Exploring: Toronto

Hello! It's been a long time since I was last here, but I'm back! 
I just finished some adventures and I'm starting some new ones, so I'll have plenty to keep it fresh in this tiny corner of the internet.
Where was my last adventure?

I'd never been to Toronto, or even Canada, before last week. I'd only heard rave reviews from everyone I know who's visited, so I was very excited. I had a lot of recommendations, it was looking to be good weather, and there is a beach! Toronto and everything it had to offer were just as great, if not more, as I expected. If you get the chance to visit, don't pass it up! 

To Do:
There is so much to see and do in Toronto. Check out the museums, especially on their discount nights. Take the ferry to the islands, it's only $8 for a return ticket! The view of the Toronto skyline from the island is a can't miss. Check out the Allan Gardens Park & Conservatory and then walk to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to get a bit of civics and history. 

Art Gallery of Ontario
T-rex at the Royal Ontario Museum

Toronto Centre Island
Top Madewell (similar)
Jeans Madewell
Shoes Birkenstock
Turtles at the Allan Gardens Park & Conservatory
To See:
If you don't want to spend money enough for 2 meals on a trip to the top of the CN Tower, check out the rooftop of the Thomson Hotel. You get a great view and the CN Tower is in it! Take a stroll through Grafitti Alley for some of the best insta opportunities. Take a night walk to Nathan Phillips Square to see the giant 'Toronto' light up sign. The letters change colors and it is seriously cool.

Thomson Hotel Rooftop!
Grafitti Alley, wearing:
Top ASOS (similar)
Bottoms Zara
Shoes Keds
Nathan Phillips Square
To Eat:
The most important meal of my day is brunch. Sadly, I don't have any pictures of my delicious brunches because I had prepared too well to be hungry enough to eat it all! Even without the pics, I highly recommend every place I brunched at in Toronto: The Beaver, Starving Artist, & The Lockhart.
When I wasn't brunching, I was coffee-ing. Toronto has no shortage of local cafés with delicious drinks and treats and creative atmospheres. If Tim Horton's just isn't cutting it, check out Strange Love, FIKA, and Butter Avenue.
& don't forget to try a butter tart! 

Lover's Latte at Strange Love
St. Honoré Mango tart at Butter Avenue

When you're hungry again at dinner, go to the best ramen place that I have EVER visited: Sansotei Ramen. It's near the Art Gallery of Ontario and, seriously, this was the best meal ever. The broth was delicious, there was just enough spice, there was a WHOLE EGG, and I got a lapel pin that is this ramen. 
Another dinner can't miss: doubles. According to Ali's West Indian Roti Shop on Queen St, doubles are 'spicy fried chickpea patties' and according to me they are 'DELICIOUS.' I will warn you though, the spicy doubles are no joke. I only barely kept my dignity when my eyes started watering.

Spicy Tan Tan at Sansotei Ramen
While you're here, check out the short travel vlog I made in Toronto! 

See you soon!
- Jess

End of an Era: Graduation

Last week, I graduated from what is the best university (ever), The Ohio State University. I'm only slightly biased because I attended this fine institution, but it actually is absolutely amazing. I have a degree now, woah. In case you're curious, I studied International Relations & Diplomacy, with minors in French and Eastern European & Slavic Studies (I dabbled in Russian as well). What am I going to do with that?
Post confirmation that I received the correct diploma (I was one of 11,235)!
I cannot believe that my four years of university are over. They were the longest and shortest four years of my life. I'm pretty sure I moved into my freshman dorm yesterday, but I'm also pretty sure that my last finals week lasted approximately 3 years, I don't know. I met my best friends, who I am very confident will be my friends forever. I tried new things, travelled new places, met new people, and learned about the world and myself. These last four years have been the best years of my life, so far. If the future holds anything even close to the fun, friendship, and experience that I found at Ohio State, I will be beyond blessed and thrilled.
Together forever, from freshman year to senior year & beyond.
I have grown into a completely different person from who I was four years ago, whoever that was. I've figured out what I like, what I believe in, where I want to be (& where I don't), basically, I think I know who I am (at least for now). While I learned about the world in my classes, I learned about myself with everything else that I did. I became a leader, a traveller, and an independent woman (wow, cliché).
Where will the future lead?
As soon as someone knows that you are about to graduate or you've just graduated, the first question is "What are you going to do now?" My answer: "I have no idea." I didn't graduate with a plan for the future. I don't have a job that will lead to a career, I don't even know where I"m going to live after my current lease is up. I've jumped head first into the unknown. 
Honestly, it's scary not knowing what I'm going to be doing in August. This is the first time in 17 years that I haven't had a plan. Sure, I'm applying for things, but I can't get accepted to everything and I probably won't. I'm terrified, but I think I like not having a plan. I have so many options right now! & you know I'll keep you updated on wherever my new, post-grad life takes me.
Later, Ohio State.
- Jess

P.S. Look at my graduation cap! It's probably my favorite thing I've ever made. Inspired by Hamilton An American Musical. You MUST listen to the soundtrack if you haven't yet. You won't regret it & you're welcome in advance.
"A couple of college credits and a top notch brain."

Down South | Memphis & Nashville

Last week was my (last) spring break and I had the opportunity to travel to Memphis and Nashville, TN with a group of international and domestic students from my school. I'd never been to West or Middle Tennessee before this trip and I was excited for the food, music, and warmth. I wasn't disappointed.

Let's start with Memphis:
(me while studying)
 Stax Museum of American Soul Music shocked me. I wasn't sure what to expect; I didn't think I would be interested, honestly. Boy, was I wrong. The history that is stored in this museum goes beyond the music. It captures the soul (bc soul music) of Memphis and world when Stax was an operating record company. 

 & the National Civil Rights Museum. Potentially the most important and relevant museum, considering current events. If you visit (which you should, EVERYONE should), you'll start at the beginning of the Europeans' violation of Africans' rights: the slave trade. The museum takes you on a chronological journey that ends with the current struggle for civil rights and the #BlackLivesMatter movement. 
I was taken back to the brief lessons we had on slavery and the civil rights movement in history class. I don't think we learned nearly enough. & I was taught more than I ever could have imagined about the past struggle and the current struggle for rights.
When our group met up after going through the museum we had a discussion. What did we learn? How does the American civil rights movement translate to other countries and their civil rights movements? How does the civil rights movement in the 60s affect the current race relations in America and the fight for equality?
These were tough questions.
Our groups were made of students from different backgrounds. Different religions, different races, different ethnicities, different nationalities. & we all brought different, and valid, ideas and thoughts to the table based on our experiences. This was by far my favorite part of the trip, just being able to connect and learn from each other on a less superficial level.

&& we're off to Nashville:
The Parthenon? Is this Athens (of the West)? Hehe
Those columns though *heart eyes* 
Ceiling goals at the TN capitol building (ft. original chandeliers)