The East Coast Comes to the West Coast

One of my favorite memories so far on this program was having my roommate and best friend from my Florida program come and visit me here in California. Mads and Lauren had been talking with me about coming to California since the day that I got my acceptance letter into the program and decided to take it. Lauren grew up here in California so it was just like coming home for her. However, Mads had never been to the West Coast/California before. 

The first thing that we did after picking up Mads and Lauren from the airport was going to In-n-Out. Lauren had eaten there before (but it had been a long time), and Mads had never been there. It was so fun to watch them order and eat it for the first time. It's crazy to think that a few weeks prior I was just having my first burger there. 

After we all ate, we came back to my apartment and just talked for hours, like old times. It was great and we caught up on everything. Seeing them again was amazing, and it was like we hadn't missed a beat. We all went to sleep, exhausted from the previous day and ready for the next day. The next morning we woke up, around 9ish and after eating breakfast we headed out the door for a full day at Disneyland. We rode all the major rides in Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure between this day and the next. We tried to see Fantasmic (since World of Color was still under refurbishment at this time) but got rained out each time.

The second day, we did everything that we wanted to again, but only after sleeping in and talking all morning. I showed them our five minute firework show, which nobody was really impressed with, and I took them on Autopia, and showed them around. We were able to see almost everything that they wanted to (besides the rained out Fantasmic).

It was so wonderful just being able to show them around and act as a tour guide while they were here. I'm so blessed to have such great people in my life and can't believe that in just a few short months I'll be living with them again. 
Image Map

Why I Can't Pinpoint the Concept of Home

The concept of home, at least for me, changes on a daily basis. I get the questions "are you going home?" or "are you going home-home?" or "are you going back to Florida?" on a daily basis. People here are very curious of if I'm going to stay out here with the company (which I love), or if I'm going to return 'home'. This question is always hard for me because I never really have a good answer. 

My concept of home changes for me depending on who I'm talking to at the time. If I'm talking to my best friends back in Florida, Tom and Sonya, I talk about home as Florida and I say 'actual home' when talking about Louisiana. For me, Louisiana will always be the original. It will always be the place where my heart lies. However, because of future plans (which I'll write about later) I always refer to Florida as home.

However, when I'm talking to people out here in California, I'll refer to Louisiana as home or my apartment as home. It's weird to think that you can say, oh I'm going home and people won't know how to take it because you're not from the state that you live in currently. Whenever I say I'm going home, people always question here if I mean to my apartment or Louisiana. So it's made me almost start second guessing things and saying "I'm going to my apartment" or "I'm going home (aka Louisiana)."

California is great, but it never really felt like home to me. It didn't when I got here, and it won't when I leave (probably). It's not home for me because I don't feel as if I can leave roots here. It's a place I'll always cherish, but it's not a place where I could see myself living forever. I've always really felt this way though. I never really even thought of the West Coast as a place that I could live forever. It's always been ideal to travel to/visit, but never to live permanently. The East Coast/South holds my heart and that's were I'll stay.  
Image Map

The Tale of Two Titans: Disneyland vs. Walt Disney World

One thing that I told myself coming out here was that I wasn't going to compare the two different places because they are just that: two completely different places. Though, once I got here that's all I could do. And that's okay, because it's a natural thing to do. I like to look at things from an objective stand point, and while it may really hard to do, it's not impossible. 

I'll flat out say that I like Walt Disney World more, and I think that people from the East Coast/South tend to. While people from the West Coast tend to prefer Disneyland. This is just something I've observed here and figured out after chatting with a bunch of different people who work/live here. It's not set in stone thing, but just a general observation. I'm a little biased because I spent so much time in Disney World, and growing up going there, it holds a special place in my heart. However, I'm going to try and explain why I like, and dislike, both. 

What I like about Disneyland: It's Walt's original park, he's worked, walked, and stayed here, it has a ton more attractions in just two parks than Disney World, it's intimate and you can walk from one park to the other (and to Downtown Disney). The crowds who come here are mainly pass holders, which is amazing but can definitely be challenging at times.

But the things I don't like about Disneyland: It's crowded. All the time. On average, Disneyland only gets about 7,000 less guests a day Disney World. With less space, this makes my anxiety act up on a daily basis. The park, even on non-crowded days, feels crowded and it's really hard for me to get over that. Plus, because it is the original park, everything is made on a slightly smaller scale, which just throws me off in general. It's also in the middle of the city, so it's not uncommon to hear outside sounds like sirens or cars honking. 

What I like about Disney World: It's closer to my family, it's larger so even on the crowded days I never really feel overwhelmed by the crowds. It's more diverse with six different parks, which I very much enjoy. Plus, I enjoy the parades and the fireworks more so here than I do in Disneyland (though World of Color is really awesome). I feel like there's more here to do, even though there are fewer attractions. It's not always about the attractions, it's about the experience. 

What I don't like about Disney World: You have to drive everywhere - I know it's a double edged sword when it comes to space, but it's still a dislike, nonetheless. That's about all I've got....

As I said earlier, it's easier for me to come up with reasons why I love Disney World more so than Disneyland. Hell I could write a whole extra post about it (and I just might). For now, I'll leave you with this: each park is special in its own way; they both have positives and negatives, they're both wonderful. 
Image Map

To Go To UCLA or Not To Go To UCLA

Whenever we came to California, we wanted to make the most out of every situation and explore as much as we could. This meant for my roommate, checking out UCLA for Graduate School and seeing the campus. For me, it just meant going along for the ride. I do want to go to graduate school, however UCLA doesn't have any programs that I am interested in. 

The campus is about an hour away, especially with traffic, from our apartment so we left as early as we could in the morning (about 11, for us), and quickly settled into a pattern of the day: expect the unexpected. It started when we stopped to get gas and road trip snacks: I couldn't figure out what I wanted so it took me about ten minutes to grab some snacks for my roommate and I and finally get on the road. When we did, we had a relatively smooth trip to UCLA. However, once we got onto campus, that was almost a nightmare. 

The area that the campus surrounds is absolutely beautiful and wonderful. Though the campus was unfamiliar to me, because I was not interest in it, and my roommate because she didn't know where she was going either. The people at the parking office were super unhelpful, and we ended up just driving around until we found a place to park. After that, we finally got out the car and started walking around and my roommate wasn't 100% sure where to go, so we just wandered around for a bit. I didn't mind too much because the campus was beautiful.

We finally found the building and we were able to go and talk to a graduate school counselor for the history department who was the nicest lady I've ever met. She made me believe that I could do anything in just the half hour we spoke with her. UCLA seems like a wonderful place to go, if only they had a program that I was interested in. 
Image Map

Hiking to the Hollywood Sign

Hiking to the Hollywood sign has been the most interesting adventure that I've had in California to date. This is partially because we weren't really prepared for it; for some reason we didn't think it was going to actually be a hard hike. We got a late start to the day, which is normally okay, but not when it takes 5 hours to hike to the hollywood sign and back. 

Then when we finally got there, we ended up hanging at Griffith Park for a bit (more on that later). We finally ended up starting the hike and didn't really realize what we got ourselves into until about an hour an a half in when we still weren't to the top. We took possibly the hardest way there, and there were many times when we wanted to give up, but we never did. We perservered through and made it all the way to the sign. The day included lots of jokes "we're almost there guys", "right over that hill" and a lot of sweat. 

When we finally made it to the top, we couldn't have been happier. We worked our butts off to get there, so we stayed there for a good while, prolonging the trip back down the mountain. Once we finally decided to go back down, we decided to take the road down (a much better idea then the one we started with). All in all, it was an amazing trip. We watched the sun set on the way down - something that made us nervous and excited us at the same time. Plus, driving back down from Griffith during dark was amazing because you get such a great view of the city with all the lights at night.

After the crazy trek that we had, we decided that we were much overdue for in-n-out because none of us had eaten that day, and none of us thought to bring any food either (because that would have been the smart/responsible thing to do). We ate as much as we could at in-n-out after our 1.5 hour car ride back to our side of the city, and then all piled back into the car for some much needed sleep. A shower after that night had never felt so good. 

Hiking to the Hollywood Sign is something that I'm glad that I did once, but if it were up to me if I were to do it again, I'd definitely want to be more prepared and I would definitely want to leave a lot earlier. It's something I can add to the 'I did that' list, but if I never did it again, I wouldn't be mad. 
Image Map

Missing Mardi Gras in New Orleans

This year was the first year that I missed Mardi Gras in New Orleans, and I was a little bit more than bummed about it. I was ready to go home the second King Cakes hit the market for the first time during Carnival. Then when all of my friends back home kept texting me about the King Cakes and the Parades and the Balls, I was super ready to go home. So, when Fat Tuesday hit my roommate woke up bright eyed with a plan as I sulked in the kitchen. 

She looked at me firs thing and goes "We're going to go to New Orleans Square (in Disneyland) and eat beignets and celebrate Mardi Gras for you." I was upset and just shrugged it off, but she insisted so I begrudgingly got up and got dressed in my Louisiana tank and she dressed in Mardi Gras colors. As we were getting ready, two of the guys we were friends with down the hall knocked on our door to chat and we invited them to come as well. 

We all piled into the car and headed to New Orleans Square in Disneyland. As we started walking towards it, I started to feel a little bit better about everything. I still wasn't thrilled, but I was a bit happier. And then we tried beignets. Beignets in New Orleans Square taste nothing like the beignets in the French Quarter. However one of the waiters there came up to us and began asking us questions and talking to us about Mardi Gras, and he made a magical moment for us. We answered a question correctly and he rewarded us with a mint julep!

Afterward, we sat and took in the sights and sounds (and smells) of New Orleans Square, which didn't quite feel like home but was close enough. We hopped on the train and road it over to Toon Town. It was okay, but it was more fun just to spend time with everyone else and not worry about anything. I was sad to have spent Mardi Gras away from home, but my roommate made the best of the situation and got me out of the house and into having more fun. 
Image Map

Checking the Writing on the Walls...I Mean Mirrors

One thing that Sonya and I do, that I absolutely adore, is write notes on the mirrors to each other. One of the first things that we did whenever we moved into the apartments was buy expo markers for the mirror in the bathroom and the mirror in the common area/bedroom area. You see, since we have such different schedules and instead of texting each other everything since it's not always that important we just write things on the mirrors. 

Sometimes it's cute little notes about having a good day, and other times it's GRE words that we need to be studying. It's something that I hadn't really ever done before, and I love it. I had always written little things on my mirrors, but never anything written out in too much depth. It's a trait that I'll definitely bring to other apartments that I have from here on out because it's just way too easy to keep up with things this way. 

My favorite drawing that we've had so far is the one that Sonya drew on the mirror before my first day at Autopia. She is such a talented artist, even if she doesn't believe it and it was so precious I had to take 1239210 pictures of it and post it everywhere because I loved it so much.
Image Map

A War of Two Worlds: Soundsational Parade vs. Festival of Fantasy

Comparing Disneyland and Disney World is something you shouldn't do - it's not something that you can really do. It's like comparing oranges and apples. They're both fruits, but they're two completely different things. However, it's only human nature to try and compare Disneyland and Disney Word. One of the first things I compared whenever I got down here was the two parades that they have: Soundsational Parade and Festival of Fantasy. 

The first time I saw Soundsational, I knew that I had seen it before but I just didn't know where. I knew the music, but couldn't figure out how I knew it for the life of me. I just brushed it off my shoulder and kept on watching. I thought I was crazy at first, but whenever Lauren and Madison came to visit me, Lauren kept singing the music even though she had never seen the parade before. We spent three days trying to figure out how she and I knew the music and couldn't. 

 I think it's slightly unfair to compare both Soundsational and Festival of Fantasy because they're such different parades. Yes, they're both the day parades but that's about the end of their similarities. I have such a fondness for Festival of Fantasy that I think it's unfair that I attempted to compare them in my mind. Soundsational is definitely growing on me, but it's not something that I would go out of my way to watch every day (like I would for FoF). I feel like the parades are just done a lot better in Disney World, especially the Boo to You parade. 

Then the other day I was watching Festival of Fantasy online, because I miss it that much (yes, I'm crazy it's cool), and I realized how I knew the Soundsational music when I first heard it. If you watch Festival of Fantasy, just after the Dragon breathes fire and the creatures from Sleeping Beauty go past, the characters from Pinocchio, Snow White, and Dumbo come out right before a Dumbo float and then last but not least, Mickey and Minnie. When they come out, a sample of the music from Soundsational plays. It's a nod to the classics in Disneyland, and Soundsational parade. I immediately grabbed my phone and texted Lauren in all caps. She was just as excited as I was to figure everything out. It was so great. 
Image Map

Making Gumbo in California

Making gumbo in Florida was something that was a challenge in and of itself because it was hard to find the correct spices and the right type of meat that I use back home. So whenever I decided that I wanted to make gumbo in California, I was expecting all kinds of issues as well. However I was pleasantly surprised when it was a lot easier for me to make gumbo here in California. 

Whenever I went grocery shopping, I was looking specifically for andoullie sausage and I immediately found it in a Walmart here. It was amazing and I was so excited, I immediately called my mom. Her response? You should have realized because it's California and they have a ton of 'weird food' and other stuff there. All I could do was laugh. 

Usually in Louisiana we wait for 'gumbo weather' before making the first batch of gumbo of the season, but I knew that there was no way in hell it would ever reach that here. You see, gumbo weather is cold weather. Cold enough to warrant hot soup. It got cold here, but it was never bone chilling cold. So I bit the bullet and just ahead and made gumbo. 

Gumbo takes about three hours to make - it's a process. Especially when you tend to multitask like I do. I usually split it up over a few days because it's easier just to have everything chopped up and then throw it all in the pot and go from there. Making a roux, the base for the gumbo, takes about thirty minutes by itself. So, about three hours later my gumbo was finally done. Being able to make food from home, by memory, is the most liberating thing in the world. I'll always have my comfort food.
Image Map

Sprinkles Cupcakes in Corona Del Mar

Whenever I'm near a Sprinkles, it's basically a requirement that you have to stop. The first time I ever had Sprinkles, I was in Houston visiting a friend. We ended up getting a half a dozen cupcakes and splitting them/trying them all. It was so much fun, and I was stuffed by the time we had finished eating. 

When I moved to California, one of the first things my roommate did was take me to the beach at Corona Del Mar and to Sprinkles cupcakes since it was right by (and a lot closer than the one in LA). We got cupcakes and sat and talked. It is/was crazy to me that you can be at the beach and see the mountains at the same time.

The second time we went to Sprinkles here in California was before Sonya needed to go to the airport. It was on the way, and we had time, so we figured why not. It was one of the days that they were having a buy-one-get-one. I really wanted to try both of their specialty flavors, so this was the perfect deal. There's something so perfect about having a cupcake with a friend that makes everything okay. 
Image Map

The Sweetest Comment I've Ever Gotten

After coming to Disneyland, my Instagram changed a bit. There's so much here I've never seen before, and never done that I wanted to document everything. That's something that I wanted to do whenever I was in Florida but always tended to forget about it. So I decided to change my ways while I was here and actually post the pictures when I wanted to post them so that I would have memories to look back on. One way that I do this is by keeping up with my blog, and the other way that I do this is by posting on my Instagram every day. It's one of the first things that I do when I either wake up in the morning or when I go to work. 

Since I've been doing this, I've had a couple of people come up to me and comment to me (in person) about my Instagram. I've had people tell me that my pictures of the parks make them want to go into work (we all work together), and I've had people come up to me and tell me that my Instagram is what they're shooting for with theirs. I've never had anyone tell me this before, or anything like this so I am seriously flattered by the comments. 

I've always loved taking pictures, and documenting beauty that surrounds me, and that's what I'm continuously trying to do with every picture that I post. My Instagram changes on a monthly basis. Sometimes I want to post pictures of food, and other times it's pictures of friends. I have no set schedule of 'what I'm Instagramming', it's honestly just all about what I love and how I see the world. If you want to follow along with my journey just click here and see all the other pictures I've posted of Disney & beyond. 
Image Map

Happy Halloween, Love the Girls of Chatham & Magic Kingdom

This past year I spent the majority of the holiday season in Disney World, working for the Company and having one of the greatest times of my life. I lived in a two bedroom apartment with six people. It was crazy and intense and one of the most joyous times in my life. Because I spent the holidays away from home, as did my roommates (obviously), so we did as much as we could to celebrate for them. 

Although it's been a really, really long time since the holidays, I still wanted to write about how we decorated and celebrated Halloween so I can remember it. There wasn't a whole lot that we could do on the actual holiday because we were all working, so instead we decorated our apartment beginning in October, exactly a month after Disney deemed it was acceptable for them to put up Halloween decorations. Honestly though I didn't mind because I love the holidays and I'm down for decorating year round. 

We bought as many decorations as we could and hung them up on our apartment walls. It was a great way to decorate, even though it wasn't much. We didn't want to spend too much money on decorations because we all weren't living there permanently so we didn't want to spend money on decorations we couldn't afford anyways. I still think we did a pretty good job decorating. 

To celebrate Halloween, we just carved pumpkins and watched scary movies. It was awesome and awful at the same time. I thought that it was a great way to spend the holidays away from our families, most of us for the first time.
Image Map

Mardi Gras Care Package

My mom called me one day out of the blue in early January and asked me if there was anything that she could send me to make my home here in California more homey. She asked me if there was anything that I needed or if there was anything that I wanted. Jokingly I told her that I didn't need anything except a King Cake if she could figure out how to send it to me. 

I should have realized from that moment on, my mom would make it her job to figure out how to send me a king cake. Luckily for me, there are tons of bakeries in Baton Rouge & New Orleans that have excellent king cakes and actually ship them. One day out of the blue, I received a text message from my mom: you have a package coming in two days: be prepared. I laughed to myself and couldn't really think of what she would be sending me so I just kept quite and waited. 

When I finally got the text message that I had gotten a package from our housing, I raced down the stairs as quickly as I could. As I walked into the office I couldn't have been more surprised: my mom actually sent me a king cake. I was so ecstatic I called her as quickly as I could and thanked her for my package. As soon as I got back up to my apartment, I assembled the king cake and cut a piece. My roommate had never had king cake either, so she waited until she had some gumbo and then ate king cake with gumbo to truly experience what it tastes like back home.
Image Map

Getting Letters from Home

There's nothing harder for me than living on the West Coast. Everyone says West Coast Best Coast, but honestly it's just not for me. Living out here, so far away from home, is super hard for me. I love the East Coast. I love the South. I love Florida. California's okay, and the scenery is to die for, but it's not home. It has never felt like home (to date), and it probably won't feel like home by the time that I leave. 

I'm lucky enough that I have friends all over the country. I've lived in four different places in the last two years, which is actually crazy to me. I never thought I would live outside of Louisiana, nevertheless in another country, or two other states. I am in love with traveling, and I wouldn't trade these past two years for the world. 

However, something that keeps me grounded and keeps reminding me why I do what I do is getting letters from home. It's something that keeps me going out here. My dad has sent me letters, as have my mom, my paw paw, and my best friends from all over. Recently, my best friend Kelsey sent me a post card from New Orleans that she bought while we were there. On the post card, she wrote out a very personal message to me and I cried when I got it. I've been so blessed to make so many new friends the past year, some that I couldn't imagine my life without, and it's crazy to me to think how influential they have been in my life. 

Snail mail is hands down the greatest thing in the world, and if you don't agree with me than you're absolutely crazy.
Image Map

Two Story Targets

One thing that really blew my mind whenever I came out here to California was two story targets. Now, I know you're probably laughing at me right now, but it's not something that we had in Louisiana. They're SO COOL. The first time I went into one I didn't really know what to do. I was kind of stupefied. I grabbed a cart from the downstairs section because I didn't know that you could grab them upstairs. 

Once I got upstairs though, everything was the same as a normal target and it wasn't as fun anymore. I still needed to be an adult and grocery shop, and that's what I did. It took me a little bit to find everything I needed, because let's be honest. Even though the grocery stores have the basic layout there are still some things that were different. 

Once I finished grocery shopping and I headed out, I made sure I took a couple pictures of my cart going down the cart escalator, and a picture or two of the outside to send it to my dad and sister back home to show them. I was so amazed by it and they were just somewhat amused by it. This is how you know you're getting old. You're amazed by the little things in life - like grocery stores. 
Image Map

The Fun Wheel of Death

One could say that I am slightly terrified when it comes to carnivals or anything carnival related. You know, picture old school come to town carnivals. Ones that bring carnies, and clowns, and terrifying rides called Ferris Wheels. You see, I'm terrified of Ferris Wheels. Absolutely, positively, hands down terrified of them. 

So when my best friends came to town, what did they decide that we should do "at least once"? Ride Mickey's fun wheel of death, more commonly known as Mickey's Fun Wheel, on Paradise Pier in Disney's California Adventure. 

I knew going into this that I was not going to like it. I was terrified, but I knew that it's something that I had to do "at least once" in my life. Plus, having both Madison and Lauren there, I knew that I was safe. Plus, Mads was freaking out just as much as I was...she hid it well until we actually got into the cart and then we all freaked out hard core. 

There was another couple in our non-swinging gondola with us, and it would have been a lot better if they weren't there. They kept talking about how high we were, and how it was the highest point in Disney and how tall we were. This did not help any of us in the carriage. By the time we got off, we were all pretty shaken. Needless to say you won't get any of us on another ferris wheel any time soon. 
Image Map

Latest Instagrams

© From the South. Design by Fearne.