BudaBLESSED

I had been to Budapest just once before in November. It was one of my last weekends before heading back to the states, I was tired, maybe on the verge of a mental break, and not nearly as stoked on the city as I am now.

I don’t know why the city blew me away this time and not the previous time. Maybe it was the gorgeous 70 degree weather, or simply just a change in my attitude. Regardless, I left Budapest reluctantly and wishing I could extend my time there. Eastern Europe is weird. The people are weird, the language is strange, and social norms in general are just different. But it’s so cool. It has not been free from Communist rule for very long (1989), and is incredibly rich in history.

Even their nightlife is historical. Budapest is known for it’s ruin pubs. After the fall of the commuist regime, buildings all around the city were left abandoned, and presumed useless – until people decided they could actually be useful. Abstaining from any renovation, ruined buildings obtained new ownership, and were transformed into bars and clubs. These bars are seriously the coolest places I’ve ever had the privilege of getting a drink. The oldest and most well known, Szimpla Kert, is probably the strangest place you’ll ever go for a social outing. I can only describe it as a cross between Alice in Wonderland and your grandmother’s yard sale in the 70’s. Nothing feels “finished” and it’s not supposed to. Upon walking in, you’ll spot a room to your left exclusively for hookah. Among the places you can sit in this room, are a halved bathtub, and a rabit fixture from an old carnival ride. They also sell carrots fo 300 HUF, should you be interested. Walk on a bit further and you’ll enter an open air courtyard of sorts, with a couple more bars, and rooms branching off to the sides. Bikes are fixed on to the walls, and there’s a gymnastics vault in the corner where people are resting their drinks. There are no limits to this place and anything/everything is fair game for decor. It’s something that can only really be understood by going there – and even then, you may still be confused.  Other popular ruin pubs include: Fogazhas, Ellato Kert, Instant and Kuplung. If you’re in the city for a visit, these are not to be missed.

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Now that we’ve covered drinks, let’s talk about food. I was so pleasantly surprised by this cuisine here. Not only can you find any type of food you want (not so in my current home in Florence, Italy), but there are awesome Hungarian delicacies you must try as well. Of the most popular Hungarian food is probably the Langos. The Langos is essentially fried dough and can be served both sweet and savory. If you go the sweet route, keep it simple and try caramel and powdered sugar – to.die. A typical savory langos can have anything from sour cream and cheese, to sour cream, cheese, chicken, ham, and every veggie you could ever think of. I would recommend heading to the famous Great Market Hall – a shopping center for food and souvenirs alike – and trying langos there. If you’re not into the fried dough, try a Hungarian burger and know that from that point on, you will never be satisfied with any other burger in your life. There is a price for good food, you know.

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Of course, there are other things you should do while in Budapest that do not include eating and drinking… like heading to the spa. Budapest is known for it’s natural thermal baths, which were a tradition actually started by the Turks. There are several in the city but consider checking out the famous Szcheneyi baths.  There are varying baths of different temperature degrees, both inside and outside, that are available to relax in. Although it is touristy, having a membership at the baths is actually part of Hungarians’ lifestyle. They believe the minerals in the water are critical for maintaining good health. At the baths, there is also opportunity to schedule manicures, pedicures, and massages upon your arrival. A trip to Budapest isn’t complete without a trip here.

Don’t discount this city since it’s not a typical tourist hotspot (that’s actually what I like most about it – no mass groups of Asian toursist – imagine all the open space!). It’s sort of a once-in-a-lifetime type place. Plan a trip and be ready to get weird!

 

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PRAHA

They don’t call it the fairy tale city for nothing. Prague, Praga, Praha – call it what you will – looks like it was plucked right out of the story books that my parents used to read to me before bed. Cobble stoned streets, colored houses, ornate clock towers – the whole shabang.

I skipped out on Prague as a study abroad student and instantly regretted it as soon as I returned to the states. Finally, my company sent me on a trip there this past weekend and I was not disappointed. If you’re a student who’s thinking of visitng Prague, you have to look into staying at the Czech Inn. I have pretty high standards of hostels since I’ve stayed in so many, and I had heard rumors of how great this place was so going in, I held it to a high standard. Again, not disappointed. Granted, I was allowed a private room with a fellow guide but WOW. Let’s talk about the showers. I’ve stayed in a St. Regis and the showers didn’t even measure up to this one. It was one of those fancy waterfall ones that I can only hope I’ll be able to afford one day. Showering honestly felt like I was under a waterfall in Thailand or somewhere else exotic like the Amazon. I may or may not have taken two showers a day so that I could take full advantage. Beyond the showers, their beds (and most notably, pillows) are like laying your body on a cloud. A few other quick points about the Czech Inn – it’s really clean, has a great breakfast, a cool downstairs bar with awesome happy hour deals, right across from a tram station, and like most things in Prague – cheap.

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The proclaimed cloud-like bed

Having arrived at 9:30 AM after a 12 hour bus ride, we wasted no time to start our day. As in most of our destinations, we arrange private walking tours for our students through an awesome company called New Europe. Our hilarious tour guide took us through some of the main sites of Prague including Old Town Square, the Jewish Quarter, and the Astronomical Clock. After, we went for a traditional Czech lunch. Just kidding, actually. We took all of our students to the local burrito spot, Burrito Loco for Mexican food. So sue me, I had a quesadilla. It’s a tough existence in a Chipotle-less world. I will absolutely recommend this place for a Mexican fix in Prague; as a bonus, they’re open late!

In terms of night life, Eastern Europe always has a tendency to get a little weird, but in a fun, I’m-going-to-embrace-this-weirdness-for-all-its-worth kind of way. We took our group first to an underground cave bar called U Sudu. Apparently smoking in crowded underground bars is actually a thing in the Czech Republic so if you go, maybe take a page from the Asian Tourist playbook and wear one of those medical masks they always seem to think is necessary when traveling. Other than that, U Sudu was a cool local spot for a beer. The best part of the night came when we went to the infamous dance club Lucerna. Seriously, this place ROCKS. Probably because we make a habit of going on Friday nights when they play strictly music from the 80’s and 90’s but it is a must do when you visit Prague. It’s very run down, definitely not clean and somehow overpriced but it is truly a blast. They have a stage in front of this huge projector screen that plays the music videos of all of the songs. I could have danced to Britney Spears and N*Sync throwbacks all night long if I didn’t need sleep.

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Friday Night at Lucerna

 

Saturday was more site seeing. There was of course the iconic  John Lennon Wall, the Prague Castle, David Cerny’s weird baby statues that actually hold pretty profound meaning and at last, a typical Czech meal of beef goulash and dumplings. These are those meals I miss when I’m on my all carb diet in Florence. Saturday night we headed to a The Pub, a chain restaurant in Europe where you have your own tap at your table and can race against other teams to see how much beer you can consume, truly a genius business idea if you ask me. Sunday morning it was up and out early for our 12 hour bus ride back to Florence. Of course, I didn’t get nearly enough of a Czech fix so I will be headed back on March 26th, kicking off a 10 day tour through Northern Europe. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Making Moves

Today is a big, big day. Technically, yesterday was the big day but today is significant too because I’m going public with it. What is “it” exactly? I’m sure everyone is on the edge of their seats so fine, FINE I will tell you. On May 14th, I will be traveling to my third continent! I’ve just booked a 4 and a half week trip to Thailand with my older sister, Katie. This is all very interesting because:

a. We have a horrible habit to indulge in vicious fights and arguments
b. She has never really done independent traveling outside of the states
c. We don’t have an itinerary, per se
d. aaaaand neither of us have ever backpacked – LOL.

Despite these four seemingly large details, I feel pretty good about this trip. It’s something that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time and after almost 6 and a half months of traveling for work, I am really looking forward to being able to travel on my own terms. OH, and Thailand is pretty much a tropical paradise where you can survive on like, 20 USD a day. I can already see the pictures I’m going to make Katie take of me looking all pensive, serene, and relaxed on a Thai beach with a giant coconut filled with something alcoholic in hand (I’m really good at the whole vacation thing).

I invite you to follow us on this journey that we’ll embark on in May. Hopefully, I’ll be somewhat more dilligent about documenting it here. Which brings me to my more immediate adventure, Prague. As I’m finally visiting a new destination I will also be posting about that shortly. Stay tuned for fried dough, goulash, and an unhealthy amount of beer – these are a few of my favorite things. Cheers!

Heaven is a Place on Earth

Heaven is indeed a place on Earth and I can tell you this because I’ve been there. Quietly netsled between the two most picturesque lakes I have ever laid my brown eyes on, is the town of Interlaken, Switzerland. Interlaken literally means “between two lakes”. Lake Thun to the west and Lake Brienz to the east, are the two bodies of water that surround this Swiss town that has gained international recognition for its adventure sports and adrenaline inducing activities.

My first glimpse of the area surrounding Interlaken was on the tail end of an overnight bus ride. I groggily opened my eyes and still grumpy as it was only around 7:00 AM, pulled back the curtain and peeked out the window. My demeanor immediately changed as the view that I was taking in literally made my jaw drop. I’ve been to Colorado and Utah and seen some pretty amazing places but not much had prepared me for the massiveness that was the Alps. What was even more breathtaking was the blue gatorade colored alpine lakes that had formed at the base of the mountains. It’s safe to say that I was now feeling pretty awake.

This bus tour of Interlaken, however, was nothing compared to what I would experience when I traveled high above the quintessential Swiss town and into the mountains while I got the incredible opportunity to actually ski the Swiss Alps. I couldn’t have been any luckier, really. It was a stunningly beautiful day; sunny, a few scattered clouds in the sky and around 32 degrees farenheit. As I emerged from the gondola with my group of fellow skiiers, I once again had an immediate change in my mood. This time from eager and excited to completely blown away and down right humbled. I can only describe the 360 degree view as something from Whoville in Dr. Suess’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas.

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 (Wengen – Jungfrau Region)

 These picture don’t do the view justice unfortunately because I have an iphone5c and can’t afford/don’t deserve nice things (two stolen iPhones and three missplaced digital cameras taught me that fun lesson). If you ever want to feel small and really contemplate just what it is we’re doing in this crazy mixed up world, visit the Swiss Alps.  Not to get too emotional on you here, but the aesthetics of this place was enough to bring tears to my eyes – and actually did – in the best possible way. The most fitting word I know to describe this feeling is euphoria. You know when people talk about “what a beautiful world we live in”?  THIS IS WHAT THEY MEAN. Like I actually had one of those moments where I was like “Oh my god, what a blessed life I’m living that I’m witnessing this and just that this beauty is a thing and exists and is tangible!!” It was just total gratitude and utter happiness. New day, new happy place.

I’m almost done ranting I promise, but first I need to talk abou the food because what is a good destination without food? The Swiss are known for two things: their cheese and their chocolate. How fitting that these are my two favorite food groups. Obviously, Swiss fondue is the eptiome of a traditional Swiss meal. If you’re uber calorie conscious (first of all, we won’t get along), then I suggest you never indulge in a fondue dinner. Your meal consists of pre cut cubes of bread and a bubbling, beautiful, aromatic pot of Swiss cheeeeese!

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 (Fondue dinner at La Chalet in Interlaken)

The only thing I had in Interlaken that topped this was probably a traditional Swiss “Rosti”. A rosti is essentially a dish of potato hash with various mix ins, smothered in cheese *pause for reaction*. My rosti was called the Bellavista and had tomatoes, mushrooms, onions and chicken. I already used euphoric to describe the scenery so we’ll use positively blissful to describe this.

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(Rosti Bellavista at Rostizzeria on top of Kleine Scheidegg, Jungrau Region)

It might not look much more than a pile of cheese but I promise it was life changing… and even if it was nothing more than a pile of cheese chances are I would still consider it life changing because cheese has healing powers and I’m certain of this.

If you’re still not convinced that Interlaken should be on your list of “top places to visit before I die”, email me personally so I can make sure that it is. I say this a lot to a lot of different cities, but for now, Interlaken – you have my heart.

The Italy No One Tells You About

When I metion to people that I live in Italy, their eyes fill with envious wonder and the next thing that spills out of their open jaw is usually something along the lines of “Is it just amazing?!” and in a split moment of selfishness I desparately want to scream “No, no it is frustrating and infuriating and fills me with anxiety until I think I am going to implode.” But in order to avoid a long winded conversation explaining why living in Italy isn’t the fantasy people believe it to be, I politely smile and say “Yes, it is beatuiful and a wonderful experience and I am so grateful to be living where I do”.

So, before I get into said long winded conversation of my vendetta against this country hopelessly stuck in the past, I will tell you that I visited Italy in my high school years and then went on to study in Florence for 3 and a half months in college and fell head over heels with it’s charm. It’s beautifully winding cobble stoned streets, it’s Renaissance monuments and museums that make you feel as though you are strolling through a history book, and the mesmerizing sound of the Italian language all captivated me and I promised myself that I would someday live in this fairy tale. Soon after my college graduation, I got my chance to live in Florence again while working for a student travel company.

Now I was removed from the fantastical Italy I had experienced on my high school trip and during my semester I spent abroad eating, drinking, frolicking and most of all, maintaining zero “real life” responsibilities. I came back to the country and the city I loved, but was not greeted with the same wonderful care-free lifestyle I had previously lived.

Getting anything done efficiently isn’t really a priority in Italian life. I’m not saying they don’t have a work ethic, but coming from the states where the faster is considered the better, it’s hard to adjust to a society that doesn’t value that same urgency. While abroad, I hardly noticed it because what did I need to be urgent about besides getting to my 3 hour “Wine Appreciation” class? But now, when I’m working and have responsibilities expected of me, the magnificent laid back lifestyle I had once preached that the U.S. should take take after, is one of my least favorite parts about Italy. It’s as if everything stems from this lacksadasical attitude: it’s shops closing as they please, it’s a postal system that can almost guarantee you 100% of the time that anything shipped from America will take 3 months – 7 years to actually reach you, a system of public transportation that takes unreliability to a new level with scheduled train strikes every few weeks and a laissez-faire attitidue about life in general that drives my Boston personality near INSANE. It’s a unique stubornness and refusal to adapt to a changing world. One the one hand, I love that they want to preserve their culture and traditions but on the other hand, it drives me out of my mind that finding anything besides Italian food is near impossible and that “take away” coffee is considered taboo. By all means, yes congratulations for staying true to you, Italy, but why must a girl be penalized if she wants to walk around the city with a coffee in hand or worse – put ICE in it?! These are things I cannot make sense of. For a while I thought it was naive and ignorant to yearn for things that I had made a part of my daily life in the U.S. and that it meant I was “rejecting the culture”, but now I realize that Italy is actually rejecting cultural practices of the rest of this world. I suppose you can argue this is genius and give them a pat on the back for maintaining their roots but at the same time aren’t we encouraged to be constantly changing?

When I first arrived to my Italian apartment as a study abroad student, we were without heat for three days in the dead of winter. We were given a series of excuses by our program directors about why it was unable to be fixed immediately and that if we bundled up we would get along just fine. Our apartment was in a bit of a dilapitated state, our kitchen was the size of a small walk in closet and our counter space was a cutting board on top of our washer. At the time I was unnerved but was too blinded by my love for Florence to really care.

Looking back, I was (and still am) incredibly fortunate to be able to have these experiences and live where I had lived, I am simply just trying to express that there is a side to this beautiful country which most tourists will never realize. I suppose that makes me lucky, though; that I have experienced life in a place that is such a stark contrast to my home. I always thought that I would build a life in Italy someday but in talking to locals and through my own research and experience, there is no abundance of jobs here for young people nor promise of a great life. In a conversation exchange I participated in for my Italian course, I met with a local Florentine girl and had the chance to ask her about Florence. Still infatuated by the city, I was shocked, and slightly offended, when she told me quite frankly, she “hated Florence”. I asked her why, and she went on to tell me about how the political system is a mess, things are run inefficiently, and although she was to graduate university, there was little to no work opportunies for her or her peers. Sometime in my first month at my new job in Florence I finally realized the grievances she was describing.

I acknowledge that people may see this post as me complaining about living in Italy, but I hope the majority of people who stumble upon it just view it as a realization on my part about the real Italy, the Italy that the tourists taking selfies at the Duomo will never fully understand. Rant end.

Why Post Grad Isn’t So Bad Afterall

It’s been exactly 46 days since the saddest day of my life (ahem, UNH graduation). I realize that’s a bit dramatic but at the time, I truly felt the saddest I ever have in a long time. However, I came across so many people who were so thrilled to graduate and “finally be done” that it made me realize just how lucky I am to have had an experience that made letting go so unbearably heartbreaking.

At the time, my plans for the summer consisted of working as an intern part-time in Boston and moving back home with my parents – I wasn’t particularly thrilled. You know how adults have been asking us “what do you want to be when you grow up?” literally every year since the age of 5? Well sometime towards the end of senior year, I realized that the “when you grow up” part of that question, refers to now. I must have blacked out the part of that question that apprarently had a due date attached.

Unfortunately for me, the only thing that interested me that could also qualify as work, was a positon  I had applied for back in March. This internship was with a European student travel company that I had traveled with when I was studying in Italy. The idea to work for them was planted in my head even prior to leaving Florence in spring 2013. Of course, it had always seemed like a great, unattainable fantasy to me, as the company gets many applicants and there had to be hundreds more qualified than I. Fast forward to June: to my absolute delight and surprise, I was offered the invitation to work for this company starting in August of this year. I am so proud, overjoyed, ecstatic, nervous, but most importantly, eternally grateful, to have been granted this opportunity with a company who’s mission & vision is so in line with mine it’s a little frightening.

In August I will be moving to Italy to work as a sales and marketing intern with Bus2Alps and leading students on guided tours to the best European travel destinations (HGAUMER saves you 5% on all bookings with Bus2alps! 😉 )  My underlying point is this: nothing (post grad life) is ever as bad as it seems. Do my Thursday nights still consist of two hours of dollar drinks followed by debauchery with my best friends running around my college town? No. Am I now in bed by 10 pm with a cup of sleepytime tea and a copy of Catcher in the Rye? More often than I’d like to admit… However, I will say that post grad has done my mental and physical well-being a WHOLE LOT of good. One can only split large cheeses with their best friends three nights a week before nothing fits them anymore. Life is a lot more tame now, but I am happily working towards my next big adventure. Stay tuned for details of my European life & if you will be in Europe this fall let me know – I would love to be a resource!

17 Things People Born In The Early 90s Are Currently Experiencing

Thought Catalog

1. The realization that the next incoming high school freshmen were born in the 2000s, meaning the high school reign of 90s babies is over… and that we’re… old…

2. Prior to now, the most ill-fitted individuals that could possibly get married or raise a child were the only ones doing so, but now the people who are getting engaged and pregnant are, y’know, your friends. 

3. You’re officially in the era of “what you’re going to do.” Your entire life is defined by your future, not by what it is now. It’s the only thing people ask you about, and really the only thing you’re able to focus on.

4. Dating is awkward because you’re either going to get engaged or break up, and more likely than not in a short period of time. Gone are the days of just dating because you like each other — somebody is always wondering…

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Cheers To The Best Four Years

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It’s hard to put into words the emotions I’ve been feeling as I am so close to leaving a place that has become my home for the past four years – but I’ll give it a try.

When I came to the UNH Durham campus August 27th, 2010, I had tears welling in my eyes that quickly turned into sobs when my parents left me in my new freshman dorm room. I had just left home after going through a bad break up, parted with my class of 90 students who I’d known since kindergarten, and thought this was the end of my youth. Well, what played out in the four years that followed has entirely proved me otherwise.

The people I’ve met, the experiences I’ve had and the stories I can tell are far beyond anything that I imagined I would gain here at UNH. Today, just days after my college graduation, I look back on the Friday that I moved in as a freshman and smile at the memory of how truly upset, nervous, and downright hysterical I was. If I could go back and talk to that scared college freshman, I would like to tell her a few of the things that I’ve learned since then.

1. If you’re really friends with someone, you’ll keep in touch and it will be as though nothing has changed when you have your reunions. Hold on to those that matter and forget the rest.

2. Don’t be afraid of change; as it turns out, what you think are your biggest tragedies, eventually morph into your biggest triumphs (i.e. the eight incredible semesters I spent as a wildcat).

3. The things that you learn outside of the classroom will be just as critical, if not more than what you learn on the inside. College is supposed to prepare you for a career, but it’s also supposed to prepare you for the rest of your life. The lessons you are taught my your friends and peers will be the foundation of your success – at least I hope..

4. Don’t be hasty. You have four short years here and it’s important to make every house party, bar night, and hungover mornings in bed with your roommates count. You’ll look back more fondly on the Sunday Funday Kegger you spent with your friends versus the A you got on your paper that was due the next morning.

College is an alternate reality where your main responsibilities include class, passing those classes and hanging out with your friends. You are blessed with a unique experience to live in a community in which hundreds of your friends live within a mere 3 minute walk, drinks are as cheap as a buck, and you can get a large cheese pizza delivered to your door as late as 3 am. It was a place where people’s doors are always open and you wouldn’t be surprised to see if a few of your friends had passed out on your couch after the bar when you wandered downstairs the next morning; a place where we literally referred to our house as a homeless shelter because at 3 am on a Friday you were never really sure who would walk through the front door to say hi on their walk home. I’m sure it’s similar with most college towns, but Durham has demonstrated the greatest sense of community I have ever felt and I couldn’t be more grateful. It’s hard to let a feeling like that go, unsure when you’ll feel something similar again.

I am incredibly proud of myself for my academic achievements and graduating in my four years but my undergraduate transcript will never mean as much to me as the time I spent with friends; the memories of nights we spent dancing like pre teens at a middle school dance or the mornings that turned to afternoons in the dining halls laughing about the ridiculous and often idiotic decisions we made the night before. I cannot fathom that there was a time where I felt like Durham was a foreign place in which I would never fit in. To my class of 2014 and the Durham community, you have given me my happiest four years to date. It scares me to think where I would be had I not met most of you; it’s been quite a wild ride and we’ve got the stories (and pictures and videos -__-) to prove it.  I plan to leave Durham just the way I came – in over dramatic, likely hysterical tears. However, I’ll take my own advice and attempt to embrace change as I set out for the next chapter. I only hope my loving and supportive parents will allow me a one month grace period to wallow in my post grad self pity. I love you guys, thank you for being the best class of students and friends I could have only dreamed of. Cheers to us!

Mother Knows Best

I’d like to dedicate this to every painfully awkward Pre-teen, I-hate-my-life-Teenager, and I-know-Everything-College-Freshman, out there. I was you once and after years and years of causing your parents literal hell and possible brain trauma from the sheer sound of your screaming voice, I had an epiphany. I think it happened during my first week I spent abroad in Florence. I had this idea that because I was going to be in Italy and not in godforsaken New Hampshire that the weather would be all palm trees, blue skies, and butterflies. Someone should have showed me a map. Truth is, although Florence was having a particularly rough winter, the climate isn’t all that different from that of the Northeast. My mom lectured me for days prior to my departure telling me I would regret not bringing my puffy winter jacket with me. As I rolled my eyes in response, I thought to myself, no way am I going to need that but nice try, Kell.

I’d say about five days in as I’m venturing 30 minutes across the city to get to my 8 am class, whimpering – in part due to the wind chill pulverizing my face, but also because I was brutally homesick, a thought dawned on me that maybe my mom was right, and maybe I’d only be half as miserable if I was then if I had just heeded her advice.

I could reflect on the past decade and tell you every instance in which my mom proved me wrong, but I’ll keep it short and sweet. The point is, our parents make suggestions to us all the time that we brush off over and over; and because although they’ve got roughly 3 decades on us, we have this crazy notion that we’ve been around the block and know just as much as they do.

If my mom is somewhere out there reading this, she knows how I hate to admit that I’m wrong so I really hope she takes this as some  “coming of age” , personal growth or “maturity” step of some sort. Anyway, this awesome ad by Mullen has popped up a few times on my news feed today and I realized that this post that has been saved as a draft for far too long, deserved to be published in conjunction with posting this. Watch it – you won’t be sorry!

All Growed Up

Your typical Freshman dorm room- strategically candid- love my friends forever kind of pic - You're lying if you say you don't have one of these, or like 10

Your typical Freshman dorm room- strategically candid- love my friends forever- kind of pic You’re lying if you say you don’t have one of these, or like 10

As a soon to be post grad, I find that every “20 Things You MUST Do Before Graduation”,  “Senior Year Bucket List” and “Why The First Year After College Is The Hardest Cause You’re Broke, Single, & Unemployed” (is this last one just me?) article that litters my news feed has a tendency to resonate with me. I scroll through article after article, laugh, cry, and shudder at the thought of what will happen after I move out of my beloved yellow house on 13 Madbury Road. I am sure that most of these articles hold great information about coping, how to deal with the withdrawals that result from longer drinking four nights a week, and overall about how to adjust to a new life – and all of this is well and good.

However, once we’ve mourned, moved out, and “moved on” – something our parents seem to think comes so easily- I want us to realize all the opportunities that are to be had in our twenties. Instead of thinking of college as the four years that we define as the best in our lives, let’s pretend those years are only yet to come and that college was just a preview for the next decade. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll miss it just as much as the next person. In fact, I’ll probably be in therapy. This is just my way of trying to shed some positivity on the otherwise rude awakening that is the “real world” – whatever that entails.

Whatever your plan, or lack thereof, is for after graduation, remind yourself that the party’s not over. A lot of us will be fortunate enough to work in awesome cities like Boston & New York where the drinks may consist of $8 dollar beers and $10 vodka sodas, but for once in our lives, we’ll probably have the money required to pick up that tab. Unfortunately, most of us will probably have to dish out a pretty little penny to pay our students loans as well. I don’t really have a positive for you here except that there is a six month grace period until payments start so consider that your era (brief period) of living large. If your new roomies double as the people who raised you, be thankful for the time you have with them cooking you dinners, doing your laundry should you be so lucky, and in general, not having to pay a dime to the landlords. It may be painful, but the time will soon come when we’ll all be paying rent again and this time, you’ll probably be eating ramen noodles out of a solo cup versus the home cooked meals you were served where the heat was always above 60 degrees because hey, you weren’t paying the utility bills.

If you’re restless like me, you may be looking to make a bigger life change and physically move somewhere and start something new. The best part about these years is that now more than ever, we have zero obligations except the ones we owe to ourselves. Fourteen years will fly and all of a sudden you’re thirty six and have a snot-nosed two year old glued to your hip in the grocery store and you decide you want to take a trip to a girls trip to South Beach because the kids never stop whining, you don’t remember the last time you slept past five am, and if you don’t take a break to sit on the beach with a tall glass of vodka then something drastic might happen. Not to say that those “early family years” won’t be a blast or anything… But UNTIL THEN…  let’s have our fun while we still have about a decade to do so.

My 20’s bucket list includes, but is not limited to:

-Travel back to Europe, live there for a year
-Find my way to Asia
-Visit the West Coast
-Go on an African Safari that isn’t at Animal Kingdom
-Attend as many friends’ weddings as possible
-Sky dive somewhere cool
-Hike a mountain worth bragging about
-Identify and find my real dream job
-Write a book
-Give back something to someone somewhere
-Buy a car
-own a pet that isn’t a minnow or a beta fish
-Visit D.C because I’m ashamed to say I’ve never been there
-Take my parents out to dinner for once
-Visit Niagara Falls
… and the Grand Canyon for that matter
-Become fluent in a new language
-Attend Black Friday shopping
-Get my wisdom teeth out (this HAS to be accomplished while I’m still on the rents’ insurance)
-Attend a Jimmy Buffett concern with my dad
-Run a 5K – It’s only 3 miles, I know.
-Have a Hangover-esq weekend in Vegas

I’m not naive in thinking this will all get accomplished and at least half of these things I could have done in college but there were always other things preventing me from doing so. Besides making money to fund my bucket list, these are my priorities. These are our most selfish, unapologetic years and I am milking that for all it’s worth.  I know we’re all obsessed with each other and it’s going to be hard to not see the same faces in every class, house party, or bar, but we’re getting another chance to build yet another network of friends here. The first year of your job will be like Freshman year all over again, hopefully minus the humiliating ice breakers and awkward encounters in the dining hall that follow a particularly blurry night in Sigma Nu’s basement. I want to preface this next sentence with an apology for the cliche – but instead of thinking of graduation as an ending, let it be the prologue to your new beginning as a 20 something. Everyone loves to tell us how notorious our generation is for selfishness so let’s indulge them. Most importantly: Don’t make excuses. You can always go back and get your degree, certification, blah blah blah, but if you want to settle down someday, these next years are yours.