Gabriella’s 5 Favorite Places in Paris

Hi there folks. During such stressful times in the US–what better way to take your mind off of the President-elect than with a roundup of the lovely Gabriella’s five fav places to go in Paris from her time abroad? The beautiful and kind gal is now Stateside, basking in Dunkin Donuts and all things American. So, peruse her Parisian pleasures and find some inspo fun for your next vacay. 

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Until Next Time, Europe

*Before you read below, be warned that there are feels, and that you MUST listen to this song while reading:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RgKAFK5djSk   Ok, now you are ready for the words ahead*

To be quite honest, I’ve been dreading writing this post, because with it my abroad experience comes to an end.

Have you ever gotten so into a book (or movie for those of you so inclined) that you look up from your comfy corner of your nook, three hours later only to realize that the world continued without you, but you couldn’t think of a better way to have spent those few hours? Like a sort of refuge from reality, but creating your own little present?

That has been my last four months.

Not to be clichè or overly poetic (not that I’m a poet, el oh el), but these last few months have been some of the best of my 21 years. I’ve met some of the coolest locals, best friends on and outside of my program, and found a new way of looking at the world. Okay, that’s a tad dramatic. Perhaps not a new way of looking at the world, but rather a more open view, more accepting and tapping into a more carefree, exciting part of myself that I barely knew existed before, or more honestly, was a little bit suppressed.

As I spent 20 hours in London before my return home, I couldn’t help the smile spreading across my face, mixed with the tinge of remorse for leaving such a beautiful place and all of the memories my friends and I made along the way.

My twister and I spent the last 10 days traveling France and Italy, and loved every second of our adventures. That being said, I think we both knew it was time to go home. Transversing borders and time zones, as well as languages and cultures not only instills a level of exhaustion, but also takes a toll on the psyche. Boom I just said psyche. Wow this post makes me serious… feeling some sort of way.

…And the cheese continues:

Those of you reading this that I met in London, local or fellow foreigner, thanks for being a part of this journey. Each of you contributed (in one way or another) to the London experience. That should be the name of a book- coming to a Barnes and Noble (or Waterstones) near you.

Jokes aside, it’s hard to convey in words what these last four months mean to me. Other than the great friends, the mere experience of seeing Loch Lomand without the clouds, standing at the top of the Duomo, walking up Arthur’s Seat (not as impressive… but hey, the name sounds like it is), going to Monaco, exploring Copenhagen, and countless mundane activities made awesome by the fact that I left my friends and family, and went to foreign places (diabetes and all) where I didn’t speak the language, some poor guy ruined my 3 month supply of insulin leftover by putting it in the freezer, (that’s a long, Italian story), and made it back to the good old U.S. of A unscathed. What more could a girl want?

I could sit here and go on and on about my amazing abroad experience (ok, I know, I already have haha) but I think instead of wallowing in the reverse culture shock, I’m going to spend the next two weeks with the family that I love, in a pretty quiet place, until I head to NYC for the next adventure.

As I am now officially a senior in College (projectile vomits) and am realizing that my free days are numbered, I know that I’ll hold these last few months close to me like a life-raft, especially when I feel the pressure of work and the stress of school closing in. I’ve found multiple new happy places, and a new place to think of home.

This will be the last of my abroad posts, but obviously not the end of the blog. So, before I seal that subject, I’ll leave you with something I learned while traveling: no matter how far from home you are, the people you love will always seem close by.

So, thanks for listening to me drone on about my adventures, and stay tuned for more posts this week and next, as there is nothing to do in Jacksonville Florida when your friends are still in school. Le sigh.

Stay golden and in that A.C. peeps.

XX

A Different Type of Low (Or, one in the same)

I guess it takes a while for ideas and realities to set in–I’m learning that through every alarm beep of my cgm (continuous glucose monitor), new scar on my legs, arms and hips. With every highest high and lowest low of my blood sugar, a small piece of my past ebbs away and a newer, finger pricked-filled future replaces the carefree days of cake and fruit and chips and…. well…carbohydrates.

I shouldn’t complain–knowing that I am fortunate enough to have such a controllable disease with amazing doctors and family to support me along the way. But today, a coworker asked me a simple, kind hearted question that sparked the muffled flame inside of me that belongs to the idea that this is temporary. She asked something like, “How did you deal with that? Such a lifelong idea? How did you feel about that?”

Woah. How did I deal with that? I’m really not a big crier when it comes to sad things. I know, you’re probably reading this and thinking, what else could make you cry?! Well, friend, I am an angry crier. It’s like my tear ducts are connected to that burning sensation in your chest when something really makes you angry. Any who, I realized that I have not entirely dealt with the prognosis. I’ve accepted the fact that I have this disease, that my pancreas is not pulling its weight (so to speak) and that I have no other choice than to live with this. I did not even understand her question when she first inquired towards my state of mind after such a life-altering thing as Diabetes. I never thought, oh, I can’t do this. Sure, I say that all the time in a joking matter, but the fact of life is that we don’t really have a valid choice when it comes to surviving. I never cried because I refuse to believe that some genius out there will not find a cure sometime in the next 60 years. I refuse to entertain the idea that out of the 7 billion people on earth, millions of dollars invested in research and technology, and minds, out of all of these positive factors, one singular great positive cannot be reached. I know that someday someone will find a cure. Just like someone found a vaccine for polio, the mumps, and every other diseases from time passed. I do not want to pass this gene on to any children I might have in the (fairly distant) future. I do not wish this on my worst enemy.

As I reach the 1 year anniversary of being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, the rose colored glasses come off, and a sense of acceptance hits me with the pang as deep as seeing a beautiful cupcake that I cannot have, or the realization that gone are the days of carefree, spontaneity.

Despite my feelings of loss (RIP pancreas) for the old days, I still find myself inherently optimistic. I am not naive enough to think that I will be cured in the next 5 years, but I have hope that someday soon I won’t have to pull my shirtsleeve down over my pump so people won’t ask questions, or stare at my already formed scars on my legs and hips from my helpful, occasionally painful, and always elusive pumps.

So, I guess, it really isn’t all apples and icing, but maybe carrots and hummus isn’t too bad either?

Stay tuned for a recap on my adventures in Scotland and the last few weeks in London.

Le Sigh, I love it here, even if diabetes remains a foreign technological concept to airport security (that’s a rant for a different day).

Stay beautiful and classy, and yourself!

XOXO

Every Girl needs a happy place. Peeking back but Looking forward.

Every Girl needs a happy place. Peeking back but Looking forward.

The Luck of the Irish, Oxford Chaps, a Palace…and another Crawl

WHERE HAS THE TIME GONE?! Okay, sorry for yelling at you, I know, it’s not your fault. It’s not you, it’s me.

Ok I’ll get it together. Reeling it in. Also it’s sinking in that I will be a senior, and only have 1 year of college left with all of you beautiful friends that are reading this in Beantown… which means 1 more year of freedom before the real world… deep breaths.

Now that i’ve recuperated from my minor break down, let’s discuss the amazing adventures of the last days/weeks (really I do not know what time is anymore) since my last post.

I went to Dublin last weekend, explored the neighboring sea town of Howth. Let me tell you, Howth is gorgeous. Beautiful. Friendly people and beautiful views make the city a must-see. Spending time with amazing friends also helped the overall experience. Ireland truly is a magical place.

This weekend I went to Oxford and Blenheim Palace, pretended I was a distant relative of the Churchill family, and that this indeed was my palace. Alas, no one believed me. Apparently a last name of Goldman does not sound British. Who knew?

But let me tell you peeps, this  palace oozes opulence. The chandeleir dripping in crystals from the second story ceiling to eye level of the main floor, the house seems to form around the chandelier. Gorgeous paintings hang in every room lined with plush carpets and gold and silver accents. Even the ceiling in the dining room has a Michaelangelo-esque mural. And the gardens! Don’t even get me started about that landscape, or the manmade lake. Let’s just say that I can totally picture Mr. Darcy’s house being based off of this palace. Le sigh- Mr. Darcy. Wow, I’m a nerd. This is real this is me. Take me as I am.

After a day full of beautiful countryside and history, my friends, including a friend from Home visiting from Athens where he’s studying abroad this term, and I decided to do yet another pub crawl–this time in Shoreditch. Fun times all around. 5 star weekend folks.

Stay posted for another post in a week or so about my trip to Scotland next week. I know, you are all clearly waiting at the edge of your seats to hear about my many adventures.

But for reals, do I have to go back? London has stolen my heart and my money…. and I have to say, I don’t hate it.

Stay proper ladies and gents

Cheers

XOXO

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Amigas, Cheetahs… A Spanish Story

iHola! Just touched down in London Town (again) and am feeling some type of way. I love Spain. Spain is the best. I love London, London is also the best. Ugh, so many conflicting feelings! That being said, my Spanish proved helpful, useful, and simultaneously pathetic. I’d like to thank the academy (SO sad I’m missing the Oscars right now) my amazing Spanish teachers from high school, and my astonishing inability to remember things.

Okay, I’m done being random for the moment. Now that I’ve had some time to nap and sleep off the exhaustion associated with a holiday in Spain (walking, eating, dancing, clubbing=no sleeping), I’m finally able to reflect on a spring break well spent. I saw the sights, I drank Sangria, I danced in clubs cooler than anything I could imagine, I saw another Royal Palace (check it out below) and I basically had an amazing time. I even managed to see a few familiar faces from Boston studying abroad in Spain.

Royal Palace in Madrid framed by the gated entrance

Royal Palace in Madrid framed by the gated entrance

Although this trip served as my third time in Barcelona and second in Madrid, I realize now that I would not spend my spring break in any other place, with any other people. Traveling with friends proves a difficult feat in that everyone prioritizes different sights, experiences, etc., not to mention the extreme stress associated with traveling within a country that speaks a different language. Despite the differences in opinions and overall sass (I can be sassy, you can be sassy, just admit it and accept that we all have a little flava flave in us all), the drunken nights spent dancing, the silly pictures and phrases, the smiles and sun–all helped make one unforgettable trip.

Anywho–moral of the story? Visit Spain. Visit Spain with your family, your friends, your lover, your dog, your llama, do you–no judgement. Just visit Spain. Fall in love with Barcelona’s coastline, see the various religious artifacts in Toledo, be Royal in Madrid (we all know that we’re all queens and kings, so no need to pretend–I’m looking at you Lorde). Just make sure that you do yourself (and I) a solid and visit the party-hard-totally-tapas-feisty-Flamenco-loving country.

Okay, time for bed. Stay classy and avoid the snow you beautiful people!

XOXO

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