Snapshots: January

Oops, I did it again. Keeping up a blog when I’m bogged down with school work galore really is a challenge. One of my resolutions this year was to make the dreams that I have a reality.  Currently, I’m trying to figure out minors and internships, that will make those dreams of travel and fulfilled wanderlust more attainable in the upcoming months, so please excuse my absence from writing all the little things I’ve been doing.  A little recap of life in the Pacific Northwest: we’ve had some rain (and by some, I mean most days), trekked out of Seattle to see a waterfall with a friend, my mom visited for the weekend and finally I’ve been hit hard with the flu in the last week. So life has been going on, but there’s been very little time for an update. Instead of writing a day to day recap, here’s a few snapshots of life for the time I’ve been gone.

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A wintery Saturday morning drive to Snoqualmie Falls, expecting a hike and finding this view only a 5 minute walk from the parking lot.

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Stunning sights of Seattle’s harbor from the Great Wheel – never thought I’d get my mom up on a ferris wheel on her own will!

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All smiles when my mom comes to visit this rainy city.

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Downtown Seattle at dusk, getting ready to shine during the night.

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A beautiful sunset to end the weekend with my mom, found at Kerry Park in Queen Anne.

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Photos of the three roommates usually end up like this amongst the giggling and falling.

IMG_5005Another amazing Seattle sunset on campus, keeping my California spirits happy.

Writing is very cathartic for me, so these little entries give me time to reflect on all that is good in my life and knock me out of whatever funk I’ve gotten myself into.  Hopefully I’ll have a little bit more of a schedule with updating, but in the mean time, I hope that everyone’s Februarys are happy and healthy!

Until next time, catch me on instagram.

The Swing of Things

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New years bring about new resolutions, new ideas, new cities and schedules. Getting home from London meant a few weeks of getting over my travel exhaustion all while secretly planning the next trip – alright, maybe not so secret based on the amount of time I spent talking about it.  The thing with the new year is that all of the new things you begin to experience inherently mean change. I’ve never been that great with feeling comfortable in a changing area (just ask my parents, they’ve definitely experienced a few of my freak outs).  This year, I’m resolving to accept change like I did in the past year. Moving forward with the things that come my way and taking them thankfully. After 3 months of constant change and traveling, the three weeks I spent at home were warmly welcomed because they offered comfort and relaxation.  There’s really nothing better than some quiet family time to get you back on your feet.

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I’ve been back in Seattle for a week now & I’m struggling with the idea of getting back into the swing of things. The funny thing is, you really have no choice when it comes to ‘the swing of things’  – you’re either with it or you’re completely uncomfortable. This week has consisted of a lot of effort to get back to the level of comfort I felt in this beautiful and often rainy city just 7 months ago; there’s no doubt in my mind that the adventures I had in the last semester have changed me and I just have to learn how to re-adapt to my city.  There is definitely some anxiousness to come back into a life that continued on for the time you were gone, but also immense comfort that the people you know will always have your back when you’re feeling that way. With these lessons in mind, my sista (from another mista) and I journeyed the 12 hours up Interstate 5 to Seattle. Meg and I have been friends since before birth, so the long road trip was nothing but fun and a few wrong turns – whoopsie daisies!

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Ask anyone who has driven up or down the west coast – when you go south of Sacramento, Interstate 5 is not the most pleasant drive (thank you cattle farms). But when you drive north, the road is full of stunning mountain-scapes and endless trees.  Thankfully, Megan endured listening to the podcast Serial again while we drove, and I was quickly obsessed. If you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon for this podcast, it’s a must – definitely creepy, but so so addicting. We chased a huge fog bank all the way through Oregon until we stopped to fuel up on some Chipotle in Eugene.  Shortly after 6 PM, we pulled into my home away from home and began the effort of unloading all the boxes I felt were absolutely necessary to bring with me back up north.  A day full of driving had us exhausted, so the unpacking was left for the next few days as we took an early night.  I’ve got to say – after traveling around, I was amazed at the beauty of the Pacific Northwest & the entire West Coast in general.  Adventures in this area are definitely coming soon, because I can’t just stop all the fun of exploring, now can I?!

IMG_4906Walking back on the UW campus made me realize that there are very few sights that are greater than Mount Rainier showing itself early on a winter morning. I felt stunned into silence, even though I was rushing to my class (I might have forgotten just how big UW’s campus is). Regardless of the anxiety that sits in the back of my mind, I’m glad to be back with some of my dearest friends and catch up on all that I’ve missed out on. For the new year, I’ll be working on pursuing dreams of continued travel, education, and health. Soon, I’ll be back with some recipe ideas that will impress your friends and give your taste buds a burst of flavor, so keep an eye out!

What are your resolutions this year? What do you do to conquer anxiety and change? I’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments below!

Until next time, catch me here on instagram or become a part of The Rambling Reed community on Facebook.

 

 

Reflecting on London

You know you’ve gained something from an experience when it’s almost unbearable to see it end.  Living in London was very surreal – I’d visited England for the first time in 2007 and knew that one day I wanted to come back and live more permanently. Even after living there for 3 months,  I have still have the desire to move back on a more permanent basis. London is part of the greatest adventure of my life so far, but the wonderful people I met while there really made this experience one I’ll never forget.  I can’t thank the girls of Flat 23 & 24 enough for all the hospitality and making London a second home for me.  Nikita, Izzy, Chloe, Rebecca, Hannah, Maddie, Lydia, Cory, Cecilia & Jess – you’ll always be a part of my little London family and hopefully we will make many more memories in the future together!

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When I first found out I was accepted to King’s College London, I was so incredibly excited that my dream of living in London was coming true. During my orientation at University of Washington, there was one thing that really intrigued me.  The counselors reminded us that moving 5000 miles away from home doesn’t come easy – that there will be a period of uncomfort with the new culture, potential homesickness, finding stability in your new city, and uncomfort for the first few days back in the states. Personally, I only felt a little homesick around the fifth week, when I was sick with a nasty head cold (earned from endless weekends of travel), but I credit the girls of my flat for truly making London a second home for me.

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I think that’s why a week after coming back to California, I’m still longing for the small rooms and loud neighbors – because those girls are a part of something that’s over for now.  With my bags on the curb of Stamford Street and my flatmates waiting with me (even though it was 8 AM), I tried with everything in me to not cry as I hugged them one last time, because I knew that once the tears started, they wouldn’t dry for a while. As soon as the car door shut, the driver turned around to me and said “no tears yet?” and then the dams broke. Happy tears that London had been everything I’d ever wanted from studying abroad – I think that the pain I felt when leaving, only meant that the adventure I’ve had was truly one for the books.

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With each adventure, you learn something. Over the past 3 months I’ve learned tremendous amounts about myself. I’ve understood that family is with you no matter how far you venture. I’ve learned that I am independent and enjoy adventures with no set plan – just a place in mind and a map in your back pocket (especially with no cell phone data when out of London!)!  I’ve learned that trying to cross things off your bucket list only leads to adding more. I’ve learned that different perspectives in teaching (whether that be nationality or where it’s taught) can expand your mind in ways you didn’t know was possible. This list goes on and on, because honestly, London taught me more than any other experience I’ve had so far. For anyone considering venturing abroad for a semester, I highly recommend it. For anyone else, I suggest stepping outside your comfort zone and experiencing life while you’re vulnerable to new experiences – there really isn’t anything that beats it.

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11 ½ hours flying, 3 hours driving and I’m back in my home surrounded my pets galore. When I stepped off the plane and eventually got through customs, my Mom and Dad were waiting outside arrivals with a big welcome home sign and cheers that made my smile impossibly big. What a weird feeling it is to be back in California and have the holidays so close to being celebrated. The morning after I flew in, I woke up wondering if I’d ever even left – but the scattered clothing, bags of souvenirs and the fact that it was 2 AM (thank you, jet lag) reminded me of all the great adventures that I’d had. It’s hard to have it over, but exciting to see new opportunities to explore come together for the future!

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I promise there will be no more emotional London posts, because I know it can get a little boring for readers – but this has been on my mind this week and I thought writing it out would do me some good. I’m going to take a break from blogging for a few weeks, so I can enjoy the holidays and get everything organized for my trek back to Seattle and UW in early January. Until then, catch me here on instagram. I can assure you that I’ll be back with new recipes, adventures and stories very soon! I’ll end with a quote that aptly describes how my mind has been working the past few days – thank you for bearing with me through the my adventure blogs!

“The voyage never ends…the mind can never break off from the journey” – Pat Conroy

Love,

Laura Reed

Feeling Festive

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Christmas time is finally here and let me tell you, London takes the holidays very seriously. From the end of October on, it seems like there’s been a new Christmas decoration up on a corner or more lights hung from the streets. I’m so used to having the Christmas season just in December – so this extremely long festive time has been an absolute treat! I’m always the kid in the house that stresses the importance of having our lights up the day after Thanksgiving along with the stockings on the fireplace and giant nutcracker in the hallway. I feel like my senses have been overloaded with time I’ve had to see Christmassy sights and I’m honestly completely okay with that.

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Just a 15 minute walk from my flat is Trafalgar Square.  We ventured over the Hungerford Bridge the other night for the Oslo Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and were treated to a few carols and a speech by the mayor of Oslo. For the last 63 years, Norway has given a pine tree to England to thank them for the aid they received during the wartime.  We were frozen to the bone by the time we were back, but it was fantastic to see the lights be turned on and the carol singing helped with making everyone feel a little more festive.

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There’s so much to do in London on a regular day, so when it comes to the holidays – it’s kind of insane. Winter Wonderland is this amazing festival located in Hyde Park that is basically a German Christmas market transported to the middle of London. There’s rides of all kinds, booths filled to the top with gifts and too many pots of mulled wine to count. Izzy, Ashton, Rebecca & I found ourselves there on Tuesday night and ended up walking around the entire park before ending the night with some hot chocolate and plenty of souvenirs.

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Closer to my flat is the South Bank Christmas market that runs alongside the Thames and has close-up views of Parliament and the London Eye.  It’s so strange being able to walk home from campus and casually stop by the Christmas market for a few last minute presents. This particular market is a little bit smaller but still has the tons of booths with gingerbread, fudge, mulled cider and gifts. I am just a tiny bit in love with everything in my area – leaving in just a 5 days makes each walk back bittersweet. Bittersweet because I’m excited to get home and see my family and excited for the many trips (and hopefully a more permanent move) back to England, but the idea of not seeing the friends I’ve made here for at least the next 6 months is kind of hard to fathom.

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Anyways – back to Christmas markets and the holiday spirit! Really, there’s not much better than seeing the holiday cheer on people’s faces as you walk by… sure, that sounds extremely cheesy, but what can I say – this season is definitely my favorite. I can’t wait to be home and forcing the family to have all the decoration up within an hour of my being home (you better expect it, Mom & Dad) and the sheer thought of making dozens and dozens of Christmas cookies and haystacks makes me jump in my seat.  To be honest, I’m actually wrapped up in my duvet with the heating on because London has decided to freeze everything in its path.

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There’s several reasons why I love being a student at Kings College and currently, the ability to go ice skating at Somerset House during class breaks sits right on top. Like, how cool is that?! Ice skating at a famous London landmark, right along the Thames all within 30 steps of my campus. I was rather impressed with my ability to stay skating during our time on the rink. Other than the speed demon who completely ran right into me – I had no falls, woohoo! I definitely don’t go ice skating often, so this was certainly a treat.

3London has done its job and has made me feel comfortable with living 5000 miles away from family, but California is calling and in just 5 short days, I’ll be flying back. There will certainly be teary goodbyes and many days in the future of looking back at these amazing experiences I’ve had – but for the rest of my time here,  I’ll take advantage of this wonderful city and all it has to offer.  I certainly hope that one day, I’ll get to call London a part-time home, because this city has taken a part of my heart and I’m really excited for the adventures back!

Love,

Laura Reed

Thanksgiving: London Edition

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Thanksgiving. That day where there’s the smell of a turkey roasting and family gathers from near and far, might just be my favorite. There’s something about the festive beginning to the holiday season…maybe it’s all the delicious food around, but I like to think that it’s the knowledge that you get to see your family every few weeks in the upcoming months. This year, I’m not surrounded by my incredible family members in the gorgeous Napa Valley – because I’m away in London on this once-in-a-lifetime adventure. While I’m not there to tell my family what I am thankful for this year, I thought I’d put it in writing.

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Every Thanksgiving I can remember starts with my dad and I up early and preparing the turkey to be put in the roaster while sipping on hot coffee or some tea. We usually spend a few nights up in St. Helena at our family home and have the chatter of family life going on all around us as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade blasts from the main room.  Sure I’m feeling a little homesick today, especially because I don’t get to be involved in the hub-bub of thanksgiving day, but this adventure I’ve been on for the last few months has been one I wouldn’t trade in for the world. Thanksgiving is all about recognizing what you’re thankful in life, because most of us don’t realize how good we have it until we’re forced to really think it through.

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While I’m not with my amazing siblings this year, I’m extremely thankful for the relationship that we have and knowing that we’ll be together in just two short weeks. Nothing compares to the love of family. And specifically with siblings, there’s no one else I’d rather bicker with and then later make up with a hug and an ATV ride through the vineyard. It’s pretty silly to be sitting here in the library with a grin as wide as the ocean thinking about my family, but what can I say – I love them pretty dang much.

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Not many people get the opportunity to move 5000 miles away to a new city in a new country and have the time of their lives. This adventure is everything and more I could have asked for. I’ve made friends I know will last a lifetime, memories that will never fade, and traveled to places I’ve only ever dreamed of. This may all sound cliché and cheesy, but I don’t know when else I can get away with putting my thankfulness in writing.  This little London family I’ve come to know will make it impossibly hard to leave my study abroad home, but I’m fortunate enough to know that I’ll be back to explore soon enough.

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Speaking of adventure, I’m so amazed by the places the last three months have taken me. I could not have made it to the other side of the world to continue adventuring without the help of the other study abroad friends I’ve made here. This experience has gotten me out of my shell and made me realize that the great big world really isn’t all that big and hard to get to. The knowledge that the globe is filled with incredible places waiting to be experienced is one of the most major things I’ve taken out of this time. So thank you to the girls and guys that I’ve been fortunate enough to meet and travel with – you’ve really made me feel a little bit more at home in great big London and I hope we travel to see each other when we’re back home in the states as well.

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I came here completely alone, not knowing a single soul. It’s pretty amazing that I’ve had little to no homesickness and even crazier to think that in two short weeks, I’ll be reunited with my family. I know I talk about how much this adventure has truly meant to me a little too much, but I simply can’t recommend a study abroad experience enough. It’s changed the way that I view the world and view myself – knowing that I have what it takes to pack up and go exploring is some of the most liberating knowledge I gained from this. So, thank you Mom and Dad for giving me the experience of a lifetime – I’ll be forever grateful.

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Knowing that I return home to the states in a few weeks makes me realize how amazing California is. I’m so thankful for the friends that have stuck with me through my crazy years and for the home I’ve made in Seattle.  To my Sacramento friends, I can’t wait to see you shortly and thank you for always being there to cheer me up.  To my Seattle friends, I can’t help but quiver in excitement for the reunion that comes so soon! That city on the Sound is near and dear to my heart, and I really can’t wait to be back in January.

IMG_3433The sun is setting soon on this study abroad experience, but as you can see I’ve had the time of my life. I’m sad to think that I have to leave this incredible city – it’s comforting to know that when I come back, I’ll have a little group of friends to visit and make some new memories with. Happy Thanksgiving to you where ever you are in this crazy world – have a double serving of pumpkin pie for me!

What are you thankful for this year?

Love,

Laura Reed