Tag Archives: travel

Sometimes you have to go to England before you feel ok with your Popple backpack

When I was little, I was a scaredy cat.

I was seriously afraid of everything. I’d crush my mother’s hand, holding onto it for dear life, when walking through a crowd. Once, when a group of college students complimented my Popple backpack (that thing was awesome, by the way), I got so jittery from all the attention, I immediately swapped it out for a dull, run-of-the-mill blue backpack that would warrant no feedback from strangers. And then there was the time in first grade, I was the teacher’s helper for a week, but I was unprepared for the weighty responsibilities of the task – like running errands for my teacher and INTERACTING WITH STRANGERS; I was told to deliver a note upstairs to the third grade teacher, and I was so terrified I nearly threw up.

At some point, I realized I preferred not to be a shrinking violet. I decided it was important to do things outside the comfort zone I’d created for myself. You know, actually take a risk once in a while. Thank goodness. Or, I might have missed the chance to travel to England for four weeks for the trip of a lifetime.

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Five years ago this week, I traveled to England with four strangers for a month-long stay. It was one of the most daunting – and ultimately one of the most rewarding – things I’ve ever done.

I went through a rigorous multi-interview process with one of South Carolina’s two over-arching regional Rotary groups. Dozens upon dozens apply for a chance to be a part of these annual Group Study Exchange trips. I was elated when I discovered I was one of four young adults chosen from South Carolina to accompany a Rotarian team leader on this trip meant for cultural and vocational immersion.

And in the middle of September of 2008, unsure of what life held in store for me – but deciding the then-unknown reward just might be worth the risk – I flew across the Atlantic and landed in London.

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The great thing about GSE is that you stay in host families’ homes and you’re in towns you probably wouldn’t have visited otherwise. Peterborough, Leicester, Market Deeping, Northampton, Sleaford. Stamford. These were names with no meaning attached to them before. Before walking their narrow – and sometimes cobblestone – streets. Before staying in the homes of some of their hardest-working, friendliest denizens. Before eating at the local pubs (and devouring many a delicious plate of fish and chips). Before vocational visits that opened my eyes to the possibility of being able to have a career anywhere. Anywhere.

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I experienced so much during those four weeks. I gave talks to Rotary clubs almost every other day. I felt no fear in striking up a conversation at a dinner filled with unfamiliar faces. I made lifelong friends out of people who shared their homes with me for only two days. I delivered a speech to a thousand people I didn’t know. I learned I was capable of stretching myself beyond the limits I’d previously set for myself. I learned I shouldn’t set limits.

Most importantly, I learned that no one is a stranger.

I only wish I still had my Popple backpack.

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Queen City – Downtown version

Love this brick work. Love this park.

Best. Grits. Ever. Halcyon Restaurant.

A visit to Queen City, North Carolina AKA Charlotte Part 1

A visit to beautiful North Carolina was just what I needed. Time with friends and family. Sweet tea. Sunshine. Bliss.

Thanks for your hospitality!

BFF

Beautiful day. Beautiful town.

Blue skies and trains. Americana.

Saturday morning exploring.

There’s not much better than the homemade goods and wares of a Farmers Market.

The (Big) Apple of My Eye

I had the incredible opportunity to go to New York for work for the second year in a row. It’s one of my favorite cities, so electric, so humming with life.

I have a hard time putting my finger precisely on what it is that makes me love Manhattan so. It’s some elixir-like combination of the energy, the food, the never-sleepingness, the long avenues and their cross-street brethren. It’s momentarily forgetting Radio City Music Hall is right there and realizing its right there.

Suffice it to say, I love having an excuse to return to this city. I had to be there for work Saturday through Wednesday. I tacked on two extra days for good measure, and my handsome Redhead flew out to join me.

Sometimes it takes being in America's biggest city to reunite with old friends.

Sometimes it takes being in America’s biggest city to reunite with old friends.


And while reuniting with old friends, you might as well have delicious food in the process.

And while reuniting with old friends, you might as well have delicious food in the process.


How can you not love this city?

How can you not love this city?


And the this happened.

And the this happened.

First Broadway show. I now want to see  ALL THE BROADWAY SHOWS.

First Broadway show. I now want to see ALL THE BROADWAY SHOWS.

I discovered that bagel places across America are doing bagels wrong. Which is unfortunate for me...

Whole wheat everything bagel with walnut and raisin cream cheese. NOM.


Central Park in it all its beautiful glory.

Central Park in it all its beautiful glory.

And then we went to The Met. And saw this badass armor.

And then we went to The Met. And saw this badass armor.

And then we saw this painting. It's kind of famous.

And then we saw this painting. It’s kind of famous.

Perfect end to a great week.

So fun.