Day 339: University of Tampa and Maxi Dress Extravaganza

Hey guys I’m jumping ahead in posting or else I’m going to fall way behind! This project ends in less than a month and I want it all posted by then! So hopefully I will be posting at least the current photo of the day and a photo of the day from China every day. Hopefully my counting will be correct. Eh, that is highly unlikely…

Wednesday, December 5th

My first day back in the United States was surprisingly fun and extremely exhausting. I couldn’t fall asleep till 2:30am, woke up at 8:30am then was wide awake. I figured I should try and sleep just a little bit more and ended up passing out till noon. I honestly could have slept longer but my sister Morgan started hitting me awake. It was time to go!

My mom, Morgan, and I drove to University of Tampa where Morgan is starting nursing school this January. The campus is gorgeous and the main building, Plant Hall, was originally the Tampa Bay Hotel built in 1891.

University of Tampa

You can see the spires glowing in the distance under the Florida sun and I always assumed it was a Russian church. It is a beautiful building with a grand interior that looks straight out of The Shining. It really feels like you are walking back in time. I kept expecting to see 19th century gentlemen and ladies in rocking chairs on the massive wrap around veranda. Instead young students in sweatshirts and shorts lounge out on velvet cushions and wooden tables, their heads deep in textbooks and cellphones.

Times have certainly changed.


The campus is gorgeous as well with pathways shrouded in oak trees and Spanish moss. My sister gets to go to school here??


After walking around the campus, we headed across the street to a new restaurant in town called the Oxford Exchange. But it’s not just a restaurant. It is also an interior design shop, bookstore, and separate coffee and tea bar. The building was historically a horse stable and dates to about 1910. Recently renovated, the interior is chic and homey with high ceilings, checkered floors, antique furniture, and vintage knicknacks. I want to live there.

We had lunch, drank some Chinese green tea, and explored all the Oxford Exchange had to offer. It was really tough to leave!


At the end of the meal, we received the Quote of the Day printed on a crisp white notecard. Such a neat idea! Also, the wall by the bathrooms is full of old pictures, newspaper articles, and framed quotes. I think I found my favorite quote:


“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J.R.R. Tolkien. This is so true. Traveling around the world has truly helped me find myself. When you don’t belong to a certain place, your self is the only constant.


In honor of China, my mom cozied up to a terracotta soldier. They look cute together right?

After lunch, Morgan headed back to Gainesville so my mom and I headed to Hyde Park for some shopping. We went to Tommy Bahama for some Christmas presents for my dad and Peter. Then somehow I ended up buying some tropical weather clothes for myself. You’ll see why I need them very soon. I bought a red and brown stripped maxi skirt and this blue and white stripped maxi dress. Do you like it?


The pattern is pretty intense for me but the material is so comfy. I love it!

We then checked out Lululemon and I see some gift cards in my future! Hooray! We finished our Hyde Park excursion with Anthropologie for some tops and then a couple cute clothing/interior design shops. These shops make me want to furnish a home, like right now. Although that probably won’t happen for a looong time.

Finally we drove over to Westshore Mall to hit up Old Navy for some cardigans and t-shirts. Somehow I bought another maxi dress!! I’ll be living large and breezy!

What do you think of maxi dresses? Yay or nay? 

We made it home by 7pm and I was wiped. Shopping is actually a great jetlag activity. You get to walk everywhere and drain excess fluid from your ankles (hello cankles!). It is just enough activity to leave you tired enough for the night. Plus you are in such a jetlag daze that shopping is actually quite enjoyable.

Shopping and maxi dresses for the win!

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