How to Vomit in Your Own Hands

Great title, right? Unfortunately, on my trip to Mexico, I got intimately familiar with what getting sick on the road is like.

Those who know me know that I hardly ever get sick. Like, I barely even get the common cold. Consequently, I’ve been lucky enough to evade any travel sickness for quite a while now, so I guess it was only a matter of time before it caught up with me.

On my trip to Mexico last month, I had a slight bit of food poisoning. And when I say slight, I actually mean 24 hours of being violently ill. As the title would suggest, it was not the most glamorous affair, but I did learn a few things.

First off, I learned what food poisoning feels like (or at least, I think I do). We never could trace back my sickness to exactly what had upset my stomach but the symptoms were all there. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Graphic, I know, but bear with me. When you eat something that your stomach deems unacceptable, your body completely rejects it and tries to rid itself of the substance however it can, hence the unpleasant symptoms. For me, the nauseous feeling was intensified because it was hot and muggy, and when the sickness actually hit me, we were on perhaps the roughest bus ride I’ve ever been on, and thus my nausea could no longer be contained, and I threw up what little I had eaten that day, into my own two hands.

This brings me to the second thing: you should always travel prepared. I’m not saying you need to be like Mary Poppins and pull a whole hospital out of your bag, but you should always take a couple of key items, whether or not you commonly get sick. First and foremost: TISSUES/NAPKINS. I got in the habit of carrying napkins around with me when I was in Shanghai for a year because many places do not provide toilet paper in public bathrooms. Thank goodness the habit stuck, because I had some napkins in my bag to help me clean myself up while I was still on the bus.

Another great item is disinfecting wipes. I say wipes because a bottle is just extra liquid for your TSA approved bag, and also because on the whole, I am against hand sanitizer. I think it’s silly, it kills the immune system, and it dries out my hands, so I am NOT a fan. HOWEVER, if you throw up in your own hands, or do something equally disgusting, it might be nice to have a couple stashed nearby so you can at least feel semi clean until you get yourself to a real bathroom with real soap.

Lastly, bring some standard meds with you. We’re talking painkillers, Alka Seltzers, and any and all manner of indigestion drugs you think is applicable. When you’ve got food poisoning, there aren’t many drugs that can help at the moment, but they will help mild discomfort and might help after the fact as well.

While I was sick, I did a couple of important things — Once we got back to our hotel room, I immediately stripped to my underwear and got a cold washcloth to keep myself from overheating. My amazing boyfriend went out to get me some more cold water, coca cola, and plan crackers (or tortilla chips in Mexico’s case). The Coca-Cola I mixed with water to drink to settle my stomach. Ginger ale is ideal for this, but Coke is a reliable brand pretty much everywhere in the world. The plain crackers were so that my body wasn’t running on empty, but they are also such a mild food that they wouldn’t irritate my stomach any further.

By far the worst thing about food poisoning is that no matter how badly you try and take away the nausea, your body will insist on ridding itself of whatever you ate/drank and you have to let it run its course. At the start, I would try and prevent the vomit for as long as possible, but there was no way around it. Once I let myself be sick whenever I could feel it rising, things progressed a lot faster. Eventually, your body will be spent and there will be nothing else to get rid of. I was able to go to sleep and woke up the next morning feeling weak, but markedly better.

To recover, you must still be gentle. I continued to sip only water or coke mixed with water, and only ate plain foods the next day. The day after, however, I was able to eat and drink normally.

Being sick on the road is perhaps one of the worst things that can happen. Luckily, I was only down for 12 hours, had someone to take care of me, and we were staying in a hotel instead of a hostel so it could’ve been much worse. I remember the epidemic that swept my Shanghai study abroad group that put the majority of us down during what was supposed to be a field trip to Yunnan province. I escaped then, but I wasn’t able to escape forever.

Have you ever gotten sick while traveling? How did you handle it? I hope I don’t make a habit of this, but being prepared never hurt anyone!



Brazilian Waxes Changed My Life

This is not an exaggeration. Before my trip to Mexico, I got my first ever Brazilian Bikini Wax. I had gotten bikini waxes before and had waxed other parts of my body but I had never ventured into Brazilian territory…

Just to make sure we’re all on the same page, a Brazilian Bikini Wax is a waxing treatment wherein all, I mean ALL, of the hair in your nether regions is removed. Front, back, crevices — everything.

I think most people look at the Brazilian Wax in intense fear. Having the hair in your privates torn out by hot wax? Yeah, I cannot be the only one that thinks that sounds terrifying. The initial fear is of the pain. Waxing hurts, and waxing that area? Are you kidding? It hurts like a BITCH. But let’s say you can get past the pain, the next thing you’re probably worried about are the actual logistics. You are in a small room, with a stranger, your legs spread open, trying to make small talk, as your pubic hairs are being ripped systematically from your body. Ah yes, this is what I picture a great night to be as well.

I did think about both of those factors, but the lure of convenience eventually won me over. I didn’t want to have to worry about shaving and razor rash while on vacation, so this seemed like a viable option. I was well past ‘beauty is pain’, CONVENIENCE is pain.

Turns out, a Brazilian is a lot like most other quick and painful things in life. They are definitely painful, but the pain is so fleeting that you are able to forget and continue. Luckily for me, I also had a great technician who made me feel as comfortable as possible and who was extremely efficient. The whole process took about a half hour which includes tweezing at the end for any hairs the wax doesn’t pick up.

And wow, just wow. It is so unbelievably clean. When you wax, you not only pull out the hair by the root, but you also remove any wispy hairs, and the very top layer of skin, leaving what remains to be insanely smooth. Ultimately, I just want to dispel any fear anyone has ever had of this treatment. My logic going into it was that there are women all over the world who get this done regularly, so how bad can it be? And if you’re looking for that kind of convenience and a departure from the endless cycle of shaving, but you can’t quite afford to get it all lasered off, then I can’t recommend this enough.

Was it painful? Absolutely. But was it worth it? Absolutely.



My bikinis just get smaller and smaller so this wax really comes in clutch


Mexico Travel Guide

At the beginning of the month, I got to go to Mexico to thaw myself out after experiencing my first winter in Canada. As neither my boyfriend or I had ever been to Mexico, we obviously went as touristy as possible. We hit Cancun, Tulum, and Merida in the span of about 8 full days.

CANCUN: As soon as we landed in Cancun, we were not fans. Cancun is great to go to if you’re looking for a timeshare or if you’re looking to just party. Neither was high on our list. We stayed in a cute little apartment on the Ocean which was really nice but all the places near the water are enormous resorts, and it kinda kills the vibe of the place. Luckily, our first full day wasn’t spent at the resorts, it was spent on a tour to see Chichen Itza!


The gorgeous view from our Cancun Apartment



Fresh fruit and coffee by the ocean for breakfast

We spent all day driving, experiencing Mayan culture, and visiting the archaeological site as well as the Ik Kil Cenote. We did use a service for this tour, and honestly, we don’t really recommend it. It’s easy enough to get around on your own if you work out the bus system and you save yourself the sales pitches to buy souvenirs and the overkill talks the guides provide. We did learn some cool stuff, but not enough to offset the lack of independence.This day was pretty much the highlight, as the next day we just hung around the beach and the resort since it rained off and on in the afternoon.TULUM: But the next day we were off to Tulum. Tulum was AMAZING. So amazing, that we want to come back to Mexico to only go to Tulum. We stayed in a beachside cabana right on the ocean and it was absolute HEAVEN. The beaches were much better than Cancun as well:  Softer sand, clearer water, and way less people. Furthermore, all the hotels in Tulum are cute little cabana style spots, rather than huge all-inclusive resorts. You can rent bicycles to get around, and the general atmosphere is much younger and relaxed than Cancun. Tulum also has it’s own killer set of Mayan ruins right near the water so it really doesn’t get much better than that.




The Great Pyramid of Chichen Itza (and my personal 4th wonder of the world!)


MERIDA: Unfortunately, we only booked a few days in Tulum, before we were off to Merida. Merida is the largest city in the Yucatan, and has a much different vibe than Cancun or Tulum. Merida was probably the only genuine look we got at what most of Mexico probably feels like. It was a much larger city which means crowds, music, and more historical sites. The city operates as most cities do, but also has a quaint collection of Spanish colonial buildings and little museums to explore. We originally chose to visit Merida to use it as a jumping off point for the ruins of Uxmal.






Uxmal is another set of Mayan ruins, similar to Chichen Itza, except for the fact that the site is probably triple the size, the ruins are a lot better preserved, and the area is infinitely less crowded. We spent the whole morning exploring the ruins and we were just in awe by what this civilization was able to create hundreds of years ago. However, our Uxmal day, was the day I got some food poisoning, so I wasn’t able to enjoy it to the fullest extent and I was basically down for the count afterwards (more on that later), but our last day in Merida was just spent wandering the Spanish colonial buildings, and people watching in the main squares.



We returned to Cancun to finish out our trip, and we were originally going to visit Isla Mujeres to go diving, but it rained on us again and we were confined to the hotel.

All in all, I absolutely adored Tulum as a beach getaway and I would love to explore more of Mexico. We heard great things about Mexico City, but didn’t make it all the way there. I highly recommend sticking to local shops within the towns of Cancun and Tulum as they are way less expensive and have better traditional Mexican food than the restaurants geared towards tourists. However, we did find a phenomenal breakfast spot next to our hotel in Tulum called Ojo de Agua with incredible Acai Bowls and coffee.

The easiest and cheapest way to get around the peninsula was definitely by bus. There are bus stations in every town and it’s pretty simple to get a ticket for less than $20 to get to a whole other city. However, I do recommend brushing up on your Spanish before you try this, as most local places will speak very limited English. Also, make sure you have peso coins with you at all times as the bathrooms in public spaces often cost 5 pesos to use.

I would definitely recommend Mexico to anyone (even though I was probably the only one who hadn’t been at this point), and I unquestionably recommend getting away from the resorts. They are decent as a place to relax, but as far as getting the best bang for your buck or experiencing anything truly Mexican, they just can’t provide any truly unique experiences. The Yucatan is intensely built up for tourists so just be aware that people will try to sell you timeshares, tours, and guides at every turn and you don’t always need them. We will ABSOLUTELY be returning to Mexico and I am so disappointed it took me so long to visit in the first place!

If you have any Mexico recommendations, please share! I can’t wait to go back and experience more of the country.

How Not to Overpack (You know you’re guilty of it)

Let’s start by running some numbers:

  • Seven Weeks Vacation = 1 40 liter backpack
  • Two Week Vacation (Colder climate) = 1 40 liter backpack
  • One Week Island Hopping = One medium sized tote purse
  • Three Weeks to visit home = One standard roller carry on & small backpack
  • One Week Business Trip = One standard roller carry on & Laptop Purse

I think you get the picture. Over the past couple years I have become a MASTER packer. I know there are people out there who are even more streamlined, but I’m improving all the time. I refuse to take any more than I need and if I am flying somewhere, I’ll be damned if I have to check my luggage. Therefore, I’ve learned how to take exactly what I’ll need, fit it all in a small space, and have much smoother trips.

First tip: As I stated above, try to plan with only carry-on luggage to work with. You’ll automatically reduce the amount of things you can bring since you just won’t have the space to fit all of it.

Second tip: Research the climate of your destination, then make a list of all the activities you’ll be doing while there. If this is a business trip, you know you’ll be indoors working. But if you’re on vacation, will you be hiking? Swimming? Skiing? Once you have all your days planned, you can start working out how many clothes you’ll really need.

Third tip: EVERYTHING you pack needs to go with one or two pairs of shoes. Shoes are heavy, bulky, and are the biggest culprit when it comes to overpacking becuase they take up so much freaking space. For example, if I’m going to a warm climate, I pack a pair of sandals and a pair of trainers. For a cold climate, a pair of heavy boots and a pair of light boots. For business, I pack a pair of heels and my workout shoes.

Fourth tip: Ok, once you know what you’ll be doing on your trip, and which shoes you’ll need, you can plan your clothes. Since you have all your activities noted, you know exactly what kinds of clothes you need, and since you have your shoes picked, you limit the clothes to what goes with those shoes. The key here is to only pack MAXIMUM one outfit per day. I say maximum because I rewear pants, bras, and shirts (if I don’t sweat), and it’s actually surprisingly cheap and easy to do laundry on the road. Don’t sit there and say “well I want options for each day”. You’re killing me. You’re gonna bring all this crap and you’re gonna end up wearing the most comfortable outfit anyway. My only exception to this is that I like to have one reasonably nice outfit to wear just in case of a party or nice dinner. (The shoe rule still stands though!).

Fifth tip: Lay out all your clothes on your bed to make sure you’ve got everything, including socks and underwear! Then, to make everything fit in a small space, I recommend rolling all your clothes. I’m sure you’ve seen this tip before, but it really does make a big difference in space saving. If you’re an even bigger packing nerd like me, roll your clothes by category and put them all into packing cubes to stay organized (example ones here).

Ok you’ve got clothes and shoes but here are some other things you’ll want to bring no matter what:

  • Pack Towel (lightweight towel)
  • Toiletry kit (make sure all your liquids fit according to TSA rules) & toothbrush!
  • Comb or Brush
  • Headphones (but bring earbuds, over the earphones are bulky)
  • Book, journal, or Kindle.
  • One set of sleepwear (if you really need it)
  • Scarf (light or heavy depending on destination)
  • Travel necessities – passport, wallet, phone, medicine, etc.

The feeling that most overpackers suffer from is fear of the unknown. The what if’s. It starts with: what if I spill on this nice shirt and need another? And then get’s crazy: what if I get invited to tea at Buckingham Palace? There are always situations that will arise that you didn’t plan for but packing too much stuff will just make your life harder. If something happens along the way, just buy what you need at your destination. If you know you love to shop, pack even less to be able to fit your new stuff and wear your new stuff as you get it. For souvenirs or gifts to bring back for friends, I opt for jewelry or small prints that lie perfectly flat against the back of my bag and take up little space.

Overpacking means you’ll literally be dragging a bunch of stuff you don’t need to a new destination and just lugging it all back home again. Next time you pack, I want you to pick up each item and justify WHY you’re packing it. If you start you’re reasoning with “what if” or “something could come up”, then leave it behind. I promise you’ll be ok without it.

If you have any tips to prevent overpacking, please share! I love travelling light and am literally always scouring packing and travel lists to make trips as streamlined as possible. Happy travels!



A peek into my business trip suitcase. Something I always bring? My massage ball since I always get kinks in my back.






Yes, I took these photos at the Calgary airport…



Love & Capitalism

Ah Valentine’s Day. You either love it or you hate it, right?

I myself, actually have pretty mild feelings (for once) about this holiday. It’s never played a huge part in my life whether I was single or in a relationship and as a result, I had never given it much thought. It just sort of passed vaguely under my radar as grocery stores stocked up on flowers and red or pink wrapped chocolates.

But that, my friends, is the problem. Indulge me for a moment in a brief history lesson. Valentine’s day was originally created to honor Valentine of Rome, and Valentine of Terni, both religious martyrs who were revered as Saints. Although there have been feasts on this day for centuries to honor the aforementioned religious figures, the notion of this day being romantic didn’t occur until Chaucer suggested the idea in one of his literary works (remember Geoffrey Chaucer from high school English?)

There are numerous other theories as to how the day became associated with love, but the Chaucer link clearly exists. As Chaucer connected this day to medieval courting, it became customary to give trinkets, confections, and flowers to one’s romantic interest on Valentine’s Day. On the surface, there is nothing wrong with giving your crush or significant other something nice, but let’s be honest, Valentine’s Day isn’t courting anymore, it has turned into a MONEY MAKING MONSTER.

BILLIONS are spent every year on the holiday and the anticipation beforehand can be likened to Christmas. Listicles fill the web offering gift guides for him and for her, date night ideas, restaurants offering deals on wine, etc. Getting a reservation is impossible. Grocery stores have aisles dedicated to heart candies, red balloons, and flowers. Flower shops probably make half their yearly revenue in February alone. It’s insane.

I get it. This holiday is another one that depends on gift giving so it’s only natural for businesses to seize the opportunity to sell us more stuff. But the high stakes of Valentine’s day can only lead to disappointment, and that’s the part that honestly makes me sad. The day has created an enormous amount of pressure on couples to do something over the top for each other on the day and that can be really stressful. People that aren’t in relationships also have to have relationship-themed EVERYTHING thrown in their face for about a month, and finally, what happened to appreciating your partner on every other day of the year?

Who says you can’t have a lovely candlelit dinner on April 10th? Or buy your special someone a cute present just because it reminded you of them on September 27th? The relationship of February 14th to romance is tenuous at best and there is no real reason to give the day any more meaning for your relationship than any other day. Sure, I have bought my boyfriend a little present for today, but I also buy him presents or treat him to dinner on any other day of the year, and he does the same for me.

If anything, I’d recommend creating your own romantic holiday. Maybe your anniversary, or some other day that means something to your relationship because honestly, February the 14th is just an old Saint’s holiday turned into a massive avenue for capitalism and it’s a little sickening.

I sincerely apologize if this article killed anyone’s romantic day (or your libido ;)). Valentine’s day can still be an awesome excuse to celebrate but don’t let it turn into something bigger than it needs to be, and definitely, don’t let it limit your appreciation for your loved ones. Happy V Day!



Me and my V Day partner. Although we kinda celebrated early in Mexico 🙂


Moving to Canada: Take 4

Last time I talked about my move to Canada, I was in a pretty fragile state. My loneliness and isolation had reached the point where it was tough to get out of bed in the morning, my motivation was waning, and I was just going through the barest motions of my life. Get up. Work. Workout. Sleep. Repeat. Those feelings were wearing me down and I spent many a night during the first part of December in tears or close to them.

Every time I would try and talk to someone about these feelings, they’d hit me with those dreadful generalist statements. “Oh everyone goes through this” “You just have to do ___ and you’ll be ok” “It’ll get better if you stick it out”. Yeah fuck that. How come people won’t shut up about embracing uniqueness until it comes to pain? Sure, if I want to pursue my dream of being a basket weaver, society loves me for embracing my own version of happiness, but if I say I’m sad because I feel out of place, they lump me into a group with everyone else that happens to feel sad. Obviously, seeking comfort in others wasn’t working, and thus, those hideous generalisms just made me clam up and wallow in my struggle even more.

Thankfully, I had a light at the end of my tunnel. The holidays consisted of three weeks of quality time spent in Chicago in a familiar environment, surrounded by people I’m comfortable with. This came at the perfect time. My family always keeps me happy and finally getting the opportunity to have deeper conversations with people who know and understand me was a huge weight off my shoulders. There’s just something about getting food with my friends and simply talking about life that makes me feel enormously calm and happy. There’s also something about the way my sister narrates life that makes me laugh until I cry so that always helps too.

Unfortunately, I was about to go back into the tunnel. Obviously, my return to Calgary was awaiting me in the New Year and I was dreading it. I was looking forward to seeing my boyfriend, but other than that, I would’ve been content to stay in Chicago. BUT, I did return and I returned to the most hectic month I’ve had since moving in the first place. I haven’t even had the time to be sad or lonely because my work schedule has kept me underwater.

This turned out to be a good thing. I have been so busy travelling for work and fitting in my few social engagements around my trips that my brain has no space to compute my feelings since returning. However, I have hit a small bit of luck. I finally met a girl that seems pretty cool and she actually got me into rock climbing. I’ve hung out with her and a few of her friends and although it’s all still in the tentative, surface level, lots-of-exclamations-to-show-positivity-while-texting stages, I’m honestly relieved I’ve met a few people that I could see myself becoming closer with. As hard as it’s been, I actually thought it would be harder to get to this point.

In the last two months, I’ve only spent about 4 weeks in Canada, but ultimately, I’ve been so much happier with my time here. What remains to be seen is if I can sustain this feeling. Is it because I’ve been so busy? My new friends? I haven’t distilled the actual source to the turnaround in my mood, but I leave for Mexico tomorrow so I guess I’ll have to just wait and see.



PC: Michael Lankester


For Business or for Pleasure?

This year, January will end up being roughly 4 1/2 weeks, and for 2 1/2 of those, I will be travelling for work. The nature of my job means that I usually work from home, but about twice a month (this month is more than average), I have to travel to visit clients. Business trips intimidated me quite a bit at the start of my career since I was never quite sure what to bring or how to act, HOWEVER, I’ve been on enough of them now that I think it’s safe to say I have them on lock.

Step 1: Prep

Travelling is already stressful, but once you add in the fact that you’re seeing a new office or new client site that you’re not familiar with to do your job, then you can really drive yourself into severe overpacking mode trying to prepare. If this is your first time visiting this place, bring all the tech you’ve got*. Every HDMI cord, adapter, charger, extension cord, etc. because you might not have the leisure of walking into a modern facility. My clients are split on this, some are very modern and can provide all these things, and some barely even have a conference room, let alone wifi connection.

In terms of personal items, obviously bring business clothes, but try and limit your outfits so that they all go with one or two pairs of shoes. Shoes are the real culprit when you’re trying to fit everything into a carry-on. Also, try and bring one casual (but still classy) outfit for dinners with colleagues or if you want to do any exploring on your own (this is usually my travel outfit). For toiletries, start keeping a stock of deluxe samples and small bottles to use on these trips since hotel toiletries can often leave a lot to be desired.

Step 2: Logistics

As I alluded to above, I recommend travelling with only carry-on luggage. I may one-day change my tune about this, but today is not this day. First off, travelling with only a carry-on means you can’t overpack too much, and secondly, it means the airline cannot lose your luggage. I do not trust the airlines to handle my bag and I cannot imagine anything worse than arriving on a work trip with none of the things I need to do my job.

Other logistics are pretty straightforward. Unless you work for a HUGE company, you probably won’t be getting picked up in an Escalade and staying in five-star hotels. So if you are responsible for your own bookings, Hyatt, Hilton, and Marriott affiliates are usually safe bets for accommodations, and you can probably get away with booking Economy Premium flights at most.

Step 3: Arrival

Alright, you’ve arrived at your destination safely, and with all your stuff, so how do you act the first time? This obviously depends on why and where you’ve travelled, but the biggest tip I can give for this is to walk in the front door with confidence and start introducing yourself to everyone right away. It honestly took me a few trips to work up to this since I was so scared to do anything wrong I would wait until my boss introduced me. This is fine but it did not do my credibility any favors. Like always, confidence is absolutely key.

Step 4: Small Talk

You will inevitably have to make small talk. Whether it’s right at the start, at lunch, at a break, it WILL HAPPEN. I absolutely LOATHE small talk but you have to find some way to make it work for you. Because I work in a field where almost everyone is substantially older than me, I will either ask what they do for fun, or I will ask about their kids because EVERYBODY with kids loves to talk about them. If you can get the other person really going on a topic, it is less work for you!

If you can make the four elements I’ve listed here as breezy as possible then you are home free! Oh wait…you still have a job to do right? But honestly, that is the easy part. You already know how to do your job, the hard part is doing it in a new place surrounded by new people. If you can make the travelling and transition as easy as possible, there’s really not much else to worry about.

If you have any questions about business trips or any tips of your own, please message or comment below! I am always looking for ways to make these less stressful!



PC: The ever judgmental Kiki Moussetis


*Unless explicitly told what tech to bring beforehand

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone, NOW

If you’ve ever spent even five minutes on my blog, you’d probably figure out that I absolutely LOVE to travel. Although I can’t travel as often as I’d like, every time I do, I try to go to places that challenge me. I’ve shared travel guides for my last couple trips on this blog, but recently I started working with the website to release far more informative guides on their platform, and my first guide is finally published!

Ok, you caught me, this post is partially about self-promotion (yes, go look at my itinerary, here and here!), but the real reason I’m writing a whole post about this rather than just sharing the link on facebook is because my first guide is a 3-day guide to Shanghai. The thing about Unanchor is that they want to work with people who have spent a substantial amount of time in the place they are writing a guide for which means I had to have spent at least three months in the place I was going to create an itinerary for.

About three years ago (omg it’s already been three years, what is happening), I spent the year abroad in Shanghai. But I’ve also spent that amount of time in different places in Greece, as well as different cities around California, Illinois, and now in Canada. However, I picked Shanghai because China is one of those countries that is never on anybody’s bucket list and that makes me infinitely sad.

Every time I’ve ever asked somebody where in the world they’d want to go, they usually pick a place in Europe. Sometimes I meet a more adventurous person and they say countries like South Africa or Thailand, but the answer has NEVER been China. In fact, when I told people I was going to China, everyone’s first response was “why?”, and that just killed me. My goal when I travel is to get OUT of my comfort zone, not to stay in it, and how many times in my life was I going to have the opportunity to spend a whole year in China hmm?? Europe is the easy answer for Americans because it’s closer than Asia and it’s easier to handle. Everyone speaks English, and people just feel like they will be safer and more comfortable since they know more about European countries than any other continent.

When I would bring up China, people would shrug and say “well, I guess the Great Wall would be cool to see”. China is so much more than that! (although the Great Wall is pretty incredible), and people don’t even realize. Part of this ignorance is due to the fact that between our school systems and our media, Americans get a pretty shitty education when it comes to any countries outside of North America and Europe, and fear of the unknown can have far-reaching consequences.

SO, my first guide is dedicated to combating that fear. The itinerary is for three days spent in Shanghai and covers a whole gambit of Museums, traditional sites, amazing restaurants, and clubs to give people an idea of just how cosmopolitan and entertaining Shanghai really is. There is also an appendix section chock full of information to make going to Shanghai seem far less daunting. I’ve added common phrases (in Mandarin and English), how to get around using public transport and taxis, cultural norms to be aware of, the best areas to stay, and so much more.

If you’ve ever been interested in visiting China, even just as a passing thought, PLEASE JUST GO. I promise you’ll love it and getting out of your comfort zone is so much more rewarding than staying in it. Plus, you’ll always have time and energy for the easy destinations. NOW is the time to challenge yourself with new experiences.

If you want to check out the actual guide, click here. But if you have general questions about Shanghai or my time there, feel free to comment or message me, I love talking about that experience!



The beautiful Shanghai Skyline; Feature photo is of Nanjing Road in Shanghai


Lonely but not Alone

About six or seven months ago I wrote a post about how being alone doesn’t make you lonely (read it here, if you want), and I still stand by that post. Getting some quality alone time is still an important source of mental recovery for me, but there is a major difference in my life between when I wrote that post and what I’m about to write now. Up until that point, I had only ever experienced loneliness in spurts. Of course, everyone feels lonely from time to time, and for me, it was a fleeting feeling, something I could sleep off and be good to go the next day.

However, things have changed a bit since then. As I detailed in my last post about moving to Canada, I shared that I’ve been feeling a bit isolated since I moved. I wake up every day and at least once a day, if not for most of the day, I feel lonely.

On the surface, I might not seem that lonely. I live with my boyfriend so he’s usually around, he and I go out almost every weekend and hang out with various friends and family, and I have my own family and friends spread out over the world that I know I could call for anything.

So then why do I feel this way? I’m busy all the time, I’m meeting new people, and attending events. It seems like I shouldn’t feel this way but it keeps happening so I’ve narrowed my feelings down to three components:

  1. I work from home. This will naturally isolate and prevent me from making work friends or attending work social events as people who work in offices do. Even though I’m afforded a lot of flexibility because of this, it is a major hurdle when moving to a new city.
  2. I feel out of place in this city. Yes, Canada isn’t too different from the U.S. on the whole, but is Calgary different from L.A? They are on OPPOSITE ends of the spectrum. Although L.A. isn’t my absolute favorite city, I fit in with the culture there much more so than in Calgary. So even though I live here now, I still feel like I’m a fish out of water
  3. I have not made any of my own local friends. This is probably the biggest issue and I think it’s the most difficult to solve. I have some amazing friends from L.A. and from all over, that I am so close to but the thing is that it takes years to get that close to someone. It is SO rare that you sit down for coffee and have a four-hour conversation right off the bat. So even though I’ve met a couple people on my own, it hasn’t made me feel too much better because the deep conversations I build most of my relationships on are off the table for now.

The worst part of this feeling is that I feel like I’m not allowed to feel this way. I know that’s irrational and I can’t let anyone make me feel like my own brand of loneliness isn’t valid, but when I look at my life as a whole, I do have a lot of people I am super grateful for and that makes me feel even guiltier that I feel this way.

Alright, alright, CLEARLY I’m not in a good place right now but I’m not the type of person who can just sit back and do nothing. So, what will I be doing to combat the loneliness?

  1. Working from home is a tough one to overcome BUT for this one, I’m thinking of looking into co-working spaces, which are like offices for those who have stay-at-home jobs. I have also taken on more side projects which keep me busier and introduce me to different kinds of people (although still remotely). Lastly, I’ve resolved to make an even bigger effort in staying in touch with my friends and family from home and around the world. Even though they’re not here, every time I talk to them I do feel way better.
  2. Fitting in in Calgary is going to be hard for me since I don’t want to change too much of my personality and hobbies. I like the person I am today, and I am constantly wary of losing that. BUT, it never hurt anyone to pick up a new skill so in an effort to get more into the active/outdoorsy culture here, I have been learning to ski (last month was cross-country country skiing, this month will be downhill skiing), and I’m going to take up rock-climbing. I’m also making a list of everything I want to see and do here while I have the chance, to make exploring more exciting for me.
  3. Last but not least, the making new friends bit. I’ve met a couple girls now that I’d like to get to know better so now it’s just a matter of sucking up my pride and asking them to hang out whenever I can. I am also still looking constantly for things I could get involved in that would allow me to meet more like-minded people but a resolution is still pending on that front.

I know loneliness is not uncommon, especially in today’s day and age, but these feelings are wildly new for me, so I’ve been struggling quite a bit with them. If you have any advice for combatting loneliness in a new city, feel free to send me a message or comment below!.



Artsy PC again by my fave: Kiki Moussetis


Lessons from the Fam

As the holiday season comes to a close, I am going to end my three-week trip back to my hometown in Chicago and consequently end my time with my family for awhile. I know the holidays for some can be the worst time of year BECAUSE of their family, but for me, my family brings a lot of joy. And the winter holiday season is one of the only times I get to spend a bunch of time with them since leaving home nearly five years ago.

Family is a highly subjective concept. I know people with hardly any family at all, and people with family trees so complicated they have eight sets of grandparents they keep in touch with. Although I have a relatively large extended family, my immediate family is obviously what has made the biggest impact on me. From the outside, it looks pretty standard: Mom, Dad, and a little sister. Just four of us. My parents have a healthy relationship and have done everything in their power to give my sister and me tons of opportunities, while my sister and I progressed as typical siblings do, getting along one minute and then being best friends the next.

I realize I am wildly fortunate to be living with the above situation, as there are many people who don’t get to come from a stable, healthy household. Every time I come home, and stay in my heinous pink/orange colored old bedroom (I have only myself to blame for the color palette), I always end up reflecting on how this family has fostered me and my personality. Of course, I am a flawed individual but there are certain lessons that got started in my family that I believe made me a much better person.

  1. Knowledge is Power: This lesson is something that my dad would say all the time but my parents made it their business to enforce it. Books of all kinds were everywhere in the house, my parents would read to me and my sister constantly, and going to the bookstore to pick out a new book was a huge treat. Even though we read mostly fiction books at the time, we were still learning — new vocabulary, grammar, and new ideas and concepts. As young girls, the majority of our Christmas lists were filled with books and we would just devour them. This has stuck with me in a big way. I continue to read voraciously and attribute my relatively strong writing and critical thinking skills to all of those books.
  2. Not good, not bad, just different: Although this phrase wasn’t always used, it’s content was always implied when our family encountered things that were vastly different from our own norms. My sister and I went to school in a very diverse school district and as a result, we had questions about other people and other traditions that we were exposed to. Both of my parents were very good at stressing the idea that people are different, and even though it is important to recognize those differences, it doesn’t mean they are any better or worse than we are. I believe this lesson made me a lot slower to judge others and a lot more open to understanding other cultures when I encounter them through travel or in another person.
  3. No jeans with holes: This is kind of a silly one, but my mom would not let me wear flip-flops, sweatpants, loungewear, or jeans with holes in them for a very long time. Although I possessed these items, I was not permitted to wear them to school (leading me to smuggle my flip flops into my elementary school haha). I don’t really remember these rules being enforced too much after I turned eleven, but the lesson was already there. The lesson was to always make an effort to look put together. She never pushed makeup on me or girly clothes, but my mom recognized the importance of putting effort into one’s appearance and I carried that with me. It is always important to look polished and professional because people really do judge on appearances, and I would never want anyone to assume I can’t handle myself because I can’t handle my own appearance.
  4. Listen & Practice: Last one, best one. My father said this CONSTANTLY. It was his way of wording the key to success. If my sister or I was struggling with anything or we had just started a new sport or class, he would say “listen & practice”. It seems simple, but many people fail on at least one of these two counts. They either fail to do their due diligence and listen to teachers or mentors properly, or they fail to put in the work on the back end. I have used this concept constantly throughout my life and I like to think it makes me a very coachable person. I really do take criticism well and try to manifest it into an improvement. I also have an intense amount of discipline so that if I really want to master something, I will work every single day until I do.

There were, of course, many other lessons I was taught as a kid, but the ones I just described were so ingrained in the fabric of our family that I can clearly tell they made a big impact. They taught me to keep learning, have discipline, be professional, and to be open-minded. Those lessons are things that a lot of people don’t get from their family and that, to me, are invaluable for the rest of your life.



Aren’t we cute?