On Studying Abroad

Here…

…you’ll find adventures and journal entries from my time studying abroad (one semester in London, a second in Paris) in 2015. Enjoy.

(PS: Read from top to bottom)


Deep Breaths & Whiskey Fests.

Dublin. March 2015.

One of the most dangerous attributes of social media is that it allows us to, quite literally, filter our lives. You can Tweet about a fabulous, Gatsby-style party without mentioning that you spent much of the evening on the bathroom floor, or – if you’re like me – share pictures of beautiful Irish cities and leave out the fact that half of your time there was spent heavy breathing and near tears. But I feel it’s important to be both real and honest, so I can look back on my time abroad and remember the great memories as well as the, well, less great ones. So, here is the very unfiltered story of my time in Dublin. For your enjoyment and possible cringing.

I left for the airport at 3 in the morning, haphazardly made-up and with a “sleep is for the weak!” kind of attitude. After dropping my bags off in Glenageary – the quiet suburb where I’d be bed-and-breakfasting – I headed to the Guinness factory to meet a few friends. I’m not a beer person (and certainly not a Guinness person), but the factory’s history and aroma of malted barley still made it an enjoyable experience. We wandered around Dublin, drinking cider and exploring markets, and I took a much-needed nap at my friends’ hostel before heading to a beer and whiskey festival that evening.

We drank some more cider and befriended a real-life, Irish Ginger under twinkling fairy lights – everything was good and fine. I made my way back to Glenageary late that night, exhausted but content.

The next day, however, was a different story. I hadn’t thought to mention to my bed-and-breakfast hosts that I don’t eat pork – and they hadn’t thought to ask – so when a plate full of bacon, ham and sausage appeared in front of me that morning, it seemed rude not to eat it, right? Of course, when you’re me and haven’t eaten pork in over two years, there’s a 100% chance that your stomach is going to react with aggression and force. Oh, and I had also forgotten to ask if my hosts accepted card – they did not.

About twenty minutes into my search for a cash machine, I started to feel a bit uncomfortable. Well, less uncomfortable and more like an alien creature was trying to rip its way out of my body. So I sat on a bench and breathed heavily for a few minutes, which I’m sure looked totally cute and normal to all of the passersby.

Another forty-five minutes of searching and near-vomiting later, I found an ATM. It was a beautiful moment. “Finally,” I thought, “I can pay my hosts and start my day! Nothing else will go wrong!”

I hopped on a train to the city center, ready to explore the Leprechaun Museum or something else Irish-y, when I was hit with another uncomfortable feeling. Not an alien in my stomach this time, but the all-too-familiar wave of doom and anxiety that can only mean one thing: you’re about to have a panic attack. I don’t know if you’ve ever had a panic attack, friends, but I definitely wouldn’t recommend having one in a foreign city. It’s not a good time.

“Okay, go to Penny’s. It’s like Primark. You love Primark,” I told myself. But Penny’s didn’t help. “Go to this cute little cafe. Look, they have tea! You love tea.” Tea didn’t do it, either. And so I wandered aimlessly around Dublin, alone and in a panic-stricken stupor, before returning to the airport. The last of my time in Ireland was spent at Dublin Airport and went something like this…

“Yes hello good people of Aer Lingus! I know my ticket says I’m flying back to London at 9:30, but, uh, how about I get on this next flight and we call it even? Oh, there’s a fee, that’s fine… €350? Excuse me, I’ll be the one sitting in that corner, charging my phone and crying for the next several hours.” 

Sláinte, indeed.


Fainting in Basilicas.

Venice. April 2015.

(Note: This was my entry for a writing contest to attend a ball in Cambridge… scroll down a bit for that story.)

This one’s for you, Caroline Calloway (even if you did maliciously plan a ball while I’m in Prague…it’s cool, we’re still best friends..)

The past few months have been filled with wonderful, European experiences. Strolls along the East Side Gallery, whisky festivals in Dublin, that time I gained entry to a gin bar by asking a detective for help finding my dear friend, Regina Phalange. But few of these stories are particularly ‪#‎AdventureGrams‬ worthy, as no Sicilian princes or Drug Spirit Guides are involved. So, instead of an adventure, Caroline Calloway, I give you this. A misadventure. One that ends with me waking up on the floor of the Basilica di San Marco in Venice…

Let’s start, Sound of Music-style, at the very beginning: I faint. A lot. From high school cafeterias to frozen yogurt shops, I’ve lost consciousness in them all. But fainting was so far from my mind on Easter Sunday, as I prepared for mass in my Venetian hotel room, that I didn’t even bother to eat a proper breakfast or put on my medical bracelet (which basically says, in certain medical terms, “Be careful, this chick falls down a lot!”).

About twenty minutes into mass, however, I started to feel a little…funny. “I’m going to sit down for a second,” I whispered to my friend Katerina. And then, thirty seconds of heavy breathing later, I was out. I’m not sure exactly what happened next, but apparently an EMT carried my limp body out of its seat and down to the floor of the basilica. Katerina frantically spoke a combination of Spanish and English, unsure of which language the medic would better understand. Oh, and a gentlemanly usher draped his jacket over my waist and legs – I was wearing a skirt in church, after all.

A couple of minutes later, I came to – fully embarrassed and mildly confused – and explained to the EMT that yes, I was fine, and yes, I know it’s not normal to “do this a lot.”

I rejoined the mass, was blessed by a bishop and indulged in some gelato shortly after the service. But if fainting in a basilica doesn’t make for a great‪ #‎MisadventureGram‬, well, I don’t know what does…


Boats, Pimm’s & Disney Princes.

London. April 2015.

Every November, when autumn has officially made its exit and the air’s turned unshakably cold, Boston hosts the Harvard/Yale football game. It’s the type of day-drinking, sports event that the entire city really gets behind, regardless of whether or not you study at either of the Ivy League schools (which, as it turns out, many of the attendees do not).

London, on the other hand, hosts the Oxford/Cambridge regatta each spring… and while I never made it to a Harvard/Yale game, I think I can say with some confidence that this is much more my kind of affair. Beautiful people from both universities line up along the Thames, brightly coloured blazers and Pimm’s pitchers in tow, chattering and socializing and embracing that crazy, illusive thing we call the sun. It’s wonderful and cheerful and charmingly British in every way.

But you see, the problem with wonderful, cheerful, charming days is that they give me a sense of dangerous spontaneity. Of unnecessary confidence. On my fourteenth birthday, for instance, I was having such a fabulous time in DisneyWorld that I decided to purchase Mickey Mouse slippers and wear them around the park for the rest of the day. It was cute and fun, sure, but my unsupported feet didn’t really appreciate this decision at the end of the night.

So there I was, sitting along the river and soaking up the loveliness of the afternoon, when I decided to make a series of silly, spontaneous choices (several of which may or may not have involved stealing Pimm’s paraphernalia).

#1: “That pitcher of Pimm’s Raychel and I just shared? Yeah, I’m keeping the pitcher.”

#2: “Another empty Pimm’s pitcher, just lying around? This is mine now, too.”

#3: “Some Pimm’s bunting on the ground?! Well, this must be my lucky day.”

And then it happened. With two empty Pimm’s pitchers and some bunting in hand, I spotted the most attractive human I think I have ever seen in real life. Top five, at least. He was wearing a scarf and a blue button-down and I loved him instantly. So when my friend MJ said it was time to go and I had to close my mouth and stop staring at the handsome stranger, I made another silly choice – undoubtedly the silliest of the day. I approached said stranger, touched his arm and said “Hello. I am so sorry, I just had to tell you… you look like a Disney Prince.” 

Spoiler Alert: He did not invite me to live in his castle happily ever after. I know, I was surprised, too.


Cambridge Prom, Parts I & II.

Cambridge. May 2015.

Part I

As you may or may not know, friends, I’ve had a teensy obsession with an Instagram blogger and author named Caroline Calloway for a while now. And by “teensy,” I mean on a scale of one to Beyoncé, my love for Ms. Calloway comes in at a solid 9.  So naturally, when Caroline Calloway announced she’d be hosting an Instagram writing contest of sorts – and the winner(s) would get to party with her at a white tie ball in Cambridge – I had to enter. Sure, the ball was scheduled for April 30th, when I would already be galavanting around eastern Europe with Mumsy, but I wrote a little submission anyway. You know, for kicks. And plot twist! I won.

“We have to find a way to make this work,” was Mumsy’s response. And, in keeping with the magic and luck of my time abroad, we did.

A borrowed gown (thanks, Charlotte!), flight from Prague (thanks, Mumsy!) and train ride from London later, I had arrived in Cambridge. In what felt like no time at all, I was stepping out of the cab at Anstey Hall: tulips for Caroline in one hand, prosecco in the other.

Unsurprisingly, Caroline Calloway is just as beautiful and fabulous in person as I’d hoped she would be. She hugged me, thanked me graciously for the tulips and complimented my flower crown before adding that all of the other contest winners were “so nice” and no one was “a murderer.” It was all good news. Caroline handed me a glass of prosecco and escorted me to the garden.

People had flown in from Sweden. From Spain. From the United States of America to be at this ball. And Caroline was right – they were all so nice and no one was a murderer. The conversation was natural and the prosecco dangerously tasty; by the time Hannah – my wonderful London roommate and “plus one” – arrived, I was feeling completely at ease.

Not long after, guests started pouring in. I ate french fries and took Polaroid pictures. I discussed gin and tonics with Caroline’s friend Max – a regular in her posts – and may or may not have come across as completely insane (”oh, you should be revising? Psh, who needs revision. Not neuroscientists like you, stranger…”). I danced. I socialized. I made new friends. It was lovely, hilarious and surreal.

Then the silent disco happened. And if you’ve never seen a garden full of drunk Cambridge students, donning ball gowns and tuxedos, jam out to absolutely nothing…well, let me tell you, friends, it was quite a sight. The disco was put on hold so we could all throw some confetti and listen to the St. John’s Gents – an all-male, Cambridge a capella group – perform songs like “Oops! I Did it Again.” And then the evening came to a close.

Well, the ball came to a close, that is. The evening’s festivities continued for another five hours. And, to steal a phrase from Ms. Calloway herself, only got surreal-er…

Part II

The ball came to a fairly abrupt end after the St. John’s Gents’ set, and its beautiful guests all piled into cabs. Lovely, wonderful Hannah went back to my B&B to sleep – like a real person with a real job in London – and I decided to play third wheel to fellow contest winners, and my new Miami friends, Stephanie and Luna. Lucky for me, new Miami friends just happened to be staying at a certain Cambridge student’s dorm room. The dorm room of (you guessed it!), Caroline Calloway.

After a quick stop at Caroline’s exquisitely decorated room – where she explained I was welcome to stay (”I would have invited everyone, but Oscar said that might make me an online predator…”) – we were off to the after party at club #1: Lola Lo’s. Of course, I’d barely made it back from the cash machine when Caroline decided that Lola Lo’s was not, in fact, the place to be, and we were off to club #2: Life.

(Fun fact: “Life” is actually named “Kuda,” but Cambridge kids apparently like to rename clubs. You know, because they’re secretive and fancy).

Evidently, we weren’t at Life for very long, either. I’d had just enough time to buy gin and tonics for Caroline and myself (double for her, single for me) when we were headed to the next stop – her friend Sasha’s – where there would be “really nice wine and probably classical music.” To the cab! To Sasha’s!

By the time we’d arrived, however, porters had crashed the party. So we picked up Oscar and his Swedish Army friends (who I swear were named Johann and Sebastian) and circled back downtown. To Life!

Surely this had to be the final destination, right? Of course not! Because Life has a very strict “no entrants after 2am” policy, and despite Oscar’s drunken yet cordial attempts to persuade them, the women at the door refused to let us in. To Lola Lo’s! Again!

With its tropical decor, rowdy crowd, and a dance floor covered in broken glass, Lola Lo’s perfectly fit Caroline’s description of “hilariously tragic.” And by the time we’d made it to this hilariously tragic discotheque, Oscar was ready to party.

Now, any fan of Caroline’s can immediately tell you that Oscar is the adorable, polo-playing love of her life. They’re currently “on a break,” but you’d never really know. As completely corny and ridiculous as it sounds, he looks at Caroline the way every girl hopes a boy – nay, a gentleman – will someday look at her; myself included. And when Oscar grabbed my hand and led me up the steps of Lola Lo’s, it was one of the only points in the evening that I distinctly remember thinking “oh my goodness, this is real life. I’m basically touching a celebrity.” Soon, we were all spinning around and vogue-ing and dad-dancing the night away (note: former Swedish military men are hysterical/fabulous dancers).

When the lights came on in Lola Lo’s, Caroline and Oscar had mysteriously disappeared (the next time I saw Caroline, she would be tucked into bed, snoring lightly). My new friends and I followed Johann and Sebastian to Caroline’s building, where Oscar met us at the gate and led us to Kebab King. I watched everyone eat pizza and fries, and struggled to keep my eyes open, before wandering back to Caroline’s dorm room in my bare feet, heels in hand.

“I just need to charge my phone for a second,” I mumbled before dozing off on Caroline’s floor, my head by her signature Keds and blue Venetian coat. It was only when Oscar picked me up to place me on a mattress pad, covered me with a large scarf and said “shh, fan, just lay here,” that I decided it was finally time to return to my little B&B and – consequently – to reality. Oscar called a cab (under the name Mr. Fransson, no less) and walked me to the gate.

“Did you have a good night, Oscar?” I asked sleepily.

“I did, I did,” he told me. “It was really nice to see my friends, and I’m just so glad everything went well for Caroline.” 

“That Caroline,” I smiled. “She’s all right.”

“Yeah. I think I’ll keep her.”


L’Immersion.

Spa. May 2015.

If you’ve ever uttered the phrase, “You’re in America, speak English,” the odds that you’ve participated in an immersion program are slim to none. Because, let me tell you, friends, trying to speak another language for 12+ hours a day is an exhausting, overwhelming, challenging and, at times, humiliating experience. How do I know this, you ask? Because, between studying in London and jetting off to Paris, I moved into a small room at a small language programme in a small Belgian village, where I was required to speak French tous les temps for two weeks straight.

Not many of my friends or family members have heard me speak French, so I think it’s difficult for anyone to really grasp just how little I knew. Sure, I could order food and conjugate key verbs, but that was pretty much it. The first night at dinner, a professor asked me if I’d arrived on Saturday, and I responded with something like, “I don’t know…maybe…” 

But – like all things good and challenging in this life – my time at Ceran Lingua was an extraordinary learning experience, both linguistically and personally. Here are some key takeaways from my stay, should you ever find yourself at an immersion program (or in any equally terrifying situation)…

Caffeine is everything – On a scale of one to that time I had mono, Ceran was about a 9.5 on the exhaustion meter. They say that the brain is like a muscle, and having to constantly think, listen and speak in a foreign language is about as intense a workout as that muscle can get. My fourth day at the program, a tutor asked me to clarify the details of a conversation I’d had earlier that morning, and my response was “Well, I’ve only had six coffees today, and yesterday I had eight, so that’s an improvement…”

Accept that you know absolutely nothing – As Socrates famously wrote, “I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.” It’s a philosophy that applies to many things in life, immersion programmes in particular.

Celebrate the little victories – Most of the time, your ability to communicate will barely rival a small child’s. So when you nail that “r” sound or perfectly conjugate a phrase in the conditionnel passé, give yourself a figurative pat on the back. You’ve earned it, bud!

“Make a bigger fool of yourself tomorrow than you did today” – Great advice given to me by my father, who did the exact same programme nearly seventeen years prior. Accept that you’re going to say ridiculous things, and say them. All of them.


Just a Few Stitches & a Couple of Macarons.

Paris. June 2015.

All right, confession time. I have been seriously slacking on the journal-writing since arriving in Paris. I thought I’d be spending each afternoon in a new, hidden jardin – notebook and ballpoint pen in hand – scribbling furiously as Frenchmen offered me engagement rings and dual-citizenship. But, my Parisian reality has differed slightly from this dream. Just a smidge. And instead of writing in parks and gardens, I’ve spent much of my time either sweating profusely  (from the heat or my own nerves, one can never be certain) or eating everything in sight, undoubtedly scaring off any and all potential suitors. But I’ve still had several little adventures (and spoiler alert: another fainting spell!) here in the city of lights, the most hilarious (and bloodiest) of which occurred on my way to a Chanel press event…

First, a bit of backstory. I had no idea what my internship here was going to entail. I knew that I would be working at a magazine for young mothers called Les Louves – and I knew that Les Louves essentially translated to “lady wolves” – but that was about it. I did not know, for instance, that I would have just two co-workers: Marine & Marion, the effortlessly chic French journalists who had co-founded Les Louves mere months prior. Nor did I know that said journalists would invite me to Chanel press events on Wednesday afternoons. When Marion first asked if I would like to attend, I thought I’d misunderstood (my French isn’t the best, after all). But alas – it was real! I was going to a Chanel show! In Paris! All of my dreams were coming true!

On our way to the event, my usual nerves had multiplied tenfold. My all-black ensemble was speckled with lint, the humidity had done a number on my hair and I was neither wearing red lipstick nor smoking a Camel Light. Clearly, I was not to be trusted with this kind of fabulous responsibility. Were they even going to let me in?

“Of course they will,” I told myself. “Just walk with confidence.” And so I did – I walked confidently and directly into a little metal post.

You see, lining the four sides of Place Vendôme (the oh-so chic square that Chanel calls home) are these metal posts, which are seemingly purposeless and indefatigably evil (see below). And after attempting to blow off the fact that I’d walked straight into this tiny obstacle – mere feet from Chanel’s doorway – I felt a cool sensation on my shin. The sensation of – surprise! – all of my blood pouring out of my body. For that “petit truc,” as I would later refer to it, had sliced through my stockings and flesh, consequently soaking both in blood.

“Oh my gosh!” I gasped, noticing my bloody leg while literally walking through Chanel’s entrance. “Oh my gosh!” My bosses echoed, grabbing tissues and rushing me to a nearby pharmacy. They spoke quickly and incomprehensibly with the pharmacist, before turning to me and saying “so, you’re going to need a few points de suture, but it’s going to be fine! Totally painless!”

And fine it was, but painless? Less so. A nice, French doctor sewed my flesh back together (with what I’m slightly convinced was a hotel sewing kit) and I stopped for macarons at Pierre Hermé after parting ways with my lady wolf bosses. I was sad and sore and sweaty, but I had macarons. And I was in Paris. And scars make for good stories anyway, right? Right..


Love Letters.

London. June 2015.

Dear London,

In case this was ever unclear, I love you. I love your boroughs, your buildings, your markets and cafés. I love your sunshine-filled mornings and rainy afternoons. I love that you take your tea with sugar and a splash of milk, just like me. I love your cozy bars and speakeasies, your cocktails shaken with jam. I love that you never judge me for adding an extra dollop (or several) of clotted cream  to my scones late at night. I love the pastel-colored houses that line the streets of Notting Hill. I love that feeling – of pure contentment, of comfort, of a warm, familiar hug – that I find just wandering your sidewalks, riding your double-decker buses. I love your accent. I love your phone booths. I love your exhibitions on Alexander McQueen. I love you, I love you, I love you, London. And I have a sneaking suspicion I always will.

Yours Truly,
Genevieve x


Four Years.

Ocala to Paris. June, 2011 to June, 2015.

Four years ago this week, I graduated from high school…and I remember nearly every detail of that day. My mortar board hat and straightened hair (which would, of course, be ruined by the Florida humidity). The three shots of olive oil I took to loosen my vocal chords. Lots of smiles – both genuine and forced – flashed at friends, acquaintances, relatives, teachers. And my very grand life plan…

Attend Royal Holloway at the University of London. Major in French, Politics and Communication. Spend a year in France. Find a husband. Return to the states and attend Georgetown Law or write for Harper’s Bazaar. Live happily ever after.

I remember the conversations I had and the hugs I gave and the clothes I wore and the food I ate – it’s all so fresh in my mind. But while my mind may share its memories with the Genevieve who graduated that day, I am so incredibly far from that person now. And my life plan? Well, that’s changed quite a bit, too.

                                                                            …

Of course, as most know, I did not attend Royal Holloway (at least not for more than a day. Funny story…). I didn’t major in French, Politics and Communication. I haven’t spent a year in France, nor have I found a husband. I will not return to the states to attend Georgetown Law or write for Harper’s Bazaar…

And in that sense, I am a failure. But if I have learned anything over the past four years, it’s that sometimes, there’s a reason why our plans don’t work out.

If all had gone according to plan, there are countless experiences I never would have had; countless people I never would have met. But there are also countless failures I would likely have never encountered. And, as difficult as these hardships have been to face – from broken feet and mono to disorganized administrations and family crises – they have taught me a great deal about my own strength. As JK Rowling so eloquently put it, “Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way.”

So yes, four years later – as I sit and type this post from my little Parisian bedroom – I suppose I am a failure. But I am a failure who has rubbed shoulders with Kevin Spacey and attended events at London Fashion Week. I am a failure who has survived winters in New England, panic attacks in Ireland and fainting spells in Italian basilicas. I am a failure who celebrated her 22nd birthday in London, with banana bread and mimosas and cupcakes and handwritten cards and the most incredible friends. I am a failure who, next month, will graduate with my degree and an honors chord from Boston University. I am a failure who has no idea what the future holds, and I am absolutely okay with that.

 


A Weekend with Audrey.

Tolochenez. July 2015.

“She was an enchantress, inspiring love and beauty. And fairies never quite disappear altogether.” –Hubert de Givenchy

It’s not uncommon among young women like myself: an admiration for Ms. Hepburn’s philanthropic achievements, a love for her films, a desire to one day dress as classically and charmingly as characters like Holly Golightly. But my love – nay, obsession with Audrey Hepburn has always felt a bit out-of-the-ordinary, like a part of my genetic makeup rather than a passing fad…

I was six years old when the hauntingly beautiful score to Breakfast at Tiffany’s first met my ears and danced its way into my heart. I may not have understood, well, anything about the film, but it immediately became my new favorite. Years later, I would fall in love with characters like Princess Ann, Gaby Simpson and Jo Stockton. I would spend sick days debating whether or not Sabrina Fairchild chose the right Larrabee brother. I would read books upon books on Ms. Hepburn’s life, committing quotes like “The best thing to hold onto in life is each other…” to memory.

And then, the weekend of July 11th, I would buy flowers and write a card. I would take one train from Paris to Geneva, a second from Geneva to Morges and a ten-minute bus ride to Tolochenez. I would follow a friendly Swiss gentleman and his two young boys to a small, gated cemetery – amidst rows and rows of sunflowers – where Audrey Hepburn was laid to rest.

“Her home is just down the street, around the corner. You’ll see a little square with a statue of her head…just take a right and follow the road,” the kind stranger instructed in a thick, unfamiliar accent. “We leave you here.” I smiled and thanked him graciously before turning to Ms. Hepburn’s grave.

It was small, understated, in keeping with Audrey’s style and demeanor. I placed the flowers and note next to a little, framed picture that sat atop her tomb. I hadn’t really known how it would feel – to be standing at the foot of my icon’s final resting place – but I didn’t expect such a wide smile to sweep across my face. It felt special, not sad. After a few moments of reflection and a tiny prayer, I made my way through the seemingly endless sunflower fields and down the street to her former home.

Tolochenez is a quiet town, but a beautiful one. On one side, the Swiss alps soar into the clouds, their rocky facades mirrored in Lake Geneva. On the other end are miles of flower fields, interrupted here and there by colorful, country homes. It made perfect sense that Hepburn called her home here La Paisible, “the peaceful.”

I wandered through the teensy town center – Place Audrey Hepburn – before stopping in front of her house. It’s privately owned and closed to the public, but I circled the exterior, snapping pictures with abandon. It was elating.

Skipping back to the bus stop, I realized that – for the first time in my life – I was very literally following in Audrey Hepburn’s footsteps. I made one final stop at her grave, uttered another quiet “thank you” and headed on my way.


The Lesser Adventure.

Ocala. August 2015.

It’s 2:21 am. I’m not in the backseat of an Uber or on the lower deck of the night bus (or the Knight Bus, for that matter), on my way home from an evening-turned-morning out on the town. I’m not drinking my zillionth cup of coffee, sleepily proofreading my Dossier Professionnel. I’m not binge-watching House of Cards from my cozy, bottom bunk in Kensington.

Instead, I’m sitting on what seven-year-old Genevieve called her “princess bed,” applying for job after job after job in good ‘ole Ocala, Florida. And it’s hard not to feel pathetic and defeated.

From the moment I boarded the plane to London this past January, I knew – with every fiber of my being – that the several months ahead would be some of the greatest of my life. I didn’t exactly know how, or why, or what would transpire, but I definitively knew they would be magical. And they were.

Unfortunately, I also knew that this would happen: the crash. The hard, fast plummet from my carefree European lifestyle to my unemployed, post-graduate American reality. (Though, I didn’t realize this feeling would bear such a striking resemblance to my concussion last fall…)

It’s not that I don’t have things to look forward to. I do. And it’s not that I don’t have lovely friends, and family, and cuddly pets to comfort me. I have those, too. It’s just that home is where the heart is, and my heart is doing cartwheels on a different continent at the moment.

But I have to remind myself: I will have more adventures. Big, small, and mis. I’ll meet more wonderful people. I’ll see more monuments. I’ll take more Polaroid pictures, fill more scrapbooks with memories. I’ll explore more markets and parks, more boutiques and alleyways.

Remember when I said I wanted to remember the highs and the lows? Well this, my friends, is a low. But that horrendous Sunday in Dublin was followed by a sun-soaked trip to Venice…and this middle of the night, empty feeling? I’m trusting it’ll be followed by something great, too.


Patronus Moments.

New York. December 2015.

The other day – while reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban for the zillionth time or so – I got to thinking about the happy memories I’d use to conjure a Patronus. And I realized: so many of these memories – the happiest I’ve had – took place this past year. Double-decker bus rides through Londontown. Mimosas, banana bread and party hats on my birthday. Drinking Pimm’s from pitchers along the Thames (and maybe down little alleyways, too). Cliff-climbing in Scotland. Gelato in Venice. Swimming (and sunburning) in Lake Geneve. Cambridge balls. Dancing with strangers. Meeting new friends and reuniting with old favorites. Mint juleps by the Eiffel Tower. Napping in Parisian parks. Stealing bunting and butterbeer. Plays, ballets and symphonies. Macarons. More macarons. Jogs through Hyde Park. Rainy strolls through Prague. Watching fireworks from ferris wheels in the Tuileries.

What an incredible, charming, adventure-filled year. And what a wonderful lesson in the magic each moment can hold.