I’ve Moved!

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Hey friends! Long time no talk, right? That’s because I moved to TheCollegeCosmopolitan.com! I made the move a few months ago and thought I set everything up to transfer my followers over, but lately I’ve noticed that this site still gets some traffic! So I’m officially popping in to redirect you all to my much newer and prettier site.🙂 Lots of exciting things are happening over there, so I’d love it if you joined me!

Why I’m Not in Guatemala

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Remember when I first wrote about my Summer of Travel and announced that this summer I’ll visit Europe, California and Guatemala?

Well, change of plans: my trip to Guatemala is cancelled.

For many reasons, mostly due to bad timing, the church rescheduled the trip for November, which I won’t go on because I’ll be in school.

When I found out I had two very different reactions. My first reaction, as much as I hate to admit it, was relief.

After five weeks of non-stop travel in Europe, only six days of rest and then another two weeks in California, my body, soul and mind are just done.

I knew that another trip would leave me even more exhausted and not at all ready for the quickly approaching fall semester.

And I know this is my favorite topic lately, but I need time to process all that has happened this summer. My head is still spinning from events that took place in May! I need time to ponder, evaluate and unpack all that all that I’ve learned.

How did this experience change me? What does that change mean, and what does it practically look like to incorporate it into my daily life?

We have to process through experiences and feelings in order to make them more than mere sightseeing excursions. 

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Traveling is about more than seeing pretty places. It’s a beautiful way to learn and widen our view of the world, and when we aren’t treating it like an edifying journey, we cheapen our experience and waste frequent flyer miles.

When we give ourselves time to process everything we’ve seen and learnt, we can discover new truths about our beliefs and ourselves. Then, we can pack those truths into a metaphorical daypack (go with me) to carry around on the rest of our journey.

Our journey, whether it looks like traveling to distant lands or navigating daily life, can become connected. We don’t have to leave our incredible experiences in the past; longing for the day we can hop on another plane and set off on another incredible adventure.

You can continue your adventure right where you are by processing the experience and applying what you learned.

Don’t leave truths in the exotic places where you discovered them. Take them with you, and then, instead of constantly reminiscing and longing for your past adventures, you can live a thankful, present-minded life.

So friends, give yourself time to process your adventures. Look for lessons and find the hidden truths.

As much as I was looking forward to my trip to Guatemala, I’m thankful for the time to process and write through the most incredible summer of my life.

How do you process? What truths have you learned through your travels?

On Thursday I’ll talk about my second reaction to the cancelled trip: what to do when you lose an adventure. 

Photo Credit: Guatemalan volcanos from Anna Eaton; Florence, Italy by Haylee Robinson. 

Surviving a Small-Town Summer by Marshall Pickard

Today, Marshall steps in to share secrets to not only survive, but enjoy a summer spent in your small hometown. Check out his tips!

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As someone who earnestly believes that vacationing is the secret to a successful life, it’s no surprise my family almost always spends some of our summer lounging on a beach.

However, after an incredible semester in England, Florida just wasn’t in the budget this year, so I’ve spent much of summer working in my small college town.

At first, the Instagram pictures of my friends at the ocean or the Eifel Tower or the mountains bothered me.  But then I decided to have an amazing summer right where I was, even if it was a little lonely and stripped of an ocean breeze.

So in case you as well are too busy working or studying to vacay this year (and don’t exactly live in Metropolis), here’s what I learned about staying planted for a small-town summer:

Enjoy local treats.  Especially if the community you’re occupying for the summer is your hometown, this tip might seem useless.  However, no matter how familiar you are with a place, there are always local treasures to seek out and discover.  Celebrate what makes your little town unique!  I’ve personally enjoyed rediscovering my city’s Greenway, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and hometown froyo shop.

Invest time in yourself.  There’s no time like the summertime to get some good moments alone.  When your friends are off traveling the world, you can really enjoy some restorative introverted moments (even if you aren’t an introvert).  Take yourself on a date or spend quality time developing yourself by reading or exercising—both of which I’ve gotten to treasure this summer.

Pursue your passion.  In the quietness of this summer, I’ve found so many more opportunities to go after my favorite thing to do—writing.  Whether you love art or music or sports, there’s nothing like actually carving out the time to do things you really enjoy.  Hey, you might even need to declare a staycation one weekend to catch up on your favorite pastime.

Take day trips to the city.  One of the best things about living in a small town is that you don’t have to deal with the busyness of big tourist attractions.  But every once in a while, you need some fast-paced adventure, and more than likely, there’s at least one city remotely near you (hopefully).   By avoiding cost of a hotel room, day-tripping is a decently inexpensive way to see a city.  In the nearest city, you can catch a concert, stroll through the hipster art district, eat at a nice restaurant, or see your favorite regional sports team play ball—and still get to sleep in your own bed that evening.

Enjoy nature.  Just because you can’t go to beach (unless of course, you live near a beach), doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the great outdoors.  If you live in a small town, there’s bound to be a river, a lake, or a forest nearby for you to take some chill time exploring.  Shoot, the least you can do is take your lunch break in a nearby park.  However nature speaks to you, don’t forget to spend peaceful (and probably cheap) time outdoors.

Practice gratitude.  Humans have this tendency to always be thinking about the “next thing,” so it’s no surprise you’re going to be tempted to ditch the job/schoolwork and hop on a plane to do something more exciting.  But as long as you allow yourself to think this way, you’ll never be content.  What will make you enjoy the rest of your summer is focusing on the good things you have in your life right now.  There are probably a lot more than you realize.

As the summer begins to fade, don’t waste any time daydreaming about distant adventures.  I hate to break it to you, but even travel doesn’t bring complete satisfaction.  You have to find that right where you are.

So dig into your small town, live like a local, and appreciate all the blessings you have to be thankful for right here and right now.

What I’m Reading on the Web

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Hey friends!

I just got home from two weeks in Redding, CA at Bethel Church’s worship school. It was an incredible experience that I can’t wait to write about, but first…rest.

My mind  and body both need a little breather before I dive in, so in the mean time I’ve been catching up with blogs and articles circling the web this week.

Here’s are my three favorite articles that I’m reading on this day (ok, two days) of rest.

1. Networking for Introverts by Cupcakes and Cashmere.
Why I like it: I get lectured about networking all the time during the school year, and this piece was a great way to sharpen up those skills even though school is out. It’s also great for newbies like me who may be a little intimidated by this whole networking thing.
Favorite line: “If the connection is real, it won’t require a calendar reminder.”

2. What I Instagram vs. What Was Really Happening, or My Entire Life is a Lie by Olivia Muenter
Why I like it: This lighthearted and sarcastic piece reveals a truth that most selfie-lovers are afraid to admit: we stage our Instagram posts to make our lives look prettier. This piece will make you laugh and think twice before you post your next gym selfie.
Favorite line:  “I start my day with green tea and fresh fruit everyday, at the crack of dawn. I like to check my emails as the sunrises, right before I head to yoga.”

3. Love and Lynchburg by Lexie Daché
Why I like it: I met Lexie and the Living Room Writers Weekend back in May, and I’ve loved following her blog ever since. Her writing is authentic and captivating, and I love the way she wrestles with life and always offers hope in the end. Her latest post, “Love and Lynchburg,” is definitely my new favorite.
Favorite line: “Physical surroundings and dream jobs and cool people are no comparison for God’s presence.”

Bonus: Fairytales are Real: These 12 Photos Will Change the Way You Look At the World by World of Wanderlust
Just because I felt like throwing a little pixie dust into the mix. Sometimes, when you’re as worn out as I am, it’s just nice to look at pretty things and dream.

Enjoy! I’ll be back soon with brand new adventures and stories to share with you.

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I Don’t Want to Explore Oxford

I wrote this piece last month while traveling through Europe for five weeks.

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I’m in Oxford, UK, and I don’t want to explore. Actually, exploring Oxford is the last thing I want to do right now.

Here’s the deal:
On a family trip to Colorado a few years ago, my mom and two brothers wanted to sit in a coffee shop and relax (I’ve heard it’s called “vacationing”), while my dad and I, ever the adventures, wanted to get out and see some of the beautiful state we were visiting.

So we left the lazy bums behind and headed to Black Canyon, which was covered in snow and SCARY slippery for us flatlanders. We almost died trying to see the view, but in the end we were left with a great memory.

From that moment on I’ve always poked fun at those who go to exotic places and choose to simply sit in a coffee shop or relax in their hotel rather than exploring.

Why would you waste your time doing nothing?

Well today, with one foot in my mouth, I’m writing this from a coffee shop in Oxford, UK, where I am simply sitting with no plans of exploring this quaint and historic university town.

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The C.S. Lewis nature reserve in Oxford

Usually I get up with the sun and hit the city, exploring as many streets as me feet can bear to take me down.

But today I can’t. Today, I’m tired. Really, really tired.

I’m tired of being on the go constantly, tired of a strict itinerary and, as much as I hate to say it, tired of sightseeing.

Today I need to rest, and more than that, I need to be okay with giving myself that luxury, even though it’s against every part of my nature.

Two things I’m trying to keep in mind:

1. I don’t need to see every site, learn every historical fact or take every artsy Instagram picture I can to experience all that a city has to offer.
2. If I want to keep traveling, keep sightseeing and keep up this pace, I need to take a break.

Although my schedule allows me to see amazing sights and experience even more of Europe than I even imagined, it isn’t sustainable. And it’s okay to give myself time to catch up.

IMG_6711And hey, if there’s anywhere I’m going to just sit in a coffee shop, read and write, what better place than Oxford? Some of my favorite authors spent time in this very city doing exactly what I’m doing today.

So, to anyone I’ve ever mocked or looked down upon for relaxing instead of exploring, I’m sorry. While I still don’t think spending an entire trip on your bum is the way to go, I now recognize that rest and rejuvenation are more than necessary to keep going.

And PS, I did end up exploring Oxford once my weary little soul was rested, and I loved it! Definitely a trip highlight that I wouldn’t have enjoyed if I was still exhausted.

How do you find rest when you’re traveling? Any tips for this newbie? 
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Travel Adventures: Paris in Photos

Every time I look down on this timeless town
Whether blue or gray be her skies
Whether loud be her cheers or whether soft be her tears
More and more do I realize

That I love Paris in the spring time
I love Paris in the fall
I love Paris in the winter when it drizzles
I love Paris in the summer when it sizzles

I love Paris every moment
Every moment of the year
-Ella Fitzgerald

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My time in Paris was absolutely magical. I saw the City of Lights in panoramic view from the tip top of the Eiffel Tower, as well as the city’s deep underground in the Paris Catacombs, and as many other things as we could possibly fit into our schedule in between. Also, there were lots and lots of cappuccino’s. Paris, I really do love you. xoxo

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My 5 Favorite College Cosmopolitans

Today I want to introduce you to a few of my favorite people. There are friends who one way or another, embody what it means to be a college cosmopolitan. If you haven’t already, read about what The College Cosmopolitan is all about here.

Caroline K

Caroline KI’ve lived with Caroline for my entire college career. Little did I know when we were randomly assigned as roommates that I’d gain a same-named best friend. More than that, she’s my confidant, biggest cheerleader and the girl I can question life with.

She also embodies a cosmopolitan lifestyle because of her beautifully simplistic, yet full, way of life.
She also doesn’t ask for much, but yet she is open and vulnerable when she needs to be.

She makes her own way and grapples with questions until she’s found her own satisfying answers. In the past three years, she’s gained the ability to accept everyone no matter their lifestyle, and that’s a trait that I think could take her all over the world.

JennaJenna

My friend Jenna is the queen of pushing herself outside of her comfort zone.

She spent a summer studying in Oxford, England in high school before moving thousands of miles away from her hometown in Texas to Malibu, California for college.

After a year in Malibu, she dove head first into a year long study abroad program in Florence, Italy. Talk about a citizen of the world!

I love catching up with Jenna when we’re both home in Texas and hearing stories from her travels. With each new adventure there is an evident change that takes place inside of her. She grows, transforms and becomes more herself each time she explores another piece of the world.

ZACHZach

My younger brother Zach is making West Texas laugh a little harder, one stand-up comedy routine at a time.

He moved away from our suburban paradise of a hometown last year to the crux of small town Texas: Lubbock. And he loves it!

He’s truly made a home for himself in his college town, and even though he’s only a freshman he’s pioneered several new comedy initiatives at his school. He definitely isn’t afraid to put himself out there. He also lived in the Middle East for three months. No big deal.

MarshMarshall

This ever-so-handsome guy that I’m dating is a great example of a cosmopolitan.

He spent three months studying abroad in the UK this past semester, and even though his time was limited, he still got involved in a church and experienced life as a local when he went on a weekend retreat with the college group.

Along with pretty pictures of historic places and souvenirs, he returned to the US with new friends and a broader understanding of the people that make up our world.

DebDeborah

Deborah inspires me as a college cosmopolitan not because she moved out of state for college, or even that she spent a semester studying in Vienna, Austria (although that is pretty dang awesome), but because after high school she chose to take a year off and stay home, and she rocked it.

She had plenty of options after graduation, but she chose the one that would prepare her best for her future, and after a year of nannying she was able to pay for her entire first year of college.

What I love most about her story is that in that year, even though she wasn’t in a new place, she grew. She met new people and experienced things for the first time in her own hometown.

She embodied what it means to grow where you’re planted. She didn’t need anything but time and a little space to look inside of her and figure out who she is.

Who are the cosmopolitans in your life? Tell me about them! 

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I’m in Redding! …or, What To Do When You Have No Clue How You Got Here

So….Europe. Wow, Europe.

I touched ground in America just six short days ago, but right now I’m not writing to you from home, where I would normally be resting, cuddling with puppies and spending time with my family. Instead I’m sitting on a grey love seat in a house I’ve rented with five roommates in Redding, California for the next two weeks.

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How did I get here? And why so fast?
The honest answer is this: I don’t know.

I know that I’ve wanted to come to Bethel Church’s Worship U for awhile now, but I still couldn’t quite tell you why. I lead worship for years growing up, but then I went to college and church got hard (you can read my church story here), so I’m not currently on a worship team.

But still, when the opportunity came up to attend the two week school this summer, I knew I had to take it. Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever just known  you’re suppose to be somewhere, do something or act in someway?

I know I need to be here.

So even though I’m exhausted, and I’ve barely been able to process the incredible and overwhelming past five weeks, I’m here. And I’m so excited.

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I’m excited to learn about songwriting, playing keys in a worship band and leading others into the presence of God. I’m excited to share the next two weeks with my five wonderful roommates and figure out what we are all doing here together. I’m excited to find rest in the midst of a hectic schedule. I’m excited to let the Lord revive my heart for worship.

I’m so excited for this season, even if I’m barely keeping up with the pace.

Friends, if you don’t know how you got to be where you are, get excited about it anyway. Realize that there is a reason you’re there, and you never know how or when your life can change.

“If you have no mystery in your life you are reducing your God to the same level of understanding as you.” -Bill Johnson

Let God surprise you, and enjoy the crazy, messy, confusing and mysterious ride.

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Travel Adventures: Greece in Photos

GREECE – the next stop on my five week European adventure! I can’t even begin to describe all of the sites I saw in Greece, so instead I’ll show you.

But for fun, here are a few highlights: I danced with the Greeks, made animal friends, had a view of the Acropolis from my hotel, beached on Santorini Island & Crete, stood where St. Paul stood on Mars Hill and in Ancient Corinth, shopped till I dropped, ate gyros…lots of them, discovered the beauty of GREEK frozen yogurt, let fish eat at my feet, slept on a ferry boat, saw so many ancient ruins I began to wonder why I wasn’t wearing a toga, danced on the port of Crete, hiked to the top of Santorini Island and Ancient Delphi and finally, I said goodbye to my school friends and met up with my sister-in-law and mom to begin the second leg of this wonderful adventure.

Greece, I love you.
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Next stop: Paris!Blog signature

A Formula for the Perfect Weekend

Here’s a question for you: what makes the perfect weekend?

This past school year was a hectic one for me, and there were definitely weeks when I was living for the weekend. I couldn’t wait to get off work (read: internship) on Friday and brush off the stressful week with a perfect weekend.

So, what makes this perfect weekend? I came up with a formula for what I think creates a beautiful, refreshing and fun three day break.

Here it is:

Perfect weekend

Let’s break this down.

Urban:

Everyone needs to get dressed up and go out for a night on the town when they get the chance. Whether you’re going to your favorite restaurant, seeing a play, shopping or just talking a walk downtown, urban city experiences are a great way to forget about your stressful week and have some fun.

Nature:

Another great way to leave your stress behind is to get out in nature and take a break from the world. Take a hike, hit the lake, go fishing or just take a minute to sit outside and observe the beauty. An experience in nature will also give you time and space to notice the beauty all around you and become more thankful in the process.

Maybe you feel rested after you’ve challenged yourself physically. If that’s the case, make your hike a more strenuous one, go for an outdoor run or jump in a kayak.

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Retreat:

Take yourself even further away and give yourself some time to relax. Take a few deep breaths, and do something that brings you peace. Worship, read a book, paint a picture, write, exercise or maybe just catch up on some sleep. Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, everyone needs alone time to recharge and gear up for what’s ahead.

Use this time to process your week, prepare for the next one and just enjoy being with yourself.


The great thing about this formula is that you can make it your own. It could look like hitting the town on Friday night, paddle boarding on the lake on Saturday morning and reading a new novel on Sunday afternoon. Or it could be camping on Friday night, having a chill movie night on Saturday and shopping on Sunday.

Each activity could be a day long event or just a small moment tucked in between your work schedule and homework. Whatever you do just make sure you find fun, beauty and rest.

Happy weekending!

How do you spend your weekend? What ways do you find fun, beauty and rest? 
Photo of Chilhowee Mountain by Haylee Robinson.
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