Chasing Waterfalls in Iceland: Part 2


On the third day we visited the Strokkur Geysir and the Gulfoss Waterfall.  The geyser was so cool, but you had to wait for a while to see it.  We stared at the geyser intently, with our cameras poised to capture it.  When we finally saw it, the water bubbled up and rose in the air spraying mist all around and my mom was able to get a video of it.  We then went to the Gulfoss Waterfall.  When we walked up to the waterfall, I made a wish and sent it into the rushing water.

On the fourth day, we saw three more waterfalls.  The first waterfall we saw that day was the Seljalandsfoss.  My sister and I literally went behind the water fall.  Can you believe it?  We saw the water cascading down in gentle waves and I felt so happy I could’ve cried. Glittering water droplets fell all over me, kissed my cheeks and rested on eyelashes.  I was nose to nose with a water fall and I smiled so hard because I felt like I was behind a shower of love, magic, and sparkles.  It is almost indescribable.  Then we walked in between two massive rocks to the hidden Gljúfrabúi waterfall.  We each climbed a rock and took a picture in front of the waterfall.  I felt like I could literally lift the waterfall in my bare hands.  I felt free.


The third waterfall the Skógafoss waterfall had so many birds sitting in the ridges of the mountains near the waterfall.  We walked to the very top of the waterfall and looked down.  I had gotten to know waterfalls on deeply personal level on this trip and I felt renewed.  On the last day we went to the Blue Lagoon where we swam around in toasty warm water and went into two saunas.  It was so funny though because my family and I were overwhelmed with all of the heat and left after two hours, agreeing we had had enough.

As we drove around Iceland for the last time, I peered out the window.  I saw the ocean, with water that was a richest aquamarine blue I’d ever seen.  Overall, in Iceland, I felt such a deep inner peace, hope, and freedom that I wish I could bottle them up and heal the world.  We saw birds flying in the wind, wild horses and their babies galloping gracefully.  It was so amazing to be immersed in nature.  I looked out my window to see thin trees standing tall, burnt-red plants forming a blanket over the rocky land and snow-capped mountains lounging.  The mountains’ ridges and layers looked like they were painted on—it was breathtaking.  I kept expecting to see fairies or elves emerge from the forests, to see selkies resting on the rocks near the ocean, or to catch a nymph skipping on the mountains.  There could’ve been dragons in those mountains, flapping their wings, and preparing to take flight. In Iceland, I had found my “world of pure imagination,” and my own Narnia.  As Stephen Chbosky says in The Perks of Being a Wall Flower, “I swear we were infinite.”


Chasing Waterfalls in Iceland: Part 1

I have just come back from Iceland, which was one of the most magical experiences I have ever had. The movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty inspired my family and I to visit Iceland.  My younger sister Ana planned the whole itinerary!  I am so grateful for her planning skills and my mother’s excellent driving skills which allowed us to have the best time ever in Iceland! Our trip started on May 17th and the first day there was pretty chill. I met my family in the airport and we went to the grocery store, then watched the Truman show.  I was happy to be reunited with my family and eager to start my vacation.

On the second day in Iceland, we went to the Reykjadalur Steam Valley and the Kerid Crater. The mountains were so gorgeous I felt like I was in a National Geographic magazine. Ana said it would be a thirty-minute walk to the hot springs, but it was an hour walk each way and about 4 miles in total. My sister is a dancer so this walk was nothing to her, but my mom and I hung back and took our time walking to our destination.  It was freezing and the mountains were steep.  Our path was treacherous: on the side of the walkway there were hot pools, my mom said if I were to fall in, I would get 3rd degree burns so I had to be careful. To make matters worse, as we were walking in the freezing cold, there was a hailstorm and it seemed angry at us.  There were hard bits of ice that pelted our faces.  Funnily enough, my mom said the walk was like giving birth: you think you can’t handle it anymore and you’ve endured enough pain, then you realize it’s only the beginning and it’s only going to get a lot worse. Thankfully, we finally reached the hot springs and swam in the steaming water.  I relaxed, resting my head on my hands and felt like I could take a nap in the water, I was so comfortable.

As we walked back I appreciated the nature more.  The mountains were majestic, magnificent, and so incredible it was unbelievable.   We were in the depths of the mountains, true explorers on an expedition.  After I was done hiking, I felt really good both physically and mentally, to have completed something I wasn’t sure I could do.  Isn’t that the way it usually works?  Everything is always better in retrospect.  On the way to the Kerid crater, we drove past more idyllic geological wonders and played the song House Key by Lolawolf in the car.  We were all jamming to the song and it reminded me of a scene from the movie Before I Fall. We then went to the Kerid Crater which was beautiful, with water rippling in the wind at the bottom.  We went back to the house and I was so happy that I had experienced such rich experiences on my second day in Iceland.


An Adventure of a Lifetime: Days 2-8

The following day I took a ride aboard a steam train.  Before we got on the train I held and pet an owl.  It was so soft and it stared right into my soul with its big, black eyes—a black so pure it was refreshing. After I reluctantly parted from the owl, we boarded the train.

The train struggled to carry all of us, the poor thing. Once it got going, we took in some beautiful sights and then made it to the cruise on lake Windmere.  Outside was freezing, but there were breathtaking views.  The clouds parted to reveal a heavenly sunlight that shone upon the mountains in the distance.

Next, we went to Glasgow and heard a street performer singing the song Hallelujah.  He sang it softly and wistfully, yet with a passion that made me feel like his rendition of the song belonged at the end of a poignant, hopeful movie.

The third day, I saw the Edinburgh castle which looked just like Hogwarts, I swear.  After riding the Knight bus, a steam train (Hogwarts express), petting an owl, going into wizarding shops, and now seeing Hogwarts, I felt like I was living my Harry Potter dream!  We also passed by a small tea and coffee shop called the elephant house which is the “birthplace” of Harry Potter.


I then went into the National Museum of Scotland.  My friend and I dressed up in 18th century Scottish clothing, (look at the picture above!) While in Edinburgh, I sat down in the park and a squirrel came right up to me and looked me in the eye, cautious and curious.  It got so close and it was kind of funny the way we were both wary of each other.  Eventually the squirrel left and I got back on the coach.

While we were in Scotland the travel director played the songs 500 miles by the Proclaimers, Sail Away, and Loch Lomond.  Some of us sang along, swaying to the music. Outside was gorgeous—there were rolling hills of grass laid out in neatly combed patches. All throughout the trip we continually saw the most adorable little lambs with their mothers.   I felt like I was in a natural state of happiness, as natural as when I drew my first breath in this world.

I then went to Glendalough which is a monastery in Ireland.  Surrounded by nature on all sides, I felt like I was in the Earth’s heart.  I then hugged a tree like the wood nymph I am. The abundant nature reminded me of the movies Pan’s Labyrinth and Spirited Away and like the protagonists of these films, I was being transported into another world. A few days later, I went to Cardiff Castle.  It was grand, filled with ornate, intricate and detailed decorations and designs.


On the eighth and last day, I visited a park in Bath and I saw four birds land in water at exactly the same time, wings flapping in synch.  Behind me, I could hear the crackle of more birds landing in tree branches. As I relaxed in the park and soaked up the sun, I recited some poetry in my head and I later saw more street performers! I heard a violin player who sounded like a fiddler.  The music was so sweet and enchanting I felt like I was in a fairytale.

We left Bath and then it was time to say our goodbyes.  My last day I was sad because my trip was over, but then I remembered, the saying “don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened,” and I smiled and smiled.

The Adventure of a Lifetime: Day One

I’ve just returned from a short holiday, which was like the adventure of a lifetime. It is difficult to find the words to describe this experience, but I will try. I have always wanted to go to Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.  I told my mom about this dream and she found a guided tour group called Trafalgar.  We visited ten cities: Bath, Belfast, Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Kilkenny, Stratford-upon-Avon, Waterford, Windsor, York, and Cardiff.  While on this tour, I saw the most amazing feats of architecture and nature, so beautiful I felt I was in a painting.  As I took in the sights, sounds, smells, and colors, I felt every corner of my being fill with joy, purpose and love.  This is exactly how I imagined my study abroad was going to be and here it was unfolding in the most wonderful way.

On our first day, I woke up at 5:30am to ensure that I would make it to our place of departure by 6:45am.  I closed the door to my dorm room quietly on my way out.  Once outside, I rolled my noisy suitcase behind me and fretted over how soaked it was becoming in the rain.  I worried my bus wouldn’t come on time, but eventually it arrived. It reminded me of the Knight Bus in Harry Potter, there to take me my next adventure! I arrived at the Trafalgar London Center at 6:30am and was excited to embark upon my new journey.

We went on the road promptly at 7:00am and arrived at Stratford-Upon-Avon by 10:30am. The first place we visited was Shakespeare’s birthplace. We then walked under a tunnel of trees and a canopy of leaves to get to his grave in a church. Once we were done seeing the sights, we returned to our tour bus where our travel director played Shakespearean sonnets, which made me feel like I was being transported back in time.

We arrived in York by 3:30pm and saw Clifford’s Tower on a hill, and many Harry Potter wizarding shops. I am a huge Harry Potter fan (Ravenclaw for life!) so my heart wanted to sing when I entered these shops. The music from the soundtrack played in the background, creating an atmosphere of magic and wonder.  We then passed by the Shambles, a row of tightly packed old-timey shops with names like Ye Old Inn. As I walked around the town I heard a street performer singing the song Feeling Good like a soulful ballad, and the song Rhiannon with a folksy twist.  I just stood there for a while, enveloped by the warm melodies and lyrics.  Afterwards, we went to our hotel.  My roommate Joy gifted me a key chain from her native country of South Africa.  I laid in bed content with the beautiful start of my holiday.


Discovering Nature and Poetry in London

To Study or to Greet the Wind?

Enclosed in white paper,

Chasing blues, greens, and browns

Soaking in the wind,

Pouring it into my pores,

And replenishing my being


Park Day

On the streets, cars and motorcycles cough out gas

but I am in my oasis

cradled by the soft whistles of tiny birds


Little flowers are draped over peeling trees

Tree branches curl in around themselves

Their knobby knuckles fist bumping the air as they sway

The air smelling of metallic freshly fallen rain


Hear those little squeak-coughs?

A little black water bird is

Wobbling along the pond


Maybe I should reach out and take it home

Or maybe I should introduce it to the

Lovely swan over there


The sun is foggy

Covered behind the closed fingers of the clouds

The water is a beautiful



I rub my sneaker on the grass and revel in the squeak it makes

I want to take some home with me

To remind me

There is something more

As you can tell from the poems, I have been connecting with nature more these past few weeks.  I have tried to incorporate nature into my daily routine.  On a typical day I will do homework, then take a break to walk to a park and write some poetry, or sing myself a little song.  I recently went to the Tate Britain and I marveled at the paintings of landscapes and nature.  The paintings of the trees looked so real, I could almost smell the woods in that museum.  I also went to the Greenwich observatory with my friend Anna and we saw telescopes and learned about space. Then Anna and I went outside and lied in the grass, staring at the clouds.  We put our feet up and pretended we were walking on the clouds.  We even played tag!  It was fun to let loose and relax for a bit before returning to doing homework.  Speaking of homework, I have so much to do! It’s getting more stressful as deadlines draw closer but I’m hoping everything will work out.


In addition to becoming in tune with nature, I have been going to poetry events in London.  I went to three events at The Poetry Cafe: poetry at 3, survivor’s poetry, and slam poetry.  The slam poetry was really cool.  Some people even sounded like they were rapping, that’s how fast they could recite their poetry.  What I loved most was the passion with which they shared their poems.  At these events, I listened to poems about such a wide range of topics such as: the #MeToo movement, nature, saving the trees, and a person who wants to date the sun.  Some poems were funny and some were poignant.  All of the poets were unique and some of them were a bit eccentric but I appreciated all of their contributions.  It was nice to be a part of such an open, warm, and talented community.  I am trying my best to remember to insert little moments of fun in my life, even while I am focusing on my schoolwork.  Wish me luck as I tackle my finals in these next few weeks!

Finding My Happy Place

These last few weeks have been amazing!  I went to an X Ambassadors concert and it was so wonderful I felt like crying tears of joy more than once—I was so touched by the music.  The opening acts Ruth-Anne and Morgxn were talented and soulful.  Then, the X Ambassadors came on stage and I was immersed in their vibrant performance.  The lead singer had an incredible range, his voice remained strong even when he hit impossibly high notes. I am grateful that I was able to see them because music has been important to me while I’ve been abroad.  For me, music can be a calming, healing, and uplifting force.  I listen to music all the time: when I write my blog, when I journal, when I cook, and before bed, so this was a very fulfilling experience.

In addition to concert-going, I have been doing things that remind me of home.  I went to the British Museum and spent all day there, which was nice.  Also, recently, my friend and I have started having movie nights. I greatly enjoy our movie nights, especially since there was a time when I wasn’t socializing as much as I could’ve been.   Overall, I have been making closer friendships here which are making me happier than I have been before.

Every Thursday at my residence hall there is a paint night where people can gather to paint, listen to relaxing music and socialize.  During one of the paint nights I made a new friend and we had a very deep conversation about our struggles and our lives.  We later started dancing spontaneously; it was so much fun!  A few days later we had a karaoke night where we sang to a bunch of different songs.  We sang Flashlight by Jessie J, Beneath Your Beautiful by Emeli Sande and Labrinth, Here by Alessia Cara, and The Climb by Miley Cyrus because it isn’t karaoke unless you sing a Disney throwback!  I laughed so much while we were singing—I don’t think I’ve laughed that hard in all my time abroad!  I’m glad I am experiencing moments of joy here and making more positive memories.



soulful voice creaking in all the right places

your sound a mosaic,

the ridges of bark on a tree,

spinning and undulating

tremulous yet demanding

digging into the mic.


your voice,

the wind,

knocking on a roof.


Paint Night

We whispered our life stories

While blues and blacks, greens and yellows

Burrowed into the canvas.


Our words floating across the table

Like messages in bottles

The paint a silent witness

Of our shared story telling.


We got up to dance

To the music in our minds

Running in place

Throwing our hands out and soaking up all the space in the room

The sun rising in my chest.

A Dream Come True

I am about halfway through my abroad experience now and school is becoming is more stressful. I have three final papers that are due in about a month.  One is sixty percent of my grade, one is seventy-five percent of my grade, and the third is one hundred percent of my grade, so I feel a lot of pressure to do well.  I also have an exam worth one hundred percent of my grade.  The good news is I absolutely love my classes. These papers and the exam will be challenging, but I will (hopefully) have fun completing them.

In an effort to get out and be more social, I recently I went an author event with a friend at Foyles (a bookstore in London). I have gone to many book events in the past meeting great authors such as Eliza Osborn, Lauren Magaziner, Jerri Spinelli, Nicole Dennis-Benn, Jacqueline Woodson and Sarah Dessen.  I also wrote to Stephen Chbosky, the author of the Perks of Being a Wallflower and he wrote me back!  Books have had such a strong impact on my life, so going to an author event in London was so exciting and it felt familiar to me.

I also recently went to Spain with my family! As I mentioned in my first blog post, I have always wanted to go to Spain, Italy and London partially because of the Cheetah Girls, Lizzie McGuire, and the Bratz. I cannot believe I was able to fulfill my childhood dreams! Being abroad has ignited a hope within me that I will live a life that is fulfilling and rich in experience.  I have made an internal list of all of my dreams that have come true and my abroad experiences have added to my list in ways I never could have expected.  I feel so grateful that I even have a list of dreams that have come true, and I can’t wait to continue to add to it while I am here.  I have written more poetry to document my experiences. Here it is!



Guitar playing softly

Music curling around my ears

Joy bubbles in my stomach and makes its up way up to my heart

Spreading like the steam from boiling tea

Sultry saxophone blaring, bouncing off the walls of the subway

A rapper in the subway car

His words rolling around the bumpy train


Museu Nacional D’art De Catalunya

We look up at you

With layers of waterfall that fold in on each other like a three-step staircase

Trees surround you, hugging you close

I stand and stare


With my words

I try to hold you

Like one gingerly holds a lightning bug

In cupped palms

Living my Cheetah Girl Dream

“Can you play the Cheetah girls? Please oh please?” we ask.  Mami says after a minute!  So we wait and wait and suddenly

The music starts, guitar fills the room and dialogue begins

We look at each other

Nostalgia fills the room

We dance and shimmy, strut down the hotel room like the queens we are

What a way

To start our day

Street Art: London

We look for you

Like children playing hide and seek,

where’s Waldo, and I spy


Our eyes search the walls

Looking for bits and pieces of you

I see you peeking from around the street corner

Hidden on top of buildings

On store walls


A family of paintings pasted on alley walls

My eyes hop from image to image

We eagerly capture pictures

Then continue

to sift for gold

Prioritizing Self-Care

This is the beginning of my third month living in London.  I cannot believe I am already 2/5 of the way through my study abroad experience! I had a rough patch last month and I want to try to make things easier on myself by really doing my part to ensure that I am taking care of my mental, physical, and spiritual well-being.  I want to exercise more (maybe do some yoga), meditate, do affirmations, and make more plans to go to interesting events.

I have been reading this self-help book called You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay, to help me on my self-care journey.  Through this book I have realized that I have to create the life I want for myself—no one else is going to do it for me. This book is like a hearty literary meal and I’ve dog eared almost every page.  I hope it will give me the guidance needed for me to really change the way I have approached life here.

Recently, I went to another jazz event and to the Imperial War museum.  Then my family visited me and we went to Italy!  Below I have written some poetry about my experiences.


This was not smooth jazz, cool jazz, ride along the waves jazz

This was not flow around the room in dizzy circles like sweet incense jazz

This jazz was zig zags


Playing notes confidently on the flute

The sax squealing

With the poise of a siren

Luring all of us into a hip, quirky sort of comfort

Fingers running on piano keys



To these songs inspired by

Thelonious Monk


To her heart beat through her fingers in this piano

This saxophone, oboe, flute


The dry branches in the window sway in time with the music


To the beat

And let the music carry you home

Even if only

For a little while


The War Museum

The sunlight glints off your cannons

Your flag ripples in the wind


My eyes strain, looking for African American faces

I find a few

Not nearly enough


Digging for life beneath the earth you were

Entrenched in dirt


This museum feels cold

Everything feels cold

Like I am in a room of skeleton dust


It is hard

To do the work of feeling


Mami and Ana

Run into my room

Imbuing the space with love

“We bear gifts”

Bagels, and spices, coconut oil, cranberries, almonds

Sit on my shelves now

Thank you


Ana sits down and gets comfy

“This is my room now” she says

We share sideways glances

Whenever Mami acts a bit too out there


Mami’s hands comb through, twist and part my hair

Braiding cornrows

“Take care of yourself Eva,”

She says with concern

After seeing my damaged afro

“Remember you deserve

To live the best life”


I remember



The morning sun greets our eyes

We venture out of the hotel

To the Milan Cathedral

The grand building

Is cloaked

With the energy of the heavens


The streets whisper stories to us as we wander

The gelato speaks in the language of sweets

My raviolis swim in tomato sauce


We soak up the heat from the lamps outside

Chew, laugh, converse

Mixing Italian, with Spanish, and English

Inhale the fresh air

Relax, enjoy


Trying to Find Balance in London

I have still been adventuring in London, but life is becoming a bit more stressful especially with school.  I have two essays due in the upcoming two weeks that I really need to work on.  I am getting a bit tired of cooking for myself every day.  I am also stressed that I won’t stick to my budget, especially since I want to go to Scotland next month.

Contrary to all of the events I will share with you, I have been spending a lot of time alone in my room, watching Netflix, and trying to do homework.  Sometimes the only human interaction I get is when I Facetime my mother or sister.  I am trying to break out of my rut, but it can be hard to do.

London is still wonderful and I’m happy to be here, I just hope I can do well in my classes and I can continue to thrive here. Wish me luck!  Below I have shared some of my experiences with you.  Enjoy!

Kyoto Garden

A waterfall spills over rocks and lands rippling into a pond

Where koi fish swim lazily in circles

Trees adorned with tiny pink blossoms

Enclose the garden

Inhale the green

It goes through my nose

And cascades down my stomach

Like warm soup

The green goes up to my brain

Filling my mind

With thoughts

Of peace


Oxford and Christ Church

The architecture

Is breathtaking

I stand


The luscious green gardens

Complement the magnificent buildings

I wish I could lend everyone in the world

My eyes

So that they could see

What I see

Lend them my heart

So they could feel

My awe and reverence

My spirits rise

Like a balloon lost to the horizon

The Farm

The smell of rotting hay, manure, animal stagnancy

Fills my nose

A large pig lays on its side


Covering its face with its ears

It oily nose twitching in its sleep


A horse named Champion

Looks at me with eyes that

Seem to say, Get me out of here!

I cannot

I do take a picture

He sees my camera

Lifts his head

And opens his eye really big

Only one eye

Making a silly face for me,

the sweetheart


A cow

Makes loud and hearty moo sounds

Her stomach contracts with all the effort

She puts into those moos

Her eyelashes long and delicate


Goats nibble at pine trees

Which will lower their worm count

Sheep lounge in the dirt

Still looking dignified as they rest

Museum of Natural History

Phoenix Bird

There is a bird

That can’t survive without volcanoes

Storing eggs in warm ground

For safe keeping

Destructive volcanoes

Can also give life


Whale World

One of the largest

Brains in the world

Dive and echolocate

To survive

Sing to communicate

Kind of like I do

A whale fetus the size of a golf ball

Grows so large

A miracle

The skeleton of a whale flipper

Waves hello

Whale eyes in jars

Stare hello


Windsor Castle

Beautiful and picturesque

The queen’s doll house

A mini-castle

Equipped with a tiny dining room, garden, maid’s quarters, suitcase/luggage room, kitchen, grand staircase, and a long dining table for guests

A dollhouse fit for Thumbelina and Tinkerbell

To relax in on weekends

Chinese New Year Parade

The colors

Pour into my eyes all at once

Yellows and reds and golds


Held up by grown-ups and children alike

Dance in the street

Zig zagging to and fro


The dragons

Hop from stand to stand

Leaping like gazelles

Suspended in the air

Until they land safely again

The audience claps in joy

Phones held high to capture

the festivities of the New Year

London and I: A New Friendship

I have been in London for one month and I feel content with where I am right now in my study abroad experience. If the city of London was a person, I would say that initially we were in the polite introductory stage.  Now London and I are becoming great friends! We are building a rapport and an understanding. I have realized that while London is a city that has a lot to offer me, I have a lot to offer London as well.

So far, I have had many fun adventures. I went to the Tower of London where I was able to see the Crown Jewels! My favorite item was a sword covered in jewels.  It almost looked like little flowers were embedded in the sword, surrounded by sparkling snowflakes.  I also really liked all of the gold pieces in the Tower which had very intricate details.  The Crown Jewels were a sight to behold.

I also went to the Tower Bridge, which looked like a castle-bridge hybrid.  I met up with another Hamilton student and we went to an exhibition in the bridge.  Then we decided to go to an area with glass floors where you could walk and look down at the traffic below you.  I felt like I was going to fall, but I was clearly supported by the glass, so it was a quite a surreal and cool experience.

Later that week I attended a jazz event at a bookstore called Foyles.  I went with some friends to the two-part event.  First, we listened to jazz musicians, Emilia Martensson (singer), Bruno Heinen (piano), and Chris Hyson (bass).  Martensson’s voice was silvery, soothing, and as smooth as honey. She would close her eyes while listening to Heinen and Hyson play their instruments, swaying and nodding her head to the beat.  The audience was captivated by their music.

Then, there was an open mic and other people could perform.  Each person who performed had a very different approach, style, and tone quality which was incredible.  I love to sing, so with some encouragement from my friends I signed up to sing the song Summertime and I was able to have a jam session with the talented musicians who had just performed!  I sang the song like a ballad but with a little swing.  Another person decided to play the saxophone and Heinen and Hyson played the piano and bass.  We each took moments to perform separately and then we all performed together, matching each other’s energy, intensity and mood. Overall it was an amazing experience and I am glad I lent my voice to the London jazz scene.

I have had so many wonderful experiences here and I am so happy that I have found a wonderful friend in London.  As with any friendship, London and I may have our difficulties, but I feel really good about where we are right now and I hope more opportunities arise where I will be able to contribute to life in London.  Until next time!  Cheers!