You’ve heard them say it. “When I was abroad…” Everyone cringes (including the person who said it) and you carry on. The thing about things that everyone claims are life changing, is that they are. Even if you don’t think it will be. Here are the things that mattered to me. That changed my life. That might change yours. And then you can be that guy who talks about their experiences abroad and everyone cringes but you smile anyways.
- buy things at the grocery store that you don’t recognize
- order things off the menu even if you dont know what they are
- ride public transit
- follow local news
- volunteer teaching English
- make friends who aren’t American
- wear real clothes to class
- go up to the highest place in every city you go
- don’t overpack
- read local authors
- write it down
- collect postcards, they’re easy to transport
- don’t rush
- do your research before you go to a new city
- don’t forget to call your mom and dad
- take pictures
- sometimes forget to take pictures and just look
- avoid going to same Irish pub in every single city
- try McDonald’s in every country
- don’t forget to sleep
- take vitamins
- go to a trivia night, you will know nothing and that’s good
- sometimes just sit in a cafe and listen
- open heart, soul, mind
- tell your professors thank you in their native language
- study sometimes
- repeat outfits
- be alone occasionally
- take naps
- if you have the chance, stay with locals
- know that bad things will inevitably happen and it’s okay
- dance as much as you can
Every summer I like to set intentions or I will literally lay on the couch watching Sex and the City for three months. This year one of my intentions is to thrift more and shop fast fashion less. If I’m good, thrift only, shop fast fashion never. When I was in high school I used to thrift all the time and I actually found so many of my favorite unique pieces at random Goodwill stores in bins or shoved into corners. As I’ve gotten older and lazier, I’ve strayed away from thrift stores and opted for the Forever 21s and Zaras of the world. But this summer I want to get back into thrifting and encourage you to as well because there’s like 8 billion benefits to this hobby. Here’s 6 of them:
- Environmentally Friendly
- Clothing production uses valuable resources like water, crude oil, nonrenewable energy and creates nasty byproducts like toxic gas. There are harmful pesticides used to grow cotton that wreak havoc on the surrounding ecosystems. New clothes travel long distances to reach the customer, creating huge amounts of transportation-related pollution. By buying second hand, the demand for new clothing that is not sourced decreases and so does your carbon footprint.
- Socially Just
- Fast fashion is often (if not always) produced in questionable working conditions in countries that offer cheap labor. Women and children are subjected to extremely low pay, ridiculous work hours, unsafe work conditions and offered no voice for change. When you purchase at a thrift store, this consequence has been absorbed by the original owner and it’s one less item that you will be purchasing from a fast fashion store. (However, wearing a branded item with a unethical company’s logo is still an advertisement for a organization that sucks!)
- Supports programming
- Many thrift stores also do a lot of good in their communities by hiring unemployed/disabled/homeless employees with that may not otherwise be able to find a job, donating unsold clothing to homeless shelters or donating funds for humanitarian aid.
- Dolla dolla bills y’all
- This one is obvious but you save sooooo much money thrifting and that’s more money to dedicate towards ice cream and disgustingly expensive skincare products because we’re ballin’ on a budget here.
- Unique pieces
- You can find some wild shit in a thrift store and typically much higher quality than you would ever see at Forever 21. There are fantastic leather jackets that sat in a chic old woman’s closet for 20 years and are now vintage gold. Brand name pieces from suburban housewives and funky old man shirts that you crop and wear to day drinks. I’ve found designer pieces and sooooo many vintage items that you would pay a billion dollars for at Urban Outfitters.
- Okay, actually it’s so fun!!!!
- To me, it’s a game. I might be the only person who in the world who loves National Treasure but in Goodwill I am Nick Cage. In a good way. If there is one.
The hardest part of thrifting is sifting through all the junk to find the diamonds in the rough. Sometimes you might spend an hour or two at a store and only walk out with one item. It can be hard to know what to look for and where to find things in a giant, overwhelming place that smells like mothballs. (Fun fact: I actually love the smell of mothballs). Here are some pieces I found in my last Goodwill trip for inspiration and to help you get started on your scavenger hunt:
Aunts, grandmas and moms love stripes and this summer, I do too. There’s five million striped shirts at Goodwill and they’re easy to crop for a more modern and less grandma look.
I always look in the denim section for cool 90s mom jeans like these. I found my favorite pair of vintage Levis at a thrift store and these with the funky hardware detailing are a new found love.
I look for home goods at thrift stores a lot because the price comparison can be insane. A desk lamp on Amazon costs at least $15 and this one was $2.99!
Everyone loves a classic band tee and the best way to get the vintage worn look, is to literally buy a vintage worn shirt. You can crop, tuck or tie these and they typically go for around $3.
I look out for these silver trays or other decorative pieces because I love them for keeping sunglasses, perfume, nail polish, all of the shit that’s been sitting on your desk for the past 3 months, etc.
I always, always look in the sweater racks even in mid-June because you can find some keepers in here! I found this Ralph Lauren sweater for $4 last week.
Happy hunting kids!