Florida Life Update

So here we are, halfway through August and closing in on the final months of 2017. I’ve been down here in Florida for a little over a month, and I will be perfectly honest: it’s been difficult, and embarrassing. You would think that by the age of 30, I’d have my shit figured out. Alas, here I sit, still unemployed and getting rejections or silence from 98% of the places I’ve applied. (I’ve had one interview for a restaurant, but it was kind of sketchy. I still have to wait “a week or two” to even get a reply, so I’m not optimistic.) 

With my lack of income and current unemployment being the largest percentage of my stress, my depression has also resurged. The clear lack of communication coupled with the sheer stupidity of the “submit resume/retype everything in the resume in this database” method of applying for jobs results in these thoughts being implanted in my mind that I am apparently unworthy of being employed despite having a Masters and transferrable skills to fill almost any position. Some days it is very hard to justify getting out of bed, much less leave where I’m currently staying just to take a walk and get some fresh air. My enthusiasm for things that typically make me happy has waned. I haven’t had a solid workout in months, and I have had to defer Chicago until 2018. I am still on track for Marine Corps in late October, and with two months to go, I could make a comeback. But again, not being employed makes things nervewracking…what if they don’t give me those days off for a race I’ve planned for months? Not being 100% certain that I will end up racing deters me from even training, with the thoughts of, “Why bother training if I won’t be able to run?” constantly screaming in my head.

*sigh*

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Even though “Struggle Bus” is the title of this chapter, and despite the ongoing depression, there have been some highlights:


-“A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.” -Coco Chanel

I finally got my hair cut! The last time I had my hair touched was in Fall 2015, so this was long overdue. I don’t mind having long hair, but once it hits a certain length, it just gets annoying to deal with.

And I got side bangs as an even bigger change! Haven’t had those since the fifth grade.

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-Chris and I had date night a couple weeks ago at the Leu Gardens. They had an outdoor movie theatre so we settled in to watch La La Land. We got there relatively early, and I immediately saw why: there were SO many people picnicking on the lawn prior to the show! It was a very fun way to bring the community out for an evening. I’d definitely go again!

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The gardens themselves are beautiful, and definitely worth getting lost in for a couple of hours.


-I’ve been to Universal a couple of times, and to City Walk a couple times for food; it’s been a nice distraction from my personal life, and what’s been going on in the world. (It helps to have connections for tickets.) If you ever have to ask someone why they are always going to Disney or Universal or whatever theme park, they will probably respond with this. It is a happy place for many of us, a land of hyperreality where we can use our imaginations and get away for a little while.

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-Even though there is only one season in Florida, that’s not stopping the local craft stores from bringing out the autumn decor a month and change early! When I was in grad school, I would go to the nearest Michaels and spend hours in there just looking at all the pretty things and imagining what my house will look like…if I ever get to buy one…

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Ehhh, nah. I’m a Caramel Apple Spice girl.

-It is also the most wonderful time of the year: back to school season! I get the biggest rush when I step into a store and see all the new supplies lining the shelves and smell freshly sharpened pencils and a box of Crayolas. I’ve been out of academia (unfortunately) for two years now, but the excitement is still there. I have to really resist buying a new notebook and a fresh pack of pens. I have also been tinkering around with ideas for a college lifestyle series, so that may pan out in the future after I finish with the Studies in Wanderlust series.

I was in Walmart, browsing the cosmetics aisle as usual, when I found this collaborative display between Crayola and Sally Hansen! (Amazon Affiliate link below!)

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The colors are vibrant and will take you right back to your childhood! I personally like the Carnation Pink the best.

You can also check out the entire collection on Sally Hansen’s website.


So there’s an update for now. Hopefully things will start to turn around by the time I write another Weekly Review for you all. Enjoy your weekend! xoxo

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Studies in Wanderlust: St. Andrews 

Grab your golf clubs and pick a caddie…we’re heading to the St. Andrew’s Links today! 🏌🏼‍♀️🏌🏻⛳️

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Welcome back to my Studies in Wanderlust: Scotland series! If you need to get caught up on the adventures, here is the link to previous adventures!

Ready to go? Great!

Out of the two weeks that I was in Scotland, it only rained twice. (Others that have done this particular study abroad program in the past reported many consecutive days of rain, so we definitely felt fortunate that we lucked out in the weather department.) One of those days was when we went to St. Andrews, and the other when we went to Glasgow. At the Links, it was on and off between gray skies, sprinkles, and downpours. Scotland weather is super temperamental (much like Florida!), so it’s best to be prepared with rain gear.

St. Andrew’s Links (specifically the Old Course) has been regarded as The Home of Golf. Having been played on since the 15th century, it is a premiere location for golfing legends to practice their craft, compete during Open Championships or the Women’s British Open (among many other championships), and to hang out in the Royal and Ancient Golf Club and surrounding pubs in this historical city. The course is located in the county of Fife, along the northeast coast, and boasts beautiful views of St. Andrew’s Bay and the North Sea.

 

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Royal and Ancient (R&A) Clubhouse

 

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R&A Clubhouse on the left, Hamilton Grand luxury apartments on the right.

 

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At the 18th hole!

One of the most famous icons at The Old Course, and in the golfing world in general, is the Swilcan Bridge. This 700 year old bridge serves as a gateway between the first and eighteenth holes. Its original purpose was to get livestock and sheep across the Swilcan Burn without getting them wet. Today, it is not just a fantastic photo opportunity for those who visit the Links, but also a chance to retrace the footsteps of legendary golfers from centuries ago.

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Once finished with the Links, we all split up to explore the town. Everywhere you turn, you’ll find more tributes to golf and how much of an impact it has on the town.

 

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Ladies Golf Union

 

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St. Andrews Golf Club

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Alexander’s Resturant and Scorecards Bar

 

 

I was especially excited to visit St. Andrews University, as I was on a Prince William and Duchess Catherine kick long before this adventure. Armed with the knowledge that they had both attended the University, I knew I had to traipse the grounds. With students away on summer recess, it wasn’t crowded at all.

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Castle House, or the “Poetry House”, is where the School of English is based.

 

And, for all the Will and Kate fans…Northpoint Cafe is where Kate met Wills…for coffee! Visiting here was a nonnegotiable for me, so I treated myself to breakfast:

 

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The ruins of St. Andrews Cathedral and Castle were also up for exploration. Lisa and I headed over for pictures and mine spelunking:

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East Tower of St. Andrews Cathedral

 

 

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If you’re claustrophobic, this mine might not be for you. It’s low and tight in places, plus there are many others adventuring, too. Makes it quite crowded at times.

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Wrapped up the day (and waited out a patriculary heavy downpour) at Chariots Bar, which was appropriately named after the movie, Chariots of Fire:

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Up next: Free Day in Edinburgh! High tea and ghost tours!

Studies in Wanderlust: Edinburgh Castle and Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Welcome back! Today’s adventures are back on base in Edinburgh. This day was a long one…we toured Edinburgh Castle and watched the Military Tattoo in the evening!

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One of my favorite pictures: full group shot!

As mentioned previously, Edinburgh and Scotland in general are full of stairs and hills. Hello, leg day #5 (or #6…or #7…)!

 

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Stairs on stairs!

 

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One o’clock Gun

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I’m a sucker for cafes. The Redcoat Cafe is on site, and has delicious lattes:

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We had quite a bit of time between our tour and the Tattoo, so that gave us a chance to explore more around Edinburgh. I broke away from the chaos of the Fringe Festival, walked all the way down the Royal Milke, and to the calmness of Holyrood Park:

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Edinburgh Military Tattoo:

 

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RAF Flyover

 

 

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Edinburgh Castle

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If you are planning to ever watch the Tattoo, be aware that it can get very chilly and windy at night. I’m very glad that I brought along my track jacket and that I was wearing pants!

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Next adventure: St. Andrews!

Studies in Wanderlust, Ep. IV: Isle of Arran

Welcome back to Studies in Wanderlust! Today we voyage to the Isle of Arran.

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If you need to get caught up on the adventures, here are the links to Episode One, Episode Two, and Episode Three.


We started the day by traveling to the Ardrossan port where the ferry would hustle us across. Caledonian Maritime is strict with punctuality, so the “fashionably late” trend will not cut it here if you’re planning on taking a trip.

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The weather for this day was calling for on and off rain and clouds with a bit of a chill. Perfect day for long sleeves and a fleece vest.

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We reached the Isle and boarded our tour bus for the day, which was more like a thrill ride. The drivers certainly know their way around the place, and with zippy speed! (Just ask those in the back of the bus who fell out of their seats with every turn.)

The grass certainly is greener on the other side. The views, even though from a moving bus, were breathtaking:

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Our destination was the Arran Distillery, where we toured and learned the ways of single malt and blended malt whiskies.

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Tasting glass used for sampling 10 and 14 year old malts.

One fun fact I learned is that adding ice to whisky really messes with the overall flavor. Enjoying it neat is the best way to experience it, or you can add a couple drops of water to open the flavor up.  

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We parked ourselves outside to enjoy our lunches (and for me, one too many Arran Gold truffles) and absorb the greenery..including the sheep across the street. 🙂

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We boarded back onto the Thrill Bus and looped all the way back around to the town and where the boat was. We were free to explore, so Lisa and I took off, and eventually found our way to solid food!

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One of the best parts about the Isle of Arran was being immersed in the rich culture. Arrran is very small, with its population being less than 5,000. The accents are heavy and filled with Scottish awesomeness  (if you listen closely, you’ll pick up on some Gaelic, too). The food plentiful and homemade (no chains here!). The scenery, untouched by man, is something to truly experience.

I highly recommend taking a day trip here. Trust me, I can’t wait to go back!

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Up next: Another day in Edinburgh! Edinburgh Castle, scenes from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and the Edinburgh Tattoo!

Studies in Wanderlust, Ep. III: Abbotsford and Rosslyn

Welcome to Episode Three! If you need to get caught up, here’s Episode One and Episode Two.

Today we adventure to Abbotsford and Sir Walter Scott’s mansion (more like man cave), Scott’s View, and Rosslyn Chapel!

I also apologize in advance of the quality of some of the pictures. I shot the majority on my iPhone 5C, which definitely doesn’t show the quality of what everything looks like in real life. Trust me, I cannot wait to replicate this trip and redo all the photos!

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SWS was diagnosed with polio at the age of 2, which left him with a limp. This limp prevented him from ever serving in the military. I learned during our walkthrough tour that he sort of made up for this by searching for and decorating his mansion with weapons of all sorts. He was also a big fan of Scottish Baronial style architecture, and this influenced his interior decorating, as well.

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Second gun from the bottom is Rob Roy’s:

Notebook and pen set in the middle belonged to Napoleon.

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Soon after, we journeyed to Scott’s View, which is said to be SWS’s favorite viewpoint overlooking the Scottish Borders.

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To wrap up the day, we went to Rosslyn Chapel! This was the premise of The Da Vinci Code, in both the novel and 2006 movie. Photos were unfortunately not allowed inside (and have been forbidden since 2008)…

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Next adventure: Isle of Arran!

Studies In Wanderlust–Scotland, Ep. II: Linlithgow and Stirling

Welcome to Episode Two of my Studies in Wanderlust: Scotland series! In case you need to get caught up, head to Episode One.

Ready to go? Great! Grab your shoes and cameras…

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The next day we departed for West Lothian to visit Linlithgow and Stirling. This meant we got to navigate by rail for the first time!

I found out real quick into this adventure that Scotland is super hilly. And has stairs everywhere. Thanks a lot, geology. However, I did use this to my advantage as I was also concurrently training for my first marathon. I used this entire study abroad adventure as cross training.

Pro tip: invest in solid sneakers with comfortable socks. These will make or break your day, and possibly subsequent days. Cobblestone sidewalks and varying terrain does not call for cute yet nonfunctional shoes.

 

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See what I mean?

 

Alrighty, now onto the pictures! Enjoy!


Linlithgow and Linlithgow Palace: (birthplace of King James V in 1512 and Mary, Queen of Scots in 1542)

 

 

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A recurring theme…

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Stirling and Stirling Castle:

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Sitrling

Regimental Museum (paying tribute to the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders):

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I self-toured through Stirling Castle relatively quickly. My focus point was just down the street at Argyll’s Lodging, which is named for my clan, the Campbells of Argyll! (Trust me, I found this out and totally geeked.)

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Definitely had to get a picture on the royal throne. Who knows, maybe one of my ancestors sat here!
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Of course, had to get a picture of the Royal Loo.

Wrapping up the day, we headed to the Wallace Monument!

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Braveheart's sword

 

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Doing what I do best: taking all the pictures! 🙂

 

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My travel buddy, Lisa!

 

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246 steps later, the views are worth it.

 

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Throw what you know! #KappaKappaPsi

 

 

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Next up: Abbotsford and Rosslyn Chapel!