Keeping up with AIFS Part 2

This semester is flying. We are almost halfway through March and I really don’t know how that happened. Then again, I never even know what day of the week it even is.

I have been overloaded with work, my internship, classes, extra-curricular activities, and other obligations, but I have thankfully found time to keep my beloved blog updated. Plus, I began writing celebrity and lifestyle content for Her Campus, and online college magazine targeted at female students!

Take me back!!!

For the last month, I have also been reminded that my life a year ago was way cooler than it is now, as Facebook’s “Today in the Past” feature shows me every day all my old blog posts and pictures from my semester in Australia. I bet you know what I want to type next: something along the lines of “I wish I was still there!” Well, you are right and it is true.

I actually just had my AIFS representative from headquarters come to campus to meet with me about my experience as an AIFS Alumni Ambassador and to finally meet with my campus’ study abroad director. It is really mind-blowing to me that AIFS actually sent a person to check in on me, who has encouraged me and helped me throughout the year. The post-AIFS and study abroad experience has truly been incredible.

As part of the ambassador program, I am required to write at least one blog post for AIFS and create one video for it. I thought I would share my AIFS content in case it could help someone out. Below are the posts I created, followed by my video:

There is a reason why I wanted to talk about AIFS: it is now time to start sharing my videos from Australia!

The next time you hear from me will be when I post a video that takes you through O-Week (orientation week) before classes started down under. Make sure to stay tuned!

Whitmanythought 1: I am so thankful I chose to study with AIFS

Whitmanythought 2: I am so excited to start sharing my videos!


A New London Original in NYC

I make it my mission to see at least one Broadway show per semester and thanks to Hofstra University Honors College, I was able to check that box early.

I saw a newer play, Farinelli and the King, at the Belasco Theatre in New York. The show tells the story of how the mentally unfit King Philip IV of Spain is being undermined by his courtiers, while his wife fights against them and hires the sweet soprano-voiced Farinelli to sing to her ill husband. It turns out that Farinelli’s soothing voice does the trick to save Philip’s deteriorating mind, but also woos the queen. This play originally debuted in London in 2015, and has made its way overseas with some of the original cast.


The reason I am writing about this is not to tell you about the comedic play, but to highlight the quick, but insightful talkback the cast had after the show. This is the only talkback I have been to in recent times, and I thought it was interesting because the cast talked about the differences between putting on the show in America and England.

Something repeated by a few cast members is that the matinee crowd in America is much more lively than that in England. Go us!

In terms of the stage and members, the cast had a larger stage in America and was able to bump the musician count from three to six. Also mentioned was the fact that there was no director telling actors where to stand on stage. King Philip IV, played by Oscar and Tony winner Mark Rylance, compared it to learning to play tennis, where “you give and take focus to each other.” The actors learned where the better-lit places on the stage were based on the positioning of the candles that provided the light for the production.


Another unique factor of Farinelli is that there was two-tiered audience seating on the stage, which proposed another challenge to the actors. No one wore a microphone, and while some audience members were near, they had to make sure to focus on the members sitting in the main theater. “We want to make you feel like you’re in the same room as us,” said Rylance. “We want to be as attentive t you as you are to us.”

Some of the favorite pieces from the show are the dresses, which was agreed upon by the whole cast, the wigs according to Queen Isabella, played by Melody Grove, and Rylance took a liking to the gold fish he talks to in the beginning of the show. He explained that there is a rotation of fish used, and jokingly said sometimes they are a bit out of character, which can be a challenge.

The cast finished with a thoughtful discussion of amateur versus professional acting. “I enjoyed acting as much when I was an amateur actor as when I’m a professional actor,” said Rylance. He especially feels positive when “you have a really great night and feel connected with the audience.”

Whitmanythought 1: I did not realize much of the cast was from England and I thoroughly enjoyed the true British accents

 Whitmanythought 2: I hope I can see a show again this semester!

Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl Victory Parade

What happens when you send an ecstatic journalism student to the first ever Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl parade? Watch to find out.

Whitmanythought 1: I just posted about Philly two times in a row. What’s going on?!

Whitmanythought 2: Yes, it was worth skipping my responsibilities for the day and driving home at 10 p.m. in the middle of the week for this.

Phun in Philadelphia

I underrated Philadelphia as a kid. I decided it was old, small and dull. It wasn’t a “real” city (AKA not New York). However, over the last few years, I have really grown to love Philly and visit every chance I get. I made it to the City of Brotherly Love twice in one week over winter break and further solidified my appreciation for the city.

Firstly, I made a very last minute trip to the The Academy of Music to see Les Miserables with my grandparents, who were kind enough to offer me a ticket when they saw that there were some available. The showing was part of Kimmel Center’s and The Shubert Organization’s Broadway Philadelphia 2018, which brought a range of Tony and Drama Desk Award-winning shows to the area’s theaters. This was so unexpected because I was invited an hour before my grandparents were leaving to go, plus I did not think I would be lucky enough to see my favorite musical with them again!


Unsurprisingly, the show was powerful, emotional and passionate. Nothing makes my heart tremble like hearing the first few notes from the pit at the beginning of the show. Beforehand, we stopped at an incredible restaurant called Bud and Marilyn’s, which was packed. I enjoyed a scallop dinner and unique take on a pecan pie for dessert.

This last minute adventure turned into one of the most memorable nights of winter break and I am so thankful I got to spend it with my grandparents.

My second trip to Philly was for a concert at The Fillmore. I was at the smaller portion of this venue, The Foundry, over the summer to see a small guitar-singing duo. My familiarity put any worries, which I always get before any live performance, at ease. I was almost as excited to see Milky Chance as I was to see the incredible Tash Sultana, because I discovered and saw this group in Australia as well. This alternative/indie rock band is not Australian, but German.


I met up with my roommate from Australia, Sierra, three hours before the show and to our surprise, there was barely a line. Although I was dreading the long wait, it was a warm day out and time went by far more quickly than I imagined it would. The opening act was a Scottish guitar-playing gent named Lewis Capaldi who was accompanied by a pianist. He told us his specialty is writing sad songs, and said his goal was to make us depressed. Well, he did a great job at that and has a robust voice. Although he was quite enjoyable, I thought the job of the opening act was to pump up the crowd and not bring them down!

Clemens Rehbein and Antonio Greger

Anyway, The Blossom Tour absolutely blew me away. Milky Chance is the type of band that sounds better live than in recordings. Nothing beats the live sound of the band’s funky tunes beating through my veins, filling me with positive energy. I could have danced all night to the leadman Clemens Rehbein’s gritty, powerful vocals, guitarist and harmonist’s Antonio Greger’s impressive solos and percussionist and audio mixer Philipp Dausch’s intense beats all night long. I honestly was blown away by the verve that poured from Rehbein and how passionately the members played. At one point, they miscommunicated and Rehbein had them restart the song. He apologized, and gave the performance he meant to, and I appreciated every second of the vulnerability.

Antonio Greger

It is also safe to say I have never been so attracted to a guy on a harmonica in my life. The foursome (there is a drummer, too) ended with a multiple-song jam session, during which they fluidly swept in and out of intense vocals and hardcore instrument playing. It is so cool to me that a band from Germany can have such success around the world, and they deserve every bit of it.

From Les Mis to Milky Chance, I saw some awe-striking performances. It is mind-boggling to me that I have been to Philly five times since July, but I guess it is not so crazy considering how much fun I have every time I go.

A Quick Trip to Maryland

Just before my fairly low-key winter break ended, I went on some small getaways: twice to Philadelphia, and once to Maryland. For some reason, I have a deep love for Maryland. I suppose it is because I have had such a wonderful experience every time I’ve been there.

I took the drive down to an area just South of Baltimore one Friday night to see my friend Marisa. We went out to Buffalo Wild Wings, where I have never actually eaten wings, with her boyfriend and had a relaxed night at their apartment watching a Reese Witherspoon movie.

Saturday took us to a few different places. We had a slow approach to the morning and arrived at a restaurant in Washington, D.C. named Tico’s at noon. Marisa and I enjoyed a tasty and rather expensive meal paired with mimosas. I joked that I was finally a true millennial because I managed to be in an aesthetically pleasing eatery while looking put together and consuming appealing food with a drink in my hand. I think I did brunch the right way…


After brunch, we strolled over to the Newseum, the news museum. For communications nerds like Marisa and myself, this is a magical place. It is a six story maze filled with the history of and best accomplishments in our field.

One of my favorite exhibits in the Newseum showcases an original piece of the Berlin Wall and an original three story East German guard tower that was part of the wall. The exhibit laid out how information transferred from Berlin, to the rest of the world and back, where knowledge was free to come by in West Berlin, but blocked in East Berlin. It was so surreal to see this history in America after seeing it in Berlin two years ago.

East Berlin guard tower 

Another incredible piece of history showcased is the 9/11 Gallery. There are detailed accounts of the day that forever changed America and shows how the media covered a crisis that literally and figuratively blew up multiple times before the nation’s eyes. A touching tribute to a photojournalist showcased his cameras and some of the pictures he shot that day before he died, and a video about the disaster brought me to tears.


Other notable parts were the FBI exhibit, the news helicopter that hung from the celling of the museum and the spacious terrace that hosted a view of the Capitol Building. There was so much information to take in that the three hours we had to spend were not nearly enough.


After we depleted our time at the museum, Marisa and I headed back to her apartment where her boyfriend made delicious pasta with vodka sauce for us and his coworker. We all then went out to a cozy multi-level bar in Washington D.C. where we chatted and relished the night.

Maryland (and D.C.) treated me well once again. On top of that, it was super gratifying catching up with one of the people I hold dearest. Although I was sad to leave, I was excited to go home to watch the Eagles beat the Vikings, putting us in Super Bowl LII!

Australia: One Year Later

It has been exactly one year since I landed in Perth, Australia to study abroad. When I realized this, I could not believe the anniversary had snuck up so soon. It seems as if I have been in a state of longing for clear waters rolling onto sandy shores, ginormous waves crashing on towering rock cliffs and warm air embracing my skin for more than a year. There is not a day that goes by during which I do not think about the happiest and freest semester of my life and I so wish I could go back to experience that alternate universe one more time.

My first sight of Australia

My life is so much different one year later: my late nights out with friends turned into late nights at my internship, shopping for bathing suits has turned into buying professional-wear and lounging under the sun at the beach has turned into laying in my bed reading for class (I read for class in Australia too, don’t worry). However, cooking for myself reverted back into having a meal plan on campus and not having to prepare every meal every day, so that is a plus! I am not planning cool trips to new continents or packing a bag for a week-long outback trip. Instead, I am trying to find a weekend I am free enough to have a friend visit me in New York. I am not saying anything about this is bad; it is just different.

Cliffside in the Northwest

Studying abroad really was like living in an alternate universe, if the above descriptions did not portray that enough. However, it was more like an elongated dream; one that would eventually have to become a well-scrapbooked memory. Although my life is nowhere near as adventurous as it was a year ago, I am so thankful for what has come since leaving from Australia and what is to come in the future (more travels, please).

One year later I can say I still live with the essence of my past life. I have remained more confident in my own decisions, which I really had to learn as I was making travel plans down under. I have continued to be extremely mindful of the people I surround myself with and stand up for my beliefs instead of letting others silence them. Finally, I have continued to learn to take a break. Whether it is putting on a face mask and lighting a candle or journaling, I make sure I take time to reflect on the day and evaluate the progress I made on my daily and weekly tasks. Although I came to Australia with a deep understanding of who I am as a person, I now can better express that to others.

Our first sight of Perth

I really do wish I could go back and to Australia and relive that enlightening, beautiful semester. At the same time, I don’t think it would be the same. My semester in Australia came and left, and now I can let the memories live on to remind me how full of pure ecstasy that semester was and to let that time shape how I live in the future.

Whitmanythought 1: Seriously, please let me go back

Whitmanythought 2: I have friends studying in New Zealand and Australia this semester and I wish I could visit them

A Reflection of My Blog 2.0

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I am laughing at myself for calling my blog “mediocre” last year. I mean, it still is, but guess what—it is still making me happy!

Like I said in my “reflection” post that I wrote just over a year ago, I have thought about changing my blog into a “.com,” but I decided against it. Why? I have no idea what the future holds and I do not know how much time I will be able to put into my blog after graduation and once I start graduate school. What if I have nothing about which to write? What if I never leave Hofstra’s campus again and will have no more stories to tell? I’m kidding of course; I know that will not happen.

As I reflect on my blog again, (because why not), I wonder if the person sitting next to me is reading anything I type (go ahead, it’s free advertisement). I also wonder how many people have actually read my posts or even benefitted from them. I know a few have, and that makes me feel accomplished. This of course is not the ultimate travel blog that is going to tell you how to explore every city around the world, but I do hope people who come across it hear my voice, relate to it and it helps them in some way.

I am actually quite proud of myself for keeping up with the blog this past semester. After my hiatus in the summer after Australia, I told myself I would not let myself go without posting with the excuse of school in my way. From my transitioning tips post (which may be my biggest hit) to my Fall Concert Series 2.0, I published reviews, thoughts and advice of which I am proud.

I am super excited to continue my blog and see what direction it takes as a chapter of my life closes and a new one begins. To finish this post off the way I did last year, I will leave you with this: “To whoever reads this, I hope I have interested you.”

Whitmanythought 1: February is against me. It does not want me to post. I shall persevere!


Spring 2018: Not Australia

This time last year, I had just gotten back from an incredible two weeks in London and was preparing to study abroad in Australia. It is absolutely crazy to me to think that was my life just 12 months ago. Believe me, I want it back! However, I cannot dwindle on the past.

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I am saddened that I cannot declare that I am studying abroad in some exotic place this year, but I do have some things that may excite some (mostly my family). I am heading into my last semester of undergraduate at Hofstra University and I have just begun an internship with NBC Weekend TODAY. Although I just started, I have already been given so much to do, such as researching, running updated scripts to the control room during the show and logging music the show uses so royalties can be paid. It is a weekend morning show, so I am in New York City by five in the morning on Saturdays and six on Sundays, and I go in two to four times a week.

Me in the studio at NBC TODAY

Due to my hectic schedule this semester (I am still juggling my sorority, fraternity, my school’s television station and a job on top of being an intern and full-time student), I will not be able to produce as much content as I did last semester (unless I can). Therefore, I plan to post a new video from Australia almost every week, one year after I experienced such incredible travels. My goal is to start this in March, as I do have some posts from winter break to share and maybe one or two new posts to type up in February.

I have said before: this is no top-of-the-line travel blog, but it is something I hold important to me and enjoy doing. So, with that being said, I hope some people take a liking to my upcoming posts and Australian adventures!

Whitmanythought 1: I cannot wait to share my videos! Most of them have been done since I was in Australia

Whitmanythought 2: Maybe I should just delay graduation and study abroad again


London: One Year Later

One year ago today, I was spending my last night in London and begrudgingly preparing to leave behind the most exciting and fulfilling two weeks of my life.

Today, I began my new internship at NBC Weekend TODAY which will hopefully cultivate an exciting and fulfilling semester.

Two years ago, I never thought I would have just finished frolicking around London with great friends. One year ago, I would never believe I would be making my way into an incredible pre-professional opportunity. Isn’t it crazy what time can do?

Here is the video that documents the travels of my dear trip to London in 2017.

Whitmanythought 1: Take me back to London, please.

Whitmanythought 2: I feel so under-qualified for this internship.

Frisco, Colorado: Wrapped Up

It has been a week since I returned from Colorado, and I have not stopped appreciating how much we lucked out with the conditions. Now, I get to look back on my family ski trip through my lackluster memory, blog posts, pictures, and this video. Enjoy!