Ashley Lauren: Interests

London: Me and Molly Sakser during a street parade

Travel

Before beginning my life as a college student, I was given the opportunity to travel. I went with a group of friends to a number of pretty amazing places. Being the tourists that we were, we saw every famous landmark, art museum, river front, monument, and building. I don't think I have ever done so much in such a short time in my life. And I loved every minute of it.

The first destination was Madrid, Spain. Having taken five years of Spanish language courses, I was able to at least order food off of the menus and ask for the location of the restroom. We watched Flamenco dancers, experienced the local cuisine, and walked around in awe of the architecture.

The next city we visited was Paris, France. There were only three things on the minds of every girl in our tour group: shopping, the Eifel Tower, and the food. We explored the Champs Elysées, trying on outfits we would never wear in a million years. We dined in candle light, eating the richest foods you could imagine. And the trip ended with a ferry ride around the Eifel Tower. It was enchanting.

Our final stop was London, England. Finally, a place where there was no evident language barrier. The food was deep fried, the people we polite, and there seemed to always be something going on. We enjoyed a choir performance in the park, an Austin Powers impersonator in front of our hotel, and an extremely enthusiastic bar crowd.

Madrid was exotic and beautiful. Paris was enchanting and romantic. London was fun and entertaining. The entire trip was one to remember. It made me fall in love with traveling.

Theater

Having taken dance classes when I was younger, I have always been exposed to the theater. I enjoy attending musical productions, dance shows, and a number of other theater events.

In high school I participated in the school's theater troop. I did everything from set building to center-stage acting. I enjoyed being a part of every show, even if the tasks were minimal. For the performances I was unable to be a part of, I found my way to the front row of the audience. There is something magical about theater, high school or professional Broadway.

Since high school I have attened two Broadway shows, Swing and Chicago. Both were the highlights of my trip to New York. Even before the curtains opened, there was an atmosphere that could not be denied. The excitement only grew as the shows continued. I left thinking about how I could not wait to come back and experience another. Although Broadway was undeniably amazing, I have seen productions in Gainesville, Florida that left me with the same feeling of joy. Theater shows are experiences that stay with you even after the curtains close.

Culinary Arts

In high school I was forced to pursue an elective track in addition to my International Baccelaureate course work. Although my school offered a number of elective options, I decided to take part in their culinary arts program. These classes taught me the basics of cooking and place settings. We learned everything from basic technique to presentation designs. During my second year, I was offered the chance to aid in the food production for a catering service the teacher owned and operated. I was given the freedom to test recipes and improve upon them for future events. Every event was a rush of energy. The hustle and bustle in the kitchen and preparing dishes against the clock, I think this is the time in my life that I realized I was deadline oriented. I do well under the pressure of a time limit.

Today, I still enjoy cooking. I love to throw dinner parties, and host holiday events. This allows me to stretch my creative muscles, explore all the possibilities. I can spend hours testing dishes just to create the perfect balance of flavors. I have a passion for food. People have asked me in the past why I chose not to pursue culinary arts as a career path. I use my passion for cooking as a creative outlet. Having to do it ever day might take some of the joy out of it.