Anxiety

Travel

Traveling can be an experience filled with joy and excitement and plenty of anxiety. Moving half way around the world, getting on a flight for the first time, immersing yourself in a new culture with a different language – leaving home can be stressful and bring out anyone’s anxieties. I’m sharing how I approach having anxiety-free (or at least as much as possible) trips.

Prepare What You Can

I’m sure plenty of people are okay with going somewhere for the first time with no plans. I, however, can’t do that without airport bathroom panic attacks. Some things can’t be avoided, but I would recommend that you prep what you can: Book somewhere to stay for at least the first night. Figure out how to get from the train station or airport to where you’re staying. Check the calendar for bank holidays or train strikes. Set a reminder on your phone to check in for your flight and to leave for your flight. Ask someone (in person or online) who’s been there before about the simple things: get cash before or just use a card? hiking shoes or comfy shoes? worth the visit to this museum or that museum?

Never Trust Technology

Despite best intentions, our phones are not always as useful as we expect. Even if it’s on your phone, you could arrive with no battery. Service may not be the greatest where you’re going and you’ll need to survive until you track down WiFi. Keep yourself from panic by expecting your phone to fail. Print out your boarding pass if you can and write down the name of your hotel. Bring not electronic entertainment. Maybe you’re saving your battery or the plane’s entertainment screen isn’t working out great – having a back up book or a journal to doodle games of hangman in or a pack of cards can’t hurt and they’re relatively small.

Focus on the Exciting

Make yourself a list of exciting things you want to do or see. You’re traveling for a reason. Hype yourself up (within reason). Are you really excited to feel sand between your toes? Or practice your Spanglish? Or wander an art museum in a new city? Focus on that. Take a peek at the weather and the museum times. Start plotting all your adventures/Instagrams/meals. It’s hard to be anxious when your mind is thinking about all the great things you’ll be doing.

Take a Deep Breath

Life can throw you a curve ball. It happens. Breathe through it. Trust yourself that you’ll work it all out should anything go wrong. Find the little moments of joy even when the world seems like it’s falling apart. Worst case scenario: it’s all gonna be a great story to tell everyone back home.

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A Broad Abroad

london, Travel

I’ve studied abroad more times than the average human. I travelled to Paris and Nice the summer before high school, encouraging me to better utilize the French skills I thought I had. (Let’s just say the 13-ish years of French classes have made me nowhere near fluent.)

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The summer after my first year of college I went on a short-term study abroad trip with my university’s College of Education. The two weeks were a joke academically, but were a wonderful introduction to being in a foreign country, and I can’t complain about being able to travel from Paris to the South of France to Barcelona, Madrid, and Toledo. The next summer, I did another short-term trip through the CoE, this time to Italy and Greece. I had a blast.

 

 

I learned a few lessons on these trips though: 1. I was too independent to be forced into a group of 20 people who couldn’t figure out the French metro system to save their lives. 2. I wanted to interact with locals, not with Americans. 3. I was so freaking fortunate and privileged to be able to go on these trips.

My junior year was spent abroad: first in Sydney, Australia then in Stockholm, Sweden. My time in Sydney was spent attending Macquarie University, meeting Americans and Australians alike, taking Sociology classes, learning to order drinks at bars, pushing my introvert to its limits, and growing a heck of a lot. (Please send Tim Tams.)13606726_10208327169590741_2939824590994043790_n

Stockholm was a very different experience. I met next to no Swedes, ventured around Stockholm and Europe a heck of a lot, learned to pack a carryon for varying trip lengths, studied very rarely at Södertörns högsköla (in English, let’s be real), discovered the horrors of seasonal depression and the beauty of 22 hours of daylight in the summer. (My love affair with IKEA and Max Burgers continues to this day.)42593388_10217577769095213_5706831081802563584_o

When I was finishing my undergrad, it was only logical that I seize the opportunity to go abroad one last time, so I applied to do a Master’s degree abroad. The financial benefits were there, it was one year compared to two in the US, and it would be a new opportunity to travel and meet new people. In retrospect, it would have been nice to better research my program before I went and I probably could have better selected my courses. But overall, I can’t say I regret going to London.

Would I study abroad again? In a heart beat. Is studying abroad the same as traveling abroad? Absolutely not. Did I meet the best people everywhere I went? 100 percent. Am I so freaking fortunate to have this many once in a lifetime experiences? Heck yes.

 

P.S. If you have ANY questions about studying abroad, please let me know – I’m more than happy to chat about any of my experiences for months.

P.P.S. I did some “research” on the term “broad”, which seems to have originated in the 1930s to refer to women by their “wideness”, which is icky (also it mostly referred to prostitutes which like makes me frustrated by the historical objectification of women in a patriarchal society, but…). I’m going off the Urban Dictionary definitions here to justify my “clever title”: less respectable than a lady, but more respectable than a bitch. I’m not mad at it.

Been There, Done That

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Both of my parents had been to London before, so the simple entertainment of crossing off all the classic sites wasn’t available. We had plans to see a show or two, and obviously a graduation to attend, but there was still plenty of day light to fill. I had to think of little surprises to prove to them that I had in fact seen more of London in my year living there than the average tourist sees in a week-long trip. So here’s a few of the bits and bobs that entertained three folks who’d been there, done that:

Leave London

I know it’s an absolute shocker of an idea, but there’s more to the UK than London. Bonus points: the UK has a great train system that’ll get you to plenty of exciting sites in an hour or so for relatively cheap. We went to Salisbury and eventually Stonehenge via train, but other options include Oxford, Cambridge, Brighton, Birmingham, Windsor, 

and Bath. If you’ve been to London before, you should spend a day of your vacation outside the city.50970752_2298766570359956_570854711880581120_n

For the History Buffs

We tried to see one of the four remaining copies of the Magna Carta at Salisbury Cathedral, but only got to view a replica because of bad timing. For my father, who carries around historical biographical tomes for light reading, we were gonna find some old dusty important stuff.

So we went underground: if you haven’t already visited them, the Churchill War Rooms are incredible. London was right in the middle of the action for World War II (which is a strange thought for Americans who visit a modern and constantly under construction city). The War Rooms take you back, fill a morning with history, and pop you out right next to the classic history of Parliament and Westminster. (Another historical spot worth visiting is St. Dunstan’s in the East, where the remains of a bombed out church have been turned into a community garden.)50985910_391025211632427_4581915461205098496_n

For the Artists

If you can’t find art in London, you’re not looking hard enough. A personal favorite gallery is the Courtauld Gallery in Somerset House, but if you’re looking for something quick and cheap, you can pop in and out of the Queen’s House in Greenwich, the National Gallery of Art, the National Portrait Gallery, or the Tate museums.

It was on a trip to the Tate Modern, crossing the wibbly-wobbly bridge (properly known as the Millenium Bridge), that my mother stopped to look at the tiny designs drawn onto the gum dried between the ridges of the bridge. Fortunately, it’s a pedestrian bridge so no cars could take her out, but there was a whole new batch of mini art pieces created since our last visit in August. As we reached the end, we noticed a man laying on the ground with a tiny paint brush in hand. A fantastic conversation later, Ben Wilson, the Chewing Gum Man, may be my mother’s new favorite artist.51464800_341016886744046_5651513002541711360_n

View from the Top

When the view from the ground gets dull, go high. To beat the jet lag, I took my parents on a meandering walk to Primrose Hill, but the views from the Greenwich Observatory are pretty good too. If you’re looking for some history on your way up: St. Paul’s Cathedral (you’ll also get the added bonus of traumatizing your child while you’re at it, thanks mom and dad). We had nice views from the top of the Tate Modern, as well, to make up for the weird art inside.51176038_295319167723476_8234029172079460352_n

Eat

When in doubt, sit down and enjoy yourself with a nice pint and some chips. You’ve been here before, there’s no need to rush. Take the time to see the folks around you and chit chat. As much as I love a quick Pret for the road, you have time to eat a long meal, like my personal happy place Dishoom. (I mentioned some of my favorite places to eat around the world in a previous post here.) Other recommendations: Have a cup of tea at Fortnum and Mason. Eat like a local at Nando’s or Byron Burger. Grab a pint at Temple Brew House or Marquis Cornwallis or the Sugar Loaf. (Other mentions include the best pizza at Pizza Sophia, the post-show meal at Angus Steakhouse, and the off-the-main-road-surprise at Mike’s Cafe near the Portobello Road Market.) Does this make me a food blogger? Or am I just ready for lunch?

Honey, I’m Coming Home!

london

In September, I packed my bags and locked the door on my time in London. I knew there was a chance I’d return as a tourist or for a job or even for a layover, but I thought it’d be a while before I returned.

A few months later, I’ve got my packing list ready. I’m heading back!

Though I submitted my dissertation in August and got my final result in November, my grad school graduation is in the middle of January (UK schools just keeping me confused). And because my (retired) parents are kindly encouraging the opportunity for a vacation, the three of us will hop a plane this week, escaping the cold and snow of Washington, DC for the (probably just as cold) lights of London.49948022_2057821814517992_3371426869252456448_n

From the second we booked our tickets, I started plotting. Both of my parents have been to London before so we could skip the boring (but required for first timers!) tourist spots and focus on the things we genuinely love. And being me, I’ve started a list:

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First up – DISHOOM! I’ve been dreaming about the egg naan rolls and endless cups of chai from Dishoom. I’ve discussed my love for their breakfast before. So we’ll definitely be making a stop (or three) at one of their restaurants.

Next up on the list – West End shows. DC has pretty good theatre (and the Kennedy Center recently hosted Hamilton, which we flipping loved), but it’s nowhere near as fantastic as London’s shows. I’ve been scouring TodayTix for shows. My family is pretty casual about our travels, preferring to make last minute decisions instead of pre-scheduling the entire trip, so I’m not too worried about pre-booking shows.

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No matter what show(s) we end up at, it’ll be sure to be entertaining.

It wouldn’t be a trip to London without stopping at a few museums. We’ll most likely end up taking my dad on a trip to my old digs, as he didn’t get to visit while I lived in London, so we might just have to stop by the British Museum. Of course, the Courtauld, my mother’s favorite, is right next to my university and worth the visit every time we go (even if I was incredibly hungover the last time I went :/).

We’ve also discussed venturing out of the city (gasp – a real game changer, I know!). I, personally, have a special place in my heart for Brighton. Requests have been received for a trip up to Stonehenge, which I visited last year around this time in the middle of a snowstorm. Heck, even a day trip up to Windsor or Cambridge would be nice.50192552_353470892171567_2823966689614364672_n.jpg

Of course, the whole trip is supposed to focus on the big day: graduation. I’ve already been in contact with some friends who I haven’t seen since August. It’ll be lovely to catch up, grab a pint, and reflect on the horrors of writing a dissertation in the middle of a heatwave. And of course, receiving a diploma wouldn’t be too horrible a way to spend a morning.

New Year, Injured Me

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Due to some technical difficulties, this blog post will be going up a week later than anticipated. Apologies for that.

2019 is already shaping up to be a bit rough. And no I’m not affected by the government furlough. I’m talking about my personal inability to demonstrate adult-like qualities.

Late last year I moved into an apartment (financially supported by my parents, thank you very much, as the result of the whole unpaid intern life) and was ready to be a proper adult. I was full on gonna spend 2019 adulting. And then my first day back to work after the holiday, I went grocery shopping after work, like an adult. I checked my mailbox, like an adult. And I made my way towards the four steps in the lobby to get to the elevator. Due to slippery tiles, slightly too long pants, hands full of grocery bags, and general inability to walk, I hit the ground. Hard.

Nothing broken in the grocery bags or my body, fortunately. After a moment on the ground of self-wallowing, I got up and brushed myself off. I had a joke or two ready to go in case someone nearby might have witnessed my flailing body hit the ground, but the only people around were hidden behind the mailboxes chit-chatting. (I’m sure the security guards had a laugh watching the security footage, but I have to bring joy into people’s lives somehow, right?)

I made it to my apartment, out of my work clothes, and onto the couch with no further incidents. By the next day, however, my knee had an extra bump, I’d scrapped up my knuckles, and somehow I’d managed to bruise my bum? Still not quite sure what was my downfall, but I figured I can make it through the year without wearing pants again, or grocery shopping again, or walking up stairs again, or checking my mail again. I’ve gotta avoid possible injury.

Everyone I told the story to was kind (and laughed at me behind my back instead of to my face) and told me “Hey! At least you got it out of the way! It’s all uphill from here, right?

Wrong.

Thanks to a new Costco membership shared by my new roommate, I somehow ended up with a toaster oven and 12 bagels. Because I cannot possibly eat 12 bagels before they go stale, I threw them in the freezer. I had the brilliant plan that I would pull one out and defrost it each night, giving myself a yummy and filling breakfast each morning. Genius, right?

Ha. Well, I decided I wanted to test the toaster oven out before my 7:30 a.m. breakfast. I pulled a bagel out and, while waiting patiently for the bagel to defrost, learned how to use my toaster oven. After what I assumed was an adequate amount of time, I grabbed a knife and started cutting.

To save you the gory details, I should have followed (received too late) advice that suggested I carve up my bagels before freezing them.

So, with my finger wrapped in gauze (no stitches!), my knee a beautiful shade of purple, and everyone in my office passing around the flu, I’ve started the year off grandly.

I don’t like year long resolutions, but I do like goal setting. Usually they’re either really lofty (love yourself) or really simple (eat a vegetable every day). This month, my resolution is relatively basic: don’t die.

Here’s to 2019. I’m glad I’m here. I’m glad you’re here.

Nom Nom Noms

Five Favorites, london

Food is something that brings people together, tests your comfort zone, and can instantly remind you of times when you were safe and happy and loved.

In honor of the copious amounts of food I’m sure all of my American friends are about to consume this Thursday, I thought I would reminisce on the foods that remind me of home. And when I say home, I mean Stockholm, Indianapolis, London, Sydney, and DC. (Yes, this accidentally turned into a five favorites list, as well as a “travel the world through my favorite meals” kinda post.)

Stockholm

When I studied abroad in Stockholm, I remember being so flipping nervous about having to eat herring or some strange Swedish food for my six months there. But fortunately, Swedish grocery stores provided all the foods I could dream of. It was actually the first place where I had to cook for myself (and yes, I did have to google some very basic skills.)

46492677_177417226545719_7472823128842829824_nMy list of Swedish foods is six-months-worth-of-freezing-cold-and-dark-weather long. To start, I could rave about fika, the Swedish tradition of a daily (or thrice daily) coffee and pastry break. Or alternatively, I could chat your ear off about their kanelbullar, the yummiest treats equivalent to a cinnamon roll. Or hell, IKEA meatballs.

But instead I’ll talk about what I genuinely miss on a weekly basis: Max. Max is a Swedish fast food burger chain, like McDonald’s, etc. but better (and it’s more popular in Sweden than McDonalds and Burger King). Their food is fresh, their restaurants are clean, their staff is efficient. I’ve considered making a trip to Sweden just for their burgers and constantly think back fondly on my visits to the Max off of Kungsträdgården.

Fun fact: the first food my parents ate in Sweden was Max, which I fed them in the Arlanda Airport arrivals area.

Indianapolis

No one has ever said that the Midwest has the most delectable diet, what with the corn and the casseroles. But Indianapolis has plenty of really good spots for food, many of which I made trips to over my three years in the city.

Breadsticks fans should head to Hotbox Pizza (yes, that’s really its name…) or to Kilroy’s for their stuffed breadsticks. They’re the best drunk food, tried and tested. Fans of mediterranean food should head to Canal Bistro in Broad Ripple, while fans of Mexican food should head to La Piedad or grab a marg at Luciana’s.

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One place has a special spot in my heart: Patachou. It’s a little bit of a hipster’s dream and it’s a huge brunch spot for Butler students, but it’s so dang good. I have many a fond memory of breakfasts are Patachou with friends after a late night out or as a reunion after a service trip. With fresh, local ingredients and a mission to give back to the Indy community, it’s worth a trip.

P.S. everyone hypes up their coffee, but I’d also recommend you get the hot chocolate.

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London

I think I tried every (cheap) place on the must eat London list. I scarfed down waffles on the 40th floor of a skyscraper at Duck and Waffle. I pretended I was posh before splashing berry syrup all over myself, at Balthazar. I devoured a Crosstown Donut in Camden Markets. I explored a chain I saw all over London at Bill’s. I discovered disco fries at the Breakfast Club.

And a lot of it is delicious, but nothing gets close to my one true love: Dishoom. It’s Indian food with a twist. The bottomless chai helped me survive a dissertation and the naan rolls are making my mouth water at the thought. The restaurants have the best vibe and are filled with tiny touches that make it a memorable experience. It’s a really nice environment for working meals or catching up with friends.46508793_312174566047896_6370496265968418816_n

Pro tip: go for breakfast. It’s much cheaper and much less crowded than the lunch rush (plus, I’ve heard it’s much yummier).

Sydney

I’ll admit I didn’t go out to eat much in Sydney. My dorm had catering and when we did go out to eat, it was usually McDonald’s or Domino’s. The one food that still holds a special spot in my memory were the milkshakes.

Around the time I went to Sydney, decadent milkshakes were on the rise. One of my first Instagrams from my time abroad in Australia was of one of these sugar overloads at the Vogue Cafe. The Vogue Cafe and its counterpart, the Missing Piece, were both located in a shopping mall just next door to Macquarie University and my residence hall. So while I pushed past my introvert ways to befriend new people, we were able to bond over the sugar highs.

Later, we ended up making a pilgrimage to Erskineville for TellaBall Shakes at Foodcraft. We learned quickly that there is no clean way to drink a milkshake and then eat a Nutella donut.

The extravagant milkshake phase seems to have moved on, but those milkshakes left an impact.

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Washington, D.C.

Last, but not least, we’re heading home to DC.

If I was a good daughter, I’d say my favorite food in DC was my mother’s cooking. Nothing against her cooking, but I think it’d be rude of me to applaud her ability to perfectly cook Bagel Bites, keeping me from publicly praising her culinary skills.

The DC area has plenty of restaurants. In Old Town, there’s the classic chili of Hard Times Cafe, where my parents have been visiting for 20 something years, or for the hockey fans, there’s the Chicago-style pizza of Bugsy’s. If you’re in Woodley Park, you can hit up my Wisconsin Avenue high school haunts of 2Amys for pizza or Cactus Cantina for Mexican.

If you’re feeling fancy, you can stop by the White House on your way to Old Ebbitt Grill. For those pretending to adult, they can head to Ted’s Bulletin for homemade PopTarts. You can join the fight between Baked & Wired and Georgetown Cupcake (although everyone in DC knows that Baked & Wired wins every time.) I’m currently working near Dupont Circle, where I’m munching on Happy Hours at Front Page, and enjoying lunches at Zorba’s Cafe, and experiencing all that is the Big Hunt.

If we’re honest, I don’t know if I have a favorite in DC. Maybe, I’ll just have to continue my searchAll recommendations are much appreciated. Though they are subject to ignorance in favor of Chipotle or Moby Dick’s.

Application Season

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So unfortunately, it is time for me to begin the process I have been dreading since Senior year: applying for a proper adult job.

See, I got out of adulting by going to grad school. I lived in student housing, had a part-time job and kept telling myself that I’d worry about getting a job once I had another degree. And who knew? maybe I’d end up with another degree or in law school…

Then when the end was near and I couldn’t hide behind the safety net that academia had provided me for the past five years, I panicked. I was running out of time to write a dissertation, apply for jobs, see London, say goodbye to friends. Adulthood was only a few weeks away and it felt like it had crept up on me when I was looking the other direction.

So I began a frantic wave of applications, sending out as many as I felt qualified to handle. Cover letters added stress to the final edits of my dissertation and moving out. I sent out application after application for internships and fellowships and jobs, rarely receiving a response back whether positive or negative.

Finally as I was beginning to panic, I got an internship. It was unpaid, but it was an internship. And it was somewhere exciting and new and relevant to the paths I was considering pursuing. It seemed like the perfect way to push-off adulthood for another semester.

But that semester is coming to an end. I am almost out of the appropriate timeframe for thinking about life in terms of semesters. And I have no idea what’s coming next.

This is my procrastination. I should be bragging about how clever and interesting I am in twenty cover letters or rewording a description about working with three-year olds for four summers to better apply my resume to a position in foreign affairs, but it’s just so difficult.

Times running out and the idea of leaving this internship with no future prospects is terrifying, but adulting is hard.

Maybe I’ll take Hemingway’s advice and write drunk before editing sober (but then I’d be hungover for work the next day). Or maybe I’ll just wait for my mom to take pity on me and help me write these daunting documents that could decide whether or not I end up with a job in the next few months.

Or maybe I’ll just put off adulting for one more year and apply to another Master’s…