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2016: A Year in the Life

2016 has been a roller coaster of a year. Between the election, celebrity deaths, and internet breaking tweets, we welcome 2017 with open arms, ready for a fresh start.

For me, 2016 has been one of the greatest years of my life. Here’s a look back on some of my favorite moments.

January 2016

Spent a week in Iceland climbing glaciers and seeing some of the most breathtaking sights.

February 2016

Moved out of my studio apartment down to the Financial District.

March 2016

Had my final shift working as a librarian for the American Music and Dramatic Academy. My first job in the city.

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April 2016

Traveled to Buffalo to witness my cousin get married on a snowy, spring day. Reunited with my wonderful family.

Surprise trip to Chicago for a weekend to see my old classmates from Northern Illinois University. It had been nearly 4 years since I last saw these beautiful people.

May 2016

Traveled to Cusco, Peru to volunteer with Maximo Nivel. Climbed a lot of mountains, ate some great food, and had life changing experiences.

June 2016

Felt the love and strength of NYC during Pride.

Rang in my birthday with alcohol, lots. My night was as blurry as this photo

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July 2016

Lost some wisdom, gained some embarrassing photos.

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August 2016

Spent 3 weeks home in the Bay Area with family and friends.

September 2016

Spent a weekend in Boston.

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I also started dating a really, really awesome guy.

October 2016

Spent Halloween with some great company.

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November 2016

Voted for President.

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December 2016

Completed my degree and finally graduated college.

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Spent Christmas weekend in Connecticut with my boyfriend and his family.

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Here’s to an unforgettable year and what lies ahead.

Happy New Year!!

 

Next Adventure: Cusco, Peru!

Thrilled to be heading to South America as my 4th continent in 2 years! Next week, I’ll be working with International Volunteer HQ for a few weeks in childcare work where I will get to inspire young children in a small village outside of Cusco.

My weekends will be free and I’ll get to take an overnight excursion to Machu Picchu and hike the famous Inca Trail.

I’m so thrilled to be seeing a new culture and work with the kids, follow my adventures!

Why I Choose Travel Over Tinder

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This morning, as I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, I noticed how many of my friends seemed so happy in their relationships.  Some adopted a dog together, another engaged or simply enjoying a meal together. Ugh. That loneliness sinks in, the feeling that something must be wrong with me if I’m still single after all this time.

Then I realized: I just returned from an epic adventure in Iceland. Why should I discredit the amazing time I had?  Would I have had the same experiences had I traveled with a boyfriend? Would I have even traveled at all? I find myself questioning which is more important: travel or love?

I’ve been completely independent for nearly 4 years and that’s a long time without a Valentine, someone to kiss under the misletoe, or even having someone to just talk about our day together. It’s sad, right?

Wrong. 

In less than two years, I’ve been to three unique countries.  I went back to school.  I worked at some pretty great jobs. Hell, I even had drinks with celebrities on more than one occasion. What do I have to complain about? I’m seeing the world and creating some incredible memories. Sure, it’s lonely, but shouldn’t I be focused more on my own happiness, rather than someone elses? I’m in my mid-twenties and having the time of my life! Now is the time to be a little selfish and travel the world.

Now, this doesn’t mean that I’ve given up on the notion of love. Hellllll no! I’d love to find someone who can make me laugh and do crazy things with, but I’m not making that my main priority. I’m focused on me right now and if someone should come along and contribute to my happiness, I’m sure I’ll be over the moon, but for now, I’m happy with my passport being my significant other.

So, maybe my special someone is out there; he could be sipping an espresso in Paris or backpacking through Nepal; maybe he’s just sitting at home doing absolutely nothing. If we meet, great, but if not…then I’m fine traveling the world on my own.  At the end of the day, life is better lived to the fullest.

To the guy who never texted me back: Thank you. You showed me that life is not worth waiting for your response, life is about living in the moment and doing the most of my time on this Earth.

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If you had to choose between love and travel, where would you go?

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Next Destination: Reykjavik, Iceland!

 

Northern Lights… I mean, come on!
 
It’s been about 5 months since South Africa and I’ve been itching to go somewhere new. Checking off my third continent on the map, I will be spending less than a week traveling solo in the beautiful country of Iceland. I’m hoping to have the chance to see the northern lights and tour the glaciers and ice caves. I’ll be staying with AirBnB in the very heart of downtown Reykjavik. Follow my journey in a few weeks as I make my way up north! 

  

I Am Malala: A Story about hope, fear and overcoming adversities

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Have you ever felt so connected to someone you’ve never even met?  Upon reading the first few pages, I got such an incredible sense of who this girl was: firey, passionate, caring, family oriented.  I AM Malala is the incredible story of a Pakistani girl who was targeted and shot down by the Taliban on her way home from school and used that experience to stand up for women and education all over the world.  Malala inspires you to believe in the power of change and those who stand up against all odds and fight for what they believe in.

“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.”

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Instead of giving in to the fear, Malala used her recovery to inspire young girls all over the world to fight for their education.  Her journey has taken her to different countries, including the USA and even a stop at the United Nations, where she’s spoken to political leaders trying to work with them to create change in education.  Two years after her nearly fatal shooting, Malala received a Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts, becoming an young advocate for girls’ education.  Now at 18, Malala is able to apply to colleges and receive the well-rounded education she has fought tirelessly for.

“Who is Malala?  I am Malala and this is my story.”

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The Yousafazi family

I was first inspired by Malala’s story when I heard her Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in 2014.  I remember hanging on every brave word, she thanked her doctors and nurses and spoke about what it means to stand up for education.  Malala has done more for her country, her people, and all women at such a young age, I admire her efforts and encourage all women to read her story.

“So here I stand…. one girl among many.

I speak – not for myself,

but for all girls and boys.

I raise up my voice – not so that I can shout,

but so that those without a voice

can be heard.”

To continue to follow Malala’s story, download I Am Malala on Kindle, iBooks or purchase at Barnes & Noble.
Last October the “I Am Malala” Documentary premiered worldwide, inspiring everyone to hear her story.  Read, watch, get inspired and get informed.

Why travel solo?

Traveling solo sounds scary, no? Being in a foreign place, unbeknownst of cultures and languages can be frightening for most and exciting for others. In January 2015, I trekked to Thailand and spent a few weeks seeing the sights and learning Thai customs.  My favorite part of the trip was not knowing a soul in the country or continent. I joined a volunteer group with people from all over the world. We learned about the serious trafficking issues and ventured to some of the most amazing sights in Southeast Asia.

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Jykeaw Waterfall in Chiang Rai

While some travel completely alone, I totally recommend joining a tour group to see the sights in any country. I met some great friends that I still connect with to this day and we share life-changing experiences that I wouldn’t have made if I traveled with friends or family.  Traveling alone, I was able to go outside my comfort zone and really put myself out there to make friends.  Sounds like starting a new school, right?  That’s exactly what it felt like.  I felt as if I was a freshman in high school again, trying to find my rhythm in a new place.  Everyone in the tour group was on the same page, so we all bonded over being in a foreign country alone together.

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Ziplining in the forests of Chiang Mai with some of my new friends

So for all of you still feeling apprehensive about booking that trip alone, my advice to you is to just say YES!  My journey through Thailand taught me so much about other cultures and my love for Thai food. I miss the street Pad Thai, traveling on Tuk Tuk’s everywhere, and spending less than $20 on hotel rooms. There is no time like the present to change your life and see the world alone.  Who knows, you could meet the love of your life, find a new career, or maybe you will learn something new about yourself.  Happy trails and good luck!

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Hugging elephants at Baanchang Elephant’s Paradise in Chiang Mai