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Elena

6 Reasons Why Being Single is the Worst

Posted in Lifestyle, Relationships by

My love life is a mess. I was what people call “a prude” throughout (most) of high school. When I got to college I was still “prudish”, but open to trying new things. I didn’t go crazy, but I did figure out what it was like to kiss someone who didn’t try to suck my face off. I learned the difference between good and bad, right and wrong, big and small… One of the most important things that I’ve learned is that being single when you’re 25 sucks. Since we already have a post saying how being single is okay, I’ve decided to make one saying why being single is the worst.

Related Reading: 3 Reasons to Love Being Single

In the beginning…

I want to start by giving you a little history on my love life. I’ve had two serious relationships. One was my freshman year of college and we dated for about a year, long distance. Then I went four years just dating (a.k.a Tinder, Plenty of Fish, random guys at parties) where nothing really interesting happened; well except for that one guy. The guy who was sleeping with me, while patching things up with his ex (which I didn’t know) and gave me an STD. I stalked his ex and told her to get tested and he got mad and called me a bitch and yada yada it was all my fault even though it was all his and he was being a big baby who didn’t get his way, whatever.

After that, I got with some guy who was mutual friends with my friend. We messed around and had fun, but he was (and still is) too immature, so we stopped after about a month.

When I was 24, I started a new job where I worked closely with one other girl in sales. We became close friends and she invited me to her wedding. This is where I met the guy I would be in my second longest relationship with. He was a year younger than me and he treated me like a princess, up until he became paranoid that I was cheating on him and then he cheated on me… I still don’t understand how that makes sense AT ALL.

Related Reading: The Things He Said, My Toxic Relationship

Now

So I’ve been single for about a year now, talking with guys off of various dating sites (Bumble being in the hot seat right now) and mistakenly sleeping with the guy I had messed around with after college again (don’t act like you’ve never gone back to an ex). The thing about becoming single after a serious relationship is that I’m reminded how good it is to be in a relationship. And then, it’s over and I’m back to square one.

kaboompics_Blonde woman having a healthy snack at the wooden pier

Here are the worst things about being single:

  1. Starting over

    Dating is awkward because I have to learn people all over again. Especially online dating, because I can’t get a genuine feeling about someone until we’re face to face. So sometimes it feels like I’m wasting all that time messaging someone I just don’t feel a connection with when we finally do meet. That sucks.

  2. No excuse

    When I go out with girlfriends to the bar, I can’t say that I have a boyfriend at home. Which, granted this can (does) work in my favor sometimes. I have such a heavy guilty conscience that I can’t lie well. So now I have to say I’m not interested and gamble him following me around the whole night or leaving it at that.

  3. Dry Spell

    You know exactly what that means. Toys are great, hook-ups are risky and repeats are frowned upon. There’s just no winning with this one. It’s just not the same.

  4. I have to buy things myself

    Yeah, I know how that sounds, but it’s the truth. Everyone likes getting spoiled by someone else. Personally, I enjoy being treated to dinner and a movie. I especially like getting flowers randomly. Sure, friends and family can do this, but it’s a different feeling when it’s from your boyfriend/girlfriend.

  5. It’s lonely

    I’m used to texting someone constantly throughout the day, and now that’s gone. No one to tell me they can’t wait to see me or tell me how beautiful they think I am. Not just that, but my boyfriend was my best friend; the one I could talk to about anything and not worry about being judged. I could be goofy, and he would never call me anything that would make me feel stupid or ugly. I always felt wanted.

  6. There’s a lot of free time

 It is a strange thing to complain about, but I like being busy. When I’m by myself, I think too much; I want to constantly be working to distract myself from how sucky life is (the 9-5 job, trying to plan days out with friends with a $5 budget, being a 5th wheel etc.). When I feel really down I think about all the things that I can do to change myself: being more patient, less pushy, less critical, put in more effort (tangent: I once had a boyfriend that asked me why I wasn’t wearing make up on a Sunday, saying he was always trying to look good for me, so why wouldn’t I reciprocate…). There’s a lot of dark thoughts I started to think about myself and my worth when the person I thought could be my forever bangs someone else.

Related Reading: How to Handle Getting Hit on at a Bar11 Messages You’ll Get on Plenty of Fish

This isn’t to say that there aren’t any good things about being single, there are. But let us not dwell on all the good things like actually having time for your friends, hogging the whole bed and farting without embarrassment in the comfort of your own home. It’s okay to say how much things suck sometimes.

 

What are your thoughts on being single?

 

February 21, 2018
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11 Messages You’ll Get on Plenty of Fish

Posted in Lifestyle, Relationships by

Yes, it’s that time again, where I’ve reactivated or downloaded a new dating app. I read an article about online dating saying that you’re doing it wrong unless you’re on multiple sites. Therefore, I’ve upped my game by downloading two more apps on my phone. Call me crazy for trusting some random person’s advice on the internet, but hey, I have dating apps, you should already know I’m (partially) desperate.

I’ve tried online dating in the past, my first actually being Tinder when I was in college. Since then, I’ve used Plenty of Fish, as well as tried Coffee Meets Bagel and Bumble. I tried using a few others, but I’m too cheap to pay a monthly fee.

For your amusement, or perhaps caution, here are the 11 types of conversations I’ve had through my go-to dating app, Plenty of Fish:

 

Horses

Wow, that’s it? Not even going to ask how my day is or tell me you think I’m a person you’d like to get to know? There is literally nothing in this statement that tells me anything about you. What it does tell me is: “I’m too lazy to think of anything else to say”, “I’ve already put in the effort into another conversation”, “I’m boring as hell”. I hardly ever respond to these unless the guy is extremely attractive (yeah sounds snobby, but it’s online dating, you have the freedom to pick and choose what you want).

 

A Loss for Words

I can’t tell you how many messages I’ve gotten where it’s gone something like, “I don’t know what to say, but I think you’re cute and would you like to talk”. Clearly you know what to say, just take out that first part! I’ve had my moments where I’ve had the same intro “hey, I don’t know what the f*** I’m supposed to say, but here’s a dad joke, I hope you laugh. P.S. I like your dog, what type is it?” The difference with mine is that I’m actually leading into conversation. I get how awkward it is to start a conversation, but it’s also a big piece of how I judge the kind of person you are. Like how do I even reply to this? “Thanks” (??) and then what?…

Related Reading: How to Handle Getting Hit on at a Bar

A Beggar

It’s admirable for those who actually want to know about me, but I cannot tell you how many terrible conversation starters I have created. “Yeah I hate one night stands too”, “I want the same things you do”, “I’m a genuine person giving this a genuine go”.  At the same time, it just sounds like he is more desperate than me. Don’t tell me what you are, just be it! One time, I set my bio to “I’m impressed you read this far down” and I swear the messages came in like fleas: “Are you impressed?”, “Hey I can read”, “Give me a gold star for reading your profile”…. I have no one to blame but myself.

 

The Persistent 

Sometimes I wish there were “read receipts” on these messages. I felt bad for not responding, and not to sound conceited in any way, but I get a lot of messages! I’ll respond to the ones I’m interested in, which means the ones I don’t respond to result in either this, or having a guy throw a fit. I know it kinda makes me look like a brat, but it’s online dating. We’re both already judging each other by looks first, sorry if I don’t like yours.

 

A True Gentleman

Clearly I dodged a bullet by not responding…. I understand why he was upset, but that’s not fair for him to judge me solely off of that. If he had responded with “hey I’d really like the chance to get to know you, please give me a chance to get to know you” maybe things could’ve been different. But don’t accuse me of not being interested in a “true gentleman” who “respects” me. Sorry, but calling me conceited or mocking me doesn’t exactly make me feel respected… And yes, I do know I spelled “conceited” wrong, I was too fired up to care. This is exactly why this site is called Plenty of Fish…. *flush* moving on.

Related Reading: Dating 101: 7 Red Flags You Shouldn’t Ignore

 The Defeated

Yeah, I realized I used the same message (which resulted in same spelling for “conceited”), but it was the nicest way I could say I wasn’t interested, but thanks anyway. This guy just wanted a response, although  his frustration is clear to me (I’ve had my fair share of no replies, too). I actually received the message above and the one before that (the butt-hurt) in the same DAY. What are the odds of two guys asking why I won’t give this (a.k.a them) an actual chance in the same day? Greater than someone actually asking me out to dinner, sadly.

 

A Sugar Daddy

Uhhhhhh, yeah you tell me how you would’ve responded to that. Either this guy was making a hilarious joke or a American Psycho offer… I’m okay with never knowing which.

 

The Grey Zone

You know they make sites for people like you right? Yeah I watch 50 Shades of Grey, doesn’t mean I want to live it! Next!

 

Just WTF

Spoke too soon… Really?! First I get a Dom request now a Submissive? I’m out.

 

Prince Charming

This is the best part about this site. The odds are pretty decent for meeting someone I may be interested in! These guys are the ones I want to plan something with and that I give my number to. I only do this if I can see myself going out on a date with them in the first place. Like having things to talk about, clicking. There may be a lot of interesting guys on dating sites, but there will always be good guys that make me remember why I have it in the first place.

Related Reading: The Things He Said

Plenty of Fish: worth your time?

I’ll say this for any sort of online dating: it’s worth it to try. There are so many people out there and if you’re like me, you don’t meet new people everyday. Online dating is something that can help you do just that. And hey, at the very least, you’ll have some interesting stories to tell your girlfriends later!

January 25, 2018
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7 Ways to Enjoy a Night Home Alone

Posted in Lifestyle by

home alone to do

I live with my sister, her boyfriend, a cat, and a dog. Usually we are all home or have friends over on the weekends to play games. Last weekend I found myself in a peculiar place: I was home alone. With just the cat and dog to judge me, I decided to take advantage of this time to do things I wanted to do in solitude.

Here are just a few of the opportunities that crossed my mind:

 

Pamper

My sister and her boyfriend always get me Lush products for gifts, which I love! Having a night to myself meant that I could use that bath bomb under my sink with a face mask on without anyone complaining how I used all the hot water. Then, when I finished with my bath, I could trim my nails and pick out some nail polish for my fingers and toes. My face would feel fresh, I would be relaxed and my nails would be beautiful!

 

Read 

Photo by Jacalyn Beales on Unsplash

I’m a bookworm, but I usually only find time to read before I go to sleep. Being home by 5:00 p.m. made it so I could easily dedicate some time to my book without interruption (minus the cat throwing up a hair ball). This was a good way for me to catch up on some reading for book club as well as to my own personal list (currently reading the second Harry Potter book).

Related Reading: What Should I Read Next?, We Started A Book Club!

 

Write

I love to journal, but I’ve been pretty bad about it recently. However, I do have this and having a night to myself could really benefit me by having more time to write content for posts! This would be an opportune time for me to think of new post ideas, too. Or think of that next big seller that will be on the shelves in Barnes and Nobles… you never know! Sometimes it feels good just to empty your mind on paper, regardless of if there’s a point to it or not.

 

Television

I could watch a chick flick while eating my take-out with a bottle of wine of my choice without any guilt or worry about what others would think! I could enjoy my movie without disruption or comments in peace while I cried during a part that’s probably not even sad… or I could binge watch that new show on Netflix that everyone is raving about, or catch up on a show I haven’t watched in a while (Outlander).

 

Craft

I have a couple of projects I’m slowly working on/haven’t even started yet. Having all this time gave me the time to start that travel map collage, paint the rest of my paint by numbers or color in an adult coloring book. This way I could play music or watch something in the background while I busy my mind in a productive way.

Related Reading: Creating a Bullet Journal

 

Meditate

Photo by Lena Bell on Unsplash

I received a yoga kit as a company gift this Christmas. It came with a mat, a strap, a block and a DVD to follow. I could move furniture, plug the DVD into the TV downstairs and stretch out my muscles. At the very least, I could sit in complete silence if I really wanted to!

 

Cook

I preach about meal prepping all the time, but it was a Friday, which isn’t the best day to start that. Also, I had worked a full week; I didn’t want to have to think about next week yet! I could take this time to cook a decent meal, or at least preheat the oven for some hot, gooey cookies for dessert!

 

These are just a few of the possibilities that crossed my mind when I was home alone. Naturally I opted for take out, wine, and a chick flick (which I didn’t cry to!) on my couch with animals sleeping on me. Some other things to consider doing if you’re home alone would be to knit, play an instrument, do a puzzle, play video games, or complete a Sudoku. What do you do with your nights at home alone?

January 16, 2018
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The Things He Said

Posted in Lifestyle, Relationships by

what he said

 

I’ve been in the dating game for far too long. So far, I’ve had two “real” relationships that went beyond the dating realms: commitment, ‘I love you’s, meeting the family etc. That’s not to say my dating life has been complete failure; I was close to that relationship status with a couple of guys. But there was always something that wasn’t right, something off that my gut knew better than my head. Looking back, it seems clear why those relationships never turned into ‘my forever’. The way he would respond to what I said or wanted was degrading and would make me feel stupid at times. I decided to write a post about a couple guys I’ve dated recently and what they said in different scenarios.

Here’s a list of all the things he’s said to me while we were dating:

 

The Bad

When he wouldn’t commit to spending time with me and my friends and I ignored his call:

“You are a child”

When I invited him to my birthday party two weeks in advance and he said he would come, then backed out the night of:

“You all pissy now”

When I told him I was over it (the first time)

“I know I f***** up.

But I’m ready to grow the f*** up and stop being that person to you.
I really am going to try and not being that total f*** up..”

When I said I didn’t see this working out:

“Trust me, I know this won’t really work. And I know 100% cause I feel like I don’t care.”

When I started not to care and had little effort:

“I hope you grow up”

When I stopped responding:

“I’ll f*** someone else

When I told him to stop sending me stupid, pointless snapchats:

“Someone’s pissy. Have fun doing nothing at work” 

When he accused me of cheating on him:

“I was blackout drunk

You never let me know that I made you happy. You never let me know you.”

 

Related Reading: Dating 101: 7 Red Flags You Shouldn’t Ignore

 

kaboompics

The Good

When I was gone on vacation for 5 days:

“I MISS YOU”

When he realized I was serious when I said I was done:

“I f***ed up

I’m ready to grow the f*** up

I just want to hold your hand.”

When I remembered his birthday and got him something:

“You are too nice to me”

After we met for the first time and he found me on Facebook:

“I thought you were really cute last night and had to remember to somehow get a hold of you”

When we were both home alone:

“Stay with me”

When we had “pillow talk”

“You’re so beautiful”

When we were driving to dinner

“How did I get so lucky”

 

 

After I Broke Up With Him:

 

kaboompics

 

“I will only love you

You are what matters to me

I will do anything for you

You are the one I’m supposed to be with. 

I’m losing everything that matters to me.

You are my forever.”

 

Weeks after I broke up with him:

“I hope you know I care about you a lot

I will always love you

I’m sorry”

 

Those things made me feel good for a time, and like the good could outweigh the bad. Ultimately, I knew things wouldn’t be the same, and I was tired of being called crazy or a b****. So I made the decision to walk away. Turns out it was a lot harder than I thought it would be, but it was the right thing to do.

 

Related Reading: 3 Reasons to Love Being Single

 

January 11, 2018
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Carpe Diem and Other Ambitions for 2018

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Carpe Diem ambitions for 2018

Every New Year’s Eve, I get excited about the new year coming. Anything seems possible, so I make a mental list of all the things I want to do. In reality, I usually only do a couple of those things. I’ve never actually finished a checklist, even if it’s just what I need to grab at the grocery store. But I always make a list so I can go back and remember “oh yeah, those are all the things that would make me happy”. I know we’ve already mentioned some mantras for 2018, but here are some of my personal aspirations for this year.

 

Budget successfully

Since I started bullet journaling, I see how much money I spend and on what each month. This has helped me realize that I spend way too much on material things, things that I’ll probably get rid of in a couple months anyway. My goal is to pay off as much as I can on my credit cards and loans. Last fall, I switched my car insurance, which has saved me about $50 a month. I also transferred my credit card to an outside bank with 0% APR for 21 months so I can catch up on payments without the interest. I’m looking at ideas by The Penny Hoarder and seeing which work best for me.

 

“Me” time

Photo by Anna Demianenko on Unsplash

I’m surrounded by people nearly everyday. I work on a team, I have roommates, I hang out with friends, I talk to the cashier at the grocery store. It’s good to have that interaction with people, but sometimes I need to step back and have time to myself. I find peace when I’m doing puzzles, writing, reading, exercise or watch T.V. by myself. It’s a place where I can zone out and purely focus on what I’m doing without interruption, like a meditation of sorts. I want to take an hour a day once a week at LEAST to dedicate to myself.

 

Related Reading: 6 Mantras to Live By in 2018

 

No complaints

I know I’ve already mentioned this in our other post, but I’m really serious about it. Too often I hear myself coming up with excuses of why I can’t do something. Granted, money is usually a factor, but I need to think of other alternatives. I don’t want to make people feel incompetent or left out on my account either. So instead of insulting or saying something negative, I’m going to work on constructive criticism, controlling frustration and letting others speak before I do.

 

Good vibes only

Carpe Diem and Other Ambitions for 2018

I have a lot of friends, but I also have had a lot of people who have hurt and dismissed my understanding and friendship. So as a favor to myself, I’m cutting out those people, and focusing my energy on myself, putting in the effort where it counts. I don’t want to look back and see how much effort I put into something and never realized until all that time was past. I want to take initiative, be forward, push for what I want, what makes me happy and involve those who want to be included.

 

Related Reading: Our Bucket List for 2018

 

Carpe Diem

I want to be able to end my day with a sense of accomplishment. I have a journal where I can write one line of whatever I want everyday for the next five years. That page should be something that I am proud of, or an influence someone had on me that day. I want it to be for what I’m grateful for and things that make me happy. I don’t want to take it one day at a time, I want to make it into an event.

January 2, 2018
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Adams Mystery Playhouse: Holidays R Murder

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mystery play

My dad gave me a task a few weeks ago: find something for our whole family to do around Christmas. In the midst of my searching for “fun things to do in Denver” on Google, I stumbled across the Adam’s Mystery Playhouse. I clicked on some links, and read about this place. It’s an interactive, dinner/lunch show where the audience solves the mystery that takes place. They feed you, perform, include you AND there was a bar. It’s December already, every big thing that could be fun will not have enough room for eight people. BUT, they will have room for three…I texted Belle and Mitch and bought 3 tickets for us to go to one of the only available dates left on a Sunday afternoon.

The Playhouse

I had never head of this place until this moment, and I told Belle and Mitch that, just in case it was a waste of $48. It turned out to be one of the best investments we’ve made! Show time was at 2:00, so we showed up about thirty minutes early for cocktails. The playhouse is literally in an old house in Denver. There are two large dining rooms (one upstairs, one in the basement) where the plays are performed. There were two shows going on that day: “Holidays R Murder” and “A Dickens of a Murder”. We weren’t allowed into the playrooms until closer to the starting time. While we waiting, we grabbed a drink (spiked eggnog for the win!), did a scavenger hunt, and noticed people in costumes among the guests. The actors were already into character, speaking to the guests about the other characters and what they had been up to lately. Shortly after our interactions, we were ushered downstairs to take our seats.

The Play

Since we were the first three down there, we made sure to choose the seats facing the small stage at the front for the best view. It was all decorated for Christmas, with red lights over head and big presents hung up by the stage. We were ushered by table to grab our lunch. Since ours was the last to fill up, we were last. However, that meant having time for one of the cast members to ask if “one of us lovely ladies would mind volunteering to be a character”. Which of course, turned out to be me, at Belle’s generous insistence.

So I became Billy Joe, twin sister to Bobby Joe and one part of the fantastic singing group The Silver Bells. Fortunately I didn’t have to sing. But more about my role later.

The story was that we were at the Cringle Cookie Factory Christmas Party, where one of the main party guests, George Bailey, was murdered. We had the chance to get up and look at clues on each of the tables, like a life insurance policy and some saucy emails. An inspector arrived and led the audience through those and some new clues, usually asking for an audience member to read a clue aloud. And if someone read it wrong, a joke was usually made at that person’s expense (but all in good fun!). There was also a Christmas congo line, a rendition of “Santa Baby”, and a little dance show from Tinsel and Balls featuring one actor and two audience members.

My little role as Billy Joe was as a love interest of George Bailey. Except he was two-timing me with my very own sister, Bobby Joe! I messed up my line a little bit because I was so in character (cue merciless joke from the cast), but it was fun to be a part of the show. Belle and Mitch also stood up to read some clues in their “best dramatics”.

Mitch and Elena attentively watch the Holidays R Murder at the Adam's Mystery Playhouse

Related Reading: A Night At the Theater: Macbeth

Go go go!

If you’re ever in Denver, go to the Adam’s Mystery Playhouse! We had so much fun and have already agreed to go to every show they do next year (not kidding). Not only is it great to support the small arts and actors, but being a part of the show makes everything better. Not to mention, every show is different than the last because the jokes and the lines are adapted to each individual audience.

Seriously, check it out.

And if you’re not in Denver, you should seek out the small theaters around you and see what shows they have!

December 21, 2017
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5 DIY Christmas Gifts for the Office

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DIY Christmas

 

If you’re anything like me, you need a lot of gifts for various people with little money. I like to spend a decent amount on friends and family, so my colleagues get something a little smaller; more affordable. For this, I’ll need something relatively the same and a lot of it. For gifts like these, I look to Pinterest. Here are just a few of the DIY crafts I’ve used that are cheap, easy to make and gender neutral!

 

Mason Jars

Mason jars will always win people over because of their popularity and many uses. A couple of years ago, I found a pack of 4 with handles at Ross for about a dollar a piece! I filled the bottom with Hershey kisses and placed cotton balls on top, and dusted the top with sparkles. Then I placed a tea candle on top and tied different colored ribbon around the tops and wrote names on small tags. This way, people could have a sweetie and also reuse the jar afterward!

 

Soap

Because who doesn’t like soap? Especially at this time of the year when there are so many holiday scents! I saw a tag on a holiday scent of soap saying “Just ‘soap’in’ you have a Merry Christmas”,  and “We wash you a Merry Christmas“, which was clever. You can also pair it with a bag of goodies to eat or a bar of soap.

 

 

 

Plates or Mugs

If you go to the dollar store, you can stock up on white plates or mugs. If you do this, you can write a personal message in sharpie and stick it in the oven at 150 degrees for 30 minutes to make it permanent! Then you can fill the plate with baked goods or makings for hot chocolate.

 

Goody Jar

This can also be made with a Mason jar, however you can use any jar. Fill the clear jar with M&M’s, Skittles or Reese’s Pieces and label the jar “Chill Pills” with instructions on how/when to take a pill. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, glue three black buttons vertically on one side of the jar. Tie a red ribbon around the rim and fill the jar with white chocolate covered pretzels for a snowman jar!

 

Hot Chocolate Ornament

This year for my office, I bought candy canes, hot chocolate mix, mini marshmallows and clear ornaments. I poured the bag of mix into the ornament first, then added the marshmallows before putting on the top. I slid the candy cane through the loop at the top and then wrote my coworkers name on the ornament. This is easier said then done: I spilled hot cocoa mix all over my sister’s coffee table and dropped so many marshmallows on the floor, I was pushing the dog away with one foot and the cat with the other. This took me longer than expected and mine definitely don’t look this pretty, but hey, I tried.

 

There are so many ideas on Pinterest, I would highly recommend looking up ideas there if you’re in need of an abundance of gifts this holiday season! Just give yourself plenty of time, you will make mistakes and it WILL NOT look like the picture on the post. That’s okay, as long as you try and get the general idea, your coworkers or friends will be appreciative!

 

 

December 13, 2017
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Thanksgiving in Seattle

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thanksgiving

Since I was a kid, my family and I would always spend one holiday in Seattle out of the year. This year, we went for Thanksgiving, which I was ecstatic about! A lot of my family and some of my friends live in Seattle, so I was making plans all week! I’ve been back for a day and already I need another vacation just to catch up on all the sleep I’ve lost! I’ll do my best to not make this a long post, while fitting everything I did while away into it!

 

Housesitting

The first few days in Seattle I spent in Greenlake with my sister. She was watching her friend’s two cats while she was on vacation for the weekend. Greenlake is just north of the greater Seattle area, in a wealthier neighborhood. Her friend’s apartment was quaint with windows cornering her living room. It was rainy the  entire time, but at least there was plenty of natural light making it’s way in.

Seattle vacation

I was exhausted that first night since I had been up and traveling since 5 a.m. So Amelia and I decided to go down to PCC Community Markets for dinner ingredients and wine. PCC is a local grocery that sells local and organic foods in the Seattle area, getting the majority of its food from the Puget Sound region. So even though the food was a little pricey, it supported local communities and was overall better quality food (in my opinion). We spent about $43 each for salmon, potatoes, asparagus, avocado, red onion, spices and three bottles of wine.

Needless to say, we had a great Grilled Salmon with Avocado Salsa dinner while we watched Bad Moms and made our way through all three bottles of wine… I’ll spare you the details on what happened after those three bottles and the next morning.

 

Thanksgiving

After the weekend, I spent the next few days catching up with relatives, attending lunches and dinners. We hadthanksgiving food thanksgiving photo booth propsThanksgiving dinner at my grandparents house where my immediate family and I were staying. My extended family was coming in from across the state and we had to plan a meal and seating for all 20 of us. My aunt brought photo booth props for us to play around with while we waiting for dinner. So we went around with our drinks and posed for the camera when the mobile photo booth came around.

People brought their own drinks and side dishes and my grandma set to work on the rest! We enjoyed a (massive) Turkey, stuffing, sweet and mashed potatoes, gravy, rolls, salad, cranberry sauce and any other classics you can think of. My aunt made three pies for dessert; pumpkin, pumpkin chocolate, and chocolate pecan, which I somehow managed to eat after a full meal (thank god for leggings).

By 8:00 p.m. the house was quiet and cleaned and my parents, grandparents, sisters and I sat on the couch in silence with full bellies and hangovers setting in. Needless to say, the holiday had been a great success.

 

 

Downtown Seattle

Seattle birthday party art marble 21My birthday was the 29th of November and my cousin’s birthday is November 9th. Since I was out visiting, we decided to go out one night in South Lake Union which is just north of the greater Seattle area. Amelia booked us a hotel room so we could get into some serious shenanigans without worrying about a sober drive back. We broke out the tequila and mix when we got up to the room and spent a couple of hours just talking and catching up.

Once we realized the time and how hungry we were, we set off to a bar called Art Marble 21. There was a large dining area with a bar and on the other side there was a game area. They had free-play games like air hockey, darts, shuffle board, ping pong, and pool. We ordered a huge plate of nachos with pork, tacos, chips and salsa and a round of tequila sunrises. We didn’t go crazy but the night was a lot of fun regardless!

Apple Cup

My dad went to U-Dub, and as a result he is a huge fan of the Washington Huskies. He had tickets to the Apple Cup, which is the rivalry game between the University of Washington Huskies and the Washington State Cougars. We left early to do some tailgating with my dad’s friends from college and then met up with my uncle by the front gate of the Huskies’ Stadium to make our way to our seats together.

Husky Stadium University of Washington

It was a huge advantage for the Huskies to host this game, because they were already so used to the rain and it was raining. A lot. The people below us who weren’t covered by the stadium were drenched before the second quarter even started! It wasn’t a very close game (the Cougars didn’t score until the second half) and it rained the entire time, but it was still a good game!

 

Conclusion

I packed a lot into one week in Seattle, and I didn’t even include my trips to Kirkland, Munroe, and Renton! If you’ve never been to Seattle, I would highly recommend going. There is so much to do there, although it does rain a bit… Look into it, especially in the summertime. I will make more future posts about my adventures to Seattle in the future!

December 1, 2017
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Studying Abroad in College: While There

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studying abroad

 

Getting the necessities

When I arrived, I opened a bank account because the transfer fee for foreign currency would’ve robbed me blind. I opened a savings account to build a little money without effort. In doing this, I was able to avoid a lot of ATM fees any time I needed cash.

I didn’t have an international plan on my phone, so I bought a basic phone for $35 with unlimited texting and talking for $20 a month. It was a basic phone, but I also had my tablet and iPhone to connect to Wi-Fi in public. It was quite the transition going back to the T9 texing…

As far as school supplies goes,I bought mine when I got there so I have less to lug around.

“yes” (wo)man

sky diving australia study abroadI knew this would probably be the only time I would ever  be in Australia. So I made a deal with myself the first week, that no matter what someone asked me to do, I would say yes. This opened so many doors for me, I went skydiving, bungy jumping, scuba diving, drove a camper van, went to a Bruno Mars concert and so much more. I decided overcoming my fear is much better than regretting my decision saying “no” later. I knew I would have thousands of dollars in debt later, but money will always be there, wallaby’s and exclusive night clubs will not.

 

New friends

I was a lone traveler, so I joined a program outside of my school for the diversity aspect called GlobaLinks. I chosefriends studying abroad this program because the cost included 3 days in Cairns, Australia where we were taught the culture of the country and were able to have some hand-on experience before semester started. We spent the first day in a meeting room setting at the hostel we stayed at and did some ice breakers. There were people going to a few different universities throughout Australia, but I found a few who were attending the same as me. The people that I met in this program quickly became my close companions and we spent the remainder of the semester together. We still stay in contact today and have even had a reunion and are planning on more!

 

Being a traveler

traveler study abroad

There’s a difference between being a traveler and a tourist. A traveler will go about their surroundings, engaging with the culture, the people and adopting their surroundings. A tourist will do all the stereotypical things: visiting famous monuments, popular restaurants, following the book. I’m not saying I wasn’t ever a tourist, I did visit famous and popular places. But I did’t go about it like it’s a “one-and-done” deal. I took my time, explored, got lost in the city, engaged with the locals, traveled with a local! This was one of the best parts of my trip, doing things out of my comfort zone with complete strangers, who would later become friends.

 

Documentation

scuba diving studying abroad australiaFor Christmas, my sister and three of my friends bought me a GoPro and a checklist. The goal was for me to do everything on the list and document it and send it back! I reminisce on my time abroad by looking back at pictures ALL THE TIME. I bought a waterproof case and a wrist strap to take it scuba diving and bungy jumping so I wouldn’t accidentally drop it. When we went to the city, I took pictures of the Opera House, the street lights, the botanic garden and of course my friends and I! There were so many videos and pictures to sift through, I usually did this on the weekends or days when I didn’t have class to keep my friends and family back home up to date on what I was up to.

 

 

Making time for school

It’s exciting being in a different country, but I knew I’d need to dedicate time to studying. I needed to pass my classes so I wouldn’t waste the cost for a semester. While I was there,  I learned some very valuable time management skills. I only had class three days a week because I was very lucky. Therefore I went out a lot, but I also dedicated my Monday’s and Tuesday mornings to school work. This way I could have my weekends free for fun activities!

This way I could also dedicate my week break between semesters to travel. I went with a group of friends to New Zealand and rented a camper van to drive down the south island.

 

Related Reading: Studying Abroad in College: Planning for your TripMy 6 Months in Taiwan: Overview

 

The biggest piece I needed to remember was that as far as I knew, this would be my only time there, so I didn’t take my time for granted! I said yes to new experiences, made new friends, explored and had fun!

 

 

 

November 15, 2017
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Studying Abroad in College: Planning for theTrip

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studying abroad

 

My parent’s told me as long as I had good grades, they would financially support me through college. Therefore, I chose where I went to school, what my major would be and everything I did. The best part about what my parents had told me, was that it was so vague. So as part of our agreement, I researched, prepped and spent the spring of my junior year in Sydney, Australia.

My sister had studied abroad the year before I had in Capetown, South Africa with a couple of close friends. I’d like to say she was a great resource for my study abroad experience, but truthfully, I did a lot of work on my own. I’m going to share with you the steps I took to make studying abroad a reality.

 

Where do I want to go?

I went to Colorado State University, so they had a lot of options for studying abroad, but I knew I wanted to go to Australia, and likely stay near Sydney. I did this because I wanted to get a great cultural experience, but I also wanted to choose a good university where I could take courses that applied to my major (it also helped that English was their primary language).

The best way to go about this was to look on my college’s website and see what countries they were affiliated with (the bigger the university, the more options there are). Many schools usually have an office for studying abroad which I visited frequently. I started my research online and then made my way to the office once I knew what part of Australia I wanted to go to. That way I could move to the next step, which is figuring out a program.

 

Choosing a program

A friend in one of my classes was studying abroad from Sydney. He joked about me attending his university, but in the end, it turned out to be the one that was perfect for my study abroad needs. The university was 20 minutes outside the city and  had classes that would apply to my degree. It was called Macquarie (Mah-core-ee) University and was located in North Ryde. I looked into a few different programs my school supported, but in the end chose to go through an affiliate called GlobaLinks. They were the best decision I could’ve made: great reviews, organized website and they had checklists for my trip that I could refer back to!

I took measures to ensure the classes I was interested in would transfer back either as elective credits or ones that would apply to my major. I met with my adviser with twice the amount of credits in a semester for a full time student (each class will differ in credits) so that I would have options when it came to registration and made sure all those courses would transfer back. In order for anything to transfer over, I had to get a grade of a C or higher. To be a full-time student, I had to take at least 12 credits, even abroad.  I took exactly this many credits so that I would be full-time, but wouldn’t overload myself with school work.

 

travel abroad

Passport

The biggest thing people don’t know about getting a passport is that it takes months to be issued one. The easiest part is filling out the paperwork and getting your picture taken. From there it needs to go through all sorts of background checks and processes before it will be approved, issued and mailed out. I went into the clerks office in my home town with my mom and we got ours together about eight months before my trip. Once I had my passport issued, I could apply for my student visa.

 

Student Visa

Most countries will require a visa stating residency status and what you’re there for. I can’t quite recall how long the application was, but I gave myself an uninterrupted 2 hours just in case.  I would only be there for a semester, so my residency was 4-6 months. After that time period, the Australian government had the right to tax me, strip me of my rights, and ship me back to the States. Something best avoided. The program I chose prepared me well for my trip and how to plan, so really at this point I was just making my way down a checklist.

 

International Student Identification Card (ISIC)

My program made this a requirement for me to have. It offered discounts for transportation, tours, travel insurance and many other things. You can look into more detail on ISIC’s website. Essentially this was my ID card while I traveled. It had medical, emergency and basic information about me in case something were to happen. It was essentially an extra precaution, but not a bad idea.

 

Travel Insurance

Not every country will require travel insurance but many will. I probably invested in this just because of all the perks it had to offer. Plus, I was traveling solo internationally, so I took many precautions. Travel insurance covers many areas: theft, medical needs, etc. Australia also required me to have international medical coverage, which I purchased through my program.

 

Research

I don’t have any specific reason why I chose Sydney, I just knew I had to go to Australia, it was in my gut. But I didn’t know anything about Australia, other than the fact that they have the most deadliest animals in the world hiding out in the Outback. Therefore, I took the time to research the geography, the culture and the places of interest I’d want to see. I looked online a lot, but I also reached out to my friend to ask him all the questions I couldn’t find online: what’s the nightlife like? what’s the hot spot around campus? what are some laws I’ll need to know? is there a medical center on campus? That way, I could prepare myself through reading articles and such as well as have that second hand source with the dirt on what college life was really like there.

Some things that I had to look into was: currency, public transportation, language, and appearance. Many people will witness “culture shock” and find themselves in a mild panic. The first 3 days of my trip were already planned though my program, which included cultural classes, so I knew that even if I felt unprepared, I would still learn more once I was there.

 

Scholarships

Look into what your school or the program you chose may have for offering in international study aid. I had a few friends who had some sort of scholarship while there; even a couple hundred or thousand will go a long ways!

 

 

travel abroad prepare

Finances

Once I was familiar with the currency and exchange rate, I was able to calculate how much money I would need on my journey and during my stay. I looked into credit card companies and researched which would exchange my current countries’ currency over to Australian dollars at a low rate. Eventually, I found a card through the help of my bank at home and set it so I could access my account as well as allow my parents to transfer me funds. I found this article to be very helpful, especially if you are looking for something soon-ish: 11 Top Credit Cards with No Foreign Transaction Fees for 2017.

I had to keep in mind all of the expenses I would have along the way too, like: airport fees (baggage), meals, drinks etc. Everywhere I read said to always carry CASH, since many of the ATM’s will charge a fee to withdraw money, and the U.S. dollar is commonly accepted around the world, especially in international airports. However, if this was not the case, I would still have my credit card. If I was running low on the local currency, I would ask if they accepted U.S. dollars and the answer was almost always yes. Besides, half of my journey was in the U.S. getting from Denver to L.A., so I would need those U.S. dollars anyways. If I didn’t use all that cash, I would also have some upon my return.

Before I left, I had to be sure to notify my bank that I was leaving the country. This way, they would know where I was and could accurately file fraud claims on my account. They asked me where I would be flying to and from and the dates so they knew when I would be back.

Housing

Since I was leaving half way through my junior year, I needed to let my landlord know that I was planning on leaving. This gave me access to sign over my lease with either a small fee or none at all. I had 3 roommates, and I had to collaborate with all of them before I left. When we decided to be roommates that fall, I already knew I’d be leaving in February of the following year, so they had plenty of time to find a replacement for my room. Since I was staying half the year too, this meant I got last dibs on bedrooms, which was fine since I would only be there 5 months anyway. I was sure to make my room squeaky clean and get my deposit back before my flight. I would be wanting that $400 on my trip (skydiving here we come)!

 

 

study abroad

Meet all medical needs

I looked up all the vaccinations I would need before leaving. This needs to be done months in advance because it can take months for vaccinations to take effect.  I was sure to meet with my doctor so I could stock up on prescriptions so I had them all on hand as well as get a physical, since my program required me to send my medical records. I also had to make sure I had enough contacts and some spares, and saved my glasses for the long flight so I wouldn’t dry my eyes out.

 

Book your flight(s)

I booked a one-way flight out to Australia. The flights were expensive either way, so I decided to just do the one-way and see where I was at later on. This worked out in my favor, since I ended my study abroad experience on vacation in Bali, Indonesia and flew back to the States from there (which was $400 cheaper than Sydney). I did my research and got the most competitive price between these sites: Expedia, Travelocity , Skyscanner and Travel Zoo.

Cell Phone

I had the option to purchase an international plan on my phone, but I knew that would be extremely expensive and I could just get a basic phone when I got there to contact local people. I knew there would be Wi-Fi (which was invented in Australia, I’ll have you know) at my apartment and on campus, so I could skype my family. When I got there, I purchased a basic phone for about $50 and used it for calling and messaging my friends for $20/month. I used my Kindle Fire, iPhone and laptop for any internet needs. I had to let my carrier know that I was traveling abroad, so I wouldn’t be charged extra fees, but also so I would know how to turn off my cellular data and roaming and have them freeze my number on my account.

 

study abroad

Power converter

This is a huge thing I needed to look into! The U.S. believes in making a lot of things their own (the metric system in schools, American Football, ‘Fall’ instead of Autumn, etc.) including outlets and voltage. I went out and bought a Universal Travel Adapter. I had to look up the difference between an adapter and converter (an adapter is just a change of plug type and the converter changes the voltage) after I broke my adapter when I plugged in a hair straightener.

 

Double check everything

That week I was constantly checking online to make sure I had my ticket and the right time for my flight.  I made sure I sent everything off that I needed to (medical insurance, transcripts, checks etc.) and made hard and digital copies of everything, just in case. I checked my luggage a hundred times, I was so excited to leave!

Packing

I was leaving for a semester, so I needed enough clothes and shoes to get me through that time span. It was summer transitioning to autumn when I would be there. I was sure to back clothes for the beach, for school, the club and professional clothing for presentations or what-not.

Australian cosmetics were outrageously expensive, and I was so grateful I packed all of mine generously. About halfway through the semester, I had my mom send me a care package of mascara and tampons because it was nearly $18 (Australian dollars) for a box of 12 tampons. I was sure to pack everything as a travel size on my way out and keep it in my carry on in case something happened with my check bag. This way I could go to the airport bathroom and brush my teeth or wash my face or change outfits. The flight from L.A. to Sydney was 14 hours, so I was going to need some time to freshen up with only my backpack at the ready.

For more ideas and a checklist for what to pack, you can refer to The College Tourist or Study Abroad 360.

 

study abroad

Finally, I was ready to take off! I made sure to keep my wallet, passport and phone in a safe location with easy access to get you through security quickly. I dressed comfortably and brought entertainment for during the flight: a book, tablet, neck pillow for sleeping etc. My flight was a red-eye, so I planned on sleeping, but should’ve taken something to help me (Tylonol or Advil P.M.). I watched several movies and slept for maybe a total of 4 of the 14 hours sleeping because I was just too excited (and there’s an 18 hour time difference). The worst was over, now I just had to anticipate my semester.

 

Related Reading: Groupon Travel: Pros and Cons

November 13, 2017
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