Seeing “my people”

It has been almost two months since I last wrote a blog post…in the meantime I have been to 4 states, over 15 airports, and have had lots of adventures that I will work to write blog posts on!

But to start, I want to write about one of the best visits you can have–a trip home.

I had my vacation two weeks ago, and went home for the first time since June.

Some things–my own bed, drawers (instead of a suitcase) full of clothes, and being back in my room full of sentimental things–were comforts of home that were much appreciated after two months on the road and many months away. However, unsurprisingly, being reunited with my family and friends was the best part.

Being apart from them taught me how I had taken the easy communication and time with them for granted. I could Skype with my parents on Sundays or chat on the phone quickly while I was walking to class while in college.

As for my friends, the ability to walk down the hall of my dorm or chapter house and see and talk with my best friends, to walk into the local coffee store on campus and now that sooner or later, someone from the newspaper would also walk in, was also something I took for granted.

I spent countless hours in meetings with my Senate friends, and it was a given that I would see them again in a matter of a few days.

Time differences and work schedules make communication hard–most times it is a random Snapchat or long overdue text response (from me), rather than phone calls or video chats.

All of this made seeing almost my entire family extra special. Two of my cousins got married, and I was able to see both sides of my family and celebrate two amazing couples.

I also made a surprise trip to Lehigh, making it a week where I saw more of “my people” than ever.

My best friend was the only person who knew I was coming, so experiencing everyone’s reactions when I found friends on campus was the funniest and best thing. My sister-daughter/little looked at me confusedly in the library when I interrupted her studying, my little-little jumped on me, quite literally, and one of my newspaper friends kept saying “it’s really you!”

I also got to watch the Senate admin forum, hang out at press night, see administrators who have been mentors to me, have lunch at the Alpha Gam house, and dinner at my favorite restaurant with my best friend, making it the most perfect 24 hours at Lehigh.

Visiting home and Lehigh reminded me of how many amazing, loving people I have in my life, and how lucky and blessed I am to have this support system. I miss them dearly every day, but seeing them put me on cloud nine.

It also reminds me of a quote that really resonated with me from the LeaderShape email blast a few weeks ago–

“I am part of all I have met.” –Alfred Lord Tennyson

All of these people have impacted me and inspired me, and are a part of me, and for that, I am really lucky.

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Georgia on my mind

I can’t believe it has been three weeks since I got on the road! Since leaving Indianapolis on August 2, I have been to three states, visited four chapters and one soon-to-be colony, traveled through seven different airports, and met innumerable amazing women.

I have been meaning to write an update for the past week or two, but every time I get a free moment while traveling I am either catching up on work, a a good book, or some much needed sleep, so I haven’t had a chance to. Here are what my travels and adventures have been the last three weeks!

First visit-Gamma Alpha chapter, University of Georgia

I visited Gamma Alpha along with Sara, another LC, for a week to help with their Polish Week. The chapter’s house on Milledge Avenue is beautiful and historic and has lots of fun stories about its history. I loved getting to know the chapter members and leadership and getting to explore the UGA campus a little bit. It is the oldest public university in the nation and has a lot of tradition as well.

The Alpha Gam chapter house at the University of Georgia.
The Alpha Gam chapter house at the University of Georgia.

 

 

The Phi Mu house at the University of Georgia
The Phi Mu house at the University of Georgia

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Had to take a selfie with the famous arches of University of Georgia--legend goes that if you walk underneath, you won't graduate!
Had to take a selfie with the famous arches of University of Georgia–legend goes that if you walk underneath, you won’t graduate!

 

Sanford Stadium is beautiful and was the first SEC stadium I've seen--the hedges that line the field are famous
Sanford Stadium is beautiful and was the first SEC stadium I’ve seen–the hedges that line the field are famous
The chapter had a fun sisterhood event taste testing the weird chip flavors that Lay's makes!
The chapter had a fun sisterhood event taste testing the weird chip flavors that Lay’s makes!

Second visit-Gamma Phi chapter, Georgia Tech

After Gamma Alpha, I traveled an hour down the road to Atlanta, where I worked with our Gamma Phi chapter during their Polish Week and Formal Recruitment. The chapter members are all so passionate about what they are studying and about Alpha Gam, and it was fun learning about their campus traditions, including a freshman Cake Run up a hill on campus (the winner gets cake) and Tug, which is a tug of war competition–in March–in a mud pit that is dug specifically for the event. The members took me out at a lot of good places to eat, and I had my first Zaxby’s (the sauce is incredible), Southern biscuits with gravy, and Southern BBQ.

My first Southern BBQ and it was even better than it looks.
My first Southern BBQ and it was even better than it looks.
The chapter was surprised with an Italian ice truck during Polish Week!
The chapter was surprised with an Italian ice truck during Polish Week!
Biscuits with turkey sausage and gravy and pimento cheese grits
Biscuits with turkey sausage and gravy and pimento cheese grits
The chapter house at Georgia Tech was just rebuilt a few years ago.
The chapter house at Georgia Tech was just rebuilt a few years ago.
The famous Tech tower is the first building on campus and the sign is lit up at night.
The famous Tech tower is the first building on campus and the sign is lit up at night.

Third visit-soon to be recolonized Epsilon Chi chapter, Kansas State University

After my first two chapter visits I traveled to Manhattan, Kansas (known as the “Little Apple”) to participate in the first round of recruitment in the first start of our process of recolonizing the chapter at Kansas State. It was great to be reunited with some of the other LCs and IHQ staff and be able to talk about what the Alpha Gam experience will be like for colony members. I was only there for a few days, but I will return later this week to help continue with the colonization process.

The LCs during recruitment at Kansas State!
The LCs during recruitment at Kansas State!
Sunrise over Kansas as we were leaving
Sunrise over Kansas as we were leaving
I got a great view of the Chicago skyline while transferring on the way to K-State
I got a great view of the Chicago skyline while transferring on the way to K-State
The Kansas State library Great Hall has murals on the wall representing each of the original colleges of the school.
The Kansas State library Great Hall has murals on the wall representing each of the original colleges of the school.

 

Fourth visit-Gamma Iota chapter, Mercer University

I returned to Georgia for my next visit at Mercer University, which is in Macon. Macon is a little over an hour south of Atlanta, and you can tell with the humidity change–it was very humid.  I was only there for a few days but I loved getting to know the women and helping them with Formal Recruitment. They live in a chapter house in a Greek village, and all of the chapter houses are built the same, which created a really nice community. I forgot to take photos during my visit, but it was so fun working with these women.

Fifth visit-Delta Rho chapter, Sonoma State University

I am now in northern California at Sonoma State University to help our Delta Rho chapter during their recruitment prep. I am loving getting to know these women and am enjoying my first time on the west coast and will have more updates after my visit!

Training Update #2

We leave shortly for the airport for our first visits! I am headed to the University of Georgia to help our Gamma Alpha chapter with recruitment preparation (known as Polish Week). Training has really flown by and I feel like I just got to Indy, and now it is time to leave!

Here are some highlights from the last few weeks of training:

  • We attended the FEA Field Staff conference in downtown Indianapolis, which is a conference for consultants in NPC and NIC (National Panhellenic Council and National Interfraternity Conference).  There were 15 sororities in attendance and and over 20 fraternities, and it was really fun to meet and network with consultants from other organizations. We also learned a lot about current trends and updates in NPC and NIC, tips for life on the road and how to better our chapters, and had an etiquette session, which was really fun.
  • We learned about extension (the process of starting a new colony on a campus) and I’m so excited to put all of this into action at Kansas State and then at Tufts.
  • On our last day of training, we visited a nursing home in the morning to spend time with the residents there. We did an exercise class and trivia game, and it was a lot of fun spending time with them.
  • Last night, our Executive Director Wendy invited us over to her house for an LC send-off dinner. Some former LCs came too, and it was a really great way to wrap up the summer.

We also spent a lot of time preparing for our upcoming visits, and I can’t wait to meet all of these women and put all of the things that we learned the past seven weeks into action!

Fall schedule!

This past week, we got our schedules for the beginning of the fall semester, and I am so excited! Two weeks from today I head to Athens, Georgia, to support our Gamma Alpha chapter at University of Georgia for recruitment prep with another consultant, Sara. Then I make recruitment visits at Georgia Tech, Mercer University and Sonoma State University. I will also be making two visits to Kansas State in August for our colonization there.

In early September I head to Massachusetts, because I will be one of the consultants colonizing our chapter at at Tufts University! I am so excited to have the opportunity to work with a colony and be part of their first Alpha Gam experience. It is also a quick train ride away from Boston and is very similar to my alma mater (we even share the same obscure school color–brown)*, so I am very excited to primarily work with the colony from September on.

My travels from August 1-September 9
My travels from August 1-September 9

*Tufts’ colors are brown and blue and Lehigh’s  colors are brown and white

Training update #1

It’s unbelievable to think that I have been in Indianapolis for almost a month!  So much has been happening that it has been hard to regularly blog, but here is a recap of all that I’ve been up to:

TLC

We started off with The Leadership Conference, which is held by IHQ every other year. This year it was focused on membership selection and recruitment and had over 600 collegians, advisors, and volunteers in attendance. We had some introductory training the day and a half before TLC started and then dove into serving as conference staff for the three-day event. This included my breakout modeling experience (for the Alpha Gam boutique launch), participating in a mock Preference ceremony, experiencing an etiquette dinner led by Lizzie Post (the great-great granddaughter of Emily Post), meeting lots of amazing collegians and advisors, and of course learning a lot about recruitment!

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From Collegiate Convention Volunteers to Leadership Consultants and President of Upsilon chapter!
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The LC team after the Preference ceremony

Training

After TLC we moved into apartments about 30 minutes north of Indianapolis, in Carmel.  We are about 10-15 minutes away from work and a less than ten minute walk to lots of great restaurants–and also Kroger, which has (almost) replaced Wegman’s as my favorite grocery store. Kroger has live musicians play sometimes, the friendliest staff (like everywhere in Indy) and has really cool things like mushrooms growing in the store and sushi samples.

We switch apartments every week to help us prepare for life on the road. This has an added benefit–after hauling my suitcase up and down sometimes three flights of stairs to move, I am extra motivated to send home the unnecessary items at the end of the summer to make my suitcase as light as possible.

Training has been jam-packed with lots of information–I don’t think I’ve ever learned so much in just a month! From a risk management conference to the nitty gritty of officer teams to facilitation skills, we have covered so much and I am excited to see how more I will learn by the end of training.

Fourth of July weekend

We had a long weekend off during the fourth of July, and I stayed in town with a few other consultants and we got to experience more of Indianapolis. On Friday we went to the Children’s Museum, which had really cool exhibits on dinosaurs, different areas of the world, movies (including costumes from Annie and props from Ghostbusters), a huge blown glass tower, and a lot of other great exhibits. We also went to Carmel Fest and watched fireworks on the fourth of July! I spent a lot of time on the pool and got to read a lot, which was nice. On Sunday we went to Taste of Indy food festival, which was downtown and had food trucks serving everything from BBQ to Mexican food to cupcakes.

Blown glass in the ceiling at the Children's Museum
Blown glass in the ceiling at the Children’s Museum

Tomorrow a few of us are planning on going to the Indianapolis Museum of Art, which I am very excited about. They have a Monet, Picasso, and the sculpture garden from The Fault in our Stars, so it’ll be fun to explore. Also, we get our schedules for recruitment and the beginning of the semester on Thursday, which I am very excited for!

How to pack to live out of a suitcase

Living out of one checked bag, one carry-on, and one backpack requires you leave many things home. My favorite Lehigh sweatshirt, my MacBook Air, and my favorite pairs of patterned shorts all did not make the cut, unfortunately.

What did make the cut?

  •  lots of business clothes
  • dress flats and heels
  • a travel steamer
  • four books (for the summer, I’ll switch to reading on my iPad once I am traveling)
  • photos of family and friends
  • some casual and workout clothes

Note: this is a very abbreviated list

All packed up but five pounds over
All packed up but five pounds over

My mom and I spent all of last week shopping for the new clothes that I needed and for odds and ends that I’ll need while traveling. The best travel accessory that we got are Dot & Dot clothes organizers so that my clothes are separated better in my suitcase–it will definitely make it easier while looking for stuff!

It took us a while to fit everything in while packing, and when we finally did we were five pounds over. So I had to say goodbye to some more clothes and switch out some toiletries for travel size ones, but now I am comfortably under the 50 pound limit. Next stop: Indy!

An alternate title for this blog was "A girl and her big blue suitcase"
An alternate title for this blog was “A girl and her big blue suitcase”

 

 

Adventure is out there

Tomorrow, I leave to start my first job as a Leadership Consultant for my sorority, Alpha Gamma Delta. I fly to Indianapolis for TLC (The Leadership Conference), a fraternity-wide* conference which this year is focused around recruitment. Training for the position starts right after, and we hit the road in August to visit and support chapters in the United States and Canada.

I am excited beyond belief because this is my dream job and I am working for an organization that has impacted my life in such a monumental way. I am also nervous because goodbyes are terrible and I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that I won’t see my family until October (going to college an hour and a half away from home had its perks, the biggest of which was I could see my family every few weeks).

This blog will chronicle my travels and adventures throughout the next year. I hope to post somewhat regularly, but we have a busy schedule so I will do my best! (on a related note, this site once hosted my study abroad blog, which can still be found below).

One of the things that I have been doing while going through stuff in my room is setting aside photos, some sentimental things, and letters and notes that friends and advisors have given me for encouragement and a sense of home while I am traveling. Two of my best friends, Rachel and Shannon, also gave me letters to send me off with–Rachel a letter as a graduation gift and Shannon a bundle of letters for me to open at specific occasions throughout the year. I am really lucky to have such great friends and can’t wait to read (and reread) the notes while on the road. 🙂

Coincidentally, the NPC (National Panhellenic Conference, the representative group of all inter/national Panhellenic sororities) re-did a video for potential new members recently as well. I watched the first version of the video during the fall of my freshman year of college when I was a PNM, and it gave me goosebumps. The video touched on many of the things that I was hoping to get out of a sorority–sisterhood, empowerment, support, love.  Watching it four years later, it gave me goosebumps again, but this time because I have gained these things during my time as a collegian and now have the opportunity to continue my personal growth and impact many college women as an LC.

*Alpha Gam was founded before the word “sorority” was used, which is why we are a women’s fraternity.

Welcome to the newly rebranded blog!

I am no longer abroad, but do not worry–this blog will not be ending!  As a diligent 21st century journalism student and blogger enthusiast, I will be continuing this blog as an interactive resume (you can find links to articles of mine under the “Other works” page) and general blog about any and all things that I find interesting–politics, college-related topics, current events, social media developments, food recipes, crafting, art, and general musings about life.

My interests are sometimes eclectic so hopefully all visitors to this site will find something interesting.  I will try to blog two or three times a week although it will be harder once I move back to school and have a busy weekly schedule.

If you have any feedback or comments (constructive criticism is appreciated and generous compliments will provide a self-confidence boost!)  there is a comment form on the “About Me” page.

Au revoir, Paris

I am currently sitting in Charles de Gaulle airport, eating a raspberry tart (my official last meal in Paris), and drinking an espresso.

It’s hard to sort out how I am feeling about leaving Europe—I am sad to go but excited to return home, where I don’t have to worry about language barriers or pay for bathrooms.  I also have missed my family a lot and cannot wait to see them at JFK Airport later today.  I think I made the most out of my one month—I visited three major cities, saw all of the major sites in each, tried escargot, had tea at Harrods, drank wine in front of the Trevi fountain, saw the pope give his weekly blessing, and saw the Tour de France, just to name a few things.  I also learned more about cultural differences and about myself than I could put into words.

To put it in perspective, when I arrived in Paris a month ago I only knew that Charles de Gaulle was a 20th century figure in Paris, I had never eaten a tart, and had never had espresso.

I think the worst part about leaving Europe is not knowing when I’ll be back.

I miss the Haussman-era buildings, with their iron railings and uniform look, the sparkling Seine, and the resolute tour Eiffel already.  After our dinner cruise last night I looked around by the Ile de la Cite and tried to memorize exactly how it looked and felt, so that I can keep that feeling locked in my head until I return to the city of lights someday.

Also,  a humorous travel anecdote:

Since flying by myself for the first time last summer, I have always worried about going through security.  It’s an irrational fear because I always diligently put my liquids in the correct plastic bag, measure my bag, and scan my items for anything that may be an issue. 

This morning was the first time I set off the metal detector and had to be patted down.  I don’t know what set it off because I am wearing the same outfit I wore coming here.  On top of that, my carry-on bag had to be opened and looked through.  It’s my bag of souvenirs and I had made sure I wasn’t bringing any liquids or contraband items home.  It turns out that the Buzz Lightyear toy that I bought for my little cousin caused the additional search.  The highlight of my morning was definitely the security officer pressing the button of the toy (while it buzzed and lit up) while asking me what it was.  I didn’t know how to say, “It’s a toy” or “It’s from Disney” in French, but he deemed it acceptable and let me on my way.  

London Adventures

London has all of the ingredients of a great city–rich history, impressive historical buildings, great food, modern architecture and skyscrapers, and a healthy nightlife scene.  For English speakers like myself, the native language and impeccably clean and easy to navigate Underground makes it really easy to get around in the city.

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We did so much that I don’t have the time or space to cover it in on blog post, so I’ll be posting as I can during my last day and a half in Europe and also when I’m home.

Here’s an overview of what we did every day (I will link the subsequent blog posts below as I’m able to write them):

Thursday–arrived at night, ate at a pub called The Shakespeare, walked by Buckingham Palace

Friday-toured Westminster Abbey, saw the outside of Houses of Parliament, went in the London Eye, had lunch in another pub, toured the Tower of London (which includes seeing the Queen’s jewels), went up into the Tower Bridge, and had dinner at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese.

At dinner at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese and eating in Charles Dickens' favorite seat!
At dinner at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese and eating in Charles Dickens‘ favorite seat!

Saturday-saw Churchill’s War Rooms, saw the changing of the guard, walked through Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus, shopped in Hatchard’s, the oldest bookstore in London, shopped at Harrod’s, the famous department store, had tea at Harrod’s, saw Les Miserables on the West End

Sunday-toured Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, had lunch at our final pub, toured the inside of Buckingham Palace, tried to get close to 10 Downing St., saw Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station, and headed home to Paris.

…whew.  It was a jam-packed weekend but so much fun (and as we kept reminding ourselves, much less stressful than Rome.  Details and stories will come in subsequent blog posts, but leaving soon for our last full day in Europe!