Ireland Day #1

Almost 3 months later and I'm finally getting around to recapping my study abroad trip! Go me! I actually just made a photo book of this trip and I absolutely cannot wait for it to get here. Looking through the photos made me reminisce so much on it and realize that I want a recap of everything that happened here on my blog, so y'all can know a little more about what I did and so I can have a reason to daydream about Ireland again (-:

So, before I begin, here's a little bit about my trip and what our purpose was. There was a group of about 16 of us, all girls, mostly all Animal Science students, all from NC State, and we went to study the equine industry in Ireland. Europe does a lot different things with their horses, so we toured lots of different equine-theme facilities and businesses. We also, of course, got to spend a lot of time exploring the BEAUTIFUL country.

We departed the US on May 10. The majority of us flew out from RDU on the connection to Philadelphia, but a few of us went directly to Philly. One girl met us in Dublin. I had flown once (?) before when I was really little, but it was pre-9/11 and I don't even count it. I count this trip as my first time flying! All of my friends and family will tell you that I was an absolute wreck about flying. I can't count how many times I said that I wished I could just teleport to Ireland so I could avoid the plane ride. I researched planes, how planes work, what causes plane crashes, and so forth. Yes, I'm a little crazy. I packed most of my stuff on the 9th, oh and I found a Target receipt where I bought a bunch of stuff for the trip on the 8th. Did I mention I didn't finish my spring semester until the 7th? That gave me a good 2 days to pack and prepare myself for international travel.

I got to the airport on the 10th super early like the good flyer I am. Mom bought me a frappucino from Starbucks against my dad's wishes because he said it would make me have to pee. It did. Good think I sat at the gate for about an hour before we boarded- plenty of pee time. Saying goodbye to my family wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be (sorry, Mom). Of course I'd miss them, but I was about to go to Ireland for goodness sakes!

My suitcase was well underweight and my carry-on and personal item were the right size, so I was golden. I sat beside my friend Paige on the flight to Philly, and I can't tell you how many times I apologized to her for being so anxious! Sitting on the tarmac waiting for our plane to be given the green light for take-off was nervewracking! Once we accelerated down the runway, though, and we took off, I was completely amazed! It was a weird feeling, but I actually felt really safe!

Sitting at the gate at RDU!

Raleigh from really high up

NC from even higher up

Definitely one of my favorite pictures. God is an unbelievable artist!

I loved seeing the patchwork of the farmland from high up. 

W flew over the Chesapeake Bay and could see cargo ships on the water which was really cool. Here we saw a rainstorm over the Bay as we flew away from it.

The suburbs of Philly!

Landing at PHL. The rainbow was a beautiful touch!
Sidenote to show you how panicky I am: when we were landing in Philly, we approached over that river you can see above. I was honestly very concerned about why we were getting so close down over the river. An emergency landing a la Hudson River 2009 crossed my mind for a moment.

The flight was roughly 50 minutes (which still blows my mind) and we laid over for a couple hours. We got dinner (pizza!) and finally were allowed to board around 9:00 pm. I'm so glad I ate at the airport because the dinner on the plane wasn't that great! When we boarded, we sat for a little while, then the pilot announced they catered the plane wrong, so they had to replace all the food. By the time they were done, we lost our push back crew, so we had to wait for another one. We sat there for 30 minutes or so and I took a dramamine in the mean time. By the time we took off I was already sleepy! They finally came around with the dinner and drink carts. I heard one of my friends ask if she could have wine, but she wasn't 21 so she wasn't allowed. The steward got around to me and served me wine. Wine + dramamine = very sleepy Taylor. I got a window seat for the overnight flight in hopes that I could lean against it to sleep. That didn't happen because the seat was a strangely far distance away from the window. I slept uncomfortably for maybe an hour and woke up to my neighbor's feet all in my foot space. I wasn't happy. Plus, he was just sleeping away. Some of the girls on the trip had aisle seats with no one in the row, so they got 4 seats to themselves to stretch out on. That must have been nice! I had to pee for a while but I didn't want to wake up the man beside me. He finally woke up and I went to the bathroom (it took me a while to figure out how to flush the toilet) and when I sat back down I made a grave mistake. It was 12:30 am EST. I haven't a clue where we were over the ocean, but it was much later than 12:30 am our time. I opened the blind and this is what I saw:

A strangely disorienting sunrise from 40,000 feet in the air. Yeah, I felt like I was in outer space. After that I was wide awake and kept lifting the blind ever so slightly to watch the sunrise.

We landed in Dublin at 8:00 am or 3:00 am at home. We crossed over the entire country and turned around over the Irish sea to come into Dublin. There must have been strong winds over the Irish Sea because the landing was bumpy. The plane would do this weird dropping thing where it felt like my stomach was floating and my mind thought we were falling out of the sky. I stayed calm and the pilot did a fantastic job. For all the turbulence, we landed so smoothly! Catching glimpses of Dublin as we descended was fantastic.

I'm just into May 11th, so I'll stop there!


Tips for Studying

I don't know about y'all, but living at home and taking summer classes doesn't quite mix! Being around my family makes me want to talk and hang out, not work! I often find myself having to get out of the house to efficiently get work done. I often go to Starbucks a few miles from my house. There are certain things I make sure I do when I study outside of the house and I thought sharing them might be helpful for those of y'all who are in the same boat as me!

Make your to-do list before leaving the house | This will make sure you stay on task and keep checking things off your list! I could spend forever just making a to-do list, wasting time I could be spending on working. Getting your list out of the way beforehand ensures you make the most of your time.

Bring your study essentials | At this point, everyone probably has their go-to items for studying. Make sure you pack everything you need! I always bring with me the following items: notebook, pencil pouch, notepad with my to-do list, textbooks, water bottle, wallet (you know you're going to want to buy some coffee!), agenda, computer, charger for your computer and phone, headphones, and chapstick.

Put your phone away | This really goes for studying anywhere, but just put it away! It's a major distraction. Your friends won't miss you too much, I promise!

Set aside time to step away from your homework | Do whatever works for you. I usually stop for 10 minutes after every 50 of studying to do something else. I will read blogs, work on posts, scroll through Twitter, edit some photos. Anything to relax after staring at homework for almost an hour!

Budget time for each assignment | Staring at the same assignment for two hours won't get you far. If you work on it for thirty minutes or an hour or whatever works for you, start on something else. Stepping away and moving on to another assignment then coming back can help you look at it with a fresh mind, making you more productive!

Bring headphones | I kind of touched on this before, but it's a very important one to me! I get easily distracted by people talking and I often don't like the music playing in Starbucks. Bringing headphones and listening to my favorite study playlist really gets me motivated and focused.

What are your favorite study tips? Share below!


Let It Rain, Let It Pour

I'll tell ya, inspiration for blog posts can hit me anywhere, anytime, especially when I'm taking photos! This one came to me when I was capturing pictures of a beautiful sight over the Atlantic Ocean at Emerald Isle earlier this week. I went down for a vacation with my family Tuesday. Thursday, we had been on the beach for roughly an hour when one of my aunts yelled down to the shore from the house we were renting that we needed to come inside. There was a tornado warning (one had been spotted- yikes!) for Carteret County and the storm was moving quickly towards us. Sure enough, when we turned to see what she was yelling about, the sky behind our house, to the north, was an ominous navy.

Shout out to my mom for risking her life during a tornado warning to snapchat the occasion. She's the real MVP.
And yet, the sky over the ocean was a beautiful blue. It looked like a perfect day.

We scrambled together our things and wogged up to the house. (That's half-walk, half-jog for those of you who like to run- basically what I do every time I exercise.) We dropped our things on the floor of the third story kitchen (isn't it strange how the kitchen is on the third floor? It makes for a lovely view, though!) and I stepped out on the balcony at the back of the house. When I saw the storm, my stomach dropped and in flooded the anxiety. Right over the house was an obvious center of rotation in the clouds. I paced back and forth and a few of my aunts took the smaller children to the first floor. Suddenly, the sky opened up and it started pouring. I believe the rain pushed away the spinning clouds, and thankfully so, because you could see the beginnings of a funnel cloud forming. It rained for hours, effectively ruining our day at the beach. Since I had come down late in the week, I only had a few days to spend tanning and swimming in the ocean (my favorite! Sharks can't keep me out of the water!) so I was rather disappointed.

The downpour finally let up before dinnertime and I stepped out on the deck to grab a drink. I looked up and saw the most beautiful sight.

I had never been so close to a rainbow before! The pictures do not do it justice and what you can almost see in the first photo is that the end of it touched the ocean right in front of our house. Jokes ensued about who was swimming out to get the pot of gold. It was magnificent and absolutely made the rainy, yucky day worth it.

'So what's your point, Taylor?' My point is that rain is inevitable. It is going to rain. It will rain. We were never promised smooth sailing. John 16:33 says that "In this world you will have trouble." God warned us, He told us that hard times would ensue. Nobody escapes it. But out of all of it will come something beautiful!

The rest of the verse says, "Take heart! I have overcome the world." Don't dwell on your struggles, don't pity yourself because you're soaking wet because you didn't make it inside before it started pouring. Understand that this is how it is, that some things aren't meant to be understood, that you are not the only one facing pain and sorrow. Those problems are worldly. They are grounded in our earthly home, in people, in material items. That is not how it is to be forever, though. There is more to it. God is in control and in Him those world things mean nothing. Rain is just rain. If you believe you will persevere and you will make it though. Better even, you will grow. You will thrive. You will get your rainbow.

Just as rain causes the plants and greenery to grow, so struggles make you grow as a person. Hardships make you change your view and your strategy. God will make you abound in everything you do, but you must first believe and put all your faith in him- even through the rain.


A Fresh Start

I finally took the plunge and decided to buy a blog template, and I am SO glad I did. I needed a bit of a fresh start to rebrand myself and figure out what I wanted to do with my piece of the internet. I've attempted the traditional "preppy, southern, act-like-I-have-my-stuff-together" style, but let me tell you- that is ridiculously hard to pull off, so props to you girls who do it! It demotivated me and made me lose sight of why I wanted to blog to begin with. I want to blog to record memories and growth and my thoughts, not to post solely about the latest Lilly Pulitzer line (still love you Lilly P.!). I essentially want to write, not blog. I want this blog to be 100% Taylor and the blogging I've done in the past has not been 100% Taylor. Maybe 47% at best.

So here I am, a clean slate, a blank notebook. No expectations, no rules. It feels so liberating! Here's to fresh starts!