SLIDER

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.

R E A D I N G

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.

NOBODY! CARES!

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.

R E A D I N G

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

22 things I need to stop doing

Monday, October 16, 2017

Photo by Hans Vivek

A week ago I turned 22, but in order to solidify my new age, I must write about it. A lot of people do the "22, 25, 30, etc. things I've learned" posts to celebrate their birthdays, but honestly, I feel too young for that.  Sure, I definitely learned a lot while living 8 months abroad, but I also realize I still have a lot of learning left to do. I need to let my lessons sit and marinate for awhile before I put them in a definitive list for the entire internet to see. (Lol "entire internet", I sure do think highly of myself.)

So here are 22 things I need to STOP doing in order to become a full-fledged adult. It's a lot easier to point out my bad habits than to correct them, but this post is at least one step in the right direction.

  1. Caring about what other people think.
  2. Texting guys I don't actually care about just because I'm bored. 
  3. Eating a whole ice cream carton in one sitting. 
  4. Using "hey I walk a lot!" as an excuse not to exercise. 
  5. Reading too many books at once. Either finish the dang book or decide not to finish it and give it to someone who will actually read it. 
  6. Eating canned soup for dinner when I have ingredients for a quick and easy meal in the pantry. 
  7. Hate-reading someone's blog.
  8. Hate-scrolling through someone's Instagram. (Don't do these things! They're not good for you!)
  9. Using "my hair is dirty" as an excuse to not go out. Just wash your hair! It's not that hard!
  10. Letting my tank get dangerously empty before I refill it. 
  11. Complaining about how bored I am while also not reaching out to anyone. 
  12. Extensively plan trips that I have no hope of taking anytime soon. It's a waste of time to plan that much detail, Victoria. 
  13. Talking myself out of things just because I get nervous. 
  14. Worry over why someone doesn't like me. It literally does not matter. 
  15. Starting a language on Duolingo and doing too much at once then burning out and quitting.
  16. Getting a caramel macchiato at Dunkin Donuts when I have a PERFECTLY GOOD Keurig and percolator at home. 
  17. Not journaling because I'm "too tired" or "nothing happened that today". Something happens everyday girl!!! Write about it!!!
  18. Chugging Dr. Pepper like type II diabetes doesn't run in the family. 
  19. Hitting snooze too many times.
  20. Thinking I will one day actually eat breakfast at the appropriate breakfast time. 
  21. Drinking coffee when I KNOW it'll give me the runs. 
  22. Pretending I ever think about anything besides One Direction and the five boys' individual careers. 
Happy birthday to me! Cheers! 



Consume This #4

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Photo by Anete Lūsiņa

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.


R  E  A  D  I  N  G

the emotional labor of female travel bloggers

another great piece on emotional labor, on a more general scale

how to stop being a "chill girl" and be yourself

thoughts on bloggers selling out and faking lifestyles 

the personal essay isn't dead. it's just no longer white. 

Ideal Bookshelf shop, which makes cute prints with popular books in specific genres.  I want the Southern Lit, Paris, Travel, Feminism, and Writing

Shonda Rhimes has started a new women-focused website and I'm excited to see how it develops.

Kelsey J Barnes writes about online friendship in her latest newsletter: my friends

the paranoid girls of tumblr

The Problem with Rupi Kaur's Poetry: I don't really agree with it but it offers some good points

I cried over this because Geraldine is such a great writer: I Have Written About Currywurst, My Love

the first time I left home (and fell in love)

the new midlife crisis (aka we need to talk about women and their problems more but what else is new)

Philippa Gregory is at it again uncovering women hidden from history!!!

W A T C H I N G  &  L I S T E N I N G

Pop Culture Detective is a great YouTube channel that analyzes masculinity and misogyny in popular movies and TV shows. They have two episodes out on the Big Bang Theory and it's great.

An Ode to Broken Spines (poetry video about loving books) 

Consume This #3

Friday, September 15, 2017


Photo by Melinda Pack on Unsplash

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

cherish your chicken nuggets

Thursday, September 7, 2017


"I'm sorry, ma'am. We don't carry spicy chicken nuggets anymore."
Sirens blare. A small child screams in the background. Glass shatters somewhere.
No more chicken nuggets? Did I hear the scratchy drive-through voice correctly? How can there be no spicy chicken nuggets?
"I'm sorry, what did you say?" I lean out the window of my car, thinking that if I get closer to the speaker I could hear her better, hear her different.
"We don't carry spicy chicken nuggets anymore, ma'am."
I sit back in my seat. Glass shatters again. "Oh...ok.  Can I just have regular nuggets then?"
"Of course you can. Is that all for your order?"
Yes. I guess so. It has to be. The spicy chicken nuggets are gone. Out of all the things to happen while I'm away, why this? What is happening to my country?



I wish I had known the last time I ate Wendy's (January 1st, 2017), what I know now. About to leave for Europe for 8 months, I could never imagine returning to an America without spicy chicken nuggets.
I was so naïve.
We all know the usual advice about living in the moment. Hang out with your grandparents. Tell your dad you love him. Apologize to your friend. But more importantly, cherish every single chicken nugget that you eat. Who knows if that nugget will be your last nugget.

chicken nuggets tombstone
Photo by Simeon Muller on Unsplash. Editing by me.

R.I.P. Wendy's Spicy Chicken Nuggets. I'll miss all the good times we shared.
*I googled and March 2nd, 2017 is the actual date the nuggets disappeared. No one had the heart to tell me, out of fear it would spoil my time in Scotland.

counting change

Tuesday, September 5, 2017


I press the pennies into my plastic money counting jar, watching the total slowly go up on its blinking digital face.

The pad of my index finger hurts and is already marked with black from all of the dirty coins.  $24.71 already accounted for, with a pile of circular metal still staring at me from the dining room table.

You see, barely 2 weeks ago I got back from an 8 month trip, but I'm ready to leave again.  In exactly 336 days, (11 months and 2 days to be exact), I'll be done with all responsibilities that tie me to America.

I have 336 days to save every single penny that I have.

Whatever the total comes to in my change jar, I know it won't be much.  Chump change.  Barely anything in the grand scheme of things.

All of the change I have to my name, the change I've been saving for years, will probably only afford me 3 nights in a hostel in central Europe.  Or 2 long bus rides.  Or 1.5 days worth of my usual daily budget.  It's not much at all, but that's 1.5 days that I wouldn't be able to fund if I didn't obsessively collect every single penny.  I'm sure those 1.5 days will be worth it, and I won't even remember the sore pad of my index finger when I'm living them.

Cheers to when I can travel for an extended period of time again, to the next 336 days and some change.
10 hikes on my bucket list

10 hikes on my bucket list

Saturday, September 2, 2017


I recently read Wild by Cheryl Strayed so I'm on a bit of a hiking-daydreamer kick. Don't get me wrong, I am not an avid hiker. I'm not even a good hiker. I'm slow and take a lot of breaks and have never even done an overnight camping hike. But look at how much room for improvement I have! I definitely want to get better and learn more skills, so the next time I go to Europe I can do more outdoorsy things and avoid the big cities.

1. Old Rag Mountain, Virginia

This was my first intense day hike that I did at the end of my freshman year of college. It would be fun to do after I graduate this year, just to see how I've changed.

2. The Jordan Trail, Jordan

I remember reading an article in National Geographic about the "new" trail that spans the length of the country of Jordan. Jordan isn't one of the most popular countries to travel to, so it would be cool to say that I've hiked the entire length of it.

3. Overland Track, Tasmania, Australia

Mainly because it's in Tasmania and it looks pretty. It doesn't take much to get me excited for a hike!

 

4. Valley of Flowers, Uttarakhand, India

Because who wouldn't want to walk through a place called the valley of flowers???

5. Hallelujah Mountain, China

  1. Because I like anything with spiritual/gospel references
  2. LOOK HOW COOL THOSE MOUNTAINS ARE

6. a "wild hike" on the Great Wall of China

This is apparently a thing I didn't know about until I started googling for this post. I also have a friend who camped (which is slightly illegal) on the Great Wall and she said it's one of her favorite experiences.

Kaieteur Falls - Guyane

7. Kaieteur Falls, Guyana

This hike leads to one of the biggest waterfalls in the world. Imagine the soul-crushing amount of awe you would feel by witnessing that in person.

8. Canada

This isn't specific to anywhere in Canada because, even though I haven't been to Canada at all, I can already tell that it's one of the most gorgeous places on Earth so I'd be happy hiking ANYWHERE.

9. West Highland Way, Scotland

Since I lived in Glasgow for 5 months, I heard people talking about this trail all the time. I wish I had planned better while in Glasgow so I could've done the trail while I was there, but sadly I didn't have any proper hiking gear with me. Hiking the West Highland Way would allow me to appreciate the beauty of Scotland in a whole new way.

HumpbackRocksVA Humpback Rock via Appalachian Trail Conservancy

10. The Appalachian Trail, USA

Okay, definitely not the whole thing. I don't think I'd ever dedicate 6 months to a single activity, especially a hike. But I would love to do a portion of the AT. Ideally, I'd do the entire Virginia section since it's my home state and is the most beautiful in my humble opinion.



Researching for this post reminded me how there are SO MANY HIKES in the world yet SO LITTLE TIME. I need to get started!

This post is a part of the monthly Travel Link Up!

Do you have any recommended favorite hikes I should do?

Consume This #2

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


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

 R E A D I N G

a profile on Jenny Slate, because I will consume anything in relation to her

'making your own fun' before the internet (a little too whimsical for me, but they have a point)

get artwork sent to you by just sending a text message


from my favorite newsletter: knock knock, motherfucker


about fan culture and when super-fans move on

L O O K I N G  &  L I S T E N I N G

this crazy talented tattoo artist

Header Photo by Jeremy Wong on Unsplash

detour to the Slovakian mountains, part 1

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Photo by Tanvi Malik

I'm at an incredibly friendly hostel in Bratislava, right in the old town, but I can't be bothered to go socialize or see the city.

I acknowledge how lucky I am, but I'm bored.  I'm tired.  If I see one more building described as neo-classical or neo-gothic or neo-ANYTHING, I'm going to scream.  All I want to do is go see the new Wonder Woman at the cinema in the mall and figure out where to go next.

I'm in Bratislava because it was on my itinerary and because I'm on my way to meet my friend in Budapest.  A week ago I realized I was traveling too quickly, which is why I added 5 days in Munich, but I still have a few days to kill in between.  I could stay in Bratislava for a full week, but there's not much to keep you entertained in that town for more than 2 days.  I have to find somewhere to go.



Photo by Zach Taiji

I sit down on the toilet.  Usually an irrelevant tidbit, but this moment changed the course of my trip.  Right at eye level from sitting on the pooper is a flier for a hostel in northern Slovakia in the High Tatras.  The mountains are what intrigued me, but the 10/10 Hostelworld review and the promise of a dog are what convinced me.

Two days later and I'm on the train to Poprad.

I've stayed in some enjoyable hostels, but this one is definitely the best one I've ever been to.  Right after I get there, I'm invited out to dinner with a few other guests, which I find out later is a regular occurrence.  Restaurants are so cheap in this village you can get a meal for under 10 euros, and even that's on the higher end (I average on 6 euros or less).

This is the first place I've been where the hostel actually has a family-feel.  As someone who hasn't been home since the very beginning of January, it feels so nice to just sit around and have a laugh with friendly people.  This hostel is slightly out of the way (i.e., not on the main Eurotrip path), so it attracts what another guest called "the right kind of people."  No stag parties, no huge groups, long-term travelers (at least longer than a few weeks), and a lot of solo travelers.

Also, the mountains.  I forgot how much I missed them.  I don't live in the mountains in Virginia, I'm right smack dab in the middle of the state, but something about being in the mountains makes me feel more at home than anything else in the world.

I do a 25-kilometer hike on my first full day, by myself for the majority of it.  Hiking is tough for me, especially alone without any distractions, because I internally beat myself up most of the way.  Usually, my head is a pleasant place to be, but for some reason, strenuous physical activity brings out my inner critic more than anything.  What matters is that no matter how much I wanted to give up and turn around, I didn't.  Which is what I like about myself.  Even when I am my own worst enemy, I can't seem to give up.  I'm sure that's a trait that will help me out in life.

Days 2 and 3 were much more chill, only short walks with the dog by the river and over to the Goulash Man.

On Saturday I reluctantly leave the hostel in the 1,300 person village (smaller than my high school) for Budapest.  Now that I've rested for a few days, I feel rejuvenated enough to tackle more central and eastern European cities.

Right?

Consume This #1

Saturday, July 15, 2017


Hello!  I'm changing up the way I do my What I'm Reading posts!  They started out as a summary of what books I've read, then morphed into a HEY HERE'S EVERYTHING I'VE READ AND DONE AND THOUGHT ABOUT OVER THE PAST TWO WEEKS.

So I'm going to split things up and move stuff around.  On the 15th of each month I'll post a Consume This, which will be full of all the interesting links I've read in the past month.  If I have too many links for one post I'll split them up, but you can rely on a Consume This on every 15th.


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

R E A D I N G

did Jesus have a wife? Dan Brown might have been onto something


why are books with a female protagonist automatically considered a 'beach read'

we already know that the publishing world is sexist but here's a reminder


a long article about the unattainable myth of the 'French girl'

two guys met in their fraternity and got married 10 years later

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



Header Photo by Alisa Anton 

how a snow storm turned me into a traveler

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Photo by Donna 

This is my first time participating in the Travel Link Up!  July's topic is to share your travel story.



I never planned on traveling extensively.  As a kid, I never dreamed of laying on beaches in Thailand or going on safaris in Africa. I always thought hostels were scary and adults without traditional careers were making a HUGE mistake.  I had dreams of graduating college, getting a good job, and eventually owning a house on a huge plot of land somewhere in a southern state.  Basically, I wanted to live in a country song.

Then Freshman Year Spring Break happened.  My school calls it "spring break", but in reality, it was the last week of February and a huge snow storm made us evacuate the school early, so my week break turned into almost two.  This sounds lucky, but my school and home are only one hour apart so the snow storm also hit my house, but even harder.

So there I was, Spring Break 2015, unable to leave my house at all because of the piles of snow. I had nothing to do but toot around on the internet and read.

In my boredom, I read a really cheesy love story about these two solo travelers meeting on a beach in Spain and then traveling around together for a few months, and of course, they happened to be from the same town so they fell in love and yadda yadda yadda. The implausible love story isn't what made me want to travel, but all of the descriptions of the places the two characters visited. It put the idea in my head that people actually CAN travel for an extended period of time, that people CAN travel by themselves, and that traveling really isn't a "big deal".  Almost anyone can do it with a little bit of luck and a little bit of money.
 
This led me to google "two month Europe trip itinerary". Europe because nowhere else in the world interested me (yet). Two months because I was deadset on going to medical school, and two months is all I would have in between undergrad ending and medical school starting. That's all the traveling I could allow myself until I one day became a supercool neurologist or OBGYN and worked for Doctors Without Borders.

That innocent google search led me down the rabbit hole of travel blogs.  I'm not exaggerating when I say that I spent almost every second of that spring break reading people's blogs, consuming everything I could.

The decision had already been made.  I need to go travel.  But after more and more reading, I quickly learn that just two months in Europe won't even scratch the surface of what the world has to offer.
 

I need to go EVERYWHERE.

 
So I start looking into alternatives.  I could take a gap year in between college and medical school, but with the way the MCAT falls and the application process, I really wouldn't have that much time to travel.  Also, med schools like it when you do something "productive" with your gap year.  Flaking off to southeast Asia for a year is sadly not seen as productive by the corporate world.  I found a medical school program where I could do two years in Brisbane, Australia and the other two years in America.  But I couldn't put all of my eggs in one basket and only apply to one medical school, and even then two years in Australia didn't feel like enough.

Eventually, I had to face my own priorities that I tried so hard to suppress: I don't want to be a doctor.  I want to travel.  I could always go to medical school later in life, plenty of people do it, if I still felt that calling.

It wasn't a sudden realization.  It was almost exactly a full year between my initial google search and the breakdown during my Sophomore year that forced me to quit bullshitting myself and accept what I actually wanted out of life.

I'm still at the very beginning of my travel story.  I spent five months in Glasgow, Scotland and I'm currently a little over a month into my central/eastern Europe trip.  I have a few ideas for my post-college life and all of them include me moving out of Virginia, if not out of the country.

Lucky for me, my travel journey is just getting started.
 

What was your tipping point that turned you into a traveler?

What I'm Reading: June 2017 #2

Friday, June 30, 2017

Photo by Claudia Nuta

This is my  bi-weekly series to share with you whatever I’m reading that has either interested, entertained, or angered me.  I’ll talk about the book I’m reading, articles I’ve read, blog posts I’ve liked, interesting videos, ect.  This is one of my favorite type of posts to read on other people’s blog, so I hope you will find some links you enjoy!  Want to know what else I’m reading? Be my friend on Medium and Bloglovin’ and Goodreads for more!


Reading

Online

All of the Women I Admire are Over 30: something I WROTE is actually online!  I'm going to start including stuff I've written elsewhere here, because if you're not your own hypeman then who will be?

Also by me: How to Travel When You Have Anxiety

Writing about crushes and ex's and we-were-kinda-a-thing-but-it-didn't-work-out is always difficult.

Lorde's new album is basically a party for our messiest selves.

What if you desire too much? is a question I tackle this month on Dear Damsels.

Katie shares books that inspire travel and they all sound so fascinating.

KathmunduandBeyond has been posting so many itineraries that go through Central and Eastern Europe and they're helping with my traveling planning SO MUCH.

Personal essays should've be looked down upon as a "lesser" form of writing.

A long-read on porn which isn't weird at all and definitely needs to be discussed more.

Here's a 6,000 word guide on making it as a blogger in the Year of Our Lord 2017.

Books

I finished Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber, and (since I haven't seen the movie) I was very happy with the ending.  It seems dark at times but DON"T WORRY it will get better.

I started Commonwealth by Anne Patchett, who I've never read before this.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that half of this book is set in Virginia, which should be obvious considering the title.  I never said I was a detective.  You can tell that Patchett is a good writer because the premise of Commonwealth sounds very plain, but it still makes me want to read on.  Also, I miss my state.

I'm finally at a hostel that has a decent selection of books, so I swapped out two of mine for The Martian and The Sisters Brothers.  I love finding books that are already on my to-read list.

Watching


The music video for the "Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)" from the Hamilton Mixtape came out recently.  Another reminder that America would be nothing without immigrants.

Listening


I honestly love every single song on Lorde's new album, but nothing comes close to that emotional pulling-at-my-gut feeling I get when I listen to this one.

Living

I'm in the Slovakian mountains right now (was not in the plan, a post will be coming soon) and wow I really needed to be around nature.  I've been doing cities for the past month straight.  It seems like one month might be my city-limit before I go a lil crazy.  This place is beautiful and if it weren't for meeting my friend in Budapest I'd probably stay a good week or so.

Quoting

Now's not the time for dick measuring, Stuart!
-Liam Neeson, the best line from Taken

How I Messed Up My Trip to Auschwitz

Monday, June 19, 2017

Photo by Adrian Infernus
Visiting and then subsequently talking about your trip to a concentration camp is a very tricky thing.  I talked in a previous post about how I don't know how to talk about Auschwitz; I will try to make this post as respectful, sensitive, and un-awkward as possible.


I messed up my visit to Auschwitz.

I've been looking forward to the visit ever since I decided to go to Krakow.  I expected it to be a humbling, life-changing experience, going at my own pace through the camp and showing as much respect to the murdered as possible.  I knew during the high season summer months free entry is only allowed from 8am-10am and then again 3pm until closing.  This is what my friends have done when they visited, so I was going to do the same.

I did some last minute research the night before, trying to figure out when the buses left for Oświęcim (the Polish name for the town; 'Auschwitz' was forced upon them by the Nazis) when I saw people commenting on forums about the reservation website.

Apparently in 2015, after my friends visited, the museum added an online reservation system.  Even those going during the free hours must have a reservation.  I understand why they have this system; it limits the number of people at the museum and makes things a bit more orderly.  Still, this came as a surprise to me and threw a wrench into my plans.  Sure, I could still show up at 8am and hope for the best, but that still wouldn't guarantee me entry to Auschwitz I.  (Auschwitz II, or Birkenau, is always free, but you are not allowed to enter any of the buildings in that camp.)

I didn't come all this way to take a gamble with visiting Auschwitz (disclaimer: yeah I should've done my research ahead of time, but hindsight is 20/20), so I took the only option left.  At the last minute, I booked a tour with SeeKrakow for 120 zloty, about $32, which included pickup at my hostel.  This included a guide for both camps.  What was supposed to be a free day trip (bus transportation would've cost 30 zloty, or $8) suddenly got a lot more expensive.

I still could've shown up at 8am and hoped they would let me in, which is what two girls in my hostel did and it worked out for them.  I just didn't want to take the risk since it was my only day to visit.
Learn from my mistakes.  I'm of course very grateful for the privilege that even allowed me to visit the camp, but I would've appreciated Auschwitz a lot more if I didn't have to do a guided tour.  After toying around with the reservation website, I suggest you reserve your place at least a month ahead, since that's how long I would've had to wait for a 'free visit' reservation spot.  The website says to do it even further in advance, so keep that in mind.  Of course, you don't absolutely have to have a reservation like the girls in my hostel, but it'll save you some peace of mind.

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What I'm Reading: June 2017 #1

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Photo by Annie Spratt

This is my  bi-weekly series to share with you whatever I’m reading that has either interested, entertained, or angered me.  I’ll talk about the book I’m reading, articles I’ve read, blog posts I’ve liked, interesting videos, ect.  This is one of my favorite type of posts to read on other people’s blog, so I hope you will find some links you enjoy!
Want to know what else I’m reading? Be my friend on Medium and Bloglovin’ and Goodreads for more!


Reading

Books

I finished The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer while in Warsaw.  I didn't know what to expect from her book since she's one of those women that people love to hate, but I'm glad public perception of her didn't sway me from reading this book.  Schumer is funny and hardworking and crazy smart, and so many of her observations are things that I wish I could say but just don't have the balls to yet.  5 stars.

I'm also in the middle of The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and Sybil, the true story of that girl with 16 distinct personalities.  It's very slow going with The Goldfinch but I'm trying to finish it quickly because it takes up so much room in my bag.

Online

How women in TV shows are always lotioning at night.  Strangely enough I think about this phenomenon a lot, so I'm glad other people have noticed enough to write an analysis of it.

I loved this piece on being gay versus being southern.  It's great because there's no definite conclusion, since it's a predicament that I don't think anyone has the answer for.

Feminism and the fear of dying alone.

A day in the life of Kim Kardashian's assistant is crazy interesting.

You Should've Asked: even though women in the workforce is rising, they still take on a HUGE chunk of mental labor by being the "manager" of the household.

I'm very interested in the whole big city vs. small town debate (since I find a lot of problems when people blame everything on "coastal elites" vs. the "poor middle America").

I've been following Chelsea Manning's case since the very beginning (which was back when I was 14, proving once again that teenage girls are aware and care about politics), so I loved the NYT profile on her.

It's been one year since the shooting in Orlando, so here's a piece on queer grief: "Grief can be neon, can be a ball, can be camp, can be a read, or can be a parade. It can be as joyful as it is sad".

Watching


Orange is the New Black! I had a rainy day in Krakow so I plowed through most of it that day, then finished it the next.  I definitely enjoyed it a lot more than the previous seasons.  There's a lot that happened that I'm still not sure how to feel about, so I'm ready for all the think-pieces that are sure to come.

Listening


Halsey's new album.  I really loved Badlands and her followup album doesn't disappoint.  It's very moody and honest which I love.

Living

As you can tell, I haven't been posting as much as normal.  I'm currently a little over 2 weeks into my 2.5 month long trip and I don't want to force myself to blog and adding extra stress to my life when I should be enjoying myself.  That's going pretty well, I think!

Quoting

We should be careful
Of each other, we should be kind
While there is still time.
-Philip Larkin

What is left to say about Auschwitz

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


What do you wear to Auschwitz?

Not your cut off Levi's you bought in Valencia.  Shorts feel inappropriate somehow.  Neither can you wear your beloved Chacos.  The thought of your toes touching the same dirt that they labored and died on feels disrespectful.  Jeans, a navy top, and covered shoes it is then, even though it'll be 80+ degrees.



How do you talk at Auschwitz?

You don't.  Other than an "excuse me" when you bump into people, you stay silent.  There is something restricting your throat.



How do you take pictures at Auschwitz?

Very carefully.  No selfies, no snaps of areas that feel too personal, still somehow too vulnerable.  You say no to the man that wants you to take a picture of him in front of the gas chamber replica.  He's confused, thinks you don't know English, because he then tries to show you how to use a phone camera (you have an iPhone 7 in your hand).  You say no again and move on.



How do you cry at Auschwitz?

You don't.  The few times you tear up, someone near you cracks a joke or says something to their partner.  Another time.  You'll be back when it's winter and less people are around.  There's way too many people around to focus on the tragedy in front of you.



What is there left to say about Auschwitz?

Nothing, except we must never let it happen again.
Eastern Europe 2017: Days 1-13 (Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine)

Eastern Europe 2017: Days 1-13 (Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine)

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Sunset over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw


Day 1-2: Glasgow ---> Palanga, Lithuania

I only got one hour of sleep last night since I had to leave at 4am for the airport.  After going through security I used my leftover pounds to buy books in the WH Smith because I'm going to be on A LOT of long buses and train rides over the next 80 days.  I plan on just leaving them at whatever hostel I'm at when I finish them because I can definitely not lug around all these books forever.  My Osprey 30L is a good size for all of my essentials, but I'm going to have to buy a second bag to hold all the souvenirs I want to buy.  (That's alright though because I'm not going on any budget flights until I fly home.)

I'm only spending one night in Palanga because I REALLY want to get to Poland so tomorrow will be entirely spent on a bus!


Days 2-6: Warsaw, Poland

Spent most of this day on a bus.  Got to Warsaw around midnight.  Took a taxi to my hostel because it felt safer, but the taxi driver still tried to scam me.  The front desk worker at my hostel (Oki Doki Hostel) helped me talked to the taxi driver.  Even though it wasn't her fault at all, she gave me a little discount on my reservation and gave me a free breakfast token, which was really kind of her.

I did 4 different walking tours and they were all pretty quality.  I really enjoyed Warsaw, even though many people told me that they liked Krakow more.  I went to the Warsaw Uprising Museum (16 zloty for student ticket), which had a recreation of a sewer that you can walk through.
 The Museum of Polish Jews is free on Thursdays, but it was so informative I would've paid for it.  There aren't many artifacts; it's mainly just a visual history of Jewish people in Poland so prepare for lots of reading.

Chernobyl had a lot of creepy moments like this one

Days 7-11: Kiev

I was so close to missing my bus to Kiev it's not even funny.  I couldn't find the bus stop to take to the bus station and there was a traffic jam so I couldn't get a taxi.  I ran back to my hostel and when they told me again that bus 127 "is so easy to find" I started crying because I was STRESSED and no it was NOT easy (it was pretty simple to find I just wasn't thinking straight).  Once I got to the bus station it was 5 minutes til departure and I couldn't find anyone who spoke English so I wasn't even sure if I was on the right bus or not.  Thankfully I was, but there was a little voice in the back of my head worrying about it the entire way.

I like Kiev, I really do.  I was concerned at first when I arrived at the Central Bus Station at 7:35am since it's not in the nicest side of town, but once you get to Independence Square everything really lightens up.  It's crazy inexpensive in Ukraine: breakfast for less than $2, a huge dinner for $4.60, metro rides for 15 cents, and a ballet performance for $3.  It's going to be hard facing the prices everywhere else.

The highlight of my time in Kiev was definitely the day trip to Chernobyl.  A guy in my hostel was also going on the same tour as me so we got breakfast beforehand and arrived a tiny bit late.  This turned out for the best because we were put in the overflow van instead of on the big bus.  So we had a small 15-person tour compared to what could've been a 40+ person tour.

Days 11-13: Lviv

Lviv was very sweet and is very similar to Krakow (which is where I currently type this).  I'm glad I went to Kiev, but to save time and have an easier trip, you can skip Kiev and just go to Lviv.  There are a lot more English speakers in Lviv than Kiev, and it's actually a little bit cheaper.

I watched the sunset on the top of a hill with a girl that I met in Kiev and a really beefy Norwegian, so that was a good ending to my time in Ukraine.  I was very excited to get back to Poland though, to a country where I can actually understand the alphabet.

What I'm Reading: May 2017 #2

Wednesday, May 31, 2017


Reading

Books

I finished The Trespassers by Tana French.  It was good by any other standard, but I just know that French is capable of so much more.  Definitely read it because even on her worst day she's better than most other writers, but I'm hoping she'll bring her A-game for the next book.

Online

Glennon Doyle Melton talks about her rules for posting online

Why does society encourage women to be silent about their miscarriages 

The popularity of surgeons-turned-writers (I've so far only read one, but this article makes me want to read them all)

6 Literary Travel Guides

How to Explain Trump While Traveling Abroad

I'm going to forward this article to every woman I know, including my own inbox: 10 signs you're fooling yourself into thinking he actually cares. Read this the next time you have a crush on someone.

Probably the best discussion of the viral "My Family's Slave" article

Why doesn't ancient fiction talk about feelings? (And why does modern fiction have so many feelings?)

Child marriages in America are still a thing, and they're used to protect rapists

Watching


I need to watch this video on repeat every single day.  "You're only job is to build yourself." (!!!!!!)

Listening

70's and 80's rock.  Harry Styles' debut album made me realize how much I love rock and how I don't listen to enough of it.  I think I made my dad's day when I messaged him asking for 70's rock recommendations.  Listen to: Harry's album (duh), British rock, and Led Zeppelin.

Living

By the time this is posted I'll be in POLAND!  Me!  Little Victoria from Virginia will be on a 2.5 month jaunt around eastern Europe!!!!

Strangely enough, I'm not terribly excited.  But that's also something I do: when I get stressed or something big is coming up my emotions shut down and I go into "just get the necessary things done mode".

Quoting

The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself.
Oscar Wilde
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