Inspired by...Road Trip!

There’s something about road trips that makes me think of summer and the ultimate bonding experience.  Maybe it’s the freedom of the road in front of you and the fact that you’re in complete control of where you go and what you do that entices and excites me so much (life as a control freak :) ).  I’ve always loved car trips, ever since I was little, which reminds me of a road trip I took when I was 8:

 

My dad had been away all summer at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, receiving special training, and it was a long (10 weeks, to be exact!) summer without him.  I remember bits and pieces of that summer — my mom and I bribing my brother with baseball cards and bubble gum so he would do his reading lessons,  going to summer camp and getting a canoe stuck in a swamp, beach days at Horseback, but what I remember quite clearly is the “road trip” we took down to Virginia for my dad’s graduation ceremony at the end of the summer.

 

My grandparents came down the night before, armed with all sorts of treats — like books, and journals, and tic-tac-toe notepads — to keep us occupied on what I was told would be a 9-hour journey.  My mom woke me up at 4:00 the following morning (I actually remember the time quite distinctly), and I remember being carried in my pajamas out to our old Dodge minivan.  I thought it was so cool that I was up so early (it makes a difference when someone’s carrying you!) and that I got to go in the car in my pajamas and drive through states I had never seen before, but I also remember the excitement of finally seeing my dad again.  This road trip was what took me to see my dad, finally.  I think that’s why I like road trips — because it’s a journey to something that you’ve planned and there’s not only a destination or a person waiting for you at the end, but you also get to see the sights along the way.

 

Inspired to be,

 

Katherine

Inspired by...Advice for Graduates

I can’t believe it’s been almost three years since my high school graduation…and only a year until my college graduation!  To say that time flies would be the understatement of the century.  I struggled a bit with this topic since I am dying for some premature graduation advice myself, but I then thought of my brother who is graduating from high school in about three and a half weeks (I know that because I get to come home for his graduation!), so here are some pearls of [hopefully] wisdom for him:

Dear David,

You did it!  You survived Choate, which is easier said than done.  I remember moving you into your room in Mem just a few weeks before I started my senior year and I can’t believe you’re already about to graduate.  The past four years, for both of us, have flown by.  

On my first night at Fordham, all of the freshmen gathered on the lawn for a candle-lighting ceremony.  We were each given a candle and the orientation leaders played a song from F.U.N called “We are Young.”  It’s a little dated, but one line in the song says, “So I’ll set the world on fire” and they played it because Saint Ignatius of Loyola (the founder of the Jesuits) often said, “Go forth, and set the world on fire.”  Hence, the candles held in our innocent little hands.  He often said this because the mission of the Jesuit tradition is to spread God’s word through education and service.  Religious beliefs aside, it’s some of the best wisdom I’ve ever received, which is why I’m sharing it with you.  

College is the beginning of an adventure like you’ve never experienced before.  I know you’ve lived away from home for the past four years, so you’re used to that kind of independence, but you will find that you have even more in September.  You are in charge of your classes and social life, and while that may seem overwhelming, it is truly a blessing.  This freedom gives you the opportunity to create your own life and your own path, whatever it may be.  When Saint Ignatius said to “set the world on fire” he meant to do big, bold things in your life, regardless of the definition.  You now get to not only discover your passions, but fuel them however you please.  That is how you change the world — by throwing yourself into what you love and what makes you “tick.”  You don’t have to know exactly what that is and it doesn’t have to necessarily be related to your “major.”  Find your niche and build your life right there. 

Take advantage of every opportunity, whether they be clubs, lectures, professors, trips, etc.  Everyone and everything has something to teach you so soak it up and somewhere along the way, you’ll settle into a rhythm along a path that feels right at the moment.  And that path can change because it’s your life, no one else’s.  Make plans, and then change them, and enjoy the freedom you have now to do so.  Everything will work out, I promise, and I’m always here for you.

So, go forth, and SET THE WORLD ON FIRE!  I love you and am

Love,

Kate

Inspired by...Blog Everyday in May Challenge Days 1, 2, 3

I am so excited to announce that I will be participating in the “Blog Every Day in May” challenge, organised by Belinda at FoundLoveNowWhat.com.  My friend Alex at AlexGoesToEurope.com (with whom I also go to school at LSE!) told me about the challenge and I think it will be a great way to escape from the stress of revision and give my blog a little TLC.  I really want to grow this blog, so in order to do that, I need to put some serious work into its content, hence this challenge!  I am, admittedly, starting a little late (it’s been a crazy weekend) so I am combining days 1, 2, and 3, but tomorrow we will be back on track!

Day 1: Introduce Yourself

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Katie (I also go by Kate and Katherine)!  I am a 20-year-old student at Fordham University and the London School of Economics where I am studying Political Science, Middle East Studies, and Theology, with a bit of international history.  This year, I’ve developed a concentration for my studies in democratic transitions in the Middle East and North Africa.  I am also passionate about international politics and development, women’s issues, and foreign affairs.  My dream is to work in the foreign service and eventually become Secretary of State.  I am an introvert, meaning I value my “me time” and am generally more reserved in unfamiliar situations and large groups, but I can connect with people on a very deep level, once I get to know them well.  I love to read and can spend hours in a bookstore, flipping through books, adding to my list of books to read, and soaking up the sounds of pages turning.  I am originally from Connecticut, but I go to school in New York, and have been living in London since September.  This year has been an incredible adventure for me — I’ve gotten to travel around Europe, study at one of the world’s best universities for social science, explore a beautiful city, and learn so much about myself.  Since living in London, I’ve developed a deep love for cappuccinos, though not for the caffeine boost.  Other things on my “love” list include museums, Pinterest, yoga, cooking and baking, The West Wing, blogging, chocolate, TED talks and podcasts, magazines, organising (especially with my Erin Condren planner!), and tea.

 


5 Photos That Tell My Story:

Where would we be without family?  This is me and my brother at Thanksgiving 2013, which is also the last Thanksgiving I spent with my family (I was gone for 2014!).  [Ignore the ridiculously long fringe :)].  My brother and I were very close growing up — we went to the same summer camps, made our stuffed animals go “bungee jumping” off the knee wall in our family room, and made up stories on the swings in the backyard.  Now that we’re older, we bond by driving around at night while we listen to music and talk a little.  He goes to boarding school and I’m here, so it’s hard to stay close, but I think we’ve done a pretty good job.  Also, he graduates high school in exactly 35 days and I get to be home to be there as an obnoxiously proud big sister. 

 

Smart Girls Group has changed my life.  I wish something like this had existed when I was in high school because having a sisterhood of ambitious and kind girls would have been a total game-changer.  I have had the opportunity to connect with amazing women and girls and being involved in all the ways that I am makes each day brighter.

 

This is my classic “inspired” pose and also part of my KatherInspired logo!  This was me back in October on my second trip to Paris and my friends and I had a lot of fun taking pictures in front of the Eiffel Tower :).  To me, this is my ultimate expression of joy — throwing your arms up in the air because you’re so happy and excited and inspired that there’s no other way to describe it.  I am constantly inspired by the world and throw myself into everything that inspires me, and this pose pretty much sums it up.

 

This picture was taken my third week in London when my friend Claire and I went to tea at Harrods.  What could be more English than tea with scones with clotted cream and jam?  Few things, in my opinion.  This was one of those afternoons that the sheer reality of where I was — London— really hit me.  I was in a brand new city and exploring as much as I could, I had a new friend, and we had tea with amazing scones, so life for me was complete.  I look back at the girl in this picture and I can’t believe it’s been almost 8 months since it was taken.  I have grown and changed so much in the past 8 months and it is one of the best feelings in the world.

 

This was me in Scotland when we were driving through the Highlands and we stopped to take pictures at the Three Sisters mountains.  It was rainy and freezing and the wind almost knocked you off your feet, but I was still laughing, whether it be because of how beautiful the mountains (and Scotland in general!) were, or because the whole setup here was just so ridiculous.  

 


 

My Travel Bucket List:

As you’ve seen throughout my year in London, I’ve been to 11 countries and more cities than I want to count right now, so I’d say I’ve checked quite a few places off of my travel bucket list!  I do have some places left, however:

 

Morocco:

I would love to see the sand dunes in the desert, ride a camel, and eat hummus and turmeric on pita bread while sitting on a pouf.  I’ve been fascinated by Arabic culture since high school and I can’t wait until I get to see it for myself.  I also need to learn Arabic at some point, so Morocco will be a great place to practice!

 

Italy:

I didn’t make it to Italy this year, but as a huge fan of art history, architecture, food, and Eat, Pray, Love, I will definitely be visiting Italy at some point in the future!

 

Istanbul:

I mean, how could you not want to visit the Hagia Sophia and eat Turkish food?  I’ve taken two classes on Ottoman history and even more on the Middle East, so it would be incredible to see it come to life.

 

India:

Yoga has been a big part of my life for the past two years, so I would love to study it at an ashram in India.  Also, elephants are really cool so riding one would be amazing!

 

Peru:

I took Spanish in high school and at Fordham, and while I’m not fluent, Spanish still comes pretty naturally to me.  I love the way it sounds and the way it feels to speak it!  Machu Picchu has always fascinated me, so I would really love to climb it and practice my Spanish.  

 

Southwestern USA:

My neighbour is currently living in Arizona and I can’t get over how beautiful that part of the United States is!  I want to see wide open sky, the sun shining on the desert sand, and, of course, the Grand Canyon.  

 

Stay tuned for Day 4 tomorrow!

Inspired to be,

Katherine 

Inspired by... Reconnecting With My Roots

I’ve already told you all about my trip to Ireland, but now I want to reflect a bit on how I felt when I was there because I can’t stop thinking about it.  I felt this incredible sense of connection the whole time I was in Ireland, and it was something I had never felt before.  It took me a little while to realise why I felt this way, but I think it’s because I’ve never actually been to a place where I’m from.  I mean, I’m from the United States, but only by a few generations.  That’s still something, but Ireland is very different for me.  

 

In fourth grade, I had to do a project on my “Country of Origin.”  I had a few choices since I am Irish, French, Italian, and Russian.  I’m not sure what made me pick Ireland, but I think it was the fact that being Irish (or “of Irish descent”) has been the most prominent in my life.  I loved Saint Patrick’s Day when I got to call my grandparents and tell them “top of the morning to you!” and my some of my favourite memories come from Thanksgiving when my big family would all get together — we’re quite loud so it made for some great memories.  I do remember colouring in an Irish flag, writing a report on Saint Patrick, looking up fun facts about Ireland, and making an “immigrant bundle” of things that I would bring from home.  I was only about eight or nine at the time, but I loved this project because it was my first experience with my roots.  Going to Ireland, however, and actually being there, where I’m from, was something entirely different, however.

 

Ireland is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.  It was truly love at first sight, and I can’t get the scenery out of my mind.  It’s incredibly green and the air feels so clean and fresh.  Even the accents are beautiful — I spent an entire weekend listening to brogues and it was music to my ears.  Perhaps all of these sensory experiences were a subconscious awakening of my ancestry and my roots.  I felt something so deep the whole time I was there.  It was a sense of belonging and a sense of seeing where I come from and a part of who I am.


If you ever have the chance to go to a place where you’re from, I highly recommend it!  It is something you will never forget.


Inspired to be,


Katherine 

Inspired by...Ireland!

Last week, I got to reconnect with my roots with a visit to Ireland!  Before I begin, I’d just like to point out that this trip was monumental in a few ways.  First, it was the first time I booked a plane ticket all on my own (snaps for me!).  Second, it was the first time I flew Ryanair which I believe is a rite of passage for study abroad students.  And third, I got to meet my family!

I left bright and early on Saturday morning to catch the first Tube to Liverpool Street, where I took the Stansted Express to the airport.  The flight was quick and easy and I have to say, Ryanair is not that bad at all.  Once I landed at Shannon, I was greeted with lots of hugs and welcomes from my family and we set off for the day’s adventures!

 

We stopped first at Dromoland Castle for (completely necessary) tea and scones since I was famished after the journey!  Dromoland Castle is a very high-end golf course and hotel where people have their weddings and other fancy events, so having tea in the garden made me feel oh-so chic :)

From there, we went to the Cliffs of Moher, which are on the western coast of Ireland near a little town called Doolin.  The weather was absolutely pristine that day, which was great because we went on a ferry ride to see the cliffs right from the water (the best way to see them, I think!).  The sea air felt lovely and the scenery was breathtaking.  (Fun fact: a scene from Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince was shot near the cliffs — can you guess which one?)  After stopping for lunch at a pub in Doolin (and watching Ireland destroy Scotland in the rugby match that day!), we began our drive along the Clare Coast and Burren National Park.  I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves...

Needless to say, I was exhausted when we finally got home, so I slept very well that night.

 

On Sunday, my family took me to the historic town and castle at Bunratty, which was about 15 minutes from where I was staying.  I’ve always loved historic towns — something about getting to poke around in all of the buildings and walk along the paths lets me get a real feeling for the town and its history — so we had great craic that day!  I also tried a Bailey’s coffee, which is coffee with Bailey’s Irish cream, topped with whipped cream, and it was love at first sip.  This certainly warranted a slainte! (Cheers!)  That night was Sunday dinner with almost all of my cousins and after a whole term of cooking for myself, I really appreciated the home cooking :)

Monday was quite an adventure: Eyeries to see my great-grandmother’s house!  It was about a three hour drive down to Eyeries, which is a little town on one of the “fingers” of Ireland.  Words cannot do the scenery justice, trust me.  There was something so pure about the rolling hills and the cliffs,  the tiny winding roads, and the sparkling coast and I was absolutely mesmerised the entire time.  I felt completely at ease because it was so quiet and undisturbed and the colors were so vibrant.  The scenery alone would have been lovely, but nothing could prepare me for what came next.  I got to see the very house where my great-grandmother grew up and from which she left 88 years ago at the age of 17 to come to America.  Surreal doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt the moment I laid eyes on the little house.  Can you imagine, for a second, being 17 years old, having grown up in a remote town in the mountains of Ireland, and walking out the front door knowing that you will never see your family or your home again?  I thought I was making a big leap when I came to London, but I have Skype, an iPhone, and a plane ticket home, so this doesn’t even compare.  

 

Tuesday was my last day, but it was a full one!  I sent off a bunch of postcards to family in the states, and we took a beautiful drive through the centre of Limerick.  We stopped for lunch at the University of Limerick where my uncle studied when he was about my age.  It’s a lovely campus and the music building had a beautiful mural that I simply had to capture!  We then drove to Annacotty and saw even more gorgeous scenery — I couldn’t get enough!  

After a final meal with my cousins, it was time to head to the airport, but I had had such a great time that I wasn’t even that sad to leave.  It sounds odd, but I got to do so much in a few short days, and I felt so lucky that I got to spend time with my family (who spoiled me shamelessly, by the way!), that I was in a great mood on the flight home.  Also, I’m already looking at flights to return — that’s how in love I am with Ireland!

 

Inspired to be,

 

Katherine

20 Hours in Connecticut

That title was shamelessly borrowed from my favorite show, The West Wing, in case anyone was wondering. :)

Anyway, I got the rare opportunity to go home for a night this week and see my mom!  My dad and brother are on a baseball road trip in California right now (loving the Snapchats from L.A…) so we got some girl time.  I was in desperate need of a haircut since it had been over a year since I had last gotten anything other than my fast-growing bangs, and let me tell you, it was getting bad.  I have really thick hair so when it's long, it just get to be such a pain, especially in the summer as I'm walking seven blocks uphill to commute to work.  The prospect of a fresh, clean haircut in itself was enough to get me excited to come home, but then my mom said she had a surprise for me as well!

I got out of work early and got an earlier train home (I have to take 3 different trains so it's always an adventure!) so my mom and I were able to take a yoga class at our favorite yoga studio.  I have to say, there's nothing like an hour of "Happy Hour" yoga, complete with headstands and essential oils to ring in the weekend!  We also picked up green juices and salads (yup, my mom and I are fun) to have at home on the patio.  When we got home, I headed up to my room and….my mom redecorated!  I recently acquired a queen-sized bed from a family friend who was redoing her guest bedroom but I was still using my old twin-size comforter on it, and my room was still in that awkward stage in between me living in it permanently in high school and periodically in college so it was time for a change.  Well, my mom got new sheets, a beautiful poofy comforter, and throw pillows! 

Thanks, Mom!

Thanks, Mom!

Needless to say, climbing into bed last night was an absolute JOY! :)

My mom and I talk and text a lot during the day but on Friday night, we sat outside on the patio in these lounge chairs and just chatted for a while about family and life and it was so different than talking on the phone.  Out of everyone I miss while I'm here at school, it's definitely my mom.

Yesterday, we got up super early to drive to Massachusetts to see my grandparents and so I could get a hair cut!  Yes, my hairdresser is in Massachusetts but it's completely worth it.  Felix is nuts but, hey, he can cut hair.  After a shorter, layered cut and a blow-out, I felt like a whole new woman!  I had wanted to go for something a little more sophisticated so this was a good start.

We visited my grandparents, as well, and I got to catch up with my grandfather who's in an assisted living facility after a stroke he had back in December.  He's making a ton of progress and I've missed talking to him about history since I learn so much from talking to him.  Seriously, he knows everything.  The farm stand across the street from their house and the facility opened an ice cream/grill stand so we checked it out and tried their regular french fries, sweet potato fries (my personal favorite) and onion rings which were sooo good!  Also, they had a ton of flavors of ice cream and I just had to check it out so I tried "Pumpkin Patch" which is always my favorite but hard to get since most places only carry it in the fall.  This was probably the best pumpkin ice cream I've ever had since it had caramel swirls, sliced almonds, chocolate, and raisins, in addition to incredible pumpkin flavor!  I forgot to take a picture so I'll let you imagine that wonder….

After a rushed drive home and another rushed drive to the train station, I was headed back to New York already but feeling nice and refreshed.  Oh, and I discovered that Squarespace (the platform I use for my blog) has a mobile app so I can write on the go!  Perfect for the traveler. 

So, it was a short visit home but just what I needed!  Sometimes a little refresher is what we need to get our inspiration back, right?

Inspired to be,

Katherine

Blown-out hair and my dress for the Smart Girls Group Conference! (I'm also wearing heels!!)

Blown-out hair and my dress for the Smart Girls Group Conference! (I'm also wearing heels!!)