Pictures Worth A Thousand Words – Waterstones

A man and a woman both 82-years-young. Wednesday morning was always a tradition for them. They arise from their very old bed in their very old Exeter cottage that used to be full of life, laughter, craziness and love. A family of five comprised of them, two boys and one girl. Now scattered across the world. Distracted by their own hectic lives but still manage to call every week and visit for holidays.

This couple, call them Mary and James Waterstones, had their first date at a bookstore coffee shop. A gloomy day, like today, 64 years ago. It wasn’t like any other first date, though.

This one was different. Conversation flowed like the River Exe. Eyes locked like keys on Paris’ Passerelle des Arts. Laughs filled the air loud as Big Ben’s hourly roar. The potential of love turned their faces red and blotchy.

Continue reading Pictures Worth A Thousand Words – Waterstones

A Hobbit in England – Mental Health Abroad

Mental health. The forbidden fruit of conversations. It might sound like taboo to some but to others, mental health issues control their whole lives. For me, it’s like the elephant in all rooms I enter. I’ve had my ups and downs, but I’ve learned to always prioritize my mentality. While traveling and being constantly distracted, it gets pushed to the back. Until it weasels it’s way back to the front.

And it always does.

Continue reading A Hobbit in England – Mental Health Abroad

From Sweats to Shivers – A Florida Girl Takes England

Hello Friends!

I’m officially one week into my six-month study abroad experience. Here’s a little background about my situation: I’m a third-year at the University of South Florida partaking in an exchange program at the University of Exeter, about three hour southwest of London, England. Business marketing is my major and I’m taking some very interesting classes here in the UK.

Global Environmental Issues, International Business, Behavior, Decisions and Markets, and Economics of Management Strategy. Stay tuned for a post addressing the differences between classes in the UK versus the US. From curriculum to the professor and classroom experience, it’s been a pretty cool ride so far.

Now let’s get into the more interesting stuff: life in Exeter. Being here only eight days, I must say I’m on a British high. The culture, the accents, the food, the people, the weather, everything. My only complaint is the HILLS! This Florida-born-and-raised chick is adjusting slowly but surely to these 75-degree angels.

Continue reading From Sweats to Shivers – A Florida Girl Takes England

Smile Through the Fear – A Trip to the South of Israel

On my trip to the south, we visited a kibbutz called Ein Hashlosha which is about a mile and a half from the Gaza border. This community experiences rockets weekly, but this is an improvement. At one point, I learned, they were being attacked up to six times a day. Like the playground discussed in my last post, safe houses are within a 15-second sprint from any point where one might be standing on this kibbutz.

In May, before the school day began, the sirens went off and everyone sought shelter. The rocket happened to hit directly next to the elementary school in the community. Everyone was safe, but that might’ve not been the case had it been shot 10 minutes later when school was supposed to start.

Our tour guide told us he has four young kids. When asked what he tells his kids who have to grow up in this reality, he said he’s realistic yet hopeful with them. He tells them there is no reason to live in complete fear or stop living your life, or else Hamas – explained in my Gymboree post – wins. He also tells them that he hopes there will come a time when their days and nights won’t be interrupted by sirens and screams. Continue reading Smile Through the Fear – A Trip to the South of Israel

The Gymboree – Israel’s Only Protected Playground

Being educated on the topic of the conflict in the south of Israel, I thought I knew what I was getting myself into when going for the day. Little did I know I was in for a huge, heart-wrenching surprise. The reality of the people who live in communities bordering Gaza hit me in a way I never thought it would. Continue reading The Gymboree – Israel’s Only Protected Playground

When Another Home Gets Hit – Santa Fe High School Shooting

It happened again. The 22nd school shooting in our country this year. This one the most deadly since MSD. Trump sends his support. Though a kind gesture, “support” will not prevent another shooting from happening. Continue reading When Another Home Gets Hit – Santa Fe High School Shooting

Festivals From a Shorty’s Perspective

The “boom” of the bass blares over the entire park. Walking up to the stage, I’m full of hype, ready to dance until I can’t feel my feet anymore. It’s the final show on Peach Stage of Wanee Music Festival – a full-on camping music festival.

Warming up is Widespread Panic, a Georgia-based jam band known for sending their fans into a frenzy. The entire population of campers, hippies, and music lovers are dance-skipping to the same place. I finally wade into the crowd, a few feet from the rail when I realize the only view I’m getting of Widespread Panic is the cartoons of lead singer John Bell on the backs of spectators’ WSMFP shirts.

Even with the best intentions and the most determination, I’m still only 5’1’ at a music festival. Continue reading Festivals From a Shorty’s Perspective

Bringing the Blizzard – March for Our Lives

What an inspiring turnout we had at the March for Our Lives – Tampa Bay. Some 15,000 people demanded change; and that’s just one march. We’re making a difference. We’re being the change.

As I marched, I took a look around. I analyzed my surroundings. The atmosphere, the people, the vibes. One thing that stuck out to me was how different everyone was. We were all different shapes, sizes, ethnicities, political parties, religions, ect., but we all came together for the same cause. For safety. For peace of mind that students who leave for school in the morning will come home that afternoon. That no one will have to wonder if they’re going to be “next” on the list of deaths caused by gun violence. Continue reading Bringing the Blizzard – March for Our Lives

When Your Home Gets Hit – Douglas High School Shooting

Hello Friends,

I come to you all today with a heavy heart and an infuriated soul. On Wednesday, February 14th, I was walking out of my apartment in Tampa to go to class. My friend, Caitlyn, stopped me in my tracks to show me something that her mother sent her. The headline read, “Shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School; Parkland, Florida.”

I stopped in my tracks, unsure of how to react. I then walked on, unbelieving of what I’d read. What are you supposed to do when the place you spent four years of your life in is “under attack”? They didn’t teach me that in school.  Continue reading When Your Home Gets Hit – Douglas High School Shooting