Day Trip From London: White Cliffs of Dover

While London is one of my favorite cities and I was privileged to get to stay there for an entire month, I definitely felt an itch to leave the city towards the end of my study abroad experience. After getting a taste of Dover on a tour trip, I decided I wanted to return to see the cliffs myself. Dover is located in SE England, across the English Channel from Calais, France. This is an easy and fun day trip for anyone looking to break away from the hustle and bustle of London. Here’s how we did our trip for less than £40.

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Top 5 Things to Eat, Drink, and See in St. Paul, Minnesota

As a native Minnesotan, I have a lot of love for the Twin Cities. Growing up in North St. Paul, MN left a lot to be desired so I found myself venturing out to the cities the second I had access to a car. I’m going to do a three-part series on my top five lists for three popular Minnesota cities: St. Paul, Minneapolis (might have to do top ten for this one!), and Duluth. This is part one and I will release the next two on Sunday June 10th and then Sunday June 24th and when the third part is released, I will also announce my Minnesota themed giveaway – but only my newsletter subscribers will have access to it, so make sure to go subscribe in my sidebar!

Without further ado, here is my top five things to eat, drink, and do in St. Paul, MN (I promise they’re all Instagram friendly and wallet friendly – perfect for any college student).

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It’s Gonna Be May – Mental Health Awareness Month

Hello everyone! This post is going to be a little different than my usual travel and lifestyle posts.

But really, what is lifestyle if you don’t actually share things about your real life?

So here I am, vulnerable AF, sharing with you all.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

For me, this is important for a few reasons.

First and foremost, I have a generalized anxiety disorder. You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Lora, doesn’t everyone deal with anxiety?” and you would be correct. However, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is more than just experiencing anxiety sometimes. It’s more like: constant and unreasonable concern and worry about multiple things, sometimes for a valid reason, and sometimes for no reason. This concern and worry is difficult to control more often than not and is more extreme than the anxiety most people experience. For me, this means that to cope, I constantly have to be busy to distract myself from my anxiety. This can manifest itself in being super active on my campus, making to do lists constantly, or always being involved with my friends’ lives. However, because I tend to channel my anxiety into doing (mostly) productive things, it can seem like I don’t have GAD. But I do and millions of others do too, or are dealing with other problems and mental health issues. Everyone is on their own journey and will deal with it differently.

As well, I’m the newly elected President of a student organization on my campus called Come Out of the Dark (COTD). COTD has been a passion project of mine for the past two and a half years and I’m so excited to see what this next year holds for us. Anxiety and depression are extremely widespread at universities and the University of South Florida is no exception. COTD’s mission is to create a conversation about mental health that will destigmatize those with mental health issues, create a community where people can feel comfortable seeking help, and to help create positive change on our campus. The one thing I’m most proud of with COTD is that we have partnered with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention for two years to hold an Out of the Darkness Walk on USF’s campus and I know that not only are our organization members changed for the better because of this experience, but so are those who participated in the walk, and those who we ultimately helped by raising money for ASFP. I’m extremely passionate about creating a positive environment on our college campus for students to feel safe talking about mental health.

I could keep going on, but instead, I want to talk to you all quickly about what you can do in the month of May (and the rest of the year) to help raise awareness about Mental Health and help destigmatize it in your own community.

  1. Learn: understand the facts. What is true about mental health? What’s a myth? Who is affected? How are they affected? Knowledge is power.
  2. Discuss: now that you are equipped with the knowledge you need, discuss with others. Spread that knowledge. Challenge stereotypes. Revise problematic viewpoints. Empower people to think differently.
  3. Share: if you are impacted by mental health issues in any way, share your story. Help be a role model to those who need one. Give a voice to those too scared to speak up.

This May, I challenge you to do one of those three things. Then, do it again every month.

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Why I Took a Break From Instagram + Why I Came Back

On January 7th, I decided to to tell my Instagram account, “It’s not me… it’s you.” and began my Instagram break, not knowing if or when I was going to come back. But I’m back now and ready to be vulnerable and open with you all.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I would return. I also wasn’t sure if I should share what pushed me to take the break in the first place. I’m hoping that by sharing how I felt, I can confirm to others that they aren’t alone and their feelings are valid.

Insecurity

The main reason I took a social media (specificially Instagram) break is because my insecurities were beginning to eat me alive. I couldn’t stop comparing myself to all of the beautiful womxn that I follow. I’ve struggled with my weight for almost four years now and I rarely see people with my body type represented on social media. I couldn’t help but feel crushed by doubts about myself and how my followers and others saw me. It led me to ultimately avoid posting photos of myself frequently. Any photos I posted were done with fear. Fear of there not being enough comments and likes to validate me like other people are all the time. Fear that people would unfollow me because they thought I was too chubby or not good looking enough. These fears often prevented me from sharing photos of myself.

However, one of my favorite Instagram content creators, Aisha Hatter, has inspired me to share future photos of myself, not despite my body size, but in spite of the beauty standards pushed on me. Who cares if my jaw line isn’t razor sharp? If I don’t have super nice cheek bones? If I have a little bit of a double chin? I feel fine with my body and if my followers don’t like that, then they can leave because I’m not here to exist for them.

Authenticity

I also want to be more authentic on my Instagram feed. I’m a college student and honestly, my life isn’t perfectly Instagrammable 85% of the time. I want to feel free to post long-winded, anxiety driven rants on my Instagram story. I felt so disconnected from my Instagram friends and followers because I felt that I was being so fake all the time and that no one knew the real me.

Stress + The Numbers Game

As well, stress from the numbers and the algorithm game got to me. I had very little growth over a period of a few months. My followers were remaining stagnant and so were my likes. But, I need to remember – everyone goes through times like that. It’s unrealistic to expect growth all the time. If I produce good content, the engagement will come eventually.

I’m coming back today. However, I’m not going to let Instagram consume me in the way it did before. I’m gonna post what I want, when I want. I’m not gonna worry so much about how I look compared to others. I’m not gonna get upset about a post if it doesn’t “do well”. I’m not going to let myself get anxious about my feed. I’m going to be honest about my life and everything I have going on. I’m gonna be in control of my feed and posts because this is my life and my account. I hope that if any of you that are reading this have felt similar to me, that you know now, you’re not alone. ♥️

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