46 Days Later

“What is your favorite CIMBA memory?” the piece of paper said. A slideshow of photos of us played in the background, a sentimental tune to go along with it. You would have thought it was the end of the program, but in reality it’s a little more than halfway through. Hard to believe, but only 38 days remain until I’m headed back to the states.

As I sat there filling out my reflections page for the CIMBA yearbook, I realized how much I am going to miss these people. I had no idea how close I could get to a group of 75 strangers in less than two months. But it makes sense when I think about it—we all live in the same building, went through the same intensive leadership training, take the same classes, and eat three meals a day together. Most of us came here knowing nobody, give or take a few. We have learned to rely on each other for support, since we are all far from home and out of our comfort zones. CIMBA 2012 truly is a little family.

All you need is CIMBA! My friend’s addition to the Lennon Wall in Prague

What was originally 84 days here has suddenly turned into 38. I have had an amazing ride thus far, and I am only beginning to pinpoint how this experience is changing me. Just a few things I’ve noticed/learned…

1. Before coming to Italy, I relied on iPhone Maps like no other. Need to find a certain store? Whip my phone out, type in the store, and my handy-dandy iPhone gets me there every time.  But this is not the case in Europe. I’ve had to learn how to find my way around foreign countries without technology. It’s maps all the way, and let me tell you, I’ve become a master.

2. I never knew how it felt to be the minority and feel out of place before, but my European adventures have changed that too. Something as simple as walking into the cafeteria and seeing only Italians in the room makes me feel very self-conscious. It’s made me wonder how international students must feel coming to University of Oregon. The majority of people there aren’t too welcoming, but it is amazing how much a slight smile means.

Celebrating the last night of Oktoberfest

3. Europeans really aren’t that much different than Americans. Sure, we speak different languages, eat different foods, and wear different clothes. But we all celebrate, socialize, and love the same. One of the reasons I enjoyed Oktoberfest so much is because of the unity I felt there. Thousands of people from all over Europe and America who don’t know a thing about each other, yet we all danced to the same music and gave cheers to one another. It was an unforgettable experience and I want to go back.

4. Europeans are much more fashionable than Americans and I absolutely love it. Being a fashionista myself and wanting to work in the fashion industry when I graduate, one of my favorite things about being in Europe is observing all the dress. Unlike America, no one here is caught dead in sweat pants with a messy bun on the top of their head. Whether male or female, young or old, day or night, everyone I see dresses impeccably (especially more so in Italy). I wish some of the Americans would take a hint.

Amazing ceiling inside the Residence Munchen

5. Another thing Europe’s got on America is their stunning architecture. I knew the buildings here would be old and cool, but I didn’t realize they’d take my breath away. During my first travel week I saw several cathedrals with painted ceilings and stained glass that was incredible. I still can’t believe people managed to build all that hundreds of years ago, before technology or construction tools even existed. Looking at these works of art gives me hope, for if the Europeans could do that without so much as a ladder, we certainly can better our game.

So far I’ve traveled to Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, and Italy of course. On Saturday I leave for my second travel week to Barcelona, Dublin, and Paris. I can’t wait to see what new things I’ll learn in these countries. Ciao!

This post was cross-posted to https://www.biz.uiowa.edu/cimba.

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Why I Love Fashion

Now that I am settled back in to my busy college lifestyle, I am ready and excited to commit to my blog. Inspiration strikes at the most random of times and I have a bad habit of cataloguing these thoughts for later. But no more waiting. It begins NOW!

Last night at the UO American Marketing Association (a group that I’m an executive member in) meeting, two of my fellow exec board members gave a presentation on creativity and how to get inspired. At the Lundquist College of Business, creativity isn’t something that is usually talked about. This is left to the J School (Journalism School), full of its “creatives” and photo/video software classes. Max and Emily, digital arts and advertising majors respectively, picked this topic in an attempt to bring some of that creative side to the business school. Turns out, I loved what they had to say.

In particular, Max told us all to find things we love and figure out why we love them. Make a collage of pictures, bookmark things for later, journal it all down; whatever it may be, he stressed pinpointing these things because they can, and will, end up inspiring you later. At the beginning of their presentation, Max and Emily asked what inspires us creatively, or what gets the “artsy” part of our brain working. I immediately thought of all the fashion blogs I follow and how different outfit combinations or certain bloggers’ styles excite me.

Truth be told, as much as I love fashion, I sometimes feel like it has no merit. Like if I tell a classmate that I want to work in fashion, he or she will take me less seriously. What a silly thing to think, I know. (It’s mostly the male gender that makes me think this way.)

But the more I think about it, the more that I explore style, the more days that pass, I become more and more certain about it. Coco Chanel once said:

“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”

It can take a long time, sometimes forever, for a person to find his or her passion. I am lucky that I have found mine and I am only beginning to figure out WHY it excites me so.

Style is an extension of oneself, a way to express one’s individuality, mood, or agenda. I admire fashion and style because I appreciate visual continuity. The way an outfit is put together, or how the perfect accessory can complement one’s clothing, are part of the visual togetherness. Much like the continuity of a brand’s identity, or a party theme, or a store’s interior. I’ve realized that I’m attracted to the “whole package” or visual appeal, and that is my definition of creativity.

So as I continue this blog, expect a lot of fashion and style related content. It’s my attempt to discover, explore, and practice my passion.

Deep thoughts 30 day challenge

So, here I am, two weeks into the new year and already buried back into my hectic, busy college life. After a bit of a rude awakening returning from my relaxing break to a desk piled in papers for my new VP Finance position, things have finally calmed down a bit and I’m back into the swing of things.

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to sit down in peace and write anything until now because there are constantly girls buzzing in and out of our study den. But now the time has finally come – more than half the house is at Sun River this weekend, leaving our lovely abode very quiet.

I’ve decided to take a shot at this “Deep Thoughts 30 Day Challenge,” taken from my dear friend Talia. I thought it might be a great way to start and record my reflection process. This probably won’t be happening in a daily timeline of 30 days, though I can try! Without further ado, here are the questions:

1. What happened today? If it was the last day of your life, how satisfied would you be with your final hours?
2. Who are you? In comparison to who you used to be. What made you change?
3. Where have you been spending your time lately? Three/Five/Ten years ago would you have expected to be there?
4. What do you think it means to be in love?
5. Pick a song that projects the same mood as your day or week and explain.
6. Talk about a recent experience that has affected you greatly and how.
7. Think of the last person you hugged. What would you do if they vanished completely?
8. Write about the first moment that comes to your head when you read the words “childhood memory”
9. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
10. Did you have a good day or a bad day? Where do you think that defining line was?
11. Do you feel protective over someone?
12. If you could trade places with anyone for one week, who would it be and why?
13. Where do you see your best friend in 10 years?
14. When you are stressed, what can you use as an outlet? Why do you think it helps you?
15. What do you believe in? And not just God or atheism.
16. What are you passionate about?
17. Who was the last person you kissed? (If you are still with them now, pick the person before them.) What would they say if they saw you now?
18. Talk about your extended family. Why do you think they are the way they are?
19. If you could be anywhere in the world, but you had to be there for a certain cause, where would you be and why?
20. Again, pick a song that projects the mood of your week or day.
21. Look back. Why did you choose this challenge? Do you think it says anything about you?
22. How do you think people see you? Be a little negative and a little positive.
23. Explain your life plan for the next month, then the next year, then three years, then five years.
24. Are you more social or independent? Why do you think that is?
25. What do you think it means to be a good parent?
26. Talk about a moment where you were truly happy. What was happening? Who were you with?
27. Is there a friend you are worried about? Why do they have you concerned? Do you think they’ll be okay?
28. Would you rather someone tell you the truth up front but gently, or be lied to to spare your feelings?
29. If you could be doing the same things you do now, only in your own way, how would a normal day in your life go?
30. Look back on this last month and talk about it.

1. What happened today? If it was the last day of your life, how satisfied would you be with your final hours?

Today I have been incredibly lazy and haven’t done much of anything, so I would not rank it very high on the satisfaction scale. Especially because the most important people in my life were not a part of it. However, yesterday was a very good day and much more satisfying. I woke up to the shrieks of my sisters blasting music and packing for Sun River, just another reminder of the trip I was not going to be a part of. But I accepted it and didn’t let them get me down. In fact, their excitement almost made me more excited – after all, it was the start of the weekend regardless of where I’d be! I had one class and then went to the gym with my best friend, which was my first time back at the rec since last spring. I forgot how great it feels to work out when I’m fully awake, not at my 9am running class in the 20 degree weather. Later that night I went out to a fraternity’s date dash with my other close friend and it was lots of fun.

I don’t quite know how to explain why yesterday was so great, other than the fact that I was simply happy, interacting with my friends. There was no stress or pressure or running from one thing to another. It was just…living. Getting back into working out again has been really good for me too. I got so wrapped up last term in other things that I never took the time to pay attention to me, and I am trying to change that. So far, so good.

New Year’s resolutions

My Twitter feed has been blowing up lately with talk of resolutions for the New Year. How to keep them, which ones to make, which ones not to make, relationship resolutions, health resolutions, and so on. The more I think about it, the sillier it seems. Why wait until a new year to make resolutions? Most of the time people keep them for only the first month or so and then completely forget about them.

The better approach is to make a resolution whenever you want. Whenever the situation calls for it. I understand the feeling of a new year, a clean slate, a fresh start. But who’s to say that tomorrow can’t be your fresh start?

I read a great article from Time today that parallels my thinking exactly. A self-help expert tells us instead of making one-time resolutions, try “regular reflection and soul-searching.” He goes on to say:

[Ask yourself questions such as:] What do I want? What is my life’s purpose? Is there a contribution I can make to my community or to society? What kind of relationships do I want to have? What is my idea of well being, and how can I achieve it?

I don’t ask that you even know the answers, but if you start to do this kind of reflection, it has a very interesting way of not only moving you to the answers but of changing your behavior. So instead of saying, I’m going to have all this willpower, and I’m going to try so hard, which is all mental fatigue, reflective self-inquiry spontaneously leads to change.

This sounds like a great idea to me. I am constantly reflecting on my life anyway, at least on a subconscious level, so it can’t be too hard to write it down.

I don’t normally make resolutions, but I think this year I will resolve to write down (or type) my reflections more. Looks like finally starting a blog was a good first step. And now that I think about it, my desire to blog came as a result of my constant reflection, not because of a spur-of-the-moment resolution. Point in case.