Friend Favorites Part IV

The favorites my friends are all talking about.

Truffle hot sauce, Masterclasses, Shiseido for men… this blog post really has it all! This week my friends are giving you the low-down on all of the things they are loving right now, which includes some intriguing recommendations to say the least. If you have been following along, you will definitely consider purchasing some Supergoop! products by now or investing in Hulu or Netflix subscription to watch all of the latest movies and shows my friends are loving. Today, we have three friends, who I met during my study abroad program, giving up their latest finds. They could not be more different, yet more the same in so many ways. Take it away guys and gal!

James (left), Ola (center), Jeremie (right)


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James: Apples, oranges, blueberries or nuts because they’re healthy!

Ola: Truff Hot Sauce – technically not a snack but it’s a condiment that I’ve been putting on everything from eggs to veggies and I would highly recommend if you want to spice up your life.

Jeremie: Greek yogurt topped with seeds, oats, and fruit is the best snack I’ve found to satisfy and sugar cravings.

Beauty Product

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James: Shiseido face wash– really makes my face feel clean. My aunt sent it to me in a care package when in college and I’ve been using it since.

Ola: Supergoop Glowscreen – I recently got this sunscreen because I’ve heard so many great things about the brand and founder. It’s moisturizing and makes the skin so radiant.

Jeremie: I have a love-hate with Crest 3D whitening strips. They feel like a chore to use, but it’s a big confidence boost.

Favorite Clothing Item

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James: PIMCO t-shirt, it’s from a friend and it’s soft and versatile. My friends and I give each other t-shirts from where we work and one of my best friends works at PIMCO. The shirt is blue and very soft, it’s also large so I can lounge in it. 

Ola: Soludos sneakers – I got a pair of these embroidered sneakers last summer and they are so cute and unique and super comfortable too!

Jeremie: I’ve been wearing smart trousers from H&M lately. They’re comfortable in spring weather and easy to dress up or down, depending on your shoes and top.

Show or Movie

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James: Movie is Limitless with Bradley Cooper. I like movies that involve smart people, I also like the idea of being able to unlock the rest of your brain.

Ola: Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist – I feel like I might be the only person who watches this but it’s a show where the main character hears her friends’ and family members’ innermost feelings and thoughts through song. As a former musical theater nerd, I really enjoy the performances and random singing and dancing.

Jeremie: I’ve been loving MasterClasses, especially Sara Blakely’s and Chris Voss’s. Anytime you hear someone speak about one specific craft that he/she mastered, it’s a great mix of entertainment and education.

Hobby or Activity

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James: Anything with friends: poker, drinking, the beach, you name it!

Ola: Reading! I’m currently enjoying Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton, a British journalist. It’s a memoir about growing up that explores navigating friendships, jobs, loss and romance. I also recently read Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo which I would recommend if you’re looking for something more serious.

Jeremie: My girlfriend and I have been finding things to do in our area on TikTok. It’s an easy way to plan a date night while doing things we normally wouldn’t.

Friend Favorites Part III

The favorites my friends are all talking about.

Yes, it’s our first all-male edition of friend favorites, where I asked my guy friends what items they are using, snacks they are eating, what they are wearing, and so much more. Whether it be my girl friends or my guy friends, I feel like there is always something to learn. Who knew that I needed some kale chips and a Dyson hair dryer stat!? One of the many reasons I love asking my friends for recommendations is because they all have such diverse perspectives and viewpoints. I walk away learning so much and feeling motivated to give something new a try! Here are the latest friend recommendations- get your wallets ready!

Ivan (left), Justin (center), Hayoung (right)


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Ivan: Crispy kale chips 12/10, perfect balance between healthy, and crispy that you get from wanting to munch on something.

Justin: Frozen Mango. Perfect summer snack, cold and soft, yet firm consistency.

Hayoung: I don’t snack much, but chocolate covered pretzels, I have a HUGE sweet tooth.

Bathroom Product

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Ivan: Differin Acne Treatment Gel, it’s my hidden secret that I use to spot treat wrinkles, and small pimples!

Justin: Unseen Sunscreen by Supergoop. A daily essential and you never feel like you’re wearing sunscreen. 

Hayoung: My Dyson hair dryer, it dries my hair in like 15 seconds… it’s incredible.

Favorite Clothing Item

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Ivan: I am super eager to start traveling again, and nothing says beach side vacation like a pair of Havaianas.

Justin: Lululemon shorts, “The short.” Its just a must for working from home. 

Hayoung: My brown leather loafers from To Boot New York, it’s my go-to when I’m going out to dinner.

Show or Movie

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Ivan:Broad City” is the right balance between chaotic and borderline weird that I crave in a TV show.

Justin: Forget a movie or show – online classes on “EdX”

Hayoung: “How I Met Your Mother”, I think it’s the perfect show (except for the ending).


Hobby or Activity

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Ivan: Never underestimate the power of a good walk! I usually listen to Gary Vee’s coffee chats on YouTube, and it’s cool to listen to him while being outside and enjoying the weather.

Justin: Cycling! It’s important to get sun and fresh air, you can cover great distances and it’s great for socializing.

Hayoung: Getting a great meal with my friends, vibes are so good before, during, and after.

Friend Favorites Part II

The favorites my friends are all talking about.

It’s only the second part of the series and I feel as though there is so much for me to try that my friends have recommended! I love taking recommendations for so many reasons, the main one being that it bonds you closer to your friends. When you try something that someone else is passionate about, you are able to connect with them on that experience. A funny show they mention? The best way to spark some laughs in referencing the punchline during a conversation. A yummy dessert recommendation? An insight into your friend’s palette. A soft sweater they always talk about? The perfect birthday gift when the time comes. And when the time comes for these three friends of mine, I know just what to get them!

Farah (left), Thomas (center), Pam (right)


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Farah: Chocolate chewy bar. They are light, delicious and reminds me of the great memories I had durning my middle school and high school days in Tunis when we would go to the commecery to buy them.

Thomas: Pink Lady Apple. I have a bad addiction to sugar and find it sometimes satisfies my craving for something sweet and sugary.

Pam: Baked hot Cheetos. They are sooo good and addicting. I also think they taste better than the regular hot Cheetos.

Beauty Product

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Farah: Province Apothecary eye brow serum. My favorite serum to promote hair growth for eyebrows. The only thing that has ever worked for me!

Thomas: Aesop Camellia Nut Facial Hydrating Cream. I love to use this product after I’ve washed, scrubbed, and toned my face with the Aesop In Two Minds Facial Toner. My face is always glowing afterwards and makes me feel like I’m at my best.

Pam: La Roche-posay Lipikar Lotion AP+. I was using a toner that irritated my skin. It caused a really bad reaction and ended up drying out my skin MAJORLY. This has single handedly saved my skin. Also using it all over my body for soft and hydrated skin.

Favorite Clothing Item

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Farah: AG black skinny jeans legging. By far, one of the most comfortable pair of jeans that I have ever purchased. A little pricey, but the quality is worth it & I still have my first pair of AG jeans since I bought it 5 years ago!

Thomas: My current favorite clothing item has to be my HENRE swim shorts. Launching this summer, along with swim briefs I based the HENRE collection on the inspirational mid-century modern architecture of Palm Springs.

Pam: My beige Khaite aceline cardigan. Soooo comfortable and cozy. Would wear it everyday if I could.

Show or Movie

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Farah: Definitely Grey’s Anatomy. And not because I’m a doctor! I first started watching this show in early 2000’s since my days in Tunis & it’s just been an ongoing thing for me, one of those shows that feels like home & Meredith is like part of the family.

Thomas: Schitts Creek is my absolute go to. The show is so beautifully written and produced. I feel like I’ve learned and grown a lot as a person from watching the show. There is a line in the show where the character Alexis Rose says to her brother “nobody’s thinking about you as much as you’re thinking about you” and the saying really hit a nerve and changed the way I viewed life in general.

Pam: Grace and Frankie. They are such a hilarious duo. Love their different personalities and how they balance each other. This is really a show that is hard to stop once you start.

Hobby or Activity

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Farah: Driving around in my car with my friends, the windows down with my favorite playlist on!

Thomas: I love a long bike ride with my headphones in listening to Dua Lipa and my snapping photos of my surroundings on my camera.

Pam: Long walks. Not a big fan of cardio but I can go on hours long walks. Something about and evening stroll to close out your day or a mid-day walk to clear your mind. Also, I feel like this is all I can do these days…

Friend Favorites Part I

The favorites my friends are all talking about.

Is this another friend finds series I see!? Yes, you would be correct! This time, instead of asking my friends about their favorite beauty products, we are here to talk about all kinds of favorites- snacks, tv shows, clothing, you name it! I always feel like I can count on my friends for their recommendations when it comes to almost anything. And, if there ever was a time to get recommendations it would be now! With some extra time on our hands due to the pandemic, it’s a great time to explore and try new things. The first round of friend recommendations are coming from Divya, Upasana, and Celeste, who are here to bring you some excellent suggestions on food, beauty, clothing, media, and the hobbies that they are enjoying. Take it away my ladies!

Divya (left), Upasana (center), Celeste (right)


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Divya: Terra vegetable chips, satisfies a craving without making me feel too bad about myself!

Upasana: Caramel Popcorn! It’s one of those snacks that satisfy a craving but it’s also SO sweet that I end up eating less of it than I’d eat if I ate something salty!

Celeste: Smartfood popcorn! This snack takes me back to elementary school packed lunches and reminds me of my childhood.

Beauty Product

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Divya: The Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask. I know it’s supposed to be a sleeping mask, but the hydration and feel has made it an all purpose, all day lip balm/lip moisturizer that I love.

Upasana: Cloud paint by Glossier. Working from home I don’t wear much makeup anymore, but something that makes me feel instantly bright and pretty in the morning is just dabbing on some cream blush on my cheeks and a little as a lip tint too! I use the haze and storm colors!

Celeste: Beekman 1802 fig leaf hand cream. It smells so good and I love the company’s mission!

Favorite Clothing Item

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Divya: Definitely my oversized white shirt. It’s so hot in Nigeria that sometimes I just want to comfortable and I can dress the shirt up/down which makes it perfect for every occasion without having to try too hard.

Upasana: I’m absolutely obsessed with these comfy lounge like pants that are also great to wear out for a brunch with friends or a day at a cafe just relaxing and reading!

Celeste: Midi silk skirts. These skirts make me feel so elegant and the length is comfortable for any occasion.

Show or Movie

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Divya: I recently binge watched The Spy which was so incredibly good. Definitely recommend it to anyone interested in Middle Eastern Politics or honestly a must watch just for Sacha Baron Cohen.

Upasana: I’d have to say this is the hardest question ever! I finished watch HBO’s Succession and I was absolutely hooked throughout! It’s masterful and nuanced cinematography with characters that aren’t deeply likeable, but are VERY real and that’s a testament to how phenomenal the actors are! Another show that’s my all time favorite that I always go back to, and currently have been watching is Gilmore Girls! It’s just a feel good, heartwarming show but has some very valuable life lessons and important messages!

Celeste: Daria. This show is so funny and relatable to being a teenager.

Hobby or Activity

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Divya: Tennis! I recently started learning the sport and it’s so fun. For me it’s a great way to be outside doing something active while learning a new skill.

Upasana: I’m really getting into candle making and I’d been watching my mom excel at making really creative, deliciously scented candles, so I thought I’d give it a try and it’s a really calming, centering activity with a great finished product that I can use day to day!

Celeste: Sewing and quilting. I love getting inspiration and coming up with ideas. It is an amazing feeling using my hands to make those ideas come to life.

My Virtual Cooking Class Review

It’s cooking time! Pants are optional!

Gilio Cooking School: Private Class

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This cooking school, virtual or not, will always have a special place in my heart. Marcella is the owner of the school based in Florence and a close friend of mine, whose classes I took during my brief stay in the quaint Italian city. When signing up for the private virtual class, Marcella asks what dish, from a long list, I was interested in making, giving me full reign to choose what I was interested in. I chose eggplant parmesan, a dish that my mom and I often make, yet have never perfected. Shortly after choosing the class, Marcella’s team sent me a list of ingredients and the recipe to look over for our prep. On the day of the class, we entered our Zoom room to see Marcella’s smiling face along with a second view of her work station, which definitely helps you follow along. She is also equipped with a microphone so that we can easily hear her instruction. The benefit of having Marcella all to yourself is that you can ask her as many questions as you’d like and even inquire about her recent trips to Gilio or current life in Italy. This class was approximately 1.5 to 2 hours long, which was just enough time for our eggplant parmesan to cook! This class is a perfect gift for a loved one or a great way to spend a rainy afternoon. The best part? Lunch is prepared!

Emmy Squared: Private Group Class 

I had the privilege of attending this pizza making class through a social program that my work hosted this past winter. The ingredients and truly everything you need to make both the delicious pizza and cocktail are included in the package that gets delivered right to your house. I am talking ice cube tray and even pizza pan! This class was taught by Emmy herself, who runs down the pizza making process and answers any questions about her famous NYC pizza empire. The great thing about the ingredients she sends is the already prepared dough as well as the ingredients for the dough, so that you can make your pizza ASAP without waiting for the dough to rise. During the class, however, she walks through what the dough making process looks like, so you leave the class with a dough all ready to go for tomorrow. This pizza was incredibly tasty, which I credit to both the instruction as well as the fresh ingredients sent. Because this was a company bonding, Emmy also hit us with some pizza trivia that was a fun aspect of the class, for sure. The pizza was yum, instruction was expert, and cocktail was refreshing. Overall rating 11/10.

The Institute of Culinary Education: Group Class

Having taken an in-person mixology class at The Institute of Culinary Education before, I was excited to try out one of their virtual classes just a few weeks ago. I always like to attend classes where I am learning something entirely new and challenging- bagels seemed like a good fit. In registering for the class, I was sent a list of ingredients for the course, which included bagel, egg salad, and bloody mary ingredients. I purchased the ingredients beforehand and also prepped some of the measurements, as to not waste time during the class. The morning of, I entered my Zoom room and was welcomed by our instructor as well as 25 other people. There was something so comforting about seeing other passionate bakers from across the globe in their own kitchens ready to make some bagels! We started the class making ur bagel dough, so that it could proof during the two hour class. Our instructor also had a pre-made dough to show us the technique of making the bagels, just in case her dough didn’t rise in time. The instruction was a bit rushed, yet this class was the first that our teacher was teaching virtually- all things considered she did quite well. We all had fun showing the camera our doughs and having our instructor give her comments on them. Everything that was made during the class was so delicious and the experience was really fun. My mom and I ended up making three batches of bagels that day, so we had plenty left over. Although I think I will be buying the majority of my bagels in the future to save some time, this was a great at-home activity that was well worth the $50 dollars! 


Elaine Tran on Her Journey to Mobility (& Flexibility!)

You’re just a stretch away from changing your life!

Elaine Tran is a user experience designer by day and a fitness and stretching influencer by night; creating videos on Youtube and writing blog posts after hours. 

Ellipse 1Elaine’s fitness journey started in the Summer of 2013. She wanted to improve her health, having been underweight her whole life and often falling ill. During this time, Elaine stumbled across a pilates video on YouTube that geared her towards strength training. This notion of building muscle in tandem with gaining weight sparked her initial excitement for fitness. 

For the next 5 years, Elaine focused on pilates, HIIT and weight training. Building strength through consistency allowed her to explore various physical activities such as dragon boat racing, Muay Thai, bouldering and dance — activities that Elaine never imagined doing growing up. However, Elaine came to a point where she felt like she was going to the gym without a plan. She had built this entire identity around strength training, yet felt like it became dull and mindless. Elaine decided to continue her fitness journey by experimenting more in search of something that would make her excited again. 

It wasn’t until Elaine participated in a 30 day trial of pole dancing classes that she finally felt reengaged in her exercises. She was excited to see her peers’ process in their own journeys – seeing them struggle when learning a new move to mastering it a few classes later. Elaine wanted to be able to do the same. She soon discovered that the strength she had gained from years of weight lifting helped her with pole, but she lacked the flexibility that was required. When Elaine looked at her peers, she saw that they had the opposite problem- they had the flexibility, but not the strength. This realization marked the beginning of Elaine’s journey towards improving flexibility and mobility. 

When Elaine first started training for flexibility, she struggled to touch her toes. Growing up, Elaine did not participate in dance, martial arts, or gymnastics. Since she had never trained her flexibility at a young age, she was led to believe that she wouldn’t be able to now as an adult. Despite this, she decided to work on her flexibility by changing her mindset rather than avoiding it. She then made it her goal to stretch every day for an hour to see if her flexibility would increase. Elaine’s flexibility goals included being able to touch her toes, sit comfortably cross-legged on the floor, and achieve the front splits in less than a year. After five months and hundreds of hours of stretching, Elaine met each of her goals. She was able to achieve these flexible feats by researching stretching routines and developing her own personalized routine based on her knowledge of what was effective. 

Elaine felt so inspired by her own progress that she started a blog called Journey to Mobility in September 2019. Elaine’s blog served as a creative outlet and a movement to help people improve their range of motion. Elaine’s overarching goal is to reframe the idea of flexibility and provide resources for others to train for flexibility by sharing her own wealth of knowledge. 

“Flexibility is something that you can train for, at any age. I feel inspired to help people push beyond their own mental and physical barriers,” says Elaine, her personal journey being a testament to this statement. 

Stretching has changed Elaine’s life in that she has realized how interconnected both the mind and body are — if you want to train your body beyond its physical barriers, you have to train your mind first. 

“When you start to push beyond your limits, you will amaze yourself.”

Elaine’s advice for those interested in becoming more flexible is to, first and foremost, adopt the mindset of believing that you can achieve your mobility goals, rather than accepting that you are inflexible. Elaine also recommends outlining a stretching goal and mapping out daily steps to achieving your goal. Like every other goal, you need to know what you are working towards to move in that direction.

Another step that you can take in order to increase your flexibility is to watch some of Elaine’s awesome and accessible stretching videos on her YouTube channel! Over the course of the COVID pandemic, Elaine felt compelled to compliment her more static blog materials with follow-along videos, where she guides you through various stretching routines to target specific areas. 

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Since launching the channel back in August 2020, Elaine has amassed a following of over 3,700 subscribers and over 100,000 views on her YouTube stretching videos. The feedback that Elaine has gotten since creating her videos has been overwhelmingly positive. She has received feedback from viewers across the globe who have gained flexibility from viewing her videos. Elaine even received messages from her supporters who have cried from joy at the pain relief they have experienced through her flexibility training. 

The positive feedback that Elaine has received is a direct reflection of the time and energy she has put into developing helpful and insightful instruction. Elaine even tests all of her stretching routines with her family and boyfriend alike, to ensure that her routines are for those who are beginners to the practice. 

I have had the pleasure of receiving a stretching class from Elaine on relieving neck and back pain and can say with much certainty that Elaine and her expert stretching content are Ursula approved!

Where to Find Elaine:




The Best Museums and Exhibitions I’ve Ever Been To

A life’s worth of museum tickets and long lines.

Museums and exhibits can be transportive experiences that immerse and educate you about the world. I credit my mother to fostering my love for these places, when, growing up, she took my brother and I to every museum and exhibit in New York City. Whether it be the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Alexander McQueen exhibit or The Frick Collection, we took the day to look around and learn. The same applied to every vacation destination that my family traveled to, a walking tour or trip to the local museum being in order. This was a way for her to expose us to new perspectives, ideas, ways of life, and histories. She must have trained me well, as I have taken to visiting all of the best museums during my solo travels and study abroad trips. I make sure to do a full online evaluation wherever I go, so that I know what stops to hit along the way. And what museum trip would be complete without reading every insightful placard, taking a stop at the gift shop, and pocketing a pamphlet for the memories? If you ever need a suggestion, just ring me. I probably have a pamphlet for you somewhere!


Weaving Magic by Chris Ofili

The National Gallery

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I can honestly say that Weaving Magic is one of the most breathtaking pieces of art I have ever seen in my life. Composed of wool and cotton fibers, this enormous woven tapestry filled an entire wall within The National Gallery, a museum that houses some of the greatest masterpieces of all time. Appearing to be a watercolor painting, the craftsmanship displayed through this woven piece is so incredible, it had me entirely mesmerized. The tapestry, inspired by Ofili’s native Trinidad, was influenced by mythology and took an astonishing 3 years to create. Seeing this work for the first time was something I will truly never forget!

Perfume: A Sensory Journey Through Contemporary Scent

Somerset House 

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When I lived in London for the summer, museums were places that I visited every weekend. I was fortunate enough to stumble across this unique perfume exhibit at Somerset House during my stay. While Weaving Magic was a once in a lifetime sighting, this exhibit was a once in a lifetime experience. The exhibit was composed of various different rooms that encapsulated the experience of each smell within the room. It was designed so that visitors could pick up certain objects and smell them, while reading about their maker, influences, and history. Visitors were also encouraged to take a pencil and paper with them throughout the exhibit to write down their thoughts and impressions of the different scents. Boy, did I smell a lot of things that day! One of the best aspects of the exhibit, however, was the opportunity to speak with two perfumers from France, who could answer any question you might have around perfume chemistry and composition. Hmm… what a sweet day that was. 

California: Designing Freedom

The Design Museum

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California: Designing Freedom is an exhibit that I think about so often. Featured at London’s Design Museum, the exhibit traced how counterculture and even drug use led to Silicon Valley’s tech culture and the belief in boundless possibilities. The exhibit featured fascinating artifacts from the first ever Google signage (featured above) to blotter paper and a Harley-Davidson. The exhibit was divided into sections outlined: go where you want, see what you want, say what you want, make what you want, and join who you want. It might have been a longing to return back to the U.S. or the incredible exhibition (or a little bit of both) that made me consider this exhibit to be one of my all time favorites.  

The Fabergé Museum

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Located in Saint Petersburg, Russia, this museum is one that is not to be missed. The mere beauty and uniqueness of the museum itself are enough to warrant it a place on the list. The museum showcases the world’s largest collection of works by the House of Fabregé and it does not disappoint. There are over 4,000 items on display within this museum, which include many of Fabregé’s infamous eggs, that were created for the Tsars of Russia, made in the late 19th and early 20th century. There is so much to see in this museum, you might need to plan a whole afternoon for a look around! 


Edo Tokyo Museum 

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From the outside, the Edo Tokyo Museum’s architecture is spectacular- appearing half suspended in the air- and the inside does not disappoint either. The museum is packed with artifacts tracing Edo’s – or better known today as Tokyo’s- history, culture, traditions, and people. The museum is so visually stimulating, you feel as though you are walking through and experiencing the artwork, rather than reaching down to see and inspect it. I mean, there are multiple small villages, a wooden bridge, and a castle in this museum! If the museum wasn’t in Tokyo, I’d probably be visiting every weekend, just to make sure I read every poster thoroughly enough. 

Pink: The History of a Punk, Pretty, Powerful Color

FIT Museum

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Whenever I step into the Fashion Institute of Technology’s museum I am never disappointed. On a day when I popped in to see their latest exhibit Pink: The History of a Punk, Pretty, Powerful Color, I could not have been more excited to stumble across the carefully selected styles that were being presented within the collection. From big satin bows to Gucci ruffles, there were so many gorgeous designs that took each visitor on a journey through fashion history (no wonder this museum is a staple visit for me). FIT does an amazing job in every exhibit that they show and this was no exception, showcasing a beautiful curation of pieces that embody pink’s ever changing narrative throughout time. 

Monet’s Garden 

The New York Botanical Garden


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The New York Botanical Garden is a place that transports you to an entirely different location. Located in the Bronx, New York, the garden is sprawling and lush, with a greenhouse meant to dazzle. For my Grandmother’s birthday many years back, we visited a botanical curation of water lilies inspired by the paintings of Monet that was so beautiful. The exhibit even featured a green bridge within the greenhouse that was meant to be a nod to Monet’s The Japanese Footbridge painting. The Botanical Garden does such an expert job of curating exhibits, I am always pleased and delighted with whatever I seem to come across on a visit. 

CHOW: Making the Chinese American Restaurant

Museum of Food and Drink

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Although this museum is tightly tucked away, it’s worth the extra time searching for. The exhibit I had the pleasure of visiting, CHOW: Making the Chinese American Restaurant, featured a fortune cookie machine, a wall of Chinese food takeout boxes, and restaurant menus from as early as the 1900’s, featuring General Tso’s chicken and chow mein. Despite how small the museum is, it is simple and well curated, taking each visitor through the economic, social, and political factors that shaped Chinese-American immigration. It also highlights the entrepreneurial spirit and ingenuity of Chinese immigrants in starting Chinese restaurants that quickly flourished across America. At the end of touring the gallery, there was even a “chef’s table” that visitors could sit at, enjoy a small meal, and talk with the chef. The tasting menu included hot herbal tea, gyoza, savory pork lo mein, and rose, coconut rice pudding that simply could not be passed up!

Peloton 101 with Max Dedekind

700 cycled miles in 1 month later

Just three years ago, Max would not have called himself an athlete. Having avoided playing on sports teams and exercising in gyms throughout his life, one would never expect Max to have transformed into an athlete, and not just an athlete, a pretty advanced one, you might say. 

It was some time during 2018 that Max became interested in riding a Peloton bike that his family had purchased to be able to engage in low-impact exercise. Max had the idea of incorporating more exercise into his daily routine for health reasons and thought that cycling could be his way of achieving a level of fitness. Max also views cycling as one of those exercises that you can pick up so easily because all you need is a bike to get started and your athletic abilities don’t have to be advanced to begin.

Starting out, Max felt challenged by the cycling classes’ level of difficulty. 

“When you first begin cycling you are not super encouraged because you feel slow, your output is low, but the harder you push yourself and the longer you stay at it, the easier it gets.” 

Max admits that it took him about 6 months of regularly riding his Peloton in order to feel that he was really making progress and transitioning into harder classes. What helped Max continue to stay motivated throughout the process was self motivation, in achieving something that he set out to do for himself.

“No one is going to care if you get on the bike and ride or don’t. If you don’t have the internal desire to believe in yourself and having the conviction that it’s something that you want to do, it’s probably not right for you.”

When Max first started, he was taking 45-minute classes at a regular level with instructor Robin Arzon, who became his favorite instructor. As time progressed, however, Max began experimenting in taking 20-minute classes, 1-hour classes, “Climb” classes, and even  HIIT rides. 

Max loves his Peloton, not only for how well the bike works and the spin classes the company’s platform provides, but also because of all the other classes the monthly subscription provides. Peloton has its standard spin classes, but also instructions for floor workouts, outdoor running and walking guidance, and even strength classes. It’s like paying for personal training or a gym membership that you can enjoy in the comfort of your own home.

Screen_Shot_2021-03-24_at_9.50.53_AM-removebg-previewMax credits the up beat music,- Peloton even has an exclusive collab with Beyonce– the Peloton community, and the acute instruction to motivating him to always getting back on the bike. Max mentions that, when you are riding a Peloton, you don’t feel like you are exercising alone, with someone instructing you and encouraging you along the way. Peloton also makes it easy to compete against yourself and others with the leaderboard, which provides a way to see your continued progress. Along with the leaderboard, Max feels encouraged by the challenges that Peloton presents, such as achieving daily exercise for one month. Max would suggest participating in one of these challenges to help motivate yourself and avoid discouragement. 

What cemented Max’s newfound athleticism was a challenge that he accepted that was sponsored by Babson College’s Alumni Network for the month of January of 2021. The challenge was to have the highest combined output, total distance, or consecutive days biked. Max won all three categories, cycling a total of 704.82 miles. Max wanted to challenge himself during COVID, setting a goal that he could commit to for the month. Some of the challenges in competing include the amount of time taken to ride daily, Max often riding two to three times a day, in addition to the added mental fatigue that riding daily entails, where no matter what mindset you are in, you have to get on the bike and ride. Despite the challenges, Max mentions that it felt nice to see all of his hard work pay off, knowing that mentally he could achieve something that he hadn’t done before.

All you have to do is just get on and ride!

Recommended by Max:

  1. Polar Heart Rate Monitor
  2. Peloton Gear
  3. Peloton Cycling Shoes
  4. Siggi’s Yogurt Snack

What Does Being a Woman Mean to You?

Smile ladies, it’s International Women’s Day!

It’s so hard to put into words the beauty of being a woman and something I don’t think enough about. To me, being a woman means being me, it’s all that I know, yet, it defines so much of my world. I remember being a fifth grader and thinking to myself, I love fashion, dressing up, and feeling girly, but I don’t want to be treated like someone who does- those girls aren’t taken seriously by other people. It was a mindset that drove me to study incredibly hard, be competitive in both sports and academics, and avoid failure and embarrassing mistakes at all costs. I wanted people to recognize me for my abilities more than my girl-ish appearances- my ultimate defeat being she’s just the dumb blonde girl.

Like myself, every woman can relate to a certain struggle or challenge that they have encountered along the way. It might not even be the deep cuts, but rather the everyday, rubs. Someone referring to you as bossy rather than commanding the room. An eye roll rather than eye contact. Yet, our human experience as women binds us. We understand the beauty in our gender and the uniqueness it affords. We learn how to overcome, with the hope that one day there will be no more need to.

To me, being a woman means so many things. To be scared, brave, fearless, insecure, loud, and outgoing. To be courageous, gentle, silly, strong, and funny. To be aggressive, loving, assertive, aloof, kind, caring, and fierce.

It means being an essential part of life. It means, just like it means to be a man- to be human.

I asked women that I know “what does being a woman mean to you?” and this is what they said!

“To me, being a woman simply means being myself, being a human created in the image of God, maturing to know who God created me to be: a mother, a friend, a writer, a daughter and granddaughter and sister, a lifelong learner, a leader, a follower, an exerciser of gifts and a compensator of weaknesses – pursuing connection, pursuing truth and beauty, pursuing excellence and growth.”  – Michelle (Short Hills, NJ)

“I’d say being a woman to me is being the wonderful product of the sacrifices and acts of bravery by the women that came before me. Them being bold, free and unapologetic in their own ways, in the face of resistance and struggle led me to where I am now. I would never be where I am now if those who came before me didn’t stand up for what they believed in, and for that, I am grateful! So, I guess kind of an ode to the women from many generations ago” – Upasana (Boston, MA)

“What does it mean to be a woman to me? It means to have the qualities of a lioness: independent, fierce, loyal, brave, strong, graceful, and agile. It means having the ability to choose to be whoever you want to be in the world – to have the strength to love unconditionally.” – Lucille (Millburn, NJ)

“Being a woman means….being decent, unique human beings! It means being strong in character but balanced with a sense of fairness and compassion. It’s about believing everything is possible regardless of life’s obstacles!” – Gill (Cowbridge, Wales)

“Being a woman to me means being tenacious, compassionate and unapologetically myself.” – Disha (Santiago, Chile)

“Being a woman to me means being courages. Courageous enough to navigate this world that time and time again devalues us.” – Pamela (Boston, MA)

“Part of being a woman for me includes being able to defy the social construct society places us in and continuing to thrive beyond all limits. It means being able to voice my opinion as an equal and ensuring everyone around me has the same right. Being a woman to me means being powerful and fierce, while vulnerable and caring towards those that mean the world to me. Here’s to International Women’s Day this month and every other month because we shouldn’t need a reason to celebrate!” – Divya (Lagos, Nigeria)

“From my perspective, being a woman means being strong, intelligent and successful all while remaining compassionate, elegant and graceful. Being a woman, means achieving all you may put your mind to, despite any obstacle that comes upon your path or any limits you have been confined to. Being a woman is essential and is what completes this world for there would be no life without women.” – Fay (Kuwait City, Kuwait)

“Being a woman means I possess distinguishable, unique qualities that allow me to shine every day.” – Celeste (Wellesley, MA)

“To be a woman is to be resilient, courageous, and strong. Women are just so badass, our energy and auras are truly unmatched. I wake up every morning and truly feel blessed to not only be a strong woman, but surround myself with communities of other strong women similar to myself.” – Ivana (Orange County, CA)

“I cannot think of one word to define womanhood. To me, being a woman means being multifaceted; we are powerful forces of change. Most importantly, being a woman means being an advocate and active defender for women always.” Olivia (Washington, D.C.)

“Being a woman means having an immediate bond with total strangers; I think of the drunk girls you meet in a bar bathroom when you’re having a rough night, who wipe off your runny mascara and tell you you’re beautiful and amazing and smart and too good for whoever or whatever made you feel any less.” – Liza (Providence, Rhode Island)

“What does being a woman mean to me? I am a little embarrassed to say this but, I don’t think about it that much because of the women of the past who have fought for me to have a better life. It was about growing up learning about the inequalities between man and women, hearing stories about discrimination in school and workplace, limited opportunities for women to grow in the workforce, etc. Although discrimination still exists towards women, it has gotten tremendously better due to the past sacrifices of women. A hope that I can also fight for the rights and equalities of other groups that experience discrimination. I never through of women as being a disability because I experienced more discrimination about being Asian-American. Being a woman gives me hope that we still fight for the inequalities inflicted on women but also for the other minorities in our society; POC’s, LGBTQ+ and many more. Being a woman gives me a better hope for a more equal world for all.” – Anonymous

“I don’t really attach too much specific meaning to my gender identity, although I love being a woman, being a woman can mean whatever you want it to mean.” – Carly (Boston, MA)

“Being a woman means I need to find confidence when it’s not always easy for me. Being a woman means I may be the only person of my gender in my analytics meetings. Being a woman means I can overcome any challenge thrown my way.” – Michelle (Boston, MA)

“To me, being a woman means uplifting those around me. Society puts a lot of pressure on women to be “perfect,” but you are your own kind of perfection. Being my own perfection and showing others the perfection within them is personally what I enjoy about being a woman.” – Chelsea (Bronx, NY)

“Being a woman means that I can act like a lady, yet work like a horse. This statement to me means that I’m able to be compassionate and charismatic, yet tenacious, resilient, and capable of anything I set my mind to. It defines Persian women.” – Tara (Los Angeles, CA)

“To be a woman is to have a profound understanding of those that came before us and to forge forward with passion, purpose, and pride. It is to be as strong as you are soft; to endeavor to be equal parts grit and grace each and every day. And above all else, to be a woman is to show up, always – for your friends, your family, your loved ones, and above all else, yourself – and celebrate how far we’ve come and acknowledge how far we have to go.” Kate (Manhattan, NY)

“I am a trusted, intuitively-intelligent, caring, nurturing, brave, passionate, ambitious, confident, independent, curious, genuine, optimistic, happy, kind person. I feel strongly that too much focus on gender divides us rather than unites us.  I love being a woman, but I perceive myself as human first, heart first.  This way of being in the world attracts infinite possibilities, people and opportunities.” – Marie

“For me, being a woman means having the courage to live life by your own definition. When you overcome your fears, you realize that your power and strength comes from within. It always has.” – Elaine (Toronto, Canada)

“To me, being a woman means getting to enjoy and help display the beautifully varied ways that God has created us as people and women!” – Meredith (Brunswick, ME)

“The ultimate woman in my life is my mom. In observing the way she lives, being a woman means to me, embracing the duality that bred from living in a man’s world. Stern yet soft. Fights for what she believes in, but also forgives quickly. Fierce yet warm. Smart and generous. Protector and nurturer. I am in awe of the strength, depth, heart, and beauty of women everywhere!” – Grace (San Francisco, CA)

“Being a woman means being multifaceted. As I am growing more and more into my womanhood, I’m understanding more and more when and how to show up.” – Monia (Boston, MA)

Happy International Women’s Day!

Upasana Roy on Life Advice for Recent College Graduates

Graduated? Yeah… me too.

Because I have an older brother I always benefitted from having friends who are older than me. Having these friends, I have had the opportunity to pick their brains about everything- what classes to take, how to get an internship, friend advice- you name it! My friend Upasana Roy is one of those friends who I can always count on for advice. She is open, honest, and always willing to provide a different perspective. When I went through my job search, Upasana was there to motivate and support me. Having been a college graduate for some time now, I knew that I had to get her take on the highs, the lows, and everything in between when it comes to coping with life after college. For me and many others, life after Babson has been challenging at times but also filled with hope, excitement, and adventure. For Upasana, a bit of the same. 

The biggest difference between going to college and working post-graduation for Upasana has been how you approach every day. In college, you study for tests and exams, hoping to ace your courses. If you don’t, you just try harder next time. You’re being tested on your competence and your discipline, as well as your willingness to be a team player and learn. After college, every day at work and in life can feel like a test and you really have to strive to do your best because your efforts are reflected in tangible results. Suddenly you’re faced with “adulting”, a term that’s said in humor, but is in fact so real! You’re paying bills, trying to understand your 401K and Roth IRA and navigate finding your own place, figuring out plans moving forward.


Upasana also notes that you have to consider aspects of your life that you haven’t necessarily had to concern yourself with before, like managing your finances and planning your social calendar. Upasana’s advice for you is to invest a little bit of money with each paycheck and recommends looking into Robinhood, an investment app that takes $0 in trade fees, and Public, another platform for beginner investors. In terms of your social life, after college, a big part of acclimating to a lesser degree of socialization is realizing that loneliness is a bigger part of life after college than anyone recognizes. It’s easy to take for granted how much of a bustling social life you had as a college student. It is important to foster an uber supportive set of friends to hold you up in hard times and laugh during the good times! Postgrad depression is a real problem and it is important to make a point of socializing. Be open and honest about your feelings- you are switching lives practically after all. Upasana also uses Bumble BFF, where she says you can meet some really cool people and have good conversations as well as networking events and gatherings with people that have similar interests, such as plant societies, book clubs, dance classes, or gyms! It’s important to stay friends with people and keep in touch, even if they are in different parts across the globe. Make it a point to schedule some time together. Distance shouldn’t mean anything if your friendships are real. Virtual friendships are something to be proud of!

Imposter syndrome is another aspect of post-grad life that can be unexpected for many. Women are especially known for underplaying and doubting their achievements in a workplace setting- yes, this has actually been scientifically proven. Upasana notes that college feels more like a meritocracy, where you achieve good grades when you work hard and perform well. However, in a workplace, you might be at the table with big decision-makers and leaders, but feel underqualified or underskilled in some way. Regardless, they genuinely want to know what you have to say and you bring a perspective that is unique and fresh to how things are going to work. Speak up, Upasana says, you got hired for a reason. 

But, how do you “let go” of the past, when it can be really difficult, especially for those who felt like their best self in college? *major feels*

Upasana mentions that she struggled with this a great deal. She had it ingrained in her brain that college was the best 4 years of her life, a thought process that wasn’t doing her any favors! Upasana’s best friend Divya, once said to her that “that’s no way to think! You should always think that the best years of your life are yet to come! You need to move forward and move on!” Upasana needed that snap back to reality and soon was able to let go of the negativity and perpetual feeling of “loss” that came with leaving that life behind. 

“You haven’t changed, you at your very core are the same. You are the same person, but you might be just a bit older or in a different location” Upasana wisely states. 

The trouble with graduating is that stages of your life are no longer prescribed. Next year you will not become a Senior, now you have to write your own story, while also remembering that your plans won’t always work out and things will change. It’s about changing your level of expectation to solve this problem, Upasana mentions. Always have a plan B. When Upasana lost her dad 1 year out of college, she felt really lost. One of her best friends and confidants was gone and she had a continual “what do I do now?” feeling. No matter how hard things get, Upasana learned that you will survive and having people around you to support and lift you up is extremely important! It can be family, friends, anyone you trust, have a strong support system, and close the loop by being kind to others in return. 


feat. Upansana and I (center)

Now that we have covered the challenges, let’s talk about the joys of post-grad life!

Upasana’s favorite aspects of young adulthood include the ability to control her own finances and saving money on travel and fun purchases. She also has learned to enjoy the little things more, like having dinner out with her mom or having a long phone conversation with her grandma. Upasana says that she lives slower and lighter now than ever before. Upasana has a greater sense that she is able to plan for things to come and that the world is really her oyster. She also gets a lot of enjoyment in seeing her friends transforming and evolving alongside her. 

Looking towards the future, Upasana is most excited about the uncertainty of life! She is eager to go to grad school, see where her romantic and friend relationships lead her and is motivated to get more healthy this year. More than that, however, Upasana is taking more time to reflect on what she wants for her life and the impact that she wants to leave on the world. 

“We live in such interesting times and I feel so positive about our generation,” she mentions. As long as Upasana is leading the way, I feel pretty positive about us too.