Thai Things

Following my semester in Paris, I spent the entirety of my senior year falling deeper in love with Austin. I balanced my senior level classes (considerably Intermediate Accounting which almost singlehandedly committed me to the library), with all the football games, tailgates, the Greenbelt, and 6th Street.

A trade-off for traversing within Austin, understandably I didn’t travel as much as I had while living in Europe. As frequenters of my blog, you know by now that I made it a habit to film vlogs for my weekend trips. Following my graduation from the University of Texas at Austin, my parents gifted me a vacation to the beautiful country of Thailand.

In those ten days, I was exposed to a culture I had never quite experienced before. While I personally struggled with Thai food (surviving on fresh fruits and margherita pizza), the landscapes were breathtaking and the people were sincere and welcoming. In my video, I hope you can feel the energy of Thailand and enjoy it as much as I did.


There’s nothing quite as sobering as moving to a new city and realizing that you don’t know anyone. And in that moment, you begin to question where you are, what you’re doing, and whether or not you even know yourself.

It’s a quarter till one in the morning and I’m walking back to my dorm from the Escargot, rubbing my hands along the sleeves of my sweater, trying to fight the brisk night air breeze that was biting at my skin. The pathway is dimly lit except for the lamp posts illuminating the cement road between buildings C and B, which would soon be blocked off for the start of a years worth of renovations. My phone buzzed in my hand, and I quickly looked down at the screen only to find a notification from Facebook.

So-and-so and 21 other friends will be attending Tacos and Tequila tonight in Austin. Let them know if you’re attending!

I clicked the home button and shoved my phone deep in my purse, picking up my pace as I noticed the darkness dissolve with every step I took. In the distance I heard male voices howl, whistling and slurring some words in French before being interrupted by the sharp shattering of a beer bottle. It was as if you could slice the air with a knife, the silence being the loudest noise around me.

Moments later I arrived at building B, running up the four flights of stairs to get to the third floor (oh yeah, in Europe the ground floor is level zero and I lived on the European third floor, which is equivalent to the American fourth floor). I knocked on my apartment door and was greeted by my parents. My dad began by quickly briefing me on all of the organizing he did in my room: where he installed my tea kettle, how he moved my bed to face alongside the window, and how he hid some emergency cash along the inner lining of my desk drawer.

My mom enthusiastically handed me a brown, glossy gift bag, which I reached in to and found two beautiful diamond earrings along with a certificate of authenticity, entirely in French. “This is your early birthday present, since we won’t be here to give it to you then,” she would say. I swallowed back my nervousness and indulged in the luxury of my present, paying no attention to the reality of the situation– that my parents were about to say goodbye to me as I moved to a new city, in a new country, in a different continent. Realizing the time, two hours past midnight, we exchanged kisses on the cheek and my dad prayed in a hush tone as he embraced me for one last time (a tradition of his every time I leave to travel).

Game day in Austin, my new apartment, and my Dallas normal.

This was it. A rush of excitement reverberated through my bones, amplified by the hoots and howls which slipped through the cracks beneath the balcony door. While I was high on the adrenaline of being in a new country, a numbness sat idly in the back of my mind as I realized that I was on my own. That’s when the sobering silence began to seep in and I recognized the reality of the situation. I sat down on my bed and looked up at the moon through the large panel of windows along the wall. While I harbored a fear of losing myself in the commotion I felt relief knowing that that we all look up to the same moon. Swallowing my doubt, in that moment I knew that everything I would do was solely dependent on me. All that I was so certain of and with all other drivers aside, I’d control the reigns of my life and it would be up to me to make the most of all that would greet me in the new year.

All the sudden change and movement around me transformed into a state of constancy. My forever in the moment would soon deviate into a fond memory. As every day would pass, I would overwrite the uncertainty I’d face and discover my normal with the people I’d spend all of my hours with.

In the past year, my life turned into finding my new normal in a new city for an X-amount of time before having to move on to the next. The immediacy of every new setting sunk into my life, making that very moment in my life become my default, my new normal– square one. In France, waking up and walking down the street to Building T for class was my new normal. Waiting outside the Catacombs in the slicing, Paris night air for the 1:30 am shuttle from the city back to campus. In my home away from home I had found my new normal and in those fleeting moment, it felt as if nothing would ever change again.

My 21st birthday in Paris.

A milestone of my life was turning 21 while I was living in France. At dinner at Paris’ Le Georges, to my surprise the waiters poured in to our private room with trays of sparkler shooters and velvety chocolate cake alongside a scoop of a ice cream and cannoli. As my friends sang happy birthday, I burst into tears and then to laughter. It only takes an instant to know something, and as my being trembled with emotion, I was overcome with the reality that I had found my new normal with the people I’d call my best friends.

As months passed, the excitement funneled into an anxiety obsessed over how the streets I’d walk and the people who I would talk to every day were only to exist in my life for a short amount of time before I’d have to move on to the next chapter. The honesty of being on my own rushed over me like a gradual intoxication. I thought my new normal was the definition of who I was, and when it came time to leave, I would have to leave behind who I became during that that part of my life.

It only took me 21 years and four months to realize that I was wrong.

Two thousand sixteen has been the year that I’ve lived mostly out of a suitcase and a carry-on. I’d start my year by leaving behind my second home, Austin, in hopes of finding myself eight thousand one hundred and ninety three kilometers away in the outskirts of Paris. Fast forward five months and traveling through 19% of Europe to when I arrived back in Houston, my hometown in Texas. Four days later, I’d make Uptown Dallas my new home and where I’d spend the entirety of my summer as an intern. After 9 months away, in the middle of August, I’d move to my new apartment in Austin.

Wine on the Champ de Mars, Dallas skyline, and DKR Stadium at UT Austin.

I didn’t fully understand the concept of finding myself in my normal until this past summer. It’s a June, Saturday morning in Dallas and I lay in my bed, facing the large windows which overlooked Turtle Creek Boulevard, exposed to the beaming sunlight and white noise from outside. The silence rang in my ears as I wished so dearly to assimilate into my new city and clutched to the remnants of my old normal. Just a few days ago I was taking the RER into the city and drinking wine until the early hours of the morning. An hour passed of scrolling through my Instagram feed before I became cognizant of how my new normal wouldn’t come on its own. It would come when I dared to find myself in my new surroundings and in those individuals around me. I would look to spending time with others, not to mask a fear of being alone, but to discover pieces of myself through the relationships I’d form. Soon after, I quickly found my new normal in Dallas. I made the strongest friendships with some people I want by my side for the rest of my life. They made made me realize my worth, my purpose, and where I am in my life. As a young woman living outside of my comfort zone, I found that my perception of finding my “normal” was entirely skewed. I was so caught up in the momentary aspect of uncovering my normal that I overlooked how every experience and every exchange would form my person. The things you find in yourself stay with you even after you transition between your current routine of ordinary. You invent yourself in the different cities you travel to and the different people you meet. Your life should be spent finding yourself, and there’s never an end to who you are. It’s a puzzle. Everywhere you go and everyone you meet uncovers a sliver of who you are. The image of who you are in any given moment doesn’t prescribe all that you have yet to discover about yourself as you move on to the next part of your life. It stays with you and mends you in ways which may not be obvious in the present.

As my senior year begins at the best university in Texas, I reflect on the decisions I have to make that will contribute to forming my new normal picking a full time job, potentially moving to a new city, making new friends and leaving the shell of my comfort zone. Every time I leave for somewhere new, I find my routine in that new place and call it my normal. I’ve been using the word normal throughout the duration of my post, though this past year, my impression of normal has changed. There is no such thing as normal, it’s the extraordinary that we align ourselves with to challenge our journey. The excitement that comes along with our lives lies within finding yourself in the various opportunities around you and not confining yourself to your current idea of normal.

Episode 6: Santorini & the French Riviera

Have you ever envisioned your own, unique individual place where everything is drawn to precision per your taste and preference? My place is set on the waterfront, an ocean of crisp, cerulean blue water with purity unlike anything else. Along the waterfront, gentle slopes with white Mediterranean-style houses connected with open, outdoor foyers leading to gardens of white, deep-red, and carmine pink flowers. The houses have arches and wooden accents, drawing a stark comparison to the blue of the ocean. Until just a week ago, my place was a fantasy; however, I’ve been fortunate enough to experience my place, and the place I’ve described to you is Santorini, Greece.

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Overlooking Oia, the upper side of Santorini, a few moments prior sunset.

I explored the largest island of the archipelago in the southern Aegean Sea with my sister and one of our close friends, trying to capture some of the beauty of the island through 24 megapixels. While the simple architecture itself was overwhelming on its own, I noticed a familiar feeling that reminded me much of my own Persian-roots. The kind and receptive people of Santorini instantly welcomed me to their hearth, a smile and gentle eyes on the face of those I crossed paths with. The island is populated with stray dogs that will let you play with them, particularly in Oia, my favorite part of Santorini and the upper side of the island, and at Perissa Beach, the popular black sand beach, where I found a stray and named him Demetrius.

We completed our ten day travels in the French Riviera, where I revisited Nice, Monaco, and spent a beautiful, sunny day in Cannes. My trip was a well needed break from the cyclical work cycle at my French university and the beautiful city of Paris which I’ve been able to experience over the past five months. However, I’ll tell you this much, as much as I love traveling to beautiful destinations, it’s not so much the places you go, rather the people you go with that make it worthwhile.

Edit: For copyright reasons, I can’t upload the video to YouTube. For the time being, watch my vlog on Google Drive. Filmed in HD, watch in 1080p!

Episode 4: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Over the last two months, I’ve adapted my lifestyle to living in France where reliance on public transportation trumps cruising down the highway in your own car. I’ve been in more planes, trains, busses, Ubers and taxi-cabs than I ever have over the course of such a small period of time. Having Paris at my disposal and being so centrally located in Europe has also influenced how I spend my time on the weekends. While I do miss going to the Greenbelt for a hike in Austin, walking down South Congress with some friends for a Sunday brunch, and studying on the lake at Mozart’s, there’s nothing I wouldn’t give up to have the mind-opening adventures I experience when I travel to a new country.

I wrote to you about (almost) losing my passport in Munich, but since then, I’ve visited Milan and Prague. I’ve been trying something new by capturing some of the moments of my trip on film, so here are a select few of my favorites.



Episode 3: That Time I Was Almost Stuck In Germany

When something that seems unimaginable happens to you, naturally you share that occurrence with friends and family. They gawk as they hear the words coming out of your mouth, their eyes increasingly widening in disbelief. Now two months into my study abroad experience, I have a story to tell you that felt so unbelievable and overwhelming to the extreme that I had to take a break as I was writing it, as the stress from the story vividly darkened my memories.

There’s a handful of emotions that make my stomach feel as if it’s dropping to the ground—losing my passport the morning of my flight takes precedence.

6 am

My morning begins at half six, having five hours of shut-eye—a lavish amount as compared to the night prior. It’s Monday morning and I’m due for a flight out of Munich, back home to Paris, in just two and half hours. I have class back in Paris at 1pm and a presentation to prepare for that evening. I had packed my suitcase the night before, so my morning routine was limited to tidying up the Airbnb and changing out of my pajamas. My three travel companions, myself, and the sun are the only ones awake in the quiet residential neighborhood.

7 am

We call a taxi-cab and carry our suitcases out the door. After a final sweep through the flat, we leave the keys on the table and shut the door—a fleeting moment in time that altered my entire morning. Sofia, being the responsible friend she is, asks us if we have our passports and plane tickets ready. In that moment I realized that I hadn’t seen my passport since we arrived to Munich on Friday morning.

My calm expression quickly changed to one of urgency as I unzipped my suitcase and ransacked through the clothes and shoes I had packed. Suitcase interior—empty. Top flap—empty. Bottom flap—consisted only of my toothbrush, iPhone charger, and copy of Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises.

7:20 am

My heart sunk to the pit of my stomach as every minute passed. A minute gone was a minute closer to the flight, and I had calculated every minute so that I would make it from the Airbnb to the airport in time. Running low on options I asked Sofia to phone the apartment owner and ask if she could bring a spare key to unlock the door. She agrees and charges a taxi in my name to reach the apartment and deliver the spare key.

By this point, my two other travel companions have to go to the airport. Sofia waited behind, keeping me company in what felt like a meltdown.

Do you know that quote that Einstein supposedly said, calling insanity the result of doing something over and over again and expecting different results? Well, in retrospect, that was me as I nervously checked my bag over and over again, hoping that I had overlooked a centimeter where my passport could have been hiding. Realizing that stressing over the situation would only make me more nervous, I collected myself and looked at my options realistically:

  1. The passport fell behind the wardrobe where my suitcase was positioned and all I needed to do was move the wardrobe to get to my passport
    • I make it to the airport in time
    • I don’t make it to the airport in time and need to catch the next flight
  2. My passport is lost and I need to get a new passport so I can return to France
    • Call the US Consulate in Munich
    • Take a 4×4 standard passport picture
    • Fill out two forms and receive a temporary passport in a few hours
    • Leave Munich in the next 2 business days

With my options laid out on the table, I prayed silently as Sofia paced up and down the stairs. Minute by minute passed and we waited, both eager for the arrival of the Airbnb host. We agree that when the host arrives, we’ll search in the bedroom of the apartment, specifically where I suspected that my passport had fallen out of my suitcase.

8 am

Sofia runs up the stairs, panting as she runs to unlock the door to the apartment. “She’s holding the cab for us,” she calls as she swings the door open. I drop my coat in the center of the living room and run to the bedroom, immediately looking behind the wardrobe where I had placed my suitcase. “I found it!” I exclaimed as I rush to push the wardrobe back in place.

We both run down the stairs and book it for the taxi, apologizing to our host as we exited the apartment complex. “Not a worry, these things happen,” she said, making me feel just a little better in that moment.

8:08 am

With 52 minutes left to make the flight, we sit in the taxi and are finally headed to the airport. Fortunately for us, our host had told the taxi driver my situation and he agreed to drive as fast as possible down the German autobahn and to the airport. Going 130 km/h, our driver zipped in and out of traffic, estimating that it would take 35 minutes to make it to the Munich International Airport. The entire car ride was spent in silence, as we both prayed for guidance and held our breath until we reached the airport.

8:45 am

100 euros later, we arrive to the airport and run with our bags towards security. Have it be Murphy’s Law, the airport security lined wrapped around the terminal in chaos. We sprinted down the corridor looking for another security lane. Moments later, we came across a shorter line where the passengers recognized our panic and allowed us to skip them in line. Every minute matters and we’re quickly approaching 9 am.

Though of course, there’s someone in front of us who slowly takes his laptop out of his bag and even more slowly struggles to separate the liquids in different plastic bags. Once he finally gets his belongs together, it comes Sofia’s turn to show her ticket and passport.

8:50 am

I sigh as it’s almost my turn to go through security, feeling one step closer to stepping foot on the plane. Once again Murphy’s Law came into action, as the person checking the tickets rejects Sofia’s plane ticket because it doesn’t have her full name written on it. She scrambles to connect to airport Wi-Fi to find the email with her confirmation. Once she finds it, it’s my turn to go through security and then to find our gate.

8:55 am

We find our gate and laugh nervously at the ridiculous events that have happened to us in the past hour.

8:57 am

The Transavia flight attendants come through the queue and tell everyone they can only bring one single bag onto the plane. I quickly confine my purse in my carry-on and wait back in the queue, only to find Sofia struggling with fitting her backpack and her purse in her carry-on. I suggest she hides her backpack under her jacket and sneaks it on the plane.

9:00 am

We get past the queue and joke that we had felt every single emotion possible in the past two hours: calm, nervousness, fear, desperation, faith, numbness, anger, happiness, thankfulness.

9:05 am

I step foot on the plane and find my seat, feeling as though I can finally take a breath. A kind man in my row helps me place my bag in the overhead compartment. Every ounce of kindness sent my way feels magnified as I am in the state of complete and utter gratefulness.

9:15 am

The plane takes off, exactly on schedule. I realize that I had just done what felt like the impossible. We left the apartment at 8:08 and made it through security by 8:55. I thanked God over and over again, counting my blessings and ready to return home to Paris.

As I wrote this I had to stop and remind myself that what had happened is now in the past, as the intense emotion I felt made my heart race just by recounting it. I learned several things from this experience, the most literal lesson being that I should listen to my dad and wear the money-belt-passport-holder he always makes me wear before every international trip. Had I listened to him, I would have never been in this situation. When you’re in a situation where your options are limited, it’s important to be realistic. Because you can’t change the past, it’s vital to list out your options and set a game plan.

Another valuable lesson is not to rush in finite situations. What I mean by this is when something is so finite, like locking the door of an apartment and leaving the keys inside, you shouldn’t rush past the moment. You should stop, make sure you have everything you need and all of your belongings, then go ahead and execute the moment. The same thing has happened to me at Metro stations in Paris: I buy a metro ticket, put it away in my purse or pocket as I walk through the turnstile to rush on the train, then when it comes time to leave the Metro station I can’t find my ticket.

It’s now Sunday, one week later, and I have just returned from Milan, Italy. You can bet your finest dollar that I wore my money-belt on this trip.

Today I spent the day all around Venice and Piazza San Marco. There, I fed pigeons pretzel sticks, froze all of my limbs, and strolled next to the gondolas. I also learned that in Venice, they take water taxi’s and water busses everywhere. And at night, once the sun sets, they are absolutely freezing!

The pigeons in Piazza San Marco were quick to cozy up with me.


I’m basically Snow White.
Cold and not so cuddly on the water bus.


Forty degrees and foggy in the city center.

This evening I went to a Vivaldi Four Season’s tribute concert which was absolutely beautiful. Before the concert, we went to Harry’s Bar, which is where they invented the peach Bellini. After the concert, I spent the next 50 minutes freezing in uncomfortable positions on the water bus back to our hotel.

Another night in Italy requires another blog post detailing all that I’ve done today. That includes waking up at 6 am and boarding a charter bus for Napoli and finally Pompeii. Within an hour we arrived in Naples where we took a guided tour around the city. I was able to see the financial district, under-restoration Opera house, local homes, the very busy commercial loading port, and even local food stands selling fresh peppers and lemons alongside the main road. Though I only spent one hour in Naples, the charm of the city easily attached itself to my heart and I anticipate returning here again in the future.

A local boat in the Porto di Napoli, with the active volcano Mount Vesuvias visible in the background.
A local boat in the Porto di Napoli, with the active volcano Mount Vesuvias visible in the background.

Another hour in the coach, we arrived in the very large city of Pompeii. Mount Vesuvius hasn’t erupted since 1944 and expert seismologists predict it will erupt within the next 10-15 years. Though this horrifying fact doesn’t scare locals, the land around Pompeii is one of the most fertile farmlands in all of Italy. We stopped for lunch at a delightful little local restaurant and began our adventure towards the ruins of the ancient city of Pompeii.

Much like the overwhelming sensation I felt in Versailles and the Colosseum, Pompeii depicted all that I had read in ancient stories, learned about in my Ancient, Civil, and Classical history class, and watched in Discovery Channel documentaries. The fascination I have with Pompeii is rooted at the fact that this ancient and mysterious civilization which once thrived, was easily and so suddenly destroyed by a natural occurence. Instead of trying to explain to you what I saw, I’d like to show you a series of pictures of the ruins.

This is the main street in Pompeii. Alongside the streets, merchants would sell food, clothes, and goods to locals and visitors.
This is the main street in Pompeii. Alongside the streets, merchants would sell food, clothes, and goods to locals and visitors.
The remains of a bar and oven which were the equivalent of a restaurant. These types of "buildings" were scattered all along Pompeii.
The remains of a bar and oven which were the equivalent of a restaurant. These types of “buildings” were scattered all along Pompeii.
A panorama of part of the city, with Vesuvius in the background. Click to zoom in.
A panorama of part of the city, with Vesuvius in the background. Click to zoom in.
The most popular brothel in Pompeii. Here, customers would walk in and request the type of service they want, and would then be lead to a stone mattress in a specific room.
The most popular brothel in Pompeii. Here, customers would walk in and request the type of service they want, and would then be lead to a stone mattress in a specific room.
This image speaks for itself. In this square was a large commercial center where merchants would advertise their products through painted frescoes on the walls. These were actual people who were frozen instantly by the volcanic ash following Mount Vesuvius' eruption.
This image speaks for itself. In this square was a large commercial center where merchants would advertise their products through painted frescoes on the walls. These were actual people who were frozen instantly by the volcanic ash following Mount Vesuvius’ eruption.
The city center of Pompeii with Vesuvius pictured in the background.
The city center of Pompeii with Vesuvius pictured in the background.
Another panorama with ruins of a superstitious ground. Click to zoom in and see the beautiful landscape. Just behind the mountains lies the Amalfi coast.
Another panorama with ruins of a superstitious ground. Click to zoom in and see the beautiful landscape. Just behind the mountains lies the Amalfi coast.
I was so mesmerized by Pompeii that I only remembered at the last moment to take a picture with the ruins.
I was so mesmerized by Pompeii that I only remembered at the last moment to take a picture with the ruins.

I’m still in awe that I’ve finally seen something which I’ve been fascinated with for so long. The respect I have for ancient civilizations grew from when I first visited Persepolis in Iran, home of the ancient and grand Persian Empire. I only hope to travel to other parts of the world and visit other ruins of ancient civilizations.