Consume This #7

Monday, January 15, 2018

Consume This is my monthly curated list of interesting links for you to read, watch, and listen.  If you come across something you think I’ll like, tweet at me.


champagne is the secret to solo female travel

how to feel comfortable eating alone

Mourning in Paris

I'm a struggling writer whose life is falling apart

Star Wars conspiracy theories are one of my fave things

Ask Polly: should I start blogging?

the critical time we need to get off social media

I Did Everything You Said and I'm Still Alone

W A T C H I N G  &  L I S T E N I N G 

A Letter to London

Jane Fonda's on Life's Third Act

You have to believe, in your heart, that even if you don’t work hard and exercise and think positive thoughts and make new friends and march triumphantly into the future, you are still enough. You will always have bad days. Being broken doesn’t make you a loser. You can crumble, and you will still be enough. Make that your religion moving forward. You are here to feel this moment. You are not here to become someone better. You are not here to impress or compete. You are not here to prove yourself. You are here to savor this life. Let down your guard. You are already enough. Believe it.   -Heather Havrilesky 

My Last First Day

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Lviv, Ukraine
I'm having a very emotional time in my life, if you haven't noticed. I feel like I'm always having a rather emotional time simply because I blow everything out of proportion and have to analyze everything from every possible angle. That's just how I process things, but my current life events warrant a minor crisis.

It's my last first day as a college student. In four months I will no longer hold the title of "student" and will have to find other ways to define myself. I'll no longer be an active sorority member (I'll be a sister in my organization forever of course, just as an alumna), I won't be an Honor Council member anymore, won't have my job in the tutoring center or event staff to report to anymore.

It's crazy that I'm here. I remember being a sophomore in high school, absolutely HATING my life for multiple reasons (some very valid, other just normal teenage angst) and counting down the months until I could go to university and escape. Every old person told me to "enjoy your time in college, it'll be over in a blink of an eye" and I was like YEAH RIGHT. High school dragged on forever, I'm sure college will be the same.

Yet suddenly I'm four years older and 18 countries wiser and lived in Europe for 8 months and traveled around BY MYSELF to countries my parents didn't even know existed until I told them I made it safely to my hostel. Traveling solo may not be a big deal to many Europeans and Australians who are raised in the adventurous gap-year culture, but hot damn, 13-year-old Victoria is so proud of me right now.

I think that's the goal for my last first day and for the rest of my last semester of my first degree. To make 13-year-old Victoria proud (and 14 and 15 and 16 and...).  If SHE'S proud of me, then there's no one left to impress.

That's what I've been mulling over, on my last first day. Accomplishments and goals and timelines. College is filled with them. College is also fairly easy. You're given a syllabus on the first day of class and as long as you organize your time well and study, you should be able to get a good grade. Hard work and a little brown-nosing with the professors practically guarantees you an A, as it should. The problem is, as I'm leaving academia for the first time, I'm realizing that life isn't like that. Your effort does not guarantee correlating results.

I hear you yelling at your computer, "DUH! Life isn't fair, sweetheart!". Please don't be concerned, I am painfully self-aware. I know that life isn't fair and nothing is guaranteed, but that doesn't change the fact that kids are raised with the mantra "Work hard, be kind, and good things will happen to you". Which is an ideal people need to have or everyone would give up and nothing would ever happen and daily life would suck.

At this point in my life, during this messy, confusing, transition period, I'm starting to learn that hard work doesn't guarantee happiness and good things, but I have to believe it does anyway.

Believe in yourself, kid, and hopefully good things will happen. Because they must.

My 2018 Travel Goals

Monday, January 1, 2018

2018 will be a year of change. Sure, a lot changes EVERY year (2016, anyone?), but 2018 will be a year of plenty of forced changes.

I'm graduating from university, for one. 

On May 12, 2018, I'm graduating with a Bachelors of Arts in English and a Bachelors of Science in Neuroscience (two degrees for the price of one? heck yeah) and will be forced out into the world as an adult without any plans. Well, of course, I have plans, but nothing like the rigidity of the American education system that has a strict timeline I must conform to.

So what does 2018 have in store for me, travel-wise? 

I have big, big plans, but there is so much up in the air right now. Possibly none of the following can happen, or everything could happen and more! Come what may, I'm going to try to see as much of the world as I can.

Here are my ambitious 2018 travel goals.

Appalachian Trail

My friend and I want to do a few weeks on the trail after we graduate in May. She's done a 2 week AT hiking trip before and I've never even camped outdoors overnight. But if Cheryl Strayed can do it, I can too, right? If I had it I can just go home with no harm done and if I love it I can carry on for 3-5 weeks. This will be our big graduation hoorah without spending too much money. 

Get a traveling job or internship

I'm applying for a few short-term internships and jobs that start right after graduation. If I get any of them (which honestly the chances are low, but I'm still trying) I could end up in a European capital for a month, Washington DC for the summer, or 20+ American states for a year. Fingers crossed I get one of them because they'd be great resume builders while also letting me see different parts of the country and world.

The Baltics

Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia. I flew from Glasgow into Palanga, Lithuania, a cute seaside town as the very first stop of my eastern European summer trip in 2017. Because I was in such a hurry to see Poland and Ukraine, I didn't even stop in the capital, Vilnius, much less go up north to Latvia and Estonia.  Almost everyone I talk to tell me about how cool the capitals of these three countries are (and the surrounding areas, of course) so I'd love to see them for myself.

sunset over the High Tatras on the way back from a hike
Eastern Europe and The Balkans

They overlap a bit so I'm including them in the same section. Romania and Bulgaria were on my original 2017 summer travel list, but that was before I got so incredibly burnt out and hid in the Slovak mountains for a month (I should post about that at some point, probably). I met so many people who were doing months solely focused on the Balkans and they were having the time of their lives. There's a lot of hitchhiking in that area, which I really need to get used to. 

The countries I was to visit most: Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Kosovo, Albania, Montenegro, Slovenia and to go back to Serbia, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina since I spent so little time there. 

It's an ambitious plan for the year, but 2017 was pretty big, too! 

I visited 18 countries in 2017, 16 of them for the first time, so I'm sure I can visit a few more in 2018!

What are your travel plans for the year ahead?

help me what do I do with my life

Sunday, December 31, 2017

sunset over University of Glasgow, Scotland, on one of my last nights there
I don't know what to do with my life, which is expected because I'm 22 years old and about to graduate college in May. I know I'm not special; most people don't know what to do at this point in their lives and that's a-okay.

But I'm me and I like having plans!

I have two options, really (I know I have unlimited options because I'm young but I'm trying to narrow them down so I can actually decide on something okay!!!). Either apply to EPIK (a teaching English program) now and go to South Korea in August 2018 or chill for a few months after graduation, go back to Europe for a bit, then come back to the US and apply for teaching abroad then. I'm leaning towards the later plan, but once I come back to the US to get my TEFL certification I'll have to be in the US for EIGHT MONTHS as I'm applying. That's such a long time! And it's not that I hate the US, I love my country so much, but there's just so much of the world to see! The thought of spending another 8 months in my hometown makes my skin crawl. I've lived in the same house as far as my memory goes back (we moved here when I was 3), and I just need to GET OUT.

So do I apply to teach in South Korea now, and miss out on my trip to Europe at the end of 2018?

And then what am I supposed to do after THAT? I have vague ideas in my head of getting a nursing degree so I can be a traveling nurse, and I'm also interested in public (mainly women's) health. Do I join the Peace Corps? Do I become a nurse and try to work with Doctors Without Borders? Do I get a masters in reproductive health and work in the ~industry~?  Do I try my luck and apply to every single fully-funded MFA for Creative Nonfiction in America? WHAT? DO? I? DO?

If you're older and wiser than me, please leave advice below or link me to older and wiser people that have all the advice. 

Consume This #6

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Consume This is my monthly curated list of interesting links for you to read, watch, and listen.  If you come across something you think I’ll like, tweet at me.


why are nannies never included on social media

a mom writes about her daughter and the teen makes comments within the text

women's health care and Star Wars

to begin is to break your own heart

the best books to become a better writer

why are all rom-com protagonists journalists and why do they suck

you've probably read this already but here you go: Cat Person

related: when saying 'yes' is easier than saying 'no'

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

W A T C H I N G  &  L I S T E N I N G 

a skit on how annoying study abroad kids are

has reading become competitive? (really enjoying Ariel Bisset's conversational videos)

my intense winter break French study plan

Friday, December 8, 2017

65 days ago (according to my Duolingo streak) I started learning French. I was tired of being monolingual and knew I needed to commit to one language instead of bouncing between many whenever I get bored.

So I downloaded Duolingo, started using other apps, began listening to French music, and bought basic grammar books.

I have one semester left as a college student and decided to take French 200, which entails:
This course focuses on practical work in the four basic skills (speaking, listening, reading, and writing) of foreign language competency. It will review and build on students' prior knowledge with the goal of developing their functional and communicative abilities. Readings, videos and other media will broaden students' knowledge of French and Francophone cultures and strengthen their command of the language. 
I can learn French grammar and vocab on my own, but I'm struggling most with the communication part. Forming my own sentences. Listening to others. Expressing myself. Which is why I really want to take a class!

It's recommended to have 2 semesters of French under your belt before taking this course, but I don't have time for that. (I also took a 200-level Latin course after 3 years of not taking Latin and got an A, so I'm sure I can scrape by in French.) I plan to immerse myself in 3 weeks of intense French studying so I don't completely drown next semester.

This is what I'm going to do to prepare myself:

Daily Goals:

  1. 1 practice Duolingo lesson
  2. 1 new Duolingo lesson
  3. 100 flashcards on Lingvist (takes about 15 minutes)
  4. 1 Coffee Break podcast (about 30-minute lessons)
  5. 1 Youtube video of a French speaker (with English subtitles, obviously)
  6. 20 minutes listening to French songs 
  7. translate & understand 1 French song
  8. watch an episode of a French TV show or 30 minutes of a movie
  9. 25 minutes studying my grammar book
  10. talk with my French-speaking friends! (thankfully I have a lot of bilingual friends that are very excited I'm trying to learn a new language)
All in all, it's about 2.5 hours of French studying a day with is A LOT and I don't expect myself to complete everything every day, especially after I get my wisdom teeth out on the 27th (!!!!). The main goal is to learn a little bit every day. Language learning is all about repetition! 

On an ideal day, I'll complete all ten of those tasks. At a bare minimum, even on my worst days (aka high on opioids post-wisdom teeth surgery), I aim to do at least 4 from above. 

Reminder: it's okay to get frustrated while learning a new language, as long as you do not stop!


Do you have any language learning advice? Share below!

NOBODY CARES and other holiday thoughts

Friday, December 1, 2017

This post is a part of the monthly travel linkup! I've missed the past few months because I was trying to revamp this blog, but now I'm back, baby! I'm excited to start participating again. :)

It's easy to feel like you're under a microscope during the holiday season. You see family members that you probably only see once or twice a year, so they're all asking the same questions.

What are you up to now?
How's school going?
What are you going to do after you graduate?
Have any jobs lined up?
Dating anyone special?

Just kidding, no one asks me that last question because everyone knows I'm chronically single. As for those other questions, they freakin suck. 

With a family full of doctors and nurses and chemical engineers and stay-at-home moms and electricians and accountants, it's hard to say, "I don't want to get a ~real~ job anytime soon, I want to see the world while I'm young and healthy". 

They thought it was really cool when I did a semester abroad and a summer in Europe, but now it's time for me to get ~serious~. But hey! I don't want to get serious just yet! Or in other terms, I'm super serious about traveling and seeing as much as I can before the world gets dark.

It's easy to get wrapped up in my thoughts with all of these questions flying at me. Maybe I should get a longterm job right out of college. Maybe I should start applying to graduate school immediately. Maybe I should start getting qualifications that'll land me a high-paying job. I'm so silly, thinking I can just travel wherever without a solid job to return to!

It's easy to feel like you're under a microscope during the holidays and to get anxious, but then I remember that NOBODY CARES. Aside from my parents and grandparents, who will always worry no matter what, NOBODY REALLY CARES about what I do with my life.

Sure, they might as at holiday parties on my birthday, but outside of those two instances, no one is concerned with what I'm doing. I hadn't seen most of the family members I saw at Thanksgiving in almost 11 months. You know how much time was spent talking about my 8 month trip to Scotland and Europe? Probably a max of 5 minutes. And 3 of those minutes were spent talking about THEIR Eurotrips when they were young.


It's not a big deal that I want to go back to Europe for four months after I graduate. It's not a big deal that I want to go teach English in South Korea. It's not a big deal that I want to be an au pair in France or a tour guide in the American midwest. Nobody gives more thought to these plans than me.

The point of this post is to remind you to not get too wrapped up in what others think. 

If they are judging you, the judgment will only last a few seconds, and who cares anyway! 

Holiday season mantra: NOBODY! CARES!

Live your life the way you want, boo boo. 

can't travel? go thrift shopping, instead

Monday, November 27, 2017

When I started to get serious about saving for travel, I gave up one of my biggest loves: searching for books at thrift stores. Post-trip, I've realized that spending $5 every few months on books I love is 100% worth it and won't hurt my travel savings significantly.

I've never been up-to-date on the coolest, newly released books because I can't come to terms with spending $16 on a book I might hate or only read once. Thrift stores, on the other hand, allow me to buy almost every single book that catches my eye since for $1 a book I can afford that.

I went to three Goodwills and one local thrift store, but only bought books at two of the stores. Thrift stores are always a gamble, but you get THAT MUCH MORE excited when you find something good! I saw a girl walking around Goodwill with the Hamilton biography by Ron Chernow. If only I got there five minutes earlier, that book could've been mine for $1.

Reading lets my mind travel when my body is physically incapable. It's the escapist coping mechanism I used when I was in high school and couldn't even leave my town, and now reading comes in handy when I'm between trips!

Here's what I picked up on my recent thrift shop foray - I never paid more than $3 for a book!

  1. Riding the Iron Rooster by Paul Theroux
  2. Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding
  3. It by Alexa Chung
  4. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
  5. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (I may or may not already own a copy)
  6. Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert
  7. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
  8. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
  9. How Did You Get This Number by Sloane Crosley
  10. The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman
  11. Maus I by Art Spiegelman 
  12. Lunch in Paris: A Love Story with Recipes by Elizabeth Bard
  13. The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt
NINE of these books are nonfiction. What can I say, I love learning about the real world! 

what I'm thankful for this year

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Photo by Jeremy Gallman
Next to Easter, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Both holidays don't require gifts. Their whole purpose is to get together with your loved ones and eat A LOT of food. Of course, there's the whole thing about Jesus rising from the dead and the British and Native Americans coming together for a feast, but both of those things probably didn't happen.

But what does happen, without fail, every year is my family getting together to eat lots of food and laugh and then complain about how we over-ate.

I'm going over to my aunt's in a few hours, so, for now, I'll make a list of just a few things I'm thankful for. 

  1. the Hannah Montana movie (it's on right now and I'm reminded that it's a cinematic masterpiece)
  2. country music
  3. my dad
  4. wood burning stoves
  5. books (currently reading Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver)
  6. secondhand books that don't cost more than $1
  7. international friends that call to wish me a Happy Thanksgiving (isn't that the most thoughtful thing you've ever heard!?)
  8. the fact that I can say I have "international friends"
  9. long email chains with aforementioned friends
  10. 61% of Australia that voted in favor of same-sex marriage
  11. Niall Horan's album
  12. Mary J. Blige
  13. my legs. they took me around 18 countries in 2017.
  14. my chacos, who touched the ground in those 18 countries. 
  15. my education
  16. the privilege to travel
  17. air-conditioning
  18. dogs
  19. science and modern medicine 
  20. plans for the near-future 

No matter where you are in the world, I hope you eat good food and hug someone you love today.

Consume This #5

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Photo by Ronaldo Arthur Vidal
Consume This is my monthly curated list of interesting links to things for you to read, watch, and listen.  If you come across something you think I’ll like, tweet at me.


why it's time for me to leave new york

how to travel like a travel writer

can constant podcast listening be bad for your brain?

if you can't find a partner that supports your career goals, stay single

you have to build your purpose

wearing men's button-down is another facet of the manic pixie cool girl

W A T C H I N G  &  L I S T E N I N G

demi lovato's new album

kind New Zealanders send author John Green thousands of coins

I went to a festival on my own
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