyoto to definitely take a trip to this temple.




The next stop Siobhan and I made was to Ginkaku Temple, or the Silver Pavilion. This zen temple is a sister to Kinkaku Temple, the Golden Pavilion, which we visited on our second day. The pavilion isn't actually covered with silver foil, and no one is positive where the temple got its name. Possibly it is just to contrast with the Golden Pavilion since they are in a straight line on opposite sides of Kyoto or maybe it was just never finished. Despite the fact that it is not actually silver, I still found it really beautiful. There is a route through the temple grounds which is very secluded. I felt like were were out in the wilderness, but once you leave the temple grounds you are automatically in the town again. 





Our last stop of the day was to Shimogamo Shrine. This is one of the oldest shrines in Japan. The day that we went there was a festival happening so we didn't get to see too much of the shrine. However, I could see how it would be a really good tourist stop on a less busy day. After seeing as much of the shrine as we could, we bought some festival food and went down to the river area to snack and rest before we made our way to Kyoto station and back to Tokyo. 





That's all for our Kyoto trip! I loved Kyoto and I would love to go back and see more aspects of the city that aren't so touristy. 

I am currently writing this from the cafeteria in my dorm. I have been kicked out of my room and am stealing the ethernet port down in our cafeteria ^^ I'm flying out of Japan tomorrow and heading to Singapore for a little vacation before I go back to the US! I've had an amazing time here in Japan and I really appreciate everyone who read my blogs! I hope that you will continue to read even though I am not taking you around Japan with me anymore ^_^

P.S. the tea of the night is apple tea ^_^