I Heart New York

The nighttime view of New York from above is one of the most bittersweet sights I’ve ever witnessed. I’m absolutely in love with it — I ignored my heavy eyelids and the pull of sleep and forced myself to stay awake on the plane so that when we took off, I could see the city below me, the pinpoints of light undulating like something out of a storybook. I swear there’s something magic about that city, and seeing it from above makes the whole place look alive, like it is one living organism and everything within it is just atoms and cells, blood and bones. It’s breathtaking, beautiful, but so, so sad, because watching the lights from the plane window meant I had to say goodbye.

To say this trip has been perfect so far would be an overstatement. I had to duct tape my luggage together when it ripped right before my flight, only to have the bag completely break a few hours later. Then again, I’m lucky I even made the flight — security was so backed up that I made it on the plane mere minutes before takeoff. I spent the first day awake for 40 hours and hardly found the time to catch up on sleep after. It was an overwhelming beginning, but I realized very quickly how little those things mattered. Because, before I knew it, I was sucked into the swell of the city.

Read the full post here.

Let’s Talk About Body Image

Published by Her Campus KU

Body image. I see those words and I think back to high school health class, sitting in a crammed classroom as a PE teacher clicked through slides on the overhead about eating disorders. We got the same spiel every year: this is what a person with an unhealthy body image does, and this is why it is bad. It was like reading a health pamphlet in the nurse’s office, but the pamphlet didn’t actually tell you anything about the disease; it just told you about the side effects. We were told that 20 million women and 10 million men will experience eating disorders in their lifetimes, but we were never told why this might be the case.

Don’t get me wrong—I think it’s important to know the statistics. It’s important that we know the warning signs and the dangers, and it’s important that classrooms across the country are given advice on what to do when someone you love is struggling with an eating disorder. But despite the large number of young people who struggle with eating disorders, students aren’t often encouraged to talk about body image, positive or negative. It’s considered non-academic and doesn’t quite fit in the lesson plan, even though it’s often the root cause of eating disorders and self-esteem issues.

Read the full story here.

A City Girl’s Ode to a Small Town

I’ve never been a small town girl. I’m attracted to city lights and colorful buildings and streets bustling with people. The countryside is peaceful, but it makes me restless—within a few days of visiting, my fingers start itching. But there’s one little town I may have to make an exception for: Fort Scott, Kansas.

Have you ever been somewhere that feels less like a place and more like a living being? It hasn’t happened to me often, but I felt it in Fort Scott, at my grandparents’ big red house. It was always so full of people, so full of chatter and laughter. Even when everyone filtered out, they seemed to leave behind an echo of noises, ringing softly in silent rooms. I swear that house knew every secret I’d ever whispered in darkened bedrooms when my cousins and I were supposed to be asleep. Maybe that’s why I always felt so strange when I was left alone there—the house had a presence bigger than any person I’d ever known.

I think everyone in my family has felt this way about it at some point. ­My family is so big, and we have all traveled in different directions—we have different aspirations and different religions; we live different lifestyles in different cities, different states, different countries. And yet the house was a common ground where we could all gather and just be together. Maybe that’s why it’s so hard to say goodbye.

Read the full post here.

Why does everyone feel entitled to my body? (And other frequently asked questions)

Published by Her Campus KU

There’s a question that’s been haunting me lately. It’s a question I’ve heard many times and one that every woman should be asking herself. Why does everyone feel entitled to my body?

On Wednesday, Oct. 7, police arrested an Idaho teen for threatening to bring a gun to his high school and attack the cheerleaders. His reason? The girls wouldn’t send him nudes.

This is not a completely isolated instance. Actually, a surprising amount of people who instigate mass shootings often left behind notes or messages revealing that they felt rejected by women and were angry that they wouldn’t date them or do sexual favors for them. Such was the case during the notorious Isla Vista shootings and the recent shooting in Oregon at Umpqua Community College. Men did not get what they wanted (i.e. access to a woman’s body), so they lashed out.

So please, tell me: Why in the world does everyone feel entitled to my body?

Read the rest of the story here.

The Magic in the Moments

Written for my personal blog, used by the University of Kansas as a testimonial for the Italian Department

La Mattina

Mornings are my favorite smell in Florence. Whiffs of espresso trail me through twisting streets and wake me before I can even taste it. I like to follow sweet aromas into bakeries and entertain small talk with its shopkeepers who smile endearingly as my tongue fumbles over a language still foreign to me. They ask where I’m from. They ask if my hair is natural. Then they send me on my way with a “buona giornata.” These are my favorite exchanges of the day.

Mornings are also sweltering walks to work, trying hard not to sweat in my nice clothes or ruin my shoes on the cobblestones. The hair the shopkeepers like to compliment does not respond well to heat. I learned quickly to duck under buildings’ shadows and find shady routes that don’t take too much time. I am an expert at dodging clunky clumps of tourists and weaving around cars. It’s not my favorite routine.

But mornings remind me that I am lucky. I walk out of my apartment and into my favorite view in the world. I realized early on that my complaints are small in comparison.

Read the full story here.

Learning to Love the Details

Published in the Florentine

When I saw the Duomo for the first time, I was stunned by the magnitude. I remember sitting on the steps in the early hours of the morning and staring up at the architecture in silence; I was the only person left in the piazza, but it felt like I was the only person left in the world. There’s something about being alone next to the goliath of a church that makes you feel so small, like you are just a dot in a Seurat painting, tiny but essential.

Being in Florence often felt like that — I was swept up in things that seemed so much bigger than I was. As a student abroad who had never travelled before, I wanted to understand the hype. I wanted to know why Michelangelo’s David filled art textbooks and why people squeezed into every empty space on the Ponte Vecchio. I wanted to see the city from every angle, from the dark cobblestone streets to the top of the red roofs. If I inspected it closely enough, could I finally unlock its secrets?

It didn’t take long for me to realize that my thirst to know Florence couldn’t be satiated easily. I had once laughed at the notion of Stendhal syndrome, but I began to wonder if it was time for a self-diagnosis. There were times when I would take a moment to take in at my surroundings and find myself so overcome with emotion that I had to sit down for a moment. Looking at the architecture for too long left me feeling dizzy. It made my head hurt and my heart swell.

Read the full story here.