What I Appreciate About Being At Home

Last night, after a trip to J. P. Licks for ice cream with two of my best friends, the three of us sat on a bench in the center of town, watching teen-drivers nervously navigate the roads and families leisurely walk back to their houses as the daylight faded. 

A peaceful scene, indeed. But I couldn't hold in my personal frustration any longer: 

'Guys- Newton is so boring!' 

Only a year spent at uni and I was already turning into a home-hater.  

But, the truth is, where I live isn't half bad. I mean, we even have a geo-filter on snapchat. Our own geo-filter! I mean, it took Edinburgh (a major capital city) long enough to get one. So that's pretty impressive in its own right. 

Snapchat features aside, there are a few reasons why I do actually love being at home. I especially enjoy being back in Newton when it's for an extended period of time, giving me the chance to settle in to home-life, rather than feeling like I'm on holiday.

Having a car // I didn't realize how much I would miss driving until I went off to school. There's just something about having the freedom to pick up a friend on the other side of town, or even take a trip to the beach that makes having a car a little luxurious. Plus, I love to blast the radio and roll down the windows, singing Top-40 tunes at the top of my lungs with a bunch of friends (or by myself, to be honest). 

Having good public transportation // While I can technically take my car anywhere, my favorite way to get into the city is by taking the T (Boston's finest subway system). A two minute walk to the station from my house and 25 minutes into Boston (without delays) isn't a bad deal at all. Sorry, Lothian buses. But you really don't stack up well- even against the notoriously slow-going green line. 

The weather // Yes, Massachusetts had one of the worst winters on record this past year. No, I wasn't there to witness it (or clean it up). Still, New England summer's are really unbeatable- it never gets too hot or too dry (maybe a little bit too humid at times). Plus, there's hundreds of miles of coastline to sunbathe on the off-chance it does get unbearably hot. 

Free food // Not only can I waltz into the kitchen whenever I'm hungry, but I can go out to eat with my family all the time and never have to pay a penny. No more splitting the bill and worrying about spending too much on nachos. Plus, when I'm at home I have free reign in the kitchen, and all the ingredients I need are at my disposal. The result? Baking. So much baking. 

No complaints, I guess.   


What I Made This Week: Rose Sangria, Tabbouleh, and Banoffee Pie

I have one goal, and one goal only, for this summer: learn to cook. Okay, that, and to read more and make bank so I can continue with my frivolous spending habits (jokes- I'm really responsible with money, I promise).

Next year, I have no choice but to cook in order to eat because I'll no longer be on a meal plan. Yes, indeed, I am having a real-life adult responsibility thrust upon me at a mere 19 years of age. This means I have to be able to fend for myself when it comes to eating so that I don't to succumb to the evils of fast food and pre-made sandwiches (I'm looking at you, Sainsbury's meal-deals).

I consider myself a better-than-average baker, and I like to think my friends and family would agree. From the softest chocolate chip cookies you'll ever eat, to decadent sea-salt caramel brownies, I can pull off nearly any chocolate-based dessert (that's because I eat almost exclusively chocolate baked-goods).

But while my baking is spectacular, I could use some experience with cooking. Or, in this case, 'no-cook' cooking (the best kind!). This week, I tackled three recipes that I had never made before to improve my skills so that I can totally one-up my friends when we move into our flat (once again, completely joking).

In any case, here's what I've been up to in the kitchen this week:

Let's start with drinks, shall we? I'm a big fan of sangria- it's my second favorite drink to order in a Mexican restaurant (after margaritas, of course). I don't love red wine, so this rose-based cocktail was perfect for me. The longer you let the fruit sit in the wine, the better it will taste. That way, the wine achieves a sweeter and fruitier taste, and the fruit becomes infused with the alcohol. Oh, and if you don't know how to make a simple syrup it's just one part water and one part sugar that you bring to a boil in a pan and stir until the sugar dissolves.


You can never go wrong with an Ina Garten recipe! While this recipe makes a whole lot of tabbouleh, it keeps really well in the fridge and can be used as the base for pretty much any type of protein. You can even stuff it inside pita pockets to make it into a portable lunch! The recipe tells you to pour boiling water over the bulgur wheat, then mix with olive oil, lemon, and salt before letting it sit in the bowl. After an hour, the wheat will have completely absorbed the water- it's like magic!

Banoffee Pie

I literally saw this everywhere when I was at school in the UK. At first, I thought it was banana and coffee pie- but it turns out, the 'offee' part is referring to toffee! Pretty classic of me to not understand something that is so distinctively British. Mary Berry is my new favorite chef- my mom got hooked on the Great British Bake Off this winter when it came to PBS in the US, and now I'm obsessed. This lady can bake. And this recipe just proves that- it's easy to follow and results in an absolutely beautiful pie if you do it right. Pro tip: when cooking the toffee, it wont turn fully brown, but more like a light brown color. Also, it's ok if there are little bits in the toffee. Just make sure it doesn't burn!

Sometimes, the best recipes are those that don't require too much effort and are as simple as can be. I mean, as long as it's tasty, does it matter that you didn't slave all day over a hot stove?

Hopefully, I'll be doing more posts like this as I continue to improve my cooking and baking this summer, and throughout next year.

P.S. I post a lot of what I cook, bake, and eat on my Instagram account! I love to annoy my family by making them wait for me to take a picture before we dig in.    



5 Things That Surprised Me About University

It's official: I've survived my first year of University! Sitting in my almost completely packed-up bedroom, staring at the blank walls that once were full of pictures of family and friends, I can't believe how quickly this past year has gone by. It feels like it was just yesterday that I had step foot into a country that I had never been to before- feeling excited, hopeful, and sick to my stomach at the same time.

Coming to Edinburgh in September, I didn't know if I was going to be able to stick it out- my life was about to completely change, and I wasn't sure I was prepared to live 3,000 miles away from home for the next four years. But now I can safely say that Edinburgh feels like exactly where I'm supposed to be. And I'd be lying if I said wasn't sad to be leaving this wonderful city for four months.

The truth is, University isn't always exactly what you expect it to be. It's full of surprises, and that's what makes it so exciting! Here are a few things that surprised me throughout this year:

How little I would miss home // I consider myself a very sensitive, touchy-feely person (case in point: I absolutely bawled my eyes out while watching the New Girl season finale this week). But it really surprised me how un-emotional I was about being away from home. Of course, I missed Boston and my family to some extent, and I still feel really excited when I do travel home, but I wasn't as homesick as I originally thought I would be.

How hilly running would be // You haven't seen a real hill until you've been to Scotland. During the first month of uni, I somehow managed to convince myself that going on a run in the Pentlands with the team would be a good idea. Oh, how naive I was. Little did I know that I had just signed myself up for about nine miles of going up and down massive hills. Even though I struggled, it made every hill I ran up after that seem a lot less difficult.

 How much money I would spend // I honestly didn't think I would be spending tons of money while living in Edinburgh- I mean this isn't London or New York City. But all those Sainsbury's meal deals, coffee pick-me-ups, and vodka lemonades do add up.

How beautiful Scotland would be // Edinburgh has to be one of the most under-ratedly beautiful cities in the world. And I stand by that. Not only does it have the undeniable charm of an old city- with its stone buildings and gothic monuments- but it also possesses some of the most breathtaking views in the world. Even if you go outside the city, Scotland as a whole sets the bar pretty high when it comes to looking gorgeous on the reg.

How many uniquely amazing friends I would make // I'm definitely not one to stick to a single social group- and I'm so grateful for all the friends that I've made in different parts of my life. From my friends in halls, to my teammates in running club, to the girls I met in choir, each group of friends I made meant a lot to me this year.

My first year was full of surprises, and while I kind of know what to expect next year, I definitely think I'll have a few curveballs thrown at me along the way. But isn't that what makes it all the more fun?


Don't worry- I'll still be blogging every Monday this summer!


Subject Shaming: Why You Should Always Be Proud of What You Study

When I was a junior in high school, I distinctly remember one particular day in English class when we went around the classroom announcing what we wanted to be when we 'grew up.' But unlike the days of elementary school when our peers proudly stated that they wanted to be an astronaut or a chef, an artist or a policewoman, what I heard that day was a resounding 'doctor' or 'scientist' from nearly every person in the room.

Until it was my turn. 'I want to be a teacher,' I said, almost automatically. My answer was followed by a long silence, and an approving nod from my English teacher. I knew what they were all thinking, because so many people had said it to me before: how are you going to make any money being a teacher?

Fast forward two years and here I am at the University of Edinburgh, studying Sociology. Much like my experience with following the education career path, my peers (especially those back home) respond to my major with significant skepticism. 
So, what are you going to do with that degree? 

The first question I always get when someone asks me about my major is: What even is sociology? 

Okay, valid question. I mean, I didn't even know too much about the subject before accepting my place at University (guilty). Sociology is, at its core, 'the study of the development, structure, and functioning of human society.' But what I like to tell people about the subject is that I study anything from gender relations to media power. This semester, I even explored the social-psychology of religious cults.  

Second question: What are you going to do with a degree like that? 

Okay, slightly valid question- a little bit condescending, but I'll answer it anyway. Sociology actually provides a wide range of job options, that includes jobs in public and human relations, education, and journalism, to name just a few. And me? I'm looking to go into journalism, of course. 

Third question: Is it nice to be doing such an easy degree? 

Excuse me?  

While I fully understand that it's a competitive world out there, it's competitive for every single one of us. In fact, less than half of American Medical School applicants will be accepted into their program- whether it's a 'good' school or not. That being said, no single degree is a golden ticket to success. We all have reason to be weary of our prospects in terms of jobs and further education. 

But why is it that liberal arts degrees (subjects pertaining to humanities and social sciences) are always the target of intellectual shame? While I do value the work of doctors who deliver babies like it's nobody's business (shoutout to my favorite fictional OBGYN, Mindy Lahiri), and the scientists who are working to cure cancer, to me, the historians, anthropologists, and linguists of the world are unsung heroes who deserve a little more credit for what they contribute to society. 

In high school, I never took AP Biology or AP Chemistry or AP anything science related. It's not because I couldn't handle it, but it's because I genuinely wasn't interested in those subjects. And I saw far too many of my peers taking these high-level classes not because of a genuine desire to study the Krebs cycle, but because of the pressure they felt from their classmates, parents, and teachers regarding my high school's obsession with success- especially in math and science. 

Don't get me wrong- I love the push to get more girls involved in math and science. But just because I don't particularly enjoy those subjects, doesn't make me any less intellectually capable. 

There is as much value in being able to write a comprehensive analysis of the social construction of bodies relating to racial inequalities as there is in being able to conduct an experiment regarding anaerobic respiration. In fact, a liberal arts education provides skills that one would find helpful whether aspiring to be an art historian or a lab researcher: critical thinking, analytical writing, and logical evaluation. 

So here's to studying what you want to study- regardless of salary, employability rates, and your peer's and parent's two cents. We may not always get the respect we deserve, but for now we'll just have to deal with the often well-intentioned, and sometimes-condescending questions.

Whatever the hell I want.   

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