June 29, 2016


*Full transparency here, I only fasted for one day of Ramadan and not the entire month that is customary for Muslims.  

For those that do not know, Ramadan is observed by Muslims all over the world as a month of fasting to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad and is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam. It takes place in the 9th month of the Islamic Calendar and lasts from sun rise to sun set. During that time one must abstain from eating, drinking, smoking, and sexual relations. It sounds intense, and it is but really to me it is just a way to clear your mind from distraction and reflect. 

My good friend Deema who is Muslim has been a trooper this month as she fasts and I wanted to support her any way I could. I knew it would not be easy as the days are long here in Newcastle, sunrise is at 445 right now and sunset is at just about 10 pm. Our friend Kate gave me the idea as she decided to give a day and fast about 2 weeks ago. It had never occurred to me to actually participate in Ramadan because I just assumed I could not. I have always had friends who are Muslim so I have heard of Ramadan and knew that they couldn't eat but that was just about all I knew. I have flashbacks to my Gap days and working with my friend Nesli and the warnings she used to give us (GIRL I GET IT NOW). I always tried to be conscious of their experiences and be respectful as well but this year, and with Kate's help I wanted to fully connect and not just offer up kind words. 

I was HUNGRY! I completely forgot to eat the pre-fast meal so my stomach was super empty. I felt tired in the day and a bit light headed at times too. I had gone to the store in the evening to grab food for dinner and bought some cookies, when I tell you my mouth actually watered when I opened that package it is not an exaggeration.  Overall it was a very eyeopening experience, after the initial waves of hunger passed I was able to get to business as usual but I quickly started to reflect on my position. I thought wow, yes I am thinking about all the food right now in my fridge but at least when this is over I have access to food. I think it's funny how you do not think about your blessings until you lose them. So participating in Ramadan made me realize that I need to be thankful for my blessings, actively and consciously more often. I think so often as a young woman I get caught up in what others are doing and achieving and it traps me into a negative space but this processes helped clear my head quite a bit. I am going to try and look to it when I find myself on the self-doubt downward spiral (like the one I had today). 

Deema and I made dinner together and waited for 9:50 to come where we broke fast and had a meal. Then we had the most amazing conversation about life, religion, and the human experience.  I would encourage everyone to considering fasting, especially if you have Muslim friends. Let them know that you care about them and their experience. I think that from here on out I am going to participate at least one day each year. I think in the times that we are having now in both the UK and the US what we really need is more ways to understand thy neighbor and experience life through their lens. 

Ramadan Mubarak, everyone!

June 26, 2016


I just got back from my first solo trip to Prague and it was awesome I cannot wait to go back. I knew when I moved to England I wanted to do at least one solo trip because I am a grown up and shouldn't feel scared to travel alone. After finding a great deal on a flight and doing some research on good places to travel as a solo female traveler I picked Prague and was off. 

I stayed at Sophie's Hostel and had an amazing stay. I have only stayed in 2.5 hostels (you can read about the .5 hostel HERE) and Sophie's was by far the best. The staff was super friendly, and it had a boutique hotel feel to it. Also it was super affordable. I was in a 5 bed Women's only room, which had 5 individual beds, our own full kitchen, and private bathroom. I have stayed in hostels before, where I stayed in a mixed room and they were perfectly fine but because I was traveling alone I felt more comfortable staying in a women's only room. All the girls that I was with were lovely and I even made two friends from Brazil!

I spent my days just walking, I had a general idea of where I wanted to go and I had booked a half day trip to Konopiste Castle for one day. I went to the ballet one evening and drank lots of beer (which is cheaper than a coke) and ate delicious pastries and chocolate. In total I walked about 30 miles during my trip. I would recommend doing any of the free walking tours as they cover a lot of history, I am just someone who likes to wander and window shop so I decided to do my own tour. My suggestions for going to Prague are as follows:
  • Commit a full day to Prague Castle and take your time to explore it. Your ticket will actually allow you access for 2 days in a row. 
  • Don't feel like you HAVE to pay for the sites at Prague Castle. I got circuit ticket B and after doing the things that were offered I could have done with out it. It is free to enter the area that is "Prague Castle"
  • Commit to walking to the top and visit the Strahov Monastery and their Brewery, get a meal at the restaurant there and partake in the best view in the entire city. 
  • eat street food it is delicious! 
  • Drink the beer because it is cheap and also delicious 
  • Take a tram or the metro and see some of the areas outside of Prague. Prague's public transportation is great and very cheap. 
  • Go to the theater, there is always something great playing

June 4, 2016


Well it is officially summer for me, which means nothing because I am in the midst of writing my dissertation but I did get to take a week long vacation last week. Me and two of my friends went to Rhodes, one of the larger Greek Islands. Greece is actually made up of about a thousand islands with about 200 of them being inhabited. We found a good flight and a cheap place to stay and went for it.