Adios a la Forma de Tico

Travel

Goodbye to the tico way…


As my time in Costa Rica is coming to a close, it´s hard to believe I´m already saying goodbye to my first country. To quote Robert Frost, ¨But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.¨ and I have been trying to set my sights on my next…well…sites. Bocas del Toro, Boquete, and Lost and Found Hostel in Panama for November. Then Panama City, where I´m chartering a sailboat to take me to Cartagena, Colombia and onto Medellin, Colombia for the month of December.

Punta Uva

But there´s still the matter of reflecting on my time in Costa Rica and what I want to take away from the 6 weeks I´ve spent here in the Carribean. My wonderful soul sister sent me this aptly timed article about the various deaths that occur over our lifetime in the form of our ever-changing identity. It spoke to something I´ll be inevitably dealing with from country to country on my journey – the leaving of one identity in country and the adoption of a new persona in each place.

¨The death of an identity is like the shedding of armor, which exposes the soft, tender, vulnerable places and opens the heart in ways we couldn’t have imagined without the loss.¨

My legs are covered in more bruises and bug bites than I thought possible on one person. My understanding of clean and dirty are completely relative now. The minute differences between needing, wanting, and craving a shower. Sand will most likely accompany me for the remainder of my trip, smuggling its way into the nooks and crannies of my now musty smelling backpack and its ramshackle contents. My patience has grown (in addition to my leg hair) and with it comes a better understanding for the tico way of life, where 10 minutes mean an hour or mañana means a week.

I´ve been able to experience a life that people only dream of. Yesterday, the small family I´ve grown to love here hiked to a gorgeous lookout point at Punta Uva. While sitting along the rocky point, the waves crashing along the sides, the sun setting on the water before us, reflecting back all of its soul pumping sunshine onto us, someone began strumming a ukulele from the ledge above us. I´m not kidding. This was real life. This was my life.

But saying goodbye is part of the life of a traveler. Saying goodbye to paradise and the many forms I´m sure it will manifest itself in throughout my trip will become as second nature to me as throwing toilet paper in the trash can. It´s time to say goodbye to Costa Rica and the woman I was here. Which parts of her do I want to take with me? Which parts do I leave behind for the sea to reclaim like a piece of driftwood?

The oh-so-appropriate water blur on this photo is hilarious to me.

The oh-so-appropriate water blur on this photo is hilarious to me.

The person I was here was timid, believe it or not. I was scared, afraid of sticking out too much or sounding stupid when speaking the broken and littered Spanish I know. I apologized for the space I took up in the world, being a tall and large girl, and I regretfully informed people where that space hailed from – the dreaded America. In moving on, there is little I can do to change how I look and where I come from. These are pieces of me, pieces that make me who I am and I refuse to apologize for them any longer. So let the sea wash away these pieces, but leave the person behind who is able to find comfort in solitude. ¨Cool¨has become such a complicated word – each country having its own understanding of what it means – that it´s impossible for me to embody such a word. So better to focus on expressing who I truly am. With that comes my sense of style, something I abandoned in favor of clothes that were basic and functional. This was an idiotic oversight on my part. A woman whose main form of self-expression has been style cannot have her individually ripped from her hands in a moment where she is clamoring to anything familiar that she can find. I miss my brightly colored clothes, fitted and flirty dresses, and the feeling of feeling pretty. It´s a small thing that becomes magnified as time travels on.

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One of the biggest takeaways is the level of control I have over my own happiness. Happiness is not relative, like cleanliness. Happiness is right there in your backpocket next to your colones and your fuego. There was also a long adjustment period here. It took me a couple weeks to finally let everything sink in, from the language, food, culture, new surroundings, climate, people, and work, everything took some level of understanding to get to place where comfort was at least in relative reach. Moving forward, I know I have control over how long it takes me to feel comfortable, and the longer I take feeling like an outsider, the longer I will remain one.

So much gratitude for my Se Ua family

So much gratitude for my Se Ua family. My time in Costa Rica would not have been the same!

Un Día en La Vida Caribe

Travel

A Day in the Carribean Life


I´m trying to find a way to relay to my loves back home how life works here. Not just what I spend my days doing, but those small, refined details that highlight the different way of living here, pura vida if you will.

More of a yoga girl anyhow

Yoga every damn day. 

Riding a bike, for instance, is really a testament to how little effort you can contribute to peddling while still managing to stay in an upright position. (Which if you know my history with bikes, this is proving to be interesting.) Boredom is something completely created – a word to describe the simple act of living and being – so hours are spent just simply being on the beach, being at the bar, being with friends, instead of clamouring to get to our smart phones to tell people how busy we´ve been with being. Meals here are engulfed in silence while everyone gulps down every morsel on their plate with a vigor normally reserved for ravenous animals. Everything takes a bit more patience here and it´s refreshing to look up at the sky from a hammock and simultaneously realize how lucky I am to be right here, how happy I constantly feel, and where I last set down my daiquiri.

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La Playa de Manzanillo

So during my time here, I´ve been living and working at Se Ua B&B and Aventure House.  I´ll try and walk you through a typical day here for me. I wake up around 7 am every day where I venture downstairs to a group of hardworking Costa Rican men and the other token gringo de Francia. Among them, my boss, usually shirtless is cooking breakfast with a joint in hand. The flood of morning Spanish wakes me up, in addition to my cup of coffee, and then I´m immediately bombarded by four dogs and two cats looking to also say buenas dias. We all eat breakfast together and then they begin working on different projects for the building. They´re in the process of redoing the hotel and literally have made, piece by piece, every inch of this beautiful place, almost for free. All the wood is gathered from the woods by taking a chainsaw into the jungle and cutting fallen trees (which I´ve learned are some of the heaviest, most durable, and prized woods in the world) into carryable blocks that weigh outrageous amounts but are effortlessly put onto the barebacks of the hombres. While they are off exerting more force in a day than I ever truly seen a man work, I clean the lounge area, help with laundry or getting rooms ready, or sitting dutifully at my computer helping them to get their social media up and running, sending out email blasts, and helping to create marketing materials for their adventure tours.

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Typical day at the office.

When los muchachos return from working, it´s my unofficial job to get lunch or dinner ready. You would think my feminist nature would be offended by the ultra-traditional gender roles in Costa Rica, but truly the machismo culture is just one more thing I am getting used to. Surprisingly, I find myself not being bothered much by it – in fact I support it. These men work harder than anyone I´ve ever seen and if my responsibility to to provide food for them – then that seems fair at the end of the day – especially since the work is literally too strenuous for a woman to do. At least this woman, anyways.

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Then once I´ve finished for the day, I go to the beach for a couple hours and go through a yoga flow or go to the local bar and have a few beers (some things never change). That´s actually how I was able to pick up a few shifts at Maxi´s – a nice change of pace from the work at Se Ua and another avenue for me to keep learning Spanish and meeting people from around this big beautiful world. It doesn´t hurt that it is set against the backdrop of the sea, with the breeze rolling by as I open beers and pour micheladas por las touristas. I´m reminded of my time working at the winery and I once again appreciate all the steps Ive taken so far in my life, remembering that every decision is taking me in a direction and that´s exactly why I find myself here. Here I am learning, learning about myself, about others, about languages – both from hearing and seeing. I´m also learning that my American idioms do not translate. Whatsoever. Until next time, mais. 

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Behind the bar at Maxi´s

The First Week (No Clever Title Needed)

Travel

So I´m into my first week in Costa Rica and so far….it´s utterly amazing. Truly. Like every single one of my dreams from the last year is coming true. Every moment I sat at my cubicle wishing for a different life, desiring a different daily than the one I had been granted, wishing desperately for change and adventure.

Every moment igniting a passion for the life I´m now chasing. And I can actually taste it because I´m in it, every day now. My daily life consists of waking up at whatever time I choose. I don´t go out very often here because truly I don´t feel very safe yet, being on my own, but that will subside with time, my level of comfort directly proportional to how much Spanish I currently know.

Which is still un poco. Muy pequeno.

But I´m trying to learn and I want to learn, that´s for damn sure. Because it´s not really fun to constantly be out of the loop. And it´s not even just Spanish, the amount of English I hear is minimal, at best. I hear German more than I hear English, truthfully. Spanish will be a challenge to learn, a challenge for my mind that I welcome with open arms. Like the books I´ve been devouring and the journaling I´ve been doing – all of it adding back nutrients to my malnourished soul.

Yes thats a tad dramatic. Yes thats a tad necessary though.

I hope everyone is watching my posts, drooling over my pictures, reading my words with a fervor that inspires them. Because I want everyone to do this. To follow their dream. To make this happen for them. To create the life you want, instead of the one you´ve settled for. I understand that things like marriage, kids, debt, money, time, or careers can all get in the way, but there is no excuse not to take a vacation you´ve dreamed about or quitting a job you can´t stand to do something you actually enjoy. Life is too short, our bodies too fragile, and our mind too powerful to ignore what we truly want.

Here is a synopsis of what I´ve done so far in my week: I´ve gone hiking along Volcano Brava, I´ve gone swimming in a waterfall, I´ve biked over 20 miles in a day, I´ve done yoga on the beach and in hostel gardens and alongside mountains, I´ve made friends with Costa Ricans, Frenchmen, and Argentines. I´ve slept in a hammock against the shoreline of the ocean, I´ve swam in waves with such force that it literally knocked me over, I´ve made strangers into unforgettable friends, I´ve driven miles over gorgeous hillsides covered in so much green I´ve actually forgotten what the brown flatlands of Texas look like. I´ve been happy, lonely, sad, ecstatic, and fulfilled in a way I haven´t felt in too long.

And that´s just one week.

ONE. WEEK.

There have been hardships already as well. Struggles, stress, nervousness, anxiety, cash issues, bus confusion, disastrous laundry mishaps and all the other annoyances that accompany travel as well. And there is fear (¨Which is born to an extent of a story we tell ourselves¨) but all of that is taken in stride and in comparison to what I have. Solitude, freedom, and a better attitude than I´ve had in the past year – possibly ever. So I suppose it´s a trade worth making. I can´t wait to see what other swaps are in my future. Stay tuned, maes (dudes).

Gringa Goals

Travel

I’m now less than a week away from my departure date and time is creeping while simultaneously flying. Every day feels like an inch towards the eventual mile-long leap I’m about to take. When I get on my flight I’ll be leaving everything I know in search of something spectacularly new – but what exactly am I looking for?

Every person has asked me why I’m going to South America and why I’m going alone. Truth be told I find traveling alone to be less stressful and more fulfilling. Although loneliness is something I’ll have to deal with regularly – it forces you to branch out of your comfort zone and pushes you to interact with those around you. I also don’t have to compromise my plans for someone else’s, be on anyone’s time schedule but my own, and will be able to fully immerse myself in a moment without wondering how my travel partner is faring.

However I do have several goals for my trip that I hope to accomplish. Being alone will give me the time, solstice, solitude, and sheer boredom to hopefully address these throughout my journey.

  1. Reset my habits: As I mature into an adult there are certain childhood habits that have followed me around for some time now. I want to break cycles of chaotic clutter and try to maintain neatness and tidiness. I want to spend less time on unnecessary things like worrying. I want to choose to always be good to people, regardless of how my day may be going or who they may be. Focusing on the present moment, wherever it may be, is difficult for me as well. Simplify, simplify, simplify – use less, waste less. These and more are all things I hope to change and reestablish habits to return home with.
  2. Treat my body right: As I reset habits, I want to create new ones. I understand the importance of keeping a form of exercise in my daily routine and want to establish a stable yoga practice every day. I want to eat healthy and eat when I need to – as opposed to eating when I’m bored or because I have nothing better to do than stuff my face with pizza-flavored Goldfish and ice cream.
  3. Challenge myself mentally and physically: Ever since I’ve left school I feel like the workforce, specifically sitting in front of a computer, has slowly dumbed down my intelligence and made me extremely sedentary. A huge reason for this trip in general is escaping (what I feel to be) corporate prison and the dangerous side effects of that lifestyle. I want to spend my days learning to surf, climbing mountains, learning Spanish, learning new histories I’ve never read about in a textbook before, and exchanging ideas with new people in new places. Honestly, I’d never thought of myself as capable of any of the aforementioned things and the challenge to simply try them is enticing.
  4. Recharge my soul: While working I spent hours sitting behind a computer, isolated, alone, and stifled. I then commuted for an additional 3 hours (in total) of agonizing solitude in traffic that made me want to scream. On most days I did scream, actually, from the desire to just hear my voice. Every day. Every week. It seemed never-ending. I’m still shaking off the remnants of that lifestyle. I watch myself watching people instead of engaging with them. I have become introspective and critical almost to a fault. I see myself trying to reach for happiness but settling with mundane content for life – which for me is unacceptable. I still don’t feel like myself or like the person I want to strive to be.
  5. Disconnecting: Like most people in my generation – I’m far too guilty of spending far too much time on the internet, on Facebook, watching TV, and texting. I feel like I stare at a screen more than at a person’s face. Yet all this hyper-connectivity makes me equally hyper-aware. I’m stressed about Donald Trump becoming president. I’m scared for the refugees in Syria. I can’t believe that girl from my high school is preggers. I want that cute guy to think my profile picture is bangin’. I want everyone to think I’m cool based on my social media persona. By removing myself from the ability to be hyper-connected to every facet of society and my circles of influence I hope to truly find myself again. Not the self I want to portray to others – but that deep down, unfiltered soul that is being brushed to the side in favor of a filtered Instagram post.
  6. Reevaluate my skills and career path: Contrary to popular belief – I love working and genuinely enjoy spending my time efforts towards something that I value. This is a biggie because I’ve realized that graphic design (and the desk life that accompanies it) isn’t for me anymore. I love people and moving too much to spend my life being stagnant at work. Since I’m doing Workaway  throughout my trip I hope to experience a multitude of different jobs – from the mundane to the extraordinary. Farming to financials, scrubbing toilets, mushing grapes, greeting strangers, anything and everything in between – somewhere amongst these jobs I hope to find something that rings true to what I actually want to do – instead of what I had been told to do.
  7. Fall in love with words again: For along time I was journaling every morning, but as I became further and further removed from myself I stopped wanting to write because all I would spew was negativity and angst. Writing became something I approached with reluctance. Starting with this blog, clearly, but more importantly I want to journal again. I miss writing slam poetry. Being alone with my thoughts, a pen, and piece of paper are absolutely a priority.

So there you have it – this gringa’s goals before she goes! 

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City Girl → Caribbean Chick

Travel

As my countdown to leaving for South America continues to dwindle down (less than 75 days at the time of this post!) my planning is getting kicked into high gear. This week I finalized my first workaway in Costa Rica in the town of Manzanillo, in the Limon region of Costa Rica. It’s on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica and it’s literally the end of the road as it stops at the Gandoca-Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge. But actually – the place I’ll be volunteering is literally IN the refuge.

Like…in the jungle. Surrounded by trees. With no hot water.

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So it’s hard for me to look at this photo and be scared. It’s hard for me to watch this video and be anything but excited because this place looks like untamed paradise. Secluded, away from civilization, smack in the middle of nature with not much else to do but swim, maybe learn to surf, hike, and lay in a hammock I can’t imagine anything I would really want to do more.

The hostel itself is run by two Costa Rican cousins who have built everything using recycled materials from the land. They have activities and tours they are trying to promote and need help with general maintenance and upkeep of the hostel.

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I’m booking my first hostels, arranging travel details, figuring out if a river tour down to Puerto Viejo would be better than taking a van throughout the country, seeing how it’s possible to see surfing towns, volcanos, cloudforests, and mountains all in my first week. My head is swirling with visions of Caribbean rice and beans, drowned with ideas about hiking and kayaking, and completely losing touch with my reality here in Texas.

I fall into deep holes of planning – losing my footing in planning things like Patagonia or hiking the Inca trail, finding myself resurfacing back at bus routes to Bolivia and finally realizing that THIS is about to BE my reality. I begin to wonder if I’m cut out for it all, if I’ll end up killing myself by climbing a tree and then plummeting to my death in the Amazon or if I’ll freeze high in the Andes determined to make it to Torres del Paine.

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Again, I resurface, taking a deep breath. Back tracking to Panama. Realizing I’m getting far too ahead of myself as I’ll have several countries and other crossing and obstacles to address before my fears ever get in the way. I think back to my first time camping on a tiny island in the middle of our lake in Wisconsin. I brought open food with me, I left the tent unzipped for lengths at a time, I was eaten alive by bugs, and when I got back to our warm, insulated, dry, and bug-free cottage my family gave me hell. I wasn’t cut out for it. I was a city girl – born and raised – and I wouldn’t be able to ever go camping again.

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I didn’t go camping again for almost 15 years until an ex-boyfriend suggested we go. Terrified beyond belief I agreed and the trip comprised of roasting peaches on an open flame, drinking wine and telling stories, and being shown how to pitch a tent and maintain a fire. Fast forward to camping in the Redwoods without anything to spark a flame – except lighting every single piece of paper in car on fire and hoping to hell it works. Now I’ve gone camping in Arkansas, parts of Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arizona and I clearly don’t intend to stop anytime soon. The only thing stopping me before were my own insecurities, bred long ago by an incapable young girl – conquered by the strength of young woman’s determination.

Part of planning is preparation. But I think preparing for what is to come is proving to be the most difficult part. Letting go of all my belongings – selling all my furniture, clothing, and adopting a backpack for the next year. Leaving behind friendships that mean the world to me in favor of the actual world out there. Laying aside doubts. Lightening my load by paring down to bare essentials in every aspect of life. Listening to the voice in my head the keeps telling me how badly I want this . Locking out the voice that tells me I’m not cut out for this.

These are the things that are more difficult to plan for. There’s no vaccination for homesickness or any amount of waterproof wicking to whisk away all my doubts. But as each day closes and another one begins, I’m inching my way to an eventual plane ride away from everything I’ve ever known in my life. That unknown that I’ll be throttling towards can’t be planned for. There is no way to Google it. But it’s something that’s equally alluring because it can’t be understood until I’m right there in it – watching the life I’ve known fall away and the life I’m choosing coming into focus.

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I can’t wait.

Gringa Goes Global

Uncategorized

About a year ago I applied to teach English through the Chilean English Opens Doors Program. Unfortunately the program was already full – but it didn’t stop me from applying to the waitlist and researching Chile and the regions of South America with a fervor – devouring articles, photos, travel blogs, and yerba mate all in one fatal gulp. I was hooked on the idea of South America. The dancing, the music, the language, the cultures, the people, the nature, the adventure, the challenge.

But then I began my ‘career’ which consisted of sitting in a car, in traffic, for over 2 hours a day, sitting at desk for 9 hours staring at a screen filled with ads for dentists and coupons for discounted Lasik procedures, and speaking to hardly a soul throughout a 12 hour day. My spirit was quietly being crushed, the life being sucked out with every start of the engine in the mornings. Depression creeped in from every corner of my day and it started to become a struggle just to force a smile for friends and family. The person I was and who I wanted to become was vanishing before my very eyes and I felt powerless, trapped in a cycle of paychecks, to change anything.

So for the past year I began to quietly save and research. Lunch hours spent consuming travel routes through Central America, instead of actual food. Photographs of natural wonders such as Angel Falls, Machu Picchu, and Torres Del Paine became the backgrounds of all my man-made electronics. My bed time reading became books about how to plan for Latin America because it’s all I could dream about. My soundtrack became Peruvian Afro-funk and other Latin-inspired music because it was the only thing that put a spring into my step. My shopping list consists of functionality rather than fashion first, like hiking boots, khaki skorts, and trying to figure out just how many sports bras I’ll actually need.

I had been preparing to leave for my trip in January 2016. But due to circumstances beyond purely my control – I’m leaving at the end of August 2015 to spend a year traveling and working across Latin America.

If I said I wasn’t scared, I would be lying. But if I said that it outweighed my hope or my excitement, I would be lying even more. The only thing I can say with complete conviction is that I may not be ready to leave at this exact moment or even by the time my flight departs – but I know at the bottom of my heart and by the will of my body and soul that I am ready to leave. I am ready to explore once again. I can’t wait to step off a plane into a new city and be unfamiliar with everything. I cherish the day when I get to work on a farm on the side of a mountain and I sit down at the end of day with blistered hands but a bolstered sense of self confidence because I’ll have actually made something to be proud of.

I feel as though my entire life was one big lie. I was told my only option was to go to college in order to get a job. After college I wasn’t encouraged to continue learning or striving to better myself – my only concerns from graduation on out were to climb the job ladder until I reached a position with enough income to sustain myself and my future family.

For the first time I’m making a choice that will fulfill me more than any job title, diploma, or salary could ever do. And for that I am proud. And for that – I know my soul is once again rooting for me.

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Love Letters to Europe: Budapest

Drinking, Love Letters to Europe, Travel

Budapest,

You are the bad boy my mother always warned me about.

You were dirty, you smelled, you were rough, and you were a blur of boys, booze, and baths. Yes, I said baths.

You were also the craziest, most adventurous, and epic weekend of my life.

As soon as I got to the city I got lost. I got on the wrong bus, took a wrong turn, and ended up sitting outside a cafe just to use the Wi-Fi to look at a map. Your language was so confusing and I didn’t understand you at all.

And then I found Retox*.

Retox Party Hostel is where dreams are made, beds are broken, and non-stop drinking began and hasn’t stopped since. I showed up at 11 am and was ushered upstairs into the common room where roughly 8 shirtless dudes were nursing hangovers or still rockin’ the buzz from the night before. At the time, I didn’t know this was an every day occurrence.

I was the fresh prey. I felt like you trapped me, Budapest. You created a booby trap lined with alcohol and penises and bad decisions.

The clap-out. I was pulled into a hostel room and told to clap. Mindlessly I did, slowly looking around and panicking at the amount of dick in this hostel. Then I realized what we were clapping for: a dreadlocked guy, naked, in bed with a redhead who was also naked. Apparently this was her fifth night in the hostel….and she wasn’t staying here. I would later learn more of your traditions like M-I-N-E and Buffalo. I took a tequila shot with cinnamon and orange instead of salt and lime. I remember thinking how bizarre everything felt.

I wasn’t kidding about the plethora of dick at the hostel.

Budapest, you were so bad for me. Instead of giving me water, you handed me pints of beer. Instead of meeting your friends, you introduced me to men whose only interest was getting laid. Instead of sightseeing, you showed me the hostel bar and held me captive for hours drinking with the British guys.

Still, I wouldn’t change you for anything. I laughed so hard. I pushed my comfort boundaries to levels that are unheard of down South. I made friends with anyone and everyone, and it wasn’t just because I was drunk for the majority of the three days.

I wasn’t myself. I was Texas. I was ballsy, brash, blunt, and an overall badass – or so I felt anyways. I’m not really sure what everyone else but I didn’t care. I was so drunk on beer and confidence that I felt like I could take on the world.

You were gentle at times though. Like after I got back from touring all day by myself and I felt lonely, you introduced me to the Aussie who gave me the kind of hug that changes your day. Then he invited me on that alternative walking tour where I got to see your ruin bars and street art. God, you were so cool**. 

I cuddled with boys who reminded me for a few moments what it felt like to just lay next to someone. I remember feeling desired by guys. I left with friends who I wouldn’t ever see again but I knew I wouldn’t forget.

When I left, I cried in the taxi. It was so bittersweet. Boss telling me that I was going to be legend. I told Johnny next time I came back I wanted to work there. It was 4:30 am and I remember thinking, “This is it. I go home in 36 hours. My trip is officially over.” It was the end of Europe, not just you and me.

I know when I come back to you Budapest, I won’t be leaving for weeks because you’ll trap me again. There won’t be a plane ticket or a plan to interfere this time. I’ll give into your temptations without a shred of guilt, without looking ahead, and never looking back.  

Love,

Briana

*I would recommend anyone visiting Budapest to stay at one of the party hostels, preferably Retox, if you love to meet people, go out, and get crazy. Just make sure to prepare your liver beforehand.

**Check out the blog Postcards to Budapest for cool photos of the city, since I was too intoxicated to operate a camera for the duration of my stay.

Home is Where the Heart Is

Inspiration, Personal, Travel

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Well I’m back in Texas and I’m already clicking the heels of my Jeffrey Campbells together wishing I could be traveling again. But alas, I open my eyes and I’m still here and I’ll probably be here for the next couple of years. It’s a hard feeling to live with, knowing that I need to spend a good amount of time working and saving money for my next set of adventures, but I’m more focused on it because I know exactly how rewarding the end goal feels. 

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I started working at my internships this week and it’s been really great to feel like I have a purpose during my day, as well as some structure. But I’ve noticed a major change in my priorities since I’ve been back. As much as advertising is my passion, I don’t care about being the best or working for the best company. I want to work in an environment that makes me happy every day when I come to work. What’s the point in spending your life somewhere you hate doing something that makes you unhappy? 

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Traveling by myself was EPIC. If I could tell every person in this world to travel by themselves for a week, I would, because it changed my study abroad experience so much. Being a girl traveling on your own is rare and when you encounter people and tell them that (after judging whether they would murder you or not) there is the weird respect that people have for you. I felt so independent and confident because I had to figure things out on my own like planes, trains, directions, hostels, things to see and do. It forced me to be outside of my comfort zone and I was so open-minded about meeting everyone, anywhere, that I met some of the coolest people I would have never talked to otherwise. The camaraderie between travelers and backpackers is like an immediate connection between people that always breaks the ice. Agh. I loved it so much and found so much respect for myself that coming back to the closed off people in bars in America has been an adjustment. But oh well, I’ll keep smiling and talking to strangers regardless because I know that I’ve been able to hang out with Australians, Canadians, and English people in places like Prague, Budapest, and Florence. Ch’yeah take that, frat stars. 

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Ultimately, my heart is always going to be in Texas. It’s where I was raised, where my family is, and where my best friends live. But my heart is also in Florence and Europe because that’s where I grew up. I realized how to finally see myself clearly, without all the American standardized ideals clouding my judgement. So for now, I’m enjoying my life because for once in my life, I’m not sure where I’m going to end up after graduation. Right now at this moment I think I want to work in DFW for a year after I graduate and save money and then move abroad to somewhere in Europe or Australia… preferably somewhere that speaks English. But who knows. 

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Clever Blog Title

Personal, Travel

World traveler right there.

I would try to come up with a witty title for this post but honestly I’m just fresh out of remarks today after writing a paper over the religiosity of the Renaissance so I apologize.

I feel like I’ve been on a whirlwind the last month. First my mom and my sister came to visit…oh what 3 weeks ago? It was so wonderful getting to show them around Florence, recommending restaurants for lunch, telling them which museums to see, and of course where to shop. It was a little exhausting at times because I wanted them to love Florence as much as I do – but of course they loved it. Whoever doesn’t love it has to have a dark hole where their heart is supposed to be.

The next week I left for TURKEY. Let me tell you…it was absolutely incredible. I will be writing a separate blog post about the specific places and events we did so watch out for that! Keep your head up because this next part is gonna get deep. Turkey gave me so much perspective on my life and my priorities. Each day challenged me culturally and individually and left me with a lot of thoughts to come home to. I came to the realization that I want to have less stress in my life and I want to be more carefree with my time. Each day in Turkey unfolded itself beyond every single expectation we had because we simply didn’t have expectations. I loved interacting and meeting new people who came from a completely different background and mindset than me. One day we met two young people on the street and ended up going out to bar with them later that night and having an absolutely wonderful night dancing and talking. How are you ever going to allow events like that to transpire if you are constantly planning every second of your day?

Turkish people are some of the nicest and more genuine people you will ever have the pleasure of meeting. So many people offered to help us throughout our days and every person was always willing to assist us if we asked. It was amazing how open and friendly people can be when you don’t look at someone with a cultural bias. You are able to connect better with people and communicate while creating relationships, although maybe not long lasting, will always hold a special place in your memories.

Every thing works out. No matter what happens, where you end up, or how you feel at one point in time, everything eventually comes to pass and works itself out. It’s just been easier to let life run its course than to continually fight it by making our own plans. Being open to trying new things like food or activities makes you realize how much you may or may not like. It’s a big world out there and I’m not really ready to say no to anything at this point.

Overall, these are just some of things I’m trying to come away with after studying abroad. There was a quote I posted on a blog post before I left.

“We travel initially to lose ourselves, then we find ourselves.”

I never thought those words could be so incredibly true. However, being abroad makes you realize things about yourself you wouldn’t normally discover about yourself until you are put into situations that make you reconsider and reevaluate your choices.

I need to obviously write a post on Turkey and a post on Paris (which by the way lived up to every single expectation and dream I have had since I was 13!) but for now this is all I have to say.