2015 in Review

Thursday, December 31, 2015

I didn't exactly think that I would feel any different when I woke up this morning. New Year's Eve/New Year's has never been much of a holiday to me, a celebratory and reflecting time of sorts. I always just bypassed it, chilling with friends while we watch the ball drop on television and not really thinking much of the fact that we just transitioned into a new year of our lives. But for some unknown reason, this year decided to be unlike the others. 

I woke up reflecting, going back through all the experiences in my head, both the good and the bad, and especially the ones that changed my life. Compared to previous years, I definitely had many. In February, I started this blog. In May, I graduated high school and in August gave up the people and things that were toxic in my life, no longer caring for treating them better than I did myself. August was my turning point; I went off to the school I've been dreaming of attending for years and met so many amazing people as well as participated in many different organizations that I know will better me as a person over these next few years. I opened myself up to a new positive attitude and way of life that I had been trying to incorporate for so long into who I was, and it finally became real.

I read a post on Tumblr the other day that said, "2015 definitely had a part one and a part two." Up to this point, I had never read anything more accurate in reference to my year in my entire life. 2015 may not have started off as my year, but as soon as I graduated high school and took hold of my own life and happiness, it did easily become the best year. My part two trumped my part one so much that part one just feels nonexistent; I left everything I needed to behind and focused on myself. 2015 taught me the true value of putting myself and the people who actually treated me right first, and I believe that's the most important lesson a person could ever learn on their journey through life.

2016 already has a lot to offer me, and I'm ready to welcome it with open arms. I'm walking into this year a very changed person, the happiest and most optimistic I've ever been. I received countless blessings in 2015 in the forms of opportunities, lessons, and relationships and I just know this new year will be one of great prosperity. It was the best year yet, and I know there is better to come. Something to remember going into the year though: If 2016 doesn't start off as your year, that doesn't mean it won't be - it's okay to have a part two.

Believe in your future self, and you will go far.
See you all in 2016, all my love.

Hot Chocolate Recipes

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Yesterday may have marked the first official day of the winter season, but it definitely doesn't feel that way down here in the Sunshine State. It may still be summer here in Florida, but I do my best to make it feel like Christmas in everything I doThis time of year, it seems like I'm snuggled up in bed with my dog watching a Christmas special on television just about every single night, hot cocoa in hand and chocolate in the other. I'm one of those people who likes variety and am always trying new things, and food is no exception. Hot chocolate is my best friend whether it's cold out or not; it's fitting for all occasions, but is obviously the most perfect during this special season - and it's easy to make, too! Time to cozy up readers, here are some of my personal favorite hot cocoa recipes that I found floating around Pinterest and the Internet...


1. White Hot Chocolate
2. Nutella Hot Chocolate
3. S'mores Hot Chocolate
4. Peppermint White Hot Chocolate
5. Cookies and Cream Hot Chocolate
6. Frozen Hot Chocolate
7. Gingerbread Hot Chocolate
8. Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate
9. Mexican Hot Chocolate
10. Strawberry Hot Chocolate

What's your favorite type of hot chocolate?
I will personally always be a fan of anything s'mores-related. Merry brewing, lovelies!

ICE! at Gaylord Palms

Monday, December 21, 2015

It's hard to get that true Christmas feeling when you're living in Florida because you still sweat every time you walk outside due to the 85+ degree weather... (#FloridaProbs) Thankfully, Orlando offers some nice holiday traditions at local venues that remind the residents what time of year it truly is. One of these many attractions is something that I have attended multiple years in a row now: ICE! at the Gaylord Palms. ICE! takes you from Florida heatwave to chilly northern cold - it's a lovely 9 degrees inside. You're required to wear a special parka that keeps you (somewhat) warm while walking through the attraction; this is because absolutely everything is made of pure ice!


The theme this year was The Night Before Christmas, and it really did feel like it was. The setting was both inside and outside a house, walking you through the story - literally, the actual story was told on the walls of every new section you walked in to!

  

  

The sculptures looked amazing and very colorful this year, and there were even ice slides that you could go down! I was extremely scared - I slid way faster than I thought I was going to. But it was still a fun and exciting experience to slide down a slide made entirely of ice!

  

 

Santa riding away at the end had to be my favorite sculpture of all for sure; it filled an entire walk-through section all on it's own, and it was so intricate and large. I'm sure it was one of the more difficult pieces to create, and the sculptors definitely succeeded in making it tell the story perfectly! If only I could have had the chance to sit in the sleigh with Santa or on one of his reindeer. (My butt would have probably been freezing by this point anyway though!)

  


In the Frostbite Factory following the actual story attraction, there were opportunities for many pictures with more icy creations as well as playing around with the ice; a few couples even had the chance to play around with a huge ice ring and take hilariously adorable "engagement" pictures. The best part of the whole experience in my opinion was definitely when we got to watch the ice being carved; it's such an interesting process to see come to life right in front of you! All in all, ICE! proved itself to be a fun activity not just for children, but grown adults as well.

  

We had such a great time and although my Christmas cold feeling was short-lived, at least I can say I got to have it! If you're ever in the Orlando area, I definitely recommend putting aside some time to experience what a Florida Christmas is like - attending special holiday parties at theme parks, seeing ballets and plays, getting to see amazing ice sculptures, and so much more. Even in the heat of the Sunshine State, there's still plenty to do to get you in that (almost) Christmas mood!


What icetastic things have you done so far this break?

Update: Freshman Year Goals

Friday, December 18, 2015

As my first semester of college officially comes to a close, I can't help but reflect on the last few months of my life. I am so very thankful for all the people I have met and all the memories I have made thus far; I can honestly say my first semester was absolutely perfect.

Back in August, I put together a list of my top ten goals that I wanted to achieve during my freshman year. Now that I am halfway done since the fall semester has ended, I wanted to check back and do an update to see how I was doing.


1. Rush and be recruited to a sorority. {ACCOMPLISHED}
As many of you already know, I did rush and was recruited to Gamma Phi Beta! All my love in ΠKE to any sisters reading this right now.


2. Be officially accepted into the Business program. {ACCOMPLISHED}
Plot twist on this goal... I switched majors. My ultimate academic goal is to major in Higher Education for my master's degree, but I refuse to major in Education for my bachelor's because I don't want to teach. If for some reason I end up not attending grad school, I want to have a bachelor's degree in a field I know I will be happy working in, and teaching just isn't the field for me. Thus, I am now majoring in Human Communications which offers me a broad variety of subjects to choose from after I graduate and move on - including Higher Education. I am minoring in Business still, and I have been officially accepted into both programs - so in a sense, I guess you could say this goal was accomplished.

3. Make the Dean's List both semesters.
This goal is halfway complete because I did manage to earn the required GPA to make it on the Dean's List for my university this semester! While I do not have an official number yet to offer you all, I can for sure tell you that I know the GPA I will be receiving is far above what was required of me as well as good enough to qualify me for a First-Year Scholars Program award as well.


4. Find a part-time job on-campus or close by.
The search for a part-time job has been very rough as there are many students and only so many places to work, but I still have another semester to accomplish this goal!


5. Become a Student Ambassador for Leader in a club/organization. {ACCOMPLISHED}
Looking back, I am unsure as to what I meant when I said I wanted to be a Student Ambassador of a club or organization... In terms of leadership however, I was appointed as the Assistant Financial Vice President for my sorority for the new year, so I guess we'll count that!


6. Follow a set workout schedule. {ACCOMPLISHED}
Shockingly, I did accomplish this goal - I run at least two to three times a week now. I'm hoping to incorporate more exercising options into my schedule so that I'm not just on the treadmill all the time, let me know if you have any potential workouts for me that work for you!


7. Be accepted as an Orientation Leader or Rho Gamma for the summer of 2016.
So it turns out, I am not qualified to be a Rho Gamma until after I have gone through formal fall recruitment from both sides at least once. Therefore, I am unable to apply until after next fall for the summer of 2017 to be one... That leaves us with the option of becoming an Orientation Leader. I did apply to become one and was accepted to the group interview process, which is a great accomplishment! However, I was unfortunately not invited to move on to the individual interview process. Even though I did not manage to complete this goal, I am still very proud of myself for making it as far in the process as I did as just a freshman. At least there's always next year!


8. Make a new close/best friend (or two, maybe three!). {ACCOMPLISHED}
I did not expect to meet as many amazing people as I did this first semester. I have made so many new friends through my sorority and managed to get so close to my roommates that we're even rooming together again next year - but this time in an apartment! I am so blessed to have such supportive and caring new friends to join me on my journey through life now over these next few years (and maybe even longer) and I'm looking forward to the future with every single one of them!


9. Get at least one scholarship ("at least" because more is obviously always better).
I was unable to apply for any scholarships until I completed my first semester, so once I get my official GPA next week I will be on this goal like crazy!


10. Join and write articles for my university's Her Campus chapter. {ACCOMPLISHED}
At the beginning of the semester, I applied for my university's Her Campus chapter and was accepted! If anyone would like to read any of my articles, you can click here. There aren't very many (it has been a very hectic first semester for me), but in the spring I will be committed to getting articles submitted way more often!

How are your yearly goals coming along so far?

Semi-Formal: Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party 2015

Friday, December 11, 2015

The winter season is upon us, readers! As some of you may know, I became a sister of Gamma Phi Beta this semester at my university and it has been nothing but fun and unexpected surprises - including a trip to Walt Disney World. Instead of having a fancy Semi-Formal, we went to Magic Kingdom to attend Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party; as a big Disney person already, you could probably imagine my excitement when I found out this would be happening. I took along my boyfriend as my date and he was pumped to get to meet a few of my sisters.


{My handsome boyfriend who decided to go Gamma for a night.}
{#sistergoals}
Our night started out with tons of rides - the lines to all of the attractions are really short during the Christmas Party! (#blessed) We also stopped for complimentary hot chocolate and cookies throughout the night many times (mainly because my boyfriend was a teensy bit obsessed... he may have had about 5 cups). After all of that, we watched Celebrate the Magic!, a nightly show that features projections on the castle - and this time, there were special Christmas features! The Holiday Wishes fireworks followed, and it was an amazing show filled with holiday classics and beautiful lights.

{Two people who have made my Gamma Phi experience such a great one so far!}
{My Big and I}

My boyfriend and I didn't mean to end up watching the Christmas Parade, but we're extremely glad we did get stuck in the crowds and have to wait! It was definitely my favorite part of the entire Party; I would recommend not skipping out on it if you go. All the floats were spectacular and featured Disney characters as well as the big man himself (children were extremely excited to see him, of course).






I had such a wonderful night and I'm so grateful to have been able to not only go to the Christmas Party, but also be a part of a sisterhood that gives me more love and support than I could have ever imagined it would. It has been an absolutely wonderful semester, and I'm extremely excited for what's to come in the future. I would for sure recommend attending the Very Merry Christmas Party if you ever consider going, it is such a great and memorable holiday experience that you will never forget with people near and dear to your heart!


What are some of your plans for the upcoming winter break?

Holiday Playlist

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

My favorite thing about this time of year is the music. There's just something about the songs that give you a warm feeling inside, and you can listen to them literally doing anything and everything. Unfortunately, it's only makes sense and is socially acceptable to listen to holiday-type music during the actual season it is featured in. Since this specific time of year's music is the best kind in my book, I have compiled this Holiday Playlist of my personal favorite songs; a majority of them are very poppy and upbeat, which fits my personality and what I believe is this time of year very well!


What are some of your favorite holiday songs not on this list?
I know there are so many out there, and I personally am always looking for more good ones. Merry listening, readers!

Tips for Acing Those Finals

Monday, December 7, 2015

December is a very merry month filled with a genuine happy feeling that blows through the cool air. It seems like the most perfect month of the whole year... until finals week comes around (*cue booing*).

As I wrap up my first semester in college, I find myself extremely anxious and nervous for what this week will hold. Luckily, I don't take most of my final exams until next week and this is just more of a study week for me. However, others are not as blessed to have the opportunity to buckle down in the library with their Starbucks espressos every day for almost a whole extra week. Seeing how many people are stressed over their exams makes me feel sad, thus I have decided to present my tips for acing those finals this semester (and every one after that)!

(Shout out to my roommate Kaulene at Napa Valley Sunshine for having such a beautiful desk that I couldn't resist using for this post's picture.)

1. Have a schedule laid out.
If you plan your time prior to your exams out ahead of time, you will know when and how much time you have to prepare yourself and you can also sort out which of your classes gets which time/day available to you. This will leave you a lot less stressed and provide you with an idea of when is the best time to do what during the time you have.

2. Use study guides and attend any review sessions.
A majority of my professors provide collective study guides for big exams such as the mid-term and final. I would hope everyone has professors that do this as well or at least provide the topics they will be incorporating into the questions on the exams, but if not then try to touch base with your professors through email or office hours and get an idea of what the exam will consist of/be like. In addition, if your professors offer any review sessions, GO. I know they can be lengthy and boring and involve putting in extra time on your part, but these sessions may contain valuable information about the exam and really help you understand concepts you may still be having trouble with. I attended one two hour session this morning and I'm going to be attending another 3 hour session later - all it takes is some motivation to get yourself up and out!

3. Find your "zone".
For many people, the zone they feel the most focused in is their school's library or their own dorm/apartment room. If you are in a place where you know you can be kept from distractions and stay concentrated on what you need to do as well as feel comfortable, that is your zone of where you should study. Feel free to turn on some music or do anything that will help you study better - a zone does not technically have to be quiet, it just has to be a place with an atmosphere that you know you will get things done in.

4. Take breaks and be aware of how you feel.
I cannot stress how important it is to give yourself some free time to just take a deep breath and do something that relaxes you for a few minutes, whether that's watching one episode of your favorite television show or simply scrolling through social media networks on your phone. Also, be aware of how you feel - make sure there are snacks nearby in case you get hungry, water to keep you awake and hydrated, etc. Even though you are trying to help your brain by cramming new knowledge into it, you still need to take good care of yourself in order to help it focus.

5. Be prepared.
Do what you feel works best for you in order to pass. Make a million flash cards, highlight entire pages, write down every definition in the textbook; nothing is too extreme if you know it is going to benefit you! In the end, you will feel prepared if you study your way. Know when everything is going to happen as well and what you will need; I am required to pick up my own scan trons prior to my tests at my school. Don't be that person scrambling over studying and your exams because you don't know when they are (refer back to tip #1 about scheduling).

Good luck to everyone on their finals these next few days!
Do you have any finals tips and tricks?

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