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DISPATCH | Summer fun and Cali sun: Commemorating 2010’s pop songs

Summer Beach
Alyssa Lloyd / The Daily Princetonian

Dispatches at The Prospect are brief reflections from our writers that focus on their experiences during the summer.

In 2009, Miley Cyrus released “Party in the U.S.A.” I was five. I grew up hearing the song, bopping along in the backseat with my older sister, and eventually, singing along at middle school dances to the throwback tune myself.


Hopped off the plane at LAX with a dream and my cardigan

Welcome to the land of fame excess (woah)! 

Am I gonna fit in?

So naturally, it should have come as no surprise when I started blaring this song on repeat as I turned my phone off airplane mode and hopped off the plane at LAX with a dream sans cardigan — it was 85 degrees. Five-year-old me would be so proud.

This summer, I am gaining invaluable experience interning for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), living in Los Angeles in an Airbnb. I am an aspiring child advocacy lawyer so CASA was right up my alley, as it is a national nonprofit organization that works to support systems-impacted youth by connecting them with a court-appointed special advocate or a CASA for short. I am dabbling in all aspects of nonprofit development including social media and marketing, event planning, grant writing, and outreach. 

I have enjoyed every minute and cannot begin to express my gratitude towards each member of the team. They have given me career advice, taken me on rock climbing adventures, and exposed me to the best LA cuisine. They are pretty amazing “California Gurls” if I do say so myself, but I’ll instead throw it back to Katy Perry’s 2010 album “Teenage Dream.”


California girls, 

We’re undeniable,

Fine, fresh, fierce,

We got it on lock,

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West coast represent,

Now put your hands up

Ooh oh ooh!

This song was such a blast from the past, but it has been a staple in my summer playlist. I aspire to pick up the “fine, fresh, fierce” attributes and bring them back with me to the East Coast, even though as a Washingtonian myself, I must admit there is something special about us West Coasters. I guess we’ve “got it on lock.”

Despite completing a full year of college 2,576.4 miles from my home (not that anyone is counting), this is my first time truly living on my own. By this I mean without my mom or RoMa’s Howard making my breakfast. As a result of this new adaptation to adult life, I have learned a few important lessons. For instance, did you know in order to make dinner, you have to predict when you will be hungry an hour in advance? I learned this the hard way and may have relied on frozen dinners on more than one occasion this summer. That being said, in my hungriest and hangriest times, I like to refer back to Sia’s “Unstoppable” because eating dinner at 8 p.m. won’t derail this tiger!

I’m unstoppable,

I’m a Porsche with no brakes.

I’m invincible,

Yeah, I win every single game.

I’m so powerful,

I don’t need batteries to play.

So while digging in my small mint-colored refrigerator, trying to make a Howard-like omelet appear from thin air, I find myself making Sia’s words my mantra. Who needs batteries, or sustenance? Just kidding — healthy and balanced eating is very important and when I have time to prepare meals, I have found that I really enjoy cooking. It’s just a learning curve.

I must admit, however, that while I’ve been in California, it has not been all work or meal prep. I have spent much of my time exploring the beautiful city of Los Angeles. I went to Universal Studios, rode the ferris wheel on the Santa Monica Pier, completed a 37 mile LA in a Day bike route, and binged all seven seasons of “Gilmore Girls.” I also made sure to check out the rooftop movie scene which is huge in LA. That reminds me,

Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof 

(Because I’m happy)

Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth 

(Because I’m happy)

Pharrell Williams really called this summer because I am “happy.” This was my first time exploring a new city entirely by myself, but it has been an experience that has enabled growth and altered my perspectives for the better. I’ve networked with Princeton alumni, explored the city of fame and fortune, and found dreams I never realized I had. 

Now, I can safely say, when I hop back on the plane at LAX in a few short weeks, I know that the little girl who grew up dancing to these songs will cherish the summer she spent as a “California Gurl” because she found she truly is “Unstoppable,” and so so “Happy!”

Alyssa Lloyd is a Features writer at the ‘Prince.’

Self essays at The Prospect give our writers and guest contributors the opportunity to share their perspectives. This essay reflects the views and lived experiences of the author. If you would like to submit a Self essay, contact us at