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Monday, August 22, 2016

It's hard to believe that I'm getting ready to go off to the final year of my undergraduate education! Time has really flown by, and it's hard to believe that I started writing this blog before my Freshman year.

Confused? I did a Freshman year, a Sophomore semester, a Junior semester, and will be doing a Senior year. Yup, three years. That's the best way I have managed to come up with explaining what I'm up to and why.

Looking back, I had a rough Freshman year of college even though it didn't necessarily feel like it at the time. There's a lot I wish I could have told myself back then, but the good news is that I made it out. My Sophomore semester wasn't that easy either, but it was made a lot better when I realised that I could graduate early. It was also made better when I met my boyfriend! It's so funny how meeting someone new can change your entire outlook. Junior semester was by far the best semester I've had so far.

I've never been so excited for a semester of university, and I think it's because I realise it's almost over. I'm not sure why I have not cherished my university years in the same way that you're supposed to... but it's also not that big of a deal for me. I don't think you have to have an amazing four year experience in university. In my opinion, getting a degree and learning as much as possible is what counts. The experience is good and definitely a rite of passage, but I don't think cutting mine short is a bad thing at all.

Oh, and it's exciting but also terrifying to be heading out into the "real world" so soon. Mostly exciting. The scary part is that I don't have a concrete plan for after graduation... no definite grad school or law school or joining the Peace Corps or whatever else people who after university. Here's to trying to find a job in an economy that isn't actually that bad, but everyone seems to think is horrible.

Maybe I'll write more on the whole, "going off to/returning to college" thing more later. In the meantime, I'm gearing up to apply to study abroad AGAIN!

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

I shared this picture on my personal Facebook recently (actually, it's my new profile picture) but it occurred to me that one of my most dedicated readers hasn't been able to see it. So Aunt Nancy, this post is mostly for you, but also for everyone who would like a bit of a laugh.

For a bit of context to the picture...

Game of Thrones is partially filmed in Croatia, and Dubrovnik is basically real-life "King's Landing".  There's a little island called Lokrum off of Dubrovnik that has a mini museum with a bunch of Game of Thrones stuff in it. They don't charge you to sit on the throne and take pictures, unlike the place in the city proper, which is great. Then again, you've paid for the boat fare to get there, so I'm sure it all evens out.

Anyways, "Kings Landing" is where the ruler of the Seven Kingdoms lives. Right now, that ruler is... something else. Therefore, I feel it was a good idea to temporarily replace them on the Iron Throne. I think I look like a proper ruler already!

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Friday, August 12, 2016

Belated posts are always better than no posts, so here we go. I've been meaning to write about where I was taking aerial classes in London for weeks, but never got around to it. After a good amount of research in Geneva about potential places to take aerial in London, I settled on Flying Fantastic.

I went to their Battersea location for silks, hoop practice and slings, and even brought a newbie friend once. The Battersea location is nice because they are able to hang a lot of apparatus. The ceilings are kind of low though. I also went to the Old Street location for a hoop class once but didn't go back because it was such a pain to get to. Not Flying Fantastic's fault, though!

Flying Fantastic classes are pretty difficult and there is a lot of emphasis on conditioning. It's more of a workout class than a performance class, which is what they market their classes as anyways so I guess that makes sense. There was generally one person who ran warm up for the group, then a number of teachers to handle different ability levels for apparatus work. I was generally in the "not beginner, but not advanced" section because I'm quite strong and have done aerial before. Sometimes they run multiple apparatus classes at once. My favourite classes that I went to were the silks classes at Battersea which really surprised me since I don't generally like silks. The sling class was fun as well.

I was particularly impressed with the level of personal attention despite the relatively large class sizes. I was used to 4-8 people per class in Boston, but oddly enough never felt like I was getting that individualised of an experience. Flying Fantastic makes a point of keeping track of everyone's ability level and offering individual advice when appropriate. I think I made their lives difficult by refusing to turn up to the same class twice (I kept changing times and doing different apparatus), but it was still a lot of fun.

Here's a picture of me doing this thing (can someone please tell me what it's called?) that I learned there! I had a lot of fun and I can definitely recommend Flying Fantastic for aerial in London. 

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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

This summer, I went on 18 airplanes and nine countries over three months.

It was a complete whirlwind of an experience and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. I saw more people from more places than I think I ever have before. I learned so much not just from my courses in Geneva/London, but from learning to adapt to different Western cultures. I've been back in the United States for three days. It sort of feels like I never left, because I've found myself back in my parents house in New Jersey. At the same time, I've been running into a bit of reverse culture shock again. It's not as bad as when I came back from China last summer, but it's still something

Anyways, I had a fantastic time in Croatia. It was definitely one of my favourite countries that I visited this summer. First, we went to a park that has eighteen waterfalls. It is easily one of the most beautiful places I've ever been.

The next day we went to Split. I think Split is kind of a funny name, but it's an enchanting city. I am already making plans to go back. 

Dubrovnik is a very neat walled city. They shoot Game of Thrones in both Split and Dubrovnik, so it was fun to walk around and see some of the locations. 

If you follow me on Instagram, you already know where this is within the Game of Thrones universe. If you don't, you should 1) follow me on Instagram and 2) guess where this place is before you cheat by looking it up.

So, now that I'm stateside again it's back to more random things about my life. Thankfully, I'm doing exciting things this summer (sort of). I've started a workout/stretch regime that I'll blog about sometime later, I'm eating healthier, and I've learned some new beauty tricks. It's safe to say that all is well in Natalie's world!

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Monday, August 1, 2016

I have to confess that I've had a bit of a history-crush on Maria Theresa since I was sixteen or so. I did a giant paper on her in my Junior year of high school that took up too much of my time that year, and learned a lot about Austrian history.  However, I never learned anything about its capital, Vienna... and had no idea it was this beautiful. I've never heard anyone say Vienna is their favourite city, but it might by mine. It's full of museums and statues and history. There's a giant statue of Maria Theresa in it, which makes me really happy. Vienna is also a city famous for its pastry, which as a sweets-addict is simply perfect. 

^^random people that got in my picture.... oh well >.<

We went to Schonbrunn Palace today (where Maria Theresa lived) and took the most amazing guided tour anyone in my family can recall taking. It was a very in depth tour through 40 rooms, including three personally decorated either by or for Maria Theresa. There was a Sisi room (Empress Elisabeth of Austria and Queen of Hungary, plus other titles) with a little model of her and her incredibly long hair. Additionally, there were the beautiful grounds! We couldn't take pictures inside the palace for security reasons or something though....

My parents! 

The palace, with Vienna in the background. 

I meant to post yesterday or the day before, but I got incredibly sick in Prague! After doing a good bit of walking around the Old Town on Saturday, we went back to the hotel before potentially heading out to the national galleries in the Prague Castle. I then spent like twelve hours with  fever and being sick, which was horrible. One of my classmates had a bit of a stomach bug before leaving London, so I'm going to blame it on her I guess. At least I got better in time for Vienna, because no part of me would want to miss a minute of this city. 

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