I’m a senior at Georgetown University, or at least, I was. I guess, I still am for a little under a month more, but somehow, it feels like the chapter has already been closed. It’s currently the last full week of class and I always imagined that this would one of my most bittersweet moments. I imagined being a little scared that 18 years of education was finally ending, a little sad about leaving the place that I am so proud to call home, and really excited about everything that was to come. As you can imagine, that’s not how things actually look.
Just over a month ago, I would have thought my current mind state unimaginable. I sobbed as my car pulled away from Georgetown’s front gates and I took one last look at the place that I love with my entire being. I knew I’d be back, but I also knew it would never be the same again. Never again would my entire life be contained within those gates, though it would always be home. When I arrived home, I broke down again as I saw my graduation robe hanging on my closet door, a painful reminder of the finale I felt was snatched from me. For days, I found myself staring at walls and breaking down into tears over the parts of my life that I would never have and never get back. Then, I started to put myself back together– I started to do hobbies, I started to make weekly Zoom and FaceTime plans, I tried to make the best of what I had.
Then, April 4 hit. For the last 14 months, I had been the outreach chair for a gala that was supposed to be on April 4, but had now been postponed to an unannounced date. My work with this gala is one of my proudest achievements in college, but this pride only made its absence hurt more. I spent the day feeling like I was drowning in my own sadness. I was angry at myself for my own sadness– here in my home state, people are grieving daily for their lost loved ones and I was crying over not being able to put on a pretty dress and go to a fancy party. Yet, some part of me did believe my grief was valid– I had worked hard and now, while I would be able to eventually see the event come to life, it would no longer be an event in which I had ownership over. It would not be mine.
That’s when it hit me. The grief I had been experiencing over college ending and every missed event came down to that: it would not be mine anymore. College wouldn’t be my life anymore. Georgetown wouldn’t be my place anymore. The Tombs wouldn’t be my neighborhood bar. My campus house wouldn’t be mine anymore. In a split second, it was all gone and in this crazy time we are living in, I felt like I never knew what the world around me would look like when I woke up. I felt like I was losing the very things I held onto for stability: the things I knew that were mine. Without the institutions and places and physical events to grab onto, life was disorienting, especially in the midst of a pandemic where I fear even going to the grocery store. Yet this night when I cried and the world felt like it was spinning too fast, I realized I still had so much I was holding onto as my own: I have my amazing and caring family, I have my friends from all parts of my life that lift me up, I have my years of education, I have my memories that could last me a lifetime, I have my faith, and I am blessed to say I have so many communities coming together right now.
Gratitude carried me out of the dark. And in the light, I could finally truly see the world around me, the world that I used my own sadness to hide from. I was afraid that if I stopped thinking about myself, I would see a world so decimated by this virus that hope was gone and light was rapidly fading. It was easy to believe this fear in this time of isolation: we cannot see anyone outside of our households, we must cover our faces now with masks when we go outside, and it feels like people have been reduced to numbers in the statistics given during daily briefings. Fear is fair in this time, but when I looked out, I saw so much hope. I saw so many good people doing great, extraordinary acts everywhere I looked from people organizing fundraisers to aid those in need to my neighbors coming together for a drive-by thank you salute daily at our local hospital to those using whatever talents, skills, or abilities they had to try to bring joy into people’s lives. I even think to the small act of receiving a simple text from a friend saying hello and staying connected during this time and I see hope and grace in them.
I have found that when you allow yourself to see hope, you don’t end up brought back in by the sadness. The sadness tricks you, it makes you think that everything is lost, but when you look up, you realize the sadness was lying to you the whole time. Things are so so far from perfect right now, but there is still good to be found. And while I may still wish I got to have all the milestone events that accompany the end of one’s college career, I’m just grateful that I got to be part of so much good and that I get to walk away from this university having gained so much. I’m grateful that my family, my friends, and myself continue to be healthy and that we are blessed with wonderful people all around us.
I want to end this with some of Kate Tempest’s words, for I think she describes my feelings and this moment best:
“Even when I’m weak and I’m breaking,
I’ll stand weeping at the train station
‘Cause I can see your faces
There is so much peace to be found in people’s faces.”
All I’ve got to say has already been said
I mean, you heard it from yourself
When you were lying in your bed and couldn’t sleep
Summer took a long time to say its goodbyes this year, as the high heats continued for all of September. This weekend, the temperatures have finally started to drop and I am so happy to trade in my sundresses for my sweaters. I’m home in New York this weekend and am able to celebrate the beginning of fall in my favorite way: picking pumpkins and eating apple cider donuts. No matter where I buy my apple cider donut from, the first bite brings me back to being a kid apple picking with my family on an orchard. We would spend hours picking four huge bags of apples, and before we could head home, we would always stop at the orchard store to each get a warm apple cider donut. It was always the perfect ending to some of my favorite days.
This year, it looks like I won’t be able to go apple picking in New England like usual, but that doesn’t mean I am looking any less forward to fall. I thought it would be fun to put together a bucket list of activities for me to do this fall and I thought I would make it as a fun graphic so everyone can join in on the fun!
With it now officially being fall, I felt like it was the appropriate time for a summer recap (even though it still feels like summer here in D.C.). Next up will be a list of everything I am excited for this fall and it’s near endless– fall is one of my favorite seasons!
One of the things I loved most this summer was really developing what I want my blog and Instagram to be right now. It’s gone through A LOT of changes since I’ve started, trying to find the niche that makes me happy but also serves a need for my followers. This summer, I realized what I’m passionate about at the moment is affordable fashion. I love finding outfits that don’t break the bank but look amazing (here’s a few of my favorites that I shared on Instagram this summer). I’ve mainly only been showing this interest and passion on Instagram, but I want to integrate it more into the blog from now on. Don’t worry, I’ll still be doing life updates like these and lifestyle posts, but there will definitely be more affordable fashion too.
2. I got to explore California (I blogged about it here and here and here and here) and it was amazing! I really only was in LA but I could have stayed forever with a million other things to do. I promise, I’ll be making a return to the west coast soon to explore more!
3. I worked an amazing internship! I got to learn so much this summer while working at Amazon Web Services in digital marketing. This internship affirmed to me that I love digital marketing and really do want to pursue a career in it.
4. I baked…a lot. Thanks to my roommates this summer for being my official taste-testers of everything I made! My favorite recipe by far was the recipe for Banana Bread from Flour Bakery in Boston.
5. I went to Her Conference and left feeling empowered and inspired! It was such an amazing opportunity to hear so many amazing women speak about their lives and journeys. Also, here is where I discovered journalist Mandy Velez, whose story of paying off her student loans is SO inspiring.
6. Visited some museums! When I was in Orlando, one of the things I missed most about DC was all of the amazing and accessible museums. This summer, it was nice to have some time to explore the museums (thanks to all the friends who joined me for these adventures!)
7. Turned 21! I, of course, had myself a week of festivities and I am so grateful for my friends who celebrated with me, including those who came from out of town to join the fun!
8. Had a mini DCP roommate reunion! If you’ve been following for a while, you know how meaningful the DCP was to me and my roommates played a HUGE role in this! I was so excited that two of them were able to come to DC for a weekend and celebrate my birthday and our friendship together!
9. Made it to two boy band concerts: Backstreet Boys and the Jonas Brothers. I’m not a huge Backstreet Boys fan, but their concert was so much fun and I danced the night away! The Jonas Brothers is the concert I’ve been wanting since I was 10, and it truly made all my childhood dreams come true.
This selfie is literally our pure joy at seeing the Jonas Brothers
10. I am impressed with the amount of tv I managed to watch. I was an avid follower of both the Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise, along with binging Riverdale, Jane the Virgin, and Veronica Mars on streaming platforms.
That’s all that I was up to this summer! I’d love to hear what you were all up to and I can’t wait for next week’s blog post of the 10 things I’m most excited for this fall!
This blog started out as a self-care resource and as I look back, I’m shocked that I never shared my favorite self-care activity: going to the movies. I know the whole spiel about how the movie theaters are dying out, thanks to streaming services, but to me, the movie theater is one of the most magical places in the world. There’s nothing quite like the lights dimming and for a brief few hours, there is nothing in the world except the story you are being shown on the screen. It’s being swept away and you feel everything with no buffers– it’s happiness, it’s sadness, it’s terror, and it’s love. The music bellows around you and you’re not you anymore, all that matters is the adventure on screen.
It’s similar to that feeling I used to get as a young kid reading a great book– everything drifted away as the words circled around me, forming a new world. As I got older, distractions came in and when I sit down with a book, I still feel the vibration of my phone, the sounds of the world around me on the metro, and the thoughts that never stop running through my head. The movie theater is special to me because it takes out all those distractions. I turn my phone off, I sit in the silent theater, and my thoughts focus in on the story that encompasses all my senses. It’s the one spot in the world that I truly feel I can disconnect and when life gets overwhelming or I feel a bit alone, the movie theater is the first place you can find me. It’s magic.
To honor my love for the movies, I thought I would share my four of my favorite movies of all time, though this list (other than number one) is constantly changing and my favorite quote from each.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Favorite line: The blues are because you’re getting fat and maybe it’s been raining too long; you’re just sad, that’s all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you’re afraid and you don’t know what you’re afraid of.
You’ve Got Mail
Favorite line: “Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life – well, valuable, but small – and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven’t been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn’t it be the other way around?”
Favorite line: “Absolutely! That’s when the magic happens.”
13 Going on 30
Favorite line: “You don’t always get the dream house, but sometimes you get pretty close, you know?”
At the end of May, I visited Disneyland for the first time in almost ten years. As someone who proudly calls Magic Kingdom her home park, I knew that I would spend much of my time in Disneyland comparing it to WDW. I’ve spent a lot of time since coming home trying to give the most objective comparison possible between Disneyland and WDW and my determination of which is the better resort/park. I’ve decided to break this comparison down to a few categories: rides, shows/parades, food, hotels, fastpass experience, and aesthetic/appearance. Let’s dive right in!
Rides: To do this category justice, I have to break it down into two categories: rides that the two parks share and original rides.
Shared Rides: Disneyland and Disneyworld basically share most of their e-tickets including the three mountains (Space, Big Thunder, and Splash), Pirates of the Carribbean, Haunted Mansion, and Jungle Cruise, along with some smaller rides, such as the Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Some of these experiences are significantly different– Pirates of the Carribbean is significantly longer in Disneyland and much, much creepier. Other rides, like the mountains, are slightly different experiences but if you’ve ridden them a few times, you’ll be sure to notice. Space Mountain, for example, uses different rider cars on the two coastlines and while many enjoy the more traditional car used in Disneyland, I think the experience is far more intense on the bobsled style car at Disneyworld. Other rides, like Jungle Cruise and Haunted Mansion, definitely show which one is the original, with Disneyworld’s versions having the little improvements to make a big splash. There were a few similar rides I didn’t try out, knowing the Disneyland version would make me miss my version at Disneyworld, such as the DL version of astro-orbiter (after riding these with a view of Happily Ever After, I don’t think a smaller and shorter version could ever compare) and Dumbo the Flying Elephant, which lacks the theming of Storybook Circus I love so dearly.
Winner: On the shared rides, I have to give it to Walt Disney World. As they say, second is the best, and Disneyworld definitely benefits from being second to receive most of these rides.
Original Rides: While two parks have so much in common, they also have a lot of original rides. I fell in love with California Adventure and the many original rides the park has to offer, including Mission Breakout and Radiator Springs Racers. Disneyworld also has a plethora of original rides, such as all of its Animal Kingdom offerings and many of its Epcot rides. I have to say I have never been a big Animal Kingdom fan and could easily skip this park when visiting Disneyworld and while I love Epcot, it is not for its ride offerings but rather its ambience in World Showcase. And while I will always say that Magic Kingdom is definitively the world’s best theme park, the many dark rides that Disneyland’s Fantasyland have to offer, such as Alice in Wonderland, do make this land stand out and pop much more than some of Disneyworld’s rides like Seven Dwarves Mine Train.
Winner: In this subcategory, I have to give it to Disneyland. Their exclusive rides are e-ticket attractions that are immersive, creative, and original.
Winner for rides: The two resorts end up in a tie in this category, each winning one subcategory so I will give them each .5
Score: Disneyland .5, Disneyworld .5
Shows/Parades: Both Disneyworld and Disneyland offer many parades and shows throughout the day and night. It is important to note here: Disneyworld has a HUGE advantage. There are four parks– WDW can have one meh parade/show (example: the First Order in Hollywood Studios) and make up for it with another amazing one in another park (like Festival of Fantasy). When I visited Disneyland, the Red Car Trolleys were under renovation so I didn’t get to see them perform (and apparently, the show is permanently closing now) and I missed having a light-hearted show like on Main Street in Magic Kingdom or Hollywood Studios. I loved Disneyland’s parade, but I am a bit partial because I LOVE Mary Poppins and loved seeing her featured. I also want to give Disneyland some points in advance, because the Main Street Electrical Parade (aka my favorite parade of ALL time) is running for a limited time there this summer and I am VERY jealous that the west coast gets this beautiful parade again. Disneyland also wow’ed me with their performance of Frozen, which was truly Broadway levels of good. Frozen was definitely the best show I have ever seen in a Disney park, but Disneyworld offers some great options, with Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo the Musical. What loses Disneyland major points was is its nighttime shows in comparison to Disneyworld. World of Color is a beautiful and moving show and I can see how it greatly inspired Happily Ever After, but it didn’t have the full effect that Happily Ever After gives. Also, I found myself wishing they had set the show up in a space more similar to Rivers of Light– if you weren’t in the front for World of Color, you weren’t seeing much. Further, Disneyland’s nighttime offerings had me wanting to fly to Florida immediately. Mickey’s Mix Magic was playing while I was at Disneyland and this firework show did not hold at all when compared to ANY of Disneyworld’s offerings. The show felt like it was pandering to a youthful audience and it lacked true heart to it.
Winner: Disneyworld. While Disneyland shone with its theatrical show of Frozen and its parade offerings, its nighttime offerings really did not their own.
Score: Disneyworld 1.5, Disneyland 0.5
Food: To judge this category fairly, I also will be breaking it up into three subcategories: table service, quick service, and snacks. Table service is worth 0.4 points, quick service is worth 0.3 points, and snacks are worth 0.3 points.
Table Service: Growing up with trips to Disneyworld, there is nothing I love more than a good character meal. With diverse offerings in Florida from 1900 Park Fare to Bon Voyage to Tusker House, there is no shortage of character offerings with great food and a great interactive experience. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said across the country. While at Disneyland, we went to Plaza Inn at Disneyland for breakfast and Goofy’s Kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel for dinner. Plaza Inn was a complete flop– the characters ignored us for the first thirty minutes we were there, the food was bland (the french toast tasted like someone threw a bottle of cinnamon on it and called it a day), and the service was WAY below Disney standards, with it taking thirty minutes before we could get any information about gluten free options for the allergy in our party. Goofy’s Kitchen had much better character interaction but the food was not great. The best things there were the mac and cheese and the chicken fingers. For non-character table service meals, we ate at Carnation Cafe and Lamplight Lounge. While both of these restaurants were good, they lacked a spark that makes restaurants such as Coral Reef, Hacienda San Angel, and Skipper Canteen so special.
Winner:Without a doubt, Disneyworld.
Quick Service: While Disneyland flopped with its sit-down offerings, it shone with its quick service. My first quick service experience here was Tangaroa Terrace, where I got nachos and dumplings. They both were amazing and I returned here for breakfast, where the french toast blew me away. I also stopped at Flo’s in DCA and had their french toast (I REALLY like French Toast, I’m not even sorry for how much french toast I eat) and loved it. I also loved the complete theming at Flo’s. I also had to get Mickey Beignets for an early breakfast and while these tasted more like regular donuts mixed with funnel cake than traditional Beignets, I still thoroughly enjoyed them and very much would get again. My one quick service let-down happened in DCA at the Pacific Wharf, where I ordered potstickers and an orange chicken rice bowl. While the potstickers were delicious (though a small order of only three), the orange chicken rice bowl was far too spicy for my liking and did not have enough orange taste to it. While Disneyworld does have some stand out quick service locations like Satuli in Animal Kingdom and its offerings throughout World Showcase, it typically does not shine in its quick service. If is festival season in Epcot, I may take back that statement but generally, I would stand by it. And though I may have a soft spot for Peco’s, I’m not sure the average tourist would fully agree.
Winner: Disneyland. While Disneyworld has seasonally good quick service offerings, it falls to offer consistently good quick service options throughout all of its parks like Disneyland does.
Snacks: This is by far the hardest category of all to rank. Disney snacks around the world are the absolute best, with the classics like Mickey pretzels and churros and seasonal specials. I loved all the snacks I tried in Disneyland, from the nom nom cookies to the ice cream treats to the Mickey rice krispie treats. I also though love Disneyworld’s snacks, such as the soft serve at Storybook Treats, the changing milkshake at Auntie Galaxy’s, and the numerous treats found around world showcase.
Winner: Truthfully, the two resorts are almost even in my mind in their snack offerings, but having world showcase pulls Disneyworld right over the edge, as it offers such a huge range of snacks to try.
Winner: Overall, Disneyworld wins in food, with better table service and more snack offerings. Disneyland though shines with its quick service.
Score: Disneyworld 2.3, Disneyland 0.8
Hotels: Disneyland offers a very different hotel experience from Disneyworld, with only three Disney-owned-and-operated hotels, compared to the numerous offerings at Disneyworld. For this trip, we chose to stay at the Disneyland Hotel, which is equivalent to a Disneyworld deluxe hotel. The first reaction to the hotel was a bit of surprise– this hotel does not throw Disney magic at you in the same way as Disneyworld deluxe hotels or even the Grand Califorian do. However, little bits of magic are found around the hotel with notes of history. The rooms were beautifully sized and the castle headboard is definitely the star of the hotel. I can say I truly LOVED staying here, but still, the theming definitely fell behind the theming I love at Disneyworld. It didn’t transport me anywhere and seemed confused, with a monorail pool slide but Trader Sam’s tiki bar next to it. The Grand Californian seemed to have a much more cohesive theme, but because I did not stay there and only walked around it, my experience has to be based solely off the Disneyland Hotel.
Winner: The winner is Disneyworld, but I want to give some points to Disneyland because staying at the original Disney hotel truly was a bucket list experience for a big Disney fan like myself, so I’m giving 0.3 points to Disneyland for that nostalgia factor.
Score: Disneyworld 3, Disneyland 1.1
Fastpass Experience: The fastpass experiences are completely different at Disneyland and Disneyworld. Disneyworld uses the Fastpass+ system, where you make three reservations a day in advance. Disneyland uses the original fastpass system, with the option to buy Maxpass so you can make fastpasses on your phone. While Disneyworld lends itself to the ultra-planner, I found Maxpass a much more effective and efficient system. I was consistently able to get fastpasses for everything I wanted to ride, without being stuck to a stringent schedule. I also was not tied into one park, being able to move from fastpass to fastpass in different parks, compared to having to have three in one park at Disneyworld.
Winner: Disneyland, while Maxpass costs extra, it proved worth it.
Score: Disneyworld 3, Disneyland 2.1
Aesthetic/Appearance: This category is probably the most controversial I will rank, as everyone holds their favorite quite close to heart. I think California Adventure is a completely underrated park. I thought this park was truly gorgeous, with Pixar Pier, Cars Land, and Wine Country standing out to me. The park did an amazing job of grasping different areas and truly transporting guests to them. I can’t say I feel the same about Disneyland. Disneyland felt crowded. Tomorrowland felt cramped and closed, Fantasyland felt overrun with small walkways, and the castle, while in beautiful pink, lacked the grandeur I expected. I will say both New Orleans Square and Toontown shone in my eyes as unique and beautiful areas, and I have not visited Galaxy’s Edge so I can’t say how I would feel about that. I felt the parks lacked the beautiful spots like Cinderella’s wishing well or the Italy pavilion in world showcase or Pandora in Animal Kingdom.
Winner: Disneyworld. While Disneyland had its beautiful spots, it lacked the smaller spots of beauty that make Disneyworld such a special space.
Final Score: Disneyworld 4, Disneyland 2.1
If you’re thinking about a Disney trip, you’ll never go wrong but in my opinion, if you’re focused on Disney, book a flight to Orlando. There is so much to do in Disneyworld, you could stay forever and never get a month (I stayed for four months and wish I could go back daily). The resort truly transports you to a magical place. The memories and happiness the place brings are definitely worth the splurge.