a southern yankee abroad



En Route to Israel- A Playlist and A Reading List

It’s that time again! Tonight, I’m flying out of JFK to Kiev, Ukraine, where I connect with a flight to Tel Aviv, Israel. Happy Spring Break, y’all!

The last two weeks have been the busiest so far of law school, so I am more than ready to get on the plane and get some sleep (I find long-haul flights to be relaxing in a strange way). Total travel time will be 10 hours to Kiev, and 3 to Tel Aviv.

The last time I crossed the Atlantic, I was returning to NYC after backpacking in Europe for 7 weeks this past summer. It feels like years ago.

I am so happy to be traveling again (as always), and also to keep myself occupied with some fun, non-school-related reading on this trip! (Ok, I did print a few class things to read along the way).

Reading: Last Train to Istanbul by Ayse Kulin

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I started this last week and plan to finish it on the way. The story is set in Turkey and France during WW2, and follows the struggle of a Jewish Turkish family living in Marseilles during the German occupation as they attempt to escape to safety, as well as the work of Turkish diplomats to protect their nationals across Europe as war breaks out. It’s been a really good fiction read so far.

Other reading: Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York

The Education of Dixie Dupree (Donna Everhart)

Press Freedom in Africa: Comparative perspectives

The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood (Rashid Khalidi)

Israel: A History (Anita Shapira)


Listening: Pod Save the World / Pod Save America

I am obsessed with these podcasts! I’ve downloaded the most recent ones, as well as the very earliest ones to catch up on this trip. I highly recommend today’s “Of Russia With Love” on Pod Save the World- an interview with former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul. It does a really good job of  explaining the Russia situation by breaking down the Obama restart, analyzing the return and rise of Putin, and discussing if and how Trump really changes anything.


Jamming: Current Travel Playlist

As always, a travel playlist for the long trip is so necessary.

  • I Don’t Care About You – Lake Street Drive
  • Heart in a Cage – Chris Thile
  • Back to the Island – Leon Russell
  • Bushwick Blues – Delta Spirit
  • Art Isn’t Real (City of Sin) – Deer Tick
  • Texas & Tennessee – Lucero
  • Mississippi – Bob Dylan
  • 24 Frames – Jason Isbell
  • Into the Mystic – Van Morrison
  • FourFiveSeconds – Jaime Wyatt version
  • Wildflowers – Dolly Parton
  • Silver Lining – Carl Anderson
  • The Funeral – Band of Horses
  • In Bloom – Sturgill Simpson
  • Hotel California – Eagles
  • Beast of Burden – Rolling Stones
  • O-h-h Child – Nina Simone
  • Fake Love – Drake
  • Bad and Boujee – Migos
  • Black Beatles – Rae Sremmurd
  • Night Moves – Bob Seger
  • Rainy Day Women – Bob Dylan
  • Guttersnipe – Bhi Bhiman
  • My Church – Maren Morris
  • Lovin in my Baby’s Eyes – Leftover Salmon
  • Water Under the Bridge – Adele
  • Everything’s Gonna Be Undone – Band of Horses
  • I’m Amazed – My Morning Jacket
  • Stars Fell on Alabama – Tara Nevins
  • Traveling Alone – Tift Merritt
  • Vice – Miranda Lambert
  • Waves – Miguel + Kacey Musgraves remix
  • Like a Rolling Stone – Bob Dylan
  • I’ve Got Wheels – Miranda Lambert
  • Vienna – Billy Joel
  • Africa – Toto
  • The General – Dispatch


Next stop…Kiev!








6 Ways to Show a Little Self-Love

Happy Valentine’s Day / Single’s Awareness Day, blog readers! Today is all about love, although I woke up on this cold, icy NYC morning feeling like death (or at least like I had the flu). Somehow, I managed to make it to class on time despite hitting the snooze button for an hour straight (very unlike me, as I am typically an unapologetic morning person). As the day progressed, I really didn’t think about the fact it was Valentine’s Day at all (despite the fact my sweet mom sent me roses and chocolates yesterday…thanks Mom!) img_2252

However, after I got home and curled up under my electric blanket with a mug of tea, I found myself realizing that it was, in fact, almost the end of Valentine’s Day 2017. So I decided to recognize the holiday with a little reflection on self-love.

Shout out to my besties…y’all know who y’all are! ❤

Last year was the best year of my life in so many ways, but I feel like it was perhaps only setting me up for the year that is ahead. I am so excited to the point I am almost restless for the next few months. Below I’ve made a “list of love” to share the ways I’ve practiced self-love so far in 2017. It doesn’t matter if you’re coupled or single as a pringle—today is also a day to realize you need to love yourself before you can truly love anyone else.

1- Travel! I feel so, so lucky (more so each day) that I am able to continue my traveling this year. I’ve realized over the adventures of the last few years that travel is my first love. I feel fully alive when I am somewhere I’ve never been before. I started off 2017 with a trip home to the South (which honestly feels like visiting another country sometimes) before spending 10 days in Costa Rica. Next month, I am traveling to Israel with a group from NYU Law. We had our first meeting together last night, and I can’t wait to explore with this group next month!

Then, I will be spending 10 weeks in Uganda over the summer as a human rights fellow through law school. And, I may be doing a 10 day safari in Botswana before I start! I feel so grateful to be able to continue doing what I love in the context of my career, education, and research interests.

It’s good to have a taste for traveling alone.

A shot from last month in beautiful Mexico City. I can’t wait to be on the road again!

2- Getting off Facebook. I made the split-second decision to deactivate my Facebook account a few weeks ago. As I sat scrolling through my Newsfeed full of political posts, I realized that I missed having control of how I received information. And as much as we try to fight it, I feel like Facebook use is correlated with desensitization, as we tend to lose sight of the fact we are interacting with people, and not a computer screen, as we type out messages and send “likes” across the void. While I feel a deep despair at the state of the nation and world right now, I realized participating in the Facebook feeding frenzy was counter-productive for me. Instead of being on full emotional blast in reaction to what’s going on, I need to sustain a slow burn for the next few years. So, I deactivated Facebook for the first time since I got it 10 years ago. For the last decade, I could never have imagined life without this service that allows me to “keep in touch” with so many people, yet I haven’t missed it once. In fact, my head feels so much clearer now. And I have had a lot more time to read and write (which is maybe a bit embarrassing to admit, as it shows how much time I was really wasting on Facebook!)

3- DailyOm. DailyOm is a website that offers online journaling classes with a variety of focuses. Because I love writing so much (if you can’t tell already!), I decided to give their strategy of “focused journaling” a try through their course entitled “Heal Yourself With Writing.” The course centers on self-discovery and empowerment by writing and remembering the past from various perspectives. The course starts off with a Native American parable about a man who says he feels he has two wolves fighting in his heart—one vengeful and angry, and the other loving and compassionate. The man admits that the wolf who wins will be the wolf that he feeds, and he chooses which one is fed.

I’ve found the approach to remembering, refocusing, and writing to be transformational, and I am just a few weeks in. Whether it’s writing, meditation, or another mechanism, I would encourage everyone to take some time for self-reflection now—especially as the world seems to spiral into chaos around us.

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The new website I have replaced Facebook with!

4- A fresh approach to law school. The first semester of law school really was a blur to me. I hate to admit this, but I feel like I just showed up and went along for the ride when I returned from traveling back in August. I don’t think I got enough out of this education I am investing so dearly in last semester. This semester, I feel not only more focused, but more knowledgeable about what I need to do to get the most out of law school. For me, that means 1-handwriting all notes (no computer!), 2- hitting the library everyday (no more going home early, chilling, and getting distracted!), and 3- briefing all my cases (I didn’t think it was worth it last semester, but I’ve changed my mind).

A nice snowy day recently at NYU. I feel a lot more grounded and connected to school this semester, and I am happy I get to come here everyday.

5- Be careful who you prioritize. As Maya Angelou once said, “Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.” The corollary, I think, would be to be sure to prioritize those people who are important to you so they never have to guess if they are priorities or options. I think this applies to all levels and forms of relationships—friends, family, and dating. For some reason, acting on this lesson of prioritization has become a “priority” for me in the last few months (for lack of a better term!). Not only am I trying to be more discerning about the level of importance I give people in my mind, schedule, and heart, but I am trying to be more intentional in staying connected in certain relationships and establishing firm boundaries in others. After all, if you don’t guard your heart, who will?

6- Take a lot of walks. Those of you who know me well know I used to be adamant about running almost everyday. These days, I like to take walks around Bushwick just about every night. I use this time to think, listen to music, and call friends. There is something about forward motion that’s freeing, no matter what speed you’re going. I surprisingly don’t miss running at all, and that’s ok–there’s a time in life for everything!  I love wandering around, both in big ways (see #1) and small ways (walking around Bushwick). And, it helps me accomplish #5 (staying in touch with friends).

A pink Bushwick sky

Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all! Hope you’re feeling the love, inside and out! Xoxoxo

London Calling

Somehow, my trip has come to an end. Months ago as I planned the summer-long journey, I decided to make London my final stop before hopping back across the  Atlantic. I’ve found so many other parts of my planning-related aspects of my trip to be serendipitous, and my visit to London was no exception. As Nat lives just outside of London, I was so excited to spend a few more days with him after our adventures in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and France earlier in the summer. Nat was absolutely the perfect London guide, and the last few days have flown by. I only wish I had known to plan more time in London months ago when I was booking flights, but we made the most of my time there!

After a quick flight from Vienna to London, Nat picked me up Monday night and we made our way to the quaint town of Potter’s Bar, where we watched the Olympics and I reunited with my long lost bag! The next morning, we set out for London. Nat surprised me with tickets for the London Eye, as well as a room at the Citizen M Tower Bridge hotel for our nights in London with a flawless view of the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge!

The view of the Tower of London
After checking in and enjoying our complimentary drinks, we made our way across the Tower Bridge, along the Thames, towards a quick stop for lunch and a beautiful ride on the
London Eye. I never would have done this by myself, so I am so glad Nat had this idea and surprised me with it!IMG_3511[1]

After the London Eye, we made some quick calls from an iconic London phone booth before exploring the Big Ben and Westminster Abbey areas.IMG_3535[1] IMG_3536[1]Later, we made our way to drinks at the Sky Garden bar, located at the top of The Shard (the “cheese grater” building) in London. This place houses a large indoor garden and has a beautiful view of London below.IMG_3552[1]

The next day, we visited the Tate Modern Art Museum where we enjoyed several well known pieces, like The Snail by Matisse, as well as a lot of random art.  IMG_3584[1]Then we made our way to the Globe theater, which is somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit! Even though today’s version is a modern replica, it was amazing  to learn more about how the theater played a role in the everyday lives of Londoners in Elizabethan times, and also how tough life was at that time.  Apparently people only bathed twice a year, so it seems like coming to the plays was a welcomed distraction from the roughness of reality. The “groundlings” were the people who would pay 1 pence to be able to stand on the floor, and I learned they were very much part of the plays (almost like a sporting event!)  It also stood out to me how Shakespeare was truly in touch with all levels of society–his plays regularly entertained and involved the “groundlings” and he  was also invited to court by Elizabeth I multiple times.IMG_3591[1]

After the Globe, I enjoyed my first experience at Cheeky Nando’s.IMG_3597[1]

Then, we made our way to Trafalgar Square (Nat is related to Lord Admiral Nelson at the top of the column, so we took a picture!) and then to the National Portrait Gallery. So many of the pictures’ captions included stories about scandals related to the portraits’ subjects, so it was quite entertaining to walk through!

Showing some love for George Washington in the National Portrait Gallery. USA!!
Then, we walked past Buckingham Palace as well as the former residences of Ben Franklin, Heinrich Heine, and Herman Melville. IMG_3659[1]After relaxing a bit and watching Great Britain win gold and the USA win silver in men’s diving, we went to dinner at the French restaurant Clos Maggiore in the Covent Garden area. The small dining room had a glass roof and the room was filled with flowers. It was beautiful!!13995434_10157387957330595_5362559082951680775_o.jpg

The next day, we visited the Churchill War Rooms (thanks for the recommendation, Hillary!). This museum shows the preserved bunker for Churchill and his war cabinet during WWII and includes an extensive museum on Churchill and his life. Nat and I both enjoyed it a lot and left with an even deeper respect for Churchill and understanding of the complexity of his life and work.IMG_3673[1]

After an Asian lunch (throwback to earlier in the summer for us!) we went to the British Museum. We saw the Rosetta Stone, as well as several artifacts from ancient Egypt, Africa, and Native America. We also looked at their coin collections, as Nat collects coins!


Afterwards, we made our way back to our hotel, where I had one of the main highlights of my London trip! My friend Amber, who I had traveled in Africa with back in December, met up with us for a drink. It was so amazing to not only see her and catch up, but to see her on the last night of my travels. It was very much a full circle moment for me. Amber, along with my friend D.J. from TFA, has been 1 of the 2 single-most influential friends when it came to planning and executing my round-the-world trip. I find Amber’s story, which involves losing a significant amount of weight and then traveling the world for 14 months, so powerful, and I’m thrilled to learn she is writing about it!! Stay tuned…I can’t wait for her story to further inspire others to travel!IMG_3723[1]

While (in my opinion) London is not as beautiful or as cheap as other European cities  I’ve visited this summer, I still found myself feeling at home during the last few days. On one hand, London reminds me a lot of New York. On the other hand, I was with Nat the entire time and felt very comfortable. I couldn’t help but feel sad at different intervals throughout the visit–as much as London reminded me of New York, it was a reminder that my travels were coming to an end so soon.

Yes, I know that the end of every adventure is the beginning of a new one, but I’m not ready for this one to end!IMG_3674[1]

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