Guess who’s going to Spain?

Me!

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That’s right folks, I am leaving the country! No, but like seriously, I’m going to be studying abroad during spring break in Barcelona, Spain. And I know what you might be thinking: “Studying abroad is a waste of money and time.” But lemme tell you a secret…it’s totally not!

The program I’m going to be participating in is called Strategic Communication for Startups in Barcelona. It’s a class that is in my major and before we head to Barcelona for Spring Break, we’ll be working on research and projects for these startup companies. I don’t want to be super boring and explain all the logistics of what we’ll be doing and learning so here is a link to the program page if you want to know more!

I have to say, that I never thought I would find the right opportunity to even consider studying abroad. As a strategic communication student, I have found that a lot of study abroad programs for journalism majors are geared toward the news and info students; that is the students writing for publications, broadcast work, etc. So, other than the one time when I toyed with the idea of double-majoring in Spanish, I never really thought studying abroad was in the cards for me.

However, with this new program that is directly related to what I want to do and combines my urge to travel, it looks like it’s going to happen! It also helps that this program is only for spring break because financially it would be pretty hard for me to study abroad for an entire semester. I still need to save up and hopefully get a scholarship to help pay for this program, but I don’t feel like the financial commitment is going to be insurmountable.

So, despite all that, you might still be asking: “But why do you want to study abroad? You can take strat comm classes here, you wouldn’t have to pay extra for the program and you could still get good experience.”

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Lemme tell you a thing, I want to travel every-freaking-where! Ever since I was little and watched Beauty and the Beast and saw Belle singing about having adventures in far-off places I’ve wanted to do the exact same thing. It might seem dumb or childish for me to base this desire off of a Disney movie, but it’s much more than that. I can’t fathom living life on this big wide amazing world and only to be stuck in one country, in one culture, for the entire time. I want to learn from people who aren’t like me, I want to experience new things and I want to literally broaden my horizons.

This trip will be my first step in achieving those goals and living up to the promise I made myself when I got my tattoo three years ago. I decided that if I was going to permanently ink my body, it had to really mean something.

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So when I decided on “adventure” to me it meant that I was going to have some and that when I looked at my tattoo it would be a constant reminder to make that dream and promise come true.

I’m extremely excited and I can’t wait to have my first adventure abroad. I’ll continue to update you on my preparations for the trip and any tips I learn along the way about traveling to another country.

As always, thanks for reading!

 

How I Lost 50 Pounds

BeFunky CollageThis morning was not the first time that I stepped off of a scale and cried, but it was the first time that those tears were from joy and pride. It’s taken me almost nine months and it’s been a difficult journey, but I finally hit one of my biggest goals and have lost a total of 52 pounds since January of 2017.

I’ve hinted at it briefly in my other blogs, but for most of my life I’ve had trouble with my weight and keeping it at a healthy number. A lot of that is due to the fact that I have Hypothyroidism, which means that my thyroid which controls my hormones as well as my metabolism, does not work as well as it should. I was diagnosed with this condition when I was in the third grade and had to start seeing a specialist at Children’s Hospital every six months. Although I took the medicine that helped treat my condition, it did not magically speed up my metabolism or suddenly make me love sports. As a result, I steadily began to gain weight and when I was in high school, I tried and failed a couple of times to lose some of that weight.

I credit those failures a lot to the doctors that I was seeing at Children’s. I started to dread my six-month check-ups because I knew that all we were going to talk about was how much I weighed and that I needed to exercise and eat healthier. When I would sit in the room waiting for the doctor to come in, at some point I would almost always start to cry in the anticipation of the lecture that was coming. I felt like I could never do anything right — nothing that was actually going to make a significant improvement.

So eventually I stopped caring so that I wouldn’t feel that way anymore and could just get the appointment over and done with, with no tears or anxiety. This was probably more harmful to me than the words they said because it just meant that I continued to gain weight. In December 2016, I was at my heaviest at 232 pounds and was meeting with our new family physician in North Carolina.

I prepared myself for another lecture because this new doctor was going to take over the monitoring of my thyroid. But thankfully for me, something else happened. She very briefly mentioned my weight, she said that it would be good for my health if I could lose a few pounds but she said she thought I was smart and knew what to do.

So finally, after eleven years of feeling like I couldn’t do anything to help myself or my health, someone had finally said the right words to me. She told me that I knew what to do and that validated my feelings and confidence in a way that I can’t even explain. It was so simple for her to say that and it has made a world of difference in my life.

In January, I made a New Year’s resolution that I was going to get down to a healthy weight. I didn’t put a number on it, I just wanted to be healthier and maybe even get in shape. I changed my eating habits, I started exercising 3-4 times a week, and suddenly I was meeting all of the small goals I set for myself.

I never thought that I could lose 50 pounds, not in a million years did I think it was possible. But I’ve done it, and I’m not going to stop there. But like my New Year’s resolution, I still will not put a number on my health. I will continue to live my life with the changes I have made to it and see what happens. But for any of you that might ask me how exactly I did it, here are a few of my tips.

Believe in Yourself

You have to do this from day one of your weight loss journey because the only one who is going to get up every day and work toward your goal is you. You might have coaches, family, or friends who support you, but none of them are going to go to the gym for you or eat those vegetables for you.

Cheat Days are Important

I’ve discovered over the several times I have tried to lose weight, that the reason I give up or don’t succeed is because I miss the food that I used to eat. That is where cheat days come in. I usually reserve mine for the weekend and don’t track my calories during my cheat day. However, I don’t binge on cheat days. I eat whatever I want, but I do that in moderation and when I’m full I stop.

Drink Water

This is also important when you’re having a cheat day. Water keeps your digestive system moving and can help filter out extra sodium or other bad things you might eat or drink on your cheat days. It’s also just good to be consistently hydrated, especially on days when you plan to exercise.

I’ll probably have more tips and tricks to share with you in the future, but I promised myself I would write this blog when I met this big goal and now I have and I am unbelievably proud of myself so I don’t have much more to say!

Thanks for reading!

Getting Organized for the New School Year

I’ve been in Athens for almost three weeks and while I love relaxing and being able to hang out with my roommates, I am ready for classes to start. I feel like I’m absolutely frying my brain with my phone and TV shows right now (I’ve been marathoning Game of Thrones for a week). So, I might regret saying this a couple of months from now, I’m ready to get to work on this semester.

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Shocked? Honestly me too, I rarely ever look forward to going back to class after summer break, but classes aren’t the only thing I’m looking forward to this year which is why I’m probably itching for the school year to start. On Monday, I’ll be starting my social media internship with the Career Leadership Development Center at Ohio University and I am PUMPED. I didn’t have an internship this summer, so I’m excited to work hard and learn a lot this year. I’ll probably give you more updates on my internship as the year progresses and let you know about all the cool things I’m learning and doing!

I’m also involved in two organizations on campus: The Post and 1804 Communication. The Post is a student-run print and digital news publication at Ohio University and this year I’ll be working there as the Social Media Director. It’s kind of a huge undertaking for me, because although I’ve previously had that title at another news source on campus, I’ve never been in charge of a social media staff as big as the one at The Post. Still, I’m really excited for the challenge and getting to know my staff.

My other big commitment this year is working as a Strategy and Media Account Executive at 1804 Communication. 1804 Communication is a student-run public relations and advertising firm at Ohio University. I’m really looking forward to my involvement in this organization this year because this is the first year it has existed; at the end of last year ImPRessions and Thumbprint Advertising merged to create this new group. It’s exciting to get involved at the ground level of 1804 Communication and help shape it for future students.

At this point you might be wondering how I’m going to go to class – you and me both.

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Just kidding, I have a really nice schedule this semester with several huge gaps between classes to go to work, do homework, and fulfill my responsibilities in these organizations. However, all of these commitments are going to require some decent organization and planning on my part. So for this blog I’m going to give you a couple of tips on how I plan to stay organized this year and if you’ve got a busy semester ahead of you too, maybe some of them will help you out!

Buy the right school supplies

Shopping for new school supplies every year is one of my favorite things, it’s like a little office supply Christmas (I know, I’m a nerd, you don’t have to point that out to me). This year, on my annual school shopping trip to Target, I paid special attention to some of the items I was buying. One of the most important things I buy every year is my planner, because in my opinion it is the most important piece of the organization puzzle. So, instead of picking out my planner based on color or pattern, like I usually do, I paid closer attention to how it was organized. I think I found a pretty nice planner for this year and here’s why:

  • It has a place for my three most important to-dos of each day, which I think will help keep me on track during my busier days.
  • There is a section under each day for things that need done or happen at night. That will most likely be filled with meetings that I have in the evening, but I can also use it to remind me which homework needs done each night.
  • When the planner is open it shows me the entire week, which is something I really love because I like to plan ahead so the I know what’s coming each week.

Basically, I just love this new planner I got and if you’re as obsessed with school supplies as I am, let me know in the comments what your favorite planner or school supply was that you bought this year.

Write things down, don’t just rely on your phone

Okay, so I know technology is awesome and it can help a lot of people stay organized, but I still believe that a pen and paper are your best friend when it comes to planning. While I do have my meetings, work schedule and other appointments saved in my calendar on my phone, the old fashioned person in me also makes sure I write all of those same things down on my wall calendar as well as my planner.

Why? Because sometimes your phone dies or you forget your laptop at home or you drop your phone in a lake or your laptop explodes or crazy Athens squirrels steal your phone (only the first two of those things have actually happened to me but like you never know, right?). If one of those things happens, but you have plans, homework assignments, meetings, etc. written down on paper somewhere, there is a better chance you won’t miss one of them or forget to do something.

Procrastination is enemy No. 1

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Move over Harry Potter,  because procrastination is about to take over your spot.

I have been a member of the procrastiNATION for as long as I can remember. I used to do homework on my bus ride to school in the morning and I’ve been up into the wee hours of the morning several times in high school and college. But this year is going to be different! Hopefully. In all honesty it has to be, because each day I’ll have a limited amount of time between classes, work, and meetings to get things done. I’m also hoping to keep late nights to a minimum because every day, except for one, the latest I wake up is 7:30 am (dies internally). So, I don’t really have a tip for avoiding procrastination other than recognizing when you’re wasting time and trying to keep that to a minimum, especially on busy days.

However, that doesn’t mean that having fun is over forever. My old pals Friday and Saturday still come around every weeks. I firmly believe that letting off some steam on the weekends is another key to staying organized and stress free. I will say that my Sundays are definitely reserved for homework, but that homework might get done while I’m sitting on my bed in my pajamas, because Sundays are also for relaxing.

The first semester of my junior year of college starts in four days and I’m excited as well as nervous to take on all these responsibilities. But, I’m going to do my best to stick to these tips I gave you and I also welcome any tips that you have for staying organized during the school year.

Thanks for reading!

Move-In Day Do’s and Don’ts

It’s been two weeks too long my friends, but let me tell you, they’ve been a crazy and very busy two weeks. I moved into my apartment last Saturday and after spending a week settling in and visiting family and friends in Ohio, I finally found the time to sit down and write this blog. So as promised, let’s talk about some of the do’s and don’ts of move-in day.

Do: Take your time

After the initial hour or so of unloading your car, truck, or move-in van, things start to slow down as unpacking begins. I think it’s important not to rush the unpacking, especially if you’re arriving early to campus like me. Obviously take care of the essentials like clothes, toiletries, cookware, plates, food, etc. However, when it comes to decorating your room or arranging furniture you might want to take it slow and really look at the spaces you’re moving your things into.

Most of the decorating I did in my room didn’t happen until the day or two after I had moved everything in, so even though my walls were a little sad my first night in the apartment, the next day I was able to make decisions about exactly how I wanted my room to look without feeling rushed or tired. My roommates and I also moved furniture around a little the first week and are still putting up decorations here and there as we find the time and space for them. I think it’s important to remember that you’re building your little home away from home and you should take your time doing it so it’s just the way you want it.

Don’t: Expect to have remembered everything

Whether you’re living on campus or off it’s almost inevitable that you’ll have to make a few trips to Walmart on move-in day and the days that come after that, even if you think you’re prepared. As someone that lives six hours away from college, I was super worried about forgetting one or multiple things at home because it’s not easy for me to just go back and get them.

I did forget my Keurig which was a bummer, but my roommate brought a regular coffee maker with her and I’ve been able to use that which is awesome (thanks Leah, you da bomb). I also forgot a few little things like extension cords, plug-in air fresheners, and ibuprofen, but I remedied that within the first two days I was here. I’m sure once classes start I’ll discover a few more things I’ve forgotten, but thankfully I have a car and a little cash to take care of that.

Do: Ask questions (even the little ones)

This year, I’m living in a large apartment complex in Athens called Riverpark and I’m already loving it for the amenities and community atmosphere. However, with a large apartment complex comes a very busy leasing office, especially on move-in day and it can be a little overwhelming. Because of this, it can be very easy to forget to ask important questions, which is what happened to me.

For the first several days we had no idea where to get our mail, I had forgotten to ask how to sign up for online rent payment and didn’t get my laundry card; those are some very important pieces of info to be without. Eventually I found all the answers to those questions, but I wish I would’ve asked them on day one because it was not fun worrying about them my first weekend here. So, take my advice and take your time in the leasing office. They might be busy, but you’re the resident, so make them slow down and answer your questions because you’re probably paying them a good chunk of change anyway.

Don’t: Fight your feelings

So, it was the Monday night after the Saturday that I moved in and things were great. I was hanging out with my mom, watching the season finale of the Bachelorette (*SPOILER*: can you believe that she ended up with smooth-talking Bryan? Personally I liked Peter more, but the dude just wasn’t ready to commit) and then suddenly I just got really sad really fast. I couldn’t figure out what exactly it was, but I just felt weird and off. After talking with my mom for a while, I realized that it was just “first apartment jitters.”

Now, I realize that isn’t a real thing, but basically what it came down to was that I was adjusting to the simple fact that I was going to be living on my own for the first time. Of course I had roommates, but I was still on my own to an extent. When you’re in a dorm, there is still someone “in charge,” someone to go to when your neighbors are being crazy loud and obnoxious, and someone who has a lot of the answers to your questions. However, when you live off-campus, you’re in charge, you get to politely try to deal with your neighbors, and the leasing office can answer most of your questions, but a lot of times, you’re on your own. It’s a huge adjustment, but it was hard for me to accept that it made me a little sad and overwhelmed. However, once I figured out that’s what was bothering me and just accepted it, the feeling passed and I got back to being happy and excited to live in my first apartment.

Hopefully you’ll find some of this advice helpful if you too, are moving into your first apartment. But I’m definitely not the first person to have done this, so if you’ve got any tips or tricks of your own when it comes to moving in, let me know down below!

It’s the Final Countdown

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This Saturday I’m headed back to the great state of Ohio to move into my first apartment with my cute and awesome roomies, pictured above. I’m really excited to get back to Athens, my home away from home, and my packing is coming along slowly but surely. While I’m looking forward to my junior year at Ohio University, I would be lying if I said the upcoming move wasn’t giving me some considerable feelings of anxiety.

Most of these feelings are centered around the fact that when I’m at school, I’m six hours away from my family. It was really hard adjusting to the distance last year and a lot of my anxiety is coming from the knowledge that I’ll have to go through that experience again. I’m hoping that it won’t be as hard this year for a couple of reasons: I know what to expect, how to combat the homesickness, and my apartment will feel more like home then a dorm room did.

Even though I know these things, anxiety is an unreasonable little monster and doesn’t want to leave me alone. Thankfully (or maybe not, depending on how you look at it) anxiety is an old friend of mine and I’ve developed a few ways to deal with it over the years.

Talk to someone

For me, this someone is and will always be my mom. She is the perfect listener and is calm and measured where my anxiety is unreasonable and frantic. Your someone doesn’t have to be your mom or anyone in your family, but if you can find someone you’re comfortable talking to it can really help to get those feelings off of your chest. Talking might not fix any of the problems you’re worried about, but it can rationalize them and tell your anxiety to take a hike for a while.

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(GIF via http://gph.is/1a9rtBL)

Make a list

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I love making lists. Grocery lists, packing lists, to-do lists; they are my jam! So now, when my anxiety keeps piling on more and more things to worry about I write them down. I write down the problem or thing that is bothering me and then if I can figure out a solution or reasonable answer to it, I write that down too. This way I get those anxious thoughts out of my brain and onto a piece of paper where they are more manageable to deal with. However, if lists just make you more anxious, definitely skip this one.

Listen to some music

I’ve been having trouble falling asleep lately and one of the tips the handy-dandy internet gave me, was to listen to some soothing music before going to bed. It’s been helping a little bit, but you can also use this tip for those moments when you just want to shut off your brain. That could mean loud rock tunes, soft piano music or acoustic covers, whatever helps you in the moment. Spotify is one of the best places to find and make your own playlists for whatever mood you are in.

Checkout this great playlist, “Dude. Chill Out.” from my friend Mary Puzder the next time you have an anxious moment and need to calm down:

Do you

When it comes to mental health everyone is different in the way they experience their ‘bad moments’ and how they cope with them. Anxiety has been my biggest enemy lately and these are the best ways that I have found to battle it. I hope one or more of them might work for you, but if you have any tried and true methods that you already use, stick to those. I’m always open for new suggestions too so if you feel up for sharing, leave a comment below!

Thanks for reading the latest installment of The State of Kate, I’ll see ya next week with a blog about the do’s and don’ts of move-in day.

Going to an Amusement Park: the Healthy Way

Heyyooooo! It’s been far too long my blog-reading friends! Okay so this post is only a couple days late, but it was delayed with good reason (at least for me).

Yesterday, I went to the Carowinds amusement park with my family and it was amazing! I don’t know about you but I LOVE rollercoasters and the adrenaline rush that comes with them. However, as someone who has been working to lose weight and eat healthier, amusement parks come with a few things that I don’t particularly love.

So here are some of my not so favorite things about amusement parks and ways to combat and or avoid them.

Eat healthy…ish

When it comes to food at one of these parks, your options are usually limited to fried foods, pizza, burgers or hotdogs. However, Carowinds had a variety of restaurants including Panda Express and Harbor House, which both had some veggies and/or salads to choose from.

Since this was a special day, I used it as my once-weekly cheat day and when we had lunch I happily ate my Chick-fil-a nuggets with two packets of ranch dipping sauce. Now, I know that’s not really a healthy decision, but I chose not to get fries with my nuggets and just pilfered a few from my sisters instead.

Another healthy-ish choice we made as a family was to stop filling up the reusable cups we bought with soda and fruit punch. After lunch we switched to Powerade and water so that we stayed hydrated, got back some electrolytes and did so with a smaller sugar intake.

Sharing is caring

One of the biggest things I’ve learned when trying to lose weight is that it only makes things worse to deprive yourself of the foods you love and it’s okay to treat yourself every once in a while as long as you do so in moderation.

I absolutely love Chick-fil-a’s waffle fries, but as one of my healthy decisions I decided not to get my own. Thankfully, we’re a food-sharing kind of family and I was able to get a few here and there from both of my sisters.

Later in the day we went to the waterpark and eventually we hit that point in the afternoon where we were exhausted and starving. So once again, we shared. My sisters and I split two soft pretzels between the three of us; it was the perfect snack and didn’t feel too heavy since we were sharing.

Finally, right before we left the park we got two funnel cakes to split between the family because who can say no to fresh fried dough with some powdered sugar sprinkled on top? I know I can’t, but there was no way I would have been able to eat one or even half of one by myself and sharing them as a family was definitely the way to go.

The park is your treadmill…sort of

It’s no secret that when you’re in an amusement park, you’re walking EVERYWHERE; from one side of the park to the other and everywhere in between. Yesterday I walked over 10,000 steps, which is over my daily goal and my feet can definitely feel it today. So, although I wasn’t able to fit in a workout yesterday, I was still burning calories while I was in the park. Obviously walking around all-day won’t give you the same results as a cardio or strength workout, but I didn’t feel as bad about some of the unhealthy foods I ate because I knew I was constantly moving.

Another thing to remember if you’re visiting an amusement park is that you might not feel so great the next day. Rollercoasters and waterslides can knock you around, the walking will probably make your feet sore, and the next day you’re going to be downright exhausted. One of my feet really hurts today and I slept horribly last night, so I’m going to take it easy today and skip my workout. I’m paying closer attention to my calorie intake and drinking a lot of water, but I feel like my body will benefit from another day off and I’ll be able to work even harder tomorrow instead of giving half-effort in a workout today.

(Featured photo from Carowinds website).

A Few of My Favorite Things

As many of you know, I recently moved to Charlotte, North Carolina and this summer was my first chance to spend a solid block of time in my new home and city. And let me tell you it has definitely been a learning curve.

For starters, the traffic here is INSANE. I live in Indian Trail, a city about 30 minutes southeast of Charlotte and about the same size as Lancaster, Ohio (where I used to live) but there is soooo much more traffic than I’m used to. Plus it’s not just a bunch of cars stuck for a while, there are some rude and inconsiderate drivers who just make things worse. Suffice it to say I’ve gotten a little frustrated and my road rage monster has reared its head a few times – but I mostly just yell alone in my car and honk occasionally.

I’ve also learned to live with the heat this summer. This week the high has been in the 90s every day and it can feel even hotter, so shorts and tank tops have become hugely integrated into my wardrobe. It’s also disrupted my workouts a bit; around mid-May I started each morning workout with a warm up jog around my neighborhood. But the heat, coupled with some minor asthma has made it impossible to continue this routine, so instead I’ve been relying on my trusty old jump rope for my morning cardio.

Complaining and some minor adjustments aside, I’ve begun to really love this new city so this week I’ll be sharing some of my favorite things about it with you.

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(Fun fact: I love puns, the sound of music, and I have a blanket that looks like those curtains).

Southern Hospitality

Alright, so even though I complained about the traffic and people being rude drivers, this saying is actually quite a reality. Obviously everyone has their bad days, but when it comes to customer service, neighbors and sometimes even a stranger, people around here are super nice! It’s hard to describe other than calling it what it is, Southern Hospitality. I think there is just more of an easygoing vibe down here then what I’m used to in Ohio and maybe because of that people just seem more polite to me. Who knows if I’m right, but y’all sure are sweet.

Beach Living

One of the best things about living in North Carolina, at least in my opinion, is that the ocean borders one of sides of the state. That’s a big thing for someone who comes from central Ohio and used to drive 12 hours one way to get to the Outer Banks for vacation. This year my family and I went to Carolina Beach, North Carolina and it only took us three hours to get there. It was like a day trip! There are so many different beaches you can go to along the coast of North Carolina, so not all of them are a short trip, but being able to go to any beach just for the weekend if you want to is nothing to sniff at.

The Queen City

When I lived in Lancaster I was about the same distance away from Columbus as I am from Charlotte now, so living near a big city isn’t super new to me. But because I’m new to the area, I feel like I’ve had a lot more motivation to explore Charlotte and all the Queen City has to offer. I found a couple of pretty cool spots during this past Christmas and both are food related because my stomach is the way to my heart.

The featured photo on this blog is a picture of two fruit tarts from Amélie’s French Bakery in NoDa, the historic and entertainment district in Charlotte. Amélie’s has several locations, but the one in NoDa was the first one I ever visited and is their flagship bakery. I’ve been back several times with my family since my first visit, I’ve tried something new at each visit and I’ve never been disappointed. The fruit tarts always taste beautifully fresh and the layered chocolate torte is a must try for chocolate lovers.

My second find is the 7th St. Public Market in Center City Charlotte. For those of you familiar with Columbus, it’s similar to the North Market, but on a smaller scale. About half of the single story market is filled with restaurants and sitting areas, while the other half has stalls of goods like wine, bread, artisan soaps and other merchandise. I’ve never eaten at any of the restaurants in the market, but the food always smells good and the wine and bread we’ve purchased in the past from the vendors have been excellent.

In a month, I’ll have been living in this new city for exactly one year, but it feels shorter for me because most of that time I’ve spent in Ohio at college. This summer has given me a great opportunity to get to know the new city I live in and spend time with my family while doing it, something I’m extremely grateful for.

I’ve got a few more weeks left before I go back to Athens for school, so if you’ve been to the Charlotte area or know someone who has, let me know if there are any other adventures I should take before I leave!

(gif credit http://bit.ly/2tWSZX1)