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a word about college apps

As it is now the end of January, I have finally finished all of my college apps (though the same can not be said about all the extra documents one must send after the initial application has been sent). With this said, I wanted to write a bit about what the process was like for me, and how I think it has helped my overall study habits.

I started the college process quite late; by the time late October rolled around last year I still had no definite college list. This confusion lasted well into December, and I only became aware of where I really aspired to go once I started writing all my essays.

With my essays, I found them quite relaxing; when I would get stressed about studying the process of DNA translation, I would turn to some obscure essay prompt I was in the process of outlining to give me an escape from my school studies. If you have gone through the college process or are in the process now, you know that the essays are the most time-consuming part. It is an odd feeling knowing that whatever you write in about 600 words or less will be sent to a college in order for them to understand who you are.

For my main common application essay, it took a solid ten drafts to get to the point where I was pleased with it, and by the time I sent it to my first college, I knew I was sending something that I was proud of. For the smaller, supplemental essays, they allowed my mind to drift to thoughts I haven’t been able to think about for a long time, as I have been so absorbed in my writings for school.

I was able to reflect on who I am, and I why I am this way. I wrote about how my draw to nature has kept me steady as I travel the world, and how the past year has changed my entire life for the better. The prompts prompted (no pun intended) me to look at my past experiences with wonder and intrigue and to see the beauty in seemingly small moments.

I wrote an entire supplemental essay about how I got lost my first week in Lithuania without a phone in the dead of winter; allowing me to learn that I should have faith in myself and my capabilities.

Writing all these essay’s improved how I write and think in many of my classes, but mostly English. It gave me much-needed practice in critical thinking and how to express my thoughts fluidly.

The rest of the application process was quite mundane, but after surviving my holiday break which consisted of sending in six applications in the course of three days, I created a list of things I wish I had known before entering the college application world.

  1. If you can apply early action, do. Early action is non-binding, meaning that if you get accepted to the college, you don’t have to go. You simply send your application earlier (usually in November) and get a decision faster. This is beneficial for a number of reasons, one being that you will be thankful to get decision letters in January or February as opposed to April. It also allows you to have a sort of divider date between all your college applications. In other words, if you apply early action to five schools (like me), that allows you to spend more time on the regular decision applications.
  2. Don’t overanalyze your essays. This is one thing I wish I would’ve done myself. Yes, it is important to have people read your essays for grammar, fluency and for some comments on what to change. However, at a certain point, you must decide when your essay has gone under enough scrutiny. If you are proud of it, then it is done. Letting numerous people read it is all good and well, but you run the risk of losing your voice, which is the key part of the essay.
  3. The topic doesn’t matter, you do. Similar to my previous point, the most important part of your essay is you. It doesn’t matter if you write about your journey to India or your morning walk with your dog, what matters is your perspective on what you write about, and how it defines who you are. Choose something you are passionate about, not something you feel you have to write about.

I am no expert in the college application area, but I do think these tips are helpful in organizing and in staying true to who you are. I tried to look at the entire process as a way for me to explore schools as well as myself in order to find a school that matched my identity. As the IB courses come to an end, I hope to spend more time on the blog, as I have seen from this entire process how much I enjoy creative writing.

As Always,

xoxo Em.

A Tidbit

A small post for the memories.

 

One of the numerous benefits to living in a European country is that visiting other countries is essentially like crossing the border to other states (given the countries are in the European Union). With this in mind, I am fortunate enough to be able to travel quite frequently, with my most recent endeavor taking me to Paris for my 18th birthday. Here are some snippets of my time;

Paris was my first trip without an adult, and taking this into account, I am proud that I only had one minor breakdown during the trip (8 hours at Disneyland can make someone monumentally exhausted).

I was able to somewhat navigate through the metro system, and mangle some conversations so that I could converse with some locals. Although most of my conversations consisted of me ordering food, my last conversation was with a taxi driver who spoke no english. My friend and I gave the wrong address, and I ended up explaining to him where were supposed to be. We ended up having a conversation about my lack of preparation, and although it was a conversation at my own expense, I was happy about the fact that I spoke to a local in fluent French.

 

As Always,

xoxo Em

A Summary

 

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If my life was a movie, it would be safe to say that 2017 has been the most graphic of my years on this earth.

In January I moved to Vilnius, Lithuania for six months. From there, I spent a week in India, one in France and one in Portugal.

I was blessed enough to have my two best friends book flights from Denver, Colorado to visit me in the frigid weather of Vilnius.

I learned to become confident with myself and with my abilities for the first time in years.

I came to the realization that after six months, I have created homes in both Denver and Vilnius.

In eight months, my life has been flipped upside down, and I couldn’t be more happy about it. 
Drawing

As Always,

xoxo Em

A Day on the Ice

First post of of 2016!!!! I didn’t get around to doing a New Year’s post, but I am here now!!! Winter break is almost over which saddens me, but I am going skiing tomorrow! I am not good at all, so we will see how it goes. I presume there will be a lot of falling, not moving anywhere, and maybe some crying. Today I went with my dad and dog to a nearby state park and took some photos.

My dog does not like to stay still or look photogenic, at all, so these are the only somewhat decent photos I got of her.

I got plenty of her romping around though. We were on a frozen lake, so she kind of just slid everywhere.

We also made her (our dog) chase some geese, which probably wasn’t the best thing, but she was highly entertained.

So this was my end of break outing, along with going skiing (tomorrow). I hope you all have had a wonderful winter break!!! I am so excited to see what 2016 holds for me and this blog. I hope to post more, and to include more photos. I like doing recipe posts, and I may even start a YouTube channel. I would like my videos to kind of resemble Casey Neistat’s, he is a daily vlogger. I am just going to go with the flow and see how it goes 🙂

As Always,

xoxo Em

 

 

 

 

Oh So Delicious

Happy holidays everyone! First off, I want to thank everyone who voted for my Syrian refugee essay! Thanks to all of you my essay has moved onto the final round, and will now be viewed by the judges. I could have not it made this far without all of your votes 🙂

I have recently done a blog collaboration with Amber, at https://soulofstories.wordpress.com, and she found this delicious recipe for cookie bars! They looked delicious, and you can find the original recipe here (Butter Baking)

Be sure to look at other recipes on this blog, they all look delicious. Now for the most part I followed this recipe, with just a few alterations.

To make this gift from the heavens you’ll need:

  • 110g unsalted butter, melted (1/2 cup)
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cups plain flour
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ – 1 tsp sea salt, to taste
  • ½ – 1 cup Nutella, to taste
  • ½ cup condensed milk (about half a can)

Directions:

  • Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Put parchment paper in an 8×8 baking dish.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the butter, egg, both sugars, and vanilla. If you don’t have a mixing bowl, melt the butter first and this will make stirring it all together very easy. If you do have a mixer, just make sure the butter is room temp. and then put it all into the mixer.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together both flours, baking soda and salt. Then slowly add this into the bowl with the wet ingredients.IMG_0231
  • Once you have mixed this together, you have made the cookie dough base! Take about 3/4 cup of the dough and put it to the side. Take the rest of the dough and put it into the baking dish.
  • Now is the part where you add the Nutella. In all honestly I didn’t measure this part, I just put dollups in the pan until I was satisfied. (While making this recipe it doesn’t all that tasty, but trust me, it is).IMG_0233
  • Next, stir up the condensed milk in the jar before pouring it on top. I did about 3/4 of the can, or until I covered the entire dish. Top it all off with the remaining cookie dough. I only reserved a 1/2 a cup of the dough when I tried this out, but I recommend that you reserve about 3/4 of a cup of dough.IMG_0235
  • Bake this dish in the oven for 30 min. or until the dough is golden brown. The milk gets caramelized and the Nutella gets smoother and it just turns into a gooey masterpiece.

    Be sure to check out Amber’s version of this recipe, she is also the one who originally found this! I hope you are all enjoying the end of the year.

As Always,

xox Em

Syria

When I got an email from my mother about something called AFS Project Change, I kind of just skimmed over it. At the same time, I had been reading about the Syrian Refugee Crisis. Now I knew that this event had been going on, but I didn’t know that it is the largest humanitarian crisis since WWII. More that 12 million Syrians have fled Syria, and half of them are children.

When people hear of their country accepting refugees, some get scared. They see statistics on paper, and they worry about taxes, jobs, their safety, etc. What many of these people don’t do is look at the conditions in Syria. Many don’t even google what Syrian refugees look like. They aren’t all terrorists, they aren’t all going to steal jobs, but they are all people trying to flee a violence stricken country. If our country were to break into turmoil, I would hope that other countries would find it in themselves to look past the possible, and highly unlikely downfalls of us seeking refuge in their country.

I guess what I am trying to articulate is that when you see a Syrian refugee, or hear just one story, the idea of whether to take them in isn’t confusing at all. It is clear as day.

This all being said, I recently entered my essay to an organization (AFS Project Change) that will grant one winner a full scholarship to go to a country in need. The country I wrote about is Turkey, and the 400,000 Syrian refugee children that are currently there. Many Syrian children haven’t been going to school for years, because even while they were still in Syria, it wasn’t safe to go outside. Now that they are in Turkey, little to none speak Turkish, so going to a Turkish school is out of the question. Most children also have to work during the day, so education isn’t a top priority.

But it should be. If the “lost generation” of Syrian children don’t receive an adequate education, it is estimated that Syria’s GDP will drop by 1.5 billion pounds. That will make Syria’s economy plummet, creating more problems than they already have. These children also have so little hope for themselves. They don’t want to invest in education, they want to learn how to be a shoe cleaner, or a beggar.

If my idea was chosen, I would create a basic education system for refugee children that would serve as a platform to make education more accessible to the refugees. Small classes would form early in the morning, or late at night when the children didn’t have to learn. At these schools, children would learn to read and write, and to do basic math. They would also learn Turkish (all classes taught by fairly educated refugees) so that some could go into Turkish schools.

The Syrian children need someone to believe in them. My idea would help them to believe in themselves, and to aspire to do succeed in life. An education would not only help individual children to succeed, but it would also help to eventually pick up the pieces of Syrian culture that have been destroyed by all the violence.

To vote, please click the following and search “The Ripple Effect”:

http://contest.afsusa.org/entry

The site will ask you to create an account, so if you live outside of the US, please fill in that you live in Colorado, the city is Littleton, and the school is Heritage. The site simply wants to verify that you are human. You can vote once a day, but please do not feel obligated to do so! If you can, it would also be awesome if you shared this link with family and friends, and maybe even on your blogs! This is a chance for me to help people, to impact their lives in a positive way.Please choose to be a part of this journey with me 🙂

As Always,

xoxo Em

Duck Confit

 

A few days ago, I decided to try out a recipe that seemed daunting, simply because of the word. Duck confit had always seemed super complicated to me, but I decided to try a recipe and see how it went. This is the result.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup salt (I used regular and grey salt)

3 tbs. parsley

3 tbs. tarragon

4 duck legs

1 cup rendered duck fat

2 cloves garlic

1 tsp black pepper

2 cups canola oil

Total Time: about 4.5 hours

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 300 F.
  1. With a mortar and pestle, grind together the salt, herbs, garlic, sugar and pepper. Grind for about five minutes, or until you start to smell the aroma from the garlic and herbs.

 

2. Next, massage the duck legs in the salt to cure them. Massage each one for about 5 minutes, and then place the legs in the fridge for at least 30 min. to marinate.

 

 

3. After 30 min., take the legs out of the bowl and wash the salt mixture off them and pat dry. Next, place them in a baking dish and pour the duck fat over them. Make sure all parts of them are coated in the duck fat, and then add the canola oil until the legs are full submerged in the fat. Place in the oven at 300 F. for 2 hours, or until the legs are crispy on top.

 

 

4. Let the legs sit in the oil for another hour, and then take them out. Place them on a plate and into the fridge for an additional hour.

5. Next, take the legs out of the fridge and place them on a frying pan with some of the fat. Fry them until they become golden brown.

 

 

6. If you want, you can make a simple syrup for the side of the duck by taking fruit juice, chicken stock, and brown sugar and bringing those to a boil. Reduce, and then you have made a simple syrup! I also made a side salad with pea sprouts and greens. I think the acidity from the dressing adds to the dish.

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This dish is time consuming, but it is well worth it. My one tip is to not rush any step, take your time. Quoting my brother, it is a “glorified chicken drum stick”. A really really good drumstick though 🙂

As Always,

xoxo Em