Dear Diary

Dear Candace,

Mom! Although we were both technically in physics together last semester, our lack of attendance prohibited me from meeting one of the sweetest people ever until the beginning of this trip. You honestly crack the funniest jokes in the subtlest way and it gets me every time. I’m so glad you were there to “take care of us” and keep us all in check. Our love for Drip is something that can be replaced by no other. Thank you for all the memories, your kindness, your thoughtfulness and just being a great friend and a real joy to be around throughout this whole trip. I will continue to look out for your signature hat on campus. 


Dear Christina,

I’m so grateful for our time together in the Bayou Cabins and our spontaneous adventures. From Six Flags to McDonalds to the brewery, I knew you were one person on the trip who was always down to have a good time and a good laugh. I admire your ability to truly balance relaxation with academics and remain grounded the whole time. Thank you for listening to my frustrations and just knowing when to be there. I’ll be sure to make sure I am ‘keeping up w Kristina.’ From LSU all the way back to USC…. YEEEEHAAAAWWW!!! 


Dear Ciannah, 

I’m really glad we got to share Rag’s Cabin together. I initially thought that you were just shy and wasn’t sure if we would ever get the chance to talk.  After our spontaneous trip to the abandoned Six Flags and after the first night in the Bayou Cabins, I knew you just needed some time to warm up. Thank you for being the person who I could just look at and mutually smile with when everyone was being crazy and we were the only two with nothing to say. Thank you for scaring me getting out of the shower with the mosquito net wrapped over your head – I’m really glad “she” didn’t take you away. I’m so glad to have met you and even though we are now proud owners of LSU apparel, I know I’ll still be able to find you back at USC.


Dear Eric,

I am sure that this trip has not been the easiest for you. Particularly because you were the only guy. However, I appreciate your willingness to go with the flow. I admire your kindness and thoughtfulness to invite everyone anywhere you went. I also appreciate how inquisitive you are about EVERYTHING. I’m not usually one to ask too many questions, but you have made me realize there are so many things I don’t know myself about the world which I had never thought of. Thank you for being such an enjoyable person to be around. Thank you for coming to watch Magic Mike with us in the Bayou Cabins and just giving us all a good laugh, but also sharing with us how different your life in China was. I hope we were all able to teach you something and I hope you go back to USC with the same eagerness to learn and consider expanding your friend group so that you can still ask us Americans all the things you ever wanted to know. 


Dear Claire,

You are one of the most positive people I have ever met and such a pleasure to be around. Whenever I’m in a mood or just feeling grouchy, I know that if I come talk to you your happiness which constantly radiates from you will rub off on me. It is seriously contagious. I’m not sure how anyone could direct negative energy towards you, but even if they tried your Raising Canes joy would deflect them in a hot second. I admire how open you are to starting conversations with people who you know have very little in common with you, then listening to their story and what they have to say all the way until the end – never interjecting but nodding and listening with open ears. I also respect how much you stay true to your values. You know who you are and don’t let people make you question your beliefs but instead you explain why you feel so passionate. I’m truly grateful to have met you, Claire. I ain’t felt like this in a long time. Please feel free to keep sending gif’s and dad jokes. 


Dear Jenny,

I’m so glad I got to share LITERALLY every day with you this past month. I was truly devastated when I thought you were being moved. I am sorry for being crazy at times… although it was mostly Lauryn’s fault. I’m also sorry if the light was ever on too late. Your free spirited mindset is so admirable to me. You’re also just brilliant! I have enjoyed our late night talks of love, relationships, hardships and everything to the moon and back. I’m still searching through your Facebook friends to find…. Him. Don’t worry, I will figure it out. I hope you have an amazing summer in San Fran., enjoy Vampire Weekend and just continue to be the amazing, smart, artistic person you are! I hope I will still see you around campus and that we can hang out! 

Dear Lauryn,

Well, where do I begin… I guess I can say that I am so grateful to have met you. You have honestly become such an important person in my life and I know that our friendship is in it for the long haul. I will forever treasure our late nights that consisted both of you chasing me down as well as me making sure your phone (that was on 3%) was charging. I know I pick on you constantly, but that is just my way of showing how much I actually care. I hope you enjoy your summer, being AMAZING at PAPER. I know I will still talk to you all the time, but please don’t forget to tell me about all your life problems as well as all the incredible things I know you will accomplish between now and the next time I see you. 

Dear Ryan,

Ryan? Simba? I don’t know anymore. Although your first interaction with me was one night on campus as you tried to tell me I dropped my phone… in which I proceeded to tell you “I don’t need it…” I’m glad you didn’t remember me from that time because that would have been really embarrassing. Thank you for just always being a rock throughout this trip and for inviting me into your friendship group back at USC. Although I keep my phone on DND and I never answer you, I appreciate you responding to me in minutes and picking up after the first ring. I admire your ambition, love and comfort you have given me every day since we met. I know I can be a lot to handle at times but you stuck with it all the way from Grand Isle to the very last day… and you have signed yourself up for all the days after this trip as well. You are truly a great friend and although we have already made so many memories and have shared countless nights and days together, I know this was only the beginning. I’ll see you soon (Sunday, please don’t leave me stranded at the airport). 

Dear Sadie,

Sadie, I honestly feel like we really didn’t talk that much over the course of the trip. I think the most we ever talked was at the airport right before we both left. However, I want you to know that I have always appreciated how whimsical you are. I could always tell how much you have thought about life just through your metaphorical way of speaking. It is something so unique to you and it continuously amazed me. Thank you so much for your warm heart and kind words at the airport. I really don’t think you understand how much that meant to me, but truly, thank you for allowing me to find closure.

Dear Sofia,

I'm glad to have met you during this Maymester. I know we didn't really talk that much but I'm happy we got to share everything this past month together. It almost seems like yesterday that we were in Grand Isle together and I didn't know anyone's name. From all the cemetery tours, the coffee shops and long days exploring New Orleans, I really appreciate you being there with everyone else and adding to my journey.

Dear Taylor,

I am so happy to have met you and have shared so many good times together. Although most of our time was spent searching for food then stuffing our faces, I really enjoyed getting to know you and to hear about your views on life and just about your own experiences. It honestly still amazes me. Thank you for all the fun nights together and Bourbon Heat… especially those photos. Please stay in touch so we can go to Bon Shabu and BCD together (with Jasmine of course). Stay amazing, and I’ll see you in the Fall!

Dear Andrew,

I don’t think I can express how thankful I am to have shared this experience with you. Moving forward, each day seemed so long, but looking back, they were so short. How fast this trip has gone. I admire you in so many ways, Andrew. You’re spontaneous and excited to incorporate any local suggestions into the schedule, yet plan each day with so much thought and consideration. Your laminated maps, persistent research and iPad figures have not gone overlooked, but have only added to making every day that much more special after we are able to recognize the history and culture behind each place we visit. You make sure we are comfortable, culturally competent and that we are enjoying this as much as you are. I think I can speak for all of us when I say, we have.  I can see how passionate you are about bookpacking and being able to share that with us; I can only hope to find something that I am half as passionate about. Thank you for giving us and a space to express ourselves without judgment. Thank you for letting your walls down and sharing with us who you are. You have truly inspired me and allowed me to recognize that I have no reason to be ashamed of who I am. You have taught me that each and every person has their own story and while they are all different, we are fundamentally one. I have lived most of my life believing that I can take care of myself and handle my life solo. You have showed me how that is not a way of living. We need each other. Thank you so much, I look forward to keeping in touch and seeing how far you take bookpacking in the future.

Dear Melissa,

I know you weren’t necessarily excited to go on this trip. Fearful of all the new people who may reject you. Fearful of not sticking to a strict schedule where every second of every day has been planned out for you. Fearful of being in a new atmosphere and being stuck. For one month. One month later, I want to thank you. Thank you for opening your heart and allowing yourself to enjoy this amazing experience with amazing people who won’t be forgotten. Thank you for being yourself more than you have in a long time, allowing people to see your quirky, goofy yet insecure and anxious self. You have so much to be grateful for. I can see how much you have grown in this short amount of time and while you are going back to your busy life in LA working and doing research I just ask one thing of you. Please remember how to enjoy life. Life is too short to get caught up with things that don’t fulfill you. Don’t trap yourself in situations that upset you, thinking it will be fine. Make your voice heard, your problems expressed, and your happiness shared. You have so much to offer this world in ways you can’t yet see. Take this time now, to make this a new beginning, with all these new people. 

This past month has been one of the most eye-opening times in my life. I have learned so much and have met so many people that have honestly changed my life. Just as we were able to observe in "Floyd's Girl," the last short story we read on this trip, it cannot be ignored how fundamental a community is to one's own growth. I believe this last chunk of reading really solidified and comprehensively summarized what I see as the main lesson of this trip: we need each other. This is a world that requires us to lean on each other for support, to count on others and to be counted on in return. To be trustworthy, loving and compassionate. I am so grateful to have experienced all of this every single day this past month and I thank Andrew, and every one of my fellow bookpackers for that. You all have made such a big impact in my life, and I will never forget that.