2014 Reflections and New Year’s Resolutions

image(Lyon, France)

It’s officially the 35th day of the year. So, it is perfect timing to reflect on the past year as I have officially settled into the new year. 2011 was the year that changed my life but 2014 was the year that brought meaning and more excitement to my life. If someone told me that my 2014 would be what it became, I would have not believed it.

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Learning to Swim


Today is the day! Well, yesterday was the day my adult swimming class was supposed to begin but low enroll resulted in class cancellation. However, the folks at my local YMCA placed me in their Wednesdays’ class. The course is for eight weeks. I will be finished a week before I take off to New York.

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Long Distance Friendship


Even though it had been over five years since we graduated from high school, it has always been a yearly goal to meet up and reminisce about our youth while celebrating the present and plotting the future with my high school friends. We went from spending eight class periods together for four years to sending Facebook and text messages to each other once in a while. Nevertheless, when we come together, everything remains the same.

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August Wedding


First of all, happy new month! I spent the last couple of days in August traveling back to Chicago from New York and living in a frantic. In the midst of this, I was stuck in the number 5 train on my way to the Bronx Zoo for over an hour, wasted another hour trying to find ELF Cosmetics store in Midtown then rushed to Queens at 7pm to finish packing and to LaGuardia Airport in hope of not missed my 8:55pm flight (I had to check my luggages in at least 50 minutes). Luckily, I received a text message from Southwest giving noticed of my flight being delayed more than an hour and I didn’t complain because I am almost always running late.

One of my girlfriend, Tiara, became married to her college sweetheart, William, this Labor Day weekend and there was no better reason to be back home in Chicago. I met Tiara my first semester of college after experiencing roommate problems. She was one of the first girl friends I became friends with and also my dorm neighbor. Since then, she has become a valued friends. There are some friendship that does not need constant communication and this is one of them. Life goals and aspirations may drift us apart from cities, countries and continents, but we will always pick up from where we left off.

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One Bad Apple


Different countries, cities and towns are known for certain things. Some are bad, while others are good. However, they usually stem off stereotypes and/or one’s experience that is then used as a standard. New York City is no different. Although NYC is known for its diversity, abundance of restaurants, good food, interesting scenes– essentially tourism central, etc., one common misconception that people have about NYC is that New York people are rude or even worse, the rudest of them all.

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Getaway to Catskills, NY


When living in a major city like New York or Chicago, it is good to take a weekend getaway or a day trip outside of your major city. This is a must do even when just visiting. There are so many places to getaway to from the concrete jungle where dreams are made of, New York. You can take a short trip to the Hamptons or Greenport in Long Island, NY or Newport, Rhode Island or Buffalo, NY, et al. You have a vast array of options. This time around we should Margaretville in the Catskills Region, a two and a half hour drive in ridiculous New York traffic.

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Europe Itinerary


After I started reading and following travelers share their journeys on Travel Noire, I was thirsty (for lack of a better word) to start seeing these places myself. I have taken many trips but none were truly solo traveling. At first, I wanted to take my first solo trip to Niagara Falls at the ending of 2013 because it is a place I wanted to experience myself and in all honesty, flights were and still are quite cheap from Chicago. However, that all changed when I scored my $260 round-trip ticket to Europe for late February to early/mid March. The thought of going to Europe, all by myself, not knowing a soul, was beyond scary but I was up for any challenges, from planning to the language barrier, to understanding how life function on the other side of the planet. Speaking of planning, I will be sharing my planning process of my upcoming 2014- 2015 Europe and southeast Asia backpacking trip shortly. In the meantime, here’s my itinerary for my Europe trip: Continue reading

Weekend in Galena, Illinois


I was lucky enough to spend my weekend with some awesome people. My friend Christy invited me to her and her friend’s annual cabining trip and this year’s trip was to Lake Galena, Illinois— a two and a half hour drive from Chicago. However, our road trip took us four hours to get there because of heavy traffic along our route. (side question: where are people going to at 1pm in Chicago? Shouldn’t people be at work or something similar?) Additionally, we make several stops along the way for gas, food and photo ops along the way at Lake Galena’s scenic view and at Thunder Bay Waterfalls. Continue reading

How I Scored a $260 Round Trip Flight to Europe

 santorini View from my hotel suite in Santorini, Greece

I am an avid social apps user especially when it comes to Instagram. Last autumn, I started following an Instagram page called @Travelnoire. Travel Noire (link to their webpage) is an online platform that showcases and encourage people in the African diaspora to step out their comfort zone and explore their backyards and the world around them. I can’t recall how I found out about this online community but I’m guessing one of the people I follow liked one of their pictures and me being noisy wanted to see what picture it was. Thank God for my nosiness.  Continue reading