Letter to a CHAARG skeptic

Hi everyone + Happy August 1st! Today is the best day ever because CHAARG memberships are officially open!! I stayed up until 11 last night [I’m usually in bed by 9 since I wake up early] to get mine + something I’ve noticed is that some people are hesitant to buy a CHAARG membership // think CHAARG isn’t for them. So, from one ex-CHAARG skeptic to a current, here’s why you should join CHAARG [or at least give it a shot].


Flashback to last August when I got yet another notification from the Ohio University Class of 2020 facebook group from an organization trying to get more people to join. However, this org was different… it was CHAARG. CHAARG is a health + fitness organization that aims to liberate girls from the elliptical + show them that fitness can ++ should be fun by creating opportunities to help them ‘find their fit.’

I like working out, I thought, so I clicked on CHAARG’s website to dive deeper. Reading about Elisabeth [CHAARG’s founder] to Sarah Clem [the director of expansion], + the rest of CHAARG’s story I was sold. A group of like-minded women being fit, hanging out, + enjoying the college experience together is what everyone wants… right?

Well, I somehow ended up scrolling through the OU CHAARG hashtag on Instagram + immediately began feeling anxious. The girls in this hashtag did CrossFit, lifted in the boy’s section of the gym, had run marathons, + more + what had I done?? I did the stair stepper [when the elliptical got boring] + the gym machines with at home workout videos when I was too anxious to actually go to the gym.

What if I didn’t fit in with these girls? What if they hated me? What if I wasn’t ‘fit’ enough? About 100 more what if statements flooded my mind until I was so overwhelmed that I closed my computer. Maybe CHAARG wasn’t for me? I’d think it over, of course, + put it on my to-do list before I left for school “Buy CHAARG membership ?”

After going back to that same hashtag probably a dozen times, I caved about a week after school started + bought my first ever CHAARG membership. Once I received the Welcome Packet on the 1st of September my nerves really started to set in. Those what ifs started to hit me like a train again but I couldn’t back out. I paid $45 so I was going to be a member.

That next week was sample small groups [a small group meets once a week for the whole semester with the same group of people on the same day + time to workout, grab coffee, etc.] + I was terrified to go to one. So, naturally, I went to the last possible small group that I was free for. Friday morning at 8:15 am. The night before I texted that small group leader Rachel to let her know I’d be attending + we designated a spot in the gym to meet.

That next morning, bright + early I walked to the gym, probably shaking so hard people could’ve asked if I was cold in the late summer heat.

However, the second I stepped into the gym + saw Rachel [who was probs wearing avocado patterned leggings] I knew I was going to be okay. Rachel [+ everyone else in CHAARG] is so kind, caring, + so positive it’s hard to not love her. We did an arm workout

Rachel + I at formal this past semester

+ ran on the treadmill for a while as we talked about anything from school, CHAARG questions, family life, etc. until it was 915 + she had to get to class.

I went back to my room, showered, + forced myself to go to a ‘meet the exec’ event at Front Room Cafe an hour or so later to meet Leah + Megan, the then event coordinators. Once again, I was still nervous, much less nervous after I’d met Rachel, but nervous nonetheless. I walked into frontroom, + immediately noticed Leah from the OUCHAARG hashtag + walked over to her + the others at the table. Leah, Megan + I talked about the sameish things I talked about with Rachel: school, CHAARG, home, San Diego, etc. I told Leah that I had just come from Rachel’s sample small group + she said that Rachel had put in their groupme that she met the sweetest girl at her sample SG that morning [ME] + I almost fell on the floor from flattery if I’m being honest.

At this point, I was in CHAARG. That next Tuesday was the CHAARG Welcome Party [which I get to plan this year.. CRAZY] + guess what ?!? I was nervous as shit AGAIN! I walked into whatever building, into whatever room + sat down next to an actual human. I didn’t sit far in a corner + I didn’t make sure to leave TONS of space in between me + another person, but I sat next to a person.

My first CHAARG event + photo

That person happened to be Sydney, my now CHAARG bestie. Sydney + I also made small talk as usual and took the picture you see to your left. Ever since that night, Sydney + I have sat next to each other at every CHAARG event I’m forever grateful I stepped out of my comfort zone because I met her!

Now, as I share all of this + while it seems that all of my nerves were calmed… they weren’t. I went to every small group that semester except 1 [?] + every social that I didn’t have a class conflict for, yet I didn’t go to a single studio spotlight [we contact studios in our area to come + teach class for our members to help in finding their fit]. I was terrified I wasn’t fit enough to do System of Strength + Pound. That I still wouldn’t fit in + so… I never went. I made up the excuse that I had a class conflict or I would get my Eventbrite ticket + cancel it last minute [I didn’t know I wasn’t allowed to do that first semester… whoops].

My first semester, I applied to be CHAARG’s Treasurer [+ didn’t get it]. Naturally, I was pretty disheartened by it + I actually thought about not returning to CHAARG spring semester. I was angry that I hadn’t gotten the position + that I hadn’t gotten that life-changing or eye-opening CHAARG experience others had had… was CHAARG really not for me?

However, I knew I needed to try again. Just because CHAARG didn’t work out in my favor first semester didn’t mean I wasn’t going to give it another go. I bought my spring membership on Black Friday + made a promise to myself that I would go to EVERY SINGLE CHAARG event that I could because I was sad + upset that CHAARG wasn’t changing my life the way it changed everyone else’s + that’s just what I did.

Spring semester I realized one very crucial CHAARG fact that no one tells you: CHAARG can’t change your life if you don’t let it. I had to put in the effort with CHAARG in order to receive that life-changing experience in return

My first semester of OU sucked [I actually contemplated transferring again]. I only talked to my roommate, CHAARG girls but strictly at CHAARG events, + some work people. I didn’t eat. I only worked out during small group. I self-harmed time + time again for the first time in ages + I was all around not happy. It wasn’t OU’s fault but more so mine.

Syd + I post pound!

I was unhappy before OU so it’s no surprise I was still unhappy in Athens. I wanted CHAARG to change my life so dearly because I hated it but I wasn’t willing to put in the effort.

CHAARG changed my life 2nd semester because I made it do so. I went to every studio spotlight + found a love for Pound, Yoga + Zumba!! I went to every small group + social ++ I met so many kind + passionate people ++ I used CHAARG to my advantage so it did change my life.

I eat now. I workout now [for fun + not for a punishment]. I can walk in public without music or talking to someone on the phone. I can talk in front of people. But most importantly, I’m happy now.

are any of our eyes open? the world may never know

CHAARG isn’t this scary thing that only people who do CrossFit or participate in bodybuilding comps can be in. CHAARG is a place for anyone + everyone who have a passion for mental, phyiscal + emotional fitness whether you’ve just started this journey today or 15 years ago.

Remember this: CHAARG can change your life, but only if you let it.

❤ an ex CHAARG skeptic.

Advertisements

July wrap up

Hi everyone and happy Tuesday! Somehow July is already over!!?!?!? I’m not sure how that is! I head back to school in 11 days and I’m so excited but also so shocked that it’s time already! In typical Alicia fashion, let’s check out how my month of July went for me, goals-wise.


  1. Finish CHAARG Bootycamp // re: my last post
  2. 120 oz of water daily// Almost every single day!!
  3. Organize everything I own // Not nearly as far along with this as I’d like because of how overwhelming it is. But slow and steady wins the race!
  4. Keep planning for CHAARG // I’ve planned every social,  welcome party + end of semester party so I just have our retreat which is going not as planned because the camp has stopped responding to my emails and calls. So.. we’ll see.
  5. Get everything for my apartment bought + ready // A few things have been bought but I do have everything I still need on a list ready to go!
  6. Start DIYing // Yikes I haven’t done anything :(( I actually forgot I wanted to! I’ll have to start soon!
  7. Work on training my dog // We’ve been working daily and I see improvements in her behavior on walks daily so let’s see!

How did you do on your goals for July?

❤ Alicia ❤

CHAARG “Bootycamp” reflection

Happy Monday everyone! Friday was the last day of CHAARG’s summer fitness plan “CHAARG Bootycamp” and I had the opportunity to be involved with it this summer. I wanted to reflect on my experience in this fitplan as I gear up for another in October (which I get to help lead as an exec member) so why not do it here for the whole world to see?


I am and have always been very black or white. I either love you or can’t stand you (if I know you that is… if I don’t I can be indifferent), all in or all out, I work out every single day or not at all, etc. and that can be good and bad. With fitness plans, however, it’s usually pretty bad.

I’m not sure why I’m like this // how I can change this about me, but the day I take a day off (that isn’t already listed in the actual plan) I just stop with it completely. I feel like a failure even if I’m not (it’s one day, not every day haha) and can’t bring myself to get back in the swing of things.

I was doing SOOO good the first 2 weeks of the plan… and then I went to Ohio to visit some friends. While I was there I didn’t workout, I drank a lot, ate a lot, etc. and when I got home the last thing I wanted to do was workout, let alone make up the workouts I missed. So, I didn’t workout for a week-ish (seems pretty backward I know). Then I made up a few workouts, got overwhelmed, + took another break. I did, however, get back on track for the last week + did all 3 strength workouts but I still didn’t feel that great about not really finishing the fitplan, especially because I spent money on it.

I think this is mainly due to my planning, or lack thereof. The fitplan started the day after I returned from Florida so I didn’t really have time or energy to plan the next 6 weeks of my life when I had been in a car for 10 ish hours. I had one thing on my mind, sleep, and the last thing I wanted to think about was planning the next 6 weeks.

Due to this, I was off on the wrong foot to begin with and I did persevere through my unplanned workout routine for a week and a half but I desperately needed to and should have planned out my workouts. Until I have written down a time or carved it into my planner, nothing is going to happen and that’s exactly what I didn’t do. I knew this would happen and it did, so I can’t really be mad about it now. This is definitely my major takeaway from this fitplan going into my next. I need to spend a few hours of my life the days before the fitplan starts planning my workouts, my foods, etc. if I want to get it done. It’s not that fitplans don’t work // it’s that you don’t make yourself work + I know that in order to build muscle (I have the upper body strength of a newborn baby) I need to plan and stick to that plan to see the results I want.

I do want to share a positive thing about this fitplan! There was a 10 day meal plan included and it was so useful! I didn’t follow the meal plan but I did love trying new recipes that I’m definitely going to incorporate into my faily life!!

So, while this may seem like a “wow Alicia you suck” sort of post, it definitely helped me realize my faults + how I can improve them for the fall! I also will say that this week I am sort of starting fresh with these workouts and doing the ones I like the most so that I can say I did not waste my money!


Are you as black + white like me? Or is there gray area for you?

❤ Alicia ❤

Homemade ‘Nice Cream’

Hi all and Happy Thursday! I leave for school in 2 weeks so I’m taking full advantage of all the higher quality kitchen appliances that I won’t have in my apartment! One of those is my food processor. I’ve been making protein balls (expect a recipe on these too because they are DELICIOUS), hummus, and this week nice cream!


I’ve been vegan for 2 and a half-ish years and I’ve never made quite possibly the easiest (and most delicious) vegan dessert to exist. I started googling nice cream + when I saw the bananas that I had planned on making banana bread with (overripe bananas are the best for nice cream),  I chopped them up, froze them, and then made some tasty chocolate nice cream. I love making my non vegan family members try my creations because if they love them anyone will (my sister says my taste buds have definitely changed because I find weird vegan foods tasty that she claims she wants to vomit at merely the sight or smell of), however, I ate all of it (about 3 bananas worth) right after making it so I knew I had to make it again and soon.

So, when my 2 bunches of bananas were 100% overripe 3 days after I bought them, my opportunity arose. I chopped up all 8 bananas, tossed them in a plastic bag, and plopped them into the freezer while I headed to Target to get ingredients for all my potential flavor combinations

One flavor I was DYING to make was mint chocolate chip. I am a mint chocolate chip lover from way back and have yet to find a vegan option. So with peppermint extract and chocolate chips in hand, I kept searching for other flavor ideas. I also wanted to make a  strawberry flavor too, so I scooped up a bag of frozen strawberries (which were ridiculously overpriced in my opinion) and headed home since I already had mixed berries and cocoa powder for my very berry and chocolate flavors.

As I arrived back home, I set up my food processor and placed ¼ of my bananas in it, blended them up, and then added my first flavor ingredients, strawberries. I started by adding a half cup to the mixture, however, when it tasted like a frozen strawberry banana smoothie, I added another half cup of strawberries and I could not tell there were bananas in it at all.

I repeated the same process for each of my flavors, about ¼ of my bananas, and then adding cocoa powder, peppermint extract, berries, etc. to taste until I would be comfortable eating these and serving them to my family.

For those of you who want to make these yourselves

Strawberry Nice Cream

Place 2 frozen bananas + 1 cup of strawberries into a food processor and blend until creamy

Chocolate Nice Cream

Place 2 frozen bananas, 3-4 tbsp cocoa powder (to taste), 1 tsp vanilla, and a pinch of salt into a food processor and blend until creamy.

Very Berry Nice Cream

Place 2 frozen bananas + 1 cup of frozen mixed berries into a food processor and blend until creamy

Mint Chocolate Chip Nice Cream

Place 2 frozen bananas, ⅛ tsp peppermint extract (or more depending on taste preference), and a pinch of salt into a food processor and blend until creamy.To achieve the green color you can add a handful of spinach or some green food coloring ( I did both)

*If the fruit isn’t blending, add a splash of almond milk to help*


Have you made nice cream? If so, what flavors did you make?

❤ Alicia ❤

Review: The Happiness Project

Hi everyone and Happy Tuesday! As I mentioned in one of my last posts, I recently finished Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, and I decided to share my review with you all!

This book shows Rubin’s journey through her 12 month-long Happiness project. After realizing that she isn’t as happy as she wanted to be, she set intentions, created secrets of adulthood, paradoxes of happiness, and set off on a journey of being happier. She deals with family frustrations, work frustrations, and more but she always remembers her goals and tries her hardest to not be set off her path and be the happiest she can be.

First off, I should say that I loved this book. I found myself, multiple times, thinking “Wow I do that and I want to stop.” or “Wow, I’ve never thought about doing that but I should.” and also “I love doing this so why don’t I do it already?”

There were 2 chapters of the book I didn’t really care for, April “Parenthood” and August “Contemplate the Heavens” were the two. I’m 21 so I don’t plan on having kids anytime soon (if at all) which is why the parenthood chapter I didn’t resonate with. Also, the Heavens chapter I didn’t care for because I’m not religious or care to learn about religion so while I liked reading about the comical life of Saint Therese in the convent, I wasn’t really feeling the rest of the chapter.

However, all 10 of the other chapters I absolutely loved. March, July, September, and October’s chapters about work, money, books, and mindfulness were my absolute favorites in the whole book. I have so many pages folded over in the book of quotes, ideas, and inspiration for my own happiness project (look for a future post about this soon)

My absolute favorite part of this book, however, is the extra material section at the end of the book. Throughout the book, Rubin mentions her secrets of adulthood and paradoxes of happiness and at the end, she adds a list of them all so that the reader doesn’t have to go back and find them one by one. She also adds tips and tricks for life and a little guide on how to start your own Happiness Project which I will definitely be utilizing sometime soon.

All in all, I would highly recommend this book. I now want to read another one of her books, Better Than Before because I’ve heard rave reviews on that one as well. I also highly recommend her podcast “Happier with Gretchen Rubin,” as I am learning a lot from that podcast just as I’d learned from her book.


What book(s) // podcast(s) would you recommend to me?

❤ Alicia ❤

2018 intentions update

Hi everyone and happy Friday! Yesterday I got a comment on my July intentions and realized that the year is now over halfway gone. Last year I made a 17 in 2017 update post because I wanted to hold myself accountable for my goals + resolutions so that’s just what I’m going to do today! Let’s see how disciplined I am at a list I almost never look at !!!!! ( sense the sarcasm haha?)


EVERY DAY

> 1 hour of journaling//meditation//reading /// this one is totally not happening. It has been the past 2 weeks and a bit at the beginning of the year but I always forget about reading (re: my last post) so I’ve been sucking at that. Hopefully, with my newfound reading love, I’ll be better at that.

> 64 oz of water /// I’ve been kicking booty at this one. I’ve upped my water intake to 128 oz every day and hit even that almost every day!!!

> Exercise /// With CHAARG’s Bootycamp and my morning walks I do this almost every day, however, some days (usually weekends) I don’t do much of anything

EVERY WEEK

> Coffee//Lunch//Workout with someone /// lol this hasn’t happened. I do love this idea so it looks like I’m off to text some friends of mine

> Write /// I write at least once a week… at least something. Whether it be an intro to a book I’ll never finish or I blog here… I get those creative juices flowing somehow.

EVERY MONTH

> Read one book /// HAHAHAHAHA I’ve read 3 books this year (working on my 4th) so maybe if I read enough books during July and August that will counteract my garbage self from the pasts 6 and a half months.

> Discover a new podcast series /// I have 4 podcasts that I’ve been listening to, but I WOULD LOVE SUGGESTIONS SO DROP ME A COMMENT OF YOUR FAVE(S)

THIS YEAR

> Go on a vacation /// My trip to Florida so check

> Take care of my physical and mental health /// This will always be a resolution of mine and some days I am better about it than others and that’s okay.


How are you all doing on your New Year’s Resolutions?

❤ Alicia ❤

High school ruined me

Hi all and long time no write.

I took a nice weekend trip to Ohio at the start of the month, and that paired with some family issues I’ve been pretty lackluster when it came to writing.

Something I’ve been doing quite a bit more recently is reading. I just finished The Happiness Project last night (more on that to come) and I started wondering why I don’t read more often. I love reading, I love writing, yet I don’t do it nearly as often as I’d like.

When I was part of my high school’s yearbook, I did almost exclusively design. I edited captions and stories, etc. but only because I was an editor and therefore it was my job (despite the thrill I got from turning a paragraph of spelling and grammatical mistakes into a perfect package complete with sparkly bow).

But, you all may be thinking… Alicia… you run a blog, you must like writing. And I do, I adore writing, immensely, it gives me a way to be creative without wanting to rip my hair out over my inability to draw anything better than a stick figure. So, then why did I refuse to write copy for my yearbook unless absolutely pressed to by my writing editor? Well, in my opinion, it’s because I was conditioned to believe I hated it.

School, high school, in particular, forced you to read and write things that you have little to no interest (or at least think you don’t) in and it is downright dreadful. Having to read books that you have no interest in, then having to write a 3-5 page essay in 45 minutes on a book you hated and therefore skimmed is almost worse.

I can remember being in elementary school after visiting the library that week, cozying up in my bed on a Friday night with Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty and staying up until the early hours of the morning to finish it because I WANTED to. No one told me to read the book, no one even recommended the book. I read that book because I wanted to. I read that book so many times and for a while, it was my favorite book… maybe it was because it was one of the only books with large font in my library… I’m a slut for large font. Whether I liked the book or merely the font size, there were many more books after that in which I read and loved doing so, but one day it stopped.

In 4th grade, I won a short story contest (and even got it turned into a claymation movie by my advanced class) with a 2-page short story called “Where’s Coco?” My sweet little white dog (based off of the American Girl Doll mascot Coco might I add) who went missing on Friday the 13th… in October nonetheless. While I can’t remember how it ended, I do remember that the title was written in a yellow polka dot angled Word Art font and that it was riveting to my entire class, which is why it won… obviously.

We were given a prompt to write a mystery story. Nothing more nothing less. I poured my heart and soul into that story because I am such a sucker for mysteries that I got that all done in one day (I do that with essays today but more so due to procrastination rather than passion). If I could muster up the idea of an American Girl Doll dog going missing and also find the dedication AND motivation to finish this story, why did I not write anymore? Why do I struggle to blog, when I adore writing? Why?

The answer to this is that high school ruined me. Plain and simple.

Something I always wanted to do was to be a teacher. I didn’t know I wanted to be a teacher because I hated learning, or at least I thought I hated learning.

Something I love is learning. So, why did I hate learning if I love learning? Pretty contradictory don’t you think? I think something that myself and so many others my age have come to realize is that high school is not about learning anymore, it’s about getting grades satisfactory enough to get accepted into the university of your choice.

I cannot tell you a single thing I learned from my junior year of high school other than the fact that I can read The Awakening in 90 minutes. The 90 minutes before I had to write my final exam on that book I may add. I can’t tell you so many things I ‘learned’ in high school because I did not learn them.

I memorized them hours before I needed to know them, regurgitated them onto a scantron or scratch paper, and then one by one, they were discarded into my brain garbage can (told you I didn’t learn much in high school).

High school was never about learning, yet I didn’t realize that until much later. I thought I hated learning because high school made learning the last thing I wanted to do.

It wasn’t until my year off that I realized that learning was fun. I learned more from the 6 and 8-year-olds I nannied than in my entire AP US history class. I learned more in my time in Peru than I did Honors Physics.

Learning doesn’t always take place in a classroom. But learning should always be fun.

How fortunate are we to learn that the moon’s orbit affects the seas’ tides? How fortunate are we to learn that you really can start a sentence with And or Because?

I wish high school hadn’t ruined me. I wish I knew my passions 4 years ago. I wish I never thought I hated the things that set my soul on fire. But here I am, still undecided on my life choices with the same fire and passion I had for reading, writing, and learning but this time.. I know I have it.

Alicia

July intentions

Hi everyone and happy July! The year is halfway over and it feels like just yesterday I was ringing in the new year and now we’re halfway done! Crazy how fast time goes by (even though time is an illusion but whatever). You all know the drill, here are my goals/ intentions for July!


  1. Finish CHAARG Bootycamp // I’m doing this workout guide along with Insanity and Bootycamp ends at the end of July so I want to give it my all and finish strong!
  2. 120 oz of water  daily // you already know
  3. Organize everything I own // This is an ongoing process. A month ago I cleared out a lot of stuff I own and now I need to organize it!
  4. Keep planning for CHAARG // I am SO excited for fall and getting back to school and in order for me to be prepared… I need to get planning!
  5. Get everything for my apartment bought + ready // I move into my apartment August 11th, so naturally, I want everything ready to go by August 1st.
  6. Start DIYing // I keep watching DIY videos + I’m so obsessed! I want to start DIYing things for my apartment and back home
  7. Work on training my dog // She is such an angel in the house, but she’s crazy on walks. I need to get her to keep her cool around bunnies, squirrels, and other dogs!

What are your intentions for July?

❤ Alicia ❤

June wrap up

How in the heck is June already over? How the heck is 2018 already halfway over? This year has flown by more than any other in my opinion and once school starts 2018 will be over before I know it. Let’s see how well I achieved my goals in June


  1. Plan for CHAARG // I’ve been doing a bit of planning here and there, working on retreat, socials, etc. It’s hard planning things in 1 day when people don’t email you back but I’m working on it
  2. Start CHAARG Booty Camp or Insanity // I’m almost done with week 2 of them both, and I will be taking a mini-break in a week or so because I’ll be out of town but I’ve already planned it so I won’t be missing a workout!
  3. Eat better // I’m eating much better, eating out much less, and making almost all of my own food
  4. 1 gallon of water daily // Doing so well on this!
  5. Figure my whole major thing out // I’m in every single class I need for the fall which is all I needed!
  6. Read // I haven’t finished a single book. I’ve been in a weird funk and the last thing I’ve wanted to do was read… I started one and I just haven’t had the motivation to finish
  7. Go to bed earlier // Most nights I’ve been in bed by 9 and sleeping by 10 but other nights (weekends) I haven’t been asleep until 1 or 2… Balance I guess?
  8. Less screen time // This hasn’t been happening but I’m working on it I guess haha.

How did your goals for June go?

❤ Alicia ❤

Next stop? Platform 9 3/4

Happy Wednesday everyone! I hope you are all enjoying your week so far. If you read my last post, you may have noticed that I completely ignored my entire trip to Universal. I did this so I could make an entire post dedicated to Universal Studios and all of its glory!


My family and I arrived in Orlando Sunday night (after driving from St. Augustine), checked into our hotel room, went for a dip in the pool, and then hit the sack to save our energy for our 3 days at the parks.

My Monday morning wake up call was about 5:30 (thanks dad) so that we all could shower, eat, and chug some coffee and still get to the park at 8am when it opened (we got early entrance because we stayed on a Universal resort… highly recommend!!)

First and best view

The first thing we did was head to Diagon Alley to ride Escape from Gringotts. Another thing I would totally recommend doing first thing in the morning (honestly just do both Harry Potter Worlds first because it gets SO crowded later in the day) because the line was a breeze so early but we went back later and the line was much MUCH longer.

Entrance at Escape from Gringotts

Since we were running to the roller coaster, I wasn’t fully able to appreciate Diagon Alley in its glory, however, when we emerged from the ride (as a changed woman I might add because it was INCREDIBLE) I was completely in awe of Harry Potter world (and was still in awe each time we came back after). The attention to detail, how interactive the whole park was, and how I actually felt like I was getting ready to go to Hogwarts; after I bought my books, wand, and robes of course.

After we had thoroughly explored Diagon alley (don’t you worry we come back 2 more times), we took the Hogwarts express to Universal’s Island of Adventure, which held Hogsmeade. Just as Diagon Alley had done, I felt submerged in Hogsmeade. They captured everything, from the snow and icicles adorned by each building, to the various characters, to Moaning Myrtle in the bathroom, everything felt, looked, and smelled real.

There were 2 rides in Hogsmeade, The Forbidden Journey and the Flight of the Hippogriff (nothing special… just your typical kiddie ride). We rode the Forbidden Journey first. This ride navigates you through Hogwarts, where you can see Dumbledore in his office, moving pictures, the Gryffindor common room, and Harry, Ron, and Hermione sharing a bit of information about what the ride will entail. Once aboard the ride, you begin soaring through Hogwarts (you’re told that you’ll be watching a Quidditch match), battling dementors, seeing dragons, dodging the Whomping Willow, and getting an earful from Draco Malfoy. This ride is pretty much stationary, tilting you up, down, and every which way, moving when scenes change to shake it up with real-life figures (dementors, trees, etc.). Finally, you make it through the ride where Dumbledore and the entire Gryffindor Quidditch team thank you for helping them with the game. This ride was my personal favorite across the 2 parks because of the tilts, turns, movie screens along with actual moving parts.

Hogwarts!

Once we mustered up the courage to leave Harry Potter World (you wouldn’t want to either… trust me) we explored the rest of the Islands of Adventure park, riding the Jurassic Park water ride (kinda cool kinda scary and I didn’t even really get wet), seeing lines quickly getting longer before we decided to just ride the rest of the rides in this park early the next day, grabbed lunch, and then heading back over to Universal Studios.

Once back at Universal Studios, we explored LA, New York, London, and San Francisco (the park is divided up into cities) before going on the Race Through New York ride (hosted by Jimmy Fallon), a 3-D ride where you literally do not move but it 100% feels like you’re bouncing around New York streets, rocketing to the moon, and falling from 75 story buildings. To finish off this day at the park, we went on the Shrek 4-D ride where Lord Farquad somehow comes back to life ????? and we have to kill him again ???? before retiring to our hotel, grabbing dinner, waited for the pool to reopen post lightning scare, and then hitting the sack early for a long day ahead of us.


Tuesday was definitely the longest day of activities for us (I walked more Monday though because of all of the exploring we were doing). Our day started out once again at 5:30-6:00 with our assembly line of showers, teeth brushing, getting dressed, coffee drinking, getting HYPED for my birthday, etc.

For my birthday, I requested that we eat at Harry Potter World (because if you’re going to have your birthday at Universal, you might as well have it at the best part) so we ate at the Three Broomsticks at Hogsmeade. We had a cute little bird join us for a few minutes, who finally left after she figured out we weren’t going to feed her. I tried pumpkin juice for the first time (very good BUT SO SUGARY) and enjoyed a nice first meal of my day.

Well what did you expect? Pumpkin juice?!

Right after breakfast, we hurried around the park trying to get in all of the rides we wanted to ride but didn’t want to wait long for. These included the Kong, Fast and the Furious, and Hulk rides. The Kong and Fast and the Furious rides were basically the same just different plots. You’re on a bus, there’s a conflict, and the driver and you have to save the day. Neither were that great to me. Had we waited 85 minutes for the Kong ride the day before, I would have been highly disappointed. The Hulk coaster was definitely very cool. Your standard roller coaster: first drop, upside down, corkscrews, a photo taken at the WORST second, etc. It was nice to ride a real roller coaster in the midst of all of the CGI and 3-D features.

We were then taken back to our childhood days as we visited Dr. Seuss’ world. We rode all 3 rides (carousel included), visited all of the shops, and reminisced about the good old days. We were the only group there without a kid under the age of 10 but we didn’t care.

By this time today, our feet had begun hurting again so we took the Hogwarts express (the only way to get from park to park without leaving) to head back to Universal Studios.

There, I had my first legal drink in San Fransisco at a wharf-style restaurant, before returning to our hotel for some more drinking and a dip in the pool.

Once we were feeling up to it we headed back to Universal’s city walk for dinner. We ate at the Cowfish (contradictory since I’m vegan I know), a restaurant with the most amazing black bean burger and veggie sushi I’d ever had! My mom then proceeded to tell the wait staff (without my knowledge) that it was my birthday so I was sung to in front of the whole patio of people. Was I embarrassed? Yes. Will I remember it forever? Also, yes. Happy 21st birthday to me!


With much chagrin, my time in Universal had to come to an end. That morning, after packing up our car and checking out of the hotel, we got into the park early so we could ride Escape from Gringotts again only for it to break while we were on it (we got to ride it again). We took the Hogwarts express one final time to Islands of Adventure where we ate at the Three Broomsticks again (my mom bought us a meal plan for the trip and we’d only used half of it so we had to spend it all today and that restaurant accepted it), rode The Forbidden Journey again, explored the rest of what we hadn’t seen, including a SpongeBob store and an E.T. ride (which was actually super adorable). We completed one final lap of the park, grabbed some Ben and Jerry’s and a few trinkets before making our way out of the park.


Have you ever been to Orlando? What parks did you visit?

❤ Alicia ❤