Monthly Archives: August 2016
August 30, 2016
I have about seven weeks left of my sophomore year when a group of my teammates and myself decide we should go on our school’s required study abroad program. We go on our university’s website and open the study abroad program portal to see what our options are. Since it is late in the year, our options are very limited. There is only one program left with enough spots for all of us to join: Beijing, China.
I learn a little Mandarin and then board the plane for Beijing. After 14 hours of flying with my seat crammed between 2 people, I finally land at Beijing’s massive airport. Before I even leave the airport, I notice people are wearing surgical masks that people would wear at the doctor’s office when they’re trying to prevent spreading their cold. As soon as I walk outside I realize why. The air pollution is very noticeable and has a distinct smell to it. Once I get to my hotel in the middle of Beijing, I realize the number of people in this city would put New York City to shame. There were crowds and lines virtually everywhere I went. However, the population and pollution were the only two parts I did not enjoy about my trip.
My program instructors planned a lot of really interesting things for our group to do over the course of two and a half weeks. One of the first things we did was visit the Forbidden City which was a massive palace. We also got to visit the Olympic stadiums used for the 2008 Olympic games which was really interesting to see. One day we climbed 6,000 some steps to reach the top of Mount Tai which seems like a lot of work (it was), but it was worth it once we reached the top. The second to last day we visited the Great Wall. I’ve seen in it pictures many times, but pictures don’t do it justice once you actually see it in person. One of my favorite things about my trip, was getting to try all the authentic Chinese foods. Chinese food in America is nothing like actual Chinese food. Overall, I had a great trip and I was really glad I got to see a lot of what Beijing had to offer.
August 25, 2016
On my way home from work last week, I turned on ESPN radio and listened to a preview for this year’s ESPYS. My excitement for the ESPYS began when I heard John Cena would host the show, but also when I remembered that 2016 has produced many phenomenal moments in sports. Villanova won the NCAA Championship at the buzzer. The city of Cleveland won its first title in 52 years. Basketball legend Kobe Bryant retired after dropping 60 points in his final game, and future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning capped his final season off with a Super Bowl victory. In addition, Leicester City defied odds of 5000 to 1 and won the English Premiere League. While I looked forward to a recap of these amazing moments, I really wanted to see the ESPYS because the event often highlights individuals that transcend sports and inspire others.
As I listened to the ESPYS preview, I felt inspired when the radio station played Jim Valvano’s famous ESPYS speech. Jim Valvano was the NC State basketball coach that led the team to a Cinderella NCAA title run in 1983. Valvano later accepted ESPN’s inaugural Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award for his fight against cancer. On that night, he delivered an incredible acceptance speech and set up The V Foundation for Cancer Research. In his speech, Valvano says that “if you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day.” As I sat on the parkway stuck in traffic, I found myself laughing at the stories of the New York native. I also reflected on his words as Valvano calls individuals to think about “where you started, where you are, and where you’re going to be.” I was moved by the coach’s words: “Cancer can take away all my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart and it cannot touch my soul.”
Since my freshman year at Boston College, I have been a member of a student organization called Hoops for Hope. Each year, we host a 3 vs. 3 basketball tournament in order to raise money and awareness for cancer research. The donations from the tournament and other campus events go to The V Foundation for Cancer Research. As a member of the event planning committee and also a participant in the tournament, I have witnessed how sports can bring people together for a common cause as too many of us know a family member or friend who has battled cancer.
During his speech, Valvano coined the phrase “Don’t Give Up, Don’t Ever Give Up” as the motto for The V Foundation. Although he passed away two months after his speech, The V Foundation continues his battle with its mission to find a cure and save lives. Coach Valvano serves as one of my inspirations as he left his mark on the world by bringing cancer research into the spotlight. While 2016 has been an awesome year for sports fans, listening to Valvano’s speech in the car and watching the ESPYS later at home reminded me that sometimes the best sports stories are the ones that happen away from the game.
August 23, 2016
Just this past spring semester I was fortunate enough to go on a four-month long study abroad journey to Florence, Italy. Not only did I have the amazing opportunity to explore Italy, but I was also lucky enough to travel throughout Europe. This experience was not only the best experience of my life, but also one of the most challenging.
From the time I was a little girl, I was always eager to explore, and this trip had me feeling the same way. Before boarding my flight to Europe, I experienced the same emotions I had every time I went on a trip with my parents. This time, however, I was on my own going to a place I had never been to before for much longer than anywhere I had ever been. I will never forget that feeling of mixed emotions as I waved goodbye to my family and boarded my plane.
Upon the first few days of my arrival, I began to feel much more relaxed as I indulged in some of the best pasta, pizza and gelato I have ever eaten. I made friends from all over the world and began taking classes that taught me all about the Italian culture and European lifestyle. This was the experience I had always yearned for as long as I could remember and it was incredible. I started to gain a new outlook and perception on life and other cultures around me.
After a few weeks, I took my first trip outside of Italy to Barcelona, Spain. The new traveler in me was ready to take on the city just as I had when I arrived in Italy. Like most study abroad students, however, I didn’t think I would face too many challenging situations and my primary focus was to have fun and discover new things. The day I arrived in Spain, however, I encountered my first real language barrier challenge when I realized I needed directions taking public transportation from the airport to my hostel. Everyone I asked directions from responded to me in Spanish. Normally, in the U.S. I would open Google Maps, but because Wi-Fi wasn’t available that was not an option. From that moment, I realized that there was so much I took for granted while living in the states. It made me realize I would actually have to plan and prepare better if I wanted to see other cities without getting lost.
My challenges didn’t end there. I continued to travel and by the end of my journey I made it to nine countries (Italy, Spain, Czech Republic, France, Poland, Netherlands, Croatia, Germany and Greece). During that time, I continued to face situations that turned into lessons learned. I found that while most people in Europe speak fluent English, not all are willing to and it was important to always have a game plan in case things didn’t go as planned. There were so many times where I felt completely out of my comfort zone. Looking back at my experience now, I can’t imagine not having went to Italy. Overall, I gained confidence and became more open to new ideas. Just like in the field of public relations, no day was ever the same and each day I faced a challenge that better prepared me for the next one. Most importantly, I learned that all the struggles I faced were part of this rewarding and life changing experience.
August 18, 2016
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. While for many, this word might bring back vivid memories of watching a nanny creepily fall out of the sky, for me, it connects me back to my experiences as a gymnast and the important lessons so deeply ingrained in me because of them. The Mary Poppins Medley was the name of my floor routine music; a lovely arrangement of “Spoonful of Sugar,” “Supercalifragilistic-” and “Jolly Holiday,” among others. Putting my coach’s interesting choice of music and choreography aside, I loved the medley; performing the routine was my time to feel powerful, independent, superior. It was my two minutes of fame, two minutes of knowing I could wow the audience by doing something they couldn’t do. It was the two minutes that I was the best at something and allowed me to be proud of it.
I did gymnastics for as long as I can remember—I was practically doing somersaults as soon as I could walk. I began taking lessons in elementary school, and soon started to compete in state competitions. I joined my school’s Varsity team in 7th grade, after deciding that six days a week at the 92nd Street Y was definitely not doing wonders for my social life. On Varsity, I practiced four days a week, competing with other schools around NYC in beam, bars, vault and floor.
We all have a sport that we are good at. Maybe mine was gymnastics because it was just meant to be, or maybe it was because I never seemed to make it into the 5-foot club. (Still not a member). Either way, there was nothing better than finishing a routine and presenting the judge with that huge smile as everyone cheered. By the end of my senior year, I had been through many bruises, callouses, and a few too many splits on the beam. But by then I had also received many awards, ribbons and trophies. At my final championship meet, I placed first on my team and third all-around among all the others. I will never forget the feeling of accomplishment and pride that day.
It was really fun being at the top of the totem pole, and truly gave me a huge boost of self-esteem. Who doesn’t want to be #1? But when I left my tiny high school and ended my gymnastics career to join the real world, I was terrified to learn that there was no longer anything I was “the best” at. But now I realize that it is all okay. It was definitely scary going to college and realizing that there were so many other people out there smarter than me in class. It was also definitely scary coming to my first internship and seeing how many people wrote and phone-pitched better than I did. But from these experiences, I have learned that while being the best at something is great, so is having more experienced people to look up to. How else could I be able to learn the PR lingo, build word clouds, and media monitor so gracefully?! On a serious note, I am so eager to continue gaining as much knowledge as I can this summer, and am so grateful for the lessons MWW has already taught me!
August 16, 2016
If you were to ask a Boston College student what the best day of the year is, they would immediately say “Marathon Monday.” What is Marathon Monday, you may ask? Marathon Monday is the day of the Boston Marathon and a day when the city of Boston comes together to celebrate community. Officially called Patriot’s Day, Marathon Monday is a holiday exclusive to Boston, something that people who do not know Boston and have not experienced it do not understand. I was initially confused after hearing upperclassmen talk about the marathon. What was all this fuss about a marathon? To me, the thought of running an actual marathon seems daunting and nearly impossible. A whole day dedicated purely to physical exercise? What? What I did not realize, however, was the overwhelming sense of camaraderie that the Boston Marathon brings to BC’s campus. Not only are all academic classes cancelled the day of the event, BC students get a prime marathon-viewing spot as the campus is situated at the top of Heartbreak Hill, the 21st mile of the marathon.
My friends and I spent the night before our first Marathon Monday unsure of what to expect. We were curious after hearing so many upperclassmen tell us to “Get excited! It’s the best day of the year!” The morning of the marathon, my alarm blared sharply at 6:30 and I woke with a start. My friends knocked loudly on my door, telling me that I needed to get dressed. Half-awake, I rolled out of bed and headed out the entrance to my dorm, ready to experience what everyone had talked so highly about. Adrenaline pumping and heart racing, I couldn’t wait. As I walked to Heartbreak Hill, I was completely overwhelmed by the sheer mass of students in the streets. Games of kan jam and cornhole littered the lawn, and packs of students stood on the sidewalk laughing, ready to cheer on the runners as they passed by. It seemed as if every student was in the same place at the same time, and I ran into many kids from my classes. Everyone knows someone who is running the marathon—for me, it was my RA, who didn’t train but just decided that she wanted to “go for it.”
Marathon Monday is more than just a marathon; it unites the city of Boston. Nothing compares to the sense of pride you feel watching friends become marathoners and run to the top of Heartbreak Hill, or the joy that floods you when randomly running into people you know on the street. Marathon Monday is not something that everyone gets to experience, but I am so glad that I did, and cannot wait for next year!
Navigating New York is difficult, like navigating an internship is difficult, but together it’s double trouble
August 12, 2016
In March, I received an email from MWW offering me a summer internship in New York. This was a lot to take in at once – not only was a southern girl like me about to tackle New York City for an extended period of time, but I would also be working at a PR firm for the first time. I have always been told that internships are where you decide what you want to do in life, where you network, and where you make the most of every opportunity. These concepts were hard to grasp at first, especially as I was navigating through a busy city alone.
I’ll start with being an intern or how MWW refers to it, an ASSOCIATE. On the first day, you’re getting your bearings, learning the ropes, and then the difficult thing happens: do I stand up and leave once 6 o’clock hits? Every associate looks at each other wondering what to do. Will we be dismissed? Who will be the first one to get up? Do we have to ask to leave? You have to be bold. This also is true for many of the tasks colleagues ask you to do. No one is there holding your hand. You have to go for it, until someone corrects you. Don’t say no; try it and ask for help because it’s the only way you’ll learn.
Navigating an internship can become tricky when you’re thrown several tasks from multiple colleagues. How do you say you have other things to do first? You don’t. You quickly learn time management and how to prioritize. Thankfully, MWW Associates have mentors who help us figure these things out. Because hey, you’ve never done this before. One important thing to remember is not being afraid of making mistakes. You’ll forget some things like sending a package out on Monday when told on Friday, or jamming the copy machine when attempting to print labels, but that’s how you learn. Now I’m a pro copier and have amazing time management skills!
You would think navigating through New York is easy because it’s basically a grid system, but I beg to differ. This city has thousands of trains moving very fast in all different directions, not to mention the thousands of tourist standing still in the most inconvenient places, and New Yorkers who move a million miles an hour. Besides the trains, grasping the concept of walking everywhere is also difficult. Walk to get your groceries, walk to work, walk to Duane Reade (which isn’t a walk BECAUSE IT’S ON EVERY CORNER).
What about the time when it was difficult being an Associate AND navigating New York? It was my second week of work and someone in the office desperately needed me to run down to Grand Central Station. Of course I had heard of it before, but I didn’t know how to get there. So I was at a crossroad; not only did I have an assignment that needed to be done, but I had no idea how to get there. Just as I began to have a slight panic attack, I remembered my supervisor’s advice during an interview: you can never ask too many questions, because if you don’t ask you’ll never know. Sure, I could have looked at google maps, but it’s embarrassing having “smart mama” talk to you as you’re trying to look professional on the streets of New York. On my way out I stopped by Christina Stokes’ office and she laughed at first and then explained how to get there. She showed me a subway app (Citymapper) that would forever save my life.
At the end of the summer, all the mistakes and challenges will be nothing but funny memories and helpful tips for the future.
August 10, 2016
Anyone who partakes in the season of Lent knows that it is a time of fasting and giving up your favorite things to enjoy. However, if you’re like me, you know that there are a couple of days before Lent that are the ones that really matter – Mardi Gras. For most, the celebration of Mardi Gras is always associated with the historic New Orleans parade, but for me I always think about the great city I was privileged enough to attend college in, St. Louis. This is a big shock to most and was for me as well coming from my hometown of Potomac, Maryland. Ranked the second best Mardi Gras parade in the US, St. Louis knows how to throw down for the famous French holiday. One can easily find endless amounts of beads, masquerade masks, mouthwatering food, and care free people.
Almost the entire city shuts down and joins in on the exciting festivities. The parade stretches out across the entire city, but the best spot to ensure a grand time is the historic area of Soulard. Enriched with old style French bars with an American twist, Soulard truly gives one the feeling that they are in New Orleans. Endless tents of food, beer gardens, and sponsored products fill the streets with live bands playing in the background.
Once you have gotten the feel for the overall parade, another aspect of the St. Louis area comes crashing in to make your overall experience even better, The Bud Light Grand Parade. The city of St. Louis is home to one of the largest beer companies in the world, Anheuser Busch, and the brewery lives up to its reputation with its very own sponsored display. The Bud Light Grand Parade begins just south of Busch Stadium, where the Cardinals play, and winds through the streets of Soulard to the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. Mardi Gras Krewes from hundreds of floats will toss over thousands and thousands strands of beads and other sought-after goodies to celebratory masses gathered along the route. After the parade, the Bud Light Block Party, the High Heel Drag Race, live music at neighborhood venues, and a giant post-parade street party celebration are held throughout the immensely crowded streets of Soulard.
Many if not most will hear the words “Mardi Gras” and think New Orleans, but for me I think of my second home, St. Louis. This city and holiday celebration truly gave me an experience I will never forget and will always cherish. If you are looking for a time you will never forget, I cannot stress enough to visit the great city of St. Louis for this amazing holiday celebration.
Heureux Mardi Gras!
August 4, 2016
Graduating from college is terrifying. Not one person can tell you the truth until they’ve experienced it themselves and, quite honestly, my carefree college self probably didn’t listen to the warnings from my graduated friends and family anyways. In college, I was a decorated sorority member, a resident assistant, a hard-working student, and (in my personal opinion) a well-rounded, confident young woman. In the real world, I was just an eager, yet unemployed, millennial joining a work force where many people struggled to find jobs in the first place.
I was scared. What was I going to do? After all this hard work, is this where I really was? An unemployed millennial, living with my parents and without a clue of where to go next? One thing I always knew I was good at was connecting with people, so I decided to start there and see where it took me. With luck, I connected with Whitney Davis who graciously took the time to meet with me. Her advice? Do something that scares you. Why? Because if it doesn’t scare you, it probably won’t provide the change in your life that you’re looking for… that you want. I thought back to all the times I had actually done this without realizing it. When I changed my major in college, when I moved to San Francisco on a whim to take an internship at a startup granola company, when I interned at CBS… all of those things initially scared me, but I was ultimately so thankful for the experience.
This brings me to probably the most daring, and truthfully most terrifying thing I’ve ever done. I packed my bags and I moved to LA in hopes of launching my career in PR. I knew moving away from everything I had ever known would be challenging, but to be the person I wanted to be, to see the change I wanted to see, I had to do this. Luckily, I knew some amazing people and had the greatest support from people like Karsha Chang and Laurie Ender! Fast forward one year, and I can easily say this was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Not only have I grown as a professional, but also as a person. I’m genuinely proud of myself, because I realized how much I can accomplish despite my greatest fears. I’m not saying that doing what scares you comes easy, but I can say with confidence that it will change your life, and it will prove to yourself that you can truly do anything.
August 2, 2016
On June 9, my parents and I flew to Los Angeles, California. The next morning, we awoke to text messages from our friends back home about an earthquake just outside of LA. Although the earthquake wasn’t strong enough to awaken us in our hotel room, it was clear my parents were shaken by the thought of leaving their only child across the country in a new, and clearly shifting, place.
However, for me this was the beginning of another great adventure.
I grew up in a small town on the east coast of Florida. After high school, I studied public relations and sociology at Boston University. For me, the east coast was home – and it’s by no coincidence my Twitter handle has been “@eastcoast_em” since 2012.
During my senior year of college, I decided to change all of that. Last September I embarked on a four-month study abroad program in London. During my last semester at BU, I decided my next stop would be Los Angeles. The city seemed to have everything that I needed: jobs within my field, plenty of things to do and sun.
Having been in LA for a little over a month now, I can say I haven’t regretted that decision for one moment. I’ve spent Saturdays in Santa Monica, gazed at the skyline from Griffith Park, indulged in organic eggs and oversized lattes at Urth Café and, of course, practiced patience in the heavy LA traffic. There are also plenty of places to see and things to do still left on my list, including visiting The Broad and LACMA, exploring Venice Beach and taking advantage of the city’s great music scene.
Although I’ll miss New England clam “chowdah” and the excitement of Spring, after many of months of bitter cold, wind and snow, I’m excited by the adventure of making the west coast my new home.
The only problem is that I might need to change my Twitter handle.