Inspired by...Bravery

I think this entire year has been a time of bravery for me.  I remember sitting on the coach from Heathrow, incredibly jet lagged, and thinking, “Oh my god, WHAT HAVE I DONE???”  I was absolutely paralysed by fear for the first few days, and even weeks, because I was so far out of my comfort zone — I was literally an ocean away from everything I had ever known — and I didn’t think I would ever feel comfortable.  Now, over eight months later, I have a different perspective on what exactly I had done :)


I was watching The Princess Diaries the other day and I got to the part with one of my favourite quotes.  It’s the scene where Mia is so convinced that she can never be a princess or a queen and run Genovia…until she reads a letter from her father imparting a bit of wisdom on her.  He tells her, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather, the decision that something else is more important” which I think fits in perfectly with my year in London. 


Was I terrified because I was an ocean away from my comfort zone?  Yes.  Was I in a strange and unfamiliar city?  Oh yes, I was.  Was I in a completely new academic system in which I didn’t even come close to feeling like I had my sh*t together?  Absolutely.  But, was it worth it?  100%.  I think I was brave this year because, despite feeling that tightness in my chest that signals anxiety threatening to break through the surface, and despite feeling like a mess in class half the time, and despite the unfamiliarity surrounding me, I got through each day, one by one.  I knew that this year was what I needed — I had to get out and see the world, and try something different, and study at one of the world’s best universities, because ultimately, I would grow and be a better person because of it. 


I am not the person who left in September and who curled up in the seat of a coach, watching the English suburbs pass by and questioning every decision I had made up until now.  It took a long time, and many emails and frantic Skype calls with my mom, but  I survived the tears and fears, and here I am, eight months later, and I am so happy with who I have become.  


I was brave, not because I wasn’t afraid, but because I (subconsciously) decided that London was more important.


Inspired to be,


Katherine

Inspired by...20 Years From Now...

Today’s #BlogEverydayInMay prompt — writing a letter to myself 20 years into the future —  really spoke to me because I feel as though I am right on the verge of some major change in my life.  With that in mind, here’s my letter.  [Also, I hate starting letters to the future with “Dear Me” or something like that, so I’m just going to write]

 

It is May 9th, 2015.  Big things are coming.  Some of it is coming home from London, but a lot of it has to do with growing up, in general.  I’m entering my final year in college (let’s talk about that for a minute), which is also, I believe, going to be one of the most pivotal years for me in my time at Fordham.  I’m going to be going to class, as per usual, but my focus will not just be on being a student.  I’ll be interning, working, tutoring, and continuing some of my positions from this year and last year, so I’ll be taking on a more professional lifestyle.  It’s terrifying because sometimes I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing.  Sure, I have this whole academic/career plan, but the little things seem to escape me.  I am not financially independent, for example, which is a huge thing for me right now because I want that freedom.  I want a job and source of income, so I fund my own lifestyle.  I feel like I’m at this in-between stage, like a flower that’s just about to bloom.  It’s close, so close, but it just needs a liiiiitttle more sun, a tiny bit more water, and a teensy bit more love before it can just burst open and take on the world.  In 20 years, I’ll be 40, almost 41.  I have no idea what my life will look like, just like I have no idea what my life is going to look like at this point next year, but I think that’s the beauty of this stage of my life.  There are a million things that could happen, and the possibility is exhilarating. 

 

Life is so beautiful right now.  It’s also uncertain because I’m coming home in 25 days, and the adventure of a lifetime will come to a close.  I say that, but just because I won’t be in Europe doesn’t mean that this summer and next year and the year after won’t be an adventure in themselves.  I know that sounds so cliche, but I want you to never forget that.  This year has been so many things for me — at first, it was the kind of excitement where you don’t really know what you’re doing.  For me, that was getting on the plane and having this grand notion about what my enchanted life in London would be like.

 

 Then the jet lag and the general feeling of “Oh my GOD what have I DONE?” set in.  That’s the reality (and lack of sleep).  The first few months here were rough, to say the least.  I spent a lot of time on Skype crying to my mom and having this horrible tightness in my chest that always signalled a wave of anxiety about to knock me over.  The rough edges softened a bit as I began to travel and see the sights and begin to have an idea of how to survive classes here.  I still knew, however, that I would be home in just a few weeks, and that became my rock.

 Then I came home: relief.

 I could breathe because I was where everything was familiar…but that time ended way too quickly and my little bubble was burst as I made my way to the airport for the long stretch of my year away and it wasn’t pure excitement I was feeling because I knew how hard it was to fly away, now.  I was terrified of not being able to make it through the next five months, and it wasn’t exactly relief that I felt when I walked in the door to my room again.  Things were definitely familiar here, but it was anything but easy.  Classes were still a mental boxing match and I wasn’t on the winning side, still.  I got stronger, and was able to fight back more and more, but I can still feel my head spin in class.  I still missed my family and home, where everything made sense, and I still wondered if I was ever going to make it to June.

 

As the weeks went by, however, I began to feel something growing inside me: joy.  The good began to outweigh the not-so-good (because nothing here has really been “bad” per se).  I had my Community and Culture class that took us around London and introduced me to some amazing people, I got to travel a ton and have my solo adventure, I had Adventure Weekend, my Faith and Leadership class, and the days took on a more comfortable rhythm.  It was more than that, though.  I started to feel real, true happiness — not the happiness that masked the terror that I felt first term, but the feeling that I knew what I was doing.  I wasn’t longing for home anymore, because London felt like home.  I wasn’t dreaming of my “real” life at home or at Fordham, because this place, this school, this city, these friends, was and is my life.  I had more and more of those moments where you’re in complete disbelief that you are in this place because you’re just so damn happy that you can’t even begin to soak it all up and breathe it all in. 

I suppose that’s what life is like and what it feels like to truly grow and change, for the better.  So, I don’t know what’s going to be my life in 20 years, but I do know that whatever it is, I can do it.


Inspired to be,


Katherine

Inspired by...Brick Lane

I LOVE curry with the most burning passion there ever was.  Indian food is not only very vegetarian-friendly, it’s also so comforting and absolutely delicious!  That’s why I was so excited when my Community and Culture class organised a trip to Brick Lane, one of the best places in London to feast on this incredible creation.  London is famous for its curry and Southeast Asian food in general (thanks, colonialism!), but this area in East London in particular is a premier hub for curry in the city.  

 

East London is typically home to immigrants and is a fascinating mix of cultures.  It’s also home to the oldest synagogue in Britain, as it is famous for its Jewish population, as well.

 

 

We met at the Aldgate tube station bright and early for a walking tour… probably to work up an appetite for what was coming in a few hours.  East London was also the hunting grounds of Jack the Ripper back in the 19th century and we saw one of the sites where one of his victims was found, but I tried not to think about that too much :)  We wandered around the tiny alleyways and through Petticoat Lane, which is a clothes market that has been running for decades.  I think I loved the windy cobblestone streets the most (this is coming from the grid-appreciating New Yorker, mind you) because they conjured this beautiful historical feeling.

 

Then came the highlight of the trip which was curry on Brick Lane!  We finally found a place to accommodate 17 of us, and the rest is a curry-filled dream.  I started with a mango lassi since I’ve always wanted to try one - it’s a lovely refreshing mango-yogurt-y drink that goes perfectly with curry. Then I got a masala dosa which is an Indian-style crepe filled with lentils and potatoes with a curry vegetable pot on the side which you put in the dosa.  I also got a little side of spiced chickpeas that went beautifully with the whole thing and I was in heaven.  The table got very quiet since we were just eating and relishing every bite.  I took the rest home with me and it made a lovely snack the following afternoon after class!  


I will definitely be back to Brick Lane as it was the best curry I have ever had and I’m still dreaming about it!


Inspired to be,


Katherine

Inspired by...Red Lips Week!

A few weeks ago, the Women Leaders of Tomorrow society at LSE held their fist ever Red Lips Week and I got to be a part of it!  

 

The Red Lips Project  was started in the UK a few years ago.  Basically, it’s centred around the concept of what makes you feel powerful.  And let’s face it, nothing makes you feel powerful quite like really good red lipstick. :)  I will make a confession that, before this week, I didn’t own red lipstick (and I’m sure my dear friend and beauty guru, Brittany, is crying as she reads this right now…), so I had to do something about that, of course!  Luckily, there’s a MAC Cosmetics right down the street from me, so I popped in on my way home from class and picked some up.  I got a great shade of bright red lipglass, since I’ve never really been a solid lipstick person, and was introduced to the world of lip liner.  Seriously, WHERE has this been all of my life?  The makeup artist at the store showed me how to line my lips before doing my lipglass and it makes such a difference in defining your lips!

 

So, Tuesday was our launch party and it was a blast!  I got to meet a ton of people and get dressed up, and we had a great keynote speaker — Connie Jackson, a LSE alum, and UK/Europe General Manager for Fashion Fair Beauty Projects.  She was incredible!  Her whole speech was very casual and was a collection of stories about finding her strength and the women in her life who have helped her realise this.  We also got to take pictures with signs saying what makes us powerful:


I also got a lovely little goodie bag with a mug, more red lipgloss, chocolate, and other fun treats.  What a great way to start my week!


Here’s my outfit for the launch party:


I opted to go for all black so my lips would pop and I liked the long blazer over my LBD  because of the different proportions.  By the way, this dress, is perhaps the greatest piece in my wardrobe and one of the best purchases I have EVER made!  It is the ultimate LBD because I can wear it for any occasion, it doesn’t wrinkle, and is so blissfully comfortable.


All throughout the week, WLT and Women Leaders in Business had a photobooth set up in the students’ union where you could take pictures with signs saying what makes you powerful as well.  I wasn’t crazy about how mine turned out, so I’m sticking from the one from the launch party :)


Friday was the closing party at a nearby bar, where we had a room all to ourselves!  For only 4 pounds, we got entrance as well as free drinks (their “Red Lips” cocktail - I think it was vodka and cranberry juice, but I can never tell…) and it was another fun night to get dressed up.  


What I loved about this week was that it was a whole week dedicated to helping people realise that they are powerful and that there are things in our lives that make us feel this way.  For me, it’s not only red lipgloss, but all of the smart people in my life that make me feel powerful.  I’ve written before about how Smart Girls Group has changed my life, and it truly has.  It’s encouraged me to be a leader, to recognise, embrace, and pass on what my “smarts” are, and has given me a sisterhood of girls who want to do the same.  Being in intellectual environments like LSE (especially) and Fordham, where I am pushed to my limits, makes me feel powerful, as well.  The thrill of exploring a new city and travelling, reading, planning for the future, dressing well, and approaching each day with a fresh mind — all are recipes for a powerful me!


Inspired to be, (powerful!)


Katherine

Inspired by...Coffee Breaks

It’s been a beautiful week in London!  The sun is shining, I’m not bundled up anymore, and big things are right on the horizon.  The past few weeks have been an absolute whirlwind, which is why I’ve been a little MIA, but I’ve missed blogging since then!  

 

I had a lovely experience yesterday.  I’ve recently discovered caffe mochas and, like cappuccinos, I don’t know where they have been all of my life!  I mean, it’s chocolate and espresso in a warm little package, so what could be better?  I took a three week break from coffee since I’m determined to not become addicted, and have been celebrating the end of that break quite a bit…  I might need to work on this.  Anyway, yesterday was a gorgeous day and I had a chunk of about 40 minutes in between finishing up some reading and my 4:00 lecture, so I treated myself to a mocha from (where else?) Caffe Nero.  I couldn’t bear to sit since I knew I would be sitting inside for the rest of the evening, so I took my coffee down to the Temple tube station to a lovely spot by the Thames.  I go walking along this path a lot, but yesterday, I just stood there and basked in the sunshine as I gazed over the river.  I was only there for a about 15 minutes, but it was such a soothing, refreshing break from my day.  In fact, I’m still thinking of that moment, which is why I simply had to blog about it!


When things are getting crazy between getting mentally beaten up every day  school, Smart Girls Group, planning for the future, and just getting through the day, I sometimes forget that I am in London.  This is my grand adventure — my year abroad in London at the London School of Economics.  It feels so normal to be here, now, that I forget that in about three months, I won’t have a Caffe Nero on every street corner, and the Thames a few blocks away from my school.  I won’t have museum lates, weekend trips to the continent, and double decker buses rumbling past me.  I am so in love with where I am and what I’m doing right now, that I forget how insanely lucky I am, and yesterday was the reminder that I desperately needed.  


I have three months left in the city that has become my home, and I plan on making the most of it. :)


Inspired to be,


Katherine