Bonne annee, 2016!

I’m sitting comfortably in the den with a half-read book and a cup of hot Persian tea fogging up the lens of my glasses every time I take a sip. In the background, my nine year old Yorkshire Terrier walks towards me from his spot under the Christmas tree and whines for me to pick him up. His whines turn into tiny barks, and moments later, he nestles himself in the cracks between my legs and the chair. It’s Thursday evening and I’m joined by my parents in the living room as they’re watching their Persian satellite TV, what seems to be a nightly post-dinner routine. It’s the new year, 2016, and I feel so comfortable in the safety of the white walls of my home, in close proximity of my family. I could sit in this chair, read, drink my tea, and stroke my pups fur all day.

In two weeks, I’ll pause my life in my sweet Texas and go wheels-up for Paris, France, where I’ll call home for the next four months. My decision to study abroad stems après mon grand voyage en Europe last January. In fact, January 7, to this date, marks the one year anniversary of my vacations. I wrote all about my adventures on Green Tea, No Splenda, and I fully intend to continue the tradition once I begin my semester abroad.

It’s been a while since I’ve written to you, and well, I have a reason. Excuse my absence, I’m still here. I’ve been visiting with friends, getting my French student visa, moving out of my Austin apartment, exploring my home town of Houston, preparing for my semester abroad, and tomorrow I’m road-tripping to New Orleans.

I just wanted to stop by, say hi, and share how much I’ve missed writing to you. Here’s a little bit of what I’ve been up to lately.2

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At the beginning of the semester I accidentally (now 4 months later, fortunately) came across Supernatural. Telling the tale of two brothers hunting all things “not natural,” while boasting 11 seasons (and still filming!), Supernatural claims the title of my favorite TV series. Every episode tells a new anecdote while adding on to the big picture storyline, introducing new characters and things that go bump in the night. And did I mention that I met Jensen Ackles (Dean Winchester) at ACL this year?

Hand in hand with the Beatles Spotify debut, Netflix released Can’t Buy Me Love, a 1987 coming of age film starring a baby-faced Patrick Dempsey. The story follows high-school outcast Ronald Miller as he literally pays his way to the fast lane. I’ve always had a weakness for vintage COA films as they take place in simple times with happy-go-lucky energies.

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My relationship with Spotify Premium has officially reached a full a year and I’ve realized that love almost all types of music. I’ve curated a playlist just for Green Tea, No Splenda, including of a couple of my favorite tracks that I can’t stop listening to these days. This playlist mixes a motley of genres, but you’re always welcome to look on my public Spotify account for genre-specific playlists.

 

How would you quantify a semester full of new memories? Well, now that I have Texas on my back and I’m all settled in as a second semester freshman, I have more time to explore Austin for everything that it is. Living in a city as beautiful as Austin is a blessing in the way that there’s countless adventures to go on and x amount of memories yet to be made. One thing that I absolutely love about Austin is the unity the city has with nature. Everything is built around nature. Congress rides above Ladybird Lake as paddle-boarders and people in kayaks glide over the waters under the overpass.

So about two weeks ago, with the start of a new semester and new classes, I sat down with two of my friends and decided to start a new tradition. Every Saturday, we would take a trip somewhere new in Austin and simply explore, letting our feet be our guides and putting trust in our own abilities. Not only would we be experiencing new things, we would be spending time with some of our closest and dearest friends. With the semester underway, it’s easy to feel trapped by the heavy coursework that comes with classes. And when there’s so much to do academic wise, it’s hard to make plans to see all of your friends.  What better way to guarantee we’d be spending more time with each other than organizing a new tradition for all of us to take part in?

So, we planned an outdoor expedition centered around something that we all wanted to do more of this semester: hiking. We took it on our own to plan and surprise our friends with a day trip to the Barton Green Belt trail… and truth be told, I had more than an amazing time there. Our trip could be summarized in three points: spending quality bonding time with friends, exploring new terrains in Austin, and discovering more about myself. The hike itself was a pretty beginners level trail, but it was exactly the exposure we needed to realize how much we loved spending time outdoors and with friends.

Now, the second weekend of our new tradition, we took it in our own hands to plan an hour and a half drive to Enchanted Rock. Enchanted Rock is, geologically speaking, a 1,825 ft. granite pluton rock formation in the Llano Uplift.

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Very different from the Green Belt Trail, Enchanted Rock modeled a different terrain, being extremely dry and, well, entirely made of rock. I could try to explain to you how much of an unforgettable time we had, but this kind of excitement needs to be experienced first hand to be understood. So, here are some pictures from our trip, and in case you haven’t gone yet yourself, I hope this persuades you to make a visit yourself!

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Music Friday

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Once again the picture has nothing to do with the post, but here’s a post I’ve been wanting to make for a while. Another Music Friday. When I’m typing up my notes, I’m finding that it’s easier to be productive whilst listening to music. Whether I’m at the PCL or FAC and need to just tune everything else out, I put on my Songza playlist that has a generally chilled and has a mentally stimulating feel. Here are just a few tracks I’ve come across that I’ve seem to have fallen in love with, so give them a listen and tell me how you like them. They all give a pretty relaxed vibe and can be listened to while you’re studying, hanging out with friends, or just kicking back on your own.

Embrace x Goldroom

Movement x Us

Coming of Age x Foster the People

Paris x Magic Man

Without You x Odesza

Yoncé & Partition x Beyonce*

After the Fall x Kodaline

*this one isn’t chilled or relaxed it’s just really good and I’m stubborn so I didn’t listen to it until like a day ago

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Now that it’s January, that time of the year is officially underway. Yes, you know what I mean. When the Christmas aisle is transformed from having stockings and candy canes to heart shaped chocolate boxes and cute little dingy’s to remind your significant other how much you love them. Now, before I get too in depth on the topic of Valentines Day, let me just end that here and leave you with this picture of some beautiful roses. I was walking through Randall’s and came across them, noticing that the poinsettias that were sitting out just a few days ago had been replaced with bouquets of beautiful roses. And with that time of year again, I find myself replacing my dislike for roses with a temporary love for them. Makes no sense, really. Maybe it’s because I’m so exposed to them in the months of January and February… but there’s something captivating about white roses with light pink accents at the tips. That’s all.