Why I Quit Everything

Why I Quit Everything

This year I quit everything.

Okay, maybe not everything, but most things.

I came into college wanting to do things. Every single thing in fact. I spent much of my college career actively involved in every student organization, every event, every opportunity that I could be. I was checking off boxes. Boxes on a checklist called the ‘perfect college experience.’ My Google calendar looked like a checkerboard, every hour accounted for, color coded, segmented into perfection. My life was made up of little boxes. Suddenly, everything felt like an obligation. Things that I used to love, I dreaded. I wandered from box to box, waiting for it to be over. I was thinking 8 boxes ahead at all times, I was never existing now.  My life was a to-do list and as soon as I checked one thing off, I added three more. I was losing at my own life. And I was choosing it.

 

Why?????

 

For a long time, I didn’t ask that question. I accepted that this is what I had to do to succeed. I slept less, I was sick more, coffee ran through my veins at the speed of light. I was buzzing, electrified and miserable. Ambition had turned into obsession. I had almost completed the checklist, I was ‘succeeding.’ And I realized after 3 years, this was not my checklist anymore, it was someone else’s.

I think that we often confuse busy-ness for success. I thought a colorful GCal meant I was doing something right. I had places to be, meetings to attend, projects to finish. But at the end of the day, I was not sparkling, I was exhausted. I had accomplished almost nothing in this frenzied chaos to succeed. My mind was messy, not meaningful. I had no clear direction, I was spiraling in a million directions and to be quite honest, not doing particularly well at any of them. Productivity doesn’t mean much if you don’t really care about what you’re producing.

What I want to tell you is: STOP. Stop, breathe, calibrate. Look at your day, divided into pretty colors and think about whether any of that actually added any value to your life or to the world.

If you cannot talk for more than 15 minutes about why you are doing something, stop doing it.

Here are some quick reasons that are not a valid why:

  1. everyone else is doing it
  2. you think that you ‘should’
  3. it will look good on a resume
  4. you are able to do it
  5. someone told you that you need to
  6. you want to look good to other people

If any of those things are your why: quit it. Drop it. Gone.

Rest itself is an action, not a lack thereof. There is nothing glamorous or impressive about burnout. Trust me. Free time is so, so important. It’s when I create, connect, rest. Free time shouldn’t be a rigid obligation, penciled in between everything else where you finally remember to eat a meal. Free time doesn’t count if it’s you eating a meal of pretzels while multi-tasking on your laptop.

My senior year I quit everything that was not adding value to my own life or to the world. And I have never been happier. The world did not end, no one hated me, most people probably didn’t even notice I was gone and I was finally, finally free.

I’m still busy. But with things I love. None of it feels like an obligations. I stopped “should-ing” and started choosing. I have time to read books, to write, to sleep, to think, process, plan. All of the things I had forgotten that I needed to do. I am better at everything I do now. I’m moving in a steady and consistent direction towards a career I’m really, really excited about. I feel balanced and at peace for the first time in maybe my entire life. Cool things keep happening because I’ve decided to attract cool things. I’m happy, healthy and for the most part, I’m pretty sane! Do more by doing way, way less.

Our time is so finite. Our energy is so precious. Stop handing it all out like cheap candy. Be picky. Hang on to your magic and disperse it effectively on things that make you happy to be alive. There is nothing lazy about laying on the couch and regaining your sanity. It’s brave. And so necessary if we are going to keep fighting the good fight.

I have finally chosen my life and it’s a beautiful, liberating feeling. Please, please choose yours.

 

Amazon Prime Picks

I’m a huuuuuuge Amazon fan. Because there’s nothing like semi-instant gratification for a Gen X-er as well as options, options, options. And when they probably take over everything and the Earth is ruled by Amazon Echos gone rogue, I may regret these purchases but until then I will keep hitting Proceed to Checkout and demanding nothing less than 2-day shipping. Check out some of my favorite recent Amazon Prime purchases:

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The Body Shop Tea Tree Anti-Imperfection Daily Solution, 1.69 Fl Oz

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Del Mex Classic Mexican Falsa Blanket Vintage Style (Fiesta)

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Jelly Comb 2.4G Slim Wireless Mouse with Nano Receiver Less Noise, Portable Mobile Optical Mice for Notebook, PC, Laptop, Computer, Macbook – White and Gold

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Mkono Macrame Plant Hanger Hanging Planter Wall Art

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Waist Bag Women Rivets Leather Chest Belt Fanny Pack Bags Casual Handbag Red Black

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LEISURE ARTS Cafà Letter Board | Includes 145 Black Letters, Numbers and Symbols

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Carvapet Luxury Soft Faux Sheepskin Chair Cover Seat Cushion Pad Plush Fur Area Rugs for Bedroom, 2ft x 3ft, White

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Regal Home Collections English Manor Lacey Pinsonic Quilt (Full/Queen) – Assorted Colors (White)

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Leuchtturm1917 Medium Size Hardcover A5 Notebook – Plain Pages – Red

 

ps. I don’t make money off these links or anything! Doin’ it just because I’m lazy and love convenience!

Not Your Mother’s Study Abroad Advice

Not Your Mother’s Study Abroad Advice

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
  • walk!
  • 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

Ultimate Prague Blog

I’ve lived here for four months. It’s not enough. Not enough time to do and see and eat everything that Prague has to offer, but I tried to get pretty close. I ate cake at every cafe I could… just for you! For this guide to my favorite city on earth. This is the culmination of the adventures of a girl who is probably avoiding her homework and exploring a side street instead. Enjoy.

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Food

Czech food can be… Czech. Not really for the vegetarian or the faint of heart, these people love hunks of meat, cheese and LOTS of potatoes. But in case you don’t, I included some other options as well!

  • The Black Madonna
    • Famous cubist building with amazing cubist cakes
  • Lokal
    • Traditional Czech food
  • Creme de la Creme
    • The best gelato in Prague
  • U Pinkasu
    • Traditional Czech food
    • Good to make reservations beforehand
  • Hany Bany
    • Super cheap and quick food
    • Cash only
  • Bageterie Boulevard
    • Fast food better than you’ve ever had in the US
  • Javarka and Co
    • Indonesian
    • Cash only
  • Pho U Letna
    • Vietnamese/Thai
    • Cash only
  • Chickn
    • American food for when you’re homesick!
    • Fried chicken, fries, mac and cheese

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Cafes

Cafe culture in Prague is my favorite. You can pretty much get coffee and cake almost any time of day with no judgement. My kind of people.

  • Mistral Cafe
    • Light lunch spot/cafe
      • Homemade iced mint tea
  • Mama Cafe
    • Study spot!
    • Interesting food options!
  • Cafe Plecnik
    • Favorite study/hangout spot
    • Iced coffee!
  • Grand Cafe Orient
    • Right above Black Madonna
    • Cash only
  • Cafe Louvre
    • Favorite cafe in Prague

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Things to Do

The best part? Most of these things are free! (or very inexpensive)

  • Tour of Town Hall in Old Town Square
  • Tour Prague Castle
    • Requires tickets
  • Kampa Gallery
    • Modern Czech art
  • Museum of Communism
    • learn more about the crazy history of the Czech Republic and central/eastern Europe
  • Drink a beer at Letna Beer Garden
    • Cheap beer, incredible views
  • Klementinum tour
    • Beautiful baroque library near Charles Bridge
  • Buy souvenirs at Pragtique
    • trendy little store with souvenirs by local designers
  • Explore JZP
    • Hip, trendy area in Prague 3
      • Get off at the green metro line metro stop “Jiriho of Pobrady”
  • Climb Petrin Tower
    • Can buy tickets on the spot (~$4 for students)
  • Get drinks at The Dancing House
    • Take elevator to top floor and buy a drink to sit outside and look over the city
  • Try the hot mulled wine
    • Especially if you’re here in the winter time!
  • See an opera at the Estates Theater
    • Mozart’s Don Giovanni premiered here in 1787

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Places to Go

These are the places you see on the Prague Instagram accounts and those drone travel videos on Facebook. They are not overrated.

  • Old Town Square
    • In the summer it’s filled with tourists but it’s still one of my favorite places because it showcases the eclectic architecture of Prague perfectly.
      • Go inside the Church of Tyn
  • Jewish Cemetery + Museum
    • Tickets required but such a cool experience
  • Wallenstein Palace and Gardens
    • Free!
    • Perfect to picnic + example of incredible Mannerist gardens
  • Charles Bridge
    • Best in the early morning or evening because it’s less crowded
    • Amazing view of Prague!
  • Wenceslas Square
    • Lots of shopping
    • Historical location of most political protests including the Velvet Revolution of 1989
  • Petrin Hill
    • Great views of the city and the location of the Petrin Tower (baby Eiffel tower about 1/6 of the size of the real one) 
  • Vysehrad
    • Super old church (Romanesque) on a hill with an amazing view
  • Prague Castle
    • The current Czech president still works here and there’s a fantastic Gothic cathedral in the center
  • Lennon Wall
    • Iconic, perfect for the classic Prague pic but also an incredible social message symbolizing the strife of the Czech people and that never ending search for peace on earth

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Night Life

Prague actually has a pretty wild nightlife scene. The beer is also way stronger (and better) here so enjoy responsibly!!!

  • Retro
    • Club
    • No cover for girls on Wednesdays!
  • Stalin Containall
    • An outdoor event on weekend nights during the summer by the Metronome where the infamous statue of Stalin used to stand before 1989
    • They sell beer from carts and it’s a true Euro grunge scene
  • Lucerna
    • Club atmosphere
    • Sometimes there are specific shows, check online first for tickets
      • 80s/90s night is my favorite! Usually on Fridays and sometimes Saturdays
      • Worth the 100 crown ticket
  • Bukowskis
    • Free sangria starting at 7 on Tuesdays until they run out
      • I don’t understand how it’s possible but it’s like… completely free, no strings attached. Go.
  • U Sudu
    • Underground cave-like bar
  • Dog Bar
    • Vzorkona is the real name but Americans just call it dog bar because… there are dogs there
    • Very chill and a much more Euro vibe
  • Zazemi
    • An actual Czech student bar
    • Live music most weekends!
  • Duplex
    • Very clubby club
    • 300 crown cover
  • Zizkovoska
    • Super cool grunge student bar where they have trivia once a month and jam sessions on Sunday nights (+ soup!)

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Day Trips

All of these places are between an hour to three hours away from Prague by train! If you have an extra day or two these are fascinating places in the CZ.

  • Plzen
    • About an hour away, this is where the famous Pilsner Urquell is brewed!
    • Take the factory tour, you get a glass of unpasteurized beer from the barrel at the end
  • Karlovy Vary
    • A tiny historical town with shops, restaurants and hiking!
  • Kutna Hora
    • Home of the infamous “bone church” this is a creepy yet amazing little cathedral tucked away in Moravia.
  • Karlstejn Castle
    • The second home of Charles the lV, a Gothic castle featuring a small chapel of religious relics on top.

 

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Other tips:

Czech peoples aren’t rude; they’re just reserved. Don’t expect strangers to return your smile or a cashier to act like he doesn’t despise you. And don’t take it offensively– it’s culture, not wrong or bad; just different.

Take the metro. Prague has one of the easiest public transit systems I’ve seen in Europe. It’s not expensive and is honestly an experience in itself. My favorite for people-watching.

You only need to tip up to 10% in the Czech Republic. Service industry employees make real livable wages here, not like in the US. If you feel like leaving a bigger tip than that you definitely can, but it’s not expected.

Dobry den. That means like “good day” in English and they will say that to you in every store or restaurant you walk into. It’s polite to say it back, even if it’s the only Czech you know!

Most restaurants you can go and choose a table on your own without waiting to be seated, unless there’s a sign that says otherwise. Just saving you from a few embarrassing moments when is everyone staring at you standing by the door and you don’t know why.

Go inside churches! One of my favorite things about Europe is most historic churches are open all day. These are beautiful examples of architecture and art, the perfect place to think/meditate + in the summer they are some of the only buildings that stay cool since they’re made of basically all stone.

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My ultimate advice for Prague? Take it in. Take in the fact that this was a land unvisited by tourists from over 50 years because it was hidden behind the Iron Curtain. Take in the fact that what you’re seeing now is as untouched by the western world as we will ever experience it again in our lifetime. Take in the fact that people live, eat, breathe and work here so respect that; this isn’t Disney World, this is their home. Take in the beer that made me change my mind about beer and the people that made me change my mind about people.

 

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To je Praha.

 

 

A Thank You Note to the World

A Thank You Note to the World

They tell you to never travel alone. Especially if you’re a girl. Especially if you’re only 21 years old. It’s not safe. It’s dangerous. It’s irresponsible.

And they’re probably right.

But what they fail to consider when they tell you that well-meaning advice is that is not an super realistic way to live an entire life. To never be alone. To be so limited by by gender. That I must change my habits because others cannot change theirs. And it is often unavoidable. A flight delayed, a ticket booked for the wrong day, meeting a friend in a different country.

Wo this is not your mom giving advice now: if you have the chance, go it alone every once in a while. It is the most liberating and terrifying feeling in the world. To know not a single other soul in an entire country. To figure things out for yourself, by yourself, with only yourself to revel in the success. To get from one country where you don’t speak the language to another where you don’t speak the language. That is what strength can feel like.

And you will realize how good the world can be.

This is an open thank you to the old woman in the Philly airport who told me she would pray for me, to the friendly man in the Milan metro station who showed me how to buy a  bus ticket, to the nice lady on the airport bus who told me this wasn’t the right stop to get off at, to the airport worker in Columbus who asked me if I was okay because I was tearing up saying goodbye, to the kind woman in Copenhagen who pulled over to help because we looked so confused. There are so many good people.

When you travel solo, you never really travel solo. There are people pulling you up and out and whatever direction you need to go. When they tell you that you shouldn’t be alone they’re right. Because I never felt like I was.

I have never made it anywhere completely by myself. It is with the help of an entire planet.

Why You Should Go Somewhere That’s Not Paris

When I pictured my time abroad I envisioned London, Paris, Rome— the places you read about and see pictures of your entire life. I liked London, I loved Paris and I’m visiting Rome in a few weeks. But my favorite places I’ve been, are places I never dreamed of visiting.

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The places on the top of most American buckets lists tend to be large, touristy and very westernized. While they are still beautiful and historical and worth it, I never felt very uncomfortable or pushed or like I was growing. I saw sights that I’d seen pictures of my whole life and while it was incredible in person, I was never really surprised. In places like Ljbulajna or Krakow, I was always surprised.

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Nothing was like I expected because I had no expectations. The language barrier was large which made interactions memorable and everything felt like an adventure. These are the places you should go. Places with names you can’t pronounce and places you’ve never seen. Places that people from home won’t know what country they’re in and places you will not forget. Places that feel even further than 5000 miles away from home.

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So go. Go somewhere you never wanted to go. And let me know how it is so I can go there too.

 

London Weekend Guide

London Weekend Guide

So I began my adventure abroad in the chaos of London, England. London is a safe little step into Europe without excessive culture shock and bonus: you can already speak the language. There are actually many more differences than I had expected, but in subtle quiet ways like a lack of free public bathrooms, no salt or pepper on restaurant tables, people voluntarily eating outside in 50 degree weather and the best part, drinking wine at 11 am.

You definitely can’t experience everything London has to offer in a singular weekend, it’s a world of its own. But if your international flight lands in Heathrow, here are a few things to keep you occupied in the land of fish and chips and queens.


Places To Go 

The Royal Burroughs of Chelsea and Kensington

This is actually where my hotel was located and a perfect little neighborhood to explore. It’s called a Royal Borough because it’s actually where Queen Victoria was born but now the property value here is greater than the entirety of Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland combined. It’s a perfect little fairytale land of pink houses, Mercedes and lots of pastries.

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Buckingham Palace

Always a classic tale, Buckingham Palace really connects you to the magic of the royal family. This gorgeous and historic structure is a symbol of architecture, the past few hundred years and Prince William’s house is not too far away, so.

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Things To Do

Take photos at a red telephone booth

These things are literally everywhere and no London trip is complete without it. Get brave, don’t be afraid of looking like a tourist and do it for the ‘gram. Still not sure if the pay phones inside actually work…

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Feed the birds at St. Paul’s Cathedral

Toppins’, toppins’. Mary Poppins was one of my favorite movies growing up so this was cathartic. St. Paul’s is a beaaauuutiful church with a gift shop, cafe and pigeons to spare.

 

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Afternoon Tea

Obviously Brits love their tea. I thought I loved tea but I never really got it until I drank tea at 3 in the afternoon and ate fancy cakes in a cafe style sunroom. Afternoon tea can be expensive (up to 200 American dollars!) at the big hotels but we stumbled upon this cute little hidden tearoom at the Fan Museum– yes a museum of fans. You get tea and cakes plus a beautiful environment for only 8 pounds!!! You’re welcome in advance.

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Food to Eat

Kensington Square Kitchen

This cute little place tucked away in Kensington Square had the most amazing caramelized banana french toast I’ve ever had in my life. They have lots of English style brunchy options that are maybe life changing.

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Pizza Express

I threw this in here for a quick and easy lunch option while you’re out exploring! There’s basically a Pizza Express on every corner and a decision made out of hanger and stress actually was a shockingly delicious find. This is also a chance to drink wine at 11 am so don’t miss it.

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Sketch

Sketch is a place you’ll often see on instagram or any trendy travle blog ever. But this place lives up to the hype. Incredible environment, wonderful French cuisine, fantastic cocktails. Dinner so good it is slightly making up for the face that European Netflix doesn’t have the American version of The Office.  And the bathrooms are weird little bean pods that play nature sounds (see photos below.) 10000/10. Pro tip: usually people have to book a reservation months in advance but we checked the day before and there was randomly an open one at 10:30 pm (the night before I had a 7 am flight and it was still worth it.)

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PS. Water isn’t free and they will try to give you fizzy water every single time. Say hello to a life without ice cubes. Good luck and enjoy your stay!!!