Back to School Thrift Haul

July 26, 2018

Like we’ve discussed before, I love a good day spent thrifting. I much prefer the uncurated adventure of a thrift store and usually prefer it to a trip to the mall. While I do love clothes and dressing up, I actually hate shopping which thrifting doesn’t feel like. It turns into a game, a treasure hunt that pays off in good clothes and the joy of knowing how much of a deal you got. These items are accumulated over about a dozen trips to thrift stores in the Columbus and Chicago area. Some items I got but forgot to photograph were: 
- A white raincoat, 
- A pink neckerchief, 
- A lamp for my dorm room, 
- An over the door hamper for my dorm, 
- Shoe organizers for my dorm,
- A tray (that will be upcycled)
- 2 photo display boards that I upcycled
- A pair of knock off ugg boots

I’m so excited for when it will be cold enough to wear these! The rainboots are a great look and a great height for comfy day to day outfits, and the over the knee boots will be so fun for dressier looks or going out.
My mom is honestly over my sweater collection. She knows any time I go thrifting I can’t help but scour the place for a new sweater or jacket and I did just that.
I can already see this fluffy white turtleneck with a pair of leggings and my over the knee black boots and the other cropped sweater would be great with the ankle length black skirt I thrifted as well.

I practically have a collection at this point. This is actually denim jacket #3 but I’m going to justify this one by saying this one has a completely different vibe than the other ones I have. It’s a bit more of a relaxed “dad” look with its fleece lined interior and corduroy collar. Needless to say, I’m pretty excited.

My sister made me list 5 Beatles songs when I said I wanted this shirt so @naaila
- Yellow Submarine
- Let It Be
- Eleanor Rigby
- Here Comes the Sun
- Come Together
I think these shirts will look great cropped and paired with jeans or leggings in a pretty casual look and maybe even with denim jacket #3. A cute dressier pairing would be the Beatles shirt tucked into the skirt for a dressier, effortlessly cool look?? Maybe?? I have no idea if I can pull it off but I’ll definitely try.

This last shirt is kind of summer-y but I definitely will probably wear it year round because it doesn’t really matter if you can layer right? These shoes i’m excited about because I was definitly  about to drop $50-60 on a similar pair from vans. I’ll admit the platform spooked me a little, but I love how they make these slip ons a bit edgier and dressier.

Aaaand thats all I got. Thanks for sticking along with me and my thrift store overshopping.

How I Got Into UChicago

July 21, 2018

If I could describe this past year in a word it would be Vorfreude.
From just under a year ago when I was blogging about my college tour journeys all over the Midwest and East coast, to now, anticipating a fall in a different city, making new friends and being challenged to make my dreams and snatch them from thin air, vorfreude accurately sums up senior year. I’m excited to finally announce on this platform that I will be attending The University of Chicago this fall!
Although I’m having the time of my life in the weighless, stressless bubble of my four month long summer until college, I also clearly remember the stresses of last summer, the senior year prep, the college application prep, and the trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life madness. With all of that in mind, here is how I got into the University of Chicago and all my tips for getting into college!

Disclaimer: I am not a professional on this in any sense of the word. This just what I know based on my experiences in the past year. I am very aware of many of the resources and privileges I have had through this process such as ACT tutors, college admissions counselors, and knowledgeable and supportive adult figures in my life that many not be available to all students, so, this is my way of hopefully paying it forward and sharing my two sense.

When most people want to know their chances of getting into a specific school the first place they look into are the stats. While I don’t think stats are the be all end all of an application, they are the easiest way to objectively guess where your chances lie and keep yourself out of the infamous yet unconfirmed auto-reject box. At the time of submitting college applications I had a 4.2 weighted GPA, a 34 superscored and 33 composite on the ACT, and a 1400 on the SAT. While I was comfortable with these numbers compared to my dream school’s, (UChicago has a 4.15 average GPA and a 34 average ACT) keeping the acceptance rate in mind was a very important stat to keep in mind especially among the ‘top schools’ I was applying to. Applying to college isn’t personal. Your ability, or inability to get into a certain school or program aren’t direct indications of your work, talent, competency, or future potential. In my case, I was essentially competing to be in a group of 8% of 31,000 UChicago applicants and even though I was objectively “smart enough” to get in, without a doubt every person in that pool would have had different aspects that they could’ve/would bring to the freshman class making it an extremely competitive process.

From early on in my academic career I set a standard for myself by taking the hardest classes I could in order to challenge myself. In junior high, this meant taking high school math and science classes. In the beginning of high school this meant taking AP classes and excelling on the AP tests. In later years of high school this meant taking college classes. Though these classes were challenging, throughout high school I received A’s in every class I took except some of my math classes. If you intend on applying to “top schools” AP or college classes are IMPORTANT. You can’t say you’re smart without having something to back it up, and these classes are the way to do it. By excelling in them you not only prove that you’re up to the academic rigor to excel at these schools, but it also is a quantitative way to see how you score against students nationally just like the ACT or SAT. Although both are ways of earning college credit, they are also very different and have pros and cons to either decision.  For me, earning college credit directly through classes on campus, online, and at my high school worked best for how I learn. The best option for you may be different than mine depending on what your school offers or the resources available in your area.
My biggest advice when choosing classes is to make sure you balance yourself. Although the classes you take are important to get into college, they are also important because they make up a good portion of your NOW. I always made sure to have at least 2 periods a day of electives and these were classes I was really passionate about and really looked forward to in the day. These classes in the day were truly what kept me sane. They were mental breaks to have fun, hang out with my friends, and develop a skill or hobby. On the other end of the spectrum I also scheduled myself to take classes that I felt would be interesting or helpful for my intended career. For me, someone who wants to go into the health professions, this meant taking tons of sciences classes like a STEM sequence, Physics, Chemistry, and Biology. For someone who wanted to be an accountant maybe this would mean taking all the Calculus 1, Calculus 2, or Statistics. Even if you have no idea what you want to go into this is an opportunity to explore in different subjects and see what sticks. Through mindfully selecting classes I was able to get opportunities like shadowing weekly at a hospital and representing my high school and an international medical leadership conference.

What you do in your time outside of classes is almost as important as what you do in them. Extracurriculars are a place for many students to learn real life skills and character and are a way for the admissions counselors to know more about you, what you’re passionate about and what makes you tick. So, make sure to be involved! Be involved in things that make you happy and excel in them. Win awards, make a difference, have fun, become a leader, and make friends. This should be the easiest part of high school (other than having to manage these time commitments). For me, my extracurriculars centered around three themes that are pretty reflective of my personality and character: STEM/Medicine, working with people/Kids, and Music/the Arts.
- Stem/Biomedical Innovations
- HOSA Club
- Leadership Intern with National Hall of Inventors
- Diversity Council
- Yearbook
- Service Learning
- Theatre House Manager
- Outdoor Ed Counselor
Music/the Arts:
- Chorale
- Women’s Elite Chorus
- Symphonic Chorus
- Theatre

I have a whole lot to say about testing and strategy. I can talk about it another time if anyone wants to hear me, but here’s the short of my testing history. I took the ACT pretty early, in my sophomore year, because I wanted to get into a specific program and I studied for about 2-3 months with the help of a tutor and I received a 30 composite score. Over the course of high school I took the test a total of 6 times (way too many times) and ended with a highest comp score of 33 and a super score of 34. I took the SAT once, received a 1400, and didn’t send this score to any colleges. If I could go back I would definitely avoid over testing. Not only could these tests be detrimental from the POV of an admissions counselor, they were also stressful to prepare for and expensive. An issue I faced was a reluctance to properly study in the midst of a busy schedule and life. Take it from me:
-study your butt off,
-take practice tests (I think I took around 50 full length practice tests over the span of 2 years)
-have a full understanding of the test, strategies, and what it takes to receive the score you want ( ex: you have to aim for near perfect for a score of 34 or higher)
English: Review vocab and nit picky grammar rules you may have forgotten. Look for the most concise and proper way of saying something.
Math: Also review rules and just practice, practice, practice. Work fast and move on if you get stuck. The first 30 questions are pretty easy and the last 5 are considerably hard.
Reading: Read the questions first, then the passage.
Science: Read the questions and skim the article for the answer, don’t waste your time trying to read it fully. MAKE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND THE GRAPHS.
Writing: I sucked at the writing section, try your best.

I explained most of my college admissions process in my video, but by far the hardest part of applying to college was the essays. I knew that the essays would be pivotal into turning me from a list of numbers and statistics into a full on person to root for in the admissions office, especially for the University of Chicago which is known for their crazy essay questions and even crazier responses. For me, getting the essays starting strong and ending stronger were the most important and stressful parts of writing, so here are the beginnings and endings of my submitted essays along with a brief summary.

Prompt: The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
Beginning: “ I had never run faster in my life than rocket day in physics. Eyes glued to the sky, I was a missile streaking across the fog-dipped soccer practice field, trained on the prize.”
Ending: “I failed and will undoubtedly fail again, but I can only hope I don’t have to literally launch myself like a defensive lineman next time.”
This essay was about the most embarrassing moment of my life which unfortunately took place in front of my entire physics class. I like it because it was a light hearted and maybe unexpected take on a potentially heavy question. Even though it was a smaller moment in my life it conveyed humor, a resilience in my character, and enough imagery to convey a good story.
Prompt: In French, there is no difference between "conscience" and "consciousness". In Japanese, there is a word that specifically refers to the splittable wooden chopsticks you get at restaurants. The German word “fremdsch√§men” encapsulates the feeling you get when you’re embarrassed on behalf of someone else. All of these require explanation in order to properly communicate their meaning, and are, to varying degrees, untranslatable. Choose a word, tell us what it means, and then explain why it cannot (or should not) be translated from its original language.
Beginning: “A year’s worth of hours in the choir room between rehearsals, performances, and simply spending time in a second home culminated in one song. This song wasn’t a part of our set. It wasn’t festive or merry. It wasn’t even one we felt particularly inclined to sing on key.”
Ending: “This year, I will welcome another season of music, dancing, and spreading of merriment, and will feel the heartache when it ends, but I will always have a fondness and an enthusiasm for what is still to come.”
The word I centered this essay around was the Portuguese word saudade. This essay, I felt, opened up the reader to another side of me while still portraying some of the same key aspects of my character displayed in my common app. It delved into my love of choir, performing, and music not only with the help of imagery and storytelling, but with the nerdy and linguistic guidance of explaining the word saudade to me. It displays the same resilience in me from my common app, but also as applied to my passions and humanity outside of the classroom.
How does the University of Chicago, as you know it now, satisfy your desire for a particular kind of learning, community, and future? Please address with some specificity your own wishes and how they relate to UChicago.
Beginning: “In the near-adult me that appears before you also exists the spirit of the inquisitive child. As a mentor described me once, I am a maximizer. When it comes to my passions and interests, I have never been one to choose or go without.”
Ending: “From researching under Professor Xin He on the genetics of psychiatric diseases to study breaks with my House discussing optimal sandwich geometry (squares or triangles), the University of Chicago is live with the discussion that accompanies worldly people in their element and I wish to be a part of the dialogue.”
This essay is pretty straightforward. It was a love letter to the school I wanted to see myself at for the next four years spilling with things that excited me about the school and details that showed a level of research and dedication. Not only did it show what I wanted to gain from an education there, it displayed what I wanted to gain outside of the classroom, and what I could give back to the university.
General Tips with college essays:
- Start early
- Brainstorm often ( your first ideas will most likely be crap)
- Get as much input as you can
- What can YOU say that only you can 
- Bleed your passions ( if there’s anywhere to bare it all, this is it)
- Be painfully you, say what you need to say don’t say what you think “they” want you to say
- Cultivate your voice
- Be ready for painful criticism
- Proofread and Rewrite often
- This one hurts because it’s hard not to be one, but: DON’T BE A CLICHE
If you’ve stuck along to the end of this, both my extremely long video and blog post, thank you so much. I hope this was helpful to all the rising seniors out there and I hope this helped in ways I looked for just a year ago. Enjoy senior year and feel free to message me with further questions!


thrifting for dummies

January 21, 2018

     Thrifting is not for the faint of heart. It had its moment in 2012 (thanks, Macklemore), but I feel like the hype has cooled severely which leaves all of those gems to those willing to slug through the mush. To this day people seem to find it mindboggling when I tell them that a. the outfit they just complimented was in fact thrifted and b. everything is dirt cheap if you know where to go. Since I enjoy thrifting, here is my two cents on how to make away with tons of things while thrifting.
1. Find a friend.
     You can’t thrift by yourself! Having a friend that's willing to spend hours sifting through racks is essential whether it be to laugh at a goofy find or to encourage you to at least try on that bright yellow windbreaker (trust me, you’ll love it).
2. Have a few places to hit.
     You need to know where to go. You can never predict what and where things are while thrifting so the only option is to visit everywhere. I have a few places that I love and produce consistent and beautiful finds, and some places I skip entirely. You have to try it to know.
3. Open-mindedness.
     When I go to the mall I usually have a clear idea (or at least a misty one) of what I want to come away with. This doesn’t work with thrifting. Be prepared to look at EVERYTHING. In my experience nowhere is off limit except usually the kid's section because they just won't fit. Typically the men’s section is my favorite to look for things like sweaters, comfy things, and t-shirts. I really love that oversized look.
4. Practicality
     Obviously, thrift stores have a ton of junk. Don’t come home with a ton of junk. Just because its cheap doesn’t mean you have to buy it so, look at what you pick, maybe even try things on to make sure you aren’t loading yourself with a ton of trash to take home. Also, try to keep an eye out for the tags. Some thrift stores have certain days where say a certain color is discounted, these can come in handy. Finally, also keep in mind that you actually might find new things because sometimes businesses just donate things that didn’t sell.
5. Random!
     - Hand sanitizer/ lotion - Touching a ton of things while thrifting makes my hands smell weird and feel gross so this is a must.
     - If you have to try pants on but there are no dressing rooms you can either do the neck trick (wrap the waistline of your pants around your neck, if it fits they'll fit on you), or you can put on a random long skirt and try the pants on underneath.
     - Always give five minutes to look over everything you've picked for holes, tears, or stains.

Mini Thrift Haul
Of course, I had to include the finds from the trip that inspired this post.
Found in the men's department, this is the fuzziest thing I own. I can't wait to spend the rest of winter bundled up in this. 

These are pictures of me unveiling the new iPhone at an Apple Keynote event/ being the Rock. In all seriousness, I'm super excited for all the ways this black turtleneck can be styled. With a little red lipstick and some black shoes, I feel like it could look pretty Parisian, or just being a staple piece in a capsule closet.

This is my color of the year! In order to fully embody sunshine this year, donning myself entirely in the hue is the perfect way to start. I can't wait to take full advantage of this shirt in early spring.

Number four of my raincoat collection, I can't wait to take advantage of this color and jacket in the spring (and anytime else to be honest). Its so girly and cute and will be perfect for brightening up many all black outfits.

Although my mom says I buy too many jackets, I don't quite believe there actually is such a thing. If Sherlock Holmes has a younger sister, this would be her jacket. This will be my go-to in March when it's not quite coat nor t-shirt weather.

Not going to lie, I mostly got this because it's maroon and those are my future school colors (Go Maroons). This will be perfect to lounge around in, but also maybe wear with a jacket, some tights, and some heels.

The best part about all of this is that all of this cost only 16! Hope you can pop some tags with these tips!
Thanks for reading!


You Don't Need A Vacation To Be "Off"

November 05, 2017

When my phone died two minutes into my nightly post-dinner chores I’ll admit I panicked a little. Of course, I could’ve run upstairs, grabbed my charger, and resumed business as usual, but it made no sense. My hands were already covered in suds and a watery mixture of tonight's dinner. So, I accepted my fate and commenced my definite 30-45 minutes of hell in my silenced kitchen. It was almost seamless how my psyche changes as soon as I let it go. I was “off”. 
You Don't Need A Vacation To Be "Off".png

It’s almost as if my mind was designed to function without a phone strapped to my hand at every second. Absentmindedly, I instantly turned to singing and thinking about my day, but there was a difference. I realize that difference was mindfulness. Instead of the singing that I do in the car or the singing I do while moving from one task to another, I was using my brain to be meticulous about the notes I places and conscious of my breathing. Instead of thinking about my day as a vague to do list of checked and unchecked items, I was reflecting on the contents of my day, what it had meant, and what tomorrow count possibly entail and mean.

style sneakers.png At a time in my life where it feels like everyone is rushing and hustling to this end destination and nobody has informed me on what we’re doing and where we’re going, I realized the missing piece to my sanity was mindfulness. This reason why I have no real drive to get these college essays done, or no motivation to put my all into the last few remaining high school classes I have, and the reason I feel overwhelmed every single moment of the day. It’s like I’ve let myself be a backseat passenger in the most important part of my life thus far. All this time I was wishing for some kind of magical three day vacation away from my life that would surely get me on track and have me in the right headspace, but I realize all I really need is a step back from my life, aka my phone, for at least a few minutes every day to have my head right. So in the spirit of that, I’ll make a list of some life changes written in the third person that I bet will be applicable to most people, or at least seniors going through college mayhem.

  1. Please use your planner. You even got a cute one!! You can’t possibly remember everything you have coming up, everything you have to do, and plan things that you don’t even know you have to do yet without it. It’ll literally save your life, and your grades, and your sanity.
  2. Make time for more beautiful things. Take some pictures, take a second to look at the leaves, drive around town you (hopefully) won’t be living here next year.
  3. Drink smartly. Coffee that is. You’ve been getting into coffee recently and it's actually kind of worrying. Maybe try getting some sleep?
  4. Clean! Get your space together once and for all so it doesn’t bug you every day and so you do the “I’m anxious about everything, so I’m going to clean to regain a tiny bit of control” clean.
  5. Go out with your friends, even if it is hours in Starbucks writing essays together at least you can suffer together.
  6. Get off your phone once in awhile! You’ll be surprised how clear you think when you aren’t preoccupied with checking twitter, or sending a streak on snapchat, or texting back someone. No more mindless scrolling. Things can wait.
  7. Fill random extra minutes with something constructive. Rather than five minutes of twitter time, you could have five minutes of conversation with a friend or even a stranger, or five minutes of journaling.
  8. Try not to procrastinate on college stuff. It’s pretty destructive, but set aside hours when you’re not tired, not stressed, and just work it out. You’ll be thankful for it come deadlines.

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