Studying in Sorrento

I know, I know, I said my blog posts would be frequent while studying abroad in Italy. The truth is, this three week program was so fast paced I barely had time to do my homework, let alone keep up with my blog. Excuses aside, here I am trying to find the words to express the most magical month of my life. I realized that Italy is a dream destination because Italy is a dream. The whole time I felt like I was asleep, because it was impossible to believe my eyes.

While living in Sorrento, we visited Naples, Capri, Pompeii, Rome, and multiple villages along the Amalfi Coast. I was able to capture all of these experiences in vlog form, and I believe my video can say more about these places than words (although the camera could never do it justice). Enjoy!

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=fpXdQzT4XCY

Summer Updates & Video Productions

Hey there! Long time no talk! I decided to take a short break from the blog to focus on the end of my semester as finals were approaching. But I’m back for the summer and looking forward to all I have to share!

Updates.

This summer I will be studying abroad in Sorrento, Italy. I leave in June and will be sharing my preparations and stories as I go! I will also be going to Disney World (aka my boyfriend and my second home) at the end of the summer. Now that I’m the big two-one (and recently gluten free), I will be sharing all the fun drinks and gluten friendly treats I find!

As the warm weather approaches I am excited to have become an ambassador for a company called Squad Scrunchie! Their super cute hair accessories will also be following me on all my summer adventures. Visit their website (https://scrunchiesquad.com/) and use the code JOURNEYOFJESSBLOG10 for 10% off your own scrunchie purchase!

Content Creation.

As for right now, I am working a part time job as a Public Relations and Marketing Assistant, where I have been creating a ton of corporate content including some exciting video projects! At the end of this semester, I was awarded three first place prizes in my university’s media festival for my video production projects, and I would like to share my video creations with all of you! My youtube channel can be accessed here.

On my youtube channel I create music videos, classroom projects, and some personal fun videos to remember trips and summer adventures. I plan to create videos to accompany my blog posts in the future to showcase my passion for content creation!

I can’t wait for the summer ahead and all of the experiences I will be able to share with all of you in both writing and visual form. Here’s to the summer!

Talk soon!
Jess

Walking Away From the Past and Running Towards the Future

Whether it’s a mistake I’ve made or the way someone else has treated me, I’d say one of my biggest struggles is letting go of the past and allowing myself to move forward. I am a young twenty-something who has been presented with many opportunities to screw up (and, I have). I still let something someone said about me years ago impact the way I see myself today or guilt myself over something I did at age 18. In my journey to forgiveness I’ve come to learn that as human beings we cannot let our past define our present or control how we live out our future. Self forgiveness as well as forgiving others is what will allow for a happier and healthier life in the long run. I’m still working on ways to keep self improvement on the forefront of my mind, but I have learned helpful lessons along the way.

Don’t beat yourself up.

It’s easy to lock yourself away and wallow in guilt but it’s also detrimental to your mental health. Instead, own up to your mistakes in the moment. Apologize, learn, and do better. As time goes on, don’t let other people guilt you either. Accept that you messed up, and if the topic emerges again, admit to your mistake and prove that you have moved on, and others should too.

Don’t beat other people up.

It’s important to forgive others in the same way you forgive yourself. Make sure to receive an apology, don’t be passive when you aren’t being treated correctly, but know that everyone else is just as human as you. Humans mess up. The best thing to do is move on and live separate lives from those who have hurt you, but to put the mistakes others have made behind you.

Know who you are.

Sometimes we act out of character. We make mistakes that may seem unlike us. Know who you are and what you stand for. If you do something that strays from your core values, remember that this doesn’t change you as a person. We all lose our way sometimes. Instead, understand why you did what you did, and improve. This same rule applies to people who hurt you. Know who you are, and don’t let the actions of others define you. Don’t stoop to other people’s levels, and don’t let someone else’s opinion of you shape your opinion of yourself. You know you better than anyone, and just because someone doesn’t see or appreciate all your qualities or feelings doesn’t mean they aren’t valid.

The best advice I can give as someone who has made mistakes and has been hurt by other people’s mistakes is to never avoid the issue, but know when to move on from it. Admit to your faults and hold others accountable for their faults, and then press forward. Working on yourself is all you can do, so keep self improvement on the forefront of your mind. Life is a constant job requiring you to work on being the best version of yourself that you can be, and often times this job requires some tough lessons. Learn from what life throws your way, and be better because of it.

Thanks for reading, talk soon!

-Jess

5 Months in Europe (& What it Taught Me)

The most pivotal experience in my college career was when I took part in my school’s London Study Abroad program. Being such a large part of my life, I think a whole post should be dedicated to this experience. While my home base was in London, I also traveled to Ireland, Paris, Amsterdam, Budapest, Barcelona, and Prague as well as other small cities throughout the UK.

As clichè as it sounds, studying abroad is extremely rewarding and taught me a lot about myself. Before this program, I had never left the USA. After 5 months in Europe, I felt like a seasoned traveler ready to take on my next adventure. I found the experience to be so incredible, I’m studying abroad again in Italy this summer.

Going into college I had overcome a lot of my anxieties, but still wasn’t where I wanted to be. I felt like I was still holding back from reaching my fullest potential and I didn’t know where to start. I had been hoping to travel to London since I was a 13 year old writing a poem about my dream destination in middle school English class. Since I had never been out of the country, I told myself that traveling was just a dream. I liked to imagine what London would be like in my mind, but never tried to get there. When I found out some people I knew were already signing up for the London Study Abroad program, I felt stuck. It made perfect sense for me to go on paper, but 5 months in a foreign country seemed a little intense for me. I discussed the opportunity with my parents, expecting that they wouldn’t let me go anyway. To my surprise, my parents were actually the biggest advocates for the experience. Considering the program would cost the same amount as a semester of college at home, it seemed there was no reason not to go. So, I went.

London is the place where I really embraced myself. There were times that I felt very alone there, which meant I had to learn to love myself and be content with my own company. Before this trip, I would hate to even go to the bathroom alone. Once I got comfortable in London however, I took myself to coffee shops and flower markets and walked myself to the top of Primrose Hill just so I could spend some time with my thoughts. I became my favorite person to be around, and now I’m constantly taking myself on drives and coffee dates.

Being abroad allowed me to value those with unconditional love for me. My family members, friends from home, and my boyfriend were my biggest supporters while I was away. Seeing how much they missed me and me feeling how much I missed them allowed me to value these real relationships. Since London I have surrounded myself with people who I trust and have my best interest in mind, because I now know what is involved in a real friendship.

I’ve come to understand that many people hesitate to study abroad because they don’t have friends also attending the trip. Honestly, going alone can enhance this experience even more. The people you study abroad with become a family. Starting as strangers, after a week you will be acting as though you’ve known each other for years. For 5 months I spent every single day surrounded by the same group of people until we became a family. After an hour apart, we would miss each other. Now that we’ve been back in America for about a year, we still see each other as often as possible and share a bond that not many people understand.

While seeing the world is a wonderful thing, studying abroad is so much more than hopping on the London Eye and sitting under the Eiffel Tower. It’s an experience that teaches you to be yourself, unapologetically. Sending myself to a foreign country taught me to embrace other cultures as well as my own, and prepared me for the adult world. After traveling from Budapest to London by myself, I feel I can do anything. Although that was a nerve wracking experience, I proved that I am able to take care of myself.

If you have an opportunity to study abroad, take it. And if you do take it, take time for yourself. Reflect, learn, and don’t hold back.

Thanks for reading, talk soon!

-Jess

disclosure: VigLink is being used in this post for affiliate marketing purposes.


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Going Into College With a Boyfriend

It’s a typical question for couples going into college. Do we stay together? Do we break up? Are we supposed to be single in college? The answer varies for everyone. As someone who decided to stay with their high school sweetheart in college, I believe there are a few questions you should ask yourself before deciding to call it quits.

Are you happy?

Are you happy in your relationship? If you are, evaluate why you would want to break up. Would being single make you happier than your relationship would? If not, then why not give distance a shot?

Does your relationship have trust?

If you trust your significant other and they trust you, you may have a solid foundation for a long distance relationship. An important part of going into college with a boyfriend or girlfriend is allowing each other to experience college and find themselves. I’ve had a boyfriend all through college and have been able to go out with the girls every weekend, and even study abroad for 5 months. My boyfriend and I live separate lives as we learn about ourselves and gain our own experiences, but at the end of the day we know we have the support of each other.

Do you see things going long term?

If you don’t see your relationship lasting the test of time, it doesn’t make much sense to go into college with a long distance relationship. Long distance relationships require commitment, and they will only work if you are both in it for the long haul. If you don’t think you want this to continue in the future, the summer before college is the perfect time to end things.

This being said, every relationship is different . Do what’s best for you, and DON’T LET OTHER PEOPLE TELL YOU WHAT’S RIGHT. I was told by many people around me that I should go into college single. Now, I am a semester away from graduation and still with my boyfriend. Staying with him through college is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I didn’t miss out on meeting new people or having fun in college. Instead I enjoy the company of my friends knowing I have the companionship of my partner.

I did have people who doubted my relationship. Perhaps the most eye-roll moment was when I was told it was “disrespectful” to the boys in my grade that I would come to college with a boyfriend by an angry jock who wanted me to hang out with him. These are the kinds of things you have to brush off, and remember that the only opinions that matter in this decision are you and your significant other. Staying with my boyfriend in college has allowed for us to see each other grow and mature, and for our relationship to grow with us.

The moral of the story is to do what’s best for you! My number one rule in this situation is to block out the outside opinions, and listen to your heart.

Thanks for reading! Talk soon!

-Jess

A love lock I left for us when studying abroad, overlooking Tower Bridge in London.


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San Diego: Some Final Thoughts

During my last fews days in San Diego I explored Balboa Park, did some shopping, and soaked in my last bit of sunshine at Pacific Beach. Leaving this beautiful place was hard for me, as I felt in my element in the warmth surrounded by such wonderful people. I am so grateful for the experience I was able to have in California.

Since leaving San Diego I have been apartment/job hunting out west. The way I felt out there when I visited both Arizona and California doesn’t compare to my feelings anywhere else I’ve been. I’ve traveled all through the east coast and around Europe, and yet the west coast is the place that captured my heart. The sunsets in San Diego were my favorite part of this trip. Knowing that everyday can end in something so beautiful makes bad days seem less bad.

Below are some final pictures from my trip.

Thanks for reading, talk soon!

-Jess

disclosure: VigLink is being used in this post for affiliate marketing purposes.


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San Diego Day 3: Sea Lions to Stargazing

On the third day of my trip to San Diego we headed to La Jolla Cove to see the sea lions and window shop. The area was gorgeous and pictures can’t do it justice.

Seals truly are the dogs of the ocean. The way they scooted across the sand left me with a huge smile on my face, but La Jolla has more than just seals. The area has adorable boutiques, coffee shops, and murals spread through the area. It was vibrant with bright pink buildings that reflected my good mood.

After leaving La Jolla we took to the beach again. Staying right on the water was the perfect location for us.

After a day at the beach, I met with my boyfriend for dinner. We went to Dirty Birds for all-you-can-eat wings. The wings were fantastic, although we had the bright idea to end the night with Ghost Pepper wings. Let’s just say, that didn’t end well.

Once our mouths were no longer on fire, we headed to a grassy patch on a cliff and stargazed. We took in the fresh air and attempted to wrap our heads around how large the universe is. We’ve been wanting to stargaze together for years, and being able to do this in California together was special.

I began to realize that California is one of my favorite places I’ve ever been, and I can’t wait to return.

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San Diego Day 2: Relaxing and Reflecting

Day 2 was another relaxing beach day. We kicked the day off by walking to Rum Jungle Cafe where I ordered an Aloha Açaí Bowl in a pineapple bowl. Other than making for a cute photo, this was a refreshing choice to kick off the day with nutrients .

The rest of the day was fairly uneventful although relaxing. After sunbathing for hours, we took to In n’ Out Burger for dinner (when in Cali am I right?). I got a lettuce wrapped burger and although I wasn’t wildly impressed, I was satisfied.

We ended the day with another beautiful sunset. Overall, it was just another day in paradise. The sunsets at the end of the day give me time to reflect on my life and how far I’ve come. There was a time in my life that I struggled to leave my house for school every morning, and now I’m seeing places I thought I would only ever dream of.

On the way home from watching the sunset, my friends and I discussed how lucky we are to be able to see such beautiful places. I often get asked by other people my age how I’m able to travel so much. The simple answer is prioritizing. I’m a college student with very little income, which makes it sound like I wouldn’t be able to travel. I prioritize places and experiences more than material possessions, so I hardly ever shop or go out to eat. This has allowed me to see some of the most beautiful places while barely having money in my pocket.

Traveling can be done on a budget, especially if it’s something you’re passionate about. I’m a firm believer that anything is possible if you really want it. Obviously there are restrictions to this, but follow your passions where you can. Restricting myself in other ways has allowed me to see San Diego, and I have no

regrets.

Thanks for reading, talk soon!

-Jess

disclosure: VigLink is being used in this post for affiliate marketing purposes.


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San Diego Day 1: From Mimosas to Sunset

From bottomless mimosas to the prettiest sunset I’ve ever seen, San Diego captured my heart within hours. California has been a dream destination of mine and I’m so happy to say I was not disappointed. Staying in Pacific Beach, we spent our first day of spring break eating on the main strip and laying in the sun.

Breakfast.

Backyard Kitchen & Tap has amazing brunch deals on Saturdays. Bottomless mimosas and bottomless pancakes for $15 each. The mimosa station was stocked with multiple fruit juices (mango, pineapple, pear, peach) and a wide selection of candy. I got an acai bowl with peanut butter, bananas, and fresh berries. Breakfast was refreshing and the atmosphere was energetic.

Our Day.

We spent our day popping into cute shops in town and laying on the beach. Surrounded by cliffs, flowers, palm trees, and magnificent houses made a beautiful backdrop for our beautiful day.

Dinner.

For dinner we headed down to Taco Surf, a cheap but delicious spot. All of the food offered here is great quality and since San Diego is so close to the border, it’s all authentic Mexican food. I ordered two crispy chicken tacos and a drink for $10. This was a perfect dining option for our college-student wallets. The portions were much bigger than expected, which also made this a perfect spot for our hungry appetites.

Sunset.

The sunset was breathtaking. We took to the pier to watch surfers catch waves as the sky turned a yellowish orange. As the sun lowered, we could see the sun’s rays. We stayed outside and soaked the view in until the sky turned a navy blue.

Nighttime.

My boyfriend and I took a walk on the strip at night to grab some ice cream from The Baked Bear, known for their cookie ice cream sandwiches. Being St. Patrick’s day weekend, the strip was buzzing with night life and there was no shortage of people. Back in the air bnb, the girls and I got away from the hustle and bustle, ending our night with some tea and snacks.

San Diego is everything I hoped for and more. If you’re looking to visit the area, I recommend staying in Pacific Beach just 20 minutes away from downtown and La Jolla Cove.

More to come soon!

-Jess

 

 

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Growing Up With Anxiety

Since I’m still new to this blog thing, I want to get into a little more about me. If I’m starting from the beginning, the best way to get to know who I am would be discussing my anxiety. I have always been an anxious child, but my anxiety intensified as I went into middle school, and even more in high school. I would frequently hide in the bathrooms between every class so I wouldn’t get to the classroom too early. There was even a time that I dropped a pencil in class and was so anxious about drawing attention to myself that I carried out the rest of class pretending to write without a pencil, so I wouldn’t have to bend down to pick it up.

It’s safe to say I was AWKWARD. It’s also safe to say that the way I was living was not healthy or normal. I began therapy at age 10, and this became an off and on activity throughout my life. Therapy DID help, but by the time I got to high school and it became clear that my progress was not where it should be. I began taking anti-anxiety medication. There is a great stigma around medication for mental illnesses, and I plan to make a whole post on this later. The most important thing to know about my anxiety journey is I had tried everything else. My grades were slipping, and I wasn’t living life to my best potential. Medication didn’t make me a new person, it simply put me in a better mindset so I could be who I really am. That being said, there are still physical ways that I cope with anxiety, and I do still get some anxious flare ups.

Breathing.

In through the nose for 5 seconds, out through the mouth for 5 seconds. This method works best for me when I get that awful butterflies-in-the-stomach/dropping-on-a-roller-coaster feeling that won’t go away.

Essential oils.

Essential oils are really helpful. I’m not typically one to believe in natural remedies, but diffusing a lavender scent in my room on a stressful evening puts me in a better frame of mind. If you don’t have an essential oil diffuser, I recommend purchasing one. If nothing else, it will make your room smell amazing!

Music and sounds.

The sounds that relax people can vary. Personally, I like to play ocean waves in the background when I need help falling asleep. If I’m feeling anxious and depressed during the day however, I often listen to Disney music. I know, I know, not everyone likes Disney as much as me. The point is that I have found sounds that make me happy and put me in a good mood. It may not be Disney for everyone, but I’m sure we all have some favorite songs that can turn our day around.

People.

Overall, the number one thing that has helped me become the confident and postive person I am today has been the people I surround myself with. I’m a little weird, I won’t lie. I do some goofy things, make some weird voices, fall over (a lot), and make a fool out of myself. These are qualities I’ve learned to LOVE and I’ve found that this is what makes me unique. There have been people in my life that have judged my quirks, my interests, or my sense of humor. Distancing myself from these people, and surrounding myself with ones who understand me (or at least love me despite my wackiness) has been pivotal in my journey to self-love.

If you’re struggling with anxiety or depression, maybe some of these methods will work for you! If not, don’t be discouraged. Everyone’s path is different and what helps me, may not help you. It took me 18 years to finally find the best coping methods for me. Don’t lose hope.

I plan to post more about experiences I’ve had with anxiety as well as the stigma around mental illnesses. I hope I can enlighten people or spread awareness through my experiences.

If you struggle with anxiety, leave me a comment! Let me know how you cope with it, and if there’s anything on this topic that you’d like to see in future posts.

Thank you for reading! Talk soon!

-Jess

disclosure: VigLink is being used in this post for affiliate marketing purposes.


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