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!

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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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Local Adventures: A Night at the Drive-In

drive inNestled between Georgia mountains and resting under the big starry sky is a beautiful place: The Wilderness Outdoor Movie Theater.

Marshall and I went there at the beginning of this summer, and it was perfect. For $7 a piece we could park under the stars and cozy in for two feature films still in theaters.

Not only was it romantic, but talk about a cheap date! We left after the first film (The Amazing Spider Man 2) because of the long drive back to Tennessee, but we both felt like we got more than our money’s worth.

Whether or not you’re with a significant other, going to a drive-in movie is an awesome experience. There’s nothing like laying in a truck bed or on the hood of your car, being surrounded by beautiful scenery and feeling like you’ve stepped back into the 1950s. It’s perfect for summer.

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Wherever you are, I highly recommend that you find the closest drive-in theater and make the trip.

Outdoor theater’s are typically only open during warmer months, so grab some friends and take advantage of thisf local adventure this summer! I promise it’ll be an evening for the photo albums.

Have you ever been to a drive-in? Tell me about it in the comments!
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Local Adventures: Hometown Summer Bucket List

DSC_0022So you’re staying in town this summer. Maybe you’re working, in summer school or want to spend time with your family. Whatever your reason, this summer can still be a great adventure.

Remember, adventure is everywhere. Sometimes you just have to find it.

Here’s a hometown summer bucket list to get you started:

  1. Go to a drive-in movie
  2. Paddle board, kayak or canoe on your closet body of water
  3. Jump your heart out at a trampoline park
  4. Have a picnic at your favorite hometown park (and if there’s a swing set, you better be on it)
  5. Go on a sunrise hike
  6. Host a cook-out
  7. Initiate a family night
  8. Be a tourist – find something new in your hometown that you never knew existed
  9. Be a thrill seeker – spend a day at your closest amusement/water park
  10. Shop locally – farmers markets and locally owned boutiques and restaurants are a great source of hometown pride
  11. See a local band play/go to a house concert
  12. Have a bonfire (with s’mores!)
  13. Plan a reunion with high school friends
  14. Road trip to your college friend’s hometown
  15. Bike or walk through your hometown one day instead of driving
  16. Discover a new local nonprofit and volunteer
  17. Take an outdoor yoga class
  18. Sidewalk chalk. You’re not too old.
  19. Visit your grandparents
  20. Write down your adventures, and send them to me!

Use this list and find an unexpected adventure in your own hometown. What’s unique to your town? Take advantage of it this summer. And then tell me all about it! {seriously, I really want to know}
Photo by Haylee Robinson

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This Summer: Want to Come on an Adventure with Me?

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I’ve got a bit of news to share with you today. Really, really exciting news!

This summer is my summer of travel. 

It’ll start with five weeks in Europe. For two weeks I’ll study abroad with my school (and Haylee!) in Italy and Greece, and for three weeks I’ll backpack through the UK with my mom and sister-in-law. Talk about a dream come true!

After I return from Europe I’ll have a few days at home before flying off to Redding, California for a two week long worship training school at Bethel Church. I’m am so beyond excited for this opportunity, and if I’m honest, a little intimidated.

I’ve always wanted legit worship leading training. I led worship for my church in high school because, well, I was the only option and could play keyboard decently well. I loved the experience, so I’m thrilled to have actual training under my belt {with Brian and Jenn Johnson!}, even though I’m nervous.

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circa 2010

After California I’ll have another week home before heading to Guatemala with my church. We’ll be holding an International Leaders School of Ministry for pastors and missionaries on the field. Our heart is to minister to the spiritual leaders of the nation so that they can better pour into the people of Guatemala.

If you’re interested, you can help fund my trip to Guatemala here. I appreciate any and all support!

I’ll return from Guatemala on August 6 and head back to Tennessee for my senior year of college. And that’s my summer! Crazy.

I am aware that I am incredibly blessed to have even one of these incredible opportunities come my way. The fact that all three of them are working out completely floors me.

Thanks to the beauty of scheduled posts, I will still have fresh blogs for you twice a week.

I will also pop in with quick updates from my travels as often as I can, and once I’m back at school I’ll write more about my experiences. But if you want to keep track of me over the summer daily, be sure to follow me on Twitter & Instagram.

I’m so excited for the adventure that this summer will be, and I want to take The College Cosmopolitan community along the ride with me.

What does your summer look like? How are you finding adventure?
Photo by Haylee Robinson.
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3 Links to Get You Through Finals Week

Well…it’s finals week. As I type I’m putting off studying for two exams, planning a presentation and assembling a research portfolio. But. I. Just. Can’t. Focus.

My latest favorite thing to do when I’m feeling distracted is flock to my favorite blogs and vicariously live through their glamorous, non-exam filled lives. As a new blogger, I convince myself that this is just another form of “studying,” and that reading their blogs will make me a better blogger. It’s true, but this is not the time for that. It’s time to study.

Still, I thought I’d share some of my favorite blogger finds with you before I hit the books again. But I really do love reading about and seeking inspiration from other’s adventures. So, if you’re studying your heart out this week (and even if you’re not), check out these three links from some of my favorite adventurers, and remember that you’re almost done! Soon it’ll be your turn for a summer adventure. Just remember to read these articles through the lens of inspiration instead of feeling jealous or discontent with where you are, and you’re study break will be perfect!

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This is how Lilycat feels about finals.

1. Dream List by the College Prepster. Carly is one of my newer favorite bloggers, so I promise I didn’t plan for my blog name to sound like hers! She started blogging in college and recently left her day job to blog full time, so she’s definitely an inspiration! I love this post about the dreams she accomplished this year, even when she didn’t realize it.

2. How to Beat Post-Vacation Blues by Darling Magazine. This isn’t actually from a blog, it’s from one of my favorite magazines (I’m pretty obsessed with it, actually). Because Easter was so late this year we jumped straight from a four-day weekend into finals week, and readjusting has been hard. I definitely relate to some of these post-vacation symptoms, even though I didn’t take a two week trip across the world.

3. 2014 Bucket List Inspiration by Bucket List Publications. This is just plain inspirational. Seriously, she accomplished all of these crazy things in four months? Whoa. My favorite aspect of her blog is that she uses it to inspire others to try new things instead of just showing off the cool things she’s done. Check it out!

What has your finals week been like? What do you like to do on your cramming breaks?

Happy studying, friends!

Saturday Bliss: Health & Balance

Welcome to the first post in my new series: Saturday Bliss. In my opinion (and pretty much everyone’s), Saturday is the best day of the week. No work, no school, just possibilities. Whether you prefer to go crazy or have a day of rest, Saturday’s are perfect for blowing off steam.

So, every Saturday I want to reflect on something I’m thankful for, something I’m enjoying at the moment or just a thought that I want to share. In our crazy cosmopolitan lives, it’s important to set aside time to just reflect. The only real rule for Saturday Bliss is that it must be positive, as the whole point is to spread thankfulness.

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Today’s post is about health, balance and green tea cheesecake. Since completing the Whole30, I’ve been seeking ways to find balance in my diet. I don’t want to lose all of the progress I made, but I also don’t think that maintaining that strict of a regimen is realistic. Life is all about balance. I love making healthy choices, but I also let myself indulge every once in awhile. Enter the Green Tea Cheesecake!

I ordered a bag of green tea powder last week and have been experimenting with new recipes with every chance I get. Green tea is full of antioxidants and offers tons of other health benefits, like cancer fighting properties. My favorite thing to do is mix a teaspoon into my greek yogurt in the mornings – an extremely healthy breakfast option. Yet, when I found this recipe on Pinterest, I knew it was time to indulge.

The recipe is SO simple and came out even better than I was hoping! I threw in some dark chocolate chips because I had them on hand, and I loved the added flavor.  This dessert is definitely an indulgence, but the use of green tea powder and fat free cream cheese at least makes me feel like it’s a better option than a tub of ice cream. That’s balance, right?

How do you find balance? I’d love to hear your methods. Also, check out The Balanced Life – a Pilates blog that constantly inspires me to make healthy, well balanced choices.

Happy Saturday!

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Bonus: I also threw together these 3-ingredient cookies for fun. Simply combine 2 mashed bananas, one cup of oats and 1/4 cup of dark chocolate chips, then bake at 350 degrees for 13-15 minutes, and voila! A healthy, super easy treat.