Inspired by...Summer Bucket List!

With 11 days to go until I am back home in the states and summer has officially begun, thinking out my summer bucket list was exactly what I needed!  


1. READ…a lot

     After doing nothing but course reading for the past six months, I am in desperate need of a good story to dive into and sooth my worn-out brain and re-inspire me.  I have a list of fiction and non-fiction books I’ve been meaning to get to, so stay tuned! 


2. Friends!

     It’s been almost a year since I’ve seen my best friend Brittany, but now that she is back in New York, and I’ll soon be back in Connecticut, I can’t wait for NYC dates at our favourite restaurant, Red Bamboo, complete with bubble tea and a walk on the high line, hair and makeup lessons (she’s my style guru), catching up on Grey’s Anatomy, and just being together.  I also can’t wait to see my darling sister, Farishta, too!  She’s much closer to home, thankfully, so I’m looking forward to long walks, tea dates, making Indian/Afghan food, and talking about life.  


3. The 20-Something Project

     Since becoming a 20-something, I’ve been having this identity crisis about “growing up” and entering the real world, and I’ve realised that I don’t know the first thing about the real world.  I mean, who does?  But, I want to become financially independent (like, grocery shop without my parents’ credit card, for example, learn how to invest my money, manage a credit card, etc.), figure out my personal style, get my health and wellness on track, and work on my personal brand.  Any tips, books, podcasts, etc. that you can suggest would be very much appreciated!


4. Blogging, Smart Girls Group, theSkimm, apps and content

     And now onto my digital life!  I, of course, will continue to blog but I love that the #BlogEverydayInMay challenge has gotten me to blog, well, every day (except for this week when I fell behind…).  I’ve really enjoyed these prompts and want to work on increasing my blogging and social media output.  I also want to keep working on my projects for Smart Girls Group and theSkimm and even become more involved.  As for apps and content, I cannot wait to get my new phone (first new phone in over two years!  Yay for more space!) and load it up with apps, and just keep soaking up the digital world that I’ve come to love so much.

5. Live it up at my dream internship

     I’ve been dreaming of the summer I would intern at Choate Rosemary Hall’s summer programs for eight years, and it’s finally here!  I could not be more excited to return to the place that changed my life and be a part of it once more.  I not only get to live on campus and be a dorm advisor to middle school and high school girls, I get to help teach, chaperone excursions, run a sport, and just throw myself into life at Choate.  Dream. Summer.  :)

Inspired to be,


Inspired by... 5 Books That I Love

I’ve been so excited to write this post because who doesn’t love talking about books?  Also, it makes me remember that I do love reading, especially when it’s not course-related, as much of a nerd as I am :).  While there are sooooo many more books that I love (stay tuned for a list of all of my favourites), here are 5 books to give you a taste!


1. The Century Trilogy - Ken Follett

          These books were amazing.  As someone who loves history, especially 20th century history, the fact that the books trace several different families from Britain, the US, Germany, and Russia throughout the 20th century and talk about how all of their lives intertwine, each of these books struck a perfect chord with me.  They were set against real-life events and people, too, so one of the characters works closely with President Wilson on his Fourteen Points in the first books, for example, and I think that makes the story that much richer.  


2. My Sister’s Keeper - Jodi Picoult

          Actually, all of Jodi Picoult’s books are works of a true master, but my relationship with Ms. Picoult began with this book.  My mom had been reading My Sister’s Keeper and I remember coming out of swim practice one day to find her sobbing hysterically in the car because she had finished the book…and I’ll leave it there.  With her books, I’m completely sucked in and I literally cannot put the book down until I’m done.  I’ve done this on several occasions and it’s such a satisfying feeling.


3. Harry Potter - JK Rowling

          I first picked up the Harry Potter books when I was in second grade and I whizzed through the first four books!  From there it was history and I dove into a world that defined my childhood, and is still a major part of my life today.  I was Hermione (the ultimate Smart Girl) for at least three Halloweens and I read the books and watched the movies over and over and over.  I especially loved the audiobooks, because Jim Dale’s voice is pure magic — I remember listening to the tapes on my walkman when I was about 10 — and is so soothing.  I actually listened to the first few books again this summer when I was commuting into the city and it made mornings so much better.  I could go on and on about Harry Potter, but I wouldn’t do it nearly enough justice.


4. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

          I’ve read all three of Khaled Hosseini’s books and they are so beautifully written! Each is set in the mid-to-late-twentieth century in Afghanistan (with some characters moving to America at some point) and as a student of the Middle East, I think he paints an incredible picture of this region and its history.  The characters are so deep and the endings are always bittersweet and they leave me feeling so fulfilled at the end and all throughout when I’m reading them.  Each has made me cry (out of joy and sadness), and gasp with a surprise plot twist, and close my eyes to picture these worlds.


5. Eleanor and Park - Rainbow Rowen

          My mom and I actually read this book together while we were travelling around France and I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did.  It’s set in the 80s and is the story of two teenagers, who are misfits in their own ways and who fall completely in love with each other.  I won’t say any more about the plot because you really do have to read it to appreciate the beauty of it, but like the back cover says, it will remind you of what it was like to be in love for the first time and how it just pulls you right under.  The writing is sarcastic and smart, and clear, and it grabs at your heart and never lets go.  In fact, I loved it so much that I’m re-reading it!  HIGHLY recommend this book! :)

Inspired to be,

Katherine :)

On My [Digital] Bookshelf

If there’s one thing I love to do to unwind or escape, it’s reading.  I’ve been an avid reader for about as long as I can remember, and it’s always been my way to escape from everything going on around me and delve into another kind of reality.  It’s a running joke in my family that the reason I’m so directionally challenged is because I never looked up from my book when we were driving in the car, so I had no frame of reference when I got my license.  Usually, I’m a quick reader - I call it “binge reading” - since I can get so immersed in a story that I simply have to know what happens next.  When I was a senior in high school, I went on a trip to Quebec, and we drove for over 10 hours in a coach bus all the way to Canada.  I got through two entire books that weekend.  On my flight back home from Paris two summers ago, I read The Kite Runner in its entirety, barely looking up for lunch (not that it was that good…).  Books have a way of pulling me in and not letting go until I’ve gotten to the last page, and it’s such a thrilling experience for me.


I have to read a lot for classes, so by the end of the day during the term, the last thing I want to do is read.  When I was home on break, however, I read a ton!


I started with Leaving Time, by Jodi Picoult.  She’s one of those authors that I can only binge read because her writing is incredibly compelling.  This book starts with a girl named Jenna Metcalf whose mother disappeared when she was a baby.  She lives with her grandmother and has spent years searching for her mother, Alice, who apparently vanished without a trace.  She enlists the help of a disgraced psychic named Serenity Jones, as well as a detective named Virgil.  Not only do we hear Jenna’s search for her mother, but we also get to hear her mother’s story, Serenity’s, and Virgil’s stories as well - this is a signature technique that Jodi Picoult uses.  Alice used to work with elephants and study the grieving process, so that was an interesting storyline, as well.  I literally flew through this book on our first day of vacation - that was how good it was.  The end, however, took me by complete surprise, and I remember sitting there with my mouth hanging open, I was so shocked!  I always say each book is better than the last, but it’s true every time.  HIGHLY recommend!


I love historical fiction, so a friend recommended Ken Follett’s novels.  He just completed a trilogy, which he calls The Century Trilogy.  It’s aptly named, because each book traces a generation of the same group of families throughout the twentieth century.  Fall of Giants is the first book, so it begins in 1912 or so, as Europe is heading for the Great War.  Each of these families - English, American, Russian, German, and Welsh - becomes intertwined in some way, despite their class differences and countries or origin, so it was fascinating to read each of their perspectives on the events leading up to, during, and after the Great War.  It’s romance, politics, history, and so much more, all together in this master story.  This was another binge-read for me, even though his books are massive - we’re talking 900 pages here!  I also had a ton of free time when we were on vacation, but I couldn’t put it down.  If you love history, like I do, get this book.  DO IT.  I’ve moved on to the next book in the trilogy, Winter of the World, which is about the children of the characters in Fall of Giants, and this one deals with the Great Depression and World War II.  I’m about 400 pages in, but it’s taking me longer to read this one because I’m back in school right now, not because it’s any less compelling.


I also finally finished Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s newest book, A Path Appears.  That one took me longer because I like to take my time with non-fiction, but I loved it and was incredibly inspired by their ideas, as always.  I read Half the Sky, which is about global issues facing women and girls and WOW was it incredible!  I had never considered the impact that simple operations, for example, could make, or even the ripple effect that women and girls have on their communities.  A Path Appears is almost like the next step you take after reading Half the Sky, because it is about what you can do to help resolve these issues.  It first examines the organisation and initiatives that are already hard at work around the world, and then examines the sociology and science surrounding philanthropy itself, as well as how to make the best difference you can.  This was easily the most inspiring book I’ve read in a long time.


Oh and if you’re wondering why I said “digital bookshelf” it is because I am a proud Kindle owner.  I love paper books (I read the actual paper copy of Fall of Giants), but being able to read on both my iPad and my Kindle is just so convenient.  This is especially true for a study-abroad student who has limited room in her suitcase!  I’ve had a Kindle since they first came out, and upgraded a few years ago, and I still say it’s one of the best purchases I’ve ever made.


Any books you recommend?  I’m always open to suggestions!

Sunday Musings

You know it's a quiet day here at Fordham Public Safety when you can read an entire book, start to finish, in the span of a shift and still have time left over!  My Kindle, though some say it is killing the print industry, is a godsend!  I've been doing a lot of reading this summer and have had a few "reading day" shifts where I'll just read an entire book, rather than work on my laptop the whole time.  You get tired of staring at a computer screen, right?  Especially now that I have my iPad, I've been very wired.

I have a habit of "devouring" books - something I've done since I was little.  I learned to read when I was very young and it's always been my rock.  I am never not reading something and when I latch onto a book, I read and read and read until I am completely enveloped in it and it's done.  I'm a fast and passionate reader so it makes a nice balance.  Devouring things is a bit of a theme in my life, as I like to just sit down and get something done; the feeling of something hanging over me drives me crazy!  If I have a huge paper assignment, for example, I'll set aside an entire afternoon and get the whole thing done in a chunk of time.  Of course, I'll edit it (Tutor Katie living up to her title!), but I like to get the whole thing off my chest at once.  In other words, I was the girl who read the new Harry Potter book in its entirety on the day it came out. :)

Today I read a book called Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline which is a parallel story of a modern girl in the foster care system and a girl in 1929 who was sent out to Minnesota on the Orphan Train from New York.  Her family was an Irish immigrant family and my own family (great grandparents) were immigrants from Cork, so I've always liked stories about immigrants.  The modern girl, Molly, and the now-elderly woman, Vivian, develop a bond from their shared stories and it's heartwarming without being cliche at all.  I also loved the Irish cultural references, like the claddagh symbol, which I wear on a ring.  The claddagh is a pair of hands holding a heart that's topped by a crown, symbolizing friendship (the hands), loyalty (the crown), and love (the heart):

My mom brought me back my ring from a trip to Ireland she took a few years ago and someone very dear to me told me it's "like Facebook for your finger" because it shows your attachment status, depending on what way you wear it.  Every time I think of this, I smile because it actually makes sense in a millennial sort of way.  If you wear it on your right hand, you aren't married, and the crown facing out means you are committed to someone, and the heart pointing out means that you are single.  It's the same on the left hand, with the heart signaling engagement and the crown signaling marriage.  I've always wondered if it's a big deal in Ireland but I suppose I'll just have to find out!

One of the many beauties of the iPad is the Maps app.  I can see places in this beautiful layout so I got distracted the other night and started playing around with it and searching through London.  My apartment in Holborn is near King's Cross (the station from Harry Potter), Piccadilly, across the bridge from the Globe, right near the London Bridge, near several gardens and museums, parks to run in, as well as about 6 Starbucks, a Lululemon, a Whole Foods, the British Museum, not too far from Westminster Abbey, and also not that far (but still kind of a hike) from Buckingham Palace!  I had been hitting a bit of a slump with my excitement about studying abroad.  Not that I'm not excited, because I'm absolutely ecstatic, but my fears were starting to creep up on me and it was starting to just kind of cloud the joy.  Then this happened.  FYI: the joy is completely back and I'm ready.  Six weeks from right this second, I will be in London, on my orientation which includes tours and shows and talks about the culture of Britain, etc. etc. and this is actually happening to me.  Also, I rediscovered my joy of being in London itself.  Before, I had been focusing on what countries I wanted to visit but then I realized the other night that I'm going to be in London and there are soooo many places I want to see there, as well.  Yes, I want to go to Scotland, Wales, Italy, Prague (which I know is not a country), Ireland, Spain, Paris, etc., but I can save longer distances for that entire month off I get for Easter or the occasional long weekend or something. I also want to know London.  I want to explore every inch of the city itself.  A friend told me that, when he was studying abroad, he would take the train to a new station once a week and wander around and get to know the neighborhood itself, apart from the touristy destinations.  Isn't that a great idea?  I want to take an afternoon a week and just explore another part of the city and get to know it.  I want to see Notting Hill, Buckingham Palace, all the touristy and non-touristy places alike and I want to be a Londoner.  Like I'm a New Yorker now, I want to be a Londoner too.  I want to embrace where I am and make roots in addition to traveling everywhere else.

I've had so many days, lately, when I've felt like I was bursting with how happy and content I am.  July was a rough month because all I could focus on was how badly I wanted to go home and how tired and overworked I felt.  It took a short phone call to my mom who had been getting the brunt of quite a few complaints, to flip the switch and pull myself together.  Actually, it was my mom herself who told me to pull myself together and that I was fine, which helped immensely.  We all have burdens and things aren't always idyllic, but this is where I need to be right now.  She helped me turn over a new leaf with the beginning of August and I feel so content and sure of myself now.  That being said, I only have 11 days to go home and I can't wait, as much as I've come to love it here!

Here's to turning over new leaves, devouring good books, and rediscovering the thrill of adventure!

Inspired to be,