Tea Talk 7: Kelsey Robson | PhD Student (Ireland)

Kelsey and I met in college my last year at Seattle Pacific. We lived on the same dorm floor (1st HILL!) and I am more than a little happy to introduce her to y’all. Right now this powerhouse woman is getting her PhD in Ireland (yes, IRELAND) and I love seeing her updates about living in my favorite country. We haven’t been able to meet up any of the times I’ve been in Ireland, but that’s the dream. Cheers to the future on the Emerald Isle! In the meantime, here’s Kelsey:

What started your passion for traveling?

My passion for traveling started with my first big trip. I was 17 and went to India for two months with one of my close friends and her family. The experience was eye opening, not only was the language, landscape, and food different. The entire style of life was something I had never imaged. It made me want to see more, and learn about various perspective and life styles around the world.

What’s one travel tip you think the world should know?

Don’t be scared to change your plans! Give yourself time to explore a new place, meet locals, and ask what they suggested to do. You can get suck in tourist traps easily, and I do enjoy tour and museums. Still my favorite adventures have been ones I haven’t planned.

What’s your favorite cultural habit you’ve picked up (ex. food dishes, lifestyle changes etc.)

Tea and biscuits! In Ireland and the UK people love their tea. I would have never had tea breaks before I moved. Now after a long day sitting down with a cup of tea and a chat is a must!

What would you suggest for other women who are thinking about traveling?

Don’t be scared to do it alone! The fear of traveling alone as a women can be very limiting. Be smart leave contact info for friends and family and make sure you check-in regularly. Traveling alone can be an empowering experience. You will meet more people and gain a sense of independence that is truly freeing.

What’s one failure that you learned a lot from, when it comes to travel?

I feel I fail to stay connected with others back home. It is something I truly struggle with, not from lack of love or caring. I simply get distracted and lose track of time.

I constantly set alarms to make calls and send messages to let people back home know what I am up to and check in on there lives, but it is a weakness I’m constantly trying ton improve.

What’s one fear that you overcame, while traveling?

Change, I’ve always hated change; I become complacent very easily. Now I feel that I crave constant change in my life. The thought of stagnancy now scares me more then constantly moving or traveling to new places.

What is your favorite way to travel (ex. plane, train, automobile?) and why?

Plane, two reasons. I love the fact that you can get on a plane, take a nap and wake up in a completely different place in no time! Also the view! Have you ever seen the sunset while in the air, or flown over the clouds, or seen city lights from above. It’s unreal!

What is one piece of advice that you wish you could give your past self?

Don’t be scared to do what you think is right. Advice given from others, no matter how good hearted, it may not be what is right for you. Sometimes you just need to jump on a plane and go exploring, no matter how impractical!

What is one place at the top of your bucket list that you’d like to visit?

Sicily, Sun, beaches and Italian cuisine, it may be cliché but that sounds like a perfect holiday!

Let’s talk about your current trip! What was your inspiration for your adventure?

I moved to Ireland almost three years ago to study, then stayed to work, with the advantage of being able to travel around Europe easily. Now I recently moved to Northern Ireland for a PhD program. I believe if you are career driven you still have plenty of opportunity to travel the world!
What has been the best/toughest part of your current trip?

Being away form family. I love hanging out with my parents and going to all my cousins birthday parties. But I only get home once or twice a year, its hard to be away from the people you love.

What’s one thing you’ve learned from your current trip?

I’ve learned how to drive on the other side of the road! Sometimes it’s still scary, especially for my passengers, but I’m getting the hang of it! haha

What’s one thing you’ve learned about yourself from this trip?

You learn how strong you are when you are away for long periods of time. I’ve had to learn how to drive, medical systems, education systems etc which is frustrating when it is different from what you know. But you just keep going and realize everything can be resolved in strides.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Don’t wait just do! I find myself over thinking my ‘next trip’ constantly. But sometimes you have to stop over analyzing if it is the right time, take a chance, and explore!

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How I Paid Off My Plane Ticket To London…In 1 Week

Oh, travel, how I love thee. But my bank account does not. Sound familiar?

Let’s get real for a second: I do not make a lot of money. That being said, I’m pretty good at managing the money I do make. So much so that people often think I make a lot more than I actually do. How? I hack every single thing. ALL THE HACKS.

It all started back in my mom’s kitchen when my brother was explaining to my child self about “inherent value.” I guess there are advantages to having siblings that are five years older than you, because I actually learned a lot during that conversation. The main lesson was this: value is determined only by what people are willing to pay. Nothing is actually “worth” anything.

When it comes to travel, this is huge because I’ve decided that I just WILL NOT pay $1200 for a plane ticket to Europe. No.

But how do I do it? As a social experiment (because in another life I was an anthropologist), I bought a plane ticket about a week ago…and then decided to see if I could “pay for it” in a week. Here’s how I did it:

1. Price Alerts

I’m signed up for a couple different types of price alerts. I set price alerts on Skyscanner for specific cities I want to go to. This means that when cheap tickets are flying out of that specific city I get an alert! I also subscribe to Scotts Cheap Flights (email newsletter/price alerts) which periodically sends me “cheap ticket” alerts. The thing about these is that they aren’t always for flights going out of Seattle, so you have to sift through them a little, to find your city. But when you do find one? BAM! I just paid $350 for a round trip ticket to London.

2. Work yo’ butt off

We all have jobs. In my case I have about five jobs, but I always encourage people to find alternative incomes that they can tap into, if they need a spare buck. For me, it’s:

  • Selling my art in my Etsy shop
  • Babysitting (shoutout to care.com)
  • Picking up extra shifts at work
  • Freelancing (copywriting via UpWork)

For this past week I really called in the reserves on this one, because I needed to make some quick cash to meet my “deadline.”

3. Prioritize

I once heard a saying that the fastest way to make $5 is to fold it up and put it back in your pocket (or something like that) and I wholeheartedly agree. Making cutbacks is a great way to finance your passions, like travel. For this experiment, I didn’t count the money I saved, but I wanted to point out that being really intentional about purchasing groceries, clothing, coffee etc. really does add up!

The Breakdown:

Here’s how I paid off my $350 plane ticket, in vivid technicolor description: Drumroll, please!

  1. I babysat an awesome Star Wars obsessed 8 year old | $70
  2. I took a couple of freelance copywriting gigs | $157
  3. I took two extra shifts at work | $70
  4. I babysat a couple other cool kids | $90

TOTAL = $387

And with my extra $37 I might even buy a Starbucks travel mug while I’m in London.

Cheerio,

The Truth About Interning At A Non-Profit

The year after I graduated from college I lived with eight people in a three bedroom apartment on the beach. True story. I was working for a non-profit called Krochet Kids International, which works to empower women in developing countries, such as Peru and Uganda, to rise above poverty through employment and financial/job training. The company is honestly just amazing, and you should definitely take a hop over to their site, if you haven’t heard of them before (or even if you have).

I’ve been thinking a lot about my time in Newport Beach, lately, and how much it turned me into the person I am today. It was one of those turning points in my life, that sent me down the path I’m on now, and I’ve really grateful for that opportunity. Here’s what I learned from my time there:

1. People Matter

When situations get crazy in your personal life, or in the world at large it can be easy to stop thinking about others, and start focusing more internally. I get it. We’re human and we want to protect ourselves. But building a turtle shell existence is not going to help or save you. What it will do is harden you to the things that are going on. Traveling is important to me, whether I’m taking a day trip or a weekend vacation because it introduces me to all types of people, traditions, cultures and places where I don’t “belong.” It makes me feel small.

Maybe it sounds crazy to want to feel this way, especially in America’s power and success obsessed culture, but hang with me for bit while I explain. When I lived in France I felt a lot of emotions, but one of the biggest ones that I remember was frustration. France is unique to western Europe in that a lot of people won’t speak English to you, if you try. So, if you don’t know the words for how to express yourself you’re just left standing stupid. Personally I think it’s healthy to feel stupid sometimes. It puts things in perspective. Moving back to the U.S. obviously I have a lot of advantages, being from here. I speak English, obviously, and I know the cultural do’s and don’ts of living here. But I’ll never forget how humiliating it was in France to not know the word for something. I’ll also never forget how grateful I was when someone stepped in to help me communicate. The word relief doesn’t even begin to explain.

When I’m here I reach back to those times, when I see someone struggling in a culture/country that’s clearly not the one they’re most familiar with. Why? Because people matter, and when it boils down to it, we’re all just trying to feel valued and accepted.

Coolest bosses ever?

2. I Am An Introvert…And That’s Okay

Living with 8 other people was insane. We had a tiny kitchen, a tiny living room and I shared a bedroom with three other people. Personal space was not a thing. To be honest, looking back, our accommodations were probably borderline, if not definitely, illegal somehow. But throughout that time I realized the importance I have for a quiet place, and quiet time. I spent time on the beach and in parks just simply sitting and journaling and reading. Those were things I always had the luxury of easily doing growing up, because I grew up in a house of very quiet/almost hermit-like people. But when I lived in California I had to very intentionally make time for the things that were important to me. I had to make time for me.

What did I learn from this? Well at the time, that I need my own space (hence never sharing a room with roommates again) but also that it’s not only okay for me to be introverted, it’s actually great! A lot of people misunderstand that introverts are “lonely” when they’re spending so much time alone, but that’s usually not the case. As an artist, and a writer I need that alone time in order to make and create things. Creating and building is how I feel fulfilled and happy. No need to worry about this hermit.

3. There’s Always A “C” Option

I have this chronic condition where I always want to “do the right thing”…to the point where sometimes I do the wrong thing because it’s the rules, and the rules must be right, right? Wrong.

After my internship in the OC I wasn’t sure what my next move would be. Would I continue to live in California? Would I move back home? I had panic attacks for a good month before one of my friends sat me down and reminded me that it wasn’t “Should I stay in California” vs. “Should I move home.” There were so many other options – one of them being “neither.” While this sounds so obvious, as I’m writing this, I remember being completely astounded at the time. It opened my mind to so many other possibilities for what the next step could be. To this day, when I’m comparing one thing against another I remember to consider option C – neither one.

4. It’s Not The Work – It’s The Team

Most entrepreneurs will tell you that they quit their day job of 40 weeks to pursue working for themselves for 80 hours a week, and are so much happier. Well, while I was working in California that really was the reality of the situation. While I wasn’t working for a business that I started, I was working for one that had a clear goal and mission to help other people. And let me tell you: we WORKED. We worked weekends and week days, and nights and early mornings and it was insane. I remember working alongside the founders at Krochet Kids as we worked so hard to build this brand to help others who most of us would actually never meet. I learned so much about honest hard work and how much a common goal can bond strangers together.

Most days I was flat out exhausted. But it was also one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. Because, when it comes down to it, how long you’re spending doing something is not what wears you out, it’s what it is that you’re doing, and who you’re doing it with.

5. Reach For The Stars

My internship with Krochet Kids International was not a spur of the moment idea. For three years I had dreamed of doing it, while I was in college. I loved the brand and everything that it stood for and I thought that working for such a passionately invested company was going to be the pinnacle of my existence. The only problem was…I was terrified to apply. Why? Because if I didn’t get it, that was it. That would be the end of the dream that I had held onto for so long. And what if I did get it? I would have to pack up/get rid of everything that I owned in order to move to another state and live/work with people I didn’t know.

Having now moved/lived/worked in France, it’s crazy to even think how scared I was of the potential to move a couple states away, but at the time it terrified me. It’s moments like this when you have to take a deep breath, and let your heart overtake your mind. Usually I’m not an advocate for heart over mind decisions (shout out to my overly analytical Scandinavian-American upbringing) but if you hear that little voice pressing you toward something so much that you’re thinking about it for three years? Honey, you need to do it.

Throughout so many of my travel decisions I’ve been so scared to fill out the applications, apply for the visas, board the planes, start life over, but each and every time I’ve seen my life blossom in ways I could have never imagined, before. Don’t be afraid to take the leap, you never know what adventures life could have in store.

The best. #interns

An Hour Of Wolves, And Shattered Shields

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Happy Lent, everyone! For all of you who are observing it, stick in there – it WILL be worth it! For those of you who aren’t, have fun watching us for the next 40 days.

For those of you who aren’t of the Christian persuasion, I guess I should probably tell you about Lent.

“Ok, Google – cheat for me:”

Lent is a 40-day period of preparation for Easter Sunday and one of the major liturgical seasons of the Church. A penitential season marked by prayer, fasting and abstinence, and almsgiving, Lent begins on either Ash Wednesday (for Latin Rite Catholics and those Protestants who observe Lent) or Clean Monday (for Eastern Rite Catholics and Eastern Orthodox) and ends on either Holy Thursday or Holy Saturday.

Lent comes in many different forms. Some people give up food as a community, some people fast (or give up) things they feel like they’re placing before their spiritual lives (maybe you’ve seen some people bowing off social media) and others do none of the above. Like me.

To clarify – yes, I am fasting. But this year I felt like I needed to do something a little different.

Enter dramatic pause

So, I’ve decided to do a 40 day negativity fast (#notreallyworthadramaticpause).

Rather than Googling what this “means” I’ll tell you what it means to me.

The Bible has a lot to say about how Christians interact with the world around them. There are verses about loving, about caring, about serving – and then the ones we’re not quite as eager to discuss: The ones about turning the other cheek.

This is not a green light for people to come and punch me in the face, because for the next 40 days I won’t punch you back. I will punch you back.

What I’m talking about is on a spiritual level.

See, I’m a fighter by nature.
When I was little, more than anything, I wanted to be an Amazon woman (thanks for the documentary, PBS). I wanted to fight in battles, and conquer kingdoms and learn epic archery skills (the last of which I did start). I wanted to fight. I’ve always wanted to fight.

And it took me a really long time, as Christian, to realize that’s okay.

I think a common misconception about Christianity is that women are supposed to be these meek and gentle creatures sitting in the corner knitting.

And while I do knit, and I love its cathartic values, that’s not my idea of the life of faith for a woman.

NOTE: Being meek, gentle and sweet are NOT bad things, for those who are naturally that way.

But I’m not.

I’ve always preferred to think of myself as someone who follows more the example of the biblical Deborah. For those of you who don’t know the story, think badass awesome chick who leads armies and generally dominates at life, because men aren’t stepping up to the plate. (Judges 4)

But something to remember, even for us fighters, is that there are times when you need to find peace in the uncomfortable places or times God calls you to. Sometimes, we reach a season of needing to learn trust.

“The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14

A great, totally hypothetical, example of this is when you’re, I don’t know – living in a foreign place, and being COMPLETELY out of your comfort zone. Exhibit A: My life.

For me, natural instinct says to kick and scream and punch people (metaphorically) – but God tells me to rest.

So I sit.

I “rest”.

I pout.

I complain.

*For the record, sitting in a corner complaining isn’t finding rest in a situation.

France has been hard, harder than I ever could have imagined. But it’s in this place that God has told me, for now, to rest. And over the past few months I have been doing the very minimal value of that.

More than anything I’ve been complaining, I’ve been self-pitying and I’ve been finding every excuse to sit on my bible, rather than read it. Because, hey – I’ve been through a lot (factual). I deserve to be able to curl up in a ball and listen to angsty music!

But if God wanted me to listen to angsty music for a year, I think he would have given me a time machine back to my high school self, not told me to move 5000 miles away from home.

So, with this in mind, I’ve decided to dedicate my Lent period of time to fixing the deep seeded problem that has become my perspective on my life.

Where there is self-pity, I will look to serve others.

Where there is anger, I’m seeking peace and self-reconciliation.

When I want to outwardly project my fears and insecurities, I will take them instead, and leave them at the feet of my Saviour.

Where there is doubt, I’m remembering the promises that brought me to this place.

And where there is winey-ass (sorry mom) me, I will remember that there is purpose to every breath I am given.

Lent started on Wednesday, so I’m only a few days in, but I can already tell you one thing – it IS NOT easy. Human nature wants to complain. Why? Because, to be honest, it feels good. And it’s societally acceptable. Just look at how many social media outlets we’re given to FML our lives.

But my challenge, over the next month is to remember where I came from, and who fought on my behalf to bring me here.

It wasn’t by accident that I landed in Paris for a year – no one accidently lands in Paris for a year. This year was a pretty hefty detour from what I had “planned”, but that doesn’t mean I’m not on the path I’m supposed to be on.

So, join me, will you? Let’s strive to look at our lives and the world around us with a different lens. Let’s begin to uncover and unmask the places in our hearts that have brought us into areas of complaint, instead of action. And most of all – let’s fight a good fight.

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10 Ways To Get Ready For A Weekend Backpacking Trip

San Francisco, CA
San Francisco, CA

Early tomorrow morning (We’re talking 4am, early) I’m going to be headed out on the second of, what I have a feeling will be, many weekend vacations while I’m living in Europe. As I was getting ready tonight, I thought I would share some thoughts on what I do when getting ready for one of these mini vacations. Packing definitely isn’t as extreme as going on a two week long backpacking trip, and the more I travel the more I get my own routine of knowing what I’ll actually need vs. what I just want for whatever reason. Here are my top 10 packing tips for when I’m getting ready to go on a weekend adventure!

Fully charge all electronic devises: If you don’t use your electronics a TON, you might even avoid having to pack cords at all, by doing this. I always bring my phone cord with me, of course, but I really try to only have that. My tablet has an 8 hour battery life, and my camera has more than that, so usually I’m good without 12 cords in my bag.

Print out all boarding passes/tickets IN ADVANCE: Save time and stress by printing boarding passes and any tickets – or really anything that you can print beforehand. This is especially great when you’re running late and have to jump straight on your plane/bus before it leaves. Not that I’ve ever had to do that *cough*.

Take a shower before you leave your house: Whether it’s the night before, or the morning of (depending on how early your flight is/how much sleep you want). I usually opt for the shower the night before, because I like to sleep in until the absolute last minute possible, and I fly out at ungodly hours because it’s cheaper. The basic rule is just to take a shower before you leave the house. You’ll feel better traveling clean, and you never know when the next shower will be.

Go to bed early: This is the hardest rule for me, but it’s so important. And also the reason I’m going to bed now, even though I’m usually a late night owl. It’s so important to get some sleep before you travel. It cuts down on stress, and helps you enjoy your trip, rather than feeling like you’re going to pass out. Believe me, I’ve tried the “pull an all nighter” before an early flight – it has NEVER been a good idea.

Pack snacks/water: I’m such a huge snacker. When it comes to being lost, delayed or just sitting in a strange country/city, having a familiar snack really does a world of good. Also chocolate – just always pack a chocolate bar. This was probably the best travel advice I ever received. My snack favorites? “Naked” blueberry juice, Pringles, apples.

Grab the “little things”: I also always check over the little things that make or break a trip for me. For instance: I’m super light/sound sensitive when I sleep, so I always travel with an eye mask (also good for plane sleeping) and earplugs (also good for plane sleeping) which both are really important for me getting a good night’s rest in a strange place.

Pack a book to read/journal: I love taking a book to finish when I’m traveling. I absolutely love reading while I travel, especially when I’m in airports etc. so I always try to find an interesting read beforehand. For this trip I’m hoping to finish “Journey To The Center Of The Earth.”

Lay out your travel plans: I like to set out all of my travel plans (making sure I have maps etc. for where to catch buses) all set out so I don’t have to wonder where I’m going when I’m tiredly trying to navigate in the morning.

Sticky note anything you might forget in the morning: Whether it’s something charging overnight, or something you want to grab in the fridge – write it down! When it comes down to it, you don’t need/want the extra stress of trying to remember things that you’re going to be really sad forgetting to pack, just because your brain was on overload in the rush of the minute.

Download music appropriate to the place:  I do this just for fun. An example is that I downloaded the “Sound of the sea” soundtrack tonight in “preparation” for my Ireland trip!

6 Reasons To Set Goals

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Somehow Wednesday has snuck up on us! I have about the motivation of a slug right now because; well…let’s just say 2015 hasn’t started the way I thought it would. Maybe that’s a bad thing; maybe it’s a good thing. But it is, without a doubt, unexpected, and that’s never an easy thing for me.

But that’s life, right? We have no other option than to move forward with what we have, striving to build bigger and more structurally sound things in spite of the rubble that surrounds us.

On Sunday I got a really amazing opportunity to hear a speaker who was talking about the importance of goals. Obviously, being the beginning of the year, it was an appropriate topic – especially since I feel like 2015 hit and I lost all ambition to do anything productive. Is that just me? Anyone else out there just feeling over it (whatever ‘it’ is)?

But anyway, the speaker outlined 6 reasons to set goals and I thought I would share them here (with a little commentary) because they’re awesome and I think worth being spread around the Internet. So here we go:

Six Reasons To Set Goals:

  1. Because it’s necessary

“Either you go forward on purpose, or you sit by and let things happen to you. Either you take control, or other people take control of your life for you.”

It might sound like a no brainer, but if you look at the actions of great men and women throughout history you will notice that they had great goals that got them to their places of greatness. It’s when we don’t have goals or a direction pointing our lives that we go off path and end up places we might never have wanted to end up. The best part of goals is that they are entirely free – they cost nothing, but can change everything.

  1. Objectives stretch our faith:

“Take the limits off your dreams. Instead of running after small dreams, lets fix big goals.”

If you don’t dream big, you’ll never achieve great things. As a Christian, having my “faith stretched” points to my faith in God, but I think it goes beyond that even. Having goals and objectives stretches our faith in humanity, in the future and even in ourselves! Having goals allows us to have milestones, or markers that show us where we were and where we are going. They remind us: We did that. And encourage us to dream even bigger the next time.

  1. Goals concentrate our energy

The fact is, as much as we would love to, we can’t do everything at once. And spreading yourself over acres of ideas generally does more damage than help. Having goals allows us to knock things out one at a time and allows us to take steps forward.

  1. Goals allow you to keep going when you want to stop

“If things aren’t going well, then it’s not the end yet.”

If you walked into my bedroom you wouldn’t really see anything particularly eye catching, but if you came inside, and shut the door, you would notice an entire wall collage of ideas, quotes and inspiring things on the back of my door/wall area. It’s important to list things out, write things down and remember the people and things that inspire you. Because when you have milestones, or people holding you accountable, you’re far more likely to stick with whatever goals you have.

  1. Goals build character

“What I’m becoming is much more important than what I achieve.”

Even if you fail miserably, if you learn about yourself in the process you have succeeded. It might not feel like it right then and there, but the fact remains: You having tried puts you miles ahead of those who never got off life’s ‘couch.’ When we get up again after failing it’s THEN that we grow. Success is great, but failure is often the much better teacher.

  1. Having the right goals will reap rewards

Whether you’re of a religious mindset, and you believe in the reward of heaven, or not – the fact remains that when you work hard toward things that allow you to love, grow, serve others, discover and grow in character then you will be amazed by the results of the rest of the world. I’m a strong believer that the good you put out into the world comes back to you; let’s all try to sow a little kindness back into the communities we surround ourselves with.

STAY TUNED – UPCOMING TRIP: AMSTERDAM THIS WEEKEND – Eeeek!

The Most Excellent Adventures

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Musee D’Orsay

Ok ladies and gents it has been WAY too long since I wrote a blog post!

First off, welcome to December, everyone!

Let the Christmasness commence (even though it’s been Christmas in France for the last month).

The last couple of weeks have been complete madness: filled with birthday parties, cooking and adventures, so it’s been hard to sit down and collect my thoughts in this little bucket I call my blog.

But I am determined to hash it out. Fight my crazy and Write! Write! Write!

Ok. Well, first off, Goalvember is over, so let’s go over my goals and see what happened!

Open a French Bank Account: In France you can always depend on two things. First, the bread is always going to be amazing. Second, the process to do anything is going to be fifteen steps. So, after five trips to the bank I’ve finally accomplished getting an appointment with someone who speaks English…next week. Well, better late than never, right!?

Design more: I may have waited until the night of November 30th, but I DID finally use my sewing machine, and now I can’t stop! I love to sew so much, but it’s been a bit hard with having to start over in the art supplies department. But now that I’m set up I’ve been creating, and I’m going to be working on a new project now…but I’ll write that in my December goals.

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A little doll I created this week as the first project to be made on my sewing machine. I think I’ll call here Coco. Like Chanel, duh.

 

Etsy shop up and running: This has to do with my December goals too because I’m thinking about shifting the emphasis of my Etsy shop, but more info to come!

Go to a tourist/outing every week: The weeks have been crazy, but we’ve been out and about pretty much every week (with the exception of last week when we brought the party to us!!) and we’re going to keep going strong. This week I’m going to Art Ludique to see an exhibit on Takahata and Miyazaki, which I am SO excited about. I’ve been marathoning films from both as preparation, but it’s going to be so much fun to actually go see the sketches and art work!

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Musee D’Orsay

 

Have an amazing “Friendsgiving”: Oh. My. Word. Did we have a good Friendsgiving!? Yes. Yes we did!! I was so happy with the way everything and everyone came together to make Thanksgiving dinner such a success. It was a little bit chaotic to get ready for, but I couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out. I definitely think it goes up there on the top of my “favorite Thanksgivings” list.

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December goals
Goalcember? Hmmm…maybe not.

  1. Blog more: Let’s be real. I’ve been slacking when it comes to blogging and it’s a bummer. I really want to remember the good, the bad and the ridiculous during my time in France, and that requires writing. My goal is to post 2-3 times a week. Let’s do this.
  1. Etsy Shop Listings: So I’m designing a collection of little cute things that I want to release in December in my Etsy shop! I’m really super excited, and a little bit nervous, but it feels really good to be creating, again! Stay tuned!!
  1. Have an amazing time in Amsterdam: For Christmas I’m going to Amsterdam and I’m so excited!! I really want this to be just the best trip ever, so here’s to making it rad. (Also, if you guys have any suggestions for places to go, let me know!)
  2. Vlog more: Maybe you know, maybe you don’t but I started (as in 2 videos) Vlogging when I first came to France and then life got crazy and hectic and I stopped. I want that to change!! It is my goal in December to make 1 video per week on my Vimeo channel. Do or die. Ok, maybe that’s a bit extreme…

 

  1. Stick with the program: I’m part of this fitness accountability group on Facebook that is really really amazing. The group consists of people from back home and people I’ve never met but I love how much positive energy there is flowing through the group. It’s my goal to stick with the plan and workout regularly and eat right. Finding workouts that don’t kill me/ put me to sleep is hard, but I recently stumbled across some that are Zumba/Bollywood style and I’m in love.

 

  1. Get real serious ‘bout French: I’ve kind of been slacking. I won’t lie. I don’t have to speak French at the house, and I’ve really been slacking off when it comes to perfecting my French. This needs to change, even if I have to drag myself to French tutorials every day. It’s so hard to not curl up in a cave of English movies, films and songs, but I don’t want to waste this experience and I want to make sure I’m always learning while experiencing France.

 

  1. Finish classes on KhanAcademy: I’ve talked before about how it’s really hard for me to finish things. Well, online classes are the same. But I’m determined. I’m taking a class on Revolutions through the 1700-1900’s, Computer Programing and Hereditary Biology and I want to finish them ALL OF THEM in December. Reaching high? Maybe. But it’s really important for me to be stretching my mind in multiple ways.

 

  1. Finish The Hobbit, See The Hobbit: Yeah, fun fact: I still haven’t finished the f*ucking book. It’s sitting on my nightstand, right next to my hefty sense of guilt at not doing anything with it. But it has to happen because the last movie is coming out and, as overly dramatic/drawn out/over cinematized it’s going to be, you know I’ll be first in line (Figuratively. I don’t actually believe in waiting in obscenely long lines for films).http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSzeFFsKEt4

 

  1. Storyline a story: I’m midway through writing a story that I’m then going to (hopefully!!) pay one of my darling friends to illustrate into some kind of comic or something, but I really have to get on story boarding it and it’s so hard to get motivated!!

 

  1. Get involved somehow in a French event and meet more French people: It could be/is very easy to only talk and hang out with other English speakers, but I really want to be intentional about meeting people who are actually French. Believe it or not, it’s actually not that easy. Goal: Make a French friend. It’s as simple and hard as that.

    And that’s all for now, folks. Living in France is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I’m taking it one day at a time, and slowly, but surely I’m making it work!

 

Prayers, thoughts, happy wishes and snail mail are always loved and appreciated. ❤

 

 

To Boldly Go Where No Woman Has Gone Before

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The print that I bought. Love love love.

For a healthy chunk of my childhood Tuesdays nights meant two things: Popcorn and fresh fruit/veggies for dinner and piling in the living room to watch Star Trek. At the time it seemed perfectly normal that our family nights consisted of Sci-Fi shows. Another example would be that every Christmas we would marathon a Sci-Fi series (ex. All the X-Men movies, every Batman film ever created etc.). This was our normal. And it wasn’t until I grew up that I realized not everyone had such a geek infused childhood.

Since I was reared on a heavy serving of Sci-Fi and fantasy, it’s no wonder that I’ve always gravitated toward those things even in my adult life. I read comic books. I watch pretty much exclusively Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV shows. I wake up to the Doctor Who theme song every morning on my alarm clock. The ring tone on my phone is the Legend of Zelda theme…dubstep. Have I earned my geek badge, yet?

One of my new favorite girl power geeks is Jane McGonigal, who is a game designer and author. If you want to look her up, I would highly suggest watching one of her TED talks (especially the one about how gamers are going to change the world) – they’re all amazing. In one of these talks she says:

“Gamers always believe that an epic win is possible and that it’s always worth trying, and trying now. Gamers don’t sit around.” 

And while my gaming is definitely not up to par with a professional grade (gaming was always my brother’s thing, and we’ve talked before about how I kept away from things in his corner), I think this quote is fair of geeks in general. Being raised as a geek really shaped who I am because it taught me that, while there are obstacles (black holes, empires to destroy, Klingons) to overcome, there are always ways to overcome them.

Having stories of dragons, spaceships, other worlds, heroes, warriors, heroines and hobbits helped form my own foundation of one of the most important keys to success: grit.

The get back up and try to save the world again mentality.

It doesn’t matter if it takes 10 years of episodes *cough Stargate, you keep fighting for what you believe in. And sooner or later, you’ll make a difference…or die trying (and then having an epic burial where your body, grasping your brilliantly shining sword, soars over the edge of woodland water falls in a hand built elven boat).

Either way, the point is developing the desire to always find a way to conquer obstacles. It’s a skill that I think the instant gratification culture of today misses all too often, and is something that I really hope to impart to any kids I work with/ever have myself.

It’s pretty rare that I really disclose how much of a geek I am to people, but since I’ve been in Paris I’ve been trying to get better about it. Despite popular opinion, I’m actually extremely shy by nature, so it’s really hard to put myself out there and really present the things that interest me.

But this past weekend I got an amazing opportunity to go and hang out with some of my fellow geeks at the Paris Manga/Sci Fi Convention and it was So. Much. Fun.

I can honestly say it was the first time I’ve felt at home in France, because even though everyone around me was speaking French, I was able to share so many other commonalities with the people around me. I got to rock a Cosplay and revel in the panels that were in English (translated in French) and it was so cool to see other Whovians and think, “Wow. These people live 8,000 miles away from where I come from, and they love the same fandoms/TV shows/comics that I do!” It was a pretty bonding experience. Especially when I sat next to a group that dressed as all 12 of The Doctors.

My favorite moment, though, was when I found TinTin (or, rather, his cosplayer) who I actually yelled at in a crowd of people in order to get a picture with him. Like I said, I’ve always loved comics, and TinTin is a series that I’ve read probably 10 times. All 20+ of them. (It’s all about priorities when you’re a kid.)

Another amazing part of the show were the artists who were lined up doing live drawings in the styles of their work, and selling their prints etc. I LOVED being able to watch professional artists draw and illustrate. It’s so rare that I felt like it was such an honor. And I bought, and had signed, a Daenarys Targaryan print which is now hanging on my wall and that I LOVE.

All in all it was a perfectly refreshing experience. I feel like I went on vacation even though I never left the city. And the best part? There’s another one next weekend.

Allons-y! May the force be with you.

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Me and TinTin! I was so happy I have a ridiculous grin on my face. Also I got to hold snowy – win.
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Me and The TARDIS.
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Me and my Cosplay as Mels from Doctor Who.

Berlin: Day 3

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I absolutely love football. No, not American. There is no tackling involved (at least not by the rules of the game). I mean the original football. You know, the one where you use your feet.

The last couple of years have been a revolutionary time for me. A lot changed, and a lot of things I had loved, but had suppressed in order to please other people, finally were allowed to flourish. Football was one of them.

Growing up I wasn’t allowed to play or really even watch sports, so I’m not a diehard fan; the culture is just not something I grew up with. But even as a kid I insisted on always playing “soccer” at recess. Yes, I loved the game, but I’d be lying if I didn’t also say I loved that I was taller than most of the kids my age, and could run like a horse (then everyone got their damn growth spurts). Oh, and I’m actually totally OK with the parental decision to keep me out of sports as a kid. It just wasn’t something we did, and my life has been none the worst for it.

BUT.
When I walk into a stadium and know there’s about to be a football game, I get the dumbest grin on my face. I bounce my legs up and down to the bass of the home team entry music, and my heart starts beating faster as I balance on the edge of my seat; all of these things occur completely subconsciously. But today, for the first time, I noticed them; and I thought, “Damn. You’d think I was in love or something.” And then I realized: I am.

Like I said, mine is a bit of a blind love, I don’t have favorite teams (although some loyalties – LETS GO SOUNDERS!) and I don’t know the names of every player and every statistic. If I’m perfectly honest, most of the time, I don’t care who wins – as long as it’s a good game. And today – today was a GOOD game.

If you follow football (or are a living, breathing human) you probably know that this year was the World Cup. And the victor, with seemingly little effort, was the German team.

Going to a European football match had already been on my bucket list for a while before Germany’s street cred went up exponentially so, needless to say, when I found out there was a Berlin v. Hamburg game happening today, I jumped (literally)at the opportunity.

But I had no idea how great it would actually be. Those moments when the home team made 1-2-3 goals made that game easily chart on the list of ‘Best events of my life’. If you’ve ever been to a German football match, you’ll know why. Watching felt like an honor.
Sitting amongst those fans – from young to old – I realized these people weren’t just half consciously at a game, they were living as part of a 90 minute event! And even though it seems like a clean defeat (at 3-0 favoring the home team), the game was neck to neck until the end.

Maybe it was all of the German blood stirring, or maybe it was just loving the game, but over the course of 90 minutes the people who walked into that stadium as strangers, left as friends. We sang together, drank out of plastic beer steins, chanted the whole 90 minutes and half froze in the frigid weather. But we laughed the whole packed out metro ride afterward, even though we couldn’t move because of overcrowding. It didn’t matter that some of us were speaking English and the rest German. We had witnessed a victory, and we left that field waving flags and carrying ourselves just a little bit taller because of it.

I honestly feel so honored, happy and moved that I got to experience the game today. It was the kind of thing that makes you feel like your life has been changed, even though you’ve only been sitting in a chair for an hour and a half. All I can say is: my heart is so full.

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Berlin, Germany

IMG_7910.JPG If you want to travel the world, you first have to learn how to laugh at yourself. Like yesterday, when I was running through the Paris airport with nothing on my feet except socks and my flower print scarf trailing behind me, I couldn’t help but giggle. All of those French business people in their suits and there I was, half slipping half running in between them and their designer carry on luggage.

Needless to say, this was not a planned occurrence.

This was the first time I’ve ever run through an airport, and the first time it was in my socks. But desperate times, right? The circumstances went something along these lines:

* 9:45 I leave my house *Paris transit takes FOREVER to get me to the airport.

*11:47: I arrive * Plane starts boarding at 12:05. I run through security, but get stopped for my bag to be weighed *I am told I have to check it because its 2kg over the weight limit *I remember very quickly how to argue with people in French

*11:55: I’m standing in the check baggage line praying a miracle happens – I see a giant sign that says “Boarding will close 15 minutes before takeoff” my flight is scheduled for 12:30

*12:05 I run back to security after checking my bag *I get behind a family who has apparently never been through airport security before

*12:13 I get through security after my pat down which seems to be necessary in every country I travel to (except Ireland – love those lads and ladies) *While my stuff is going through the machine I run to the scanner and check my gate, run back and grab my stuff

*12:17 I decide lacing up my vintage boots is a damn waste of time * I run like it’s the World Cup finals and my life and the pride of my country depends on it

*12:20 I get to my gate and the stewardess holds the bus that’s about to drive away while she tells me to put on my damn shoes * I jump on the bus, get on the plane and then its delayed 15 minutes. Awesome.

What matters, of course, is that I actually made that plane. And that now I’m in Berlin!

The “getting here” part wasn’t quite as I had imagined it, but I absolutely love the city now that I’m here. For all of you guys who told me to come to Berlin because I would love it : you were right! While living in France had really made me forget a lot of societal things I love and feel comfortable around, being in Berlin immediately felt like home.

Obviously Seattle still has my heart, but this is a close second. Yesterday was super fun because I’m Couchsurfing (of course!) And my host wanted to take me out to meet a Couchsurfing buddy of hers, who was Australian. The three of us then went and got Indian food (AHHHHH!) and then we went to the coolest bar (no carding required -gotta love Europe) that was a mixture of Speak Easy, log cabin and Anthropologie.

Basically heaven.

The best part, though, since I don’t drink alcohol, was the entire section of the menu with virgin drinks. And no weird looks when we ordered them. Total win. It was so much fun being in a place where so many languages and cultures coincide, again. And I love being able to stay with someone who has lived in Berlin their whole life.

There’s so much history in this city and, even though its a painful one, I think you can tell that it’s made the people who live here now, hungry to build this city into something great. And I love that. Here’s to a week full of beautiful memories!

Random things I love about Berlin so far: – Car2go -Uber -Tons of Starbucks – I love hearing German spoken ❤️ – Most things being in German and English -Everyone knowing English – THE PEOPLE ARE SO NICE -Art culture – Cheap cheap prices – English movie theaters