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5 Things That Would have Changed my 1L Grades

Hello friends!

I know I have not posted much law school content lately. It is harder now that I am out of school. Because I am not confronted with the problems of law school daily, I find myself rarely thinking about it and even more rarely blogging about it. I promise to still do some law school content and my previously written law school content will never go away. But, as my life changes and evolves, I want this blog to do so with me. Law school is a temporary endeavor so I want my followers to be able to follow along in post-grad, work life, and everything that happens after law school so I can continue to be a resource.

Now back to the post for today: I have never made a secret of the fact that I had a hard first semester of law school. My grades were not what I wanted and I even failed one of my classes and had to retake it. The more I look back on my law school experience, the more obvious it has become to me what went wrong that first semester. Some people are naturally good at law school- I was not one of them. Multiple choice and bar style essays did not come naturally nor easily to me. I worked as hard as I could but the work I was doing was less effective than it could have been. I tried my best but my grades suffered.

Moving into my second semester and beyond, I took a good, hard look at what worked for me and what didn't and adjusted accordingly. My second semester saw a dramatic jump in my GPA and my grades were significantly improved. Throughout law school, my GPA rose steadily and I did very well. Law school was a major learning curve for me and it took a rough semester to figure a lot of the tricks out.

I know many of you are coming off of first semester disappointed in your grades as I was despite the hard work you put in. I am sharing some of the things I wish I had the first semester of my 1L year that in hindsight likely would have made for better grades. Further, use these tips to move forward stronger and have a killer second semester. It is completely possible!

A Solo Day in Disney's Animal Kingdom: Tips, the Best Photo Spots and a Place to Charge Your Phone

On our recent quick trip to Disney World, I spend a mostly solo day in Animal Kingdom. My husband had to work most of the day so he met me in the park around 4pm. I had the whole day to explore and I found some fun photo spots and was able to get great pictures even though I was on my own.

I wanted to share this post with anyone doing a solo trip and looking for some great photos in Disney's most beautiful park (in my opinion)!

Best Photo Spots
This photo was taken while walking between Africa and Asia

1. Tree of Life
I have a few spots for amazing pictures of the Tree of Life. This stunning centerpiece of the park makes for amazing photos but if you try to take them right in front when you enter the park, there will likely be a ton of other people in your photo memories because everyone is trying for the same photo. I found a few hidden gems where you can get the perfect shot and will probably be by yourself.
  • The first photo spot is a walkway into the rocks that surround the Tree of Life on the left side (Africa side). Head left around the tree, just past the Otter Grotto and walk into the rock pathway. There will be some animal habitats and then you will come up to a gorgeous photo spot with the Tree. The best part about this spot is that it is quite hidden and most don't head in here so you can get amazing photos. Also, when I did it, there was a Disney castmember there to talk about the animals and she kindly took photos for me since I was alone. Here is my photo from this spot: 

  • The next photo spot for the Tree of Life is the Discovery Trail. This is a walkway along the river just before the bridge to Africa. It is out of the way and generally pretty quiet which makes for great photos of the Tree and of the river vista. 
  • My final photo spot for Tree of Life photos is to stop along the walkway along the river while walking from Africa to Asia.
    There are lots of great views of the tree along that path. There are also a few spots where you can walk down to docks/seating areas right on the water and those make the perfect spots for photos. Offer to take a photo for someone else and it is a high probability they will take one for you in return. 
For both of these photos, we were down on a dock along the water with a perfect view of the tree and had the place to ourselves for perfect photos!

2. Everest

I think the best spot for photos with Everest is on the green metal bridge between Asia and the other side of the river where you find the Nemo show and Dinoland USA. The bridge is a pretty background itself and has a perfect view of the towering mountain behind it.

3. Pandora

Honestly, everywhere is Pandora is beautiful for photos. It was so busy the day I was there that we didn't get any great ones. I suggest going up in front of the floating mountains to the right of the drums for a great photo though!

4. Other
  • The bridge from Discovery Island to Pandora
  • The back path from Pandora to Africa
  • The Maharajah Jungle Trek
    • This is a somewhat hidden gem. Because it is in the back of Asia, a lot of people don't know it's there and it is often quiet. There are amazing animal viewing spots as well as some really pretty areas for photos that mimic Asia. 
  • Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail 
  • Oasis
  • Murals 
    • They aren't always easy to find but they make great backdrops for photos!

Getting Photos when Traveling Alone
I was on my own for most of my day in Animal Kingdom and I was still able to get lots of great photos. I have two tips for this:

1. Offer to take a photo for a couple, family or another solo traveler
If I saw a group or couple trying to take a selfie, I would offer to take one for them. 99% of the time, they would offer to take one for me in return. I do this tactic when I want pictures of my husband and I together when we are traveling as well and it works like a charm. Also, it always feels good to help someone else and spread a little kindness so this tactic is a win-win.

2. Find a lonely photopass photographer
During less busy parts of the day, I would often find a Disney photopass photographer without a line of people. I would strike up a conversation, let them take the Disney photo and then ask very nicely if they would take a photo on my phone as well. Every time I asked, they did it and I got great photos because they know what they are doing. The one told me she appreciated me asking nicely and when she didn't have a line and gave me a pin for being so nice! Disney is known for it's hospitality and the kindness of the castmembers so take advantage of that- just make sure you don't get in the way of their actual job (taking paid for photos) and you are not rude about it.

A Spot to Charge your Phone in Disney's Animal Kingdom
So I went a little crazy on my phone during my morning in Animal Kingdom and by 2pm my phone was dying. I had planned ahead for this and packed portable chargers but somehow, they were miraculously dead also. I had to have my phone charged to be able to get in touch with my husband (he was meeting me at the park in the evening) so I went on an adventure to find a spot to charge within the park. I ended up finding a single outlet on the front of a building in the Africa area- right across from Harambe Port Authority. It was next to a window so I perched myself in the sill and hung out for 20 minutes. While I was sitting there, an African acrobatic show happened right in front of me so it was awesome. Disney is hard on phone batteries so it is always good to have spots to go for a quick charge!
Perfect phone charging spot right in the middle of Africa!
Do you see the purple?? That's the charging spot!

Tips for Doing Disney Solo
1. Slow down
Animal Kingdom is so visually appealing and rich with details. I loved slowing down and just looking at all there was to see. I did both self-guided animal viewing trails, I walked through Harambe market super slow and took in all the detail and just enjoyed the amazing park. When I got with family or friends, it is always such a rush to do all the things. When I was there alone, I felt no guilt in taking as many photos as I wanted to, going as slowly as I needed and just taking it all in.

2. Don't be embarrassed
There is literally nothing embarrassing about going to Disney alone. It the happiest place on earth so GO and be HAPPY. Honestly, people are so caught up in their own day at Disney, they likely will not be paying attention to you anyway.

3. Strike up a conversation 
I stopped at Starbucks for a mid-afternoon coffee and sat at a table outside to enjoy it. I ended up striking up a conversation with an older man at the table beside me. He had been in Orlando on business and decided to add an afternoon in Disney before headed home so he was there solo as well. We chatted about the new rides and the upcoming holiday and sipped our iced coffees. Later in the day, I chatted with one of the castmembers who was feeding Lemur's outside the Tree of Life and she gave me an insider tip about how to get the best view of the night show without a fastpass. Never be afraid to strike up a conversation and be kind to another person- you never know what it will lead to!

4. Splurge on food
When you are on your own, you can get the food you want without worrying about sharing. Also, because you are only buying for one, you can splurge a little on fun snacks and not destroy your budget. I loved the Simba shaped hot pretzel, the chicken fried rice from Yak & Yeti and a chocolate Danish from Kusafiri Bakery.

Friday Five 1/3/20

First Friday post of 2020!

This week kicked off the new year and so far so good.

I did not do anything exciting this week- I put away Christmas decor, cleaned my house, organized and studied. It was not a stimulating week but it was satisfying!

The Pens Every Young Professional Needs

This post has been sponsored by Zebra Pen. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

As a nerd for life, former law student, and now young professional, I am VERY picky about my writing utensils. I am a huge pen snob, and I am super particular about what pens I use and what pens I prefer. I like smooth writing, clear ink lines, and a pen that is comfy in my hand. Want to know what ticks all my boxes? Zebra Pen. Particularly the Sarasa® Grand Gel Retractable Pen… this beauty is literally my favorite pen ever.

It is comfy to hold, writes amazingly smooth with crisp ink, and dries SO FAST. There is nothing worse than being in a big meeting, frantically scribbling your notes down and having ink that smudges. Not only can you not read that smudged writing later, thus defeating the purpose of taking notes, it usually smudges onto your hand too. Then you get ink on your clothes and look silly with ink stains everywhere. Not only does the Sarasa® Grand pen perform perfectly, it is beautiful to look at! I am very into aesthetic and having a pen that is functional and stylish just makes my heart sing. Check out more information here on how you can Choose Different!

                     Meeting essentials!!

I also love the STEEL G-402® Gel Retractable Pens. I keep these in my work tote at ALL times because you never know when you'll need to jot down quick notes as a young professional. Again, these pens are pretty and functional. I love that they feature a durable steel/metal barrel for demanding situations. I work hard, and I need my pens to keep up with me and not break at an important moment.

The right pen is important to a young professional, especially in the legal field where notes and writing are our bread and butter. I am such a huge fan of Zebra Pen because they are always top of the line, durable, long lasting, and stylish pens that keep up with you in any setting. Inspired to Choose Different and stand out? Use my code "LegalDuchess25" to receive 25% off on Zebra Pen's site!

Goodbye 2019, Hello 2020 - 10 Resolutions for a New Decade

Happy New Year!

Yesterday I did my year in review so now I am starting 2020 with resolutions for a new year. Every year, I like to set some resolutions, intentions and goals for the year. It is a simple act but it can be powerful if you stick to them. I doubt I will achieve all of this... I rarely do. But the beauty of life is you can always keep trying.

This new year is more than just another year. It is the start of a new decade... it is a time to reset and move forward with intention into the 2020's.

Without further ado, here are my resolutions for 2020.

1. Exercise More
I think this is on my list every year but it remains true every year. I am always striving to be more active. I go through spurts of regularly exercise and then something always makes me fall of the wagon. I am setting a goal to run 2-3 times a week and do yoga 2-3 times a week with BBG workouts in between. I am also shooting for a 5K and to compete in a marathon relay.

2. Be More Gracious
I think this is a resolution anyone can set at any time. You can always be a more gracious person to yourself, your friends, your family, your peers and anyone you encounter. The definition of gracious is to be "courteous, kind and pleasant". I know I can strive to be more of than in the new year and new decade and it will make me a better wife, friend, sister, daughter and overall person.

3. Go to Church
For most of my life, I was a regular attendee of church. Through college and law school and moving to a new city, it is just something that was easy to skip in the hustle of life. I want to find a church in our city and begin attending regularly. Not only do I want to get back to the Lord and growing in my faith, I miss the companionship and community a church can bring.

4. Watch Less TV
I love TV... don't get me wrong. However, I feel that it is so easy to fall into a pattern where that's all you do every night. I am going to try to limit my TV watching a bit in 2020 and find other new hobbies to fill some of that time.

5. Discover New Hobbies
While I have a lot of hobbies already, I am a busy body and I can never sit still. I am hoping to acquire a few more small hobbies to do instead of watching endless hours of TV. My husband and I are going to try a few together to try to find new ways to spend and enjoy time together. If you have any ideas for us, please drop them in the comments below!

6. Explore My City
I think this will be a resolution every year but I truly do want to keep exploring my city and finding all the hidden gems. It is easy to love where you live when you find all the places and things that make it special.

7. Become a Professional
After 20 years of school, 2 bar exam attempts and living in a weird limbo of being an educated, trained professional but not really being in the professional world, I am ready to settle into a job in 2020. I want to pass the bar and get my career underway. I am not sure what that opportunity will be but I am excited to see where life takes me and where my professional life goes.

8. Get Outside
This is another resolution that will probably be on my list every year. I love to get outside but sometimes I need a push or reminder to make it happen. I hope to get outside and hike, explore, breath fresh air and enjoy the beauty of nature.

9. Be More Positive
On social media, I probably come off pretty positive but in real life, I can lean a little negative/pessimistic. I try very hard to stay positive and in 2020, I am redoubling that effort. It costs me nothing to be a positive person and it can enhance the lives of those around me tenfold.

10. Spend Less Money
In our era, it is SO easy to spend spend spend. Amazon Prime makes it too simple. Social media puts everything you want/didn't know you wanted right in front of your face. I am going to try to spend less on random stuff and be more intentional. I would rather save my money for travel and a new home. Goodness knows I have plenty of stuff already!