Becoming my own in the city that makes you feel brand new

These Streets will Make you feel brand new

I am letting courage carry my journey as I have embarked on a solo adventure to NYC to seek my dreams out into a reality.

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Alicia Keys created the song "Empire State of Mind" with Jay Z that released in 2009 and quickly became a world-wide phenomenon. I remember listening to this song on repeat for the past 9 years and have been waiting for my chance, my turn to experience the life that Alicia was making sound so beautiful and so empowering.

"Even if it ain't all it seems
I got a pocketful of dreams
Baby, I'm from
New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There's nothing you can't do
Now you're in New York
These streets will make you feel brand new
The big lights will inspire you
Hear it for New York, New York, New York"

I got a pocket full of dreams

As a young child, I have dreamed and hoped that one day I would end up at a huge publication company in New York City. I have pictured myself in fabulous shoes, walking the streets and going into an amazing office with a view of the skyline...and here I am. I have always been a dreamer and I feel like a dream is the first place you go to make something a reality. To dream something means that you are thinking about it, you are wishing and coming up with a plan. What I have always imagined myself doing has given me a pocket full of dreams that have started and ended with New York City. So, here I am. My pocket of dreams have been opened and I am standing on the corner of 59th and Columbus Circle and my pocket has been emptied. My dreams are becoming my reality.

Concrete jungle where dreams are made of

It truly is a jungle. While all that above sounds so glitz and so glam by the way my dreams have come true, I realized very quickly that living here brings out different eyes. While I was dropped off with my bags, I was soon adjusted to a new neighborhood, new smells, new people and new animals...or bugs. This city is filled with people from all over the world. People with different upbringings, different lifestyles, and different mindsets. I truly don't think that one person is the same here in this city. The lifestyle here is concrete based and is fast paced. People are willing to live in this crowded and crazy place to make thier dreams come true and seek their dreams out.

There's nothing you can't do

While this is true, it depends on which way you are looking at the city and the upbringing you have come from. For me, this city truly has endless amounts of possibilites. So many places to eat, socialize, sightsee, watch, shop, walk, drive, and so on and so on. I did come to the city alone and I was scared. But, the light for me was the endless amounts of things to do and new things to see. I think this also means that the sky is the limit. In NYC there are so many people and so many possibilities to get your foot in the door and make your dreams come true in the workforce. I have learned that people work their a$ off to make a name for themselves. Sit in the sweaty subway to and from work, work long hours, live in tight corners, but it is all worth it for this "dream".

These streets will make you feel brand new
The big lights will inspire you

I am here alone and I have had moments and days of weakness. Being alone, lonely, tired, exhausted, hot, and missing Iowa. But, the feeling I get when I am coming off the subway to a crowded street with skyscrapers all around me truly is a feeling I haven't felt before. Watching people hustle to work in their nice work clothes and preparing for their day is inspiring to see and be apart of. At night looking at all the lights the city creates gives me goosebumps and it challenges me to have a positive attitude and keep smiling through this adventure.

New York is an adventure. I have had my struggles so far but am focusing on the dream. The dream that every one has coming here. The fact I can be apart of this, something this big and this inspiring as a 20 year old young woman is something I am not taking for granted. I am ready to see what the next day has to bring.

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To The Girl Who Hasn't Been Herself Lately

Your spark return, and you will shine like you were meant to.
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Life gets tough. Life gets too much to handle sometimes, and those times make you stronger. However, right now, it seems like you have lost yourself.

It’s difficult when you catch yourself not being you. When you do something or act a certain way and just wonder, “what did I do to deserve this? Why is this happening? When will it get better?” The way you’re feeling is not so much that you’re unhappy, you just feel weird.

Your day will come. I promise you. This is just a phase.

The day you realize how much you have grown from this point in time will be your reward. It is so hard to see now, and I feel your pain.

Your light will return to you. Your pure bliss moments, they are seeking you. Your laughter where your tummy aches is in your reach.

Our moods change far too often for us as humans to understand why, but the encounters you make every day have this effect on us.

You must remember the pure happiness you experienced before your first heartbreak, before the first friend became someone you thought they weren’t, before you lost your innocence. That was a time of true joy as you had not a care in the world for the things that would harm you. Better yet, you didn’t have the option to experience them because you were just a child.

The world can be an ugly place, and your attitude towards life can change every day. One thing is for certain: you did not lose who you are internally. We all put on a face for the world. For the people who we try to impress. For the life we want to live. For the things we want to achieve.

Your definitive personality is still in the works. Believe it or not, it always will be. Times like this change us for the better even though we can’t see it.

Your happiness will return. You will be a better, stronger version of you. In fact, you will be the best version of you yet.

Once this phase is over, you will be okay. This I promise you.

Cover Image Credit: Megan Sutton

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Visiting A Long-Distance Friend in Edinburgh

It was a short but sweet trip and we packed in lots of fun activities.

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I lugged my heavy suitcase off the train onto the busy Edinburgh train station platform. Before I could get my bearings, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I quickly turned around to see my closest and oldest friend, Sasha, with the warmest smile on her face. After a big hug and quick catch up, we braved the bustling tourist streets of Edinburgh in June.

I spent my first week of summer vacation in the United Kingdom. I visited family, met my baby cousin, spent time with my godfather, and enjoyed my favorite city. All in all, it was such a wonderful way to start my summer break. One of the highlights of the trip was going to see my best friend in Edinburgh.

Sasha and I have been friends since we were eight years old. She and I quickly bonded and formed a close friendship that despite the distance, we have maintained for almost 12 years. We don't talk constantly but when we do it is like nothing has changed. I am complete, 100% myself around her and I couldn't ask for a better friend.

Prior to this trip, it had been a little over two years since I'd seen her, which in our opinion was far too long. So knowing I was going to be in the UK for ten days, I scheduled 3 of them to be in Edinburgh with Sash. It was a short but sweet trip and we packed in lots of fun activities.

Day 1.

I arrived on Friday afternoon. We dropped my suitcase at Sasha's apartment, which is a scenic fifteen-minute walk from the station past the infamous Edinburgh castle. Sash then took a walking tour of the city through Princes Street Gardens and the Royal Mile. We stopped for a drink at a pub on the GrassMarket. We talked and talked and caught each other up on the highs and lows of the past two years.

Grace Bellman

There is something about an old friend that makes you feel so comfortable. Sash has been my friend through it all. She didn't walk away when my life didn't look so pretty and she always makes an effort to prioritize our friendship.

Sasha made a healthy vegan potato curry with naan bread for dinner before we set off on a hike up Arthur's Seat. The crazy thing about Edinburgh is that one minute you are walking through a busy city street with buses and cars and tourists and general organized chaos, and the next minute you are walking up an extinct volcano, looking down on the city at sunset. It takes your breath away (from beauty and exhaustion).


Grace Bellman

Day 2.

I forced Sash to be a morning person and started our day relatively early. Our first stop: The National Gallery of Scotland. Neither Sash nor I feel the need to spend too long in museums so we whipped around the exhibits quickly and found a trendy coffee shop to get a pick-me-up. We took our coffees up Calton Hill, a less vigorous but still beautiful walk than Arthur's Seat. I think this may have been my favorite spot of the trip. We attempted (and succeeded) in climbing the National Monument and laughed so hard while trying to take pictures in the classic Scottish windy, slightly damp weather.

All this walking and climbing made us quite hungry so Sasha took the opportunity to show me part of her university. We ate black bean burgers and chips at the Student Union Library Bar before proceeding to hop between thrift stores, book stores, and art galleries for the next few hours.

Later that afternoon, we visited the National Museum of Scotland, which is home to a series of exhibits about animals, music, and technological advances. For someone who is usually not the biggest museum fan, it was fascinating and very enjoyable.

Physically tired but still high in spirit, we discussed what to do with our evening. We spontaneously decided to attend a local comedy show in the basement of a theatre. Both Sash and I hate to be called out in an audience but we muscled through and ended up really enjoying the new experience.

Grace Bellman

Day 3.

My last morning in Edinburgh was wonderful. We, of course, had to check out the famous castle on a hill before stopping at a lovely cafe for some coffee. We then explored the Writer's Museum. It was in a small building that seemed to be a house in its previous life. It had old memorabilia from Robert Burns, Walter Scott, and Robert Louis Stevenson. From photographs to old shoes and even locks of hair, the museum seemed to have covered each of these men's lives in detail.

My final meal in Scotland was definitely indulgent, to say the least. Sasha took me to a new restaurant, Cold Town Beer, with a rooftop view of the castle and a really yummy vegetarian full breakfast. We were both full to the brim with food and with post-meal sugar highs.

Sadly, I only had about half an hour before I had to get to the station so we marched back to her flat, packed my bag, and ended the trip in the way we started: dodging tourists with my heavy bag on the hilly streets of Edinburgh.

It was such a special trip that made me realize how much I am missing by not living closer to one of my closest friends. It was a funny feeling waving goodbye to her from the train knowing it would be at least a year, if not more until I would see her again. But I guess that phrase is really true: "How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard" - A.A.Milne.

Sasha Milne

Sash, thank you for having me and for being a friend through everything. We survived our separation at thirteen, high school, and the first two years of college apart. There is no way we can't get through another year. Have an amazing time studying in Spain and Italy. I'll see you soon.

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