I Had The Time Of My Life With My Best Friend At Anime Weekend Atlanta

I Had The Time Of My Life With My Best Friend At Anime Weekend Atlanta

We ate Pocky, met new people and wore really weird costumes among other activities.

When most people think of conventions, they picture huge events with all sorts of people in strange anime costumes running around. Or maybe they think of VidCon or ComicCon, way over in California. While those ideas are all good summaries of cons, very few think of a somewhat smaller convention many call "Anime Weekend Atlanta," or AWA for short. (On a side note: "AWA" kind of looks like a strange anime emoticon.)

I was a lucky attender, since my best friend Katy invited me to go this year with her magical four-day passes. Katy was dressed as Sapphire from "Steven Universe," having spent over six months making her own dress. I, on the other hand, simply threw on an old color guard costume and called myself Turquoise, a character that did not technically exist on the show. Finally, we were ready to go!

While we couldn't attend on that Thursday and Friday – being good students and all – we both got up at 4:30 a.m. to make the drive the next day and be the first ones in line. Even though we had to wait a few hours, this strategy worked well because we ended up sixteenth in the line. Many people have the misconception that this convention is strictly about anime, but there are all kinds of fandoms there – from "Harry Potter" to "Gravity Falls," shows and movies of all types were everywhere.

After wandering and making a few friends (including a rather amazing Omega Flowey cosplayer from "Undertale"), we were finally able to get into the trading room. The trading room was a fancy name for the place where people sold different items. Because this was most of the vendors' one chance to sell, everything was expensive. This was bad news for me since I only had $22. Katy, the responsible mom friend, had $67 plus her debit card. At least she took pity on me and got me a lovely watercolor painting of Lapis Lazuli from "Steven Universe".

We even became friends with a vendor! She was selling some beaded jewelry and pixel art, and after a discussion on "Undertale," she offered to sell me Napstablook for a cut price. I had two dollars, so even this kind offer was out of my cheap price range. But in the end, it was still nice to meet her.

Lunch was an adventure; because there weren't many restaurants at the galleria where we were, we went across the street to the mall to find food. This was rather brave for two introverts since we were in full cosplay, and this mall wasn't affiliated with AWA. We got quite a few stares, and one guy even asked if we could go on his Snapchat.

Overall, we didn't go to many panels, but the ones we did go to were quite interesting. The one on creative writer was led by two Japanese manga and anime creators. Through a translator, they informed us that creating something is like running naked into a room of 100 people and screaming. Most people will hate it, but five will think it's amazing. They then apply those five people to the world.

Our last major activity was going to Nerd Church. Both of us are Christians, and though we're not particularly extremely religious, we went to see what it was. Imagine our shock when it was an actual sermon comparing "The Walking Dead" to our spiritual life, and it was led by (drumroll please) Andy Field. To put this in perspective, he's not only a psychology professor, but he's also a famous voice actor who did the voice of HandUnit, the guide in "Five Nights At Freddy's: Sister Location." Katy is a big fan of the "Five Nights At Freddy's" franchise, so she was excited to get a picture and talk to him.

We blew the rest of our money on Pocky, Japanese soft serve ice cream, bean cakes and other Japanese sweets, and we settled down to watch a horror animation and some Bill Wurtz videos. To Katy's delight, Andy Field came up to us, chatted with us a bit, thanked us for coming and then asked where we got our food, so I guess we're basically best friends with him now.

While many talk down about conventions, I love them. I don't like being around people much with it being rather stressful, but being surrounded by people who not only love the same things as you but will also discuss them with you is really therapeutic. I got to spend a weekend with my best friend, dress up and act half my age and best of all, made new friends. I really want to thank everyone I met along the way. I had the time of my life.

Cover Image Credit: Emma Buoni

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Ten Reasons Why Old Orchard Will Always Be My Favorite Beach

My home away from home.

Everyone has a favorite vacation spot that will always hold a special place in your heart. Here is why Old Orchard Beach, is, and always will be, my favorite beach.

1. The Pier

A trip is never complete to Old Orchard without visiting “The Pier.” With endless possibilities for the day and night time, The Pier is home to numerous shops, five restaurants, live music, and a night club for those 21 and older. Oh, and did I mention it also has the best view of the ocean?

2. Pier Fries

I'll admit I'm not a huge fan of French fries, call me un-American, but I absolutely love pier fries. In business for over 80 years, Pier Fries is known for their fresh, never frozen, fries cut from premium potatoes daily. You can also choose to eat them with ketchup, vinegar, or nacho cheese, don't knock it until you try it, and trust me you need to try it.

3. Palace Playland

Holding the title of New England's ONLY Beachfront Amusement Park, Palace Playland is the reason why as a kid, I thought every beach was supposed to come with an Amusement Park. Palace Playland offers kiddie rides, family rides, and for those feeling more adventurous, coaster and thrill rides. If you’re feeling daring enough and seeking adrenaline, ride the Power Surge, but don’t say I didn’t warn you… Feeling like relaxing but still want a beautiful view? The Electra Wheel, aka, Ferris Wheel, will be more up your alley, with a beautiful view of the entire park and beach.

4. The Beach Itself

I would be remiss to write an article about why I love my favorite beach without mentioning the beach itself. With the sand and ocean stretching out for seven miles, unlike many beaches, no matter how crowded it gets, you can always walk and find a more secluded spot to relax at. Towards the middle of the seven mile stretch, you will find The Pier, a great place to see the waves better and take pictures, a tradition my family does every year.

5. Dickinson’s Candy

If you’re looking for something to satisfy your sweet tooth, Dickinson’s candy is the place for you! With two stores located at Old Orchard beach, (one right outside the pier and one past the train tracks up the street) Dickinson’s offers a tremendous variety of sweets including; salt water toffee, fudge, chocolate truffles, candy, and even specialty ice-cream. Dickinson’s Candy truly has it all and it all tastes delicious! Not only will you find some of the best, most unique sweets in Old Orchard, but you will also be greeted by various friendly members of their staff.

And if you’re feeling adventurous, take the Bean Boozled challenge for free! Spin the wheel to determine your fate and what color jelly bean you choose. Mine was either licorice or skunk spray…unfortunately I got the latter.

6. Fireworks

I’ll admit, I’m a huge fan of fireworks, but there is something about watching them on the beach that truly enhances the experience. Every Thursday at 9:45 pm, a beautiful fireworks display takes place right by The Pier and Palace Playland, automatically giving anyone sitting on the beach a great view. Fireworks started on June 30th and continue until August 25th, so there is plenty of time to drive up and enjoy this amazing spectacle.

7. The Arcade

This huge arcade stretches across Palace Playland and holds the title of being one of the largest in New England. With over two hundred games and attractions, the arcade’s games range from classic such as skeeball and pinball, to more up to date, like crane games with plushies from the new movie The Secret Life of Pets, and a giant Connect Four. With so many attractions, this place makes it easy to spend a few hours, and dollars trying to win the perfect prize, like my rainbow giraffe that I totally won on my own! With some help from my boyfriend….okay, actually he just won it for me, but it’s still adorable.

8. Everything Is A Walk Away

As large as Old Orchard may seem with everything it has to offer, it is all conveniently located in the same area, providing easy access. The Pier, Pier Fries, Palace Playland, The Arcade, Dickinson’s Candy, and parts of the beach itself are all extremely close by and you will be sure to find something that catches your eye while on your way to your next destination.

9. Unique Wall Art

A hidden gem at Old Orchard Beach is the impressive wall art right across the train tracks. This wall art changes a bit every year and always brings something new and unique to Old Orchard. This year, a bright and vibrant Dory was added next to Marlin from Finding Nemo and now Finding Dory. You can also find 8- bit art of Mario in a frog suit from Super Mario 3, and various sea creatures. Whales, crabs, squids, even Spongebob and Patrick! You can find them all on this amazing wall of artwork!

10. It's My Home Away From Home

My address I live at may not be in Maine, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t feel like I’m home when I’m there. Since I was born it has been a tradition among my family to go up to Old Orchard Beach and enjoy all that this amazing beach has to offer. I’ve come to realize that it doesn’t matter if I stay for as long as a week or as short as a single day, whenever I leave, I feel like I’m leaving home and start counting down the days until I can return the following summer.

Cover Image Credit: Angela Renzi

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My Experience Traveling To Another Country

I recently went out of the country to visit another on vacation, so I'm going to share my experience with you.


After graduation, my family had arranged for us to go on a cruise as a graduation present to my boyfriend and me. My boyfriend had never even been to the ocean, so this was bound to be an amazing experience for all of us. It was truly incredible being able to see the excitement he gained from seeing the ocean for the first time and being able to do something he'd never even plan on doing.

We took a Carnival cruise and left out of Charleston, South Carolina. The day before the cruise, we went around the city to explore and see all the sights the city had to offer. Charleston has some of the most beautiful architecture I have ever seen in my entire life. It's absolutely stunning.

Our cruise was taking us to the Bahamas; we would stop at two different ports during the week of our five day cruise. Now, I had been on a cruise prior to this one, so I had an idea of what to expect. However, the ship this time was much larger than the previous one, which meant loads of more people. Overall, the experience was roughly the same. Everything was extremely similar, the larger boat just offered more activities to do on some of the decks, simply because it was bigger. The only thing I wasn't crazy about was the amount of people. It was insane. I figured there would a lot of people, but when everyone is gathered together on one deck, it was almost too tight to move around and enjoy yourself. Luckily, not everyone gathered together on one deck over the duration of the cruise, just the first day when we set sail.

Being a five day cruise, we were sailing for two days, docking for two days, and then sailing again the last day. Monday was the day we boarded the ship, and a sail day. Tuesday was an all day sea day and you could see absolutely nothing but ocean for as as far as your eyes could look. Wednesday we docked on an island called Princess Cayes. Thursday we docked on an island called Nassau, which is pretty well known. Friday was all day sea day, and Saturday we docked back in South Carolina and boarded off the boat.

Overall, the experience is something of a lifetime. Not many people think that going on a cruise is all that you've ever dreamed of, but it is in the most unexpected way.

Traveling to the Bahamas was something I will never forget, and I'm so blessed to have been able to do so. The ocean is as clear as water in your bottle. You can see the entire ocean floor. It's hotter than heck, but it's such a beautiful atmosphere and environment that the heat doesn't even matter.

I highly, HIGHLY recommend trying to go on a cruise at least once in your life. It's such a wonderful experience, and to be quite honest, it's a lot cheaper than many other vacation options. It is truly incredible, and no matter the destination, the journey is such a wonderful and beautiful experience.

12/10 would recommend

Cover Image Credit:

Emily Saravia

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