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Seven Days

This will most likely be my last post from Italy, and that thought makes it feel incredibly real that I am actually leaving. I have spent the past 4 months in a new place, and have learned to make it my home. I can say I don’t do well with change, but 4 months is just enough time to get used to a new place, and now I am leaving it. 

I have certainly had good times, great times, and bad times. Luckily, I have made good friends here that could distract me from that when it made me sad, and I hope I was able to do the same for them. My four months here have not been perfect, I missed my family a lot, my home and my friends. Even though the bad days came, and sometimes in groups, I can say I will never regret putting my home life on hold for four months to be here. 

I have had nights that I will never forget, as well as meals, of course the meals! Some of the friends I made I know I am not saying goodbye to forever. I have learned so much about myself, more than I expected to. While I may keep those experiences off the blog, I can say some things I learned I am not happy about and hope to change, while others made me a new person, and a better person. 

 

The feeling of leaving is very bittersweet. I cannot wait to get home to everyone who constantly reassures me that they are waiting for me, but at the same time I can’t fathom leaving this new home, and not knowing when I will get to come back. 

I have just a few last adventures to share with you through photos,

Girls of Piazza Stazione take Cinque Terre:

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one of the most breathtaking views I have ever seen

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There’s something very special about the Italian coast, it makes you fall in love. 

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This weekend is one of the very lasts. We still have next weekend but I cannot fathom doing anything but running around the city and eating and packing. This weekend was Easter, which Florentines take very seriously. My entire apartment left me this weekend, so I had to come up with some new Easter festivities by myself. I am not one to enjoy multiple days of alone time, but I can say that I think it was just what I needed this weekend. I did a lot of reflecting and adventuring alone, and I think that is how I needed my semester to wind down. Although I spent most days alone, Easter was spent with friends. We had a lovely potluck brunch which was INCREDIBLE, complete with blood orange mimosas, oh yes. I was really missing my family on that day, I have never had to skip a holiday with them, but being here with new friends felt very comforting. I spent the rest of Easter with all new friends, from many different countries and states. 

 

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Easter in Florence is a really BIG deal. Everyone gathers around the Duomo, mass is done inside, while all the tourists line up at the gate outside to wait for the ‘explosion of the cart’. The explosion of the cart is a Florentine tradition, where a cart is led through the city ending at the Duomo where it sits until mid way through mass it is lit on fire, exploding all of its fireworks. It’s a magical experience. I waited at the Duomo very early in the morning, so I spent most of my time taking pictures of the strangers around me. 

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Being here this semester has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. I will never forget the city, the people, the food. Italy, I will be back for you and see you soon Texas!

 

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Photo Dump

I feel so bad for not posting in so long! I now understand why so many students neglect their blogs while studying abroad, you get so busy! I realized there were so many pictures I have not posted from other trips and events I have done!

So this post is exactly what it is called, a big ol’ photo dump!

I also created a website for my photography, yay!

http://goldenjacq.wix.com/goldenphotography

 

The following are from Siena, San Gminiano, Venice, and a few random things around Florence

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My last three weeks here have started, and I seem to be doing a lot more traveling than I expected. I hope I can keep up!

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The Real Break

Today is March 16th, and it is a warm Sunday afternoon. In just six short weeks I will be spending this afternoon packing my Italian life and making plans for my last night. 

It is hard to believe that the past six weeks have gone by so quickly and tells me just how quickly the next few ones will be, especially once my roommates and I start knocking things off our bucket list. Tonight, we are going to a Fiorentina soccer game, that’s on the list. 

Most things I have done recently are also bucket list worthy. I have taken a few day trips, Siena and San Gminiano, which I meant to blog about…the week after, and now it has been four. Quickly after that came midterms, school is not too serious here but I did still have projects to finish up and papers to write, so I got a little busy not leaving much time for myself to blog. 

After the projects were turned in, I fled the country. I spent a week in London, which was very different. I plan to recap my life over the next few weeks and make it up with some incredible blog posts. However, this post goes out to the most recent week I have had. The week after spring break. Most people were coming back from incredible travels, sad about getting back to class and regular life, but I had been waiting for Sunday after spring break for quite some time now because that meant that Trent was going to be here. When I had to say goodbye to my man three months ago it was “see you in four months”. I did not know that he would end up getting to join me in this beautiful country for a week. 

He arrived Sunday evening and our reunion at the bus stop gave me the warm fuzzy feelings I had been needing. We spent the week roaming around the city so that I could show him my favorite restaurants, streets, and little spots to lay in the sun. We spent so much time laying in the sun because the weather this week was INCREDIBLE, by far the best I have experienced since being here. 

We took one day trip to Cinque Terre, which was one of the highlights of the week. I never thought I would get to see such an incredible place, with such an incredible person. 

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Were pretty cute. 

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These photos were just a glimpse of our little vacation we had together. Today Trent is back in America and I have six more weeks until I get to return. It was definitely hard to say goodbye and not be able to just hop on the plane back with him, I am starting to get a little antsy to get back home. But I still love it here and can’t wait to take full advantage of my remaining six weeks. 

 

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Buenos Dias, San Francisco

Hello loves,

Sorry I haven’t warned you, but yes I am currently in California.

My bestie Lana and I had kiddingly spoken about coming here months ago, you know the “rooooadddd trrrripppp” you always wanna take? Well we actually did it. Except we wussied out on the whole two day road trip thing and flew here.

Lana and I bought a little journal in which we hope to document all of our adventures, because this is a very exciting and special time for us, roaming around this place, that we literally know NOTHING about. But, in addition to that, we have been taking lots of photos and will post 1 blog post for everyday that we are here.

I’ve gotten over the whole “oh, I look like a lame tourist” thing. I wear my camera loud and proud, bust out google maps everywhere I go, and ask so many questions. We’ve stopped caring about looking cool, which is such a relief.

We arrived late Wednesday night, where we made some not so great decisions with transportation(we were half asleep and it was pouring outside),  but we made it to our destination, what was going to be our sweet little home for two days.

We stayed with a woman who had a precious little home in her garden. It was cozy and colorful and we woke up to the clucking chickens (more effective than any iphone siren alarm).

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This place was a sweet sanctuary for Lana & I, mainly because of all the animals.

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Our host also had children, which made this place feel even more homey for us. Something we needed on this venture away from Texas.

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Being the excited little girls that we are, we woke up extremely early and set out in into the city. Random friends and websites provided us with a plethora of restaurants and attractions to go to, not knowing where to start, we took advantage of San Fran’s amazing public transportation to spit us off in downtown.

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Everyone was so professionally casual, if that makes sense. We loved people watching and imagining what their lives were like. I couldn’t tell if the city was rushed or not, were people taking a stroll down the street or were they on their twenty minute lunch? One thing was for sure, Lana and I were the only foreigners on this Thursday morning.

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A well-known chicken sandwich place we went to ^^ Yelp told us it was amazing…which it was…BUT a little different than what were used to. Very tender, slightly greasy chicken, with hard sea salt. Odd conjunctions in our mouthes created sweet and sour tastes, becoming slightly more addicting with every bite.

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Cool shops inside the ferry building  ^^IMG_2000

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MMMM and rice balls too…

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random explorations around town.

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This is the City Lights Bookstore. “It’s historical and shit.” -Lana

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We spent a while here reading, and decided that our next read of the season will be “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed.

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We stopped a got a drink at Comstock Saloon, a hip and classy bar where we felt like different women for a good half hour.

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fancy whiskey drink.

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Chinatownnn nomz.

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At night we went to the Exploratorium, where there was an “After Dark” exhibit. Pretty much a big playground for adults. We thought it was going to be nerdy, but ended up being SO COOL.

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The day after  this, we venture  out to Berkeley. Get excited for what’s coming, Lana will be posting about it 🙂

Bye loves,  wish us luck on the rest of our trip

-Nadeen

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Vintage Seleczione

Sundays were never my day. In the past, Sundays have meant homework, too much television, and saying goodbye to those I cared about. It is the start of a new week, but it always seemed to be the end for me. I now understand the rather random band name ‘Taking Back Sunday’, because I am taking it back! I am going to start embracing it as the beginning of the week. As it should be. 

Today is Sunday. 26 de gennaio, 2014, and it was an incredible day. 

I finally left the house before noon. It needed to happen at some point, and this was the second day in a row of pure cloudless sunshine, I couldn’t NOT take advantage of it. The weather has been so cold, overcast, and damp. I needed the sun to uplift me this weekend and it did. 

I got up, already excited for the day just because it was SUNNY. New friend Riley and I went to Stazione Leopolda, which was a warehouse. It reminded me of the winter and spring street studios in Houston. We went to Vintage Selecion-Vintage Selection. It was a giant vintage market that only pictures can fully describe. BUT when people talk about beautiful italian fashion, beautiful Italian peoeple, and more. Well, this is where they were. All here, and all beautiful. 

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There was an art exhibit in one part of the warehouse that was completely blocked off. We entered and a very eerie music was playing, with drafts of cold wind. There art pieces were all made from garbage. Chicken wire, glass, etc. 

 

 

 

 

 

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I think finished out my afternoon on the river for a nice job. If you are wondering why you dont see any florentine buildings in this photo it is because.. well… I ran out into the suburbs. The florentines really enjoy the weather, and the calm lifestyle. So many people were out just on afternoon walks in the sunshine. I found some of the most peaceful places to sit and listen to my music. I was very thankful to be able to exercise again. Bring on the cannolis!

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January 26, 2014 · 8:13 pm

Great Expectations

disclaimer: This post has nothing to do with some culty book I never read.

I hear so many people saying they need to create a blog or record their life stories here, well clearly I have been trying to do that on this blog with Nadeen for over a year now. I haven’t always kept up with it as you may know but I told myself I really would try while I was here. It has not been that difficult… Mainly because I take so many damn photos here. 

I have now been here ALMOST two weeks, and it feels like two months. I would love to fill the blog post with amazing stories of the new friends I made and the inspiration in life and in art stemming from being here, but in reality, it’s not all that simple… So I guess this post is a small wake up call to anyone who expects to go abroad and be happy and excited all day long. 

It’s difficult. I think this difficulty stemms from these great expectations our family members, friends, school advisers, and peers have try to emulate to us. 

I have been a little too shy to really branch out on my own, surprise. So I stick with my comfort zone, my housemates. They really are truly great people, they are there for me, they make me laugh, and we all like pasta. You probably haven’t seen many pictures, which is again a surprise because every other friend you know that is abroad has uploaded a hundred pictures, half of which are selfies with their new best friends that they made on day two. The friends everyone says will be with you the rest of your life, well yes I do like to keep friends, who doesn’t? But how can you tell which is which? And how does meeting them here change the relationship? This is what they don’t explain to you in all the pre-departure sessions. 
Anyway, here are a few photos of housemates that we scrounged together. We decided it was time to whip out the cameras, gotta show all the spectators that I too am studying abroad. 

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Along with this somewhat unfamiliar shyness that has come over me has come a bit of fear. The ways Italians tackle the streets, just crossing and hoping they don’t get hit, is not the fear I have. Its a new fear, one I haven’t quite felt yet. I think it comes with the new environment. I am fearful of not doing everything that I want to and not embracing this beautiful and newfound culture that I have wanted to be apart of for so long. 

So I guess my whole point of this is to say that I am going to start being proactive. I am going to step out of my comfort zone, talk to people, go to these places my crazy Italian professors recommend, and just not let myself leave until I feel like I have done all I wanted. 

From now on I make goals, and take each day at a time. With no expectations. Starting tomorrow, I am going to the community garden to start volunteering. 
And the next day, who knows.. I do not want to have expectations.

All I want to say is that I do not want to have another weekend where I only leave the apartment once a day, to get groceries.. 

The next post shouldn’t be too far from now… my boyfriend says : “You’ve been blogging a lot! I love it!” Guess I gotta keep it up.. after all I am abroad, and people are expecting it. 

 

-Jacqueline

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Ravenna

Soon came the first weekend in Italy, that brought along with it the first field trip. The field trip was to Ravenna, a smaller city northeast of Florence. We went as a group on a coach bus, to my surprise their charter buses were very much like ours in the states, and traveling in them with a bunch of americans made me think I was at home for a little while. 

The view that appeared when leaving the city was a quick wake up call that no, I was not in the states. I was listening to The General Specific by The Band of Horses and the sun began to rise. 
Quickly the sun touched on patches of fog, lighting up all the tiny houses on vineyards and small towns that were in the mountains. Description does not even do the sight justice, but I can confidently say it was the most beautiful sight I have ever seen. As you can tell I have a lot of feelings right now. They say that comes with moving to a foreign country…. huh.

If you do not know much about Ravenna one thing to know is that it is full of churches. I honestly could not tell you all the names BUT there are famous ones if you follow art history, such as San Vitale, which is absolutely incredible inside. 

Ravenna is also where you can find some of the most incredible mosaics. 

Here are some photos:

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As for life, I have been learning my way around FLorence so much better. I can finally always find my way home, find my way to all my studios, and know where most supermarkets are. I have made a few new friends and hopefully in the next post I can tell you all about friends and what we have been doing!

FYI: Spotify picks up on your location, so all of my ads are in italian.

Ciao

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UTOPiA Fest

The reason that life has been so surreal lately is because I’ve somehow managed to have booked every weekend with exciting outings. I am so fortunate and continue to say thank you thank you thank you so that I can forever live these loving weekends.

Two weeks ago, I traveled to a far away land. Not just a far away land, but a whole different world. Beyond anything that you can even imagine. A mere three hours away, the town of Utopia provided us with a great 3 day escape.

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The outdoorsy side of my boyfriend came out, and boy was I impressed 😉

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We were ready to conquer the rain.

Our car was overfilled with goodies and munchies and dranks, and about 13482395 gallons of water. It made the ride there a bit of a squeeze, but in the end, way worth it. Every goodie was much needed.

photo 2And anyways, it didn’t matter cause it was a girl partay in the back.
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We were all in a bit of a panic when we arrived because it was raining, and everything was muddy, and there was no light for us to set up at the campsite. We decided pouting around would cause no good, and so we packed our cooler up and walked to the festival. Rainboots and all, looking a little crazy, but ready to have a good time. The first band we saw was called He’s My Brother She’s My Sister.

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The next band that night was called Brownout. We all danced the night away, and our moves were so groovy that we intimidated the rest of the crowd away from us.

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Waking up in nature is a beautiful feeling, especially when you go to sleep on a muddy terrain and wake up to a dry, sunny day. You feel as if in that day, you WILL be productive, you WILL laugh. I almost feel selfish when I’m having a “bad day” in this kind of sunshine.
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And of course we brought the french press. I want to tell Trent thank you everyday for teaching me how to use this thing, because it has changed my life. And made me a bit of a coffee snob.

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Hills in every direction.

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Brian became a bubble model..? He will be featured on the cover of next year’s Utopia Fest Ad. Be on the look out.

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Them boys gettin down to work.

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Camping is fun because you get to know everyone so well. There’s always that moment of frustration where everyone hates each other for a few minutes, and then comes the laughter and happiness. And in the end, we are all so much closer.

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Brian and Trent’s booties together make a big ol’ donk.

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My beloved Utopia, I can’t wait to see your beauty again next year. In the meantime, keep your sunny days and positive energy there. We’ll be back.

xoxo, 

Nadeen 

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Part austinite

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So I have seen nadeen A LOT recently. And I can attest to the fact that life right now is great. For many a reasons:

-school is so awesome this semester, yes, I went there. But I love my classes… And pay for them so why complain?
-I have been able to cross a few things off my life check list that I slowly make up in my head
-I got a job! Yay for baked goods I sell! Come visit, BIRD bakery, noooomz.
-I have gotten to venture to Austin a lot, which contains many adventures in and of itself.

So that was a QUICK life update, but the real reason I’m posting this one is for nadeen. I know I’ve said that I always dedicate things to her but I truly get to appreciate her and her love more all the time. I have been visiting frequently and it’s different because she doesn’t live in the apartment anymore, but a house full of people. And by people, I should say great people (If any of you read this, you could be my favorite).

Every time I go to her house all of her housemates are incredibly welcoming and outgoing towards me. I have also gotten to know her boyfriend and their best friend very well.
All I can say is she deserves this.
Just gonna say how great THEY ARE. They always make sure we have fun when I am in town.

I want to now share some pictures, I get these over time from her, and they need to be shared.

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And we get along so well!! ^^^ in case you didn’t know. . . . That’s her boyfriend btw. (HI BRIAN)

This weekend was a quick visit but worth the effort. I got to go canoeing on the lake, never before done, and never so much fun.
That night we all went dancing, they have taken me to this place before and it was the greatest, told by the guy dressed as spider man.

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AND they have MULTIPLE photo booths! Which we took advantage of… Duh.

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Don’t they make you wanna just throw up?!

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Now to the most important parts of the house: The DOGGiES.

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And how Trent sees them…

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—-Jacqueline, now officially part austinite part San antonioan
— half nadeen for being a photo collector.

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Cha-Cha-Cha-Changes

Often times, change is seen as a bad thing.

We get so comfortable with our typical surroundings, and even if its boring, we tend to settle, accept, and stay there. I am the queen of boredom. Meaning I get bored with life so easily. Does this make me high maintenance? I don’t think so. I don’t necessarily have to be doing “exciting” things day by day. I just have to be productive, even if this means putting “going to a coffee shop” on my to-do list. And so, unlike many others, I enjoy change. I feel that stepping outside of your comfort zone is one of the stepping stones to maturity.

My life has been nothing but ordinary lately. No complaints here, its just SO different. I have to slap myself sometimes as a reminder that it’s actually happening.

First off, arrakis has put in a big contribution to this “different” feeling.

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Bandit, one of the house dogs. Look how well behaved he is on our front porch! Soon, we will have 4 dogs and 1 cat total. SO MUCH LUVIN.

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Cody hugging on to one of his millions of new friends.

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The boys having fun with their meatloaf. 2 of us cook for the house Sunday-Thursday. I cook on Tuesdays, I will admit that things get heated and stress full in the kitchen, when you know so many people are counting on you to be fed. But it’s such a warm feeling when you see everyone enjoying something you put work into creating.

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Al and I made an Indian Dish this past week, Tikka Masala. I was quite nervous it would become a disaster because it is a long long process and difficult to perfect. But in the end,  it turned out delicious 🙂 A little on the spicy side, but it’s Indian Food so….

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We got a ping pong table for our dining room. Dining table by day, ping pong table by night. I will become a pro by the time I move out.

And so this is all a change, but a fun one! (Am I encouraging you to not live the norm anymore?)

As I stated before, Lana is back. And hallelujah for this change! Her boyfriend, Santi, and one of her best friends, Lindsay, and I planned a lil sumthin sumthin for her return. It was the most precious and personal four person party I had ever been to, and Lana was quite surprised.

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This is us doing the whole self timer thing upon Lana’s arrival at the apartment. Lindsay and I had prepared some delicious foods while Santi had to find a way to drag her back to her place. Look how happy she is! Hands on the cheeks and everything. Oh and the pups joined us too, so party of SIX actually.

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I wuv her way too much and am so happy to have gotten the privilege to become so close with someone my first year in Austin. 1006161_10151781981203688_413718106_n

Lindsay with the goodies. We all participated in the making of this, but you must know, that Lindsay is a beast in the kitchen. You’ll see her on TV someday baking some fine pastries. 999504_10151781981793688_1821681752_n

And you must never forget the vino. 1043998_10151781983358688_788521917_n

Ending off this lovely surprise party with some good ol’ smores, cooked INSIDE the apartment. The way it’s supposed to be, right?

And so now I work on organizing my life and making sure I continue to be productive and set my priorities straight, WHILE enjoying myself with all these amazing people who surround me.

I consider myself a very lucky girl : )

-Nadeen Abou-Hossa

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