One Year of Blogging Later... Why I Blog!

You know those awkward summer run-ins you have with your old classmates from high school? The ones that take place on the train, at Whole Foods, or while you're waiting in line for your iced latte? Once you make eye contact, these interactions usually begin with a trite "How's college going?" (let's be real- you don't exactly remember where they go to school).

Okay now imagine that situation with the added line of "I read your blog!"

All of a sudden it hits you- they seemingly know every detail of your entire life. From how you feel about one-piece swimsuits to what you did with your family on vacation three months ago- no post is left unread.

To be honest, these real-life interactions regarding my online presence have often left me feeling a bit embarrassed- like I'm this weirdo who publicly writes about her lame life on a weekly basis. I have days where I feel like I'm so unremarkable that I wonder why anyone would bother reading what I write anyway. Every Monday comes with the earth-shattering fear that no-one will read my post or, worse yet, not a single person will like it on Facebook.

I've been blogging for nearly a year now, and I've only just recently come to realize that having kept up my blog for a whole year is a huge accomplishment. There are so many people out there who blog for a few weeks or months and then throw in the towel because they're not getting the pageviews or exposure that they expected. To go into blogging with expectations of popularity is only natural, but it's not a reason to be a blogger.

I often find my friends, family, and classmates asking me why I blog- isn't writing a special kind of torture reserved for classrooms and exam halls? In fact, I spend many a Monday evening asking myself that same question. The truth is, the reasons why I blog now aren't exactly the same as why I started my blog in the first place.

When I started my blog last July, I thought it would be a useful tool in documenting my life as I transitioned from a high school student in America to a University student Scotland. Big changes were afoot and I thought if I was ever going to blog (it was a longtime dream of mine), now would be a good time.    

But as I've penned countless anecdotes, edited numerous photos, and thought of some snappy (and some not-so-snappy) titles over the past many months, I've become aware of some other reasons as to why I do this little thing called blogging.

I blog because it helps me to sort out and process how I feel about real-life events. For instance, I knew that celebrating Thanksgiving away from home was going to be a difficult experience for me, especially having not been home since I had moved to Edinburgh. But writing a blog post about how I felt about Thanksgiving itself and how I was celebrating the holiday at a swanky hotel helped me deal with the emotions and homesickness that came along with it.

I blog because it allows me to have a platform to express my many opinions. When I first started writing my blog, I certainly wasn't aiming to voice my thoughts on matters such as the selectiveness of social media and the pressure to major in certain fields of study. However, when I did decide to put myself out there, I always received an overwhelmingly positive response! My "Opinions" pieces on my blog are by far my most popular. I mean, I was the managing editor of the Opinions section at my high school's online publication. I guess some things just never change.

I blog because it leads to meaningful conversations with people who I never would have interacted with otherwise. During my first few months of blogging in particular, I would often receive messages from people who I would consider "random" (Facebook friends who I don't normally speak with) telling me how much they enjoyed reading my blog. And then there are those in-person conversations with classmates who say that my post about birthdays, for example, really hit home for them. While they may seem awkward at first, those are truly the moments that keep me writing.

After a year of essentially talking about myself week after week, I feel more assured than ever that starting a blog was the right decision for me. Better yet, it's been a life-changing decision. Not only have my writing skills improved astronomically, but I've become better able to think introspectively and also present myself with more confidence as a result of my blogging.

And what would my blog be without my readers? The close friends, "Facebook" friends, family members and even complete strangers that have been following me along for the past year. No matter if it's every week, once a month, or a just a single time that you tuned in- I am incredibly grateful for all of the support I've received so far.

So I've reached a milestone- now what? Well, I don't know about you, but I'm just gonna keep doing what I've been doing every Monday here at Little Girl, Bigger World. And the next time you see me on the T or in line for Starbucks? Ask me about my blog, if you read it! I promise I won't act too embarrassed ;)    


The Scottish Tag

Last week, Hayley of the blog Water Painted Dreams mentioned me in her "Scottish Tag" post in which she answered a bunch of questions about the lovely land of the Scots. She asked anyone who is either Scottish or lives in Scotland to do the same, so of course I jumped at the chance to talk a little bit (okay, a lot) about one of my favorite countries.

A little disclaimer before I begin: in case you didn't already know, I'm pretty sure I don't have a Scottish bone in my body. Irish, yes. But am I Scottish? Well, I can try my best to pretend to be! So, because of my lack of Scottish heritage, I skipped over a few question's in Hayley's original post since they didn't really apply. Still, here are my answers to some fun questions about my second home- Scotland.

Where is your favorite place that you've been to in Scotland? 

Confession: I haven't done nearly as much traveling throughout Scotland (and the UK in general!) as I should have. Embarrassingly enough, I haven't even been to Glasgow yet! However, out of the very few places I've visited in Scotland, I really enjoyed a small day-trip that I took with a few of my teammates to Deep Sea World and the Forth Bridge in South Queensferry. My expectations for what the town would look like were practically nonexistent- but much to my surprise the whole area was absolutely gorgeous! The red bridge is stunning in and of itself, but the surrounding flower-covered hills really took the cake- and they provided us with the most incredible views of the area.

Where would you like to visit in Scotland? 

The many different isles in Scotland have always been intriguing to me, so I'd have to say that Isle of Skye would be my first choice if I could travel anywhere in Scotland. The island, located in the Northwest of Scotland, is said to look as if it's straight out of a fairytale. The natural beauty of Scotland is second to none, so I'd love to take advantage of that and travel to as many places as possible while I can.

How breathtaking are the fairy pools at Skye? [Image Credit]

What is your favorite Scottish film? 

Brave. Hands down. I mean, it's Pixar, so what's not to love? Merida is totally fierce and knows exactly what she wants- she really stands out when it comes to Disney Princesses. And her hair? While I'm not a ginger, I can totally relate to that curly-frizzy mane of hers. I also love that it focuses on the relationship between Merida and her mother since my mom and I are so close as well. True story: I saw Brave in theaters with my friend who also ended up going to Edinburgh Uni way before we even had Scotland on our minds for school!

Me when it's humid out.

 What is your favorite Scottish food? 

I'm not afraid to admit that I actually enjoy haggis. There's such a stigma around it because of what its "questionable" contents (the liver, heart, and lungs of a sheep), but it honestly tastes pretty good! Kind of like spicy ground beef. It's even better fried. Trust me. Also, can we talk about how strange Irn Bru is? Personally, I think it tastes like fizzy bubblegum soda, but none of my Scottish friends seem to see it my way.

Casual haggis snapchat.

Do you follow any Scottish traditions? 

Even though I'm not at all Scottish, I'd just like to point out that my most favorite Scottish tradition has to be Ceilidh Dancing! I'll do it any chance I get. There's nothing like being swung around by a random guy (or girl!) after a few drinks. Instant friendship.

What is your favorite Scottish word?

Scottish slang is just downright wonderful- as long as not every word you use is a Scottish word! My most favorite words have to be "wee" (because I'm "wee," of course!), "bonny" (because what girl doesn't like being called beautiful?) and anything that ends in "nae" ("cannae" and "dinnae" mean "can't" and "don't" if you can believe it). I honestly don't use a lot of Scottish or British words- even when I'm at school. You'll more likely hear me emphasizing my American slang while in Scotland because I think it makes me stand out a wee bit ;)

What is your favorite Scottish song? 

Is it a total cop-out to say "500 Miles (Gonna Be)" by the Proclaimers? Because that's my jam. In fact (here's a really nerdy story for you), I used that song at the end of the Powerpoint presentation I made to announce to my parents where I wanted to go to University- and of course they loved it. "500 Miles" also always reminds me of this brilliant scene in How I Met Your Mother where Ted and Marshall's car has a tape stuck in it that only plays that song.

Can you recommend any Scottish bloggers? 

First off, there's obviously Hayley from Water Painted Dreams who mentioned me in her "Scottish Tag" post and is one of the most fabulous Scottish bloggers out there. She runs a very successful lifestyle and book blog, studies chemistry at Edinburgh Uni, and even crochets the most adorable little elephants! You should give her a follow on Instagram and Twitter too, while you're at it. A few other Scottish bloggers I follow are Ever So Juliet and Edinburgh Etiquette. They're all definitely worth having a read. If you know of any other interesting Scottish bloggers, let me know in the comments!

So that's that for questions about Scotland. If you are Scottish or live in Scotland I challenge you to answer these questions as well- either in the comments or in your own post! 


Writing is Not Glamorous: What I've Learned from Writing My First Published Piece

Long before I even began to write my first ever blog post, I spent hours upon hours each week reading my favorite blogs, anticipating new posts from my favorite writers, and fantasizing about the seemingly glamorous lifestyle of these individuals that I yearned for: the covetable wardrobes, countless Instagram followers, and, most importantly, the influence that their distinctive voices had.

Once I started to become an active member of the blogger community, however, I quickly learned that writing is not by any means something so easy (as it seems on the surface), nor is it the fabulous career or pastime that the movies make it out to be (13 Going on 30, anyone?).

This week, I've enjoyed my own 15 minutes of fame when The Boston Globe published my personal essay on summer internships both online and in their print publication. Let's be real: the second I got the phone call from the editor of the MetroWest section I did feel pretty special and important. But the weeks leading up to that phone call weren't as effortless as I would have expected.

It takes multiple drafts // Here's the bottom line: You can't write a publishable essay in one shot. Sure, we may have gotten away with a B+ in sophomore English having written the essay the night (or even the period) before, but that isn't going to cut it for the newspaper. Even for my blog I'll write a post straight through with just a few edits at the end on a busy day and I'll be satisfied. But there are no second chances in a newspaper or magazine. An editor wants to see your absolute best work so that they don't have to do too much to it. This means that you shouldn't expect the words to flow like water. I learned that it takes long, grueling nights of editing and even missing out on a few social events to take the time to get it just right. True story: It took seven drafts on this essay before I reached the final product.

It takes more than just good writing to get published // It all starts with a fantastic idea. You need to have something to say, not just a knack for using fancy words, to have your piece stand out. So you have a great idea, a thoughtful way of saying it, and you've edited your piece to oblivion. You can send it to the editor now, right? Well, that depends on whether or not you're trying to get published (spoiler alert: you are). Even when I thought I was done with my piece, my mom (a veteran writer) let me know that I, unfortunately, had one more thing to write: a letter to the editor stating why my piece would appeal to others, who it would appeal to, and my qualifications. Another important detail prospective writers often overlook? Maintaining a good social media presence. Whether that means writing a blog, tweeting actively, or, at the very least, being appropriate online. You will be Googled- trust me.

There will be days when you just want to give up // Not every day will result in a brilliant idea, an incredible synonym, or a pithy sentence. Some days, you might look at your essay and say to yourself "This is horrible and I have no idea how to make it better." But what you have to remember is that it is not horrible (I mean, you wrote it after all!) and that there are ways of improving your essay. You might just have to take a break, gain some inspiration from some of your favorite writers, and eat a snack before you can get back to it. I definitely had more than one "I wanna give up" days, but I knew that in the end, what I wanted was to be published. And you can't do that with a half-finished piece.

You will have haters // You know when you see a controversial article on Buzzfeed and you're just like "Oh, this is gonna be good. Better just skip to the comments section to see all those fights break out"? I honestly had no idea my article could be qualified as one of those (okay, not to that extent, but it did drum up a bit of not-so-positive conversation!). The first negative comment I received on my article was like a tiny dagger to my heart- I doubted myself, thinking that the comment was completely valid, and that my opinion was wrong. But after the initial shock, I started to laugh to myself a little bit, thinking that what I said was so important that it caused someone to comment in such a way. One of my friends put it to me perfectly in a text "Negative comments are good because it means you're provoking discussion. It means that it wasn't a bland piece that everyone agrees with." Amen!

It's entirely worth it // Sure, there may be a monetary reward for publishing a piece, you may gain some twitter followers, and you may take pride in the likes it accumulates on Facebook. But, in the end, what has been most valuable to me is the verbal feedback I've received from close family, friends, and even strangers. And even more so, experiencing this process from start to finish- from that first glimmer of an idea to receiving that phone call- has been incredibly worthwhile in and of itself.  


Fourth of July Festivities

When I'm away at school in Scotland, I identify as 100%, no-doubt-about-it American. I hardly ever give a second thought to explaining where my parents and grandparents are originally from, because to the Brits, I'm simply someone from the good ol' U.S. of A. And, to be honest, while I do respect my mixed heritage, I'm totally fine with being identified as "the American" in a group.

There's something about going to school in a different country that makes you feel an extreme sense of patriotism when you're across the pond. But when I'm at home? The one chance I have to show my American pride is on the Fourth of July.

Nothin' like a throwback pic to start off the post on the right foot.

The Fourth is especially important to us Bostonians because we like to consider our city the "birthplace of freedom." From the Boston Tea Party, to the Boston Massacre, to the Battle of Lexington and Concord, we were certainly the catalyst of the American Revolution- fighting for our freedom from those nasty Brits ;)

As with any holiday (including my birthday), I love to totally milk the celebration- turning a one day holiday into a weekend long affair.

This year, I spent the 3rd of July going out to dinner with my family at Committee- a brand spanking new Greek restaurant by the seaport in downtown Boston. Trendy dishes, a creative drinks menu, and young Mediterranean waiters (our's was named Socrates, I kid you not)- the place had it all. I'd say it was a little too hip for my parents, but they can blend in with the young crowd sometimes.

Just some insanely beautiful sunset views from the waterfront.

These Greek desserts weren't chocolate, but they still were pretty delish.

On the holiday itself, I spent most of the day hiking in the Blue Hills with a few of my friends- a rather untraditional way of celebrating the Fourth for me. Hiking is actually one of my summer bucket list items so I'm incredibly pleased to have been able to check that one off! Unfortunately, my body was not incredibly pleased with the strain I put on it that day. Even as a seasoned runner, hiking up (and down) a steep incline, while attempting to avoid rocks and roots along the way, proved to be quite a challenge. But reaching the top and having a picnic was definitely worth all the pain, sweat, and tumbles.

Even on a cloudy day, the view was still spectacular.

It looks like we were managing the hike quite well, but don't be fooled- we were so tired. 

While hiking was a rewarding and death-defying experience for us, there's no better way to spend Independence day than by watching fireworks! I used to be completely terrified of fireworks- from the loud noise to the little sparks raining down, it was absolutely traumatizing as a child. I honestly don't think I overcame my fear until about three or four years ago when I actually started to enjoy them.

Boston's fireworks show is second to none. I mean, it's no New York City fireworks spectacular, but it's always pretty epic if I do say so myself. There's nothing like sitting by the water (we actually got a spot this year!), surrounded by thousands of other spirited Bostonians, and singing along to our city's anthem, Sweet Caroline, while waving around an American flag to the beat of the music. Not to mention, after five failed attempts, two of my friends finally got a "U.S.A" chant going in our section during the fireworks show.

All in all, I'd say it was a pretty fantastic Fourth of July spent with friends and family, doing what I love (namely, eating food and singing at the top of my lungs). Even though we all tend to express our pride for our country on just one day each year, I'll always be proud to be an American- even when I'm not decked out in red, white, and blue!

P.S. I just updated my "favorite blogs" sidebar to include Hayley of Water Painted Dreams who also happens to be an Edinburgh Uni student. Go check out her blog!

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