Old Sacramento

I sometimes forget to appreciate the beauty that is right in front of me. I constantly feel myself imagining a city, landscape, and adventure that is better than my current one. I felt this way about Sacramento… Until today.

I was hungover and feeling shitty. My plan was to lie in bed all day. Then my roommate (what sounded like an impulsive decision on her part), told me to get ready. We were going on an adventure… In our own city? From Toronto, to London, and now Sacramento, I never felt the need to explore the cities I have lived in. For me, exploration was saved for foreign cities. My hometowns never felt foreign to me.

So, I forced myself to roll out of bed and get ready. Picking up one of my new thrift store finds, I quickly dressed. Florals and denim… What seemed like my new, go-to California apparel. We were ready. Just minutes later, we were headed to Old Sacramento.

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Vintage Marc Jacobs Florals

Immediately… And I mean immediately. I found myself falling in love with the city. Culture. History. Community. Everything I longed for was here. What started off as a slight bit of of resent for a city that appeared to be so limited, quickly turned into appreciation. I was brought to Sacramento for a reason. It isn’t the biggest, loudest, or most fun city, but it is the city I am supposed to be in right now. Finally, after a month of being here, I felt like Sacramento was my home.

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Enough about my personal reflections. My fellow international friends and I were on a fun adventure. We basically situated ourselves in Old Sacramento and walked. We strolled for hours. But, time flew by. This area was beautiful. As a lover of all things historical and vintage, I found myself gawking at every building and street corner. The same paved streets I am walking on were once occupied by horse-and-carriages. Old Sacramento resembled a setting from a Wild, Wild West movie.

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Our journey only began in Old Sacramento. Being in the capitol of California, it is a necessity to visit the Parliament building. And what a sight that building was. After taking a billion (seriously my camera roll is full) pictures of Parliament, we walked over to DOCO (Downtown Commons). There we saw the Golden 1 Centre. We’ll definitely be back. I plan on cheering on NBA’s Sacramento Kings there!

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After our self-guided tour of the California State Capitol, we stumbled (literally stumbled) upon an outdoor festival called “Parking Day.” It was a free, community event that featured live music, games, art, and interactive exhibits. IT WAS SO FUN!

What’s a day without yummy food though? Of course my friends and I devoured some of the local Sacramento eats during our Sacramento exploration day. On our menu? Temple Coffee Roaster’s delicious vegan & gluten-free donut and much needed iced-coffee. We later indulged in this salivating grilled cheese straight from a food truck!

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If You’re Going To San Francisco

The first stop on my exploration of California was San Francisco.

Travel, travel, travel. My mind constantly repeated this word. Coming to Sacramento, I knew I wanted to explore the State. And finally, after 2 weeks of laying low in the old Sac Town, I was off to a bigger city.

The skyscrapers, local traffic, and swarms of people in SF made the city feel like home to me. Being from Toronto, I missed the busyness of a large city. My weekend trip to San Francisco was the ultimate beginner’s trip. Tourist attractions, sleazy clubs, and wild Uber rides sum up my exploration quite well.

Here is the essential touristy guide to exploring the beautiful San Francisco (in the form of my photos).

Lombard Street

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Golden Gate Bridge

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Pier 39

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The Nightlife

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The Eats

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California Dreaming

If you had asked me around this time last year if I would be on academic exchange, I would probably say no. I had a lot of other SHIT going on in my life. But, a turn of events caused me to spontaneously apply to study in California this Fall. I applied exactly one day before the application was due. I received my acceptance letter almost immediately. And just like that, my life was about to change.

The Anticipation

Leading up to exchange, it almost seemed as if everyone was more excited than I was. Everywhere I went, people I knew would stop me and say the most generic travelling things:

“You’re going to have so much fun!”

“You’re so lucky, I never got to do that when I was in college!”

“You’re never going to want to come back home!”

I would usually dismiss these statements. For me, this exchange is was merely an opportunity to study abroad. Whenever people would say I was “so lucky” and was “going to have so much fun,” I would get annoyed. I wasn’t travelling for mere leisure, I was here to go to school. Little did I know that only 2 weeks abroad, I would already feel like a changed person.

The Beginning

I can’t say I really liked California much my first few days here. I was feeling homesick already. I spent my first day alone in a hotel then the following few days in an Airbnb. I was alone in a new country. I didn’t have anyone to call or hang out with. My days were spent lying down in a bed that wasn’t mine, watching Netflix, and ordering in food. I felt as if I had just made the biggest mistake of my life coming here.

This all changed a few days later during “International Student Orientation.” I completely forgot how hard it was to make friends. There was this HUGE line of International students. Over 300 of us. All of them clearly from different countries. But, being the ambitious little woman that I am, I approached the Swedish girl in-front of me (She is now my roommate hehe). One friend, turned into 2 friends, and later that day I already had a whole crew of friends from all over the world!

The Change-Up

It’s funny how meeting new people and FINALLY settling in changes your perception of your environment. Only 3 weeks into my exchange and I already want to call California home. My professors are AMAZING, the weather is beautiful, and my mindset has been nothing but positive. Other than missing my family, close friends, and my dog, I haven’t experienced any sad, anxious or negative thoughts recently. I am truly happy. I see California as a land of opportunity and all I want to do is experience everything.

Stay turned for my new travel series – First stop, CALIFORNIA.

I lost myself in the process of finding myself

I lost myself in the process of finding myself. 

Let me explain…

While reminiscing through teenaged photos of myself, I began to feel empty. I get it, people change. I always knew I was going to. I frequently look back at the past. I like soaking in all the fond memories I have. But, something was different this time around. I did not feel happy looking at old pictures of myself. I realized, I missed the old me. Who I am today is not who I’m supposed to be. Who I was in the past was the real me.

For clarification, when I reference the past I’m talking about 14-17 year old me. I never acknowledged high-school as being my peak. And I definitely hope it wasn’t. But, there was something so true about younger me. I took hundreds (probably thousands) of SELFIES of myself. Smiling, sticking out my tongue, and blowing kisses. Now, I can’t bear to open up my front camera without feeling some disgust for the person I see. There is always something to fix. My nose, my skin, my hair, my eyes… Yet, teen Nicole did not morph a thing.

 

Maybe it is the culture we are in right now. There are so many apps to morph your face and body into something you are not. Even though I know this Facetune/Photoshop/Instagram culture has something to do with it, my feelings of resent lie deeper. Everyone who knows me would probably say that I was always the popular, outgoing type. They are wrong. Looking back at these pictures, I realize I was SO FUCKING WEIRD! And I love it; I miss it; I want to be it! I did not give a shit about what people thought about me. And now I do. 

 

That is my problem. Somewhere between the end of high-school and the start of university, I lost myself. I was that fun, artistic, stoner-chic, poet chick. I loved the person I was. I dressed how I wanted to, drew weird pictures, wore blotchy, no-brand makeup, but was completely content with who I was. Then, I changed.

I changed myself to be like everyone else. By the looks of my photo timeline, this transition happened gradually. Every photo included in this blog post was posted on my Instagram account ages ago. I used to take a strange photo and upload it immediately. I would upload photos at 3am, sometimes would upload 4 a day. Then I learned that your social media image and presence is apparently really important. Now, I never post.

I’m wondering if this acknowledgement of my lost self will lead me to becoming my true self again. Maybe this whole time that I was “trying to find myself” only meant that I would eventually return to the person I once was.

Goals For Senior Year

Each new school year, I make myself a goal list.

My overly ambitious self assumes that (based on the laws of attraction, of course) if I write down my wishes, they will come true. Unfortunately, my Notes app on my iPhone isn’t a genie bottle. I sometimes forget that.

I’m almost embarrassed to share my junior year goal list with you. Basically, none of my “wishes” came true. But, I guess that is exactly what happens when believe that your life path exists as one straight line. You cannot predict or plan your future. I learned this the hard way.

My Junior Year Goal List Was:

  1. Start A Blog
  2. Become A Freelance Writer For A Magazine
  3. Cut Down On Drinking & Partying
  4. Meditate Everyday
  5. Don’t Be Such A Bitch To Men (Some Guys Are Actually Nice)
  6. Start Reading Again
  7. Become President Of AOII

The only goal I was actually able to complete was Number 1. Numbers 2-4 happened partially or later on in the year. Numbers 5-7 didn’t happen at all. What I hate most in life is being labelled as a failure. I feel as if I failed because I was unable to complete all these goals. I’m in complete shock that I’m even sharing this list with the world right now… But, there is a reason why I am doing so. 

No one should have to feel like a failure.

I cannot emphasize this enough. Trying to achieve a certain amount of goals in a short period of time is nearly impossible to do. The motivated self you are at the beginning of a new term isn’t who you will be throughout the actual year. Life is unpredictable. There will be hurdles along the way.

The only reason I decided to keep and even share my failed list of goals from my junior year was so that I can avoid making the same mistakes when creating my new list. Almost instantly I know that adding any goals that involve the help or reliance on other people should be disregarded. You need to be in charge of your goals. You cannot be dependent on the unreliability of others. 

Next, I need to remember that daily schedules get busy. I tend to make goals when my life is at a bit of a halt. The silence I hear in my life now won’t last very long. Soon I will be bombarded with school assignments, events, travel, work, blogging, running errands, and all of the unforeseen circumstances that might come my way. Because of this, any daily or leisure goals this year will be avoided.

You can control the future (Well, to some degree).

Life remains unpredictable. But, striving for a particular end result is in fact do-able. That is, if you remain realistic and continue to be hard-working. I continue to make goal lists because they are what push me through my day-to-day activities. Yes, goals to me are literally an imaginary person I create to forcibly push me in the right direction. And failed goals you might ask? To stick with the same imagery, failure exists as another imaginary friend. Failure was once that friend that used to push me towards success, but has since failed me.  This was either because of a change in my life direction, unforeseen circumstances, etc. Yet, failure will forever be in my life. It now exists as a hardship I have overcome, a lesson I have learned and a push to try even harder in the future.

Now… The long awaited goal list for my upcoming senior year.

My Goal List This Year Is:

  1. Get a 4.0 GPA both semesters of school
  2. Befriend all my professors – Ask for extra help and recommendation letters
  3. Earn $10,000 in profit through work, other freelancing opportunities, selling pre-loved things to new & welcoming homes, and blogging (a girl can still dream)
  4. Volunteer once a month. It doesn’t matter where, when, or what charity
  5. Buy a sewing machine then learn how to use it – THERE WILL BE A BLOG POST UP SOON ON MY NEW OBSESSION WITH RE-WORKED CLOTHES & SLOW FASHION!! LET’S ALL WORK TOWARDS ENDING SWEATSHOPS

 

 

Finding The Good in The Bad

Bad things happen. It’s inevitable. But, with every negative experience, comes a life lesson. And with every downfall, comes an incentive to change your mindset. Having hardships really makes you appreciate the things that truly matter to you.

When you’re going through a hard time, it is important to remember these few things:

Cherish those people that actually stick around

I can’t emphasize this enough. Very few people stuck by me through my lowest-lows. There are so many reasons why “friends” disappear during difficult times. Most of the time, it is because they were never a true friend to begin with. But, those individuals that stay, those are the people to value the most. Quit forcing friendships that aren’t supposed to be and begin appreciating the true friends you have.

Always search for the bright side

This is easier said than done. When nothing in your life seems to be going the way you planned, it becomes almost impossible to see the light through those hardships. Maybe, you need to start appreciating those consistent elements in your life. You know, all those small things that you would regularly overlook. Sufferings create an opportunity for you to change certain aspects of your life, whether it be your goals, outlooks, or even physical elements like friend groups and career choices. This is not to say that hardships arise because of life decisions, but facing certain struggles definitely allows you to grow as an individual. Always strive to move forward instead of looking back.

Embrace those limitations

Instead of solely ignoring, overlooking, or moving passed the problems and hardships you face, actually take the time to acknowledge what has happened. When you experience difficulty after difficulty like I had this year, it becomes quite tough to reflect on each and every challenge you have faced. But, when you feel like your life is finally going steady, take the time to try and understand how those losses have shaped the person you have become.