Author Archives: nr11e

Branding Yourself: Social Media Tips and Guidelines

Photo Credit: Steve Koukoulas

Photo Credit: Steve Koukoulas

Aside from traveling, I really think everyone should be able to brand themselves. Today, I attended a Social Media Presentation, which had tips and guidelines one should follow.

Both Steve Kubiak, from Visit Florida, and  Matt Roush from the Florida State University  Communications Department, shared their knowledge about Social Media.

Social Media really has changed the way we communicate with others. It has allowed us to share information with people from all over the world in just a matter of seconds. It has helped us build countless of networks  with just about anyone. It has helped us bring change.  It really has changed the way most of us live.

There are many platforms available within social media. Although there are countless of users, the general public and businesses who use it at times find it difficult to use it to it’s full potential. The main reason why this is difficult is due to the fact that it is constantly changing. Therefore the number one tip before beginning the rest of the tips is… ::drum rolls:: LEARN HOW TO ADAPT TO CHANGE.

Bring on the Tips

Use Multiple Platforms

If you are responsible for the social media marketing of a company, you should definitely be active on multiple platforms. As previously stated, this world is constantly changing, and you never know when one particular platform could be ‘fatigued’, for example, Myspace.

Be Active and Encourage Others Too 

If you and your company are partnering with others, make sure they stay active by continuing to post and engage with the audience. Be sure to update your platforms with pertinent information.

Don’t Be Selfish 

Okay, it’s not all about you. In order for you to really make a difference you will have to ENGAGE your audience. Whether you are representing another identity or yourself, social media gives is one of best ways to communicate with your ‘market’ as a personality other than face-to-face interaction. People like being responded to, so take the time to really talk to them.

Be Mindful of Your Voice

What you post really can haunt you down. If you don’t believe me just take a look at these 10 People Who Lost Their Jobs Over Social Media Mistakes. Exactly, be careful.


Be connected

Join social media communities

Be sensible

Have good judgement. You are responsible for what you post

Be a leader

Be respectful

Be authentic and transparent

Share your (or whoever you are representing) personality

Be human

Own to your mistakes, it’s okay we are human, we make them

Be protective

Protect confidential information

Be fair when you share

Always give credit where it is due, remember that plagiarizing is a “no-no”

Be aware

Really make sure you know the policies and terms of the platforms you are utilizing


Dream From Within


Bucket List!

Okay, we all have them, but if you don’t, I highly encourage you to make one. Add all you can possibly add to your bucket list. Be a dreamer, be an achiever. Don’t settle for anything less than you deserve, and please understand that all of you deserve the BEST that the world could possibly offer.

We are ALL beautiful people. Don’t be afraid of having a burning desire to see, breathe, and experience the unimaginable. So dig deep into your soul, see what moves you. What are you passionate about…what are you REALLY passionate about? Write it down and begin your journey.

” As soon as anyone starts telling you to be realistic, cross that person off your invitation list.” John Eliot 

Now it won’t be easy. There might come some instances in which people tell you to relax. They might tell you that what you want to do is ‘impossible’. But is it really? No. It’s not. No matter what, do not belittle your own dreams! You can do anything you set your mind to.

To me a bucket list is more than just a piece of paper or a document saved on your computer. A bucket list is the start of your own journey. And well… I decided to start early 🙂

Wembley Stadium, before a match.

Wembley Stadium, before a match.

Starting Early

The hardest part about doing something is starting it. Once you get going, I feel that you have so much momentum going your way that no one could stop you. Maybe it was luck or a coincidence that the study abroad program that I planned on attending was in the Olympic host city. I honestly had no idea that the Olympics were going to be hosted in London till the summer before.

Truth is, I have a TON of things on my bucket list. So I’d figure I better start early. When the opportunity presented itself I did not hesitate at all.

My passion is learning. Learning from others, new experiences, and myself. The way that I receive that passion is through sports, traveling, and doing something that’s breathtaking.

Since little, I have always wanted to attend an Olympic event. I loved all of the momentum that came along with it. I knew I would one day experience it, and I did.

Olympic Events

Throughout the summer of 2012 I did not just go to an Olympic event, I went to several. All were remarkable, I had the opportunity to see Cycling-Road, Beach Volleyball, Volleyball, Soccer (or Football), Judo, and last but certainly not least — Basketball.

Basketball was my first love. As a young 5th grader I fell in love with the game. The both of us were inseparable. Besides my family and studies, all I gave my heart to was basketball. Growing up,  I inspired to be in the WNBA and what not. I looked up to couple players tremendously, they were: Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird. I always wished I would have the opportunity to seem them play live.

On Monday July 30, 2012 I did. Once I saw them come out on the court and warm up, I got goosebumps, I had tears, I had so many feelings. I watched them play the game I love and continue to love. It wasn’t just ‘a’ dream come true, it was MY dream come true. I will never forget that special moment.

Pictured: Sue Bird. USA vs. Angola

Pictured: Sue Bird. USA vs. Angola

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals. ” Zig Ziglar

By achieving your goals you learn so much about yourself, you learn through your journey and your process. You learn that you really are capable of doing anything you set your mind to. You learn that you are a very special person, and that when you do good, good things will come. Now,  that I can scratch “Go to the Olympics” from the my bucket list, I ask you :

What will YOU scratch off from your bucket list??

Olympic Road Cycling

Olympic Road Cycling

Horse Guards Parade

Horse Guards Parade

Olympic Medalists: Misty May & Kerri Walsh

Making Sense of it All

On my way to London

On my way to London

London was calling my name. After several months of anticipation, the time had come. I hugged my mom and boarded my flight. It was a long trip over there, but we finally arrived.


We arrived to our ‘flats’ and noticed we quickly had to get used to going up flights of stairs to reach our new home. That was no big deal though, because we were finally here! I knew I was going to have an unforgettable time in which I could reflect on forever. What I did not know though, was that besides experiencing new things, how much these next 5 weeks would mean to me, and shape me.

The living room in my flat

The living room in my flat

My side of the room in the flat

My side of the room in the flat

It honestly is very hard for me to sum up all of my experiences during those 5 weeks abroad, therefore I will highlight some which were very important to me.

I’m in College – I’m Confused

Okay, let’s be honest. At one point or another (several in my case), we all have been confused about what we should major in. We tend to go back on forth, trying to decide what is we want to study while we are in college. Daunting and confusing, right? At least for me it was. I knew I had/have a passion for sports and I knew I wanted to make a difference one way or another, but that was it.

Throughout my journey several scenarios started playing in my head. Although fascinating, it was still even more confusing because again I wanted to do it all, at least that is what it seemed like.

Before the Olympics began we visited several venues, toured and examined the facilities with our class. Talk about something that is MIND BLOWING. Beautiful stadiums. We toured them and examined them. At that moment, I figured, okay I want to work in Facility Management. I want take care of the place that athletes call home.

And then, there was another event. A group of us helped out with the Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Campaign. During that day, I kept on getting the idea of how cool it would be to plan and run such event.

Basically, each experience and situation made me desire an occupation in respective fields. In life, we all have those moments, were we think we got it all figured out (at least for those 15 minutes), but we just end up going in circles trying to figure ourselves out.

Celebrity guest: Shawn Johnson

Celebrity guest: Shawn Johnson

Olympic Stadium

Olympic Stadium

But….What about…?

My first time going inside Olympic Park was eye opening. Not only was I in Olympic territory experiencing something that I never thought I would at my age, but I got to meet a couple strangers. While wandering inside, I saw this small group of people who I thought were Colombian. I only knew this because I heard them speak and I noticed their accent. Nonetheless, I had to make sure.

Kindly, I stopped the group and I asked them where they were from. I was right. Not only were they from Colombia, but they were actually from the Colombian Olympic Committee. Till this day, I still cannot believe I did not exchange information with them. I wanted to, I just did not think of it in the moment. It was overwhelming and I was unprepared. I had my opportunity to network with people from my country whom were involved in such great movement.

As soon as I got to my flat, I searched online for the Colombian Olympic Committee. I was looking for ways in which I could get in contact with them. I figured it woud be pretty fascinating to have a career that revolves around the Olympics. Mixing in sports, traveling, different cultures, and world movements, yeah it was the perfect fit for me.

While browsing the site I came across the World Games 2013. The great thing about opportunities is that within opportunities there are even more opportunities. The World Games is organized by the International Olympic Committee, these are games that are hosted one year after the Olympics for sports that are not in the Olympics. Coincidence or not, I found out these games will take part in Colombia, and I actually had an opportunity at being a volunteer.

It is crazy how a trip can open doors for you and guide you in what seems to be the perfect direction.

Thank you London for directing me towards my next opportunity.

Tower Bridge

“Opportunities Multiply As They Are Seized


After my first trip to Europe, years passed and I never left U.S. ground. I wanted to go, I wanted to travel, but I always made up excuses for not being able to.

Coral Gables Senior High Graduation- Natalie Ruiz

Coral Gables Senior High Graduation- Natalie Ruiz

I graduated from Coral Gables Senior High School and got ready to start my new beginning at The Florida State University. At FSU, they offered a First Year Abroad program. My mom as always, tried to convince me to go, to spend my whole freshman year in a country abroad. She has always tried to convince me to take the opportunities she was not able to have when was younger.

The excuses kept on building up. My mother’s efforts came up short, I ended up just deciding to start my freshman year like any other student. I came to FSU, knowing a handful of people, all of my close friends went to schools I should not name. I had fear. I had fear that after my first year abroad I would come here completely clueless. I let that opportunity go. Boy…Do I regret it. I had the opportunity to experience something remarkable and I never seized such chance.

“I do not regret the things I’ve done, but those I did not do.”- Rory Cochrane

A life full of regrets is not the life to live. As we grow older and mature, the opportunities we have will often change. We often are afraid of doing something different. I regret not listening to my mother now. I should have gone. But with all mistakes made, comes experience. I knew now that I would not let the opportunities to grow, to better myself, pass me by. Full of determination, I made a promise to myself that I would study abroad.

For those that know more about me, they know that my life has always revolved around sports, primarily basketball. I was a basketball junkie, there was a point in my life in which everything consisted with basketball.

Coral Gables Vs. Miami High- Natalie Ruiz

Coral Gables Vs. Miami High- Natalie Ruiz

Surrounded with sports my entire life, I figured it would be fascinating to work in the Sport Industry. One day, when chatting with a couple others the topic of study abroad came about. I came to Florida State wanting to pretty much do everything I could. I remember even trying to plan out what I would do every summer, imagining the internships I would apply to etc. I did not want to waste any time. I figured the best time for me to study abroad would be that summer transitioning between my freshman and sophomore year. As I browsed through the website, it was very difficult for me to decide on just one place to go. To be honest, I wanted to go everywhere. Suddenly, I then scrolled over this one particular program — the  Global Sport Management one in London.

Perfect Timing, Perfect Opportunity

Has it ever occurred to you that there are just some things you are destined to do? Well to me, it sure felt that way at that moment. It was the perfect timing, the perfect opportunity, because that given summer of 2012, London would host the Olympics. Exactly, the Olympics. I did not hesitate this time. As soon as I could, I applied to the program. When I received the email that stated that I was accepted to partake in such journey, I called my mom and I just cried. Tears of joy dripped down my face. Not only would I have the opportunity to travel to another country, or have the opportunity to be among an Olympic Movement, but I would have the opportunity to attend Olympic Events. That summer I did not just experience one culture, but several others.


Tower Bridge- Natalie Ruiz

Tower Bridge- Natalie Ruiz

Ciao. Bonjour. Hola (Part 2)

Photo credit: Natalie Ruiz

Photo credit: Natalie Ruiz

‘Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That’

To me it seemed as if my days flew by, but to others that was not the case. Several people were feeling homesick and totally forgot that they were experiencing the opportunity of a life time. A few even wanted to go back home and demanded their parents to fly them back to U.S. ground.  Maybe it was culture shock. Maybe they felt attached to what they knew, what was comfortable to them . I really did not understand how they could feel that way though. There I was, trying to absorb as much as I could.

Since I did not feel homesick at all, I helped them cope. Sometimes it worked, while at times it did not. All I was certain of was that I was that I would not let this experience pass me by. In way it is a little strange, now that I am reflecting on it a few years later. Think about it. I was 14 years old in a continent that I had never been to before, and I was without my parents. This made me realize that I was actually pretty independent. Maybe not financially, but emotionally. It was pretty cool learning about myself.

Parlez-vous français ?


I had to  say bye (not goodbye) to Italy, for I was moving on to France. Throughout middle school, I took french. I may not have been great, but I thought I could defend myself. In France, all of us stayed with a family for a couple days. We were in the coach bus, waiting for our names to be called. It felt as if time was not moving. I waited for what seemed to be an eternity for my name to be called. Looking at the window, I gazed at other students meet and greet the families they would stay with. Finally, my name was called.

They were the most adorable human beings. A grown couple greeted me and spoke to me in english. I quickly told them I knew a little bit of french, and we conversed throughout the ride home. I befriended their family and did a few things I never saw myself doing. Nothing bad, or anything, I just experimented.

While outside one night, they led me to this box. They opened it and there they were — the escargots. At first I was hesitant, but after a few minutes passed, I opened my mind up. In the end, I ended up trying them. They were quite delicious. 

Photo credit: Natalie Ruiz

Photo credit: Natalie Ruiz

Sadly, my days with the home stay family were over. I wish I saved their address. I regret that so much, I would have loved for them to come visit me in the U.S. now. Maybe one day I will see them again.

No Language Barrier

BarcelonaToledoMadrid. I was in Spain. The last country I would visit during my adventure. I now was able to speak the language and it was nice to do so. Spain was my favorite. I immediately fell in love with Madrid in particular. The city life seemed wonderful. I people watched and looked at the city from the outside-in, and told my self one day I would look at it from the inside-out.

Photo Credit: Natalie Ruiz

Photo Credit: Natalie Ruiz

A New Beginning

My passion for traveling blossomed. Blessed and thankful for the opportunity, I knew that one day I would travel the world. Whether it be with someone or alone, nothing would stop me from experiencing they beauty of being abroad.

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
― Augustine of Hippo

Ciao. Bonjour. Hola (Part 1)

Don't Stop Believing

Don’t Stop Believing- Credit: Juhan Sonin

Where There is a Will there is a Way

2007 brought me one huge and  unexpected opportunity. Early January, I received a letter from People to People. People to People is a student ambassador program that gives students the opportunity to travel abroad, meet other cultures, and teach others of their own culture. Now, this sounds too good to be true does it not? Well in a way it was. After opening the letter I quickly glanced at the price tag and I closed the letter immediately.

Everything has a price tag right? Well for me, that price tag was too high. There was absolutely no way my mom could afford such trip. To my surprise, my mom convinced me during the following days, saying that I should not let this opportunity pass me by. Opportunities come and go, and they come the most to those who take risks and chances. As I accepted the invitation to the program, my mentality changed. My mom showed me that one has to just go for it. Whatever it is, one cannot limit themselves. One has to believe in themselves and ultimately understand that one really does deserve it and owe it to themselves to live with their desires.

To Europe I Go

Once again it was time to pack my bags, but this time it was different. It was my choice, it was done voluntarily. With hard work I was able to go to, and so to Europe I went. The trip consisted of just less than 3 weeks. Oh, I almost forgot that during this trip no parents would be around.

So at the age of 14, I flew over the Atlantic Ocean and landed in Europe.

First Stop- First Adventure

A couple naps later and I woke up in Rome, Italy.  It was hot, hotter than Miami actually. We did not take any breaks whatsoever and started exploring with our team delegates. Astonished at everything I noticed around me, I could not help but to be a tourist. I took pictures of everything and anything I saw. I entered a new world. Surrounded with beauty and history, I knew I was lucky.

Rome, Italy. Credit: Natalie Ruiz

Rome, Italy. Credit: Natalie Ruiz

Unfortunately, my luck ran out that same day. We went off to see the Vatican City. After that, our team delegates gave us an hour of free time before lunch. My friend and I decided we would buddy up and hunt a few good souvenir deals during that time. After the team leader gave instructions we all separated for the time being. An hour passed by and I asked my friend where we were supposed to meet up with the group, she had no idea. We were lost. Clueless. Neither of us paid attention, thinking the other one would have when we were given instructions. Emotions quickly escalated and we were both freaking out and breaking out in tears. I had no idea what to do. Thankfully, a nearby bank let us borrow their phone so that we could call our team leaders. I will never forget that day. I quickly learned with just that one lesson. Now, I understand the meaning behind:

To get lost is to find the way

Getting lost taught me the importance of staying calm. Clearly, my friend and I messed up, but us freaking out, running around did not help the situation. It was not until we stopped to catch our breaths that we decided to ask for help. Nonetheless, that first adventure definitely made me grow some tough skin. Which would be useful later on during my trip…

Leaning Tower of Pisa. Credit: Natalie Ruiz

Leaning Tower of Pisa. Credit: Natalie Ruiz

Cold Celsius to Fire Fahrenheit


Cold Celsius to Fire Fahrenheit 

The most impacting change of my life could be summarized in the simple name change of a temperature scale.


Born in Bogota, Colombia never did it occur to me that I would pack my bags at the age of 8 and leave to an unknown future. Without understanding what was going on, I had no choice but to go. I had to leave the cold. I had to leave more than that. Family, friends, school – I had to start all over.

Pack Your Bags

And so it was time. I actually don’t remember anything I brought over. It did not really matter simply because I only cared about what I was leaving behind. This was not a vacation. This was a forever change that I somehow had to adjust to. There was no way to prepare for such drastic change, no way to prepare for the blazing heat of Miami.

First Abroad Experience

From the beginning I made myself believe that my first abroad experience was going to make me the most miserable 8 year old alive. After I waived my dad goodbye with tears in my eyes, my next 4 hours flew by. I do not recall the airplane ride or picking up my bags. I just remember leaving the airport and seeing the sun beaming rays off the palm trees. Everything seemed so beautiful. I gazed outside my window not really caring where I was going. I was in awe. I realized this was my new life.

Language Barrier

Of course, it was just a week before I had to start school. Frightened at the language barrier I faced, I tried to get myself out from having to go to school. The first day after the winter break would be my first day of school. Not only was I the new girl, I also did not speak or understand a bit of english. I was afraid I would be an outcast and that I would not be able to communicate myself with others. As a kid the one thing one is afraid of doing is standing out. I just wanted to fit right in the group, not be noticed and not be bothered.

By the end of the day I was astonished at how wrong I was. I did not have a bad day at all. I made friends, somehow I did, in fact a lot of people spoke spanish. In a way, going to live in Miami gave me that advantage, because so many people spoke the language it was not as difficult for me communicate with others. Just that incident made me realize how I without the intention of doing so, made myself worried about a situation that I had no control over. I learned to let some situations be.


New Perspective

I left the cold and I came to the heat. I also left with a heart so cold, so filled with pain because of my loses. Nonetheless, as the days, weeks, and months passed my heart warmed up. It heated it up, and from it a fire started. This fire gave me the strength and opportunity to start over. As I adjusted to the temperature I knew that I would always have to adjust to change. Just like fire helps steel bend and form into incredible shapes, the fire from Miami helped me mold into a curious child looking to be the best ‘shape’, ‘figure’, or ‘artifact’ I could be.