Oregon Trip Part One: Smith Rock and Painted Hills

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Earlier this year I got the most exciting WhatsApp message from my friend Anna Sophie! For those of you who have read my study abroad adventures you would recognize Anna Sophie from London.We met during our study abroad semester at Regent’s University. Anna Sophie is from Germany while I am from Michigan so we haven’t seen each other since 2015.

Anna Sophie’s message said that her and her boyfriend, Jona, were going to be spending three weeks in the USA roadtripping! Brett and I have flight benefits so right away I messaged back saying that we would love to meet them somewhere. We settled on meeting them in Bend, Oregon and then traveling with them to Portland, Oregon in June!

The months flew by and when June rolled around I couldn’t believe that I was finally going to be reunited with my best friend! Brett and I flew into Bend on Sunday afternoon and expected to meet Anna Sophie and Jona on Monday morning. She called me while Brett and I were at Target to say that they decided to come to Bend that night instead! We were reunited at our Airbnb and started our wonderful new journey together.

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Brett went to Bend last year for a guy’s trip so I kind of knew what to expect. On Monday morning we headed to Smith Rock for a day hike. It was HOT and I was unprepared for just how hard the hike would be. I didn’t expect to be climbing straight up a giant rock when I’m as out of shape as I am. However, we still had a great time together and it was absolutely beautiful!

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I did not make it all the way up Smith Rock that day. In fact, I slipped and fell near the top and ended up scrapping my leg up pretty badly. It’s 2 months later now and my leg still looks pretty gross. Brett and I decided to wait for Anna Sophie and Jona and they made their way up to the top. I was disappointed in myself but sometimes I have to cut myself a little slack. I’m always happy to get out and do things instead of living in fear of another migraine attack.

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After our trek, we headed to Coldstone for some ice cream! Ice cream is my love language. After Coldstone we headed back to the Airbnb and got ready for dinner. Brett and I decided that it would be fun to introduce our German friends to hibachi. We went to a hibachi restaurant in Bend and they ended up loving it! After dinner we went back to the Airbnb, cuddled with our host’s dogs (including a super cute dachshund named Ruby), and played games. One of my favorite memories of Anna Sophie and our trip to visit her family in Germany was playing games together.

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The next day we headed out to the Painted Hills. Brett drove and I navigated but when we got out towards the Painted Hills we lost service. We may have gotten a little lost while we were driving but that was part of the adventure!

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The Painted Hills are amazing! I didn’t really know what to expect other than the google images that I looked up before going. We did a few of the hikes which were nowhere near as exhausting as Smith Rock from the day before.

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After our hike, we headed back into Bend for dinner. We stopped at this place called On Tap that has a outdoor bar and food trucks. We all got food from different trucks and ate by the bar. The food was great and the atmosphere was even better! We tried to teach Anna Sophie cornhole after dinner per Michigan tradition.

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Of course, our night was not complete without ice cream! We went to Bonta Gelato for some delicious dessert! You know a place is good when there’s a line out the door and Bonta did not disappoint.

Brett went to see his friend who lives in Bend after dropping us off at the Airbnb. Anna Sophie and I sat and chatted for the next couple of hours just getting caught up on life. We also had to pack to head to Portland the next morning.

I really enjoyed our time in Bend even though it was super short! We loved our Airbnb, the great food, and just spending quality time with friends who we don’t get to see often enough.

Study abroad was one of the best adventures of my life and I was so sad when it was over. I didn’t know if I’d ever see my friends again and I that was devastating. We’ve all kept in touch over the years but that’s not the same as seeing each other in person. Seeing Anna Sophie again was like being reunited with a piece of my heart. She understands me in a way that a lot of my other friends don’t. Even though we are from different countries and were raised differently she still feels like the friend I’ve always needed and wanted.

Part two of our trip will be posted soon!

Have you ever been to Bend? Do you enjoy hiking?

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4 Years Later: A Reflection on Study Abroad

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January 24, 2015 was a day that changed my life forever.

In 2011 I visited London for the first time on a band trip. It was love at first sight and I immediately felt like I was at home in the city. We left London for Paris after just a couple of days but I told my friends that I would be back in a few years to Study Abroad.

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Studying abroad scared me to death even though it was something I knew that I had to do in my heart and soul. It was something I had wrestled over doing for years but knew that I would be regret it if I didn’t. So I packed my bags, gave notice to my job, and left.

When I said goodbye to my mom, dad, sister, and Brett at the airport I tried to stay strong. But the moment I got through security I completely lost it and sobbed all the way to my departure gate. Luckily enough, I was traveling with a girl from my home university who would end up being my roommate in London. She showed me true kindness that day and I’m really grateful that I had her there with me.

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I’ll never forget the moment I saw Regent’s University for the first time. I had studied pictures, maps, and brochures for months but nothing prepared me for what I saw when I arrived. The dorms were like something out of a Harry Potter movie. The university itself was small but beautiful.

Easter Break in Germany // Study Abroad London // Travel // www.lifeofhayley.com

I made friends life-long friends at orientation that week and found myself exploring the city with my classmates. It was freeing.

My family likes to joke that I was born old. I’m a homebody and I always tend to take care of others before myself. I started working at 17 and took that job very seriously. In college I worked long hours and went to class full time in order to graduate in 4 years. Studying abroad was my chance to be selfish. To worry only about my happiness and to finally take some time off of work and act my age.

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Easter Break in Germany // Study Abroad London // Travel // www.lifeofhayley.com

Easter Break in Germany // Study Abroad London // Travel // www.lifeofhayley.comEaster Break in Germany // Study Abroad London // Travel // www.lifeofhayley.com

I felt like a brand new person. I was the “fun” friend for once in my life. One of my friends even called me “irresponsible” which at first upset me but looking back I’m so happy that I got to not be the responsible one for the first time. I had a great group of girls to hang out with. We traveled on weekends and during Easter break. We had lunch together everyday and they really seemed to get me.

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Sometimes I wish I could go back. On our honeymoon in 2017 we went to London and visited Regent’s. I e-mailed a few weeks before to get visitors passes for campus so that I could officially show Brett around. We sat in the library, walked through the refectory, and went by every classroom that I had classes in. We walked through the park and admired the grounds in the summer. But something was missing.

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London will always be my favorite place to visit. It will always be the home of some of my happiest memories. It will always be the place where I met my best group of friends. And it will always be the place where Brett asked me to spend the rest of my life with him.

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Our honeymoon showed me that it’s okay to move on. London will always be waiting for me and my friends will always be just a WhatsApp message away. Things have changed but I’m still grateful that I got to be the “fun” friend for a few months. I really found myself when I was in London and discovered who I am as a person. But London is no longer my home. My home is now with Brett and it’s time to make new memories.

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4 years ago I took a giant leap of faith when I stepped aboard an airplane flying from Chicago to London. That terrifying decision was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. Everyday I am grateful that I had the experience to meet friends from all over the world. And I am SO glad that I had this blog to document all of the moments of my time in London. I love looking back on my study abroad posts.

Thanks so much for reading!

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Midnight In Paris

Study Abroad London // Regent's University London // Weekend in Paris // www.lifeofhayley.com

Hey there, friends!

Sorry it has been a bit since my last post.  The weather has been so beautiful here in London and I don’t want to miss a second of it! I am also starting to get sad about the semester coming to an end which is making it hard to write these posts.

But anyway, let’s talk about Paris! I once again went on a Regent’s University sponsored trip. I’m not sure how many of us there were but I really enjoyed having a group to travel to and from Paris with. We took the train which only takes about 2 hours each way!

Our Paris guide first took us on a 3 hours bus tour of the city. We were all disappointed because we couldn’t get off the bus to look at things. At the end of the tour, we stopped by the Eiffel Tower for a few quick pictures before heading to our hostel.

Study Abroad London // Regent's University London // Weekend in Paris // www.lifeofhayley.com

Study Abroad London // Regent's University London // Weekend in Paris // www.lifeofhayley.com

Study Abroad London // Regent's University London // Weekend in Paris // www.lifeofhayley.com

The hostel we stayed at was really nice even though it was about 45 minutes outside of the city center. My friends and I stayed in a ten person room which made us all anxious in the beginning but turned out to be a ton of fun!

Study Abroad London // Regent's University London // Weekend in Paris // www.lifeofhayley.com

Study Abroad London // Regent's University London // Weekend in Paris // www.lifeofhayley.com

We had a quick snack at the hostel before heading out to explore Paris.  On Fridays the Louvre Museum lets people under the age of 25 in for free after 6 p.m. We headed toward the Louvre from the hostel which ended up being pretty easy using the Metro.

Study Abroad London // Regent's University London // Weekend in Paris // www.lifeofhayley.com

Study Abroad London // Regent's University London // Weekend in Paris // www.lifeofhayley.com

Study Abroad London // Regent's University London // Weekend in Paris // www.lifeofhayley.comStudy Abroad London // Regent's University London // Weekend in Paris // www.lifeofhayley.com

The Louvre was just as amazing as I had remembered it. We explored for a few hours and I think we saw almost every inch of the massive building! The Louvre is huge and is definently a must see if you are ever in Paris. From one of the windows we caught a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower all lit up and decided that we had to go see it before returning home!

Study Abroad London // Regent's University London // Weekend in Paris // www.lifeofhayley.com

Study Abroad London // Regent's University London // Weekend in Paris // www.lifeofhayley.com

After we finished adventure in the Louvre we headed straight to the Metro station to leave for the Eiffel Tower. One of my biggest regrets in life is not seeing the Eiffel Tower at night last time I was in Paris. I put it on my bucket list and was determined to not miss out on it this time. We got off of the Metro and got a little lost put eventually found our way. We turned a corner and there it was, glowing and shimmering over the treetops. It took my breath away and was one of those perfect life moments that I will never forget.

Study Abroad London // Regent's University London // Weekend in Paris // www.lifeofhayley.com

We watched what was left of the light show and then began to walk closer to the tower. We stopped to take a ton of pictures and just laughed and had a great time together. It was nearing 11 p.m. and we still hadn’t had dinner so we searched around for a place to eat. We ended up at this nice restauraunt where we sat and talked for a couple of hours while sharing a bottle of French wine. I don’t like wine so I didn’t drink much but it was a fun thing to do.

Study Abroad London // Regent's University London // Weekend in Paris // www.lifeofhayley.com

Once we were done with dinner we stepped outside and were greeted once again by the Eiffel Tower light show. We stopped and watched as the tower danced with lights. We were in Paris, at midnight, watching the most beautiful sight I have ever seen.

Study Abroad London // Regent's University London // Weekend in Paris // www.lifeofhayley.com

We got to our hostel around 1 a.m. and all fell asleep right away. The plan for the next day was to wake up bright and early and go to the top of the Eiffel Tower!!

Study Abroad London // Regent's University London // Weekend in Paris // www.lifeofhayley.com

Thanks for reading! I’m working on my next Paris post as we speak!

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Study Abroad London // Regent's University London // Weekend in Paris // www.lifeofhayley.comStudy Abroad London // Regent's University London // Weekend in Paris // www.lifeofhayley.comStudy Abroad London // Weekend trip to Paris // www.lifeofhayley // study abroad blog

Making Plans: Upcoming Trips!

Travel Plans // Study Abroad London // www.lifeofhayley.com

Hello everyone!

March is turning into a super busy month for me so I thought I would share my travel plans with all of you. When I thought about studying abroad I figured that I would be traveling every weekend and just spending the weekdays in London. Now that I am in London, I am finding it difficult to leave. I love it here and I enjoy having the weekends to explore.

With that said, I still want to travel a lot this semester. I had a whole list of places that I wanted to go which was super unrealistic. I’ve decided to let go of my expectations and just go with the flow. So far, everything has turned out to be better than I could have possibly imagined.

So here’s a list of my upcoming trips:

  • March 13-15: Siw visiting me from Denmark
  • March 20-22: Paris
  • March 29-April 8: Germany with my friends
  • May (Dates TBD): Denmark and Ireland

As you can see, the next several weeks are going to be very busy for me but I wouldn’t have it any other way! I am so excited to see as much of the world as possible! The places on my list that I won’t hit this trip will just mean that I will need to travel again soon. 😉

Thanks for reading! I hope you are all having a wonderful week! And if you have any suggestions for things I need to do/see, please comment below!

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Hampstead, UK

Hampstead, UK

Hello lovely readers! How are you today? I hope you are doing wonderful!

I just wanted to let you know about a little secret place that my friend Anna told me about. It’s not actually a secret, I had just never heard of it before. And if you couldn’t tell by the title of this post, that place is Hampstead.

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Hampstead is a little town outside of central London. It’s only about a twenty minute tube ride but it feels completely different than London. Anna, Ana, Alejandra and I set out for Hampstead on February 21st for a relaxing day in the sun.

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We started our little adventure by walking to the park, Hampstead Heath, where we climbed a big hill and were rewarded with an amazing view of London. There was a cross country event that afternoon so there were a ton of runners and cheering fans. All of the activity had turned the paths into pits of mud but that didn’t stop us!

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After having our breath taken away by the picturesque scenery and posing for a million pictures, we headed back down the hill and into town. We stopped for some carrot cake and hot chocolate at a little café where we sat and talked for some time. I thoroughly enjoy spending time with the wonderful girls that I have met here. It’s such an amazing thing when you find people who understand you and can make you laugh until you cry.

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We wandered around Hampstead for a couple of more hours until Ana and Anna had to head back. Alejandra and I didn’t have anything else to do so we stayed in Hampstead. We met a group of drunken Australians (it was only 5 pm!) who invited us to a pub crawl and posed for some pictures! We declined their invitation and continued onward.

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I could have spent the rest of the day in Hampstead but it started to rain which turned into snow. We decided that it was time to head back as the sun started going down as well.

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I had such a wonderful day exploring with my friends! There’s always something to do in London and it’s nice to step outside the city and enjoy nature! I definitely recommend stopping in Hampstead if you are ever in London!

Thanks again for reading! I am feeling overwhelmed (in a good way!) with the amount of support I have been receiving lately!

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Beautiful Regent’s Park

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Hello again! London has been wonderful these past couple of weeks and has distracted me from blogging….so blame London for my absence.

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I can’t believe I’ve been here for over a month already! Time has really flown by and it’s making me sad. I love it here so much!

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I thought I would show you a little bit of Regent’s University and Regent’s Park. Before coming to London, I wondered a lot about what campus would look like here. I spent a lot of time on Google looking for pictures and pouring over maps trying to get familiar with the area.

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Regent’s Park and University went above and beyond all of my expectations. The park is so well maintained and picturesque. I feel so thankful to be able to live in a Royal Park and have the Queen as my “landlord.” I’m sure not many people can say that.

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Regent's Park London

Another really cool thing about Regent’s Park is that it contains the London Zoo. I can walk 10-15 minutes from my dorm and see zebras and giraffes without even paying to go inside the zoo. It’s so cool!

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I also love that Regent’s University is so close to Primrose Hill. I went there with the girls yesterday and had a great time taking pictures and wandering around the surrounding area. It is such a beautiful little neighborhood! From Primrose Hill you can see an amazing view of the London skyline including the Shard and the London Eye.

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I hope you have enjoyed this post! Thanks for reading!!! 

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P.S. Look for a post on my weekend in Scotland very soon!! 🙂 

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5 Tips for Overcoming Homesickness While Abroad

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I was honestly doing fine. The first week in London I just focused on making friends and enjoying every minute. I was so proud of myself for keeping it together and keeping my anxiety at bay. Suddenly, one bad thing happened to me and I couldn’t stop the tears and nervousness. I was still happy to be in London but the only thing I wanted was my mom by my side helping me.

It was Saturday, the day that I was going to Brighton. I had a terrible day and it made me feel so alone and small. And I really was alone, 10 minutes until I had to be at the train station and 1.7 miles away. London is big and confusing, so being alone and lost is not fun. This is especially true when you are trying desperately to hold back tears.

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I wanted so badly to call my mom but at the moment I couldn’t call her, I couldn’t call anyone not in the U.K. Later that night when I could finally talk to her I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. My parents have sacrificed so much to get me here and I was embarrassed and ashamed. I didn’t want to seem ungrateful because I’m not. Even though I was ashamed of what had happened I confessed to my mom and she wasn’t upset or disappointed in me. That’s when I started to think about being homesick and what I could do to change my attitude.

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I used my experience with being homesick to create a few tips for you.

  1. Don’t be ashamed that you are homesick because there is nothing wrong with it! Being homesick means that you have a great life with people who love and miss you.
  2. Don’t dwell on it. I did and trust me when I say that you should just move on with your life. It’s okay to realize that you miss your family and friends but they want you to be happy. You will see them again so for now you need to move on and make the best of your time abroad.
  3. Talk to your family and friends. Let them know that you are missing them. It’s okay to be vulnerable for a little bit.
  4. Turn to your new friends. Even though you haven’t known them for long they will be more than willing to help you. I told my new friends that I was feeling homesick and they were there for me. They made sure to keep me busy and happy. Having them help made our relationship even stronger. If you don’t have any new friends, give it time. You can always come to my blog and talk to me!
  5. Go out and have fun! Don’t sit in your room listening to depressing music and crying. Go out, walk around, and smile. Everything will be okay!

I really hope that my experience and how I dealt with it can help you. Being homesick is not fun but it happens to the best of us. Personally, it took me a while to get back into the swing of things but I am so glad that I pushed through. Don’t let other people or your own bad experiences bring you down. You can do this!! And if you ever need help or someone to talk to I am always here for you!

Thanks for reading! Sorry for the sappy post but I am really hoping that these tips will help others who are going through the same thing I went through.

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