when i first saw the olympic site

it looked like this:

when i studied in London in the fall of 2010, we toured the olympic site and saw building plans. with dirt mounds and construction vehicles everywhere, it was hard to fathom those grounds eventually becoming what we now see on tv.

for example, have you seen that big crazy red structure yet? yeah, that was just a picture on the blueprint wall in 2010. and i thought no wayyy is that thing going to be standing right here in two years (or at all... it looks like it'd be unstable and terrifying)...

 but, it's there and it's awesome.

in fact, much of that far east end of London has been improved over the past couple years. thanks to the olympics, there will be 130,000 square meters of new work space in the media center after the games, 1,000s of new homes and jobs for Londoners, 110 hectares of new open space created, and 8 km of waterways renewed.

it warms my heart to know that the city that i love so dearly--the city that has brought the world together in the spirit of the games--will benefit from the platform which facilitated this wonderful tradition.

In ,

bambie turns 22

a year ago last september, i walked into a room on the second story of a flat in Bloomsbury London, to meet my new best friend. Amber and i shared the upper left room of flat 17 for nearly four months. i've never shared a room with anyone prior, let alone with a complete stranger in a new country. but Amber Bowman and i could not have been better paired.

Amber and i grew from two different backgrounds on opposite sides of the country, yet we share similar struggles, views on life, and identical humor. from the first week, we were immediately linked. we also had 3 out of 4 classes together, so it was rare to spend a day without her. she comforted me when i cried, took care of me when i was sick, and encouraged me when i procrastinated. i counseled her through fears and nightmares and regrets. but more importantly, we made each other laugh.

she laughed every time i bumped my head on the slanted ceiling by my bed. 

i laughed every time she bumped her head on the top of a doorway that read "mind your head." 

(It happened a lot... brits are small?)

i also laughed when she jokingly did this

and this

and this

we laughed in class, when Dr. Crook wasn't looking. we laughed on the tube, when all the business men were still with stern faces. we laughed deciding who could be a vampire on Oxford Street. we laughed about sheep on a bus in Wales while everyone was sleeping (sorry if you heard us). we laughed running down a dark street in Sorrento, Italy. we even laughed in Notre Dame, when everyone was quietly praying (sorry, again! we couldn't help it).

she taught me to meow to songs and i taught her how to sneeze correctly. we woke up every morning and talked about our dreams. we made up words to songs on long walks home. we always agreed that going to sainsbury's to buy digestive cookies was a good enough reason to get out of bed, even when it was freezing. we thought this was funny:

we high-fived from different hemispheres.

we rode a motorcycle together next to the eiffel tower.

we slept on the freezing cement floor together in Florence. (and heard each other sleep talk/scream/growl... easily the funniest moments of our friendship)

we jumped off cliffs together in Wales.

and we saw a hundred beautiful places while we were abroad.

back in the states, we decided that we like each other enough to still live together :) she still makes me laugh like no other. we still go to the store just to get cookies. we still take classes together. we still bump our heads sometimes. and we still like to jump off of really high things in cool suits.

i'm so grateful to have such a crazy wonderful friend. aside from being hilarious and (obviously) gorgeous, amber is probably the sweetest, most selfless person you'll ever meet.  

and today, she's 22!

happy birthday amber!

year in review

in 2011

i returned to Tallahassee for my first semester back from London. i had a semester full of post-London depression/nostalgia, evidenced by my room, pictured below:

(that's a canvas of a london phone booth, a london skyline wall decal, a british flag pillow, and a picture mobile full of london postcards, all in one corner)

however, the semester was full of wonderful times with the friends i made in London, which did a great job of distracting me from the pain of missing it. but, i may have spent most/all of my class time using the satellite gps on my iphone to zoom in on my pretty city.

i also got reacquainted with the things i missed while in London, such as having a cell phone ^ , ordering sumo sabi delivery, and driving alone with the radio on full blast.

but best of all, i reunited with this cute boy:

we celebrated spring together by going to springs, kayaking, having picnics and picking wildflowers.

i spent spring break in Denver, Colorado, with the best cousin on the planet. we hung out on rooftops and watched french movies. he made me a fort to sleep in, like when we were kids. we went to art museums, thrift shops, the mountains and even a parade! seriously, he's hard to beat.

in May, i went to London for 8 crazy days with my beautiful friends, Christine and Sarah.

i had an amazing time showing them my favorite parts of the city that i love so much, including camden market, covent garden, eve's cafe, the court, and even the FSU study center! we also ventured to places i stubbornly didn't make time for when i lived there because it was either too touristy or too pricey for my very strict study abroad budget, including the tower of london, the tate modern, and the tippy top of saint paul's cathedral (i'm still kicking myself for not doing that before).

i think they love London as much as i do now (well, almost). 

after London, we all flew to Paris, where we spent a weekend in a beautiful hotel, seeing the major sights, eating fancy french cuisine, and making friends with the locals, like Laurant from la pinte!

my adventurous and spontaneous mom decided to meet us out there too :)

my mom and I then spent over two weeks in the south of France, exploring Provence, the Luberon Valley, the French Alps, and the French Riviera. we saw the land of Cezanne, played in chateaus, had lunch where A Good Year was filmed, drove on the track of the Grand Prix, and made friends from around the world.

we then went back to Paris (my 3rd time) for one last weekend before the stress of summer classes would ensue in the states. i had a day to explore Paris by myself, to see things i hadn't yet seen. i fell in love with the Luxemburg Gardens and Shakespeare and Co. and decided that i'll live there one day.

when i arrived back in the states, my flight home filled up and i conveniently got stuck in Philadelphia, where Peter and his family happened to be visiting his sister for her graduation.

back in florida, i went skydiving for the first time with peter (his 2nd time) for his sister Elizabeth's birthday

over the summer, i took a poetry class and an american literature class. in other words, i fell in love with allen ginsberg and realized i'm a terrible poet. and then i turned 21 on the 4th of july!!

that weekend was almost perfect: i hung out in vip at my first rave. peter and i spent a perfect afternoon in the now deceased Border's (he bought me books). we saw pretty things with pretty friends at the art park. peter surprised me and took me to a real life organic farm (i want to be a farmer now). rain ruined our firework plans. and oncoming strep throat ruined my bar hopping plans.

in july, i moved into a house with my best friend Amber and three other lovely ladies. it's the first house i've lived in since i was 15 and it's beautiful.

at the end of july, Sarah and I saw Bon Iver in Atlanta

(yes, that's bon iver's set list)

in August i flew to Vegas to visit family and had a fabulous time. my friend Teresa got us free VIP tickets to see death cab for cutie at this unreal venue on the strip:

i flew to Colorado again to see cousin Steven and fell in love with Denver just a little bit more. maybe it had something to do with seeing death cab again, nestled between red rocks and mountains

here is a little video of my trips to vegas and denver to see my cousins.

fall semester began and i enjoyed Tallahassee and roomies and tailgating and bulls.

i also visited gainesville to see loverboy on occasion. He made time to see me even though he was busy studying for the dreaded LSAT.

(i love him so much i wore orange, even though i think it's an awful color.)

in september, i convinced 4 brave girls to go skydiving with me again. it was even better the 2nd time. maybe it had something to do with seeing the coast and making a rainbow with my shadow on a cloud.

in october, i started cocktail waitressing at a sports bar.

i also carved my first pumpkin, bought my first onesie and saw my first protest.

in november, i hosted thanksgiving for my family at my house. normally ryan and i drive to ohio to see mom, but i had to work thanksgiving night. i'm so grateful that they came to see me.

in december, i finished my second to last semester of classes and finished the year with a trip that included gainesville, deland, ohio, and vegas.

thanks 2011,

you were a whirlwind of fun.

but i have a feeling 2012 will be even better.