a belated birthday blog

On February 4th, at long last, I finally celebrated my 21st birthday! For a college student, turning 21 is basically the Holy Grail. Until I turn 25 and can legally rent a car, this is essentially the last birthday with a significant amount of meaning and privileges attached. As any Union College student would, I of course celebrated the big night at Bomber’s with my best friends, complete with that massive margarita that they gift customers when it is their birthday. Prior to my Bomber’s celebration, my best friends could not have made my day more special. I was presented with all of my favorite snacks at midnight (they know that food is the way to my heart) and when I came home from work, my entire bedroom was decorated! One of my friends even delivered me a Panera breadbowl with broccoli cheddar soup to work for my lunch. Amazing.

This past weekend, my parents came up for dinner on Saturday night, and they took my friends and I to Marotta’s! My mom had even set up little goodie bags for us on our plates before we got there, and it was adorable. Dinner was to die for – I got the lobster ravioli and my first legal drink (Chianti!). It was the perfect way to wrap up a week of birthday celebrations. I have the best friends and family in the world, and I can’t thank them enough for making my 21st the best birthday yet!

most wonderful time of the year…oscar noms!

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As most of you may know, I have a huge movie buff. We’re talking human form of iMDB here. It’s kind of a problem. That being said, awards season is my favorite season of all! Now that we are wrapping up the minor leagues (I’m looking at you People/Critics Choice Awards, SAG and Golden Globes) it’s time for the major leagues: The Academy Awards. I’m a complete film snob with super strong opinions regarding who should have been nominated and who should subsequently win, so I figured I would share my thoughts and predictions with you all! I won’t bore you with my predictions for things like foreign film and film editing, because, let’s be serious: I know nothing about film editing and I don’t want to sound like a moron. Plus, I would rant and rave for hours so I will stick to the most important categories. But who knows, maybe some of you might agree with my predictions!

Best Picture:

The nominees for this category are so predictable, which is no surprise given Oscars’ history. Nominations are totally political and often don’t necessary reflect the actual quality of the film which is beyond infuriating…but I digress. Despite some heavy hitters in this category, there are only a few nominees that stand a legitimate chance. The Screen Actor Guild Awards and Golden Globes are very good at predicting who will take home the Oscar, in which case I should be inclined to say American Hustle will end up victorious…but that makes me mad. I have to be honest, I really did not love American Hustle. I’m all about David O. Russell and the same cast of actors he always uses (Lawrence, Adams, Bale and Cooper), but this one just didn’t do it for me. I would be inclined to say Gravity, but I’m a big believer in that if you don’t have someone nominated for Best Actor and Best Actress from the same movie, you probably won’t win. That being said, as much as I hate to admit it, American Hustle will take home the night’s top honor.

Best Actor:

First of all, let me just say how appalled I am that Tom Hanks did not receive a nomination for Saving Mr. Banks or for Captain Phillips. I was devastated. However, even if he had received a nomination, I’m not sure that Hanks would have even taken the award home: this honor belongs to Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club.

Best Actress:

If Amy Adams wins, I will throw the biggest hissy fit of my life. She was terrible in American Hustle. There, I said it. Sorry Amy Adams but you never would have conned me with that horrific British accent you clumsily utilized throughout the movie. Atrocious. I think this one will be going to Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine, which if it means Adams doesn’t get another award, then it is a-okay by me.

Best Supporting Actor:

I would love to see newcomer Barkhad Abdi from Captain Phillips take it home, but unfortunately, I know he won’t. Instead, I think it is inevitable that Jared Leto of Dallas Buyers Club will be the winner, which is wholeheartedly deserved.

Best Supporting Actress:

JLaw, I love you, but you don’t deserve another Oscar this year. Someone had to say it. Yes, you were fabulous in American Hustle, and probably worthy of the nomination, but not worthy of the win. The Oscar will go to Lupita Nyong’o of 12 Years a Slave.

Best Director:

This one is a toss up, full of some seriously heavy hitters. Scorcese, McQueen and Russell? Come on. Ultimately, however, I think that it will go to Alfonso Cuaron for the wonderfully different and unique Gravity.

how i spent my winter vacation

Having only two and a half weeks to cram in all the activities I usually get to do in six weeks during my winter break made for a very busy and fun-filled vacation! Now that I’m back at school, here are some highlights from my time at home!

harry potter studio tour!

Guys, my wildest dream came true a couple of weeks ago. After almost 21 years, I finally got myself to Leavesden Studios in Watford Junction, England…and it was everything I hoped it would be! Despite minor setbacks – including a flat tire on the rental car and getting impossibly lost – my parents and I managed to enjoy an amazing day in the place that I had been dreaming of for practically my entire life. Enjoy some of my pictures from the magical adventure!

wishlist

wishlist
  1. Thanks to being a slave to Apple and its iPhone for so many years, I am finally due for my upgrade! I would love, love, love to step into the big leagues with a new iPhone 5…I love the silver one!
  2. I am in desperate needs of new riding boots. I’ve had my fair share of them, but I wear them so frequently that they get run down. Not to mention the fact that I have the tendency to wear them at frat parties…not ideal. This year I’d love an investment in some great quality, leather boots that I would actually take care of for once.
  3. Lately, I have been loving the bib necklace look. This particular one is from J.Crew, which is well beyond my price range for jewelry, but its a great example of the look I’d like to go for. There are so many websites where you can steal the same kind for less!
  4. Every girl should invest in some lulus, and I am no exception. Once again, I find myself without a suitable pair at the moment, and I am just dying to get a new pair of wunder unders for the winter.
  5. Cozy sweaters are the number one thing I am craving for Christmas this year! I honestly just cannot get enough. They are my achilles’ heel.
  6. There’s nothing like a Target gift card! Most of my paycheck goes to the store anyway (I literally cannot walk in without spending 100+ dollars, even if I only went in to get shampoo) so it would be wonderful to fund my habit on someone else’s dime.
  7. A perfect stocking stuffer are the ribbon hair ties that are so popular nowadays! I am a devoted customer of these bad boys, but being abroad, I underestimated how many I would need and I am down to my last, ratty ribbon.

tuesday’s tunes

To follow up with a week long hiatus while I traveled through Spain and Italy (ugh, my life is so hard), I’ve decided to introduce a new feature on Maura Met Union called Tuesday’s Tunes! I don’t know about any of you, but I am constantly looking for new music, preferably stuff that is not featured on the Top 40 countdown. Spare me the whining, pseudo-rap musical stylings of Justin Bieber, please. Here’s a list of 5 songs that I am absolutely loving this week – seriously, they’re so overplayed on my recently added playlist, I can’t even.

“Holes” by Passenger

“Human” by Christina Perri

“Elastic Heart” by Sia feat. The Weeknd and Diplo

“Bonfire Heart” by James Blunt

“Man on Fire” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

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cheers, mate!

Despite being a couple of days late on my blogging (thank you very much, jetlag!) I can officially say that I have settled into life in York, England! After almost 24 straight hours of traveling, we finally made it to the university two nights ago and I have been loving it ever since.

On Thursday night, I flew from Logan Airport in Boston with the other kids on the trip from Massachusetts – Emily, Davis, Jenna and Christina – to London and from there to Manchester. From Manchester, we took a coach bus from the airport to York, which took about two hours. Though we were supposed to have arrived in town around 4, other international students had missed their flight, which pushed back our departure from Manchester by two hours…we didn’t leave until 4, aka when we were supposed to have arrived. Yikes. Luckily, I slept through the entire debacle, which was a blessing considering I didn’t get any sleep at all on our flights. Sleeping upright is no easy feat. When we finally arrived on campus, we then had to wait in line for what seemed like hours to register with the university, get our keys and receive welcome packets. Finally, around 7, we headed back on a shuttle to the Grange!

The Grange is off campus housing for York St. John University, located about 10 minutes away from campus. It is an easy walk, with plenty of beautiful houses to look at on the way…so far, I have no complaints! Comprised of various houses, the Grange breaks up each respective house into numbered town houses. I live in Welch House 3 with three other roommates, though it can live five people in total. Extra bedroom for anyone who wants to visit! I totally lucked out with my accommodation assignment, as Kim, one of my friends on the trip lives with me! Not to mention the fact that we have two wonderful other girls living with us, Cathryn and Maggie. Living in Welch House 2 and Welch House 4 are Davis and Joe, two of our other friends, and Max, Emily and Allie all live in other Grange houses close by. I would post a picture of our house, but surprisingly, I haven’t actually taken a picture yet! We each have our own bedrooms split between the two levels, as well as a common kitchen, bathroom and shower. Our individual rooms are spacious, and we even get our own sinks which are beyond convenient.

The first night we got here, Allie, Kim, Emily, Davis and I headed into town to explore a bit and grab a bite to eat. We settled on wagamama, which wasn’t exactly out of our comfort zone considering they have them in the States, but it was good nonetheless. Exhausted, we all then headed back home to unpack and go to bed early as Davis, Emily and I hadn’t slept in what felt like days. The next morning, the five of us and Max – who had just arrived – headed back into town to take care of a few errands. We grabbed brunch at an adorable spot, Cafe Luca. After eating, we took our time really exploring the city, walking all the way down the water and down every side street we could find. The city square literally has everything you could possibly need – including and Urban Outfitters! We also took care of our international phones, opting for a pay as you go option with a carrier called 02. The man who helped us was absurdly nice, taking the time to be patient with all of our ignorant questions and the fact that we are obnoxious Americans. Surprisingly, the British are just as fascinated with us as we are with them! After hitting a few other stores to take care of some basic necessities that none of us had packed with us, such as bedding, food, toiletries, etc, we were all beat and headed back to take naps.

There was a big paint party hosted by the university at a club in the city going on last night, which the boys were all very excited about. Us girls on the other hand…well, considering we all overpacked in the first place, we also didn’t bring any clothing we were particularly happy about ruining. Not to mention the fact that I had zero intention of doing laundry during my first week! So instead, the boys headed off to Tokyo, a nightclub, while us girls had a delicious dinner at an Italian restaurant, Caesar’s. After that, we headed through the streets and landed on a bar called the Stone Roses, apparently named for a British band…go figure! It wasn’t packed, which was nice, so we got to have great conversations with some of the locals, and learned some valuable lessons. Most importantly was that we had been tipping an exorbitant amount on every meal. Apparently, British custom is that you only tip if you feel the waiter or waitress deserves it, and there is no percentage that is necessary, as waiters/waitresses make a reasonable hourly wage, equivalent to about $9/hr., and the tips go right into his or her own pocket, unlike in the States. In fact, most people don’t tip at all if the service is not above and beyond. Whoops. Oh well, ya win some and ya lose some! Lesson learned.

We’ve all just come back from a meeting with Professor Oxley, who came on the trip with us, as well as an orientation-like meeting with all of the international students, and after grabbing a sandwich across from campus at an adorable cafe called Nicky’s Kitchen – run by a very sweet woman, Nicky, and her mother – we are all now back in our rooms resting before heading back into town with one of my housemates, Cathryn!

I know I don’t have many pictures yet, but I promise they will be uploaded in due time! Cheers! x

how i’ve spent my summer vacation!

Welp, it’s Labor Day Weekend, and unfortunately…we all know what that means. Summer has officially drawn to a close. However, given Union’s delightful trimester system, classes on campus still don’t start for another week. For me, classes will take even longer to commence, as I won’t even arrive in York, England until September 14! Just in case you have forgotten, or haven’t been spending all of your time digging through and pouring over my previous posts (how dare you!) I will be abroad this fall term and could not be more excited!

As my last non-Union attending friend has packed up and headed back to his or her respective school for another year, I have been focusing much more on preparing for my upcoming European adventure; that preparation has included growing just slightly nostalgic for the past summer and looking back on all of the fun I had. Considering I took the summer off from Maura Met Union, I figured a gallery of some pictures accumulated over the past couple of months would be a fun way to recap!

what a wonderful weekend

What a weekend this one was. For those of you who have just experienced your first alumni weekend, I hope you had an amazing time like I did, and for those that have yet to experience one…just wait! I have always been adamant that alumni weekend is by far the best weekend on Union’s campus, which is a pretty bold statement considering all of the amazing events our community has to offer. But, with the fireworks, music and BBQs with alumni who are pushing 85-years-old and have still got it in them, where can you go wrong?!

Alumni weekend, however, also happened to fall on an otherwise very busy weekend as well. On Friday, we had the Greek Awards to attend, where Delta Delta Delta picked up numerous honors, including best philanthropy and most improved sorority! Then, on Sunday, we held our annual TRIHOP Pancake Breakfast, where we served pancakes and bacon and donated all the proceeds to St. Jude. We managed to raise almost $400 for the children and their families! But, yesterday, it was also one of my best friend’s birthday, and today it is another best friend’s birthday!

As a result, we all headed to Bomber’s for my friend Emily’s birthday, where she celebrated by getting a free margarita for her 21st! A free margarita on your 21st birthday is one of the fun things about Bomber’s, a local burrito bar and owned by a Union alum, not to mention the delicious food! I had an amazing BBQ pulled pork taco and rasta fries, and they were to die for.

After Bomber’s, my best friends and I headed to the Saratoga Performing Arts Center for the Brad Paisley, Chris Young and Lee Brice concert. Although thunder storms were forecasted, it ended up being an absolutely beautiful night, and it didn’t rain once! I don’t know about you, but country music is my absolute favorite, especially in the summertime. It was a perfect end to the best weekend yet. But this week, despite being the tenth, is already proving to be just as fun, as my friends and I are went to the new Asian fusion restaurant downtown, Zen, for my bestie Katherine’s birthday dinner. Despite incredibly slow service – it was very busy and they were clearly understaffed – I definitely enjoyed my shrimp hibachi with noodles…even if it was after we had to have them heat up our food once it got to us. But, I won’t hold my less than desirable experience at Zen against them, as they’re brand new, and it was obvious our waitress had little to no experience.