2 years

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Exactly two years ago (well, this past Sunday) I started a little blog for fun. I had no idea I would have this space while studying abroad in London, starting my senior year, or even after college. Life has changed so much, yet Cooper & Thames has been a great constant for me, whether I write for fun or out of necessity or stress. It's amazing how much difference two years can make, right?

Two years ago I was...

feeling grateful for my Southern Weddings internship that had just ended
liking beginning my junior year at USC
making plans to study abroad next semester
wanting these Emerson Fry coats. Still do.
wondering if I could stand living at home...again
enjoying the Gamecocks win against Vanderbilt
waiting for the financial aid office to let me know if I got any study abroad scholarships
hoping that London would look like these Sartorialist photos (hint: not quite)
using these truly horrendous Instagram filters

Here's to the next two years! Who knows how much more change this blog will see! :)

Kind strangers

Monday, September 1, 2014

Yesterday I was reminded of just how generous strangers can be. On the way home from a quick day trip to Beaufort, about 2 hours away from where I live, I got two flat tires. Yes, two. One with a giant rip from a twisted screw, one stuck with two nails. I'm so lucky that a stranger, who I only know as Marion, helped me (or really, I helped him) replace one tire with a spare, pump up the other tire, and figure out my way around Beaufort to get to the nearest Walmart.

Yesterday was so stressful, but thanks to Marion and a recent business friend who followed me to Walmart in case my tires ran flat again, what started out as an awful, break down crying situation turned into a best case scenario.

I keep thinking about how much worse yesterday could have been. I was already alone, but I could have gotten onto the highway, which I was only two miles away from when I pulled over. I could have been stuck on the side of the road instead of parked in the parking area of a produce stand. If Marion hadn't come to the produce stand for fruit, I could have replaced one tire, but definitely not two, and I would have had to get towed. If my friend Corey hadn't been willing to follow me to Walmart, I could have gotten stuck on the side of the road...again. I may have had to wait hours for a tow truck, and at that point it would have been dark and I would have been without a car. Not a fun or safe situation to be in.

There are so many things in the world, truthfully, that make it easy to get depressed about the state that our society is in, but a day like yesterday really helped me put things into perspective. There are such good people out there, and I need to remember that every day. Marion wouldn't let me pay him for his help, but he reminded me to help someone out the next time I see someone in need. I can't think of a better way to thank him for his help than by paying it forward.

Coffee table reads

Saturday, August 30, 2014

After a quick visit to Scout Southern Market earlier this summer, where southern interiors-inspired books adorned almost every surface, I became fixated on finding classic fashion and interior design coffee table books. Since when did so many great books get published? For now my coffee table book budget is smaller than I'd like, but I have my list in order! Now I just have to pick up a coffee table or three...

Do y'all have any favorite coffee table books I need to add to my collection?

6 things to know before studying abroad

Friday, August 29, 2014

If you've followed this blog for a while you may know that I studied abroad in London in Spring of 2013. While I can't believe it's already been over 15 months since I returned, I remember the application process being long and not necessarily fun. Being the Type A that I am, I lived in making spread sheets, detailing every aspect of studying abroad, from finances to scheduling and the study abroad programs themselves. Luckily, I received help from the awesome people at the USC Study Abroad Office and friends who had studied abroad that I thought I'd pass along!

This is your sign: if you're on the fence about studying abroad, do it!

First and foremost...

Think about the classes you want to take as well as the destination. When you start planning to study abroad it's really easy to think of where you want to go and what you want to get out of it. For me, I wanted to go to Paris first. It just so happened that the American Business School was there, but I realized later that I needed to be more fluent in French than I was. London was my next choice, and I found a great business school that had classes I really enjoyed. Had I gone to London and attended a mediocre school I would have been wasting my time and not enjoyed my stay as much. I got a lot out of my classes and the city itself, so thinking of the type of program you'd like to enroll in is huge!

Make a few notecards about current events, prominent figures, etc. where you will study abroad. I've always been one to keep up with the news - I thank my parents for making us read the newspaper and watch the Nightly News for that - but there were so many people I studied abroad with who couldn't even name the British Prime Minister (in case you're wondering, it's David Cameron)! During my semester in London Margaret Thatcher died, and while I generally knew who she was, I had no idea why the country was so torn on the topic of her funeral. Had I bothered to do even a bit of background research on her I would have felt much more comfortable talking with British friends about it and wouldn't have felt completely clueless. While I kept up to date on the basic current information, I should have also thought of major events of the past too. TL;DR: do your research!

Google Maps the walk to and from your tube/subway station or school. I can't tell you how many times I did this before I went to London, and it helped so much when I first got there. Not only did I have a better understanding of where I was, but it got me so pumped to go! When you finally get to your host country you will thank your past self. Your mom, who is worried sick about you, will too!

Make a checklist of things you want to do while you're overseas. I made a checklist of 100 things I wanted to do, and while I didn't get some of them done, a lot of my plans were already half-way organized by the time I got around to doing them. Try printing off your list on a cute card and hang it up in your room, that way your goals will always be front and center!

Have two copies of every paper you need. This includes driver's license, passport, passport photo, birth certificate, acceptance letter to your study abroad organization, acceptance letter to your university, flight tickets, directions from the airport to your flat/dorm, and anything else official you can think of. Trust me, better safe than sorry.

If you have one, bring your nice camera. And use it. Looking back at my photos, I realize how lucky I was to live in London, which is such a beautiful city. My problem is that even though I brought my DSLR, I never used it, so all of my photos are from my iPhone! I always thought my DSLR was too big to want to take all around London since I didn't have a bag bigger than a crossbody. I can't believe how shortsighted I was, especially since my camera was hardly big at all! I love my photos that I have, but I wish I had utilized a great thing that I had already brought all the way with me!

One tip for while you're abroad...

Don't be afraid to just explore. On your own. One thing I'm so thankful for is that I learned how to have fun on my own in London. I didn't have the ability to travel outside of the UK as much as I would have liked, or as much as my other friends, so I spent more than a few afternoons and mornings choosing an area of London and then exploring. I had so much fun seeing how lost I could get before having to turn back, and I found some great hole in the wall places I would never have experienced. I wouldn't replace that time for the world!

The five-year plan

Thursday, August 28, 2014

I live for lists. I love lists and plans and organization, even if the stuff under that tend to be a bit messy. I enjoy the moments when, even if something isn't the way it should be now, that later on I can make it...made. Maybe not perfect, but the way it should be. That's what scares me a bit about my "five-year plan."

For those readers in college or just out of college, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. Whether it is in interviews or ice breakers in the first weeks of classes, you have to have an answer, or at least an idea, of what you want from your five-year plan. I've never had a solid, concrete five-year plan, which, as a list-maker and planner to the core, should have worried me. But it really didn't. With my life I've tried to be conscious about taking logical steps, but letting the overall goal be flexible, since even I know that I can't control everything.

Now I sit in my bed, in my parents' house, almost four months after graduation...and I'm getting a little nervous. I'm not in control even though I feel like I'm grasping at it, and it isn't far out of reach. My vision of my five-year plan has become almost crystalized in my mind. I know exactly what I want in five years...but as for the path? I have no idea how to get there. Career-minded me seemed to forget to plan the steps in my career. Oops.

I can't write this post as a tutorial. I'm currently living in this mini state of unrest, as melodramatic as that sounds. Otherwise, I'm doing just fine. My friends are great, my jobs (yes, plural - woo!) are fine, and I'm healthy and safe. I like to use this blog as a diary from time to time, just to check in. I'll make sure to write back when the five-year plan clears up.

What about you? How are you doing? I hope everything is wonderful in your neck of the woods.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Now, you know I couldn't leave you those heavy (but so fascinating, right?) articles yesterday without some fun ones! I think last week should have been dubbed "Jenna Week," because I read three separate articles about J. Crew's Creative Director and all were excellent. You definitely won't find me complaining! When I admire someone, I tend to go a bit crazy in background research, so the more I can find out, the happier I am!

Into The Gloss - Jenna Lyons // Read this now! Not only does this article come with a complete list of Jenna's beauty must-haves, but we also get a small glimpse into her office. Happy, happy Emily, indeed!

Vanity Fair - An Inside Look at Jenna Lyons's Desk in the J. Crew Offices // If the Into The Gloss article left you wanting a bit more eye candy, we've hit the jackpot. I don't know how I didn't see this earlier, but maybe good things take time. Can someone order me that gold piƱata?

NYTimes - Courtney Love and Jenna Lyons are Very Different // Verdict: true.

Images via ITG, Vanity Fair

Thought provoking

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Though I've read a lot of entertaining and, for the most part, useless articles during the past week, I found myself engulfed in stories and articles yesterday that made me really think about where I stand on certain issues. Reading is one of my favorite past times, and while I pride myself in keeping up with current events, there are plenty of days that I keep to my Womens Wear Daily, Into the Gloss, and BuzzFeed. In the case of the issues I read about yesterday, the stories seemed vaguely familiar, but otherwise completely foreign..and sometimes most of the time it's good to read about things you don't know about, since they expand your horizon and make you question what you thought you knew or believed.

I'm not here to take a stance or make any judgements, but I'll pass these articles along because 1 - I think they are important, and 2 - I couldn't stop reading once I started, and I think you'll be interested too.

The Strange & Curious Tale of the Last True Hermit // "For nearly thirty years, a phantom haunted the woods of Central Maine. Unseen and unknown, he lived in secret, creeping into homes in the dead of night and surviving on what he could steal. To the spooked locals, he became a legend—or maybe a myth. They wondered how he could possibly be real. Until one day last year, the hermit came out of the forest."

If only they had treated him before // "When Will Bruce killed his mother, he believed she was an al Qaeda agent. His father wrested hope from the tragedy -- by seeing that his son finally got treatment. After seven years in a psychiatric hospital, Will is taking his first steps toward freedom."

Bill Nye Fights Back // "How a mild-mannered children’s celebrity plans to save science in America—or go down swinging."

Murder And Manifest Destiny On The Mosquito Coast // 
"Fifteen years ago, a mysterious Greek entrepreneur bought and resold a series of tiny islands off the coast of Nicaragua, setting off a bizarre and tragic chain of events that included a reality-TV sensation and allegations of an insidious murder plot."